Toronto psych albums

10 psych albums every Toronto collector should own

Hunting for psych LPs is no easy task. Hunting for rare psych LPs from Toronto (and its surrounding regions) is an even more challenging task. But, if there's any place to do it, it's here where someone just might be deciding it's time to unload their long cherished, mildew scented record collection (ahh, mildew).

Or you can avoid the mildew part, and, thanks to a spate of modern day pastiche fiends, get your hands on one of the more reasonably priced reissues out there. Whatever you so choose, here's a list of records to guide you in your search through the far out sounds of Toronto's (and its surrounding regions') psychedelic past.

Good luck hunting. You'll need it.

Plastic Cloud - s/t (1968)
Hailing from good ol' Bay Ridges, Ontario, Plastic Cloud put out a lone stunner of a psychedelic LP on Allied Records back in '67. Reminiscent of the West Coast sound of the time, the self titled album is considered by many to be one of the greatest Canadian psych records ever produced. Copies of the LP wound up fetching as much as $1000 before a couple of reissues brought it back to Earth.

Kensington Market - Avenue Road (1968)
Everyone Toronto record collector should own both records, but especially the first, Avenue Road, by Toronto psych-pop band Kensington Market if only so you can say to your guests, "Hey, you know there's a band called Kensington Market right? Let me play them for you!" Minimal weirdness here, but nice catchy tunes with tight horn lines.

Brazda Brothers - s/t (1973)
Slovakia-born brothers Bystrik and Andy Brazda relocated to Galt, Ontario in the early '70s and cut one of the best Canadian psych records of all time. Inspired by the natural landscape, it's been said that they recorded the album in a single six hour session. Songs like "Walking Into The Sun" make for a perfect soundtrack to the pastoral lands that surround our city. A true lost classic.

Mashmakhan - s/t (1970)
A strong debut from the semi-well known Montreal-based group. Named after their dealer's goods, they turned in a mind-expanding debut for Columbia in late 1969. Not as rare as others on the list, an original can be easily found and will set you back no more than $25-30.

Riverson (1973)
Riverson are from Montreal, but, technically, since the album was recorded in Toronto, this is a Toronto psych LP--and it's great. Featuring two of the members from Mashmakhan, the group were a short-lived psych-folk act with duelling male and female vocalists and roaring fuzz guitars. This record is extremely rare has not been reissued. Originals go for around $300.

Bent Wind - Sussex (1969)
Before being reissued, this was one of the rarest and most sought after Canadian psych LPs out there. With legendary tales of the band's drug-addled trips, candle hawking at the notorious Rochdale College, and raucous U of T frat parties, Bent Wind are probably the greatest heavy stoner psych Toronto has ever known.

Reign Ghost - s/t (1969)
Oshawa's Reign Ghost, made up of two popular area bands at the time, put out their 1968 self-titled debut for the fledgling Allied Records. Recorded in the label owner's basement, the album's Jefferson Airplane-influenced sound benefits from Lynda Squires operatic tenor and the band's organ driven sound. The original goes for $600+ but a band authorized re-pressing can be had for much less.

Perth County Conspiracy - Does Not Exist (1970)
Stratford, Ontario's Perth County Conspiracy were a fixture on the hippie folk scene back in the late '60s and early '70s in Southern Ontario. Comparable to the Canadian version of the Incredible String Band, the group's collective centred around the Black Swan Coffee House in their hometown, where they would gather nightly and play till the wee hours of the morning.

Ugly Ducklings - Somewhere Outside (1966)
Toronto's major contribution to the Nuggets-era garage sound. The Ugly Ducklings, originally called The Strolling Bones, began as a mere Stones knockoff band, but later went on to become hugely influential on the local scene in their own right. In 1966, they landed the gig opening for the Stones at Maple Leaf Gardens and put out their lone LP Somewhere Outside shortly after.

Christmas - Heritage (1970)
Christmas, formed by Reign Ghost's Bob Bryden after he left the group, was made up of the very best musicians he could find in the Oshawa area. Recorded when he was just 18, "Heritage" combines the prog tendencies of early Nektar with the youthful aggression of early Bob Seger. Originals, which are very hard to come by, sell for around $200. There has been an (unofficial) reissue by Italy's Akarma Records.

What did we miss? Add your essential Toronto-ish psych albums in the comments.

Writing by Sam Davis and David Sampson.

Sam Davis is the host of Dog Gone Radio, a radio show on the Toronto Radio Project taking listeners on a trip through the sounds of psych, folk, obscure vinyl, and strange music from faraway lands (2足-4PM, bi足-monthly). David Sampson is a local musicologist and expert record collector who contributes to Dog Gone Radio's programming.


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