The Parable of Arable Land

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The Parable of Arable Land
Studio album by The Red Crayola (with The Familiar Ugly)
Released 1967
Recorded March 1967 at Andrus Studio, Texas, United States
Genre Experimental rock, psychedelic rock, protopunk
Length 41:32
Label International Artists
Producer Lelan Rogers
The Red Krayola chronology
The Parable of Arable Land
(1967)
God Bless the Red Krayola and All Who Sail With It
(1968)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[1]

The Parable of Arable Land is the debut studio album by The Red Krayola, then known as The Red Crayola. Self-described as a "Free Form Freak-Out", the songs on the album introduce mainstay Mayo Thompson's signature style of abstract lyrics wed to minimalist (and often avant-garde) melodies and rhythms. The album is also notable for instrumental cameos by label mate and 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson.

The Familiar Ugly[edit]

"The Familiar Ugly" refers to the fifty-or-so friends of the band who provide the "Free Form Freak-Outs" tracks that appear between songs. They were instructed by the band to play whatever they pleased. To demonstrate, the liner notes from one "General Fox" (presumably producer Lelan Rogers, as he was present for the session) describe how "a young man made his music by striking two match sticks together... His girlfriend kept time by blowing in a pop bottle."[citation needed] Roky Erickson of 13th Floor Elevators plays organ throughout, and allegedly plays the solo on the album's first track, "Hurricane Fighter Plane".

Recording[edit]

The album was allegedly recorded in a single session,[citation needed] featuring the band (then consisting of Mayo Thompson on guitar and vocals, Steve Cunningham on bass and Rick Barthelme on drums) playing live with The Familiar Ugly. A recording purporting to be a demo which surfaced on the International Artists Records compilation would partially refute this. The "demo" of "Hurricane Fighter Plane" is identical to the take used on Parable, only minus the crossfades in and out of the preceding and subsequent "Free Form Freak-Outs". This would suggest that the basic "song" tracks were first recorded by The Red Crayola, and then superimposed with the Familiar Ugly recording. (However, Erickson's organ is still present throughout the entire "demo" version.)

Music[edit]

While the songs themselves introduce Mayo Thompson's signature style, it is the inclusion of the "Free Form Freak-Outs" for which the album is best known. They are seen by many critics as a foreshadowing (or a direct precursor) to the industrial music which surfaced in the 1970s.[citation needed] While at the time marketed as a "psychedelic" album, the album has more to do with (like Frank Zappa's work of the time) modern 20th-century composers and the avant-garde in general.

Thompson's lyrics, while seemingly fitting in with the often surreal tone of typical 1960s psychedelic lyrics, actually demonstrate a more literary and artistic approach than what was common in rock music of the time. On the other hand, AllMusic critic Richie Unterberger argues that "Hurricane Fighter Plane" is "one of the closest American approximations of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd."[citation needed]

The most nontraditional and avant-garde of the six songs is the title track. An instrumental, it features nothing but a sparse and exotic-sounding percussion loop with minimal improvisation on top of it, building in intensity and then settling down over the course of about three minutes. This is not part of the "Free Form Freak-Outs", as it seems to be somewhat orchestrated. This track in particular foreshadows the blatantly minimalistic and noncommercial nature of their rejected second album, Coconut Hotel.

Each of the songs bears a lengthy subtitle (listed in quotations instead of the typical parentheses) lifted directly from its own lyrics (except for "The Parable of Arable Land", which is an instrumental).

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Rick Barthleme, Steve Cunningham and Mayo Thompson

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Free Form Freak-Out"   1:30
2. "Hurricane Fighter Plane" (subtitled "When the Ride Is Over You Can Go to Sleep") 3:33
3. "Free Form Freak-Out"   2:24
4. "Transparent Radiation" (subtitled "Red Signs Out-Side, Which I Contain") 2:32
5. "Free Form Freak-Out"   4:21
6. "War Sucks" (subtitled "You Remember What Happened to Hansel and Gretel") 3:38
7. "Free Form Freak-Out"   3:09
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Free Form Freak-Out"   1:52
2. "Pink Stainless Tail" (subtitled "Seven Guest Are Quite Now, And Now Not Half So Much") 3:16
3. "Free Form Freak-Out"   3:05
4. "Parable of Arable Land" (subtitled "And the End Shall Be Signaled By the Breaking of a Twig") 3:06
5. "Free Form Freak-Out"   4:09
6. "Former Reflections Enduring Doubt" (subtitled "I Pass in a Rain That Is Always Too Soon") 4:57

Personnel[edit]

The Red Krayola
  • Rick Barthleme – drums
  • Steve Cunningham: – bass guitar
  • Mayo Thompson – guitar, vocals
The Familiar Ugly
Additional personnel
  • Roky Erickson – organ ("Hurricane Fighter Plane"), harmonica ("Transparent Radiation")
Technical

References[edit]

External links[edit]