Bona Fide – Psychedelic Breakfast
Sonance Records 823787100523
Having never seen a live performance of Psychedelic Breakfast, I was in a
unique position when listening to their third album, Bona Fide.
Recorded live on September 14, 2002 at Pearl Street. in Northhampton,
Massachusetts, the twelve tracks are what I can only assume is an accurate
representation of a Psychedelic Breakfast concert.
After listening to this disc, it’s obvious that these guys are very talented
instrumentalists. They have a tight, cohesive sound and are able to play a
variety of rock styles that can shift between 1970s prog, surf, punk, and
garage. The most talented member of the band is lead guitarist Tim
Palmieri, who is capable of soaring to lofty heights with his explosive
solos. When Palmieri takes off, the band does a nice job of providing solid
and fluid backing for his sonic explorations.
Vocally, Psychedelic Breakfast suffers from the same mediocrity that infects
most of the jamband scene. Pitches are hit with decent accuracy, but most
singing is performed with a nasal tone. Passionate deliveries of lyrics are
completely missing, but then again, when the lyrics are so inane, it may be
difficult to muster up the zeal.
Like most of the third-generation of jambands, the song-writing of
Psychedelic Breakfast relies heavily upon their influences. "Drunk Monk
Bar" sounds straight out of the Edgar Winter Group catalog, the
humorously-titled "Wild Pack of Asscracks" is poached directly from Frank
Zappa, and nearly every song on the album has movements and themes that are
dripping with Phish. The vast 19 minute exploration of "Rufus" is a rather
stimulating listen, but one can’t help but think that much of the jamming
sounds reminiscent of the four lads from Vermont. Each one of the songs on
this album is well put together and ably performed, but very few, if any,
distinctive musical statements are made. Unfortunately, Psychedelic
Breakfast’s lack of original songwriting skills betrays their immense
On a more positive note, a cover of the Allman Brothers’ "Hot Lanta" is a
standout, full of fire and brimstone. Guest guitarist Seth Yacovone duels
with Palmieri, and the two reach stratospheric heights. The rest of the
band is inspired by this collaboration, and they all join in with scorching
solos and tasty accompaniment. In my mind, it’s a perfect example of the
capabilities of this unit. If you turn Psychedelic Breakfast loose on a
good song, they can obviously deliver the goods. I just wish more of the
songs on this album were written on a level that could match this cover.
That’s not to say that Bona Fide doesn’t have an audience. I’m sure
there are lots Psychedelic Breakfast fans out there who love these tunes and
will enjoy and appreciate the energetic performances on this album.
However, if the virgin listener is searching for a unique musical vision, he
won’t find it here.