Mar 2011 / INDEX

When thinking of psychedelic rock music, I am reminded of the famous quote by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart: Though he could not come up with a good definition of hard-core pornography, he said, 'I know it when I see it'. Psychedelic rock is the same way: I know it when I hear it, but don't ask me to tell you what it is. Among the many 1960's psychedelic bands are the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Big Brother and the Holding Company, 13th Floor Elevators, the Chocolate Watchband, the Strawberry Alarm Clock, Iron Butterfly, and Tomorrow. Our local newspaper, the Sun Herald reported over the weekend about a previously unreleased album by Arthur Lee's band Love that is supposed to hit the stores shortly; I didn't expect such hip news from them frankly.

Many other artists in the 1960's also took a whack at psychedelia. Kenny Rogers' first band the First Edition had an early hit song with 'Just Dropped in (to See What Condition My Condition was In)'; though the lyrics kind of miss the boat, they are still charmingly corny. 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' is one of many great psychedelic songs Donovan came up with. The Beatles had Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the Rolling Stones had Their Satanic Majesties' Request. Even Motown got into the act: The Supremes hit with 'Reflections', while the Temptations had several psychedelic songs ' 'Psychedelic Shack', 'Ball of Confusion (That's What the World is Today)', 'Runaway Child, Runnin' Wild', and others. Many were on their 1970 album Psychedelic Shack; one of the biggest hits by the B-52's, 'Love Shack' was in part an homage to this record.

The San Francisco sound covers a lot of what used to be called 'acid rock' (music designed to be enjoyed while under the influence of LSD): Country Joe and the Fish, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and the Grateful Dead. This music is much calmer and more meditative than one might think; there is enough going on during an acid trip without having your head blown off by a lot of bombastic music. But psychedelic guitar is one of the best things in rock music for my money, and it hardly gets any better than with INDEX. This album was advertised as the 'Holy Grail' among collectors of psychedelic albums, and it does live up to the hype. I paid $27 for the record, which is about as much as I have paid for any record for at least five years. (Truth be told, I am more of a hoarder than a collector: On my Atlanta record-buying trip in Spring 2010, fully half of the albums that I got were priced at $1).
Index (or the Index) was formed in the tony Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, Michigan in 1967 by John Ford (lead guitar and lead vocals), Gary Francis (bass and rhythm guitar) and Jim Valice (drummer and background vocals). The copy that I have is an "authorized' release, not a bootleg; but of course, we only have their word for that. (It reminds me of the old joke: How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Answer: Four; calling the tail a leg doesn't make it one).
The lead guitar really is outstanding and is clarion-clear, especially considering that the songs were recorded 'at the Ford Estate' (that's what it says here) live in the studio with one microphone. The vocals are a little muddy and washed out, though they are well sung, particularly on 'Rainy, Starless Night' ('Why must I cry? . . .'). Their songwriting is also top notch; standout tracks include 'John Riley', 'Fire Eyes', and 'Shock Wave' (the last two are woven into one song).
'Feedback' starts off with feedback-drenched guitar echo that is among the best I have heard ' certainly better than 'Free Form Guitar' on Chicago's first album Chicago Transit Authority, or the side-long 'Cambridge 1969' by John Lennon and Yoko Ono that was included on their follow-up to Two Virgins, Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions ' then again, Index went on to do a real song rather than just waving their guitar in front of the amp.

There are two covers on the Index album: 'You Keep Me Hangin' On' (more the Vanilla Fudge version than the Supremes version) and the Byrds' 'Eight Miles High' (speaking of great psychedelic songs). If there was ever a song that cried out for a really extended treatment, it was 'Eight Miles High'; and I still remember well the first time I heard a long version of 'Eight Miles High' at a party while I was in college. The artist turned out to be Golden Earring, a Dutch band that has been around about as long as the Rolling Stones; they went on to have two giant hits ' both of which I still love ' 'Radar Love' and 'Twilight Zone'.

This album is one of two LPs that I have gotten this year where the side listings are backwards, i.e., where Side 2 is on the left and Side 1 is on the right. The other is a live performance by another Dutch band, the Outsiders (not to be confused with the American band also called the Outsiders that hit with 'Time Won't Let Me'), called Afraid of the Dark. In that case, the sides were numbered correctly I guess; but Side 2 is essentially the same as the outstanding first side of their legendary first album, The Outsiders (even including the introduction to the band in the Dutch language), and the album just seems better when it is played with the second side first. This was a run-through rather than the blistering live tracks given on the first album, but that one hasn't yet emerged from my recovery of the record albums from Katrina, so I am delighted to have this one available for playing.
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The Honor Roll of the Under Appreciated Rock Bands and Artists follows, in date order, including a link to the original Facebook posts and the theme of the article.
Dec 2009 ' BEAST; Lot to Learn
Jan 2010 ' WENDY WALDMAN; Los Angeles Singer-Songwriters
Feb 2010 ' CYRUS ERIE; Cleveland
Mar 2010 ' BANG; Record Collecting I
Apr 2010 ' THE BREAKAWAYS; Power Pop
May 2010 ' THE NOT QUITE; Katrina Clean-Up
Jun 2010 ' WATERLILLIES; Electronica
Jul 2010 ' THE EYES; Los Angeles Punk Rock
Aug 2010 ' QUEEN ANNE'S LACE; Psychedelic Pop
Sep 2010 ' THE STILLROVEN; Minnesota
Oct 2010 ' THE PILTDOWN MEN; Record Collecting II
Nov 2010 ' SLOVENLY; Slovenly Peter
Dec 2010 ' THE POPPEES; New York Punk/New Wave
Jan 2011 ' HACIENDA; Latinos in Rock
Feb 2011 ' THE WANDERERS; Punk Rock (1970's/1980's)
Mar 2011 ' INDEX; Psychedelic Rock (1960's)
Apr 2011 ' BOHEMIAN VENDETTA; Punk Rock (1960's)
May 2011 ' THE LONESOME DRIFTER; Rockabilly
Jun 2011 ' THE UNKNOWNS; Disabled Musicians
Jul 2011 ' THE RIP CHORDS; Surf Rock I
Aug 2011 ' ANDY COLQUHOUN; Side Men
Sep 2011 ' ULTRA; Texas
Oct 2011 ' JIM SULLIVAN; Mystery
Nov 2011 ' THE UGLY; Punk Rock (1970's)
Dec 2011 ' THE MAGICIANS; Garage Rock (1960's)
Jan 2012 ' RON FRANKLIN; Why Celebrate Under Appreciated?
Feb 2012 ' JA JA JA; German New Wave
Mar 2012 ' STRATAVARIOUS; Disco Music
Apr 2012 ' LINDA PIERRE KING; Record Collecting III
May 2012 ' TINA AND THE TOTAL BABES; One Hit Wonders
Jun 2012 ' WILD BLUE; Band Names I
Jul 2012 ' DEAD HIPPIE; Band Names II
Aug 2012 ' PHIL AND THE FRANTICS; Wikipedia I
Sep 2012 ' CODE BLUE; Hidden History
Oct 2012 ' TRILLION; Wikipedia II
Nov 2012 ' THOMAS ANDERSON; Martin Winfree's Record Buying Guide
Dec 2012 ' THE INVISIBLE EYES; Record Collecting IV
Jan 2013 ' THE SKYWALKERS; Garage Rock Revival
Mar 2013 ' THE GILES BROTHERS; Novelty Songs
Apr 2013 ' LES SINNERS; Universal Language
May 2013 ' HOLLIS BROWN; Greg Shaw / Bob Dylan
Jun 2013 (I) ' FUR (Part One); What Might Have Been I
Jun 2013 (II) ' FUR (Part Two); What Might Have Been II
Jul 2013 ' THE KLUBS; Record Collecting V
Aug 2013 ' SILVERBIRD; Native Americans in Rock
Sep 2013 ' BLAIR 1523; Wikipedia III
Oct 2013 ' MUSIC EMPORIUM; Women in Rock I
Nov 2013 ' CHIMERA; Women in Rock II
Dec 2013 ' LES HELL ON HEELS; Women in Rock III
Jan 2014 ' BOYSKOUT; (Lesbian) Women in Rock IV
Feb 2014 ' LIQUID FAERIES; Women in Rock V
Mar 2014 (I) ' THE SONS OF FRED (Part 1); Tribute to Mick Farren
Mar 2014 (II) ' THE SONS OF FRED (Part 2); Tribute to Mick Farren
Apr 2014 ' HOMER; Creating New Bands out of Old Ones
May 2014 ' THE SOUL AGENTS; The Cream Family Tree
Jun 2014 ' THE RICHMOND SLUTS and BIG MIDNIGHT; Band Names (Changes) III
Jul 2014 ' MIKKI; Rock and Religion I (Early CCM Music)
Aug 2014 ' THE HOLY GHOST RECEPTION COMMITTEE #9; Rock and Religion II (Bob Dylan)
Sep 2014 ' NICK FREUND; Rock and Religion III (The Beatles)
Oct 2014 ' MOTOCHRIST; Rock and Religion IV
Nov 2014 ' WENDY BAGWELL AND THE SUNLITERS; Rock and Religion V
Dec 2014 ' THE SILENCERS; Surf Rock II
Jan 2015 (I) ' THE CRAWDADDYS (Part 1); Tribute to Kim Fowley
Jan 2015 (II) ' THE CRAWDADDYS (Part 2); Tribute to Kim Fowley
Feb 2015 ' BRIAN OLIVE; Songwriting I (Country Music)
Mar 2015 ' PHIL GAMMAGE; Songwriting II (Woody Guthrie/Bob Dylan)
Apr 2015 (I) ' BLACK RUSSIAN (Part 1); Songwriting III (Partnerships)
Apr 2015 (II) ' BLACK RUSSIAN (Part 2); Songwriting III (Partnerships)
May 2015 ' MAL RYDER and THE PRIMITIVES; Songwriting IV (Rolling Stones)
Jun 2015 ' HAYMARKET SQUARE; Songwriting V (Beatles)
Jul 2015 ' THE HUMAN ZOO; Songwriting VI (Psychedelic Rock)
Aug 2015 ' CRYSTAL MANSION; Martin Winfree's Record Cleaning Guide
Dec 2015 ' AMANDA JONES; So Many Rock Bands
Mar 2016 ' THE LOVEMASTERS; Fun Rock Music
Jun 2016 ' THE GYNECOLOGISTS; Offensive Rock Music Lyrics
Sep 2016 ' LIGHTNING STRIKE; Rap and Hip Hop
Dec 2016 ' THE IGUANAS; Iggy and the Stooges; Proto-Punk Rock
Mar 2017 ' THE LAZY COWGIRLS; Iggy and the Stooges; First Wave Punk Rock
Jun 2017 ' THE LOONS; Punk Revival and Other New Bands
Sep 2017 ' THE TELL-TALE HEARTS; Bootleg Albums
Dec 2017 ' SS-20; The Iguana Chronicles
(Year 10 Review)

Last edited: April 7, 2021