The Parable of Arable Land
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|The Parable of Arable Land|
|Studio album by |
The Red Crayola (with The Familiar Ugly)
|Recorded||March 1967 at Andrus Studio, Texas, USA|
|Genre||Experimental rock, psychedelic rock, proto-punk|
|The Red Krayola chronology|
The Parable of Arable Land is the first studio album by 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 album was allegedly recorded in a single session, featuring the band (then consisting of Mayo Thompson on guitar and vocals, Steve Cunningham on bass guitar and Rick Barthelme on drums) playing live with "The Familiar Ugly", which 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 by "General Fox" (presumably the 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." Roky Erickson of 13th Floor Elevators plays organ throughout, and allegedly plays the solo on the album's first track, "Hurricane Fighter Plane".
A recording purporting to be a demo which surfaced on the International Artists Records compilation partially refuted 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 suggests 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.)
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. While marketed as a "psychedelic" album, the album also had a lot 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".
The most non-traditional 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 non-commercial 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).
In its retrospective review, Pitchfork called the album "one of the most visionary album[s] of the year". Trouser Press wrote that the album "boasts a more engaged intelligence than most of the era's aural acid baths".
All tracks written by Rick Bartholme, Steve Cunningham and Mayo Thompson.
|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|
|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|
- The Red Krayola
- Rick Barthelme – drums
- Steve Cunningham: – bass guitar
- Mayo Thompson – guitar, vocals
- The Familiar Ugly
- Additional personnel
- Roky Erickson – organ ("Hurricane Fighter Plane"), harmonica ("Transparent Radiation")
- Deming, Mark. "The Parable of Arable Land – The Red Krayola". AllMusic. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
- Linhardt, Alex (February 9, 2004). "The Red Krayola: The Parable of Arable Land / God Bless The Red Krayola and All Who Sail With It". Pitchfork. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
- Grant, Steven; Robbins, Ira; Kenny, Glenn. "Red Crayola (Red Krayola)". Trouser Press. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
- "The 100 Greatest Albums You've Never Heard". NME. Retrieved 11 October 2018.