Elaine Hanelock’s Hollywood stars

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The essay I wrote about psychedelic art for Communication Arts earlier this year had a word limit so there was little mention of the way the psychedelic style was swiftly co-opted by advertising and commercial art as a means of reaching a youthful audience. This is a really a subject in itself, the way in which an aesthetic that was countercultural in 1965 was becoming mainstream by 1968, and was still rippling through the world of graphic design in the early 1970s.

Elaine Hanelock’s posters of Hollywood stars of the 1920s and 30s were published by Royal Screen Craft Inc, Los Angeles, in 1968, and combine two trends: psychedelic art and the nostalgia for old Hollywood that emerged in the mid-60s. There are ten posters in the set: The Marx Brothers, Clara Bow (the “It Girl”), Mae West & WC Fields, Laurel & Hardy, John Barrymore, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Will Rogers, and Wallace Beery & Marie Dressler. Nobody seems to know anything about Elaine Hanelock’s career elsewhere but her posters continue to find an audience among collectors.

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Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part One

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Blame these things: the Jon Savage booklet, and Mojo Presents Acid Drops, Spacedust & Flying Saucers (design by Phillip Savill).

One of the commissions for the New Year is psychedelia-related so to get in the mood I’ve been listening to the six CD compilations of psychedelic songs I made some years ago. I must have spent about five years gathering everything on these discs which comprise 132 selections in all, three for UK music and three for the USA, covering the years 1966–1969. The impetus was an annotated booklet listing “100 mind-expanding masterpieces” that Jon Savage had compiled for Mojo magazine in 1994; a revised list was published in 1997 along with some debatable contemporary additions. Things came to a head (so to speak) in 2001 when Savage and fellow Mojo journalists put together a four-CD collection of prime UK psychedelia for EMI, Acid Drops, Spacedust & Flying Saucers, which included many of the songs from Savage’s list. That collection and the Rhino Records Nuggets box began the mania to accumulate everything on Savage’s list. Once I’d started burning my own compilations the Savage 100 quickly expanded when I realised that I ought to include more favourites of my own.

To start the year, then, I’m uploading all six compilations to Mixcloud beginning with the UK selection. Despite all the effort and the number of songs this still isn’t a definitive collection. As Savage observes in his notes, the late 1960s was a time of massive over-production by record companies with hundreds of singles released, especially in the UK. Many one-off releases by obscure bands are as good as those that topped the charts which is why psychedelic compilations are so numerous, and why omissions are unavoidable.

With that proviso here’s the first part of the UK collection covering the years 1966 to 1967. The tracklist below indicates in bold the songs from the Savage 100 with notes about my additions. The listing is by order of release although this isn’t strictly accurate throughout. I’ll be uploading the rest of the compilations over the next few weeks.

UK Psychedelia, Part One by Feuilleton on Mixcloud

Dialogue — Alice In Wonderland (From Jonathan Miller’s BBC film, 1966.)
The Beatles — Tomorrow Never Knows
The Rolling Stones — Paint It Black
The Creation — Making Time
Craig — I Must Be Mad (A ferocious single by a band that only released one other 45 before splitting. Carl Palmer is on drums.)
Donovan — Season Of The Witch
The Yardbirds — Happenings Ten Years Time Ago
The Misunderstood — I Can Take You To The Sun (An American band who moved to London in 1966. This was their second and final single, and one of John Peel’s all-time favourites.)
Cream — I Feel Free
The Beatles — Strawberry Fields Forever
Pink Floyd — Interstellar Overdrive (Savage has the version from Tonite Let’s All Make Love In London which runs for almost 17 minutes. The version here is the shorter one from Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.)
The Smoke — My Friend Jack
The Poets — In Your Tower
The Move — I Can Hear The Grass Grow
The Troggs — Night Of The Long Grass
Traffic — Paper Sun
The Jimi Hendrix Experience — Are You Experienced?
Tomorrow — My White Bicycle (Savage has a later single, Revolution, but I much prefer this earlier 45.)
John’s Children — Midsummer Night’s Scene
Dialogue — Yellow Submarine
The Beatles — It’s All Too Much
The Attack — Colour Of My Mind
Small Faces — Green Circles

Previously on { feuilleton }
What Is A Happening?
My White Bicycle
Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake
Tomorrow Never Knows
The Dukes declare it’s 25 O’Clock!
Yellow Submarine comic books
A splendid time is guaranteed for all

Lyrical Substance Deliberated

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Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds from Yellow Submarine (1968).

The advent of spring invariably gets me listening to favourite psychedelic songs, and this year has been no exception. Earlier this week I was idly wondering how many songs there are that follow the Beatles’ lead in telegraphing their drug metaphors by using the initials L-S-D in their titles. Wikipedia’s page for Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (1967) relates John Lennon’s oft-repeated claim that the initialism in the title was a coincidence, and the song itself is really a bit of Lewis Carroll-like whimsy. This might be credible if works of art only ever carried one meaning but they don’t, of course, and the song is both a piece of Lewis Carroll-like whimsy as well as being a pretty obvious paean to the drug experience: “Climb in the back with your head in the clouds / And you’re gone”. Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit (1967) was similarly ambivalent with mushrooms/pills replacing acid.

Among the many things birthed by the enormous success of the Sgt Pepper album, a small flurry of songs or instrumentals have imitated Lennon’s initialism for their titles. The ones that came immediately to mind are detailed below, and they make a curious group. If anyone knows of any others—there must be others…—then please leave a comment.

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Burning Of The Midnight Lamp/The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice (Aug, 1967).

The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s B-side not only alludes to LSD but also to STP. The song itself doesn’t go very far before collapsing into freakout mode.

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The Trip (1967).

Not a song but included here for that “Lovely Sort of Death” tag. Written by Jack Nicholson! With Dennis Hopper as the acid dealer! See the trailer here, then watch the whole film here.

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Lost Soul In Disillusion (November, 1967).

Hard to imagine anyone in London would have heard this in 1967. The Power of Beckett were a Montreal garage group who only released two singles. Lost Soul In Disillusion turned up years later on compilation albums.

Continue reading “Lyrical Substance Deliberated”

The Sea of Monsters

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The German definite article has unfortunate implications when applied to a group of Brits, but if we overlook this detail the poster makes an interesting contrast with its US counterpart. Where the American design depicts all the film’s main characters, Heinz Edelmann’s painting concentrates almost solely on the creatures from the Sea of Monsters with no Blue Meanies in sight. As is often the case with film posters, both designs give a slightly different impression whilst being accurate in their selective representations. Yellow Submarine was reissued on DVD and Blu-ray last year. It looks and sounds marvellous.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Tomorrow Never Knows
Yellow Submarine comic books
A splendid time is guaranteed for all
Heinz Edelmann
Please Mr. Postman
All you need is…

Tomorrow Never Knows

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Episode 38 of The Beatles (1967).

The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine was released on Blu-ray earlier this month. The quality is as good as you’d expect, it looks and sounds fantastic with the songs really benefitting from their remixes and high-definition audio. The film atoned for Al Brodax and George Dunning’s earlier role as producers of the lamentable The Beatles animated TV series which ran for 39 episodes from 1965 to 1967. The series as a whole may be cheap and nasty but the penultimate number is notable for being the only one featuring two of John Lennon’s songs inspired by his acid trips: Tomorrow Never Knows and She Said, She Said. These tiny eruptions of psychedelic culture into children’s film and television have always fascinated me, and this is one example I’d missed until now. No wonder it had to end, the Fab Four were getting far too weird. Okay kids, sing along now: “I know what it’s like to be dead…”

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Dukes declare it’s 25 O’Clock!
Yellow Submarine comic books
A splendid time is guaranteed for all
Heinz Edelmann
Please Mr. Postman
All you need is…