Monday, December 31, 2007

1967-2007: Wrapping Up 40 Years of Psychedelia

Inherent to the late 60s were influences contributing directly to the freedom of thought (translated in these cases to freedom of creation), to which psychedelia owes its birth: namely, to vastly changing mores and the introduction of psychotropics. But an influence oft overlooked is Joe Meek. He virtually single-handedly ushered in an era of intense sound experimentation – in itself an obvious precursor to the psychedelic sounds of the late 60s.

The mania that drove Meek’s creativity would eventually turn against him, however, and he took his own life in early 1967. The bits of brain blown through his head into space would inevitably emigrate to welcoming hosts: bodies of living musicians. For those who happened to be playing music in '67, this virus took hold and choked out what is perhaps the most prolific period of musical experimentation, in such a short amount of time, in all of music history.

1967 Need-to-Own Playlist

1. "Psychotic Reaction" - The Count Five. Okay, so I cheated. These first two songs are from late 1966. I sneer at mere technicalities, however. Both tracks are just too integral to the psych sound to pass up. And "Psychotic Reaction" is the best Chelsea-boot-stomper on this list, period.

2. "I Can Take You to the Sun" - The Misunderstood. The first classically psychedelic song? Yes, perhaps.

3. I'm A Man - The Spencer Davis Group. Perfect bluesy freak-beat. Just try to get this melody out of your head (not that you'll want to).

4. "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" - The Electric Prunes. Sweet intro, spastic energy.

5. "Care of Cell 44" - Zombies. Bizarre inmate love song in sunshineysummerday wrapping. In a word: brilliant.

6. "Desdemona" - John’s Children. Kooky track written by Mark Bolan and banned by the BBC.

7. "I Can See For Miles" - The Who. Interesting complexity.

8. "Shy Boy" - Kippington Lodge. Obscure gem from a band who would later morph into the slightly-more-well-known band Brinsley Schwartz.

9. "Revolution" - Tomorrow. Allegedly inspired Lennon’s “Revolution” a year later. I prefer the phased version.

10. "Wooden Spoon" - The Poets. Little-known outside Glasgow, this beat band put out a handful of quality singles in the three years they were together.

11. "Autumn Almanac" - The Kinks. Like an uber-British, children’s TV show theme song. Dig it.

12. "Slip Inside this Mind" - 13th Floor Elevators. Mind-bending warbles from homemade instruments. For eight minutes. Pristine tripping music.

13. "Bert's Apple Crumble" - The Quik. Can't leave out this beat-anthem.

14. "She Has Funny Cars" - Jefferson Airplane. Great vocals.

15. "I Can Hear the Grass Grow" - The Move. This grass sounds good.

16. "Mellow Yellow" - Donovan. Camp by now, yet still a gas.

17. "A Girl I Knew" - Steppenwolf. The first (and somewhat lost) single put out by Steppenwolf. Find it, and dig it:

18. "(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet" - The Blues Magoos. Organ-driven freak-beat bliss.

19. "We Don't Know" - The Attack. Satirical commentary backed by playful organs.

20. "Hip Hug-Her" - Booker T. & the MGs. Does anyone do cool rhythm and blues better than Booker T? It's hard to say with absolute certainty, but I'm leaning toward: No.

21. "Walk Away Renee" - The Left Banke. Chamber psychedelia at its best.

22. "Tales of Brave Ulysses" - Cream. Quite possibly the best composition/lyrics of the entire decade. Or, you know, ever.

No comments: