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.
YouTube: The Seeds in the movie Psych Out
Bonus: The great Psychedelic Lion Music Archive blog has the full soundtrack for Psych Out