THE NATIONAL GALLERY – \’The National Gallery\’ (Philips PHS 600-266) 1968

This is one of those weird and wonderful albums from the sixties that somehow got a release on a major label. I\’m not even sure if The National Gallery were a group as such, they were probably Roger Karshner and Charles Mangione with assorted session players. On the back of the album is a small picture of The National Gallery, but this was most likely taken for a publicity purposes.

The song under my spotlight, \’Long Hair Soulful\’ was released as a 45 on Philips in October 1967 billed as The Bhagavad Gita. The flip of this disc is an instrumental of \’Long Hair Soulful\’...I dig that name and in my opinion they should have kept it for the album.

Maybe the moniker The Bhagavad Gita didn\’t fit with their idea of the musical concept they had of conceiving songs around the abstract expressionist paintings of Switzerland / German artist Paul Klee. Roger Karshner described his songs as \’electronic paintings\’, hence the name for this experiment The National Gallery, to house his sonic delights.

Description from back of album cover:

This unique recording is the result of the successful melding of three separate art forms. First is fine art – the paintings of Paul Klee. Inspired by Klee\’s imagination, power and subtlety, producer director Roger Karshner and his collaborator, Charles Mangione, have created superb musical compositions to fit the moods of ten Klee paintings.
And, under Karshner\’s direction, The National Gallery have, by their amazing vocal talent, transformed the music into, what Karshner calls \”rock-art.\” You may have your own name for it, but you\’ll admit that it\’s a haunting and unforgettable sound.

An added touch with the album is that it came with a colour brochure showing the paintings of Paul Klee and song lyrics.

Billboard – October 1967

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