By 1967, Psychedelic Rock was not simply something that bands like The Beatles had pioneered, it had taken the musical world by storm. Strawberry Alarm Clock were from California, where the Hippie scene had really taken off in terms of excitement and appeal to the world of music. Strawberry Alarm Clock were hastily composed together in the sense that something exciting was happening at the time and this, their debut album, was unleashed to the music world in late 1967. The title track was enduringly popular enough at the time alone to get noticed. Still, how does it sound? Let’s find out.
The World’s On Fire is the opening track and the longest track on this album by far, at over eight minutes long. It begins with guitar amplifier hiss, followed by luscious organ sounds and Fender Stratocaster style playing, along with awesome drumming to match. Instantly, this is an LSD tripper’s delight. Simple and clearly delivered singing is present here, with no screaming nor pretention in that regard. A really subtle and melodic sort of listen, this sounds excellent to this day, although no doubt it is very dated. There are some awesome and interesting organ solos in this tune. Although many people to this day wouldn’t find this music appealing at all whatsoever, it is excellent. Some impressive xylophone soloing follows, and this is a real trip. Just close your eyes and turn on your imagination, and the music will take you there. A flute solo is present as well at times. Towards the middle is an awesome lead guitar solo that sounds really fantastic. No doubt paying a lot of attention to the music scene of the late 1960s, Strawberry Alarm Clock provide a decent music listening experience. In the middle is a tempo change during the guitar solo, and the drumming on this song is almost as legendary as Mitch Mitchell’s drumming in The Jimi Hendrix Experience. In short, it works very well. The second half has a solo section for drums and percussion, along with more mysterious and twisted sounds. A very musically inspired and drug inspired piece of musicality, this is definitely an interesting listening experience. Towards the end, the singing returns and we have some really cool music and musicianship here. A really excellent and tuneful listen, the song ends with some twisted harmonies and an instrumental outro section that sounds brilliant. Great music through and through. It ends with a dramatic conclusion and very awesome musical elements closing it off. Brilliant.
Birds In My Tree is a much shorter piece, at under two minutes long. Some glorious organ and electric guitar open this tune, followed quickly by some good singing and harmonies galore. This is the sort of music you’d find on the Nuggets compilation series, it is very Psychedelic and decent listening music. A good song, although perhaps not as good as what came before it. It’s short and sweet nonetheless. Good to hear.
Lose To Live begins with a weird keyboard patch, and some interesting jig like sounds and is something typical of the late 1960s musically. It has a quirky tempo change and some James Brown style hollering here, which actually doesn’t really fit the music here. This is excellently multisectioned music and sounds very different to what is made today. A drum solo in the middle here is really incredible, and ultra impressive. A great sort of listening experience for those who dig the 1960s, this does sound fairly bizarre musically. A repeated riff on the keyboard then finishes this section up, before this really wacky tune ends. An unusual tune nonetheless.
Strawberries Mean Love begins with an unusual intro, some Cream “woman tone” style sounding guitars and melodies galore, along with some great drum rolls. This is great 1960s Pop and although Psychedelic music likely has been bettered elsewhere, this song is gentle, melodic and rewarding for what it is. A really nice piece of music to hear, although not the most original piece of music out there, the mixture of glorious singing and musicianship is really out of this world. In any case, this is pure Hippie music, but you can easily hear the effort and beauty of the music here. A great listen through and through regardless of its flaws, this is a good song for what it is. It fades out gently.
Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow begins with some absolutely beautiful flute, some Fender chiming guitars and a sense that we have something interesting and exciting here. Some bongos follow to add to the audio/visual experience, and this is one of the most Psychedelic tunes out there for people to enjoy. Not a bad effort at all, and the chanting throughout is really cool. An awesome combination of a bunch of mellow Psychedelic influences, this sounds really surreal. There is an odd sounding harpsichord solo, followed by other interesting sounds and decent singing here. This sounds a lot like The Beach Boys on LSD, especially given the context of the band and the music at the time. Great to hear nonetheless.
Paxton’s Back Street Carnival begins with some good Rock riffs and singing. There is an organ here, too. This song is another quintessential slice of Pop/Rock music that sounds really decent, excellent and interesting. This song is seemingly a love song, which is very unusual. A very 1960s organ solo is present on this tune, and the song itself is very extraordinary. A lovely tune to listen to, the guitar work present sounds very nice indeed. A good two-minute-long slice of history.
Hummin’ Happy begins with some thunderous drumming and basic guitar chords, launching into an easy breezy tune about the everyday ongoings of life back in the 1960s. It is a strange listen lyrically, set to memorable but cliched 1960s sounds. This does not mean this song is bad, zero chance of that. Instead, it is a piece of music from its time, not beyond it. In any case, this does work wonderfully. Some of the drumrolls here towards the end are really insane sounding. Good to hear anyway.
Pass Time With The SAC is a very short piece just over a minute long. It is a sound texture and sonic based listening experience than an actual song here, complete with harmonica, which is unusual for this music. It is a short and interesting listening experience, very Hippie sounding, and unusual as well. Good to hear, however. It is over before you know it.
Incense And Peppermints is the title track and the most popular piece by Strawberry Alarm Clock. It has an unusual mixture of guitars and keyboards at the start of it, before launching into a semi-catchy tune that is about drug use and other strange experiences. A very weird and odd Pop/Rock piece that makes sense, given the timeframe and context of the musical world back then. Really weird, but that is Psychedelic music for you. A good and somewhat memorable listen throughout, this ends with an instrumental section and “sha-la-la” harmonies. Interesting to hear.
Unwind With The Clock is the last song on this album. It begins with some interesting and cliched 1960s organ and matching guitars, along with a Jazzy sounding drum section. The music in this song is quite good, and although it is instrumental, it maintains interest throughout. A really interesting piece of music, this predates lengthy and popular Progressive Rock jams by a few years. Xylophone also seeps in, which is fairly unusual. A very quirky and different sounding piece of music, this has some impressive sounds and playing on it. A good instrumental to finish a decent but dated album, this is quirk central. In the second half is another brilliant drum solo that is thunderous and awesome, just as the band quickly follow. The tune concludes with some singing and is a genuine thank you to the listener. Great music from a completely different era. There are some spacey sounds to conclude with.
This isn’t the best Psychedelic Pop/Rock album of the 1960s. However, Strawberry Alarm Clock has made a lasting impression with this album release. For all its flaws, it is a good, interesting and somewhat trashy fun listen to blast at your family or neighbourhood to show others groovy you are. If you dig late 1960s Psychedelia, this is ideal for you. Otherwise, if you need something a bit better, Pink Floyd may be a better starting place than here. Still, one can appreciate this solid effort.