2. Jefferson Airplane: Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon
Electric, photogenic, modern, and freaky, Jefferson Airplane found themselves on the cover of Life magazine in 1967 under a heading "The New Rock". Formed by Marty Balin in 1966, the band broke when their sophomore Surrealistic Pillow, which was languishing, was mined for a second single in 1967, "Somebody To Love", which introduced Grace Slick to the world. Both single and album (which also produced the surprise hit "White Rabbit", a psychedelic bolero through the looking glass) eventually reached top-3. Their follow-up was the defiantly experimental and darkly psychedelic After Bathing At Baxters, which contained several excellent long-form numbers that showed off the band's considerable instrumental abilities. "Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon" is a jaunty folk-rock that drifts into a languid, hypnotic drone while the three-part vocals of Marty Balin, Grace Slick, and Paul Kantner harmonize dreamlike, while explicitly condoning LSD. Perfect for a languid Saturday afternoon, or a languid trip. The rest of the album gets a little more scary, so trip at your own peril.
3. Santana: Jingo
Santana broke later than most of the well-known San Francisco bands, commanding much attention for their manic performance of "Soul Sacrifice" during a lull in the rain at Woodstock. Mexican native Carlos Santana, the only constant member through the years, formed the band in 1966 with Gregg Rolie (future-Journey) as Santana Blues Band; by the time of their 1968 debut at the Fillmore, their name shortened to Santana. The band was a sextet when it recorded its first album, Santana, in 1969; it would ultimately peak at #4. "Evil Ways" reached #9 and remains a radio staple; its Latin rhythms and percussion were new to rock in 1969, and Rolie's organ solo remains distinctive, in a psychedelic Zombies sort of way. "Jingo" is perhaps better representative of the band however, as it builds a tribal rhythm to a percussion-and-organ crescendo, erupting in Santana's high pitched guitar wail; the band's polyrhythmic assault is still spine tingling and informs impromptu drum circles to this day.
4. The Charlatans: Codine Blues
Essentially an electric jug-band gone psychedelic, known for their flair for dandified fashion, 20's musical nostalgia, and good-timey sound, The Charlatans were the first band from the Haight Ashbury area to get recognition, and the first to land a record contract (with Autumn records, later Kama Sutra). Led by singer/guitarist Dan Hicks, who would later form Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, the band recorded several singles in 1966, but most went unreleased; their debut album The Charlatans, didn't appear until 1969 after lineup changes had diluted the band's vision; they released one more in 1970. "Codine Blues" is a version of Buffy St. Marie's "Cod'ine Blues" (aka "Codeine", "Codine"), a familiar title to garage band aficianados, and is an excellent version of this chestnut. 1966 vintage, it's a tremeloed garage rocker in waltz time, with fuzzy, echoed guitars, a pounding piano, and good vocals; the song's biting lyrics are believably sung, if done better elsewhere. Somehow, this fails to convey the band's great reputation, but it's still an excellent cut. The Charlatans vintage 1966 stuff can be found on the 1996 compilation The Amazing Charlatans, which helps restore their legend a little.