The Serpent Power – The Serpent Power (1967)

Artist Credit
Clark Coolidge Drums
Denny Ellis Guitar (Rhythm)
David Meltzer Composer, Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Tina Meltzer Vocals
John Payne Organ
Serpent Power Primary Artist
David Stenson Bass

The only album released by this San Francisco group, The Serpent Power is a good example of the ways in which the “San Francisco sound” had coalesced into a recognizable trend by 1967: music set to beat poetry, a combination of bluesier rockers and wispy, folk-influenced tunes with male and female harmonies, and meditations about drugs all date the album somewhat, but the songs themselves are quite good, with excellent band interplay and nice electric guitar work. The heavier songs pack a good punch, while the lighter songs set a very airy, flowing mood, the epitome of what was then becoming known as “flower power”. The Serpent Power is most noteworthy, though, for the inclusion of the last track, “Endless Tunnel,” which was one of the first successful fusions of eastern-style song structure and philosphy with western instruments and rock sensibilities. This sort of raga-rock had been tried earlier by San Francisco’s Great Society, and, of course, the Beatles, but never had it been taken to such extremes on record, clocking in at over 13 minutes. The only other rock songs with similar ideas and effect were the Butterfield Blues Band’s “East-West” and the Doors’ “The End,” both released a year earlier. The album’s liner notes include excerpts from the poetry of the band’s leader and songwriter, David Meltzer.

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