Vintage Hal Blaine in session
Vintage Hal Blaine in session Michael Ochs Archives / Getty

Hal Blaine, the impeccable timekeeper on 40 No. 1 singles and on 150 Top 10 songs and thousands more for many of the biggest names in music history as a member of the unparalleled LA studio collective the Wrecking Crew, died Monday of natural causes at age 90. It's safe to say that most people in the Western world have heard Blaine's masterly drumming, even if they weren't aware of it, so ubiquitous was his presence on major recording sessions from the '60s through the '80s. You can hear Blaine's precision-tooled, tasteful beats on tracks by the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Ronettes, Nancy and Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Supremes, John Lennon, the Association, Simon & Garfunkel, the Monkees, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Neil Diamond, 5th Dimension, Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass, and many more. He also played drums on TV themes such as Batman, The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch, and Three's Company, among others.

All of that is very impressive, to be sure. But what all of the obituary writers I've read so far have neglected to mention is Blaine's masterpiece: the 1967 solo LP Psychedelic Percussion. I get it: It's a weird record and it's not been reissued in the US since its initial release 52 years ago. However! Attention must be paid when a musician who's worked on so many hits goes off on his own to express himself in an idiosyncratic manner. Surely we want to hear how Hal Blaine gets down when there's no pressure to make radio-friendly tunes for other artists? Surely Psychedelic Percussion merits our curiosity? Let's not write this odyssey of oddity out of history, shall we?

Give the drummer some (acid).
Give the drummer some (acid). Dunhill Records
Psychedelic Percussion is a mere 28 minutes long, but it packs a lot of action in that brief time, and it totally lives up to its title. The album's 12 tracks come off as a cross between wild psychsploitation soundtrackage and exotic library—or even porn-flick—music suggestive of creations from countries you can't find on a map. Here, Blaine is liberated from having to keep tight, familiar grooves and is allowed to explore his entire kit and an array of percussion toys and electronics in order to manifest his most extravagant impulses. Put it on at a party and you'll separate the true freaks from the pretenders.


Now, will somebody (perhaps Light in the Attic or Finders Keepers) do a proper deluxe reissue, posthaste? The time is overdue, and this obscure slice of Blaine's prodigious creativity deserves more exposure.