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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Unleash your inner weird with Hello OchoBeaumont Enterprise (blog), October 7th
I will say that Hello Ocho has been experimenting since 2010 with sounds that exist somewhere within the indie/psych-rock/jazz/pop realm, and that this show is one you won't want to miss. I chatted with Chris Yonker, Hello Ocho vocalist and guitarist...Read more
Perth Impalas set to tame ARIAsThe West Australian, October 6th
Perth psych-rock band Pond, which features former and current Tame Impala members, were nominated for best cover art. That honour went to Barnett, who designed her own album artwork. With five nominations each, relative newcomers in Sydney rockers ...Read more
Türkiye'den en iyi 10 psych rock ?ark?s?Gaia Dergi (Bas?n Bildirisi) (Blog), October 5th
Amerikal? post-punk müzik grubu The Soft Moon, Türkiye'den en iyi 10 psych rock ?ark?s?n? s?ralad?. Türkiye psychedelic rock, nam-? di?er Anadolu rock, son y?llarda yeniden de?erlendirildi. The Soft Moon, alt?n ça? 60'lar ve 70'lerin en iyi i?lerini...Read more
A night of psychedelic rock, jam and poetryJournal Times, October 5th
RACINE — A free performance featuring music and poetry will be held at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, at George's Tavern, 1201 N. Main St. The show will begin with versification and rhymes by FlowPoetry, voted Madison's favorite spoken word artist in 2014 and ...Read more
Burning Palms rewrites the psych-rock rulebookStraight.com, September 30th
Instead, the singer-guitarist for Tucson, Arizona, psych unit Burning Palms is hanging out on a beach that she describes as nothing less than magical. Normally, that would suggest that Stopford is enjoying some decidedly un–rock 'n' roll downtime...Read more
New Mix: Psych Pop And Gritty Rock From John Grant, Dilly Dally, MoreNPR, September 29th
Good luck getting these tunes out of your head. Host Bob Boilen kicks off this week's All Songs Considered with new music by Pell, a rapper and songwriter who garnered well-deserved attention for his first mixtape, and is back in a big way with...Read more
The Lad Mags talk Father Yod, '70s psych-rock and band hiatusVUE Weekly, September 24th
In 1973, 16 years before Ashley Hollands was born, Father Yod, frontman of the psychedelic rock band Yo Ha Wa 13 and founder of the spiritual commune known as the Source Family roamed the Hollywood Hills, blowing minds. In total sincerity, Hollands ...Read more
Richmond psych rock band California Death set to jam at Strange Matter, 9/26The Deli Magazine National (blog), September 13th
When looking for a new jam with high energy and trippy vocals, apply California Death directly to the eardrums. This quartet out of Richmond makes a great addition to a road trip playlist or a good beach party jam with their masterful use of vamping...Read more