Top 10 Psychedelic Rock Albums of All Time

They blew people’s minds, expanded their horizons and sometimes fried their tweeters. These are most definitely the 10 Trippiest Albums Ever!

Top 10 Psychedelic Rock Albums of All Time Blue Cheer Vincebus Eruptum

Blue Cheer - Vincebus Eruptum

From a San Francisco band with biker ties and a live sound that – as concert promoters of the era were prone to trumpet – “turned the air to cottage cheese”, comes this absolute mindblower of a debut album. Vincebus Eruptum is a noisy meat-grinder of killer covers and tons of shrieking guitars with sonic dynamics and punctuation. The roots of metal, grunge and stoner rock can all be found on this one. Blue Cheer obliterated the competition and the eardrums of gig attendants as well. Play this one loud.

Top 10 Psychedelic Rock Albums of All Time Cream Disraeli Gears

Cream - Disraeli Gears

When engineer Tom Dowd saw just how many drums and speaker cabinets were being humped into the studio he was a bit confused: he’d been told to expect a three-man band, and there was enough gear for six. Disraeli Gears -the title was a stoned pun derived from the bicycle Derailleur gear system- was an album with a runtime of under 35 minutes, hooking up the band’s vaunted virtuosity to crisp songcraft. Clapton’s trippy wah-wah extravaganza on Tales of Brave Ulysees predated any of Hendrix’s recorded stuff and on Strange Brew he framed a wispy falsetto with a crunchy Albert King-styled groove. Meanwhile, Jack Bruce teamed up with poet Pete Brown on Sunshine Of Your Love and producer Felix Pappalardi also got in the act with World Of Pain.

Top 10 Psychedelic Rock Albums of All Time Traffic Mr Fantasy

Traffic - Mr.Fantasy

It seems to have been Island Records supremo Chris Blackwell who came up with the idea “Let’s get it together in the country!” It was certainly him who founded the cottage where 20-year-old Steve Winwood – fresh from his role in The Spencer Davis Group – resided along fellow Midlanders Dave Mason, Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi. The resulting Mr.Fantasy album came to embody a distinctly British strand of pastoral psychedelia – semi-acoustic, reflective, sometimes whimsical and eclectic. It’s there in the cover snaps of the group, spaced out in their firelit cottage hideaway to the sitar arrangments, the breedy jazz reeds and Winwood’s soaring vocals.

Top 10 Psychedelic Rock Albums of All Time I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)

The Electric Prunes - I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)

Snatched from a suburban garage outside L.A by the man responsible for the Stones’ cavernous mid-60s sound, The Electric Prunes couldn’t believe their luck when their single landed right outside the Billboard Top 10 in February 1967.  The hallucinogenic connotations of the fuzzed-up, reverb-drenched I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night) are iconic today, but the album failed to get in the charts- its catch-all approach too compromised for acid heads and too cryptic for Middle America. Still, innovation was achieved here; traces of early Floyd combined with a head-splitting fuzztone that still thrills.

Top 10 Psychedelic Rock Albums of All Time Frank Zappa We're Only In It For The Money

Frank Zappa - We're Only In It For The Money

Among the ironies of the Psychedelic era is the fact that one of its masterpieces is an eviscerating satire of hippiedom by a man who never took drugs and fired band members who did. We’re Only In It For The Money is a dislocating experience, the songs linked by collages of phone calls, spoof radio anouncements, sounds effects and blast-bursts of musique cobcrete created by feeding sounds through primitive VSOs (variable speed oscillators), distortion devices and the idiosyncracies of Frank Zappa on the mixing desk, too. Nobody else could be capable of doing anything remotely like We’re Only In It For The Money until the arrival of samplers.

Top 10 Psychedelic Rock Albums of All Time Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

After Revolver, The Beatles appeared to have an unlimited sense of innovation and demonstrated a stoned versality that took everyone’s breath away on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was cut entirely on 4-track machines, using little more than reverb and compression for effects, recording on three tracks and bouncing down to the fourth, with levels set on stone, no going back to make changes, and mixes that becamehands-on epics of live vocals, extra instruments and synchronized tape records. A psychedelic masterwork indeed.

Top 10 Psychedelic Rock Albums of All Time The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators

13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds of...

Puns, double entrendres, obscure references, bizarre images…On The Psychedelic Sounds of… all were used. Basic hollow guitar riffs anchored free-associative word tumbles that eerily echoed the highs and lows of LSD trips, horror and beauty at times merging so closely as to be indistinguisable from each other. Adding particularly spooky layers to this acid-laced cake were the manic up-and-down trills of Tommy Hall‘s electric jug and Roky Erickson‘s scarifying lead vocals, able to jump from reassuring croon to psychotic high-pitched yelp in a single bound. As if it wasn’t bold enough to use the world “psychedelic” in a 1966 record title.

Top 10 Psychedelic Rock Albums of All Time Pink Floyd The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn

Pink Floyd - The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn

Recorded in the wake of Pink Floyd’s first singles, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is a Floyd album unlike any other: the only one on which the group’s original driving force, Syd Barrett, is featured and functioning throughout. Early Floyd came in two basic flavours:extended freakouts and Barrett’s unique songs, deceptively offhand compositions of the eerie and elliptical with the mundane and matter-of-fact. Much of the sonic weirdeness on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was equally prominent in their live shows, thanks to heavy use of echo and reverb on Rick Wright‘s Falsisa organ and Barrett’s radically post-blues slide guitar.

Top 10 Psychedelic Rock Albums of All Time Love Forever Changes

Love - Forever Changes

While not Psychedelic in the most obvious sense – it contains no sitars, no backwards tapes, and no extended improvisations – Forever Changes is nevertheless saturated in LSD conciousness. With its multi-viewpoint lyrics, lightning fast changes of mood, sparse application of super hot electric guitar, and perceptual tricks, like the overlapping voices of ‘The Red Telephone’, the record’s 11 tracks contain the overwhelwing simultaneity of the acid rush. It’s mood’s rentless, dark and confrontational, it’s messsage containing all the psychological and textual depth you could wish for, lifting the lid on the hippie id and exposing the darker side of an era that was on the point of passing.

Top 10 Psychedelic Rock Albums of All Time Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland

Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland

‘Electric Ladies’ was Jimi’s name for groupies, but Electric Ladyland‘s realm is no simple pleasure zone. Even today its a disorienting package that unveils the rich imaginery and multi-dimensional vision of its creator. Hendrix’s head was burning with ideas as he was moving towards fluid, jazz-style. The phallic guitar god of Foxy Lady was still strutting, but hard-assed rock was just one stand in a nexus of cyber-blues, soft soul, jazz,-tinged jams and avant-garde sonic effects. Jimi now wanted space for a 15-minute, one-take studio jam like Voodoo Chile, and the console control to sculpt the ambitious soundscape of 1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be). He wanted freedom. The outcome is a record of extraordinary passion, beauty and vision.