Top 10 Obscure 60s Psychedelic Rock Albums

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Top 10 Obscure 60s Psychedelic Rock Albums

Postby Storage and Disposal » Sun Mar 19, 8:22 2017

I've been working on this list for years and I'm finally getting around to writing about it. The list is subject to change, so it's more made up of my top 10 for today. I started this late last night and it's now 9am, so please excuse any sloppiness.

Bands like The Beatles and The Beach Boys are the beginning and end of psychedelic music for several, but that era was far from limited to acts that everyone talks about. You'll have bands that come close to their level, like The Zombies or Jefferson Airplane, but surely there were also bands that deserved some of the spotlight and were unfortunately completely overlooked. I always wondered what the underground sounded like back then, but it took me years to jump down that rabbit hole. I finally did and have compiled a list of my 10 favorite bands/albums. A lot of these bands have only recorded one album, so 'band' and 'album' aren't entirely separate terms (In fact, I think having the entirety of your artistic statements limited to one album is really romantic, but I digress). The following list is entirely subjective and just the albums that most resonate with me at this very moment. Included is a song from each album to give you guys a sample of what each album is like. I won't try to say too much about each album as this will be a lot to get through as it is.

10. Without Earth by The Moon

This band recorded two entirely different albums that were about a year apart, the first being Psychedelic Pop and the second sounding like one of my favorite bands: The Society of Rockets. Despite this, the first album is generally what I listen to, though the second is really growing on me. Without Earth just has more of the bah-bah-bah sunniness that I look for in Psychedelic Pop while the percussion experimentation in other songs genuinely surprised me.

"Are you what you're seeking? Are you? La la la... Wealth is more than what's in your pocket."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTawLSQYPjg

9. Agemo's Trip to Mother Earth by Group 1850

On the complete other side of the psychedelic spectrum, we have Group 1850. This is one of the most bizarre bands I've ever heard. Honestly, it's hard for me to recommend this album as I feel there should be a trigger warning slapped on this LP. I won't go into details, but use caution if you're sensitive and are curious about weird-ass music. The band recorded two or three albums, but I can't seem to get passed this first yet. It's hard to describe it or even this song. It starts off normal (eerie, but normal) enough and shifts into a fairly standard jam, then people start chanting in multiple languages and I don't know. I don't blame anyone for skipping this song, but to me it's fascinating.

"I put my hands on your shoulder and see the darkness in your eyes."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liT6HaFwYvU

8. The Collected Works of Jason Crest by Jason Crest

I'm cheating a little with Jason Crest. He or they never recorded an album, but a collection of their work was put on a CD years later. Still, this was all recorded in the 60s, so I'm including it. I really like the sudden time shifts and the way he lingers on "I" at the beginning of the second line. Some nice harmonies here.

"A place in the sun would be so fine. A place in the sun to spend some time."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0UILy0-m5c

7. Begin by The Millennium

The sunniest of the bunch. At the time, this was the most expensive album Columbia Records put out, which makes its appearance on a list of obscurities kind of sad. I can't help by smile every time I hear the lyrics. It's just so pleasant. Again, this band only put out one album.

"Just take a look and see all the love in the sky. And when you do, the love will reflect in your eyes."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09QgHBEs6l0

6. Around Grapefruit by Grapefruit

This band sounds a lot like George Harrison to me, with a bit of Lennon and McCartney, too. It shouldn't surprise anyone since the band was on The Beatles' Apple Records. Hell, the band was even named by John Lennon. But strong ties with The Beatles couldn't save this band from remaining relatively unknown. The song I picked combines some nice pop sensibilities with absolutely haunting effects.

"Yesterday's sunshine is kissing the rain today."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oM8Ji2I-QOk

5. Corridor Of Faces by Lazy Smoke

This is the only album this band recorded. While it was recorded with a lower budget than the rest, it definitely doesn't show and probably adds to my enjoyment of it. There's a big Lennon influence here, but that doesn't take much from how creative and absolutely eerie this album is. It takes the usual psychedelic tropes and somehow makes them seem fresh to me. There isn't a weak track on this album; highly recommended. This also won't be the last band with smoke in their name.

"Someone should have said, 'Save yourself some misery and get away from here. I'll help you disappear.'"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyGe3LwtwBg

4. Miss Butters by The Family Tree

It feels like a crime to just include one of these songs. It's a brilliant concept album recorded at a time when concept albums weren't much of a thing and definitely not of this magnitude. It chronicles the life of a Miss Butters from birth until death with breathtaking production. I absolutely love the tone of the guitar solo here. This album definitely should have seen more attention.

"I'm no longer a sideshow with tents and tickets for sale."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ranVQ8U3AY

3. Definition by Chrystalis

"SPIDER (from a group that hasn't destroyed your mind yet…) is the one who wants you to turn your radio around" - Frank Zappa

The group this is in reference to is Chrystalis, which, big surprise, only recorded one album. I'm not sure what to say about this album. I think it's a masterpiece and definitely the most mature album on the list. I think my favorite lyricist of the bunch is on here. Some of the words still give me chills. Heartbreaking and complete with some nice, subtle instrumentation.

"She wakes and rubs her clouded eyes. She smokes a cigarette at dawn. Her lover tries to turn her on. She only shrugs and rolls away. She's lost the taste, I dare suppose. It doesn't move her anymore. Her lover softly closed the door. I guess he had nothing to say."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSbxjs1_2-A

2. Playback by The Appletree Theatre

Lennon said at some point during an interview that this was one of his favorite albums. This was more of an art project by a group of musicians than an actual band. They recorded this one album then moved on. It's a comedic concept album, though any concrete concept escapes me. It's a collection of skits with dated humor mixed in with songs that are way too good to be seen as part of a joke. What's funniest about this album to me is how it ends: with one of the most potent, depressing songs I've ever heard. An absolutely fascinating listen, in my opinion.

"I think it's time we were going. The world we live in's grown so very small. There's not much room for this kind of life. There's not much room for us at all. I think it's time we went sailing. It's getting hard to find a life worth while. Work all day long for about half what you're worth. It's so hard to force a smile."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJx-3y8RUDY


1. The Smoke by The Smoke

I wore this album out. I couldn't stop listening to it and I'm not entirely sure why. It feels like what I'd imagine if Elliott Smith time traveled and recorded a psychedelic album in the 60s. It's completely solid and I'd put it against the bands that inspired it any day. It's a record that isn't ashamed of using its inspirations and even pokes fun of itself at times. Cowboys and Indians is a serious song with an obvious nod at Heroes and Villains. Fog Bound Is Psychedelic Pop Gold ends with the singer singing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds as they fade out. They strike a perfect balance between playfulness and maturity throughout the entire album, I cannot recommend it enough. And yet again, this is the only album they recorded.

"Have you ever tried to count the rain drops? Well, I can tell you there are quite a lot. Is rain fun or is it not? I will always see people endlessly in fear of more than rain."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E52Hx27RFiI

And now, a few honorable mentions!

Music Emporium by Music Emporium

This band is ridiculously tight, but overall their sound is a bit too syncopated to me (an exception being the song below). They recorded one album and it's a decent album, but it didn't grow on me like the others did.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceL_YL3Xi0c

July by July

Their only album to my knowledge. They're pretty good, but there isn't enough substance here to make the list. This is possibly the most stereotypical psychedelic album I have ever heard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kWQ9CR6mtU

The Left Banke Too by The Left Banke

I wasn't too familiar with these guys, but they had a couple of hits off their first album. I don't think the second album got as much attention, but they were still too popular to be thought of as obscure. Still, I love this song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VuE2bZ_QPM

Dark is the Bark is a nice note to end on, though there are so many honorable mentions that could be listed. If any of you have other obscure psychedelic bands you don't think get talked about enough, feel free to share.
Last edited by Storage and Disposal on Wed Mar 22, 18:02 2017, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Top 10 Obscure 60s Psychedelic Rock Albums

Postby Eravial » Mon Mar 20, 10:28 2017

I was really surprised to click on this post and not recognize any of the artists! Awesome, I'll definitely give these a listen. I was surprised to not see anywhere on here, though. Maybe they're not as obscure as I think they are; I definitely haven't listened to them as much as I'd like. Quicksilver Messenger Service is another that I perceive as obscure, but maybe isn't as much as I thought. Or maybe they're both more obscure, I don't know! I definitely have always spent more time with the upper-middle- (lower-upper-?)level bands like Jefferson Airplane, Traffic, Donovon, Cream, Moody Blues, etc. I've only recently been exploring the Rhythm Devils, the group comprised of the two percussionists from the Grateful Dead and feel like they deserve much more spotlight in their own right.

And because it's one of the only contemporary albums I've encountered that really feel like a throwback to classic psychedelia (and I'm totally obsessed with it), check out Heron Oblivion by Heron Oblivion.
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Re: Top 10 Obscure 60s Psychedelic Rock Albums

Postby Tweek » Mon Mar 20, 10:48 2017

I was surprised that there was no mention of Pink Floyd then I read the thread title properly... they are hardly obscure :P
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Re: Top 10 Obscure 60s Psychedelic Rock Albums

Postby Storage and Disposal » Mon Mar 20, 18:02 2017

"He weeps for he has but one small tongue with which to taste an entire world." - Dr. Mungmung

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Re: Top 10 Obscure 60s Psychedelic Rock Albums

Postby Storage and Disposal » Mon Mar 20, 23:54 2017

I listened to and enjoyed both of those bands. Great stuff.
"He weeps for he has but one small tongue with which to taste an entire world." - Dr. Mungmung


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