Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits
Label: Rhino (original label: Mercury)
It's been a while since I started off the show with a hit record, so here, for your listening enjoyment, is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era. The Blues Magoos were one of the most visible psychedelic bands, partly because of their electric coats (seriously!) but mostly because they operated out of New York City. After scoring a minor success with their version of John D. Loudermilk's Tobacco Road the group hit it big with (We Ain't Got) Nothing Yet. Released in late 1966, the single hit its peak in February of 1967.
Title: Daily Nightly
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD)
Writer: Michael Nesmith
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
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 (he also sang lead on it).
Title: She Smiles
Source: LP: The Family That Plays Together
Writer: Jay Ferguson
Label: Epic (original label: Ode)
The second Spirit album saw the band moving away from its jazz-rock roots somewhat. Lead vocalist Jay Ferguson, who had written the bulk of material for the first LP, did not supply as many tunes for The Family That Plays Together. One of those he did contribute was She Smiles.
Title: Tired Of Waiting For You
Source: CD: The Flock
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: BGO (original label: Columbia)
The Flock was one of those bands that made an impression on those who heard them perform but somehow were never able to turn that into massive record sales. Still, they left a pair of excellent LPs for posterity. The most notable track from the first album was this cover of the 1965 Kinks hit, featuring solos at the beginning and end of the song from violinist Jerry Goodwin, who would go on to help John McLaughlin found the Mahavishnu Orchestra a couple years later.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: On The Road Again
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Silver Spotlight (original label: Liberty)
Canned Heat was formed by a group of blues record collectors in San Francisco. Although their first album consisted entirely of cover songs, by 1968 they were starting to compose their own material, albeit in a style that remained consistent with their blues roots. On The Road Again is built on the same repeating riff the band used for their extended onstage jams such as Refried Boogie and Woodstock Boogie; the same basic riff that ZZ Top would use for their hit LaGrange a few years later.
Title: Pearly Queen
Source: CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: Traffic)
The second Traffic LP was less overtly psychedelic than the Mr. Fantasy album, with songs like Pearly Queen taking the band in a more funky direction. When the band reformed in 1970 without Dave Mason (who had provided the most psychedelic elements) the songwriting team of Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, who had written Pearly Queen, continued the trend.
Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: You Got The Power-To Turn Me On
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Willie Chambers
The Chambers Brothers are one of the oddities of the psychedelic era. Formed in the fifties as a gospel group, the band slowly became more secularized over a period of time. This change led ultimately to their best-known song, Time Has Come Today, released in 1967 but not getting significant airplay until the following year. Time Has Come Today, however, was unlike any other song in their repertoire, which was much more funky in nature. You Got The Power-To Turn Me On, released as a B side in 1970, is a more typical example of the Chambers Brothers sound.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Let Me In
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
Our longest progression through the years this week starts in 1966 with a song from Jefferson Airplane's first LP. At this early point in the band's career they were led by vocalist Marty Balin, who had hand-picked the original members. Among those charter members was Paul Kantner, who Balin had asked to join the band without ever having heard him sing or play. Balin said later that he just knew that Kantner was someone he wanted for his new band. Kantner very quickly developed into a strong singer/songwriter in his own right, and it all started with the song Let Me In (co-written by Balin), Kantner's first recorded lead vocal for the band.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: Fire In My Bones
Source: CD: Easter Everywhere (bonus track)
From 1967 we have a song that was recorded in the 13th Floor Elevators' cabin hideaway following their return to Texas after touring the West Coast. The band was alternating their time between playing gigs (many of which were booked by their label, International Artists) and working on material for their second LP. One of the songs that didn't make the album was Fire In My Bones. A 5-inch open reel tape of the song was found years later, but there was no documentation with it, thus making the question of who actually wrote it unanswerable.
Artist: Insect Trust
Title: Going Home
Source: LP: The Insect Trust
The Insect Trust was one of those New York bands that got overlooked during the psychedelic era. Like most New York bands, the group was more artsy than bands from other parts of the country, playing a unique type of psychedelic rock that had been replaced by a more R&B-influenced style by the time their second LP was released. Going Home, from the first album, showcases the vocals of Nancy Jeffries.
Artist: Crosby, Stills and Nash
Title: Marrakesh Express
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm (originally released on LP: Woodstock 2)
Writer: Graham Nash
Label: Rhino (original label: Cotillion)
The Woodstock festival was a turning point in the careers of several artists, not the least of which were Crosby, Stills and Nash. Although it was only their second live performance, all the members were known to a majority of concertgoers through their previous associations with the Byrds (David Crosby), Buffalo Springfield (Stephen Stills) and the Hollies (Graham Nash). Marrakesh itself had already been released as a single, but had received limited airplay in the US. In the UK, on the other hand, the song was Radio Luxembourg's pick hit of the week when it was first released and within two weeks had gone to the top of the influential station's playlist.
Artist: Blues Image
Title: Ride Captain Ride
Source: CD: Open
Writer: Blues Image
Label: Sundazed (original label: Atco)
We wrap up our five-year progression with the best-known song from Florida's Blues Image. I don't exactly know why, but I always feel good when I hear Ride Captain Ride. Maybe it's just one of those life soundtrack things, but I honestly can't think of any particular memory it brings up.
Artist: Bobby Fuller Four
Title: Baby My Heart
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer: Sonny Curtis
Year: Recorded 1966; released 2009.
The Bobby Fuller Four perfected their blend of rock and roll and Tex-Mex in their native El Paso before migrating out to L.A. After scoring a huge hit with I Fought The Law, Fuller was found dead in his hotel room of unnatural causes. This track, unreleased until 2009, is an indication of what might have been had Fuller lived long enough to establish himself further.
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
Source: CD: Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Midnight Ride)
One of the great record company gaffes was the failure of Columbia to realize the potential of (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone as a hit single. Instead, it was released as a B side and included on the Midnight Ride album. A few months later the producers of the Monkees saw what Columbia didn't and the song became a classic, despite Paul Revere and the Raiders having the superior version of the song.
Source: LP: Magic Bus (originally released in UK on EP: Ready Steady Who)
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original UK label: Reaction)
Disguises was the opening cut for the Who's 1966 Ready Steady Who EP. The EP was made in the wake of a successful TV appearance on Ready Steady Go, the UK equivalent of American Bandstand. Oddly enough, none of the songs on the EP were performed on the TV show. Disguises is full of electronic effects that remind me of the kind of sounds we used to hear when listening to distant AM radio stations at night. This could well be deliberate, as there were no rock radio stations operating legally in the UK, and listeners were forced to try to get either Radio Luxembourg, which at that time was broadcasting an American style top 40 format in English targeted to a British audience, or one of the pirate radio stations operating off the coast with power limited to what could be provided on a boat. Either of these would produce the kind of static fading in and out noises heard on Disguises, and deliberately putting such noises onto a record sounds like something the Who might have been inclined to do.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: Short-Haired Fathers
Source: LP: Circus Maximus
Writer: Bob Bruno
We started off the first hour with a New York band so it only seems appropriate to end it with one as well. Circus Maximus was formed in Greenwich Village by guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker in 1967. The group recorded two albums for Vanguard before Walker left to pursue a solo career. Nobody seems to know what happened to Bob Bruno, other than a now-deleted Wikipedia entry by Bruno himself.
Title: Sookie Sookie
Source: CD: Born To Be Wild-A Retrospective (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf)
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Not every song on the first Steppenwolf album was an original composition. In fact, some of the best songs on the LP were covers, from Hoyt Axton's The Pusher to Willie Dixon's Hoochie Coochie Man. A third cover, Sookie Sookie, was actually released as a follow-up single to Born To Be Wild, but failed to chart. The song had been an R&B hit a couple years earlier for Don Covay and was co-written by the legendary MG's guitarist Steve Cropper.
Artist: John D. Loudermilk
Title: Peace Of Heart
Source: The Open Mind of John D. Loudermilk
Writer: John D. Loudermilk
Label: RCA Victor
John D. Loudermilk was one of the most prolific songwriters of the 60s, penning hits such as A Rose And A Baby Ruth and Tobacco Road. In 1969 he was persuaded to record an album of his own songs. Rather than re-record his past hits he came up with a whole new set of songs for the LP, entitled The Open Mind of John D. Loudermilk.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Just Trying To Be
Source: LP: Living In The Past
Writer: Ian Anderson
Year: Recorded 1970, released 1973
The album Living In The Past was an anthology consisting mostly of tracks that had previously been unavailable in the US. These included songs that had been released in the UK on EPs and as single B sides as well as some studio outtakes. One of those outtakes was Just Trying To Be, recorded around the same time as the Benefit album.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: San Tropez
Source: LP: Meddle
Writer: Roger Waters
In the years between the departure of Syd Barrett and the release of Darl Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd crafted out a reputation for being one of the most experimental bands around. One of their best-known albums of this period was the 1971 LP Meddle, which included album-rock radio standard One Of These Days. A lesser-known track from that album is San Tropez, a quiet piece from keyboardist Roger Waters.
Title: The Walking Song
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Label: White Whale
When they weren't recording hit songs by professional songwriters, the Turtles were busy developing their own songwriting talents, albeit in a somewhat satirical direction. One early example is The Walking Song, which contrasts the older generation's obsession with material goods with a "stop and smell the roses" approach favored by the song's protagonist. This type of writing would characterize the later careers of two of the band members, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, who, after performing with the Mothers at the Fillmore would sbecome known as the Phlorescent Leech (later Flo) and Eddie.
Artist: Bonzo Dog Band
Title: I'm The Urban Spaceman
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies
Writer: Neil Innes
Label: United Artists
The Bonzo Dog Dada Band (as they were originally called) was as much theatre (note the British spelling) as music, and were known for such antics as starting out their performances by doing calisthentics (after being introduced as the warm-up band) and having one of the members, "Legs" Larry Smith tapdance on stage (he was actually quite good). In 1967 they became the resident band on Do Not Adjust Your Set, a children's TV show that also featured sketch comedy by future Monty Python members Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin and David Jason, the future voice of Mr. Toad and Danger Mouse. In 1968 they released their only hit single, I'm The Urban Spaceman, co-produced by Paul McCartney. Neil Innes would go on to hook up with Eric Idle for the Rutles projects, among others, and is often referred to as the Seventh Python.
Artist: Sly and the Family Stone
Source: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer: Sylvester Stewart
Sly and the Family Stone were a showstopper at the Woodstock festival in 1969, but their story starts years before that historic performance. Sylvester Stewart was a popular DJ and record producer in mid-60s San Francisco, responsible for the first recordings of the Warlocks (later the Grateful Dead) and the Great! Society, among others. During that time he became acquainted with a wealth of talent, including bassist Larry Graham. In 1967, with Autumn Records having been sold to and closed down by Warner Brothers, he decided to form his own band. Anchored by Graham, Sly and the Family Stone's first LP, A Whole New Thing, was possibly the first funk album.
Artist: Big Brother and the Holding Company
Title: I Need A Man To Love
Source: Cheap Thrills
Big Brother and the Holding Company recorded their first album at the Chicago studios of Mainstream records in 1967. Mainstream, however, was a jazz label and their engineers had no idea how to make a band like Big Brother sound good. When the band signed to Columbia the following year it was decided that the best way to record the band was onstage at the Fillmore West. As a result, when Cheap Thrills was released, four of the seven tracks were live recordings, including the Janis Joplin/Peter Albin collaboration I Need A Man To Love.
Artist: Firesign Theatre
Title: How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All?
Source: CD: How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All?
Tonight's featured piece is the entire first side of the second Firesign Theatre album. The group, consisting of Phil Proctor, Peter Bergman, Phil Austin and David Ossman, pioneered a type of "counter-culture comedy" that would be followed up on by such stars as Cheech and Chong, George Carlin, and the Credibility Gap (with Harry Shearer and Michael McKean), as well as the National Lampoon Radio Hour (featuring Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Christopher Guest and others).
How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All starts off with Proctor's parody of well-known Los Angeles car dealer Ralph Williams, whose ads ran late at night on local TV stations. Soon the TV viewer himself (played by Bergman) begins to interract with the salesman (Ralph Spoilsport of Spoilsport Motors!), eventually going for a test drive in one of Spoilsport's vehicles. He soon discovers that the vehicle is much more than just a car, as it has the ability to transport the driver to entirely different times and places through the use of its climate control system. As the customer visits the "land of the pharaohs" he is accosted by a strange hunting party led by someone who sounds like W.C. Fields. Eventually the customer finds himself in a hotel lobby, where he finds himself in the middle of a radio pageant celebrating (somewhat iconoclastically) American history. This leads to him being drafted and finding himself at a USO show, where we, the listeners, eventually learn that the whole thing was an old movie being shown on late night TV. Once again Ralph Spoilsport shows up, but this time selling something a bit more illicit. Apparently he samples his own product, as the piece ends with the salesmen quoting (more or less) from James Joyce's Ulysses.