The Strawberry Alarm Clock - Incense And Peppermints LP
This is the debut long-player from the southern California-based Strawberry Alarm Clock -- the title track of this album topped national singles charts in December of 1967. As the cover art might suggest, their image practically defined both the musical as well as peripheral aspects of the pseudo-psychedelic counterculture. However, below that mostly visual veneer, Strawberry Alarm Clock actually have more in common with other "Summer of Love" bands such as Love and Kak than the bubblegum acts they have long been associated with. Prior to Strawberry Alarm Clock, the band was initially named Thee Sixpence and issued a 45 -- "In the Building" b/w "Hey Joe" -- in the spring of 1966. As legend has it, none of the actual bandmembers sang lead on the hit single; the singer was in fact a vocalist named Greg Munford, who was attending the session as a visitor. The track was originally issued by Thee Sixpence on the regional All-American label. By the second pressing, however, the band's name had changed to Strawberry Alarm Clock. Sensing the possibility of a national hit, they were scooped up by the MCA Records subsidiary Uni and given the go-ahead to commence recording this, their debut LP. Much of the band's sound is due at least in part to the writing styles of George Bunnell (bass/vocals) and the uncredited Steve Bartok (flute/vocals). The edgy fuzz-toned guitar sound of "Birds in My Tree" and the Los Angeles freeway-inspired "Paxton's Back Street Carnival" exude a garage rock flavor similar in style to that of Spirit's self-titled debut long-player. Another distinguishing factor is Strawberry Alarm Clock's multi-layered vocals. "Hummin' Happy" and "Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow" are precursors to the sophisticated harmonies that would also inform "Tomorrow" and "Pretty Song From Psych-Out," from their follow-up long-player, Wake Up...It's Tomorrow.