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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.

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