Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: More Psychedelic Relics!
This has been a busy week – we apologize for the gap in posts but we plan to ride this thing into Record Store Day tomorrow and beyond. I had some ideas for this week’s posts scribbled on a scrap somewhere and I’ve lost it … so let’s freestyle with a couple of personal faves from the psychedelic daze.
One of my all-time favorite bands from those fuzzy days of yore is Spirit, the California rockers led by guitarist Randy California and master singer/songwriter Jay Ferguson. Formed in 1967, Spirit was the American answer to Brit rockers Traffic (Steve Winwood) – their music encompassed rock, pop, folk, blues, classical and jazz. Best known for their hits “Animal Zoo” and “I Got A Line On You,” as well as the classic Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus (1970), the band was certainly one of the best of their era.
In 1968, French film director Jacques Demy asked Spirit to write and record a soundtrack to his movie Model Shop. Demy was seeking to make a film that captured the “vibe” of Los Angeles, and after seeing Spirit perform in a local club he decided they would be the perfect musical counterpoint for his movie. In Ferguson and California, Spirit had two strong songwriters but they rarely collaborated – except on the Model Shop soundtrack.
The band’s jazz leanings come to the fore on “Eventide” and a few other songs. In fact, most of the songs cut for the soundtrack were instrumentals, only “Green Gorilla” and “Now Or Anywhere” have vocals by Ferguson. When the movie was finally released in 1969 it was a flop, so the soundtrack album release was scrapped. Because Spirit cut the soundtrack between sessions for their second and third albums, there’s a bit of continuity – two outtakes from The Family That Plays Together (1968) – “Fog” and “Now or Anywhere” – turn up on the soundtrack.
And later in 1969, some material for Clear came from the unreleased soundtrack. For example, “Model Shop II” became the title song and “Song for Lola” was used as part of “Ice”. Nevertheless, a lot of the material here remained unheard until 2005, when Sundazed Records got their hands on a set of long-lost master tapes and reassembled the soundtrack for a CD release.
Our second selection today is nowhere near obscure, but it’s one of my guilty pleasures. Winds of Change is a 1967 psychedelic relic by Eric Burdon and the Animals. The Animals were of course the second-wave British invasion band that had hits with “House of the Rising Sun” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” but in 1967 singer/leader Eric Burdon experienced his first acid trip and he was determined to take his band’s music into freaky territory.
Now by this point the original Animals besides Burdon had all departed – and the band’s trademark blues-rock music got dressed up in paisley psychedelic swirls. Winds of Change was definitely yet another sign that showed the times were indeed a ‘changin’ (as if nobody noticed by 1967). From the get-go you know this is going to be different: the sound of breaking waves shimmers into the the mantric drone of “Winds of Change,” sitars swirling like incense in the background. That leads into “Poem By The Sea,” a spoken piece by Burdon, then the hard-driving cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It, Black.”
Freaky as he was, Burdon was still a showman so the second half (side two for you LP freaks) has more conventional songs closer to the Animals’ mold. That would include “San Franciscan Nights,” a co-write among all of the new Animals band that would become a Top 10 hippy-daze hit. And one of Burdon’s old band mates in the original Animals, Chaz Chandler, had become a manager and one of his clients really turned on Burdon. That would be Jimi Hendrix – and Burdon wrote “Yes, I Am Experienced” as an answer to the question asked on Hendrix’ first album. When Winds of Change was released on CD in 2008 the package included some great outtakes and oddities, including a fine “Gratefully Dead,” included here for your listening pleasure. Refreshments and other, ah, chemical enhancements are entirely optional.