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
Incense And Peppermints is Strawberry Alarm Clock's first album, named after the song that had already become a hit and released in 1967. When the band was still called Thee Sixpence they recorded and released the song "Incense And Peppermints"; shortly afterwards a bigger record label (Uni) signed the band and re-released the single under the band's new name, Strawberry Alarm Clock. This single became a worldwide #1 hit, and led to the recording of Incense And Peppermints. Curiously, the hit song that would seem to be the centerpiece of the LP was slotted in as the second-to-last song on Side 2; otherwise, the album is an impressive and varied showcase for the inspired lunacy and stately psychedelia of an unfairly maligned band. SAC was much more than their image would suggest, and Incense And Peppermints is a true psych classic, one of the premier releases of 1967. The Dark Lining of the Silver CloudOne of the most striking characteristics of Incense And Peppermints is its frequently dark (some might say pessimistic) lyrics. The fact that "Incense And Peppermints" (the song) is generally seen as a dated 60s nugget best appreciated by nostalgic hippies who haven't moved on is unfortunate, and a slander against the song and this album. Overlooked is the band's outright weirdness and acknowledgment of certain negative sides of modern society. Much of the raging chaos and unexpected angularity of the album seem to stem from a lysergic disintegration of the mind, and a restless paranoia that is never fully explained but remains unnerving even to today's listeners. (The obvious darkness and unorthodox structure of "Incense And Peppermints", shamefully but consistently glossed over by so many 60s anthologists and essayists, are more fully explored on the album's ten songs.) Examples of this are the famous opening track, the eight-plus minute "The World's On Fire", which (true to its title) has the shocking feeling of an unstoppable global conflagration from the point
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
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...
"Sit With The Guru" is the first song on Side 2 (and the sixth track overall) on Strawberry Alarm Clock's 1968 album Wake Up... It's Tomorrow. It was also released as a single in 1968. "Sit With The Guru" is jaunty and poppy, with an aggressive guitar vying for supremacy with the lovely, melodic vocal work. The relative placidness of "Sit With The Guru" comes as something of a relief after the one-two punch in the soul delivered by the preceding two songs, "They Saw The Fat One Coming" and "Curse Of The Witches". A psych/garage classic in its own right, "Guru" is vintage SAC and one of the most typical examples of the band — that is, to introduce someone to the general Strawberry Alarm Clock oeuvre, this song pretty much has it all: the blistering electric guitar, the lush vocals (with la-la-laaa backing harmonies), the ringing keyboards, the highly enjoyable slapdash drumming, the hippie-scene lyrics... and there is even a sudden, sitar-led freakout section towards the end. All this in a perfect three minutes. Speaking of those hippie lyrics — here's a representative taste: "Yesterday's invalidated Hip mankind on Turn your mind on Sit with the guru Meditation, ooh! High, high, where eagles fly Leave today untouched in the sky" Lyrically, "Sit With The Guru" is rather a jumble of such new-agey descriptions of an evening with the all-important 'guru' (who may be an actual person, or may be LSD or some similar drug, or the experience itself, or something else entirely; it doesn't really matter). There is even a rhetorical connection with the album's title and biggest hit, "Tomorrow": "Stretch out your mind to humanity How many tomorrows can you see?" In this song, the lyrics are actually more psychedelic than the music, at least until the trip really starts and the atonal, arrhythmic sitar takes over for a few brief seconds. Appears onLP: Wake Up... It's Tomorrow (1968) 45: "Sit With The Guru" b/w "Pretty Song From Psych-Out" (Uni 55055) (1968) LP: The
"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)
"I Climbed The Mountain" is one of Strawberry Alarm Clock's final singles, and is a non-LP song that was backed with "Three" in 1969 after the released of the band's final LP, Good Morning Starshine. "I Climbed The Mountain" is a nice but unremarkable orchestrated pop song with a subtle air of spiritual redemption (mostly in the lyrics, which quote the title of the well-known 1937 gospel song "Peace In The Valley" and have the general atmosphere of revivalist ecstasy). Musically, "I Climbed The Mountain" is distinguished by two elements: a soft-rock string section and an interesting rat-tat-tat bass guitar part at the end of each measure. Vocalist Paul Marshall has a good, if not particularly strong, voice that matches the orchestra pretty well, and he does a good job with the tricky up-and-down melody. The lyrics of "I Climbed The Mountain" are chock full of folk/gospel utopian visions, each line deepening the feeling of some religious experience having taken place, as the singer describes climbing a mountain and seeing "the other side", a perfect land to strive for: "There was peace in the valley There was hope in the land There was joy in the children There was love, beautiful love In the heart of man" Ultimately, "I Climbed The Mountain" is one of Strawberry Alarm Clock's weaker singles, sounding more like "Put Your Hand In The Hand" by Ocean than may be comfortable for many Clock fans. It wants to be a good song, and almost makes it, but there just seems to be a lack of conviction behind it. Available onCD: Good Morning Starshine (1969) Japanese bonus-track CD version 45: "I Climbed The Mountain" b/w "Three" (Uni 55190) (1969) CD: Strawberries Mean Love (1992 compilation)