Friday, November 19, 2010

10 Questions

The Hip shall be hipped. Be it so decreed. And lo, it was good as it came to pass. Right between their ears. Passing strange.

I believe now, with this post, there's been no one figure I esteem in this genre we call psychedelia who's graced our paisleyed corner of the interweb more than this guest. When I asked him, a few weeks ago, if he was ready for a "10 Questions" survey, he quickly replied, "ready sir." Then, a day later, stated, "I have already done this. Ha. You and I truly are psych' casualties." Thoughts of this as affront or assault on my brain's abilities never entered the synaptical works. I must've murmured something unheard as I looked back to see my little girl cat dutifully amused by waving leaves out the window she sat at. (And decidedly not staring me at me as if I had three heads.) I quickly responded by stating, it doesn't matter anyway as these are new queries, designed just for you, at this point in time's sliced cone. (I embellish. No cones were harmed to bring you this post. Time safely meanders.)

So, let's have a photo:

(Photo by the genius, Sarah Morrison. All rights respected.)

Yes, 'tis Damien Youth once again. Won''t be the last time either readers, if my mind has anything to say about what gets posted here. I'm a flag-waver for this gentleman. Unabashedly so. (Think what an America it would be if there was more of him on the radio, turntables and jukeboxes. The weird turning pro'. Finally.)

I bring him to you again in an effort to hasten enlightenment. Your ascension is topmost on my "To Do" List.

This enlightenment can be arranged for the pittance and paltry sum of US$9.99.
True that. Says so right here. Rise, ladies and sirs: be that which you seek. Etc. and etc....

My love for his Walter Ghoul's Lavender Brigade project is no secret. We plied him for information on this way back in Summer, 2008, as part of the glorious run-up to the High Holy Day. Trip backwards. He gave us a blow-by-blow on each song in the catalog as well as a back story on the genesis of the band. As great as that all may be, I find it hard to top the words of Peter Daltrey, savant of Kaleidoscope and Fairfield Parlour:

" On Sunday 1st May 1966 I went to see the Beatles at the NME Poll Winners concert at the Empire Pool in North London. On the bill with many other top acts of the time - The Who, Small Faces, Rolling Stones, etc - they out-shone everyone, of course, performing ..I feel fine.. and ..Nowhere Man.. and other great songs. It was an incredible experience even though I didn..t get to hear much of the performance, due to the ear-busting decibels of female screaming.
Outside in the grey spring rain, my ears still ringing, jostled by the still hyped-up crowd, a young man crashed into me as we both ran for a taxi. (I later learnt that this was an oft-used ruse, perfected by the youth, to obtain free rides. It worked on this night.) I offered to share the taxi with my assailant.

The young man was actually about my own age and of similar build: seventeen and skinny, dressed like an Edwardian dandy. We both wore Beatle boots, although mine were the genuine article from Annello & David in Covent Garden; his appeared to be made of cardboard, the sole of one flapping disconsolately as he waggled his foot nervously in the back of the cab. He had the words ..Tomorrow is an orange.. written on the back of his hand in green ink.

His skin was yellow, his lank hair unkempt beneath a black Lennon peaked cap. And beneath this his eyes burned with stunning adolescent passion. "I love the Beatles!" he declared in a weird accent. He nodded his head in wild agreement with his own honest statement. He shoved out a delicate, multi-ringed hand: "Hi - hi -hi! I..m Julian - Julian Starr!" His breath smelled of roses.

And so began a brief and disturbing friendship.

My band, The Key, had just signed a major recording contract. A massive advance had been paid and each member of the band had splashed out on Rollers and Bentleys and Aston Martins. We..d wined and dined top models and actresses and had lost thousands on the backs of horses and recalcitrant roulette wheels. We had addled our brains with a cornucopia of Technicolored pharmaceuticals. Studio time was booked for our first forays into the emerging, invisible universe of fledgling psychedelia. We were on top of the world.

And so it was understandable that when I turned up at the band..s new flat in Pimlico with a fast-talking red-eyed American in tow, the other members of the band should collectively groan.

It was six months before I could shake off my sidekick. He followed me everywhere: in the studio, on to film sets, to the shops, into radio stations, in the bathroom. He became a drain on my physical and mental energy with his endless questions: "How j..a do that?" "Watcha dream last night?" "Can you smoke this?" "Why is the world still turning?" ..J..a think Salvador Dali is Jesus?"

What I failed to realise was this: I was in the company of genius.

His story gradually emerged: he was in a band who had already released two albums and made a film; he was a songwriter of prolific, prestigious talent; he had come to Britain with Biff Godfried and Oliver Crumb to seek their fortune. He played us just two of his songs, got this in my ear,.. and ..Who will take Grandma?.. -- the latter so appalling we quickly realised it must be good.

I encouraged Julian and his friends, but it was clear to us all that Fate had something special in store for this blessed trio. Whilst my band went on, as Kaleidoscope, to explore the lighter side of English folk-psychedelia, The Loft delved into the actual guts of the genre, producing the great secret album of the Sixties. This was the music the rest of us - and I include the Beatles and Pink Floyd in this - were striving to make. It was frightening, uplifting, troubling, purple head-splitting stuff, designed to open your skull to release those mystic butterflies. This it did with knobs on.

With the intervention of the - unfortunately - insane Walter Ghoul, the Loft became the Lavender Brigade and the rest is history - albeit secret history.

To the aficionados of psychedelia I have only this to say: Listen to the work of this fine ..lost.. band and count your blessings you were not born a fish. "

Peter Daltrey of KALIEDOSCOPE UK/FAIRFIELD PARLOUR----England 1999

Brilliant that. There's no topping it. We won't try. Let's away with this exercise and see where the ol' head's (in every meaning of the term) at:

1. In ten words-or less, define "psychedelic music."

To make manifest the mind's subliminal functions in sound.

2. What is the most psychedelic instrument, why?

The human voice. It's an instrument most of us have so when manipulated, it alters the listeners perception on a different level.

3. Favorite psychedelic album of all time? (What makes it your favorite?)

Pink Floyd's "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" is one of those psych introduction albums that maintains it's high standing... no matter how well versed you become in the whole psych scene later.

4. What song or album that wouldn't fall into the classic "psych" definition is, nevertheless, psychedelic to you?

No Borderline by Copernicus. He certainly travels the most psychedelic of mind routs & alters the listeners perception. It's another good example of how the human voice can contribute to psyched out landscapes.

5. What two famous people, living or demised, would you most like to spend a lost weekend with? Describe the weekend as you envision it.

France Gall & Francoise Hardy & I'd best not describe the details... As to not offend your reader's sensibilities... Suffice to say, it would be a mind blowing weekend of carnal endeavor... Of that you could be certain.

6. What band do you wish had been given the success, in their prime, to have built a discography at least double what they put out?

Tomorrow ! They released one of the GREATEST psych LPs & then... nothing! I really want more.

7. You can build your "Dream Psychedelic Band." Who's in it, playing what?

Robyn Hitchcock- Vocals & Guitar/ Andy Partridge-Vocals & Guitar/Julian Cope Vocals & Bass/ David Vanian- Drums & vocals. To me, if they had all been in a band, they would have been the Beatles of the 80's. In fact, I've taken their songs & made chronological mixes of what their albums would have sounded like. It's interesting, because they went through phases simultaneously so it works quite well. They were doing jerky punk pop in the late 70's. That was like their "skiffle".

They also went psych at the same time & yes I know, Vanian wasn't a drummer.... But damn he sings like Ringo ! Listen to Grimly Fiendish !

8. Name five books you think essential to proper feeding of the head as a psychedelic musician:

The Bible: Especially the books of Ecclesiastes & Revelation. It's twisted stuff! Of course, Aphrodite's Child knew this.
The Shoemaker: It's a biography on a serial killer who had wild hallucinations & was often dictated to by a floating head named Charlie.
Yaje: The New Purgatory: A most interesting read : )
Sage Spirit: Salvia Divinorum and the Entheogenic Experience.
& of course, Lewis Carroll's classic Alice In Wonderland.

9. Your Top Ten Favorite Psychedelic tracks:

Tomorrow Never Knows -The Beatles
Sunny Side Circus- Fairfield Parlour
Lucifer Sam- Pink Floyd
Revolution- Tomorrow
Cherry Blossom Clinic (Shazam version) - The Move
The End-The Doors
Armenia City In The Sky- The Who
Dr. Roots Garden- Chrysalis
The Mole From The Ministry- Dukes Of Stratosphere
The Lizard- Robyn Hitchcock

10. Turn the tables, if you'd like, and ask me a question.

Damien: What post 2000 modern psych bands are really sparking your interest?

-valis: This list may be a test of my knowledge of the term "infinity." It's my consistently-held belief we are either in the Golden Age of Psychedelia, or it never really ended. Either way, there are a bevy and a flock of current practitioners: Asteroid #4 may get my vote as best of the current bunch. Then there's (in no order, only stream-of-conscious) Secret Colours, the Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane, Hipnoascension, Bosques -(I'm on a bit of a South American jag lately, they're really do some outstanding stuff "down" there.), The Black Strands, Helicon, The Upsidedown, Kelley Stoltz, Todd Parker & the Witches, The Sun Blindness, White Noise Sound, Mondo Drag, Sleepy Sun, The N.E.C., Dragontears (though this is at an end), Anton Barbeau (a brother-in-spirit of yours, most assuredly), The Sails, Magic Shoppe, the Hoa Hoas, the Zombies of the Stratosphere (who've just released an absolutely BRILLIANT slice of psych' pop!), Oblisk, The Silents, Main Street Gospel, Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, the December Sound (if they'd just show signs of life), and on and on......apologies to any band I've left out but I really could keep going 'til next month. All of these bands, and MORE, are certainly worth the time to investigate, imho, if you're unaware of their brand of the elixir-in aural form, we know and love.

THANK YOU DAMIEN! Now readers, it's your turn. GET THIS!


Terri said...

What a read! Gotta wrap my head around that one. Think I'll read it again tonight with a beer & a smoke & some psych tunes playing.

Gary Sharp said...

I'm with you, Terri - wowsers!