The World In A Sea Shell

Jump to: For sale | Comments (0)

The World In A Sea Shell (1968) by Strawberry Alarm Clock album cover
The World In A Sea Shell (Uni 73035) album cover
Strawberry Alarm Clock's third album, called The World In A Sea Shell, was released in November 1968 on Uni. The record followed Wake Up... It's Tomorrow (also 1968), but has a much more uniform sound, lusher and swamped with orchestration, than that album. Almost completely gone are the chilly gloom of "Curse Of The Witches", the sound collage of "Nightmare Of Percussion", and the commanding magnificence of "Pretty Song From Psych-Out". The general feeling here is that the band is exploring its more effete instincts; the end result from a modern perspective is that the good stuff is half-submerged in a dispiritingly glossy sheen, like a sand dollar hidden in soft white sand. There are rewards for the patient digger, though — mostly on the songs that the band members themselves composed.

Sea Shell Strawberry Alarm Clock personnel

The band membership of this time was fairly stable — this was just before the era of the infamous lineup shakeups that would haunt (and occasionally enliven) SAC for the next three years. Rhythm guitarist Lee Freeman, drummer Randy Seol, lead guitarist Ed King, keyboard player Mark Weitz, and bassist George Bunnell all remained from Wake Up... It's Tomorrow.

Outside compositions

About half of the album's songs were written by non-band members, including Carole King. Roughly speaking, these compositions — done basically against the band's wishes — make up side 1 of the LP, with the band's own (and more interesting) songs comprising side 2. The World In A Sea Shell makes this new approach instantly understood with its first several tracks: "Sea Shell" is a wistful lament on a relationship that has ended, and its subdued, harmless feel extends to the next few tracks like Carole King's "Blues For A Young Girl Gone" and the ironically-titled "An Angry Young Man" (actually one of the prettier and gentler songs on the album).

Strawberry Alarm Clock "The World In A Sea Shell" 8-track tape (GRT)
The World In A Sea Shell 8-track tape (as pictured in a 1968 magazine ad)
Not all of the outside-written songs are throwaways exactly; "Home Sweet Home" is quite good for example, and all of the aforementioned have something to recommend them. King's other contribution, "Lady Of The Lake" doesn't really work, on the other hand, and at any rate fans of the glowing psychedelia of Incense And Peppermints and/or the outré Wake Up... It's Tomorrow are likely to be shocked and confused by the vastly overdone confections that await them on the album.

Band compositions

But it's the band's own songs that get the best treatment and make side 2 the vastly more interesting and varied side to listen to. Not free of the first side's dense, echoey arrangements exactly, but the songs carry on in the tradition of Wake Up... It's Tomorrow's freewheeling compositional structures and innovative arrangements — not to mention the frequently audacious lyrics. For example, "Barefoot In Baltimore" follows a very strange character called Barefoot, who wanders the town intensely fascinated by the sidewalk under his feet; "Eulogy" is a strange Oedipal confession to and fond reminiscence of a man's parents; and the protagonist of "Wooden Woman" commits suicide by jumping into the ocean. (That last tale seems a wry extension of the imagery of the album's title and non-band-composed leadoff track; one wishes to believe it was a creative band protest to their management pushing the band in such an artificial direction.)

Singles

Two singles were released from The World In A Sea Shell:
"Barefoot In Baltimore" b/w "An Angry Young Man" #67 in the US
"Sea Shell" b/w "Paxton's Back Street Carnival" (no chart position)
* The b-side of "Sea Shell" was taken from Incense And Peppermints

However you slice it, the management's ideas for a greater commercial sound (woefully misguided in retrospect, and probably at the time as well) didn't pan out. For their fourth and final album, Good Morning Starshine, Strawberry Alarm Clock exerted more control over the material, resulting in a much more satisfying collection of songs (but not enough to bring the Clock back to sustainable mainstream consciousness). The World In A Sea Shell has some good stuff on it, but remains rather a controversial anomaly in SAC's catalog.

Availability

The World In A Sea Shell album is not available on MP3 from online sources like iTunes and Rhapsody (except for "Sea Shell"), but CD versions (and original vinyl pressings) are easy enough to find — and there is just enough interesting stuff on it to make it recommended to Strawberry Alarm Clock fans.

Track list

Side 1
"Sea Shell" - 3:06
"Blues For A Young Girl Gone" - 2:30
"An Angry Young Man" - 2:30
"A Million Smiles Away" - 2:39
"Home Sweet Home" - 2:42
"Lady Of The Lake" - 3:02

Side 2
"Barefoot In Baltimore" - 2:23
"Wooden Woman" - 2:07
"Heated Love" - 1:57
"Love Me Again" - 3:30
"Eulogy" - 1:53
"Shallow Impressions" - 3:18

Comments

No comments yet. Be the first!

Add a comment

* required

*Name:

*Email [not public]:

Website:

*(Human test)  What is 5 plus 8?

*Your comment:

Sign in or register to easily add comments and use our other features with a single account.

Strawberry Alarm Clock albums
Wake Up... It's TomorrowThe World In A Sea ShellGood Morning Starshine