Unofficial fan site featuring comprehensive reviews of, and information about, the psychedelic pop band Strawberry Alarm Clock
Strawberry Alarm Clock released four studio albums between 1967 and 1969 — Incense And Peppermints, Wake Up... It's Tomorrow, The World In A Sea Shell, and finally Good Morning Starshine. Also during this original period, the band appeared on the 1968 soundtrack album for the movie Psych-Out (but not with new songs), and contributed two songs to the soundtrack for the 1970 cult classic movie Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls. Since that time, there have been several Strawberry Alarm Clock compilation albums (not to mention billions of 'Various Artists' 1960s comps, most with "Incense And Peppermints"). Some of these have been released on vinyl only (The Best Of Strawberry Alarm Clock Vol. 1 from the 1980s, for example), while others have been released on CD only. More examples of Strawberry Alarm Clock compilation albums are 1971's Changes, which had two new songs with singer Paul Marshall on it, The Strawberry Alarm Clock Anthology, and the confusingly-titled 1990 compilation Incense...
The soundtrack LP of the 1968 movie Psych-Out features Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Seeds, Boenzee Cryque, and the Storybook performing a nice selection of psychedelic pop songs. Strawberry Alarm Clock has no otherwise unavailable songs here, except for a shorter edit of "The World's On Fire". The album is a great collector's piece but not strictly necessary apart from that. There are in fact four Strawberry Alarm Clock-related songs on the album. "The World's On Fire" appears in its full-length original form as it did on the band's debut LP Incense And Peppermints, and in a shorter edit; "Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow" (also from the debut LP); and the sparklingly excellent "Pretty Song From Psych-Out", which SAC included on their second LP Wake Up... It's Tomorrow, but which is performed by the Storybook on Psych-Out. The latter is basically a note-for-note copy of Strawberry Alarm Clock's version — good but not as great as the original. The StorybookThe Psych-Out soundtrack is usually described as a Strawberry Alarm Clock/Seeds album, but that is a bit of historical revisionism reflecting the greater reknown of those groups; the album in fact focuses on the Storybook, who are mostly unknown otherwise and who have some really great psychedelic music here. The movie may be a psychsploitation flick enabling the producers to make a fast buck, but the music is high quality nonetheless. From such dull origins come great things. I actually recommend this LP, if for the hilariously blatant (but legally a-ok) "Purple Haze" ripoff called "Ashbury Wednesday" by Boenzee Cryque, shown in the movie as being played by Jack Nicholson's psychedelic band. Track listingSide 1 "Pretty Song From Psych-Out" - by The Storybook "Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow" - 3:03 by Strawberry Alarm Clock "Two Fingers Pointing On You" - by The Seeds "Ashbury Wednesday" - by Boenzee Cryque "The World's On Fire" - 3:29 by Strawberry Alarm Clock (edit from the middle section of the regular version) Side
The Best Of Strawberry Alarm Clock is the name of a 1970 compilation album from Strawberry Alarm Clock, the band's first such album and the only one released while the group was still functioning (if in a fragmented state, after a series of member changes, defections and returns). The compilation is not bad, offering a pretty representative collection of Strawberry Alarm Clock's poppier side, although it bypasses the weirder side of the band. Songs from all four of the band's studio albums are included. This album also has the best cover of all the SAC compilations, for what it's worth. The Best Of Strawberry Alarm Clock was re-released in 2013 on a 180-gram vinyl LP by Sundazed, offering fans a great chance to get this compilation on high-quality vinyl. Collectors or others so inclined can also hunt for original copies from 1970. Note that there is also a compilation called The Best Of Strawberry Alarm Clock Vol. 1, a cheap-ish looking 1980s album that has a different cover and song list. Track listSide 1 "Incense And Peppermints" - 2:49 (from Incense And Peppermints) "Tomorrow" - 2:14 (from Wake Up... It's Tomorrow) "Sit With The Guru" - 2:59 (from Wake Up... It's Tomorrow) "An Angry Young Man" - 2:30 (from The World In A Sea Shell) "Barefoot In Baltimore" - 2:23 (from The World In A Sea Shell) "Pretty Song From Psych-Out" - 3:15 (from Wake Up... It's Tomorrow) Side 2 "Birds In My Tree" - 1:55 (from Incense And Peppermints) "Sea Shell" - 3:16 (from The World In A Sea Shell) "Miss Attraction" - 2:44 (from Good Morning Starshine) "Good Morning Starshine" - 2:24 (from Good Morning Starshine) "Desireé" - 3:03 (from a 1969 single) "Starting Out The Day" - 2:40 (from a 1969 single)
Changes is the name of a Strawberry Alarm Clock compilation released originally in 1971 on Vocalion (as VL 73915). It was named for the song "Changes", the last song on the last studio LP by the band (though there were some additional singles). Changes bypasses all of the band's earlier and better-known hits to focus instead on SAC's later career and interesting album cuts. It indeed succeeds in this, with a fairly insightful selection of some of the Clock's hidden highlights. As with most SAC compilations, there is nothing new or previously unreleased on Changes. Included, of course, is the 'title song', as well as latter-day singer Jim Pitman's gentler song writing contributions from Good Morning Starshine, "Dear Joy" and "Write Your Name In Gold". The excellent "Small Package" from that LP is also on Changes. The World In A Sea Shell is not particularly well-represented, however: the maudlin "Blues For A Young Girl Gone" and (especially) "Lady Of The Lake" aren't the most recommended songs from that album. "Love Me Again", however, is one of the best and more unknown tracks there, and is thankfully on Changes. Reaching all the way back to the band's second album Wake Up... It's Tomorrow, this compilation includes all three of the "Black Butter" songs ("Past", "Present", and "Future"). This compilation was evidently intended to be a sort of companion piece to 1970's The Best Of Strawberry Alarm Clock, which collected a much more expected group of Strawberry Alarm Clock songs (the hits and singles, in other words). Although the band has been anthologized several times since 1970-1, Changes is still recommended, if you can find an old vinyl copy, if you want a brief overview of the band's last two albums. It has a really cool cover to boot — probably the best part of the album: the overused from the cover of the band's first album Incense And Peppermints has been painted with a really nice balance of colors around it. Even if you already have all the regular
Strawberry Alarm Clock's oldest song could be considered to be "Long Days Flight", which was the a-side of the first single released by the band's original carnation, Thee Sixpence. That band released a half-dozen songs, and the lineup was virtually the same as SAC. The first Strawberry Alarm Clock songs proper were the two from the single "Incense And Peppermints" b/w "The Birdman Of Alkatrash"; the band's first album Incense And Peppermints contained several more band originals. Wake Up... It's Tomorrow, considered by some the band's high point, was full of more great SAC originals. The band's third album, The World In A Sea Shell, featured several tracks written for the band by outside writers along with some originals; their final LP Good Morning Starshine featured all original Strawberry Alarm Clock songs, except the title song. After that final LP, the band released several non-LP singles with both Jim Pitman and Paul Marshall on vocals. They also contributed two songs to the 1970...
"Birds In My Tree" is the second track from Strawberry Alarm Clock's 1967 album Incense And Peppermints. A short and rather conventional pop song, it features vaguely psychedelic touches such as an adventurous melody, lyrical references to drugs and a new ideal existence, and a real sense of wonder: "Hand me my bag, Frederick Stretch out your mind, feel good" "Come live a better life All is what you strive for And now there are many birds in my tree" "Birds In My Tree" begins with a tough, distorted guitar-led instrumental intro, recalling the mania of the preceding track "The World's On Fire" before leveling out into a calmer psych-pop sound. For this reason it's a great transition piece on the album, marrying the strengths of the band (tough electric attack, and blissful pop loveliness) together in one simple song. And, as always on the Incense And Peppermints LP, with a hint of psychedelic weirdness bubbling phantasmagorically just below the surface. "Birds In My Tree" was later used for the b-side of a single, "Tomorrow" from 1968's Wake Up... It's Tomorrow. Appears OnLP: Incense And Peppermints (1967) 45: "Tomorrow" b/w "Birds In My Tree" (1968) LP: The Best Of Strawberry Alarm Clock (1970) CD: Incense & Peppermints (1990 compilation) CD: Strawberries Mean Love (1992 compilation)
Thee Sixpence covered the popular song "Fortune Teller" on their second release, a 45 rpm single on All American backed with "My Flash On You", the band's second cover of Arthur Lee's Love. (Thee Sixpence later evolved into Strawberry Alarm Clock.) Many bands in the 1960s covered "Fortune Teller", including the Rolling Stones and the Who ('and Wayne Fontana — 'e did it'). Thee Sixpence's version shows the band significantly improved over the rowdy mayhem of their first single, "Long Days Care". Taking care to get the song right, the band still manages to inject quite a bit of groovy raveup energy into the performance. Also helping things is the fact that the band sounds slightly better recorded this time. "Fortune Teller" is buoyed by a harmonica that does all the right things without being too overbearing (which was something of a nuisance on "Long Days Care"). There is even a fade-out at the end, lending further credence to the notion that the band and their producer were taking more care than they might have on the debut. "Fortune Teller" was re-used as the b-side of a later Thee Sixpence single, 1967's "Heart Full Of Rain". Appears on45: "Fortune Teller" b/w "My Flash On You" (All American 313) (1966) 45: "Fortune Teller" b/w "My Flash On You" (Dot 16959) (1966) 45: "Heart Full Of Rain" b/w "Fortune Teller" (All American 353) (1967) LP: Step By Step (1998 Thee Sixpence compilation)
The third song on Strawberry Alarm Clock's 1969 LP Good Morning Starshine is the quite entertaining "Small Package". The performance has some of the gutsy blues-rock feel of the album's first two songs ("Me And The Township" and "Off Ramp Road Tramp") but "Small Package" is actually more of an extension of the band's adventurous song writing and arranging from the 1968 LP Wake Up... It's Tomorrow. "Small Package" starts with a piano laid unobtrusively on top of a severely echoed clip-clop cowbell, lifted directly from the Chambers Brothers' "Time Has Come Today" — a little welcome studio trickery to give some interesting color to the album. When the song really gets under way, it proves to be a rather straightforward rock tune, but one broken up constantly by some great fleeting moments of beauty and a few cool solos. Impressively, the song is made up of several different musical pieces, in the style of many classic early SAC songs. The band has developed a fantastically deft touch with the song's stranger chord sequences (heard after the opening cowbell and just before the cowbell's re-emergence later in the song), a piano dancing confidently over the rest of the band and tying everything into a nice... well, small package. Vocally, "Small Package" is sung by a chorus of voices, giving it even more of the feel of SAC's best past work. The song ends with a playful nod to the Beach Boys, with whom the Clock had toured: the organ plays the circus-like opening notes of "California Girls" and the band sings: "Well East Coast girls are hip I really dig those styles they wear" All in all, "Small Package" finds Strawberry Alarm Clock having fun, experimenting, and showing off their increasing instrumental prowess. The song was chosen as the b-side to a single from the LP ("Starting Out The Day"), and is indeed one of the nicer tracks from the band of this era. It belongs on any decent compilation of SAC music. Appears onLP: Good Morning Starshine (1969) 45: "Starting