No, not the subway system. We’re talking about the underground music scene which took root in 1966, but flowered in 1967 with the psychedelic pollination of the UK by such bands as Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, and Tomorrow.
We’re at the UFO Club (pronounced “yoof-oh” — do not say U-F-O or people will think you’re a narc) on a warm night in May 1967. The air smells pungent with possibility . . . or maybe it’s just the herbal jazz cigarettes. You’re dressed in your finest frippery from Granny Takes A Trip, the hippest of clothing boutiques in Swinging London. It’s the scene, man, and you’re ready for a happening.
(But whatever you do, don’t drink anything that’s handed to you.)
Onstage are four guys who released their first single yesterday, a propulsive production about the communal bicycles available to anyone on the streets of Amsterdam. The song features liberal use of sound effects and backwards instruments, one of the first truly psychedelic singles. It will become an underground classic, but won’t make the charts. The band — calling themselves Tomorrow — sound fantastic, but little do they know they won’t exist at this time next year.
Lead singer Keith West will have a big hit in about six months with the most unusual and highly influential—at least on The Who’s Pete Townshend— “Grocer Jack (Excerpt From A Teenage Opera).” Drummer Twink—just Twink—will enjoy brief tenures with The Pretty Things and later The Pink Fairies. Guitarist Steve Howe finds the greatest success, joining prog-rockers Yes just in time to help create their finest albums.
So Tomorrow runs through their psych-pop set, their footnotable fate still erdle napple doop. The light show casts melted rainbows across the club and the cognoscenti of cool shripping on the frabjab.
Oh, no. You drank something, didn’t you? Well, I can’t let you speeble urps by yourself, can I?