Tag Archives: Jimi Hendrix

“Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” by The 5th Dimension – Psychedelic Soul

12 Apr

Psychedelic soul is one of the most thought-provoking spawns of the psychedelic music movement. It initially seems like an impossible breed. Soul and Psychedelic are two different animals, right? Actually, no. Let’s break both genres down. Soul music is based in gospel and rhythm and blues. At the time of the psychedelic revolution, soul’s rhythms were morphing into the nascent phase of funk. Psychedelic music is characterized by eccentric instrumentation, keyboard and odd melody. These two genres can mesh. Rhythm and blues combined with psychedelic instrumentation form a brand of music that is fresh and different.

After Jimi Hendrix, who combined R&B and rock, added psychedelic to the mix, he proved that the two genres fit together like puzzle pieces. Other bands were inspired to take the leap into this style of music. The 5th Dimension, with strong foundations in melodic soul and pop, released “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” in 1969, recording a medley of the two songs that had appeared in the musical “Hair.” What came of this combination was tremendous success.

What makes this song psychedelic? The lyric fits the parameter. It is based in astrological belief and zany extraterrestrial writing is perfect for psychedelic music. Though, the lyric is not the tell-tale sign of psychedelic soul. The strong musical base beneath the heavenly harmonies fulfills the qualifications. The song is also two full parts (the first medley to ever hold the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart), and both parts are certifiable psychedelic soul (in their own ways). Let’s discuss part one first.

Listen up to 2:18. The whistle and percussion that comes before the opening lyric provides a mystical sound that gets listeners in the mood to hear something different. The first verse is psychedelic, no doubt. It has a keyboard backing and is airy. The chorus then comes and starts moving like a R&B/Soul/Pop song. The horns and harmonies keep us in the psychedelic realm. The second verse features even stronger keyboard and whispered backing vocals that demonstrate creative vocal interplay. The song is playing with both psychedelic and soul music in the first portion. The strong soul and R&B is not really there in the first part, despite the chorus which tinkers with these elements. Then, press play at 2:18, and woah!

The bass guitar and horns drive the song into soul music. Wow. Listen to that bass guitar. What is this? This is psychedelic soul. Hear the keyboard backing turn to more traditional piano? The transition into this soul exploration is awesome. The backing harmony and horns are still psychedelic, but that psychedelic feel has been replaced with R&B and Soul and this is genius. The songs feature different strengths. The first part is more psychedelic, while the second part is more based in soul.

The Finals – What 1967 Album Will Reign Supreme?

9 Apr

The 1967 Album Tournament has spilled over March and has entered into April, but despite its lasting power it is not going to be around for much longer. That’s right, the finals are among us. And, unlike the droning Butler vs. UCONN Men’s College Basketball Final, I envision a solid match between two deserving albums. Voting for the final round will remain live until Friday, April 15, when the Music Court will crown the winner. Thank you to those who have voted thus far, but your favorite album still needs your votes.

The #1 seed, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, has not experienced any problems wasting its opponents. It is the perennial 1967 powerhouse. It defeated #5 seed, Disraeli Gears, handily and seems ready for its next challenge. But, will it experience issues going up against the upset winner of the #2 vs #3 battle. In a last second vote to break the tie, #3 seed, Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience , beat The Doors by The Doors and moved on to the finals. Jimi Hendrix vs. The Fab Four. The battle of two psychedelic albums with different sub-genres. What album will bring home the prize. The Beatles’ complex psychedelic masterpiece or Hendrix’s passionate psychedelic blues adventure. It is up to your votes.

March 1967 Madness Continues – 2 vs. 15, 3 vs. 14, 4 vs. 13

13 Mar

Did you know that UCLA won the 1967 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament? The 3-seeded album of our tournament was created by a man that would have one of the most amazing live performances in California come June of that year. Let’s continue with our tournament. Will we see an upset in the first round. Can our 13 seed take down the heavily favored four.

REMEMBER: In order for this to work, vote, vote, vote for your favorite!

#2 seed: The Doors by the Doors vs. #15 seed: Days of Future Passed by The Moody Blues

A solid first round match-up. The albums are both exceptional in their own right. Days of Future Passed is an early example of progressive rock. It has their most famous song “Nights in White Satin.” But, the Doors’ debut album will be tough to beat. The album is stacked with big-time songs like “Light my Fire” and “Break on Through.”


#3 seed: Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience vs. #14 seed: Procol Harum by Procol Harum

Are You Experienced features some of the best work by Hendrix and his band. The jam-packed album is rock n’ roll history. It is one of the greatest albums of all time (and it is a third seed – shows you how good 1967 was). In the North American release, songs like “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe,” and “Fire,” spin off the record in mind-blowing fashion. But, do not underestimate Procol Harum. Procol Harum, the band’s first release, features an interesting mix between psychedelic rock and classic elements. “A White Shade of Pale” is one of the more beautiful, haunting songs ever released. And, Robin Trower‘s guitar work is great. Obviously not what Jimi Hendrix was doing, but still excellent.


#4 seed: Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles vs. #13 seed: The Velvet Underground With Nico by The Velvet Underground










Do I smell an Andy Warhol banana upset. The Velvet Underground and Nico (also a debut album) features the work for pioneers Lou Reed and John Cale who, with this album, pretty much created the genre of protopunk and set the foundation for the late 70’s. “Heroin” and “I’m Waiting for My Man” are two pieces of lyrical candor and genius by Reed. Magical Mystery Tour, the Beatles’ second appearance on our list (released in December of 1967) does have “I Am The Walrus” and “Strawberry Fields Forever,” two psychedelic masterpieces. This is going to be a tough battle.



Becoming Jimi Hendrix and a Song for the Road

18 Oct

I have probably exhausted every photo of Mr. Jimi Hendrix that Google images has to offer. But, I can’t help it. It is hard not to write about perhaps the greatest guitarist of all time. Well, in my opinion, he is the greatest. But, what’s the sense of sparking arguments. HE’S THE BEST!

But, seriously, Jimi has not been with us on the physical Earth realm (sounds like a cliche video game) for 40 years, but he still lives on as an indelible musical presence. He is a rare music immortal, a mark in the history books one could say. Well, I am saying it. I know two people agree with me.

Steve Roby and Brad Schreiber published Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius in August of this year. The book is a magnificent read and it provides a well-written, entertaining look at one of music’s greatest. It is the essential inside look at Jimi Hendrix.

PopMatters was kind enough to post an excerpt from this wonderful book and I would like to share it with all of you.

One rainy night, Private Billy Cox and a friend, after seeing a John Wayne movie, waited for the downpour to ebb. Through an open win¬dow of Service Club 1, Cox heard a solo guitar played in a wildly unique manner. He later claimed it was as if Beethoven and John Lee Hooker had merged.

“It was something the human ear hadn’t heard,” Cox reported. “I said, ‘That’s incredible!’ And the guy I was with said, ‘Sounds like shit to me.’ I went in and introduced myself to him and said I played a little upright bass, and I checked out the Danelectro he was playing.”

Boy, Jimi Hendrix was awesome.

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/129823-becoming-jimi-hendrix-from-southern-crossroads-to-psychedelic-london/

Let me also give you all a good song for the road. I know this is a repeat, but, I am in the guitar mood. “Bridge of Sighs” by Robin Trower is an epic piece of music. A 10 minute live version is just heavenly.

The United States of America…According to Joe Byrd

14 Oct

Try to picture this. You are recording music in 1967. The Beatles just released a little album entitled Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane and The Doors are setting the psychedelic scene on fire and Jimi Hendrix is pondering whether or not you are experienced (and setting his own guitar on fire). You cut an album to compete in one of the greatest years for music ever…and you don’t use a guitar!

Sure fire failure, right? Wrong. Utterly wrong. What you do get is a psychedelic record way before its time. A record that shattered preconceived notions of rock n’ roll and challenged listeners to understand its pulchritudinous and spatial splendor. And, like many great works of art, it was smothered by the popular music of the time and left to rot on the discount racks. But, it has been received well by recent reviewers and will now be featured as one of the most underrated albums of all time on the Music Court. It is the eponymous United States of America.


Straight out of LA, CA, US


The USA only released this one album that hit #181 on Billboard’s Top 200 in 1968. Afterwards, the band went their separate ways. Joe Byrd, the main electronic music man, went on to form his field hippies and go on creating psychedelic works. While it may not have looked like it at the time, the USA seriously quit while they were ahead of the psychedelic game.

The album was influential more for the band’s adroitness with the emerging electronic sound that was about to become pervasive in the 60’s music scene, rather than Byrd’s radical lyric that made the band name rather humorous). And, because the technology was obscenely expensive at the time, the band was left with whatever oscillators and other devices they could get their hands on. But, the sound that they produced. Wow.

Also, because Byrd was really into early American music (dixieland jazz and marches for example) he included clips of these pieces in USA’s elaborate compositions. Therefore, the listener is bombarded with a sound attack that combines old-time America mixed with the newer psychedelic sound and vocalist Dorothy Moskowitz’s freaky voice.

Just check out “The American Metaphysical Circus.”

The rap on USA at the time of this album’s release was that they were too mechanical. But, truthfully, they were just moving into a different realm of psychedelia. This was an experiment and it blew the top off of the conventions of an electronic sound.

%d bloggers like this: