Bootlegged countless times, Sussex is the Holy Grail of Canadian underground psychedelic rock albums. Originally released on the small Trend label in a pressing of just 300, it’s sought after by collectors worldwide. And it’s easy to see why: raw, basement production values and adequate blasts of fuzz guitar are what give it a large amount of kudos, along with its eye-catching psychedelic sleeve.
Formed in early 1969, Bent Wind evolved from the band scene of Toronto hippie neighbourhood Sussex Avenue (hence the album title). Shortly after forming, they recorded the excellent 45 Sacred Cows/Castles Made Of Man, the B-side of which was their most ‘out-there’ track. In fact, it’s the trippy wah-wah soloing of lead guitarist Gerry Gibas on this track that led to the idea of the band name – while stoned during a rehearsal, someone suggested that Gibas’s playing sounded like “bent wind”.
Rarity aside, Sussex, released in early 1970, captures a moment in time when the 60s haze was drifting into the heavy 70s. Sacred Cows perhaps exemplifies this most, with its shuffle beat, heavy boogie riffing, spaced-out vocals and punky background screams.
The brooding Riverside is excellent, while Going To The City has a budget Stooges/MC5 street-level vibe. In all, there really isn’t a dull moment.
The band split not long after Sussex was released, but since the late 80s they have continued recording, on and off, in various guises.