Presenting…Lothar and the Hand People

 

LOTHAR AND THE HAND PEOPLE
PRESENTING…LOTHAR AND THE HAND PEOPLE(1968)

 

Lothar and the Hand People were a psychedelic rock band that got their start in Denver, Colorado in 1965. They relocated to New York City in 1966. They were arguably one of the first bands to start the genre of space rock and they were an influential band in the sense that they were considered the first band to tour and record with synthesisers, which paved the way for many other musicians to do the same.

Specifically, they pioneered the use of the theremin and the Moog modular synthesizer. These instruments gave Lothar and the Hand People a very different, and at times otherworldly sound that was not heard in rock music up until that time. The most interesting aspect of the theremin, is that it can be played without touching the instrument.

Theremin
Theremin

Lothar and the Hand Hand People have an interesting, if not weird story behind the band. They use a theremin that they called “Lothar” and the people in the band are referred to as the “Hand People.” The band’s music is wild, fun, and interesting, if not a bit strange. However, I found them to be innovative and influential, in a childish, adolescent sort of way.

The band’s first album, of only two that they recorded, is title “Presenting…Lothar and the Hand People.” The record is a bit hard to grasp on a first listen, and I wasn’t overly impressed. However, after subsequent listens, it grew on me, and my sense of an interest in all things strange but enjoyable.

The first song on the record was a funky cover of Manfred Mann’s song “Machines.” It is quirky and rather tough to immediately appreciate, but it becomes catchy after a few listens. It is a futuristic song about how machines will rule over people, put in a silly way that makes it seem as though it is aimed at being childish. Interesting, but weird.

The next song on the record, This Is It, is a smooth song with a nice flow to it, and the guitar solo in the middle has a nice country twangy feel. This is a nice contrast to the clunky, mechanical feel of the first song.

This May Be Goodbye sounds like the beginning of a 1970’s funk song, with the synthesizer intro. It is a good song, not on of the better one’s on the record though.

That’s Another Story is a entertaining song with the synthesizer in the background that sounds a bit like a soundtrack from an old west movie.

Kids Are Little People is just plain weird, but fun. At first listen, I almost skipped over to the next tune, but I gave it a chance. It comes across as playful and nerdy, and one has to wonder if these guys were really just a bunch of  crazy musicians, out to have a bit of fun. I think that is the correct assumption, they were not going to write any deep philosophical pinings here. Just good, psychedelic, trippy fun. A record full of fun fluff, but good fluff, in a world of madness that was representative in late sixties culture.

Ha (Ho) starts off with the theremin, then develops into a well written insightful piece that turns into a chorus of gibberish. Hence the name of the song. There is a nice psychedelic guitar solo in the middle. Strange, but entertaining.

Sex and Violence, a rambling piece about, well, sex and violence. Not a lot of lyrical content here, and the song is not dark and sleazy as the title suggests. Just a trippy psychedelic song with little to add to the world other than some weirdness.

Bye Bye Love is a cover of a 1957 song made famous by The Everly Brothers. A song that has been covered numerous times by many artists, this particular cover version is adequately recorded, if not with a bit of a silly feel to it, as is the way much of the record comes across.

Milkweed Love is trippy, psychedelic, if not a bit slow. Good song to relax in the sun to on the beach in 1968. Woody Woodpecker is hilarious. Sixties music performed for and by, a bunch of stoned out hippies and it is great. I really did come around a bit too late to appreciate this at the time!

It Comes On Anyhow is a trip, literally. Fun, weird, psychedelic. Paul, In Love finishes out the record with the theremin making one last stand on the record. Psychedelic ending to a truly psychedelic musical voyage.

Presenting…Lothar and the Hand People may have been obscure, and never really found much commercial success, but they sure were innovative. And weird. And trippy. And all sixties! The record is a good attempt at something weird and wonderful. It succeeded on both counts, and though not one of my favorites from the psychedelic era, they sure did make an impression on me. I’m just not sure what the heck it is. Worth a listen, for sure.

Rating: B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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