Rock and Roll Reads

The Rock and Roll Report Bargain Bin Book Review is on: “I Want To Take You Higher”

I Want to Take You Higher: The Psychedelic Era 1965-1969 is a big, lavish coffee-table style book that was produced to accompany a major retrospective on the “summer of love” held by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Focusing primarily on San Francisco and London, “I Want to Take You Higher” is an excellent history in pictures of what went on during this pivotal time in rock and roll history, and for the price I paid in the bargain bin (less than 10 bucks Canadian) it was an absolute steal. Featuring essays by Charles Perry and Barry Miles and edited by Jim Henke, it is something I flip through often for inspiration. A nice feature is the “Psychedelic 100” by Jon Savage, a list of 100 songs “designed as a chronological overview of the classic psychedelic period that the book defines as lasting from 1965 to 1969. Despite the fact that there was considerable interaction between the U.S. and the U.K. during that time, much more than today, it seems easier to chart the two countries separately.” For the benefit of those who do not have or cannot afford to buy the book, I have listed the “Psychedelic 100” for your convenience. One important note stressed in the book and I emphasize to you as well is the statement: “Above all, the list is designed to be played and indeed fits perfectly onto four C90 cassettes or DATs (remember those?), with the breaks between sides occurring at the 27th, 50th, 77th and 100th songs.” Here goes:

Psychedelia U.S.

1. “Eight Miles High (1st edition)- The Byrds
2. “Alabama Bound”- The Charlatans
3. “Visions of Johanna”- Bob Dylan
4. “Blues from an Airplane”- Jefferson Airplane
5. “Section 43”- Country Joe and the Fish
6. “Someone to Love”- The Great Society
7. “Electricity”- Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
8. “Foolish Woman”- Oxford Circle
9. “Roller Coaster”- 13th Floor Elevators
10. “Feel the Music”- Vejtables
11. “Psychotic Reaction”- The Count Five
12. “Children of the Sun”- The Misunderstood
13. “Feathered Fish”- Sons of Adam
14. “7 and 7 Is”- Love
15. “Good Vibrations”- The Beach Boys
16. “Frantic Desolation”- Sopwith Camel
17. “The Crystal Ship”- The Doors
18. “Mr. Farmer”- The Seeds
19. “Keep Your Mind Open”- Kaleidoscope
20. “Get Me to the World on Time”- The Electric Prunes
21. “Johnny was a Good Boy”- Mystery Trend
22. “Omaha”- Moby Grape
23. “I’m Five Years Ahead of my Time”- Third Bardo
24. “White Rabbit” Jefferson Airplane
25. “Hallucination”- Tim Buckley
26. “Are You Gonna Be There? (At the Love-In)”- The Chocolate Watchband
27. “Ball and Chain”- Big Brother and the Holding Company
28. “Anxious Color”- Painted Faces
29. “Magic Hollow”- The Beau Brummels
30. “Broken Arrow”- The Buffalo Springfield
31. “Incense and Peppermints”- Strawberry Alarm Clock
32. “The Red Telephone”- Love
33. “Change is Now”- The Byrds
34. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”- Otis Redding
35. “A Question of Temperature”- The Balloon Farm
36. “Dance to the Music”- Sly and the Family Stone
37. “Pride of Man”- Quicksilver Messenger Service
38. “That’s It for the Other One”- The Grateful Dead
39. “In-a-Gadda-Sa-Vida”- Iron Butterfly
40. “Magic Carpet Ride”- Steppenwolf
41. “Song for Our Ancestors”- The Steve Miller Band
42. “Machines”- Lothar and the Hand People
43. “Crimson and Clover”- Tommy James and the Shondells
44. “William”- White Lightning
45. “Dream Within a Dream”- Spirit
46. “War in Peace”- Alexander “Skip” Spence
47. “Darkness, Darkness”- The Youngbloods
48. “Electric Sailor”- Kak
49. “Mountains of the Moon”- The Grateful Dead
50. “The Star-Spangled Banner”- Jimi Hendrix

Psychedlia U.K.

1. “Tomorrow Never Knows”- The Beatles
2. “Paint It, Black”- The Rolling Stones
3. “Making Time”- Creation
4. “Season of the Winter”- Donovan
5. “Happening Ten Years Ago”- The Yardbirds
6. “I Feel Free”- Cream
7. “Strawberry Fields Forever”- The Beatles
8. “Interstellar Overdrive”- Pink Floyd
9. “My Friend Jack”- Smoke
10. “Green Circles”- The Small Faces
11. “Days of Perly Spencer”- David McWilliams
12. “In Your Tower”- The Poets
13. “I Can Hear the Grass Grow”- The Move
14. “Are You Experienced”- The Jimi Hendrix Experience
15. “Night of the Long Grass”- The Troggs
16. “Paper Sun”- Traffic
17. “Midsummer Night’s Scene”- John’s Children
18. “It’s All Too Much”- The Beatles
19. “Colours of My Mind”- The Attack
20. “Itchycoo Park”- The Small Faces
21. “The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice”- The Jimi Hendrix Experience
22. “Matilda Mother”- Pink Floyd
23. “We Love You”- The Rolling Stones
24. “Relax”- The Who
25. “Flight From Ashiya”- Kaleidoscope
26. “Defecting Grey”- The Pretty Things
27. “From The Underworld”- The Herd
28. “Michael Angelo”- The 23rd Turnoff
29. “King Midas in Reverse”- The Hollies
30. “Dream Magazine”- Svensk
31. “Imposters of Life’s Magazine”- The Idle Race
32. “San Franciscan Nights”- Eric Burdon and the Animals
33. “Love is All Around”- The Troggs
34. “Vacuum Cleaner”- Tintern Abbey
35. “Madman Running Through the Fields”- Dantalion’s Chariot
36. “Kites”- Simon Dupree and the Big Sound
37. “I Am the Walrus”- The Beatles
38. “Revolution”- Tomorrow
39. “It’s Alright Ma, It’s Only Witchcraft”- Fairport Convention
40. “Pictures of Matchstick Men”- Status Quo
41. “The Otherside”- The Apple
42. “Faster Than Light”- The Mirror
43. “Rainbow Chaser”- Nirvana
44. “Cold Turkey”- Big Boy Pete
45. “Me My Friend”- Family
46. “Jugband Blues”- Pink Floyd
47. “Fire”- The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
48. “1983…(A Merman I Should Turn to Be) Moon, Turn the Tides…Gently Gently Away”- The Jimi Hedrix Experience
49. “Diamond Hard Blue Apples of the Moon”- The Nice
50. “Can’t Find My Way Home”- Blind Faith

Now I know that this list differs from the one I posted about last week and you could debate about what is considered “psychedelic” until the cows come home (Otis Redding?) but I can definitely vouch for this list as being an all around amazing collection of great music. I know because in the (ahem) glory days of Napster I managed to collect most of these songs on CD-R (and then subsequently lose it) and played as one long collection of rock and roll these songs are fantastic. They also go to bust the myth that psychedelic music was just sitars, a tabla or two and backwards guitar slapped on everything. To me good psychedelic rock and roll is merely a great song embellished with some exotic instruments which usually do not distract from the overall structure of the song itself. Make no mistake about it. There was a lot of crap (still is) made under the rubric of psychedelia but that was usually the result of taking a poor song to begin with and tarting it up with every instrument from a bazooki to a flute and calling it psychedelic (plenty of examples on “Her Satanic Majesty’s Request” unfortunately). As long as the core of the song is good, the addition of a thousand Tibetan monks chanting in the background should not diminish that fact. “I Want To Take You Higher” documents a fascinating period in rock and roll history whose influence is still being felt on a lot of bands these days. An absolute steal if you can find it in the bargain bin and well worth the price even if you cannot, “I Want To Take You Higher” is in no way exhaustive or overly illuminating but it truly is a fascinating window on a period in rock and roll where the sky was really considered to be the limit. The colour of that sky of course was always a matter of fierce debate.