Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Harry's Still Freaked Out: 10 Lysergic 60's Classics

  10 Lysergic 60's Classics NOT From England:

We here at "Anorak Thing" are always on about British 60's psych so I decided it was about time to give credit to some of the other acts from other countries who took a musical trip on the technicolor rainbow ride knows as psychedelia.  A lot of countries did not make the cut because I wanted to limit the number to ten. Also because a few countries just didn't have a lot of freakout records.  Take Holland for instance.  I've heard lots by Group 1850, Q65, The Outsiders, Dragonfly etc but none of what I've heard so far is trippy like The Pink Floyd or  The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. I skipped Brazil because I'm bored to death with Tropicalia which to be honest though brilliant in places (like Caetano Veloso's debut LP) isn't exactly brain cell destroying stuff.  Let's face it psychedelia basically skipped France.  The Ye-Ye girls all sang about L.S.D. and France Gall made a few trippy pop songs on her LP "1968" but France in the 60's was pretty unhip and ignored what was going on anywhere else in the world not taking too many cues from the U.K. or U.S. past 1964.  I also decided to skip foreign versions of other people's psych cuts, like the Canadian version of "See Emily Play" or the Australian cover of Eire Apparent's "Mr. Guy Fawkes". I also made sure the list wasn't entirely from the U.S. so here's what I came up with...

1. The Klan-"Nobody Will Ever Help You"
Belgium's Klan produced a slew of catchy mod/pop songs like their Dutch counterparts The Motions before taking a cue from Pink Floyd and throwing in spacey backing vocals, Rick Wright-esque organ, and at the number's ending a disembodied "announcer" repeats random phrases while the guitar player gets all "See Emily Play" with his guitar (see Sparrow below).

2. The Tea Company-"Come And Have Some Tea With Me"
Technically most psych-heads might disdain this commercially produced LP geared purely at psychedelic exploitation by the good folks at Smash records who were known for putting out some oddball records (Gary and The Hornets anyone?).  But for a cash in its an incredible bit of complex psychedelia with a cacophony of effects that are just as trippy as anything made by real god honest freaks.  The title track (which also opens the album) is a mish mash of distorted/phased horns with lots of echo and fuzzed out guitar building to a frightening crescendo.

3. The Byrds-"Artificial Energy"
David Crosby's ode to speed from "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" is by far the most wigged out thing they ever did.  This is mainly down to the phased/compressed horns that glide from speaker to speaker like The Tijuana Brass on acid and array of "psychedelic" effects on everything including the vocals that anticipate the coming of Julian Cope and The Teardrop Explodes who were never above a flanging horn section or two. "I'm going to die before my time..."

4. Aorta-"What's in My Mind's Eye"
I can't tell you much about these guys except they were from Chicago and this track hails from their untitled 1969 LP. This track is lushly orchestrated like a '67 British Deram/Decca 45 but it has this element of freakiness to it that sets it apart from orchestrated pop-sike candy floss.  Maybe its the effect on the vocals, maybe I'm having a flashback.

5. Sparrow-"Isn't it Strange"
Pre-Steppenwolf John Kay wigginess from 1966 of all times!  The vocals are unearthly and reek of a mind losing his mind, like Jim Morrison but more far out and there's the great Zippo-on-guitar neck Syd Barrett effect before Syd Barrett ever made a record and top it off with some moody percussive bits that anticipate "S.F. Sorrow".  Yes kids, they knew how to get their freak on up in Canada!

6. Lloyd's World-"Brass Bird"
Australia, like Sweden is a tough country to pick just one or two psychedelic tracks by.  A lot of their stuff is heavily influenced by their Colonial cousins the U.K.  This one is fairly poppy in parts but shows that like in the U.K., psychedelia was, in part just a bunch of mods who got turned on and blew their minds after hearing "Itchycoo Park" (this number especially is drenched in phasing/flanging aka "skying").

7. The Dee-Jays-"Striped Dreams, Checked Fear"
Though technically British The Deejays were based in Sweden for pretty much their entire career so we'll consider them Swedes.  This was from their last LP titled, appropriateluy, "Haze" (amongst such acid eating numbers like "Who But the Bomp" and "Little Children" eeeek). Cut in 1967, its a truly lysergic song that utilizes a bit of phasing, snippets of "Come All Ye Faithful" as a chorus and some brilliantly ominous flanged piano chording beneath a "Crimson And clover" style bassline.

8. We All Together-"It's A Sin To Go Away"
You could fill a shot glass with what I know about 60's South American psych, its a genre I haven't quite gotten around to investigating.  These guys hailed from Peru and were brought to my attention via the second "Nuggets" box set.  This one starts out like a Procol Harum meets Vanilla Fudge type number with some churchy organ and evolves into a choral pop tripfest awash in flanging and backwards guitars.

9. Los Shakers-"Espero Que Te Guste 042 "
Uruguay's Shakers were the biggest Beatle fanatics in the Americas so when the Fab's got trippy with "Revolver" Los Shakers ditched "A Hard Day's Night" and got suitably freaked out with this track (well in truth they'd already began moving away from the '64 Beatles...).  No track better encapsulates their "new" sound than this cut full of "Revolver" era trademarks like "Tomorrow Never knows" drum beats, buzzing backwards guitars, soaring harmonies and the lot!

10. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band-"The Smell Of Incense"
Eclipsed by a lame ass semi hit cover version by The Southwest F.O.B. (aptly nicknamed by Mike Stax in "Ugly Things" once as  the Southwest S.O.B's) this is the original.  The WCPAEB were probably the biggest bunch of lunatics who in my estimation out freaked The Byrds and Love in the studio by a million microdots.  It was hard to pick just one track by them and this Eastern influenced number sets into a groove so heavy you'd swear if you closed your eyes you could smell the incense and a cloud of kiff smoke enveloping the room.

In the compositional technique phasing, popularized by composer Steve Reich, the same part (a repetitive phrase) is played on two musical instruments, in steady but not identical tempo. Thus, the two instruments gradually shift out of unison, creating first a slight echo as one instrument plays a little behind the other, then a doubling with each note heard twice, then a complex ringing effect, and eventually coming back through doubling and echo into unison. Phasing is the rhythmic equivalent of cycling through the phase of two waveforms as in phasing. Note that the tempi of the two instruments are almost identical, so that both parts are perceived as being in the same tempo: the changes only separate the parts gradually. In some cases, especially live performance where gradual separation is extremely difficult, phasing is accomplished by periodically inserting an extra note into the phrase of one of the two players playing the same repeated phrase, thus shifting the phase by a single beat at a time, rather than gradually (see flanging and/or skying).

Flanging is an audio effect produced by mixing two identical signals together, with one signal delayed by a small and gradually changing period, usually smaller than 20 milliseconds. This produces a swept comb filter effect: peaks and notches are produced in the resultant frequency spectrum, related to each other in a linear harmonic series. Varying the time delay causes these to sweep up and down the frequency spectrum.

Coined by Richard Norris and Phil Smee of Bam Caruso records in the 80's to describe the oscilating effects created using "phasing" or "flanging" on such records as Caleb's "Baby Your Phrasing Is Bad" (and also more well known tracks like The Small Face's "Itchycoo Park" ).  Interestingly the first record to ever utilize this effect was  "The Big Hurt" by Toni Fisher in 1959!!


Mr. Lee said...

Great choices, Bill!

Monkey said...

Fantastic piece Bill. Thanks for all the links - been throught them all this morning. Hard to pick a fave but maybe Aorta. Lloyd's, and DeeJays up there too.

diskojoe said...

Here's a couple of tracks from a CD that I got on the same record store trip that I got that Rhino Bowie comp by a band from here in the North Shore of MA (Lynn) called the Flat Earth Society who did an album for the candy company Waleeco in 1968 & was reissued by Arf Arf Records:

"Feeling Much Better"

"Midnight Hour" (a very beautiful Sunshine Pop version):

Wilthomer said...

Cheers Monkey and Lee. I actually had to omit a few cuts from Sweden and Australia as I couldn't find them on YouTube. Some year I'll get around to figuring out how to upload tunes to this, maybe not. Thanks Joe will have a listen.....

Smashingbird said...

Great picks - love It's a Sin To Go Away.

The Hound said...

The Byrds' Artificial Energy is about amphetimine in case you missed the lyrics! Great post anyway....

Wilthomer said...

Actually Mr. Hound I mentioned that in the first sentence about the track.......