If Henry Rollins incarnates all the smoldering hatred and intensity of familyman Charlie Manson, then Sky Saxon — the legendary leader of LA’s protopunk Seeds — is a self-made construct of all the qualities Rollins discarded: drug-addled, hippie mystical, stuck in the ’60s, inconsistent and unfocused. The above discography is a necessarily abbreviated listing of Saxon’s activities and does not include most of the countless (and endless) cult chants from his days as a late-’70s Hawaiian guru (pressed in editions of as few as two, some on 8-track tape only) or cult-refugee material (the Alright Family Band).
New Fruit is exactly what the subtitle claims: a collections of obscurities beginning with the squeaky-clean (ex-Little Rascal Darla Hood was part of the original entourage) doo-wop-derived ’62-’63 teen pop of Little Richard Marsh, including a song with the Rivingtons on backing vocals. Missing his debut single, the sole AIP volume is nonetheless a more complete version of the Eva retrospective, skirting the familiar late-’60s Seeds years (with one ’67 selection) and interview recorded in distant shoebox mono from a live broadcast, through to the ’70s Seeds — not appreciably different in content or approach from the ’60s version (albeit angrier and heavier on a pair of raging punk ravers) — until the final two tracks, when suddenly they kick into wah-wah overdrive and unexpectedly veer into sheetmetal blues (as practiced by Frijid Pink or the Frost). Fade out the ’70s.
Fade in the ’80s, with Sky now on Psycho, the foremost British acid-casualty label, sandwiched between Deviants reissues and Crystalized Movements freakouts. Joined by a stellar cast culled from Iron Butterfly, Fraternity of Man and Steppenwolf (the latter represented by Mars Bonfire), Starry Ride reaches into Sky’s head and pulls out a set of genuine plums: sharp if formulaic Seedspunk framing a worldview no less oblique than Roky Erickson’s, as illustrated most emphatically on the side-long “24 Hour Rocker,” a minor riff-plus-variations repeated live beneath scream-of-consciousness ranting and rave.
A Groovy Thing documents his studio excursions in LA under the “Firewall” moniker, with sidemen moonlighting from the Dream Syndicate, Plimsouls and Droogs, all Phil Spectorized (by co-producer “Marcus Tybalt,” longtime Jekyll to Saxon’s Hyde) for maximum sonic dressing, minimal riffing and left-field vocalizing (the Seeds legacy). Destiny’s Children puts the same songs in a new order (with inferior artwork), while In Search of Brighter Colors updates Saxony to a less anxious, more moody plane befitting California’s then-crumbling garage scene, closer aurally to the Seeds than anything since 1971. Goofily poppy, it hit the US racks as World Fantastic, minus the lesser songs and joined by a number of unreleased crosseyed neo-classics dredged from Sky’s days amidst the California underworld.
Voxx caught the rebounding Sky on a four-song 1986 7-inch shared with soothing/scathing psych punks SS-20, whom the aging guru had first augmented/sabotaged (according to one’s point of view) onstage during his unexpected resurgence in Hollywood in the early ’80s, when he would climb up unannounced to join every single band of the then-popular garage contingent spearheaded by Greg Shaw’s Voxx label and Cavern Club. Originally a kick, it quickly became a drag to the young Beatle-booted hipsters, and a band called Purple Electricity was cooked up as a stake through Sky’s hollow heart. Featuring the McDonald brothers from Redd Kross and Primate Brian Corrigan on drums, the intent was to daze and confuse Mr. Saxon, as well as any sycophants still blindly following. Drawing heavily from familiar ’70s metal tunes, the blatantly unrehearsed music of the March ’86 show documented on Private Party is matched with a disconnected and distracted Sky, recorded in glorious walkmanorama. Just to cap off this travesty, all of the songs — including indisputable covers — are credited to SS Saxon.