Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Happy halloweeen readers! No tricks for you today, only treats. For today's Halloween post, I decided to post a song by what many consider the very first punk rock band - The Sonics. Hailing from the Pacific northwest, The Sonics were a high energy garage band that used a lot of fuzz and distortion to create their historic sound. If you aren't familiar with The Sonics, I highly recommend picking up Here Comes The Sonics, essential listening for any fan of 1960s garage rock.

Their first single was "The Witch," which was also the opening track on their debut LP Here Comes The Sonics. This was one of many original compositions on the album, that also included many garage rock standards. "The Witch" tells the cautionary tale of a girl who is new to town, an evil girl known for her long black hair,big black car, and walking around late at night. This girl is someone lead singer Gerry Roslie recommends keeping a distance from.

The song is a great example of The Sonics quintessential pre-punk sound. The sound is drenched in fuzz guitar and a driving drumming effort. Its this dark, dirty backdrop that Roslie delivers his wild howls and in-your-face vocals over.

The Sonics
"The Witch"

Saturday, October 29, 2005

An Experimented Terror

Before I get into today's post, I want to send a shout out to Cassidin and the rest of the posters at After a thread was posted on their message board yesterday, Medicinal Music received a large amount of hits from their site, setting record number of unique hits in one day! I'm not very familiar with the 1960s garage/psych/punk Spanish rock scene, so if you any of you guys have any suggestions, please send them to

Medicinal Music's Halloween special continues today with a song that, while not having any connection to the hallmark figures of Halloween, surely could induce nightmares into the many. "An Experimented Terror" by The Greek Fountains is a four minute schizophrenia-inducing instrumental. The Greek Fountains hailed from Louisiana State University, whose founding members included Casey Kelly. For more about Casey Kelly's career, be sure to check out his website.

Starting with some simple keys and basic drumming, that increases and decreases tempo throughout the song, "An Experimental Terror" seems innocent enough. It isn't until about a minute into the song, when echoing and layer enter the fray, that the song starts getting a little out there. With random musical phrasing inserted at various points of the song and other strange sounds, this instrumental sounds like the inner-monologue of a crazed musician.

The final minute or so of the song is full of musical phrasing, sounds of studio tape rewinding, and some very eerie backwards moaning. The song finally ends as it began, with that, now-haunting, drums and keys combo. After listening to the song on repeat as I wrote this, I feel like I need to check myself into a psychiatric hospital (or at least sleep with a light on).

The Greek Fountains
"An Experimented Terror"

Friday, October 28, 2005

Soy Moderno, Soy Eterno

Halloween is just around the corner, and what a better way for Medicinal Music to celebrate it than to highlight some of the freightful psychedelic and garage music from the 1960s?

Today's spooky song comes all the way from Spain, a song called "Dracula Ye-Ye" by Andres Pajares. While my spanish comprehension is that of a second grader, I have learned that Pajares is an entertainer from Madrid. He has a jack of all trades, having acted in, written, and directed movies dating back to the late 1960s to the present day.

Pajares' contribution to the Halloween music canon is garage/surf rock ode to Dracula. Unlike the Dracula's that have haunted people in the past, this is a much different Dracula. This Dracula is much more modern - he watches tv, enjoys eating cheese, and has an affinity for drinking whiskey. He even is a friend of the hippies.

This song is a lot of fun to listen to, even if you don't understand Spanish. Perhaps some of Medicinal Music's spanish speaking visitors can enlighten us more on Pajares and his song, "Dracula Ye-Ye."

Andres Pajares
"Dracula Ye-Ye"

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ain't It Hard

Garage and psychedelic rock have the tendency of being labeled indulgent and overtly extravagant, whether it be the excessive overdubs, large bands (Red Krayola boasted over 50 friends playing with the band on their "Free Form Freak-outs"), or simply the content of the music. Today's featured artist is southern California's The Gypsy Trips. This folk-rock band featured singer-songwriter Roger Tillison alongside his then-girlfriend Terrye Newkirk, who took Roger's last name as her stage name.

The only single released by Gypsy Trips was "Rock 'n Roll Gypsies" b/w "Aint It Hard." While the a-side was written soley by Roger, "Ain't It Hard" was credited to both Terrye and Roger. The song, produced and arranged by Leon Russell, features both Tillisons singing together over some gritty gutiar and bluesy piano. Fans of The White Stripes will hear this song as a blueprint of sorts for Jack and Meg White's sound.

A few years later, The Electric Prunes recorded a version of "Aint It Hard" for their debut single, but most people agree that Gypsy Trips' version is superior. Roger continued to make music, releasing a 1971 solo album, and also played with Leon Russell, Paul Butterfield, The Band, and John Cale.

Recently Roger Tillison recorded a pair of albums, Mamble Jamble, featuring original compositions and Songs For Woody, an album which features his take on many Woody Guithre numbers. Mamble Jamble's Japanese release also features a new rendition of "Rock 'n Roll Gypies," returning to his Gypsy Trips roots, roughly forty years later.

For more information on Roger Tillison, check out his official website.

Gypsy Trips
"Aint It Hard"

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pharmaceutical Cocktails

Today, I am going to begin a new segment of Medicinal Music - Pharmaceutical Cocktails. Now I know what you're saying, "Dr. Moshe, Pharmaceutical Cocktails is a clever name, but what the hell does it mean?" Well here's the scoop - once every couple weeks, in addition to covering a song from the 1960s psych/garage scene, I will also highlight a cover version of the song, performed by more contemporary artists. I feel this will show that while songs covered on Medicinal Music were sonically au courant, the songwriting stands the test of time. If you have any suggestions for this segment, feel free to shoot me an email at

For our first installment of Pharmaceutical Cocktails, we will be covering the song "Any Way That You Want Me." While The Troggs will be forever known in the rock lexicon for their rendition of the Chip Taylor-penned "Wild Thing," and the movie Love Actually returned "Love Is All Around" to the mainstream's conscience, "Any Way That You Want Me" remains a personal favorite of mine.

Released as a single, "Any Way That You Want Me" peaked at #10 on the UK charts in December 1966. Like "Wild Thing," the song was also written by Chip Taylor, but lacks "Wild Thing"'s vocal and musical ferocity. Instead, the song begins with a simple cello foundation, before Reg Presley enters with a heartfelt verse that is the polar opposite to his turbulent "Wild Thing" vocals. The song picks up some of that attitude as the song progresses to the chorus, with the song filling out with addition string accompaniment and hard hitting drums.

Fast forward 24 years, - Jason (J Spaceman) Pierce breaks ties with Pete (Sonic Boom) Kember and their band, Spacemen 3. Spacemen 3 were no strangers to 1960s garage/psychedelia, drawing musical influences from bands such as MC5, Red Krayola, Thirteen Floor Elevators, and others. After leaving Spacemen 3, Pierce formed Spiritualized. Dedicated to Pierce's then-love interest, Kate Radley, the band released a cover of "Any Way That You Want Me," as Spiritualized's introduction to the world.

And quite an introduction it was. Spiritualized's high octane version of the song makes The Troggs' version look like a demo in hindsight. Clocking in at nearly six and a half minutes, Spiritualized kicks off the song in a similarly subdued manner as The Troggs, but, as each verse turns to chorus, the song picks up more and more momentum. The band achieves a very full sound without the song sounding cluttered. It is this cohesiveness that allows each layer of the song stand together without getting lost in shuffle.

The Troggs
"Any Way That You Want Me"

"Any Way That You Want Me"

Monday, October 10, 2005

Maybe Tomorrow

On Saturday, drummer Mike Gibbins passed away in his sleep. Gibbins was the drummer of British rockers - Badfinger.

Originally known as The Iveys, the band signed with The Beatles' Apple Records. Prior to signing with Apple Records, The Iveys had performed live with such bands as The Who and The Yardbirds. Their first single was the sappy "Maybe Tomorrow." Despite having an endorsement from the Fab Four and the song sounding cut from the same cloth as many of The Beatles' poppier tunes, "Maybe Tomorrow" failed to have much success on the pop charts.

Deciding a style change was needed, The Iveys changed from being mods to rockers, and changed their band name to Badfinger, passing on McCartney's suggested "Home" and Lennon's "Prix." The band achieved success with the McCartney penned "Come and Get It" as well as "Without You" and "No Matter What".

The band continued recording into the 1970s with their original lineup, until guitarist Peter Ham committed suicide in 1975. Gibbins also left the group after Ham's suicide. From that point, there were attempts to continue, adding Stealers Wheel's drummer and Tony Kaye from Yes, but in 1983 longtime bandmember Tom Evans also committed suicide and the band was no more.

The story of Badfinger is one of the more tragic ones in rock history. With Gibbins' recent passing, lets go back to a happier, more optimistic time in the bands history - back when they were simply The Iveys.

The Iveys
"Maybe Tomorrow"

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Cop out now with me for a borrowed moment

Today we will be covering another song from the great Pebbles Vol. 3 compilation. For those looking for a starting point for delving into obscure psychedelia of the 1960s, this is the disc. Unlike many compilations that are dubbed 'psychedelic,' but end up really being more garage rock than anything else, Vol. 3 (titled: The Acid Gallery) lives up to expectations.

David Diamond was a DJ in Colorado when he recorded "The Diamond Mine" with the band Higher Elevation. The wolf howls opening the song are sign of things to come with this truly demented track. David Diamond doesn't sing, but more accurately speaks over the track in the standard, cheesy 1960s DJ manner. "Peanut butter fudge angel of love" and "the garden of man eating dandelions" are just some of the imagery used by David Diamond who preaches over a steady drumbeat, organ, and various sound effects.

Higher Elevation
"The Diamond Mine"

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

And still the thought remains

I was hoping to have this post up earlier today, but was down for some maintence. Better late than never, I suppose. Today's post picks returns to sunny California, 1967, where we meet up with the band - Human Expression.

"Optical Sound" was the second single released by Human Expression. The song may not be as blatantly trippy as this week's previous two songs, but "Optical Sound" has a very tranquil sound. Lead singer Jim Quarles provides the song with a very mellow vocal performance, enhanced by a slight echo effect, that gives the song its eerie personality. The song also boasts some nice electronic noises that are used quite effectively.

Human Expression would end up releasing a third single, "Sweet Child of Nothingness," before calling it quits, but it isn't the song they released that is noteworthy - the song they didn't is. The record label offered Human Expression two songs to take into the studio, and chose the abovementioned song over "Born To Be Wild." Human Expression didn't think "Born To Be Wild" lyrics were up to par, but they certainly must have been distraught after seeing Steppenwolf's huge success with the song.

Human Expression
"Optical Sound"

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

And, I swear, I'll never fly again

Despite having little to no commercial success, Minneapolis' Calico Wall has had a major impact on those the 1960s psychedelic genre. Calico Wall was strictly a studio band, having recorded only one single, 1967's "Flight Reaction" b/w "Beep" for Turtle Records. In 1982, another recording was unearthed, the dark "I'm A Living Sickness."

It wasn't until "Flight Reaction" appeared on the Pebble's Volume 3 compilation that listeners began to appreciate Calico Wall's blend of hypnotic psychedelia and harsh garage punk. The band inspired two 1960s compilations that share their namesake, Beyond the Calico Wall and Before the Calico Wall.

"Flight Reaction" and "I'm A Living Sickness" both share a paranoid darkness, with "Flight Reaction" lyrics detailing fears of flying, and "I'm A Living Sickness" piercing feedback contrasting the background droning. Both songs are fantastically frightening to listen to, and are essential for any fan of 1960s psychedelia. Although they never had commercial success, "Flight Reaction" and "I'm A Living Sickness" are of extreme historical importance, defining an entire genre of music.

"Flight Reaction"
Calico Wall

"I'm A Living Sickness"
Calico Wall

Monday, October 03, 2005

I am looking at the back of my eyelids

Medicinal music is back after a fun-filled three day weekend, and this week will consist of some some songs that are on the edge of sanity. Many garage and psychedelic bands in the 1960s took the sentiments of revolution, spirituality, and freedom into the studio, experimenting with recording methods and instruments to bring listeners something new. I, for one, can't get enough of these zany songs.

Today takes us to southern California, 1967. Brain consisted of Michael Giles, Peter Giles, Allan Azern, and Michael Blakesley. Their only single was "Kick the Donkey", with a trippy b-side, "Nightmares In Red." A year later, the brothers Giles would join Robert Fripp, to form Giles, Giles, & Fripp (pictured above), with Fripp and Michael Giles forming prog-rock legends, King Crimson a year later.

"Nightmare In Red" opens with a seemingly innocent, albeit a little creepy, piano before exploding in to a, um, 'nightmare' of noise, consisting of trombone, guitar, bass, and crashing drums. Shortly, the 'nightmare' subsides (ok, this is my last 'nightmare reference and I apologize for the first two) the piano returns for the verse. The pattern of simplistic piano and chaotic playing gives the song a nice tension and release dynamic.

"Nightmares In Red"