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.
LP: Good Morning Starshine (1969)
45: “Starting Out The Day” b/w “Small Package” (Uni 55185) (1969)
LP: Changes (1971 compilation)
CD: Strawberries Mean Love (1992 compilation)
CD: The Strawberry Alarm Clock Anthology (1993 compilation)