The album is called Super Session with Al Kooper, Stephen Stills and Mike Bloomfield credited on the cover, but read the fine print and you’ll discover that all three never actually play together. But so what? It’s hot stuff anyway with the Stephen Stills, Al Kooper jam on Donovan’s creepy Halloween hit Season of the Witch going all kinds of cool places for a nice long time. Trippy in a word.
In which Sly + the Family Stone remind us that there was once a time in which all of life’s travails could be reconciled by the singing of a simple song. That’s what the mid-late 1960s were like apparently, particularly if you were in San Francisco, hanging with all the beautiful people, doing all the beautiful drugs, and you had the funk.
In which The Rolling Stones, at the absolute peak of their late 1960s form, wax artful, poetic, Dylanesque even as to the nature of life, the universe, everything – and conclude it’s all just a jigsaw puzzle more or less. But not before twenty-thousand grandmas are seen waving hankies, burning pension checks, shouting it’s not fair.
“I discovered Eric Burdon + The Animals‘ entirely OK take on Johnny Clash’s classic at least thirty years after the fact. But man, if the timing wasn’t perfect. Mid-1990s. Drinking too much, drugging too much, stumbling through some mid-life blues, it seems I was falling into my own ring of non-heavenly fire. But suddenly there was Mr. Burdon to not so much catch me as welcome me, sounding like a Tom Jones that was actually cool and experienced enough to get what the crazy psychedelic ’60s thing was all about – something to do with saving the entire universe by letting one’s freak flag fly, even if that meant going personally to hell in process. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” (Philip Random)
The Bonzo Dog Band (aka the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band) were never normal. They started out terrorizing jazz and Music Hall stylings, but as the 1960s hit their psychedelic peak, they were crossing over into rock and pop as well, showing up in the midst of the Beatles TV special Magical Mystery Tour and otherwise serving as resident court jesters of the British pop scene. Although sometimes the songs were so damned good, you almost forget they were supposed to be funny. We Are Normal solved this problem by being mostly just weird. And it rocked.
In which Julie Driscoll + Brian Auger + The Trinity score a big deal UK hit with a then unknown Bob Dylan song concerning a burning wheel about to explode and other suitably apocalyptic stuff. The time was 1968 and it turns out the song was one of very many to emanate from what would come to be known as the Basement Tapes, the fruit of time Mr. Dylan spent the previous year hanging out in the basement of a big pink house with the band known as The Band, just messing around, drinking wine, having loose, sloppy, sometime brilliant fun with music. And then, inevitably, tapes started to proliferate, such that some decades later, Absolutely Fabulous (the TV show) would have itself a suitable theme song.
“I came across Procol Harum‘s second album (Shine on Brightly) sometime in the teenybop blur of my early 1970s. My friend Joseph had it, grabbed from his older sister who’d lost interest. We’d play it a lot, getting off on the out there lyrics and the not too shabby songs that gave them room to move. The rather aptly titled Rambling On seems to be about a guy who sees a Batman movie and decides he can fly, which doesn’t make sense because everybody knows that Batman can’t fly. Eventually the guy comes crashing to earth but doesn’t get hurt, just tears his underclothes. Not exactly on par with Dylan, which is how people were thinking of these guys at the time.” (Philip Random)
“I didn’t really twig to this track until I saw the Doors movie, which I know, I’m not supposed to like (or am I?), the whole thing just being so absurdly over the top — Val Kilmer chewing not just the cheap studio scenery, but great chunks of the Mojave desert as well. Except it’s true, all that excess. The psychedelic 60s were that weird, eruptive, wild, kicking into overdrive in 1967, blowing through to the darkness beyond the ozone by 1968, which is where Not To Touch The Earth comes in. You’re so high you’re not sure if you’re worm or a god, or maybe just some long dead Indian who snuck into a small boy’s eggshell skull during a thunderstorm in the desert some years ago.” (Philip Random)
In which Doug Sahm (aka Sir Douglas Quintet) finds himself in barely post Summer of Love (and madness) Haight-Ashbury (while fleeing a Texas drug bust) and gets in touch with some pretty serious vibrations. “Serious enough to percolate through the decades and finally find me in early winter 1999, stoned on some un-named island, half-seriously wondering if the world was going to end at midnight, New Years Eve. It settled me.” (Philip Random)