Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Kim Fowley—
The Trip


Released 1965 on Corby
The Seth Man, January 2012ce
Already making my acquaintance with “The Trip” in the early eighties via Godfrey’s “Let’s Take A Trip” on “Pebbles Vol. 3” and Naz Nomad & The Nightmares’ excellent cover on their “Give Daddy The Knife, Daddy” album, I only knew that Kim Fowley had written it, but had yet to discover he’d also recorded it until I scored “Pebbles Vol. 1” a short time later. Originally released on the tiny Corby Records in 1965, it was reissued for the first of a dozen times in England in 1966 on Island Records and it weren’t no ska or blue beat outing, either. For as Fowley himself noted, it was the first record by a white artist released on that label.

What he didn’t have to note was that it was also, for the time (and possibly: all eternity) the craziest. About as lurid as a niece’s invite to Brother Lou’s Love Colony while sounding like The Troggs recording “Sally Go ‘Round The Roses” with a maniac on entirely improvisational vocalese on board, “The Trip” is right up there/down there with “Surfin’ Bird,” “Gloria,” “Louie, Louie,” “Hang On Sloopy,” “Wooly Bully” and “96 Tears” in terms of inspired naivety, simplicity, bedrock punk and with owning space to let all the innuendoes in, all the grooviness out and wish all the bad shit out into the cornfield FOREVER.

In terms of its near-unswerving non-momentum, “The Trip” is parallel to the instrumental department of “Sally Go ‘Round The Roses” while in a mere 2 minutes and 0 seconds, Fowley completely transformed this undulating backing track with a narrative that walked a line as thin as Kim hisself between drug- and vacation-taking, pure psychosis and a Rorschach test of WHO YOU ARE while remaining also throwaway, off-the-cuff novelty trash AND pure genius, too. Therein lies the rub, the hubbub and the rhubarbed wire of wit and desire because that’s another thin line that Fowley himself has walked (and talked) FOR YEARS. In the garden of your mind, baby, OH YEAH-UH!! I mean, Do you fuck dogs?!! Do you shoot heroin?!! Have you ever been in the presence of Kim Fowley?!! (I have, and it was about as terrifying, beautiful and hilarious as “The Trip” because that’s what he asked me after I called him a genius animal god of the streets and an outlaw superman supreme.)

“Summertime’s here, kiddies...” begins Kim’s adlib vocal installment, issued forth at a lazy pace against equally camel-paced measures. His narrative winds through a back catalogue of deadpan, brainpan imagery that predates not only The Deep’s “Color Dreams” but with the song’s arrangement and organ eventually lifted for The Doors’ “Soul Kitchen,” the title procured by Donovan for the B-side of his 1966 psychedelic single, “Sunshine Superman” and Hapshash & The Coloured Coat chant of “H-O-P-P-Y” mirroring Kim’s own hoarsely barked initialisations, it’s apparent what we have here is a substantial wellspring of psychedelic Rock. Thanks to the burning need in his mind, Fowley delivers a missive supreme in all his improvisational glory of hoarseness, taunts, coaxes, hoaxes and soon enough we’re in “a world somewhere else” he unhesitatingly describes as “A world of frogs / and green fountains / and flying dogs / and silver cats / and emerald rats / and purple clouds / and faceless crowds / and walls of glass / that never pass / and pictures hanging upside down / won’t ask / where you are...” Then the tempo kicks into double time and Kim sneaks in a quiet proclamation that he’s “swimmin’ in beauty.” Nice.

I mean, this is flaming dogshit on the doorstep of your mind. Forever.

The original B-side on Corby of “The Trip” was “Big Sur, Bear Mountain, Ciro’s, Flip Side Protest Song” until the following year when Island Records substituted it with the likewise Dylan-influenced and less cumbersome entitled track, “Beautiful People.” This occurred on both the original 1966 single and its 1977 reissue with the pink and purple picture sleeve which illustrates this here piece. Meanwhile, “The Trip” has appeared on about as many compilations as Jack Nitzsche’s “The Lonely Surfer.” OK, let’s not get carried away -- maybe not THAT many. But still, a LOT and for good reason, too.