Electronic Record for Trippers!
I often wonder, what would it have been like to be a teenager in the middle sixties. Not to revisit with rose-coloured glasses, forgetting every era has its particular horrors. But to experience a literal onslaught of amazing records and sounds with aural freedom exercised by groups of all sorts. Psychedelic candies with pure pop centers from the Lemon Pipers and Banana Splits to reflective and melancholy psych with flares of innocence and lysergic abandon... like Pink Floyd. Frothy to frightening. What would it have been like to walk into the record section at Woolworths, or pop into Musicland every week and see something different that you just had to own.
Happily vinyl never disappeared (some of the tracks on here are clearly from my vinyl collection), and there are lots of psychedelic pop bands in today's lysergic-tinged world (Liminanas, Cult of Dom Keller, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Preoccupations, Echo Lake, Temples and many more). I hope, however, that the following collection can help you fantasize for an hour or so what things might have been like back in the days of mini skirts and purple window pane.
1) Upside Down • BRUCE HAACK
Musical prodigy Bruce Clinton Haack was born in Alberta, Canada and before the age of five was plucking out songs from memory. His ear for music was expansive, ranging from eastern Ukrainian to aboriginal compositions… reportedly able to replicate a song upon one listen. In the early sixties, he founded his own record label (appropriately named Dimension 5) with Esther Nelson (his child's dance teacher). Later in the 60’s, the duo would release their electro-psych creations to hungry young minds. Performed on homemade instruments no less! Pretty amazing.
Way Out Record for Children and Electronic Record for Children came out in 1968 and 1969 respectively, and Haack even promoted his esoteric sounds on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Not long afterwards, Haack created recordings for adults and expanded his significant cult following (ex: Electric Lucifer). Sadly he passed into a different space plane in 1988.
Watch Mr. Rogers get psychedelicized by Bruce Haack!
2) Paint Box • PINK FLOYD
Another breathtaking wonder from early Pink Floyd. This was written and performed during the majikal Syd Barrett years, and proves Roger Keith Barrett was not the only inspired tripper in the band. The song was mixed for mono and then later remixed in stereo for its appearance on the Relics compilation (where it would become "Paintbox").
I recently read the awesome book Psychedelia and Other Colours by Rob Chapman in which there is a nice chunk on Syd Barrett and the artist's increasing isolation and disappointment. Though this track was not written by Barrett, it seems to perfectly reflect his mindset at the time. "What a way to spend that evening. They all turn up with their friends. Playing the game. But in the scene I should have been far away. Away, away, away, away, away, away"
You can watch their video here!
3) Nirvana Record Promo
Nirvana Record Promo
4) Rainbow Chaser • NIRVANA
Nirvana was a two piece outfit (Patrick Campbell Lyons and Greek-born Alex Spyraapoulous) with a clear commercial appeal that just didn't catch on in the states and had only minimal impact in the UK. Their debut LP Story of Simon Simopath was an early example of the concept album, exploring a science fiction narrative. They then followed up with more dreamy pop psych on All of Us, which is from where "Rainbow Chaser" was drawn.
"Rainbow Chaser" features one of the earliest uses of phasing and rose into the UK Top 40 (topping out at #34) in the spring of 1968. Salvador Dali joined the band for a video on French TV featuring this particular track.
Listen to Patrick Lyons narrating the story of Salvador Dali's performance with the band. Fascinating!
5) Lazy Old Sun • KINKS
Ray Davies & Co. could rarely be accused of following pop culture whims, and there are not many examples of overtly "psychedelic" records by the band. So, that said, "Lazy Old Sun" probably blew a few minds when it was first experienced.
In 1966, producer Shel Talmy had exited and, in need of a producer, Ray Davies reluctantly took the reigns for their next LP Something Else. While in hindsight Davies believes this to have been a mistake ("I feel that I shouldn't have been allowed to produce Something Else. What went into an album required someone whose approach was a little bit more mundane"), his unique approach has proven to be one of the reasons the record is so favorably reviewed. The LP would fail to chart in the UK Top 40 and peaked at 153 in the US.
Lazy Old Sun
6) In The Sky • FRANCOISE HARDY
Released on the album One Nine Seven Zero, "In The Sky" (alternate title "Il Voyage") sounds like it could have easily been released a couple years earlier. The United Artists album cover features shots taken during the filming of the 1967 flick Grand Prix. Most likely designed to bring the Ye-Ye starlet a wider audience, One Nine Seven Zero was performed in English and exclusively released in the US, Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa. "Il Voyage" would be released in her native language the following year on the Germinal LP.
|With great determination and 100 cans of Aqua Net, Hardy champions the new "Wind Blown" look.|
In The Sky
7) A Street That Rhymes at 6am • NORMA TANEGA
California native Norma Tanega has followed an intriguing career path. Her first audience appears to have been mental patients in the hospital where she was employed in the mid 60's. Not long afterward, she was a singing camp counselor, which is the point at which she was approached by Herb Bernstein, an associate of record producer Bob Crewe. Bernstein and Crewe were intrigued by her unique musical approach and put together the debut LP Walkin' My Cat Named Dog. The title track from that wild vinyl platter became a minor international hit.
Proving that minor success can still lead to a major impact, Tanega's work continues to be a thing of fascination for a wide range of artists. Thee Oh Sees, Dr. Hook, Yo La Tengo and They Might Be Giants have all covered her tracks and her song "You're Dead" was used in the recent cult film What We Do In The Shadows. You Go Grrrrrrrrrrrl!
|Norma, and crispy, creepy friend.|
A Street That Rhymes at 6am
8) Where Are You? • PHAETONS
Micro history lesson: Phaeton was a character from Greek mythology and the son of Helios. Back to the blog... the Phaetons released this hazy pop psych confection in February 1967 on Warner Brothers. The young artists [Gerard Kenny (lead vocalist), Lee Grayson (guitarist), Tony Martino (bass), and Bob George (drums)] were from Long Island, opened for the Young Rascals, and their three 45's were produced by Jordan Ragovoy (who wrote the early Rolling Stones hit "Time Is On My Side" under the pseudonym Norman Meade). Kenny would go on on to write compositions for Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis and others.
Where Are You?
9) The Wizard • MARC BOLAN
Precocious imp Marc Bolan (Mark Feld) is best known as the godfather of the glam movement from his Top of The Pops appearances in the early 70's and the release of Electric Warrior in 1971. However, Bolan's career actually began much earlier than that, with his first professional contact dating back to 1965 with Decca Records.
His first single was "The Wizard" – a rather unique record for the time and setting the stage for a common Bolan theme: fantasy. Interesting tidbit... the acetate for "The Wizard" reportedly misspelled his name as "Bowland". Apparently there was some interest in the record, as Bolan appeared on Ready Steady Go to promote the single. Regrettably, that exposure failed to make much an impact.
|It's lonely being alone.|
10) Fifth Image • CYMBELINE
Micro history lesson II: Cymbeline is a romantic comedy composition by William Shakespeare about the exploits of a Celtic King. The Cymbeline we have here are just a couple a regular guys from Norrköping Sweden (Michael Journath and Anders Weyde) who grew tired of playing beat group covers and took to their basement to make some unique DIY pop psych. Whether it was due to a lack of cash or excess of lysergic inspiration, they utilized a whole bunch of makeshift sound effects (electric mixers, armchairs, recordings of seagulls). Sadly, even though they had well beyond an LP's worth of material, they managed to release only one highly sought after single: "New York"/"Sixth Image".
11) It Happened • PAUL MARTIN
Manhattan songster Paul Martin (Paul Myerberg) was reportedly an avid fan of 60's contemporary bands such as the Stones and Beatles and figured he'd take a stab at writing his own garage, pop and psych compositions. The songs proved quite impressive and he ended up recording his debut "It Happened" on the Philadelphia based Impex label. His vocal approach was not unlike Richard Tepp of Richard & The Young Lions. In fact, Martin's next single "The Last Remains Of Our Love" sounded like it could have been Richard & The Young Lions never-released 4th single.
12) Buffalo Billycan • APPLE
Apple is a Cardiff-based quintet who made a name for themselves well after their demise. Their first single on Philips, “Thank You Very Much”, came to the attention of Larry Page, owner of Page One records. He promptly offered them a deal and soon afterwards came the releases “Buffalo Billycan” in 1968, (A-side “Let’s Take A Trip Down The Rhine”) followed later that year by “Doctor Rock”.
“Buffalo Billycan” (clearly Barrett-inspired) was composed by the band’s keyboardist Charles Barber and produced by Caleb Quaye. Quaye would later find greater success working with Elton John, Mick Jagger and Pete Townsend. As 1969 came to a close, the band’s only LP An Apple A Day debuted, though like the previous releases, it met with ambivalence. Years later, British pop psych enthusiasts would discover the long player and now original copies of their sole LP are harder to find than funny episodes of One Day At A Time.
13) Puisque Tu Es Revenu • ZOUZOU
In her off hours, ZouZou is known as Danièle Ciarlet, a French singing and acting sensation who starred in the film Love In The Afternoon. She was quite the party girl, rubbing shoulders with the creme de la creme of pop stardom, including Brian Jones, Bob Dylan, Marianne Faithful, George Harrison and Jughead of The Archies.
She scored a deal in 1965 with Vogue records in France and released a string of 7" recordings, often contributing lyrics to the songs she was performing. Her first EP notably contained compositions by Jacques Dutronc (including “Puisque”), just before his music career exploded. Sadly for her music fans, Ciarlet’s real joy was acting and she eventually dropped music and pursued a life in cinema. Like so many lovers of the night life at the time, her penchant for swinging soirées led to a drug addiction which sidelined her for several years. A minor comeback was in the works in the early 2000’s.
Watch the alluring Zouzou perform "Il est Parti Comme il Etait Venu" here!
Puisque Tu Es Revenu
14) Habibi • LOS PASOS
This is not the first blog appearance of Spain’s celebrated pop psychers Los Pasos, however I don’t think we ever featured anything this late in their career. The single “Habibi” was released in 1969 in both Spain and Peru as Hispavox single H-477. As mentioned previously, they were kind of a pre-fabricated group designed to compete with Los Brincos. This may perhaps be the reason they don’t get the attention they deserve.
Watch Los Pasos Habibi their way into your heart!
15) Program 10 Part 6 • BILL HOLT
Though this debuted in 1973, it owes as much to the 60’s as anything else documented on this site. “Program 10 Part 6” is from the LP Dreamies. The title is derived from Isaac Asimov’s 1955 sci-fi story “Dreaming Is A Private Thing” which concerns a company that produces dreams for individuals to take home and enjoy in the privacy of their own home. For his electronic, pop psych opus, Holt takes the Beatles “Revolution #9” (one of my personal favorites) and uses it as a jumping off point for each side of his platter. Side A is Program #10 and Side B is Program #11. The inspiration does not end there, as the musician utilizes audio collage to attempt a disturbing, if not frightening, mind fuck, again similar to “Revolution #9”. He further references the fab four again by borrowing a snippet from “All You Need Is Love” for this track. The LP was released on Auralgraphic Entertainment records in 1973 and is frighteningly hard to find, though reissues appeared in 2000, 2005 and 2013. Bravo!
Program 10 Part 6
16) Mr. Shoemaker • LOS YETIS
Story goes, back in 1966, Discos Fuentes was looking for a boy band to fill out a compilation album they were putting together in advance of a tour. Los Yeti’s fit the bill with their Beatle-esque good looks and performance style. Once on the road, our mop top wannabees became such a hit that the label offered them a full length album. The similarity to The Beatles did not end with their style. Soon after finding success, Los Yeti's took interest in a guru, not religious, but philosophical. It was a short time after their premier debut, that members of Los Yetis met Gonzalo Arango, the father of the existential nihilism movement called Nadaism (humorous spin on Dadism). Nadaism had flowered in artistic and philosophical arenas in Columbia during the late 50’s and early 60’s with its celebration of “nothing-ism” (think of our Beats).
A year later, they released the imaginatively named Los Yetis - Volume 2. An EP promoting the album was also launched containing both “Pedimos La Paz” and “Mr. Shoemaker” on the A-side. It’s kind of difficult to tell how their new fascination with nihilism played into either of these tracks. But... whatever.
17) In My Life • CHAPTER FOUR
This one-off 45 was released on United Artists due to a publishing obligation, and as a result, received little if any promotion or support. Marty Sanders and Kenny Vance, of Jay & The Americans, were part of the band (though no other “Americans” are said to have participated). Produced by Gerry Granahan (Dicky Doo of Dicky Doo & The Don’ts). The sinister garage psych dirge has long been a favorite of mine... unbelievable they had no interest in following this monster up.
In My Life
18) Kama Sutra • LOS BRINCOS
Speak of the devil! When you release your album with a name like Mundo, Demonio, Carne, there is bound to be something of interest to tickle the fancies of the offbeat record-loving public. In actuality, this 1970 release (a follow-up to the kick ass Controbando) has quite a bit of variety, ranging from flat out prog-psych to pretty pop psych instrumentals to raga psych. It’s surprisingly a very interesting record, though you can definitely hear the boring parts of the 70’s creeping in here and there.
Watch them perform Jenny La Genio from Mundo Demonio Carne here!
19) Sunrise Highway • JONAH P. JONES
Jonah P Jones (not to be confused with the jazz musician Jonah Jones) was a British performer who was picked up by Decca records in late 1968 as part of their effort to pluck English talent from the Isles (including The Who). He released a real dud of a single called “My Father”/“My Mind’s Losing Me” that year and then ended up over at ABC subsidiary Apt Records as the 60’s closed. There, he released his second single “It Ain’t Us Who Make The Wars”/“Sunrise Highway”. “Sunrise Highway” is a pleasant hip-shaker, pop psych nugget (written by Archies lead Ron Dante ) that sounds like it could have been pulled from the Wild In The Streets soundtrack. He apparently had a fan club and appeared along side The Cowsills and Bobby Sherman in various teen mags in 1969. GA-roooooovy.
|Record World: May 3, 1969|
20) Shadows • ELECTRIC PRUNES
If you are so inclined to purchase the original one-sided promo of this Reprise release, you are welcome to it over at Discogs.com: $3869.00... plus shipping. “Shadows” was co-written by Stu Phillips (who you may recognize as a prominent TV show music producer, including The Monkees) for the psychotronic film The Name of the Game Is Kill. I’m actually quite a fan of the Susan Strasberg/Jack Lord movie (it also features one of the iconic performers from The Monkees film HEAD). This blistering juggernaut compliments the dark nature of Name of the Game perfectly. Reportedly, The Doors were first considered to perform this spooky ditty.
You can’t see this film until you sign a pledge not to reveal the surprise shock ending!
21) Magic People • MINISTRY OF SOUND
Back on Refracted Candy Rainbow we featured their one single "White Collar Worker", a nice piece of sneering condescension laced with an ounce or two of majik mushrooms. While their single on Decca represented the group's only output for decades, the fine folks at RPM records eventually unleashed a 30+ comp featuring the group's complete recordings. BUY IT! The self-penned "Magic People" is just one of the gems on that set. Folksy and dreamy... it makes a pleasant listening experience every time!
22) Frozen Sunshine • RICK MCCLELLAN
In July of 1969, Rick McClellan released this single on Ranwood Records. The song was impressively arranged, produced and written by Allan Breed with some interesting strings. McClellan would also work with Breed on the Allan Breed & The Third Level single "Many's the Time". A couple years later, the strings and brass were pushed into the background for another shot on Quad Records. Sadly, neither version (both good) raised the interest of the record buying public.
23) Nothing To Do • Bruce Haack
Nothing To Do