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C.A. Quintet (Trip Thru Hell)

Crank this to 7.5 of 11

Released: 1969

Genre: Psychedelic Rock

Sounds Like: The Blues Magoos, The Chocolate Watch Band

C.A. Quintet, from Minneapolis, USA were an odd psychedelic band from the late 60’s and their only album, Trip Thru Hell could be one of the most distinctive, obscure LP's from this time. It was released in 1969, through Candy Floss Record label with no recognition at all. It was known that only 500 copies were printed thus making it a very rare find. Than sometime in the mid-eighties than again the mid-nineties it was re-released with additional songs and b-sides.

Before C.A. Quintet had released this LP, they put out a few garage rock style singles. Than at some point the mastermind behind this band, Ken Erwin, decided to infuse this music with elements of darkness, horror and weirdo sound arrangements. Trip Thru Hell flew under the radar and maybe was ahead of its time, but it still holds up today and feels authentic and very original. Plus they album cover is quite intriguing as well.

We begin our strange trip with part one of "Trip Thru Hell," this is a haunting, nine-minute instrumental excursion. It starts with a slow building rhythm of organ and bass than the drums and an eerie chant of a woman appears, very trippy beginning.  At the 3:21 minute mark the chant fades into a psychedelic drum solo that sounds unworldly when cranked up, we are then brought back to the chanting. Out of nowhere this song just transitions into some sort of LSD freak show circus, reminiscent to the modern era rock band Mr. Bungle. Now, we know it’s difficult to compare anything to Mr. Bungle, but it makes sense here, plus we are huge fans of Mike Patton and perhaps he was influenced from this band in some way. We are then taken back to the beginning rhythm once again to end. Wow, what an opener, can they keep this up? Let’s find out.

"Colorado Morning," the albums second track has a different vibe; with a more accessible psychedelic sound and the trumpets give it that southwest charm. The vocals possess a soft echoed feel and do not change much throughout the album, except for an occasional awkward and timely screech here and there. "Cold Spider" has an early style garage rock composition and as the song progresses it shifts into a tripped-out Blue Cheer style jam with a bit of improvisation. "Underground Music" is very infectious; it balances well between 60’s pop and blues rock psychedelics; the guitarist here just plays his ass off, beating the hell out of the wah-wah pad.

With tracks like "Sleepy Hollow" and "Smooth as Silk," they continue to toe-the-line between normalcy and drug-laced arrangements, throwing us for a loop while keeping things fresh and interesting. The use of the trumpets becomes an important instrument that really helps separate this band from the rest. The last song, "Trip Thru Hell Part 2," has elements of the first track and is very exploratory without becoming over done or annoying, they knew when to end the song and the album as well. And since there are only seven songs here, this trip does not drag on and become tiring, you’ll probably end up coming back for more anyway.

C.A. Quintet is sure to have an underground following, even to this day; they were an intriguing band that seemed to be ahead of their time. If you are in the hunt for that odd psychedelic album that can take you’re collection to new heights, than it’s worth looking into a Trip Thru Hell.

Standout Tracks: Cold Spider, Trip Thru Hell Pt. 1


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