When Laurel Canyon commune band Brain Train, unusually boasting two drummers (including future CSN man Dallas Taylor), signed to Elektra, Paul Rothchild insisted on becoming their manager and renaming them Clear Light (after the purest LSD).
Along with the six-minute psychodrama of Tom Paxton‘s Mr Blue, Rothchild’s famously brutal sessions produced a psych-folk rollercoaster of two-minute mini-symphonies, encompassing sensitive-to-apocalyptic vocals, waltz-time outbursts and Ralph Shuckett’s Manzarek-like Farfisa challenging quicksilver guitarist Bob Seal.
Their eponymous debut album (1967) shifted 100,000, many in the UK thanks to the support of John Peel, but Clear Light faded in 1968 after Rothchild fired songwriter Seal.
Elektra head Jac Holzman deemed them “too complex”, but Clear Light were sowing vital seeds for prog rock.
Cliff De Young
Robbie “The Werewolf” Robison
Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar