Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Steppenwolf – “The Pusher”

This song is about a drug dealer. It is one of the first songs to deal with harsh realities of drug use, and condemns “the pusher” as a heartless criminal who is only after your money.

Hoyt Axton wrote this song after one of his friends died of a drug overdose. Axton has written songs for many artists, including Elvis Presley, The Byrds, and Three Dog Night.

This was popularized by a Canadian group called The Sparrows, who played it as a long jam during their concerts. Steppenwolf recorded a much shorter, more radio-friendly version.

Steppenwolf Performing Live Circa 1970

Along with Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild,” this was featured in the 1969 movie Easy Rider, starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. The film is considered a landmark of ’60s counterculture, and using this song in the movie was important because it portrayed the downside of doing drugs.

The lyrics certainly “pushed” the limits as to what was acceptable for broadcast in 1968. It was far from the first song to make abundant and obvious drug references, but it was the first major release to include the phrase “God damn,” which appears in the line, “God damn the pusher man.” The following year, the Grateful Dead included the epithet in their song “Uncle John’s Band.”

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

The Velvet Underground & Nico Circa 1967

The Velvet Underground & Nico, Venus in Furs is inspired by the novella of the same title, written and published by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch in 1870. It tells the story of a man who wishes to be dominated and treated as a slave by the woman he loves. We get the word “masochism” from Sacher-Masoch’s last name, and the entire practice of dominance and submission from this and the works of Marquis de Sade, a male author who wrote from the opposite position of dominating women and treating them as slaves.

Today’s modern lifestyle knows this song’s subject as “BDSM.” That’s a combined acronym: “B&D” for “Bondage and Discipline,” “D&S” for “Dominance and Submission,” and “S&M” for “Sadism and Masochism.” That last part was originally written “sado-masochism,” and in the 1960s was regarded as a mental illness and a deviant behavior, to be treated with electro-shock therapy and abhorred by society.

Even today in the United States, similar to the outdated laws against homosexuality, there are various state laws against practicing any BDSM-associated activity. That is, even using a whip or handcuffs to play with your spouse (even with their full consent!) can land you in jail, or in other states merely selling such paraphernalia (such as a frat paddle or nipple clamps) is a heavy offense. This stems from the original association with prostitution – it was thought at the time that no one would be willing to participate in gratifying such “perverted” desires without being paid for it. For this reason, it became yet another consenting-adult, victimless-crime prosecuted by law and thus subsequently embraced by the counter-culture, which explains why it was a popular theme for both underground arthouses and underground bands.

So, with this song and the band’s name, was Lou Reed kinky? Probably not, since, as given in The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side, he called the band’s namesake book The Velvet Underground “the funniest dirty book he’d ever read.” However, it was the association of kink with the sexual revolution and the counter-culture lifestyle that made it an indispensable part of shocking the sensibilities of 1960s audiences.

In the book Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, by Punk Magazine co-founder Roderick Edward “Legs” McNeil, an interview with Exploding Plastic Inevitable dancer Ronnie Cutrone has this to say about this song’s subject: “S&M sex fascinated me even though I knew nothing about it. I had a natural curiosity, so I asked Lou ‘What’s Venus In Furs about?’ Lou said, ‘Ah, you know, it’s some trash novel.’ I said ‘Where can you get a copy?’ Lou said, ‘Ah yeah, just down the block there’s a store.’ So I went and bought the book. I was still in high school, so I’d go to class with my Venus In Furs and Story of O and Justine, and sit there reading this stuff.”

The album cover was painted by Andy Warhol.

Perhaps as a result of the influence of this song, punk rock and the BDSM lifestyle have been intertwined ever since. Many punk bands have made alternative sexual practices part of their image or made songs about kink, and even Goth rock, which carries over some influence from punk, has made BDSM elements, such as wearing leather collars, part of its culture.

Lest we think that “Venus In Furs” broke new ground here, legendary singing satirist Tom Lehrer sang “The Masochism Tango” on his 1959 album An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer. And for a final hit of surrealism, check out this Dunlop tire commercial using Velvet Underground’s “Venus In Furs”, created by London director Tony Kaye. Wow.

Psychedelic Lunch

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

UFO Band Circa 1970

On this date in history, 10/24/2019, I finally got to see UFO again! It had been 41 years since I saw the venerable English hard rock stalwarts open for Rush back in 1978, at the old Market Square Arena in downtown Indianapolis.

This time around, they played a fantastic show at the Honeywell Center in Wabash, IN. Opening the show was Last In Line, featuring songs from the late Ronnie James Dio, as well as originals from the band’s 2 albums.

Last In Line is comprised of Vinnie Appice on drums, Phil Soussan on bass, Vivian Campbell on guitar, and Andrew Freeman on vocals.

I was impressed with the songs that they composed together, and blown away by the Dio songs, particularly Holy Diver, We Rock, Rainbow In The Dark, and the song the band got their name from, The Last In Line. One minor criticism; I felt that Freeman spent too much time getting the audience to sing the songs, especially considering the fact that the guy has a really strong voice that does ample justice to the legacy of the great Ronnie James Dio.

All three of the musicians delivered outstanding contributions; Campbell’s lead guitar work was blazing, Appice’s drum sound was huge and his playing was right in the pocket, and Soussan sang some nice backing vocals in addition to his solid bass guitar style. All in all, I was thrilled to have such a great opening band for UFO’s final tour.

As I mentioned before, it has been a long time since my 16 year old self saw UFO from the 10th row at what was only my 9th concert ever, and I was curious to see if they still had that magic I remembered so fondly. It took mere seconds to confirm that they did indeed retain that signature sound that made me an instant fan upon release of their magnificent live album, Strangers In The Night. Over the course of their set on this most satisfying night of music, UFO served up song after song of powerful riffs, tantalizing melodic hooks, singalong choruses that get stuck in the listener’s head for days, absolutely glorious guitar solos, and the charming presence and still fantastic voice (at 71 years old) of Mr. Phil Mogg, who has fronted the band since its formation in 1968. Pretty much all of my favorite songs were on display…Too Hot To Handle, Cherry, Hot ‘n Ready, Mother Mary, Only You Can Rock Me, and Rock Bottom (complete with Vinnie Moore’s display of guitar wizardry). UFO returned for an encore of Doctor, Doctor and Shoot Shoot and wished us a Happy Halloween and Merry Christmas, never making a big deal of this being their final tour, but for me and many others it is definitely a major event.

As I told my friend on the way out, “They just don’t make bands like that anymore!” Thanks for the music UFO…you were great when I was 16, and you’re still amazing to me at 57. Respect!

On This Date in History

Welcome to “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

David Bowie, All The Madmen. According to Nicholas Pegg’s The Complete David Bowie, this song was inspired by Bowie’s half-brother, Terry Burns, who suffered with serious mental health problems. In 1985, Burns killed himself when he escaped the grounds of the mental hospital where he was staying and put his head in the way of an oncoming train.

In 1993, Bowie released the song “Jump They Say,” which deals with his feelings about Terry’s suicide.

The Man Who Sold The World was an album based on David Bowies older brothers his brothers schizophrenia and his fear he would have it too. For example, in the song “All The Madmen” he sings “Day after Day, they take my friends away to mansions cold and grey to the far side of town” which references a mental institution. It also talks about lobotomy’s and other things referring to mental health. In the end, the line “zane, zane, zane ouvre le chien” is repeated, which translates to “opens the dog”. Quite psychedelic stuff. Not to mention “The Supermen”, which talks about ancient beings that guarded “loveless isles” “when all the world was very young”.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

In this punk classic, Iggy Pop sings about how he wants to be used sexually by a woman. Songs like this helped establish Iggy as a punk icon known for unpredictable and outrageous behavior. In an interview with Howard Stern, he explained the sentiment behind the song: “Have you ever seen like a really good looking girl, really nicely dressed, and she’s walking down the street with her dog, right? And like her dog is… intimate with her body, and she likes him and everything. Basically, it’s the idea of I want to unite with your body. I don’t wanna talk about literature with you or judge you as a person. I wanna dog you.”

This track is well known for its three-chord riff and a continuously repeated single piano note, played by Velvet Underground founding member John Cale, who also produced the track. These elements, along with the heavily distorted sound, has lead critics to consider the track an early example of heavy metal and punk music.

Yes, those are sleigh bells that play throughout the song. Iggy Pop was always looking for unusual instrumentation – on “Search And Destroy” you’ll hear swords in the background.

The song has been covered by numerous artists, including Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Hole, The Sex Pistols, Slayer and Joan Jett. It has also featured in many films, most notably the 1996 action film The Crow: City of Angels, in which vocalist Iggy Pop played the role of Curve, one of the film’s villains.

Well into his 60s, this song still inspired Iggy Pop to rekindle his notorious stage antics, particularly the stage dive: “because it is our oldest, and most very, very memorable number, I do it,” Iggy told Classic Rock Revisited. “I also do it on that song because I push so hard on the first two versus that I can’t think of anything to do by the time the guitar solo comes around. When the guitar solo comes, I tend to do a stage dive to go with the solo.”

This was used in the movies Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Friday Night Lights among many others.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Captain Beyond is the self-titled debut album by Captain Beyond, released in 1972, featuring former members of Iron Butterfly, Deep Purple, Johnny Winter, and Rick Derringer. The album cover for the U.S. release included 3-D artwork (using lenticular printing). The album was dedicated to the memory of Duane Allman, who Captain Beyond drummer Bobby Caldwell had played with in an informal capacity.

After a very successful 2018 North American tour, the legendary Bobby Caldwell and his amazing new cast of characters of Captain Beyond are hit the road in 2019. Once again, Captain Beyond will be delivering their signature classic, cosmiC, psychedelic rock to the masses.

Captain Beyond guitarist Jamie Holka had this to say about being in this new incarnation of Captain Beyond:

“I used to play Captain Beyond tunes in my band back in the early ’90s when grunge was in full swing. I remember researching this drummer Bobby Caldwell who co-wrote the album. I remember thinking drummers usually just play drums. Fast forward 25 years and I’m in the band. Cosmic indeed!”

Captain Beyond 2019 Tour
April 9th – Club 861 – Buffalo NY
April 11th – Shank Hall – Milwaukee, WI
April 12th- Reggies – Chicago, IL
April 13th Token Club Detroit, MI
April 14th – Reggies – Chicago, IL (2nd show)
May 2nd – Grey Eagle – Asheville, NC
May 3rd – Pour House – Raleigh, NC
May 5th – The Earl – Atlanta, GA

More dates to be added soon!

Captain Beyond is:
Bobby Caldwell (drums)
Simon Lind (vocals/guitar)
Jeff “Count” Artabasy (bass)
Don Bonzi (guitar)
Jamie Holka (guitar)

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Grand Funk Railroad, Im Your Captain/Closer To Home

Grand Funk guitarist Mark Farner wrote this and sang lead. Literally, the song is about the captain of a ship who is sick and fears he is going to lose his vessel. The song has much more metaphoric significance, however.

Farner explained to Nightwatcher’s House of Rock: “I had gone to bed and prayed. Our mother had taught us kids to pray the ‘Now I lay me down to sleep,’ so I finished that part of the prayer, and put a P.S. at the end of it, and I asked the Creator to give me a song which would reach and touch the hearts of people that he wanted to touch. With love, because I just felt the love. I just felt for my good friends, my high school buddies who had died in Vietnam. I saw their parents, and I saw their families, and I think that’s what inspired it.

It came in the middle of night to me as words, and I didn’t even realize it was a song, because I write words all the time. In fact, my wife has a file that she has where she’s picked up napkins and notes here and there that have all these words that come out. At least we have a place to start putting them together, like a puzzle. But I grabbed those words in the morning, because I was playing my guitar in the kitchen of the farm. I was sipping on my coffee, had my feet kicked up in the chair, and I had my flattop guitar. As I was strumming the intro chords to ‘I’m Your Captain,’ I went, ‘Hey man, maybe this is a song.’ So I went and got the words, and started constructing the song out of it. I took it to rehearsal that day and the guys said, ‘Man, this song’s a hit.’ And, lo and behold they were right.”

One of the band’s biggest hits, this got extensive radio play even though it was almost 10-minutes long. On the album, this was labeled as “I’m Your Captain,” and was sometimes considered two songs: “I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home.” Some stations played an edited version that was cut to about 5 minutes, eliminating most of the fadeout.

Grand Funk drummer Don Brewer tous: “We used to rehearse at a place called The Musicians Union Hall in Flint, Michigan. We used to work all of our stuff out there. Mark came in one day with basically the beginning of the song, the ‘I’m your captain part.’ We always worked out everything with a jam – he would have an idea, somebody would have an idea for a bass part of whatever, and we’d just kind of work on these things and jam out. For a day or two we worked on this song and it just didn’t go any place, that was about as far as we could get with it.

One day, coming out of a jam that we were working on, we fell into that half time part, and that’s when Mark came up with the lyrics, ‘I’m getting closer to…’ So we had that, and we all felt, ‘Oh man, that’s great, we’ll put that piece together with that, and that’s going to work,’ then we said, ‘What are we going to do from there?’ So we got into the guitar part where it breaks into full time again. Then we had a brainstorming session, ‘What are we going to do for the rest of the song?’

At the time, rock bands had experimented with orchestras, and we said, ‘Let’s put an orchestra on this thing, we’ll just play endlessly, and we’ll get Tommy Baker, our friend down in Cleveland, to write the score for it, and we’ll put an orchestra on it. It was a new thing for us, kind of new for the day – there hadn’t been too many bands using orchestras. When we recorded the song in Cleveland, we didn’t have the orchestra there, we didn’t know what the final outcome was going to be, we hadn’t even recorded the string arrangements, we just recorded the end of the song on and on and on over and over, knowing they were going to come in and put an orchestra on it later. When we finally heard the song about two weeks later, it just blew us all away. It was a religious experience.”

Brewer: “We weren’t concerned with FM radio, we knew FM radio could play 7 or 8-minute songs. It wasn’t a matter of being confined to anything, so we knew it could get airplay – that wasn’t a restriction. Capitol wanted to cut it and do an edited version for a single, and we said, ‘No, you can’t edit that song, just leave it alone.'”When this was released, their record company bought a billboard advertisement in New York City’s Time Square promoting the album. This resulted in lots of publicity and helped get the song a lot of airplay.

Psychedelic Lunch