Tangerine Zoo - Outside Looking In

Tangerine Zoo was a talented group from Newport, Rhode Island. They came together in the late 1967 and were rising fast in the Boston music scene, well-known as an exellent live band. Unfortunately the group released only two albums (on the Mainstream label) - a somewhat eclectic Tangerine Zoo - S/T (1967) and a more psychedelic Outside Looking In (1968) . The second album didn`t have much success and the band broke up, what is really pity as they would have developed very interestingly if they had remained together. The potential for moving into deep psychedelia or even prog is quite evident on their second album which delivers a "classic" psychedelic mesh of styles: elements of pop, jazz, garage and orchestrated psych are present on almost every track. At the same time Outside Looking In manages to retain a stylistic constinence, hold together by mighty omnipresent keyboards and a brilliant drum section. It is a strong, enjoyable album in a difficult genre, quite "unhardrocky", driven by the absolutely phantastic organ, full of trippy instumental breaks, strong acid guitar and beautiful chorus harmonies: a blend of proto prog and orchestrated pop psych.
I would compare this opus to the Strictly From Hunger album, both bands have similarities concerning their music style and carrierre (as The Hunger split up after their first release), though i find Outside Looking In a way more symphonic with it`s pictorial, weirdly structured arrangements.
The singer Tony Taveira had left the group before the second album was recorded, so it lacks a strong, charismatic lead vocal, what is one of my main reservations, along with a somewhat unfinished feel the album has to it. But this is all i have to complain about on this good, interesting record.

The album opens with a short instrumental tune, subtle at the beginning, with the drums imitating clock ticking. But very soon it becomes intensly menacing, driven by hypnotic guitar lines and echoey vibrating organ, the tempo getting faster and faster, increasing the tension, climaxing with a sudden baby cry - Birth.
Track two - Like People - is quite different. It`s an up-tempo tune, fast and catchy, but already here you hear a trade mark of this album: sudden pace and style changes which are intermingled amongst every track, so that you dont`t know what the sound is going to do next.
In this particular case the song becomes more slow, getting almost waltz-like, but then returns quickly to the up-tempo beat again - a funny and fascinating interplay.
The next song is Wake Up Sun - an exellent, truly psychedelic tune, full of joy and vitality, jumping off with some hard fuzz guitar runs followed by a killer chorus which repeats the line "Wake Up Sun" like an euphoric evocation. It has a strange but yet awesome rhythmic structure and stunning instrumental breaks that are overflowing with the brilliant haunting drums, almost Prunes-like blistering atonal guitar solos and totally mind-blowing swirling mad organ.
This gem of a song is followed by a wonderful Moody Blues cover Another Morning - a beautiful fresh and uplifing track with quite complex orchestration. It contains loads of relentless ecstatic organ work that rolls over a listener like a huge ocean wave.
Track five is another strong, fascinating song - Confusion. It starts off with a spoken word followed by pace and style breaks. The tune has an astonishing instrumental passage in the middle, brimming with interesting interplays of blistering guitar, weird rhythmus, psychedelic sound effects and furious vibrating organ.

The next song You I Love has a mellow melodic start, flowing like a slow river, with nice soft guitar and sweet chorus harmonies...only to surprise a listener with fast, stormy passages full of frenzied piercing organ swirls.
Track seven Further Down The Road is my favorite on this album.
This tune consists of straight up-tempo parts skillfully contrapointed by the dreamy refraine. The song culminates in an instrumental break featuring delicious acid guitar and amasing organ a-la Hunger.
Can`t You See is a quite slow tune, carring a sad melancholic vibe.
The last and the longest track on this album - Young Dream - sparks with a very interesting, almost jazzy drum section. Mind-melting sound effects and hypnotic bass chords are outstanding, but the highlight on this 9 minutes long track is an absolutely trippy extended instrumental break, spiked with weird time structures, sonic trickery and astonishing keybords-drums-blistering lead guitar interplays, accentuated by nice chorus harmonies.
I am sure everybody who digs The Hunger will like this album a lot.
It has a nice loving feel to it and is a really interesting sample of the late sixties transition form garage and beat into psychedelia and progressive rock.

Review submitted by Paul Martin- March 2004

Forced to change their name from "The Flower Pot", because of the "obvious drug reference, The Tangerine Zoo missed out on a place in histiory books by turning down the opportunity to paly at the Woodstock festival in 1969.

Had they played there, would have remembered them as, you know. they played at Woodstock, man - and their output may well have been something very interesting instead of , well very interesting... certainly interesting enough to support acts such as Deep Purple, Van Morrision and The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Opening the album with an intense cover of Van the Man's Gloria, reworked into a 6-minute epic, with swirly Hammond and feedback-drenched psychedelic noodling a-plenty doesn't seem like a good way to avoid the mainstream and do your own thing, but the band manage to stamp their own style on this classic, in a much more interesting way than renowned cover-butchers Vanilla Fudge, bringing it well and truly into the Summer of Love, albeit 6 months too late. Swathes of the Doors dynamic and aggressive style make this stand out from the standard "Love and Peace" fayre, with tightly controlled breakdowns, instrumental solos from everyone, and noises off creating a jazzed-out, frenzied atmosphere.

If you thought that was good, it's the next track that's the real beginning of the treats; "Trip to the Zoo" is so thinly disguised it's laughable, with stonking basslines creating a jazz-flavour to the heavy freakout music that is to follow, and lyrics like "They pick my brain, brain, brain, brain" leaving you in no doubt what sort of trip they were having - but leaving me a little mystified as to what actually happened at the zoo... This track is pure musical LSD - you don't need to take anything, except this album at ear-splitting volume, the way it was intended to be heard. But if you do, please make sure your head is screwed on tightly.

The musical mind expansion continues with the next track - something that sounds like a glass harmonica provides an eerie opening to an angsty, bluesy tale of woe relating something akin to Stockhalm Syndrome, as the Hammond ripples and sweeps menacingly through something that sounds not unlike the roots of Progressive Rock, reminding me particularly of the unsung Scottish band Clouds (formerly 1-2-3), who supported Hendrix on some of his British gigs - clearly Hendrix's booking agents had a taste for this kind of unpredictable, wild and progressive music.

"Nature's Child" is a title that summons up visions of drippy hippy music, but this is again closer to the sound of the Doors, with plenty of Garage energy, dynamic, and more of that angsty melancholy, concerning Barry McGuire's world of destruction. Here the instruments are pushed to recording equipment breaking point, as ice-pick harmonics ring out, threatening to shatter tweeters and ear drums simultaneously.

"The Flight" is more of the same as the above, you'll be glad to hear - great, foot-tapping no-nonsense psychedelic rock with plenty of Hammond Swoops, thumping bass lines and feedback-drenched fuzz guitar noodle.

"Mommy and Daddy" is rather odd, though, having a kind of Scottish flavoured instrumental following the childish Barrett-inspired vocal section - I mean, what's this all about?

Just part of a very odd trip, I suppose, as the music continues into "Symphonic Psyche", a rather manic piece designed for hungry heads - and very catchy. Shoulda been a hit!

The last two tracks, the imaginatively titled "Crystalescent Heaven" and the less imaginatively titled "One More Heartache" are a slower, more mellow number and a manic, uptempo rocker resepctively, that don't add anything more musically, but make a fine ending to a very rounded and very capable debut album which really should command a lot more recognition than it ever got, especially when you put them up against those eternal bores, the Grateful Dead.

Essesstial pick for the fans of Garage/Psyche rock the world over.

The Tangerine Zoo
Tangerine Zoo