Kim Fowley dies; L.A. record producer

Kim Fowley, a strange and prolific rock music producer known for his work with L.A. bands, has died at age 75. Fowley was best known for creating the all-female band the Runaways in the 1970s, but before that he was a key player on the Sunset Strip scene. Inevitably described as a Svengali, he also wrote songs and recorded albums under his own name. "He'd been everywhere, done everything, knew everybody," said Steve Van Zandt, his friend and boss at the satellite radio channel Underground Garage. Directly or indirectly, Fowley worked with the Mothers of Invention, the Byrds, the Seeds, Blue Cheer, Warren Zevon, Cat Stevens, Alice Cooper, Leon Russell, P.J. Proby, KISS and the Soft Machine. That's Fowley speaking in tongues on Frank Zappa's early psychedelic classic "Help, I’m a … [Read more...]

No. 9: ‘Eight Miles High’

The song started off on familiar footing for early 1966: a killer bass line, straight out of the garage. But seconds into the Byrds' "Eight Miles High," listeners were off on a sonic adventure, destination unknown. Change was coming to the music scene at supersonic speeds. Here was the early warning, blaring out of AM radios. This at a time when "psychedelic music" was mostly a rumor. "Eight Miles High" seemed to come out of nowhere -- as did so much great 1960s music -- but in retrospect there’s a clear lineage: The cluttered, borderline dissonant instrumental sections were unprecedented in rock & roll, but not in jazz, where artists such as John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman shunned traditional harmonic structure in favor of free-form heroics. The Byrds made much of "Eight Miles … [Read more...]

Beach Boys’ audiophile vibrations

The Beach Boys' classic albums are returning to market in various audiophile formats, beginning this month and running through 2015. Psychedelic-era works include "Pet Sounds," "Surf's Up," "Smiley Smile" and "Sunflower." Analogue Productions' series begins Dec. 16. with early band titles "Surfin' Safari" and "Surfin' USA" and three others, on 200 gram mono vinyl. The reissues are mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, "most from the original master tapes or best sources available." "These are the best sounding and best-looking versions of the Beach Boys records that have ever been produced," said Chad Kassem, owner and CEO of label parent Acoustic Sounds. Jan. 6 sees the rerelease of the early albums in stereo. The later-period Beach Boys titles are coming "later in … [Read more...]

Doors talking about an ‘R-Evolution’

The Doors' "R-Evolution" video collection surfaces Jan. 21 in the U.S., unspooling on Blu-ray and DVD. Audio is in 5.1 surround, "remixed and mastered" by the L.A. group's faithful engineer Bruce Botnick. The deluxe Blu-ray edition offers a 40-page "DVD sized" hard-back book, streeting for about $45. The basic Blu-ray (no book) should run you less than $14. The Doors collection includes band music videos and vintage TV appearances -- notably appearances on the Smothers Brothers, Jonathan Winters and American Bandstand. Rareities include a color "Hello I Love You" from German TV (September 1968), outtakes from "Malibu U." (August 1967) and a "Crawling King Snake" from Australia (March 1971). The videos range from your basic lip-synching network gigs to the band's psychedelic … [Read more...]

Q3 on record: Love, Hendrix, Blind Faith

Love, Jimi Hendrix, Blind Faith and Yes are among the psychedelic-era artists with albums ready for resurrection in the third quarter of 2013. The vinyl revivalists will continue to pack the shelves of your favorite indie record store with psychedelic classics. Other formats in this record roundup are hybrid SACDs, CDs and MP3s. Love's "Da Capo" makes its debut on hybrid SACD on July 30, via Mobile Fidelity. It's billed as direct from the original master tapes, as was Sundazed's vinyl release. "Da Capo" has many fans, despite its split personality: Side 1 is the run-up to the band's classic "Forever Changes," with six breathtaking psychedelic classics that incorporate rock, Latin rhythms, jazz and classical. Side 2, notoriously, is surrendered to a 19-minute jam, one that … [Read more...]

No. 53: ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’

The year 1985 saw what passed for a comeback of psychedelic music, a genre dormant for a decade and a half. The "Paisley Underground" bands made some brightly colored noise in Los Angeles, XTC morphed into the Dukes of Stratosphear and Prince made his improbable foray into psychedelia with "Around the World in a Day." Tom Petty, the straight-ahead rocker, also was looking for new directions. The native of Florida settled on a concept album about the South, an epic work that was to sprawl across four sides -- something with literary heft along the lines of Randy Newman's "Good Old Boys." And then Petty fell down a rabbit hole. There he found the Mad Hatter and "Don't Come Around Here No More," which became the first psychedelic rock hit since, oh, the late '60s. Thereby hangs a … [Read more...]

Ray Manzarek of the Doors dies

The Doors' Ray Manzarek, one of the most influential keyboardists in rock, has died at the age of 74. Manzarek spent most of his career keeping the psychedelic rock band's legacy strong, continuing to play its music in recent decades with bandmate Robby Krieger. "I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today," Doors guitarist Krieger said in a statement. "I'm just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him." Manzarek met singer Jim Morrison at UCLA film school in the early 1960s. They formed the Doors in 1965, quickly becoming a key act on the Sunset Strip, working as the house band at the Whisky a Go Go, and signing with Elektra Records … [Read more...]

No. 47: ‘My Crystal Spider’

The crystal spider crawled into Alex Del Zoppo's brain in a waking dream. A "fantasy experience" that yielded a surrealistic web of sound for his band, Sweetwater. While "My Crystal Spider" ranks as the most psychedelic of Sweetwater's songs, the songwriter says his creepy-crawly creation wasn't necessarily the product of an altered state: "Psychedelic substances may have helped to bring this into focus, but it is not about that," keyboardist Del Zoppo says today. "It's about having a runaway pet spider in an unusually whimsical environment." Dr. Demento, noted connoisseur of audio bizarre, dug the 1968 song's "weirdness" and often played it on his radio show. Rock festival audiences of the hippie era were entranced as well, as Sweetwater singer Nancy Nevins put an … [Read more...]

Record Store Day: Cream, ELP, Zombies

Record Store Day's psychedelic platoon for Saturday includes Captain Beefheart, Cream, ELP, Roky Erickson, the Small Faces, the Zombies and, um, Alice Bowie. The sixth annual event promoting indie record stores has gone more vinyl than ever, with almost all titles available exclusively on the hip old-school format. In fact, King Crimson and the Dead are the only acts on the following list providing CDs. Other key artists checking in from the psychedelic era include the Animals, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd. Most of these titles are Record Store Day exclusives, meaning grab them this Saturday, April 20, or pay the piper at the gates of dawn. We're spoiled here in California (L.A. and San Francisco) with the massive indie depot Amoeba, but of course … [Read more...]

Jefferson Airplane: set lists

Jefferson Airplane songs played in concert, 1967-1974. View more San Francisco band set lists 
3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds 
Fat Angel 
 It's No Secret Hollywood Bowl Sept. 15, 1967
 Somebody to Love
 She Has Funny Cars 
Young Girl Sunday Blues
 Two Heads
 It's No Secret Don’t Let Me Down
 Plastic Fantastic Lover
 Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil 
White Rabbit 
Golden Gate Park,
 San Francisco
 May 7, 1969
 The Other Side of This Life
 Somebody to Love
 The Farm
 Greasy Heart
 Good Shepherd
 Plastic Fantastic Lover
 Uncle Sam Blues 
 White Rabbit
 Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon 
We Can Be Together 
3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds Fillmore East, New York 
Nov. 25, 1970
3/5 of a Mile in 10 … [Read more...]

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