The Deviants-Disposable

THE DEVIANTS-DISPOSABLE
THE DEVIANTS-DISPOSABLE(1968)

 

The Deviants, also known as The Social Deviants, was an English psychedelic band founded by Mick Farren in 1967. Farren described the sound of The Deviants as “teeth-grinding, psychedelic rock.” The band formed out of the UK Underground, which was Great Britain’s correlation to the hippie counterculture movement that was developing in the United States at the same time.

The band’s album, Disposable, was released in 1968. Their music is considered to be the British equivalent to The Fugs from New York, and from what I’ve heard so far with Disposable, I like them much better than The Fugs. To me, they really don’t sound that much alike.

I didn’t quite know what to expect from Disposable, but was pleasantly surprised by this well developed, enjoyable record.  The first song, Somewhere To Go, starts of with an infectious bass beat that got me interested right away. After the intro, that seems like they we talking about being young and in The Underground, or British counterculture,  the song takes a garage rock turn, It is a great song with a killer psychedelic guitar solo, and I find myself wondering how I never heard of these guys until just recently. Great opening number.

Sparrows and Wires seems like filler at first, but it grew on me within the context of the record as a whole. It isn’t as much a song as it is a spoken word explanation, short and to the point, then on to the next tune.

Jamie’s Song is a slow moving psychedelic trip, pure psychedelic rock.

You’ve Got To Hold On is a great psychedelic song from start to finish, and is my favorite song on the album. Awesome lyrics, with killer guitar work makes this song so awesome! I find it hard to believe that The Deviants were not  more popular than they were, as I think they have some of the best music of the psychedelic era.

Fire In The City is a song featuring sax, and it’s meaning seems to be about the turbulent times that was the norm in the late sixties, both in the United Kingdom and in the States. The smooth sax solo in the middle of the tune is well done and the song as a whole is mellow but packs a lyrical punch if listened to with the sixties counterculture in mind.

Let’s Loot The Supermarket is a partially incoherent ramble about seemingly nothing but a bunch of acid induced people hanging out on a street corner somewhere to stoned to stand. Ya know, a typical sixties type infusion of fun, drugs and at times, boredom. A funny song not meant to make any serious political statement, just a bit of fluff in the middle of the record. Not one of my favorite songs on the album, but acceptable.

If Pappa Oo Mao Mao sounds familiar, it should, as it is a cover of the 1962 Rivington’s piece Papa Oom Mow Mow, originally an incoherent do wop number.  However, it seems to me that the spelling of the titled was altered from the original, referring to China’s communist leader Mao Tse-tung. The song was made into a statement against the communist Chinese regime, to me it seems pretty apparent. Good way to turn a funny, nonsensical tune into a political one.

Normality Jam is an great psychedelic instrumental piece with a funky drum beat and awesome guitars throughout. One of the best pieces of music on the record.

Guaranteed To Bleed is a slower, more mature song, with great keyboards. Sidney B. Goode is a short instrumental that emulates Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry. It is a good attempt at making the song sound like Berry’s original, but giving it a bit of a psychedelic spin.

Last Man is an eerie sounding spoken word piece that closes out the record. This ends a very entertaining record, with little filler, and a good representation of the British sound from The Uk Underground, the counterculture movement from across the pond. Good stuff!

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

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+


 

Grace Slick & The Great Society-Collector’s Item

GRACE SLICK & THE GREAT SOCIETY-COLLECTOR’S ITEM(Reissue single cd 1971. Recorded 1965-1966)

 

 

The Great Society was a psychedelic band that got it’s start in San Francisco, California in 1965. Though the band was a unit for only around a year, they laid the groundwork for the psychedelic, counterculture movement that originated in San Francisco. The band had a very popular, and soon to be mega famous  lead singer, Grace Slick. She was at the head of the psychedelic era, and although famous in the San Francisco area at the time of  The Great Society, she would become an absolute star when she joined The Jefferson Airplane in 1966, around a year after The Great Society began.

The Great Society included Grace’s then husband Jerry Slick, as well as her brother in law, Darby, Jerry’s brother. They were inspired by The Beatles, and got their name from President Lyndon Johnson, who was President at the time, who’s policies of The Great Society was a popular phrase of the time.

Grace Slick & The Great Society Collector’s Item is a reissue of their previous two albums, Conspicuous Only In Its Absence and How It Was released as a double album and single cd. It is considered a precursor to the Psychedelic music scene known as The San Francisco Sound.  

Both of the Great Society’s only records were concerts performed at The Matrix in San Francisco. The sound quality is not bad and it catches the band playing some covers and originals, and Slick’s voice is beautiful. One can tell that she would be a rising star in psychedelic music. Every song, in my opinion is quality, both musically and vocally. This is one of the best records to listen to in order to get a great taste of what was to be forthcoming in the genre of psychedelic rock.

The first song on the record is a cover tune called Sally Go Round’ The Roses, originated by a group called the Jaynetts. The Great Society does an excellent cover of this song. It starts of the record nicely and shows the musicianship of the band, and the voice of Slick.

Didn’t Think So is another song that is mellow, and brings out the beauty in Slick’s voice. Someone To Love is the name of the original song performed by the band, and though normally associated with the Jefferson Airplane, is actually a Grace Slick original written by her brother in-law Darby, before she became the lead singer of the Airplane. It was the only song by The Great Society that charted. Of course, the Airplane would make it their own, change the name to Somebody To Love, and turn it into a bigger hit. Both versions are different, and personally, I like The Great Society’s version a bit better.

The Great Society played a cover of Bob Dylan’s Outlaw Blues on the record, and shows the range of Slick’s voice, from singing psychedelic rock, to the blues, without missing a beat. Her singing shines throughout the record, and would become unmistakable in rock music for years to come.

White Rabbit was another hit for the Jefferson Airplane that was first Slick’s song with The Great Society, and would become one of the Airplane’s finest. As with Somebody To Love, the Great Society’s version was quite different than that of the Airplane. And once again, I like the Society’s version better. This version is quite a bit longer than the Airplane’s hit, with a much longer, and in my opinion, better intro. Although, the radio version is more haunting sounding, just much shorter.

The last song on the record is Father, the longest song, and an awesome instrumental that features great guitarwork, sax, and though no vocals on this one, Grace Slick contributes in other ways. This is an excellent way to wind down the brief recording career of The Great Society. Though their career was very short with the lineup that the band had, they are considered important in the development of the San Francisco Sound, and psychedelic music in general. And the band propelled Grace Slick onto The Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and then finally, Starship. She is considered one of the best female vocalists in rock music. A must have album for psychedelic music fans.

Rating: A


 

Country Joe And The Fish-Electric Music For The Mind And Body

COUNTRY JOE AND THE FISH-ELECTRIC MUSIC FOR THE MIND AND BODY(1967)

 

Country Joe McDonald- Vocals, Guitar, Bells, Tambourine

Barry Melton- Vocals, Guitar

David Cohen- Guitar, Organ

Bruce Barthol- Bass, Harmonic

Gary “Chicken” Hirsh- Drums

 

Country Joe and the Fish were a band that got their start in Berkeley, California in 1965. They were considered an influential band in the beginning of the psychedelic and acid rock movement in the middle to late sixties. Electric Music for the Body and Mind was their debut record released in 1967, and was one of the first psychedelic albums released in the San Francisco Bay area. It is considered to be one of the most important records of the psychedelic era in music in the late sixties.

Country Joe and the Fish were known for their political and cultural songs that intended to be critical of the circumstances in the United States at the end of the sixties. Critical of government and policy, but also describing what life was like in the counterculture movement in the country at the time. Their music sometimes showed a total disdain for the Vietnam war, the United States Presidency, and other issues of the day. Electronic Music for the Body and Mind is not only their debut, but also contained their only charting single, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, and on this record also contained some of their most experimental songs. There are many arrangements consisting of organ along with the coupling of guitars which attributed to the sound that would become known as acid rock.

Three songs off the record, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, Section 43, and Grace, were regularly played on local radio stations in San Francisco, which even though were never national hits, were very popular in the Bay area.

 

Section 43 is one of my favorite songs on the album, an experimental, instrumental piece that was innovative, and set the groundwork for the sound that would be recognised as acid rock, with its screeching organ, which works well for the hippie experience of the times. It is the longest song on the record. Turn the lights off and turn the lava lamp on, it is the perfect song to catch the feel and the aura of the sixties. Great stuff!

Super Bird is a short song that takes shots at Lyndon Baines Johnson, the President of the United States at the time that the record was recorded. It is a political song expressing the bands displeasure with his policies and the way the country was heading, especially when it came to the handling of the Vietnam War.

 

The Masked Marauder is another instrumental, with excellent organ work, that is, to me, the most recognisable song on the record. Whenever I think of this record, this is the song that is the most satisfying listen, and remains with me long after I hear it. It has a great guitar solo in the middle of the song, and except for the La La La, which is the only lyric, it is one of my favorite instrumentals of the psychedelic era.

The last song on the record, Grace, is the second longest song on the record at just over 7 minutes, and is a song  dedicated to Grace Slick, lead singer of the Jefferson Airplane. This a great psychedelic record, excellent from beginning to end. If you want to hear rock music the way it was produced in the era of the late sixties, the sound musically represented, and the social commentary of the times, this is one of the best.

Rating: A