Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Essential Classic Psych Albums (and the unofficial soundtrack of Too Much to Dream)

Soft Machine 1 and 2
A masterpiece. One of the tragically overlooked bands of the sixties, but well-known to the musicians they inspired. A glorious synthesis of pysch, free-jazz, and early prog.

Moby Grape
One of the essential San Francisco bands, stellar musicianship, melody, and a subtle but effective psychedelic vibe.

Pink Floyd, Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Truly, the great psychedelic album of the sixties, filled with songs both whimsical and sinister, transcendent and earthly, all guided by the sure but slightly unsteady hand of Syd Barrett.

Syd Barrett,  The Madcap Laughs
Barrett's great solo album, teetering on the verge of full-blown psychosis, but somehow keeping it all together long enough that by the end you are completely and helplessly in love. "screaming through the starlit sky."

The Electric Prunes
The true inspiration behind Too Much to Dream, at once delightful and infuriating, a triumph that reaches heights as often as it falls flat. Essential nevertheless.

King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King
Going from psychedelic rock to prog rock was not going to be an easy task, but this is the album that gets you there unabashedly. It scared the hippies for sure. The flute makes it one of my all-time favorites.

Zombies, Odyssey and Oracle
Often overlooked because of the wide shadow cast by Sgt. Peppers, this is undeniably one of the most perfect albums. The songs are more pop than psychedelic to be sure, but the songs like "Beechwood Park" and "Time of the Season" beautifully capture the expansive and altered mood of the time.

Alexander "Skip" Spence, OarPsychic dissolution turned into musical genius. A warm, heartbreaking album, and a genuine document of the darker side of the sixties.

Olivia Tremor Control, Music from the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle
27 songs of lo-fi psych-pop perfection. Next to Neutral Milk Hotel's Aeroplane Over the Sea, the best thing to come out of Elephant 6 collective.

Blithe Sons, The Great Orthochromatic Wheel
Lots of albums are labeled psych-folk, but very little actually surpass the label. Blithe Sons expand the definition of psychedelic from an overused trope to a profound inspection of psychic isolation within the midst of the natural world.

White Rainbow, New Clouds
Oscillating between the immanent and the transcendent while playing joyfully in a sandbox of prog, psych, Krautrock, with fuzz keeping it all contained. One of my favorites albums.

Dungen, Ta Det Lugnt
Fantastic Swedish psych/prog super group pull out all the stops. Cymbals and flutes galore!

Intimate, spiritual, with melancholy lysergic undertones, this is one of the great psych albums of the last ten years.


47th Problem of Euclid said...

The Zombies' "This Will Be Our Year" from "Odessey [sic] and Oracle" has always been an anthem for me.

Jon Roger said...

First ill just say your blog triggers a casced of synchronicities to my mind.
Your 1st choice is same as mine too.
But are you familiar with the 13th floor elevators - Easter everyewhere ? specialy the epic opening number: slip inside this hous. Rokys haunting vocals almost recite the resonating-mind melting lyrics which resonates on so many levels... unless you find tommys electric jug a too disturbing deal breaker.