Saturday, July 14, 2007


Hollywood is always late to the local zeitgeist, perhaps partly because of the significant gap between a film's greenlighting and its theatrical release. But more typically, Hollywood's just cashing in, cynically exploiting a trend or fashion as an outsider poseur. This is most egregiously apparent in the hippie exploitation films of the late 60's, many of which were released in the years after the Summer of Love, when Haight-Ashbury was old news. American International Pictures, producers of low-budget, drive-in quickies, mercilessly cashed in on any and all fads and phenomena, and Roger Corman gave them many of the most noteworthy. Of the psychedelic phase, his film The Trip is a particular favorite of mine, despite--or because of--all of its cringe-worthy pretentiousness. (On the DVD, part of MGM's "Midnight Movie Double Features" and paired with the equally amusing Psych-Out, Corman admits that he failed in his laborious , 90-minute attempt to replicate an LSD trip. But still, the movie's a blast.) One of the forgotten psych-exploitation films of this period is Revolution (1968), a musical documentary that follows a young girl named "Today Malone" who tunes in, turns on, et cetera. Unfortunately Corman is not involved. The director is one Jack O'Connell, who also directed, as the IMDB informs me, Christa: Swedish Fly Girls, about swinging stewardesses. I can't discuss the merits of Revolution, because I've never seen it, but apparently it's been turning up on cable. The soundtrack is more famous than the movie, featuring three artists: Mother Earth, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and The Steve Miller Band. (Country Joe and the Fish are in the film but not on the soundtrack, alas.) The milestone of the record, if there is any, is that it marked the recording debut of QMS, one of the major bands in San Francisco during this period, but who had managed somehow to avoid getting signed until after '67. (The Grateful Dead were also oddly neglected in their prime years, with Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother & the Holding Company stealing the media spotlight.) I really love QMS, so I sought out the vinyl soundtrack of Revolution on eBay many years ago just to own their debut. Both of their tracks are covers, but they're the highlights of the record, and on the strength of the tracks were quickly offered a contract. The Steve Miller Band needs no introduction. Mother Earth, on the other hand, never caught on outsider their SF milieu, although they had a cult following and are fondly remembered by those who lived through the period. (Note: I was born in 1976, so...)

Here's a track from each of the bands on the album, to close out--for now--our survey of psychedelic soundtracks.

Quicksilver Messenger Service - Codine
The Steve Miller Band - Superbyrd
Mother Earth - Without Love

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