Now Playing: Milan-Torino
Topic: Minor change or comment
I've probably spent more time defending Strawberry Alarm Clock than any other group on the planet, and it's good to see how the perception of the band has finally begun to change, from the idiotic misconception of them as a "bubblegum" or "exploitation" group into the actual realization that they were a real rock band, grown out of one of the best garage bands of the westcoast (Thee Sixpence), and they proved this for anyone with ears on two outstanding LPs of melodic SoCal psychedelia.
All that said, the vintage SAC (first 3 LPs) offer troublingly little for the avid fan/collector to go out on manic hunts for. Only a couple of non-LP 45 tracks, no withdrawn records or small label discs of unexplained origin, no rare mono promo or quad variants, and a gloomy lack of variation for the foreign picture sleeve 45s (either the "Incense" LP photo or dull title sleeves; the Italian "Tomorrow" is a rare exception). After getting said "Tomorrow" PS and the All-American pre-hit pressing of the "Incense" 45 I figured there wasn't much more, especially since I've been tracking the band for 30 years.
But surprise, surprise, my eyes fell on this odd LP format record, pressed up without sleeve and never commercially released:
This was intended for broadcast on the US Navy's own radio station, and includes ad spots aimed at sailors and sailoresses urging them to sign up for long contracts with subsidized education and whatever. It is narrated by the ubiqitous Dick Clark, and features, indeed, the Strawberry Alarm Clock. Alas, this isn't a live music performance, but rather a short interview where Dick Clark speaks with SAC "leader" Mark Weitz and the other members introduce themselves with name and instrument. The band is referred to as a "quintet" at this point, and judging by the selections played I would place it in early 1968--there are LP tracks from the 1st album but none from the 2nd album, and the most recent 45 "Tomorrow" is heard. Interestingly, "Incense & Peppermints" is not played.
The program runs some 15 minutes and includes four SAC songs in what seems to be stereo LP versions. The sound is remarkably good and a little different from the familiar UNI sound, but this is surely due to different manufacturing circumstances and nothing else. So, you get some mighty fine SAC music that you've heard before, and maybe 90 seconds of chatter that you haven't heard before, and the added bonus of Dick Clark praising the fine young Santa Barbara men in all kinds of ways, "Progressive band"; "the now sound" etc. I can dig it.
Now, flip the disc over and what do you get? Another program for Navy radio broadcast again featuring the Strawberry Alarm Clock! Dick Clark and the band greet each other as old friends, and this time the members reveal their ages (Weitz is oldest, born '45) and engage in a philosophical discourse on what genre their music belongs to. Apparently plenty of people referred to them as "jazz-rock"! This was probably taped shortly after or even at the same session as the program above, since there is no new material (from the 2nd LP) performed. So I'm guessing Spring '68 for the entire disc as a "release", which meant distribution to various Navy bases around the world. How many copies were pressed? How much did the band get paid? We do not know.
While it would have been more exciting with some live music or maybe more indepth interviews, this rarity will suffice as a needed dark horse in the early SAC catalog.