The Serpent Power: The Endless Tunnel (1967)

 |   |  1 min read

The Serpent Power: The Endless Tunnel (1967)

The cover of their sole album in 1967 on the Vanguard label told part of the story: psychedelic Californians with a female vocalist in the line-up.

That much is clear, but the music added to much more to the Jefferson Airplane reference point.

Songwriter-guitarist David Meltzer was a poet around San Francisco and his wife Tina was the singer. But then add in organ player John Payne alongside Jean-Paul Pickens on electric banjo and the stylistic edges begin to blur.

Lead guitarist Danny Ellis and bassist David Stenson (sometimes spelled Stensen) had played with the Grass Roots and on Lovin' Spoonful sessions.

Everyone could play well, they got into the game just before the hippy thing coagulated around them, Sam Charters who was A&R for Vanguard caught their act when he brought Country Joe and the Fish to town, got them signed and their psychedelic folk-rock sound with elements of raga-rock, a touch of Doors-like organ and drone was quite unique.

Their self-titled album was picked by Rolling Stone as one of the 50 best albums of 1967 (and that was a helluva year for albums) and . . .

And that was it.

The album didn't sell, Tina quit the band – as did Stenson and Ellis – shortly after its release, and so the very promising and belatedly acclaimed Serpent Power never recorded again.

81GImgFdvkL._SL1412_Just the one album which is now considered a psych-rock classic of its period (of its year, more correctly) and as far as we can tell not available on Spotify or Apple iTunes.

Every now and again a track will appear on a psychedelic compilation.

This 13 minute head-trip came from the 2014 Ace album Follow Me Down; Vanguard's Lost Psychedelic Era 1966-1970 which is worth seeking out.

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Ron Wood: Seven Days (1979)

Ron Wood: Seven Days (1979)

Back when he was "the salaried Stone", guitarist Ron Wood -- before he became Ronnie -- was regularly knocking out solo albums. Of course he could call on some stellar assistance and... > Read more

The Honeycombs: Have I The Right (1964)

The Honeycombs: Have I The Right (1964)

In the Beatpop boom which followed the Beatles, there were any number of great one-off hits (Concrete and Clay by Unit 4 Plus Two, and Wake Up My Mind by the Ugly's spring to mind). But few had... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Jake Baxendale of The Jac

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Jake Baxendale of The Jac

Alto saxophonist Jake Baxendale plays in the excellent octet The Jac out of Wellington and their previous album Nerve of last year won acclaim everywhere, including at Elsewhere. A young... > Read more

ELSEWHERE WORLD SERVICE: A quick overview of recent world music releases

ELSEWHERE WORLD SERVICE: A quick overview of recent world music releases

Here's a frequent flyer/transit lounge/vicarious listening music column for those at home who want to get their musical passport stamped. Elsewhere has so many CDs and downloads commanding and... > Read more