10. Blue Oyster Cult
I have no idea of the extent of the catalogue of the Blue Oyster Cult, but I can say that “Don’t Fear the Reaper” is one of the best psychedelic songs ever, and it came out many years after the genre had completely died. Basically, between 1970 and the early 90s, “psychedelia” was a forgotten genre which basically meant there wasn’t anybody trying to freak anyone out. You had this song, Tom Petty with that “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and of course Pink Floyd, but even though the 70s were their best decade, their sound had cleaned up for the most part so nobody was freaking out man. I’m probably over weighing how important “freaking people out” is to psychedelia, but no, it’s important even though I’m sure the Blue Oyster Cult never freaked anyone out aside from some Japanese business men when they saw some karaoke “Godzilla” for the first time.
Now we all know no one would label the knob twisters as a “psychedelic” band by any means, but if you take that “freaking people out” concept, these guys do it better than most. I’m sure the contingent of unsuspecting frat guys who were trying to impress the “cool” girl threw on Kid A or Ok Computer on their own and said to themselves, “What the fuck?” before shutting it off and decided not to see her anymore (even though we all know it was the other way around).
To put this in a more personal context, if I was dating when King of Limbs came out, and the girl I was interested in liked this album, I would’ve pretended to like it just to get to know her better, kind of like the time I tried to listen to NKOTB in 1991 to impress some chick in high school. The girl listening to the KOL album and me never would’ve worked. I don’t have a clue why anyone would like that album. IT FREAKS ME OUT! (Well, not really, it’s just boring but in this case helps illustrate a point possibly not worth making).
People get all People-magazined-out when they hear that J-Lo breaks up with Russell Crowe or some bullshit, but I tell you, one of the biggest break-ups I’ve had a tough time with over the past few years was these two dudes separating.
Ween is responsible for the most diverse catalogue of music of any band since … well, kind of ever. Sometimes they’re a little hard to take seriously sure, but they always had complete control of any genre they were ever digging into (preposition baby). I know they pass the psychedelia test because I’ve seen people inhale nitrous oxide to them. If you want a sure fire way to judge if a band is psychedelic or not, an easy “pass” is if you’ve seen people gas out to them.
Ween makes you feel like you’re on it already, so if you actually are on it, while listening to them, it probably has double the effect. My guess is it’d be like a little person on a helium balloon. That kind of thing.
7. Jefferson Airplane
When the truth is found, to be lies …
And the hope, within you dies. Then what?
6. Grateful Dead
Like most bands that came out of San Francisco in the 60s, the Dead started as nothing more than a psych-band, simply dropping acid, picking up their instruments and discovering what journeys they could go on. If you don’t believe this, listen to either “Drums” or “Space” and you’ll ask me why I didn’t put them #1. Like other bands on this list, they transcended the genre, but if Garcia were still alive, he’d probably have as much potential as anyone to freak out the establishment man.
Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies to Jimi’s timelessness is he was too psychedelic to the point many of his songs seem like they’re trapped in the 60s man. (The deeper I go into this list, the more and more I feel like I’m Tommy Chong while I’m writing this). Jimi’s generally poor lyrics focused on colors, freak flags and whatever hippies were doing between 66 and 69. It works against him because well, he’s possibly the best guitar player of all-time and could suffer the same fate as Les Paul, meaning nobody today is listening to Les Paul rock it with Mary Ford. It works for him because right now I’m making a psychedelic list and for that, he’s extremely qualified.
4. The Doors
My generation may be the last to appreciate this band that didn’t have a bass player. If the psychedelic movement never happened in the 60s, Jim Morrison never would’ve happened. Granted, he’s a HUGE reason for its success. In what other genre can you say, “Let’s swim to the moon, let’s climb through the tide” and have people take you seriously. Most of the cool weird shit from this genre comes from Doors songs, be it Lizard Kings, (whatever that means), Soft Parades, Strange Days, or strange people freaking you because you’ve done too much acid. No one had the success the Doors had with 10 minute opus songs. They opened a lot of … ugh … for many musicians, and Jimbo’s douchebaggery often lands them as the overrated band of the 60s, because hell, he’s overrated and Robby Krieger wasn’t that good of a guitar player. Fact is, the Doors were one of the best of that time, and that was a very competitive time.
3. The Beatles
Now, these pop singin’ mop tops are far from a psychedelic band but with the popularity they had, they had the ease to do Sgt. Pepper and play sitars in songs and all that crap that no other band’s producers would’ve allowed in a million years. Long story short, (this list is getting too long, I can tell already), these guys did freegin’ Sgt. Pepper so they possibly deserve to be ranked as high as #1, but I won’t do that. Every band had to have a weird freak out album after this album came out (see: Rolling Stones, Satanic Majesties Request). Whether you like it or not, the Beatles were rocks biggest game changers, and always will be, well unless you count Justin Bieber.
(and I thought Vanilla Ice was a plumber now).
2. The Flaming Lips
The reason I write this list is because today is the day I decided to listen to The Terror on my way to work. It freaked me out man like William Miller’s mom. I’m not going to go into an album review or anything here because well, it’s a complete freak show. It’s not a surprise or anything because over the past couple years, I’ve heard things like, “The Flaming Lips have recorded a 24 hour long song!” and other weird stuff. These guys probably never had it, so I can’t say they lost it.
That being said, they’re possibly the greatest psychedelic band of all time. For starters, this is their 30 year anniversary, though in popularity terms, they’ve basically only been around since the early 90s (which is still 20 years). No band that’s strictly played psychedelic music has ever lasted this long and still kept pushing the boundaries of acid freak-outs. What Wayne Coyne and his crew have accomplished is astounding.
Whether I enjoy this most current adventure or not, I enjoy the fact that they always want to take you on one. Almost every album says, “Hey, come along for the ride, you probably won’t be nearly as sane as you were when we left!”. I love that they do that. No other musicians have the freak out power that the Lips do. That’s why I love them. Even when their music approaches unlistenable.
1. Pink Floyd
I mean … come on …
(apologies to Frank Zappa fans who thought he may qualify for this list. I don’t know him well enough to decipher if he’s psychedelic or just a weirdo).