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 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)
Wake Up... It's Tomorrow is Strawberry Alarm Clock's second album, released in early 1968 and following up their 1967 debut Incense And Peppermints. Many of the musical themes and lyrical concerns of the first album were explored further on Wake Up... It's Tomorrow, resulting in an album that, impressively, is at turns gentler and weirder. The LP begins with the claustrophobic "Nightmare Of Percussion", followed directly by "Soft Skies, No Lies", an unabashed sunshine-y pop song. These two tracks set the pace for the rest of the album: Wake Up... It's Tomorrow is equal parts pleasant late-60s pop/psych and harrowing, disagreeable (but fascinating) dementia. The dark side of the clockLyrically, the dark side would have to come out on top; even most of the sunny pop songs are fleshed out with mention of a dark and/or violent side. Most strikingly, "Go Back (You're Going The Wrong Way)" is the album's silliest, happiest music, but the tale told within speaks of an unending wheel of negativity being the natural way of the world. When Strawberry Alarm Clock really lets the dark side take over, the results are scary indeed. "They Saw The Fat One Coming" is a creepy, acoustic minor-key song that perfectly sets up the album's awful and awesome masterpiece, "Curse Of The Witches". The adventurousness of these two odd tracks is later echoed by the album's final three songs, a miniature three-sing suite called "Black Butter". Where the Incense And Peppermints album contained such bleak treatises as "The World's On Fire", "Lose To Live", and the ironic "Hummin' Happy", Wake Up... It's Tomorrow seems to have the bottom completely fall out at times. The negativity is more mature and more deeply felt here (and, it must be stressed, altogether stranger). For fans of somber, evil-sounding psychedelia, the trip is a good one indeed. Delicious popOn the other hand, Wake Up... It's Tomorrow also has the Clock's best and most soaring moment: "Pretty Song From Psych-Out", written and
The Strawberry Alarm Clock Anthology is an 18-track compilation released in 1993 and comprising many of Strawberry Alarm Clock's more notable songs. It was put out by One Way Records. As an overview of the Clock's musical output 1967-71, The Strawberry Alarm Clock Anthology isn't too comprehensive, but the music is pretty excellent: the selection from the band's first two albums, 1967's Incense And Peppermints and 1968's Wake Up... It's Tomorrow, is very well-chosen and makes up a full two-thirds (12 songs of 18) of the anthology. This, of course, means that the band's two final albums and assorted singles get short shrift, as usual. (Only the 1971 compilation Changes treats latter-era SAC with any proper respect.) The band's third album, The World In A Sea Shell, contributes four songs to The Strawberry Alarm Clock Anthology, where the final LP Good Morning Starshine is represented by one solitary song, the admittedly excellent "Small Package". (The ghost of that final album can only sigh patiently; most compilations treat its songs this way despite its containing several contenders for the band's top 15 or 20 list.) The Strawberry Alarm Clock Anthology ignores the band's non-LP singles altogether, bypassing classics like "Starting Out The Day" and "Desireé", and has no songs released with 1969-71 singer Paul Marshall (the tracks from Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, for instance). The only exception to this (sort of) is the non-LP b-side of "Incense And Peppermints" called "The Birdman Of Alkatrash", which is on nearly every SAC compilation due to its incidental relationship with that #1 hit song. The Anthology is rather easy to find, especially used, but for anyone interested in a compilation of the band, it would probably be better to go with the 21-track CD version of 1992's Strawberries Mean Love. One major advantage the Anthology has over that collection, however, is that all three songs of the "Black Butter" suite ("Past", "Present", and "Future") are on
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...
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
Strawberry Alarm Clock released the non-LP single "Desireé" in 1969 backed with "Changes" from the Good Morning Starshine album. "Desireé" is a great song, and one of SAC's real lost classics. The performance features the vocals of 1969-era Clock singer Jim Pitman, as well as an interesting horn section. "Desireé" is catchy in the best sense — not annoyingly so, just a hell of a lot of fun. It begins with a gentle, rather psychedelic intro, but the band slopes in soon enough as Pitman growls out the lyrics (which are barely worth mentioning) and the band just nails it. The song occasionally dips back into the psychedelic feel of the intro, lyrically and musically invoking the Beatles' "Fool On The Hill" — but mostly, "Desireé" is a thrilling, horn-driven piece of rock funk that by all rights should have been a big hit for the band. What the band strove so hard for on its final album seemed to fall into their lap with "Desireé"; strange how things work in such creative endeavors. The interplay between the horns and the guitar is perfect; in fact, everything just glides effortlessly into place. "Desireé" belongs in any Strawberry Alarm Clock collection. Appears on45: "Desireé" b/w "Changes" (Uni 55158) (1969) CD: Good Morning Starshine (1969) Japanese bonus-track CD version LP: The Best Of Strawberry Alarm Clock (1970 compilation) CD: Strawberries Mean Love (1992 compilation)
"Tomorrow" is Strawberry Alarm Clock's second-best known song (after "Incense And Peppermints"), and is the third song on the band's second album Wake Up... It's Tomorrow (1968). The de facto title song of the album (if not technically), "Tomorrow" is classic SAC in that it moves through several different sections, showing off a surprising number of arrangements and instrumental solos in a short time. Unlike past examples of this ("Incense And Peppermints", "Lose To Live") however, "Tomorrow" chugs along with the same basic beat and melody line throughout, grafting its more sparkly moments on top rather than creating a new mood for each. This gives the song a catchier feel and a uniform sound (aided and abetted by the band sounding particularly robust). Keyboards and glimmering electric guitar are present for the basic track throughout, and "Tomorrow" comes off nearly as sunny as "Soft Skies, No Lies" but a little more adventurous, and with a bit of garage-y bluntness left over from Thee Sixpence. "Tomorrow" is very short, just over two minutes, and its final few seconds are a loop of the band shouting "Pow!" (or something like it), which is phased as it fades out and leads quite well into the next song on the album, "They Saw The Fat One Coming". Available onLP: Wake Up... It's Tomorrow (1968) 45: "Tomorrow" b/w "Birds In My Tree" (Uni 55046) (1968) LP: The Best Of Strawberry Alarm Clock (1970) CD: Incense & Peppermints (1990 compilation) CD: Strawberries Mean Love (1992 compilation) CD: The Strawberry Alarm Clock Anthology (1993)