NGC-4594: Country and Psych from the NE

NGC-4594: Country and Psych from the NE

That damnable backwards gaze – looking at the past through an idealized monocle – is responsible for the levy breaking and reissue campaigns covering every berg, town and holler from here to Nepaul. For the most part, musical works that have been forgotten have been forgotten for a reason. It might be musical incompetence. It might be due to the simple fact that just about everyone else on the face of the earth was capacious of crafting the same sounds. Or drugs. Drugs are usually a good answer.

The recent reissue of Connecticut’s NGC-4594 collected works, as represented on Skipping Through The Night, is proof of this idealizing the past. Surely, the band had its moments. And all involved were more than passable players. The combination of country stock and psych influences was perhaps more unique back when these tracks were being recorded – Country Joe, the Dead, the Allmans perhaps not being national figures at that point. Today, though, hearing the disc might make listeners figure that this was simply copped at some thrift store for a few cents.

And it probably was.

Enough of the marginalizing, though. Lauding NGC-4594 has been taken care of somewhere already. So, let’s just take a gander at some of the efforts here.

Despite its title, “It's Called Love” is a pretty interesting track. The back-up vocals are surprisingly well wrought and actually contribute a good deal to the song’s success. Pacing the song as it is, replete with some garage stomping drums, works to a positive end as the sung-spoke vocals rap about some idealized notion of love. Romantic love, unfortunately, even back in the sixties was still just a concept man created in an effort to order society and land folks in monogamous relationships. Bummer? Maybe, but that’s how it is. Have you ever seen two squirrels at a wedding? Or hamsters. Or wolves.

Whatever the case is, that song – even if it’s not the highlight of the disc – winds up sounding like so many other groups from the period that, again, the reissue seems odd. It’s possible that whoever was behind the album felt some sort of comradery as a result of surreptitiously locating the disc, which is understandable. And granted, some of the spacier moments on “Where Are You Coming From” are just short of magnificent.

It’d be difficult to dismiss NGC-4594, there’s something there. But it might just be some left over historicity. At least its good history.