The Strawberry Alarm Clock – Wake Up Where You Are (2012)

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Most people tend to associate the Strawberry Alarm Clock with just one song, but what an amazing song it is. And that’s “Incense And Peppermints,” which sprinted straight to the No. 1 spot on the national charts in the fall of 1967. On the other hand, those who have delved deeper into the Southern California band’s catalog not only found there’s far more to these fellows than their catchy flower power anthem, but recognize and acknowledge their brilliance.

Born at the proper time with the proper mindset, the Strawberry Alarm Clock came into being in an era when rock music was branching out in every direction imaginable. Nothing was considered off limits and creativity was applauded. The band took advantage of such a liberal policy, and benefited from doing so. Already talented and grounded, the Strawberry Alarm Clock maximized their gifts by feeding their material fancy instruments, daring arrangements and esoteric poetry, resulting in some of the grooviest expressions conceivable.

But rather than celebrate the past, let’s focus on the present, as the band recently released their first studio album since 1971 – and what a phenomenal effort it is. Clocking in (pun intended) at nearly 80 minutes in length, Wake Up Where You Are (Global Recording Artists) follows the same applications responsible for fueling the group’s initial vision. Track for track, the Strawberry Alarm Clock duplicates and expands on the brand of psychedelic zest they are defined by.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Beverly Paterson talks with original member George Bunnell about the band’s early days, his time away and why they decided to restart the Strawberry Alarm Clock.]

A healthy touch of exotica crosses wires with a hypnotic reggae beat on the absolutely stunning “World Citizen,” and “Drifting Away” whispers and purrs to a rippling repertoire formed of dreamy shapes and spacey vibrations. Framed of hard edged, intense rhythms and socially conscious lyrics, “Wake Up” stands as a further keeper, and a cover of the Fuzztones’ cryptic “Charlotte’s Remains” hisses and growls with a garage rock ferocity, while an extended treatment of the Seeds’ “Mr. Farmer” is bathed in a blanket of static and distortion.

The Strawberry Alarm Clock also revisit a series of their vintage tunes, which sound even better now than they did back then, if that’s possible since they were so great to begin with. Played at a faster clip than the original recording, an elongated version of “Sit With The Guru” adds a wild and wicked drum solo to the scenario, and “Birds In My Tree” pushes, pulls, slips, slides and slithers with compelling chord changes to electrifying effects. Swaying with beauty and grace, “Barefoot In Baltimore” evokes the mellow mood of a carefree summer day, and then there’s “Paxton’s Backstreet Carnival,” which romps and rolls with festive sonic colors.

From top to bottom, Wake Up Where You Are holds tight to the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s signature practice of fusing freaky frequencies with sunny pop melodies. Over the years, the band has kept their chops oiled by performing live gigs, and their dedication to their art is instantly apparent on this remarkable album. Their vocals are strong and clear, the harmonies are elegant and angelic, and their chemistry is tirelessly synchronized.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Parked between the Doors’ freaky frequencies and the Association’s beautiful vocal pop, Strawberry Alarm Clock’s ‘Incense and Peppermints’ is a stunning album.]

Awash with trippy acid-baked jams, galloping keyboards, tasty licks by the pound and lots of phasing and surrealistic phrasing, Wake Up Where You Are is a genuine cosmic confection. Psychedelic blood obviously runs through the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s veins, as their energy is so natural and spontaneous. A real democracy is happening here, and you can hear how much fun the band had making the disc.

Brimming with excitement, invention and stacks of spellbinding motions, “Wake Up Where You Are” is actually only a preview of what the Strawberry Alarm Clock has in store for us. The band has crafting an album of all new songs that show they still have what it takes to blow brains.

Rare is the reunion where the group has maintained the mojo and a sincere affection for the music is the primary factor for getting together again. But the Strawberry Alarm Clock are an exception. Although psychedelic rock is by no means a commercial commodity, the band has never lost their love for the genre. Smacking of honesty and enthusiasm, Wake Up Where You Are is so inspiring it could launch a whole new movement of experimental eccentrics and put the music on the radio where it belongs.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at
Beverly Paterson
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