Sunday, 24 February 2013

Rogue Transmissions - Demons, Fairies & Wailing Guitars: The Best 100 Obscured Rock Acts 1968-1976 by Ra'anan Chelled (book review)

Book reviews aren't the kind of thing normally done on music blogs, but one book deserves special mention due to its thoroughly researched excellence and its relevance.

Demons, Fairies & Wailing Guitars is a guide to 100 of the best underground bands from around the world whose first recordings fell between the years 1968-76.  More than a simple list, author Ra'anan Chelled provides insight, opinion and detailed biographies on each entry and outdoes himself by scoring multiple interviews with many of the featured artists.  Some of my personal favorite bands profiled in the book are C.A. Quintet, Leaf Hound and Blue Cheer, all of whom I've written about on this blog.  So of course, the first thing I did when this book came in the mail was to flip to those entries to compare notes.  Mr. Chelled has a wonderful power to turn an unexpected phrase and his literary powers are made all the more exceptional when you realize that English is not his native language.  It's a wonderful thing when non-English speaking writers have a fresh take on the language and discover many uncovered nuances of the language, normally hidden from native speakers due to lazy thinking and taking their own verbal heritage for granted, it's just human nature.

Some of the more familiar bands to PH readers covered in the book include Captain Beyond, Hawkwind, Budgie, Pentagram, Cactus and Sir Lord Baltimore.  But really, the beauty of a book like this isn't necessarily in reading about the bands you already know and love, although it's certainly interesting to do so and learn a bit more about those bands, it's about discovery.  Every band in this book is worth checking out.  The second thing I did when the book came in was I flipped to the back index and looked up the references to Black Sabbath and without half trying discovered a new favorite band of the period, one by the unambiguous name of Bang.  They play a garage thrashy seventies style of hard rock, bordering on proto-metal and even proto-doom, they are well worth checking out.  Other of my favorite bands with their own entries are Arzachel, The Churchills, Gandalf, The Open Mind, The Plastic Cloud and Tomorrow.

Each entry is between two and nine pages long with discography and lineup information and Chelled goes out of his way to include other references in "If You Dig:" and "Loved It? Try Also:" sections at the front and back of each profile featuring a whole host of other bands not covered in the book, but these lists are also essential in one's trolling through the backbins of time.

The book is illustrated throughout with band photos, fliers and album covers and of course, for lovers of lists there is a section of lists in the back section.  This book is altogether essential reading for anybody interested in underground psychedelic rock and hard rock from the original psychedelic era for the worlds that it opens and makes a beautiful companion piece to any music lover's collection.

Demons, Fairies & Wailing Guitars may be the best book on the subject of underground psychedelic rock since the trio of books compiled by Vernon Joynson (Fuzz, Acid & Flowers [U.S.], The Tapestry of Delights [U.K.] and Dreams, Fantasies & Nightmares [CA, AUS & NZ and S.A.]) in the late nineties, and those were really more encyclopedias but were really comprehensive.  Chelled gives prominent credit to those publications in his Foreword.  I often wonder how future generations will view this underground world of stoner rock / doom metal twenty or forty years down the road and I suspect it will be with the same reverence some of us music nerds view that wonderful period of psychedelic / hard rock from the period 1968-1976.  I can hardly wait for the re-issues, the bonus tracks, the unearthed treasures and compilations and the books like Demons, Fairies & Wailing Guitars.

The print run of this book is limited to a hundred copies and each one is signed and numbered by the author himself.

Rating: 5/5

Page Count: 501 pgs

From: Tel Aviv, Israel

Genre: Non-fiction, Music, Psychedelic, Hard Rock, Prog, Krautrock

Reminds me of: Tapestry of Delights,

Release Date: January 23, 2013

Suggested reading activity for fellow non-stoners: Sit in a tree and freak out the squares, man!




Message the author Ra'anan Chelled on Facebook


  1. Nice review, and totally agree it's all about the extra info, and the interviews! These guys are getting on now and there's history that needs to be recorded while it still can be! My next comp (85) will be music from this book and an interview with Ra'anan.

    1. Cool man, I will definitely check that out! Ra'anan is very well-spoken and a great guy. And you're right about them getting older. I remember about five years ago the 60s and 70s psychedelic music that I was hearing for the first time was new to me but it seemed like every week another musician was passing on.

  2. Being one of the original members of the Melting Pot and my Brother is Singing "As I Lay Dying". I would be happy to offer the history of the band, up to the time i quit, and after the band reformed with me in 1972 to 1975. I have live CD's of the band from 1971 and 72.


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