Merkin - Music from the Merkin Manor. 1973 USA
CD reissue: 1997 Gear Fab
LP reissues: 1999 Akarma (Italy); 2013 Out-Sider (Spain)
Where to even start? Merkin are... weird. Not-on-purpose-weird either. They're from Orem, Utah for starters - right in the heart of Mormon country. Their album was released in 1973, which is a good 5 years past its sell date. This kind of flower pop psych was long out of fashion and I have a feeling the band would have no idea that was the case. Merkin sound like the Free Design if they were a real psych band with a killer fuzz-tone guitar right out of the Haight-Ashbury 60s scene. Make no mistake, Merkin are a bunch of squares like Free Design, which is where the allure lies actually. For years I questioned the quality of this album, and thought it might be part of the collector hype machine. Perhaps it still is, as the compositions here are wildly uneven. But when they hit the zone, it's downright divine. 'Ruby' is an all-time classic, one of my faves of the 60s (oh wait...). 'Todaze' and 'Watching You' are also awesome, mixing it up where you least expect it. They have this whimsical sunshine pop charm about them - mixed with an angry psych tone, that projects their inner conflict no doubt. The Osmonds they are not.
Monster album? No. But one that is so incredibly alluring. One of those Gnosis 10 / 3.5 star albums that is better than the grade implies.
The heavy cardboard single sleeve LP reissue from Akarma is taken directly from the Gear Fab CD, and is credited/licensed as such. So this is definitely one of their legit reissues. Unfortunately the CD itself was taken from vinyl rather than the master tapes (likely lost). And there is no additional history provided. On the plus side, the 3 bonus tracks from the CD are maintained, and the first 2 are very good.