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Strawberry Alarm Clock: meaningful nouns

Unofficial fan site featuring comprehensive reviews of, and information about, the psychedelic pop band Strawberry Alarm Clock

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UnwindWithSAC.com is an exhaustive collection of information about Strawberry Alarm Clock's music and career. Every album and every song has its very own dedicated page.

Strawberry Alarm Clock had a #1 hit for one week in 1967 with "Incense And Peppermints", and that song is how most people remember the band today. Which is a shame; it's a good song but the band was more than one fluke hit. Strawberry Alarm Clock released four albums and several singles between 1967 and 1971, including a bunch of sides in 1966 as Thee Sixpence before changing their name. On all these records, lost classics abound.

In 2012, Strawberry Alarm Clock released their first new album in decades. Wake Up Where You Are featured remakes of classic SAC songs plus some newly-written tracks. The album was a welcome and great return to form.

The band's first album, Incense And Peppermints, is awash in the floating mid-1967 California feeling that permeates the best music of the era. Flutes and harpsichords enhance an often dark and unsettlingly surreal world. The next album was Wake Up... It's Tomorrow, where SAC increased the gentle wistfulness on some tracks and plumbed further depths of darkness and weirdness on others. The World In A Sea Shell (1968) followed, adding dense orchestration to a grab bag of hammy Tin Pan Alley schmaltz and inspired band originals. Good Morning Starshine was full of stripped-down blues boogie alongside some classic SAC ethereality.

Strawberry Alarm Clock: Nouns? Yes. Meaningless? Never!

List of SAC albums

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...

Good Morning Starshine LP

Good Morning Starshine is Strawberry Alarm Clock's fourth album, released in 1969. It features new lead singer, guitarist and song writer Jim Pitman, who helped lead the band away from the hollow sentimentality of 1968's ultra-lustrous The World In A Sea Shell and into a more immediate and entertaining blues-rock grunge. The band's own work (mostly)Without the crushing influence of boneheaded management decisions and the reliance on outside writers, Good Morning Starshine is something the Clock could be more proud of: it was almost all their own work, compositionally and musically, with which they would fail or succeed. And how did they do? Commercially, they... well, they failed. The only song to make an impression in the charts was the title song (from the musical Hair), an anomaly on the album that sticks out like a sore thumb, and which the band hadn't wanted to record at all, but which made it to #87 as a single. If the album had been called something different, rather than named for its weakest and dumbest (and laughably atypical) song, it might today enjoy quite a different reputation. Artistically, though, Good Morning Starshine triumphs, neatly presaging the era of gritty 70s guitar rock and revisiting some of the band's harmonic and baroque psych-pop with some brilliant performances and well-crafted songs — even finding time for some new experimentation to spice things up. Straight blues rockGood Morning Starshine begins with "Me And The Township", a startlingly crude and brutal blues-rock anthem to shock listeners expecting a continuation of The World In A Sea Shell. Strawberry Alarm Clock had other ideas however, a point underscored by the second track, the equally grimy straight guitar jam "Off Ramp Road Tramp". Both tracks were composed or co-composed by Pitman. The final song on the album, the long, slow blues "Changes", was co-written — as was most of the album, in fact — by all five musicians, and completes this hard rock trilogy


Psych-Out soundtrack album

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


Double Star Series LP

Double Star Series Featuring The Who & The Strawberry Alarm Clock is the name of a limited edition promotional album pressed around 1969 by MCA for Philco. One side of the album features songs by the Who, while side 2 has songs by Strawberry Alarm Clock. The catalog number is MCA Special Products 734586. The Who songs on Double Star Series span the band's first three albums 1965-1967: "Happy Jack", "Bucket T", "So Sad About Us", "I Can See For Miles", and "Out In The Street". All of the Strawberry Alarm Clock songs, for some reason, come from the band's second album Wake Up... It's Tomorrow (1968). Oddly, the hit song "Tomorrow" — that LP's most obvious choice for a record company in an anthologizing mood — is not included; the song selection on Double Star Series is eccentric at best, and, from a Strawberry Alarm Clock fan's point of view, pretty awesome. The front cover art is a painted collage of band shots; the SAC painting (the half of it visible) is the same one from the 1971 compilation Changes, seen on that album in its fuller form. AvailabilityThe Double Star Series Who/SAC album is rather hard to find these days; if looking, remember that it is often classified under The Who, a band with an undeniably larger stature. There were several other editions of the Series, pairing performers such as Roger Williams/Carmen Cavallaro, Freddy Martin/Sammy Kaye, and Liberace/The Ray Charles Singers. Track listingSide 1 Songs by the Who. See above. Side 2 "Sit With The Guru" - 2:59 "Nightmare Of Percussion" - 2:57 "Soft Skies, No Lies" - 3:07 "Curse Of The Witches" - 6:46 "They Saw The Fat One Coming" - 3:25


SAC songs

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...

"Sea Shell"

"Sea Shell" is the leadoff track on Strawberry Alarm Clock's 1968 album The World In A Sea Shell. A dense, lush and slow-moving song, "Sea Shell" has a gorgeous melody but some ill-conceived ocean sounds and sappy orchestral overdubs, resulting in a song that may be too somnambulistic for fans of the band's previous work. The overall theme of "Sea Shell" is pretty simple, and maudlin: a broken-hearted "boy from California" puts a sea shell to his ear and listens forlornly to the sound of the ocean, wishing he'd "never ever loved her" and blubbering that all he has left is the sea shell. As a song, "Sea Shell" is an exercise in constipated murkiness; released as a single it proved to miss the mark of public opinion, though it was successful in accurately heralding Strawberry Alarm Clock's new direction after its 1968 lineup changes. It certainly is a world away from the celebration of Incense And Peppermints and the genuine lunacy of Wake Up... It's Tomorrow. Appears onLP: The World In A Sea Shell (1968) 45: "Sea Shell" b/w "Paxton's Back Street Carnival" (Uni 55093) (1968) LP: The Best Of Strawberry Alarm Clock (1970) CD: Strawberries Mean Love (1992 compilation) CD: The Strawberry Alarm Clock Anthology (1993 compilation)


"Incense And Peppermints"

"Incense And Peppermints" is Strawberry Alarm Clock's most famous song, the band's only #1 hit, and one of the most well-known classics of the classic 60s psych/pop era. It was recorded when the band was still known as Thee Sixpence and was intended as a b-side to "The Birdman Of Alkatrash" on All American. When the band changed its name to Strawberry Alarm Clock and their new record company Uni released it as an a-side in its own right, the song went to the top of the popular charts and became one of the most recognized songs of the rock era, well known even decades later and by people who were not around for the original release. Its first appearance on an album was the eponymous Incense And Peppermints in 1967. (Note: On its first release on All American as Thee Sixpence, the song title was misspelled "Incense And Pepermints"; this was fixed on later Strawberry Alarm Clock releases.) Famous for its light, nonsensical lyrics (which themselves poke fun at the song's title as "meaningless nouns"), catchy cowbell clops and piercing organ, "Incense And Peppermints" dares its listeners, in a fit of late 1960s Meaning™, to "turn your eyes around / Look at yourself". Most intriguingly, and likely the reason for the song's enormous appeal, is its dark underbelly. While the verses chug along amiably enough, there are several moments during the sub-three minute song where the edges curl up in a spooky minor key, sometimes mingling with a distracted, buzzy lead guitar tone. Like the band's own "Lose To Live" from elsewhere on the 1967 LP, "Incense And Peppermints" goes through several musical changes, a mini-suite of ideas. The air of sensual decay is palpable, and comes across as very organic and real. Despite the catchiness and weird appeal of the song, "Incense And Peppermints" is not the best track on its namesake album, and its best ideas are often found elsewhere done more intriguingly. What makes the track a classic is the fact that it retains a sense of newness and


"Barefoot In Baltimore"

"Barefoot In Baltimore" is the first song on side 2 (seventh track on the CD) from Strawberry Alarm Clock's 1968 album The World In A Sea Shell. As one of the songs on the LP whose music (but not words) was actually written by the band, it is one of the better and more heartfelt performances on the album, while retaining the gentle and playful air of the album in general. Describing a character named Barefoot and his friends, the song's lyrics have him walking around Baltimore and along the shores of Chesapeake Bay enjoying the street-party vibe (or, the actual street party) of the place. The Clock trots out its trusty xylophone and turns the song into a song that, although rather uninteresting, was seen as good enough by someone to be released as a single (it didn't do very well in the charts). However, "Barefoot In Baltimore", underneath its lightweight veneer, does boast an interesting and unique structure: short, merry verses give quick little descriptions of odd, unconnected scenes (Fun cooks a meal on the stove while Barefoot strolls around town giggling at the sidewalk, for example), and the chorus, repeated throughout, is slower, more dramatic, and very short, barely a chorus at all but a recurring centerpiece of the song: "Barefoot in Baltimore Heel and toe with yooooou" Nice of the lyricist to incorporate the listener into the scene! The band has complained about the silliness of the lyrics, particularly that line, since the single's release, but I like them. They have a nice sound at that point in the song, though they are truly 'meaningless'. "Barefoot In Baltimore" is very short, as are all the album's songs. Appears onHaving been released, advisedly or not, as a single, "Barefoot In Baltimore" is commonly anthologized on Strawberry Alarm Clock compilations. LP: The World In A Sea Shell (1969) 45: "Barefoot In Baltimore" b/w "An Angry Young Man" (Uni 55076) (1969) LP: The Best Of Strawberry Alarm Clock (1970 compilation) CD: Incense & Peppermints


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