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Strawberry Alarm Clock - 1969 Good Morning Starshine



ARTIST: Strawberry Alarm Clock
ALBUM: Good Morning Starshine
LABEL: Uni Records
SERIAL: 73054
YEAR: 1969
CD REISSUE: 2005, Collectors Choice, CCM-588-2

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Mark Stephen Weitz - organ, piano, vocals * Jimmy Pitman - lead guitar, vocals * Edward Calhoun King - bass, lead guitar, vocals * Lee Freeman - guitar, bass, harmonica * Gene Gunnels - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Me And The Township * 02 Off Ramp Road ramp * 03 Small Package * 04 Hog Child * 05 Miss Attraction (LP version) * 06 Good Morning Starshine * 07 Miss Attraction (Single version) * 08 Write Your Name In Gold * 09 (You Put Me On) Standby * 10 Dear Joy * 11 Changes

WEBLINKS: www.strawberryalarmclock.com


Background
Ask me about late '60s American psychedelic pop and three or four names pop in my head automatically - The Lemon Pipers, The Left Banke, The Association and Strawberry Alarm Clock. There was a big difference between these bands versus the over rated and over assessed The Doors and Grateful Dead, the basket case that was Janis Joplin as well as Jefferson Airplane whose 'White Rabbit' I could go the rest of my life without hearing ..please? For the other bands it was all about pop, two minute feel good mini-masterpieces with no pretensions, no extended stoned out jams or overbearing egos. Songs like the Lemon Piper's 'Rice Is Nice', The Association's 'Windy', The Left Banke's 'Pretty Ballerina' and off course the Alarm Clock's 'Incense and Peppermints' were from another planet in comparison. That massive hit single seemed like ancient history by 1969 when the Strawberry Alarm Clock was in deep trouble. Line-up changes and firing a not-too-cool manager created bigger problems than they imagined. That manager would attempt to take an alternate Alarm Clock out on the road, confusing booking agents and forcing a lawsuit from the real Strawberry Alarm Clock at this point Mark Weitz and Ed King, to cease and desist. Add to this, the bands label - UNI, were not happy with sales of the group's previous singles and album 'The World In A Sea Shell' and time was running short.


The Songs
Under the gun, Weitz and King produced a heavier, blues based record than previously heard from the band. The flower power vibe is still very much present, this was still 1969 after all, but like the tumultuous year that gave us Led Zeppelin, John and Yoko's 'Bed-In', Richard Nixon and Altamont, the mood here is a bit darker. In fact opener 'Me And The Township' and 'Off Ramp Road Ramp' is a bit disconcerting, almost southern rock in style and a sign of things to come for Ed King who traded his guitar for bass on much of the record. Far better and more to my liking is 'Small Package' which brings us back to the Strawberry Alarm Clock of old and borrows the melody from The Beach Boys 'California Girls' near the end. 'Miss Attraction' is excellent as well with the band including the single version on the second side. Of the two I prefer the LP version, but just by a smidgen. The title track is the cover of the song from the musical 'Hair' that made Oliver a one hit wonder. Oddly enough, the song hit the charts at the same time Oliver's version was raking in the dough, but didn't do nearly as well. 'Write Your Name In Gold' is vaguely proggy in a Vanilla Fudge sort of way while and definitely one of the album's better songs while 'You Put Me On Standby' is a pure pop delight similar to The Association with a guitar sound that pre-dates Brian May and like the following and superb 'Dear Joy' should have been a hit single in my opinion. Great!


In Summary
Overall, a fine album and nothing to be ashamed of, it's too bad it would be their last, for a while at least. The group would release a trio of singles in 1970 and appear in the cult film 'Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls'. With their legal issues finally put aside, Strawberry Alarm Clock would hit the road in 1971 and 1972 which included a tour of colleges and universities in the Deep South. A band playing Cream and Mountain covers called Lynyrd Skynyrd would support the Alarm Clock with Ed King becoming their guitar player in late '72. In the 'never saw that coming' category, Strawberry Alarm Clock have reformed and in early 2010 signed to Billy Corgan's new label Spinner Records. I can't wait to hear the results. Welcome back guys.


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Comments
#1 | jefflynnefan on May 11 2010 21:49:44
I'll take the psychedelic pop bands (Clear Light) over the haight/ashbury bands anyday of the week! And to me the Grateful Dead is the most overrated band in history. I like this band/have some stuff by them. Enjoyed the review!
#2 | gdazegod on May 11 2010 23:33:32
Second that Thumbs Up
#3 | Eric on May 12 2010 13:14:30
I remember the story of George Harrison visiting the Haight and leaving in disgust from all the dirty/smelly hippies and drug addicts. A far cry from the colors and sounds of Carnaby Street.
#4 | jefflynnefan on May 12 2010 21:50:41
The 'summer of love' was in 1967 and was pronounced dead the following year for good reason. Still psychedelic was only for a short time too. It's still fun to listen to unknown bands like 'Bubble Puppy' and 'Leaf Hound' and 'Man'. I'm not hating on the sixties cos there is a lot of it that I like!
#5 | Eric on May 12 2010 22:40:06
I'm certainly not hating on the 60's either, but I much prefer the British bands over American. Quaint psychadelia in purples and oranges over the blue jean Americana and bandana rock of Joplin, Country Joe and The Band for me.
 
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