“I missed Hawkwind completely in the 1970s which is when they were truly happening. In fact, I never even heard of them until well into the 1980s, and then it was mostly dismissive stuff from various critics: spaced out slop for morons who were too stoned for Rush, or words to that effect. The critics were wrong, of course. What Hawkwind had going, at least in those early days, was a nigh on transcendent application of science-fiction concepts to psychedelic methods. Seriously. Put on the headphones and crank this stuff up. It will take you places beyond the known universe and you won’t even need drugs. Because the musicians have done them for you. Lots of them. With 1972 a sort of ground zero in that regard. Doremi Fasol Latido was the fresh album of the moment, but the real magic was happening live via the Space Ritual and points well beyond within.” (Philip Random)
In which Primal Scream discover drugs, forget who they used to be, set their controls for the heart of the sun and somehow go further. Or as Philip Random noted at the time, “There were two suns that day, everything split, refracted. There was acid in the mix, and serious altitude, and an ocean. And some sort of abyss that at least one of our retinue seemed to be at the point of falling into forever and in fact they did for at least a while, yet such is the nature of genuinely amplified psychedelic confusion, this wasn’t really discussed at the time, we were more concerned with oceans and shores and solid ground, how the higher goal seems to be both being out there committed to the waves and the currents of eternity but also firmly rooted in some sort of metaphysical ground. It didn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense. Unless there are in fact two suns, two worlds, two solar systems, maybe billions. And so on. This went on forever but it was all over by the end of the song in question, which was Primal Scream’s Higher than the Sun, a sort of extended version of the extended version pumping away on the ghetto blaster that we’d dragged with us to this edge, this ledge, this forehead of the world. And then we all went home, ate solid food and drank red wine, yet nothing would ever be the same. Maybe this all happened. Maybe it didn’t. But I do remember it.” Found on 1991’s Screamadelica which needs to be heard by everyone eventually.
“London’s Pretty Things were always there in the swinging 60s, in tune with the times, if not in time with them (if that makes any sense), which means that by 1968, they were launching into realms psychedelic and beyond with the epic tale of Sebastian F Sorrow, a full-on integrated cycle of songs that hit the culture many months before the Who’s Tommy would make the notion of a rock opera a genuinely big deal. No, SF Sorrow didn’t sell that well, doesn’t generally get name-checked when the experts are trying to make sense of the age, but for me anyway, it stands up better than Tommy, minute for minute, song for song, maybe because it’s only a one record set, with the high point coming on side two, when SF Sorrow encounters the mysterious Baron Saturday (intended to represent Baron Samedi of Haitian Voodoo notoriety), who ‘borrows his eyes’ for a trip through the underworld, with terrifying consequences.” (Philip Random)
This one’s found toward the end of side one of the first Steve Miller Band album which sort of stumbled out of freak scene San Francisco at a time when nobody at the business end of things really knew how to handle all the psychedelic weirdness, so they just got out of the way. Thank all gods for that. Because there are few better examples anywhere of just how delirious things were in those days. Songs broke down, evaporated into seagulls and drones, found some bluesy B.B. King riff, evolved into profound and visionary choruses, ended up getting titles that had nothing to do with anything you’d actually heard. Maybe you had to be there, but maybe we all were, in our way, and still are, we children of that madly accelerated past’s glowing future.
“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)
George Harrison (always the most psychedelicBeatle) offers up a nifty slice of so-called world music (before we had the lame marketing term for it). Found on the soundtrack for a 1968 movie called Wonderwall that nobody ever saw, but then Oasis copped the title for a song name a couple of decades later and went mega-platinum with it. But On The Bed is far better (and cooler) than that derivative and over seasoned pop stew.
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)