Strawberry Alarm Clock was a misjudged band. Although often seen as a one-hit-wonder-styled group, they made excellent songs and underrated albums, their 1967 debut album, Incense and Peppermints, proved this was the case from the beginning. This album, released the year after, is widely seen as their greatest album ever made and is judged, not just as a classic of conceptual musical art, but a lost gem of the late 1960s. Therefore, this album should be covered here so let’s take the time to listen to this record and hear what it sounds like.
Nightmare Of Percussion launches the album with an intense drum solo, which quickly shifts to the right channel. The left channel afterwards has deep basslines, weird keyboard melodies and other sounds. The singing eventually emerges, and this tune gets going. The music and lyrics present are deeply Psychedelic, and the whole tune is absolutely superb. Some bongos and other percussion enter, along with maracas. In short, this really does sound amazing. A lively and powerful listen, the drums and percussion on this song are really decent. There is a brief break with a sort of intermission styled section with some storytelling in it, which is really cool. A really sweet and awesome piece of music, despite the fact that it is supposed to depict a hellish nightmare. Eventually, this concludes with some repeated single word saying, “Percussion” and a load of Psychedelic instrumentation that paved the way for King Crimson. Very awesome, and great music to hear.
Soft Skies, No Lies begins with upbeat bass guitar and harpsichord, followed by clean electric guitar. Soon enough, this tune gets going and sounds a lot like the Kinks. Still, it retains a freshness and originality that still sounds excellent today. A singalong tune that sounds very short, sweet and impressive. There are strong themes of romanticism and great harmonies to add sugar and flavour to this song. Brilliant and excellent listening, and also extremely catchy. This is underrated music, just as many fans of this group will claim on the matter. A short and enjoyable three-minute long Pop/Rock magic carpet ride, and very singalong as well. Excellent to listen to.
Tomorrow begins with clean, catchy guitar riffs followed by organs, bongos and other awesome instrumentation. This music is really a Hippie take on the Psychedelia of The Beatles from around this time, with a very West Coast USA flavour. Nonetheless, this does sound really tripped out and amazing. With lyrical references to carnivals and clowns, followed by an organ solo, this is really far out and imaginative listening. It works incredibly well and has an extensively edited guitar solo present. A joyous and excellently fun listen, this is really top. It ends with a wacky, far-out vocal based sound effect.
They Saw The Fat One Coming has an interesting background story to it, being about band issues. It begins with strummed acoustic guitars, nicely Psychedelic electric guitars and a bunch of excellent vocals. This is a very good song to hear, and it sounds really interesting and great. Bongo rolls galore are also here, and this music is tremendously excellent. This is one of the better Psychedelic musical experiences out there, and the sounds are musically diverse and interesting, although it has some weird lyricism inspired by real-life events. Some gorgeous Sitar and clean electric guitar solos are also on this tune. Really interesting and nicely layered music, this sounds very beautiful, wonderful and especially Psychedelic. Great to hear, and very hypnotic as well. Excellent, it ends with an organ swell.
Curse Of The Witches is a longer piece at six minutes in length. It begins with some gradually sped-up drum rolls and organ movements in-between channels. This becomes tremendously fast in tempo, and quickly launches into a xylophone led piece of music. Some singing kicks in, and this sounds very pretty and incredibly cool to listen to. The lyrics and music make for an interesting listening experience that sounds clever and artistic. Singing about various relationship issues and some other interesting subjects, this tune is a great joy to hear. Towards the middle is a complete lyrical change followed by an excellent climax which is somewhat amusing. A weird listen, this is a strange tune about a seemingly possessed child with the perfect music to match. Much of the music that the Hippies made was quasi-spiritual, and this fits well into that category. A great mixture of clever instrumentation and lyricism, this tune is extraordinarily awesome. Xylophones return in the second half, along with a screaming yet distant sounding guitar riff. Soon enough, the song returns back to the verses to conclude a great audio experience. An excellent listen, this is great music. Good epic tune. It concludes with a decent bridge section, before ending abruptly. Nice work.
Sit With The Guru begins with synchronised drums and guitars, before launching straight into another interesting and enjoyable piece of music that covers the subject of drugs and gurus abound. This is the sort of music that would be an excellent tune to grab an LSD tab and trip out to back in the 1960s. It poses the question: “How many tomorrows can you see?” A cool organ and guitar solo section duke it out for space. All the same, this is a very Beatlesque sort of tune, and may directly refer to their misadventures in India in 1968. Towards the end are some random Sitars, guitars and drums. Excellent, very wacky with the tune quickly fading out.
Go Back, You’re Going The Wrong Way begins with some pretty acoustic guitar parts in the left channel, followed by an upbeat set of sounds and enjoyable music. There is even some piano in this song, adding to the upbeat and trippy vibe of the album. The production here deserves a definite mention for appreciation, and the array of gorgeous and inspired Psychedelic Rock styled sounds on these songs are absolutely amazing. This is a joyful jig of a song that is upbeat, imaginative and joyful. A fine and euphoric listen, this goes barely over two minutes. A great slice of Classic Rock that ends with harmonies and harmonica, an interesting match. Great tune.
Pretty Song From Psych-Out has some very retro 1960s sounds, including lush harmonies and tasty instrumentation, including some very intricate drumming. Again, this concept album sounds like a magical and wonderful listen that is very much a musical LSD trip. A wonderful, artistic and gorgeous listen, this album is a fantastic and colourful romp through sound. This song is no different to the rest of the album in terms of overall quality. “Finally, you’ll be free and you’ll see it all,” is exactly that on hearing this music. Magical listening, this is a winner. Gorgeous music.
Sitting On A Star begins with more spacey and synchronised music, quickly launching into a very and extremely Psychedelic piece of musical listening. The bridge of the song quickly changes tempo and structure and the amount of carefully mixed sounds and sound effects present are ridiculously good. All in all, the music here is again, amazing. The amount of gorgeous and pretty sounds to match the music here are incredibly decent to listen to. A very quirky and interesting piece of music to hear, this is a magical listening experience. Worth closing one’s eyes to and enjoying a great audio/visual musical experience. Definitely worth hearing, it fades out with some excellent guitar work.
Black Butter, Past begins a three piece song set to conclude this album. It begins with more typical Hippie music sounds, quickly launching into a really amazing listen. There is thunderous drumming, 1960s organ sounds and other interesting Psychedelic Rock music staples that are cliched today to the nth degree. All the same, this is upbeat, imaginative and fine listening. Some equally upbeat guitar soloing is here as well, which sounds animated, imaginative and brilliant. A refreshing and interesting tune to enjoy, this sounds super cool. Different amounts of wall-of-sounds layers make this song interesting. It ends fairly quickly after just over two minutes in length.
Black Butter, Present begins with organ, multi-tracked bongos and deep melodic basslines. Some awesome Sitar enters the right channel, followed by some awesomely edited vocals that are multitracked. This is a beautiful and excellent piece of music that sounds really interesting and Psychedelic. Nonetheless, it is great to hear. A great journey through sound. Deep and interesting, this ends with bongo drum rolls and some other trippy sounds.
Black Butter, Future begins with a load of multitracked la-la-la’s, before launching straight into a decent concluding statement from this album. The singing and drum work in particular are really cool. The second half has some driving basslines and xylophones, which add some quirky flavour to this tune. It fades out shortly afterwards, very nice to hear.
This album is enormously underrated, which is a real shame in that respect. Despite that, these adventurous tunes and musicality within them are brilliant. If you are looking for a late 1960s album that deserves to be heard with more than just Incense and Peppermints, this is a great idea to give a spin. After this point, Strawberry Alarm Clock did not match the highlights of their first two albums and went into decline. Still, this is a great musical moment. A fine listen from beginning to end.
A wonderful piece of Psychedelic art.