This is a scan of a long and insightful article about psychedelic music from the January 1981 edition of Creem magazine -- the issue with Bruce Springsteen on the front (see right). It was written by Robert A. Hull, who took the byline Robot A. Hull here, which probably to carry on the tradition of Creem's freewheeling, non-conformist spirit. The mag had been home to Lester Bangs, after all.
It's to the magazine's credit that had guts and foresight enough to run an exhaustive, six-page article on a genre of music that had fallen out of favor with most of the public during this post-punk time period. Since psychedelia has undergone several revivals since then, this might seem unlikely to some people. But the opening paragraph of this article makes the point well.
Actually, the more I think back on this era, the more it occurs to me that few people besides diehard music fans probably knew or cared much at all about most of this music at this point. Sure, everyone remembered Sgt. Pepper and there were still Deadheads and Frank Zappa fans. But most of the general public, especially teenagers, had any knowledge beyond that.
Acts like the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, the 13th Floor Elevators, and the Peanut Butter Conspiracy didn't exactly catch on in a big way during their heyday, so they definitely weren't on most people's radars fifteen years later. If you asked adults who grew up in the '60s if they'd ever heard of Clear Light or the Seeds or got quizzical looks or or derisive responses. Trust me on this one.
The reason for this is we had no Internet. Therefore we had little sense of history, especially teenagers who needed to make an effort beyond a few mouse clicks to find out what went on in the past. As Yogi Berra might have said, the past back then wasn't what it is now. In 1981, if you lived in the 'burbs, you had little chance of finding out Ultimate Spinach even existed, much less of hearing their music.
Maybe you could find old Rolling Stone magazines on microfilm at the library or chance across an old copy of "The Rolling Stone Record Guide." But they sure weren't selling any psychedelic music at the local chain record stores since most records from that era by minor artists were out-of-print. The first exposure I got to vintage vinyl was when an older friend was nice enough to take me to a record convention he was attending in a nearby town.
That's what made this article such a revelation. It explained in detail what psychedelic music was, how it evolved, who its main artists were, and why they were important. It even had a "Psychediscograhy," which listed the most important albums of the genre. From the perspective of someone growing up in the Reagan Era, this article opened a window into a completely new musical world.
As such, the article helped spark my interest in psychedelia. I don't post a lot of psychedelia because other blogs got there first, like the excellent Rockasteria. But I do post the music when I come across something no one else has, like the mono mix of the Seeds' Future or the rare remix of the Grateful Dead's Anthem of the Sun.
Over the years, I've accumulated a cache of out-of-print and homemade psychedelic music compilations that have now become pretty hard to find. Some of them were once online, but the blogs on which they appeared are now defunct. None are for sale. I'll be posting these in the month of November, which I'm declaring "Psychedelic Compilation Month" (much like July was Surf Music Month). So consider this article a prelude to a trip that'll hopefully blow a lot of minds.
The New Society - The Barock Sound of the New Society (1966)
The Seeds - Future (Mono Mix, 1967)
The Split Level - The Split Level (1968)
The Trout - The Trout (1968)
The Grateful Dead - Aoxomoxoa (Original Mix, 1969)
The Moog Machine - Christmas Becomes Electric (1969)
Various Artists - 60s Psych Pop Treasures, Vol. 15