THE TOP 13 PSYCHEDELIC SONGS OF THE 1970s
As the classic days of psychedelic songs of the ’60s began to give way to new forms and genres of Rock, the ’70s still hung in there with some classics of their own.
Evidenced by the length of the majority of the songs on this Top 13 list these longer versions, compared to the mostly three to six minute psychedelic hits of the ’60s, allowed the musicians to really flex their creative muscles and go through changes that shorter songs couldn’t.
In a way, they were much more psychedelic as they could actually take us through a “trip” with its many changing moods, peaks and valleys that one experiences when psychedelicized. For me, this was a welcome advancement as I loved long extended tracks anyway, as psychedelic passages attached to progressive, blues or any Rock-based song was a real thrill.
The emerging Progressive Rock incorporated many elements of psychedelia – and other harder-to-define genres also carried the torch through extended experiments of musical journeys that still satisfied us Psychedelic Hippies.
By the end of the ’70s, the psychedelic genre had become a staple element that could be heard within many songs but the classic days eventually gave way to Hard Rock, Glam, Metal, Goth, Punk and Grunge. And while fully respected by nearly all bands as a musical form to draw from, the classic days of the Psychedelic songs pretty much ended with Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” album in 1975. By then most Hippies’ and musicians’ psychedelic drug intake had tapered-off and the fascination and influence in psychotropic drugs by those generations that followed was down to dabblers at best. Not that you had to take psychedelics to appreciate or perform psychedelic songs – but it certainly added to the fun.
Regardless, we all are left with some of the richest, most creative and sublime music for the body and mind ever recorded and this list contains thirteen classics of the ’70s whereby we can fondly say goodbye to the genre’s classic period, 1965 through 1975, that like lightning, only struck once.
Here is the countdown:
CLOSE TO THE EDGE – CLOSE TO THE EDGE – September 13, 1972 – 18:43
Set monumentally in the Progressive Rock mode, this track also has the most cohesive psychedelic sound of the epic pieces that YES is known for. Their appearance at number thirteen on this list is a nod to the emergence of Progressive Rock that eventually usurped the psychedelics of the ’60s; before psychedelia became a virtually-accepted art form that would be used in everything from folk, rock, electronica, ambient ,TV commercials and film scores. This track encompasses nearly all aspects of psychedelia with its eighteen plus minutes of masterful music.
ODYSSEY – JASPER WRATH – 1971 – 7:20
Here we have a little gem that passed everyone by; much like the group “Jade Warrior”, this was an excellent band on an obscure label that didn’t get promoted.
Incorporating all of the elements that were popular at the time, sublime guitar passages, wonderful flute accents, a great rhythm section and a dreamy psychedelic sound throughout, Jasper Wrath’s “Odyssey” is an unknown classic that represents the lighter yet still strong side of psychedelics – remember the psychedelic experience goes through many levels and moods – this is a fine example of one of those.
HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN – FRIJID PINK – 1970 – 4:44
At number eleven we have a hard rockin’ psychedelic track from Frijid Pink; a group whose name and image projected just that!
Taking the Animals’ down tempo version to the far out extremes of fuzz-guitar distortion and outtasight Rock – Frijid Pink distinctly-claimed the “House of the Rising Sun” as their own!
I really dug this album and especially this song, as you can feel the soaring, searing guitar reach the upper limits of the brain’s registry on acid to the point of ecstasy. Gotta love it!
HOMAGE TO THE GOD OF LIGHT – THE ANSWER – 1970 – 13:33
Peter Bardens, late of THEM, and future leader of Camel, created one of the Top LPs of the ’70s with “The Answer”; packed with really great mostly instrumental tracks with Peter Green, Andy Gee and other illuminaries on board.
This track is an epic adventure of Hammond organ orgiastics and outlandish free-spirited jamming!
SONG FOR A DREAMER – BROKEN BARRICADES – 1971 – 5:40
Stunned by the death of Jimi Hendrix, this soulful psychedelic tribute by Keith Reid and Robin Trower embodies the sense of loss and true love for the respected and honored icon.
Trower, a masterful Guitar God in his own right, thankfully carried on the torch through an illustrious solo career that continues to this day.
THE EDGAR WINTER GROUP
FRANKENSTEIN – THEY ONLY COME OUT AT NIGHT – 1973 – 4:44
At nearly halfway through, here’s easily the most hard rockin’ energetic and upbeat song on this list – “Frankenstein” is “Alive, Alive!”
The first to play the keyboard as a guitar, multi-instrumentalist Edgar Winter literally “Frankensteined” this song into existence via razor-bladed splicing of tape from his other compositions and created a masterpiece of psychedelicized music that became an instant classic!
“Frankenstein” is a mind-blowing goose-bump-raising Monster of over-the-top Psychedelic Rock!
REMEMBER THE FUTURE – November 1973 – 35.33
Nektar was an English group who formed in Germany and were the undisputed “Kings of the LP-Length Psychedelic Songs” and with Pink Floyd they could split this entire list between them; but to be fair they are represented by “Remember the Future” (part 1&2). This full length LP song that goes through all phases of psychedelic rock; from space truckin’ to heartbreakingly melodic passages is my favorite of their other LPs “Journey to the Center of the Eye” and “A Tab in the Ocean” (as in LSD) – both are equally drenched in psychedelia and worthy of this list.
RIDERS ON THE STORM – L.A. WOMAN – June 1971 – 7:10
From the rainy opening and the eerily beautiful keyboard we are under the spell of the Doors.
The Doors arguably had the most unique sound in Rock; a mysterious blend of the past and the future.
“Riders on the Storm” was almost like a greatest hits all in one song; great lyrics, vocals, guitar, drums and keyboards that coalesced into a dreamy psychedelic masterpiece of haunting Rock.
A perfectly balanced song that I’ve never, ever got enough of, as a matter of fact I’ve made extended versions on my Teac 2340 Quad Simul-Sync tape deck by recording it over and over so that I could experience it’s psychedelic spell forever.
MACHINE GUN – BAND OF GYPSYS – March 25, 1970 – 12:36
Released just six months before his death, this live track showcases Jimi in a transitory state of sophistication. He was definitely headed into a more serious level with his compositions and with a renewed force behind them. Possibly his last real grand psychedelic effort, “Machine Gun” creates a soundscape that mirrored the riots of inequality and protests against the Vietnam war in the United States as well as a major comment on the War itself.
His passionate creativeness literally fills every second of this epic Hendrix anthem.
STEVE MILLER BAND
JACKSON KENT BLUES – NUMBER 5 – November 1970 – 7:18
“Jackson-Kent Blues” is an epic classic and is so good that you almost forget it’s a protest song about the killing of four students by the United States National Guard during student demonstrations against the Vietnam war at Kent State University in Ohio.
After laying down the hard-rockin’ rant, Miller takes off on a classic hard rock space jam showing his Space Cowboy roots; complete with LSD-laced watery echoplex and trailing, surging guitar wrangling and Wah-Wah wizardry throughout.
Unfortunately Capitol/EMI ban it on the internet and the only versions are the short lyric-only ones.
BUT IT”S UP NOW SO GET IT WHILE YOU CAN!
MAGGOT BRAIN – MAGGOT BRAIN – July 1971 – 10:20
Funkadelic’s Eddie Hazel’s place in Rock History and as a guitarist was solidified, stamped, etched-in-stone, and forever repped by the emotion, grandeur, grunge, virtuosity and pure Psychedelic Hard Rock that he achieved with this heavy solo track. Beyond Belief!
MY GENERATION – LIVE AT LEEDS – May 16, 1970 – 14:27
This epic live rendition is a tough contender for number one as it is a monster!
The Who are adept at just about any genre of Rock and psychedelia has been a supernatural fifth member of the group since the mid-sixties.
So when they performed this track live at Leeds as a medley including “See Me, Feel Me” / “Listening To You”, “Sparks”, the instrumental riff from the end of “Naked Eye”, “The Seeker,” and other improve riffs; the song became a psychedelic acid trip all its own!
I know this for a fact as I saw, heard and experienced “My Generation” live, just as performed on the Live at Leeds LP, ninety feet from the stage on June 14, 1970 at the Anaheim Stadium (scroll down past Hendrix).
I dropped acid that day, as did nearly all in attendance, and the Who literally became Psychedelic Gods with that performance. Whew!
ECHOES – MEDDLE – October, 30 1971 – 23:31
Well, here ’tis, Number One, and deservedly so.
A sure bet that anyone who is into Pink Floyd AND psychedelic songs would unanimously choose this as their favorite, not only of Pink Floyd songs but of Psychedelic Pink Floyd songs, so actually this is a no-brainer.
A true masterpiece of music, lyrics and psychedelic wizardry; Echoes is easily my favorite song of all time. I experienced Pink Floyd perform Echoes live FOUR times; check it out:
PINK FLOYD – HOLLYWOOD BOWL – 9/22/72
PINK FLOYD – LOS ANGELES SPORTS ARENA 3 NIGHTS 1975!
Although a December 1969 release, the Buffy St. Marie track, “Poppies” has to be included as an Honorable Mention as it serves as a bridge between 00individual’s 1960 and 1970 lists of Top Psychedelic Songs.
This absolutely trippy and sublime track from her experimental album “Illuminations” was too advanced for the time of its release with its Ambient Goth Psychedelic Aura; but has now justifiably been recognized as a seminal entry into those genres.
The very ending of “Poppies” serves as the very ending quote of 00individual’s header statement … and it was true!
BUFFY SAINT MARIE
POPPIES – ILLUMINATIONS – December 1969
… and if you haven’t already, please enjoy the:
TOP 13 HISTORIC & CLASSIC 1960s PSYCHEDELIC SONGS
also be sure to check out:
TOP 13 HISTORIC & CLASSIC 1970s PSYCHEDELIC SONGS
– PART TWO –
and here’s some Psychedelic Art to view while listening to any of the above:
PSYCH ART 1 and PSYCH ART 2
. . . and for all of your Psychedelic needs please visit the:
TOP 13 PSYCHEDELIC POSTS – ALL IN ONE PLACE!
“The Psychedelic Shack is where’s it’s at; it’s always day and night,
It’s a portal to other dimensions – it’s outtasight.
Here you’ll experience other states of consciousness, and tons of fun,
Just remember once your consciousness is raised, it can never be undone.”