I can remember pretty well how I first started getting into psychedelic pop. I’d for a long time been listening to the likes of Of Montreal and The Zombies, and a lot of 60s pop and its derivatives in general. I’d picked up a record from the dollar bin called The California Sound of the ’60s, and it was really good. This was six or seven years ago. There was on track I’d never heard before by a band called the Flower Pot Men — the mellotrons, syncopated palm-muted bass, and reverb-drenched falseto vocals floored me. Ha. I was hooked and there was no going back! I was also around this time discovering the Beach Boys’ ambitious and creative Smile sessions, which played a huge role in influencing this style of music.
My original intention for Just Another Snake Cult was to recapture the weird awesomeness I’d heard on these 60s psych sunshine pop recordings. I didn’t end up following through on it.
Despite psychedelic pop playing a huge role in the story of rock music — I mean, how many bands today lay claim to the genre “psychedelic pop”.. uh, just about any rock band with a flute or 60s song structures (well, maybe people just use the term because it’s less dorky than calling yourself an oldies band 😉 ) — it’s not exactly easy to find.
So I spent some time digging, reading blogs, etc. searching out more and more of this obscure yet nonetheless phenomenal stuff. I present here a playlist that highlights some of the best I found while still trying to represent the range of artists. I’m posting it here to perhaps revive some interest in this music, and in part to close a chapter in my life. I’ve split it into four parts.
Part 1 of 4:
Sagittarius – “My World Fell Down” (single version) — Sagittarius was a studio project of Curt Boetcher, a producer and leading purveyor of the genre. Was the mastermind behind a number of bands including The Millennium. His harmony style influenced the Mamas and Papas. This single version has a music concret break in the middle! The album, Present Tense, is worth listening to in its entirety.
White Noise – “Your Hidden Dreams” — From an early experimental electronic music album, Electric Storm, by a classically trained American, David Vorhaus, with contributions from BBC Radiophonic Workshop composers Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson.
Charles Manson – “I’ll Never Say Never to Always” — An acapella version sung by the Manson girls. Charles Manson’s songwriting was often inspired, though most of the recorded output is very rough and hard to listen to. This is one of his many songs inviting beautiful women to join the Manson family in compound in death valley where they would hide underground as the soon to break-out race war engulfed what they saw as a violent and environmentally-destructive civilization.
The Beach Boys – “You’re Welcome” — One of Brian Wilson’s jams from the extremely drawn-out and expensive studio sessions for the never-to-see-the-light Pet Sounds follow-up, Smile. The original, unfinished, Smile is available in various bootleg formats and is worth having.
Tinkerbells Fairdust – “Twenty Ten” — From their debut self-titled album. By 1969 it was maybe three years too late to be notable, but forty years later who cares. This album really grew on me. It’s lo-fi, soulful-leaning psych pop with lots of covers.
The Flower Pot Men – “Mythological Sunday”
The Millennium – “Prelude” — The intro to their album, “Magic Time.” The album is a little soft/smooth for my tastes, but it starts off with an impossibly big drum break for the time period. Why isn’t this sampled more often?
Harry Nilsson – “Me and My Arrow” — Nilsson, friend of the Beatles, produced albums in a range of styles. This is from his 1971 narrative psych pop album, The Point.
The End – “Shades of Orange” — Their album, Introspection, is pretty good. Talented band, quality production. It was produced by the bassist from the Rolling Stones. But I guess at the time it was bad timing and so it never saw the light of day.
The Beach Boys – “Bicycle Rider Theme” — Also from the Smile sessions.
The Beatles – “Because”
Will post parts 2-4 shortly.