ALBUM NAME: Kaleidoscopin’ – Exploring Prisms of The Past
RELEASED: Dec 2009, Now Sounds
RATING: Wondermintal - Spin it, Spin it, Spin it, and Spin it some more, more, more
First off, a bit of background on Minty’s favourite band…….
Wondermints were formed from a friendship between Darian Sahanaja and Nick Walusko who met in 1982 and from 1992 through to 1994, self-distributed their songs on a series of cassettes, known as the Blue one, the Purple one and the Green one (unsurprisingly from the colour of the covers!). During this time, the duo of Nick and Darian were joined by bassist Brian Kassan (who later left and was replaced by Jim Mills and then Probyn Gregory, both multi instrumentalists) and drummer Mike D’Amico.
In 1994, they recorded a 4 track demo for Epic. They didn’t get the deal with Epic, and the demo songs were released on a fourth cassette.
The following year, 1995, Wondermints started to appear on various compilation CDs and finally in the same year, their first CD (self titled, “Wondermints”) was released by a Japanese label. This release was an anthology of some (but not all) of the tracks from their Blue, Purple and Green cassettes. A few years later, and after two more CD releases (“Wonderful World Of” & “Bali”) the band got the attention of Beach Boy, Brian Wilson and became part of his 10 piece backing band when he began touring in 1999. The guys have been very busy on the road with Brian Wilson since then, and Darian was instrumental in helping Brian recreate the “lost” 1967 Beach Boys album “SMiLE” live in London (and then around the world) to huge critical acclaim.
Through the Brian Wilson tours, Wondermints has accumulated a new fan base (which included Minty) and the demand for their back catalogue grew. Eventually the band found time out of their busy touring schedule and in Sept 2002, their fourth CD “Mind If We Make Love to You” was released, with Brian Wilson providing backing vocals on some tracks. Since then, the fans have been clamouring for more.
And here it is……
We are not going to do a track by track listing, but give a general impression of the CD, picking out some bits that really stand out…..
You could call this a “rarities” CD, and considering the pedigree of the tracks, you would not be far wrong. If you own “Wondermints”, then you have some of the Blue, Purple and Green cassette tracks. “Kaleidoscopin” gives you the rest of those tracks and more and what a treat it is…….
Darian and Nick have their own distinctive styles and they blend together well whilst keeping a certain individuality which gives the CD a great mix. This is noticeable when you listen to “And Penny Knows” which is a Sahanaja composition and sits right up there with “Protto Pretty” & “In a Haze” and then listen to “Gone” which Nick describes in the sleeve notes as a “sad, waltzy ballad about regrets and the fear of loss”. Two totally different songs but each, fantastic.
“Truth Or Consequences” is a composition by both Nick and Darian, and with undertones of Nirvana guitar, Darian’s voice, and the line “you move me” which could lead to a mash up with the Troggs’ “Wild Thing” this is a real highlight of the CD.
Of the first seven tracks, only one is unknown (officially) to Minty – “No-One’s Girl”. This was pre-cassette days, but is fast becoming one of the best tracks on the CD in Minty’s opinion.
From track 8 onwards, with the exception of the four tracks that were on the Epic demo, we are treated to songs that have appeared on compilations, and a real bonus for fans that got into the Wondermints post 2002 when the compilations were pretty much out of print.
These include some cover versions - the Hollies “You Need Love”. Brian Wilson collaborators’ Gary Usher and Roger Christian’s “Ski Party”, “Full Moon” and Henry Mancini’s “The Party”. It was this track that caught Mike Myers’ attention and led him to approach Darian to write a song for his new the film, resulting in “Austin Powers” (which should have been the theme song to that movie!).
“Galactic Patrol” was on a free CD given with an edition of the UK pop magazine, Bucketfull of Brains, and The Beeb really, really likes the rock guitar on this.
The liner notes come in the form of a 24 page booklet and have been written by the band, adding some nuances around the origin of the tracks which is a delight to read through. The notes are interspersed with pictures of the band, including one where they are with Mike Myers all sporting Autin Powers wigs!, and the centre spread is a load of flyers from gigs performed in the 90's. The booklet itself was designed by the main man from Now Sounds - Steve Stanley, with Darian designing the front cover and back inlay. This really adds to the whole package - Nice job guys.
In a nutshell, this is a great CD, Not only does it plug the gap between the cassettes and the first Wondermints CD, but it also gathers together the majority of all the tracks that appeared on various compilation albums through the late ‘90’s. If you have all of the Wondermints previous CD’s, this CD dots the i’s and crosses the t’s. If you don’t have the Wondermints previous CD’s then this will just whet your appetite and leave you wanting more… their back catalogue is still available so go buy!
There are a couple of notable omissions, - namely, “Do You Have Any Regrets”, Darian’s single that was released in France, and Nick’s version of the great Pet Sounds track “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” both of which appeared on a homeless charity CD, “In My Room “ in 1995. These two tracks would have been the icing on what is actually a rather grand and exquisite cake.
Just don’t leave it so long next time huh?
Oh, and Nick… we are now waiting for your solo CD with great anticipation!