The Wizard Reviews: The Collectors (Self-Titled)
Year Released: 1968
Highlighted Tracks: Lydia Purple ; Howard Christman’s Older ; What Love (Suite); She (Will – O – The – Wind)
“New vibrations from Canada!” the back cover of the Collectors self titled album exclaims! In late 1960’s Vancouver, where the hippy flower power movement and a booming local psychedelic rock scene were in full swing, this one seemingly simplistic album stood apart from the rest upon release. The Collectors started life in 1961 as “The C-FUN Classics”, the house band for the radio station of the same name, and by 1966 had renamed themselves “The Collectors”. The band began producing a host of chart topping non-album singles, but it wasn’t until 1968 that they were to release their first album. With the massively popular Canada-wide hit “Lydia Purple” backing it up, the band grew in popularity not only in Canada, but also in the United States, which was rare for a Canadian band at the time. As a result of their new found popularity, the band played various concerts and TV spot venues.
Their debut album, “The Collectors” features some very groovy and psychedelic artwork drawn by well known 60’s concert poster artist and Vancouver resident, Bob Masse. The music contained within is unlike anything heard on the Canada psych scene, featuring beautiful woeful harmonies, driving guitar sections, and some fantastic flute and tenor sax. On side one of the album there are five tracks, Side two is entirely dominated by “What Love (Suite)”, a long-player song over nineteen minutes. While many bands were failed while attempting to include long-players on albums during the late sixties, this one worked very well. As the epic closing song of the album, the musicianship is mature and well thought out, without any of the senseless rambling seen by many similar bands. Even still, I personally believe their best tracks are on side one, with my only big complaint being the exclusion of the many awesome forty-five single cuts released prior to this album. The exception to this is “Lydia Purple”, which is a fantastic short piece filled with sweeping vocal harmonies, and a mystic fantasy quality to it.
“What Is Love”, the first track on the album features some impressive, if not ahead of its time, synth playing that sets an almost science fiction-esque atmosphere. Track two, titled “She” is a fantastic folksy pop stomper with a very jazzy flute intro. Track three, “Howard Christman’s Older” is my favorite cut off of the album, and is really heavy in comparison to the rest of the album. This song features lots of psychedelic acid rock guitar work and a haunting narrative delivered as spoken word. “Lydia Purple” enters the fold as the fourth track, making way for “One Act Play” at track five. This song seems to be about break ups or relationship problems and is lyrically very different from the rest of the album. Even still, this song is a very good fit for the closing song of the first side. The Collectors debut album is a fantastic piece of Canadian music and, rare to the times, got much of the recognition it deserves.
The Collectors went on to make one more great album, and later became the famous Canadian hard rock band “Chilliwack”. If you’re in the mood for a great mystical approach to psychedelic pop-rock witha Canadian maple leaf on top, you’re in for a real trip and treat with this album!
Cohen O’Connor AKA “The Wizard” is a psychedelic-progressive rock record collector who calls Saint John his home, when he’s not at home spinning rare wax, or digging the local bins for that one obscure album you Dad had in the mid 70’s he’s on his radio program “The Technicolor Dream Show” playing rare tracks from the lost era of flower children and renegade teens. Music is his passion, and so is writing for you! Can you dig it? The Wizard can…