In the years around 1968 London was home to a sizeable community of writers, musicians, artists, and political activists whose countercultural attitudes are expressed in the publications of the ‘alternative’ or ‘underground’ press – magazines such as International Times, OZ, INK, Friends (later Frendz), Time Out, Gandalf's Garden, The Black Dwarf, and The Hustler. That most of them had at least some pages devoted to music reflected the crucial role of rock in particular in summing up the community's aspirations, focused less on political or social than on cultural transformation. This article seeks to chart in these underground publications the changing attitudes towards music and its revolutionary potential. Initially the alternative press portrayed popular music as sharing with avant-garde tendencies a basic equation between new creative means and their would-be disruptive effects on society as a whole. However, there soon arose contradictions between the radical social potential of music and its growing commercialization, contradictions stemming not only from the co-optation of rock by market forces and record companies but also from the underground's own lack of a coherent ideological agenda. Paradoxically, it was precisely when popular music began to be considered a form of ‘high’ culture – just as the alternative press advocated – that its perceived effectiveness as part of the revolutionary, countercultural project began to diminish.