Coloured Heaven

The Things

Italy's Teen Sound Records is Coloured Heaven by THE THINGS. This masterpiece of "Paisley Underground"- the land of alternative medium that replaced post-punk, which also belonged to the Neo Psychedelic American Pop scene and around which gravitated names like Dream Syndicate, Long Ryders, Bangles, Rain Parade, Green On Red, Opal and R.E.M., just

Italy's Teen Sound Records is Coloured Heaven by THE THINGS. This masterpiece of "Paisley Underground"- the land of alternative medium that replaced post-punk, which also belonged to the Neo Psychedelic American Pop scene and around which gravitated names like Dream Syndicate, Long Ryders, Bangles, Rain Parade, Green On Red, Opal and R.E.M., just to name a few - recorded in 1984 is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year.
At the beginning, The Things were championed by Michael Quercio, singer and bassist of Three O'Clock (who actually coined the term “Paisley Underground”) and the well-known DJ, Rodney Bingenheimer, who recommended the group to the late Greg Shaw of Voxx Records. Shaw, who had initially given rise to the neo-Garage/Psychedelic movement with his legendary fanzine (Who Put The) Bomp! and the Pebbles LP compilations, signed The Things without hesitation, and provided the band opportunities to perform with the Rain Parade, the Bangles, and placed them into the ’60s revival scene that was centered around Hollywood’s Cavern Club, where other neo-garage/psych bands like The Unclaimed, The Pandoras, The Gravedigger V, The Tell-Tale Hearts, etc. ruled. The Things were among the best exponents of the ‘80s West Coast neo-garage/psych scene thanks to the compositional ability of founder, singer, and guitarist Steve Crabtree. Following Coloured Heaven, the band made two more excellent albums, Outside My Window (Voxx, 1986) and Things (Epitaph, 1988, produced by Brett Guriwitz of Bad Religion) prior to disbanding in 1988. Coloured Heaven is a refined reimagining of the psychedelic sounds of The Byrds combined with the finest Beatlesque melodies. From the opening notes of "Eyes of a Child," the electric guitars shimmer, a sort of mixture of the Beatles’ "Taxman" and Love’s "The Daily Planet," with echoes of the 12-string guitar of the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn. A short, simple and magical solo hypnotizes like a sitar. Pete Rouch’s bass melodically supports the song as softly and hypnotically as McCartney’s best bass-work. The vocal harmonies reverberate with the splendor of sacred music and the pop-psych of English Freakbeat. The rhythm of Roy McDonald’s drums (who went on to play with Red Kross and The Muffs, by the way!) will get your feet moving and your heart beating. "I Won’t Be There" recalls the Mersey Beat sound and is a riot of electric guitars; Steve Crabtree and Andre Garcia’s guitars intertwine melodies and there are even echoes of the early Who. "It’s Not That Way" owes as much to the Monkees and the Yardbirds as to the minimal Garage Punk of the Alarm Clocks, but showcases the group’s authentic sound, the same that will lead the Things’ song "A Trip to My House” to be included shortly after on the “manifesto” of the Paisley Underground, Voxx Records’ Battle Of The Garages Vol. III. The sweet “She Came Out Of The Sky” proceeds at a marching pace guided by a guitar beat that has the essence of the Jam and early Clash, but is inevitably tinged with pop-ish organ and choirs, before abandoning itself to Acid-Psych solos . The first cover song on the album, a version of the Rolling Stones’ "Out Of Time" shows that, if need be, The Things are experts in the Sixties and do not need obscure covers to impress the listener. The title-track, "Coloured Heaven," introduced by a raga-rock arpeggio, deceives and does not take us on a predictable Doors-inspired trip. Here again the keyboard distracts, reminding us that we are in the mid-‘80s, but the mastery of Steve’s singing and the play of echo and reverberations recalls The Chocolate Watchband’s "I Ain’t No Miracle Worker.” The first side of the reissue ends with the irresistible "It’s Over", a Folk-Rock ballad with jingle-jangle tones and a Fender 12-string guitar in the foreground. A drum fill worthy of a nervously-energetic Keith Moon bursts in and the blocked guitar reminds us that, just a few months earlier, The Things were originally a superb Power Pop band. "Why Am I Waiting" opens the B-side of the album with a ballad full of vocal harmonies and the classic folk-rock imprint of the Byrds’ Younger Than Yesterday period. Paisley abounds, but we are closer to Pop territory than the Underground. The second (and final) cover on the album is an amazing version of the Yardbirds’ "Mister, You’re a Better Man Than I.” The crystalline guitars, dreamy voices and the addition of an organ bed in The Things' version underscores the psychedelic aspect of a song that is already perfect. "All The Time" brings us back to the Folk-Pop jingle-jangle with a change that is the worthy connection to the Yardbirds just mentioned. An excellent song, among the best of the album and, in my opinion, like the best productions of the entire spectrum of sound of the Paisley Underground. Here also are guitarists Andre Garcia and Steve Crabtree dueting. "It Seems to Be raining" is developed around three simple chords in the style of "Gloria" by Them, and presses the accelerator on the acid Psychedelia. Alternating the singing with only fuzz guitar in the typically West Coast style, and touching on Baroque-Pop without ever becoming cloying. That was the conclusion of the original album as released by Voxx, but on the Teen Sound’s new reissue on you will also have three previously unreleased bonus tracks which testify to the band’s strength at doing pure Power Pop, with good taste and the right attitude. The first of the three goodies, "Oh Yeah," travels at the speed of melodic Punk without ever neglecting the necessary presence of rich vocal harmonies. The Things do not deviate from the parameters used by bands like Tina Peel in '79 on the East Coast. There are many possible connections, from The Rivieras to The Searchers, Barracudas, (Paul Collins) Beat and Rubinoos… If you like The Plimsouls, NERVES, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and the Romantics, you will be delighted by "You Are the One" by The Things. The last track on side B is "Wait And See," a poignant electric ballad that closes the circle by connecting the embryonic power-pop phase of The Things to the Paisley palette of Coloured Heaven. That the scope of this album has been under-regarded seems obvious. Perhaps they were stigmatized just for being part of a strand, the one proposed by Voxx, of bands that remained fiercely independent and able to draw from different sources and produce high-level music in full freedom. This is demonstrated, for example, by another legendary album also originally released on Voxx (and since reissued by Teen Sound), Drop Of The Creature by The Steppes, another exponent of the best Californian Psychedelia of the first half of the ‘80s. It’s now the time to (re)discover and (re)evaluate The Things' discography, starting from the very beginning, and this reissue will give you that opportunity. Included in this release are two jam-packed inserts containing interviews, quotes, unpublished photos and even the lyrics of the songs. This is very limited edition of 300 copies, on vinyl only, so order yours today! Massimo del Pozzo Discogs: Bandcamp: Misty Lane Shop:

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