CHRYSALIS – “Definition” (MGM SE 4547) 1968

This is another one of those CD Albums that I played a few times when I first got it, in this case some time in 2005, but then filed it away and forgot about it! At the time it didn’t really have an impact or create any pleasurable waves in my mind.

A quick search on the internet flags up numerous reviews, comments and YouTube uploads. All are very positive I must say. Someone even remarked that the album is as good as anything that the Jefferson Airplane released during the late sixties. That’s quite an acknowledgement and high praise indeed.

According to the liners of the CD re-issue on the Rev-Ola label, Chrysalis were a very well thought of underground hippie combo in New York, were friends with and played several gigs supporting the Mothers Of Invention. They even wanted Frank Zappa to produce their album on MGM but he declined. He always expressed warm approval though and championed their efforts mainly in recommendations.

The album as a whole is a decent listen, it’s definitely not an immediate admiration, it will take several sittings to get into their head-space and unique way they structure the songs. There’s not a lot of electric guitar I can hear, the bass playing is very good and intricate and the drums are quite splendid.

The songs are full of extremes, the lyrics are dense and meaningful but only once you hone-in on Spider Barbour’s vision. The majority of his compositions appear to be sung from the perspective of insects. “Baby Let Me Show You Where I Live”, is possibly a newly transformed butterfly singing to his about-to-fly prospective mate.

“Doctor Root’s Garden”, is probably about garden pests and the destruction of their being and habitat with the use of pesticides. There’s also a track filled with insect noises. It’s all very weird and original.

There is nothing on here that could be considered as single material and to be honest with you, there are no memorable tunes or stick-in-the-head melodies. Worth a listen though.

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