Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Troll - Animated Music (1968)


 The Trolls from Chicago are one of the many bands that we've had a long time interest in but, unfortunately, have had difficulty in tracking down.  We recently made contact, however, with bassist Max Jordan, Jr. (and his wife Bonnie), Rick (Richard) Gallagher and part-time drummer Gary Aull, and hope to be able to provide additional information on the group - as well as answer many of the questions raised in this feature - sometime in the near future.  In the meantime, and in lieu of our customary interview, we've decided to print this overview of the band's recordings to spark some discussion on a very talented and underrated band.

Richard Clark - organ, vocals
Richard Gallagher - guitar, vocals
Max Jordan, Jr. - bass, vocals
Ken Cortese (aka Ken Apples) - drums

The Troll - Animated Music (1968) LP Smash
01 Satin City News
02 Mr Abernathy. The Troll - Frits Und Sweeney
03 Everybodys Child
04 Solitude
05 Only Myself To Blame
06 Professor Potts Pornographic Projector
07 Have You Seen The Queen
08 Mourning Of The Day
09 Winter's Song
10 Spirit Of The Deep

"The Troll's sole album is extremely diverse late-'60s psychedelia. It's one of those records you can play over and over again without getting a grip on what exactly the group identity is. For many bands, such a description might be interpreted as a major compliment. The thing is, though, it's not a record you want to play over and over again, because the material isn't that good, and the eclecticism is not so much admirable versatility as contrived freakiness. At various times they sniff around hard rock, fruity pop-psychedelia, arch vaudevillian good-time music ("Professor Pott's Pornographic Projector" and "Have You Seen the Queen?"), and slightly bittersweet folk-rock-flavored pop-psych. The influences of Beatlesque melody and vocal harmonies are strongly felt at times, and there are some periodic interjections of the kind of varispeed vocals and odd effects that major labels only tolerated for a few years or so around the late '60s. There are glints of appealing fairytale aura pop-psychedelia here and there, as on "A Winter's Song," with its pseudo-British orchestration. Overall, it's an unmemorable mish-mash, however, and the far-out jollity and menace it seems to often aim for is more forced than inspired. "

"An odd and disjointed psychedelic album and a product of the famous Dunwich  from a Chicago area band that had formerly had some very minor success with garage rock and British Invasion – like stuff as The Trolls. Some of the tracks are pedestrian, but there is also some very good stuff on this. It doesn’t gell all that well- it sounds like it was put together rather haphazardly, and the music also seems like it comes from different eras.

Some of the tracks have a Beatles/ early Bee Gees flavor, others are in a hard rock vein. The best song is a cut named” Werewolf and Witchbreath, almost a cross between The Stooges, Black Sabbath around the time of their debut record, and early Fleetwood Mac at their loudest- indeed, almost like the three bands had got together and recorded a hard blues/ psychedelic/ heavy metal/ proto- punk theme for a horror flick. ” Professor Potts’ Pornographic Projector” is an amusing vaudeville sort of thing- a kind of satire on sexual mores done in a turn of the century atmosphere- kazoos, vari-speed vocals, and an 1890’s melody.” I’ve Only Myself To Blame” features some really nice Hollies like harmonies and whirling, Sgt. Pepper’s style arrangements.

It’s basically an anti-war song. Some of the rest of this album is dross, and it was one of many such albums- The Troll were popular in their immediate area, but failed to make much of an impression elsewhere. It’s an average album, the high points are high, the low points are dull instead of awful, though some of this hasn’t aged well. The drummer later became Jim Croce’s business manager, and also died in the 1973 plane crash that killed Croce."
 (Max Collodie)

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