Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1215 (starts 4/12/12)

Artist: Seeds
Title: Rollin' Machine
Source: LP: A Web Of Sound
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: GNP Crescendo
Year: 1966
We start off this week's show with a song about a mode of transportation. And if you believe that I have some real estate you might be interested in as well. Rollin' Machine, from the Seeds' second LP, A Web Of Sound, is the only track in the first half hour that has ever been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era before.

Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Train For Tomorrow
Source: CD: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Writer(s): Lowe/Tulin/Williams/Spagnola/Ritter
Label: Collector's Choice (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1967
Yet another metaphorical mode of transportation, this one from the first Electric Prunes album. Train For Tomorrow is one of the few Prunes songs credited to the entire band. If they had done more songs with instrumental breaks like this (inspired by Wes Montgomery) they might now be known for more than just their big hit, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night).

Artist: Small Faces
Title: Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
Source: CD: Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
Writer(s): Marriott/Lane/McLagon/Jones
Label: Charly (original label: Immediate)
Year: 1968
By spring of 1968 the Small Faces, from London' East End, had already established themselves on the UK charts with the kind of catchy pop tunes that were the meat of the mid-60s British music scene. After having a falling out with industry giant Decca Records in 1967, they signed to Rolling Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham's newly formed Immediate Records. After a decent, but somewhat hurried first album for the new label the band (whose name came from the fact that they were all short), took their time with a follow-up. The result was Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, generally regarded as one of the few LPs to actually rise to the challenge laid down by the Beatles the previous year with the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album opens with an instrumental title track, setting the tone for the rest of the LP.

Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Cirrus Minor
Source: CD: Relics (originally released on LP: Music From The Film "More")
Writer(s): Roger Waters
Label: Capitol (original label: Harvest)
Year: 1969
In the years between the departure of founding member Syd Barrett and their breakthrough album Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd provided music for several independent films such as Zabriskie Point and one called More. One of the tracks from the latter film, Cirrus Minor, foreshadows how the band would sound during its most successful period during the late 70s and early 80s. The song, written by keyboardist Roger Waters, features lead vocals by Barrett's replacement, guitarist David Gilmour.

Artist: Five Americans
Title: I See The Light-'69
Source: LP: Now And Then
Writer(s): Rabon/Ezell/Durrill
Label: Abnak
Year: 1969
The first big regional hit for the Five Americans was the in-your-face rocker I See The Light, released in 1965. They followed it up with their 1966 smash Western Union, which went national in 1967. The group continued to chart hits in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area for the next couple of years, but were unable to come up with another Western Union. One notable attempt was this 1969 update of I See The Light, which takes advantage of the better recording technology available to the band at that point in time.

Artist: Ace Of Cups
Title: Glue
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on CD: It's Bad For You But Buy It)
Writer(s): Denise Kaufman
Label: Rhino (original label: Ace/Big Beat)
Year: Recorded 1968, released 2003
The Ace Of Cups were a pioneering female rock band from San Francisco led by Denise Kaufman, immortalized by Ken Kesey as Mary Microdot in the book Electric Coolaid Acid Test. As one of the major Merry Pranksters, Kaufman's irreverent attitude is in full evidence on the track Glue, which features a bit of guerilla theater parodying the standard TV commercials of the time.

Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: It's Been Too Long
Source: CD: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Writer(s): Nick Gravenites
Label: Rock Beat
Year: 1968
One of the last of the Blues Project-inspired San Francisco jam bands to get a record contract was Quicksilver Messenger Service. Formed in 1966, the group was one of the top local attractions at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 and was featured (along with Mother Nature and the Steve Miller Band) in the 1968 film Revolution. Finally getting a contract with Capital in mid-1968, the group, led by Gary Duncan and John Cippolina, went to work on a self-titled LP. Although some of the tracks reflected to band's propensity for improvisation, others songs on the album, such as their cover of Nick Gravenites's It's Been Too Long, feature relatively tight arrangements.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Hey Joe
Source: 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: Gypsy Eyes
Source: CD: The Ultimate Experience (originally released on LP: Electric Ladyland)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA
Year: 1968
The last album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was a double LP mixture of studio recordings and live jams in the studio with an array of guest musicians. Gypsy Eyes is a good example of Hendrix's prowess at the mixing board as well as on guitar.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Love Or Confusion
Source: LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Reprise
Year: 1967
A little-known fact is that the original European version of Are You Experienced, in addition to having a different song lineup, consisted entirely of mono recordings. When Reprise got the rights to release the album in North America, its own engineers created new stereo mixes from the 4-track master tapes. As most of the instrumental tracks had already been mixed down to single tracks, the engineers found themselves doing things like putting the vocals all the way on one side of the mix, with reverb effects and guitar solos occupying the other side and all the instruments dead center. Such is the case with Love Or Confusion, with some really bizarre stereo panning thrown in at the end of the track. It's actually kind of fun to listen to with headphones on, as I did when I bought my first copy of the album on reel-to-reel tape (the tape deck was in the same room as the TV).

Artist: Kinks
Title: I'm A Lover Not A Fighter
Source: LP: Kinks-Size
Writer(s): J.D. Miller
Label: Reprise
Year: 1964
From 1964-1966 there were major differences between the US and UK catalogs of British Invasion bands such as the Kinks. This is partly because British albums tended to have longer running times, generally containing two or three more songs than their US counterparts. In addition, many groups released songs on 45 RPM Extended Play records in the UK, a practice that had been discontinued by most US labels in the late 1950s. A final factor was the British policy of not including songs that had been released as singles (or their B sides) on LPs. These extra songs usually ended up being released in the US on LPs that had no direct UK counterpart. One such album was 1965's Kinks-Size, which included I'm A Lover Not A Fighter, a rare Kinks cover song that was on the UK version of their 1964 debut LP.

Artist: Tommy Boyce And Bobby Hart
Title: Words
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s): Boyce/Hart
Label: Rhino
Year: Recorded 1965, released 2009
Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were really hoping to be selected for the new band that Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures was putting together to star in a new weekly TV series. It didn't work out for them, but several of the songs they wrote appeared on the Monkees albums, including Words, heard here in its previously unreleased 1965 demo form.

Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: You Keep Me Hangin' On
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Holland/Dozier/Holland
Label: Atco
Year: 1967
The Vanilla Fudge version of You Keep Me Hangin' On was originally recorded and released in 1967, not too long after the Supremes version of the song finished its own run on the charts. It wasn't until the following year, however, the the Vanilla Fudge recording caught on with radio listeners, turning it into the band's only top 40 hit.

Artist: Byrds
Title: So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): McGuinn/Hillman
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Year: 1967
By early 1967 there was a building resentment among musicians and rock press alike concerning the instant (and in some eyes unearned) success of the Monkees. One notable expression of this resentment was the Byrds' So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star, which takes a somewhat sarcastic look at what it takes to succeed in the music business. Unfortunately, much of what they talk about in the song continues to apply today (although the guitar has been somewhat supplanted by the computer as the instrument of choice).

Artist: Traffic
Title: Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush
Source: CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush soundtrack)
Writer(s): Winwood/Capaldi/Wood/Mason
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
Year: 1967
I have to admit in all honesty that before this week I had not known of the existence of a movie called Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush. The Traffic song of the same name, however, has been a favorite of mine for quite some time (I have black and white video footage of the band performing the song on some old British TV show). The song was released as a single in 1967 and was not included on either the US or UK version of the Mr. Fantasy album (originally known in the US as Heaven Is In Your Mind).

Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single B side; re-released as A side)
Writer(s): Carter/Gilbert/Weitz/King
Label: Rhino (original label: All-American; reissued nationally on Uni Records)
Year: 1967
Incense and Peppermints started off as an instrumental, mostly because the band simply couldn't come up with any lyrics. Their producer decided to bring in professional songwriters to finish the song, and ended up giving them full credit for it. This did not sit well with the band members. In fact, they hated the lyrics so much that their regular vocalist refused to sing on the record. Undaunted, the producer brought in the lead vocalist from another local L.A. band to sing the song, which was then put on the B side of The Birdman Of Alcatrash. Somewhere along the line a local 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 An Peppermints as the A side.

Artist: Cream
Title: White Room
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer(s): Bruce/Brown
Label: Atco
Year: 1968
Although Cream was conceived as a British blues super-group (as in cream of the crop), it was psychedelic rock tunes like White Room, written by bassist Jack Bruce and his frequent collaborator Pete Brown, that gave them their greatest commercial successes.

Artist: Leaves
Title: Too Many People (remake)
Source: CD: Hey Joe
Writer(s): Pons/Rinehart
Label: One Way (original label: Mira)
Year: 1966
The Leaves scored their first Los Angeles regional hit with the song Too Many People, released on the Mira label in 1965. When a later single, Hey Joe, became a national hit, the band re-recorded Too Many People for their debut album, released in 1966. Although the newer recording is cleaner (and in stereo), it lacks the raw garage-rock energy of the original.

Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Ellner/Atkinson/Byrne/Chaney/Michalski
Label: Double Shot
Year: 1966
San Jose, California, was home to one of the most vibrant local music scenes in the late 60s, despite its relatively small, pre-silicon valley population. One of the most popular bands on that scene was Count Five, a group of five guys who dressed like Bela Lugosi's Dracula and sounded like the Jeff Beck-era Yardbirds. Fortunately for Count Five, Jeff Beck had just left the Yardbirds when Psychotic Reaction came out, leaving a hole that the boys from San Jose were more than happy to fill.

Artist: Music Machine
Title: Talk Talk
Source: CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound)
Year: 1966
When it came time for Sean Bonniwell's band, the Music Machine, to go into the studio, the group decided to go for the best sound possible. This meant signing with tiny Original Sound Records, despite having offers from bigger labels, due to Original Sound having their own state-of-the-art eight-track studios. Unfortunately for the band, they soon discovered that having great equipment did not mean Original Sound made great decisions. One of the first, in fact, was to include a handful of cover songs on the Music Machine's first LP that were recorded for use on a local TV show. Bonniwell was livid when he found out, as he had envisioned an album made up entirely of his own compositions (although he reportedly did plan to use a slowed-down version of Hey Joe that he and Tim Rose had worked up together). From that point on it was only a matter of time until the Music Machine and Original Sound parted company, but not until after they scored a big national hit with Talk Talk in 1966.

Artist: Who
Title: We're Not Gonna Take It
Source: CD: Tommy
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Year: 1968
One of the best-known songs from the Who's rock opera Tommy, is We're Not Gonna Take It, with its famous "See Me, Feel Me" section. The track serves as the grand finale for the album and was the only part of the Who's performance of Tommy at Woodstock to be included in D.A. Pennebacker's film of the festival.

Artist: Who
Title: Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands
Source: The Who Sell Out
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: Decca
Year: 1967
There are at least three versions of Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands. A faster, electric version of the song was released only in the US as the B side to I Can See For Miles, while this semi-latin flavored acoustic version was included on The Who Sell Out. Yet another version is featured as a bonus track on the 1993 CD release of Sell Out.

Artist: Who
Title: Sally Simpson
Source: CD: Tommy
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Year: 1968
The Who's rock opera Tommy deals with a phenomena that wouldn't actually be named until over a decade later: the cult of personality. In fact, these days the character Tommy might even be referred to as a "rock star" (as the term has come to be used in recent years). This is somewhat ironic, as the members of the Who were themselves rock stars throughout the 70s and 80s.

Artist: Janis Joplin
Title: Work Me Lord
Source: LP: I Got Dem 'Ol Kozmic Blues Again Mama
Writer(s): Nick Gravenites
Label: Columbia
Year: 1969
After leaving Big Brother and the Holding Company in late 1968 Janis Joplin formed a new outfit, the Kozmic Blues Band, to back her up, both in concert and on her first solo LP, I Got Dem 'Ol Kozmic Blues Again Mama. Although there was indisputedly a greater amount of raw talent in the new band, they lacked synergy with Joplin's style and ultimately failed to provide a proper vehicle for her talents. One of the few highlights of Joplin's Kozmic Blues period was her recording of Nick Gravenites's (of Electric Flag fame) Work Me Lord.

Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: New Speedway Boogie
Source: LP: Workingman's Dead
Writer(s): Hunter/Garcia
Label: Warner Brothers
Year: 1970
The first three Grateful Dead albums were all attempts to capture the energy and experimentation of the band's live sets. Finally, in 1969, the band decided just to release a double LP of live performances. Once this goal had been reached the band began to move into new territory, concentrating more on songwriting and studio techniques. The result was Workingman's Dead, the first Grateful Dead LP to include songs that would become staples of the emerging album rock radio format.

Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: The Dangling Conversation
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Label: Columbia
Year: 1966
The first Simon and Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning 3AM, originally tanked on the charts, causing Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel to temporarily pursue solo careers. Simon went to England, where he wrote and recorded an album's worth of material. Meanwhile, producer Tom Wilson, fresh from producing Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone, went into the studio with the original recording of the song Sound of Silence and added electric instruments to it. The result was a surprise hit that led Paul Simon to return to the US, reuniting with Art Garfunkel and re-recording several of the tunes he had recorded as a solo artist for a new album, Sounds of Silence. The success of that album prompted Columbia to re-release Wednesday Morning, 3AM, which in turn became a bestseller. Meanwhile, Simon and Garfunkel returned to the studio to record an album of all new material. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was yet another success that spawned several hit songs, including The Dangling Conversation, a song Simon described as similar to The Sound Of Silence, but more personal. The song was originally released as a single in fall of 1966, before the album itself came out.

Artist: Mystery Trend
Title: Johnny Was A Good Boy
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Nagle/Cuff
Label: Rhino (original label: Verve)
Year: 1967
The Mystery Trend was a bit of an anomaly. Contemporaries of bands such as the Great! Society and the Charlatans, the Trend always stood a bit apart from the rest of the crowd, playing to an audience that was both a bit more affluent and a bit more "adult" (they were reportedly the house band at a Sausalito strip club). Although they played in the city itself as early as 1965, they did not release their first record until early 1967. The song, Johnny Was A Good Boy, tells the story of a seemingly normal middle-class kid who turns out to be a monster, surprising friends, family and neighbors. The same theme would be used by XTC in the early 1980s in the song No Thugs In Our House, one of the standout tracks from their landmark English Settlement album.

Artist: Johnny Winter
Title: Bad Luck And Trouble
Source: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: The Progressive Blues Experiment)
Writer(s): Johnny Winter
Label: United Artists (original label: Sonobeat/Imperial)
Year: 1968
Although Johnny Winter had been around since the early 60s, recording in a variety of genres for various regional Texas labels, he really only started getting national attention when he started focusing on the blues exclusively. His first blues album, The Progressive Blues Experiment, originally appeared on the Sonobeat label and was subsequently reissued nationally on Imperial. Unlike his brother Edgar, who gravitated to rock music, Johnny has remained primarily a blues musician throughout his career.

Artist: Easybeats
Title: Heaven And Hell
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s
Writer(s): Vanda/Young
Label: Rhino
Year: 1967
Throughout the mid-60s Australia's most popular band was the Easybeats, often called the Australian Beatles. Although their early material sounded like slightly dated British Invasion music (Australia had a reputation for cultural lag, and besides, all but one of the members were British immigrants), by late 1966 guitarist Harry Vanda (the Scandinavian member of the group) had learned enough English to be able to replace vocalist Stevie Wright as George Young's writing partner. The new team was much more adventurous in their compositions than the Wright/Young team had been, and were responsible for the band's first international hit, Friday On My Mind. By then the Easybeats had relocated to England, and continued to produce fine singles such as Heaven And Hell.

Artist: Love
Title: 7&7 Is
Source: CD: Da Capo
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Elektra
Year: 1967
The word "seven" does not appear anywhere in the song 7&7 Is. In fact, I have no idea where Arthur Lee got that title from. Nonetheless, the song is among the most intense tracks to ever make the top 40. 7&7 Is starts off with power chords played over a constant drum roll (possibly played by Lee himself), with cymbals crashing over equally manic semi-spoken lyrics. The song builds up to an explosive climax: an atomic bomb blast followed by a slow post-apocalyptic instrumental that quickly fades away.

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