Freak Scene

Band members                             Related acts

  line-up 1 (1967)

- Rusty Evans (aka Marcus, aka Marcus Uzilevsky) 

  (RIP 2015) -- vocals,   lead guitar


  supporting musicians

- Mark Barkan (RIP 2020) --  drums, percussion, backing vocals

- David Richard Blackhurst -- keyboards, recorder, backing vocals

- Caroline Blue -- backing vocals

- David Bromberg -- rhythm guitar, bass, backing vocals

- Arthur Geller  -- sitar, backing vocals

- Lenny Pogan -- guitar, backing vocals




- Albert Bochard and Mark Barkan

- The All Night Singers (Rusty Evans)

- Ry Cooper (Rusty Evans)

- The Deep (Mark Barkan and Rusty Evans)

- Hydro Pyro (Mark Barkan)

- Marcus (Rusty Evans)

- The Nervous Breakdowns (Rusty Evans)

- Ring of Fire (Rusty Evans)

- The Third Rail (Rusty Evans)





Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Psychedelic Psoul

Company: Columbia

Catalog: CL-2656

Year: 1967

Country/State: Brooklyn, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: mono pressing; neatly taped bottom seam

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4812

Price: $70.00

Cost: $32.00


Having enjoyed some success with their 1966 studio project The Deep, the following year the song writing/performing team of Mark Barkan and Rusty Evans decided to take another stab at making some money off of the public's growing interest in psychedelia and political activism.  Signed by Columbia, the duo pulled together guitarist David Bromberg and most of the studio pros who'd worked with them on the earlier project, resulting in the release of 1967's "Psychedelic Psoul".  


A lot of critics have labeled this as nothing more than a sophomore The Deep release.  There are clearly similarities between the two albums, but I'll tell you that (contrary to popular opinion) I think The Freak Scene project is actually the stronger of the two releases.  Material such as 'The Subway Ride Thru Inner Space', 'Butterfly Dream' and 'My Rainbow Life' offered up a great mixture of over-the-top psych lyrics, stoned vocals and wild studio production effects.  The biggest difference with the earlier album was that tracks such as '... When In the Course of Human Events (Draft Beer, Not Students)' and 'Behind the Mind' added a bit of social and political commentary to the acid-drenched mix.  Admittedly the results may not have aged well over the last five decades, but some of the sentiments remain apt.  And that leads to the most common criticism of the album.  At it's heart and soul this wasn't so much art as it was a calculated business proposition meant to exploit youth culture that had flocked to the promise of psychedelia.  I guess I get the criticisms, but I don't see a problem trying to sell records.  You also had to admire the skill Evans and company brought to the studio, setting the standard for the flood of psych albums that record labels would shove out the door over the next couple of years.  And while this may well have been a slice of "psychploitation", it was better than 75% of "music as art" competition. 


'Psychedelic Psoul" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) A Million Grains of Sand   (Rusty Evans) -   rating: **** stars

A remake from the earlier The Deep album imagine a couple of folks sitting down and plotting out how to write a psychedelic song ...  how about some acid tinged lyrics; add weird sound efforts; backward guitar; treated vocals.  Stir and throw in some magic mushrooms and there you have the album's single.  And as you might have expected, even the single proved to be a freak show.  Apparently too bizarre for Columbia to release domestically, the company's Mexican subsidiary tapped it as a 45, though it was credited to "Los Sonidos Psicodelicos" and the titles were translated into Spanish:




- 1968's 'Granos de Arena' b/w 'Mene Psicodelica' (Columbia catalog number CBS 6210)


Evans rerecorded the track a third time for his "Marcus" album.






2.) ... When In the Course of Human Events (Draft Beer, Not Students)   (David Bromberg - David Rubinson - Rusty Evans) -     rating: **** stars

Seriously, the title makes me smile every time I see it.  The spoken word lyrics were a great commentary on prejudice and white privilege.  Funny that it remains as applicable and insightful today as back in 1968.  I hope Firesign Theater and their contemporaries felt shame when they heard it.

3.) Interpolation: We Shall Overcome   (Zilphia Horton - Frank Hamilton - Guy Carawan - Pete Seger) -   rating: *** stars

Kudos to Evans and company for giving credit to Seger and his co-workers as their song was buried in the background and there's a good chance casual fans would not have even noticed it.  Regardless, I always wondered what Seger and company would have thought had they heard this version of their classic tune.

4.) Rose of Smiling Faces   (Rusty Evans) -     rating: **** stars

The album's trippiest performance, opening up with some pseudo-sitar and the heaviest bass line I've ever heard, 'Rose of Smiling Faces' slapped Evans' droning, nonsensical lysergic soaked vocals on top of the mix.  The bass line was quite simple, but was it ever hypnotic.

5.) Behind the Mind   (Arthur Geller - Rusty Evans) -   rating: **** stars

Imagine Roger McGuinn and the Byrds tripping out ...  Stripping away all of the production effects, 'Behind the Mind' was actually a first rate folk-rock track.  Add in the psychedelic production effects such as backward guitar and you had one of the album highlights.  I would have made this one the single rather than 'A Million Grains of Sand.'  

6.) The Subway Ride Thru Inner Space   (Rusty Evans) -   rating: **** stars
C'mon, how can you not want to hear a song entitled 'The Subway Ride Thru Inner Space'?  The effects treated vocals were hysterical.  Evans' lyrics were dense and enigmatic enough to please even Dylan fans.  The hyperactive bass line was majestical.  Great tune.

7.) Butterfly Dream   (David Richard Blackhurst - Lenny Pogan - Rusty Evans) -   rating: *** stars

Co-written with The Deep alumnus David Blackhurst and former Village Stomper Lenny Pogan, 'Butterfly Dream' opened up with a tasty little guitar figure.  Another folk tune dipped in heavy psychedelic sauce, the treated vocals were almost unintelligible.  Shame this one was so short.



(side 2)
1.) My Rainbow Life   (Rusty Evans - Teddy Randazzo - Victoria Pike) - 
  rating: **** stars

The raga-tinged 'My Rainbow Life' was a remake of a tune Evans had written for his previous collaboration with Jeff Monn and The Third Bardo.  To my ears the remake sounds very similar to the previous recording.  Sad commentary that today most folks know the song via Kid Cudi's remake/collaboration on the tune.

2.) The Center of My Soul   (Rusty Evans) -    rating: *** stars

'The Center of My Soul' found Evans adding a country hoedown melody to his patented sound.  Strange.

3.) Watered Down Soul   (Rusty Evans - David Richard Blackhurst) -     rating: *** stars

It opened up with a traditional country blues melody and then dove headlong into Evans' patented psych colorings.  The bubbling water sound effect was funny.

4.) Red Roses Will Weep   (Rusty Evans - David Richard Blackhurst) -   rating: **** stars

' Red Roses Will Weep' was a pretty, bass-propelled ballad. I'm guessing Teddy Randazzo's wife Victoria Pike was the featured female singer.

5.) Mind Bender   (Rusty Evans - D. Blackhurst) -    rating: **** stars

Musically 'Mind Bender' was a little different than the rest of the album.  The bongos and scrappy guitars recalled something from an early-'60s surf tune.  The dry, monotone vocals and stream-of-conscious lyrics sounded like they'd been inspired by the "beats".  Victoria Pike again seemed to be the female lead singer.  

6.) Grok! (instrumental)   (Rusty Evans) -    rating: *** stars

For a tune recorded in 1967, the short instrumental 'Grok!' was pretty impressive, melding early electronic sound effects and Indian raga influences.  Nah, you weren't going to put it on repeat, but it was definitely different.