Record Label: 8th Records
The United States Of America was not a commercially successful music group, releasing only one studio album and then immediately breaking up, but the depth of their influence in the music scene could not be understated. More an avant-garde project of experimental sounds and radical politics, the band were early innovators of electronic instrumentation, and were major inspirations to acts like Portishead, Broadcast, and Dan Deacon. At the helm of this group was the eccentric experimental composer Joseph Byrd, (Dubbed Joe Byrd by Columbia Records, deciding that no rock musician could be named 'Joseph.') who had got his start in the Fluxus community of artistic experimentation, engaging in early collaborations with Yoko Ono.
Though his band The United States Of America failed to catch on with a wide audience, their lone record caught the attention and support of Columbia Records producer John McClure, who encouraged Joe Byrd to compose a follow-up. Byrd would gather an extended group of West Coast musicians and performers, among them famed session musicians Ted Greene on guitar, Tom Scott on saxophone, and even narration from radio personality Ernie "Ghouliardi" Anderson. Byrd would dub this collective The Field Hippies, and with them produced a three-part, politically-charged acid rock suite titled The American Metaphysical Circus.
Though once again major commercial success eluded Joe Byrd, his 2nd project became every bit as influential as The United States Of America had. The American Metaphysical Circus proved to be an early adaptor of synthesizers and vocoders, and received high praise for its combining of brass-heavy psych-rock arrangements with experimental sound techniques in tape delays, loops, backwards vocals, and other recording tricks.