Psychedelic Shack

Album: Psychedelic Shack (1969)
Charted: 33 7
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This is one funky shack The Temptations sing about on this track. The place has bear skin rugs, colored lights, and people walking around reciting poetry. This being 1969, places like this really did exist, although the song could also be seen as a unification anthem, welcoming all people in this shack where you could free your mind and be accepted for who you are.
  • The Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote this song, and Whitfield produced it. The Whitfield/Strong team also composed the Temptations hits "Just My Imagination," "Cloud Nine" and "I Can't Get Next To You."

    Motown head Berry Gordy considered Whitfield his most versatile producer, able to work in a range of styles that kept the sound fresh. His work helped set the Temptations apart from other groups on the label that relied more on formula.
  • With a prominent wah-wah guitar, this song mingled elements of the '60s psychedelic sound with the funk and soul that acts like Sly & The Family Stone were progressing. The guitarist was Dennis Coffey, one of Motwown's Funk Brothers. Norman Whitfield used Coffey on a number of Temptations recordings, starting with "Cloud Nine."
  • All five Temptations got at least a line of lead vocals on this track, including their bass man Melvin Franklin, who appropriately sings the "So low you can't get under it" line. David Ruffin had left the group at this point, so the other members were Dennis Edwards, Paul Williams, Otis Williams and Eddie Kendricks.
  • This is considered one of the group's most innovative and memorable songs, but not everyone appreciated it at the time. The review in Melody Maker griped, "The group has been almost completely submerged in a welter of incongruous sound-trips."
  • This inspired the B-52s hit "Love Shack," which appropriated the "Psychedelic shack, that's where it's at" line into "Love shack, that's where it's at."
  • The Temptations had a remarkable 14 #1 R&B hits, but this wasn't one of them - it stalled at #2.

Comments: 2

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1970 {April 5th} the Temptations performed "Psychedelic Shack" on the CBS-TV Sunday-night musical variety program, 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    The following week it would peak at #2* {for three weeks} on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart..
    It reached #7 on Billboard's Top 100 chart...
    Between 1965 and 1975 the Motown super group had fourteen #1 records on the Hot R&B Singles chart, and in addition "Psychedelic Shack" was the fifth of eight Temp records to peak at #2 on the chart...
    * For the three weeks "Psychedelic Shack" was at #2, the #1 record for those three weeks was "Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin" b/w "Everybody Is A Star" by Sly & The Family Stone...
  • Bill from UsI always imagined this song was inspired by "Walk right In".... sit right down, baby let your mind roll on, which was written in 1929! a hit in 1959, and 10 years later Whitfield added a little acid to it!.
    "Come in and take a look at your mind.
    You'll be surprised what you might find."
    Whitfield and crew and the Temps, Classic forever music!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jethro Tull

Jethro TullFact or Fiction

Stage urinals, flute devices, and the real Aqualung in this Fact or Fiction.

Movie Stars In Music Videos

Movie Stars In Music VideosSong Writing

Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and John Malkovich are just a few of the film stars who have moonlighted in music videos.

Songs Discussed in Movies

Songs Discussed in MoviesSong Writing

Bridesmaids, Reservoir Dogs, Willy Wonka - just a few of the flicks where characters discuss specific songs, sometimes as a prelude to murder.

Matt Sorum

Matt SorumSongwriter Interviews

When he joined Guns N' Roses in 1990, Matt helped them craft an orchestral sound; his mezzo fortes and pianissimos are all over "November Rain."

Harry Wayne Casey of KC and The Sunshine Band

Harry Wayne Casey of KC and The Sunshine BandSongwriter Interviews

Harry Wayne Casey tells the stories behind KC and The Sunshine Band hits like "Get Down Tonight," "That's The Way (I Like It)," and "Give It Up."

Pete Anderson

Pete AndersonSongwriter Interviews

Pete produced Dwight Yoakam, Michelle Shocked, Meat Puppets, and a very memorable track for Roy Orbison.