Ta płyta to propozycja z kategorii "must have". Prawdziwy killer ! Płyta nowojorskiej grupy The Group Image powinna wejść do kanony muzyki psychedelicznej końca lat 60-tych. Muzycy tworzyli ekscentryczną komunę artystyczną. Muzyka jest porównywana do Jefferson Airplane, ale moim zdaniem - niech mi w tym miejscu będzie wybaczone - przyćmiewa narkotyczne brzmienie zespołu z Zachodniego Wybrzeża. To prawdziwie, nieokiełznana i dzika wersja San Francisco Sound. Wokalistka Sheila Darla emanuje taką energią jakby za chwilę miała eksplodować - Grace Slick przy niej wydaje się nieśmiałą dziewczynką. Natrafiłem właśnie na jedyny materiał wideo jaki bodajże istnieje - to prawdziwy szok kiedy ogląda się to dzisiaj. Wielka szkoda, że zespół pozostawił po sobie tylko jedną płytę.
The group Image was a Manhattan, NYC group community enterprise that lasted some two years, and who recorded some album, after some years of park gigs and regular shows with nightime ballroom association. It might be so that in the time of 1968 when the record was recorded, that its project was at this stage, over its highlight, but I can imagine with tracks like the freaky wall of sound track “Hiya” what effect they could have had (-a shorter version of the album track was also featured on the Pebbles, Vol. 14 compilation-). They had some come and go participators, which had featured on its stage people like Tiny Tim, Wavy Gravy & Diggers, and they shared stages with the Grateful Dead.
With one of the lead vocalists, Sheila Darla, Jefferson Airplane could come easily to mind, although the songs have much more jam feeling to it, and sometimes are slightly bluesy. The songs themselves have something more of the community and don’t bring one particular singer or song much to the fore, except in a stage-light fashion, where the whole group thing presentation has equal importance. It is the groove and community jam, combined often with its returning harmony vocals that is the more true presentation.
On “Aunt Ida” the instrumental jam energy increases well the energy of the song harmonies. The rhythms just now and then have the tendency to speed up like a train, which in combinations with the arrangements gives moments of a rather nervous, sound overwhelming effect, while the slower parts bring more peace, while there seems to be something going on stage all the time. On “Banana Spit” the bass wrinkles on, smoothly and groovy, but at no time do the rhythms provide lead guidance.
It remains unclear to me yet to what the music really leads to more than with its general sound. It is no doubt a product of its time and location, which entertain while walking with its soulful psychedelic and blues boots, while flashlights and other appearances on stage I am sure would have added more to a richer entity.
Undeniably influenced by the West Coast psychedelia of The Jefferson Airplane, New York’s The Group Image released one album in 1968, A Mouth In The Clouds, that managed to go largely ignored by critics and rock fans. Despite having a wild stage show and a dynamic lead singer in Sheila Darla, the band received little national exposure.
"The Group Image played for two years in various locations in Manhattan, NYC, including its own productions / shows at the Palm Gardens, and the Cheetah Club, and shows with the Grateful Dead in Central Park and the Fillmore East, and other outdoor shows in parks such as Tompkins Square Park in the East Village.”
While Sheila Darla shares some of Grace Slick’s hippie allure and a similarity in vocal style, her stage performance bears a striking resemblance to Patti Smith rather than the cool and collected Slick. One wonders if Patti ever saw Darla in action.
Time Magazine reviewed A Mouth In The Clouds in their November 18, 1968 issue. I don’t know who the reviewer is, but it’s amusing how hard he/she tries to get down with hipster lingo. “Liquid Eden” indeed.
"This is the first recording by the Manhattan hippie tribe that has been turning on with sound and light in a couple of off-Broadway ballrooms; it will soon open its own permanent ballroom in the East Village. The five-man band has a driving, express-train beat, and a sharp and shimmering harmony, and a high voltage singer named Sheila. Their sound is all their own, but there are some familiar touches of The Lovin’ Spoonful (Grew Up All Wrong) and Jefferson Airplane (Banana Split). In Banana Split, two electronic zaps project the listener, as through a time warp, into a liquid Eden of tinkling bells and clicking percussion. The Group Image calls it the Twinkie Zone, and it’s a pretty good place to be."
By the end of the video, the band erupts in a punk rock frenzy worthy of the Plasmatics. (source)