Los Angeles psych-folkie Bob Ray first earned attention as a session player, contributing bass to Donovan
’s now-legendary May 1966 sessions that yielded the classic “Season of the Witch.” The following year he teamed with singer/guitarist James Smith and drummer Terry Hand in the sunshine pop trio Thorinshield
, signing to Phillips to record their debut single, “The Best of It,” produced by famed session saxophonist Teenage Steve Douglas and arranged by the great Perry Botkin, Jr. A self-titled LP soon followed, but after just one more single, 1968’s “Family of Man,” Thorinshield splintered, and Ray signed to Johnny Rivers’ Soul City label. With Rivers assuming production duties, veteran Hal Paich handling the string arrangements, and the famed Wrecking Crew (studio virtuosos including Hal Blaine on drums, Joe Osborne on bass, and Larry Knechtel on keyboards) providing support, he cut his lone solo LP, Initiation of a Mystic, recalling Donovan with his lush, ambitious psych-pop. Ray essentially dropped from sight soon after the record’s 1968 release, although Initiation of a Mystic remains a collector’s item.
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