The Human Zoo
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1969)
- Jim Cunningham -- vocals
- Bob Dalrymple -- bass
- Larry Hanson -- rhythm guitar, horns, keyboards
- John Luzadder -- lead guitar
- Kim Vydaremy -- drums, percussion
- Roy Young -- vocals
- none known
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: The Human Zoo
Country/State: Westminster, California
Grade (cover/record): NM/NM
Comments: reissue; one of 500 copies; still i n shrink wrap (opened)
Catalog ID: 2270
Originally known as The Circus, this Los Angeles outfit featured the talents of singers Jim Cunningham and Roy Young, along with bassist Bob Dalrymple, multi-instrumentalist Larry Hanson, lead guitarist John Luzadder, and drummer Kim Vydaremy. The band found a mentor in the form of manager Jim Foster who was also managing The Human Experience. Foster suggested a new, cooler name. I'm guessing inspired by Desmond Morris 1969 book, the group selected The Human Zoo and signed with Scott Seely's small Los Angeles Accent Records.
Released in 1970, "The Human Zoo" is one of those albums that's been tagged with the psych holy grail label. Provided you could actually find an original copy, you'd probably end up shelling out $400 - $500 for it. As someone else mentioned, back in March, 2010 a sealed copy sold on eBay for $900. And if you made that investment you'd probably be mildly disappointed. I'm not saying the album was bad, rather much of it simply wasn't very psychedelic. With most of the six members contributing to the writing chores, the album covered an eclectic mixture of musical styles including stabs at blue-eyed soul ('Funny'), country ('When Papa Started Drinking'), rock ('Late To My Resurrection') and even conventional soul ('Gonna Take Me a Ride'. Yeah there were some psych touches scattered throughout the album (the title track and 'Help Me'), but those almost sounded like an after-thought. Having two strong singers in Cunningham and Young certainly didn't hurt the band. The two had very different sounds - Cunningham's strengths lay in the more commercial tunes ('Stone Sassy Fox'), while Young had a voice that was better suited to the group's soul oriented numbers. All of the members appeared to be accomplished musicians with Luzadder acquitted himself with honors throughout the album, displaying an economical playing style that was rare for lead guitarists. The Dalrymple-Vydaremy rhythm section was sterling throughout.
All told it was an enjoyable collection, particularly if you approached it without a lot of preconceived notions.
Zoo" track listing:
1.) It's Got To Be (Roy Young) - 2:58 rating: **** stars
One of the most difficult tunes I've ever tried to describe ... Quite lysergic, but with kind of a supper club lounge vibe ... imagine an aural mash-up that blended some Alex Chilton blue-eyed soul vocals with a touch of The Free Design, some Mamas and the Papas harmonies, and a chorus of drunken Australian rugby fans (who inexplicably breakout into a Hari Krishna chant) ... "hoy" Just plain weird and thoroughly fascinating.
2.) Na-Na (Larry Hanson) - 2:13 rating: **** stars
'Na-Na' wasn't going to win the band any prizes in the lyrics department, but combination of Bob Dalrymple hypnotic bass pattern and John Luzadder's fuzz guitar mad this one quite enjoyable.
3.) Help Me (Jim Cunningham - Larry Hanson) - 3:12 rating: **** stars
Acid-meets-blues rock with sterling results ... Since he co-wrote the song, I'm guessing Cunningham sang the lead on this one. if so, he had a nice voice, reminding me of a young Burton Cummings. Kudos to guitarist Luzadder for a dazzling performance on this one.
4. I Don't Care No More (Larry Hanson - John Luzadder) - 2:26 rating: ** stars
'I Don't Care No More' was a pretty enough ballad with a couple of wonderful Luzadder solos, but the Cunningham-Young vocals came off as kind of heavy handed and stilted. Excluding the guitar solos, this one had kind of a lounge act vibe to it.
5.) Funny (Al Morettini - D. Leonards) - 5:11 rating: **** stars
One of two covers, 'Funny' was a surprisingly cool slice of blue-eyed soul with a great freak-out closing section. I'm guessing Young handled the lead vocals on this one. Great twin lead guitar on this one.
It may have had the album's most psychedelic title, but 'Late To My Resurrection' was probably the album's most commercial and radio-friendly tune. Nice melody and this one gave the Dalrymple-Vydaremy rhythm section an opportunity to show off their chops.
2.) When Papa Started Drinking (Bob Dalrymple) - 2:29 rating: ** stars
Perhaps it was meant to be funny, but the country tune 'When Papa Started Drinking' sounded like they were trying to play it pretty straight.
3.) Gonna Take Me a Ride (Jim Cunningham - John Luzadder) - 3:32 rating: **** stars
Hum, I certainly wasn't expecting to hear a slice of James Brown-inspired, horn powered soul from six LA guys. Brown certainly didn't have to worry about the competition, but this one was surprisingly accomplished.
4.) Stone Sassy Fox (Jim Cunningham - D. Leonards) - 3:17 rating: **** stars
Every time I hear the title I have to smile - I'm old enough to remember friends referring to girls as 'foxes" ... With a bouncy rock melody call this tune one of the album's hidden treasures.
5.) The Human Zoo (Rob Young - John Luzadder) - 3:16 rating: **** stars
I've never read it, but I'm guessing the spoken word introduction came from the Desmond Morris book .. Once you got through the opening, 'The Human Zoo' proved to be the album's toughest and most psychedelic performance. Treated vocals, an acid-tinged tempo, and some of the dirtiest lead guitar you've ever heard ... this was a fantastic performance. Shame they didn't include a couple more like this one.
6.) The Time was Over (Bob Dalrymple) - 2:39 rating: *** stars
Folk-rock? Why not? You've heard pretty much everything else up to this point. Extra star for the wonderful jangle-rock guitar (that was apparently meant to sound like a sitar) and Dalrymple lysergic bass lines.
If you don't want to shell out your next paycheck for a copy, in 2010 the Cicadelic released the album in CD and vinyl formats. The reissue was supposedly taken from the original master tapes and featured the original artwork. The vinyl version was limited to a 500 copy pressing.
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