What’s often been said of their only album, Touch, is that it’s perfect. They wrote and rehearsed the record in a rented castle in LA (it was the 60s) and invited record exec’s to come by and listen. Again, the 60s. Coliseum/London records signed the band at an astonishing, for the time, $25,000 advance. During the making of it,
word got out about this amazing band in LA, and Grace Slick, Mick Jagger and
Jimi Hendrix came by to listen to the sessions. Everybody’s mind was blown.
Touch have been credited with being the pioneer American progressive rock band, which, in giving the band an accolade, unfortunately both cubbyholes and diminishes them with faint praise. Touch were more than a prog band, they were a massively talented and groundbreaking band who combined jazz, classical and rock elements, but were unique to their personality and sound and wouldn't likely have confined themselves to one genre if they'd continued.
We Feel Fine” opens with band calling out “Wake up people and feel it in the air,
it’s the time of hope for man, Jesus was right, sensitivity reigns, but the fighting
and the hatred go on and on and on...” then “on a hill we’ll take some tea, and watch LA fall in the sea...” The song ends with the vocals in chorus singing, “We Feel Fine,” in the wake of possible chaos and in the light of mankind’s blindness.
Despite creating the records in the immersion of psychedelic substances, Touch weren’t naive, as in “naive hippies.” Gallucci and other members of the band were influenced by the writings of P. D. Ouspensky, which relate the teachings of mystic
G. I. Gurdjieff. “The Spiritual Death of Howard Greer” lampoons a ‘happy’ suburban life for its shallow aspirations, creating a mock funereal ending where singer Hawkes wails for Greer’s spiritual death, with a chorus of singing mourners alongside. “Miss Teach” castigates the school system in a critical light that is as sharp today as it was then. “Down at Circe’s Place” begins with a circular piano riff that builds in layers of added instruments until you think it can’t contain any more sounds, then it abruptly breaks at just right moment with Hawkes whooshing vocals, which entreat the listener to “slowly pull back your mind petals and listen listen listen...”
Again, the sonic landscape builds and thickens, creating a chaotic controlled mass
of sound that disappears in a gong to open the delicate “Alesha and Others,” with gorgeous cascading piano and Hawkes sweet vocals, about a beautiful, entreating woman. The song riffs off into a jazz section that deconstructs in a humorous manner, then into the end, eleven amazing minutes of “Seventy-Five.”
The only thing that disrupted the total experience of listening to the Touch
album back when was that you had to get up mid-record and turn the vinyl over.
I remember being stoned and musing with the boys about a future time where there’d be some kind of disc that you wouldn’t have to turn over, and would play
for a whole hour, a whole record's worth. Heavy, man... can you imagine...?
When the Touch record came out, it sold very few copies. Gallucci didn’t want to tour behind the record to promote it, since there wasn’t any way they could re-create live, at the time, the sounds they’d captured on the record. The band sat still, ran out of money and disbanded, ending a career that could have been as large as the likes
of Yes or Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Or even bigger, who knows?
A loss, certainly, but sometimes one perfect thing is enough. Which the Touch
album is. It’s been reissued in a few configurations and is available online as a CD, but unfortunately there is no current reissue and available copies are selling at collectors prices. Five of the seven songs on the album, including "Seventy Five,"
Can someone with the legal rights to this music please get it onto Itunes and other download sites? How hard can that be? Please? If you will legalize it, I will advertize it.
For now, it's up to the listener to track it down. Find it. Savor it. Then spread the word.
And listen, listen, listen...