Kaleidoscopic Prisms: The Top-Ten Psychedelic Albums of the 1960s!

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The Black Obelisk Even Shows-Up in Dallas, Texas!

(Wednesday, 04/20/2016) Attempts to size up what was behind the ‘Black Obelisk’ (I favor the theory that its a highly developed, intelligent alien being, who embodies Friedrich Nietzsche’s Will To Power, and takes control of Mankind’s evolution right from the get-go, projected into the future ad infinitum), in 2001: A Space Odyssey, is not unlike the ritual we’d employ when attempting to size up the lyrics of say, A Day In A Life, as John Lennon sings the line: ‘Now we know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall, I’d Love To Turn You On!’

I began a distinguished career as an usher at Northtown Six Theaters in the Spring of 1968; we screened the epochal movie in two different auditoriums, so I had ample opportunity to watch every scene multiple times. At some point, when under the dazzling spell of the Star Gate Sequence, I became convinced Kubrick was simulating an LSD trip, as Dave races through outer space; I later realized Dr. David Bowman was TIME TRAVELING through space simultaneously, randomly shuffling between the past and the future, mere seconds apart.

‘Enjoy the dance of the puppets. They are created by your own mind. >Allow yourself to relax and feel the ecstatic energy-vibrations pulsing through you. >Enjoy the feeling of complete one-ness with all life and all matter. >The glowing radiance is a reflection of your own consciousness. >It is one aspect of your divine nature. >Do not be attached to your old human self.

>Instructions for Use during a Psychedelic Session >Do not be alarmed at the new and strange feelings you are having. If you are attracted to your old self, >You will be reborn shortly for another round of game-existence. Exercise humble trust and remain fearless. You will merge into the heart of the Blessed Ratnasambhava, In a Halo of Rainbow Light, >And attain liberation in the Realm Endowed with Glory.

Instructions for Vision 6: “The Retinal Circus” >O nobly born, listen well: >You are now witnessing the magical dance of forms. Ecstatic kaleidoscopic patterns explode around you. All possible shapes come to life before your eyes. >The retinal circus. >The ceaseless play of elements – >Earth, water, air, fire, >In ever changing forms and manifestations, >Dazzles you with its complexity and variety. >Relax and enjoy the rushing stream.’

(Excerpt from The Psychedelic Experience, by Timothy Leary – Loc. 1742 of 2116 on a Kindle)

I didn’t actually swallow a tab of LSD until 1970, two years later. At that time, a realization came upon me, you certainly do TIME TRAVEL abundantly when you’re tripping (I finally could put together the themes prodigiously referenced in The Moody Blues’ masterpiece, In Search of A Lost Chord) ; however, this motion is primarily psychological, yea, it’s all in your mind!)

The question would pop-up in my mind, did Stanley K ever take Acid? Apparently, he never did, being a man of science and logic; or, if he did, he covered it up. This is ironic since his mindset in cinema seems to favor the psychotronic experience (not that we can hope to penetrate S.K.’s complex psyche). What does this fascination with 2001 have to do with the topic under excruciating scrutiny here?

Back in 1968, as I monitored cinema auditoriums (as a skilled usher, plying my trade), I encountered a private revelation, a minor epiphany of major proportions (life changing for a 16-year-old lad): I fancied 2001 was the film equivalent of the psychedelic records I incessantly listened to, during this crucial developmental chapter of my life.

Commonalties shared include: allegorical and metaphorical devices, metaphysical and philosophical themes, light shows incorporating colorful, irregularly shaped textures, flashing strobes, or floating, undulating fractal-patterns, experimental aural atmospheres (I’ve recently discovered the music of Gyorgy Ligeti, wisely lifted by Kubrick), and, most certainly, ineffable, fluctuating concept panoply! I could carry on even further, but the truth is, the epiphany was mostly juvenile in nature.

The Slow-Glow Return of the Retro-Retarded Proletarian Limerick, ‘Yankee Doodle Freak Flag!’ Redux, Arsehole!

(Thursday, April 21st, 2016 – San Jacinto Day) In the Spring of 1979 (I might be able to narrow down the date sometime, but it would take a great deal of work), I began dubious employment as a dishwasher and prep-set-up-plate-man at Another Raw Deal (the location was on West 6th Street, pretty close to Swedish Hill Bakery and Wiggy’s Liquor Store, both of which we frequented practically daily! – [the old address is currently occupied by Z Tejas Mexican Restaurant & Grill, 1110 W. 6th St., Austin, Tx 78703]).

The Raw Deal and the second location where I worked, Another Raw Deal, were very famous steak-houses and bars here in Austin, and turned into trendy hangouts for aspiring writers, artists, Punk Musicians, as well as sundry Johnny-Come-Lately-Groove-sters (a lot of drunks too).

During those exciting days, I was in a pretty good head and preferred the cantankerous challenge of the dishwashing station, since I could listen to New Wave Music and just think about the past, trying to size up what had happened to me back in the 1960s (which was only ten years in the rearview mirror, at that point in time). At that time, I consistently meditated on my many acid trips weathered, and about the qualities of some of these great records I’ll describe in this ranking. LSD completely alters your mind! I realized this yesterday when visiting a very groovy exhibit at the LBJ Library and Museum, Vietnam: Evidence of War.

I’m no Timothy Leary, but one take-away has always been clear as day to me: you get more into the details! As I stared at the famous photo for what seems like the millionth time, you know the one, Eddie Adams snap of Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan blasting Viet Cong officer Nguyen Van Lem in the temple (Feb. 1st, 1968), I recalled giving this pic meticulous examination while under the influence. Details, my friend! Now’s the time to type Yankee Doodle Freak Flag for you, ‘cuz I gotta be somewhere in a few hours.

‘Yankee Doodle Freak Flag pressed the start button. The Auto-Chlor automatic dishwasher Swished and Swirled! Dish soap foamed up in bubbles popping thru the filter. The jerk took a big swig off his quart, cracked a joke about Dolly Parton’s dreamy twin set, then picked up his steel wool, and scrubbed the tar out of a bean pot. “Yo Mama, he sneered.” He turned on an AC-DC song up all the way, did the freak fox trot; simultaneously his eyes bugged out at the sexy swaying hips of the youthful busgirl!

Ten minutes later the sweety brought in two big Bus-tubs of greasy, slimy, gross plates, cups, and baskets. “Fuck an A!” Doodle retorted. He whipped some dishes off a rack, stacked another load, and crammed ’em into the machine. “Someone got a burr,” he blurred out. “Life’s a big blow job for God he blurted out again.”Well finally Yankee Doodle Freak Flag got off work. He toked some Panama tops with the Dumb Busboy, tipped a few Micky Malt Liquors in the Rear of the dingbat steakhouse, cussed a few times, then split.’

Top Ten Psychedelic Records

(Sunday, 02/28/2016) A loose definition of psychedelic is: somebody takes a hallucinogenic drug and expands their mind’s awareness; whether these parties actually achieve this or simply imagine their awareness has been altered, enhanced, or expanded, is beside the point. They’re playing Timothy Leary or Aldous Huxley’s game Big Time! Psychedelic Music happens (or happened) when you give one of these Drug-Addled-Freaks an electric guitar, and ask them to mirror the psychotropic vibe currently mesmerizing their central nervous system!

This is the historical record, no doubt about it, for a mid-1960s counter-culture thriving in both Northern and Southern California, Texas, or surely in England. This provides a loose framework for what I’m about to lay on you: my picks for the top ten slots of psychedelic long-playing records, issued in the 1960s.

1. Disraeli Gears – Cream – November 10, 1967 – Reaction, Atco, Polydor

Disraeli Gears/Cream
Incandescent! Electric Collage Grafts in Day-Glo Pinks, Oranges, & Lime-Greens! The best of the psychedelic album covers, created by gifted Australian artist Martin Sharp, captures visually what he was hearing (Martin had a final mix tape); Sharp describes it as a ‘warm fluorescent sound.’

(Thursday, 04/14/2016, 1:37 PM) It’s hard to say exactly when this epiphany went down, yet I’ve known for at least three decades that Disraeli Gears is the most perfect psychedelic album ever made! The genre is defined by the flaming pink/orange cover (artwork by Martin Short). All of my friends (freaks, mainly) in high school (1967-1971) were aware of this Profound Truism. Anybody who passed a communal cannabis jay possessed this consciousness; it was common to put it on the turntable and hit play before lighting up. Well, none of these has-beens, I’m aware of, have written memoirs, so you have to take my word for it.

If some washed-up rock critic or shambled scenester-huckster tells you how Cream came up with P.M., you can bet they’re lying. Through the years, I’ve come up with some good enough theories, that make a good deal of sense to me sometimes; but still, they’re not failsafe as beatitudes magnifying the ‘Mother of Invention!’ My guess, is they sped up a standard 12-bar blues lick, made the guitars (and bass) heavier, more treated, amped up the dynamics and pulled a useful trick out of their hat, termed STACCATO, a function of dynamics; but what have I omitted?

Candy-coated flowery effects and dazzling daisy-chain-word-streams, but of course! Further, Jack plays his bass like it’s a lead instrument; a powerful, charging locomotive barreling down the tracks! Ginger pounds his skins like a bat out of hell, playing furiously like its his final sitting before Judgement Day; Baker invents Power-Rock Drumming! My intuition tells me, Felix Pappalardi, their producer, had a lot to do with creating this new sound. Felix was Cream’s lion tamer, keeping the arrangements simpler and shorter, and bound, partially, by what we think of as conventional Pop Music.

Moreover, he urged them to play gentler and with more feeling and sensitivity. In just 3 1/2 days (mid May of 1967, at Atlantic Studios, NYC), he (they) walked away with some really exquisite prints! Eric’s precision with wah-wah is a vital ingredient here, I must add. The marvelous Cry Baby effect conjures sound tracers that alter and waft, creating cosmic mental, boomerang-metaphors, garbling the rippling note and wave textures, simulating an engaging experience within the electrified beholder (listener), not unlike an LSD Trip, Tales of Brave Ulysses and Strange Brew are fitting test-tube babies for this ineffable maelstrom of a musicological peculiarity, an aesthetic period mystery that’s baffling unto this day.

Here’s an odd yet original thought, which often popped into my head when D.G. was rotating on the turntable. Blues is no longer Blues anymore; it morphs into a rainbow-hued Kaleidoscope! It’s like these hopped-up English Cats took the E7 A7 E7 B7 E7 form, sped it up, added a pinch of colourful lyric (see the English Romantics, Shelly, Keats, Byron, Coleridge, and especially Lewis Carroll [a Victorian, actually]), then started tossing bouquets (textures of overdubbed wah-wah, cacophonous harmonies, sound effects, exotic instruments, etc…), piling them ad infinitum to the blue skies – thus, P. M. is born!

Metaphors echo into eternity – Sunshine of Your Love meant taking a hit of Sunshine (LSD); Tales of Ulysses is the finest example, a tremendous fount of inspiration, and a good reason to spill so much ink on this epic of a checklist (exhaustive treatise) – references to Homer’s classic song, transferred to electric guitar waves, is an immortal time-tracer, defying interment, a buffer to the inevitable extinguishment of Light, and Love, and History’s Bronze Shield (The Trojan War and a consummate three-piece British Rock Band meet head on); you may include popular culture and pop Art!

You get it and we got it when we were bogarting all those joints in the face of sonic burst, and stone-glazed infatuation with incandescent hot pink, floral embroideries, from the fluid, free-flowing, decorative plume of Mister Martin Short, festooning the bodacious band photograph of Bob Whitaker (he shot the infamous, sequestered Butcher Cover [a war protest piece]).

World of Pain, penned by Felix Pappalardi and his wife Gail Collins (an intriguing sidebar to this couple is that later, Gail shot and killed Felix on April 17th, 1983 in their East Side Manhattan apartment. I haven’t had time yet to give this tragic incident a further probe), is the apple of my eye here. Pressed Rat and Warthog is my all-time favorite Cream song (penned and performed by Ginger Baker), although it appears on Wheels of Fire (also produced by Pappalardi); you could add on White Room in there somewhere, if you like.

Wheels carries forward much of what we see (I dig Martin’s cover art) and hear on D.G. The difference is the discipline and restraint, largely take a second seat! There’s a subtle and nuanced irony to the notion that P. M. is, at the same time, a very disciplined genre; floral abandonment requires a great deal of control and artfulness! When a balanced hybrid of Dionysian and Apollonian forces are in play, it can’t be beat!

2. The Psychedelic Sounds Of: The 13th Floor Elevators – November, 1966 – International Artists

(03/17/2016, 4:17 AM) In the Spring of 1966 (I was 14-years-old), I had a chance to see The Elevators (peering through a wide-screen window, outside of the TV studio, in a shopping mall hallway), during a live performance (with sexy go-go-dancers and astounding audience participation) on a local hip television show, Sump’n Else! (hosted by Ron Chapman on WFAA, modeled after national television music hits, targeting teenagers, such as Where the Action Is!, or Hullabaloo [the MTVs of their day]).

The rave-up was broadcast from Northpark Mall in Dallas, Texas, probably the biggest and most spectacular shopping mall in the United States during the mid-1960s (or so it was touted as I was growing up). I consider the witnessing of The Elevators do their thing (to be) a life-altering experience in my development; I even grooved on watching them load their gear into the van, and felt awestruck, before returning to my mundane, boring existence in tidy, restrictive North Dallas!

I learned You’re Gonna Miss Me on a cheap, piece-of-junk, Japanese electric guitar, while often wondering how Tommy Hall got that bizarre Outer Limits sound out of his ‘Electric Jug!’ The Elevators were legendary, even in Dallas, and emitted a scrappy, confrontational contrast to ultra-conservative, square, bourgeois, Dallas society.

They even inspired me to apply to UT (which is where I eventually went), since they fared from Austin (seemingly, a Paradise-On-Earth to a tethered teenager), although they ended up getting run out of town, splitting for the free spirited West-Coast LaLa Land of San Francisco, mimicking a pattern of similar free-thinking people, such as Janis Joplin, or popular Armadillo W.H. poster artist, Jim Franklin.

It’s only been within recent memory, I’ve come around to a more rational, analytical approach to their music, consciously confronting their troubling and/or spotty individual biographies. In the past, it was just assumed you should avoid this way of doing things.I must confess, I chuckled to myself this morning, as I opened my (old school) paper, vertical files, teeming (as they were) with effervescent Elevator documents; I never suspected the dazzling dawn of such a day.

There’s an overt existential absurdity slapping me imprudently in the face during these proceedings! In the back of my mind, I’m having hot, sweaty, flashes of Tommy Hall blowing down hard as nails on that empty, funky jug of rye!

Or perchance my criticism existed before, but expressed itself in mental, telepathic waves, mellifluous Streams-Of-Consciousness (this is how Tommy does it); a singular oral way of channeling cultural phenomenon (this is how Homer did it). This Platonic model lends itself to a better understanding of Elevator Art, just as many music critics have punctuated a superior presence to Mono Mixes (as opposed to stereo mixes), what with the jug more upfront.

I can’t make out the lyrics either, but this is more in line with a new proclivity coming into vogue in the early 1960s; The Kingsmen’s Louis Louis comes to mind. If I were to venture a guess, as far as entrancing words and guttural morphemes floating out of Rockie’s mouth, I would say it was some sort of commands to perpetuate Evil on Conventuals, at the behest of Satan himself (just kidding, maybe!). Tommy Hall is a weird cat, but way ahead of his times, some would argue.

I’ve only owned Easter Everywhere (1967) for about two days now (04/04/’16), but already, Slip Inside This House, clocking in at 8′ 3″, is my favorite Elevators song! I understand, not very many copies of the LP were pressed initially (on International Artists); no wonder it’s taken a while to hear about it!

(Warning: This next line doesn’t make much sense, unless you read it while listening to Fire Engine!) I don’t need to dissect it that meticulously, since you miss the point, unless that’s your intention; although, it’s gettin’ clearer, as my consciousness expands, with the riffs bouncing off of me, and cosmic reverb-soaked, echoing jug runs invading my naked cranial cavity, I will see the light one fine day before I meet my maker!

3. Axis Bold As Love – Jimi Hendrix – December 1, 1967 – Track, Barclay, Polydor, Reprise, MCA

“Once it’s in the can, you start muckin’ with it, effects and things.” – Chas Chandler

Axis Bold As Love/Jimi Hendrix Experience
To a zany, goofy 15-year-old teenager, the Axis Bold As Love cover was hypnotizing, grafting an image of the Experience (a painting by Roger Law, from a portrait-photo by Karl Ferris) onto an Eastern religious poster, of a traditional Hindu Vishnu ensemble! Hendrix himself dismissed the cover, preferring a Native-American motif; but for me, the trippy Eastern layout is a better fit with Jimi’s other-worldly aural landscapes!

The first time I heard Axis was in August of 1968, when my family took our usual summer vacation to visit my aunt (Uncle Nick died of a heart attack a year before, or so) and cousins in Bellview, Illinois; my cousin Jeff had the album. I received Are You Experienced? as a present that previous Christmas of 1967. The second album took me by surprise, and makes evident some surprising developments from the initial release; back in the day, it had me scratching my head!

Since then, plenty of documentation has come forth, dissecting the masterpiece; now we have partial insight into what these geniuses were up to. I’ll point you to two video documentaries you can see on the itune releases for Axis Bold As Love and Are You Experienced. Eddie Kramer was the audio engineer at Olympic Studios, and he, along with Chas Chandler (the late Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell give talking head interviews also), reveal many of the innovations employed.

A good technique for getting at why Axis is an early and an essential expression of what we like to call ‘Psychedelic Music,’ is to identify studio tricks used by Eddie Kramer, or to listen how Jimi adjusted his guitar and amp when recording. Jimi ‘s incredible use of wah-wah on Up From The Skies is a good marker for PM; on the title track, Bold As Love, Hendrix wrote a guitar coda soaking with a phasing effect, after Eddie showed Jimi this nice, little effect. I don’t need to mention the astro-bright poetry-lyrics, brimmed with mind-expanding metaphors; the newest vinyl release has the lyrics printed in the middle jacket folio.

Check out Jimi going haywire on a cheap recorder on If 6 Was 9, drenched in echo and reverb (moreover, If 6 Was 9 was featured on Easy Rider, which has a simulation of an acid trip at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, adding to this mystique we’re looking for). Examples are multiple, but what I’d like to say, is, it takes a long time for a 15-year-old kid to process all these factors, while hearing sparkling riffs wafting through shoddy, half-baked analog equipment; the gradual revelation of this new art form, just realized, is part of what’s so marvelous about all of this; the dawning of this new consciousness is part of the perplexity and wonderment, transforming Music History right before your eyes (is not so easy to unveil)!

Another oracular spin worth mentioning, revolving through the perpetual folk, RockStar archives, is the story of Hendrix losing the final mix acetate for side 1, when he and Chas returned home from the studio, on Hallows Eve of 1967. Where did Jimi put the tape box? Did he leave it in the cab, possibly? They had to rush back to Olympic the next day and pull an all-nighter to reconstruct the original superb mixes; they accomplished this and made their deadline (at the time, Track was the label, but now it’s Experience Hendrix/Legacy), although the end results departed considerably from what they had.

A technical consideration I thought of, which subtly contributes to the PM vibe (the object of my focus), is the method in vogue to get more tracks. They’re using a four track recorder; they first mix down 4 tracks to two, then two more tracks are open. Then The Experience records two more tracks, again, mixing this down to two tracks, opening up yet two more. Once they’ve recorded all the instruments or vocals on their checklist, they can complete the final mix, adding yet more effects. The net result of so many tracks buried and suffused together, is the final mix sounds distant and like it’s in outer space; I can’t think of anything anymore psychedelic, actually!

4. Surrealistic Pillow – Jefferson Airplane – February, 1967 – RCA Victor

(4/04/2015, 1:45 PM) Without this record, there wouldn’t have been a Summer of Love! I listen to S. Pillow while driving along scenic Ranch 2244 (which turns into Bee Cave Rd.), viewing the bountifully draped fields of bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes, contemplating the majestic throne of adoration secured by the iconic platter for chameleon-like phantom, otherwise referred to as the History of Rock ‘N’ Roll! It’s climbing upward towards the peak!

One ineffable slice of information about the sessions (Oct. 31-Nov. 22, 1966 – RCA Victor, Hollywood, Ca.), only recently absorbed, is Jerry Garcia played a major role in the making of S.P. (or did he?). As I play the songs back again, I’ll see if I can identify Jerry’s guitar parts on (seemingly) Today, Comin’ Back To Me, and Plastic Fantastic Lover. It’s curious though, RCA Records producer, Rick Jarrard, claims he never saw Jerry Garcia at these sessions (liner notes, Jeff Tamarkin – 2003 edition on BMG Heritage/RCA). One wonders wherein lies the truth?

This worked out quite nicely, in any case. ‘I don’t want to spoil the party,’ but my real favorite Airplane album is: Crown of Creation. I concur with most of what I’ve read on what the Airplane accomplished in these years that saw the sudden emergence and effervescent flowering of a unique sociological Zeitgeist, a vibrant Youth Culture, that springs forth magically and organically in open-minded circles, peopling the turned on San Franciscan municipality.

However, I’d say, adding in my own two bits worth, while the Airplane might get lumped in with other Folk-Rock innovators, such as The Byrds, Mamas and Papas, or Credence Clearwater Revival, they added a new element to this hybrid which was poignantly and vigorously PSYCHEDELIC, both with words (White Rabbit), and with jolting sound combinations (especially, with Jorma and Jack’s interlocking bass and six string note configurations)!

I just added a DVD to my Airplane arsenal, Fly Jefferson Airplane, which collects 12 filmed music performances, accented by revelatory talking head commentary provided by the original band members. Many of these videos have frequented my Facebook news-stream, while others are getting a first viewing! Having them bundled together is helping me a lot. If you’ve never seen White Rabbit from The Smothers Brothers, with costumed musicians and a swirling, colorful, kaleidoscopic light show, then you’re in for a treat of a lifetime!

Also, with the recent death of Paul Kantner, ample pause is in order for reflection, I’ve put more effort into learning about him, and the valuable contributions he gave to the band. Grace says Paul was the most politically active and informed of them, and this is readily noticeable when hearing him interviewed (here and elsewhere). Paul also was the most philosophical (or metaphysical) of them and could channel his thoughts into the music he wrote; Crown of Creation is his, as is the music for the songVolunteers (Marty Balin wrote the lyrics).

One video clip from Fly Jefferson Airplane is a live performance on the rooftop of a tall building in New York City; this occurred in 1968, well before The Beatles’ historic, final live performance (Jan 30, 1969), on the rooftop of Apple headquarters (3 Savile Row, London, UK). A common feature of the two quirky rooftop shows is, the police intervene; however, Marty Balin was arrested whereas The Fab Four got off Scott Free!

Another video you won’t want to miss, is Jorma Kaukonen’s solo performance, picking a Gibson acoustic for his original, Embryonic Journey (track 9 on Surrealistic Pillow), for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (1996), with bassist Jack Casady looking on, providing spiritual support only. This instrumental, positioned just before White Rabbitt and Plastic Fantastic Lover, functions like a mooring, a soothing anodyne for what’s about to happen: (sock-it-to-me-baby) the onslaught of two signature achievements in a completely new genre I’ll describe as San Francisco’s FLOWER-POWER-PSYCHEDELIC-POP-ROCK!

(Note: I allow myself enough room to discuss other albums [and singles or EPs] recorded by these 11 sanctimonious bands, since I allocate ample time scrutinizing these groups’ entire history. This guarantees a much more holistic understanding of the 11 albums under examination here; S.P. is the Crown of Creation, you might say!)

Of all the great bands in the 1960s, I feel as if the Airplane has the most depth and diversity, held together by a fragile symbiosis,yet ignited by powerful revolutionary zeal, that surfaces like a rocket by 1966, then takes off into outer space, possibly exploding, due to the chaos, unrest, and violence of 1968.

In an ineffable manner, this is why I often characterize (only in the restless reverie of my own mind) them as one of the most satisfying and interesting units, emerging from that particular and unique ilk of music! I don’t mean to overlook how painful 1968 was; change expresses itself in physical and psychological agony (the close relationship between JA and Bobby Kennedy ties in directly to what I’m talking about).

I owned Crown of Creation before I bought Surrealistic Pillow (naturally, I had heard it over at a friends’ house); this record is a lucent document for those turbulent times. The cover on their fourth release was a bit more inventive, the songs more diverse, and the songwriting quality amped up an iota (probably as a result of this highly charged electro-energy emanating from a firebrand of a social and political climate, where it seemed as though the world would end at any moment!).

Check out a song like If You Feel, written by Marty Balin and Gary Blackman (a friend of the band), springing out of the gate, it’s crackling with frenzied energy, powered by Jorma’s punching wah-wah- guitar, interlocked with Jack’s thumping bass runs. I’ve heard (or read) Marty say the lyrics weren’t really about much, that it was a feel good song, but I’m hearing more in there; a sort of anthem for the 1960s: live your life to the fullest in the here and now! ‘(Eat, Drink, and be Merry’ is a modified version of Epicureanism, practiced religiously by the ’60s Flower Children of Haigh Ashbury.)

This means living the changes happening right before your eyes in the present: protesting the War in Vietnam before one more American soldier or Vietnam civilian perishes, coming to terms with the shocking assassinations of RFK and MLK, or fathoming the sudden resignation of LBJ (I’ve often said, one could spend their entire adult life researching and writing about dynamic 1968!). Paul Kantner’s Crown of Creation is about being on top, then blowing it big time, such as Captain America tells Billy in Easy Rider, “We Blew It, Man!” I suspect there’s a little Philip K. Dick in here also, ‘cuz Paul was a huge Science Fiction guy.

5. The Piper At the Gates of Dawn – Pink Floyd – August 5, 1967 – EMI Columbia (UK), Tower (US)

(Friday, 04/01/2016 – 3:23 PM) This writing for Pink Floyd’s first release begins prematurely; the grab-bag of data on PF is infinite, maybe more! Absorbing this much copy is driving me bananas! Better cut it short, or else I’ll end up like Syd. The initial one is more about Barrett; therefore, my research drifts over to his spellbinding biography, which should include his two solo albums (The Madcap Laughs [1970], and Barrett [1970]), after getting the boot. An impression, right off the top of my head, is that Syd was/is a better Pop Songwriter than Roger Waters (ever became)!

The Space Rock Era comes later, with say, Ummagumma, but one might argue, Interstellar Overdrive inaugurates the Band’s signature sound. (Moreover, one might argue, Syd invented Space Rock [S.R. & P.M. are brother and sister, such as Venus and Mars]. I don’t have enough time to start a PHD dissertation on this hairsplitting subject, but if you’d care to indulge, go ahead!)

Although, I did manage to launch-off on an interesting tangential diversion this morning, by giving a listen to Vegetable Man (PF live BBC recording); apparently, an autobiographical tune of Syd’s, highlighting his excessive experimentation and indulgence with LSD. Mostly, Waters bleeps the studio recording from A Saucerful of Secrets, for obvious reasons. The Gnome is a delightful nursery rhyme of a ditty on Piper.

Observation: You’ll never see the likes of this type of tune in future PF catalogs; Syd was gone forever! Observation 2: A must have DVD, The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story, includes an actual home movie of Syd’s first acid trip (yea, he even turned this experience into a work of art!). In addition, included amongst many other PF marvels, we get a gander at some of Barrett’s farfetched, ethereal canvasses! Syd’s not a sidebar, he =s PF. Get off the train, you pinhead!

INTERMISSION: WHERE DID ALL THESE COLORS COME FROM? – SIDEBAR I

(March 15th, 2016 – 1:47 PM) Out of nowhere? I remember in Houston, Texas, sometime in 1964, a friend of mine’s family got an RCA Victor color TV. Some of the popular shows transmogrified from black & white to living color, around that time (I Dream of Jeannie and Man From Uncle come to mind). Kids started dressing more in line with national or international fashion trends; hair got longer, first with the surfer cut, then kids let it grow out even shaggier in the back and on the sides.

Some kids would pop pills (goofballs, zingers, quaaludes, reds, blues, or yellow jackets), a reaction to watching their parents drink heavily; string-beans flabbergasted as their role models consumed more and more pungent booze, while escaping via Johnny Carson on the exceedingly popular (for the Sixties) Tonight Show. This music under review is born out of this era I lived through, roughly emerging out of the smoldering ashes of change, crystallized in the critical years, 1960-1966.

It’s genesis, the slow cook-down of cherished ingredients, the fragile percolation of random circumstance, coincidental or otherwise, is helped along (gets a boost) by Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, and ideas (and chemicals) pass through Timothy Leary as well.

Communes spring up, joints get passed, kids drop out of school, or out of society all together; was there any one cause for these massive social fissures? Not really! Was it brought on by the British Invasion? Certainly not! Was it the Assassination of Kennedy?

No, but all these events made their mark on the supermundane phenomenon, so termed Psychedelic Music (P.M.) in this treatise!

Was it primarily the ingestion of LSD by thousands of curious, thrill-seeking teenagers? No, but this mischievous fad played a pivotal, culture-shifting role as well.

Did The Blues Magoos invent P.M. before the Elevators? This could be the case, but I’m not in a position to argue the merits for or against a Magoos coup d’etat (snuffing out the old guard, planting seeds of the new), a unique genre.

Nevertheless, I will throw in my own two cents worth; I saw them live at the Dallas Memorial Auditorium in 1965 (or maybe 1966?), wearing electric charged, ASTRO-BRIGHT DAY-GLO costumes (my very first real psychedelic experience), with a sensational strobe light show, calibrated to syncopated flashes on and off, against their smash hit, You Aint Seen Nothing Yet! ‘Doors of Perception’ opened a path of new options for me that night…

SIDEBAR II: THE-ORANGE BARREL-BAR-B-QUE-TRIPPY-DIPPY-TEXAS-STYLE-ELECTRIC-KOOL-AID-ACID-TEST!

(THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CAP’N BREW KIDD):

On August 16th, 1969, while my parents were out of town in Colorado, myself and two high school chums of mine ingested a full hit each of Orange Barrel Acid, a popular local psychotropic concoction of LSD, making the rounds of our neighborhood in Squares-ville North Dallas (an interesting additional sidebar would be the lurid haunts of our main connection, including Yankee Doodle Dandy hot dog and arcade stand {in Northtown Mall], and 7-Eleven at Marsh Lane and Forest Lane etc.).

We began our assent, then split for Love Field in order to watch airplanes take-off, a popular form of recreation for adventurous trippers. The sights and sounds of jets careening down the runway, then suddenly lifting off into the open sky was an incomparable, incomprehensible rush for thrill-seeking young people. I always felt like a new movie soundtrack was getting composed in my head, as these giant birds glided through the spheric portals!

A proper bookend to these aero-kicks was a visit to Braum’s Ice Cream shop; the taste of the zesty dairy dessert in your mouth when tweaked on ‘O-Barrel is indescribable; and watching a female employee changing shape and color, as she prepares our sundaes, was Super-Bonus-Groovy! As we approached the pinnacle, the shop walls would fold in and out like so many accordions, and a run to the facilities saw the contours of our faces mutate in breakneck clips, as we gazed stoned in the fluttering mirror. Pulsating strobe motions, where beards and noses grow longer, then recede into your facial cavity, turning you into a monster you never knew was in you!

Returning home, my yellow Mustang seemingly flew down Forest Lane; at home photographs came to life, and my pet dog Sam transmogrified a thousand fold; now a unicorn, switch to a spotted leopard, next, a pin-striped zebra, then finally returning to the homely canine Hines-57 he truly was. Emotions or moods, within your highly complicated psychological nexus, clip at a rapid pace; pleasant thoughts, ecstasy, electral-sexual fantasies, followed by paranoia or limitless fear, race faster and faster through your riveting skull bones!

It usually helps if a friend can talk you back down when you experience a hiccup (or more precisely, a Freakout); this can calm you down as your friend let’s you know it’s only in your little mind. Sometimes the negative rushes are so serious, you think you are about ready to die; you see this in the film The Trip (screenplay by Jack Nicholson), where Peter Fonda is talked down (smoothed out) by Bruce Dern (this is how it goes down in real life, I’ll add).

A singular fun game for trippers is playing with Zilchers, where you can twist, like a plastic cleaning bag, coiling it tightly, then you light up one end with a Zippo lighter, creating flaming streamers that drip (technical term is Tracers [a bullet etc. whose course is made visible in flight because of flames etc. emitted. – Not quite it either}); the Zilcher toys with time and light as the burning plastic ripples past your beaming color-wheel-orbs (eyeballs)!

Eventually, later in the trip, you begin to descend back to Mother Earth; as you return to normality (this never happens!), you rap with your loopy pals about mortality, religion, your own inevitable death, the possibility that God is merely make-believe, or that Jesus was made-up in order to appease millions of desperate peasants, so they wouldn’t riot and loot against the filthy rich! You do come down in the end (although I’m convinced, you never get rid of these potent chemicals completely) , but you have transformed your Being (both physically and spiritually), permanently! You vow never to do it again, but sure enough, about a month later you drop a tab (its a different type this go around) again, except this time, you trip with an asymmetrical batch (ensemble) of Freaks…

6. Anthem of the Sun – Grateful Dead – July 18, 1968 – Warner Brothers/Seven Arts

Jim Miller’s original review, appearing in Rolling Stone, dated September 28, 1968, grasped what was going on here, praising it, and recognizing its experimental nature, using tapes of live shows and unrealized studio outtakes, then cutting them up and processing them, editing these tapes together into a massive sound collage, even adding new dubs onto this already fully realized aural Leviathan. A transformed work emerges! What we have here is a (failure to communicate) cut and paste sound pastiche; a name drop of John Cage inserted at this juncture (might be appropriate), somewhere along the way!

The psychedelic nature of Anthem of the Sun is self-evident; New Potato Caboose is my favorite one to listen to, with the interplay between Ron McKernan’s incandescent, jangling organ jabs, and Jerry Garcia’s conspicuously (and spontaneously) generated, mellifluous runs, cascading up and down the fret board, against Phil Lesh’s jazz-inflected, melodic bass pulses, should be labeled dangerous! A righteous confession has me admitting, sometimes I’m not clearly aware which tune is currently rotating, had it not been for the message cue appearing up in the top right-hand corner of my imac, that reads: Alligator, confusion tweaked with a Bacchanalian percussion jam banging away on my ears!

A mind-altering revelation, as far as I’m concerned, is the process employed; Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, and their new sound man, Dan Healy, went in the studio and mixed this sound collage live on the console board, IE. it’s a live, spontaneous performance, albeit, utilizing previously scored acetate; a vacuum of predictability, or the scattershot nature of the process, is an essence elevating the record to higher plane of ‘Electric Novelty.’ Too, a well placed recommendation favors multiple headphone listenings, capturing considerable fading, cross-mixing, reverb massaging, and ample layering, on say, the Triptych marvel, That’s It For The Other One! Hallucinations couldn’t be any sweeter, unless you were there with me at the Palmer Auditorium back in 1973, for a Rollicking-Live-Dead-Rollercoaster-Ride!

7. Strange Days – The Doors – September 25, 1967 – Elektra

Strange Days/The Doors
The Doors’ Strange Days album cover, a spontaneous assemblage of social side-liners, chronicled by a one-shot gathering in NYC (photograph by Joel Brodsky), goes a long way in capturing the utterly transparent theme of this project: there are tons of weird people out there, and as troublesome as it is to face up to, we must include ourselves amongst this undesirable bunch, otherwise deemed, THE WEIRDO CULT (everybody’s in it)!

I purchased this record at Woolworth (Northpark Mall, Dallas, Texas) in the fall of 1967, which is kind of psychedelic unto itself; it’s strange that Woolworth was a big music retailer during this period, but then again you must realize, the kids were buying tons of vinyl (you can include me in this group), so Woolworth saw the light (Barnes & Nobles does the same these days)!

After purchasing the album, I coveted it, making the music a part of me; even recording it on my Sony portable reel to reel, so I could listen in my bedroom (the family stereo was in my parents bedroom). I marveled over the cover, staring at the perplexing image for hours and hours! As for the message I was hearing in the songs, I could readily identify with it; people indeed were very strange, scaring me into a form of isolationism, and forcing me to get stranger myself. Drug use pushed the envelope a little further.

I have Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception on my Kindle (have a paperback now too – 05/25/2016); Huxley experimented with mescaline profusely. I did quite a bit of mescaline myself, once upon a time, even experiencing Strange Days while under the chemical’s influence. The use of harpsichord by Ray Manzarek on Love Me Two Times, is a brilliant touch, and intentionally shocks you!

Rock ‘N’ Roll played with an 18th Century chamber music instrument is weird and dissonant; therefore, it’s the right choice for an album dedicated to highlighting the properties of strangeness, such as it must have appeared in the mind of Jim Morrison (and the other members of The Doors), ala LA in 1967 – the excitement, the Hippies, the clubs, the massive success of their music, etc; yet it transformed them into circus freaks, ie the oddballs on the cover!

“Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection, send my credentials to the house of detention.” This line from When The Music’s Over grabs me forcefully! This song is often regarded as a second, inferior rendition of The End; I beg to differ from this misplaced hypothesis. However, the apocalyptic themes and the lengthy musical realization of such themes are duplicates, transmissions of mutating grey. The notion that the Resurrection is a hoax, is enough of a gnarled mouthful of anarchy, to bedevil me to conflicted cogitation, by and large, for a lifetime (the record was issued 49 years ago)!

The epochal tune was worked up at the London Fog, on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, Ca.; I’m scrambling to find out more about the London Fog, and have found one period photograph on the internet. Robbie Krieger’s guitar lead throughout, and especially in the middle, is dissident, distorted, undulating, and atonal, saturated with effects; in short, the lyrics and the guitar renders it essentially psychedelic! And yes, Music’s Over is a match for The End.

8. Odessey & Oracle – The Zombies – April 19, 1968 – CBS

This mind-numbing cover, designed by an art teacher, Terry Quirk, has always been one of my favorites, recalling the Art Nouveau posters of Victorian whiz-kid artist, Aubrey Vincent Beardsley; at the same time, for reasons that don't ring too clearly just now, I occasionally daydream paintings by Pre-Raphaelite master and founder, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, in a similar vein. Quirk's frivolous, flowing, floral lines nicely complement (harmonize with) The Zombies' melancholic, nostalgic, Victorian Parlor-Pop ditties with synchronistic exactitude!
This mind-numbing cover, designed by an art teacher, Terry Quirk, has always been one of my favorites, recalling the Art Nouveau posters of Victorian whiz-kid artist, Aubrey Vincent Beardsley; at the same time, for reasons that don’t ring too clearly just now, I occasionally daydream paintings by Pre-Raphaelite master and founder, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, in a similar vein. Quirk’s frivolous, flowing, floral lines nicely complement (harmonize with) The Zombies’ melancholic, nostalgic, Victorian Parlor-Pop ditties with synchronistic exactitude!

Writing in a critical mode regarding music misses the point with this cult masterpiece! Poetry, reverie, reflection, or idle daydream is more in keeping with the timbre of these 12 songs; and so it shall be! PSYCHEDELIC BAROQUE POP is our category; this is the only album in the History of Rock, we can place in this slot. It’s as if Mozart or Bach (Rod Argent masquerades as a maestro!) have returned to the present (1967), swiftly pop a small pill, and begin playing an antiquated harpsichord in the sanctuary of Abbey Roads studio (Geoff Emerick is an apt audio engineer for these Baroque ghosts).

Nice tremolo guitar on Beechwood Park; must be some great strokes of the late Paul Atkinson. The background vocals, full angelic choirs echoing through your speakers, colossal otherworldliness, are a main component, and help to define The Zombies singular sound. Often working in melancholy minor keys, with dreamy, saccharine lyrics about a lost love, I’m often reminded of William Faulkner or Tennessee Williams thematic twist on an over-ripe, yet crumbling Southern culture, struggling to stay afloat. Are Rod Argent and Chris White describing a dwindling bucolic vibe (me thinks, same theme in Downton Abbey), once breathing living colors, in the Kingdom of Old England?

This is an imaginative simulation, not a real description of their songwriting vantage point. Actually, this entire project, Odessey & Oracle, is a transcendent PIPEDREAM, defying definition! Thus one must covet it, appreciate it; whilst listening, it will reciprocate a thousand fold, leaving floating, green pastures of blissful memory (devouring real, horrific recollection)! The signature song here, is, This Will Be Our Year, a catharsis of what illuminations came our way in 1967! Dreaming out a rainy window, mind shrouded in the past, a lovely bird passes by; is it today or is it June 15th, 1967? How ’bout June 15th, 1725? Let’s watch Barry Lyndon again, followed by O & O, vinyl format, naturally!

9. Spirit – January 22, 1968 – Epic/Legacy Records

Finally got Clear; digging it! I need to be very sensitive when penning a few paltry words about the first release on Ode Records (originally). I have owned and worshipped this record since it’s initial release! In those days, I knew nothing about jazz (see Ed Cassidy and John Locke’s respective biographies), nor was I particularly aware of all the fantastic breakthroughs in Rock (Southern and Northern California). Nonetheless, what I did realize, as a 15 year-old who was totally committed to these new sounds (there were a bunch of them!), is that this was a collection of songs I would continue to analyze for some time to come.

What in the world was Fresh Garbage all about? I thought then, the tune evoked a vivid tongue-in-cheek portrait, of how we were polluting our environment; I wasn’t too far off (see Randy California’s liner notes for the 1996 Sony edition). Also, I’d just read 1984 and Brave New World, so I’d listen to Mechanical World over and over again, convince this was a musical retelling of George Orwell or Aldous Huxley; I wasn’t too far off in these assessments, either!

What was life like for Spirit members and company at ‘The Big Yellow House’ in Topanga Canyon (late 1967)? It must have been a charmed and enlightened one, to come up with this fabulous collection of songs! The 1996 Sony Music reissue has 4 bonus tracks that give you a little more insight into how tight this band was; the last cut, an alternate take of Elijah (J. Locke), has some incredible bass playing by Mark Andes, gently and sensitively synchronized with Ed Cassady’s complicated jazz rolls.

Randy California has the final say, with some spiritually-charged runs in the remaining few bars. I’m most convinced Topanga Windows is the recollection of an acid trip! Gramophone Man (written by the entire band) has a middle jazz section that’s sounding a lot like Take Five ala The Dave Brubeck Quartet! Once again, listen to Mark Andes’ punching bass run in this unlikely bridge. Other than that, this is a great pop song, with evidence of Jay Ferguson’s rye turn of words, about a commercially compromised pop star.

Randy California’s mesmerizing guitar hook, exiting and accenting the verses, owns a plethora of treble-clef bars on The Great Canyon Fire in General! Apparently, this is a true story, about a huge fire ravaging Topanga Canyon that summer (The Summer of Love); we see these fires on the news all the time, but Spirit has immortalized the raging, red flames plaguing Southern California. (Slight return:) Mechanical World (written by Mark Andes and Jay Ferguson) inevitably unleashed a modicum of curiosity within me, when I was a teenager.

I first listened in as I read 1984 and the two synched, there were clear parallels! Is MW a vision of a totalitarian society, a reptilian industrialized, mechanized world, where freedom plays second fiddle to efficiency and factory productivity? This has been a nagging suspicion of mine since 1968. Further, the otherworldly touch of strings (and elsewhere) here gives a sprinkle of PM fairy dust, as well as augmented reverb in the mix! Finally, the seal on the deal (for PM) is the electric sitar (may be a Danelectro?) on Girl In Your Eyes)!

THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER – BONUS REVIEW

Experiencing an epiphany that Spirit’s The Family That Plays Together (recorded from March 11-September 18, 1968), is every bit as much a classic Psych-Record (never heard this term before until about six months ago, at the End of An Ear record store) as their first release, I relished the ritual lifting of the beaded paisley tapestry, in anticipation of mercurial time travel, climbing back (as I was) into the fantasy dreamland of yesteryear, the creative caverns where the eclectic and gifted Spirit forged their sacred sounds!

Poor Richard (2’29”) is written (Jay Ferguson) around Mark Andes’ hypnotic bass hook, which functions as an anchor and a bridge, after each of the three short verses have been delivered, with the vocal opening line, ‘remarking on the freshness of garbage,’ providing a laugh, ala tongue-in-cheek reference to their first ecologically conscious hit, Fresh Garbage (on the first release, Spirit). Whiz guitarist, Randy California, takes flight with a characteristic fuzz lead, that closely mimics the main melody line, while bending the strings to good effect, for an undulating, riveting sonic rollercoaster ride (Jay and Randy’s future following out was unfortunate; they worked well together)!

Drunkard – 2:42 (written by Jay Ferguson), much overlooked but my favorite on Family, is a mood piece, with evasive lyrics about a washed-up alcoholic who’s clueless about the world he finds himself in. He misses his daughter when she comes to call; she leaves a message for him, probably with a pushpin, left on the wall. His drinking has rendered him inattentive to his duties as a father; I’m reminded of the Hobbesian figure in Jethro Tull’s signature piece, Aqualung, in regard to the torn and tattered bum who lurks in the shadows of confusion and defeat, by the time Jay delivers the final verse. Drunkard is Spirit’s Eleanor Rigby! The strings (arranged by Marty Paich) are what make this song a superior mood piece; isn’t the theme really about living and surviving the tumult of 1968?

All The Same – 4:43 (written by Randy California and Ed Cassidy) should have been the hit on Family, had it not been for I Got a Line On You, Babe; that’s okay, it is for me. Other than great vocal harmonies, catchy lyrics, and blazing guitar licks, this song is arranged in an interesting way; well it’s Ed’s brow beating drum solo in the middle! The drum solo comes to 90 seconds; I know, ‘cuz I’ve timed it and dig just listening to what Cassidy did here, over and over again. Then listen for the staccato retard of the drums at the ending; lots of thought put into it.

And let’s not forget Space Chile – 6:27 (written by the keyboard player, John Locke); that’s already been done, since it sat in the can for 28 years (1968 to 1996). John Locke and Ed Cassidy were the two jazz veteran players in the band and they both take generous solos here; by the time Randy California pipes in, you might swear you were listening to The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Birds of Fire! Miles Davis (on Bitches Brew) proved that jazz could smoothly enter the Psychedelic Candy Lane, and Space Chile is a churning, chugging, miming caboose to that unlikely proposition!

While Twelve Dreams of Dr Sardonicus represents Spirit’s crowning achievement, The Family That Plays Together (not prays) is a rare gem that grant you insight into the strange changes going down in California in the late 1960s; we both like to go there together in the magic time machine we call a record player (supported by the internet, books and film clips). Now to look for a rare Spirit poster to frame and mount on my bedroom wall! You know the one, Randy California in that Pancho, probably at their legendary crash-pad in Topango Canyon…

Ten – Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles – June 1, 1967 – Parlophone/Inner Mystique-Chocolate Watchband – February, 1968 – Tower Records (Note: a tie for 10th place)

SERGEANT PEPPER – THE FAB FOUR

This is the actual tape recorder employed to record Sergeant Pepper and Odessey & Oracle, owned by EMI and used extensively by Sir George Martin and house audio engineer, Geoff Emerick, working dexterously at Abbey Road Studios in London. If you needed more tracks, you had to mix down 4 tracks to 2 on another tape deck, which freed up two more tracks; this rigamarole continues until you have completed all the parts you've ever imagined in your wildest dreams! This tedious ping-ponging process convolutes the final mix, characteristically resulting in echoing, reverberating, multi-dimensional stereophonic sound-prints, yet still produced these Sonic-Wonders-Waxing-Marvelous, (immortal) after all these years!
This is the actual tape recorder employed to record Sergeant Pepper and Odessey & Oracle, owned by EMI and used extensively by Sir George Martin and house audio engineer, Geoff Emerick, working dexterously at Abbey Road Studios in London. If you needed more tracks, you had to mix down 4 tracks to 2 on another tape deck, which freed up two more tracks; this rigamarole continues until you have completed all the parts you’ve ever imagined in your wildest dreams! This tedious ping-ponging process convolutes the final mix, characteristically resulting in echoing, reverberating, multi-dimensional stereophonic sound-prints, yet still produced these Sonic-Wonders-Waxing-Marvelous, (immortal) after all these years!

Just to point out how SPLHCB can easily induce silly behavior, brought on by overdoses of frothy, omni-speculation and meaningless, cerebral analysis of its wanton, elusive content, I’ll reprint herein what I wrote well over a year ago, convincing myself I was right clever, a Nostradamus of sorts!

SPLHCB was the most influential Electric-Flower-Power-Concept-Record ever, vigorously impacting the U.S. Youth Scene; but what this looks like is something akin to Narcissus staring at his own visage, a refraction in the pond. The U.S. people tricked themselves into thinking the English had created this phenomenon.

Actually, this massive edifice of Freak Adoration was self-love; a quasi-mirror reflection projecting a hallucinogenic hologram of lit-up California, echoing back across The Pond, like a bursting, exploding, boomerang-wave of shimmering sound! As you may have noticed, the British were/are getting all the credit for what originated in the U.S. of A. Yet, the soothing Voice of History gets a final laugh. Ha, ha, ha!

I have no idea what I was trying to say, and that’s just the point! Short story: Paul purloins the idea (after a trip to San Francisco – Or did such a trip ever take place?). Reduced to it’s lowest terms: Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD). End of long playing tale; what the hell, I’ll dribble a bit more…

Stereo imaging, the likes of which I’d never experienced previously, first swarmed upon my simple ears, in the minions of my jumbled bedroom (Dallas, Texas), during the so named Summer of Love (June, 1967). I had to lay down on the carpet, pressing the detached speakers right against my ears, for optimum affect. This is the pivotal moment of Light’s Dawning, the realization of what Psychedelic Music was all about (See the ape scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey, when a reptile bone is first perceived as a weapon).

The separation between instruments was phenomenal, especially Paul’s bass lines, snapping clear, distinct, colorful tones. I was hearing a multiple, diverse array of instruments (such as harmonium, sitar, or harpsichord), as well as sound effects galore (listen to the animal noises at the end of Good Morning, Good Morning). The net affect for a fifteen-year-old daffy teenager was something akin to smoking a marijuana joint, although hearing this record predates my actual first encounter with cannabis.

It was only much later that I was able to sort through the technical particulars, the secret ingredients gathered in preparations for Pepper. The recent death of The Beatles guru producer, George Martin, prodded me in this (well-documented) direction, examining the Bag of Tricks (studio experimentation), used at the Abbey Roads studio, in the making of this milestone of a Beatle record.

I understand it much better these days, but this doesn’t mean I didn’t intuit what was happening during these sessions, since I believe I did, even if they were juvenile hallucinations, conjured by perpetual readings of the back folio lyric jacket, while repeatedly placing the needle arm on the vinyl LP, sitting proudly on the rubber mat of the arcane turntable (what Paul was talking about with the sonic gibberish pasted as a joke onto the end groove, after the final resounding multilayered piano chord, concluding A Day In A Life [the finale of the Rock Opera, ya know], since the needle didn’t auto-reject)!

A startling confession: It may have been sometime during the early portion of that transcendent summer when I made a future commitment to imbibe in mind-altering substance; the rationalization could have been just as simple as I would like to experience the world peopled (lorded over and eclipsed) by The Beatles (God-like Superstars to my Generation), as fun, and strange, and simple, and mysterious as it was (and of course, I had no idea what it was like, or where they were getting all these strange ideas). It’s probably safe to say, we still don’t know how they pulled it off!

INNER MYSTIQUE – CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND

I thought I’d put in my two cents worth, as far as Chocolate Watchband’s multiplying legend goes, by having their record, Inner Mystique, tie with The Fab Four’s Pepper, albeit last place, in this frothy Top-Ten checklist! Looks strange, doesn’t it? Not any weirder than the history of this one of a kind Garage Band, that emerges in Northern California during a painful, yet ecstatic era, bouncing forcefully off The British Invasion of the mid-1960s!

I’ve known for a long time, this band is a favorite of mine, and has many of the qualities I can’t help but extoll, although confusion boats tumble-forge dicey, tumultuous seas, whenever attempting a reconstruction of their evolution and legacy. Presently, I’m wading through some docu-crutches, intending to straighten out a parcel of these career milestones, if only tenuously.

The liner notes to Chocolate Watchband – Melts In Your Brain … Not On Your Wrist – The Complete Recordings (1965-1967), on Big Beat Records, in this regard, is helping, as are the Wikipedia entries and David Aguilar’s ink scratches on C. W. – The Official Band Website. I was very sad to learn that Mark Loomis died on September 26, 2014, in Hawaii; Mark is a hero of mine (he symbolizes, to me, what an American Garage Band Rocker should look like!).

Some interpolated, sped-up, electrified Blues’ licks of Mark Loomis, on No Way Out (Ed Cobb – on the single No Way Out b/w Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In), is evidence enough for me, showing exactly how this new genre of music was created. Mark Loomis is one of the pioneers of this modern sound!

The flip side is equally endowed with such attributes; other overt milestones would have to include a bopping, pulsating tambourine, and I’ll have to throw in the backwards tapes towards the end of the A side, likely a studio device employed by Ed Cobb, a skilled audio engineer, producer, and songwriter in his own right (for me, Cobb was the Sixth Chocolate WatchBander, just as we like to think George Martin was the Fifth Beatle!)

Eureka! A profound dialectic was created within the band (and without), that is simply delineated (although, it’s anything but simple) by the softer, more reflective stuff, verses the charging, Garage Punk Rock ‘N’ Roll numbers, such as Milk Cow Blues. I sense Medication meets these two extremes right on the precarious fulcrum point!

I better not get into the Yo-Yoz, or the fact that by the time Ed Cobb started on the Inner Mystique record, CW had already disbanded. I will say, however, that’s Don Bennett’s vocals are convincing enough, on the original Medication IM cut; a good thing is, you can hear Dave Aguilar’s re-dubbed vocal on disc one of the double Big Beats release (a must have). I mentioned I wouldn’t indulge myself (too much) in the quasimoto Yo-Yoz wrangling, but I should say, the Yo-Yoz ( a pick-up studio band) make up a sizable portion of The CW experience also!

A good explanation for why your brain seems to automatically break-apart into paisley oil-lamp fractals, whenever The Chocolate Watchband is mentioned, could be because, reliable biographical accounts are so dispersed, so far and few in between, so as to render their collective bios invisible. I’ve stopped trying, but I haven’t stopped listening to their magical tones (or to their puppet-doubles’ concocted riffs)!

In an interview Ed Cobb gave in the early ’80s, as recalled by Bruce Eder in his quite lucid AllMusic piece, a reason given for the scarcity of participation of pristine CW musicians, is that The Boys couldn’t work without ‘The Box,’ an ammo receptacle stocked full of the popular drugs of the day, including hallucinogens. You and I know you can’t record worth a damn on psychedelics! I don’t believe this anyway.

My game plan is to simply keep listening to their songs, systematically breaking down their sound, then supplement this with bits and pieces of written documentation. I suppose One Step Beyond is out of print; this piles onto the chaos and intrigue omnipresent, really, since the very beginning (1965)!

Now I’ll turn to one pure CW concoction, since I long for a modicum of puritanical windowpane-sonic-consciousness: Gone and Passes By (on No Way Out): vibes, sitar, harmonica, and tambourine against a Bo Diddley rhythm-blitz send up? Yes, indeed, a resounding rebuttal phalanx, countering CW agility and ambidexterity, cooking in the labs of Green Grass!

Final Kudos: Bill Flores and Gary Andrijasevich formed the nucleus of the greatest rhythm section we’ve ever experienced in the annals of remembered Garage Rock! Moreover, the youth-cult flick, Riot On Sunset Strip, made permanent a memory of CW, and their contribution to Rock ‘N’ Roll, even if it was wrought with hurt, controversy, and ecstatic, end-of-world brouhaha, a maelstrom-matic misgivings!

Runners-Up: Twelve Through Thirty – First Draft

(04/19/2016 – 7:18 AM) The second and third tiers of accomplished psychedelic records is yet still a work in progress; as I’m sure you are aware, the ranking or scaling of all these albums is, unmistakably, bursting with SUBJECTIVITY! this actual numbering and ranking of these records wholly misses the point. My intention is to make you aware of the important role these platters play during a crucial and developmental phase in the History of Rock ‘N’ Roll (arbitrarily running from 1965-1969).

Once you become conscious of the values and qualities intrinsic to these flapping, bendable platters of disposable vinyl (Andy Warhol’s definition of Pop Art), you can indulge yourself in your own sultry surveys of assessment and judgement, regarding a proper ranking of superiority! Until that date, projecting out into the distant future, if we’re still alive, you’ll just have to knuckle under to my telepathic disposition! Get a life or buy your own record store, Friendo!

Twelve – Tomorrow – (Feb., 1968 – [This record is extremely hard to find!]); Thirteen – The Seeds (1966); Fourteen – A Family That Plays Together – Spirit ; Fifteen – Led Zeppelin I; Sixteen – Electric Ladyland – The Jimi Hendrix Experience – (October 25, 1968); Seventeen – Vincebus Eruptus – Blue Cheer (Feb., 1968); Eighteen – Sunshine Superman – Donovan – (June, 1967); Nineteen – Soft Machine – (1968); Twenty – Moby Grape – (June 6, 1967); Twenty-One – Their Majesty’s Satanic Request – The Rolling Stones;

Twenty-Two – Incense and Peppermint – Strawberry Alarm Clock; Twenty-Three – Court of the Crimson King – King Crimson – (October 10, 1969); Twenty-Four – Roger the Engineer – The Yardbirds – (July 15, 1966); Twenty-Five – Search For A Lost Chord – Moody Blues; Twenty-Six – Crown of Creation– Jefferson Airplane; Twenty-Seven – Psychedelic Lollipop – The Blues Magoos; Twenty-Eight – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida – Iron Butterfly; Twenty-Nine – Switched On Bach – Wendy Carlos; Thirty – Cheap Thrills – Big Brother and The Holding Company. Dig It!

(02/24/2016 – 9:30 AM – Initial Sum-Up) In this concluding section, I better make an important point: I’m merely giving you what I believe are the top eleven psychedelic albums of the 1960s; these are, in my opinion, the most creative and groundbreaking expressions of that new sound, which begins to peep its mottled head to a light surface of general societal cultures, around the period of late 1966. I neglected addressing the significant changes in society, the sudden emergence of the Youth Culture, a new kind of human being, The Hippies, or the fluid metamorphosis of societies, both in England and in the United States. But that’s not to say this phenomenon didn’t play a major part in the mystical birth of Psychedelic Music; actually, it most certainly did!

I thought to buttress my musical probes with essential readings, such as The Haight Ashbury: A History, by Charles Perry (the Bible for the Haight), The Psychedelic Experience, by Timothy Leary, The Hippies and American Values, by Timothy Miller, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe, and The Doors of Perception, by Aldous Huxley, as well as many other marvelous configurations of ephemera! Occam’s Razor: It’s the interaction of musicians with this dynamically evolving (absolutely zany) Youth Culture, which provide a catalyst, a life-altering fertilizer (a recipe for existence), opening a space for the creation of PM.

Expanded, Ever-Changing Gleanings – Evolution of Revolution!

(04/18/2016) This new form of music miraculously springs forth, like Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (Riding on a Half-Shell), from a prodigal ocean of fresh ideas, that emerge (rather suddenly) from a vital social and political movement, that shares pockets of commonality throughout many parts of America and portions of Europe.

Lacking exactitude, an embryonic shape of it first surfaces in 1966 sometime, reaching a peak during The Summer of Love (June-August, 1967), then begins a precipitous descent and forthwith, into a disintegration of drastic disillusionment, by the latter part of 1968; and ultimately, is pretty much snuffed-out by the time of Woodstock and the ritual Hollywood murders of the Quasi-Hippie Cult, the notorious counter-culture tribe known as The Manson Family (Anti-Nuclear). P.M. is a fragile, yet beautiful fresh form, that only lives for about two years; nonetheless, the records continue to fascinate fans and aspiring musicians as decades of time pass.

Revivals are continuous and experience their greatest surge with the Paisley Underground cluster of bands in the mid-1980s; examples should include Green On Red, The Bangles, The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate, and my favorite, Rain Parade (be sure you pick up Emergency Third Rail Power Trip, if you are serious about these scribblings). Like the outrageous Flower Children, that shimmied freely, but briefly, about the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, this new form burns brightly, then flickers out abrubtly, the result of its own drug overdose, no doubt!

This throng of enlightened groups (make your own list) found some fantastic venues, such as the Fillmore West, The Agora Ballroom, or the Winterland Auditorium; the Monterey Pop Festival represents the pinnacle of this terrific Electrical Crusade. By the time we get to Woodstock (August of 1969), it has nearly vanished into the night! I like to think of it as a cryogenic hibernation period, such as we see with some astronauts (bound for Jupiter on the spacecraft Discovery One) in 2001 A Space Odyssey.

It will come back to life in good time; Real Art always does! Raphael’s Madonna of the Meadow, Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks, Cream’s Disraeli Gears, they will never die! The mysterious crystallization of forces is but a flicker in the night, a ‘Brief Candle’ of precious Art’s smoldering, arduous embers, eternal transcendence, endless slow burn!

The Big Kahuna in the Sky – Eye of God, Leary, & Kubrick (Or Perhaps Roger Ebert) – Twelve Bohemian Beatitudes of Beauty! (The Three Bs)

(04/ 22,2016 – 2:17 PM) Images remain crystal clear for the remainder of your life; after the BIG DROP, slideshow plate-cartridges, wired to your circuit board, securely fastened to a lens, project the pristinely stored color-print-memories onto a cloth canvass fastened to your figurative forehead, via a streaming, meta-bulating hypothalamus. You’ve seen the horror movie before (in another life), Sinister, just like that, sir!

First flashback: It’s September, 1960. Hurricane Carla pounds South Houston furiously with raging rain and bodacious zephyrs; my family, fearing for their lives, timidly duck for cover! Second: Ramp forward to 1968; Walter Cronkite breaks the news to the American people, they cannot win the Vietnam War, as hard as they try! 3rd: Wind the tape back to the March 8th, 1965 – President Lyndon Johnson deploys the Nonpareil Flower-of American-Boys (3,500 U.S. Marines dock at the port of Da Nang), to an unknown country called Vietnam. 4th: It’s a scorching hot summer day in August of 1968; I look across the street and see Right-Wing-Extremist neighbors’ yard signs, possibly reading: ‘Richard Nixon for President.’ Four years earlier they probably said: ‘Goldwater’s Our Man In ’64!’

5th PipeDream: Turn back the clock two years (August 1st, 1966), my family’s on vacation in New York. We hear the shocking news: Charles Whitman, oozing with Freudian-laced hostility (and a disturbing worship of firearms), mentally ill with a festering brain tumor (baffling the strides in Science), picks off about 25 innocent students with multiple high-powered rifles from the observation deck on the tiptop of the UT Tower!

(My awareness for gun control laws first surfaces at this time.) 6th: Fast forward less than a year later: I bag a pass to go dancing (’60s dances, such as the Frug, Twist, Jerk, Mash Potato, Shimmy-Shake etc…) at the Studio Club, catching Kenny & The Casuals, and experiencing my first lightshow ever, with strobes, black lights, petri dish fanangled colour image-gyrations, trans-lucidity beamed from a cranky, old-fashioned overhead projector.

Seventh: That summer I get an eyeful of lovely, shapely Birds in mini-skirts, promenading Twiggy hairdos, at luxurious Northpark Shopping Mall! Eighth Beatitude: I smoke my first marijuana joint late into the summer, turned on by a cousin of a friend who actually knew Mike Nesmith of The Monkeys (and his mother, who invented white-out! – She lived in Dallas).

Ninth Symphony: My use of cannabis waxes dramatically as the ’60s light-up to a fever pitch, and MESMERIZING MUSIC releases shatter the fragile social fabric into tiny fractals of splintering, splendorific colored-light (Cathedral stain-glass of the mind – historical, not religious in significance). B-Tenish: I use cannabis in an effort aimed at bliss and tranquility, a supernatural solution for school, The War, belligerent, Crabby Appletons, or most of that full-of-bull, older WWII Generation; for me, The Generation Gap was a hard crusted China Brick Wall, that wouldn’t take NO for an answer!

The Eleventh preeminent Beatitude, although a science fiction one, not an real historical event: On April Fools Day, 1967, ‘THE BLACK OBELISK’ took root in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. For days on end, really weeks, turning into months, then several years, powerful positive rays emanated out the UFO slab, zapping free people into lifestyles of LOVE, BEADS, SMOKE, PILLS, MUSIC, AND MERRIMENT. Some powerful alien beings finally flipped the switch to off; Nixon & Manson followed with BAD VIBRATIONS, spoiling the party permanently!

The Twelfth Beatitude and Final Day of P.M. Christmas: Energy-charged, Ionized-Flower-Children morph drench-soaked in the Rainbow Platters of Revolution, and overnight a UTOPIAN SOCIETY magically springs forth, (forged from The British Invasion?), reaping the bountiful benefits of this Dreamy Renaissance of achievement and studied craftsmanship, a cosmic outpouring of wonderful, well-thought out (yet Alien manipulated) ART IS BORN BY WAY OF A NEW MUSIC FORMAT!

Kaleidoscopic Prisms Sources

BOOKS – PRIMARY

  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary – Ninth Edition – Thumb Index Edition
  • The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley
  • The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe
  • The Haight-Ashbury, A History, Charles Perry
  • The Hippies and American Values, Timothy Miller
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
  • No One Here Gets Out Alive – The Biography of Jim Morrison, Jerry Hopkins & Danny Sugarman
  • One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
  • The Psychedelic Experience, Timothy Leary
  • Roget’s Super Thesaurus – Third Edition, Marc McCutcheon
  • Sharon Tate – A Life, Ed Sanders
  • Utopia, Sir Thomas More
  • Which One’s Pink?, Phil Rose

BOOKS – SECONDARY

  • Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  • Crazy Horse and Custer, Stephen E. Ambrose
  • Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift
  • The Oxford Essential Dictionary of Word Histories
  • Pink Floyd – Bricks In The Wall, Karl Dallas
  • Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse
  • Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse
  • The Time Machine, H. G. Wells
  • The Vietnam War – How the United States Became Involved, Mitch Yamasaki, PH.D.
  • Voodoo Child – Jimi Hendrix – The Stories Behind Every Song, David Stubbs

RECORDS – PRIMARY

  • 13th Floor Elevators, ditto
  • Anthem of the Sun, Grateful Dead
  • Axis Bold As Love, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • Disraeli Gears, Cream
  • Inner Mystique, Chocolate Watchband
  • Odessey & Oracle, The Zombies
  • Pipers at the Gates of Dawn, Pink Floyd
  • Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
  • Spirit, ditto
  • Strange Days, The Doors
  • Surrealistic Pillow, Jefferson Airplane

RECORDS (SECONDARY)

  • After Bathing at Baxters, Jefferson Airplane
  • Atmospheres, Lux Aeterna, & Requiem II: Kyrie, Gyorgy Ligeti (individual pieces used for the soundtrack in 2001: A Space Odyssey)
  • Are You Experienced, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • The Asylum Recordings, JoJo Gunne
  • Barrett, Syd Barrett
  • Best of Jefferson Starship, ditto
  • The Division Bell, Pink Floyd
  • Easter Everywhere, The 13th Floor Elevators
  • Emergency Third Rail Power Trip, Rain Parade
  • The Family That Plays Together, Spirit
  • Goodbye Cream, ditto
  • Grateful Dead, ditto
  • The Madcap Laughs, Syd Barrett
  • Melts in Your Brain … Not On Your Wrist, The Chocolate Watchband
  • Morrison Hotel, The Doors
  • The Psychedelic Sounds of The 13th Floor Elevators, ditto (2012 – extended, double CD set, with both mono and stereo mixes)
  • Revolver, The Beatles
  • A Saucerful of Secrets, Pink Floyd
  • Ummagumma, Pink Floyd
  • The Very Best of The Doors, The Doors
  • Waiting For The Sun, The Doors
  • Wheels of Fire, Cream
  • White Album, The Beatles
  • Zombies – The EP Collection, ditto

DVDs OR VIDEOS

  • Are You Experienced – An Inside Look, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • Fly Jefferson Airplane
  • The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story

INTERNET

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey, Wikipedia
  • Disraeli Gears (Cream), Sputnik Music
  • Ex-13th Floor Elevator Tommy Hall Is Still Psychedelic, by Jennifer Maerz – HoustonPress – Wed., March 4, 2009, 4:00 AM
  • Felix Pappalardi, Wikipedia
  • Garage Hangover – (The Site for ’60s Garage Bands Since 2004), Chris Bishop
  • LSD, Wikipedia
  • Odessey & Oracle (The Zombies), Pop Matters
  • Paisley Underground, Wikipedia
  • Rolling Stone – I found many original reviews from Rolling Stone magazine’s archives, taking you back to the day!
  • Pepper, Robert Christgau
  • Spirit, Reviews: Spirit (All their albums are reviewed – very insightful, but the writer isn’t credited?) – Obscurity!
  • Spirit, The Family That Plays Together – ALLMusic Review, by Matthew Greenwald
  • Spirit, “The Family That Plays Together” – 1968 Psych, Rising Storm Review
  • The Chocolate Watchband, by Bruce Eder, All Music
  • Timothy Leary, Wikipedia
  • Wikipedia – The Entries for all of the bands and select records associated with those bands. After studying these, I found many appropriate links to supplement my knowledge.

Runners-Up

  • A Family That Plays Together, Spirit
  • Cheap Thrills, Big Brother and The Holding Company
  • Court of the Crimson King, King Crimson
  • Crown of Creation, Jefferson Airplane
  • Electric Ladyland, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Iron Butterfly
  • Incense and Peppermint, Strawberry Alarm Clock
  • Moby Grape, ditto
  • Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin
  • Psychedelic Lollipop, The Blues Magoos
  • Roger The Engineer, The Yardbirds
  • Search For a Lost Chord, The Moody Blues
  • The Seeds, ditto
  • Soft Machine, ditto
  • Switched On Bach, Wendy Carlos
  • Sunshine Superman, Donovan
  • Their Majesty’s Satanic Request, The Rolling Stones
  • Tomorrow, Tomorrow
  • Vincebus Eruptus, Blue Cheer

MYSELF

SOURCE COMMANDMENT: Maximus Superiosos growing up and living through the 1960s in real time, and surviving these changing times good enough to write about them! The bands and their amazing records, as they appeared on the stage of life, were channeled and synthesized, until they became part of my inner core! I am Crown of Creation, and so on, and so forth … Thus it is written…