Three Kandy-Kolored Klassics from the golden age of the psychedelic exploitation cash-in. Psychedelia was in full, gaudy blossom in 1967, and Los Angeles, entertainment engine of the solar system, was right there to capitalize. These particular instrumentals weren’t made for movie soundtracks, but they could have been; any of them would have made comfortable additions to fare like The Acid Eaters or The Love-Ins and those moments when you needed a panning shot of longhairs frugging on the Strip and some stern narrator intoning about bad trips and The Scene.
While Los Angeles may have been pop culture ground zero, there just wasn’t much commercial precedent for psychedelic instrumentals in the late ‘60s. Perhaps their existence owes more to the fact that a 45 rpm release was a low overhead investment in 1967, and that there were reserves of session musicians ready to grind out this sort of thing on a moment’s notice.
I tend to go on and on about Los Angeles and the crass commercialism of the ‘60s; to describe my relationship with the history of pop culture opportunism as love/hate is misleading, though, as it’s mostly love.
1. Peter Pan & the Good Fairies, Kaleidoscope (Challenge)
There’s no oxygen in chilly, rarified reaches of the stratosphere, just the shimmering cosmos and harpsichords and fuzzboxes criss-crossing like satellites.
No guitars here, either. A a pure studio concoction, the futuristic “Kaleidoscope” was in reality the brainchild of Jim “Jimmy” Gordon, a session bassist who recorded a few other ‘60s instrumental freakouts on the Challenge label.
This gem was released in 1967.
2. The Electric Tomorrow, The Electric Tomorrow (World Pacific)
It’s almost too easy to poke fun at the florid excess of ‘60s psychedelic names. Still, it doesn’t get much better than “Electric Tomorrow.” Forecast for next week: Chocolate Whenever.
Co-writing credit here goes to Clem Floyd, a British guitarist who played with David Crosby in the early ‘60s as one half of Crosby & Floyd. Jack Millman, the producer, is perhaps better known as a jazz trumpet player; he mostly labored in anonymity as a capable Los Angeles jazz session musician in the ‘50s and ‘60s. How they wound up together for this for stroboscopic artifact is somewhat beyond me. So much happened in the shared excitement of cashing in.
Either way, the addition of that funky electric piano was at Millman’s behest, I’d suspect. I suspect, too, that the queasy sound of “The Electric Tomorrow” is the “speed” knob on an early flange pedal turned up for maximum seizure-inducing effect.
The flip side of “The Electric Tomorrow,” by the way, is “Sugar Cube.”
3. The Relations, The Image (Reena)
A theme in search of a B movie, a post-“Out of Limits” instrumental for the Now Generation, “Image” is more from our friend Del Kacher, the Los Angeles inventor and guitar whiz (see Vox Wah Wah promo).
I imagine that there are other obsessive music fans out there with a favorite year when everything in music, if not popular culture, was golden. Mine would be the late 1960s. If Del Kacher wanted to put out a record in 1967 with a riff he’d invented five minutes before recording, then, for better or for worse, I’ll want to own it, and sit down and write about it.