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Jimmie Haskell: California ’99 (ABC 1971)

Ok, this record is pretty frickin’ bugged out. You really need to see it to truly appreciate how bugged but it’s like the soundtrack to an imaginary movie about an alternative future for America. The cover folds out into this huge 3 x 2 map of the United States – only that it’s not called the United States anymore, it’s called California (the whole country is renamed Calfiornia in 1980). And the map has some curious features, such as the fact that the S.F. Bay peninsula now stretches from Shasta down to Santa Barbara, and is renamed the San San Peninsula after an 11.7 earthquake floods the entire San Joaquin Valley in 1984. Oh yeah, and Florida becomes one big desert in 1987. 1992 – Moon Prisons built, prisoners all transferred.

There must have been some serious blunts passed around at this session, no doubt. Reading through the alternative timeline is probably as much fun, if not more, than listening to the album itself – it’s just so bugged out. There’s actually a MUCH bigger backstory to Jimmie Haskell, an LA arranger, but I have no interest in really getting into it. This guy does much better in his review of the album.

What’s actually on the LP itself is a strange, strange mix of dramatizations, blues, jazz and rock. It’d go toe to toe with Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium Is the Massage” LP for quirkiness (but it’s just as sample-able I suppose for that same reason). But what’s REALLY weird is that Haskell does a bunch of cover songs taken from another rock group, Millenium (their album Begin has just been re-issued by the way). He covers “To Claudia On Thursday” and “Prelude”, both of which have very cool funky elements, especially “Prelude” which mixes up what sounds like a moog or ARP and a harpsichord, rock guitar, and some bashin’ drums. (The Millenium version is actually better but who the hell would have thought of doing a cover? That’s like Tom Scott covering the Jefferson Airplane – wild!)

Seriously, this album is something else. For those out there who like some trippy ’70s rock shizzle? This one’s for you (and hell, I didn’t even mention the Sexual Gratification Machines).