Albums similar to the middle era Beatles, Pet Sounds and/or Odessey & Oracle
Present Tense Released July 3, 1968
Originally released in 1967 and reissued by Sundazed in 1997, the Sagittarius album Present Tense is considered a classic of experimental pop music.
Back in the 60s - if a single did well in the charts it was then time to record an album quickly and get it out on the market. This led to many studio groups being created after the fact of a hit. Sagittarius was one such project, in a way.
Created by Gary Usher, who had been working for years in the surf music and Folk rock vein having produced The Byrds, Gene Clarke, Chad & Jeremy, The Millennium and The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, was inspired by The Beach Boys Pet Sounds album and in particular the single Good Vibrations.
He decided to go in the studio inbetween his major production projects and work on a solo outing of his own. Stemming from one song that Chad & Jeremy had rejected, My World Fell Down was a meisterwork in Usher's hands, with vocal melody, oblique sections and experimental noises, all combined into a 3 minute single that actually charted at a high of 70 in the national charts.
To really hear the brilliance of this track, one must check out the single version included here as a bonus track (#16). A less exciting but still intriguing version was included on the album (#7). The difference between them was a middle section of found noise that Clive Davis did not like and had removed.
To help Usher out on most of these tracks are Curt Boettcher (of The Millennium), Bruce Johnston (soon to be a Beach Boy himself), Glen Campbell, and the Firesign Theatre.
Not only do we end up with a a record that is gorgeous beyond belief - an album that the listener should let wash over them and let go of your mind rather than sink your teeth into this hook or that hook - but an album of extreme texture. It's like the beautiful people have taken over and you can only allow it to happen as if in a dream and your hands are tied.
Once Upon a Twilight (1968)
A clear case could be made for citing The Twilights’ Once Upon a Twilight as Australia’s greatest pop-psych album. Although almost totally ignored on its original release in June 1968, the album now takes its place among the best of the genre (MOJO magazine’s 2004 Special Edition on Psychedelia listed Once Upon a Twilight as one of the great unheralded World Psych albums).
Between 1966 and 1967 The Twilights enjoyed eight Top 40 hit singles. Near-perfect pop-psych gems like ‘9.50’, ‘Young Girl’, ‘Time and Motion Study Man’, ‘The Way They Play’, ‘Cathy Come Home’ and ‘Comin’ on Down’ remain some of the finest moments in Australia’s 1960s musical legacy. The Twilights had gained much inspiration and experience on their trip to the UK (October 1966 to February 1967), during which they recorded three tracks at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios with in-house producer Norman Smith (Pink Floyd, The Pretty Things): a cover of The Hollies’ ‘What’s Wrong with the Way I Live’, ‘9.50’ and ‘Young Girl’. Upon returning to Australia , the band set about recording what was to be their greatest (and final) LP.
Just what is it that makes The Twilights’ Once Upon a Twilight such an important pop-psych artefact? First and foremost is the quality of the songs themselves, with nearly all having been written by the band’s resident musical genius, guitarist Terry Britten. Secondly, under the guidance of producer David MacKay, the band recorded the album as a complete work, so that even today it displays a unity of purpose and holistic purity not generally achieved elsewhere. Thirdly, the sound of the album boasts all the trappings of period psychedelia, with all manner of studio trickery from echoed harmonies and gentle phasing to vocals fed through rotating Leslie cabinets.
After the break-up of The Twilights, lead singer Glenn Shorrock went on to join Axiom and later, the internationally famous Little River Band. Britten became an in-demand session player and producer for the likes of Cliff Richard (for whom he co-wrote ‘Devil Woman’, ‘Carrie’ and ‘Green Light’), as well as a highly successful songwriter (Christie Allen, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson).
The Five Americans
The Five Americans' third album, Progressions, lives up to its title. The group, which had gained success with the pounding frat rocker "I Saw the Light" and the bubbly pop hit "Western Union," began to show some real artistic growth as they stretched out and explored new sounds. Some of the tracks sound like more assured versions of their earlier efforts — the bubblegummy "Zip Code" (the attempted follow-up to "Western Union"), the tender folk-rock of "(But Not) Today," the sparkling pop of "Stop-Light" — but they also incorporate some harder guitar rock on "Black Is White — Day Is Night," Kinks-y baroque pop psych on "Rain Maker," and blue-eyed soul on "Come on Up." They also ditched the at times too slick sound achieved by producer Dale Hawkins, took over the production chores themselves, and did a fine job of creating a full and rich sound with just enough experimentation to keep things unpredictable. Progressions is a substantial leap of quality for the group; with the right push, it could have been big. Instead it is a hidden gem that fans of fine '60s pop should seek out and savor. (AMG).