From The Vault: The Serpent Power – “The Serpent Power” (1967)
Many thought there would be much to follow and progressions to be made when Serpent Power (a seven piece band that often morphed into ten during live shows) released their first album in 1967, thinking that they might fly through the same lofty clouds as The Jefferson Airplane, after all, it was the folkish Surrealistic Pillow that gave The Airplanes their wings … but alas, this and one more in 1969 (though the lineup was much different) was all there ever would be.
The album’s laced with a lightheaded music for the most part, very much in the spirit of Country Joe & The Fish, all intended to move the heady poetry of the day forward, at a time when stoners would sit around a San Francisco crash-pad lost in the words, the music and the times, music that was unfettered, a combination of harmonic interplay set to washed out and faded blues chords, delivering songs of love, emotions, dreams and drugs, often with an eastern atmosphere ebbing in and out of the tracks that gave the numbers a haunting atmosphere of openness and flower power.
There are several heavier numbers that step surprisingly forward and spark the notion that Serpent Power could be far more than what’s heard on this fledgling recording. However, it was the thirteen minute late night classic “Endless Tunnel” that brought the band its due attention, a song infused with both the philosophy and structure of those eastern meanderings that were matched by contemporary western instrumentations, filled with mild driving rock sensibilities, a sort of raga rock in the spirit of Paul Butterfield’s “East West,” all while splashing in the waters of The Doors, and their opus “The End,” along with attributes of The Beatles and The Great Society.
Serpent Power present both a lyrical and instrumental listening experience that does transcend space and time.
– Jenell Kesler
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