‘67 continued

Those of you out there in Readerland who aren’t wasted on anti-depressants should be able to recall that last week was part one of a George Harrison-inspired nostalgic romp through the bong-exploding rock records of 1967, with the focus on the incredibly lively scene that was taking place in London. This week, we head west to review the equally noteworthy activities of the jester-fiends who were making musical mischief/magic in California.

We begin in L.A., where bands in ‘67 were spittin’ out vinyl gems faster than the Boston Bruins spit out bicuspids. Like the second Buffalo Springfield album, Again. With songs like “Mr. Soul,” “Expecting to Fly” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Woman,” it was a righteously pleasurable platter capable of whippin’ some serious stereophonic whoop-ass on even the squarest Vic Damone fan. The Byrds fired up their fourth mighty jingle-janglefest that summer, an album titled Younger Than Yesterday that featured their astoundingly popular version of Dylan’s “My Back Pages.”

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention fried everybody in sight with the extraordinary We’re Only In It for the Money. This was the Mothers album with the cover that parodied the famed Sgt. Pepper cover. FZ was the only musician to dare to make an album that not only skewered the popular bad guys of the time (cops, politicians, parents), but also skewered the totally skewerable foibles of the popular good guys of the time (hippies, guitar players, dope dealers), and did so in a context that was utterly and relentlessly psychedelic. Which meant stoners could listen to an album that lyrically ripped their trippy visions of a brave new turned-on world while simultaneously blowing their minds courtesy of Mr. Zappa’s unflinchingly lysergic musical assault.

The other monster record from L.A. in ‘67 was The Doors debut, in which dangerous malcontents from UCLA’s film school Broke On Through to Light Fires in the Soul Kitchen of the 20th Century Fox until the Back Door Man came home at The End. And all of this reptilian funny business was goin’ down while the world eagerly awaited the new album from Brian Wilson. The king of the Beach Boys was working on his ultimate masterpiece, Smile, an album that was, with the help of the song “Good Vibrations,” going to make his 1966 masterpiece, Pet Sounds, sound like a drunken outtake from a Tom Jones bluegrass album. Alas, it never happened, as Brian chose ‘67 as the year to mentally melt down with a destabilized thud. Smile ended up as an unfinished mess strewn about the famous sandbox that harbored Brian’s semi-crazy piano.

Drat. I’ve painted myself into a messy little corner, with minimal space to mention the two great San Francisco albums of ‘67: The Grateful Dead’s eponymous debut, and Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow ("Somebody to Love,” “Today,” “White Rabbit").

And way off in Memphis, Aretha belted out her epic I Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You, featuring the title track and "Respect." All in all, a grand time was had by most.