5 Aug 2022

US, Colombia, Nigeria, Sweden, South Korea, Thailand and Iran

Now-Again’s Foray Into Funky Psychedelia, American gospel, paranoiac soul, loner folk, East-Nigerian fuzz, Thai rock, Iranian ballads and more…

'This compilation introduces a new direction for Now-Again Records and its owner, Stones Throw Records GM, A&R and producer Egon. With the same detailed, no-stone-unturned approach he used for Deep Funk (The Funky 16 Corners, Cold Heat), he tackles beat-heavy global psychedelia with Forge Your Own Chains. “Those of us birthed into record collecting by the Hip Hop midwife revered Jimi Hendrix as well as James Brown. We searched for albums by Mulatu Astatke and Power of Zeus with the same fervor,” Egon writes in his introduction to the comp. Forge Your Own Chains showcases music from all corners of the world: Colombia, Nigeria, Sweden, South Korea, Thailand and Iran. The focus – in keeping with Now-Again’s tradition – is on melody, driving rhythms and accessibility. Not one song is included on this compilation because it is from a “rare” album.

Certainly, many of these songs do spring from albums that exchange hands for many thousands of dollars and many of these songs have never seen reissue. But these songs are all beautiful in their own right and work to form a coherent album. Psychedelic records, long the mainstay of older, grizzled collectors and seemingly quaint, are, in the hands of Egon and those of his generation, giving up new ghosts. And, with comps like Forge Your Own Chains, inspiring new investigations into our not so distant (and still very much alive) musical past.' 

'Forge Your Own Chains: Heavy Psychedelic Ballads and Dirges, 1968-1974 collects 15 slabs of internationally flavored acid rock that run the gamut from genius (the delicious, languid psych-pop of D.R. Hooker’s title cut) to questionable (Shadrack Chameleon's barely demo-worthy “Don’t Let it Get You Down”). In between there’s a whole lot of fuzz, blood, flower power, and epic, foreign space jams, all of which will appeal to the collectors and hobbyists who spend their weekends (or lives) bent over thrift shop crates of browning vinyl looking for their white whale.' -James Christopher Monger

'The ever-evolving state of the music industry is a funny thing. In 2010, just about anyone could, potentially, get their music out to thousands of listeners with some decent recording software and the Internet. Yet, because so many damn people are doing it, it gets that much harder to make one’s noise heard, or to stand out above a perpetually rising sea of indie rockers in training. Thing is, in spite of the absurd number of bands out there right now, to some degree, there has always been an absurd number of bands making music, but due to the high expense of recording and difficulty of distribution, most of them weren’t heard by much of anyone. However, the flipside of modern times producing such a great abundance of new music is that now is also a time in which many lost classics have been unearthed and brought into the present.

Forge Your Own Chains, a compilation released by Stones Throw offshoot Now-Again Records, is a treasure trove of such lost songs, lining up 14 diverse and heady tracks of psychedelic rock. Some are more obscure than others, though according to the liner notes, no track was chosen specifically because of its rarity. That said, this isn’t a collection of Cream or Jefferson Airplane songs. The music on display here comes from all corners of the world, from the United States, to Columbia, Sweden, Thailand and Iran. Yet they share a common thread of being trippy, epic and melodically intense.

The first track, “Song of a Sinner,” comes from Middle American rockers Top Drawer, a sprawling, organ-heavy ballad that stands among the most gorgeous and mesmerizing tracks here. Curiously, however, the band basically disappeared after recording first album Solid Oak, which now demands reasonably high prices, that is, if you can actually narrow your search terms just right on eBay. Next up is “How Great Thou Art,” a wailing slab of psychedelic gospel from the Sensational Saints. I never knew such a genre existed, but after this song, consider me sold. D.R. Hooker’s “Forge Your Own Chains” lends the compilation its name, leaps into yet another direction, the Connecticut artist’s jazzy psych-folk mixing Love with Bacharach and Herb Alpert, to impressive effect.

Evocative dirge “Twilight” by South Korea’s Shin Jung Hyun & The Men could double as opening theme for both a Wes Anderson or Quentin Tarantino film, which I actually would like to see happen, come to think of it. Meanwhile, “Two To Make a Pair” by Nigeria’s The Strangers is a shorter, more direct groove layered with perhaps two organs, or maybe just one very ambidextrous organist. Damon’s “Don’t You Feel Me” is opium den striptease fodder (that’s a good thing), Shadrack Chameleon’s “Don’t Let It Get You Down” is another meaty Hammond ballad, Colombian outfit Ana y Jaime’s “Nina Nana” is a high energy ballad with some impressively quickly-sung lyrics, and Iran’s Kourosh Yaghmaei delivers “Hajm-e Khaali,” a brief but swirling standout with some truly gorgeous guitar licks.

With so many different artists represented, many of them in five-minute increments or longer, not everything is quite so thrilling. However, the vast majority of the songs here are pretty damn cool. On Forge Your Own Chains, Now Again Records has compiled a set of music that’s continually interesting, frequently great, and occasionally transcendent.' -Jeff Terich

Various – Forge Your Own Chains: Heavy Psychedelic Ballads And Dirges 1968-1974

Label: Now-Again Records – NA5046
Format: CD, Compilation
Country: US
Released: 2009
Genre: Funk / Soul
Style: Psychedelic, Funk

1. Top Drawer - Song Of A Sinner 8:39
2. Sensational Saints - How Great Thou Art 3:28
3. East of Underground - Smiling Faces Sometimes 6:22
4. D.R. Hooker - Forge Your Own Chains 4:35
5. Shin Jung Hyun and the Men feat. Jang Hyun - Twilight 5:36
6. T. Zchiew and The Johnny - Let Yourself Be Free 3:39
7. The Strangers - Two To Make A Pair 2:47
8. Damon - Don't You Feel Me 2:30
9. Ellison - Strawberry Rain 5:20
10. Morley Grey - Who Can I Say You Are 3:40
11. Shadrack Chameleon - Don't Let It Get You Down 4:39
12. Ofege - It's Not Easy 4:20
13. Ana Y Jaime - Nina Nana 3:16
14. Kourosh Yaghmaei - Hajm-e Khaali 2:42
15. Baby Grandmothers - Somebody's Calling My Name 9:11