Strip-Mining Psychedelia

You have a Target commercial and Alice Cooper's late night radio show to thank for this post. It's about psychedelic music from the 1960s and the power of the Internet. Let's begin.

The other night, I was watching television and a Target commercial came on, and like many commercials these days, it had a clip of retro music for those of us old enough to remember it. For the young, it's all new, of course. The song was "The Shape of Things to Come," and I was pretty sure that it was from the period of about 1967-69, because of the psychedelic sound. Now, I had no idea who the singer was, but through the magic of Google, I quickly found out that while the song had been covered by the Ramones and Slade, the original version, which was used in the commercial, was by Max Frost and the Troopers. Even more interesting, the song came from the 1968 movie "Wild in the Streets"; it was one of those kooky movies that was kind of like "Logan's Run" on magic mushrooms, without the groovy uniforms. The voting age gets lowered to 15, the squares get "retired" at 30 and sent off to camps for perpetual acid trips. Really.

Later that night, I was listening to Alice's radio show on the way to work. Every night, he digs something classic out of the vaults. This particular night, it was a song I recognized, but not the version I heard. Now, if you listened to rock music in the 1980s, you're probably familiar with the Hooters, and might even have a copy of their "Nervous Night" CD stashed away someplace. One of the songs on it was "She Comes In Colors." That was the song that Alice was playing, but not their version. Instead, this was obviously a late '60s psychedelic version featuring a singer with a weedy voice and a some kind of weirdly annoying pipe/flute accompaniment. It was one of those songs that you listen to it and think, "Man, it must have sounded a lot better to them when they were stoned." An Amazon search told me that this was probably the version of the song by the band Love.

The amazing thing about both of these songs is the amount of information I could find on them via the Internet. All you need is an identifiable line from the lyrics and you have a pretty good chance of finding out what the song is and who sang it. We live in interesting times, if you can survive the information overload.