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The Search Party - Montgomery Chapel (1969)




Christians eh? Buncha weirdos. Believin' and believin' and, if you don't count black people, making the dreariest noise you ever heard. Whitey never got the hang of celebratin' the lord like the black folks did. Apart from 'Jesus is just alright with me...'. That was pretty cool. And so is The Search Party's 'Montgomery Chapel'.

That's right 'n' shock horror. A buncha do-goods got together to extol the virtue of Jeezis via folksike and popsike, and you know damn well that every single time they say 'he', it damn well has a capital H. This is in the 0.001% of Christian Rock that doesn't completely blow... and weirdly, as an ardant non-believer, all that hokey Jesus stuff is kinda endearing, much in the way all those '60s bands discovered the joys of Victoriana and talkin' about The Squares...

Fact is, The Search Party may well preach The Good Book, but not in a way you heard before. Instead of gunnin' for that Happy Clappy crappy, they've obviously been digging weird modal psych like The Music Emporium, but remembering to make a good LP. It's fulla nods to Gregorian bizz, with weird death-trip choiring and sinister Farfisa... which kinda makes this album feel more like the right side of religion. All weird and cultish. If you're gonna dig Christianity, it's gonna be via Revelations, with the falling wormwood and plagues, rather than the old gay bashing and dung eating. These cats are stood between reverie and being shit-scared of The Almighty.

'When He Calls' looks like it could have been a joyous romp, but in actual fact, it's "when he calls, he'll ask you to die...", which is way more interesting. This is creeped out Christianity. 'Speak To Me' talks about "suff'rin' faces" and cries about not finding God, like he's some lost lover or sumpin. It's from the same place as Jefferson Airplane at their twilight mayhem moment. Joanie Goff is Grace Slick... only on a mission.

'So Many Things Have Got Me Down' is a mid-point between Aphrodite's Child and The Byrds at the their most languid (think 'Triad' or 'Tribal Gathering' with a slowed-down Roussos hovering in the mix). It's proof that not all Christians are ball-less judgers in slacks. This is pure wig-out, coming in at just shy of 10 minutes, dischordant and tripped out.

For the most part, the LP is either trippy or folky, but there's room for a coupla rockers. 'The News Is You' and 'You And I' feature some seriously fucked up fuzz guitar (think that bonkers double solo in 'Mr Soul' by Buffalo Springfield) with yet more Grace Slick styled wailin'. They're fuckin' Grade A! Man, it pains me that there ain't Christian Rock like it knockin' around now... I might even go to church for the free gig.

That all said... if you really hate the whole Christian thing, you can dig this LP like any long-forgotten psych LP. You can easily tune out the God stuff, but you'd be advised not to because all that Christian business adds to its peculiar charm. It's the sound of hippies finding God, which in itself is a sweet 'n' hokey thing. (electricroulette.com)



I try not to get too carried away with featuring records that I have never owned, but I will probably never ever ever own this one, so whatever. If knowing that I do not actually own an original pressing of this hinders your enjoyment of reading about it on the internet may I suggest you seek therapy.

This is definitely one of the most haunting and beautiful Christian records I've heard. There is a charming, rough-hewn quality to it that almost reminds me of something like a school band record. About half of it has a slightly fuzzed out, semi-rockin' sound, but the really amazing cuts are really mellow with high female vocals, spooky organ, and deep muffled bass-lines. A good example of which can be heard on "When He Calls".

If someday I might only touch the hem of the garment of a quality vinyl reissue of this then my life shall be a bit more complete and meaningful. (waxidermy.com)

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Raul Gonzales pisze...

Hi,iºam Raul from Madrid,Spain,you did a nice job with this website,i like your articles and you photos,i will visit you again soon to see the new post.bye bye,adios
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