Optical Sound

Barely Appreciated


The Human Expression is another amazing psychedelic rock band; they are well known for “Love at Psychedelic Velocity” that was included on Pebbles, Volume 10, one of the first two Pebbles LP’s that I bought.  Not so well known, but even more highly prized is “Optical Sound”; as the title suggests, the song deals with the synesthesia effects of LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs, where someone will seem to see sounds and taste colors.  The 45 with “Optical Sound” on it has brought as much as $2,650 at auction.  


(September 2013)


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This month’s Under Appreciated Rock Band of the month is the Human Zoo, a band having numerous connections to a truly legendary band called the Human Expression, one of the garage rock and psychedelic rock bands where I wrote up the Wikipedia article many years back.  The Human Expression was from Orange County, California and formed in 1966.  The father of one of the bandmembers (who was also one of their songwriters), Jim Foster served as the band’s manager.  They released only three singles on Accent Records in 1966 and 1967, with Optical Sound being a regional hit.  The band had the opportunity to record Born to be Wild before Steppenwolf when they were presented with two demos from songwriter Mars Bonfire; bandleader Jim Quarles selected Sweet Child of Nothingness as the “A” side of their third single over the future 1968 hit song (and he has a point if you ask me).  


Two CD’s featuring the Human Expression and also solo recordings by Jim Quarles have been released by Cicadelic RecordsLove at Psychedelic Velocity (1994) and The Human Expression & Other Psychedelic Groups (2000). The first CD is named after their best known song, Love at Psychedelic Velocity (actually more of a garage rock song that has remarkable changes in tempo), which is included on the Pebbles, Volume 10 LP and also the first Nuggets Box Set.  Optical Sound – whose title likely refers to synesthesia, when the human senses are sometimes scrambled during an LSD trip – actually appears on more than twice as many compilation albums.  


According to the website popsike.com, the original 45’s by the Human Expression are among the most valuable of any garage rock or psychedelic rock band, selling at auction on 15 occasions at prices above $1,250 (and as recently as July 2015), with Optical Sound bringing as much as $2,650 and Love at Psychedelic Velocity selling as high as $2,500.  


(July 2015)


Last edited: March 22, 2021