Parable of Arable Land

Parable of Arable Land

Infobox Album | Name = The Parable of Arable Land
Type = Album
Artist = The Red Crayola (with the Familiar Ugly)


Released = 1967
Recorded = Andrus Studio, Texas, March 1967
Genre = experimental rock, psychedelic rock, avant-garde
Label = International Artists
Producer = Lelan Rogers
Reviews =
*Allmusic Rating|3|5
*Piero Scaruffi rating-10|9 [http://www.scaruffi.com/vol2/redcrayo.html]
Chronology = The Red Krayola
Last album = ""

This album = "The Parable of Arable Land"
(1967)
Next album = "God Bless the Red Krayola and All Who Sail With It"
(1968)

"The Parable of Arable Land" (1967) is the first album by the Red Krayola, then known as the Red Crayola. The album is self-described as a “Free Form Freak-Out,” and remains one of the most infamous in their catalogue. A “Free Form Freak-Out” segues each of the actual songs, often resurfacing again elsewhere within the songs. The songs introduce mainstay Mayo Thompson’s signature style of abstract lyrics wed to minimalist (and often avant-garde) melodies and rhythms. The album is also notable for instrumental cameos by label mate and 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson.

The Familiar Ugly

“The Familiar Ugly” refers to the fifty or-so friends of the band who provide the “Free Form Freak-Outs” (of which Erickson is a member). They were instructed by the band to play whatever they pleased. To demonstrate, the liner notes from one “General Fox” (presumably producer Lelan Rogers, as he was present for the session) describe “...a young man made his music by striking two match sticks together....His girlfriend kept time by blowing in a pop bottle.” Roky Erickson plays organ throughout, and allegedly plays the solo on the album’s first “song,” “Hurricane Fighter Plane.”

Recording

The album was allegedly recorded in a single session, featuring the band (then consisting of Mayo Thompson on guitar and vocals, Steve Cunningham on bass and Rick Barthelme on drums), playing live with the Familiar Ugly. A recording purporting to be a demo which surfaced on the International Artists Records compilation would partially refute this. The “demo” of “Hurricane Fighter Plane” is identical to the take used on Parable, only minus the crossfades in and out of the preceding and subsequent Free Form Freak-Outs. This would suggest that the basic “song” tracks were first recorded by The Red Crayola, and then superimposed with the Familiar Ugly recording. (However, Erickson’s organ is still present throughout the entire “demo” version.) “Hurricane Fighter Plane” has an overall duller sound than the rest of the album, suggesting that it may just be that song that was recorded separately from the rest of the album’s session.

The Music

While the songs themselves introduce Mayo Thompson’s signature style, it is the inclusion of the “Free Form Freak-Outs” for which the album is best known. They are seen by many critics as a foreshadowing (or a direct precursor) to the Industrial music which surfaced in the 1980’s. While at the time marketed as a “psychedelic” album, the album has more to do with (like Frank Zappa’s work of the time) modern 20th Century Composers and the avant-garde in general.

Thompson’s lyrics, while seemingly fitting in with the often surreal tone of typical 60’s psychedelic lyrics, actually demonstrate a more literary and artistic approach than what was common in rock music of the time. On the other hand, Allmusic critic Richie Unterberger points out that “Hurricane Fighter Plane” is “one of the closest American approximations of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd.” “War Sucks” is very in line with the protest songs of the time, and sports a minimal, tribal-like rhythm not too far removed from the early Velvet Underground.

The most untraditional and avant-garde of the six songs is the title track. An instrumental, it features nothing but a sparse and exotic-sounding percussion loop with minimal improvisation on top of it, building in intensity and then settling down over the course of about three minutes. This is not part of the “Free Form Freak-Outs,” as it seems to be somewhat orchestrated. The song carries the subtitle "”And the End Shall Be Signaled By The Breaking of a Twig”", and indeed, there is the sound of a twig (or some other piece of wood) breaking as the intensity reaches its climax. This track in particular foreshadows the blatantly minimalistic and uncommercial nature of their rejected second album, Coconut Hotel.

It should be noted that each of the songs bears a lengthy subtitle (listed in quotations instead of the typical parentheses) lifted directly from its own lyrics (except for “The Parable of Arable Land,” which is an instrumental).

Track listing

All songs by Rick Barthleme, Steve Cunningham, Mayo Thompson.

"Free Form Freak-Out"
* 1. Hurricane Fighter Plane “When The Ride Is Over You Can Go To Sleep” – 7:24"Free Form Freak-Out"
* 2. Transparent Radiation “Red Signs Out-Side, Which I Contain”"Free Form Freak-Out" – 6:51
* 3. War Sucks “You Remember What Happened To Hansel and Gretel”"Free Form Freak-Out" – 3:53
* 4. Pink Stainless Tail “Seven Guest are Quite Now, And Now Not Half So Much” – 8:07"Free Form Freak-Out"
* 5. Parable of Arable Land “And the End Shall Be Signaled By The Breaking of a Twig” – 3:00"Free Form Freak-Out"
* 6. Former Reflections Enduring Doubt “I Pass In A Rain That Is Always Too Soon” – 9:09

Personnel

* Rick Barthleme: drums
* Steve Cunningham: bass
* Mayo Thompson: guitar, vocals
* The Familiar Ugly
* Roky Erickson: organ

Production

*Producer: Lelan Rogers
*Engineer: Walter Andrus
*Cover design: Flash Graphics, Houston, TX.

External links

*http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:6sqog4attv4z~T2


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