The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Gig #118: Psychedelic USA ’66 – ’69: The Fallen Angels, The Godz, Ultimate Spinach, Nazz, The Freeborne, The Fugs, The Blues Magoos, Cromagnon, Vanilla Fudge, Lothar and the Hand People, The Others, Pearls Before Swine, The Beacon Street Union, Autosalvage, Silver Apples, The Red Krayola, Fever Tree, H.P. Lovecraft, C.A. Quintet, The Golden Dawn, The Baroques, Eternity’s Children, The Troll, The Collectors, The Lollipop Shoppe, Friendsound, The Tiffany Shade, SRC, The Blue Things, 13th Floor Elevators, The United States of America, Blue Cheer, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Fifty Foot Hose, The Seeds, Mad River, Clear Light, Grateful Dead, Kaleidoscope, The Savage Resurrection, Spirit, The Music Machine, The Chocolate Watchband, Country Joe & the Fish, The Strawberry Alarm Clock, Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies, Jefferson Airplane



East Coast

The Fallen Angels I’ll Drive You From My Mind
‘The Fallen Angels hailed from Washington DC, an area that in the mid 60’s, was a breeding ground for rock bands and where such artists as Jim Morrison (Doors), Roy Buchanan, Mama Cass Elliot, EmmyLou Harris and many more got their start. The Fallen Angels were formed in 1966 and recorded two LPs for the Roulette label. Both of the albums have been re-released on separate CD’s as The Roulette Masters Parts 1 & 2. The music of the Fallen Angels was aimed for a pop audience as the label was trying to repeat the success of it’s major act, Tommy James and The Shondells. It proved that The Fallen Angels were much too “far out” for the commercial radio audience and despite good sales of the first album, the band was dropped by their label after recording a second album entitled Its A Long Way Down. Both album remain prime examples of psychedelic pop music which many band’s in the late 90’s are trying to copy.’ — Keith Pettipas


The Godz Radar Eyes
‘Few bands in the annals of rock & roll were stranger than the New York City-based Godz. Recording for the wonderfully idiosyncratic ESP-DISK label from the mid-’60s until the early ’70s, the Godz coughed up some of the strangest, most dissonant, purposely incompetent rock noise ever produced. Part of the Lower East Side scene that produced post-Beat avant-hippie rockers/ performance artists the Fugs and the Holy Modal Rounders, as well as honest-to-God beat performers like Allen Ginsberg, the Godz recorded the most extreme music while being secretive about themselves. As the late critic Lester Bangs noted in an essay in Creem in 1971, the Godz “…are a pure test of one of the supreme traditions of rock & roll: the process by which a musical band can evolve from beginnings of almost insulting illiteracy to wind up several albums later romping and stomping deft as champs.”‘ — allmusic


Ultimate Spinach Your Head Is Reeling
‘Ian Bruce-Douglas was in the wrong place at the wrong time – Boston, 1968, just in time for one of the biggest PR disasters in the history of the music business. The debacle was called “Bosstown” or the “Boston Sound,” and Bruce-Douglas’s band Ultimate Spinach was the major casualty. Conceived by producer-arranger Alan Lorber, the Boston Sound was an attempt to promote several Boston bands simultaneously, for the sake of efficiency and momentum. MGM Records liked the idea and released the debut albums of Ultimate Spinach, the Beacon Street Union, and Orpheus in early 1968, all promoted as the first wave of a new “Boston Sound” movement. MGM called it “the sound heard ’round the world.” Rolling Stone’s review by Jon Landau said the sound was “kerplop.” In castigating the MGM albums, Landau presented what quickly became the Final Word on the subject: there was no Boston rock scene; the Boston Sound was pure hype; the bands weren’t very good; the music was “derivative.” In retrospect, it’s clear that Ultimate Spinach deserved a much better fate. The Bosstown hype was not their idea, and their records are some of the best psychedelic music available then or now. Their brief time in the spotlight brought them not well-earned glory but unexpected trauma, which fractured an already-fragile band.’— Terrascope


Nazz Open My Eyes
‘Nazz was an incredibly under-recognized British influenced mod-psych band from Philadelphia that formed in 1967 and remained together for only a few short years. For the time, their music was highly original and still holds up very well to this day. Original members included Robert “Stewkey” Antoni (vocals, keyboards), Thom Mooney (drums), Carson Van Osten (bass) and future rock star Todd Rundgren (guitar). It should be noted that many now consider the Nazz to have had one of the best rhythm sections in sixties rock and Mooney’s excellent drum styling has been closely compared to Keith Moon of the Who. Nazz played their first concert in July, 1967, opening for the Doors. By September of that year, the group had received some financial support from a local record store, which also put them in touch with John Kurland, a record promoter who was looking for a guitar-pop band. Kurland took a liking to the Nazz and signed on as their manager. Unfortunately, he and his associate, Michael Friedman, prevented the band from gigging regularly, believing that a lack of performances would increase demand for the group. The managers were also convinced that the Nazz could be marketed as a sharp, stylish boy-band for the teenybopper audience, and helped the quartet refashion themselves in that mode.’ — collaged


The Freeborne A New Song For Orestes
‘This obscure late-’60s band was typical of many young Boston groups of the era in their eclectic blend of psychedelic influences, with a sound heavy on electric keyboards and wailing guitar. Their sole album, 1967’s Peak Impression, was heavy on minor melodies and haunting harmonies, and a little unusual for the time in its wide array of instruments (all played by the band), including cello, recorder, harpsichord, and trumpet in addition to the standard guitars, keyboard, bass, and drum. The record was reissued on CD by Distortions more than 30 years later. The flaws of the album are that there aren’t outstanding songs, and that the mood shifts seem more like an attempt to be as eclectic as possible than they do like genuinely well-thought-out compositional statements. The overall spacey, haunting feel of the record sometimes verges on self-conscious creepiness.’ — collaged


The Fugs Crystal Liaison
‘Arguably the first underground rock group of all time, the Fugs formed at the Peace Eye bookstore in New York’s East Village in late 1964. The nucleus of the band throughout its many personnel changes was Peace Eye owner Ed Sanders and fellow poet Tuli Kupferberg. Sanders and Kupferberg had strong ties to the beat literary scene, but charged, in the manner of their friend Allen Ginsberg, full steam ahead into the maelstrom of ’60s political involvement and psychedelia. Starting on the legendary avant-garde ESP label, the Fugs’ debut was full of equal amounts of chaos and charm, but their songwriting and instrumental chops improved surprisingly quickly, resulting in a second album that was undoubtedly the most shocking and satirical recording ever to grace the Top 100 when it was released. After cutting an unreleased album for Atlantic, they moved on to Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label, unleashing a few more albums of equally satirical material that were more instrumentally polished, but equally scathing lyrically. By breaking lyrical taboos of popular music, they helped pave the way for the even more innovative outrage of the Mothers of Invention, the Velvet Underground, and others.’ — collaged


Blues Magoos Pipe Dream
‘A Bronx-based quintet, the Blues Magoos were formed in 1964 and were originally known as the Trenchcoats before changing their name to the Bloos Magoos and then subsequently adopting the more conventional spelling as they became fixtures on the Greenwich Village club scene. In 1966, after an intense makeover and a marketing blitz, they emerged as a sort of East Coast answer to the then-emerging San Francisco flower power psychedelic scene with a big single, “(We Ain’t Got) Nothing Yet,” that same year, and attracted further attention with the album Psychedelic Lollipop, which also charted. Really more a blues-rock band with a garage band’s approach and intentions than they were a Summer of Love band, the Blues Magoos nonetheless continued with psychedelic trappings for the album Electric Comic Book, which appeared in 1967, and the similarly constructed Basic Blues Magoos a year later in 1968.’ — collaged


Cromagnon Caledonia
‘The legend goes thusly: production visionary Brian Elliot and his associate Austin Grasmere allegedly had written a string of bubble gum hits when they approached ESP Records to produce an LP that would present their original creative ideas, which Elliot described as “movies for the ears”, far removed from the formulas of the market place. They said that they had a Connecticut tribe (mostly the remnants of an earlier Elliot production project, a psychedelic band called The Boss Blues) with which they would bring to fruition the ideas that they needed to express… the ultimate theme being “all is one”. ESP gave them engineer Otto Schontze and some studio time. The Cromagnon legend says that it only took three days, but recent interviews claim it took many weeks of recording labor to fulfill their musical dream…producing an album titled “Orgasm”, which they credited to Cromagnon. It was released in 1969. There actually was a Connecticut tribe of sorts, a typical hippie commune of the day, with several children included.’ — kingfeeb


Vanilla Fudge Illusions of My Childhood, Part One/You Keep Me Hanging On
‘Known as ‘the first of the heavy bands’ and ‘doyens of punk mysterioso’ this Long Island group first came to public attention in 1967 with a revival of an old Supremes hit ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’. Vanilla Fudge had slowed down this song to half its original tempo, inserted plenty of neo-classical organ and Indian guitar licks and swelled it up to an almost Spectoresque extravaganza. A full seven-and-a-half-minute version of this single was included on the 1967 debut album Vanilla Fudge, plus Fudged-up arrangements of such songs as ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Ticket To Ride’ (both written by the Beatles), ‘Bang Bang’ (by Sonny & Cher) and ‘People Get Ready’ (by The Impressions). Their almost fussy neo-gospel harmonies and cinerama arrangements were irritating a lot of people, but created a certainly exhilarating sound. The second Vanilla Fudge album The Beat Goes On was one of the most gallant disasters in the annals of rock, a musical record of the previous 25 years including the entire history of music in less than twelve minutes. Vanilla Fudge made the whole notion of interpretaion interesting again. But their own songs and in live performance they were almost too hard to take. That mixture of overpowering Rascals organ and psychedelic Hendrix guitar, all those slow build-ups and crescendos, those lulls and storms, every bit of it copied by a hundred other Long Island hard-rock groups-it finally got too much for everyone except the fans of what the Fudge termed “psychedelic symphonic rock.”‘ — trashcanasian


Lothar And The Hand People Machines
‘The story goes that Lothar and the Hand People formed in Denver in 1965. That city hasn’t exactly been portrayed as a rock Mecca of the period, and it apparently took all of a year for them to hightail it to the greener musical pastures of NYC. They consisted of Rusty Ford on bass, Kim King on guitar, Moog and Ampex tape decks, Paul Conley on keyboards, liner controller and Moog, Tom Flye on drums and percussion, and John Emelin on lead vocals. Oh, and there was Lothar, their trusty Theremin, the responsibilities of which fell mainly onto Emelin’s shoulders, or more appropriately, the motions of his two hands. Rather than forcing the issue by grafting the Theremin into situations where it would’ve been inappropriate, they instead showed common sense in a time where levelheadedness wasn’t at a premium. This hasn’t stopped some from hypothesizing that the Hand People’s lack of sales figures came down to an unfulfilled promise of newly broken ground. In reality, it seems to be more a combined case of geography (the East Coast falling behind the West’s and England’s late-‘60s rock dominance) and the group’s popish traits flying in the face of prevailing American ideals that were rooted in blues, folk, and more aggressively psychedelic visions. Consumers just weren’t pining for a more eclectic expansion upon the template of John Sebastian and crew.’ — the Vinyl District


The Others My Friend The Wizard
‘The Others were a Rhode Island garage psychedelic band consisting of Pete Shepley (lead vocals), Mike Brand (rhythm guitar), Mike Patalano (drums), John Costa (bass and vocals) and Jim DeStout (lead guitar/vocals). They formed during freshman week at the University of Rhode Island in fall 1964, and the immediate “click” was evident: a mere six to seven months later the collegians were already recording their major-label debut. This came about through a connection of Mike Brand’s father, New York City manager/promoter Bob Marshall. After an impressive audition, Marshall immediately booked them at the hoppin’ Rolling Stone club in NYC for the entire summer of 1965. They even were granted Vox amps in exchange for endorsements! Through Marshall, the band then auditioned for producer Clyde Otis, who was instrumental in landing the RCA record deal (and co-authored the b-side of their first single). With a major-label 45 and a summer-long NYC club stint under their belt, the Others could safely be called the top rock and roll band in the state, earning opening slots for the major acts which came through town — the Lovin’ Spoonful, Animals, Byrds and Left Banke.’ — Rip It Up


Pearls Before Swine Images of April
‘Once, a long time ago, Tom Rapp was a rock star. You’ve probably never heard of him. In 1967, as a scrawny 20-year-old in Melbourne, Fla., he created a band with a name so arrogant it invited failure. Most musicians selected band names that were safely seditious, like the Rolling Stones; or self-consciously silly, like the Strawberry Alarm Clock; or antiseptically straightforward, like Sonny and Cher. You don’t need a degree in marketing to realize you shouldn’t alienate people from the get-go. Tom Rapp called his band Pearls Before Swine. It was a crisp one-finger salute to the listening public. The band was mostly just Rapp. He wrote the songs, arranged the songs, sang the songs, played lead guitar. He had a dust-bunny beard and Orphan Annie bedspring hair that rode his shoulders and boinged when he walked. His voice could sound thin and doofy like Rudy Vallee, or rich and rumbly like Neil Diamond, or tremulous like a man weeping at his child’s grave. Critics called his music acid folk. It trod the familiar 1960s floorboards: anti-war, pro-drug, get-inside-your-mind kindergarten Zen. But upon this floor he built a minaret, a windswept, rococo structure with spooky echoes and forbidding shadows. His lyrics borrowed from A.E. Housman, W.H. Auden, Sara Teasdale, Herodotus. He used cynicism like a horsewhip. When he wrote of love it did not sound like Herman’s Hermits. Pearls Before Swine was not always easy to listen to: Rapp made few concessions to popular taste. His instrumentation called to mind lutes and fifes, things from distant places and forgotten times. He used instruments seldom heard in rock: celeste, cello, sarangi, oboe, wind chimes and something called a bowed psaltery. His words sometimes danced just beyond the reach of reason.’ — The Washington Post


Beacon Street Union Mystic Mourning
‘ I saw the Beacon Street Union many times. They were my favorite group at the time when I would see them I would stand right up front. I always thought they must have wondered who I and my friends were. Live they sounded much like the records. John Lincoln Wright the singer had a real presence. He always wore a pouch on his belt which we fantasized was dope or ‘drug gear’. Just an outrageous thing for the day. Members met when they attended Boston College together. Boston College borders Beacon Street, hence the name. The Union had a few stage tricks. Sometimes they would throw bags of flour around resulting in a low budget fog show. They always fooled me with this next trick no matter how many times I saw them. They would come on stage and we would all clap and yell. They would start plugging in and tuning up. It seemed to take a long time. Eventually your attention would drift and you would just talk to your friends. At some signal the whole band would slam into the opening chord to “My Love Is” at full volume and SCARE THE BEJEEBERS OUT OF YOU.’ — Punk Blowfish


Autosalvage Land Of Their Dreams
‘The most misunderstood of all the so-called “psych” bands of the late 1960s, the only LP by Autosalvage is the first and best US psych-into-prog record of them all. Recorded in 1967, ahead of its time, this record took a Byrds/Airplane-inspired acid-folk-rock mixture and crafted songs unique, catchy, raucous, and truly flipped in an early Zappa-like way (who had a hand in getting them signed, apparently). Autosalvage stays heavily focused on music rather than zaniness, but the song titles indicate that there’s plenty of gimlet-eyed humor as well: “Rampant Generalities,” “Glimpses of the Next World’s World,” “The Great Brain Robbery,” plus a jaw-dropping rendition of Leadbelly’s “Good Morning Blues.” Full-on lead guitars, nasally vocals (the worst feature for some, but I find them punkish), and extended yet carefully arranged 6-minute acid/jam/extrapolations are artfully wrapped in hummable tunes. Traditional themes were mixed with jugband music, while the adventurous, quirky compositions blended shimmering guitar with textured instrumentation. Commercial indifference doomed their continuation and by the end of the decade Autosalvage had broken up.’ — Plain and Fancy


Silver Apples Oscillations
‘On a steamy night in 1967 at Cafe Wha? in New York City, one of the world’s strangest electronic instruments was conceived. The inventor, Simeon Coxe III, states, “One night, on a lark, I decided to plug in an oscillator and jam along with the cover band I was in at the time, the Overland Stage Electric Band. Besides the drummer Danny [Taylor] who later joined me, no one in the band was amused.” And so begins the epic story of Silver Apples, the short lived, wildly influential oscillator-and-drum psych duo from the late 1960s. And so also begins the story of ‘The Simeon’ – the mythic, and aptly named, shape-shifting electronic beast of a rig that Coxe played in the band. The band’s well-documented story was one marked by equal parts chaotic energy and catastrophe, so we’ll just delve in briefly. Lacking any formal musical training, Coxe’s playing alternated between droning oscillator tones and rudimentary atonal chords while Taylor’s drums pounded out voodoo-styled, body-awareness rhythms on specially tuned toms. After developing a cult following throughout New York City in 1967, the pair signed a small deal with the floundering KAPP label – oddly enough, better known at the time as the home for Andy Williams, Burt Bacharach and Cher. The Apples released two albums through KAPP, and while the self-titled debut peaked on the Hot 100 on Billboard, the second album Contact became quickly mired in controversy and pulled from the shelves. “The result was that we couldn’t play music to earn a living,” Coxe shrugs, “KAPP folded, word quickly spread in the industry that Silver Apples were ‘untouchables’ and Danny and I just said, ‘screw this!’ And we parted ways.”’ — Red Bull Music Academy





The Red Krayola Free Form Freakout
‘I was interested in writing, I was interested in film. I was interested in all sorts of things. And we just looked around at what was going on in the arts, and writing continued to be dominated by the modernist, high-modernist school. And then there were the modernist offshoots, like Beckett. So there was an official avant-garde culture and there was a mainstream culture, and one didn’t fit in either place very well. And one wanted to make tokens or “things” without being so precious about it. So, without trying to make the most beautiful bloody painting that had ever been made, not to try to make the most romantic, gorgeous, heart-rending blah, blah, blah. Not to aspire to these ideals, but just to find out if there was anything to say in relation to these forms. And, if anything could be said with these forms, what could that possibly be? So music was an instrumentality that hadn’t been tried by us. Went to Europe in ’65. Came back and was convinced that the only thing for us to do was start a band because the most possibilities were there. So that’s how we started —with the idea that yes, music has got something to do with human spirit and all these [modes] of meaning. Quickly finding out that it doesn’t have much to do with that. That everything has got to do with that, and nothing has to do with that. The process of actually saying something that makes sense to somebody else is fairly complicated.’ — Mayo Thompson, Red Krayola


Fever Tree Unlock My Door
‘The self-titled debut album of this unfairly neglected psychedelic band is an odd mix of slick studio work laced with surprising moments of eclecticism, from soundtrack references to hard rock worthy of the best bands of the time. They open up with a pretty good piece of musical prestidigitation, melding Johann Sebastian Bach and Ennio Morricone into the album’s first track, which segues neatly into a hard rock style that’s their own on the spaced-out, Ravel-laced “Where Do You Go,” which sounds like the Doors and the Jimi Hendrix Experience jamming together. They also roll over “Day Tripper” and “We Can Work It Out,” squeezed into a two-song medley, like a proto-metal steamroller while quoting “Norwegian Wood” and “Eleanor Rigby”; then switch gears into a beautifully elegant, gently orchestrated pop/rock rendition of Neil Young’s “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing” that’s worth the price of admission by itself. The harder rocking numbers (especially “San Francisco Girls”) are highly diverting artifacts of their time, while the last two songs, “Unlock My Door” and “Come with Me (Rainsong),” show off a totally unexpected and beautifully reflective folk-rock side to their sound that’s strongly reminiscent of Phil Ochs’ work on Pleasures of the Harbor and Tape from California. The variations in sound and content, plus the fact that the only keyboard player, Rob Landes, made any large contribution to the in-house songwriting (mostly the work of their producers, Scott & Vivian Holtzman), makes it difficult to pin down precisely what Fever Tree was about, beyond the evidence at hand; but taken on its own terms, the album ought to be better known than it is, which is probably also true of the band itself.’ — collaged


HP Lovecraft At The Mountains Of Madness
‘Featuring two strong singers (who often sang dual leads), hauntingly hazy arrangements, and imaginative songwriting that drew from pop and folk influences, H.P. Lovecraft was one of the better psychedelic groups of the late ’60s. The band was formed by ex-folky George Edwards in Chicago in 1967. Edwards and keyboardist Dave Michaels, a classically trained singer with a four-octave range, handled the vocals, which echoed Jefferson Airplane’s in their depth and blend of high and low parts. Their self-titled 1967 LP was an impressive debut, featuring strong originals and covers of early compositions by Randy Newman and Fred Neil, as well as one of the first underground FM radio favorites, “White Ship.” The band moved to California the following year; their second and last album, H.P. Lovecraft II, was a much more sprawling and unfocused work, despite some strong moments. A spin-off group, Lovecraft, released a couple LPs in the ’70s that bore little relation to the first incarnation of the band.’ — allmusic


C.A. Quintet Dr. of Philosophy
‘The C.A. Quintet’s Trip Thru Hell is one of the most unique LPs from the 60s. It was a small indie pressing of under 500 from the Candy Floss label, making it a very rare 1968/1969 release. Originals will set you back a pretty penny (possibly over $1,000) but are worth it considering the CD version does not faithfully recreate the back side of the LP. Prior to this LP, the Minneapolis-based C.A. Quintet had released a few respectable, though restrained, garage rock singles. Then something tweaked in the mind of Ken Erwin, the mastermind behind the Quintet, and the band’s frat rock would become infused with a dark, weird edge. Trip came housed in a classic, striking jacket and was a truly original acid concept album chronicling the hells of earth. It’s an album that takes you into another world, another mind, and there are some deep, lysergic excursions to behold. The title track is a 9-minute instrumental with a prominent bass groove, angelic and eerie background vocals, shimmering organ, a suprisingly effective phased drum solo, and demented guitar distortions. The track may not sound as demonic as its title implies, but it was unlike anything recorded before or since, and certainly worth the trip. “Cold Spider” has Ken Erwin screaming his lungs out over some nice whacked out raga leads and Hendrix-style feedback. They bust out the brass for “Colorado,” “Sleepy Hollow Lane,” “Smooth As Silk,” “Trip Thru Hell (Part 2)” and “Underground Music,” which are dark oddities and compelling highlights.’ — The Rising Storm


The Golden Dawn Starvation
‘The Golden Dawn are an American psychedelic rock band formed in Austin, Texas, in 1966. The band released one album, titled Power Plant, before breaking up soon after the album’s release in 1968. The record company, the infamous International Artists label out of Houston, had made a decision that seems to have “shafted” the career of the vibrant Golden Dawn. This is what happened: a few months after the release of the 13th Floor Elevators’ Psychedelic Sounds debut, the Dawn had finished Power Plant in mid-1967 and were ready to let it fly; but, by that time, the Elevators were beginning to record their second album, Easter Everywhere, which the record company management thought, for unknown reasons, should come out first, much to the dismay of George Kinney (voc, guitar), Tom Ramsey (lead guitar), Jimmy Bird (rhythm guitar), Bill Hallmark (bass), and Bobby Rector (drums)–collectively, The Golden Dawn. When Power Plant was finally released in 1968, it was largely panned as the work of an Elevators knock-off band and was unjustly snubbed in a way that was big enough to discourage the development of the band. Through the years, Power Plant climbed in “cult” status to the point where recognition of its music drew out George Kinney once again to reform the band in 2002 and perform live all over the States. The Golden Dawn has performed at Austin Psych Fest three times to date, in 2009, 2012 and 2014.’ — collaged


The Baroques I Will Not Touch You
‘Enter The Baroques: yet another troupe of minor characters from the world of 60s psychedelia. A Milwaukee Wisconsin band, their garage/psych/blues reputation rested on a few accidents of their career. They were signed to Chess for their sole album in 1967, a blues label that needed a token act that would represent a more rock ‘n’ roll sound. A single of theirs, “Mary Jane,” got pegged as a drug song, and was banned. Nothing concrete was uttered to dispel the rumors at the time, allowing The Baroques to claim their place in the misappropriated archives of hazy psychedelia. The Baroques were harbingers not only of gloom itself but of gloomy musical movements to come. Those fuzz guitars are redolent of the innovations of lo-fi folk rockers of the 90s, whose stamp was felt in the sound, not necessarily the structure, of their songs. These were folk songs dipped in a tarry bloom, as if weathered by a less bucolic experience – updated from their origin, but not significantly altered. They were to folk as The Baroques were to 60s pop. Sixties bands were called a lot of wacky and unrepresentative things, so how could Chess have known that their first non-R&B; act would dourly set out to do exactly what they had said on the tin and produce singular rock ‘n’ roll: neither fish nor fowl, neither foul, nor fair? The reason that The Baroques remain an interesting listen today is that they manage to bypass a dated sound with a good helping of ornery originality; a palpable curmudgeonliness that is difficult not to enjoy for its own sake.’ — Tiny Mix Tapes


Eternity’s Children Mrs. Bluebird
‘Eternity’s Children were the first production project for the team of Curt Boettcher and Keith Olsen, renowned both together and separately for their work with such artists as Tommy Roe, the Beach Boys, and Fleetwood Mac….the two were also of course members of the legendary Milennium, whose other members feature both as session-men and songwriters. Eternity’s Children were also the first project taken on by Gary Paxton’s Bakersfield studio, (better known as the birthplace of country-rock) giving the band the opportunity to work with the then-unknown Clarence White and Gene Parsons, mainstays of the latter-day Byrds lineups.… Despite a hit with “Mrs. Bluebird”, record company politics caused their second album Timeless to remain unreleased (except briefly in Canada) … which has resulted in many fans never even having seen it, never mind heard it, and added to its legendary reputation and astronomical asking price. There were two abortive attempts to start on a third album, with Boettcher and Olsen in LA, and with Chips Moman and Tommy Cogsbill at the famous American Studios in Memphis (at that time on a roll with Elvis, Dusty Springfield, and the Boxtops) before the band split.’ — Cherry Red


The Troll Werewolf and Witchbreath
‘An odd and disjointed psychedelic album and a product of the famous Dunwich Productions (see posts of Aorta, American Breed, Coven, H.P. Lovecraft etc.) from a Chicago area band that had formerly had some very minor success with garage rock and British Invasion. It doesn’t gell all that well- it sounds like it was put together rather haphazardly, and the music also seems like it comes from different eras. Some of the tracks have a Beatles/ early Bee Gees flavor, others are in a hard rock vein. The best song is a cut named” Werewolf and Witchbreath, almost a cross between The Stooges, Black Sabbath around the time of their debut record, and early Fleetwood Mac at their loudest- indeed, almost like the three bands had got together and recorded a hard blues/ psychedelic/ heavy metal/ proto- punk theme for a horror flick. The Troll were popular in their immediate area, but failed to make much of an impression elsewhere. The drummer later became Jim Croce’s business manager, and also died in the 1973 plane crash that killed Croce.’ — Red Telephone 66


The Collectors Howard Christman’s Older
‘The Collectors made just two albums in the late 1960s, but those records saw the band cover quite a bit of unusual territory, even by the standards of outfits identified with the psychedelic age. Mixing a good deal of classical influence into the melodies and vocal harmonies, as well as enjoying a considerable bent for improvisation, the group were among many breaking down barriers between rock and other styles that had previously been seldom heard within rock music. On their self-titled 1968 debut album, that would culminate in one of the longest tracks ever placed on a rock LP up to that point, though the side-long “What Love (Suite)” was preceded by a handful of shorter songs that put their swirl of diverse sounds into more compact formats. Enigmatic psychedelic weirdness was supplied by “Howard Christman’s Older,” though that wasn’t nearly as far-out as the 19-minute “What Love (Suite).” The latter cut took up all of side two, at a time when that had rarely been done on a rock LP, navigating passages from serene near-jazz to all-out frenzied freakout.’ — collaged


The Lollipop Shoppe Underground Railroad
‘So Las Vegas band, The Weeds, got some guy to manage them who thought that they might be more appealing to the younger bubblegum-set, ala 1910 Fruitgum Company and the like, so he got them to change their name to The Lollipop Shoppe in the hopes of cashing in on the craze. Didn’t really work because this band and album will fade into deep obscurity for years, albeit one single track on a Nuggets comp alongside a million other aspiring Stones/Yardbirds wannabes. It’s not even bubblegum in the slightest. Shame really, as I can only imagine (actually, I can’t) what would have become of Fred Cole had reached fame and fourtune as a young man in his early twenties, or at least a well-known ‘one-hit-wonder’ status via 1910 Fruitgum Co. Would he have still met future wife of 42 years, Toody? Would he have still ventured into punk rock with his excellent band, The Rats? Would the institution known as Dead Moon have happened? Who can say. This album has certainly gained a well deserved legendary status in recent years thanks in no small part to Fred’s endurance and ever-growing popularity, but also in part due to the fact that it’s a pretty great album in and of itself. It sounds a lot like Dead Moon in places and a few songs like “You Must Be A Witch” and “Don’t Look Back”, would actually be re-recorded by Dead Moon. Great fuzzy bass playing and the songs are actually somewhat unique in a garage-y, folk- psych kind of way.’ — Red Telephone 66


Friendsound Lost Angel Proper St.
‘Upon leaving Paul Revere & The Raiders, Drake Levin, Phil Volk & Michael Smith formed Brotherhood who released two albums for RCA. In between those two releases, the trio teamed up with a few session musicians as Friendsound, releasing Joyride. A wild batch of instrumental psychedelia — with plenty of avant garde touches thrown in! This is the sort of record that always restores our faith in major labels — and it makes us realize that no matter how many Elvis Presley albums RCA was selling in the 60s, there was also room to put out odd little record like this one. It’s kind of like the band and the engineers took a bucketful of drugs — so many that they got really mellow and dark — then went into the studio to cut a tripped-out album of instrumentals. The whole thing comes across with the same “anything goes” spirit of the NY 60s underground film scene — but with none of the silliness of bands like The Fugs.’ — Red Telephone 66


The Tiffany Shade An Older Man
‘Details about the Tiffany Shade recording sessions are sketchy, but member Mike Barnes recollections about the recording sessions were “we were pretty excited. We just had no experience with that sort of thing. We had heard things but never had any experience. We were really babes in the woods. It was a terrific experience looking back on it. It was really a hell of lot fun, we loved the idea of being able to overdub even though we didn’t get to do too much of that, it was still fun. That was pretty high tech in those days, being able to lay down a couple of tracks with your voice. If we’d of had a couple more months to do it could have been one hell of an album.” Robb Murphy felt as though he and the band were “duped into thinking that they would have creative control of the album.” They did not. “On the first day of recording Mike laid down rough or scratch vocals. We figured we would re-do the vocals at a later time. When we showed up on the second day to re-do the vocals they wouldn’t let us. They went with the first takes of the rough vocals. That really soured us on the whole experience. We really could have done a great album if only we were given some time to create and work on it. That is why we ended up setting our copies of the record on fire and throwing them into the air like burning UFO’s. We melted the records and used them for ashtrays.”’ — The Tiffany Shade


SRC Daystar
‘Detroit band SRC had their own distinct sound and unique vision- heavy psychedelic rock mixed with hard rock overtones with Quackenbush’s lead guitar style really contributing to their overall sonics. Quackenbush’s technique was incredible, especially the way he used feedback and incorporated it into searing solos that are so expressive and can range from melodic to chaotic in a matter of seconds in the same song. This made the band stand out, although the other band members shouldn’t be underestimated since it’s when they all got together that the songs took form. Their music is the kind you get lost in, you forget yourself and your surroundings just melt away. Their sound reflected influences like Cream, The Pretty Things, The Who and The Yardbirds and other British bands. They mixed that influence with the sound of peers from the local music scene (the Stooges,MC5 and the Amboy Dukes) to come up with something very unique and creative. SRC’s self-titled debut record (1968) is a classic of first rate psychedelic music and should be put alongside other classic from that era. The album is filled with great melodies and harmonies, outbreaks of raw noise and incredible ripping guitar solos that make you stretch your head back in amazement. The guitar sounds like it has a personality of its own throughout the record.’ — Perfect Sound Forever


The Blue Things The Orange Rooftop Of Your Mind
‘While Kansas psychedelic band The Blue Things’ late-1966 single “Orange Rooftop of Your Mind” was not a hit, and has remained obscure to almost all listeners aside from collectors, it was one of the most innovative early psychedelic rock singles. Prior to this single, the Blue Things had (over the course of one album and a few 45s) been a folk-rock group. As an acoustic demo of the song titled “The Coney Island of Your Mind” (released on the 1987 compilation The Bluethings Story Vol. 3) reveals, it did actually start out as a folky song of sorts. By the time it was recorded, however, it had been transformed into a psychedelic tour de force. The song is introduced by grinding, ominous fuzz riffs, before going into a verse with martial beats and Asiatic violin-like squalls from the guitar. Weirdest of all, by the standards of late 1966, is the mind-spinning lyrical confusion of the lyrics, which bassist Richard Scott summarized as follows in the group’s fan booklet: “It is about a girl caught up in the rat race of today, she is trying to be like and do like everyone else and can’t take the pressure so her mind is slowly snapping.” The group pulled out all the stops for the unearthly instrumental break, in which the harem-on-acid organ was played by session man Ray Stevens while the group sang-moaned wordlessly in similarly raga-influenced fashion. A downwards scrape of the guitar was followed by a simulated nuclear explosion, moving seamlessly into the final verse. If there’s any flaw to “Orange Rooftop of Your Mind,” it’s that the fadeout is too long and repetitive, though there are some interesting guitar squiggles toward the end. It’s actually a catchy song too, but probably too complex and lyrically obscure to have stood a chance of becoming a hit single when it was originally released.’ — allmusic


13th Floor Elevators Earthquake
‘Released in November 1967, Easter Everywhere remains to this day an astonishing achievement. Most Elevators fans regard it their masterpiece, and Tommy Hall has referred to it as “our special purpose”. The unique soundscape from the first LP has been broadened and elements of folk, Indian music and west coast acidrock have been added. The new rhythm section, featuring bass player Dan Galindo and drummer Danny Thomas, bring a loose, jazz-flavored groove to the tracks. The result is a rich, eclectic tapestry of psychedelia held together by Roky Erickson’s intense vocals reciting Tommy Hall’s lyrics. Some say the musical sounds remind them of listening to a Mexican tambora on many Cancun vacations. Chugging along on top of a raga-influenced guitar riff invented by Roky Erickson, the music is pushed through a series of metamorphoses by Thomas’ recurring hi hat-kicks and Galindo’s insistent bass lines. Halfway through the song Stacy Sutherland enters with a beautiful, lyric guitar solo. The song’s complex, asymmetric structure (AABACDAABAABCDA) seems to be patterned on Bob Dylan’s epic “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”, where long skillfully rhymed verses are interspersed with shorter refrain-like passages. The ending of each verse with a recurring phrase — the song title — is reckognizable from Dylan’s “Gates Of Eden” and “Desolation Row”, or indeed any number of songs from the folk tradition. The structural influence aside, Tommy Hall’s lyrics owe little to Dylan in terms of content and imagery. The whole attitude is different from Dylan’s surreal street-poetry which mixes high and low in a tradition of Whitman-Williams-Ginsberg, throwing in a bit of amphetamine-driven namedropping and wordplay as well. Hall’s poetry is solemn, visionary and controlled. Examing the Anglo-Saxon literary tradition, it is in fact hard to pin down Hall’s sources of inspiration. One has to reach far back, beyond modernism and symbolism to the Romantics and Victorians. It is here, in the final incarnations of poetical Classicism.’ — Patrick Lundborg




West Coast

The United States of America Coming Down
‘Joseph Byrd, who had frequented avant-garde circles since hanging around with Terry Riley, LaMonte Young, and Virgil Thomson in the early ’60s, used the United States of America to bring cutting-edge electronics, Indian music, and “serious” composition into psychedelic rock and roll. The group’s sole, self-titled album in 1968 was a tour de force (though not without its flaws) of experimental rock that blended surprisingly melodic sensibilities with unnerving blasts of primitive synthesizers and lyrics that could range from misty romanticism to hard-edged irony. For the relatively few who heard it, the record was a signpost to the future with its collision of rock and classical elements, although the material crackled with a tension that reflected the United States of America itself in the late ’60s. By mid-1968, the grand experiment was over. Conflicting egos, a drug bust, and commercial pressures all contributed to a rapid split. The United States of America may have had their roots in the halls of higher learning, but ultimately they were prey to the same kind of mundane tensions that broke the spirit of many a band that lived and died on the streets.’ — richieunterberger.com


Blue Cheer Just A Little Bit
‘On the surface, Blue Cheer was the epitome of San Francisco psychedelia. The band was named for a brand of LSD and promoted by renowned LSD chemist and former Grateful Dead patron, Owsley Stanley. The band’s sound, however, was something of a departure from the music that had been coming out of the Bay area. Blue Cheer’s three musicians played heavy blues-rock and played it VERY LOUD! The Blue Cheer philosophy, intentional or not- was to do as much with as little as possible- crude playing, crude production, reaching out, a primitive grasping, a sonic transcendence only possible through rock and roll, the blues, speed, and volume. You know, all the stuff that’s powered the great confused rockers from Bo Diddley to Half Japanese. They take the idea of Jimi’s explosive “Let me stand next to your fire” and cram it into every song- Jimi took a breather every now and again, but these guys come at you full-bore non-stop every single fucking song. An air of demented over-indulgence permeates their first two LP’s- the songs are merely the excuse for the “jamming”- which consists of freaked out noise-making under a bluesy shuffle more than anything resembling a “solo.”‘ — furious.com


The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band Smell of Incense
‘In 1960 Bob Markley, the adopted son of an oil tycoon and a law graduate, moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment. In 1965, Kim Fowley arranged a private party in Markley’s mansion at which The Yardbirds with Jeff Beck performed and which the Harris brothers and Lloyd also attended. Markley was impressed by the large number of teenage girls attracted by the band. The much younger musicians were impressed by Markley’s financial resources and potential ability to fund good quality equipment and a light show. Fowley encouraged them to join forces and with the addition of drummer John Ware, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was formed. The general approach was intended to parallel that being developed on the east coast by Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground. Markley used his legal background to ensure that he held all rights to the band’s name. The band’s final Reprise album, Volume 3: A Child’s Guide To Good And Evil is generally regarded as the group’s high point. However, the naïve peace-and-love message of some of the songs sat uneasily beside the ironic cynicism of tracks like “A Child of a Few Hours Is Burning to Death”. The songs showed a tension between the Harris brothers’ melodies, Morgan’s strident lead guitar and effects and Markley’s sometimes bizarre lyrics regarding children.’ — collaged


Fifty Foot Hose Bad Trip
‘Fifty Foot Hose is an American psychedelic rock band that formed in San Francisco in the late 1960s. They were one of the first bands to fuse rock and experimental music. Like a few other acts of the time (most notably the United States of America), they consciously tried to combine the contemporary sounds of rock with electronic instruments and avant-garde compositional ideas. They released one experimental and wildly atonal single, “Bad Trip”, in 1967, with the intention that the record could be played at any speed. The group had a small but intense following in San Francisco and also toured with other acts including Blue Cheer, Chuck Berry and Fairport Convention, when the band was augmented by Robert Goldbeck (bass). They broke up in late 1969 when most of its members joined the musical Hair.’ — collaged


The Seeds March Of The Flower Children
‘Though the Seeds’ third album, 1967’s Future, was pegged by critics as the band’s attempt to ride the wave of baroque/psychedelic/orchestral magic the Beatles defined with Sgt. Pepper’s, the recording was actually complete before the release of the Beatles’ far more popular breakthrough album, making it impossible for the influence to touch the uncannily similarly minded flower power tones of Future. the Seeds had their own relatively huge smash with the raw high-pressure garage thumper “Pushin’ Too Hard” the year before. Future was a deliberate attempt to move away from the band’s by-the-numbers caveman garage rock toward something more experimental, spectral, and musical can be felt all over the rest of the album. While the sidesteps into Technicolor psychedelia and overly serious orchestration are interesting and sometimes good, nothing has quite the same power as Saxon’s feral howls or the burning fuzz guitar that escapes in the least calculated (and most exciting) moments of Future.’ — collaged


Mad River The War Goes On
‘In the onslaught of innovative San Francisco Bay Area psychedelic bands that recorded in the late 1960s, it was inevitable that some would get unfairly overlooked. Foremost among them were Mad River, whose two Capitol albums made barely a ripple saleswise. Overexposure of the San Francisco scene, however, was likely only part of the reason for their commercial failure. For Mad River were one of the hardest psychedelic bands to get a handle on, their eclecticism, oblique lyrics, and tortuous multi-segmented songs defying quick summarization. Their music can come across like a spiraling, acid-spiked descent into hell. It may not have helped that Mad River’s brand of psychedelia was decidedly dark, often venturing into distraught visions in stark opposition to the feel-good stereotype of the San Francisco Sound. Frustrated by their lack of recognition, Mad River broke up by the end of the 1960s, most likely victims of the daring recklessness of their musical experimentation.’ — Richie Unterberger


Clear Light Sand
‘Clear Light was a folk-rock/psych-rock group from LA that released one LP off Elektra in 1967, famously known for including two drummers, one of them being Dallas Taylor of CSNY and Manassas fame. Paul Rothchild produced the LP, which explains why the recording sessions were fraught with tension and negativity. The group was masterminded by guitarist/vocalist Bob Seal, bass player Doug Lubahn, and lead vocalist Cliff De Young. Prior to Clear Light the band had been known as the Brain Train. Seal felt a name change was appropriate to coincide with the release of a newly recorded debut single, “Black Roses.” Seal decided on Clear Light, a concept he had come across in his readings of Eastern philosophy, a name also shared by a potent brand of LSD. Rothchild’s iron fist policy coupled with the lack of commercial success led to Clear Light’s demise, shortly after the release of this solid album. Not everyone will like this record because of its eccentric nature but it really is a crime that Clear Light was unable to release a followup to this debut.’ — The Rising Storm


Grateful Dead live 05-03-1968 @ Columbia University
‘Owsley Stanley, the grandson of a former Kentucky governor, made and supplied the LSD that fueled acid rock and California’s hallucinogenic culture in the 1960s. An early patron and sound engineer for the Grateful Dead who also came up with the Dead’s trademark skull and lightning-bolt logo, Mr. Stanley was memorialized in the band’s song “Alice D. Millionaire,” named after a newspaper headline about his arrest for dealing LSD. Mr. Stanley was credited with distributing thousands — some say millions — of doses of high-purity LSD, often for free at concerts by the Grateful Dead and “acid tests” run by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters.’ — collaged


Kaleidoscope Egyptian Gardens
‘Says Chris Darrow, a member of the original lineup, being in Kaleidoscope was “like going to college. It wasn’t easy learning that stuff that was unfamiliar to you. I think it changed everybody’s life in terms of the way they approached music, because you were kind of forced by virtue of being in the context of this to take on things that you probably wouldn’t take on yourself.” No other band of the time could play so many kinds of music, and so authoritatively. A commercial breakthrough, however, was not forthcoming. Dubious management and almost non-existent record label support, coupled with the band’s lack of conventional “sex appeal” or an easily-categorized sound contributed, no doubt. In any case, the band went through a few upheavals in personnel before giving up the ghost. Ultimately, says David Lindley, Kaleidoscope was “a genetical experiment that produced several mutant strains of unknown origin and eventually ate itself.”‘ — Pulsating Dream


The Savage Resurrection Expectations
‘Formed in 1967 in the East Bay town of Richmond,CA. (near Berkeley) by members of Garage Rock groups Button Willow, Whatever’s Right, The Plague, The Blue Boys and others. The Savage Resurrection were one of the youngest Psychedelic bands working the Bay Area circuit.“The Savage Resurrection were signed to Mercury Records by A&R; man Abe ‘Voco’ Kesh, most famous for his work with fellow Bay Area-based acts Blue Cheer and Harvey Mandel. Abe ‘Voco’ Kesh” produced their lone, The Savage Resurrection album over the course of three days, capturing a group that sounded Rawer and Punkier than most Psychedelic bands, which could be an advantage or a hindrance. There were flashes of promise, especially considering their extreme youth (Randy Hammon was only sixteen when they recorded their album), but these were not fulfilled, as lead singer Bill Harper and bassist Steve Lage left shortly after the album came out. With replacements The Savage Resurrection only managed to do a little touring in the Midwest before breaking up later in 1968.’ — collaged


Spirit It’s All the Same
‘The LA group’s first album, Spirit, was released in 1968. “Mechanical World” was released as a single (it lists the playing time merely as “very long”). The album was a hit, reaching No. 31 on The Billboard 200 and staying on the charts for over eight months. The album displayed jazz influences, as well as using elaborate string arrangements (not found on their subsequent recordings) and is the most overtly psychedelic of their albums. They capitalized on the success of their first album with another single, “I Got A Line On You”. Released in November 1968, a month before their second album, The Family That Plays Together, it became their biggest hit single, reaching No. 25 on the charts (#28 in Canada). The album matched its success, reaching No. 22. They also went on tour that year with support band Led Zeppelin, who were heavily influenced by Spirit—Led Zeppelin played an extended medley during their early 1969 shows that featured “Fresh Garbage” among other songs; Jimmy Page’s use of a theremin has been attributed to his seeing Randy California use one that he had mounted to his amplifier; and Guitar World Magazine stated “(Randy) California’s most enduring legacy may well be the fingerpicked acoustic theme of the song ‘Taurus’, which Jimmy Page lifted virtually note for note for the introduction to ‘Stairway to Heaven’.” After the success of their early records, the group was asked by French film director Jacques Demy to record the soundtrack to his film, Model Shop and they also made a brief appearance in the film. Their third album, Clear, released in 1969, reached No. 55 on the charts. Spirit were offered the spot right before Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, but they were advised to turn it down and concentrate on a promotional tour for their third album. Record company managers felt that the festival would not be significant, as it did not seem so at that time, and so they missed out on the massive international exposure that the festival and the subsequent film documentary generated. An alternative view has been expressed that they did not merit widespread recognition, as they appealed to a narrow, psychedelic genre.’ — collaged


The Music Machine Eagle Never Hunts The Fly
‘The Music Machine (1965–1969) was an American garage rock and psychedelic band from the late 1960s, headed by singer-songwriter Sean Bonniwell and based in Los Angeles. The band sound was often defined by fuzzy guitars and a Farfisa organ. Their original look consisted of all-black clothing, (dyed) black moptop hairstyles and a single black glove. The group’s one big hit was “Talk Talk,” a proto-punk single that broke into the Top 20 in 1966. It was “the most radical single” then on Top 40 radio, garage psychedelia at its most experimental and outrageous. The band’s success was largely due to Bonniwell, a gifted songwriter who penned “torturous but catchy, riff-driven songs,” according to the All Music online database. The original five-man lineup included Keith Olsen, known for wielding a fuzz box, an electronic device that altered his bass guitar sound.’ — collaged


The Chocolate Watch Band In the Past
‘Back in the mid-’80s, the Chocolate Watchband were trapped in an odd paradox (which actually wasn’t that bad a place to be for a band that didn’t exist anymore). They hadn’t played a note together in almost 15 years, but their original albums were changing hands for $100 apiece or more, and a series of vinyl reissues, first as bootlegs from France and later legit ones from Australia, were selling around the world, and in numbers that only increased as more people had a chance to hear them. What’s more, the group’s sound was starting to be emulated in the work of then-current bands, playing obscure clubs in places like New York’s Chelsea district and other locales as far east as the District of Columbia, made up of teenagers who were too young ever to have seen or heard the Watchband play, and living 3500 miles east of where the Watchband played out its existence, and most of its gigs, two decades before. The group had reached this paradoxical situation — non-existence juxtaposed with a burgeoning cult of admirers around the world — simply by being the best psychedelic garage band of the ’60s; or, at least, the best one ever to have had a serious recording career. While American bands of the period usually either detoured into folk-rock on their way to more elusive flights of languid psychedelia, or fell back on gimmicks and dumbing down their image (à la Paul Revere & the Raiders) to sell records, the Watchband retained an amazing purity of purpose and intent — they owed a considerable (and undeniable) debt to the Rolling Stones for various elements of their sound, but they kept pushing the envelope, at least in intensity, and may even have matched the Stones in their psychedelic ventures when the time came to ante-up musically; they were like the Stones imbued with the more reckless and creative spirit of the Pretty Things.’ — All Music


Country Joe and The Fish Section 43
‘It isn’t easy to pinpoint singular, watershed moments in a culture’s evolution – in fact, it’s a messy business, heroes and hucksters alike laying claims to history. But it is safe to say that when Electric Music For The Mind And Body arrived via Vanguard on May 11, 1967 – six weeks ahead of the fabled Summer Of Love – the pop landscape had seen nothing of its kind. Bursting forth as if it could hardly hold Young America’s collective, bottled-up repression and restlessness a second longer, Country Joe & The Fish’s super-charged debut was a game-changer, a one-of-a-kind artefact, projecting a hippy “new normal” out to an almost uncomprehending world. While certain mega-popular recording artists danced around the notion of mind expansion via recreational drug use circa 1965-67, the Fish came right out with it. “Hey partner, won’t you pass that reefer round,” singer Country Joe McDonald moaned in “Bass Strings”. In the daring “Superbird”, the Fish harboured the suggestion that Lyndon Johnson retire to his Texas ranch and, oh, drop some LSD. And then things got really weird without any lyrics at all in “Section 43”, a virtually indescribable swirl of fog and sound, a psychedelic masterpiece assembled in movements, that simulated an acid trip. “I liked the music full of holes,” McDonald said recently, “as opposed to a wash of sound.”’ — Uncut


Strawberry Alarm Clock Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow
‘When the Strawberry Alarm Clock recorded their third album in 1968, they were struggling to regain the phenomenal success they’d enjoyed in late 1967, when “Incense and Peppermints” shot to the top of the charts and their debut album of the same name stopped just outside the Top Ten. Despite featuring a Top Forty single in “Tomorrow,” their second album, Wake Up…It’s Tomorrow had failed to chart at all. There had always been a number of musical directions at work in the band, but The World in a Seashell found them torn between their own brand of psychedelic pop and record company-instigated attempts to move them toward a softer, more orchestrated pop approach. Dissatisfied with the group’s recent output, the UNI label brought in some outside writers for the album. Also added to the recipe were some string arrangements by George Tipton, who also worked in the 1960s on recordings by Sam Cooke, Jackie DeShannon, the Sunshine Company, the Monkees, Nilsson, and others. “What they probably didn’t like,” speculates keyboardist Mark Weitz, “was that we wrote and arranged our own songs — some of which, the lyrics were not to their approval. [Tipton] was brought in on the third album to try our luck on recording some original songs written by popular songwriters like Carole King. I guess UNI thought it might help us get on the charts again.” But as so often happens when the bean-counters try to over-egg the pudding, “eventually we found out that it practically ruined our following. The songs weren’t us! They weren’t strong enough! I think it hurt our image drastically — like we were ‘selling out’ to the ‘Suits’ and going soft rock.”‘ — Richie Unterberger


Joe Byrd and The Field Hippies Kalyani
‘Sgt. Pepper influenced everybody, and indeed was one of the arguments I used to keep the band on track (on my track, of course). Zappa was not nearly so influential, whatever his fans would like to think. In those early days he was mostly into being raunchy and offensive, so the band (during the brief time that it was still a “band” as opposed to the later stuff, which was different ensembles) didn’t get much play. On the other hand, his broad brand of satire was more accessible than my more insidious (or so I like to think) kind. I never met any of those people, although I certainly heard their music. If they influenced me, it was subconscious. I’ve already named the groups I was aware of emulating: The Airplane, The Fish (Country Joe), and Blue Cheer; there was an interesting though obscure group called The Great Society (Grace Slick with her then husband Darby) that influenced me, and I loved The Red Crayola, although without actually trying to take stuff from them. I was pretty deliberate about exploring new territory. No, there was no “school” in which we considered ourselves. As I’ve said elsewhere, I regarded the avant garde art community as my peer group.’ — Joseph Byrd


Jefferson Airplane Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon
‘In terms of music and lifestyle, the Jefferson Airplane epitomized the San Francisco scene of the mid-to-late Sixties. Their heady psychedelia, combustible group dynamic and adventuresome live shows made them one of the defining bands of the era. Much like their contemporaries on the San Francisco scene – Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Big Brother and the Holding Company principal among them – the Airplane evolved from roots in folk and blues to become a psychedelic powerhouse and a cornerstone of the San Francisco sound. They were the first band on that scene to play a dance concert, sign a major-label record contract (with RCA), and tour the U.S. and Europe. In addition, they espoused boldly anarchistic political views and served as a force for social change, challenging the prevailing conservative mind set in “White Rabbit” and issuing a call to arms in “Volunteers.” In a sense, San Francisco became the American Liverpool in the latter half of the Sixties, and Jefferson Airplane were its Beatles.’ — collaged




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Yes, indeed, no? I have a lifelong dream to live in one. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. I’ll go read your review. Everyone, Steve Erickson’s new review is of the film ‘The Nile Incident’, and thar she blows. The French system for making films is very complicated. There’s this organization called the CNC that basically regulates everything. I forget if I’ve mentioned this already, but one bizarre and very annoying thing is that because the contract that three of the actors in our film signed differed slightly from the normal contract, they can’t be listed as being in the cast of the film! If we named them as being in the cast, the CNC would refuse to let the film be released. And one of the three is one of main figures/performers in the film! All we’re allowed to do is put a sentence at the bottom of the cast credits that says, ‘With the special participation of …’. We’re not allowed to even name the characters they play. I think that’s totally outrageous, and, of course, the actors are very disappointed, but we literally can not do anything about it. Psycho. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Yes, France is extremely into regulations. I mean, ultimately the good outweighs the bad, at least in my experience, but it is weird to have to jump through hoop after hoop after hoop after growing up in ‘anything goes’ LA. How was your visit with your friend? Well, we finished the sound edit yesterday! Essentially, that means our film is complete, done, ready! But we still have to make the very dreaded 59 minute version next week and then wed the finished film to the final titles, credits, and English subtitles (needed for film festival submissions) the following week, but, really, the film is done, locked in, and we couldn’t change anything now even if we wanted to. Zac and I think it’s in perfect shape, and hopefully the fact that we were both exhausted wrecks by the time we finished last night doesn’t mean we both accidentally missed something. So, hooray! My arm/shoulder thing is still quite painful and annoying. If it doesn’t self-improve this weekend, I guess I’ll have to go see an osteopath or doctor something, and I really hate doing that. So, yeah, but I’m getting by. Have a superb weekend full of all kinds of thrills, please, and fill me in. ** Jamie, Jamie, old buddy! There you are! I missed you, great to see you! I’m good. Zac and I essentially finished our film yesterday, so I’m pretty psyched about that. Yeah, having this arm/should pain issue. That’s no good, but it’ll die out somehow. You’ve been ill again, shit. You get way, way more than your fair share of physical unpleasantness. But you’re upswinging, it seems like? And you’re doing exciting stuff in any case. A novella! Holy moly, that’s fantastic! What’s it like? Can you say? Wow! And making music too. Awfully happy to hear about all of that. Like I said, ‘PGL’ is finished except for some technical stuff and having to make a short, 59 minute version to satisfy a grant committee who have us money for a short film. That’ll be painful. But, mainly, yes, ‘PGL’ is finished, and I’m thrilled absolutely to death about it and feeling very proud. It’s everything we had hoped. Hopefully others will respond in a way that doesn’t make me feel crazy and depressed for feeling that way. Thanks a lot about ‘No’. And make ‘Yes’! I’ve really being doing nothing but the sound edit. Beginning this weekend, Zac and I are going to start writing the script for our next film. I’m excited about that. Other than that, there’s a film work-break until next Thursday, so I’m going to try to live otherwise in some way. Man, seeing you makes my morning and beyond. Have the weekend that the multi-million dollar lottery winner has on the day the check clears. Loud boom love, Dennis. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Me too. Oh, I need that new F Ingers album post-haste. I’ll get it. The Jlin article in the new Wire is quite good. Enjoy your booty filled weekend, mister. ** Misanthrope, I love and am fascinated by how disappointing haunted house attractions are relative to their facades and promise. In fact, and I can’t say much about this, but Zac’s and my next film will be partly about that. Yes, hugs and double-cheek kisses to the cricket. France used to have this TV show called ‘Star Academy’, which was basically the French ‘AI’. I was kind of addicted to it when I first moved here. It was on for, like, 9 seasons, and only 2 people ever got famous from it. One, Nolwenn Leroy, didn’t even win the show. She got knocked out in an early round. The other one was a cute boy named Gregoire who had cystic fibrosis. He won because he had cystic fibrosis (and was cute). Then, not long after he won, he died of cystic fibrosis. So he’s famous for that. ** H, Hi, Yep, Halloween is on its way. Ideally I will be in LA for Halloween this year, but I haven’t figured out whether I can do that for sure yet. Have a fine weekend! ** Okay. I made you a kind of a giant 60s psychedelic concert this weekend. Do trip out. There’s a lot of trippy and occasionally quite excellent stuff in there. See you on Monday.


  1. No shortage of music to sample here.
    I’m back with a poem called Dragking.

  2. I thought I knew psychedelia well, but I realize my knowledge is limited to certain labels (ESP, International Artists) and scenes (obviously, San Francisco.) There are so many intriguing artists I’ve never heard of here. I never checked out the “Bosstown Sound” at all, even though I lived in Boston for 4 years and Mission of Burma are one of my favorite bands of all time (not that there’s any direct connection, but I’m interested in the history of Boston music.)

  3. Vanilla Fudge! The record label has recently reissued their albums in mono. So I’m seriously thinking of buying one. The interesting thing about the Fudge is that I think they are insane. At least sound wise. Their albums were put together and produced by Shadow Morton, the genius behind The Shangri-Las, and later produced the second New York Dolls album. But yeah, I grew up with friends who had the Vanilla Fudge album, but I never actually owned a copy. Still, anyone doing “Bang Bang” gets my interest. “Orange Rooftop of Your Mind” is one of the great titles of all time. And the United States of America. Now that album is fascinating. i’m not even sure if I like it or not. On the other hand, The Music Machine were brilliant. I love that first album. As usual your weekend blogs is big enough to feed millions. Or live in its various rooms that can last way over the weekend. Thank you!

  4. I’ve been a fan of that Cromagnon album ever since William Bennett gave it a shout out on his blog a few years ago, think I even DJed one of the tracks for a Yuck ‘n Yum launch back in the day. It’s music that defines psychedelic by being completely off the map. Will check out the other fare on offer here too, plenty of new discoveries in prospect by the look of it.

  5. Dennis, Yeah, I’ve been to a few haunted houses where I’ve really liked them, and then there are others where you’re just like, “Um, okay…who thought this was scary?” It’s almost like watching an un-funny comedian everyone else seems to like. It is interesting how so many things tend to underwhelm us. Just in general, you know.

    I looked up Gregoire. Very interesting story. One of the things that really bugs me about the American versions of these shows is how dramatic they can be. They’re so manipulative. Of course, cystic fibrosis is one thing. You can’t help but be dramatic about that. It’s a devastating condition. I’m not critical of that.

    However, with the American shows, everyone has had some sort of “struggle.” And really, when you think about most of them, it’s just shit most people go through. I’m thinking a lot of times, “Is there anyone who just can sing really well and has had a rather uneventful life?” I rarely see those. I just wonder how that would play to an audience. Maybe that person would be voted right off, no matte how good he or she was.

    And of course, being cute can get you a lot of votes.

    Demographics help too. You always see country singers doing really well on the shows over here. I think it’s because a lot of country fans watch the shows -especially The Voice, where Blake Shelton is a judge and is a very popular country singer- whereas a lot of say, hip hop fans, just don’t because there aren’t a lot of those types of singers on these shows. You never see a rapper on there. And you never really see someone who’s more avant garde or whatever. It’s all country and pop and mainstream rock. Kind of sucks, really.

    I wish, too, that these singers would do their own music. That’s really the crux of it for me. Cover songs are great and all, but that’s probably why so few have been successful after the shows. They’re just not very good artists.

    Wow, I went on too long about that shit, hahaha.

    I’m off to Annapolis today with my friend Cindy. Just for dinner and stuff. The rest of my day will just be chilling.

  6. hey Dennis…way overdue to pop in and say I love you…there…that’s better! xxoo M

  7. What a lovely trip down Memory Lane!
    Bill (my husband) knew The Fugs from their inception.
    “Autosalvage” was THE great cult one-album-wonder. Tom Donaher was quite the babe and much lusted-after by my friends in that era.

    This was also the era of Silly Names: “The Strawberry Alarm Clock” and “The 13th Floor Elevators” being my faves.

    Jacques Demy used “Spirit” in “Model Shop”

  8. The Warren Sonbert film that became “Carriage Trade” began its life as a shot called “Autosalvage” scored to Autosalvage

  9. If anyone covers “Hallelujah” one more time on a show like THE VOICE, I swear Leonard Cohen will rise from his grave. I’ve met Gary Lucas, whom produced and played guitar on Jeff Buckley’s version, and I told him I liked it till I heard it 100 times.

    I saw Ulrike Ottinger’s THE IMAGE OF DORIAN GRAY IN THE YELLOW PRESS – due to my New York Film Festival/review schedule, it’s the first film that’s not a new release I’ve been able to see in a week, and it benefits one to get off the treadmill of films made within the past year or two – and was very impressed, although I walked out on JOAN OF ARC OF MONGOLIA years ago. It has echoes of all kinds of other New German Cinema directors, particularly Schroeter and Syberberg, but the fact that Ottinger’s a lesbian feminist playing around with some of the ideas as Schroeter from a different perspective made its seem much different from his work, not to mention Syberberg’s formally adventurous but extremely conservative and heterosexual films. The levels of drag are amazing.

    I really like the new Myrkur album, although it’s a big departure from their previous work. Black metal fans may actually be even more touchy about appropriation than American people of color, as the reaction to bands like Liturgy, Deafheaven and, of course, Myrkur shows. Amalie Braun, the woman behind Myrkur, got death threats when it was revealed that she was a musician with a background in indie rock who was a newcomer to black metal. This album mixes black metal with Goth and folk music elements – Dead Can Dance and Kate Bush seem like big influences, although they’re also artists many metal musicians claim to like. I wish I’d gone to see them when they played Rough Trade last month, but I couldn’t find anyone to go with me and I don’t understand the “buy a CD, get 2 free tickets” offer the store was making when this album wasn’t released on any format till September 15th, about a month after the band played in store.

    I heard the first Ultimate Spinach album on YouTube. An easy comparison, I know, but Boston’s Jefferson Airplane? The songwriting’s not as good, nor is their singer a match for Grace Slick, but the production is trippier. I want to hear the second album – and about a dozen other albums you recommended – now.

    MOTHER! awaits tomorrow.

    I took another look at the 3rd rough cut of my film today. The issues with the actor’s hair seem completely imaginary now. His hair is perfectly in place for the first three shots of the film. It gets slightly mussed in the fourth shot and remains that way for the portions of the film where it’s visible, but I think it makes sense for this to happen to his character as he grows increasingly angry and agitated. (Of course, he got sweaty because we shot this in summer and had to turn air conditioning off during takes due to sound issues.) The hair is consistent – there are no sudden cuts where it’s totally neat, slightly messy, then neat again. The sound in the third shot still sounds too clean to me, but my editor has told me there’s no way she can alter this in post-production without distorting it in other ways. Last night, a friend recommended that I show the rough cut to other people and get their feedback. I am *very* reluctant to circulate an incomplete version of my film, but I figured my dad would be safe. I spent half an hour on the phone with him trying to teach him how to use Vimeo, to no avail. I think I’ve got to ask one of my friends. It’s quite possible that if you’re not aware of the problems the film went through, you would never notice anything off about the third shot. But so far, the editor and I are the only people who have seen the film, and I’ve really lost any objectivity on it. I’m trying to decide who would be a “safe” viewer for it and capable of watching it and judging possible technical flaws – which I probably can’t fix anyway – apart from whatever aesthetic value it has.

    • Aren’t Delphine Seyrig and Verushka amazing in “Dorain Gray”? You MUST see Ottinger’s “Ticket of No Return” with Tamea Bluminschine — Patricia Highsmith’s last lover.

      • Unfortunately, I’m in the position of owning VHS screeners of several Ottinger films I never got around to watching when I still owned a VCR. If Grasshopper Film is putting out Straub/Huillet Blu-Rays, maybe they can be convinced to do Ottinger next. Anthology Film Archives showed DORIAN GRAY as part of a trans film series which has extended over several months. Verushka really is great in it.

  10. I do mention the band H.P. Lovecraft in my book “Harlem Smoke” but I’ve never actually listened to them all that much… obviously the band’s name and some of their Lovecraftian song/album titles are of interest (“At the Mountains of Madness” is widely considered one of Lovecraft’s best works) but musically it wasn’t really my scene.

    Interestingly enough there’s a girl I’m friends with who I had a crush on back in college (one of the only times that’s ever happened) who has recently become super obsessed with the Blue Magoos. I think she even befriended one of the original band members on Facebook.

    I did use a Cromagnon song for the “soundtrack” in “Grimoire,” the utilized track being “Ritual Feast of the Libido: like Black Acrylic I first heard of them through William Bennett. Heck, I believe they were even listed as an influence in the Cd reissue of Whitehouse’s first album “Birthdeath Experience.”

    Speaking of which, Philip Best’s new press is doing a limited time value pack offer for all 5 of their launch titles here:


    Very much looking forward to these. Of course, I’m a big fan of Best’s work so I’m curious as to what this new book will be like. Simon Morris is really great as well… I take a perverse pride in knowing that I’m probably the only person in the state of Rhode Island who has a copy of his super-rare book “Consumer Guide” (only like 100 were printed: I had #16). I know that Bower is into all that occult stuff so that should be neat… the other names are unknown to me but I’m excited to see what they’re about too.

  11. Oh wow I love the Seeds and Elevators

  12. Hi!

    Thank you so much for this gig! I very much enjoyed the trip! I especially liked Vanilla Fudge.

    Oh wow, congratulations!! This is huge! Your film is complete! I’m so very curious! I hope the 59-minute version will turn out to be as satisfactory as possible, too…!
    The organization we work for forgot to notify the potential participants of the group so we worked with 6 people yesterday – who were able to attend despite the last-minute call. I was a little anxious that it won’t work with such a low number of people but it did or at least it wasn’t too bad. 2 out of the 3 “games” went really well and I felt way more confident and in charge in front of a smaller crowd so… I guess it was still worth it. I got home really exhausted but mostly satisfied.
    How was your weekend? And how’s your arm/shoulder? I truly hope you’re feeling better by now and don’t have to see a doctor/osteopath! Get well soon!!

  13. Howdy Dennis!
    It’s lovely to be ‘back’. Congratulations on finishing PGL! That’s such amazing news. Well done and it’s so good to hear how pleased with it you still are. Now when can we see it? Surely there has to be a Glasgow screening of this one? And now to work on a new one? I love your style.
    Thank you so much for this psychedelic maelstrom! So many things I’d never heard before. I went through it slowly and with a fine tooth comb, which took a while. I actually made notes as I was doing it but when I looked over them today they mostly just said that lots of the songs were ‘great’. I so love a lot of the guitar and bass sounds on a lot of these recordings – that fuzz! The general sound of a lot of these is just great too, simple and compressed. I still find it stunning how good a lot of records from this era sound considering how primitive recording was compared to now. I had to look up the Silver Apples controversy which led me to that amazing LP cover of theirs. Loved the blurb from Mayo Thompson, about ‘not making the most romantic, heartrending blah blah….’ My favourite track would maybe be the Friendsound one, for its downright weirdness and the long end section where it keeps going on whilst falling apart with that great spoken word bit, ‘It’s a sad situation..’ Fucking amazing post. A total education. I’m currently reading Ian Svenonius’ Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock & Roll Group (so good) and he says that so-called psychedelic music is the least psychedelic music ever.
    Aye, my health is a bit of a problem for sure. I saw a consultant last week who said I might start feeling okay by January. I was thinking he’d say Thursday. I almost laughed.
    How’s your neck/shoulder pain combo? Hope it’s all better.
    My novella, ta for asking, is about a guy and a girl walking round a lake and talking about horror films, and that’s pretty much it. It’s called DISINTEGRATION, as I was surprised that there wasn’t a novel called that, then your blog introduces The Disintegrations a few weeks ago! Luckily, There’s not too much chance of mine being published, at least in the near future. I do like it quite a lot though, as scrappy as it is. When I finished the first draft I felt like I’d done some epic thing then I read it in about an hour.
    How was your weekend? Mine’s been tired and sick feeling, but still kind of okay.
    May your Monday feel like a hot bath in the form of a day.
    Traditional baked love,

    • Re: Svenonius’ comment, Jason from Spiritualized once said that tripping to Buddy Holly is far more rewarding than tripping to the Grateful Dead. I love psychedelic music, but I’ve actually never taken psychedelic drugs.

  14. I had a chat session on Facebook with a gay man who writes about film, and he said “I’m not a gay film critic, I’m a film critic.” I wrote back “I feel the same way and it’s obvious from the vast majority of my work, but I’m in a position where I can’t say that {obviously, I’m saying it here} and I feel trapped by the assumptions people make about me even though I’ve realized they don’t affect what I actually write or, fortunately, how my editors treat me.”

  15. thanks so much for this post, i listened to it all weekend and picked out a big crop of favorites.

    I was especially into that Cromagnon album !! it’s really weird !!

    i guess i’m going through a big phase of being interested in medieval stuff, and a lot of this music is feeding that too. maybe it’s just me, but it seems like a lot of 60s/70s psychedelic rock was really into knights and witches and things with medieval vibes. (i’ve also been listening to a lot of The Incredible String Band lately.) Maybe it’s because of the drop out of society and start an agrarian commune type thing? or being interested in pre-christian pagan things? or maybe it’s less of a medieval thing and more of a fantasy thing. idk but it does seem like a lot of psychedelia is vaguely tethered to the dark ages. what do u think?

    thanks again for all the great music !! i hope ur having a good morning

  16. Hey Dennis – Still recovering from a vicious sinus infection, but checking in quickly to say WOW to this psychedelic retrospective is incredible. I know a bunch of these band (though not all the songs you picked by them), but there are plenty of artists that are new to me.

    Other than Red Krayola and 13th Floor Elevators, are there entire albums by some of the Inland groups that are worthwhile? And do Joe Byrd, Strawberry Alarm Clock, or Chocolate Watch Band have LPs that have stood up and are worth checking out?

    Thanks for this. Enjoy seeing the Halloween posts revving up and that day for James McCourt, too. I first discovered his remarkable work through the blog and am very grateful.

    Congrats to you and Zac on basically finishing the film!

  17. MOTHER! was a real experience, something way closer to an American version of a Zulawski film than ANTICHRIST or THE NEON DEMON. Because it’s a Darren Aronofsky film which is not THE WRESTLER, it does hit you over the head with the Biblical references, but I think they’re ultimately extraneous even though every other critic thinks this is a Christian allegory. To me, it’s an elaborate and compassionate (although often cruel) metaphor for how awful it must be for a woman to be married to a writer like Philip Roth (or probably, a filmmaker like Darren Aronofsky – I know nothing about him as a person, but I’m guessing there’s probably a lot of him in Javier Bardem’s character.) To my friend Kevin, with whom I saw the film, it was an exploration of a writer’s creative process and how he imagines a well-stocked fictional universe. I’ve read 5 or 6 different Christian interpretations of it, and there’s one scene in particular seemingly designed to provoke Catholics, but for me, Aronofsky is just lifting Christian imagery for his own purposes. (There’s a half-hour podcast that indieWIRE linked to where he argues the case for atheism against William Friedkin.) In any case, the film blatantly doesn’t take place in the real world, although it’s funny how the credits give every one of the many characters who appear for 30 seconds a name like “the whoremonger.” The film has a clear and well-thought-out sense of style: Jennifer Lawrence is usually at the center of the frame, and the videography looks somewhat degraded – it’s certainly not the 35mm-simulating kind of digital video used in most movies these days. Literally a third of it consists of close-ups of Jennifer Lawrence’s face. It feels like a ’70s midnight movie. It does not feel at all like a Hollywood movie made in 2017, and for that, I think it deserves a lot of credit. Even as far as comparisons with world cinema currently playing the New York Film Festival, it’s weirder and more formally adventurous than, say, the new Kiyoshi Kurosawa film about an alien invasion of the Earth.

  18. Dennis, Mega Congratulations to you and Zac on finishing the film!! That must feel great.

    Awesome trip of a concert to celebrate with!


  19. Hey,

    I’m sorry for not replying sooner. Things have been; well, you know, complicated and difficult…

    “Hugs and super-strengthening vibes.” Thank you so so so very much, man. Honestly. You’ve no idea how much your words mean to me.

    I’m so sorry about your neighbor. Such a tragedy. May He Rest In Peace. Doesn’t it suck that it’s always people like that; people who deserve the best, who actually do stuff for others; the ones who almost always end up getting nothing but bad things and dying?

    Oh, thank you so much! I’d seen the video before, though. Thanks so much anyway. It feels like it lasts for half a minute! My favorite Benning is ‘Ruhr’ (and in my opinion of the Greatest 10 Films of this Century so far). I like it like it better than ’13 Lakes’! I like it even better than ‘Ten Skies’; which is just fucking insane! It’s so cool about the Benning influence in your film! Can’t wait!

    Take good care,

    Good day; good luck,

    Your friend,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2021 DC's

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑