John Arcesi (RCC) was a vocalist in the big band era of the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, who moved to California and underwent revelations in the late 1960s. He reinvented himself-at age 54-as Arcesia, and hooked up with a Doors-influenced band that backed his psychedelic lounge-rock histrionics. Around 1971, he recorded one legendary and now astronomically priced collectible LP called Reachin' (Alpha Records).
The song "Butterfly Mind"-a "butterfly equals beauty" allegory-includes the trenchant plea: "Don't let a wasp grab you / don't let a hand nab you / don't let a net get you / and make you a beautiful dead thing for all his friends to see." Upon a deeper listen however, there are 4th dimensional overtones to the tale, the tale of a lonely woman entombed by her 'wealthy' environment. On "Mechanical Doll," Arcesia sings with obvious humor and wit about an angel that flew into the room, who "dropped her wings and gassed everyone there." Yet, the song "Desiree" was an accurate song depicting his life's story.
"When I first discovered the LP in I988," said collector/archivist Paul Major of Parallel World Records, "I had to find this guy. Eventually I tracked down some of Arcessi's relatives who had a 'junque' shop in upstate New York. Nobody seemed to know much about his exploits in L.A. It's a total mystery to them why he did what he did. They had four original copies of the album, which he'd sent from the West Coast." Major said Arcesi's family thought the record was "strange."
The original LP cover was plain white; the printed artist's name and album title were its only identifying features. Whether this was a nod to the Beatles' White Album or simply a budgetary constraint remains part of Arcesia's unknowable, sphinxlike aura. No personnel or recording info was included on the jacket.
Reachin' was reissued in I997 on Germany's Ten Little Indians label in a limited vinyl pressing with a different cover, but it has never appeared on CD.
Major has been unable to locate any musicians who played on the sessions. Arcesia died in 1983 at age 66. His relatives said that after he split to the coast, they never saw him again.
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