The original personnel listing for the Seeds’ third long-player, “Future”, included a credit to “your imagination”. It was lead singer Sky Saxon’s invitation for the listener to travel “back into your dreams”, to conjure up for themselves the fantasy landscape of castles, forests and clouds that he had envisaged for the record. “Future” embodied one of many tangents Sky had spun off upon, which led him from a knowing hipness to a wide-eyed, childlike naïveté. Behind, the Seeds packed as solid a musical punch as they ever had, but it was increasingly difficult for his fellow travellers to relate to the paths Sky was pointing the band down.
1967 was a turning point for Sky Saxon, Daryl Hooper, Jan Savage and Rick Andridge, a moment where the hard work of the previous two years was finally paying off. The first six months likely represented the zenith of the Seeds’ career, as the ascendant quartet seemed completely in the vanguard, with a major national hit under their belt, fan pandemonium wherever they went, and a public profile inflated by a new manager, the voluble “Lord Tim” Hudson. The eponymous debut album and its sequel, “A Web Of Sound”, had solidified the attitude implied by the hits, and saw the group made defiantly outrageous gestures, both musically and visually. What would their next move be?
The ensuing album, “Future”, seemed at once both calculated and confused. For some, it represents the Seeds’ grand psychedelic statement, a mind-blowing articulation of the flower power movement of which they had been proclaimed torchbearers. To others, “Future” is Sky Saxon’s folly: an over-egged, acid-damaged pudding that submerged the true power of the band with meaningless grandeur. The truth lies somewhere between. A narcissistic over-confidence made Sky feel the need to now augment Daryl, Jan and Rick in the studio with numerous overdubs – strings, harp, tuba – on hastily cobbled material that brimmed with bizarre lyrical concepts. On certain tracks the combination worked fine, on others it seemed almost like a parody of psychedelia. Nevertheless, “Future” contains many fan favourites such as ‘Painted Doll’, ‘Flower Lady’, ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘A Thousand Shadows’.
From this point on, Sky’s grip on the qualities that made him distinctive would only loosen further, but on “Future” he was attentive enough to pull things together, and the album has enough fine moments and flashes of the old Sky Saxon laser-like focus to ensure its reputation today as something of a flawed gem. Our deluxe 2CD edition thus seeks to reappraise the Seeds’ psychedelic experiment, and presents it in the very best sound quality. Disc One features the remastered stereo album mix, along with a selection of period mono mixes, including several that are previously unissued. A second disc, “Contact High: The Future Sessions”, is a fascinating eavesdrop upon the album’s creation at Hollywood’s famed Gold Star studio, utilising outtakes, alternate mixes and previously unheard versions to demonstrate that, beneath all the overdubs and florid platitudes, on “Future” the Seeds’ electricity crackled as strongly as ever. A 48-page booklet crammed with rarely-seen images tells the story behind this unusual but nevertheless compelling episode in the career of these garage kings.
By Alec Palao