Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1216 (starts 4/19/12)

This week we are once again giving away copies of a new CD featuring Janis Joplin, but not the same one as a few weeks ago. What we have this time is a brand new (released April 14th) double CD of The Pearl Sessions, an expanded look at the making of Janis's final album. The first disc includes the entire original album plus half a dozen mono single mixes (including one that was never released), while the second disc is a 20-track collection of early takes and bits of studio banter between Joplin, producer Paul Rothchild and the members of the Full Tilt Boogie Band. First, though, we have a couple of short progressions through the years to get things started.

Artist: Beatles
Title: Norwegian Wood
Source: LP: Rubber Soul
Writer(s): Lennon/McCartney
Label: Capitol
Year: 1965
The first Beatle song to feature a sitar, Norwegian Wood, perhaps more than any other song, has come to typify the new direction songwriters John Lennon and Paul McCartney began to take with the release of the Rubber Soul album in December of 1965. Whereas their earlier material was written to be performed as well as recorded, songs like Norwegian Wood were first and foremost studio creations. The song itself was reportedly based on a true story and was no doubt a contributing factor to the disintegration of Lennon's marraige.

Artist: Shadows of Knight
Title: Light Bulb Blues
Source: CD: Dark Sides (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Kelley/Sohns/McGeorge
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Year: 1966
Following the national success of their cover of Van Morrison's Gloria, Chicago's Shadows Of Knight returned to the studio to cut a cover of a Bo Diddley tune, Oh Yeah. For the B side of that record the band was allowed to record one of their own compositions. Light Bulb Blues captures the essence of the Shadows' style: hard-driving garage/punk that follows a traditional 12-bar blues progression. The result is a track that sounds a bit like a twisted variation on Muddy Waters's classic Rollin' And Tumblin'.

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
One of the Original Sound singles that also appeared on the Warner Brothers LP Bonniwell Music Machine, Double Yellow Line features lyrics that were literally written by Bonniwell on the way to the recording studio. In fact, his inability to stay in his lane while driving with one hand and writing with the other resulted in a traffic ticket. The ever resourceful Bonniwell wrote the rest of the lyrics on the back of the ticket and even invited the officer in to watch the recording session. The officer declined.

Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: Piece Of My Heart
Source: CD: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s): Ragovoy/Berns
Label: Columbia
Year: 1968
I didn't know I would be giving away copies of the new Pearl Sessions CD until after I had recorded the first segment of this week's show. As a result we have an extra Janis Joplin vocal track this week. Not just any track, either; the Big Brother And The Holding Company version of Piece Of My Heart is the song that made Joplin famous (and vice versa).

Artist: Kinks
Title: Dandy
Source: LP: Face To Face
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Reprise
Year: 1966
Ray Davies was well into his satirical phase when he wrote and recorded Dandy for the Kinks' 1966 album Face To Face. Later that year the song was covered by Herman's Hermits, becoming a hit on the US top 40 charts.

Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Let's Spend The Night Together
Source: CD: Flowers (originally released on LP: Between The Buttons)
Writer(s): Jagger/Richards
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Year: 1967
The Rolling Stones second LP of 1967 was Flowers, one of a series of US-only albums made up of songs that had been released in various forms in the UK but not in the US. In the case of Flowers, though, there were a couple songs that had already been released in the US-but not in true stereo. One of those was Let's Spend The Night Together, a song intended to be the A side of a single, but that was soon banned on a majority of US radio stations because of its suggestive lyrics. Those stations instead flipped the record over and began playing the B side, Ruby Tuesday (apparently not realizing it was about a rock groupie). Ruby Tuesday ended up in the top 5, while Let's Spend The Night Together barely cracked the top 40. The Stones did get to perform the tune on the Ed Sullivan Show, but only after promising to change the lyrics to "let's spend some time together." Later on the same year the Doors made a similar promise to the Sullivan show to modify the lyrics of Light My Fire, but when it came time to actually perform the song Jim Morrison defiantly sang the lyrics as written. The Doors were subsequently banned from making any more appearances on the Sullivan show. Ironically, the Rolling Stones never appeared again on the show, either, so apparently their compromise was for naught.

Artist: Them
Title: I Happen To Love You
Source: LP: Now And Them
Writer(s): Goffin/King
Label: Tower
Year: 1968
I Happen To Love You was first recorded by the Electric Prunes for their 1967 album Underground. The band wanted to release the Gerry Goffin/Carole King tune as a single, but producer David Hassinger instead chose to issue a novelty track, To The Highest Bidder. Unlike the Prunes version, which emphasized the King melody line, Them's version was done in much the same style as their earlier recordings with Van Morrison. Kenny McDowell provided the lead vocal.

Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: Time Has Come Today
Source: CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released on LP: The Time Has Come. Edited version released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Joe and Willie Chambers
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year: LP released 1967, single edit released 1968
Time Has Come Today has one of the most complex histories of any song of the psychedelic era. First recorded in 1966 and released as a two-and-a-half minute single the song flopped. The following year an entirely new eleven minute version of the song was recorded for the album The Time Has Come, featuring an extended pyschedelic section filled with various studio effects. In late 1967 a three minute edited version of the song was released that left out virtually the entire psychedelic section of the recording. Soon after that, the single was pulled from the shelf and replaced by a longer edited version that included part of the psychedelic section. That version became a hit record in 1968, peaking just outside the top 10. This is actually a stereo recreation of that mono second edited version.

Artist: Janis Joplin
Title: Pearl
Source: CD: The Pearl Sessions
Writer(s): Full Tilt Boogie Band
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Year: 1970
A few days after the sudden death of Janis Joplin in October of 1970 the members of the Full Tilt Boogie Band, along with producer Paul Rothchild, returned to L.A.'s Sunset Studios to finish the album they had spent the last few months working on. The mood around the place was somber, and in between the overdubs and remixes the band broke into a slow instrumental jam that ended up lasting over ten minutes. The piece was edited down to about four and a half minutes and assigned a matrix number, indicating that it was considered finished and ready for commercial release. The band members decided to call the piece Pearl, after the nickname they had given Janis herself (although some say it was actually self-given). For reasons unknown the recording was not included on the album (also named Pearl), and sat on the shelf until the early 21st century, when it was included as a bonus track on the CD issue of Pearl.

Artist: Beau Brummels
Title: Just A Little
Source: CD: Something's Burning-Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame-Vol. 1 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Elliott/Durand
Label: Legacy (original label: Autumn)
Year: 1965
Often dismissed as an American imitation of British Invasion bands such as the Beatles, the Beau Brummels actually played a pivotal role in rock music history. Formed in San Francisco in 1964, the Brummels were led by Ron Elliott, who co-wrote most of the band's material, including their two top 10 singles in 1965. The second of these, Just A Little, is often cited as the first folk-rock hit, as it was released a week before the Byrds' recording of Mr. Tambourine Man. According to Elliott, the band was not trying to invent folk-rock, however. Rather, it was their own limitations as musicians that forced them to work with what they had: solid vocal harmonies and a mixture of electric and acoustic guitars. Elliott also credits the contributions of producer Sylvester Stewart (Sly Stone) for the song's success. Conversely, Just A Little was Stewart's greatest success as a producer prior to forming his own band, the Family Stone, in 1967.

Artist: Left Banke
Title: Walk Away Renee
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Brown/Calilli/Sansune
Label: Smash
Year: 1966
The Left Banke's Walk Away Renee is one of the most covered songs in rock history, starting with a version by the Four Tops less than two years after the original recording had graced the top 5. The Left Banke version kicked off what was thought at the time to be the latest trend: baroque rock. The trend died an early death when the band members themselves made some tactical errors resulting in radio stations being hesitant to play their records.

Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Hideaway (originally released on LP: Underground and as 45 RPM single B side)
Source: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s): Lowe/Tulin
Label: Rhino
Year: 1967
Producer David Hassinger did not have a whole lot of faith in the songwriting abilities of the members of the Electric Prunes, limiting them to only two originals on their debut LP (compared to four by professional songwriter Annette Tucker). One of the songs rejected by Hassinger was Hideaway, which he deemed "too weird." After the moderate success of the band's debut LP, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), Hassinger relented and let them record Hideaway for their follow-up LP, Underground. The mono mix of the song was also issued as the B side of the band's first single from Underground.

Artist: Sagittarius
Title: Glass
Source: CD: Present Tense
Writer(s): Marks/Sheldon
Label: Sundazed (original label: Columbia)
Year: 1968
Sagittarius started as a spare time project by Columbia Records staff producer Gary Usher, who had established himself as the king of surf music during the genre's heyday, working with people like Brian Wilson, Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher, as well as the Wrecking Crew (the unofficial name given to the L.A. studio musicians that played on the records he produced). Usher had been in complete creative control of his projects during the surf years and was finding out that working with people like the Byrds and Simon And Garfunkel, while financially lucrative, was creatively stifling for him, as those artists had their own creative visions and he did not want to force his own ideas on them. In early 1967, inspired by his friend Brian Wilson's Good Vibrations, Usher began working on what would become Sagittarius over the weekends and late at night when the Columbia studios were not in use. Access to the studios were not an issue (he had his own keys), nor was access to L.A.'s top studio musicians such as drummer Hal Blaine and bassist Carol Kane, who were more than happy to help out the man who had provided them so much employment over the years. The first production to be released under the Sagittarius name was a single called My World Fell Down, a piece featuring Glen Campbell on vocals that rivaled Good Vibrations itself in complexity. Usher soon took on a partner in the project, producer Curt Boettcher, who had made a huge impression on both Usher and Wilson in early 1966 when he was a producer for Our Productions, working in the same building as Wilson and Usher. Boettcher brought considerable energy and a wealth of material to Sagittarius, and in one case even a lead vocalist. Craig Brewer, a friend of Boettcher's, reportedly just happened to wander in during the recording of Glass and was drafted to provide lead vocals to the song, which had previously been recorded by the Sandpipers, a middle-of-the-road vocal combo.

Artist: Donovan
Title: Season Of The Witch
Source: LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: Epic/Sundazed
Year: 1966
Starting off a 1966 set we have Season Of The Witch, an album track from Donovan's Sunshine Superman album. Due to a contract dispute with Pye Records UK, the album was not released in Donovan's home country until 1967, and then only as an LP combining tracks from both the Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow albums. Season of the Witch has since been covered by an impressive array of artists, including Al Kooper and Stephen Stills (on the Super Session album) and Vanilla Fudge.

Artist: Animals
Title: Don't Bring Me Down
Source: CD: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals (originally released on LP: Animalization)
Writer(s): Goffin/King
Label: Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
Year: 1966
Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Don't Bring Me Down is rreportedly one of the few songs written for the Animals by professional songwriters that lead vocalist Eric Burdon actually liked.

Artist: Love
Title: 7&7 Is
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
Year: 1966
In the fall of 1966 my parents took by brother and me to a drive-in movie to see The Russians Are Coming and The 10th Victim (don't ask me why I remember that). In an effort to extend their season past the summer months, that particular drive-in was pioneering a new technology that used a low-power radio transmitter (on a locally-unused frequency) to broadcast the audio portion of the films so that people could keep their car windows rolled all the way up (and presumably stay warm) instead of having to roll the window partway down to accomodate the hanging speakers that were attached to posts next to where each car was parked. Before the first movie and between films music was pumped through the speakers (and over the transmitter). Of course, being fascinated by all things radio, I insisted that my dad use the car radio as soon as we got settled in. I was immediately blown away by a song that I had not heard on either of Denver's two top 40 radio stations. That song was Love's 7&7 Is, and it was my first inkling that there were some great songs on the charts that were being ignored by local stations. I finally heard the song again the following spring, when a local FM station that had been previously used to simulcast a full-service AM station began running a "top 100" format a few hours a day.

Artist: Who
Title: Pictures Of Lily
Source: CD: Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Year: 1967
Pictures of Lily was the first single released by the Who in 1967. It hit the #4 spot on the British charts, but only made it to #51 in the US. This was nothing new for the Who, as several of their early singles, including Substitute, I Can't Explain and even My Generation hit the British top 10 without getting any US airplay (or chart action) at all.

Artist: Moby Grape
Title: I'm The Kind Of Man That Baby You Can Trust
Source: LP: 20 Granite Creek
Writer(s): Jerry Miller
Label: Reprise
Year: 1971
The original five members of Moby Grape reunited in 1971 for their only album to appear on the Reprise label, 20 Granite Creek. All but one of the tracks on the LP came from individual members writing solo. I'm The Kind Of Man That Baby You Can Trust is one of two songs written by guitarist/vocalist Jerry Miller.

Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: Just Seventeen
Source: CD: The Legend Of Paul Revere (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Mark Lindsay
Label: Columbia
Year: 1970
During the mid-1960s Paul Revere And The Raiders was quite possibly the most successful homegrown band in America. Hitting their stride at the height of the British Invasion, the band cranked out some of the most memorable hits of the decade, including Just Like Me, Good Thing and the iconic Kicks, as well as being the house band for one Dick Clark produced show (Where The Action Is) and starring in another (It's Happening). By 1970, however, the hits had become hard to come by and the TV shows were only a memory. The band, however, continued to soldier on, despite severing ties with their producer, Terry Melcher, in 1967 (a move that may well have hastened the decline of their fortunes). The Raiders (the band having shortened their name in an attempt to shed their campy image) continued to produce records, including Just Seventeen, one of the earliest songs to talk about the teenage rock groupies that were becoming a staple of the rock star lifestyle. The following year the Raiders would return one final time to the top 10 with their recording of Indian Reservation, hitting the number one spot in July of 1971.

Artist: First Edition
Title: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock
Writer(s): Mickey Newbury
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1968
Kenny Rogers has, on more than one occassion, tried to put as much distance between himself and the 1968 First Edition hit Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) as possible. I feel it's my civic duty to remind everyone that he was the lead vocalist on the recording, and that this song was the one that launched his career. So there.

Artist: Bonzo Dog Band
Title: I'm The Urban Spaceman
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Neil Innes
Label: United Artists
Year: 1968
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 along with 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: Spirit
Title: Straight Arrow
Source: CD: Spirit
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
Label: Ode/Epic/Legacy
Year: 1968
The first Spirit album was a curious mix of progressive rock and jazz, thanks in large part to the presence of Ted Casady, stepfather of guitarist Randy California. Lead vocalist Jay Ferguson, who wrote most of the songs on the album, took advantage of Casady's and California's skills, as well as those of keyboardist John Locke and bassist Mark Andes on songs like Straight Arrow, which takes a sudden turn from an semi-calypso main section into a hard bop coda that sounds like Wes Montgomery using a Disraeli Gears-era Clapton fuzz tone.

Artist: Al Kooper/Michael Bloomfield
Title: Blues For Nothing
Source: CD: Super Session
Writer(s): Al Kooper
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Year: 1968
Wrapping up our 1968 set we have a song left off the original Super Session LP, presumably due to lack of space. Basically it's a blues instrumental played by four outstanding musicians.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Mexico
Source: LP: Early Flight
Writer(s): Grace Slick
Label: Grunt
Year: 1970
The last Jefferson Airplane single to include founding member (and original leader) Marty Balin was Mexico, a scathing response by Grace Slick to President Richard Nixon's attempts to eradicate the marijuana trade between the US and Mexico. The song was slated to be included on the next Airplane album, Long John Silver, but Balin's departure necessitated a change in plans, and Mexico did not appear on an LP until Early Flight was released in 1974.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: It's No Secret
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Label: Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year: 1966
Released in March of 1966, It's No Secret was an instant hit on San Francisco Bay area radio stations. This version differs from the album version released six months later in that it has a fade out ending and is thus a few seconds shorter. The song was featured on a 1966 Bell Telephone Hour special on Haight Ashbury that introduced a national TV audience to what was happening out on the coast and may have just touched off the exodus to San Francisco the following year.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Have You Seen The Saucers
Source: LP: Early Flight
Writer(s): Paul Kantner
Label: Grunt
Year: 1970
Have You Seen The Saucers, a Paul Kantner composition, was first released as the B side to Mexico, the last single to include Airplane founder Marty Balin. Unlike Mexico, which is basically a Grace Slick vehicle, Saucers features Balin, Kantner and Slick sharing vocal duties equally. After the single failed to chart, Have You Seen The Saucers was unavailable until 1974, when it was included on the LP Early Flight, a collection of tracks that had never been released on LP vinyl.

Artist: Janis Joplin
Title: Move Over (take 13)
Source: CD: The Pearl Sessions
Writer(s): Janis Joplin
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Year: 1970
The new Pearl Sessions CD features many early takes of songs included on Janis Joplin's final album, Pearl. Among those are three takes of Move Over, arranged back to back on the CD as a way of documenting the evolution of the Full Tilt Boogie Band's arrangement of the Joplin-penned tune. The middle of these three takes includes hand clapping over the intro and an extended fade out section at the end of the song that features Joplin improvising vocals lines for almost a full minute.

Artist: Castaways
Title: Liar Liar
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): James Donna
Label: Eric (original label: Soma)
Year: 1965
The Castaways were a popular local band in the Minneapolis area led by keyboardist James Donna, who, for less than two minutes at a time, dominated the national airwaves with their song Liar Liar for a couple months before fading off into obscurity.

Artist: Peanut Butter Conspiracy
Title: Eventually
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on CD: Spreading From The Ashes)
Writer(s): Alan Brackett
Label: Rhino (original label: Ace/Big Beat)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2005
The PBC was one of the more psychedelic of the local L.A. bands playing the various clubs along L.A.'s Sunset Strip during its golden years of 1965-68. As was the case with so many bands of that time and place, they never really got the opportunity to strut their stuff, although they did leave some decent tapes behind, such as Eventually, recorded (but not released) in 1966.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: 3rd Stone From The Sun
Source: LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1967
One of the great rock instrumentals, 3rd Stone From The Sun (from the Jimi Hendrix Experience album Are You Experienced?) is one of the first tracks to use a recording technique known as backwards masking (where the tape is deliberately put on the machine backwards and new material is added to the reversed recording). In this particular case the masked material (Hendrix speaking) was added at a faster speed than the original recording, with a lot of reverb added, creating an almost otherworldly effect when played forward at normal speed.

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