Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Single Review: Crystal Jacqueline & The Honey Pot

Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey Pot’s double seven-inch single is by far the most ambitious of the latest flock of vinyl releases from the U.K. indie label Fruits de Mer. Available on March 30th, it comes in a gatefold sleeve, along with a children’s story based on the record’s seven psychedelic tracks. And once you hear about the song selection, you’ll understand why the short tale (conceived by label co-founder Andy Bracken and illustrated by Dale Simpson) seems so intriguing.

As with previous efforts from Crystal Jacqueline, both as a solo act and with The Honey Pot, this latest adventure is a mix of well-chosen covers and original material. It kicks off with a massive, swirling take on “Remember A Day” from Pink Floyd’s 1968 A Saucerful Of Secrets LP. Built on Crystal Jacqueline’s evocative vocals, drummer Wayne Fraquet’s tribal beat, and energetic guitar playing by Icarus Peel, it’s an authentic trip back to the original psychedelic era. Peel’s composition “It’s Raining,” propelled by Tom Brown’s rampaging bass and Crystal Jacqueline’s atmospheric keyboards, segues nicely from the Floyd track.

The band’s inventive rendition of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” might be open to debate among psychedelic purists. Opening with a stark arrangement, The Honey Pot adds careening guitars and energetic strings. “I Had Too Much To Dream,” the cherished nugget from The Electric Prunes, is also dramatically reinvented, but like “White Rabbit,” it definitely draws in the listener. The Honey Pot slips out of its mind-altering mode to take an almost theatrical approach on the Curved Air tune “Puppets.”

Crystal Jacqueline, Peel, and Brown craft exquisite harmonies within the enticing psychedelic landscape of Mighty Baby’s “Egyptian Tomb.” “Tick Tock,” originally done by the garage band Fleur de Lys in 1967, creeps along with wah wah guitar playing and eerie keyboards reminiscent of The Doors. It’s a natural for Halloween parties, although some younger kids might get spooked.

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