Friday, November 27, 2009

Bubble Puppy -- "Hot Smoke and Sassafras" (1969)

If you've found your place at last
Then you need not use the looking-glass

I disagree. I don't care whether you've found your place or you're still looking, a looking-glass sure can come in handy. Sometimes you need to check out how your hair looks -- see if you are still looking fine in general. How are you gonna do that without the ol' looking-glass?

Bubble Puppy was just a one-hit wonder, but it was one hell of a hit. The song made it to number 14 on the Billboard top 100, which I find surprising -- it's a very radical song.

I remember hearing this song on AM radio when I was a junior in high school. I almost drove my parents' 1962 Chevy Biscayne station wagon (6-cylinder engine, three on the tree, no a/c, and a vacuum tube radio that took about a minute to warm up) right into a ditch. This song is hot, hot, hot. I've never heard anything quite like it since, and I trust I never will.

Bubble Puppy was formed in San Antonio, but moved to Austin before "Hot Smoke and Sassafras" was released. Texas was sort of a psychedelic music hot spot in those days, believe it or not. The most famous Texas psychedelic band was the 13th Floor Elevators (I'll get around to them eventually) and the astonishingly weird The Red Crayola. Bubble Puppy put out one album (it flopped except for this song), changed labels, changed names (they renamed themselves Demian after the Herman Hesse novel), put out another album (it flopped), and broke up.

The first time Bubble Puppy played live before a big audience was as the opening act for The Who in San Antonio. They must have been pretty good -- their official website proclaims them to be the "most feared opening act in rock & roll history." (The most famous story about an opening act upstaging the main attraction involves Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry. It's apocryphal, according to reliable sources, which is a real shame.)

Click here for an absolutely insane animation video of the song by an art collective named Paper Rad.

Here's a slightly less creative video:

Here's an link to this song:

Here's an iTunes link to this song: BubblePuppy - Hot Smoke - Hot Smoke and Sassafras

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