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Oldies Music Encyclopedia: "Psychedelic Pop"


Oldies Music Encyclopedia:

The cover of Donovan's LP "A Gift From A Flower To A Garden"

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Definition: Psychedelic rock is often thought of as a purely "FM" or album-rock phenomenon, largely due to the fact that the style mutated into prog-rock, where it thrived during the Seventies. But "psych" -- a baroque style of English pop that sought to replicate the altered states of marijuana and LSD experiences through sound collages and studio trickery -- also had its roots planted in AM pop at the exact time. In a very general sense, American acts saw psychedelic as a garage-based hard rock phenomenon, whereas English groups tended to use the style to form ornate pop songs. Hence, psych-pop, the sub-genre that offered a more or less sunny counterpart to the bad-trip agonies of much garage-based psych. If psychedelic rock was frightened by what it saw in its hallucinations, or at the very least unwilling to translate, psych-pop viewed the supposed expansion of consciousness as a testament to human brotherhood.

Most psychedelic music shares many of the same effects used to induce surrealism, namely, flanging, Eastern musical tonalities (or drones), backwards or otherwise distorted sounds, and tons of echo. Psych-pop wrapped these around traditional pop structures, usually delicate ones derived from English folk styles or "baroque pop." Traditionally, the songs also promote the "hippie" ethos -- not open proselytizing for drug use (usually) but rather celebrations of freedom, alternative lifestyles, deep philosophical study, and peace. While its rock counterpart morphed into prog at the end of the Sixties, psych-pop split in two directions at once depending on the continent: Brits turned to a harder style dubbed "freakbeat," while American psych-pop kept the positive attitude, ditched the preaching, and eventually dominated the airwaves in the early '70s as "sunshine pop." All of the above styles enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the mid-Eighties.

Also Known As: Psych-pop, Freakbeat
  1. "Strawberry Fields Forever," The Beatles
  2. "Words," The Monkees
  3. "Incense And Peppermints," Strawberry Alarm Clock
  4. "Hurdy Gurdy Man," Donovan
  5. "Arnold Layne," Pink Floyd
  6. "Ride My See-Saw," The Moody Blues
  7. "Crimson And Clover," Tommy James and the Shondells
  8. "Time Of The Season," The Zombies
  9. "Pictures Of Matchstick Men," Status Quo
  10. "Space Oddity," David Bowie

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