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“Psychedelia 101 Iconic Underground Rock Albums 1966-1970” by Richard Morton Jack (2017) review


“Psychedelia 101 Iconic Underground Rock Albums 1966-1970” by Richard Morton Jack (Sterling Publishing) 2017

Defying description, psychedelia still holds ground as one of the most radical and exciting movements in musical history. Shunning concrete rules, these colorful expressions stemmed from experimentation and improvisation. Anything goes was the attitude!

Artists creating the music were often apt to blend seemingly every genre under the moon into mesmerizing missives, intent on transporting listeners to intense levels of existence. More about moods and feelings rather than a set style, psychedelic music delivered an olio of contours. Some bands were bent on playing raw and rough, with an emphasis on heavy hybrids of blues, jazz and folk elements, topped with politically and socially charged passages, while other acts prefered a lighter touch, shaped of sparkly melodies, bright and sunny harmonies, slickly crafted arrangements and fairytale type lyrics. Non-traditional rock and roll instruments, including harpsichords, gongs, violins, sleigh bells, flutes, cellos and xylophones, combined with rapidly advancing technology and freaky sound effects further filled the psychedelic pot. 

Although there is no shortage of books on these surreal sentiments, us psychedelic connoissuers can never get enough, is not that right? Therefore, feast your eyes upon “Psychedelia 101 Iconic Underground Rock Albums 1966-1970,” a beautiful coffee table sized tome stuffed with detailed information on the artists responsible for these recordings aided by absolutely gorgeous graphics. Resting cheek to cheek with obvious entries like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” from the Beatles, Pink Floyd’s “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn,” Country Joe and the Fish’s “Electric Music For The Mind And Body,” Cream’s “Disraeli Gears,” the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Axis: Bold As Love,” the Grateful Dead’s “Anthem Of The Sun," “Their Satanic Majesties Request" by the Rolling Stones, Love’s “Forever Changes” and “SF Sorrow” from the Pretty Things, scores of obscurities are given deserved due as well. From the David’s “Another Day, Another Lifetime” to Andwella’s Dream’s “Love And Poetry” to self-titled albums from Dragonfly, SRC, the Open Mind, Autosalvage, Morgen and Kak, to the Golden Dawn’s “Power Plant” to “Astro Sounds From Beyond The Year 2000” by 101 Strings to the C.A. Quintet’s “Trip Thru Hell” to Rotary Connection’s “Alladin,” the book provides a bang on vibe of the scene. “Psychedelia 101 Iconic Underground Rock Albums 1966-1970” also dispenses ink on long time favorites (and sadly long forgotten in certain quarters) such as the Blues Magoos, the Electric Prunes, the Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Human Beinz and the Seeds. Rounding out the read are sections on select singles, magazines and music festivals. 

Smartly presented and written with enthusiasm and insight, “Psychedelia 101 Iconic Underground Rock Albums 1966-1970” offers page after page of fun and fascination. Whether you’re a novice or an original fan of these trippy tunes, here’s a book begging for your attention. Dig in and dig it!

- Beverly Paterson
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