Over this site’s 10 year history — 10! — Brown Acid, Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records‘ ongoing collaborative proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations from the 1960s and 1970s have become a regularly occurring biannual feature. Each individual edition of the series is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking own songs’ creators. The Brown Acid series proves that there’s a massive amount of heavy psych and proto-metal that has managed to be lost to the sands of time, including Indianapolis-based act ICE, who were prominently featured on Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip.
Formed during the late 1960s, the members of the Indianapolis-based quintet — Barry Crawford (vocals, keys) Jim Lee (lead vocals, bass), Mike Saligoe (drums), John Schaffer (lead guitar) and Richard Strange (rhythm guitar, vocals) — grew up in Indianapolis’ West Side. In a relatively short period of time, the members of ICE became one of the first emerging bands from their hometown to tour across the Midwest, playing a set of originals at high schools, college campuses and small clubs. Eventually the band built up enough of a profile regionally that they wound up opening for nationally touring acts like Three Dog Night, SRC,Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and others in arenas and theaters.
Back in 1970, Crawford, Lee, Saligoe, Schaffer and Strange recorded 10 songs of original material at Chicago’s 8-Track Studios. But shortly after the sessions, the band split up. Confusingly, two of tracks recorded during those sessions were eventually as a 45 in 1972 — but under a completely different band name, Zukus! That 45 managed to receive regional airplay: the A side of that 45 was “Running High.” While Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records were going through the process to license “Running High,” they discovered that ICE had an entire album of material, recorded on 2 inch tape that had languished for over 40+ years on a shelf somewhere.
RidingEasy Records then converted the analog tape tracks to digital files, remixed them to preserve the original vocals and instrumentation. Packaging the material as The Ice Age, the material will see the light of day for the first time in 50 years. The album is 10 songs of hard-edged rock with enormous, arena rock friendly hooks that may remind some listeners of the Grand Funk Railroad, The Guess Who, The Move and others. Now, as you amy recall, earlier this year, I wrote about the album’s explosive first single “Run To Me,” which managed to bring Steppenwolf and The Guess Who to mind.
The Ice Age‘s second and latest single is album opener “Gypsy.” Centered around a chiming and glistening 12 string guitar line, copious amount of cowbell, shimmering organ arpeggios and an enormous yet melodic hook, “Gypsy” manages to sound as though it were indebted to The Byrds — but with a subtly gritty undertone. Throughout the song’s 2:50 or so run time, there’s this gnawing sense that in an alternate universe, that it would be a classic rock radio staple. But alas, fate works in its own way.