The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union is a highly experimental album released around the time of the Bosstown sound. Much better than first albums from Eden's Children and Ultimate Spinach, the disc, however, lacks direction -- and cohesion. Vocalist John Lincoln Wright has the same look that he sports 23 years later on his 1991 Honky Tonk Verite CD, including his trademark cowboy hat, but the similarities between these two albums stop there. The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union is garage rock and psychedelia, and it is a trip. Where Orpheus opted for the serious pop of "Can't Find the Time," producer Wes Farrell includes a recitation by the late Tom Wilson, producer of The Velvet Underground & Nico, acting very avant-garde: "Look into the gray/look past the living streets of Boston/look finally into the eyes of Beacon Street Union.
" Well, Wilson did a decent job with the V.U., but he's no Crazy World of Arthur Brown screaming the immortal line "I am the god of hellfire." The band immediately dips into "My Love Is." resplendent in Robert Rhodes' (aka music attorney Robert Rosenblatt) best ? & the Mysterians keyboard sound, very cool '60s backing vocals, and guitars that are straight from the Psych Out film soundtrack. In fact, this song would have fit perfectly on that album along with the Seeds and Strawberry Alarm Clock. Had Wes Farrell kept the band on this track, the album might have more collectability.
"Beautiful Delilah" is too novel to keep the momentum going, and "Sportin' Life" is lounge blues. Side two fares a bit better; "Speed Kills" and "Blue Avenue" are classic '60s psychedelia, a far cry from John Lincoln Wright's Sour Mash Boys, and amazing that it is the legendary Massachusetts country artist singing. "South End Incident" refers to the South End of Boston, which has become quite trendy, but in the day Jonathan Richman, Moe Tucker of the Velvet Underground, and George Thorogood would play that part of town -- on the same bill!
The music to the song might be an old blues riff, but the body of the work is "Heartbreaker" by Grand Funk Railroad, and one wonders if Mark Farner had this album and perhaps nicked this vamp a few years later? The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union slightly misses the mark, but must be commended for its original approach to this genre. The album cover looks like some history textbook that mistakenly got pressed by Mad Magazine. A mushroom next to an atomic bomb's mushroom cloud ought to tell you enough about MGM's packaging. A hit single and less cluttered album cover is what these musicians deserved, but what they have is, next to the album Listening by the band of the same name and the hit single from Orpheus, the best work from the Bosstown sound.