Q - 9/01, p.1374 stars out of 5
- "...One of the all-time great non-live albums....No other band sounded more like Charles Manson looked."
RAW & ALIVE AT MERLIN'S MUSIC was originally released in 1967. (Not true; the album was recorded in April 1968. -- MRD)
The Seeds were an exceptional band that never achieved the success that they inspired. This album has a truly psychedelic cover with too-dark-for-pastel colors, swirling letters over eerie faces, and dynamic black and white photos on the back. If you want to see the image of Iggy Pop clothed, just look at Sky Saxon in the bottom right photo on the back cover with the screaming girl holding a flower grabbing at him. He had the image down, as well as the music. "900 Million People Daily All Making Love" sounds so much like the Doors and Jim Morrison's "When the Music's Over," one has to wonder which came first, or did they copy each other? "Mumble and Bumble" is a trippy "Alabama Song," but where Morrison is looking for the next whiskey bar, Saxon is off looking for flowers and magic mushrooms. The band has great energy which is pierced by annoying canned applause … la the Rolling Stones' Got Live If You Want It. This is a record album, not a situation comedy TV show, after all; what's the point of overdubbing an audience onto what is really good music? Sure, "No Escape" is a prelude to the closer and hit "Pushin' Too Hard" with a tip of the hat to Martha & the Vandellas, while "Can't Seem to Make You Mine" is placed nicely in mid-set, a song after the truncated "Up in Her Room." The revelation that is this "concert" album is what a great band the Seeds really were, and how Sky Saxon's vocals have a gritty edge that he held back on us in many of the studio recordings. "Gypsy Plays His Drums" has a great chug-chug guitar, nice off-key backing vocals, and a driving pulse which is present throughout the performance. If you can ignore the extraneous additions, a song like "Forest Outside Your Door" shows really how creative and influential this pioneering band was, while "Satisfy You" is Saxon's direct sexual rock to Mick Jagger's "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Sky claims he can get satisfaction, and can satisfy you at the same time. He then veers off into more familiar psychedelic territory with "Night Time Girl" which combines the sex and the psychedelia. If they taught rock & roll in school, "Raw & Alive" would have to be the textbook for image, design, and content. ~ Joe Viglione