Psych is a broad term referring to a genre of psychedelic vinyl albums and singles recorded from roughly 1966 to 1969. As psych record collector Patrick Lundborg describes it in his interview at Collectors Weekly, psychedelic music was created by bands that were influenced by psychedelic drugs, from LSD to mushrooms. Both an album’s cover and the music on the vinyl inside reflected these intense influences.

Although the most active sector of today’s market for psych records is in rare and obscure recordings, some of the most famous psych records are by some of the world’s most popular artists, from Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton. Album covers such as Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) place The Beatles squarely in the psych-records camp. Magical Mystery Tour (1967) is also a link to the world of rock music posters, thanks to its cover by renowned poster artist John Van Hamersveld.

Other highly regarded examples of British psych include Donovan’s Sunshine Superman from 1966. The list from 1967 is exceptionally deep—Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Their Satanic Majesties Request by the Rolling Stones, Cream’s Disraeli Gears, The Who Sell Out by The Who, and Traffic’s Mr. Fantasy are just a few of the trippy English gems from that seminal year.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, a multitude of rock bands released a plethora of psych records in the late 1960s. Moby Grape’s eponymous 1967 debut is a must-have for most psych vinyl collectors, as is the Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 After Bathing at Baxter’s, which was reportedly mixed by the band based on how well the music would sound while the listener was under the influence of LSD.

Country Joe and the Fish made the connection between psychedelic drug culture and their music explicit with their 1967 Electric Music for the Mind and Body. Power trio Blue Cheer released Vincebus Eruptum in 1968, which was the same year one of San Francisco’s most influential acts, Quicksilver Messenger Service, offered up its spacey self-titled debut. Also desirable is the pair of albums by H.P. Lovecraft, a Chicago band that was formed in 1967, relocated to San Francisco in 1968, and then disbanded a year later.

The Grateful Dead was the region’s psychedelic heavyweight. Anthem of the Sun (1968), with its mandala-like cover, combined live tracks with studio work, while the band’s studio follow-up, Aoxomoxoa, featured a gloriously psychedelic cover by Fillmore and Avalon poster artist Rick Griffin.

And then there was the back cover of the band’s 1969 double LP, Live Dead, which featured the word "Dead" in big, blocky letters: It was designed by artist R.D. Thomas so that the top part of "Dead" appeared to spell out the word "Acid" in a not-so-subtle wink to the recreational drug of choice for the Grateful Dead’s audience of Deadheads...

As with Northern Soul, though, the most intense collecting activity in psych vinyl records revolves around the lesser-known, cult-status bands that produced discs in small production runs. Like Northern Soul, scarcity is key.

For example, in 1967, the bands Golden Dawn and 13th Floor Elevators, both from Austin, Texas, released a pair of albums that were not widely distributed at the time but today are considered by many to be classics of the genre. Golden Dawn’s Power Plant is less well known than the Elevators’ Easter Everywhere or The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, the group’s 1966 debut. But that extra layer of obscurity, it seems, is at least part of what makes Golden Dawn attractive to collectors.

But for sheer scarcity and cult cachet, few psych bands compare to C.A. Quintet, a Minneapolis outfit that produced just one album in its heyday. Trip Through Hell, 1969, sold less than 1,000 copies for a label called Candy Floss. Today, beat-up copies with tequila-sunrise stains on their covers fetch more than a grand on eBay.

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Recent News: Psych Records

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Psych Rockers Chui Wan Finish First US Tour at Brick & Mortar
SFStation.com, May 24th

Chui Wan, a psychedelic rock band from Beijing, China, have embarked on their first U.S. tour with a stop through the Bay Area at Brick and Mortar Music Hall on Monday June 1st. Three years after their debut record, “White Light,” in which MTV Iggy...Read more

Concerts: Folk metal, hardcore rock, psych-pop and indie-folk
Ottawa Citizen, May 21st

Beethoven's 'Emperor” Concerto with conductor Chistian Zacharias and the NAC Orchestra, 8 p.m., National Arts Centre, 53 Elgin St. Tickets: from $25. nac-cna.ca. Rob Carnegie at the Wild West Jamboree, 6:15 p.m., Horticulture Building, Lansdowne Park...Read more

Psychedelic rock band to perform at 3S Artspace May24
Foster's Daily Democrat, May 20th

PORTSMOUTH — Controversial Brooklyn-based band Prince Rama will perform at 3S Artspace and screen its film "Never Forever" which features songs from their latest release “Top Ten Hits of the End of the World” on Sunday, May 24. Opening for Prince ...Read more

Tame Impala's Psych Rock Felt Uneven At The Riv
Chicagoist, May 20th

Tame Impala treated the Riviera to a psych rock singalong last Friday night, touring ahead of the release of their upcoming third album, Currents. The Aussie quartet showered the sold-out crowd with trippy synths and moody reverb that were received...Read more

Album Review: Jackson Scott – 'Sunshine Redux'
The Independent, May 19th

Jackson Scott, a powerful psych-rock musician emerging on the sound-waves, takes the next step into polyphonic bliss. (Courtesy of Bloodmoss Records). In the ever-evolving music landscape, psychedelic rock has been a staple since its inception and its ...Read more

Notes From Friday And Saturday At Austin Psych Fest's Levitation
San Antonio Current (blog), May 11th

Having imbibed heavy doses of Beijing psych-rock band Chui Wan in the weeks leading up to Levitation, we were stoked to catch this inventive and virtuosic outfit so far away from its home. In a killer set that was like a late-1960s Cali-noir road trip...Read more

Milwaukee Psych Fest celebrates its third installment Thursday at the Cactus Club
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 7th

Milwaukee Psych Fest has proved so popular that Phil Pirrone, organizer of the growing Desert Daze psychedelic rock festival in California, asked Shelp to move the fest to the weekend after Austin's to avoid competition with Desert Daze for bookings...Read more

Record Bin: The disorienting psych rock spectacle of Tomorrow's self-titled debut
Nooga.com, May 2nd

Psych rock was always known for its theatricality, for its tendency to go cosmic in its distillation of what rock music could and should be. And it was through these tendencies that some of the best and worst records of the genre would be created. But...Read more