Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1214 (starts 4/5/12)

Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: She's Coming Home
Source: LP: Psychedelic Lollipop
Writer(s): Atkins/Miller
Label: Mercury
Year: 1966
Generally speaking, cheatin' songs in 1966 were considered the province of country music. The few exceptions, such as Paul Revere and the Raiders' Steppin' Out, were all told from the victim's point of view. The Blues Magoos, however, turned the entire thing upside down with She's Coming Home, a song about having to break up with one's new girlfriend in the face of the old one returning from...(prison? military duty? the hospital? The lyrics never make that clear). The unusual nature of the song is in keeping with the cutting edge image of a band that was among the first to use the word psychedelic in an album title and had to have been the first to wear electric suits onstage.

Artist: Cream
Title: World Of Pain
Source: LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s): Pappalardi/Collins
Label: Atco
Year: 1967
Whereas the first Cream LP was made up of mostly blues-oriented material, Disraeli Gears took a much more psychedelic turn, due in large part to the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. The Bruce/Brown team was not, however, the only source of material for the band. Both Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker made contributions, as did Cream's unofficial fourth member, keyboardist/producer Felix Pappalardi, who provided World Of Pain.

Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: Gentle As It May Seem
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Heavy)
Writer(s): DeLoach/Weis
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Year: 1968
Personnel changes were pretty much a regular occurrence with Iron Butterfly. After the first album, Heavy, everyone except keyboardist Doug Ingle and drummer Ron Bushy, left the band. This was accompanied by a drastic change in style as well, as Ingle took over lead vocals from Darryl DeLoach and became the group's primary songwriter. Gentle As It Seems, written by DeLoach and lead guitarist Danny Weis, is a good example of the band's original sound, back when they were scrounging for gigs in a rapidly shrinking L.A. all-ages club scene.

Artist: 1910 Fruitgum Co.
Title: Beggar's Epitaph
Source: LP: Hard Ride
Writer(s): R&T Gutkowski
Label: Buddah
Year: 1969
Throughout 1968 the top 40 charts were cominated by a series of lyrically lightweight, highly danceable tunes that came to be collectively known as "bubble-gum" music. Most of these came from Kazenetz-Katz Productions and were released on the Buddah label. Perhaps the most infamous of the 'bubble-gum" bands was the 1910 Fruitgum Co., who tried to break out of the mold and go for a more progressive sound with their 1969 album Hard Ride. Beggar's Epitaph is actually quite a departure from songs like 1,2,3 Red Light. By 1969, however, their core following had moved on to heavier things and the Fruitgum Co. became a victim of their own success.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Dolly Dagger
Source: CD: First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (originally released on LP: Rainbow Bridge)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1970
At the time of his death in 1970, Jimi Hendrix had already finalized a number of tracks for a new double album, with several more in various states of completion. Most of the completed tracks (and those that could be easily finished) were released on a pair of LPs in 1971: The Cry Of Love and Rainbow Bridge (the latter being the soundtrack to a hastily constructed rockumentary film). In the mid-1990s the Hendrix family, working with engineer Eddie Kramer and drummer Mitch Mitchell, attempted to reconstruct the actual album Hendrix had been working on. The result was First Rays Of The New Rising Sun. One song that had already been premiered in 1970 to a select audience by Hendrix himself was Dolly Dagger, which was made into a video at around the same time as the release of First Rays.

Artist: Five Man Electrical Band
Title: Signs
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Les Emerson
Label: Lionel
Year: 1971
Everybody has at least one song they have fond memories of hearing on the radio while riding around in a friend's car on a hot summer evening. Signs, from Canada's Five Man Electrical Band, is one of mine.

Artist: Doors
Title: You're Lost Little Girl
Source: LP: Strange Days
Writer(s): The Doors
Label: Elektra
Year: 1967
The Doors second LP, Strange Days, was stylistically similar to the first, and served notice to the world that this band was going to be around for awhile. Songwriting credit for You're Lost Little Girl (a personal favorite of mine) was given to the entire band, a practice that would continue until the release of The Soft Parade in 1969.

Artist: Music Machine
Title: Double Yellow Line
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound)
Year: 1967
After the success of Talk Talk, the Music Machine issued a series of unsuccessful singles on the Original Sound label. Band leader Sean Bonniwell attributed this lack of success to mismanagement by record company people and the band's own manager. Eventually those singles would be re-issued on Warner Brothers under the name Bonniwell Music Machine, along with a handful of new songs using a different lineup. One of the best of these singles was Double Yellow Line, which Bonniwell says he wrote while driving to a gig.

Artist: Music Machine
Title: Talk Talk
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (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: Music Machine
Title: The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly
Source: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound)
Year: 1967
The Music Machine was by far the most advanced of all the bands playing on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. Not only did they feature tight sets (so that audience members wouldn't get the chance to call out requests between songs), they also had their own visual look that set them apart from other bands. Dressed entirely in black (including dyed hair), and with leader Sean Bonniwell wearing one black glove, the Machine projected an image that would influence such diverse artists as the Ramones and Michael Jackson in later years. Musically, Bonniwell's songwriting showed a sophistication that was on a par with the best L.A. had to offer, demonstrated by a series of fine singles such as The Eagle Never Hunts the Fly. Unfortunately, problems on the business end prevented the Music Machine from achieving the success it deserved and Bonniwell eventually quit the music business altogether in disgust.

Artist: New Colony Six
Title: At The River's Edge
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Walter Kemp
Label: Rhino (original label: Centaur)
Year: 1966
The New Colony Six are best known for their soft pop-rock song Things I Like To Say, released on the Mercury label in 1969. In their earlier years, however, the Six were a prime example of the blues-tinged garage rock coming out of the Chicago area in the mid-1960s. At The River's Edge, released in 1966 on the band's own Centaur (later Sentar) label, is a classic example of the Six's early sound.

Artist: Easybeats
Title: You Me, We Love
Source: Friday On My Mind
Writer(s): Vanda/Young
Label: United Artists
Year: 1967
The Easybeats were Australia's number one band throughout the mid-60s. In fact, it would not be inaccurate to say they were as popular Down Under as the Beatles were in England. Interestingly enough, none of the members were native Australians (most were from the British Isles). In late 1966 the Easybeats decided to relocate to London. Their first single recorded in the Smoke was Friday On My Mind, a song that became their first British hit. In early 1967 the song was released in the US, becoming their only American hit. An album was recorded to support the song and included several songs (such as You Me, We Love) by the group's star songwriting team, Harry Vanda (the Scandanavian member of the band) and George Young, whose younger brothers Malcolm and Angus would form perhaps the most successful Australian band ever: AC/DC.

Artist: Beatles
Title: Love You To
Source: CD: Revolver
Writer(s): George Harrison
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year: 1966
Following the release of Rubber Soul in December of 1965, Beatle George Harrison began to make a serious effort to learn to play the Sitar, studying under the master, Ravi Shankar. Along with the instrument itself, Harrison studied Eastern forms of music. His first song written in the modal form favored by Indian composers was Love You To, from the Revolver album. The recording also features Indian percussion instruments and suitably spiritual lyrics.

Artist: Animals
Title: She'll Return It
Source: LP: Animalization
Writer(s): Jenkins/Rowberry/Burdon/Chandler/Valentine
Label: M-G-M
Year: 1966
As a general rule the Animals, in their original incarnation, recorded two kinds of songs: hit singles from professional songwriters such as Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and covers of blues and R&B tunes, the more obscure the better. What they did not record a lot of was original tunes from the band members themselves. This began to change in 1966 when the band began to experience a series of personnel changes that would ultimately lead to what amounted to an entirely new group, Eric Burdon And The Animals, in 1967. One of the earliest songs to be credited to the entire band was She'll Return It, from the Animalization album. In retrospect, it is one of the strongest tracks on one of their strongest LPs.

Artist: Allman Brothers Band
Title: Every Hungry Woman
Source: CD: Beginnings (originally released on LP: The Allman Brothers Band)
Writer(s): Gregg Allman
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year: 1969
Once upon a time there was a band called the Hourglass, featuring vocalist Gregg Allman. The group moved out to L.A from their native Georgia and established a solid reputation as talented blues-rockers among the local musician crowd. Unfortunately, they were unable to capture their sound in the recording studio. This is mainly due to their record label's insistence on treating them as a blue-eyed soul band (probably due to a myopic view of Allman's vocal style). After the group's first album bombed, the label loosened up a bit, but even with the addition of Allman's brother Duane on guitar, the Hourglass was unable to get the sound they wanted and soon disbanded. Eventually Gregg and Duane moved back to Georgia and formed the Allman Brothers Band. Reportedly Gregg had several songs written for the Hourglass that Duane rejected as unsuitable for the Allman Brother Band. One that did make the cut was Every Hungry Woman, which found a home on the band's debut LP.

Artist: Dave Clark Five
Title: Any Way You Want It
Source: CD: 5 By Five
Writer(s): Dave Clark
Label: Hollywood
Year: 1964
The Dave Clark Five were one of the first bands to follow in the footsteps of the Beatles, for a while even eclipsing the fab four in popularity among English fans. The band was originally formed as a way to make money to support Clark's football (soccer) team, but soon became his ticket to fame. Among the many top 10 hits for the band in 1964 was Any Way You Want It. Like all of the early DC5 records, the recording uses maximum compression to hit the listener with a continuous wall of sound, a technique that has been used for the past 50 years by TV commercials.

Artist: Fraternity Of Man
Title: Just Doin' Our Job
Source: LP: Fraternity Of Man
Writer(s): Fraternity Of Man
Label: ABC
Year: 1968
The Fraternity Of Man was an L.A. band with connections to the Mothers Of Invention. Their deliberately controversial songs included Don't Bogart That Joint, which was used in the film Easy Rider, and Just Doin' Our Job, a song that compares the LAPD to Hitler's Gestapo.

Artist: Steppenwolf
Title: Faster Than The Speed Of Life
Source: LP: Steppenwolf The Second
Writer(s): Mars Bonfire
Label: Dunhill
Year: 1968
Like Steppenwolf's huge hit from their debut album, Born To Be Wild, Faster Than The Speed Of Life was written by Dennis Edmonton, brother of Steppenwolf drummer Jerry Edmonton, using the pseudonym Mars Bonfire. As for the lead vocals on this track, which opens Steppenwolf The Second, your guess is as good as mine. It certainly doesn't sound like John Kay to me.

Artist: Johnny Winter
Title: Rollin' And Tumblin'
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: The Progressive Blues Experiment)
Writer(s): McKinley Morganfield
Label: United Artists (original label: Sonobeat/Imperial)
Year: 1968
Johnny Winter's first album, The Progressive Blues Experiment, was originally released in 1968 on the Texas-based Sonobeat label. A ctitical success, it was picked up and reissued on the Imperial label a year later. Most of the songs on the album are covers of blues classics such as Muddy Waters's Rollin' And Tumblin'.

Artist: Seeds
Title: Pushin' Too Hard
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: The Seeds)
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year: 1966
Pushin' Too Hard is generally included on every collection of psychedelic hits ever compiled. And for good reason. The song is an undisputed classic.

Artist: Left Banke
Title: She May Call You Up Tonight
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Brown/Martin
Label: Smash
Year: 1967
Unlike their first two singles, Walk Away Renee and Pretty Ballerina, this song failed to chart, possibly due to the release two months earlier of a song called Ivy Ivy, written by keyboardist Michael Brown and shown on the label as being by the Left Banke. The song was in reality performed entirely by session musicians, including lead vocals by Bert Sommer, who would be one of the acoustic acts on the opening afternoon of the Woodstock festival a couple years later. The resulting fued between Brown and the rest of the band left a large number of radio stations gun shy when came to any record with the name Left Banke on the label, and She May Call You Up Tonight tanked.

Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop
Writer(s): Carter/Gilbert/Weitz/King
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: 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: Monkees
Title: Star Collector
Source: LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
Writer(s): Goffin/King
Label: Colgems
Year: 1967
The Monkees were one of the first bands to utilize the Moog synthesizer on a rock record. One of the two tracks that uses the device extensively is Star Collector, a song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and sung by the late Davy Jones. Usually Jones was picked to sing the band's love ballads. Star Collector, on the other hand, is a wild, almost humorous look at rock groupies; the type of song that on earlier Monkees albums would have been given to Peter Tork to sing. The synthesizer in Star Collector is used more for sound effects than anything else, including the repeating "bye bye" sound at the end of the track.

Artist: Yardbirds
Title: Puzzles
Source: CD: Over, Under, Sideways, Down (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Page/McCarty/Relf
Label: Raven
Year: 1967
Toward the end of their run, producer Mickie Most had the Yardbirds sounding like a hipper version of Herman's Hermits (whom he also produced) on the A sides of their singles. Their B sides, such as 1967's Puzzles, on the other hand, were more in line with the way the band sounded live, which in turn sounded like a direct precursor to what would be guitarist Jimmy Page's next project: Led Zeppelin.

Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: Whole Lotta Love
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin II
Writer(s): Page/Plant/Bonham/Jones/Dixon
Label: Atlantic
Year: 1969
If any one song can be considered the bridge between psychedelic rock and heavy metal, it would have to be Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love. Released in 1969 as the lead track to their second LP, the song became their biggest hit single. Whole Lotta Love was originally credited to the four band members. In recent years, however, co-credit has been given to Willie Dixon, whose lyrics to the 50s song You Need Love are almost identical to Robert Plant's.

Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Summertime Blues
Source: CD: Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Vincebus Eruptum)
Writer(s): Cochrane/Capehart
Label: Priority (original label: Philips)
Year: 1968
European electronics giant Philips had its own record label in the 1960s. In the US, the label was distributed by Mercury Records, and was known primarily for a long string of hits by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. In 1968 the label surprised everyone by signing the loudest band in San Francisco, Blue Cheer. Their cover of the 50s Eddie Cochrane hit Summertime Blues was all over both the AM and FM airwaves that summer.

Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Upsetter
Source: 45 RPM single (also released on LP: E Pluribus Funk)
Writer(s): Mark Farner
Label: Capitol
Year: 1972
Grand Funk Railroad was something of an enigma. Due to universally negative reviews in the rock press, progressive FM stations avoided them like the plague. At the same time, top 40 radio was in the process of being supplanted as the voice of the mainstream by the Adult Contemporary (A/C) format, which tended to ignore hard rock. Nonetheless Grand Funk Railroad had a following. In fact, GFR was the first band to book (and sellout) entire sports arenas, setting attendance records wherever they played. This translated into major record sales, as they became the first band to have three LPs hit the million-seller mark in the same year (1970). That year they also had their first mainstream hit with I'm Your Captain (Closer To Home). From that point on the band would continue to release singles, although most, such as Upsetter, were still ignored by A/C radio (although they did get a fair amount of airplay from the remaining "true" top 40 stations). As the group's album sales were beginning to drop off, the singles became increasingly important to the band's continued success, and from 1973 on (starting with We're An American Band ) Grand Funk became pretty much a singles-oriented group, cranking out tunes like Bad Time and Some Kind Of Wonderful.

Artist: Fifty Foot Hose
Title: Red The Sign Post
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Cauldron)
Writer(s): Roswicki/Blossom
Label: Rhino (original label: Limelight)
Year: 1968
Although most of the more avant-garde bands of the psychedelic era were headquarted in New York, there were some exceptions, such as San Francisco's Fifty Foot Hose. The core members of the band were founder and bassist Louis "Cork" Marcheschi, guitarist David Blossom, and his wife, vocalist Nancy Blossom. The group used a lot of unusual instruments, such as theramin, Moog synthesizer and prepared guitar and piano. Probably their most commercial song was Red The Sign Post from the LP Cauldron. After that album the group called it quits, with most of the members joining the cast of Hair. In fact, Nancy Blossom played lead character Sheila in the San Francisco production of the musical.

Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: Combination Of The Two
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s): Sam Andrew
Label: Columbia
Year: 1968
Everything about Big Brother And The Holding Company can be summed up by the title of the opening track for their Cheap Thrills album (and their usual show opener as well): Combination Of The 2. A classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, Big Brother, with Janis Joplin on lead vocals, had an energy that neither Joplin nor the rest of the band was able to duplicate once they parted company. On the song itself, the actual lead vocals for the verses are the work of Combination Of The 2's writer, bassist Sam Houston Andrew III, but those vocals are eclipsed by the layered non-verbal chorus that starts with Joplin then repeats itself with Houston providing a harmony line which leads to Joplin's promise to "knock ya, rock ya, gonna sock it to you now". It was a promise that the group seldom failed to deliver on.

Artist: Byrds
Title: Goin' Back
Source: CD: The Notorius Byrd Brothers
Writer(s): Goffin/King
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Year: 1967
The Notorius Byrd Brothers, released in 1968, is considered by some to be the finest album in the group's catalog, despite the firing of core member David Crosby midway through the album. In fact, it was in part a disagreement between Crosby, Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman over whether to include Crosby's Triad or the Gerry Goffin/ Carole King song Goin' Back on the album that led to Crosby's departure. With Crosby gone, Goin' Back ended up making the cut, but to me it sounds like it's missing something...)

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