Kim Fowley was an American musician from Los Angeles who has been described as “one of the most colorful characters in the annals of rock & roll”, and “a shadowy cult figure well outside the margins of the mainstream”, according to his Wikipedia page. Fowley died in 2015 from bladder cancer. I do want to mention that there have been multiple sexual assault allegations made against Fowley, particularly with the all female rock band from the latter 1970s, The Runaways; Fowley was a producer for The Runaways’ first three albums. This album, Born to Be Wild (1968), is Fowley’s second album, of which there are many spanning from the 1960s into the 2000s. I’m pretty interested to hear what’s in store, so with that said, I’m going to jump on into the music.
“Born to Be Wild” starts out with some hot brass instruments that are soon backed up by some groovy guitar work that has a sort of psychedelic garage rock feel, a mellow bass line that moves along with the sturdy drums really nicely. I’m really digging the swirling organs in this track. Oh wow, the bass guitar is sort of taking a turn at the lead while the only other instrument in the soundscape is the dynamic beat of the drums. Super sweet instrumental cover of the tune originally by Steppenwolf.
“I Can’t Stop Dancing” gets started with some super sweet wah-pedal’d guitar work that almost has a proto-funk meets psychedelic feel. Oh wow, I really dig the organs in this track. This seems to be a sort of novelty cover of Archie Bell & the Drells’ version of this track. Super groovy tune.
Oh wow, “Shake a Lady” starts out with some strong fuzz guitar that I really dig, which is soon joined by some rally groovy organs while the drums and bass keep the rhythm section feeling dynamic. This seems to be another instrumental cover as well, possibly of the tune as played by Ray Bryant. Super groovy track.
Oh wow, “Hello I Love You” has some really interesting fuzzed guitar in the background, while some interesting organs seem to play the main melody of the track originally by The Doors. The organs almost of a sort of plinky sound compared to Ray Manzarek’s organs in the original track. Oh wow, the drums, bass, and fuzzed guitar really get some groovy jams going that seem to back up the organs really nicely. Super sweet tune.
“Soul Limbo” gets started with a sort of funk/r&b line from one of the guitars that I feel I recognize immediately, even if I don’t really remember hearing the original version. Oh wow, I really dig the swirling organs in this track. Oh wow, the fuzzed guitar is taking the lead at this point with some really sweet, crunchy lines that I’m digging. Oh wow, I really dig the way drum solo section of the track. Super sweet tune.
“Space Odyssey” starts out with really sweet brass instruments that introduce the tune. Oh wow, the organs soon come in and are gradually backed up by a smooth rhythm section from the swing in the drums and the easy-going bass work. Holy smokes, the track launches into an organ-led jam that almost feels like a Jimmy Smith song for a bit. I’m not all that familiar. I’m guessing this might be some rework of part of the score from the movie 1968 film, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. Super sweet tune.
Oh wow, “Wild Weekend” gets grooving with an upbeat groove from the guitars, organs, drums, and bass, which are backed up by cheers and woohs that are the closest thing to vocals thus far in the album, which all make the soundscape sound as though the song is being played at some Los Angeles beach party in the mid-to-late 1960s. Super sweet track.
“Pictures of Matchstick Men” starts out with a sort of darker psychedelic line from an electric guitar that is backed by a bass guitar, which remind me a bit of The Doors and increasingly more Steppenwolf as the other organs and drums come into the soundscape. It turns out the original version of the song is by The Status Quo, a group that I’ve never listened to before but I will likely check them out soon. I’m really digging the laid back psychedelic jams in this tune. Super sweet track.
“Savage In the Sun” gets grooving with an upbeat feel from the brass instruments, guitar, drums, and bass, and the organs seem to come in with some super sweet lines that have a classic hammond organ sound that I really dig. Oh wow, there’s also a line where a brass instrument takes the lead that I really dig. Oh wow, the guitar plays some super sweet lines near the end of this track as well. Super sweet tune.
“Sunshine of Your Love” gets grooving with an almost mellower, somewhat slowed-down version of the song originally by Cream. Oh wow, the track almost sounds like some instrumental cover of the track that might be played by Vanilla Fudge with the organs and slowed-down feel of the track. Oh wow, the effects on the organs change up a bit and keep me listening closer and closer. Holy smokes, the guitar comes in for some really groovy lines just as the track comes to a close. Super sweet instrumental cover.
“Classical Gas” has a really interesting mixture of folk and psychedelic feel with the interplay between the swirling organs and the acoustic guitar. I really dig the reserved feel of the percussion in this track. There’s also a countdown near the beginning of the track that serves as basically the only other vocals aside from cheers and woohs throughout the album thus far. I’ve not listened to the original version of the track by Mason Williams, but this track is pretty groovy. Super sweet tune.
“Fresno, 1963” gets started with some really groovy flavors from the organs and some distant, twangy guitar, while the drums and bass keep the rhythm section feeling dynamic. Oh wow, the brass instruments come in and add some more flavor and make the jams feel even groovier. I’m sort of reminded of some mellow combination of the early work of the Grateful Dead with some of the late 1980s stuff from the Jerry Garcia Band. Super groovy track and a sweet way to finish the album.
I’m pretty stoked that I checked out this album tonight, which almost seemed it was to be used for the soundtrack for a movie that took place in the late 1960s with novelty cover versions of popular songs from that decade. I’m kind of reminded of the novelty psychedelic rock nature of The Animated Egg, an instrumental psychedelic rock group from the late 1960s that sort of had a similar feel. If you’re into laid-back groovy, instrumental sounds from the late 1960s, then you might want to consider checking out this album. If you do decide to give this album a listen, then I sincerely do hope that you enjoy the listening experience at least as much as I did.