LA Hippie, Caught On Film

1 May

It is said that at any point in time here in London, you’re never more than 10 feet away from a rat. Now, if I’m gonna believe that one, then I’m also gonna believe that in LA, you’re never more than 10 feet from some rodent-like fella with a camera angling to get into the movie biz. These clips be proof, ca. ’67-’72:

CLEAR LIGHT – “She’s Ready to Be Free” 1967: Ah, to stumble across a dashing young rock band this idiosyncratic amongst the canyons of LA. Is this taken from The President’s Analyst? I don’t know jack about CLEAR LIGHT, other than they put out one LP on Electra in the wake of THE DOORS with future CSN&Y drummer Dallas Taylor. This psych fragment – with that manic gtr chickenscratchin’ – makes me wanna explore more.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART – “Electricity” 1968: I’m guessing this is a studio take overdubbed here, but WHO CARES! It’s a young Beefheart & band on the beach, for christ’s sake – looks like Santa Monica to me. And in mismatched hats no less! – ya just gotta admire em. LA freak was waaaay more at odds with SoCal’s idea of itself than hippie ever was in relation to SF’s identity (BLUE CHEER excluded). This created a cluster of LA outcast artists who were more tough/ornery, more individualistic, and ultimately more inspiring than their NoCal counterparts. Give me the Straight! Records crew any day of the week.

KALEIDOSCOPE – “Lie To Me” 1969: This live version beats the pants off the still-rankin’ studio version found on their Incredible! LP. Jimmy Page called these guys his favorite band, and I’m starting to believe he was on to something special here – what a talented group. And if only the flashing colors along Sunset Blvd. were still anywhere near this eye-popping . . .

THE BYRDS & EARL SCRUGGS – “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” 1971: You may have seen this already; I sure haven’t. Industry pressure kept these BYRD guys kinda tame in their early career, but man the times they did a-change and eventually they were free to fly with the best of em. Later BYRDS gtrist Clarence White has always been a string-bending favorite of mine, although here that young guy to the right of Earl (Earl’s son?) turns in a pretty dang talented solo, too.

MU – “Nobody Wants to Shine” 1972: Merrell Fankhauser’s MU chiseled out the absolute pinnacle of Westcoast hippie rock on their first self-titled LP in 1970, recorded during their LA period. There remains nothing like MU’s glorious MAGIC BAND meets GRATEFUL DEAD musical vibeology found anywhere on this still-beautiful planet (Lemuria included). This silent clip – filmed up near San Luis Obispo someplace, but so what – is the only film I’ve ever seen of em. Watch closely, and ya just might learn a thing or to about how to actualize one of those alternate psychedelic realities we all know exist, but seem at a big, big loss to find in 2008.


6 Responses to “LA Hippie, Caught On Film”

  1. mark May 1, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    Gotta love the Mr. Natural bass drum head! Kaleidoscope sound like a template for Zeppelin.

  2. Joe Stumble May 1, 2008 at 7:34 pm #

    I agree with mark. I’ve always liked Kaleidoscope but had no idea they were Mr Page’s favorite band. Listening to it in that light you really can hear where Zep got the sound. This and Jeff Beck Band.

    Also…agree that LA rock-n-roll was infinitely edgier and more gnarly than Nor Cal music of the same time. Gimmee Chocolate Watchband over Jefferson Airplane any day!

  3. mrowster May 2, 2008 at 6:20 am #

    Mr. Natural! I wouldn’t have caught that. Good eyes, Mark.

  4. mark May 2, 2008 at 3:35 pm #

    I’m a big fan of the cool bass drum head!

  5. Noisejoke May 5, 2008 at 7:11 am #

    Bud – the Beef clip is from Cannes and is absolutely live! Nice clean version can be found on the Revanant box set. All great clips though! Thanks!

  6. mrowster May 5, 2008 at 7:22 am #

    Noisejoke: Shows how much I know – thanks. Though Cannes, Santa Monica . . . both these places still got too many film industry jokers for my taste.

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