This is my favourite musical genre. As various R&B purveyors in the sixties got a bit older, they started experimenting with illicit substances other than amphetamines, such as THC, LSD, mescaline and psilocybin.
Consequently, the music became far more complex (and occasionally extremely self-indulgent) and was meant to reflect an alternate consciousness, if getting totally off your face on the aforementioned substances could be dignified with such a term. See for example, the difference in musical style between Help and Rubber Soul, recorded after the Beatles had recently experienced Mary Jane (courtesy of one Bob Dylan) and LSD. Syd Barrett, the founder of and key initial figure in Pink Floyd was a salutary example of what happens when too much LSD is barely enough.
The Psychedelic style has remained a musical staple since the late sixties, nonetheless. The definitive (for me) record of 1967’s (northern) “Summer of Love” was the Monterey Pop Festival, so gloriously essayed in the D A Pennebaker film – although the standout performance is by Otis Redding, who was most certainly not a purveyor of Psychedelia. Various movies of the time also sought to explore the “altered consciousness” concept, including “The Trip” and “Vanishing Point”, not to mention “Easy Rider”.
Some of my favourite examples of the genre post the sixties include Naz Nomad and the Nightmares and the Dukes of Stratosphear (the Damned and XTC respectively). Primal Scream also mined the genre with their 1997 epic, “Vanishing Point” (named after the film), which included an awesome homage to Syd Barrett, “Burning Wheel”.
The other wonderful thing about Psychedelia is the fashion style and the instruments. Stoves, suede Chelsea boots, paisley shirts, mop top haircuts, granny glasses, suede fringed or Levi’s jackets, mellotrons and twelve string guitars (hello, Rickenbackers).
Some other bands and artists that have dabbled in the genre include:
The Dandy Warhols
Barely scratching the surface. No doubt there are many artists, bands and songs that will be posted by Cats this evening. Now again, comes the hard part – picking two intro songs. Let’s have some local flavour:
The Church (1981)
The Moffs (1984)