Friday, August 27, 2010

Playlist 8/27-29/10

No group sets tonight. Instead, we have some mini-themes. Starting it off, we roll through the years with a set of tunes that prove that punk-rock was around while Sid Vicious and friends were all still in grade school.

Song Title: "You Can't Catch Me"
Source: LP: THE ROLLING STONES NOW! (original mono vinyl)
Release Year: 1965
The early Rolling Stones are the original definition of punk. A bunch of street kids who would probably have all ended up in jail if they hadn't gotten into a band instead, the Stones recorded a lot of cover tunes in their early years, mainly songs by early rock & roll legends such as Chuck Berry. Tonight's show starts off with one that John Lennon "borrowed" a couple phrases from when he wrote "Come Together."

Song Title: "Bad Little Woman"
Source: CD: NUGGETS BOX SET (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1966
Our 1966 entry is the Shadows' follow-up to their cover of Van Morrison's "Gloria" which was a huge hit for them earlier in the year. Although not a commercial success, "Bad Little Woman" goes a long way toward establishing the band's punk credentials.

Song Title: "There She Goes Again"
Source: CD: THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO (reissue of original LP)
Release Year: 1967
When the Velvet Underground first appeared, their fame was pretty much limited to the New York art crowd, of which their sponsor and primary financial backer Andy Warhol was a superstar in his own right. With talent like Lou Reed and John Cale in the band, however, the VU eventually attained legendary punk status of their own, albeit long after the band ceased to exist.

Next, we make a stopover in the year 1967 with a rather diverse set of non-single album tracks.

Song Title: "Black Sheep Boys"
Source: LP: TIM HARDIN II (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
One of the forerunners of the singer-songwriter movement of the early 70s was Tim Hardin, who was probably best known for writing "If I Were a Carpenter", a hit for Bobby Darin on the pop charts and later for Johnny Cash and June Carter on the country charts.

Song Title: "Big City"
Source: CD: UNDERGROUND (reissue of original LP)
Release Year: 1967
The second Electric Prunes album is the one that the band itself had the most creative influence over. That said, there were still a few songs that were obviously picked by the producer, David Hassinger. Of these, "Big City" is probably the most listenable.

Artist: LOVE
Song Title: "Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hillsdale"
Source: CD: FOREVER CHANGES (reissue of original LP)
Release Year: 1967
Whatever else they may have been, Love was above all L.A.s hometown band. As the house band at the city's top club, the Whiskey-A-Go-Go (located on Sunset strip between Clark and Hillsdale), Love chose to immerse itself in the city's culture rather than to promote its records nationally. In a way that's a shame, as the band never achieved the iconic status of their label-mates (and former opening act) the Doors, despite leader Arthur Lee being hailed by critics as a musical genius on a par with Brian Wilson and Jimi Hendrix. "Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hillsdale", from Love's third album, Forever Changes, is a highly personal song that somehow manages to be a reflection of the city itself.

Artist: DOORS
Song Title: "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)"
Source: CD: THE DOORS (reissue of original LP)
Release Year: 1967
1967 was a breakthrough year for Elektra Records, which had only signed its first full-fledged rock band (Love) the previous year. Between Love's second and third albums and the first two Doors LPs, Elektra had by the end of the year established itself as a player. Although never released as a single, "Alabama Song" managed to make it onto the Best of the Doors album and has been a classic rock staple for years.

Song Title: "Chess Game"
Source: LP: CIRCUS MAXIMUS (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
Circus Maximus was driven by the dual creative talents of keyboardist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker. Although Walker went on to have the greatest success, it was Bruno's more jazz-influenced songwriting that made Circus Maximus unique.

Next, we go on a road trip. And what better way to start a road trip than on a psychedelic bus?

Song Title: "Can't Come Down"
Source: CD: LOVE IS THE SONG WE SING: SAN FRANCISCO NUGGETS 1965-70 (originally released on LP vinyl)
Release Year: 1999
In 1965 Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters were travelling around conducting the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests, basically an excuse to turn on people to LSD. Part of Kesey's entourage was a group of young musicians calling themselves the Warlocks. Toward the end of the year, producer Sylvester Stewart (aka Sly Stone) brought the Warlocks into the studio to cut some songs. The songs themselves did not get released until 1999, when the Warlocks (now calling themselves the Grateful Dead) decided to include them on an anthology album. Vocalist/keyboardist Ron "Pig Pen" McKernon, the band's original front man, shines on "Can't Come Down".

Song Title: "Who Do You Love"
Source: CD: EVEN MORE NUGGETS (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
The next stop on our tour is Lansing, MI., where we find local band The Woolies covering Bo Diddley and managing to hit the national charts with it, thanks in large part to the song being issued on Lou Adler's Dunhill Records, one of the hottest labels of the time.

Song Title: "Time Won't Let Me"
Source: CD: NUGGETS BOX SET (originally issued on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1966
From Cleveland we have another local band signed to a major label, in this case Capitol Records, which at the time was having great success with both the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Lead vocalist Sonny Gerachi would reappear a few years later with the band Climax, singing a song called "Precious and Few", which is one of the greatest juxtapositions of artist names and song titles ever.

Song Title: "Good Lovin'"
Source: CD: TIME/PEACE: THE RASCALS GREATEST HITS (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1966
We arrive on the east coast just in time to catch a band calling themselves the Rascals. Atlantic Records, for reasons now unknown, convinced the band to add the word "Young" to their name, which was how they were known until 1968 or so, when they went back to their original appellation.

Song Title: "Lucky In the Morning"
Source: CD: BLOODROCK 2 (reissue of original LP)
Release Year: 1970
Our final stop on the road trip is the Dallas-Fort Worth area, known at the time mostly as the home of guys with names like Landry and Staubach. Signed to Capitol by Grand Funk Railroad producer Terry Knight, Bloodrock became infamous for the song "D.O.A.", a first-person account of the aftermath of a plane crash as seen by one of the victims. Lucky in the morning, by the way, is a highly unusual occurrence, mostly due to a phenomenon known as morning breath.

To finish up the first hour we once again roll through the years, starting (again) in 1965.

Song Title: "There but for Fortune"
Source: 45 RPM VINYL (promo copy)
Release Year: 1965
When I was a kid I used to occasionally pick up something called a grab bag. It was literally a sealed brown paper bag with anywhere from four to six 45 rpm records in it. Usually these were "cut-outs", unsold copies of records that hadn't sold as well as expected. Often they were five or six years old (albeit unplayed). Once in a while, though, there would be a real gem among them. My original copy of this record was one such gem. I later found a promo copy while working at KUNM in Albuquerque, which is the one I use now, since my original is long since worn out. Not only was this record my first introduction to Joan Baez, it was also the first record I had ever seen on the Vanguard label and the first song written by Phil Ochs I had ever heard. Not bad for twelve and a half cents.

Song Title: "We've Got a Groovy Thing Going"
Source: 45 RPM VINYL
Release Year: 1966
In late 1965, producer Tom Wilson decided to preform an experiment. He took the original recording of a song from Simon & 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", 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: KINKS
Song Title: "Harry Rag"
Source: CD: SOMETHING ELSE BY THE KINKS (reissue of original LP)
Release Year: 1967
By 1967 the Kinks had progressed way beyond their hard-rockin' roots. Their last major US hit had been "Sunny Afternoon" the previous summer, although they continued to have success in their native England. "Harry Rag" could easily be passed off as an English sea chanty; however, like everything else on the album, it is a Davies composition.

Song Title: "My Girlfriend Is a Witch"
Source: CD: WHERE THE ACTION IS: L.A. NUGGETS 1965-68 (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1968
By 1968 the L.A. under-age club scene was winding down, and several now out of work bands were making last (and sometimes only) attempts at garnering hits in the studio. One such band was October Country, whose first release had gotten a fair amount of local airplay, but who had become bogged down trying to come up with lyrics for a follow-up single. Enter Michael Lloyd, recently split from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and looking to become a record producer. Lloyd not only produced and wrote the lyrics for "My Girlfriend Is a Witch", he also ended up playing on the record as well.

Song Title: "Montage Mirror"
Release Year: 2009
As a bonus track we have this tune, recorded in 1967 but not released until last year, when Rhino put out its long-awaited L.A.-themed entry in the Nuggets series.

Tonight's second hour is an eclectic one, made up mostly of tracks I've never played on the show before. But first...

Song Title: "Ego Trip"
Source: LP: ULTIMATE SPINACH (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
There's something inherently funky about starting off the hour with a track that has a spoken intro. I did the same thing with this song a few weeks ago and will undoubtedly do it again sometime.

Song Title: "Gold and the Blues"
Source: LP: SUGARLOAF (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1970
There don't seem to be very many instrumentals in rock radio these days, and virtually none in what passes for top 40. Perhaps that's just a natural consequence of the emergence of a "front" person as the center of attention in the 70s. There was a time, however, that every member of a band played an instrument, and many albums included at least one instrumental track. This one, from the debut Sugarloaf album, is basically a blues jam that shows that Jerry Corbetta was far more than just the guy who sang "Green-Eyed Lady" and "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You"; he was quite possibly the best rock organist ever.

Song Title: "Soldier"
Source: CD: DECADE (originally released on LP: JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAST)
Release Year: 1972
The 1972 soundtrack album Journey Through the Past only featured one new track, a vocal with Young accompanying himself on the piano.

Song Title: "Cloud Nine"
Source: 45 RPM VINYL
Release Year: 1969
Motown's psychedelic soul producers were Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, whose song "Money (That's What I Want)" had provided the start up cash for Motown itself in the early 60s. Whitfield and Strong's crowning achievement was "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" in 1972. "Cloud Nine" with its strong anti-drug message, was one of the team's earliest efforts.

The entire last half hour of this week's show consists of album tracks. First, though, a set of tunes from 1967 that all appeared on 45 RPM vinyl singles that were not available in all US markets.

Song Title: "Hey, I'm Lost"
Source: CD: LOVE IS THE SONG WE SING: SAN FRANCISCO NUGGETS 1965-70 (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
In 1966 a local San Francisco department store held a battle of the bands at the Cow Palace. Unlike most events in the city that year, this one did not tie in to the emerging hippy culture. Rather, the event drew bands that were in their element when playing high school dances and teen clubs (although the Charlatans did make an appearance). The winners of that battle were Butch Engle and the Styx. Eighteen months later, their only single appeared on the Onyx label and was distributed throughout the bay area.

Artist: CREAM
Song Title: "Tales of Brave Ulysses"
Source: CD: DISRAELI GEARS (reissue of original LP)
Release Year: 1967
Random Listener: Wait a sec. You said this hour was all songs you hadn't played on the show before, and I know I heard this one just a few weeks ago.
The Hermit: Well, yes. But look again. I said the hour was *mostly* made up of tracks I've never played. This is one of the exceptions.
RL: OK, but what about it being a single that didn't get national distribution?
TH: Glad you asked. You see, although the song is well-known as an album cut, it was also released in the UK as the B side to "Strange Brew", although neither song ever got released in the US in that form. So you see, it was not available in all US markets, only those few that were able to get UK imports.

Song Title: "You're Wishin' I Was Someone Else"
Source: CD: WHERE THE ACTION IS: L.A. NUGGETS 1965-68 (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
By 1967 Mercury Records had long since moved beyond its roots as a regional Chicago label. In fact, Mercury, along with Capitol, Columbia, M-G-M, Decca and RCA Victor, was one of the "Big Six" record labels of the time, so called because between them they owned all the commercial record pressing plants in the country. It was really no surprise, then, to see Mercury signing local acts and releasing the records regionally.

Artist: CYRKLE
Song Title: "Money To Burn"
Source: LP: RED RUBBER BALL (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1966
The Cyrkle was not exactly known as an album-oriented group. After all, their first two singles both hit the top 10, no easy feat in the crowded singles market of 1966, the peak year for top 40 radio. Still, they were able to write a good portion of their own material for their first album, including this track.

Song Title: "Not One Bummer"
Source: LP: WHERE'S MY DADDY? (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1969
After losing their record contract with Reprise, along with guitarist Michael Lloyd (see "My Girlfriend Is a Witch") the WCPAEB found itself a trio consisting of Bob Markley and the Harris brothers. Nonetheless, they soldiered on, cutting this, their fifth LP, for Amos Records

Song Title: "High Coin"
Source: CD: THE CHARLATANS (reissue of original LP)
Release Year: 1969
To finish the night off we have a set from 1969, the year the legendary San Francisco band the Charlatans finally put an album out. Unfortunately, by 1969 they were only a shadow of what they had once been, having lost all but two of their original members. The opening track on the album, "High Coin", was also released as a single. Both single and album flopped, and the group disbanded soon after.

Song Title: "Thank You"
Source: CD: LED ZEPPELIN II (reissue of original LP)
Release Year: 1969
Not many people realize that the first two albums by the band that pretty much defined 70s rock actually came out in 1969. I mean, really, what can you say about the Zep that hasn't already been said a million times? Better just to kick back and enjoy one of their sweetest tunes.

Artist: WHO
Song Title: "Underture"
Source: CD: TOMMY
Release Year: 1969
When it comes to the Who, I tend to favor their first three albums and the many singles they released from 1965 through 1968. Still, when it comes right down to it, I have to say that even after more than 30 years "Underture" holds up as one of the greatest rock instrumentals ever recorded; all ten minutes of it.

Song Title: "The Bomber"
Source: LP: JAMES GANG GREATEST HITS featuring JOE WALSH. (song originally released on LP: JAMES GANG RIDES AGAIN)
Release Year: 1970
Usually I end the show with "Love Theme For the Apocalypse", an instrumental I don't have to worry about paying royalties on since I wrote it myself. I got thrown this week, though, by a misprint on the album cover stating that this was the shortened version of "The Bomber" that appeared on all but the earliest pressings of James Gang Rides Again. The shortening of the track was due to the Ravel estate's objection to the use of "Bolero" as part of the song's long instrumental break. The album was retracted and re-pressed (some would refer to this as repression) with the "Bolero" segment cut from the song. Anyway, it turns out that this particular copy of "The Bomber" has "Bolero" restored, inadvertently turning it into this week's closing theme.

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