The Velvet Underground & Nico

The Velvet Underground & Nico
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO(1967)

 

The Velvet Underground were a band that got it’s start in New York City in 1964. The original members were John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Lou Reed, and Angus MacLise. MacLise was replaced by Moe Tucker in 1965 as drummer.

I would not put The Velvet Underground under the umbrella of psychedelic rock, but were quite popular around the same time. Their music could be categorized as proto punk and experimental, as well as other genres.

Though the musicians in the band were well received and had careers of their own, none became more popular than Lou Reed, who had a solo career that was active for the better part of five decades. The Velvet Underground did not achieve much success during their active years, but later became known as one of the most influential rock bands in history.

Andy Warhol was very much around the band in the middle to late sixties, and the cover for their debut album was his artwork.

The Velvet Underground’s debut album, “The Velvet Underground and Nico,” was released in March 1967, and featured friend and model Nico, who would go on to have a fairly successful solo career.

The record starts out with a slow mellow song, Sunday Morning, which features John Cale playing a celesta, an instrument not readily heard on rock records. It gives the song a playful feel and it works well. It is one of my favorite songs on the record.

Following Sunday Morning,  I’m Waiting For The Man is a song written by Lou Reed, which is very specific in its lyrics about a drug deal in New York City, with the “man” referring to a drug dealer. It is one of The Velvet Underground’s more popular songs, and gives a very concise picture of what it was like in the big city, both in the era of the sixties and also, unfortunately, very much what it is like in these times.

The next song, Femme Fatale, is a more mellow, softer song than the previous one, and is a song that has been covered by many bands and musicians over the years. It is one of their most recognisable songs that has remained somewhat in the spotlight due to it’s many cover versions.

Venus In Furs is a mesmerizing, driving song that probably sounded awesome back in the sixties while doing what they did back then, maybe dropping some acid, which was a thing. One can only imagine how this song was enhanced by such activity, and the lyrical content dealt with some taboo issues, and was not for the faint at heart.

Run Run Run has a bit of a psychedelic feel to it, and is again about people in New York City going after drugs, and is very specific about who are the characters, and where this is all happening. It is highlighted by Lou Reed’s obscure guitar work.

All Tomorrow’s Parties was written by Lou Reed and is sung by Nico. It has been suggested that this is a precursor to what would become the goth music genre, and I agree with this assessment. It is rather slow moving, and Nico’s low singing style makes the connection to goth a strong one.

Heroin is one of The Velvet Underground’s most celebrated tunes, and is very explicit in describing what using and abusing heroin is like. The song is haunting at times, violent at other times, and starts with what feels like will be a sweet, nice beginning, but we know how it all ends. It is a dark song, and one of my favorites.

There She Goes Again is a song about a prostitute, who is tough, and living on the streets. Again, another song about a sensitive subject, but that has a great guitar riff and is very entertaining.

I’ll Be Your Mirror is a song beautifully sung by Nico, and though it is one of the lesser known songs on the album, it is exquisitely executed, and is a real hidden gem.

The Black Angel’s Death Song is the one potential dud on the record, but musically it is so different, that it is interesting. Not one of my favorites on the album, I do feel the inclination to skip over this one, but still follow through till the end.

European Son is the last, and longest track on the record. It takes a bit of getting used to, with the majority of the song being The Velvet Underground’s foray into their extreme experimental stage. An alright ending to the record, that shouldn’t take away from the brilliance of most of the work previously.

The debut by The Velvet Underground is at times incredible, and at sparse times is hard to swallow. The majority of the record is groundbreaking, giving rise to what would become punk a bit later on. It is a very good record, that deals with some real life, controversial issues, and was musically very entertaining for the most part.

Rating: A-

 

 

 

 

 

Vanilla Fudge

Vanilla Fudge
VANILLA FUDGE

 

Vanilla Fudge got their start on Long Island, New York in 1967. The band consisted of Mark Stein, Carmine Appice, Tim Bogert, and Vince Martell. Carmine Appice became very famous as a drummer, and influenced many drummers in the rock genre.

The best way to describe Vanilla Fudge, is that they were a psychedelic band that featured extended, slower versions of already popular hit songs of the time period. Some of these songs were, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes, which was their biggest hit, “Eleanor Rigby” and “Ticket To Ride” by The Beatles, and “People Get Ready” by Curtis Mayfield, as well as others.

Vanilla Fudge’s debut album, entitled Vanilla Fudge,  featured their biggest hit, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by slowing it down and extending it to give a different take on the original. It took me awhile to get used to, but it works well when the musicianship is recognised. I can understand how Carmine Appice influenced many future drummers, and how this song was a precursor to the metal genre not yet established.

The members of Vanilla Fudge had great admiration of The Beatles, and the first song on the debut record shows this. The first song, “Ticket To Ride“, was a big hit for Beatles, and this would be the first song on the debut record. They slowed the song down, added lots of organ and drums, and basically made the song much harder than the original. It works well, although, the slowness of this version made me pause for a bit, not really sure what to think of it. Musically, it was excellent, but the slower tempo from the original threw me off. I got over it thought, and learned to really enjoy this cover.

Vanilla Fudge
Vanilla Fudge

The next song, “People Get Ready”, is a cover of a Curtis Mayfield composition, that originally I heard from Rod Stewart’s cover, which I really enjoy. Vanilla Fudge slows this down also, with heavy organ and drums, and extends it out for a really great cover. They take these previous hits by other artists, and really make them their own, and the music doesn’t destroy the originals, as happens so much these days.

Next up, “She’s Not There,” is a cover of The Zombies tune, slowed down and jazzed up with  heavy drums. To be honest, the vocals in some of these songs on the debut are not that appealing to me, but the musicality more than makes up for it. This is another very good cover.

The Sonny Bono song, “Bang Bang” is basically, at first, unrecognizable from the original. This particular song I consider somewhat of a weaker cover than the others on the record. Although listening to it enough times, it kind of grew on me. It is definitely more haunting in some places than the original.

We skip to the last song on the record, the very familiar “Eleanor Rigby”, as The Vanilla Fudge end the album with some more homage to The Beatles. As with the other covers, it is slowed down, with drums and organ again in the front. All in all, a good record, with some painfully slow low parts that are hard to get into.

I really like this record, and I can see the influence it had on other musicians, and how it help ignite the future metal genre. We see a rising star emerge in Carmine Appice, and there are to be more albums to come before they called it quits in 1970.

Rating: B+

 

 

 

The Psychedelic Sounds Of The13th Floor Elevators

THE PSYCHEDELIC SOUNDS OF THE 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS
THE PSYCHEDELIC SOUNDS OF THE 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS

 

 

The 13th Floor Elevators were an American psychedelic rock band that got their start in Austin, Texas in 1965. They consisted of three musicians, Roky Erickson, Stacy Sutherland, and Tommy Hall, who played the electric jug. They are considered to be one of the very first psychedelic bands. The band’s musical style is somewhat unique in rock music due to the use of the electric jug.

The band’s debut album, “The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators” was released in 1966, and contained their only hit, You’re Gonna Miss Me. The song reached number 55 on the charts. It is arguably the first recorded psychedelic song, and it sounds great, and has that garage rock feel to it.

The next song on the record is Roller Coaster, with a great opening guitar piece that sounds very familiar, and then the electric jug comes in, giving the song and interesting pop. Actually, many of the songs by The 13th Floor Elevators have the jug spattering in the background, and it gives the music a deep, low feeling.

Early 13th Floor Elevators concert poster in Austin, Texas

When I first heard the jug on the record, I was a bit perplexed, as I had never heard it on an album before. I quickly took to it, and it’s jumpy, poppy sound. It is weird at first, but it works.

Splash 1(Now I’m Home) is a slower song, but beautifully executed. This tune has some good guitar work, but it is without the jug this time, and the tune wouldn’t sound right with it anyway.

With Reverberation, the jug comes out again in full force, with great garage rock guitars.

Don’t Fall Down is another slower song with a nice guitar intro, and this time the jug makes an appearance and it works. This is basically a straight up love song, with a warning to the boy not to screw up, because she is there for him. Very nice tune.

The next song, Fire Engine, starts out with an attempt to sound like an actual fire engine, but to me the guitarwork and vocals at the beginning remind me of a 60’s surf tune. Very sixties, early psychedelia.

Thru The Rhythm has those sixties guitars again, and this song caught my attention right away, because I thought Mick Jagger was the vocalist, at least at the very beginning of the song. And, of course, here come the jugs again. Great tune.

You Don’t Know is the next song on the record, and it is pretty standard fare for the era, with the exception of the electric jug in the background, which gives the song that recognisable 13th Floor Elevators feel.

Kingdom Of Heaven is one of my favorite songs on the album. It starts off with slow, haunting guitars, and the song as a whole is very eerie, and makes me think it would be a great soundtrack for a horror movie. Classic sixties music at it’s best.

This is one of the classic psychedelic records in my opinion, and as stated before, it is considered to be the first to experiment with the sound that defines the genre. The quality is not stellar, it is very raw in its execution, but it is pure, and entertaining, and is one of my favorites.

Rating: A-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Alarm Clock-Incense & Peppermints

STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK-INCENSE & PEPPERMINTS
STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK-INCENSE & PEPPERMINTS

The psychedelic band, Strawberry Alarm Clock, began in Los Angeles in 1967. They have had many lineup changes over the course of their career. Their music has been described as psychedelic rock, psychedelic pop, and sunshine pop.

Strawberry Alarm Clock’s debut record entitled “Incense and Peppermints,” was released in 1967, and the song Incense and Peppermints reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

The record being reviewed here is the compilation album entitled “Incense & Peppermints,” which may be confusing because it has an ampersand in place of the word “and” on the original debut. This review is of the songs listed on the compilation.

The first song on the compilation is their biggest hit, and most recognisable song Incense and Peppermints. It became a huge number one hit and is remembered as their signature song. It is my favorite Strawberry Alarm Clock song, and to watch the video below, I get that trippy feeling that is what these psychedelic bands were going for back in that era.

The next song on the compilation, Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow is a song that is pretty self explanatory. It is slow, mellow, and just the right song for the lazy summer day in the sun, or the rain, psychedelic sixties style. Or take it indoors, turn down the lights, fire up the lava lamp, and do whatever people did back in the day. I wish I was around then to enjoy the vibe, but as I’ve stated before in other reviews, I just missed all the fun.

Birds In My Tree is the next song which starts out like it is going to be hard, but slows down when the vocals kick in. It is another feel good mellow song of peace and hope, at least that is how I interpret it.

Sit With The Guru is a happy song, and is a tune that perfectly describes what the phrase sunshine pop means. Listen, get happy, and feel good is the message.

Tomorrow is the next song on the compilation, another feel good trippy tune with some great harmonies. A beautiful song.

Barefoot in Baltimore is another song with great harmony parts, and it is a tune that seems to show a scene in the hot summer hanging out in Baltimore. Another feel good song to me, if not a bit about the hardships of growing up in the city.

Good Morning Starshine is another tune that can be considered sunshine pop, and it has been covered by many musicians, but this version is my favorite.

Birdman of Alkatrash is a silly spoof about the birdman of alcatraz, and has Donald Duck make some appearances. It was the b-side of the number one hit Incense and Peppermints. It is a garage rock sounding song that many people seem to dislike. I think it’s fun, and it makes me wonder what the guys were on when they recorded it.

Strawberries Mean Love is my least favorite on the compilation, and I still like it. It is kind of slow and drawn out, which works for this band most of the time.

The last song on the compilation, Starting Out The Day, is an upbeat tune that makes me feel that everything is alright with the world, at least back in the psychedelic sixties.

I was actually confused myself when I purchased the cd, because I thought it was Strawberry Alarm Clock’s debut album. After listening to it multiple times, and doing some research, I realized that this is a compilation, and I like it so much, now that I know better, I need to get all their studio albums. Much more great music to be discovered by Strawberry Alarm Clock.

Rating: A

Silver Apples

SILVER APPLES(1968)

 

Silver Apples was a psychedelic, electronic music band from New York City. There were only two members in the band, Simeon(Simeon Oliver Coxe III) and Danny Taylor. Simeon played on a synthesizer that he named, oddly enough, The Simeon. Danny Taylor played drums.

Silver Apples are credited with influencing experimental electronic music, as well as a genre referred to as krautrock. They also influenced underground dance music and indie rock that were popular in the 1990’s.

Their music was considered minimalistic due to the fact that used a very limited amount of musical instruments and materials. There sound was highly experimental for the time, consisting of basically Danny Taylor playing drum parts, and Simeon playing synthesizer. The sound was that of a pulsing, hypnotic synthesizer and drum beat and lyrics.

As with many albums, it took me some time to get used to, and I wasn’t exactly impressed on first listen. But after subsequent listen throughs, I came to appreciate it’s pulsating beats and great drumwork. The singing I’d rate rather low, but the musicality makes up for it.

The self titled debut was released in 1968, and didn’t cause much of a stir or attention. It was a highly innovative and influential record, but in 1968, because of it’s obscure sound and experimentation, it was basically overlooked. To listen to it today, it sounds ahead of it’s time for the era in which it was released.

The first song on the record is titled Oscillations, and it is an obscure, but highly interesting start. Either it is shut down and thought of as junk to be shunned, or, if stuck with and continued to be listened too, can become mesmerizing. The choice is up to the listener. I’m glad I gave it a chance.

The next song on the record is Seagreen Serenades, a piece that is opened with a groovy drum track that is repeated over and over again throughout. There is a nice middle which seems to be a flute, however I am pretty sure it is Simeon doing his thing on his homemade synthesizer. As with much of the material, it has a driving mesmerizing beat, which I can imagine would be enhanced with a bit of alcohol, are LSD. It was the sixties, after all.

Lovefingers is the next song, with the drum intro again, and synthesized bleeps and drones, and lyrics that you have to really listen intently to to get the jist. Vocals were not the strong point on the record. It is one of the best songs on the record in my opinion.

Dancing Gods is especially interesting to me, because first and foremost, the drumming in the song sounds like a native american rain dance, or maybe a war dance. This hard driving, continuous beat is a sound that I’ve always been drawn to.

Although it is not always easy to understand, the lyrics are beautiful, and can be looked up if interested as to exactly what they are. To me, the lyrics are obviously about a native american ritual of some kind. Actually, despite the vocals not always being completely coherent, much of the lyrical content on the record is very well written, and in some cases, poetic.

Silver Apples is an acquired taste, but they sound timeless, and the music is as fresh sounding today as it did fifty years ago. If you heard it and knew nothing at all about it, it would seem like it could have been recorded recently, and hold up to modern standards.

Rating: B-


 

 

 

Small Faces-Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake

SMALL FACES-OGDENS’ NUT GONE FLAKE(1968)

 

Small Faces was a British psychedelic band that formed in East London, United Kingdom in 1965. They are considered an influential mod group in the sixties, and was extremely popular in the UK.

Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake was Small Faces third record, and first concept album released on the 24th of May, 1968. The album was wildly popular in the UK, and reached the number 1 position on the music charts, where it stayed for six weeks.

When first listening to the record, I wasn’t overly impressed. This is unfortunate, but I feel the reason is that the record has a lot of cultural meaning in the United Kingdom, and I couldn’t really get the focus of what the record was about.

Being a concept album, I began my journey listening to it without any point of reference, and it fell short for me because of it. Also, musically, it didn’t seem very psychedelic to me, as I was comparing it to what I was listening to in the States.

By the third or fourth listen, and with a little background research, I was hooked.

The reason it probably never resonated that well in the States as it did in Britain, is because of the purely British imagery and personalities involved. However, after a couple of listens it was apparent that it was a great album musically.

The first song on the record, Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, is an instrumental piece that starts out with a cool jazzy feel and a funky bass line that I love. It sets the musical tone of the record, which at first, does not seem very psychedelic.

The next song, Afterglow (Of Your Love), is a great, and very recognisable among fans who know the work of Small Faces. It was actually the last single by the group to make the British charts, reaching number 36.

Another song on the record, Lazy Sunday, was a hit for the band in 1968 that reached number two on the charts. It was a song that the band did not want released, and it features frontman Steve Marriott singing in a strong Cockney accent about the feuds that he had with his neighbors. It took awhile for me to appreciate the song, but after a few listens, it became one of my favorites on the record.

The remaining six songs on the record comprise the concept part of the album, and is another part of the record that I found unappealing before I did a bit of research.

The main character of the second part of the record is a fairy tale about Happiness Stan, and the way in which it was narrated gave me a bit of a pause to do some more reading.

The narration was by a British comedian named Stanley Unwin, and he concocted a mangles form of English that was known as Unwinese. It takes some serious intense listening to pick up what he is saying on the album.

The fairy tale follows Stan as he is searching for the missing half of the half moon. It has to be heard a few times to fully appreciate the tale, but in the end Stan’s psychedelic journey ends on a positive note.

Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake was never performed live to to its many intricacies and complexities. It has its moments of filler, but otherwise is a record I came to really appreciate. Small Faces career was short lived, with members splitting up and joining other bands, and I encourage anyone interested in their interesting history, and the history of this particular record to do some reading about them further.

This particular release that I own also comes with many great bonus tracks that are also worth a listen, featuring one of their hits Itchycoo Park.

Rating: B+


 

 

 

 

Quicksilver Messenger Service

QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE(1968)

 

 Quicksilver Messenger Service

 

Quicksilver Messenger Service was a psychedelic rock band that got their start in San Francisco, California in 1965. The band originally consisted of David Freiberg, Gary Duncan, Greg Elmore, and John Cipollina.

They are known for their classic psychedelic guitar sound, and their long jam songs, that lead to the comparison to their San Francisco band neighbors The Grateful Dead. Their jam songs were more polished and rehearsed than The Dead, who were more into improvisation.

Though Quicksilver Messenger Service never became as popular as fellow San Francisco area bands The Grateful Dead and The Jefferson Airplane, they did become very successful not only in San Francisco, but for psychedelic music lovers all over the world. They have many top 40 albums to their credit.

Quicksilver Messenger Service is the self titled debut album of the band that was released in 1968. It is a short record, just under thirty two minutes, but the final song on the album, The Fool, comes in at over twelve minutes. It is a masterful work, with awesome guitar work throughout the song, and in some spots, reminds me of The Doors classic tune The End.

The album starts out with a catchy cover song, Pride Of Man, that is one of my favorites on this short album. Many musicians and bands covered Pride Of Man, but Quiksilver’s version is considered one of the best.

Dino’s Song is classic San Francisco psychedelic rock, commonly known as the San Francisco Sound. This song represents this part of the genre that is quintessential San Francisco with echos of The Airplane as well as The Dead, and many other lesser known bands of the area. It is a great song, that is immediately recognisable as being West Coast San Francisco psychedelia.

The next song is Gold and Silver, a instrumental piece that has jazz elements to it, great jazz drums, as well as what could be considered smooth jazzy guitar work. All the while maintaining its strong psychedelic guitar feel in parts of the song.  This instrumental is very underrated in my opinion, and I feel this is one of the better instrumental pieces of the psychedelic era.

It’s Been Too Long is another psychedelic song with great guitar work, but this one has a little bit of a country feel to it. It shows the musical range of the band, from rock, to psychedelia, to jazz and country.

Much of the guitar work on the record has a bit of a twang to it, which gives the album as a whole a bit of a country feel to it. Not so much that it is a predominant part of the music,but it supports it. A great blend of sounds that gives the album a sophisticated, clean feel.

The last song on the album, The Fool, is a lengthy, twelve minute jam that is outstanding. There are times during the song where the guitarwork is is masterful, as stated before, but is worth repeating. It is one of the greatest jams every recorded in my opinion. When performing in concert, Quicksilver would extend this song into a longer jam. It is worth the price of the cd for this song alone. Outstanding record from beginning to end, some of the best music of the psychedelic era.

Rating: A


 

The Peanut Butter Conspiracy-Is Spreading/The Great Conspiracy

THE PEANUT BUTTER CONSPIRACY-IS SPREADING(1967)/THE GREAT CONSPIRACY(1968)

 

The Peanut Butter Conspiracy

The Peanut Butter Conspiracy was a psychedelic pop and rock band that got their start in Los Angeles, California in 1966. They sounded much like The Mamas and the Papas, although they did develop the own signature sound.

The band is noted for having one of the first female vocalists in a rock band, Barbara Robison, also known as Sandi Robison, and sometimes as Sandi Peanut Butter.

The Peanut Butter Conspiracy never became very popular outside the region of Los Angeles, but for awhile they had a good following there.

The Peanut Butter Conspiracy 1966

This review is of a double album on one cd that features their first two studio recordings, “The Peanut Butter Conspiracy is Spreading” and “The Great Conspiracy”, as well as three bonus tracks. Both albums are a nice mix of psychedelic rock and pop, and are very enjoyable.

Their only hit on the charts was It’s A Happening Thing, the first song on their debut album and was directly related to the Flower Power movement of the sixties, and early seventies. It is a very catchy, upbeat tune that sounds somewhat like The Mamas and the Papas, only more psychedelic, and features the beautiful voice of Barbara Robison.

Another catchy song from the debut was Why Did I Get So High, and although at first listen I thought it was about getting high on drugs. A closer look at the lyrics though, makes me believe it is about love and heartache. It is a great, psychedelic, folksy tune.

Dark On You Now is another song off the first record that is classic psychedelia all the way. A great song to groove to on a hot summer day in Southern California in 1967, if only I was born to experience it first hand. One of the better songs I have encountered on my journey through listening to the awesome music of the sixties and early seventies.

The first track on the second album “The Great Conspiracy,” Turn On A Friend(To The Good Life) is a another excellent song, with great harmonies, as is many of the tunes on both records. More classic psychedelic pop, with a message.

Livin, Loving Life is a beautiful song showing just how wonderful a voice that Robison had. It cannot be understated that she had one of the most beautiful voices in rock.

With female vocalists like Janis Joplin and Grace Slick dominating the scene at the time, Barbara Robison is often overlooked. But she had in my opinion, an absolutely outstanding voice, specially suited for the psychedelic sixties.

Living Dream is another great song on the second album, very slow, and mellow, very psychedelic. Robison’s beautiful, haunting vocals are on display here, and it makes me wish she didn’t die so young. There was more music in her, but she was gone by 1988. I wonder if she would have recorded more had she lived.

It is funny how such a talented band, with wonderful music, doesn’t become more popular. Though they never received the full recognition they deserved outside of the LA area, they remain a band that should be listened too and enjoyed. They represent the psychedelic sounds of the sixties well, and will not be forgotten.

Rating: A


 

Pink Floyd-The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn

PINK FLOYD-THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN(1967)

 

The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is the debut album for Pink Floyd. It is the only record that Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd’s troubled bandmate would take the lead on. The record was released on August 5, 1967. Since it’s release, it is widely considered to be one of the greatest psychedelic albums of all time.

The title of the album is taken from the book The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame, and is a depiction of the god Pan.

The record is considered experimental, as well as psychedelic. It sounds like what Pink Floyd would sound like after their psychedelic days were over, with it’s long playing, hard driving jams. Syd Barrett’s contributions to the record were more poppier. The Barrett influence would be short lived as David Gilmour would be brought in to take his place.

The first song on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is Astronomy Domine, as song written by Syd Barrett, and was seen as Pink Floyd’s foray into space rock. It is also a song that was played in concerts regularly along with another song on the record, Interstellar Overdrive. Both songs were usually played as a long jam in concerts which made them very popular.

Astronomy Domine has a dark, haunting feel to it, with the lyrics being chanted, and the guitarwork spacey sounding. A song that feels as if Floyd was going for the space rock sound.

The second song on the album is Lucifer Sam, and is about Syd Barrett’s Siamese cat. The guitar riff sounds a lot like the beginning of a James Bond theme. Very catchy and a great song.

Matilda Mother was another Syd Barrett song that shows his recollection of a childhood that he couldn’t ever return to. It has a nostalgic feel to it.

Flaming is another Barrett song wandering through childhood, with it’s frolicky lyrics. Even after Barrett was out of the band, the Floyd still performed Flaming in concert for a while.

Pow R. Toc H.  is an instrumental piece, the the beginning sounding as if the guys were on some serious LSD, which it is pretty commonly known that throughout the making of the album, they were. The influence was definitely there on this particular song. It is weird but catchy, with some good piano work.

Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk was the first song that Roger Waters got songwriting credits for, with much of the morbid lyrics penned by Barrett. It is not a very highly regarded song due to it’s lyrical content, but it is among themes that Waters would write about at later times.

Interstellar Overdrive is an instrumental piece on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn that lasts almost ten minutes, and is considered to be one of the first psychedelic instrumental improvisational songs to be recorded by a rock band, and is a song that was regularly improvised in concert. It is a classic piece of psychedelic rock, very hard at times, that worked great in concerts against a psychedelic backdrop.

The Gnome was another Barrett song, it was inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and shows Barrett’s creative side, and some of the childlike themes that he used to write. The song is sung as if he was singing to a little child.

The last two songs on the record, The Scarecrow and Bike, were both Barrett pieces and ends the record on a whimsical note.

In my opinion, there are two very different Pink Floyd’s on this record. The is the childlike lyrical content and music of Syd Barrett, and then there are the rest of the album, harder, more improvisational and psychedelic.

It is too bad that Barrett could not coincide with the rest of the band due to his drug abuse and mental instability. This would be his only real work with Floyd, and the music, though similar sounding in some respects, took on more of the Waters/Gilmour sound on most of the other records. The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn will go down as one of the best psychedelic records of them all.

Rating: A-


The Doors

THE DOORS(1967)

 

The Doors are arguably the most popular band of the psychedelic era. Sure, there were other big names right up there with them. Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and The Beatles.

But, in my opinion, The Doors were the cream of the crop, the single most important band of the sixties and early seventies, with the most iconic and beloved frontman in rock and roll history, Jim Morrison. No other rock and roll star has the following, and the mystery, like Jim Morrison. Now, that can certainly be disputed if one wants to dispute it. But that won’t hold water here, as you see, I’m kind of biased, and I’ll be the first to admit it.

The Doors were a band that got it’s start in Los Angeles, California, in 1965, when Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek happened to run into each other on Venice Beach, after having previously gone to school together  at UCLA.

The Doors

Jim was hanging out writing lyrics, and Ray encouraged him to share some lyrics. Ray was mesmerized at what he heard. The Doors were officially born.

Robbie Krieger and John Densmore would round out the group, and that, as they say, is history.

The Doors took their name from a book by Aldous Huxley, “The Doors of Perception.” All of the Doors, especially Jim Morrison, were avid readers, and much of the material that was written was inspired from poetry. Jim Morrison considered himself a poet first, and a rock star second, and he had a hard time coming to grips with his rock star status.

The first song on The Doors debut album titled, “The Doors” is Break On Through (To The Other Side). In my opinion, the meaning of this song could be twofold. On the surface, this song seems to be about suicide, of breaking on through this life into the next. I believe it is a journey to transform oneself into another stream of consciousness, whether it means through meditation, psychedelic drugs (LSD), alcohol, or whatever one chooses to obtain this state. It is a song about exploration, trying to reach a higher level of consciousness.

The next song, Soul Kitchen is about an actual soul food restaurant that Morrison used to frequent on Venice Beach called Olivia’s. He used to like to eat there because the food reminded him of being at home. It made him feel good, and many times he stayed late and he was kicked out so the restaurant could close. The lyrics to the song are great and self explanatory.

The Crystal Ship is the next song, and it is open to interpretation. Back in the sixties, the song probably was interpreted as a drug high, or maybe an acid trip. According to drummer John Densmore, however, when asked about the meaning many years later, said that it was a song written by Morrison about the breakup with his girlfriend Mary Werbelow, stating that it “was a goodbye love song.” It is a slow, mellow tune, and it seems to me that Densmore was probably right about the true meaning.

Twentieth Century Fox is a play on words to describe a modern woman. The lyrical content makes this very clear, and even though this is not one of The Doors most more popular songs, it is a favorite of mine.

The Alabama Song is translated from German to English, was written by  Bertolt Brecht, and was covered by The Doors as well as David Bowie. There is some interesting history behind the song to check out here.

There would be no justice in writing about The Doors debut album without the discussion of the song Light My Fire. The song was a number one hit for the band, and has one of the most distinctive keyboard solos in the history of rock music.

The original version of the song had to be cut down for radio play to under three minutes, which all but eliminated the long keyboard solo. The solo takes the listener on a psychedelic musical ride in the middle of the song, but there are pieces of keyboard work at the beginning and end of the song also. Light My Fire is one of the most recognisable songs of the psychedelic era.

Back Door Man was written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Howlin’ Wolf in 1960 and was covered by The Doors on the debut album. It is a song that is very sexual in nature, and they did a brilliant job covering it.

The next three songs on the debut, I Looked At You, The End of the Night, and Take It As It Comes are more lesser known songs to the average fan, but they are great pieces nonetheless, as there are no fillers in the record, in my opinion.

The End is the last song on the record, as well as the longest, and is considered as another of the most recognisable and well loved songs in The Doors catalog. The song has many meanings and is opened to many interpretations. It got the band in quite a bit of trouble in the era of the sixties, although now it would be considered tame in these times. It is one of my favorite songs of all time.

The Doors were one of a kind, and their lead singer has standed the test of time as one of the most beloved figures in the history of rock music. The Doors and Jim Morrison are more popular today than ever, and has won over many younger fans throughout the last fifty years. One of my all time favorites, and a must have record if you love classic rock music.

Rating: A+