It was the best of times, it was the trippiest of times: As London tuned in, turned on, and dropped out, pop experimented with the newfound psychedelic territories that would soundtrack the countercultural revolution. The city might not have been the only acid-coloured epicentre of the sixties, but it sure was the swingingest.
According to Jon Savage, 1966 was indeed “the year the decade exploded“—so it comes as no surprise the central role LSD played in this kaleidoscopic process. But the stylistic idiosyncrasies of UK psychedelia (often referred to as “British Pastoral”) were also deeply rooted in a vivid collective imaginary of the bucolic and the fantastic, mixing a militant agenda of communal utopia with aesthetic references that ranged from traditional European folklore to the mystical golden age of Victoriana.
In Psychedelic Britannia, Ginger Baker, Arthur Brown, The Zombies, The Moody Blues, Joe Boyd, and other key players of the scene recount the rise and fall of a 14-hour technicolor dream from which a generation was violently woken a mere couple of years later. Thank God for flashbacks, huh?