Mark Fry Dreaming with Alice

Written when Mark Fry was a mere teenager and released exclusively in Italy in 1972, Dreaming with Alice has long been held as one of the finest examples of strange folk. Until now, the precocious and visionary record was only available in the wet dreams of meticulous collectors of folkish psychedelia, whizzing about in a fuzzy, Eastern-tinged song cycle that was bootlegged ad nauseam. The nine verses (30-second long snippets) of the title track are dispersed throughout the record and are over much too soon. They contain the record’s most haunting and psychedelic moments, matched only by album highlight "The Witch.” In his strongest moments, Fry creates a surreal world where whimsy leads to trap doors that open yet more doors and give way to a pleasing disorientation. He sings of glass mountains on which Salome opens her dress, or of Cleopatra sitting alone eating Christmas cake, and concocts a musical landscape wherein serious inquiries of such ideas are merited. Heady stuff for a teenager. This reissue features extensive liner notes written by Fry himself, as well as two fine bonus tracks. To top it off, he’s a dead ringer for Rick White on the cover photo. Highly recommended. (Sunbeam)