Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: The Seeds

Today we take a turn into the psychedelic Sixties, with the Seeds’ Future from 1967.  Here we have a vintage LP from a truly bizarre outfit; they emerged in 1965 from Los Angeles under the leadership of singer Sky Saxon.

The Seeds had one substantial Top 40 hit, “Pushin’ Too Hard,” which was originally cut and released in 1965 but didn’t reach the pop charts until two years later.  Throughout their career, they were little more than a marginally talented garage band and pretty much everyone knew that except the band itself.  Saxon’s songs and his druggy singing is pretty hilarious most of the time.  The Seeds were apparently patterned after the Doors, and they feature Ray Manzarek wannabe Darryl Hooper on keyboards.  Hooper’s inept solos were often a highlight of Seeds records – I saw someplace where a critic said “Hooper’s idea of a creative solo was to play the same riff over and over at varying octaves.”

The same writer quoted above said it best about the Seeds: “It is highly doubtful that their music could have been any worse than it was.  Their singular charm lay in the fact that, due to their lack of skills, their music could not have been any better, either.”

So, we have Future: cut apparently as a song cycle, or a psychedelic rock opera, it’s perhaps the Seeds’ best album.  Blessed with a large enough budget to be as creative as they wanted, the Seeds were ultimately clueless and nearly accidentally turned in a masterpiece.  Trouble is, today it’s pretty hilarious. Kicking off with some spoken word nonsense about children playing in a flower garden, the album begins in earnest with “March Of The Flower Children,” tripping fuzzily through beds of harpsichords, oomphing tubas and pretty much everything the band could lay hands on.

“Out Of The Question” is the album’s first rewrite of the Seeds hit “Pushin’ Too Hard,” although it’s not that obvious.  The keyboard work by butter-fingered Hooper tips it off; “Flower Lady And Her Assistant” slows it down a bit but it’s still a rip of that hit.  Then there’s “A Thousand Shadows,” complete with a whispered message to the “flower child,” completely rippin’ off “Pushin’.”  Hooper doesn’t even try to change it up here, he just plays the same riff from the original hit.

“Two Fingers Pointing At You” is the album’s best song.  Still soundin’ a little like “Pushin’ Too Hard,” it nevertheless features some really strange and snarling singing from Saxon.  This song earned the Seeds a spot in the movie Psych Out, which features a ponytailed Jack Nicholson as the leader of an acid rock band in San Francisco.  I would imagine this would have to seen in order to believed.

Swirling harps and ominous drums signal the coming of “Fallin'” the nearly eight-minute-long epic that closes out the album.  Here we have a great example of the druggy kitchen-sink production that characterizes Future; Saxon goes all out vocally on this one, as if to thank the listener for suffering through the previous songs on the album.  Hooper also rises to the occasion with probably the best organ solo of his career.

It’s been fun to rag on the Seeds, but you know what – Future is a pretty entertaining album.  You could call it a guilty pleasure.  In fact pretty much any album of the era would fit into that category; at any rate, these boys were sincere in their approach even if they were a little lacking in the talent department.  That may sound familiar to anyone who followed punk rock in the 1970s … snicker all you want, but the Seeds were pioneers.  Sky Saxon died in 2009; I hope he’s somewhere cool right now, writin’ tunes and gettin’ stoned.

MP3: “March Of The Flower Children”

MP3: “A Thousand Shadows”

MP3: “Two Fingers Pointing On You”

MP3: “Fallin’ “

YouTube: The Seeds in the movie Psych Out

Bonus: The great Psychedelic Lion Music Archive blog has the full soundtrack for Psych Out

7 Responses to “Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: The Seeds”

  1. I’m sorry but you have your music history all wrong. In fact, The Doors, opened for The Seeds. They added keyboards BECAUSE of Daryl Hooper’s amazing sound in The Seeds. The Seeds actually played a huge role in rock n’ roll history. People who actually know music history know that the sound that many people associate with late 60’s music was pioneered by The Seeds. Ask anyone who is a true music history buff and they will tell you that The Seeds are highly regarded and that many bands patterned themselves after them and still do to this day. The Seeds songs are still to this day used in many television shows, movies, and the song Can’t Seem To Make You Mine was the background song for an Axe Cologne commercial a couple of years ago in America and is still playing in other countries. The Ramones and Garbage covered Can’t Seem To Make You Mine. The Patti Smith Band and The Bangles cover Pushin’ Too Hard at their concerts. If Sky Saxon was soooo looked down on why on earth would Iggy Pop be contributing a cover of one of Sky’s songs to the Sky Sunlight Saxon Tribute Album which has grown to 3 CDs worth of cover songs by various artists? Please do take a look at the lineup on the tribute album at http://www.skysaxon.com (our only official website). The early punk bands of the 70’s considered Sky Saxon the grandfather of Punk music. He never quite understood why but they REVERE him. Please do learn more about Sky Saxon and The Seeds and their place in rock n’ roll history. Thank you. Sabrina Smith Saxon (widow of Sky Saxon)

  2. but where’s my favorite Seeds song MR FARMER?

  3. That was on their first album, Art.

  4. Thanks for the corrections, Sabrina. But we want you to know we LOVE Sky Saxon and the Seeds! We needle ‘em every once in a while but we can’t get enough of ‘em.

  5. Shiloh noone Says:

    Seeds were obviously before the Doors , but now a question why has there never been a biography on other members of the band other than Sky Saxon. Darryl and the bassist and guitarist were in semi-pro bands before the Seeds, as was Sky but i have those groups listed…please anybody

  6. Daryl’s alive and well on his rancho in California, and of course Sabrina is right. I like seeing the history, even if it’s a little inaccurate. Daryl, Rick and maybe Jan came to L.A. from Michigan together to make music in L.A., I think in late 1964 or very early 1965. Next time I talk to him I’ll get more details.

  7. Been a while, but Daryl called me tonight to tell me about his trip to San Diego for the premier (there) of the documentary “You’re Pushin’ Too Hard” at a theater in Encinitas.

    He’s very humble about it, and won’t say he did the bass line bit first, but he did say they first met The Doors when they came to see The Seeds play, because they were playing in clubs in L.A. about a year before The Doors.

    I haven’t seen the documentary yet, he didn’t have a copy when I stayed for the weekend down there in October.

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