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Psychedelic Soul

Psychedelic soul was born in the late '60s, as the chemically altered consciousness and trippy production techniques of psychedelic rock found their way into the soul music of the period. Its receptiveness to rock & roll made it a definite precursor of funk, whose hard-driving rhythms and use of electronics and instrumental effects owed much to the ground broken by psychedelic soul. The music was often state-of-the-art soul at its most celebratory, evoking the heady good times of a new, multifaceted cultural openness. But there was also a darker, sometimes even paranoid side to the music that reflected its uncertain social times, particularly the increasing militancy of the civil rights movement. By the '70s, psychedelic soul had evolved into a mix of protest material, aggressive funk, and gently shimmering love songs. The catalyst behind psychedelic soul was Jimi Hendrix, who cut his teeth on the R&B circuit before coming into his own as a mind- and genre-bending instrumentalist who spoke to both white and black listeners. Similarly eclectic but more firmly based in R&B were Sly & the Family Stone, a racially integrated outfit forged in the psychedelic hotbed of San Francisco. Perhaps the quintessential psychedelic soul band, the Family Stone's social awareness and euphoric positivity gave way to a darker, more pessimistic vision, as drugs took their toll on Sly Stone's mental stability. Meanwhile, the Temptations, under the auspices of producer/arranger Norman Whitfield, redefined themselves by cutting some of the finest psychedelic soul of the late '60s and early '70s, including hits like "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Ball of Confusion." Whitfield was also responsible for other psychedelic soul classics like Edwin Starr's "War" and the Undisputed Truth's "Smiling Faces Sometimes." Psychedelic soul remained a part of R&B's cutting edge into the '70s, as many early funk artists -- Curtis Mayfield, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Isley Brothers, etc. -- made it a component of their sound. None did so more than George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic aggregate, whose bizarre, druggy humor and acid-tinged jamming were direct outgrowths of psychedelic soul.