The Ten Best Psychedelic British Songs
Friday 02 July 2004
1 ARNOLD LAYNE Pink Floyd (1967)
Here, we catch Pink Floyd in unexplored territory, dipping into the subject of transvestism and upsetting the BBC into the bargain. Three years later, I was able to hitch a ride by the power of a Fidelity stereo and some Alba headphones: my cold, damp bedroom became a 10ft square Tardis of swinging London - in my mind, at least.
2 I MUST BE MAD The Craig (1966)
The intro to this gem is an insane pounding guitar riff with more than a taste of Townshend. Ultra-violent crash chords burst into the verse "I can't explain the way I feel about you"; the stunning drumming is courtesy of Emerson Lake and Palmer's Carl P.
3 MY WHITE BICYCLE Tomorrow (1967)
Geoff Emerick, George Martin's Beatles sidekick, used all the tricks in his psychedelic toolbox for this one. A pre-Yes Steve Howe's brilliant backwards guitar kept us warm and fuzzy on many a long trip. Twink on the skins gets almost as loud as his trousers. Keith West sings about the white bicycles of 1960s Amsterdam.
4 MICHAEL ANGELO The 23rd Turnoff (1967)
The 23rd turn-off was the exit from the M6 motorway to Liverpool. I found this beauty at a car-boot sale: 20p later, I had a mint copy. Classic musical ambrosia to be gulped down by greedy gods.
5 KITES Simon Dupree and the Big Sound (1967)
I just love a mystic blend of the East and West. Drift along opium-soaked strings and twitch your little finger to the rhythm, just to let us know you will be coming back to reality some time soon.
6 FATHER'S NAME WAS DAD Fire (1968)
You know that fab guitar intro to "Last Train to Clarkesville" by The Monkees? This one's better. Top-hole lyrics here: "My father's name was Dad/ My mother's name was Mum. How can I take the blame/ For every thing I've done?"
7 THE L S BUMBLE BEE Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (1967)
Pete and Dud get trippy with the little insects. This is rumoured to have the odd Beatle involved (Lennon) - and, let's face it, Peter Cook in little square shades in Bedazzled is the coolest Sixties psych image there is.
8 THE DAYS OF PEARLY SPENCER David McWilliams (1967)
The story of a man stupefied by the world and drifting into the twilight existence of a tramp. A string-heavy wash sets the scene, and an almost countrified bass-and-drum chug keeps you going. The hook is delivered by a distorted disembodied voice piping up every chorus.
9 MY FRIEND JACK The Smoke (1967)
I can remember getting some sort of inoculation on a sugar lump at school. The Smoke's friend Jack eats sugar lumps to inoculate himself against the effects of the real world: a spoonful of LSD helps the sugar lump go down. Great tremolo guitar vibrates you down the track and on to never-never-forever-land.
10 VACUUM CLEANER Tintern Abbey (1967)
From the outset, this is a jewel of a track. The guitar solo sweeps in on a wave of phaze and settles on an elongated feedback wall. "Fix me up with your sweet dose/ now I'm feeling like a ghost," proclaims the singer David McTavish. Superb.
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