“See Emily Play is one of those tracks that was a big hit in the UK, but missed pretty much completely in the Americas, the upside being, I never got overexposed. In fact, I never even heard it until at least 1980 when I stumbled across a cassette copy of Relics (a 1971 compilation). And fine it was. Because what better time and place than a bleak Canadian midwinter, almost thirteen years after the fact, to finally catch the peak of London’s psychedelic spring via Emily and the free games she dared playe? It still feels like sunshine, every time I hear it. Shine on, Mr. Barrett.” (Philip Random)
It’s 1967 and The Pink Floyd have followed their increasingly deranged leader Syd Barrett to the very Gates of Dawn where some genuinely weird shit is going down. But don’t ask him exactly what. He’s too deep into the psychedelics to communicate on a rational verbal level, and he just keeps going deeper and deeper. Yet this particular message speaks volumes anyway. It calls itself Pow R Toc H and, in spite of the genuinely tragic madness that informs it, it’s really quite fun in a harrowing sort of way.
“As with pretty much every band or artist that lasts for more than a couple or three albums, there is more than one Pink Floyd. And much as I can say wonderful things about at least four of them, it’s the first I get most rapturous about. The Syd Barrett Floyd, the madly off in every imaginable direction, with equal emphasis on ‘madly’ and ‘every’ and ‘imaginable’. Call it psychedelic, I guess, but only if you mean the real stuff, drenched in Owsley grade LSD25 and spraying it in all directions, dosing everyone it touches, so not a particular sound so much as an open door, or perhaps a collapsed dam. Whatever it is, you can perhaps hear it best in Astronomy Domine, side one track one of the first Pink Floyd album, and the only one to feature an intact (though that’s arguable) Syd Barrett on vocals and guitar and overall sonic commitment toward the heart of the sun.” (Philip Random)
“Arguably David Crosby‘s greatest contribution to the Byrds, maybe to music in general. Because it’s absolutely true. If it hasn’t happened to you already, it will. Love will find you, fill you with its sweet, impossible light, and eventually burn you, though probably not fatally. But it will leave scars.” (Philip Random)
The Dukes of Stratosphear being XTC in psychedelic disguise, their first EP 25 O’Clock being one of those sublime moments wherein parody transcends itself, becomes its own wonderful thing. And from 1985 no less, which was about as far from the giddy light of the original psychedelic age as the culture ever got. In fact, go ahead and call 25 O’Clock the turning point, its 25 minutes of wild and weird technicolor pop invention being precisely the kind of superlative noise that could cause a shift in a planet’s orbit.
“Yeah, Jim Morrison was an asshole, who died for his own sins, nobody else’s. But damn, the Doors were a strong band, and yet they were pretty much nothing without him. And that first album in particular – well, somebody had to do it. 1967. Summer of Love – offer at least a hint that there was a darker side to things even as it was rocketing to the top of the charts. Soul Kitchen makes the list because it’s remained mostly well hidden over the years, and thus, no allergies.” (Philip Random)
Apparently, Buffalo Springfield are the greatest band nobody’s ever properly heard, unless you were lucky enough to catch them live way back when, with the psychedelic 60s ripping a hole through time. Neil Young and Stephen Stills (and the other guys), brash and wild and still mostly unknown, desperate to be heard, to wake people the f*** up. The records just don’t capture that. They’re too restrained, too produced, which isn’t to say they don’t have some moments, just lacking that overall carnivorous bite.
In which the Velvet Underground remind us that in NYC, the so-called Summer of Love was more about coolness and shadows and shiny boots of leather than the hippie sh** that was so popular elsewhere. Music so driven, angular, dark that it made you want to grab a whip and get to cracking it in time. Based on a rather pivotal 1870 novella of the same name that explores themes of sadomasochism and dominance, it hits like a wrong door, the kind you open without really thinking about it, but once you have, whatever’s going on in there – it has you, it won’t let you go. Which perhaps begins to explain how it ended up being used to sell tires.
How could the Beatles have been even better? More stuff like Flying. Mellotrons and backwards flutes, and melodies your grandma could hum, on and on. More George.