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The Music Issue

Psych Brain

I've been obsessed with collecting rare, "out there," and psychedelic records ever since I was a kid in Kentucky mowing lawns.

Paul Major

Paul Major


I’ve been obsessed with collecting rare, “out there,” and psychedelic records ever since I was a kid in Kentucky mowing lawns. The only records I could afford to buy were the cut-outs that were on the blue shelves of K-mart. They were 3-for-a-dollar and they were all these 60s psychedelic bands, like Silver Apples. They were 33 cents each. That got the bug in me for finding strange music.

One of the rarest records I ever got was an album called Round The Edges by a group called Dark. I got it for £10 from Vinyl Solution in London and ended up making $7,500 from it! It turned out Dark were sort of the kings of heavy, underground, buzz-psych. The vocals have a slightly freaky thing and there’s reverb guitars, a couple of tempo changes — almost acting progressive at times — but in the end it’s really get-down psychedelic.

When I was collecting more heavily, there wasn’t anything like eBay. The task of trading and finding the records was an adventure in itself. There would be a couple guys in each city around the world, discovering all the really hot records. They used to just send me big boxes, and I would evaluate them, and tell them, “Well, I’ll give you 50 percent or two-thirds or whatever I can get out of it.” I would trade records back their way, so the records would circulate through this network of people. It was almost secretive. A lot of people, when they would mail records, would reuse mailing wrappers and turn them inside out, and they would cut off or cross off the name of who sent them the records, so their source was hidden. There was this thing of discovering other people like, “There’s some guy in, uh, you know, Iowa, some guy, I’ve heard about, but only so-and-so knows his address.”

There was also a big tape-trading thing going on. Some people were so precious about their collections that they’d send you a tape of an album with all the tracks listed back to front. The psychology was: ‘I got heavier stuff than you got!’ or something ridiculous like that.

One of my favourite records of all time is Kenneth Higman’s The Strangest Outsider. It’s one of the most bizarre private pressings of all time. It’s like a fucking amped-up Jim Morrison gone honky tonk or something. It’s also Christian-themed rock with really dark and sinister fuzz and wah-wah guitars. It’s one of the biggest psychedelic records ever — and probably the biggest psychedelic Christian-oriented records, of which there is a HUGE sub-genre. There’s even a book called The Archivist where one of the main guys who collects Christian- rock and folk music catalogues it all. There must be 2,000 records of that stuff.

If I were to make a top five of the whole genre of weird underground psych folk, I’d put the Dark record in there along with records by artists like Fraction, Maitreya Kali, Forever Amber, and Damon. These are all things you can find on CD reissues. I highly advise getting these.

PAUL MAJOR
Paul is in the deeply heavy psych/fuzz rock band Endless Boogie. They are the secret favorite group of every good musician in New York.