Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1128 Playlist (starts 7/14/11)

This week we have an entire segment of tracks from British bands (including a special five-song spotlight on the Who), and what has to be considered the first punk-rock album of the 1970s. On a less obvious basis, the first segment is a bit of an experiment, as the songs are grouped into pairs instead of the usual three or more in a set. One final note: while doing these notes I couldn't help but notice that I wasn't doing much copy/pasting this week. That's because there are fewer repeat songs from past shows than usual this time around (at least since I've been doing playlists on this blog).

Artist: Byrds
Title: The Times They Are A-Changin'
Source: LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Writer: Bob Dylan
Label: Columbia
Year: 1965
Despite occupying a prominent place in rock history, the folk-rock movement actually had a fairly short lifespan. The most successful folk-rock band, the Byrds, only cut two albums with their original lineup before entering a more experimental phase with the 5D album. Both those early LPs were released in 1965, and by mid-1966 folk-rock had already given way to garage-rock, flower power and psychedelic music. Like the Mr. Tambourine Man album before it, Turn! Turn! Turn! was dominated by electrified versions of existing folk songs, many of which were written and originally recorded by Bob Dylan. Although The Times They Are A-Changin' was a staple of the band's live sets at Ciro's Le Disc on Sunset Strip and on the road, the song was never selected for release as a single.

Artist: P.F. Sloan
Title: Halloween Mary
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: P.F. Sloan
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Year: 1965
If there is any one songwriter associated specifically with folk-rock (as opposed to folk music), it would be the LA-based P.F. Sloan, writer of Barry McGuire's signature song, Eve Of Destruction. Sloan also penned hits for the Turtles in their early days as one of the harder-edged folk-rock bands, including their second hit, Let Me Be. In fact, Sloan had almost 400 songs to his credit by the time he and Steve Barri teamed up to write and produce a series of major hits released by various bands under the name Grass Roots. Sloan himself, however, only released two singles as a singer, although (as can be heard on the second of them, the slightly off-kilter Halloween Mary) he had a voice as good as many of the recording stars of the time.

Artist: Sugarloaf
Title: West Of Tomorrow
Source: LP: Sugarloaf
Writer: Corbetta/Raymond/Philips
Label: Liberty
Year: 1970
Although not particularly noted for its music scene, Denver, Colorado has contributed its share of successful bands over the years. One of the best known was Sugarloaf, led by keyboardist Jerry Corbetta (who was the only band member not named Bob when they signed with Liberty Records). West Of Tomorrow, from the first Sugarloaf album, is a somewhat typical track for the band, featuring tight harmony vocals and a scathingly hot organ solo.

Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Just Trying To Be
Source: CD: Benefit (bonus track originally released on LP: Living In The Past)
Writer: Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis/Capitol
Year: 1970
By 1970 Jethro Tull was firmly in the control of flautist/acoustic guitarist/vocalist Ian Anderson, who wrote all the band's material. During sessions for the Benefit album Anderson recorded a short piece called Just Trying To Be that stylistically presaged the Aqualung album. That piece remained unreleased until 1973's Living In The Past compilation, although it is now available as a bonus track on the Benefit CD.

Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Bang Bang
Source: LP: Vanilla Fudge
Writer: Sonny Bono
Label: Atco
Year: 1967
Vanilla Fudge made their reputation by taking popular hit songs, such as the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On, and extensively re-arranging them, giving the songs an almost classical feel. In fact, some of their arrangements incorporated (uncredited) snippets of actually classical pieces. One glaring example is the Vanilla Fudge arrangement of Cher's biggest solo hit of the 60s, Bang Bang (written by her then-husband Sonny Bono). Unfortunately, although I recognize the classical piece the band uses for an intro to Bang Bang, I can't seem to remember what it's called or who wrote it. Anyone out there able to help?

Artist: Cream
Title: White Room (edited version)
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Wheels Of Fire; edited version released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: 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 "White Room," clocking in at just over three minutes, is a typical example. It worked, too.

Artist: Lee Morgan
Title: The Sidewinder-Part II
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Lee Morgan
Label: Silver Spotlight (original label: Blue Note)
Year: 1964
Lee Morgan was a hard-bop trumpeter who had been recording since the 1950s when he recorded his best-known piece, the Sidewinder, in late 1963. The full-length version of the song served as the title cut for Morgan's first album of 1964, while an edited version graced the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 that summer. What really got the song (which is considered one of the best examples of "soul jazz") noticed, however, was Chrysler's use of the song in its commercials during the 1964 World Series. At that time, World Series commercials were used for the unveiling of the upcoming model year's cars, and were considered as important as Super Bowl commercials are today.

Artist: Who
Title: Doctor Doctor
Source: CD: A Quick One (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM B side)
Writer: John Entwhistle
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Year: 1967
Keeping an accurate chronology of recordings by the Who in their early years can be a bit difficult, mainly due to the difference in the ways songs were released in the US and the UK. Since the British policy was for songs released on 45 RPM vinyl not to be duplicated on LPs, several early Who songs were nearly impossible to find until being released on compilation albums several years after their original release. One such song is Doctor Doctor, a John Entwhistle tune released as the B side to their 1967 hit Pictures Of Lily. The single was released on both side of the Atlantic, but only received airplay in the UK, where it made the top 10. In the US the record failed to chart and was out of print almost as soon as it was released. The song is now available as a CD bonus track on the 1966 album A Quick One.

Artist: Who
Title: It's Not True
Source: CD: The Who Sings My Generation (Canadian CD issue)
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Year: 1965
Released in December, 1965, the first Who album (called simply My Generation in the UK) was recorded while the band was in their "maximum R&B" phase. The band members themselves were not happy with the album, feeling that they had been rushed through the entire recording process and did not have much say in how the final product sounded. Still, the album is considered one of the most influential debut albums of all time and has made several critics' top albums lists over the years. It's Not True is fairly typical of the songs Pete Townshend was writing at the time.

Artist: Who
Title: My Generation/Land Of Hope And Glory
Source: CD: A Quick One
Writer: Townshend/Elgar
Label: MCA
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1993.
This version of My Generation is actually a truncated version of the song that goes into its well-known chaotic ending after only one verse, with a choir singing Land Of Hope And Glory over the chaos. The recording was released as a bonus track when A Quick One was remastered and reissued on CD in the early 1990s.

Artist: Who
Title: Instant Party (Circles)
Source: CD: The Who Sings My Generation (US and Canadian versions only; song also released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Year: 1965 (Decca LP), 1966 (Atco 45 RPM B side)
As was the case with many British bands, the song lineups on the early Who albums were not exactly the same in the US and the UK. In the case of the My Generation album, the only difference was actually due to censorship by Decca Records, who felt that the band's version of Bo Diddley's I'm A Man was too risque for American teenagers. To replace it, Decca chose a song that had not yet been released in either the US or UK called Instant Party (Circles). The song was released in the UK as "Instant Party" a few months later when the band's original British label, Brunswick, issued it as the B side to A Legal Matter without the band's permission (the Who had changed labels to Reaction/Polydor after the My Generation LP was released). Making it even more confusing was the fact that the Who had released their latest single, Substitute, three days before the Brunswick single, with the song "Circles (Instant Party)" as the B side.

Artist: Who
Title: In The City
Source: CD: A Quick One (bonus track originally released in UK as a 45 RPM single B side)
Writer: Entwhistle/Moon
Label: MCA (original UK label: Track)
Year: 1966
The war between the Who and Brunswick Records continued throughout 1966 with Brunswick responding to each new Who single with one of their own, using album tracks from the My Generation album. Despite this all the new Who singles on Reaction/Polydor that year made it to the top 5 in the UK, while the Brunswick singles did increasingly worse with each subsequent release. Brunswick finally gave up the battle after I'm A Boy (on Reaction) went all the way to # 2 on the UK charts, while Brunswick's La-La-La-Lies didn't even crack the top 100. The B side of I'm A Boy was In The City, a rare collaboration between bassist John Entwhistle and drummer Keith Moon. The song was included on the CD remastered version of the Who's second album, A Quick One, released in 1993.

Artist: Traffic
Title: Giving To You
Source: CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind
Writer: Winwood/Capaldi/Wood/Mason
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
Year: 1967
Traffic's first LP, Mr. Fantasy, was released in late 1967 under the name Heaven Is In Your Mind by United Artists Records in the US. The reason for this is not entirely clear, although the label may have been expecting the song Heaven Is In Your Mind to be a hit and wanted to capitalize on the title. As it turns out the song didn't do much on the US charts, despite the lead vocals of Steve Winwood, whose voice had already graced two top 10 singles by the Spencer Davis Group (Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man) earlier that year. More recently Island Records, which always had the UK rights to Traffic's material and has had US rights since the early 70s, decided to release CDs under both titles. Mr. Fantasy contains the mono mixes of the songs (plus mono bonus tracks), while Heaven Is In Your Mind has the stereo mixes of the same songs (with some slight differences in bonus tracks). One track that benefits from the stereo mix is Giving To You. Basically an instrumental, the song has some interesting spoken parts and stereo sound effects at the beginning and end of what is otherwise a rather tasty jam session.

Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Lady Jane
Source: CD: Aftermath (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer: Jagger/Richards
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Year: 1966
One of the best early Rolling Stones albums is 1966's Aftermath, which included such classics as Under My Thumb, Stupid Girl and the eleven-minute Goin' Home. Both the US and UK versions of the LP included the song Lady Jane, which was also released as the B side to Mother's Little Helper (which had been left off the US version of Aftermath to make room for Paint It, Black). The policy at the time was for B sides that got a significant amount of airplay to be rated seperately from the A side of the single, and Lady Jane managed to climb to the # 24 spot on the Hot 100 (Mother's Little Helper peaked at # 8).

Artist: Beatles
Title: Mother Nature's Son
Source: CD: The Beatles
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Label: Parlophone
Year: 1968
The Beatles (aka the White Album) was in many respects a collection of solo efforts by the band members as opposed to being a group effort. Most of the double LP's 30 tracks did not feature the entire band. This was especially notable among the many Lennon/McCartney compositions. Even though John Lennon and Paul McCartney were not writing as a team at this point (although they continued to share writing credits for the rest of the band's existence), they did tend to play on each other's songs, most of which had little or no input from either George Harrison or Ringo Starr. The only member featured on Mother Nature's Son, however, was McCartney (including the drum parts). Stylistically the song links back to For No One from the Revolver album and also previews the first McCartney solo album, in which he plays every instrument himself.

Artist: Them
Title: Baby, Please Don't Go
Source: 12" single (from Good Morning Vietnam soundtrack)
Writer: Joe Williams
Label: A&M
Year: 1965
Belfast, Northern Ireland was home to one of the first bands that could be legitimately described as punk rock. Led by Van Morrison, Them quickly got a reputation for being rude and obnoxious, particularly to members of the English press (although it was actually a fellow Irishman who labeled them as "boorish"). Their first single was what has come to be considered the definitive version of the 1923 Joe Williams tune Baby, Please Don't Go. Despite its UK success, the single was never issued in the US. Oddly enough, the song's B side ended up being the song most people associate with Them: the classic Gloria, which was released as Them's US debut single in 1965 but promptly found itself banned on most US radio stations due to suggestive lyrics. Them's recording of Baby, Please Don't Go enjoyed a resurgence in the 1980s when it was used in the hit movie Good Morning Vietnam.

Artist: James Gang
Title: Funk # 48
Source: CD: Yer Album
Writer: Walsh/Fox/Kriss
Label: MCA (original label: Bluesway)
Year: 1969
Cleveland's James Gang was one of the original power trios of the seventies. Although generally known as the starting place of Joe Walsh, the band was actually led by Jim Fox, one of the most underrated drummers in the history of rock. Fox, who was the only member to stay with the group through its many personnel changes over the years, sings lead on Funk # 48 from the band's debut album on Bluesway. Yer Album, incidentally, was the only rock LP ever issued on the Bluesway label.

Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Summertime Blues
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Vincebus Eruptum)
Writer: Cochrane/Capehart
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
Year: 1968
If 1967 was the summer of love, then 1968 was the summer of violence. Framed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, both major anti-establishment movements of the time (civil rights and anti-war) became increasing radicalized and more violent. The hippies gave way to the Yippies, LSD gave way to crystal meth, and there were riots in the streets of several US cities. Against this backdrop Blue Cheer released one of the loudest and angriest recordings ever to grace the top 40: the proto-metal arrangement of Eddie Cochrane's 1958 classic Summertime Blues. It was the perfect soundtrack of its time.

Artist: First Edition
Title: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Source: CD: Even More Nuggets
Writer: Mickey Newbury
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1968
In 1968, former New Christy Mistrels members Kenny Rogers and Mickey Newbury decided to form a psychedelic rock band, the First Edition. Although Newbury wrote most of the songs on the first album, it was Rogers who would emerge as the star of the band, even to the point of eventually changing the band's name to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. That change reflected a shift from psychedelic to country flavored pop that would eventually propel Rogers to superstar status.

Artist: Gary Lewis and the Playboys
Title: She's Just My Style
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Lewis/Russell/Leslie/Capps
Label: Liberty
Year: 1966
Gary Lewis was a clean-cut young man who happened to be the son of comedian Jerry Lewis. He first came to prominence with his band the Playboys with the smash hit This Diamond Ring in 1965. This was followed up by a string of hit singles, including Count Me In and Everybody Loves A Clown. The last major hit for the group was a song that actually sounded like it could have been written by Brian Wilson, but was in reality co-written by Lewis himself along with a team of professional songwriters than included Leon Russell, who also arranged the song. Lewis's career got put on hold when he went into military service in 1966. By the time he returned the music world had changed drastically and his brand of good time pop was no longer in demand.

Artist: Procol Harum
Title: She Wandered Through The Garden Fence
Source: CD: Procol Harum (stereo bonus track)
Writer: Brooker/Reid
Label: Salvo (original label: A&M)
Year: 1967
The first Procol Harum LP, although recorded using 4-track equipment, was originally mixed in monoraul only. A few years later, a handful of songs were remixed from the original master tapes in stereo. One of those is She Wandered Through The Garden Fence, which is included on the import CD of the album.

Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: Visions Of Your Reality
Source: LP: Behold And See
Writer: Ian Bruce-Douglas
Label: M-G-M
Year: 1968
The second Ultimate Spinach continues in the same musical vein as the Boston group's debut album. Much of this is due to the fact that all the material on both albums was written by keyboardist Ian Bruce-Douglas, who would leave the band after the release of Behold And See in 1968. A solid, if unspectacular, example of the band at that point is the track Visions Of Your Reality. The group would continue in name only after Bruce-Douglas's departure, and there is even a band somewhere in the Pacific Northwest today calling itself Ultimate Spinach, but none of these sound anything like the original group.

Artist: Steppenwolf
Title: Take What You Need
Source: CD: Steppenwolf
Writer: Kay/Mekler
Label: MCA
Year: 1968 (original label: Dunhill)
After playing a set of tunes I had never played on the show before, I thought I'd follow it up with...another song I'd never played on the show before. I guess I just wasn't feeling very creative at the time.

Artist: David Peel and the Lower East Side
Title: The American Revolution-Part 2
Source: The American Revolution
Writer: David Peel
Label: Elektra
Year: 1970
If there was any one band that could be called a Yippie band, it was David Peel and the Lower East Side. As much street theater as rock and roll, the group consisted of three core members: David Peel (guitar, vocals), Billy Joe White (guitar, vocals), and Harold C. Black (tambourine, vocals), plus just about anyone who wanted to play and/or sing along. The group's first album was Have A Marijuana, recorded live at New York's Washington Square at a cost of around $4,000. The album was a surprise cult hit, netting Elektra nearly a million dollars. The band's priorities, however, were more about social issues than musical ones, and the group did not get around to recording another album until 1970. By then the Yippie movement had run its course, and the decision was made to abandon the street theater aspect of the group and concentrate instead on making a studio album. To do this, they enlisted several new semi-official members to record The American Revolution, arguably the first true punk-rock LP ever recorded. The songs covered a variety of topical issues, including sex (Girls, Girls, Girls), religion (God), and the still-raging Vietnam War (I Want To Kill You and Hey, Mr. Draftboard). The songs themselves segue into each other on the LP, resulting in two suites running about 15 minutes each (one per side). This week we are presenting the second suite/side of The American Revolution, which includes the four songs mentioned above. Clash fans, enjoy!

Artist: Edwin Starr
Title: War
Source: Songs Of Protest (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Whitfield/Strong
Label: Rhino (original label: Gordy)
Year: 1970
An appropriate follow up to the side of David Peel and the Lower East Side, War was a number one hit record for Edwin Starr in 1970. The song, Starr's biggest hit of his career, was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, who would go on to write a series of increasingly complex and psychedelic songs in the early 70s, mostly for the Temptations (culminating with the classic Papa Was A Rolling Stone in 1972).

Artist: Shadows of Knight
Title: Gloria
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Van Morrison
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Year: 1966
The original Them version of Van Morrison's Gloria found itself banned on the majority of US radio stations due to controversial lyrics. By changing one line (substituting "around here" for "up to my room") the suburban Chicago punk-blues band Shadows of Knight turned it into a huge hit and a garage band standard.

Artist: Great! Society
Title: Somebody To Love
Source: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer: Darby Slick
Label: Rhino
Year: 1966
Our closing number this week is the original version of one of the most important songs in rock history. As recorded by Jefferson Airplane in 1967, the song introduced the world to the San Francisco music scene, almost single-handedly bringing the garage-rock era to a close in the process due to its superb musicianship. As originally conceived by guitarist Darby Slick and recorded live in 1966 by Slick's band, the Great! Society, however, the song is revealed to be a solid piece of garage rock itself, highlighted by the vocals of Slick's sister-in-law, Grace.

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