are we forgetting the pseudo-psychedelic sixties?

I INITIATED A NEW TOPIC on the Record Col­lec­tors Guild web­site in Sep­tember 2004 ti­tled “The Pseudo Psy­che­delic ’60s.” I had hoped for a lengthy and en­gag­ingly ar­gu­men­ta­tive and in­for­ma­tive thread that went on for­ever. Below is what I got in­stead: it was fun, but I did not re­ally leave it with more knowl­edge that when I launched the con­ver­sa­tion.

The topic was sparked by a ques­tion that I had re­ceived on an ear­lier thread re­garding the use of the term ‘psy­che­delic’ to sell records in ad­ver­tise­ments on the in­ternet. It elicited this re­sponse from me:

“The only people who have any problem knowing what con­sti­tutes psy­che­delic music are those who have never done psy­che­delics. The problem refer[ed] to above is ubiq­ui­tous, hence mean­ing­less. But, nothing said by any seller any­where will change whether or not the record con­tains psy­che­delic music.”

If you are not a record col­lector, you would be as­tounded to know how many records that have ab­solutely nothing to do with psy­che­delic sub­stances and their ef­fects on the mind are listed as ‘psy­che­delic’ be­cause the seller knows it will get those who don’t know to bid—and bid HIGH.

Minor editing was done for this reprinting: I deleted posts that had nothing to do with the topic; I cor­rected some er­rors in grammar and punc­tu­a­tion; I ap­plied a (sorta) uni­form style to all of the posts. When I thought that a post would make more sense with the in­clu­sion of a few words, I added them; they are easily iden­ti­fied as I placed them in brackets (‘[]’), which are called square brackets in British usage).

Fi­nally, my con­ver­sa­tion is in stan­dard black print while every­body else’s is in red print. The final fi­nally: this is a very lengthy piece. You will need a lot of free time to read it at one sit­ting.

 

The top image is how British fans saw the Hol­lies’ EVOLUTION album when re­leased along­side SGT. PEPPER. The bottom image is how Amer­ican fans saw the album. While it is re­flexive to prefer the orig­inal es­pe­cially with British pop music and records of the Six­ties. I think that the art de­part­ment at Epic did a boffo job of making the cover art­work su­pe­rior to that of the EMI people. The music is ba­si­cally straight-ahead pop-rock with a some pseudo-psychedelic flour­ishes. 

The fairyland of love

NU: I thought I might in­ject a little life back into the con­ver­sa­tion on Six­ties psy­che­delia: how about sin­gles that were hits that do not ap­pear to be psy­che­delic and would never, ever be sought by psych col­lec­tors, but nonethe­less re­flect the ‘hip­pytrippy’ at­mos­phere of the ’60s?

For in­stance, years ago, a friend pointed out that The Rain, The Park & Other Things by the Cowsills was, es­sen­tially, about the nar­rator, ob­vi­ously a ‘square,’ coming across a young hippie chick in the park be­neath the rain and be­coming en­tranced.

The swirling string arrange­ment and modest pro­duc­tion ef­fects can be in­ter­preted as his having his mind ‘blown’ by the en­counter. (Thanks to Rich Rock­ford.)

Or the As­so­ci­a­tion’s Windy with the line, “Who’s trip­ping down the streets of the city, smiling at every­body she meets?” No­body “trips” down the streets un­less they were falling over or they were … trip­ping. Sup­pos­edly, this song was written about an ac­tual person who was nick­named Windy—a young man who al­ways had ac­cess to the best acid in town!

My cur­rent fave in this genre is Tuesday Af­ter­noon by the ever-underrated Moody Blues, in which the nar­rator has a normal mid-week walk trans­formed into some­thing other. Go back and listen to the lyrics as a re­flec­tion of trans­for­ma­tion and then dig where the ef­fects come in. Need­less to say, other such in­ter­pre­ta­tions should be prof­fered by all and sundry.

Uncle Hippie: Yeah, I’ve al­ways thought the Moody Blues’ al­bums from 1967 thru the early ’70s were very psy­che­delic. From the cool art­work on their album covers to the neat gate­folds, to the music on their discs.

An­naloog: I’ve thought that many of Justin Hay­ward’s better-known lyrics bor­dered on the banal: Tuesday Af­ter­noon is one ex­ample, with lines about “the fairy­land of love”—although songs like “Cities” were rather well done. He was a better tune­smith than lyri­cist.

Uncle Hippie: I don’t know about that, An­naloog. I think Justin Hay­ward’s lyrics are cool and trippy.

NU: An­naloog, I wouldn’t re­ally argue with your as­sess­ment of the lyrics being banal—I find that gen­er­ally true of all Moody Blues songs. But, the song ap­pears to be a gen­uine at­tempt to trans­late some as­pect of the psy­che­delic ex­pe­ri­ence into a song.

It is ig­nored by psych col­lec­tors that be­lieve that without a fuzz guitar, de­mented vo­cals, blah blah blah—it ain’t psy­che­delic. Plus this was a fine single, bringing [some as­pects of] trip­ping to a broad au­di­ence un­be­knownst to lis­tener or pro­grammer.

Uncle Hippie: Neal, good point and a per­spec­tive I hadn’t con­sid­ered be­fore. I wasn’t so much crit­i­cizing the song (which I like de­spite the choice or words) as Hay­ward’s lyrics in gen­eral. Thanks for the in­sight.

 

The Moody Blues will prob­ably re­main a con­tentious topic (as rockers, as psy­che­deliti­cians, as quality music) until those of us who lived through the ’60s and ’70s are dead. ON THE THRESHOLD OF A DREAM (1969) may be their most con­sis­tent album al­though it fea­tures none of their sig­na­ture songs. 

The best way to travel

Vinyliszt: To hear The Best Way To Travel on head­phones while your mind is away on mental va­ca­tion, or to see [the movie] Yellow Sub­ma­rine when George Har­rison’s song (It’s All) Too Much at the be­gin­ning when the white light be­comes over­pow­ering.

Every­thing (music, songs, etc.) on acid was dif­ferent from non-tripping and could not be seen in the same light (pun?). We may laugh now at what some con­sider banal, but back then, under the right con­di­tions, the lyrics meant some­thing, even though, when one was back to normal they may not have.

It’s the ex­pe­ri­ence and every­thing that goes with it. The whole of IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD is a trip. It meant some­thing. Now I’m too old to re­member what—but hey, I was wearing white be­fore John Lennon!

Uncle Hippie: Hey Vinyliszt:, cool post! The Moodys put out a bunch of classic al­bums back in the late ’60s. I’ve al­ways won­dered who wrote the lyrics (poems) on the back cover of DAYS OF FUTURE PAST?

Be­sides being far out and trippy, the lyrics to the whole album were very in­sightful for young dudes in their mid-20s—all about life and death. The lyrics make you think. It’s doubtful that any of to­day’s young bands could write any­thing so good.

Vinyliszt: Uncle Hippie, after I sub­mitted my post I re­al­ized that it sounded too se­rious when I re­ally meant it in a light note and also I forgot to put sm­i­lies in the proper place to show that I wasn’t trying to come across as some old, stuffy dude. But I’m glad no one chal­lenged my seeming at­ti­tude.

I did hear those same sounds plus many others. It was an­other state of mind; I’m glad I ex­pe­ri­enced but it would have not been the same if it wasn’t for the music of the times, par­tic­u­larly the Moodys.

They didn’t ask any­thing of you ex­cept to listen. Them and preparing with the book The Psy­che­delic Ex­pe­ri­ence and fol­lowing its in­struc­tions for a happy and suc­cessful trip.

Now, I don’t need to drop acid, I just put the Moodys on and listen through head­phones and the won­derful mem­o­ries emerge sans the fright­ening mo­ments. Thinking IS the best way to travel!

NU: My fav­erave Moodys album will for­ever af­ter­noonly re­main ON THE THRESHOLD OF A DREAM,co­in­ci­den­tally one of the first al­bums I heard whilst on the threshold of my first psy­che­delic ex­pe­ri­ence. I have ar­gued for­ever and a day that to­day’s psych col­lec­tors should pay more heed to the opin­ions of non-collectors who tripped then re­garding what was lis­tened to and why.

But I have read opin­ions from wannabe au­thor­i­ties claiming that the Dead aren’t psy­che­delic! Where in Aox­o­moxoa’s name do these twits come from (and why wouldn’t they wanna know what you know)?

A number of years ago, when my name was a bit more promi­nent, I was sug­gested for a place on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame board that votes on in­ductees. When I made it un­der­stood that I would im­me­di­ately start ar­guing for cer­tain un­wanted ’60s artists to be in­ducted, any con­sid­er­a­tion for me on the board was dropped.

Those artists in­cluded Neil Di­a­mond, the Grateful Dead, the Hol­lies, the Mon­kees, and (of course!), the Moody Blues, only one of which have made the grade since then. So, enough about The Moodys: what about silly ’60s pop songs with pseudo psy­che­delic al­lu­sions?

Uncle Hippie: Hey Neal, here’s a few: Green Tam­bourine by the Lemon Pipers, Yummy, Yummy, Yummy by the Ohio Ex­press, and In­cense And Pep­per­mints by the Straw­berry Alarm Clock.

 

Most afi­cionados agree that the Lemon Pipers’ 1967 hit single Green Tam­bourine was a non-psychedelic con­fec­tion (and one of the har­bin­gers of bub­blegum) that we all enjoy nonethe­less. It should be noted that many of the other tracks on this album con­tain both fiber and other nu­tri­tional qual­i­ties. 

The eye of the beholder

An­naloog: Any­thing by the Yellow Payges—and for that matter, pretty much any­thing in the early UNI cat­alog, es­pe­cially Straw­berry Alarm Clock and Fever Tree.

Dkurtis: I find it funny to hear the sto­ries of bands who were forced to record a psych song by the pro­ducer. In the Straw­berry Alarm Clock’s and the Lemon Pipers’ case, it turned out to be their only hit. Now we may know why there are so many one hit won­ders.

NU: Ac­tu­ally, In­cense And Pep­per­mints (which I con­sider bub­blegum fla­vored psych) is just about the least psy­che­delic thing the Straw­berry Alarm Clock recorded!

Epi­clectic: Ul­ti­mate Spinach seemed to have some rather trippy lyrics. (Wish I still had that album, don’t know where it went). Crystal spi­ders and such, if I re­call.

Jack­cap­ture: Funny you asked that Neal—I was just thinking it on the way home as I heard Lovin’ Spoon­ful’s Day­dream. Ei­ther its just a girl, or a girl who might be named some­thing like Loretta Susan Dodd.

NU: Day­dream may be stretching it—but then, the singer is Lost in a Sweet Dream (ho ho)!

Vinyliszt: Neal, sorry to go against your mu­sical taste, but I can see why you were not ac­cepted. Anyone that ar­gues for Neil Di­a­mond and the Grateful Dead just doesn’t have all of the mar­bles nec­es­sary for such a po­si­tion. They were un­wanted (pos­sibly) for mu­sical rea­sons: nei­ther left an in­delible mark on the music scene.

Yes, they got some fame and some made a few bucks but they left nothing worth­while, mu­si­cally speaking. You prob­ably thought that Frank Zappa, Lord Sutch, John Mel­len­camp, Warren Zevon, and other non-contributors de­served the honor also.

Dkurtis: Vinyliszt, some­times si­lence comes across as wisdom. I would have to agree with Neal and, yes, I do think Zappa and the Dead have left some­thing “worth­while, mu­si­cally speaking.” You speak as one who is in­ter­preting his­tory rather than one having lived it.

Uncle Hippie: Yeah, how can you say the Grateful Dead and Frank Zappa con­tributed nothing? Man, they in­flu­enced tons of great bands, not only at the time they were recording, but also later bands as well. I play their al­bums all the time.

Met­rog­nome: I don’t like the Dead or Zappa, but even I wouldn’t say they left nothing im­por­tant in their mu­sical legacy. Both re­main hugely in­flu­en­tial, though I will say the Dead’s legacy seems more about a scene/community thing than the music.

Vinyliszt: Along with Met­rog­nome’s al­most sup­portive reply, there is a per­fect saying for those who dis­agree with me: Beauty is in the eye of the be­holder. This be­holder thinks that the artists I named in my orig­inal reply down­right sucked. But then, again, a lot of people like Miles Davis while I think he also sucked.

Com­par­a­tively, I think Art Farmer, the Can­doli Brothers, Clark, etc., played cir­cles around Davis. You just can’t please every­body. Tol­er­ance is ac­tu­ally better than to tell me to keep silent be­cause you don’t agree with me.

Dkurtis: Vinyliszt, si­lence IS tol­er­ance.

NU: Dear Vinyliszt, let me ad­dress a few point:

1) If you think that Di­a­mond, the Dead, and Zappa did not leave “in­delible marks” on the music scene, you and I live on dif­ferent planets! 

2) Leaving afore­men­tioned “in­delible marks” are not nec­es­sary for in­clu­sion in Hall of Fame.

3) Nowhere in my post did I men­tion my taste in mu­sical groups. For ex­ample, I can’t stand Led Zep; I think that the Who and Pink Floyd post 1969 are among the most over-rated groups in rock’s his­tory; and I haven’t been able to sit through a Velvet Un­der­ground or Lee Reed album in decades. But I would vote for the in­clu­sion of each in the Hall of Fame.

4) The Dead ARE in the Hall of Fame.

 

An­other end­less bone-of-contention among rock afi­cionados is the Grateful Dead: Do they be­long in the Hall of Fame? LIVE/DEAD (1969) is not only one of the best live al­bums ever made, it is one of the most psy­che­delic al­bums ever made. It is also one of four great al­bums in a row re­leased in 1969-1971 that should ended the ar­gu­ment.

Dark side of the out door

Vinyliszt: Neal, of course I have a smile on as I read your reply. It isn’t that we live on dif­ferent planets, just on dif­ferent music levels. I’m aware that anyone can have an ef­fect on others, I see it all the time. As far as music, though, what­ever “in­delible marks” may have been left by the artists you men­tion did not im­press me enough to like what they pro­duced.

As far as Di­a­mond, I en­joyed some of his Top 40 hits. The Dead, nothing. Zappa, dis­gusting. I feel the same about Elvis Costello, who one co-worker in a music in­dustry pub­li­ca­tion said was “the next great thing.”

Not in my book.

I like music than can be hummed and that raises my mental level en­joy­able. Those named above just didn’t do it for me.

You wrote that “Leaving afore­men­tioned marks are not nec­es­sary for in­clu­sion in Hall of Fame.” I agree with you whole­heart­edly. But then again, to me a Hall of Fame is au­to­mat­i­cally a seg­re­gating sit­u­a­tion in which fair play does not play a part.

You wrote, “Nowhere in my post did I men­tion my taste in mu­sical groups.” No, you didn’t, but your sup­port of the named artists was what got me to com­ment.

You wrote, “The Dead are in the Hall of Fame.” So, once again, those powers-that-be, that make the se­lec­tions, are not nec­es­sarily my kind of people. I have read enough com­plaints, in Gold­mine and Dis­cov­eries for ex­ample, from others who think that the var­ious Hall of Fames are elite­ness per­son­i­fied.

What I’m trying to say is that some one-hit won­ders that pro­duced that one ex­tremely en­joy­able song, vocal and/or in­stru­mental, may not see the in­side of a Hall of Fame while others that, in my opinion, do not de­serve the honor are so hon­ored.

You wrote: “I can’t stand Led Zep; I think that the Who and Pink Floyd post 1969 are among the most over-rated groups in rock’s his­tory; and I haven’t been able to sit through a Velvet Un­der­ground or Lee Reed album in decades. But I would vote for the in­clu­sion of each in the Hall of Fame.”

I was never into Led Zep, due to the squealing lead singer until I got IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR. The Who—just some of their Top 40 hits and def­i­nitely way over-rated. Pink Floyd are un­touch­able and I play the heck out of DARK SIDE OF THE MOON. I heard the Velvet Un­der­ground when they emerged in 1969 or so and they were dif­fi­cult to listen to.

Ditto Lou Reed.

If I don’t enjoy the artist I don’t care who they in­flu­enced and there is no way that I could con­sider them for any kind of honor such as a Hall of Fame.

That’s why I never bother reading any­thing as­so­ci­ated with Halls of Fame, or visit their web sites. I have lived a good life be­cause music has al­ways been a part of it. I was there from the early ’50s to the decade that music died, the middle ’80s.

I bought 78s, 45s, LPs, and now CDs of those same artists. I’m not stuck in the past, it’s just that nothing better has come along since ap­prox­i­mately 1985. Thanks for your views and I hope you were not in­sulted by MY views/opinions.

NU: Vinyliszt, your stating that Miles Davis “sucks” makes you sound ei­ther re­mark­ably naive, child­ishly petu­lant, or simply one who likes to in­sti­gate ar­gu­ments. Your re­marks in a pre­vious post (the to which I re­sponded above) con­cerning the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame dealt with your be­lief that the artist had to leave an “in­delible mark” on the scene.

Miles Davis’ en­tire ca­reer is one loooooong in­delible mark on post WWII jazz and post ’60s funk. And, as many long­time readers here will af­firm, I like people who in­sti­gate ar­gu­ments.

Vinyliszt: Nei­ther naive, child­ishly petu­lant, not do I like to in­sti­gate ar­gu­ments, al­though I may join one or two. Simply put, I never liked Miles Davis music or his trumpet playing or his at­ti­tude on stage. There are a ton of trumpet players who I enjoy very much and he just doesn’t figure. For me.

I won’t bother naming any of the trum­peters that I enjoy since it’s a long list which in­cludes many clas­sical music trum­peters. Just be­cause someone picks up an in­stru­ment and blows into it doesn’t mean that what comes out of the horn is music.

To me, Davis sounds like be­ginner. I prefer not to con­tinue ar­guing about my mu­sical tastes so I’ll just end on this (punny) note and not reply again to any­one’s posts.

Akashaman: Al­right, so Frank Zappa isn’t for every­body, but I still enjoy the Mothers of In­ven­tion’s first three al­bums a lot! Lou Reed’s solo ca­reer was pretty bad—worse than Paul Mc­Cart­ney’s. I’ll admit this and I am a huge Lou Reed fan: got all the al­bums and I’ve read TRANSFORMER three times.

I love the Velvet Un­der­ground, though.

Led Zep? C’mon guys, [the first four al­bums] were awe­some!

The Who? They were just get­ting warmed up in ’68! God, listen to TOMMYLIVE AT LEEDS, and QUADRAPHENIA! Also, check out the footage of them playing at Wood­stock. Man!

Pink Floyd? Don’t you guys like DARK SIDE OF THE MOON or THE WALL? Most ca­sual music fans have never even heard Pink Floyd’s first two al­bums, and they still think Pink Floyd was an awe­some band.

1985? I don’t think there has been any­thing in­no­v­a­tive since 1980!

Oh well—I like what I like, Neal likes what he likes and Liszt likes what he likes.

That’s just music, I guess.

NU: I tend to be im­pressed by artists who can put to­gether a rea­son­ably large, rea­son­ably con­sis­tent body of im­pres­sive work. For my money, the orig­inal Mothers of In­ven­tion, were as cre­ative as any group of the time. FREAK OUTABSOLUTELY FREE, and WE’RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY are ‘five-star’ ef­forts.

LUMPY GRAVY, CRUISING WITH RUBEN & THE JETS, and UNCLE MEAT are all note­worthy. After that, Zappa pretty much leaves me more re­volted than anything—accepting the bril­liant HOT RATS.

From their first hit through 1968, the Who were as fine as any sin­gles group on the planet, al­though their first few LPs were not as strong as I would like. TOMMY is a great single album bloated into a two-record opera (what non­sense the latter term is), while LIVE AT LEEDS dis­plays a once great sin­gles band meta­mor­phosing into just an­other bunch of too-loud arena-rockers.

WHOS’ NEXT and QUADRAPHENIA are, ar­guably, their best al­bums but every­thing after that is very spotty. Hence my con­sid­ering them over-rated post-’60s.

I love Syd Bar­rett’s orig­inal in­ten­tions for Pink Floyd but my fav­erave album of theirs re­mains the sound­track MORE, an album that Wa­ters fans dis­miss more often than Bar­rett afi­cionados. After that, I just find their music al­most heavy-handed, pre­ten­tious, and de­pressing. But they were al­ways tech­ni­cally su­perb!

I squirm when­ever I hear a [white] male rock singer sound like his tes­ti­cles are caught in a vice. Robert Plant’s screeching is, for me, a must to avoid. But I love the band and I was one of those who often missed Page’s in­tel­li­gence and irony.

I think I would enjoy im­mensely knowing Lou Reed as a con­ver­sa­tion com­panion. And I ac­knowl­edge the Velvet Un­der­ground’s ap­parent never-ending in­flu­ence. But my fa­vorite album of their’s is LOADED, the one where they sound least like the band of the pre­vious three al­bums.

So, so what? I’d still fight for each and everyone to have a seat in the Hall of Fame! Fi­nally, for Vinyliszt, my “ho hum” is an af­fec­ta­tion that I use on many mis­sives. Nothing per­sonal. “Ri­i­i­i­i­i­i­iide, ride my see-saw! Take a trip—it’s for free.”

 

Yet an­other artist who con­tinues to rile things up decades after his most im­por­tant work is Frank Zappa, with or without his Mothers of In­ven­tions. While he es­chewed any as­so­ci­a­tion with drugs, everyone that I knew in the ’70s that was into trip­ping was into at least some Zappa. Willie The Pimp with Cap­tain Beef­heart on HOT RATS (1969) pro­vided me with one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary trips of my life.

Fast and bulbous

Met­rog­nome: Just for fun, I’d be cu­rious to see what Neal and Vinyliszt think of Cap­tain Beef­heart. Then let’s watch them argue about it. Some key terms to get your mental juices flowing: screechy vo­cals, psych, SAFE AS MILK and TROUT MASK REPLICA, Hall of Fame, and “fast and bul­bous.” (I just wanted to say that!) Ready? Dis­cuss!

Vinyliszt: First out of the gate! One thing about me is that I’m not shy and we are all en­ti­tled to our opin­ions and mine should not raise any hairs on any­one’s neck. And, si­lence may be tol­er­ance but I ain’t being si­lenced by the non-tolerant.

That said, here’s how I fee about Cap­tain Beef­heart: can’t stand him! I’m into melody and har­mony, not gut­tural noises in lieu of talent. Neal is en­ti­tled to his opin­ions even if they run counter to mine. We grew up dif­fer­ently and we had dif­ferent en­coun­ters with music.

Neal, you may not be­lieve this, but I once had HOT RATS as an LP. There was some­thing about it that al­lowed me to enjoy it but when I heard it again a few years ago I didn’t feel the same way. I thought that 200 MOTELS was about as awful as any pro­duc­tion can get and it’s my #1 pick for the worst of any­thing, ever!

You wrote that “I squirm when­ever I hear a [white] male rock singer sound like his tes­ti­cles are caught in a vice. Robert Plant’s screeching is, for me, a must to avoid.”

Amen!

NU: Vinyliszt, my post with “petu­lant” etc was in re­sponse to two things: your re­quiring an uniden­ti­fied “in­delible mark” for en­trance into the Hall of Fame and your dis­missal of a man whose en­tire ca­reer is just that.

But mostly it was to your use of “Miles sucks,” which, in any con­text that isn’t ex­plic­itly sexual, al­ways sounds childish to me.

Now, just so I ain’t mis­in­ter­preted: I cer­tainly un­der­stand your not re­sponding to Miles—but that has no ef­fect on his abil­i­ties or his achieve­ments. The point I hope I made up in my last lengthy mis­sive about Zep, Who, etc.

Uncle Hippie: Awww, come on Vinyliszt, you know what you’re talking about. Please don’t stop posting!!! Metro and I were just teasing you guys. I’m sure Neal doesn’t get of­fended.

NU: Uncle Hippie, as­tute ob­ser­va­tion. But, para­phrasing Dylan stealing from Voltaire (or some such lit­erary icon): “I can tol­erate every­thing but in­tol­er­ance.”

Met­rog­nome: Well, at least I got his opinion on the Cap­tain be­fore he gave up. I’m cu­rious what Neal says. Pre­dic­tion: Neal likes SAFE AS MILK but very little afterward—especially not TROUT MASK REPLICA.

And Vinyliszt, I’m not of­fended by your opin­ions of the Cap­tain. He’s not for everyone. I dis­agree with your as­sess­ment of Miles how­ever. I think his horn playing was usu­ally very un­der­stated.

In his ’70s ma­te­rial (which is what I like best), his horn was often nonex­is­tent or it sounded pained—but his role as a band leader and mu­sical trail­blazer at this time (and throughout his whole ca­reer, re­ally) was re­mark­able.

NU: In 1973, I was a bar­tender at the Cosmic Train, the first of the new dis­cothe­ques in North­eastern Penn­syl­vania. In fact, disco was so new there were vir­tu­ally no disco records—aside from Barry White and the Love Un­lim­ited Or­chestra. So the DJ asked me to bring in records for dancing.

You shoulda seen how quickly the dance floor emp­tied when I brought in CLEAR SPOT and had them play Crazy Little Thing. Um, need­less to say, after that the DJ res­olutely re­fused to play Big Eyed Beans From Venus. (Oh my, oh my.)

Met­rog­nome: Ha! Well, I guess my pre­dic­tion was wrong! Why is it that al­most everyone who likes the Cap­tain has a story about clearing out par­ties or dance floors with his music? Hmm … What do you run on Neal Umphred? (Say beans.)

Vinyliszt, the only in­tol­er­ance in this thread is your in­tol­er­ance of artist you dis­like. As with most things said, it’s not the words but the at­ti­tude be­hind them. The man yelling “In­tol­er­ance, in­tol­er­ance!” is more times than not the most in­tol­erant.

The si­lence as tol­er­ance men­tioned above was re­fer­ring to mine not re­questing yours. ALL music has its place and its fans and we are for­tu­nate to have others chal­lenge our bound­aries.

NU: Met­rog­nome, I like SAFE AS MILK which is a fine, fun album, if di­rec­tion­less. TROUT MASK REPLICA and LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY are mind-bending. I used to play them to un­sus­pecting friends who were foolish enough to do acid at my apart­ment back in the early ’70s.

I re­member at least one first-time tripper run­ning out the door screaming for me to turn it off—and we hadn’t even gotten through the first side! My vote for his mas­ter­piece, though, is CLEAR SPOT ap­par­ently an un­usual se­lec­tion among his afi­cionados.

I saw him at NYC Towne Hall when he toured to pro­mote those Mer­cury al­bums. If I re­member, he opened with Upon The My-O-My, which was as mar­velous as the album track was dis­ap­pointing. I also think that the late, great Rah­saan Roland Kirk joined him for some out­landish blowing.

His last few are spotty: I find BAT CHAIN PULLER over­rated while ICE CREAM FOR CROW may be among his best. I am an art school drop-out, so I am pleased that Mr. Van Vliet made the tran­si­tion from one mi­lieu to an­other so suc­cess­fully. He is, ap­par­ently, a rather nice guy.

 

I am not even going to at­tempt a con­ver­sa­tion on Cap­tain Beef­heart. Sev­eral of his al­bums are must-hear, mind-bending records al­though not nec­es­sarily mind-manifesting, in­cluding LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY (1971).

The edge of reality

Kimmo: I just bought an album by Quick­silver Mes­senger Ser­vice called HAPPY TRAILS. I bought it [out of] pure cu­riosity; the seller seg­mented this one under Psy­che­delic. So what’s your opinion about this one: do you think the Hol­lies album EVOLUTION is psy­che­delic? And how about cover art on that one?

Uncle Hippie: I don’t know about Quick­silver. I would say their early stuff is psy­che­delic, and they’re often re­ferred to as an acid band and all. As to the Hol­lies’ EVOLUTION album, that one’s def­i­nitely psy­che­delic.

LPMan: Uncle Hippie said, “As to the Hol­lies’ EVOLUTION album, that one’s def­i­nitely psy­che­delic.” Agreed. And what an album! 

NU: HAPPY TRAILS is one of the most pow­erful psy­che­delic al­bums to es­cape the San Fran­cisco Bay Area. There is a two-record bootleg LP from the same time and minus the studio over­dubs that is a must for psych fans.

I con­sider EVOLUTION more psychedelically-influenced pop. Of a rather high order. Check out Hol­lies B-sides from this era; some of them are en­trancing bits of psych-pop and fit in with the rest of the album.

And find Wings, a glo­rious piece by Graham Nash be­fore he flew the coop for CS&N.

Kimmo: Thanks for com­ments! EVOLUTION is great! And that cover art stands in top for psy­che­delic sleeves!

NU: Here I want to at­tempt to breathe a little life back into the orig­inal topic: the Pseudo-Psychedelic ’60s. For the flip-side of Elvis Pres­ley’s 1968 single If I Can Dream a recording from his newest film, Live A Little, Love A Little was se­lected.

Edge Of Re­ality is a great bit of pseudo-psych with al­lu­sive lyrics, over-the-top arrange­ment, and ear-catching pro­duc­tion. It ac­tu­ally works: it sounds very trippy, es­pe­cially while trip­ping (put on the head­phones)!

The single was, of course, in mono, but it sounds much more ex­pe­ri­enced in stereo. It first ap­peared in stereo on the Camden budget com­pi­la­tion ALMOST IN LOVE in 1970. It can also be found on the Double Fea­tures compact-disc that con­tains the sound­track to the movie.

Uncle Hippie: Damn, after reading that, I want to hear that song so bad. I just looked on my two-disc comp of the ’68 Come­back Spe­cial called MEMORIES, and it has tons of ex­tras, but no Edge Of Re­ality. Oh well, what can you do.

NU: Uncle Hippie, it is not a part of the NBC-TV Spe­cial. There were sev­eral Elvis Double Fea­tures CDs re­leased; this one has three sound­tracks from 1968-69. In­ter­esting, as Elvis made an in­ten­tional de­par­ture from his image with some of the songs: Have A Happy sounds like some­thing that a light­weight ’60s vocal group could have done, like Free De­sign or even the Archies.

Edge Of Re­ality is light years re­moved from the rest of the sound­track. I used to as­tound trip­pers by placing this on the turntable (LOUD!) a couple of hours into their trip!

Jack­cap­ture: I didn’t know anyone else had ever lis­tened to the Free De­sign. I picked up one of theirs on Com­mand a few years ago and, al­though I like it for this reason, its in­no­cent ap­proach to psychedelia-influenced late ’60s pop is al­most funny.

NU: That sound­track CD that I keep re­fer­ring to is rather in­ter­esting, as Elvis was plainly looking afield for ma­te­rial. Change Of Habit from the movie of the same name is also way more “Six­ties” than his usual sound.

And, should you not have seen the movie Change Of Habit, it is pe­riod piece of some in­terest above and be­yond Pres­leyana: Elvis plays an al­tru­istic doctor in a ghetto where Mary Tyler Moore is an nun doing un­der­cover for the Church who has changed her nun’s habit for street clothes (the “change of habit”).

De­spite its kitsch­i­ness, there is what my be the first scene in a movie ac­knowl­edging the ex­is­tence of autistic chil­dren, a phe­nom­enon once all but un­known and now a minor epi­demic in the US.

That Free De­sign has gained ac­cep­tance over the past decade or so from psych col­lec­tors means ei­ther those col­lec­tors are get­ting des­perate for records to col­lect that are af­ford­able, or they are get­ting less dis­crete in their un­der­standing of what ‘psy­che­delic music’ is!

My fav­erave ‘popadelic’ album of the ’60s re­mains Chad & Je­re­my’s OF CABBAGES AND KINGS, with more than a nod to pro­ducer Gary Usher for the record’s great sound, es­pe­cially side two’s Progress Suite—which is al­most “cam­padelic.” (Did I just coin a word?)

Elvis Presley - Edge of Re­ality (from “Live a Little, Love a Little”, 1968) HQ

Jack­cap­ture: The Free De­sign would def­i­nitely be cam­padelic.

NU: How about non-psych al­bums with psy­che­delic cover art? BEE GEES 1st is a fave, es­pe­cially since the Pater Max-ish flora along the bottom of the front cover was added to the art after the fact, and it ac­tu­ally ruins a very lovely pho­to­graph of the group!

Or non-psych al­bums with a psy­che­delic hit single to rope you in. The Cham­bers Brothers’ THE TIME HAS COME (the sin­gle’s title is Time Has Come Today) has the full-length ver­sion of the glo­rious, self-indulgent, pseudo-psych title cut ac­com­pa­nied by a batch of gospelly, up­town soul songs.

The Cana­dian pressing of the Cham­bers Brothers album above also has silly psych-like flora added to the front cover art like the Bee Gees’ album.

Uncle Hippie: Couldn’t it be said that BEE GEES 1st is a psych album? I mean, the music is re­ally trippy and far out.

NU: Uncle Hippie, I love BEE GEES 1st—an­other minor gem from the ’60s that al­ways gets over­looked when the nerds-who-would-be-critics put to­gether their “Best-Ever” ar­ti­cles (Rolling Stone’s Top 500 trav­esty of last year comes im­me­di­ately to mind).

But I dinna re­call any­thing about it that im­plied that the brothers Gibb had been bending their minds ex­cept some state-of the-art pro­duc­tion tech­niques.

I find the album a won­derful blend of Amer­ican soul (To Love Some­body may be my fav­erave recording of theirs) and Eng­lish pop (Every Chris­tian Lion-Hearted Man is al­most in­con­ceiv­able as being by a US group). So, no, I don’t find it at all psy­che­delic, but I’m willing to see the error of my ways.

Also love their second album, which I con­sider an­other under-appreciated album, but I have to slog through the rest of their ca­reer.

Uncle Hippie: Neal, what about get­ting on a time ma­chine and going to the turn of the cen­tury? Also, songs such as Cu­cumber Castle and Red Chair, Fade Away sound psy­che­delic, but I sup­pose you’re right.

It’s not the type of stuff you’d use to trip. Lots of or­gans and dreamy strings, though. Some of the songs sound like they were in­flu­enced by SGT. PEPPER.

I’ve never heard the Bee Gees’ second album. What does it sound like? Is it as good as the first?

NU: I sup­pose what I shoulda said was “It’s been so long since I lis­tened to BEE GEES 1st that I may have missed some­thing. I am willing to be cor­rected.” None of the psych col­lec­tors I deal with think it’s trippy, but, then, these guys rarely dis­cuss major label psych at all.

And Red Chair, Fade Away and Cu­cumber Castle cer­tainly sound like someone lis­tened to Straw­berry Fields For­ever and Penny Lane more than a few times. Which, given that their Fab Four sounda­like New York Mining Dis­aster being their first world­wide hit makes per­fect sense.

Their second album, HORIZONTAL, is in a sim­ilar vein, if less ad­ven­turous and flam­boyant, and fea­tures the gor­geous hit single Mass­a­chu­setts. Def­i­nitely find it and hear it!

An­other groovy album that is oh-so Six­ties is the Dave Clark Five’s EVERYBODY KNOWS. Please give a listen and pre­pare to be sur­prised.

Uncle Hippie: Thanks for the rec­om­men­da­tion. I’ve never heard that par­tic­ular Dave Clark Five album. I’ll have to see if I can find a copy next time I go to the record store. I love the songs on the GLAD ALL OVER album. Some of them are re­ally hard rockers. You’ve also got me cu­rious about the Bee Gees’ second now, too!

I was reading your book tonight where you were talking about one of the Stones’ psych songs re­ally turning you on to them. Do you still enjoy THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST? Per­son­ally, I don’t think they get enough recog­ni­tion for their 1967 psy­che­delic work.

 

An­other al­bums hat get lumped into the psy­che­delic pa­rade of 1967: Chad & Je­re­my’s OF CABBAGES AND KINGS was laughed at by trip­pers in the ’60s and ’70s but is now cher­ished as an arty­fact of the Psy­che­delic Six­ties.

Children of the moon

NU: In the ’60s, I hated the Stones!—until Suzie Corchran’s birthday party in De­cember, 1967. She played a record she had re­ceived as a gift and I was trans­fixed from the first few sec­onds. It was, of course, THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST, that most mis­un­der­stood of all Stones al­bums. It re­mains my per­sonal fa­vorite of all their work.

Get your CD player and mix Dan­de­lion into THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST some­where and close out the album with We Love You—what a bloody amazing record that was! Charlie sounds pos­sessed! If you want to be daring, add Child Of The Moon from the BEGGARS BANQUET ses­sions.

Ki­wigold: Neal wrote, “An­other groovy album that is oh-so Six­ties is the Dave Clark Five’s EVERYBODY KNOWS. Please give a listen and pre­pare to be surprised.”I haven’t got that par­tic­ular album but I have got a greatest hits album of theirs, which is damn good. The song Every­body Knows is just bril­liant.

NU: The DC5 had two songs with the same title, Every­body Knows. The first one—the one you have on the hits album—was a major hit and is, as you state, a truly fine recording. The second song from 1967 is, if any­thing, su­pe­rior. More ma­ture. Un­for­tu­nately, it was a most minor of hits.

The album is one of only a handful the group recorded that was con­ceived of as an album, not merely a long-player full of tracks that were avail­able. Highly rec­om­mended and un­like most of the rest of their work (and not psy­che­delic).

Ki­wigold: Neal, I could prob­ably guess, (but may be wrong), so what is the dif­fer­ence be­tween an album and a long player full of tracks that were avail­able?

NU: I was using “album” in the ’60s sense of a set of songs recorded for the spe­cific pur­pose of re­leasing them to­gether as an album. This sounds re­dun­dant today, but, prior to the Beach Boys, Bea­tles (and for­get­ting what Capitol did to them here), etc., most pop al­bums were made up of what­ever tracks were lying around that would fill out an LP.

Most of the DC5 al­bums on Epic sound like the latter while EVERYBODY KNOWS and 5X5 sound like con­scious de­ci­sions made by the band and the pro­ducer (the latter being Mr Clark).

An­other for in­stance, Elvis’ first LP, ELVIS PRESLEY (RCA Victor LPM-1254), con­sists of seven tracks record in early 1956 ac­com­pa­nied by five tracks from 1954-55. It is a col­lec­tion of dis­parate record­ings (more or less) that do not present the sound of the artist at the time: his Sun “voice” is no­tice­ably more youthful and lacking in af­fec­ta­tion; his RCA voice, no­tice­ably more “singer-like.”

His second album, ELVIS (LPM-1382), con­sists of eleven tracks recorded in late 1956 along with one from a few months ear­lier. It sounds cohesive—like an “album.”

An­naloog: Neal, orig­i­nally, a (pop) record album was a col­lec­tion of three or more (usu­ally four or five) 10-inch, 78-rpm sin­gles by a par­tic­ular artist, often recorded at dif­ferent times, and pack­aged in a binder with record sleeves for pages. The first LP al­bums were reis­sues of these 78-rpm al­bums, hence the “dis­parate” na­ture of the col­lec­tion.

A long-player recorded specif­i­cally with a set of songs more or less loosely based on a theme, or con­cept, began to evolve during the 1950s (as has been men­tioned in an­other thread), but this idea didn’t re­ally catch on as such till the 1960s.

Ki­wigold: Thanks An­naloog, that’s pretty much what I thought. I wonder if this theme or con­cept still ex­ists today?

NU: As others above have noted, my an­swer was not as ful­filling as it could have been. So, yes to most of the above. With the DC5, I be­lieve that most of their Epic al­bums were ba­si­cally built around the “put yer hit single on it, write some more orig­i­nals for the me­chan­i­cals (or cut a couple that yer pro­ducer wrote or owns for the same rea­sons), and then pad it out with a couple of in­stru­men­tals (also orig­i­nals).”

The album EVERYBODY KNOWS, on the other hand, ap­pears a con­certed ef­fort by the group to fill the record with quality record­ings from be­gin­ning to end.

In other words, they fi­nally did what the Bea­tles and Stones and others had been doing for sev­eral years. In the case of this album, the sound and feel of the album is de­cid­edly ‘Sixties-ish,’ whereas much of their ca­reer was built on a some­what retro ap­proach in sound.

Uncle Hippie: Today I cleaned off some 45s which I found last summer at a junk sale. Anyway, I came across a couple neat sides by a group called People. The songs sound very psy­che­delic. Is anyone fa­miliar with this group.

The single I have has I Love You / Some­body Tell Me My Name. The latter fea­tures some whacked-out sitar playing. Pretty cool.

NU: That group called People fea­tured Larry Norman, later an early prog­en­itor of Chris­tian rock (and a rather col­lec­table artist). The Capitol record was a modest hit na­tion­wide, a big hit re­gion­ally. In North­eastern Penn­syl­vania it re­ceived a LOT of air­play. They had a very worth­while LP also. 

Most of the early Chris­tian rock was started by guys who found Jesus on acid, hence some of the early stuff is sorta trippy. (Speaking of trippy: I was of­fered a po­si­tion with the fore­run­ners of the “Jesus freak” move­ment in Florida in 1970. I turned it down.)

Jack­cap­ture: I grew up in a re­li­gious family: my grand­par­ents were min­is­ters with the As­sem­blies of God Church (Pen­te­costal) all their adult lives. When I was a kid in their church in the late 1960s and early ’70s, there was an in­flux of teens and 20-somethings—kind of on the fringe of the Jesus freaks. A lot of former drug­gies. There were a couple of mu­si­cians, guitar and drums, which was new to our church, and I thought it was so cool!

My grand­par­ents thought it was too loud, though. I re­member a few of them had on­going drug prob­lems and more than once there were late-night ses­sions at the church that my mom went to where some­body was freaking out, so some of the church mem­bers prayed through the night with them and cast out the demons. It was all very cu­rious to me.

 

An­other album that get lumped into the psy­che­delic pa­rade of 1967: BEE GEES 1st is ba­si­cally soul-inspired pop with pseudo-psychedelic flour­ishes and some hip art­work by Klaus Voorman dropped atop a lovely photo of the group in the field. For some reason, Atco felt the need to place a blue border across the top to set of the stereo no­ti­fi­ca­tion, de­spite the fact that most al­bums were stereo in 1967.

On the run

Akashaman: First off, I have to say a bit about the Moodys: I agree with the lad that men­tioned the first seven LPs as being the cream of the crop. I simply cannot pick one fave, as they all are stun­ning. I would add the Blue Jays LP with Lodge and Hay­ward.

I have tripped nu­merous times to the sa­cred seven and have to admit there is a plethora of stuff that goes un­no­ticed whilst in the normal state of aware­ness. I think the Moodys touched on a lot of deep-rooted spir­i­tu­ality that if care­fully ap­plied can en­hance ones time here.

I love this thread. I am 39 and have re­cently been amassing a lot of cool psych LP‘s. Here are some LPs not men­tioned yet that I think are border psych:

Her­man’s Her­mits’ BLAZE
Vanity Fare’s EARLY IN THE MORNING
Mar­malade’s REFLECTIONS OF MY LIFE
Mon­kees’ PISCES, AQUARIUS, CAPRICORN & JONES, LTD.
Tommy James & The Shon­dells’ CRIMSON AND CLOVER
Small Faces’ THERE ARE BUT FOUR SMALL FACES

Iheart45s: I’m late in joining this con­ver­sa­tion but in reading I com­pletely agree that Tommy James & The Shon­dells’ CRIMSON AND CLOVER can be con­sid­ered psych, al­though he’s often looked over as being such.

The first time I put that album on and lis­tened to the title track with head­phones, I was floored. I’d heard it so many times growing up and never paid at­ten­tion to just how good it was. Def­i­nitely goes well with or without the greenery, the true test of a good psych song.

An­other album that I dis­cov­ered and I con­sider quite trippy in a dark room with the lights out and a candle (my pre­ferred manner of lis­tening to some of these al­bums) is Grape­fruit’s AROUND.

We picked that one up with no real knowl­edge of the band or their music. Put it on and both my hus­band, best friend, and I just sat back and lis­tened without talking through the en­tire thing. Phe­nom­enal record that one.

Red­Silver: Seems a blurry line some­times be­tween topics that are ex­pe­ri­ence and topics that merely dis­cuss ex­pe­ri­ence. Pink Floyd’s On The Run is very much ex­pe­ri­ence, al­though picking what is es­sen­tially an in­stru­mental to il­lus­trate the point is a bit off the mark I’m trying to hit here. I rather enjoy me some Floyd, and Syd’s old stuff too, al­though I would never call Syd’s stuff psy­che­delic, even though that’s the pushed as­so­ci­a­tion.

Syd’s a good ex­ample of the ‘trippy’ stuff that’s only trippy be­cause it’s goofy. It’s wacky and weird and some­times draws such thin threads that the ‘sense’ is lost un­less you re­ally work with it. But when it comes down to it, it does not record the ex­pe­ri­ence in such a way that it can rein­car­nate when you listen.

On The Run is dif­ferent, to re­turn to the ex­ample, in that it is very much a live ex­pe­ri­ence. Spin it up next time you’re zip­ping down the highway and see what hap­pens; it’s a hoot.

NU: Mojo mag­a­zine re­cently pub­lished a spe­cial issue on psy­che­delic music. Friend of mine read the list of their best psych al­bums of all time to me over the phone. Rather dis­graceful if in­tended to be taken se­ri­ously.

It in­cludes THE KINKS ARE THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, an album written and pro­duced by Ray­mond Dou­glas Davies as a re­pu­di­a­tion of psy­che­delic music.

Where do these mag­a­zines find so many ex­perts who haven’t a clue as to what they are talking about? Sheesh! It’s like having Ann Coulter ex­pound on the Con­sti­tu­tion!

This is where our dis­cus­sion of the “pseudo-psychedelic six­ties” ended. One last piece of in­for­ma­tion: this is ap­prox­i­mately one-half of the orig­inal thread. I re­moved the 50% that I thought ex­tra­neous or re­dun­dant.

Alas, the RCG fo­rums are no more, so I cannot link you to the whole con­ver­sa­tion.

Hope that you en­joyed what I left in­tact!

 

FEATURED IMAGE: While the wart of Peter Max cer­tainly elicits heady parts of The Six­ties, his art is pri­marily Pop Art and re­ally isn’t psy­che­delic art all. Nonethe­less, it is fun

 

 
 
 

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