No. 15: ‘Crown of Creation’

"Is it true that I'm no longer young?" Grace Slick sang in "Lather," the luscious and cinematic opening number of "Crown of Creation." Slick was singing about the arrested development of her lover, the Jefferson Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden, but by extension she addressed the fast-forward aging afflicting the San Francisco scene. That sunny Summer of Love had given away to the chill winds of LBJ's 1968. "Crown of Creation" finds the Airplane coming of age, wary but not yet transformed into the jaded radical-chic collective that rolled out "Volunteers" a year later. The erratic and playful psychedelia of "After Bathing at Baxter's" gives way to songwriting for adults: "Long time since I climbed down this mountain before," a weary-sounding Martin Balin sings on "In Time." "Things … [Read more...]

Arthur Brown back in U.S. for 8 shows

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown is returning to the New World for eight shows in February. Following up on Brown's performance at the Psycho Las Vegas festival last August, it is his band's first U.S. tour in almost a half century. Brown, best known for his psychedelic rock hit "Fire," will play the big three cities of L.A., Chicago and New York. He'll also return to Las Vegas and his old stomping grounds of Austin, Texas. Gigs also are set for Portland and San Francisco. The British singer has remained active since his late 1960s breakout, and can be caught at various European music festivals. The Crazy World of Arthur Brown's latest album is "Zim Zam Zim," crowdfunded and released in 2014. The Crazy World of Arthur Brown's self-titled debut LP of 1968 is a top 20 entry in … [Read more...]

John Wetton dies; King Crimson veteran

Prog rocker John Wetton, a veteran of the classic early 1970s lineup of King Crimson, has died at age 67. Wetton, a singer and bassist, also is known for his role in the bands Asia and U.K. He also worked with Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, Family and Wishbone Ash. With King Crimson, Wetton performed on the albums "Larks' Tongues in Aspic," "Starless and Bible Black" and "Red" -- all considered prog classics and among the band's best albums. The lineup drew on Eastern European influences and was known for instrumental improvisation. Frontman Wetton collaborated on songs for the "Red" era King Crimson with his friend Richard Palmer-James. King Crimson leader Robert Fripp compared the loud and heavy playing style of Wetton and drummer Bill Bruford to "a flying brick wall." That version of … [Read more...]

No. 81: ‘Dark Magic’

Moby Grape had it all, in those early days. The look. The attitude. The Bay Area vibe. And that weird whimsical name that no one ever forgot. But when the San Francisco band's debut album surfaced in 1967, it seems they'd forgotten the psychedelic music. The self-titled album instead was packed with well-crafted singles that anticipated alt-rock. Songwriting so strong that Columbia Records was moved to release five songs to Top 40 radio, all on one day. Today, the band is largely remembered for that majestic album and those concise classics. When NPR looked back in 2012, here's how it characterized the group: "When other San Francisco bands were stretching out with long psychedelic jams, Moby Grape was producing catchy three-minute songs that were composed, played and sung by each … [Read more...]

Amazon takes a ‘Long Strange Trip’

Amazon Studios has snapped up rights to the six-part Grateful Dead documentary "Long Strange Trip." The docu, directed by Amir Bar-Lev and overseen by Martin Scorsese, debuts on the Amazon Prime streaming service May 26. "Stranger than fiction -- a user's guide for an impossible journey," drummer Hart said of the project. The 4-hour "Long Strange Trip" premieres Jan. 23 at the Sundance Film Festival, with Dead veterans Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Weir on hand to toast the project. Director Bar-Lev is a festival regular. Bar-Lev made the acclaimed 2007 documentary "My Kids Could Paint That" as well as 2010's "Tillman." He was attached to an ill-fated Jerry Garcia biopic with the working title "Dark Star" back in 2010. Executive producer Scorsese said: "I've always … [Read more...]

Harrison ‘Vinyl Collection’ on the way

George Harrison's solo output will be celebrated with an 18-LP box set due in late February. Universal Music's "George Harrison: The Vinyl Collection" packs in a dozen studio albums -- ranging from "Wonderwall Music" to "Brainwashed" -- as well as a pair of 12-inch picture discs, for the singles "Got My Mind Set on You" and "When We Was Fab." The set also includes the double album "Live in Japan." "The original analogue master tapes were used for the new remasters and were cut at the legendary Capitol studios," project promoters say. Also promised are "exact replicas of the original release track listing and artwork," meaning "All Things Must Pass" returns to the classic black-and-white look. The box has a 3D-style lenticular cover image (see video below). The albums will be … [Read more...]

Doors, Dead, Cream debuts turn 50

1967 ushered in the psychedelic era, loudly announced by a series of historic recordings. Fifty years on, we're invited to celebrate the debut albums by the Doors, the Grateful Dead and Cream via splashy deluxe editions. Other key reissues due in the year's first quarter come from Soft Machine, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Sun Ra, the Yardbirds, Procol Harum and Pink Floyd. The Doors' debut album -- home of "Light My Fire" and "The End" -- returns March 31 in a three-CD plus LP package dubbed "The Doors: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition." The reissue features the compact disc premiere of the original mono mix, which also can be found on the box set's vinyl disc. The package includes a CD of the "The Matrix" live performance from March 1967, made up of eight songs from the debut album. … [Read more...]

Levitation fest put off until 2018

The news gets worse for fans of Levitation, the nation's largest psychedelic music festival. After losing the 2016 gathering to nasty weather in and around Austin, Texas, organizers now have pulled the plug on the 2017 edition. "We are taking a year off to relaunch in 2018," organizers said on the festival's web site. "While this wasn't an easy decision to make, with more time we can present the best festival without compromises." They didn't elaborate on what issues would have led to "compromises." The psychedelic music festival took a major hit in April, when the threat of flooding caused a total cancellation a day before the three-day event was to begin. "We are completely devastated," organizers said at the time. The 2016 festival was to feature acts including Ween, … [Read more...]

Hendrix, Mothers cooking for Black Friday

Psychedelic music fans won't exactly be feasting, but get ready to tuck into servings both sweet and savory with this year's edition of Record Store Day: Black Friday. Top 1960s sonic explorers with goods on offer include Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia, the Mothers of Invention, Timothy Leary and Sun Ra. Record Store Day's Black Friday edition dawns the day after Thanksgiving -- Friday, Nov. 25 -- at your favorite indie shops. Releases are on vinyl and are Record Store Day exclusives unless noted. Jimi Hendrix: "Morning Symphony Ideas" updates and abridges the Dagger Records release of 2000. This time it's three tracks that date back to 1969: the 9-minute "Jungle," "Room Full of Mirrors" and "Strato Strut." On 10-inch vinyl from Sony Legacy, limited to 3,000 copies. The Mothers of … [Read more...]

Rock Hall welcomes prog rockers Yes

Prog rock greats Yes, electronic pioneers Kraftwerk, magic carpet merchants Steppenwolf and Brit oracles the Zombies have been short-listed for 2017 entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Other rock acts of note include Electric Light Orchestra, MC5, Jane's Addiction and Pearl Jam. Update: Yes finally made it into the Rock Hall, as well as Electric Light Orchestra and Pearl Jam. Other inductees for the 2017 ceremony are Journey, Tupac Shakur, Journey and Joan Baez. /update Yes' exclusion from the Rock Hall has long been a sore spot with fans of prog -- its "Close to the Edge" is widely considered the top album in the genre. The band's many members over the decades include Rick Wakeman, Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford and Steve Howe. Yes continues to tour, although the classic … [Read more...]

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