Alan Wilkes aka Vinny Peculiar releases his thirteenth studio album ‘How I Learned to Love the Freaks’ this month. An album that is inspired by Hippy culture, the summer of love and the socio-political awakenings of the late 1960s. In part it’s a tribute to an emerging free-thinking youth culture, the risks they took, the values they espoused, the sacrifices they made, with the failings and ultimate implosion.
`Death Of The Counterculture` leads us in and it`s delightfully dreamy psychedelic offering where the artist part sings / part speaks a reflection on some of the big hitters associated and the aims of a time when a generation thought they could inspire and make the world a better place. There`s more of a rolling blues texture to `Going To San Francisco` which reveals an adolescent man’s awakening and pilgrimage to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco and beyond. There`s some delicious harmonica and tinkling piano tones sprinkled throughout as it evolves.
Dissent, apathy, and distrust are shared throughout `Peace and Love` another reflective musing with a captivating retro soundscape while `Headshop` is in essence an introspective track about hanging around a retail store that sells merchandise related to cannabis culture. A wonderfully enchanting reflection on times that were fairly innocent and had a sense of possible youthful romance in the air.
`Ashram Curtains` appears to relate to the activities associated within the spiritual hermitages or monasteries in Indian religions and feels akin to the Beatles `Dear Prudence`. For me `Hippy Kids` musically brought to mind the era of Marc Bolan, Sweet and The Glitter band, a tale of a time which was full of solid gold easy action that didn`t fool us, the children of the revolution.
Title track `How I Learned to Love the Freaks` is another reminiscence on times passed and a cultural genre that is different for every generation growing up while `Peter And The Rainbow` had a thoughtful dreamlike almost Cure like guitar riff throughout. A kind of voyage or new age journey with the best of intentions that maybe didn`t quite come off and how some ended up almost living lives contradictory to their initial intentions.
`All Property Is Theft` an old anarchist slogan, here is a reflective spellbinding composition contemplating an alternative lifestyle lived and the consequence of accepting and coming to terms with when it doesn`t quite work out. The album closes out with `Flower Power` which I read is both a celebration and a reminder of what can be achieved and how easily it all slips away. A trippy narrative where you can almost taste and smell the incense and peppermints .
I have to say that I really loved ‘How I Learned to Love the Freaks’, it was a poetic thoughtful reflection on times gone by when a generation believed they could positively shape and transform the world they inhabited and it was shared over an appealing musical aural soundscape that echoed the period or era.
As the final track tries to encourage us, it`s one to `Tune in, turn on, and drop out` to.
Rating 8.5 /10