by Bruce D. Rhodewalt
issued on L.A. Weekly (November 7-13, 1980)
The long-rumored psychedelic music revival said to be gaining a foothold in
England is finally heading toward L.A. As expected,
some of the bands are self-conscious crap, fully aware of what they want to do but not fully
capable of doing it. About as mind-blowing as wet lint.
Such is not the case of the Unclaimed, however. Based in Hollywood, the Unclaimed are Shelley Ganz, the lead singer; Sid Griffin, lead guitarist; Barry Shank, bassist; Thom Hand, organist and second guitarist, and Matt Roberts, drummer. Evolving over the past five years and attracting personnel with a common interest - American punk-psychedelia of the 1960s - the Popes became the Uninvited and then the Unclaimed.
The sound and sights are genuine acid-punk: a steamy brew of Farfisa organ, fuzzy guitar, and snarling vocals, all in 4/4 and crawling with minor chords. The band members wear all black on stage. And Shelley Ganz, a true punk throughout, has long hair cut in the shoulder-length pageboy that was so popular in 1967.
Boasting such obscure influences as the Groupies and the Syndicate of Sound, Ganz and Griffin are very proud of their music's authenticity. They study the records, and they watch reruns of
Gilligan's Island and
The Munsters, hoping for a glimpse of the Standells or
the Raiders. They got to every showing of
Riot on the Sunset Strip to see their heroes,
the Chocolate Watch Band.
Greg Shaw said about the acid-punk genre, "When I talk about psychedelic rock, I don't mean hippie music (like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, etc.) at all; I mean the all-too-few records produced by teenage bands in the short time between their discovery of hallucinogenic drugs and the end of their particular line of rock evolution. Obviously, psychedelic drugs affected different people in different ways. Tim Leary and his intellectual friends were wafted into oriental mysticism, but imagine the effects on the kids in punk bands whose mental worlds up to then had revolved around cars, girls, beaches, and detention. They saw the colors, heard the voices, and what else could they do? They freaked out!"
When the Unclaimed freak out, it's a bit like the old days, when the Music Machine, Count Five, and the 13th Floor Elevators blared out of '62 Impalas and old black Pontiacs; when a 14-year-old kid could go hear the Seeds at the Palladium, and people had
parties - the kind of parties
they warned you about in junior high.
The Unclaimed record (Moxie Records M1036) has a song called
Deposition Central (The Acid
Song) that says it all: "I went to a party and I took a little fizzy. Something happened
to me, well, I started to get dizzy. Everyone around me, they just kept on groovin'. Scary
thing was that the room had started movin'".
Back to news-stand