Album of the Week: Sweet Smoke’s Just a Poke (1970)

Or, a bunch of jewish stoner kids from Brooklyn move to Germany and record a psych-rock classic. With legendary Krautrock producer Conny Plank at the helm, the guys of Sweet Smoke managed to release a two-track jam LP with European distribution on Columbia. Full of flute and guitars, “Baby Night” kicks off with an interpolation of Jeremy & The Satyrs’ “In the World of Glass Teardrops”. Not 3 minutes in, the tempo shifts to a “Moondance”-like strut, stretching out the instruments into jam territory. A minute later, things kick back up into high-gear, with dueling lead and rhythm guitars driving the instrumental passage. Marvin Kaminowitz’s lead around 7 minutes is tantalizing in its brief melodic passage. Then the song shifts again, turning into a cover of The Doors’ “The Soft Parade”. This provides another place for Kaminowitz to stretch out, this time achieving some trippy delay effects, before cycling back to “Teardrops”.

Side B’s “Silly Sally” features some hot saxophone action, so best to start there if you have any aversion to flutes. With some wah-wah guitars, things groove for about 7 minutes until we reach what one Discogs user describes as “one of the most amazing drum solo to hear on drugs .” Some sick fading enhances the solo of Jay Dorfman, who, according to a blog post later “programmed the drum tracks for the seminal dance tech record Planet Rock for Tommy Boy Records” (no way!). The “Silly Sally” solo is about 5 minutes of funky drumming. After that, things round out with more cookin’ sax. Though I have not heard either of their follow-up records, Sweet Smoke’s international debut stands as a strong entry into the canon of both American psych and German Krautrock.

This French fan site also has some good info on Sweet Smoke.

Listen to Just a Poke here.

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