When they teamed up to record Song Of A Gypsy, Damon Del Conte and collaborator Charlie Carey were already veterans of the 1960s Los Angeles music scene. For a few years, Damon had pursued a career as a Byrds-y folk-rock singer-songwriter, releasing a few 45s as Damon Lane on his own Del Con imprint. Damon met up with Charlie and a few additional session players in 1969, and together they created one of the most legendary, collectible psych-rock LPs of all time. It was issued in a tiny private press edition of 100 copies, and these days a mint copy goes for up to $3,500 on the rare psych market. It’s not just the scarcity of the Damon album that makes it desirable; it’s a genuinely stunning artifact of the late 60s underground. Combining Carey’s deeply lysergic fuzz guitar with Damon’s acoustic strumming and delicious baritone croon, the album is marked by a near-flawless execution. Damon plays up his self-styled “gypsy” persona throughout, delivering a suite of Eastern-inflected pop songs that often evoke a melancholy doom. The album was recorded and mixed in such a pristine manner that it’s hard to believe it was a self-financed vanity project. Every song is good, but the opening title track really sets the tone, with its melodramatic, fatalistic rhymes: “Today I feel like crying/ Today I feel like dying/ Today I feel like nothing is real/ And the world can’t see I’m trying.”
The album has been reissued bootleg-style by several fly-by-night European labels over the years, and once on CD by Damon himself, who recorded a follow-up in 1998 entitled Gypsy Eyes, about which the less said the better. Damon and Charlie still team up for live performances now and then, but it’s hard to imagine them reigniting the fire of those 1969 sessions with their gorgeous jangly fuzz-bombs of dark Orientalist folk and apocalyptic heralding.