One Side Wonders #10: The Calico Wall – Flight Reaction (1967)

CalicoW_labelWell I remember listening to Pebbles Volume 3 for the first time. It was subtitled The Acid Gallery and the tracks selected did not disappoint – a veritable smorgasbord of deranged acid punk, psychedelia, and general weirdness. Just the thing for an impressionable young mind keen to explore the more esoteric musical byways of the 1960s!

Among the many highlights was a tune called ‘Flight Reaction’ by The Calico Wall from Minneapolis, Minnesota. This had originally been released on Turtle Records (the same label as T.C. Atlantic’s ‘Faces’) in March1967.

The song begins with a mysterious, mumbling voice and we hear the refrain of “And I swear I’ll never fly again” for the first time. Then the verse kicks in with spoken word vocals over a trebly, urgent guitar figure. The lyrics seem to deal with the nightmare scenario of being on a plane as it is about to crash, though quite what the singer’s girlfriend is doing standing on the wing is anybody’s guess. And we are also treated to a weird interlude about George Washington. Odd sounds abound, from a discordant honking horn to machine gun fire to a dive-bombing plane. This is a strange beast indeed!

‘Flight Reaction’

Missing side: ‘Beep’ (not strictly missing but this isn’t actually a song, just a single tone that repeats over and over again for six minutes – maybe it would be good for meditation practice!).

In 1984 ‘Flight Reaction’ was re-released on coloured vinyl on the Dove label, this time backed by an unissued recording ‘I’m a Living Sickness’, also from 1967. This is a deep and moody monster with impassioned vocals on the chorus and punctuated by bursts of fuzz guitar. It is essential listening, so I am going to include it to make up for ‘Beep’.

‘I’m a Living Sickness’

Reissues: ‘Flight Reaction’ is on Pebbles Volume 3, Mayhem and Psychosis Volume 2 and Changes. ‘I’m a Living Sickness’ is on Free Flight and Acid Dreams Testament.


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