The Paisleys were a Minneapolis garage-psych band that formed in 1968. Original members included Rick Youngberg (guitar, vocals), Rick “The Wizard” Timm (bass, vocals), Bill Smith (piano, vocals) and Greg Payton (drums, vocals).
In late 1968, they decided to pack up and move to Canada where they camped around and gigged predominantly in the Vancouver area. Due to fear of being deported back to the U.S. and into the Vietnam draft, Youngerberg left the group. Payton had a nervous breakdown and also left and was replaced by Bob Belknap (drums, vocals).
In 1969, Smith, Timm and Payton moved back to the U.S. and held auditions for a new lead guitarist and found Brad Stodden. They then began recording their sole LP, “Cosmic Minds At Play”, album abounds with naive cosmic cliches of late-`60s psychedelic music, performed with sincerity and respectable instrumental competence.
Halfway through recording the album, Belknap was replaced by Mike Cornelius (drums, vocals). It’s this lineup that recorded the outstanding ‘Something’s Missing’, which is one of their best songs, but ironically never made the LP. Only 2,000 copies of the record were pressed and when it didn’t sell well, the band soon split. (By Adamus67)
When this LP was given to me by a friend in the mid ’80s, I assumed it to be the work of a too-obviously-named retro band – possibly British and possibly linked with England’s “Groovy Cellar” scene – something I had never actually heard anything from, just read about and invented – probably for the better. (I didn’t have much to go on: A plain black and white cover with no info and cheap Letraset ‘The Paisleys’ monogram on the back with a bootleg looking UK-pressed label). The music, however, certainly suggested otherwise: high American country accents singing keyboard-heavy Prog Beatles with a side long title-track that had a baseball play-by-play. Then there was the hand drawn trip cover of (of course) Paisleys, cartoon faces and squiggly lines – Creepy in a sort of Flash Graphics/International Artists sort of way. Not at all mod. No internet back then so in my mind they could’ve been from anywhere at any time.
The truth is this upper midwest-based band was doing some pretty far-out sounding Anglo-Pop in the ’70s when virtually no-one else was. It’s a bizarre album; quite likeable in its own weird way.
The band approaches Psychedelia in an earnest, honest style. The lyrics are reminiscent of Tommy Hall/Roky Erickson’s in some regards as they are quite explicitly ‘instructional’ or ‘journalistic’ with regards to Cosmic experience. Tellingly, the most interesting tracks have a curious ‘futuristic’ feel to them, setting The Paisleys quite apart from whatever their influences may have been (I can only really detect Abbey Road Beatles, particularly on one track: The Wind). They were clearly on to something, following it doggedly.
It’s hard to contemplate this band’s historical place in whatever scene they came up in. With their name and music, The Paisleys clearly were in step with day-glo Nuggets-era happenings, even if those happenings were already 4 or 5 years old by the time they themselves recorded. However, if they actually were self-consciously ‘retro’ at this early point in the Rock Era they certainly weren’t copying anyone in particular. Most crucially, there is a wacky sense of humour throughout ‘Cosmic Mind At Play’ that sets it apart from heavier offerings, a gentle giggle throughout making it a friendlier soundtrack than some. It’s certainly one of the more unusual records out there – one that stands utterly alone on several counts.
Once astonishingly rare, ‘Cosmic Mind At Play’ has apparently become a little easier to find: Sundazed has come out with a deluxe CD with bonus tracks (which I haven’t heard). Fans of the Elevators and The Golden Dawn would do well to seek out this lesser known offering of late vintage heartfelt American Psychedelic Music. Despite some crummy reviews out there that (thanks, Internet) are being rehashed in some odd places, this album is actually really good and quite noteworthy for even having been made at all. (By Banjo)
01. “Cosmic Mind at Play” 2:07
02. “Rockin’” 2:03
03. “Now” 3:12
04. “Smokey Windows” 1:39
05. “Diddley” 4:36
06. “Wind” 5:19
07. “Musical Journey” 18:42
08. “Something’s Missing” 2:59
09. “Medley: Comin’ On, City of Light, Home Again” 7:26
10. “The Fool With the Jewel” 3:22
11. “Step Quietly and Quickly” 2:09
12. “Elf in a Magic Bottle” 6:08
13. “In Dreams” 6:41
Brad Stodden – Vocals, guitar
Bill Smith – Keyboards, background vocals
Dick Timm – Bass, background vocals
Bob Belknap – Drums, background vocals.
Rick Youngberg – Vocals, guitar
Bill Airey Smith – Vocals, piano
Greg Payton – Vocals, drums
Mike Cornelius – Drums, vocals