We've all been hearing "Rock is back!" for some time now, and although The Return Of The Guitar has been sweaty, frantic, fucked-up fun for most of the time, it still has its dog days. Luckily, while the music's been tracking down its dealer in search of a little pick-me-up, Stones Throw Records has unearthed the original 1970 sessions of a psychedelic funk-jazz combo called the Stark Reality. The music of the Stark Reality isn't stripped bare-it's tricked out, and that's a welcome change. Most of the compilation consists of songs for children written by Hoagy Carmichael-the composer of classics like "Georgia On My Mind", and "Stardust"-that have been transformed into a musical rocket-ship propelled by the wah-ed out guitar of John Abercrombie and the crackling, distorted vibraphone of Monty Stark. But this craft doesn't orbit in the cosmos. Its bottom, made of Phil Morrison's bass and Vinnie Johnson's drums, is far too heavy, too earthy and too gritty for the usual spaced-out metaphors of psychedelia. Instead, this rocket ship flips and floats through the muggy cityscapes, scorched deserts and airy big-sky countries of an earth that's been drawn on card- board with a 64 pack of crayons. The songs were originally released as The Stark Reality Discover Hoagy Carmichael's Music Shop and were, bizarrely enough, commissioned by Carmichael's son for an educational television program for children. The LP went on to become a great rarity of jazz-funk crate digging (rumor has it that a DJ with two copies traded one for an MPC worth almost a grand), while God only knows what became of those kids who learned their musical ABC's from the Stark Reality. They're sure not listening to punk funk.

Stark Reality – Now Album
Stark Reality – 1969 Album
Stark Reality – Shooting Stars 7-inch
Stark Reality – Too Much Tenderness 7-inch