The Misunderstood-Children of the Sun: Complete Recordings 1965-1966


AllMusic Review

The Misunderstood are the stuff of legend among fans of '60s garage rock and psychedelia, and they'd probably be even more celebrated if more people heard their work. The band played music their own way, and while they were far ahead of their time, the ferocity and imagination they revealed in their recordings would have been challenging in any era. The Misunderstood's savage interpretation of rhythm & blues was strong stuff in 1965, with vocalist Rick Brown wailing with uncommon ferocity and steel guitarist Glenn Ross Campbell filling the arrangements with otherworldly sweeps and cries through his pedal steel guitar. (Campbell's work with the Misunderstood arguably represents the most confident and visionary efforts to explore the pedal steel's possibilities outside country music.) By the time they developed acid consciousness, they cut some of the most powerful music of psychedelia's year zero -- "Children of the Sun," "I Unseen," and "Find the Hidden Door" rank with the 13th Floor Elevators' debut album among the first truly classic psych tracks. The band were savvy enough to believe there would be a more receptive audience for them in England rather than their native California. They were correct, and landed a record deal in the U.K. that resulted in three singles, yet fate pulled the plug before they could achieve their full potential. The recordings they laid down during their brief golden era -- their single sides for Fontana and several demo sessions -- have been issued in various forms over the years, and Children of the Sun: The Complete Recordings 1965-1966 is a beautifully assembled two-disc set (compiled by superfan and biographer Mike Stax) that is the most comprehensive Misunderstood collection to date. Even the most conventional material here is shot through with Campbell's fiery steel workouts and Brown's impassioned vocal wailing, and their blues workouts on chestnuts like "I'm Not Talking" and "I Just Want to Make Love to You" crackle with energy. When the group began writing their own material, they became even more mesmerizing, as bassist Steve Whiting and drummer Rick Moe matured into an inventive, hard-hitting rhythm section and Campbell grew increasingly foresighted on his instrument. Many have said the Misunderstood sounded more like a British freakbeat group than an American garage-psych outfit, but that shortchanges them a bit. The truth is, they didn't sound much like anyone else at all once they truly found their sound, and more than a half-century after this music was recorded, it still sounds fresh, vital, and ahead of the times. Along with the Screamers and Sonic Rendezvous Band, the Misunderstood rank with the greatest rock bands to never cut a proper album, and while Children of the Sun: The Complete Recordings 1965-1966 doesn't take the place of the LP they never got to make, it leaves the listener with no doubt they were a strikingly talented group that anyone who cares about rock & roll past or present needs to hear.


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