Our top 10 Strawberry Alarm Clock songs presents an American band famed for its influences in the psychedelic rock music scene. The band made its mark with the release of the song “Incense and Peppermints,” which would easily become their signature song. Thanks to the signing of Greg Munford, the band achieved the perfect frontman for its songs. “Incense Peppermints” would soon top the Billboard Hot 100 charts helping the band accumulate a massive fanbase. The song was initially built on an instrumental by Weitz and King of the band Hunger. However, producer Slay denied them credits since they were not responsible for the song’s lyrics and melody line.
After the success of the single “Incense and Peppermints,” Strawberry Alarm Clock added George Bunnell to its lineup and later released a debut album. The album was named after the band’s then successful ballad “Incense and Peppermints,” which helped the album peak at number eleven on the US album charts in 1967. Later on that year, the band went on tour with Buffalo Springfield and The Beach Boys. Strawberry Alarm Clock was quite creative in its early days of touring. The members often sat on “magic carpets” as roadies carried them to the stage. Drummer Seol went a notch higher to introduce fire to the stage for some illusions, but his stunts were too dangerous, having him trash the idea.
A slight shift of the band’s musical style to blues-rock was noted after the signing of lead guitarist Jimmy Pitman of the Nightcrawlers. However, Pitman would shortly leave after the band’s album Good Morning Starshine failed to generate enough sales. While the album might not have been the strongest by Strawberry Alarm Clock, its title track, “Good Morning Starshine,” was quite a hit. Oliver Urdaneta’s version of “Good Morning Starshine” outshined Strawberry Alarm Clock’s version by far, having it be the most popularly known version.
Strawberry Alarm Clock tried to revive its dwindling fame through tours opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Lack of musical direction would later see the disbandment of Strawberry Alarm Clock. During this time, lead guitarist Ed King joined Lynyrd Skynyrd playing on the classic opening riff to “Sweet Home Alabama.” Strawberry Alarm Clock would later reunite, playing on oldies concert tours along with other acts such as Moby Grape, and The Seeds.
#10 – The Birdman of Alkatrash
Opening up our top 10 Strawberry Alarm Clock songs is the hit “The Birdman of Alkatrash.” The song was released together with the band’s famous song “Incense and Peppermints.” “The Birdman of Alkatrash” is a playful, humorous pun on Robert Franklin Stroud. Unlike most of the band’s songs of that time, “The Birdman of Alkatrash” is much softer. Nevertheless, the keyboard and warped guitar riffs present the song a trippy nature that is interesting to hear.
#9 – Good Morning Starshine
While Strawberry Alarm Clock might have been a significant contributor to the psychedelic rock music scene, it is unfortunate that the band didn’t enjoy more success. This is evidenced by the fact that the song “Good Morning Starshine” was the band’s last song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Keyboardist Mark Weitz revealed that the band was just trying to give their career one last shot in releasing a hit, and if it failed, they would consider it over!
Other artists to have covered the song “Good Morning Starshine” include Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Björn Skifs, Chris Clark, and Andy Williams with the Osmond Brothers.
#8 – Barefoot in Baltimore
Strawberry Alarm Clock released “Barefoot in Baltimore” in 1968 on the band’s album The World in a Sea Shell. The song is one of the band’s heartfelt releases from the album The World is a Sea Shell while still maintaining a gentle yet playful vibe that is found elsewhere on album. In the song, “Barefoot” is a character depicted to be walking around Baltimore as well as the shores of Chesapeake Bay while relishing the street-party ambiance of the place. The song stands unique and lightweight, having it feature short but interesting verses with odd descriptions and, in some instances, unconnected scenes.
#7 – The World’s On Fire
“The World’s On Fire” is one of the best Strawberry Alarm Clock songs from the 1967 LP Incense and Peppermints. The song holds the record for Strawberry Alarm Clock’s longest song as its over eight minutes. You can’t help but notice its pro psychedelic grooves that help establish the band’s sound. The song was conceived in the spirit of other lengthy songs such as “A Quick One (While He’s Away)” by The Who, “Going Home” by the Rolling Stones, and “Desolation Row” by Bob Dylan. “The World’s On Fire” has been described by music critics as a persistent attack musically, having it feature guitar and organ riffs. Its sound brings on a dark and sinister vibe, with the lyrics delivered in a nightmarish style, all of which combine to bring the disturbing theme of the song. The Housemartins released a song under the same title but different lyrics in their 1987 album. Mike Shinoda and The Prodigy also have released a song with almost a similar title, “World’s On Fire.”
#6 – Pretty Song from Psyche-Out
Thanks to its imaginative title and strong dynamic vibe, the song “Pretty Song from Psyche-Out” features one of Strawberry Alarm Clock’s high points in the music scene. The gorgeous melodic song is featured in the band’s album Wake Up…It’s Tomorrow (1968). Minor key diversions and quirky phrases add to the song’s faint haze to make it quite a unique ballad. The song has its lyrics describe elements in the 1968 film Psych-Out in a hyper-poetic vibe.
#5 – Sit with The Guru
Also, from the band’s album Wake Up…It’s Tomorrow (1968) is the bravura hit “Sit with The Guru.” You can barely describe this song without mentioning its cheery and poppy vibe superimposed on some heavily aggressive guitar riffs. Thanks to the song’s lovely melodic vocal work, it sits well with many as one of the best Strawberry Alarm Clock songs. In a nutshell, the completeness in the song’s lush vocals, hippie lyrical content, blistering guitars, awe-inspiring drumming, and melodic keyboards make it a memorable and enjoyable hit.
#4 – Tomorrow
With the band’s second album, Strawberry Alarm Clock gave more solid writing and advanced musicianship built upon the success of the Incense and Peppermints project. These two components are vivid in the song “Tomorrow.” The song also comes with a unique sound thanks to the fuzzy organ and guitar riffs, making it one of the greatest psychedelic gems by Strawberry Alarm Clock. The song alludes to the singer offering hope that tomorrow might be a better day than today to his partner with whom they seem to have some rough tides in their relationship.
#3 – Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow
The song “rainy Day Mushroom Pillow” is the first song on Side two of Incense and Peppermints (1967). Strawberry Alarm Clock gave a dense yet flowing vibe in this prominently psychedelic moment. “Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow” starts with a jaunty flute tune followed by some prominent bongos. Its lyrics offer a perfect mirror of blissed-out music that is spiced up with a pinch of sarcasm. The song’s highly evocative nature makes it one of the best Strawberry Alarm Clock songs of all time and a live show favorite for the band members.
#2 – Curse of the Witches
Strawberry Alarm Clock might look like just a typical band, but when it lets the dark side take over, its releases can truly get scary. A perfect example is the song “Curses of the Witches” from the band’s sophomore album Wake Up…It’s Tomorrow. The song is delivered in a somber mood and is best described as the most evil-sound psychedelic rock ballad by Strawberry Alarm Clock ever released. Its slow and creepy vibe adds to its scary nature, taking you through the band’s genius thematic explorations.
#1 – Incense and Peppermint
Number one on our top 10 Strawberry Alarm Clock songs list is the hit “Incense and Peppermints.” The song might have been among the band’s first songs, but its fame remains to date, having the band struggle to replicate the performance and quality of this song. Producer Slay would have Greg Munford from The Shapes take on the lead vocals despite not being a regular in the band’s lineup. While Greg Munford never joined the band fully, he helped Strawberry Alarm Clock release “Incense and Peppermints,” which would have the band pride itself with a number one hit single on the Billboard Hot 100.
Feature Photo: Rhinowing at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons