Record Store Day gets its groove back

Psychedelic heavyweights the Doors, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Santana help make Record Store Day great again in 2017. The promotional event for independent music retailers has posted an unusually robust list of product for its 10th anniversary showing on Saturday, April 22. Other artists of note for psychedelic/1960s music fans include Procol Harum, Hawkwind, the Grateful Dead, Utopia, ELP, the Electric Flag and the Music Machine. Releases are all on vinyl and are "Record Store Day exclusives" unless noted. The Doors' "Live at the Matrix" recordings make their debut on vinyl on RSD. "Newly mastered by Bruce Botnick ... from recently discovered original master tapes." The 50th year set (from March 1967) includes the savage young Doors working out to soon-to-be-classics "Back … [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...]

Psychedelic culture on display in London

Granny (and Granddad) can take a trip again in London, with the debut of a major psychedelic exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum, hailed as the world's leading museum of art and design. Opening in September, the exhibition "You Say You Want a Revolution? Records & Rebels 1966-70" includes a re-creation of the the city's underground UFO Club, complete with psychedelic light show and a "3D sound installation." Pink Floyd was one of the house bands at the groundbreaking venue. Pink Floyd also performed at the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream in London, another LSD-splashed touchstone for the exhibition. Artifacts to be displayed at "You Say You Want a Revolution?" include shattered guitars played by Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend; suits worn by the Beatles on the cover of "Sgt. … [Read more...]

No. 45: ‘Ball’

"Filled with Fear" was more than a song title -- consider it truth in advertising for the contents of Iron Butterfly's "Ball," the hurried but solid followup album to "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." Anchored by songs of dread and existential panic, the album in some ways anticipates John Lennon's primal-therapy explorations of "Plastic Ono Band," still several years away. Imaginative listeners can hear in 1969's "Ball" the death throes of the 1960s. Here is "the story of a maddening darkness," one song warns listeners. Still, the Southern California band remained true to its ethos of heavy and light -- acid rock leavened with a "melodic consciousness" -- resulting in a relatively tight album that to modern ears sounds like Iron Butterfly's best. To the extent that Iron Butterfly ever truly … [Read more...]

Austin psyched for Impala, Lips

Tame Impala, the Flaming Lips, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Spiritualized will headline Levitation 2015 -- aka the Austin Psych Fest -- running May 8-10 in Texas. Other top acts include Primal Scream and fest founding fathers the Black Angels. Update: A 13th Floor Elevators reunion closes the festival. The nation's largest psychedelic music festival dates back to 2008. It returns for a third year to rural setting of Carson Creek Ranch, located east of town, with weekend tickets now on sale ($165). The festival was renamed in honor of some hometown heroes from the first psychedelic era: "The title comes from one of our favorite tracks from Austin legends the 13th Floor Elevators, who have provided us with endless inspiration," festival organizers the Reverberation … [Read more...]

No. 47: ‘Vincebus Eruptum’

Like psychedelic pharaohs, the men of Blue Cheer erected a wall of Marshall amplifiers as a testament to their powers. To understand the power trio, singer-bassist Dickie Peterson said, "you've got to stand in front of that stack." To do so, of course, was to risk auditory damage. But that was part of the devil's bargain when experiencing a band enthusiastically billed as "louder than god." Blue Cheer released "Vincebus Eruptum" at the dawn of 1968. Often hailed as the first heavy metal record, the trio's debut album preceded Black Sabbath's bow by a good two years. The heavy metal tag is a bit of a stretch, though, with psychedelic blues or acid rock better descriptions. (Like Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer started out as a blues outfit.) In any case, "Vincebus Eruptum" -- very … [Read more...]

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