Music Reviews

Stark Reality


Stones Throw

Now, there are some journeys one really does not want to take – like that stroll down death row. There are other journeys that one doesn’t want to go on but are, unfortunately, necessary: that good, ole rectal exam. And, while this album may feel like an anal probe to some, the freaks out there will absolutely love Stark Reality’s Now.

Apparently, back in 1970, Boston’s WGBH was looking for hipper children’s music. So, they hired Monty Stark and his band, and what they got was Schoolhouse Rock on acid. Stark Reality took a bunch of Hoagy Carmichael kids’ music and slapped the shit out of it. The original LP, Stark Reality: Discovers Hoagy Carmichael’s Music Shop, was so freaky that Ahmad Jamal released the album on his own label. It is still so damned dope that folks like Madlib, J-Live and Large Professor have sampled it. Why? Because Stark and crew had such a bold, singular vision that one can’t help being amazed. They had chutzpah to spare.

Sure, “Verb (That’s What’s Happening)” was funky, but it comes nowhere near what you get on this disc. This re-issue is gritty and funky (like Sun Ra), full of distortion, fuzzed-up vibes and wah-wah out the wazoo. The grooves are thick and the abstractions would make Timothy Leary go “Damn.” And, just when you think you can’t take anymore, Stark chimes in with the quirky lyrics Hoagy wrote for the kiddies.

This is an amazing psychedelic funk jazz experience. I have no clue what child they were targeting (except, maybe, Robert Downey, Jr.) because it’s not anything resembling the children’s music I remember. And most adults would find this album hard to comprehend. But the really adventurous among you will absolutely love it. This is a wild ride, a fantastic voyage, a journey well worth taking.

Stone’s Throw:

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