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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Psychedelic Sundaze #1


“Psychedelia represented rock ‘n’ roll at its most breathtakingly adventurous and innovative—and sometimes, at its most foolish. While the most self-conscious experiments of the mid and late ‘60s have dated badly, the best psychedelic rock had an exhilarating recklessness that has been difficult to recapture in the ensuing decades.”—Richie Unterberger

If you are a fan of Rock & Roll and are over the age of fifteen, then you probably have an opinion regarding the original Psychedelic Era. Whether you love it or hate it, I suspect that the first part of the above quote by Richie Unterberger probably resonates with most of you. It’s the last dependent clause that I am going to try tackle during this series. Perhaps I will even go a little further, and claim that virtually all great (and not-so-great) rock movements since this era owe a huge debt to the Flower Power Crowd. Prog, Heavy Metal, Punk, Post-Punk, Post-Rock, Shoegaze, Lo-Fi, Brit-Pop, Indie, Electronica—all can be directly linked to this era.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been on quite a psychedelic binge over the last several weeks. For the record, I’m not talking about doing hallucinogenic drugs. I have, however, been digging through my collection and scouring the internet for some of the best music from the First Psychedelic Era, which for the purposes of this series is roughly 1966-1970, though there will be a few outliers.

As with some of the other genre series I’ve done here at Burn and Shine, there are many great commercially available compilations out there which mine the same territory. Of course, Rhino has put out at least two definitive box sets, chronicling the U.S. garage scene and the (mostly) U.K. psychedelic scene: Nuggets I and II. If you are completely new to this era, I would certainly suggest you start with those first. I have, I think, made sure that none of the songs on my compilations are found on either of those. In addition, I have a great box set from a few years ago that further explored the U.K. scene from the editors at Mojo Magazine: Acid Drops, Spacedust & Flying Saucers: Psychedelic Confectionery from the UK Underground 1965-1969. This one, unfortunately, looks as though it is out of print. It would be, should you run across it, another worthwhile investment for anyone serious about getting to know this genre, and you will find none of those tracks on my Psychedelic compilations.

There are many, slightly more obscure, commercially available psychedelic series/comps (Pebbles, Rubble, Fading Yellow, Trash, Teenage Shutdown, etc.). I cannot guarantee that the songs I’ve chosen for my compilations won’t be found on those, because frankly, I haven’t heard all of them. It generally seems that on those niche comps, they tend to feature bands that maybe put out just a few singles (or even just one track). For the most part, I’ve tried to use artists that made albums or at least produced an album’s worth of material. So as is usually the case here at Burn and Shine, if you are a hardcore fan of this genre, you probably are not going to find much here you haven’t heard before. For those of you relatively new to this era, this should be a great jumping off point. All of the big names of the era will be represented, as will many, many unheralded acts. Feel free to use these discs as a road map to track down some great records.

As for the music, my tastes tend to err on the pop side of the ledger, as many of you well know. Some of these songs may not sound all that psychedelic to your ears. If they had been released during some other era, I wouldn’t feel the need to classify them as such. I’ve very little patience for studio wankery, so these tracks will be somewhat tame. If “psychedelic” doesn’t seem to fit, then maybe “mildly trippy” might be a better way to describe them. It may come as a surprise, but I’m not a big fan of the sitar, so that particular instrument of hippiedom, might be somewhat under-represented here (though it does make a few appearances). In general, I like my psychedelic music to be a little more melancholy than fey. Lyrics are never really important to me when listening to music (other than that there are some), and I would imagine there are quite a few lyrics contained here that will make even Jim Morrison fans cringe. I’m much more concerned with harmonies and pop hooks—these, you should find in spades here.

As always, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on psychedelic music and this era in particular. Just leave me a comment. Thanks, and Happy Listening!

Tiny Purple Fishes: A Trip Through the First Psychedelic Era, Vol. I

01. The Holy Modal Rounders, “Hesitation Blues” [1964]. U.S. (New York)
02. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, “Shifting Sands” [1967]. U.S. (California)
03. Condello, “Dr. Tarr Professor Fether” [1968]. U.S. (Arizona)
04. The United States of America, “The Garden of Earthly Delights” [1968]. U.S. (California)
05. Colours, “I Think of Her (She’s On My Mind)” [1968]. U.K. (England)
06. 13th Floor Elevators, “She Lives (In a Time of Her Own)” [1967]. U.S. (Texas)
07. Skip Bifferty, “Come Around” [1968]. U.K. (England)
08. Tomorrow, “Hallucinations” [1968]. U.K. (England)
09. The Beatles, “Tomorrow Never Knows (Mark I)” [1966]. U.K. (England)
10. The Bee Gees, “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You” [1967]. Australia
11. The Hollies, “Heading for a Fall” [1967]. U.K. (England)
12. The C.A. Quintet, “Colorado Mourning” [1968]. U.S. (Minnesota)
13. The Godz, “1 + 1 = ?” [1966]. U.S. (New York)
14. The Cowsills, “Mr. Flynn” [1967]. U.S. (Rhode Island)
15. Spirit, “Dream Within a Dream” [1968]. U.S. (California)
16. The Neighb’rhood Childr’n, “Feeling Zero” [1968]. U.S. (Oregon)
17. The Deviants, “I’m Coming Home” [1967]. U.K. (England)
18. Forever Amber, “On My Own Special Mountain” [1969]. U.K. (England)
19. The Easybeats, “Land of Make Believe” [1968]. Australia
20. The Zombies, “Beechwood Park” [1968]. U.K. (England)

Total time: 1:00:21

Download it here: Tiny Purple Fishes, Vol. I

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