The Hit Songs Deconstructed Wire

Penn's Picks: Garage/Psych Volume 1



With the retro Psych/Garage trend in full effect, I thought it would be fun to kick off the inaugural Penn’s Pick Playlist with a look back to where it all began – the 1960s.

Chances are that you’re already familiar with some of the more “mainstream” cuts of the era such as White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane), The End (The Doors) and Hurdy Gurdy Man (Donovan), but I’m going to take you down the rabbit hole to hear some lesser known gems that stand their own alongside their more mainstream contemporaries.

Slip Inside This House (1967): 13th Floor Elevators

You can’t mention the word psychedelic without mentioning the 13th Floor Elevators. Formed in Austin, Texas in 1965 and led by the Psych legend Roky Erickson, the Elevators were one of the first, and best, representatives of the genre.

Slip Inside This House is a cut from their second album, Easter Everywhere, and stands to this day as one of the true, yet lesser known gems of the era.

War & Peace (1969): Alexander “Skip” Spence

Following his departure from the ill-fated Moby Grape (there’s a lesson to be learned from releasing too many singles at once!), Alexander “Skip” Spence went into the studio to cut his legendary Oar album just a number of months after being committed to Bellevue following his attempt to cut down his Grape bandmates with an axe while in a delusional state.

Playing all of the instruments himself, War & Peace is an evocative trip through the ether, culminating with an unexpected foray into Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love during the outro.

Suzy Creamcheese (1967): Teddy & His Patches

Suzy Creamcheese is hands down one of the most intense Acid/Punk songs of the era. Following the suspense filled intro which features dialog from Frank Zappa’s The Return of The Son Of Monster Magnet, the song launches into a full-on sonic onslaught, characterized by deranged vocals, a infectious, repetitive organ riff, Psych freakout section, and an unexpected twist that follows. This is primal Garage/Psych at its best!

The Other One (1967 / 1970): The Grateful Dead

Another band that is synonymous with the Psychedelic 60’s is of course the Grateful Dead. Following the Garage/Pop/Psych nature of their debut album, The Grateful Dead, the band got a bit more adventurous on their follow up, Anthem Of The Sun, which fused together live and studio cuts into an engaging psychedelic patchwork.

One of the gems on the album, The Other One, was played on and off throughout the bands career, going through many manifestations in the process. This version, culled from their 5/2/70 performance at Harpur College in Binghamton, captures the band at the height of the dark, evocative psychedelic jamming power.

Hurricane Fighter Plane (1967): The Red Crayola

Led by Mayo Thomson, The Red Crayola were one of the more “out there” Psych bands of the mid to late 60’s, patching together coherent song forms with full blown freakouts which ultimately precluded the band from attaining any mainstream success (not that they really seemed to care!)

One of their more accessible songs, which also happens to be one of the true Psych gems of the era, is the brooding, hazy Hurricane Fighter Plane. And for you trivia junkies, the organ is being played by their labelmate Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators!