Though it's primarily known for its "eccentric soul" reissues, the founders of Chicago's Numero Group label also have a deep and abiding love for the wildly inventive and genre-blurring qualities of vintage psychedelic rock, and with their latest release, they've unearthed as brilliant a buried treasure as I've ever heard from the fertile period that followed "Sgt. Pepper's" and the much-vaunted Summer of Love.
Hardly a hippie haven, the psychedelic trip as interpreted in Rockford, Ill., circa 1969 was darker, grittier and on occasion more sinister and threatening than anything heard in sunny San Francisco--not for nothing does Numero describe the group of studio musicians who called themselves Pisces as aiming for "the Beatles and Jefferson Airplane, but somehow sounding more like the Velvet Underground's meth'd out Midwest cousin." As with the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, that hint of menace makes the group's journey toward the white light all the more powerful.
Previously heard only on three ultra-rare 45's issued back in the day--the group's one album remained unreleased until this collection--Pisces' other big asset is the warm, robust Earth Mother voice of sometimes vocalist Linda Bruner, who shines on tracks such as the enchanting "Dear One," the lovely "Say Goodbye to John" and the haunting "Sam." The band was not immune to the indulgences of the times--a song like "Mary" sinks under the weight of all that phasing and studio trickery, while the somber spoken-word bit in "Genesis II" would have been better left to the Moody Blues. But overall, the enduring melodies and unique ambience of "A Lovely Sight" sound as vibrant and relevant today as they did four decades ago.