Beatniks and politics

If you’d told me in 1967 that the Strawberry Alarm Clock would still be a functioning band in 2017, I’d have whupped you with the yardstick for lunatics I used to keep handy for just such emergencies. The SAC had several problems, among them frequent personnel changes, and the fact that the lead singer on “Incense and Peppermints,” their biggest hit, wasn’t even a member of the band. Bassist George Bunnell explains:

One of those things where nobody thinks that at the moment, what you’re doing is going to be successful. The song wasn’t fitting anybody. Greg Munford happened to just be sitting there in the session, and Greg also had the same manager and producer. He was doing his own project simultaneously. They asked him to try it, and it was right in his wheelhouse. So he did it and it was exactly how you hear it. He was not in the band, and then the song started to have success. Then they asked Greg Munford if he wanted to be in the band and he didn’t. He had his own thing. The band went off and never had the lead singer of that song in the band. Completely stupid.

SAC was signed to Uni Records, a West Coast outpost which was expected to be hipper than mother Decca. (Which it was; their labelmates included Desmond Dekker, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, and, um, Elton John.) They never again hit the Top 40, but they did produce some interesting singles. One of them was a B-side: “Pretty Song from Psych-Out,” which is exactly what it was: a pretty song (by group members Lee Freeman and Ed King) from Psych-Out, a 1968 American International drugsploitation film in which the band appeared and played three songs, none of which was the “Pretty Song.” (The version on the Psych-Out soundtrack album was performed by The Storybook.) I played this 45 to death:

“Pretty Song” was the flip of “Sit With the Guru” (!), which struggled to #65.

To start out the Seventies, the Clock toured the South; for one concert series, their opening act was, um, Lynyrd Skynyrd. (As SAC fragmented, Skynyrd asked Ed King to join them, which he did.)

We close with “Sit With the Guru,” live in 2012, because of course we do.

(Provoked, like so many of these, by Roger Green.)

Comments are closed.