1. Beers
    2. Love Is Just A Dream
    3. Taka
    4. Teenage Romance
    5. Creation
    6. Commercials

    Ted Stilles – Bhang (1980)

    Though Ted Stilles throws some “Beers” at you with an instrumental heavy guitar jammer as you first cue up his 1980 private press ‘Bhang’ LP it is obvious those brews have been dosed with acid. As soon as you hit track two things get very psychedelic and stay that way. Using a remarkably cohesive variety of flavors, everything about this LP has the sound and feeling of the vintage late ‘60s proto psychedelic hard rock pioneers first reaching new territory. In a blindfold test I could have guessed this came out circa 1970, a local Jersey dude in the wake of Jimi with his own ideas… but it is 1980 and that sense of sounding outside of time is what led collectors to ‘Bhang’ in the first place. In the early ‘80s before the internet globalized knowledge and the market for obscure private pressing records a secretive network of collectors and dealers were busy uncovering all the vintage local ‘60s and early ‘70s monsters that blow your mind today. While uncovering buried treasure from the original psychedelic rock era as it played out in their own neighborhoods they also came across more recent local gems that would appeal to the slowly growing underground fan base and market for this kinda stuff. Ted Stilles first achieved psychedelic cult fame under these circumstances not long after the LP came out when a pioneer New Jersey psych dealer Bill Paquin scored copies and hyped them towards collectors of the vintage era. This scenario played out often back in the ‘80s with monsters only a few years old at their time of discovery like George Brigman’s ‘Jungle Rot’, Ray Harlowe & Gyp Fox’s ‘First Rays’ or Marcus ‘From The House Of Trax’… uncovered, tracked down and unleashed by obsessive vintage psych collectors who had the ears to realize they deliver as potently as the first wave in a real, not retro way. In other words this slice of life sounds as alive now as when it was created and deserves it’s place amidst the earlier classics, 1970 and 1980 are the same year when looking back from 2024!
    Bhang is a paste made of cannabis sativa used as a mood enhancing food additive. Ted Stilles sound rides a similar wave, plenty of heavy guitar action but more cosmic than aggressive, when he gets bluesy it has an otherworldly Jimi flavor, when he does vocals he really plays with your head. His brother Ed Stilles on bass and Brad Mabu Young on drums round out the basic trio, with guests on bass, percussion and piano on a couple tracks. You can check out more recent music from Ted online, he’s still creating 44 years after this impressive debut. An overseas Ted fan made the comment “It tastes like America, even has that bizarre after taste…” to which Ted replied “1980 was bubbling with bizarre”… and here is the proof!

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