’Twas, most famously, a company of Stones and some special friends back in late 1968 (as unravelled in Shindig! issue #87). But the ’60s and early ’70s knew plenty of charismatic ringmasters and decidedly groovy clowns. Some of them are back in town –CAMILLA AISA sees if they can still work their magic
The United States of America – ‘The American Metaphysical Circus’
Our way in to the kaleidoscopic ’60s circus tent couldn’t have a different soundtrack. So here’s one of the finest and trippiest psychedelic songs of all times to welcome us all. It’s 1968 and it’s finally time for the world to understand what the psychedelic experience tastes like. Impossible to describe, isn’t it? Then let’s turn to a powerful, comprehensive metaphor: the circus. Ringmasters of rock, acrobats dancing over electric strings, freaks of all kinds. C’mon, the cost of one admission is your mind.
July – ‘My Clown’
Sweet memories, sure, but a nonfading sense of sorrow as well. There’s no need to reiterate that circuses are not as cheerful as they pretend to be. And there’s definitely no need to get into the whole inner melancholy of clowns. Let’s just consider this: visionary music of the ’60s (and beyond) was able to take some often problematic imagery and turn it into the most incisive – and mostly lighthearted – symbol for its chaotic, proudly bizarre nature. Hey, even clowns can grow into captivating figures. July’s masterful 1968 single to the rescue.
Strawberry Alarm Clock – ‘Paxton’s Back Street Carnival’
Ladies and gents, here come the jugglers. The Strawberry Alarm Clock lads, in all their 1967 incense & peppermints-flavoured splendour. Watch them throw some serious garage sparks in the air and then magically retrieve drops of Summer Of Love. Go on and take a ride in the land that is high…
Tucker Zimmerman – ‘Upsidedown Circus World’
And now for the escapologist act… Mr. Tucker Zimmerman freeing his gorgeous Ten Songs – so unjustly overlooked at the time of release – from a fate of obscurity with a little help from… David Bowie, no less! “I always found this album of stern, angry compositions enthralling,” the former Davy Jones revealed almost 40 years after Zimmerman’s debut LP had come out. In fact,Ten Songs by Tucker Zimmerman was one of the 25 titles Bowie included in his list of all-time favourite albums, among the likes of Mingus, James Brown and Stravinsky. “Look him up,” he recommended. Well, what are you waiting for? Read more Roll Up! Rock ’n’ Roll Circuses And Kaleidoscopic Carnivals