Band members               Related acts

- Val Curl -- vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards, percussion

- Don Faires -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Jerry McCord -- lead guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion,

  backing vocals

- James Williams -- guitar, percussion, backing vocals

- Michael Williams -- percussion, vocals



- The Playboys of Edinburg (Val Curl, Don Faires, 

  Jerry McCord, James Williams and Michael Williams)

- James and Michael





Genre: psych

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Up Through the Spiral

Company: Uni

Catalog: 73099

Year: 1971

Country/State: McAllen, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / NM

Comments: was sealed; opened to hear; gatefold sleeve; small cut out hole top left corner

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5014

Price: $75.00


Over the years I've seen a couple of references indicate this was a concept album inspired by Edgar Allen Poe (they seem to be confusing this set with an album entitled "Poe Through the Glass Prism").  As the saying goes - close, but no cigar since 1971's  "Up Through the Spiral" actually carried a blurb that read "dedicated to the philosophy of Edgar Cayce".  


Judging by the album's liner notes and some on-line research the late Edgar Cayce certainly seems to have been an interesting guy - kind of a later day Nostradamus with a penchant for handing out medical advice.  Not intended as an endorsement of Cayce, for anyone curious about the man you can find a ton of material on web, including an extensive site located at:




Alright, on to the music ...  Val Curl, Don Faires, Jerry McCord, and brothers James and Michael Williams had previously played in the McAllen, Texas based The Playboys of Edinburg.  Regrouping under the POE nameplate (get it?), 1971 found the band signed to Uni where they released "Up Through the Spiral".  Thematically this concept piece was apparently inspired by Cayce's visions and philosophy of life (which were largely lost on my simplistic mindset).  Complete with references to 'automatic writing', 'the earth plain', and reincarnation', the lyrics were frequently bombastic and pretentious (imagine a bad sci-fi novel), but the music and performances were quite varied and seldom less than impressive. As the owner of 35,000 LPs, I can honestly say that  few bands successfully navigate between pop, psych and hard rock.  These guys were among the lone exceptions.  Recalling something out of The Badfinger catalog, 'A Debt To Pay' and 'Sweet Morning' were pretty ballads sporting  melodies and group harmonies that were strong enough to make up for the mumble jumble lyrics.  'You've Got To Try' and the fuzz guitar propelled 'Tune In' were nice rockers with the performances again managing to overcome the clumsy lyrics.  Thoroughly earnest, but goofy enough to border on being 'weird' (check out 'Sons of Belial') this was simply one of those lost classics.  Even better, you cans till find it for under $100.00.  Elsewhere Uni tapped the album for a single in the form of 'Up Through the Spiral' b/w 'There Is a River' (Uni catalog number 73099)


"Up Through the Spiral" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) There Is a River

    Your Prayers Have Been Answered Little Boy

    What Do You Want To Do

    I Want To Heal the Sick - 5:30

2.) You've Got To Try   (Michael Williams - Jerry McCord) - 2:08

3.) A Debt To Pay    (James L. Williams) - 3:22

4.) Up Through the Spiral    (James L. Williams) - 4:03


(side 2)
1.) Tune In    (James L. Williams) - 3:32

2.) Sons of Belial   (Val Curl - Jerry McCord) - 3:35

3.) A New Day Is Dawning In the Garden   (Val Curl) - 2:30

4.) Automatic Writing    (James L. Williams) - 3:07

5.) Fallin' Off    (James L. Williams) - 3:06

6.) Sweet Morning    (James L. Williams) - 4:51


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