Sunday, August 9, 2020

The PRX audio link

 Hey all. Last week Blogger unveiled a new interface for posting stuff. Unfortunately, a byproduct of this change is that the link to the audio file on PRX at the beginning of each blog post is no longer working. Instead, the actual script is displayed. If anyone knows how to fix this, let me know by visiting www.hermitradio.com and using the e-mail icon (looks like an envelope in the upper right hand corner of the web page) to message me. Or for that matter you can message me through the show's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/hermitradioshows/?fref=gs&dti=239234276111637&hc_location=group_dialog 


Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2033 (starts 8/10/20)

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    This week it's another one of those "a bit of this, a bit of that" kinds of show. We have an Advanced Psych segment, an artists' set (Jefferson Airplane), set from specific years, and sets that progress through the years one at a time. Read on...

Artist:     Bob Dylan
Title:     Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35
Source:     45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer:     Bob Dylan
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1966
     "Everybody must get stoned." 'Nuff said.

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    Here Right Now
Source:    LP: Gimme Some Lovin' (originally released in UK on LP: Their First LP)
Writer(s):    Steve Winwood    
Label:    United Artists (original UK label: Fontana)
Year:    1965
    The Spencer Davis Group was formed in 1963 by Welsh guitarist Spencer Davis, who recruited the Winwood brothers, Muff (on bass) and Steve (on organ and lead vocals), along with drummer Pete York for his new band. Originally known as the Rhythm And Blues Quartette, the band changed its name in 1964 when they signed with Chris Blackwell's Island Records. Muff Winwood came up with the band's new name, saying "Spencer was the only one who enjoyed doing interviews, so I pointed out that if we called it the Spencer Davis Group, the rest of us could stay in bed and let him do them." The group released their first LP, entitled Their First LP, in 1965. One of the standout tracks on that album was a Steve Winwood tune called Here Right Now that was later chosen for inclusion of their first American LP, Gimme Some Lovin', in 1967.
        
Artist:    Count Five
Title:    The Morning After
Source:    Mono LP: Psychotic Reaction
Writer(s):    John Byrne
Label:    Bicycle/Concord (original label: Double Shot)
Year:    1966
    Following the success of the single Psychotic Reaction, San Jose, Calfornia's Count Five headed for Los Angeles to record an entire album's worth of material. With the exception of two Who covers, all the songs on the album (also called Psychotic Reaction) were written or co-written by John Byrne, the Irish-born rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist for the band. They were also quite short. The Morning After, for instance, runs less than two minutes total.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    How Suite It Is
Source:    CD: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s):    Kantner/Casady/Dryden/Kaukonen
Label:    RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:    1967
    The second side of After Bathing At Baxters starts off fairly conventionally (for the Airplane), with Paul Kantner's Watch Her Ride, the first third or so of something called How Suite It Is. This leads (without a break in the audio) into Spare Chaynge, one of the coolest studio jams ever recorded, featuring intricate interplay between Jack Casady's bass and Jorma Kaukonen's guitar, with Spencer Dryden using his drum kit as enhancement rather than as a beat-setter. In particular, Casady's virtuoso performance helped redefine what could be done with an electric bass.

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Lather
Source:     LP: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Crown Of Creation)
Writer:     Grace Slick
Label:     RCA Victor
Year:     1968
     One of Grace Slick's most memorable tunes was Lather, with its eerie instrumental bridge played on a tissue-paper covered comb (at least that's what I think it was). The song, which opens the fourth Jefferson Airplane album, Crown Of Creation, was reportedly about drummer Spencer Dryden, the band's oldest member, who had just turned 30. A popular phrase of the time was "don't trust anyone over 30", making it a particularly bad time to have that particular birthday.

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Two Heads
Source:     CD: After Bathing At Baxters
Writer:     Grace Slick
Label:     RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:     1967
     The third Jefferson Airplane album, After Bathing At Baxter's, saw the group moving in increasingly experimental directions, as Grace Slick's two contributions to the LP attest. The more accessible of the two was Two Heads, which was the first part of Schizoforest Love Suite, the fifth and final "suite" on the album.

Artist:    Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title:    Time Is On My Side
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Here They Come!
Writer(s):    Norman/Meade
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    The first album Paul Revere and The Raiders released after signing with Columbia was Here They Come! The LP, released in 1965, was made up almost entirely of cover songs such as Time Is On My Side, originally recorded by Irma Thomas and made famous by the Rolling Stones.
    
Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    It's Not Easy
Source:    British import LP: Aftermath
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original US label: London)
Year:    1966
    The Rolling Stones' Aftermath, along with the Beatles' Rubber Soul, began a revolution in rock music that was felt for several decades. Prior to those two releases, albums were basically a mix of original and cover songs meant to provide a little supplemental income for popular artists who had hit singles. Aftermath, however, was full of songs that could stand on their own. Even songs like It's Not Easy, which could have been hit singles for lesser artists, were completely overlooked in favor of tracks like Under My Thumb, which is arguably the first true rock classic not to be released as a single. Within the short span of two years, rock would find itself in a place where an artist could be considered a success without having a hit single, something that was completely unheard of when Aftermath was released.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Unhappy Girl
Source:    LP: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    After the success of their first album and the single Light My Fire in early 1967, the Doors quickly returned to the studio, releasing a second LP, Strange Days, later the same year. The first single released from the new album was People Are Strange. The B side of that single was Unhappy Girl, from the same album. Both sides got played a lot on the jukebox at a neighborhood gasthaus known as the Woog in the village of Meisenbach near Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, where I spent a good number of my evening hours.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    As The World Rises And Falls
Source:    CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer(s):    Markley/Morgan
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's third album for Reprise, Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil, is generally considered their best, and for good reason. The album includes some of guitarist Ron Morgan's finest contributions, including the gently flowing As The World Rises And Falls. Even Bob Markley's lyrics, which could run the range from inane to somewhat disturbing, here come across as poetic and original. Unfortunately for the band, Morgan was by this time quite disenchanted with the whole thing, and would often not even show up to record. Nonetheless, the band continued on for a couple more years (and two more albums) before finally calling it quits in 1970.

Artist:    Andromeda
Title:    I Can Stop The Sun
Source:    British import CD: Definitive Collection (originally released in UK on LP: Andromeda)
Writer(s):    John Du Cann
Label:    Angel Air (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1969
    One of the most sought after albums of the late 1960s, Andromeda was the brainchild of guitarist John Du Cann, who, along with bassist Mick Hawksworth and drummer Ian McLane, recorded the LP in 1969. Most of the tracks are hard rock, with an acoustic piece called I Can Stop The Sun tossed in as a change of pace. A lack of support from the band's label led to Du Cann accepting an offer to join Atomic Rooster the following year.
    
Artist:    Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Title:    Everybody I Love You
Source:    LP: déjà vu
Writer(s):    Stills/Young
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    The last track on the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album déjà vu is a Stephen Stills/Neil Young collaboration that sets the stage for the Stills/Young band a couple of years later. Stylistically it's pretty easy to figure out which part of Everybody I Love You was written by Stephen Stills and which part was written by Neil Young. What's interesting is how well the two parts actually fit together. As far as I know this is actually the first songwriting collaboration between the two, despite being bandmates in Buffalo Springfield since 1966 (and knowing each other even longer).

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Rock And Roll Woman
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth) while they were together. Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina and Stephen Stills. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock And Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 50 years after it was recorded.

Artist:    Glass Family
Title:    Nightwrap For Dee
Source:    Mono LP: Electric Band (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Glass Family
Label:    Maplewood
Year:    Recorded 1967, released 2015
    In early 60s West Los Angeles, a young man named Jim Callon and his friends David Capilouto and Gary Green decided to form a band to play surf music at parties and maybe make a little money in the process. They couldn't come up with a permanent band name, and would end up using whatever name suited them at the time. Several years later, while attending grad school at Cal State L.A., they finally decided on the Glass Family, and established a local reputation as the "perpetual opening band" for groups like the Doors, Vanilla Fudge, and the Grateful Dead. They signed a contract with Warner Brothers in 1967 to record an album with producer Richard Podolor, who had previously worked with bands like Steppenwolf and the Chocolate Watchband, among others. They presented the album to the shirts at Warner Brothers, who promptly rejected it and told them to go back into the studio and come up with something more commercially viable. The result was an album called Electric Band that was released in early 1969. In 2015, a new lable called Maplewood Records decided to reissue Electric Band as a double LP that included both the previously released LP and the rejected original album. I personally prefer the original 1967 tracks like Nightwrap For Dee, which is a classic example of instrumental psychedelia.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Medac/Relax
Source:    CD: The Who Sell Out
Writer(s):    Entwistle/Townshend
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1967
    The Who's most psychedelic album was The Who Sell Out, released in December of 1967. In addition to a wealth of outstanding songs, the album contained several short faux commercials such as the song Medac, written by bassist John Entwistle, which runs 57 seconds. The piece tells the story of a boy whose acne is out of control until he tries a new product, Medac, which makes his face as smooth as "a baby's bottom". The tune is immediately followed by one of the Who's most underrated tracks, Pete Townshend's Relax, which (unlike the rest of the album) was recorded in New York.

Artist:    Sonics
Title:    The Witch
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Gerald Roslie
Label:    Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
Year:    1964
    The #1 selling single in the history of the Pacific Northwest was this tune by one of the founding bands of the Seattle music scene. The Sonics were as raw as any punk rock band of the seventies, as The Witch proves beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Artist:    Ace Of Cups
Title:    We Can't Go Back Again
Source:    CD: Ace Of Cups
Writer(s):    Kaufman/Shae
Label:    High Moon
Year:    2018
    According to Ace Of Cups founder Mary Gannon, Denise Kaufman wrote We Can't Go Back Again on keyboards rather than her usual guitar and first presented it to the group at their rehearsal space in Sausalito. Producer Dan Shae helped update the song for inclusion of the 2018 Ace Of Cups album. The lyrics are at once a caution about squandering what little time we have on this planet and an invitation to reach out to others while we still can.
    
Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Analog Life
Source:    British import LP: Artifact
Writer(s):    Harris/Smith
Label:    Heartbeat
Year:    2001
    The Electric Prunes, like many other bands, recorded, in addition to their own compositions, material from professional songwriters such as Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz. Unlike many groups, however, the Prunes shied away from recording covers of popular tunes, instead going with songs they could rearrange to their own liking. Such was the case with their first single, Ain't It Hard, which had been released as a B side in 1965 by the Gypsy Trips, as well as their biggest hit, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), written by the aforementioned Tucker/Mantz team. Some of the songs they recorded, such as Toonerville Trolley and Dr. Do-Good, were a total departure from the band's usual style. The group continued this trend with Analog Life, from their 2001 comeback album, Artifact. The song is credited to Harris and Smith (no first names given), but I have been unable to find any other references to the song other than the Prunes' recording.

Artist:    Tol-Puddle Martyrs
Title:    Call Up The Queen
Source:    CD: Flying In The Dark
Writer(s):    Peter Rechter
Label:    Secret Deals
Year:    2011
    The original Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of farmers in the English village of Tolpuddle who had the temerity to try organizing what amounts to a union in the 19th century. For their efforts they found themselves deported to the penal colony now known as Australia. But that doesn't really concern us. What I wanted to talk about was the original Tol-Puddle Martyrs (note the hyphen), the legendary Australian band that evolved from a group called Peter And The Silhouettes. Well, not exactly. What I really wanted to talk about is the current incarnation of the Tol-Puddle Martyrs. Still led by Peter Rechter, the Martyrs have released a series of CDs since 2007 (including a collection of recordings made by the 60s incarnation of the band). Among those CDs is the 2011 album Flying In The Dark, which contains several excellent tunes such as Call Up The Queen, which opens the album itself.
        
Artist:    Lothar And The Hand People
Title:    Ha (Ho)
Source:    CD: Presenting…Lothar And The Hand People
Writer(s):    Conly/Emelin/Ford/Flye/King
Label:    Microwerks (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1968
    Lothar and the Hand People was a band formed in Denver, Colorado in 1965 that relocated, not to California as would be expected, but to the wilds of Manhattan, where they quickly became favorites of the avant-garde crowd. One of the reasons was Lothar itself. Yes, I did say "it" self. You see, Lothar was a theremin, one of those weird sounding things heard in vintage science fiction movies and on the Beach Boys hit Good Vibrations. It resembled nothing more than a box with a pair of antennae sticking out of the top. Lothar made just one sound, a tone created by an oscillator. That tone was varied by someone waving their hands around in the general vicinity of the antennae, thus the "hand people". Unfortunately for the band, the very thing that made them popular in New York was the one thing that could not be translated into an audio medium, and neither of the groups two albums sold particularly well. One of their more commercial tunes was Ha (Ho), from their debut LP. Try to imagine someone flailing their arms wildly above a box as you listen to it.
    
Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Don't Pass Me By
Source:    Mono LP: Rarities (mono version originally released in UK on LP: The Beatles)
Writer(s):    Richard Starkey
Label:    Capitol/EMI (original label: Apple)
Year:    1968
    By 1968 most of the major American record labels had phased out monoraul LPs in favor of "stereo, also playable on today's monoraul phonographs" releases. This was not the case, however, in the UK, where stereo equipment was still considered a luxury beyond the means of a significant portion of the record buying public. Certain British artists, notably the Beatles, still made separate mono mixes for their records. Sometimes those mixes were significantly different than their stereo counterparts. Don't Pass Me By, the only Beatles song credited solely to Ringo Starr, has an entirely different violin solo on the fadeout ending of the two versions. Most US listeners were unaware of even the existence of the mono version until 1981, when Capitol released it on an album called Rarities.

Artist:     Sly and the Family Stone
Title:     Everyday People
Source:     CD: Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single, hit #1 on both Top 40 and R&B charts)
Writer:     Sylvester Stewart
Label:     Epic
Year:     1968
     Sylvester Stewart, aka Sly Stone, is of course known for his band, the Family Stone, that is recognized as one of the first "funk" bands. But Sly Stone was far more influential on the San Francisco music scene than most people realize. As a staff producer for Autumn Records, he worked with a variety of up and coming artists, including the Beau Brummels, Bobby Freeman and a group called Great Society that featured a fashion model turned vocalist named Grace Slick. He was also a popular disc jockey on KSOL (which he identified as "K-Soul"), where he acted as sort of a reverse Allan Freed, bringing the music of white bands like the Beatles and Rolling Stones to a black audience. He also played keyboards behind a variety of touring artists (a common practice of the time being to hire local musicians to back up pop stars rather than have them bring their own band on the road), including Dionne Warwick, Marvin Gaye, the Righteous Brothers, Freddy Cannon and a host of others. In 1966 Stewart formed his own band, the Stoners, which evolved into Sly And The Family Stone the following year. The band's first three albums were moderate successes at best, but they sold well enough for the band to continue to develop its sound. In November of 1968, Sly And The Family Stone had their commercial breakthrough with the release of Everyday People, a song that topped both the mainstream and R&B charts in early 1969, going on to become the fifth most popular song of the entire year. The song's repeated line "Different strokes for different folks" became a catchphrase of the younger generation and eventually inspired a popular TV show. For that matter, so did the line "And so on, and so on and scooby dooby doo".

Artist:    Gun
Title:    Rupert's Travels
Source:    German import CD: Gun
Writer(s):    Adrian Curtis (Gurvitz)
Label:    Repertoire
Year:    1968
    The Gun made a huge splash in Germany and the UK with their debut single Race With The Devil in 1968. They followed it up with a self-titled LP that same year. The shortest track on that LP was an instrumental track called Rupert's Travels that has been compared to the Mason Williams hit Classical Gas.
    
Artist:    Zombies
Title:    Tell Her No
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Rod Argent
Label:    London (original label: Parrot)
Year:    1965
    Rod Argent was responsible for writing four well-known hit songs, which were spread out over a period of eight years (and two bands). The second of these was the Zombies' Tell Her No, released in 1965. The song got mixed reviews from critics, all of which measured the tune against Beatles songs of the same period.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    You Can't Be Trusted
Source:    LP: The Seeds
Writer(s):    Sky Saxon
Label:    GNP Crescendo
Year:    1966
    Sky Saxon is at his snarling punkiest on You Can't Be Trusted, a track from the first Seeds album that shows that the group's "flower power" image was more of a marketing ploy on the part of their manager, the infamous Lord Tim,  than any actual association with the peace and love crowd.

Artist:    Young Rascals
Title:    I Don't Love You Anymore
Source:    CD: Groovin'
Writer(s):    Gene Cornish
Label:    Warner Special Products (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1967
    For many teenagers in the 1960s the most necessary social skill (at least when dealing with members of the opposite sex) was not a verbal skill at all; rather, it was the ability to get out onto the dance floor and gyrate. It didn't really matter if you knew the latest steps; nobody was watching you anyway. What counted was the willingness to risk making a fool of one's self for the sake of impressing the girl (or boy) of your choice. Your first time out with a particular partner was always when a fast song was playing. This was usually followed by at least one more up tempo tune before you got to the real payoff: the slow dance. A good band could always sense when it was time for a slow song, and the Young Rascals, in their early days, was among the best at keeping a dance floor filled. This ability was still evident on their third album, Groovin', which was released in early 1967. While the band's usual songwriting team of Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati provided an ample supply of danceable fast tunes, it was bassist Gene Cornish that came up with songs ideally suited to slow dancing. One such tune was I Don't Love You Anymore, which, despite its anti-romantic lyrical stance, appears at just the right place on side two of the original LP.

Artist:    Fever Tree
Title:    San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native)
Source:    LP: Fever Tree
Writer(s):    Holtzman/Holtzman/Knust
Label:    Uni
Year:    1968
    A minor trend in 1968 was for producer/songwriters to find a band to record their material exclusively. A prime example is Houston's Fever Tree, which featured the music of husband and wife team Scott and Vivian Holtzman. San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native) was the single from that album, peaking in the lower reaches of the Hot 100 charts.

Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    Little Girl
Source:    LP: Your Saving Grace
Writer(s):    Steve Miller
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    The fourth Steve Miller Band album, Your Saving Grace, was the lowest charting of the band's first five albums (generally considered their "psychedelic" period). Despite this lack of chart success, Your Saving Grace managed to provide four solid tracks, including Little Girl, for the band's 1972 Anthology album, released while Miller was recovering from a broken neck suffered in a 1971 car accident. Miller would reboot the band with the 1973 album The Joker, which touched off a string of chart toppers for the group.

Artist:    Crow
Title:    Cottage Cheese (long version)
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Weigand/Waggoner
Label:    Sundazed
Year:    Recorded 1970, released 2013
    In late 1970 I found myself living in Alamogordo, NM, which was at the time one of those places that still didn't have an FM station (in fact, the only FM station we could receive was a classical station in Las Cruces, 70 miles away). To make it worse, there were only two AM stations in town, and the only one that played current songs went off the air at sunset. As a result the only way to hear current music at night (besides buying albums without hearing them first) was to "DX" distant AM radio stations. Of these, the one that came in most clearly and consistently was KOMA in Oklahoma City. My friends and I spent many a night driving around with KOMA cranked up, fading in and out as long-distance AM stations always do. One of those nights we were all blown away by this track, which, due to the conservative nature of the local daytime-only station, was not getting any local airplay. Years later I was lucky enough to find a copy in a thrift store in Albuquerque. More recently I picked up a copy of The Best Of Crow, a 2013 CD collection that includes the original unissued long version of the song as it was usually performed live, including a drum solo from Denny Craswell.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    We've Got A Groovy Thing Going
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    In late 1965, producer Tom Wilson decided to perform an experiment. He took the original recording of a song from Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel's 1964 album, Wednesday Morning 6AM, and added electric instruments to it (using the same musicians that had played on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited album), essentially creating a whole new version of the song and, for that matter, a whole new genre: folk-rock. The Sound of Silence, backed by We've Got a Groovy Thing Going, became a huge national hit, going all the way to #1 on the top 40 charts. The only problem was that by the time all this happened, Simon and Garfunkel had gone their separate ways, briefly reuniting to record We've Got a Groovy Thing Going in 1965, but not releasing it at the time. Paul Simon, who was by then living in England, returned to the states in early 1966, got back together with Art Garfunkel and the rest is history.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Wrong
Source:    CD: The Very Best Of The Music Machine-Turn On
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1966
    Sean Bonniwell was a member of the mainstream (i.e. lots of appearances on TV variety shows hosted by people like Perry Como and Bob Hope) folk group the Lamplighters in the early 60s. By 1966 he had morphed into one of the more mysterious figures on the LA music scene, leading a proto-punk band dressed entirely in black. Bonniwell himself wore a single black glove (Michael Jackson was about seven years old at the time), and was one of the most prolific songwriters of the day. His recordings, often featuring the distinctive Farfisa organ sound, were a primary influence on later L.A. bands such as Iron Butterfly and the Doors. A classic example of the Music Machine sound was the song Wrong, which was issued as the B side of the group's most successful single, Talk Talk.

Artist:    One In A Million
Title:    Man In Yellow
Source:    Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution
Writer(s):    Alan Young
Label:    Grapefruit
Year:    Recorded 1967, released 2013
    One In A Million is known for two things: a pair of highly collectable British singles from 1967 and the recording debut of then 13-year-old James McCulloch, who would go on to be a member of Thunderclap Newman, Stone The Crows and Paul McCartney's band, Wings, before his untimely death at age 26. Man In Yellow was an unreleased track recorded during the same sessions as One In A Million's second single, Fredereek Hernando.

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2033 (starts 8/10/20)

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    This week we start the show by working backwards from 1972 to 1969 and finish it by climbing back up from 1968 to 1971. In between we present the concluding chapter of The Tale Of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra from the Firesign Theatre, along with a bit of Pentangling from (who else?) Pentangle.  

Artist:    Sailcat
Title:    B.B. Gunn
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    John Wyker
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1972
    Sailcat was a studio band formed by John D. Wyker and Court Pickett that included several prominent members of the Muscle Shoals music scene. Wyker had been a guitarist and vocalist in the Rubber Band (with John Townsend), while Pickett was the bassist/vocalist for Sundown, a band based in Macon, Georgia. The duo cut a demo of Motorcyle Mama that was originally discarded by the band, but eventually led to a contract with Elektra Records. The resulting album, also called Motorcycle Mama, was a concept album with a biker theme that included songs like B.B. Gunn (sung by Wyker), which was also released as the B side of the band's second and final single.
    
Artist:    Audience
Title:    The House On The Hill
Source:    CD: The House On The Hill
Writer(s):    Werth/Williams/Connor
Label:    Caroline Blue Plate (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1971
    Audience was formed in 1969 from the remains of a semi-professional British soul band called Lloyd Alexander Real Estate that had issued one single in 1967 for the tiny President label. The band's original lineup, consisting of Howard Werth (nylon-strung electric acoustic guitar and vocals), Keith Gemmell (alto and tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet), Trevor Williams (bass guitar and vocals) and Tony Connor (drums and vocals) released three albums before exhaustion forced Gemmell to leave the group in 1972. The first two of these were not released in the US, making The House On The Hill their American debut album. Audience did have a successful US tour in support of the 1971 LP, appearing on the same bill as Rod Stewart And Faces and the original Cactus. The album itself is an eclectic mix of acoustic and hard rock, with the title track being a good example of the latter.

Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Blind Eye
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Wishbone Ash
Label:    Decca
Year:    1970
    One of the first bands to feature two lead guitarists working in tandem, Wishbone Ash rose to fame as the opening act for Deep Purple in early 1970. After guitarist Andy Powell sat in with Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore during a sound check, Blackmore referred Wishbone Ash to MCA, the parent company of the US Decca label. The band's first LP came out in December of 1970, with Blind Eye becoming the band's first single. Although Wishbone Ash went on to become one of Britain's top rock bands of the 1970s, they were never as successful in the US, despite relocating to the states in 1973.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    High Falootin' Woman
Source:    CD: Grand Funk
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    One of the criticisms aimed at Grand Funk Railroad by the rock press was that their songs went on too long and were full of unnecessary jamming. In fact, only one track on their second LP, Grand Funk (also known as the Red Album) is under four minutes in length. That song is High Falootin' Woman. Oddly enough, it is one of the least commercially viable tracks on the entire LP, and was relegated to being the B side of the first single released from the album.

Artist:    Firesign Theatre
Title:    Part Two: Chicago; Chapter 6-The Electrician Exposes Himself
Source:    LP: The Tale Of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra
Writer(s):    Proctor/Bergman/Austin/Ossman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1974
    In the final chapter of The Tale Of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra, the identity of the mysterious Electrician is finally revealed. Or is it? If Hemlock Stones knows the answer he isn't telling. But then, any astute listener has probably known who the Electrician really was since chapter 4, or perhaps even earlier. Still, as that other English guy said, all's well that end's well.

Artist:    Pentangle
Title:    Pentangling
Source:    LP: The Pentangle
Writer(s):    Cos/Jansch/McShea/Renbourne/Thompson
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    Once in a while an album comes along that is so consistently good that it's impossible to single out one specific track for airplay. Such is the case with the debut Pentangle album from 1968. The group, consisting of guitarists John Renbourne and Bert Jansch, vocalist Jacqui McShea, bassist Terry Cox, and drummer Danny Thompson, had more talent than nearly any band in history from any genre, yet never succumbed to the clash of egos that characterize most supergroups. Enjoy all seven minutes of Pentangling.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Politician
Source:    CD: Wheels Of Fire
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    Despite its title, Cream's Politician, from the Wheels Of Fire album, is really not the kind of scathing indictment you might expect from a track from 1968. Indeed, the song's lyrics are actually gentle satire rather than overt criticism. Eric Clapton's guitar work, however, is always a treat, and on Politician he knocks out not one, but two overdubbed solos at the same time, along with his basic guitar track. Controlled chaos at its best!

Artist:    Johnny Winter
Title:    I'm Not Sure
Source:    LP: Second Winter
Writer(s):    Johnny Winter
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1969
    Johnny Winter had been performing for several years throughout the state of Texas before releasing his first full-length LP on the regional Sonobeat label in 1968. The album, which featured the trio of Winter on guitar, Tommy Shannon on bass and Uncle John Turner on drums, was strong enough for Imperial to pick up for national distribution, and soon led to Winter signing with Columbia records in 1969. After a strong debut album for the label, the group, which by then had added Johnny's brother Edgar on keyboards, went to work on a second album for the label. The band soon found itself with an unusual dilemma, however. They had recorded too much material for one LP, but not enough for a double album. Rather than sacrifice sound quality by making the grooves narrower, the band decided to issue a special "three-sided" LP, with the fourth side being nothing but shiny black vinyl with no grooves cut into it. The album, which is considered by many to be Winter's finest studio work, includes several original tunes such as I'm Not Sure, which features Johnny Winter on electric mandolin and Edgar on harpsichord; an unusual combination for a blues recording, to be sure, but it works.

Artist:    Derek And The Dominos
Title:    Key To The Highway
Source:    CD: Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
Writer(s):    Segar/Broonzy
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    The longest track on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek And The Dominos came about entirely by accident. The band was recording at Miami's Criterion Studios at the same time Domingo Samudio, aka Sam the Sham, was working on an album called Hard And Heavy in one of the other rooms. After overhearing Sam's performance of Big Bill Broonzy's Key To The Highway, the band, consisting of Eric Clapton, Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon, Carl Radle and guest guitarist Duane Allman, started jamming on the song themselves. Producer Tom Dowd told the engineers to start rolling the tape and caught the last nine and a half minutes of the performance. For the album, Dowd faded the song in from where the tape began.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Been Down So Long
Source:    LP: L.A. Woman
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1971
    L.A. Woman, the Doors' sixth and final studio album with vocalist Jim Morrison, is considered one of the band's finest, due to its stripped down production and return to the group's blues-rock roots. Nowhere are both these trends more evident than on the song Been Down So Long, the third track on the LP. The song, written by Morrison, but credited (as were all the tracks on L.A. Woman) to the entire group, was reportedly inspired in part by Morrison's own brush with the possibility of incarceration due to his arrest on charges of indecency for allegedly exposing himself on stage in Florida.
   

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2032 (starts 8/3/20)

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    We've been a bit light on artists' sets lately, so this time around we have sets from three of the top four bands on our all-time greatest artists of the psychedelic era list. We also feature a nearly 15-minute long track from the missing member of the aforementioned top four, as well as fifteen tunes from other artists this time around, including a new Advanced Psych segment. Lotsa quality stuff there, folks!

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1966
    By mid-1966 there was a population explosion of teenage rock bands popping up in garages and basements all across the US, the majority of which were doing their best to emulate the grungy sound of their heroes, the Rolling Stones. The Stones themselves responded by ramping up the grunge factor to a previously unheard of degree with their last single of the year, Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow? It was the most feedback-laden record ever to make the top 40 at that point in time, and it inspired America's garage bands to buy even more powerful amps and crank up the volume (driving their parents to drink in the process).

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    2,000 Light Years From Home
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released on LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request)
Writer:    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    Nowhere was the ripple effect of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band more noticable than on the Rolling Stones fall 1967 release Their Satanic Majesties Request. The cover itself was a parody of Sgt. Pepper's, featuring the band members in various sorcerous regalia in a seven-inch picture on the kind of holographic paper used for "magic rings" found in bubble-gum machines and pasted over regular album-cover stock, which was a simple pattern of faded white circles on a blue background (it kind of looked like dark wallpaper). Musically it was the most psychedelic Stones album ever released. Interestingly enough, different songs were released as singles in different countries. In the US the single was She's A Rainbow, while in Germany 2,000 Light Years From Home (the US B side of She's A Rainbow) got significant airplay.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Who's Driving Your Plane
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1966
    By 1966 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were writing everything the Rolling Stones recorded. As their songwriting skills became more sophisticated the band began to lose touch with its R&B roots. To counteract this, Jagger and Richards would occasionally come up with tunes like Who's Driving Your Plane, a bluesy number that nonetheless is consistent with the band's cultivated image as the bad boys of rock. The song appeared as the B side (mistitled on the label as Who's Driving My Plane) of Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow.
 
Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Taxman
Source:    CD: Revolver
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Capitol/EMI
Year:    1966
    The Beatles' 1966 LP Revolver was a major step forward, particularly for guitarist George Harrison, who for the first time had three of his own compositions on an album. Making it even sweeter was the fact that one of these, Taxman, was chosen to lead off the album itself. Although Harrison is usually considered the band's lead guitarist, the solo in Taxman is actually performed by Paul McCartney.
      
Artist:    Beatles
Title:    You've Got To Hied Your Love Away
Source:    CD: Help!
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone
Year:    1965
    Written at home by John Lennon during what he later described as his "Dylan period", You've Got To Hide Your Love Away is featured in the second Beatles movie, Help! The recording uses a sparse arrangement, with Lennon's acoustic guitar and vocals dominating the mix. George Harrison provided additional guitar, while the flute parts were played by John Scott. The song's lyrics (concerning romantic feelings that the protagonist can't express) are sometimes thought to be a veiled reference to the band's manager Brian Epstein, whose homosexuality was known only to a few close friends (times being what they were). Lennon, however, never divulged just what he had in mind. One of the song's most famous lines, "two foot small" was actually an accident. Lennon had written it as the more conventional "two-foot tall", but flubbed the line when he first sang the song to his songwriting partner, Paul McCartney. In my mind I can see the two of them having a good laugh over it and then deciding that "two-foot small" was just too cool not to use.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Tomorrow Never Knows
Source:    CD: Revolver
Writer:    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol/EMI
Year:    1966
    A few years ago I started to compile an (admittedly subjective) list of the top psychedelic songs ever recorded. Although I never finished ranking the songs, one of the top contenders for the number one spot was Tomorrow Never Knows. The recording is one of the first to use studio techniques such as backwards masking on the lead guitar track and has been hailed as a studio masterpiece.

Artist:    Mother Earth
Title:    Revolution
Source:    LP: Revolution (soundtrack)
Writer(s):    Martin/O'Connell
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1968
    One of the more unique artifacts of the psychedelic era was a 1967 documentary film by Jack O'Connell called Revolution. The film itself chronicles a day in the life of Today Malone, a young "hippie chick" in San Francisco during the Summer Of Love. Several local bands appear in the film, including Country Joe And The Fish and the Ace Of Cups, but it's the soundtrack album, featuring music from Mother Earth, the Steve Miller Band and Quicksilver Messenger Service (none of which had a record contract at the time) that is best remembered. Mother Earth, featuring singer/songwriter Tracy Nelson, opens the album with the title track, which was written especially for the film by O'Connell and co-writer Norman Martin.
   
Artist:    Jaime Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Levon Helm (The Band)
Title:    The Weight
Source:    LP: Music From Big Pink
Writer(s):    Robbie Robertson
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1968
    The group of Canadians who would come to be known as The Band spent ten years establishing themselves as one of rock's finest backup bands, first as the Hawks, backing up rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins, and then as Bob Dylan's stage band for his 1965-1966 tours. They spent the next year in West Saugerties, New York, working on material that would eventually come to be known as the Basement Tapes. In 1968, they made their official debut as The Band on the album Music From Big Pink. The single from that album, The Weight, was issued under the individual band members' names. Although it was not a major chart hit, The Weight got a considerable amount of airplay on FM rock radio, especially in the early 1970s.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Unhappy Girl
Source:    LP: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    After the success of their first album and the single Light My Fire in early 1967, the Doors quickly returned to the studio, releasing a second LP, Strange Days, later the same year. The first single released from the new album was People Are Strange. The B side of that single was Unhappy Girl, from the same album. Both sides got played a lot on the jukebox at a neighborhood gasthaus known as the Woog in the village of Meisenbach near Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, where I spent a good number of my evening hours.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Double Yellow Line
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Rhino (original label: Original Sound, stereo LP version released on Warner Brothers)
Year:    1967
    One of the Original Sound singles that also appeared on the Warner Brothers LP Bonniwell Music Machine, Double Yellow Line features lyrics that were literally written by Bonniwell on the way to the recording studio. In fact, his inability to stay in his lane while driving with one hand and writing with the other resulted in a traffic ticket. The ever resourceful Bonniwell wrote the rest of the lyrics on the back of the ticket and even invited the officer in to watch the recording session. He declined.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Pow R. Toc H.
Source:    CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Writer(s):    Barrett/Waters/Wright/Mason
Label:    Capitol (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    British psychedelic music was always more avant-garde than its US counterpart, and Pink Floyd was at the forefront of  the British psychedelic scene. Pow R. Toc H., one of the few tracks on their first LP that was written by the entire group (most of The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was written by Syd Barrett), was a hint of things to come. Some of the effects heard at the beginning or Pow R. Toc H. were "borrowed" from the Beatles, who were using them in the song Lovely Rita on the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was being recorded at EMI Studios (now known as Abbey Road Studios) at the same time as The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.

Artist:    Them
Title:    Black Widow Spider
Source:    LP: Time Out! Time In! For Them
Writer(s):    Lane/Pulley
Label:    Tower
Year:    1968
    After Van Morrison left Them for a solo career, the rest of the band headed back to Belfast, where they recruited vocalist Kenny McDowell. Them soon relocated permanently to the US west coast, where they landed a contract with Tower Records. After a first album that featured songs from a variety of sources, they hooked up with Sharon Pulley and Tom Lane, who wrote nearly an album's worth of material for the band. The result was Time Out! Time In! For Them, an album that has stayed under the radar for over 50 years, despite tunes like Black Widow Spider, which closes out the first side of the LP.
   
Artist:        Spirit
Title:        Topanga Windows
Source:    CD: Spirit
Writer:        Jay Ferguson
Label:        Ode/Epic/Legacy
Year:        1968
        Ed Cassidy had already made a name for himself on the L.A. jazz scene when he married the mother of guitarist Randy California. He soon started jamming with his teenage stepson's friends, leading to the formation of a band initially known as Spirits Rebellious (but soon shortened to Spirit), one of the first rock bands to heavily incorporate jazz elements in their music. The majority of the songs on the group's self-title first album were written by lead vocalist Jay Ferguson, who would eventually leave the group to co-found Jo Jo Gunne and in recent years has been a soundtrack composer for movies and TV shows, including the theme song of the US TV show The Office.

Artist:    Amboy Dukes
Title:    Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Journey To The Center Of The Mind and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Nugent/Farmer
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
Year:    1968
    Detroit was one of the major centers of pop music in the late 60s. In addition to the myriad Motown acts, the area boasted the popular retro-rock&roll band Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the harder rocking Bob Seger System, the non-Motown R&B band the Capitols, and Ted Nugent's outfit, the Amboy Dukes, who scored big in 1968 with Journey To The Center Of The Mind.

Artist:    Cyrkle
Title:    Bony Moronie
Source:    Mono LP: Red Rubber Ball
Writer(s):    Larry Williams
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    The history of rock and roll is filled with one-hit wonders. Less common, however, are groups than managed to crack the upper reaches of the charts a second time, only to suffer diminishing returns with each subsequent effort. Such was the case with the Cyrkle, who burst on the scene with Red Rubber Ball and Turn Down Day in 1966. Originally a frat-rock band called the Rhondells, the group's fortunes turned in a big way on Labor Day of 1965, when New York attorney Nathan Weiss caught their gig in Atlantic City. Weiss in turn recommended the band to his business partner, Brian Epstein, who was looking for an American band to manage (I guess the Beatles weren't enough for him). Epstein renamed the band the Cyrkle (John Lennon providing the variant spelling) and set them up as the opening band for the Beatles' last US tour, including their final gig at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966. Along the way, the group signed with Columbia Records, recording two LPs and several singles for the label before disbanding in early 1968. The first album, Red Rubber Ball, was a solid example of sunshine pop, as evidenced by the band's unique arrangement of Larry Williams's Bony Moronie. Two of the band's members, Don Dannemann and Tom Dawes, went on to become successful jingle writers (Dannemann wrote the original Un-Cola song while Dawes came up with "Plop plop fizz fizz" for Alka-Seltzer. The other two members became successful in other fields; one, Marty Fried is a bankruptcy attorney and the other, Earl Pickens, is a surgeon.
 
Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Leave
Source:    LP: Buffalo Springfield
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Atco
Year:    1966
    Although Buffalo Springfield are generally acknowldeged to be among the pioneers of a softer rock sound that would gain popularity in the 70s with bands like the Eagles, Poco and Crosby, Stills and Nash, they did occasionally rock out a bit harder. Of particular note is lead guitarist Neil Young doing blues licks on Leave, a Stephen Stills tune from the first Buffalo Springfield album, released in 1966.

Artist:    Wimple Winch
Title:    Save My Soul
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Christopholus/Kelman
Label:    Rhino (original label: Fontana)
Year:    1966
    Dee Fenton and the Silhouettes were a fairly typical merseybeat band formed in 1961 by Dee Christopholus, a Greek immigrant whose parents had moved to Liverpool in the 1950s. In 1963 they changed their name to the Four Just Men, which became the Just Four Men when they were signed to Parlophone the following year. After a pair of singles failed to make a dent in the British charts EMI (Parlophone's parent company) cut the band from its roster. Rather than disband, the group decided to reinvent themselves as a British counterpart to the many garage bands popping up in the US. Changing their name to Wimple Winch, the group released three singles on the Fontana label, the second of which was Save My Soul, released in June of 1966. All three singles did well in Liverpool but failed to make an impression elsewhere. The group finally decided to call it quits when Fontana dropped them in early 1967.

Artist:    Manfred Mann
Title:    Do Wah Diddy Diddy
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Barry/Greenwich
Label:    Silver Spotlight
Year:    1964
    Manfred Mann started off as the Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers and were part of the same London British blues scene as the Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones. In 1964 they took a decidedly commercial turn with one of the silliest, yet memorable hits of the British invasion, Do Wah Diddy Diddy. The song was written by the husband and wife team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, who operated out of New York's Brill building under the supervision of Don Kirschner. Do Wah Diddy Diddy, with lead vocals by Paul Jones, topped the charts for several weeks and ended up among the top 10 songs of the year.

Artist:    Dukes Of Stratosphear
Title:    My Love Explodes
Source:    CD: Chips From The Chocolate Factory (originally released on EP: 25 O'Clock)
Writer(s):    Andy Partridge
Label:    Caroline (original label: Virgin)
Year:    1985
    In 1985, XTC decided to take a break and record an EP, 25 O'Clock, anonymously as the Dukes of Stratosphear. They circulated rumours that this was some previously undiscovered psych band from the late 1960s. Of course, everyone should have suspected that something was not quite as it seemed with the Dukes, as the EP (or "mini-album") was released on April Fool's Day of 1985. Still, the authentic recreation of mid to late 60s production techniques, as well as its Disraeli Gears-inspired album cover, were enough to keep people guessing, at least for a while. Ironically, 25 O'Clock actually outsold the then-current XTC album.

Artist:    A Cast Of Thousands
Title:    Resting Place
Source:    CD: The Fifth
Writer(s):    Beth Beer
Label:    Record
Year:    2017   
    Despite the implications of their name, A Cast Of Thousands is actually three people: Terry Cuddy (guitar), Beth Beer (bass) and Jim Andrews (drums). All are from Auburn, NY, where the band was formed in 2010. A Cast Of Thousands is truly an alternative band, with a surprisingly eclectic mix of songs on the 2017 album The Fifth. Resting Place takes a minimalist approach similar to 80s alternative bands like Joy Division and the Church, adding a touch of psychedelia that actually makes it sound more modern.
       
Artist:    Flick
Title:    The End
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Oran & Trevor Thornton
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1998
    Flick was formed in the mid-90s by the Thornton brothers, Oran and Trevor, who had been performing as an acoustic duo. The new band, which included bassist Eve Hill and drummer Paul Adam McGrath, played its first show in December of 1996 and issued its first EP the following spring. In 1998 Flick released their first full-length album on the Columbia label. One of the tracks from that album, The End, was also issued as a single on 7" 45 RPM vinyl, quite an unusual occurence in the 1990s.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Wooden Ships
Source:    LP: Volunteers
Writer(s):    Crosby/Kantner/Stills
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1969
    By 1969 it was becoming more common for rock music to take on more serious themes, both musically and lyrically. The Byrds, in particular, had used science fiction themes on songs like Mr. Spaceman and CTA-102. One of the best science fiction themed songs was Wooden Ships, which tells the tale of survivors of a nuclear apocalypse who are escaping the radiation by remaining at sea. The song appeared on two different LPs in 1969: Jefferson Airplane's Volunteers album and the self-titled debut by Crosby, Stills and Nash. The song was co-written by Crosby, Stills and the Airplane's Paul Kantner. Kantner's name was deliberately left off the credits on the Crosby, Stills and Nash version due to issues between Kantner and the Airplane's manager, whom Kantner feared would file an injunction against the release of the CSN album if Kantner's name appeared anywhere on it.
       
Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Blues From An Airplane
Source:    LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s):    Balin/Spence
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1966
    Blues From An Airplane was the opening song on the first Jefferson Airplane album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Although never released as a single, it was picked by the group to open their first anthology album, The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane, as well. The song is one of two tunes on Takes Off co-written by lead vocalist Marty Balin and drummer Skip Spence.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Hey Frederick
Source:    LP: Volunteers
Writer(s):    Grace Slick
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1969
    Grace Slick's songwriting continued to move in an avant-garde direction with Hey Frederick, the longest track on the Volunteers album. The song opens with an ominous chord sequence and an exhortation to "either go away or go all the way". From there the lyrics are somewhat free-form, and soon give way to a long improvisational section that showcases the talents of guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady in particular, as well as guest pianist Nicky Hopkins, who would join the band on stage at the Woodstock festival that year.

Artist:    Critters
Title:    Mr. Diengly Sad
Source:    CD: Battle Of The Bands-Vol. Two (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Don Ciccone
Label:    Era (original label: Kapp)
Year:    1966
    The Critters were formed when Don Ciccone, who sang and played guitar, and saxophonist Bob Podstawski joined a New Jersey band called the Vibratones in 1964, transforming them from an instrumental group into one of the first American bands to compete directly with the British Invasion bands. The band soon released their first single on the Musicor label, switching to Kapp Records the following year. Mr. Diengly Sad became the group's only top 20 hit, peaking at #17 as the summer of 1966 was coming to a close. The group split up in 1968, and after a stint in the military Ciccone joined the 4 Seasons for awhile (temporarily replacing Frankie Valli, who had left the group for a solo career), and later toured with Tommy James And The Shondells. Eventually Ciccone formed a new incarnation of the Critters in 2007, releasing an album called Time Pieces that included updated versions of their first top 40 hit, Younger Girl, and a slightly retitled Mr. Dyingly Sad. Don Ciccone passed away on October 8, 2016 at the age of 70 after suffering a heart attack.
   
Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Daily Nightly
Source:    LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD.
Writer(s):    Michael Nesmith
Label:    Colgems
Year:    1967
    One of the first rock songs to feature a Moog synthesizer was the Monkees' Daily Nightly from the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD. Micky Dolenz, who had a reputation for nailing it on the first take but being unable to duplicate his success in subsequent attempts, was at the controls of the new technology for this recording of Michael Nesmith's most psychedelic song (Dolenz also sang lead on the tune).

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away)
Source:    CD: Electric Ladyland
Writer:    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away) from the Electric Ladyland album is the longest work created purely in the studio by Jimi Hendrix, with a running time of over 16 minutes. The piece starts with tape effects that lead into the song's main guitar rift. The vocals and drums join in to tell a science fiction story set in a future world where the human race has had to move underwater in order to survive some unspecified catastrophe. After a couple verses, the piece goes into a long unstructured section made up mostly of guitar effects before returning to the main theme and closing out with more effects that combine volume control and stereo panning to create a circular effect. As is the case with several tracks on Electric Ladyland, 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away) features Hendrix on both guitar and bass, with Mitch Mitchell on drums and special guest Chris Wood (from Traffic) on flute.

Artist:    Ventures
Title:    Walk-Don't Run, 1964
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Johnny Smith
Label:    Silver Spotlight
Year:    1964
    The first two Ventures songs to hit the top 10 were actually two different versions of the same song. The original 1960 version of Walk-Don't Run was the band's first charted hit, which was followed by a succession of moderately successful surf instrumentals. It wasn't until late 1964, however, that the band returned to the top 10 with this updated version of the same song made for the soundtrack of the Walk-Don't Run movie. The Ventures would return to the top 10 five years later with the Hawaii Five-Oh theme. Despite only having three top 10 singles, the Ventures are universally acknowledged to be the most prolific instrumental rock band in history, with over 200 albums to their credit.

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2032 (starts 8/3/20)

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    This week's show takes you back to 1969 for about half an hour before moving forward, one year at a time, ending up at chapter five of the Firesign Theatre's Tale Of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Oh Well
Source:    Mono LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: Then Play On)
Writer(s):    Peter Green
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Year:     1969
    Fleetwood Mac had already established themselves as one of Britain's top up-and-coming blues bands by the time Then Play On was released in 1969. The band had just landed a deal in the US with Reprise, and Then Play On was their American debut LP. At the same time the album was released in the UK, a new non-LP single, Oh Well, appeared as well. The song was a top pick on Radio Luxembourg, the only non-BBC English language top 40 station still operating in Europe in 1969 (not counting the American Forces Network, which was only a top 40 station for an hour or two a day), and Oh Well soon shot all the way to the # 2 spot on the British charts. Meanwhile the US version of Then Play On (which had originally been issued with pretty much the same song lineup as the British version) was recalled, and a new version with Oh Well added to it was issued in its place. The song itself has two distinct parts: a fast blues-rocker sung by lead guitarist Peter Green lasting about two minutes, and a slow moody instrumental that runs about seven minutes. The original UK single featured about a minute's worth of part two tacked on to the end of the A side (with a fadeout ending), while the B side had the entire part two on it. Both sides of the single were added to the US version of the LP, which resulted in the first minute of part two repeating itself on the album.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Can't Be Too Long
Source:    CD: On Time
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    Never has there been a band as univerally hated by the rock press as Grand Funk Railroad (although Uriah Heep in their early years came close). Apparently, someone decided that between Hendrix and Cream, everything good that could possibly be done with a power trio had been done, and there was really no reason for another one to ever exist. Or so it seemed in 1969, when Grand Funk Railroad's first LP, On Time, hit the racks. A funny thing happened, though. The band built a following, despite the critics disdain. In fact, they built a bigger following than any other band had built at that point in time. How big were they? Consider this: In 1970 the first two Grand Funk Railroad albums, which had been released the previous year, achieved gold record status. As did their live album, released in 1970. As did their third studio album, Closer To Home, which was also released in 1970. That's right. Four gold record awards in the same year. That's a pretty big following, especially when you consider just how primitive tracks like Can't Be Too Long, from their first album, really are. But then, that's what rock music is really all about. Primitive, and loud. Really, really loud. Which is how this track should be listened to.

Artist:    Blind Faith
Title:    Sea Of Joy
Source:    LP: Blind Faith
Writer(s):    Steve Winwood
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    At the time Blind Faith was formed there is no question that the biggest names in the band were guitarist Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, having just come off a successful three-year run with Cream. Yet the true architect of the Blind Faith sound was actually Steve Winwood, formerly of the Spencer Davis Group and, more recently, Traffic. Not only did Winwood handle most of the lead vocals for the group, he also wrote more songs on the band's only album than any other member. Among the Winwood tunes on that album is Sea Of Joy, which opens side two of the LP.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Soul Sacrifice
Source:    European import CD:Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Woodstock)
Writer(s):    Brown/Malone/Rolie/Santana
Label:    Sony Music (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1969
    The producers of the original Woodstock movie soundtrack album were less concerned with presenting faithful renditions of the various live performances seen in the movie than they were with making the best sounding album possible. Accordingly, they edited some of the performances and, in some cases, subsitituted other non-Woodstock versions of songs heard in the movie. One of the edits that actually worked pretty well was cross-fading the crowd singing a wordless refrain that has come to be known as the Crowd Rain Chant into Santana's Soul Sacrifice, the instrumental piece that lifted Santana into the upper echelon of rock royalty. What many don't realize is that over three minutes of Santana's actual performance is edited out of the track entirely. I usually play the full eleven and a half minute version of the performance, but, just for a change of pace, here is the track as initially released on the Woodstock soundtrack album, rain chant and all. 

Artist:    Mountain
Title:    Mississippi Queen
Source:    CD: Electric 70s (originally released on LP: Mountain Climbing)
Writer(s):    West/Laing/Pappalardi/Rea
Label:    Warner Special Products/JCI (original label: Windfall)
Year:    1970
    One of the most overlooked bands of the mid-1960s was the Vagrants. Based on Long Island, the group made a specialty of covering popular R&B and rock songs, often slowing them down and featuring extended solos by guitarist Leslie Weinstein, inspiring fellow Long Islanders Vanilla Fudge to do the same. Although the Vagrants never were able to gain much national attention, Weinstein himself had established quite a reputation by the time the group disbanded. Meanwhile, keyboardist/producer/songwriter Felix Pappalardi had been working with the members of Cream as a producer, but with the demise of that band was looking for a new project to sink his teeth into. That new project turned out to be a solo album by Weinstein, who by then had shortened his last name to West. The album was called Mountain, and soon after its release West and Pappalardi decided to form a band of the same name. The group first got national attention performing at Woodstock, and in 1970 released the album Mountain Climbing, featuring the hit single Mississippi Queen.

Artist:    Crazy Horse
Title:    Beggar's Day
Source:    LP: Crazy Horse
Writer(s):    Nils Lofgren
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1971
    The band that would come to be known as Crazy Horse actually started their recording career in 1968 as the Rockets. In 1969 they were hired by Neil Young to be his backup band on his second LP, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, changing their name at Young's suggestion. While working with Young on his next album, After The Gold Rush, the band added teen guitar prodigy Nils Lofgren, who appeared with the group on their 1971 LP Crazy Horse. Lofgren wrote some of the songs on the album as well, including Beggar's Day, which was later covered by the Scottish group Nazareth on their Hair Of The Dog LP.

Artist:    Curtis Mayfield
Title:    Pusherman
Source:    CD: Curtis Mayfield And The Impressions-The Anthology 1961-1977 (originally released on LP: Super Fly)
Writer(s):    Curtis Mayfield
Label:    MCA (original label: Curtom)
Year:    1972
    Curtis Mayfield's soundtrack album for the 1972 film Super Fly is considered one of the landmark achievements of 1970s music. For one thing, it is one of the few soundtrack albums to end up making more money than the film itself. More importantly, Super Fly, along with Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, was one of the first R&B concept albums, with its harsh condemnation of the inner city drug dealing trade paired with a call for self-liberation, and is considered one of the pioneering works of the funk revolution. Pusherman, with its emphasis on heavy bass and African rhythms, is one the album's standout tracks.
   
Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Sabbra Cadabra
Source:    LP: Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osbourne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    The last great Black Sabbath album (according to vocalist Ozzy Osbourne), was Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath, released in December of 1973, when the band was at its peak as a functional unit before creative and personality issues began interfering with the quality of the music itself. The band, following an exhausting tour promoting their previous album that got cut short following a performance at the Hollywood Bowl that ended with guitarist Tony Iommi walking off stage and collapsing, began trying to come up with new material during the summer of '73, but soon decided to take a break and return to England, where they ended up renting Clearwell Castle in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. The band found the atmosphere there inspiring, if somewhat sinister (they used a dungeon as rehearsal space) and soon were in the process of creating the music that became Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath. At this time the band members' fondness for playing practical jokes on each other, combined with rumors of the castle being haunted, began to get out of hand, leading to the band leaving the place before their alloted time there had expired. The band soon got to work recording their new material at Morgan Studios in London, where Yes was working on an album called Tales From Topographic Oceans in the next studio. Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman ended up sitting in on the instrumental Sabbra Cadabra, which finishes out side one of the original LP.
   
Artist:    Firesign Theatre
Title:    Part Two: Chicago; Chapter 5-Pickles Down The Rat Hole
Source:    LP: The Tale Of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra
Writer(s):    Procter/Bergman/Austin/Ossman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1974
    So where were we? Oh yes, Chicago. Chapter five of The Tale Of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra takes place at the Mobius Dick, a speakeasy frequented by known criminals. Hemlock Stones, accompanied by Dr. Flotsam, Violet Dudley and Frank Acme, Jr. are on the trail of the missing Jonas Acme, who has been kidnapped by the mysterious Electrician. Next week, the mystery is solved...or is it? This is, after all, an album by the Firesign Theatre, who previously had the great reveal of Nick Danger's greatest adventure interrupted by Roosevelt's surrender to the Japanese following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

   

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2031 (starts 7/27/20)



    This week's show, like last week's, features mostly sets of songs from specific years. There is also a new Advanced Psych segment featuring tracks that have never been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era and a set of tunes from the Jimi Hendrix Experience. We finish out the week with a set of tunes from groups that, after a short period of initial popularity, faded from the public eye, only to come back in a big way a few years later.

    Artist:    Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title:    Good Thing
Source:    Mono CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1967 (originally released on LP: The Spirit Of '67 and as as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lindsay/Melcher
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1966
    From 1965 to 1967 Paul Revere And The Raiders were on a roll, with a string of six consecutive top 20 singles, four of which made the top 5. Among these was Good Thing, a tune written by lead vocalist Mark Lindsay and producer Terry Melcher (sometimes referred to as the "fifth Raider"). The song first appeared on the Spirit Of  '67 LP in 1966, and was released as a single late that year. The song ended up being the Raiders' second biggest hit, peaking at # 4 in early 1967.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Fancy
Source:    CD: The Kink Kronikles (originally released on LP: Face To Face)
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1966
    One of the best albums in the Kinks library is Face To Face. Released in 1966, the album features such classics and Sunny Afternoon and Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, as well as some lesser-known (yet excellent) tracks such as Fancy, a personal favorite of songwriter Ray Davies, who recalls coming with the song late one night on his old Framus guitar. My first guitar was a Framus, but I sure didn't come up with anything remotely as cool as Fancy on it.

Artist:    Misunderstood
Title:    I Can Take You To The Sun
Source:    British import CD: Before The Dream Faded (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Hill/Brown
Label:    Cherry Red (original label: Fontana)
Year:    1966
    The story of the legendary band the Misunderstood actually started in 1963 when three teenagers from Riverside, California decided to form a band called the Blue Notes. Like most of the bands at the time, the group played a mixture of surf and 50s rock and roll cover songs, slowly developing a sound of their own as they went through a series of personnel changes. In 1965 the band changed their name to the Misunderstood and recorded six songs at a local recording studio. Although the recordings were not released, the band caught the attention of a San Bernardino disc jockey named John Ravencroft, an Englishman with an extensive knowledge of the British music scene. In June of 1966 the band, with Ravencroft's help, relocated to London, where they were eventually joined by Ravencroft himself, who changed his name to John Peel and became arguably the most famous DJ in the history of British rock radio. Ravencroft's brother Alan got the band a deal with Fontana Records, resulting in a single in late 1966, I Can Take You To The Sun, that took the British pop scene by storm. Problems having nothing to do with music soon derailed the Misunderstood, who found themselves being deported back to the US, and in one case, drafted into the US Army.

Artist:    13th Floor Elevators
Title:    Tried To Hide
Source:    CD: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
Writer(s):    Hall/Sutherland
Label:    Collectables (original label: International Artists)
Year:    1966
    The first known use of the word "psychedelic" in an album title was The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators, released on the Houston-based International Artists label in August of 1966. The album itself is notable for its inclusion of electric jug (played by Tommy Hall), and for the band's only charted single, You're Gonna Miss Me. The B side of that single was Tried To Hide, written by Hall and guitarist Stacy Sutherland.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    White Room
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Wheels Of Fire)
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    United Artists (original label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    In order to get songs played on top 40 radio, record companies made it a practice to shorten album cuts by cutting out extended instrumental breaks and extra verses. This version of the Cream classic White Room, clocking in at just over three minutes, is a typical example.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Love Street
Source:    CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: Waiting For The Sun)
Writer(s):    Jim Morrison
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1968
    Like many of Jim Morrison's songs, Love Street started off as a poem. "Love Street" was actually the nickname given to Rothdale Trail, the street he and Pamela Courson lived on in L.A.'s Laurel Canyon. Morrison and Courson spent a lot of time sitting on their balcony, watching the local hippies going to and from the Canyon Country Store, which was across the street from their house. Morrison turned the poem into a song in time to get it recorded for the third Doors album, Waiting For The Sun. The track was also released as the B side of the Doors' second #1 single, Hello I Love You, Won't You Tell Me Your Name.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Portable People
Source:    CD: Ten Years After (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Deram
Year:    1968
    Following the release of the 1967 debut LP, Ten Years After got to work on what was to be a followup album. These plans got sidetracked, however, when it was decided that their second LP would be made up of live performances taped at a London club near a recording studio. This left the band with several finished studio recordings, many of which were the same songs that would appear on the live Undead album. Two of the other unused studio tracks became the band's first US single, the A side of which was a tune called Portable People. This song remained unavailable in any other form for several years, finally appearing as a bonus track on the CD version of their first album.

Artist:    Al Kooper/Stephen Stills/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title:    Harvey's Tune
Source:    CD: Super Session
Writer(s):    Harvey Brooks
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1968
    Probably the most overlooked track on the classic Super Session LP is the album's closer, a two-minute instrumental called Harvey's Tune. The piece was written by bassist Harvey Brooks, who, along with Mike Bloomfield, had been a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and later, the Electric Flag.

Artist:    United States Of America
Title:    The American Way Of Love
Source:    CD: The United States Of America
Writer(s):    Byrd/Moskowitz/Forbes/Woodson/Marron
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1968
    Joseph Byrd was a member of New York's early 1960s avant-garde scene, and was already a respected and innovative experimental music composer when he and Dorothy Moskowitz relocated to Los Angeles in late 1963. Once in L.A. he co-founded the New Music Workshop with jazz trumpeter Don Ellis, and soon began incorporating elements of performance art into the events the workshop sponsored. In 1965 Byrd formed a blues band, fronted by his friend Linda Ronstadt, to play during a local "happening". Byrd later said that "the realization that rock was an access to a larger public came out of that concert, and the idea of forming a band began taking shape." That band came to be called the United States Of America. According to Byrd "Using the full name of the country for something so common as a rock group was a way of expressing disdain for governmental policy. It was like hanging the flag upside down." The thing is, neither Byrd, Moskowitz, or any of the other band members (who were all from the west coast experimental music community) had any experience with rock music itself. This left them in a position to literally start from scratch, as can be heard on the final, and longest, track of their self-titled LP, released in 1968. The American Way Of Life is actually a medley of three pieces; the first two, Metaphor For An Older Man and California Good-time Music, were composed solely by Byrd. The final section of the work, Love Is All (which includes a collage of earlier tracks from the album), was credited to the entire band, which at that point included Rand Forbes, Craig Woodson, Gordon Marron and (on some tracks) Ed Bogas, in addition to Byrd and Moskowitz. Internal differences, both personal and musical, caused the United States Of America to break up shortly after the release of their only LP, with Byrd going on to create a second LP for Columbia called The American Metaphysical Circus, which came out on Columbia's Masterworks classic label and stayed in print for decades. Moskowitz eventually became a member of Country Joe McDonald's All-Star band, while other band members went on to various musical and/or electronics projects.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
Source:    LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    While not as commercially successful as the Jefferson Airplane or as long-lived as the Grateful Dead (there's an oxymoron for ya), Country Joe and the Fish may well be the most accurate musical representation of what the whole Haight-Ashbury scene was about, which is itself ironic, since the band operated out of Berkeley on the other side of the bay. Of all the tracks on their first album, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine probably got the most airplay on various underground radio stations that were popping up on the FM dial at the time (some of them even legally).

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Everybody's Been Burned
Source:    CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    There is a common misconception that David Crosby's songwriting skills didn't fully develop until he began working with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. A listen to Everybody's Been Burned from the Byrds' 1967 LP Younger Than Yesterday, however, puts the lie to that theory in a hurry. The track has all the hallmarks of a classic Crosby song: a strong melody, intelligent lyrics and an innovative chord structure. It's also my personal favorite tune from what is arguably the Byrds' best album.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Rock And Roll Woman
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth) while they were together. Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina and Stephen Stills. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock And Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 50 years after it was recorded.

Artist:    Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title:    Incense And Peppermints
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Carter/Gilbert/Weitz/King
Label:    Rhino (original labels: USA/Uni)
Year:    1967
    Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was originally released to Los Angeles area radio stations it was intended to be the B side of The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Because
Source:    CD: Abbey Road
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone
Year:    1969
    Take Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Turn a few notes around, add some variations and write some lyrics. Add the Beatles' unmistakeable multi-part harmonies and you have John Lennon's Because, from the Abbey Road album. A simply beautiful recording.

Artist:    Scarlet Letter
Title:    Timekeeper
Source:    Mono British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Seanor/Spindler
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
Year:    1969
    One of the Detroit music scene's most overlooked bands, the Scarlet Letter released three singles for Bob Shad's Mainstream label. The best of these was a tune called Mary Maiden, with the equally strong Timekeeper on the flip side. The group also released a single on the Time label (a subsidiary of Mainstream) using the name Paraphernalia in 1968.

Artist:    Koobas
Title:    Barricades
Source:    British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released on LP: Koobas)
Writer(s):    Ellis/Stratton-Smith/Leathwood
Label:    EMI (original UK label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    The Koobas were a Merseybeat band that never managed to achieve the level of success enjoyed by bands such as the Beatles or Gerry and the Pacemakers, despite having the patronage of Beatles manager Brian Epstein and even appearing in the film Ferry Across The Mersey.  They did record several singles for both Pye and Columbia, but with little to show for it. Nonetheless, EMI, the parent company of Columbia, commissioned an entire album from the band in 1969. Among the standout tracks from that self-titled LP was the five-minute long Barricades, a track that starts with a Motown beat, but before long morphs into a chaotic portrait of riot and revolution, complete with anarchic sound effects.

Artist:    Young Rascals
Title:    (I've Been) Lonely Too Long
Source:    CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released on LP: Collections and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Felix Cavalier
Label:    Priority (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1967
            The Young Rascals got off to a great start with Good Lovin' in 1966, but their next two singles were unable to crack the tp 20, and for a while it looked like the Rascals might end up being one-hit wonders. Then, in 1967, the Collections album was released, and the group's fortunes took a turn for the better. The first hit of the year was (I've Been) Lonely Too Long, a tune that went a long way toward establishing the Young Rascals as the premier "blue-eyed soul" band in the nation. Several more hits followed over the next two years, including People Got To Be Free, one of the most iconic songs of 1968.
       
Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Don't Sneeze On Me
Source:    CD: WaS
Writer(s):    Steve Kara
Label:    PruneTwang
Year:    2014
    Following the death of bassst Mark Tulin in 2011, the remaining members of the Electric Prunes took a hiatus, returning to the stage in 2013 and releasing a final album, WaS, in May of 2014. Most of the original tunes on WaS are collaborations between Tulin and lead vocalist James Lowe, but other band members such as Steve Kara also contributed songs. Kara's Don't Sneeze On Me is probably the closest the Prunes ever came to recording a pure punk-rock song.

Artist:    Vertacyn Arc Materializer
Title:    Low Interest
Source:    LP: Tasting The Sea
Writer(s):    Vertacyn Arc Materializer
Label:    10 GeV
Year:    2018
    The city of San Francisco seems to produce more than its share of bands that go out of their way to maintain their anonymity. In the early 1970s the Residents even recorded an album called Not Available, intending to not release it until all of the band members had forgotten about its existence (it eventually got released in 1978 during a creative dry spell). These days the San Francisco anonymous band torch is carried by Vertacyn Arc Materializer, a band that is just as hard to describe as the Residents themselves. Their second LP, Tasting The Sea, is only available on Vinyl, and it's packaging is nothing less than spectacular. The front cover is the famous Rolling Stones "mouth" logo dissected by an actual zipper, mimicking the Stones' own Sticky Fingers cover, against a stark white background. Opening the zipper reveals a "circle c" copyright symbol. The back cover featuring "portraits" of each of the four band members: the Starbucks logo (bass, guitar), the US $20 bill version of President Andrew Jackson (drums, trumpet), Marilyn (guitar, bass, keyboards) and Homeland Security, represented by a snarling wolf (vocals, keyboards, guitar). There's even more fun stuff on the inside of the gatefold cover, but I'll let you find your own copy to check it out yourself (if you can find one; apparently there were only 500 pressed). Musically, Vertacyn Arc Materializer is harder to describe; I'd put them with bands like Killing Joke and Nine Inch Nails, with a little Pere Ubu thrown in, but even that comparison falls short of the reality of Low Interest, one of the grungier tracks from Tasting The Sea.

Artist:    Psychedelic Furs
Title:    Sister Europe
Source:    LP: The Psychedelic Furs
Writer(s):    Psychedelic Furs
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1980
            Initially consisting of Richard Butler (vocals), Tim Butler (bass guitar), Duncan Kilburn (saxophone), Paul Wilson (drums) and Roger Morris (guitars), the Psychedelic Furs were formed in 1977 under the name RKO. They soon began calling themselves Radio, then did gigs under two different names, the Europeans and the Psychedelic Furs. By 1979 they had settled on the latter name and expanded to a sextet, adding guitarist John Ashton and replacing Wilson with Vince Ely on drums. The Furs' self-titled debut album, released in 1980, was an immediate hit in Europe and the UK, but airplay in the US was limited mostly to college radio and "alternative" rock stations. The second single released from the album was Sister Europe, a tune that was also  the band's concert opener in the early days of their existence. The Psychedelic Furs' greatest claim to fame, however, is probably the song Pretty In Pink. Originally released on their second album, Talk Talk Talk, in 1981, the song was re-recorded for the John Hughes film of the same name in 1986. One of the more overlooked songs on the first Psychedelic Furs LP is Wedding Song, with its repeated use of the phrase "we're useless". Make of that what you will.

Artist:    Peanut Butter Conspiracy
Title:    Lonely Leaf
Source:    CD: The Peanut Butter Conspiracy Is Spreading/The Great Conspiracy (original LP: The Great Conspiracy)
Writer(s):    John Merrill
Label:    Collectables (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1967
    For their second Columbia LP, The Great Conspiracy, the members of L.A.'s Peanut Butter Conspiracy were given greater artistic freedom by producer Gary Usher, who was already working on his own Millennium project at this point. The biggest change was the fact that there were no studio musicians used on the album, which resulted in a record much more in sync with the band's live sound. The album is full of strong tracks such as Lonely Leaf, which, like about half the songs on the LP, was written by lead guitarist John Merrill.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Ruby Tuesday
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    One of the most durable songs in the Rolling Stones catalog, Ruby Tuesday was originally intended to be the B side of their 1967 single Let's Spend The Night Together. Many stations, however, balked at the subject matter of the A side and began playing Ruby Tuesday instead, which is somewhat ironic considering speculations as to the subject matter of the song (usually considered to be about a groupie of the band's acquaintance, although Mick Jagger has said it was about Keith Richards' ex-girlfriend).

Artist:     Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:     Down On Me
Source:     CD: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Writer:     Trad. Arr. Joplin
Label:     Columbia/Legacy (original label: Mainstream)
Year:     1967
     Big Brother And The Holding Company's first album, featuring the single Down On Me, was recorded in 1967 at the studios of Mainstream Records, a medium-sized Chicago label known for its jazz recordings. At the time, Mainstream's engineers had no experience with a rock band, particularly a loud one like Big Brother, and vainly attempted to clean up the band's sound as best they could. The result was an album full of relatively sterile recordings sucked dry of the energy that made Big Brother and the Holding Company one of the top live attractions of its time. Probably the stongest track on the album was lead vocalist Janis Joplin's arrangement of Down On Me, a "freedom song" dating back at least to the 1920s that Mainstream issued as a single during the Summer of Love. The song almost made the top 40 charts, peaking at #42.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer(s):    Billy Roberts
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1966
    The first track recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was Hey Joe, a song that Hendrix had seen Tim Rose perform in Greenwich Village before relocating to London to form his new band. Hendrix's version is a bit heavier than Rose's and leaves off the first verse ("where you going with that money in your hand") entirely. The song itself was copyrighted in 1962 by California folk singer Billy Roberts and a much faster version by the Leaves had hit the US charts in early 1966.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Spanish Castle Magic
Source:    CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    When the second Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Axis: Bold As Love, came out it was hailed as a masterpiece of four-track engineering. Working closely with producer Chas Chandler and engineer Eddie Kramer, Hendrix used the recording studio itself as an instrument, making an art form out of the stereo mixing process. The unfortunate by-product of this is that most of the songs on the album could not be played live and still sound anything like the studio version. One notable exception is Spanish Castle Magic, which became a more or less permanent part of the band's performing repertoire.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    I Don't Live Today
Source:    LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced)
Writer:    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    I remember a black light poster that choked me up the first time I saw it in early 1971. It was a shot of Jimi Hendrix playing his guitar with the caption I Don't Live Today. I don't believe Hendrix was being deliberately prophetic when he wrote and recorded this classic track for the Are You Experienced album, but it occasionally gives me chills to hear it, even now.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Signed D.C.
Source:    German import CD: Love
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra/Warner Strategic Marketing
Year:    1966
    The only acoustic track on the first Love album was Signed D.C., a slow ballad in the tradition of House of the Rising Sun. The song takes the form of a letter penned by a heroin addict, and the imagery is both stark and disturbing. Although Lee was known to occasionally say otherwise, the song title probably refers to Love's original drummer Don Conka, who left the band before their first recording sessions due to (you guessed it) heroin addiction.

Artist:    Moody Blues
Title:    The Night
Source:    LP: Days Of Future Passed
Writer(s):    Redwave/Knight
Label:    Deram
Year:    1967
    When the year 1967 started, the Moody Blues were still considered a one-hit wonder for their song Go Now, which had topped the British charts in 1965 and gone into the top 10 in the US as well. None of their follow-up singles had charted in the US, although they did manage to hit the #22 spot in the UK with From the Bottom of My Heart (I Love You). Despite still being a solid live draw, the group had pretty much dissolved by autumn of 1966. In November of that year the band reformed, with two new members, John Lodge and Justin Hayward, Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge. At this point they were in debt to their record company (British Decca), and agreed to make a rock and roll version of Antonín Dvořák's New World Symphony for the company's new Deram label, working with Peter Knight and various Decca studio musicians known informally as the London Festival Orchestra. The project was soon abandoned, but the Moodys convinced Knight to collaborate with the band to record an album of the own original material. That album was Days Of Future Passed, which rose to the #27 spot on the British charts (and five years later made the top 5 on the US album charts). The album was divided into several suites, each representing a particular time of day, with Knight's orchestral compositions linking the various songs together. Although initially only one song (Tuesday Afternoon) was issued as a single, eventually Nights In White Satin, in edited form, became an international hit. The song is part of the album's final suite, The Night, that consists of Hayward's Nights In White Satin, Late Lament (a poem written by Edge and spoken by Pinder) and Knight's closing orchestral passage, Resolvement. By 1972 the original master tape of Days Of Future Passed had deteriorated to the point that a new mix was made from the original multi-track tape. This mix was used for all subsequent pressings of Days Of Future Passed, including this 1981 Mobile Fidelity pressing of the LP. In 2017 a pristine copy of the original LP was found, and a new master tape was created from that copy, although I have not yet heard it. Apparently there are some differences between the two, including extra measures of music here and there that were left out of the newer mix.

Artist:    Zombies
Title:    Changes
Source:    CD: Odessey And Oracle
Writer(s):    Chris White
Label:    Varese Sarabande (original label: Date)
Year:    1968
    Like the Moody Blues, the Zombies were a band that enjoyed early success with an international hit single (She's Not There), but were unable to place any of their follow-up singles on the top 40 charts. A change of labels in 1967, however, gave them the opportunity to record an album made up entirely of original material. The result was the 1968 LP Odessey And Oracle. Although it was largely overlooked at the time of its release, it has since become one of the most acclaimed albums of all time, ranking at #100 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time List. Because of a tight budget, the LP was made over a period of months beginning in June of 1967, with the final song, Changes, recorded on November 7th. A little more than a month later, with morale at a low point, the Zombies officially disbanded, four months before the LP was released in the UK. Columbia Records initially chose not to release the album in the US at all, but after Al Kooper, who was a staff producer for the label at the time, heard the album on a trip to London, he convinced his bosses to release Odessey And Oracle on Columbia's little-known Date subsidiary.

Artist:     Guess Who
Title:     Undun
Source:     Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer:     Randy Bachman
Label:     RCA Victor
Year:     1969
     Following the release of the Wheatfield Soul album (and the hit single These Eyes), RCA tied the Guess Who down to a long-term contract. One of the stipulations of that contract was that the band would make subsequent recordings at RCA's own studios. After recording the tracks for their follow-up album, Canned Wheat, the band members felt that the sound at RCA was inferior to that of A&R studios, where they had recorded Wheatfield Soul, and secretly re-recorded a pair of tunes at A&R and submitted dubs of the tapes to RCA. The tunes, Laughing and Undun, were issued as a double-sided single in 1969, with both sides getting a decent amount of airplay. Once word got out that the songs had been recorded in a non-RCA studio, the label realized the error of their ways and relaxed the exclusivity policy, although not in time for the band to re-record the rest of the album.