The Strawberry Alarm Clock is ready to unleash its recent recordings on the group’s first album in 40 years.
Mr. Farmer: The old Seeds song written by Sky Saxon and a cult classic. Long story short, Mark Weitz (keyboards, vocals) played a Saxon memorial concert in L.A. with Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. Saxson’s widow, Sabrina, asked the Strawberry Alarm Clock to participate in a multidisc tribute album set for release later in 2011. “Right off the bat, I said I wanted to do ‘Mr. Farmer,'” Weitz says. “Going with the less obvious.” Weitz listened to the original Seeds single for two weeks, added a few lyrics and then the Strawberry Alarm clock blasted it out in the studio, with Weitz on vocals. The result is a driving hard-rocker sure to startle a few fans. If the CD has a hit single, this is it. (Two versions of the song are on the CD — a single version and a seven-minute take with some serious acid rock going down.)
Strawberries Mean Love: From the first SAC album, written by teenagers George Bunnell and Steve Bartek. “We were really proud of the vocal harmonies on the new version,” Weitz says. The song gets fresh keyboard parts and a modern feel.
Hummin’ Happy: Another song from the first album, written by Bunnell and Randy Seol.
Birds in My Tree. Bunnell and Seol wrote this and it first appeared on the debut album.
World Citizen: A new song created by the band for Garry Davis’ World Citizen organization, which promotes and issues global passports. SAC’s “World Citizen” was used in an award-winning short film. Think world music filtered through Oingo Boingo. Producer Steve Bartek (a veteran of that ’80s band) plays flute. Lyrics by Randy Seol of SAC and Arthur Kanegif. Seol sings.
Drifting Away: Mark Weitz wrote this several years ago, after his wife passed away. Weitz sings with backup vocals by Howie Anderson, who also adds some tasty guitar work. “It’s a difficult song (to play), Weitz says. “It sounds like something out of a movie.”
Lose to Live: Another number from the first album, written by Weitz. Lee Freeman sang the original. Seol handles the vocals this time, with Weitz taking over in the middle section. Bartek plays harmonica.
Barefoot in Baltimore: Weitz wrote this song for the first album with former guitarist Ed King. Original concept was to have a Motown sound, “but it never turned out that way,” Weitz says. New version includes a keyboard section that mimics vibes. From the second SAC album; single reached No. 67 on the record charts.
Charlotte’s Remains: One of the first songs performed by the band when they started playing together again in 2007. Cover of a moody rocker by the current king of garage bands, the Fuzztones.
Sit With the Guru: Another ’60s song, a fan favorite written by Weitz with the help of guitarist King. “It has a modern twist now,” Weitz says. Bartek plays an electronic sitar and there’s a touch of oboe, giving the number a Middle Eastern vibe. An extended alternate take is the CD’s last track. The original was on the second SAC album, and charted as a single peaking at No. 65.
Tomorrow: The band stretches out via a longer ending than on the original. Seol sings the song, a single written for the second album by Weitz-King that peaked at No. 23 on the charts.
Wake Up: A new song written by guitarist Anderson with his friend Brad Swanson. Anderson sings as well. Psychedelic touches such as backward guitar and cymbals. Heavy like the Who. The extended ending is a studio jam that broke out after “Wake Up” was recorded but proved too good to throw away.
Mr. Farmer: The long version. Big guitar in the beginning and a ’60s-style freakout at the end. “Steve’s arrangement shines,” Weitz says.
Sit With the Guru: The long version with Seol’s 10-minute drum solo.
Sources: Mark Weitz, George Bunnell