Pisces — “A Flower for All Seasons”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — January 3, 2023


690) Pisces — “A Flower for All Seasons”

This delicate, wistful, and magnificent pop psych/folk rock floret was finally allowed to bloom four decades after it was recorded. It is at once both timeless and seemingly of Civil War vintage. The band should have been the second from Rockford, Illinois to make it big, but could never pull a cheap trick.

Per Douglas Wolk:

Pisces [was] a group from the nowheresville of Rockford, Illinois. Their Lennon and McCartney wannabe auteurs were guitarist Jim Krein and keyboardist Paul DiVenti, who came up through the bar-band scene, put together a little studio and recorded piles of material, basically because they’d heard Sgt. Pepper’s and the White Album and had to let it out somehow. Barely any of it was ever heard outside the walls of their studio . . . just three singles on a label run by a Rockford tailor with big ambitions for his own easy-listening sides.


Alex Henderson opines that “[s]ome of these tunes might have become AM radio hits had Pisces been discovered by Columbia or RCA and received the right promotional push, but they never enjoyed that type of support” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/a-lovely-sight-mw0000819921) and Dusty Groove Records says that “this stuff would have been hugely influential had it found an audience in its time, hell, it sounds to us like it actually did influence countless groups, even though that’s hardly even possible[.]” (https://www.dustygroove.com/item/485469/Pisces:Lovely-Sight) I for one agree on both counts.

Alan Brown marvels that:

While Haight Ashbury was in full bloom, Laurel Canyon awash with fey folkies and the Sunset Strip a-go-go with guitar bands, Rockford, Illinois was celebrating the opening of a new Chrysler factory. . . . [A]t the tail-end of the 1960s, [it] had no less than two bands, Fuse and Pisces, toiling away on the toilet-club circuit that would eventually be heard outside the city’s limits. Fuse would, by 1974, change their name to Cheap Trick . . . . Pisces, apart from three rare-as-hen’s-teeth 45s on the local Vincent label, had to wait another 40 years to be heard. . . . [These are] some of the most exciting recordings to ever bubble up out of the 1960s psychedelic stew. . . . inventive, haunting soundscapes of psychedelic pop playfulness, crepusclar garage punk and a handful of bewitching bluesy, psych-folk numbers — the latter menacingly breathed into life by a 17-year-old singer called Linda Bruner who’d initially gone to Krein for guitar lessons. . . . [L]ike the Beatles before them, only on a far smaller budget (which they supplemented by recording local acts and jingles), they had retreated into their studio and given up playing live. Nevertheless, it appears that, audience or no audience, Krien and DiVenti’s imaginations burnt brighter than the devil’s own lava lamp. . . .


And listen to Kevin Elliott:

A Lovely Sight never made it past the first press of an astonishingly small batch of singles, but Krein and DiVenti, two working-class Midwestern everymen soldiered on, buying a small studio in Rockford and eventually changing their name to Pisces and recording . . . in between their usual business of producing radio ads and local vanity projects. . . . [T]he duo was known to spend hours cultivating their simple tunes into wild studio experiments. . . . During the years the duo spent holed in their studio, they also recorded sessions with their resident siren, Linda Bruner. . . . There’s a rustic quality, a boundless imagination at the heart of the album that sounds distinctly Midwestern. There’s a spirit ingrained in these recordings that was not influenced by trends, fashions and the liberal utopias that were quickly crumbling on the coasts. Maybe just two men’s journey to the center of their minds? Quite a concept.


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