Authored by Phil Dotree in Music
Published on 11-13-2009
No genre of music has been so lauded and laughed at as psychedelic music. On the one hand, it’s hippie music. It’s out there, and at times very un-musical. It’s heavily influenced by drug culture, of course. Even in the ’60s and ’70s, many psychedelic albums were laughed out of the room.
However, psychedelic music is also heavily creative. It’s not bound by the same rules as typical pop and rock albums. It’s different, and it can be quite stunning. The best psychedelic albums are some of the best albums ever made.
Here’s a look at a few great psychedelic albums that give some credence to the genre.
Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced? – Some people like Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland more than this album. Are You Experienced?, however, was mainstream. This was important, because it got the psychedelic movement out there. Hendrix showed the world that someone could make psychedelic music while being incredibly adept at music performance. The recordings are bluesy, and very classic rock at times. However, the tape loops and odd guitar parts are anything but ordinary. Hendrix was a legendary guitar player, and this was his most important album.
Big Star – Third – Alex Chilton’s first hit was with the Box Tops, a one-off tune called The Letter. His voice had risen quite a bit by the time Third (sometimes called Sister Lovers) was released. It’s the sound of a man breaking down. Every sound is random, yet perfectly in place. Strings fade in and out, and Chilton’s voice sounds dreary yet engaging. Third is, quite simply, a masterpiece. While at the time, it didn’t get much attention, it’s now considered one of the best rock albums. Many critics miss that it’s also quite clearly rooted in psychedelic music.
Love – Forever Changes – This album by the constantly changing band Love made minor waves when it was first released. Over time, it’s become a staple of the psychedelic genre. Forever Changes features a full orchestra, and weird guitars. It’s also got some of the strangest and most moving songs ever written. From the opening track, “Alone Again”, it’s haunting. It’s also at times bleak and moving, or just straight up fun. It was a milestone, and it’s still an engaging listen. There’s also a live version of Forever Changes that’s worth some time for fans of psychedelic music.
Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band – You can’t mention psychedelia without thinking of the cover of this album. Heck, you can’t mention the ’60s without thinking of this album. That’s because Sgt. Pepper’s changed everything about music. From the way albums were made to the drugs that were taken during their creation, it all got rebooted here. Some might argue that Sgt. Pepper’s is straight rock, and not really psychedelic. That’s a pretty ridiculous argument. Considering tunes like Fixing a Hole and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, it’s fair to call Sgt. Pepper’s the greatest psychedelic album. It may even be the greatest album of all time, period.
This list is just opinion, and like psychedelic albums, it’s by nature subjective. If you’ve got a better choice for a great psychedelic album, post it in the comments section below this article.