In the world of music Harvey Matusow may best be known as the man who testified that 3 of the 4 Weavers (the 1940s-50s folk group) were members of the Communist Party, resulting in their being blacklisted and slowing an otherwise soaring career. He later apologized to Pete Seeger for it. The apology was accepted.
Matusow also recorded this twisted piece of vinyl in 1969 while in exile in England. Supposedly the group was on LSD at the time and I can believe it. This record certainly fits my definition of psychedelic music but does not have a lot in common with your typical psych band. For one thing there are no electric guitars or drums or keyboards--instead you have a variety of Jew's Harps (referred to sometimes today as Jaw Harps to be more PC), a few odd percussion instruments (but NO DRUMS!), and vocals (typically spoken). Matusow plays the alto tenor Jew's harp. The group also features Leslie Kenton, the daughter of jazz legend Stan Kenton, on vocals and metronome; Claude Lintot, who was 79 at the time of the recording, on auto Jew's harp [?]; Anna Lockwood (aka Annea Lockwood--more on her below) on acoustic guitar and bells; Rod Parsons on a variety of Jew's harps and bass; and Chris Yak on a variety of Jew's harps but not bass. The vocals consist of stream-of-consciousness storytelling, some nice chanting (check out Afghan Red), and a couple personal ancedotes (such as one about the day Matusow was released from prison).
The album was recorded in England. The band's single (Afghan Red b/w Wet Socks) was the fourth and final one released on John Curd's Head label. The album was also initially released on that label and then released in the US on Chess Records (yes that Chess Records).
Selections from Harvey Matusow's autobiography are available online (http://www.ibiblio.org/mal/MO/matusow/indexa.html) detailing his involvement in the Communist Party & the early folk-song revival movement, his work as FBI spy (informing on folk singers & labor organizers among others), his work for Senator Joseph McCarthy, his joining the Mormon church, his recantation of his testimony against the Reds, his leaving the Mormon church, his babysitting for Jason Robards, his going to prison for perjury (where he got to know Willhelm Reich and Frank Costello), his involvement with the beat scene, his working for the East Village Other, his meeting Timothy Leary & taking LSD, his turning Bobby Kennedy onto acid, his hanging out with Dick Gregory at the Improv in NY, his making movies with Yoko Ono (and involvement with the Fluxus group), and his writing a book on the dangers of computers (which also details some early hacking techniques)--all of this before he made this, his first album. His subsequent musical works were either meditative music or children's records. After recording the album, he returned to the US, rejoined the Mormon church, became Cockyboo the Clown and hosted a public access tv show in Utah (the Magic Mouse Show, which was the first American program to feature an appearance by His Holiness, The Dalai Lama) among other things.
Matusow's biography, odd as it is, may also be a bit self-serving so if you want a more critical perspective there is also an online commentary on his obituary here.
If you want to hear more of Harvey Job Matusow's voice, there is an online interview with Harvey & cellist Charlotte Moorman here.
One curious side note--I believe these are the first recordings to feature avant-garde composer Annea Lockwood. Her Glass World record is a fantastic exploration of the sound possibilities of glass instruments and her album Thousand Year Dreaming, a musical response to the cave paintings at Lascaux, is one of my favorite "ambient soundscape" recordings. If you want to hear some more of her work, there is a live recording of her with Thomas Buckner here and another recording under the name Anna Lockwood [I think it's the smae person based on the music] here.
Again, a record from the WMUC vaults. As before the music is loaded as a ZIP rather than an RAR file since I heard that Mac user's have trouble with the latter. The files are coded at 224k. Available here