mon 17/06/2024

Music Reissues Weekly: March of the Flower Children - The American Sounds of 1967 | reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: March of the Flower Children - The American Sounds of 1967

Music Reissues Weekly: March of the Flower Children - The American Sounds of 1967

Dizzying document of US pop’s response to the year freakiness went mainstream

Definitely not flower children: The First Edition, with Kenny Rogers (left)

“March of the Flower Children” was a June 1967 B-side by Los Angeles psych-punks The Seeds. The track was extracted from their third album Future, a peculiar dive into psychedelia which was as tense as it was turned on. While the song’s lyrics referenced a “field of flowers,” a “painted castle” and a sky “painted golden yellow” the mood was jittery, unstable.

The title has been borrowed by a three-CD clamshell set dedicated to, as its subtitle puts it, “The American Sounds of 1967.” Over around four hours, this March of the Flower Children collects 85 tracks. The Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat” is heard, along with The Mothers of Invention’s “Why Don’t You do me Right,” so it’s clear peace, love and understanding aren’t entirely germane to the agenda. The Velvets had no time for flower children and hippies. Frank Zappa and the Mothers would issue “Flower Punk” on their 1968 album We're Only in It for the Money. Its lyrics mocked a psychedelic aspirant.

March Of The Flower ChildrenEvidently, March of the Flower Children isn’t solely about the onward march of flower power and the associated good vibes implied by the title. It’s more about reactions to the changes inherent to the period rather than whole-hearted espousals of what was in the air. Open-endedly, the booklet says it presents “a dazzling cornucopia of psychedelia, garage punk, folk rock, sunshine pop and all shades in between, March Of The Flower Children features smash hits, abject flops, local issues, killer Bs and key album tracks to represent a pivotal pop year.”

In this anything-goes reading of 1967, Sonny Bono’s cautionary finger-wagger “Pammie’s on a Bummer” is preceded on Disc Two by “Paisley Dreams,” from the past-his-sell-by date Tommy Roe. Grandad, as it were, takes a trip. Elsewhere, The Grateful Dead's “The Golden Road (to Unlimited Devotion)” jostles with Monkees’ songwriters Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart’s “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight.”

There are also graduates from the coffee-house folk circuit: Tim Buckley, Jim & Jean and Tim Rose. Established hitmakers too: The Byrds, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Monkees, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Young Rascals amongst them, all of whose music was coloured by varying degrees of freakiness. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, The Grateful Dead, The Kaleidoscope were freaky as such. There is also a bunch of harmony pop. And “Mary Jane” by The Everly Brothers.

Texan bands feature heavily, with contributions from 13th Floor Elevators, Lemon Fog, The Liberty Bell, Lost & Found, The Red Crayola, Thursday’s Children, The Zakary Thaks and The First Edition, with the pre-country Kenny Rogers. Overall, March of the Flower Children is a head-spinner.

The Seeds_March Of The Flower ChildrenObviously, pop music changed in 1967 to become multi-hued and more multi-headed than ever. Some folks unreservedly embraced the psychedelic experience while others were birthed by it. There was a new window dressing which was also ripe for any bandwagon jumpers – those looking to exploit a trend. Or, there was something fresh to push against. By uniting all this chaos, March of the Flower Children confirms that 1967 was like any other year in pop. Things were moving faster and getting weirder but, as ever, anything was up for grabs in the search for an audience.

The smash ’n grab, mix ’n match approach to what’s included doesn’t undermine the wonderfulness of the actual records, irrespective of the reasons for their existence. The set opens with The Peanut Butter Conspiracy’s wonderful, Gary Usher-produced “It’s a Happening Thing.” “Love is the grooviest thing” sings Sandi Robison. The Red Crayola’s brooding “Hurricane Fighter Plane” is different, but as wonderful. The same applies to The Lemon Drops’ “I Live in the Springtime” and The Kaleidoscope’s “Egyptian Gardens.”

Likewise, the untrammelled selection criteria results in some memorable sequencing (note that some copies of the set repeat Disc Two’s tracks on Disc Three). Try this for size: Clear Light’s “Sand” followed by “White Light/White Heat,” then The Zakary Thaks’ “Mirror Of Yesterday” and The Chambers Brothers’ “Time Has Come Today.” To borrow from The Red Crayola, “Free Form Freak Out” may have been more apt a title than March of the Flower Children.


March of the Flower Children confirms that 1967 was like any other year in pop: things were moving faster and getting weirder but anything was up for grabs in the search for an audience

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