Twisted Systems

The Great 1967 Psychedelic Album of the Year Shootout

Part 1   The Contenders

I recently sent away for, and received, the 50th anniversary edition of the Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request, from now on  referred to as TSMR, for the sake of brevity.

I did this because I am a completist (meaning, in Rolling Stones terms, that I want/need to have everything they recorded up to Tattoo You, after which they no longer had any relevance to me)

Weirdly, in regard to TSMR, It may have been the least listened-to major release of 1967 in my collection at the time.

I clearly remember buying it at a headshop in the East Village on 9th street and Ave. B, on the first Saturday of December 1967 along with the also just-released Cream album, Disraeli Gears.

These two releases capped off maybe the single greatest year in the history of what is now considered the Classic Rock era.

These albums also put a finishing stamp on what I can now say is the greatest 12 month output of psychedelic music ever created.

My memories of TSMR at the time was that it was a second rate attempt to catch up with the Beatles SPLHCB (really, do I need to spell out the obvious?). I also remember that I loved Disraeli Gears so much and really didn’t spend all that much time devouring TSMR (the Beatles actually released Magical Mystery Tour to cap off the year, but I really didn’t get into it until well past Christmas so it’s not a part of this analysis).

When I received the 50th anniversary of TSMR I could see that the Stones and ABKCO went to really great lengths to somehow give you the feeling that they felt that this anniversary needed to be as celebrated and archivally presented in a matter that equated it with the incredible 50th anniversary of SPLHCB.

I was, at first, taken aback by that kind of seeming equanimity.

I mean really, how dare the Stones & ABKCO  think that TSMR could even be uttered in the same sentence as SPLHCB?  The gall!

Well, I listened.

A lot.

As I read the story of the Stones in the accompanying booklet, I began to understand where the Stones were coming from

In the deluxe package of TSMR  are 2 vinyl discs, 1 mono, 1 stereo plus 2 SACDs, one mono and 1 stereo.

A quick word here about SACD.

ABKCO really seems to like this format. EMI (meaning the Beatles) does not.

I can tell you that the SACD format for all the Stones albums that I now have in that format sound really good. In short, it has greatly improved the sound of some of the most classic albums you may own except if you own a great turntable and the original albums.

I do have many original Stones Decca (not London US) vinyl which do sound amazing!

There is also a huge 4 part double gatefold cover and a booklet (referred to earlier) with interesting facts about the recording as well as quotes from the band, many of which are not only interesting but brutally honest. It really was a drug-created and motivated project as I had suspected, and so different from any other Stones album before or since, as the foundation was not steeped in the blues which always anchored their basic sound.  In fact, it was so far out of their comfort zone that only a huge amount of psychedelics (mixed with heroin, of course) could explain it.

It now appears that, under pressure from the times they were in, especially with the Beatles creating the 800-pound gorilla SPLHCB, even a blues band like the Stones felt the need to “Go Psychedelic

So….how does it stand up?

How do many of these ground breaking artists LP’s stand up?

What really is the greatest Psychedelic Album of 1967?

The shootout rules were simple:

Find all the releases that I bought that year that seemed to have drug references or whose music and/or album cover denoted a hazy, crazy colorful attempt to simulate a mind bending experience.

Here are the contenders in no particular order:

The Grateful Dead–Debut

The Doors–Debut

The Jimi Hendrix Experience–Are You Experienced-Debut

The Beatles– SPLHCB

Pink Floyd Piper at the Gates of Dawn-Debut

Rolling Stones– TSMR

Jefferson Airplane — Surrealistic Pillow

Moby Grape--Debut

Cream– Disraeli Gears

Special mention:

Incredible String Band– 5,000 Layers of the Onion.

I owned it, lost it, saw them in concert twice but have very little memory of it or them so I can’t comment on it

Oh, and one more thing. I didn’t smoke weed until September 1967. I also didn’t take acid until April 1968, at which time several of these records had very different meanings.

This is the end of part one.

I realize that some of you may wish to throw your 2 cents in on this by suggesting ones that are not on the list.

I will add to this list any suggestions you may add only if I actually owned the record and can remember my response to it.