Psychedelic Rock dominated 1960’s culture to an obscene extreme. To the point where most Rock music today arguably contains an element of Psychedelia. Turn on an Indie Rock music station/playlist and you’ll no doubt hear fuzz, sitar, wah effects, complex time signatures, a strong keyboard presence, among other elements.
Oh yeah, and drugs. That was pretty important.
Once the 60’s ended, most of these Psychedelic bands developed new sounds, mainly pushing into the boundaries of Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock.
In the 1980’s, bands that were heavily influenced by Psychedelic Rock were deemed Neo-Psychedelic. This was due to the fact that they put their own spin on the medium, otherwise they would have been cover bands showcasing oldies but goodies.
Neo-Psychedelic music is basically any band after the 60’s/70’s that produced a Psychedelic sound. Due to the modernization and multitude of new styles, these bands never produced true Psychedelia. They were Neo.
Here is a list of my personal Top 10 favorite Neo-Psychedelic bands of the 1980’s:
10. THE DUKES OF STRATOSPHEAR:
Most people know the members of this band under the moniker XTC. XTC wanted to release a couple of records to pay homage to Psychedelia, but it wouldn’t jive with their electro disco grooves. Cue The Dukes of Stratosphear. They were a blip on the screen, releasing a mini-album (“25 O’Clock”) in 1985 and a full length (“Psonic Psunspot”) in 1987. One little cute artifact: in the credits of XTC’s “Skylarking” album, the band thanked The Dukes for loaning them their guitars.
***Suggested songs: “What In The World?”, “Your Gold Dress”
9. THE RAIN PARADE
A short-lived band, active between 1981 and 1988 (but also recently reformed in 2012), The Rain Parade came out of the Paisley Underground scene in Los Angeles. Jangly guitars dominate the spectrum, harking to early Pink Floyd, The Who, and mid-career Beatles. A little more toned down, yet great inspirational music. Inspiration for what? You be the judge.
***Suggested songs: “I Look Around”, “Look Both Ways”
8. THE GLOVE
Mainly notable for the teaming of The Cure’s Robert Smith and Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Steven Severin, this is New Wave Psychedelia. Named after the flying glove in The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” movie, The Glove put out only one album, “Blue Sunshine”, named after the horror movie of the same name in which people take a form of LSD called “Blue Sunshine” and go on a murder spree.
***Suggested songs: “Orgy”, “Punish Me With Kisses”
7. THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS
One of the weirdest in this bunch. LPD are an Anglo-Dutch band originally from London, moved to Amsterdam. They’ve put out 40 albums, all pretty much out of the mainstream. However, they do have a following and tour regularly. Their 80’s output is primarily synthpop based Psychedelia. Perfect 80’s/60’s crossover.
***Suggested songs: “Sleezo”, “Wall Purges Night”
6. THE DREAM SYNDICATE
Another Paisley Underground band and led by Steve Winn, the Syndicate was an 80’s version of The Velvet Underground. Loud, raw guitars on top of smooth bass and reverbed drums, Steve Winn rocked out with his sock out, meeting instant success in L.A. However, they apparently started having problems with commercial success pretty soon into the gig. They opened for R.E.M and U2, as well. Alas, the major label didn’t like a demo of theirs, “Slide Away”, and they left A&M Records. Apt title.
***Suggested songs: “Loving The Sinner Hating the Sin”, “Never Ending Rain”
5. SPACEMEN 3
These Englishmen were a bit antagonistic, they elected to play “anti performances”. Peter Kember and Jason Pierce would play their guitars sitting down, facing away from the audience. They apparently “disenfranchised anyone who had stumbled upon them”. They wanted to make it known that people were there because they got the band and their music. Their audience wanted to be there.
***Suggested songs: “2:35”, “Walkin’ With Jesus”
4. THE SOFT BOYS
Technically more of a 70’s band, but within our 80’s guidelines here due to them rising to the public eye in 1980 with their release of “Underwater Moonlight”. Post-punk infused Psychedelia that was like a lovechild between The Clash and late Beatles. One of the rawest of the list, it’s too bad these guys were just a blip on the scene.
***Suggested songs: “I Wanna Destroy You”, “I Got the Hots”
3. SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES
Led by Siouxsie Sioux out of London, the lady and the Banshees, as cited by The Times, were “one of the most audacious and uncompromising musical adventurers of the post-punk era.” Especially on their third album, “Kaleidoscope”, they explored Psychedelic Gothic New Wave, bringing synths and sitars together with drum machines to form a dark disassociative trip that, ironically, you want to repeat again and again.
***Suggested songs: “Desert Kisses”, “Skin”
2. THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
Brothers Jim and William Reid started this guitar based noise termed Shoegaze in 1983. Take The Velvet Underground, add droney distorted guitars up the wazoo, and violent stage shows, and you’ve got TJAMC. Bands like The Brian Jonestown Massacre had nothing on these guys. These people had something to say, a pain formulated amongst frustrated noise, indistinguishable but operating in the back of listener’s minds, metastasizing into pleasureable understanding.
***Suggested songs: “Just Like Honey”, “Gimme Hell”
1. MY BLOODY VALENTINE
Here comes the noise, and the noise is the drug. Hailed as the loudest band on Earth, they actually hand earplugs out to audiences before a show. Their “magnum opus” “Loveless” was released in 1991, considered by many to be one of the best albums of the 90’s, but MBV released a string of records between 1985 and 1989, most notably “Isn’t Anything”. This is the dark side of Psychedelia, a precursor to the awesome output of the 90’s angst and rage in mainstream music. A dark trip, but one that you don’t want to come down from.
***Suggested songs: “Lose My Breath”, “Cupid Come”