Classic Singles #97: The Third Bardo – I’m Five Years Ahead of My Time / Rainbow Life (1967)

ThirdBardo_labelThe Third Bardo’s ‘I’m Five Years Ahead of My Time’, though perhaps a little more well known that some of the singles covered in previous posts, is yet another punkadelic monster that simply cannot be ignored!

The band were from New York and released their only single on Roulette in May 1967. In stark contrast to the stagnation of today, rock music was changing and evolving at such a frightening pace in the late 1960s that to have actually been five years ahead of the time would have been the sonic equivalent of a UFO landing in the Stone Age and its occupants dispensing wisdom upon the uncomprehending minds of those present to witness the event.

In fact, the Third Bardo perfectly captured the heady days of the Summer of Love, not least in their evocative name – which was taken by lead singer Jeff Monn from The Tibetan Book of the Dead and refers to the moment after death when the consciousness is reborn into a new body.

Both sides of the single were written by Rusty Evans of The Deep / Freak Scene fame and Victoria Pike, who was married to the record’s producer, Teddy Randazzo, a successful singer and songwriter in his own right. ‘I’m Five Years Ahead of My Time’ opens with an ominous guitar figure, quickly joined by a slightly more fuzzy Eastern influenced lead, pulsating bass, and subtle keyboards. Jeff Monn imbues the vocals with a sneering swagger and the break is a searing slice of top drawer raga-esque fuzzadelica.

‘I’m Five Years Ahead of My Time’

Flipside ‘Rainbow Life’ is a trippy little number with its Eastern style melody, cryptic lyrics, and swirling sound effects. I’m not sure which instrument is making that high-pitched sound but it is very distinctive. Another reasonably effective version of this song appeared on the Freak Scene’s 1967 Psychedelic Psoul album on Columbia. In fact, if you like ‘Rainbow Life’ you would probably enjoy Rusty Evan’s other work, notably The Deep’s primitive but charming Psychedelic Moods album from 1966 on Cameo-Parkway.

‘Rainbow Life’

ThirdBardo_bandThough short-lived, the band did play hip Manhattan clubs such as Arthur’s and Ondine, and appeared on Upbeat, the Cleveland-based syndicated television show. The 45 received some airplay on the East Coast, but it was pulled from the radio because of perceived drug references in the lyrics.

The session that produced the single also yielded four other tracks, including an alternate version of ‘Rainbow Life’, that are all well worth hearing. The six cuts have now been collected on a 10” vinyl EP by Sundazed Records.

After the Third Bardo broke up in 1967, Monn went solo and released an album for Vanguard in 1968 called Reality, then changed his name to Chris Moon for The Chris Moon Group LP that came out on Kinetic in 1970.

Reissues: Apart from the Sundazed EP, both sides of the 45 are on Psychedelic Microdots Volume 3. The a-side is also on Ah Feel Like Ahcid, the Nuggets box set, and Best of Pebbles Volume 1.

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