9 May 2016

Hell Preachers Inc.: "Supreme Psychedelic Underground"

The mysterious psych gem that time forgot
This one is a real music curiosity. The mythos surrounding it is quite substantial, probably playing a vital role in its now cult status. The original vinyl release by the label Europa warrants prices up to €65 depending on quality. Shrouded in mystery, it all starts out with the lack of information on the album. No mention of the bandmembers, no inlay, no country of origin or release year (though some point to 1968 as a possible year of release). Everything from the colourful cover art and name to the song titles are pretty standard mainstays in late sixties psychedelic rock bands. It is speculated that the band itself never really was that - a band. But rather that Hell Preachers Inc. was a constructed entity meant to cash in on the commercial success that the psychedelic vibes of harder rock bands were enjoying at the time.

If you believe the idea that they were created more or less on the fly on accounts of Supreme Psychedelic Underground being rather cliché for its time, the text on the jacket supports that notion. A few paragraphs talking about underground youth turning away from the established society, some feigned poetic nonesense about man's inherent evil and using music as a weapon to fight the power. It all sounds very fake, like something an out-of-touch label manager would write because "that's what I think the youngsters want". Hell Preachers Inc.'s music supports the theory to some degree as well. Some tracks sound highly reminiscent of early Deep Purple - the band was at one point rumoured to be the work of a young incarnation of Deep Purple - while others bear a striking resemblance to Flower Travellin' Band, Jimi Hendrix Experience, H.P. Lovecraft and Iron Butterfly.

"The funniest thing about the album, even if it is a cash-in performed by strung out European session musicians, is that it's actually quite good..."

Jagged guitars, wah-wah effects, Hammond organs, exotic rhythm sections and mind-bending freak outs, Supreme Psychedelic Underground certainly plays like a mid-to-late sixties psychedelic record. But it is not without merrit - The funniest thing about the album, even if it is a cash-in performed by strung out European session musicians, is that it's actually quite good if this type of nitty-gritty far-out sixties rock is your thing. Though originally poorly received and largely ignored by the mainstream - probably on account of the album mostly getting released on labels of ill repute - the album itself has quite enjoyable compositions like Let Me Shoot You and Shalom. It's a shame that it only ever saw limited release on a few European labels like Europa (Germany), Marble Arch Records (UK) and Dim Record (Spain). Supreme Psychedelic Underground is by no means a polished masterpiece, but it stands the test of time with immersive hooks and a garagey sound that should please fans of less refined and obscure psychedelic rock like The Deep's Psychedelic Moods, The Seeds' A Web of Sound or Cromagnon's Cave Rock.


Released in 1968 (?) by Europa


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