Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Somebody To Love
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Darby Slick
We start this week with the monster hit that put San Francisco Bay on the musical map in early 1967. This was actually the second single released from Surrealistic Pillow, the first being My Best Friend.
Title: Dear Mr. Fantasy
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Heaven Is In Your Mind)
Label: United Artists
Steve Winwood is one of those artists that has multiple signature songs, having a career that has spanned decades (so far). Still, if there is any one song that is most closely associated with the guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist, it's the title track of Traffic's Mr. Fantasy album.
Artist: Sonny And Cher
Title: Love Don't Come
Source: Mono 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Sonny Bono
Sonny Bono's talents as a songwriter are often overlooked, mostly because all of Sonny Bono's talents were overshadowed by his wife Cher (who is one of the entertainment legends of the 20th century, after all). Nonetheless the fact remains that Bono was the guy who wrote the songs that made Sonny And Cher the most popular singing duo in the nation in the late 1960s and early 70s. Even an obscure B side like 1967's Love Don't Come demonstrates his ability to craft a song with unexpected key and tempo changes that keep the listener's attention right through to the end of the track.
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Greg Roslie
Label: Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
In 1965 Seattle record label Etiquette decided to re-release the first Sonics single, The Witch, this time with a different B side. That B side, Psycho, proved so popular that eventually it was itself reissued, this time as an A side. The song itself is a solid example of what made the Sonics one of the most revered bands in indy rock history.
Title: My Flash On You
Source: Mono LP: Love
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Sounding a bit like the fast version of Hey Joe (which was also on Love's debut LP), My Flash On You is essentially Arthur Lee in garage mode. A punk classic.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: The Grateful Dead)
Label: Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
The Grateful Dead's debut single actually sold pretty well in the San Francisco bay area, where it got airplay on top 40 stations from Berkeley to San Jose. Around the rest of the country, not so much, but the Dead would soon prove that there was more to survival than having a hit record.
Artist: Fifty Foot Hose
Title: The Things That Concern You
Source: LP: Cauldron
Writer(s): L. Evans
Fifty Foot Hose was undoubtably the most avant-garde band in San Francisco to get a record contract. Possibly inspired by the Beach Boys' hit Good Vibrations (or maybe Denver's Lothar And The Hand People) the band was led by Cork Marcheschi, who used a theramin extensively, along with other self-made electronic instruments. The group also featured the husband and wife team of David and Nancy Blossom, both of which left Fifty Foot Hose after the band's first and only LP to become cast members for the San Francisco production of the musical Hair (Nancy in fact landing the role of female lead Sheila).
Artist: Stephen Stills and Richie Furay
Title: Sit Down I Think I Love You
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Year: Recorded, 1966, released 2009
Stephen Stills and Richie Furay were still in the process of forming their new band when they cut this demo of Sit Down I Think I Love You, a song that would appear later in the year on the first Buffalo Springfield album and be covered the following year by the San Francisco flower pop band the Mojo Men. This version is basically just the two of them singing harmony with Stills on acoustic guitar.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Source: LP: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
Circus Maximus was formed in Greenwich Village by Bob Bruno, who played lead guitar and keyboards, and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker. Both co-founders wrote songs for the band. While Walker's material tended to have a folk-rock sound, Bruno's had more of a psychedelic jazz flavor. The Circus Maximus song that got the most airplay was the eight-minute Wind, featuring Bruno on lead vocals.
Title: My World Fell Down
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
The Beach Boys' 1966 masterpiece Good Vibrations sent shock waves reverberating throughout the L.A. studio scene. Among those inspired by Brian Wilson's achievement were Wilson's former collaborator Gary Usher, who formed the studio band Sagittarius to record My World Fell Down in 1967. Among those participating in the project were Glen Campbell, who was the first person to take Wilson's place onstage when Wilson retired from performing to concentrate on his songwriting and record producing; Bruce Johnston, who succeeded Campbell and remains the group's bassist to this day; and Terry Melcher, best known as the producer who helped make Paul Revere and the Raiders a household name in 1965 (he was sometimes referred to as the "fifth Raider"). The rhythm section consisted of two of the top studio musicians in pop music history: bassist Carol Kaye and drummer Hal Blaine. With Campbell on lead vocals, Sagittarius was a critical and commercial success that nonetheless did not last past their first LP (possibly due to the sheer amount of ego in the group).
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: 1967 (edited version released 1968)
One of the quintessential songs of the psychedelic era is the Chambers Brothers' classic Time Has Come Today. The song was originally recorded and issued as a single in 1966. The more familiar version heard here, however, was recorded in 1967 for the album The Time Has Come. The LP version of the song runs about eleven minutes, way too long for a 45 RPM record, so before releasing the song as a single for the second time, engineers at Columbia cut the song down to around 3 minutes. The edits proved so jarring that the record was recalled and a re-edited version, clocking in at 4:55 became the third and final single version of the song, hitting the charts in 1968.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: What A Shame
Source: Mono LP: The Rolling Stones Now
One of the earlier Mick Jagger/Keith Richards collaborations to get recorded by the Rolling Stones, What A Shame is basically a typical early Stones tune. The most notable thing about this track from the 1965 album The Rolling Stones Now is that it serves as a good lead-in to the next song.
Title: Such A Shame
Source: Mono 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Ray Davies
The B side of a 45 RPM record was usually thought of as filler material, but in reality often served another purpose entirely. Sometimes it was used to make an instrumental version of the hit side available for use in clubs or even as a kind of early kind of Karioke. As often as not it was a chance for bands who were given material by their producer to record for the A side to get their own compositions on record. Sometimes the B sides went on to become classics in their own right. Possibly the band with the highest percentage of this type of B side was the Kinks, who seemed to have a great song on the flip side of every record they released. One such B side is Such A Shame, released as the B side of A Well Respected Man in 1966. It doesn't get much better than this.
Artist: Eire Apparent
Title: The Clown
Source: Psychedelic Pop (originally released on LP: Belfast)
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Buddah)
Eire Apparent was a band from Northern Ireland that got the attention of Chas Chandler, former bassist for the Animals in late 1967. Chandler had been managing Jimi Hendrix since he had discovered him playing in a club in New York a year before, bringing him back to England and introducing him to Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, who along with Hendrix would become the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Despite Eire Apparent having almost no recording experience, Chandler put them on the bill as the opening act for the touring Experience. This led to Hendrix producing the band's first and only album, Belfast, in 1968, playing on at least three tracks, including The Clown.
Artist: Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title: Cinnamon Girl
Source: CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s): Neil Young
My favorite Neil Young song has always been Cinnamon Girl. I suspect this is because the band I was in the summer after I graduated from high school used a re-arranged version of the song as our show opener (imagine Cinnamon Girl played like I Can See For Miles and you get a general idea of how it sounded). If we had ever recorded an album, we probably would have used that arrangement as our first single. I finally got to see Neil Young perform the song live (from the 16th row even) with Booker T. and the MGs as his stage band in the mid-1990s. It was worth the wait.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: Three For Love
Source: LP: Back Door Men
Writer(s): Joe Kelley
The Shadows Of Knight moved way out of their garage/punk comfort zone for the song Three For Love, a folk-rock piece laden with harmony vocals. The tune, from the second LP, Back Door Men, is the only Shadows song I know of written by guitarist Joe Kelley. Kelley himself had started out as the band's bass player, but midway through sessions for the band's first LP, Gloria, it became obvious that he was a much better guitarist than Warren Rogers. As a result, the two traded roles, with Kelley handling all the leads on Back Door Men. Kelly, however, did not sing the lead vocals on Three For Love, despite being the song's composer. That task fell to rhythm guitarist Jerry McGeorge. It was his only credit as lead vocalist on the album.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Pretty Ballerina
Source: LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
The Left Banke, taking advantage of bandleader Michael Brown's industry connections (his father owned a New York recording studio), ushered in what was considered to be the "next big thing" in popular music in early 1967: baroque pop. After their debut single, Walk Away Renee, became a huge bestseller, the band followed it up with Pretty Ballerina, which easily made the top 20 as well. Subsequent releases were sabotaged by a series of bad decisions by Brown and the other band members that left radio stations leery of playing any record with the words "Left Banke" on the label.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Going Up The Country
Source: CD: The Very Best Of Canned Heat (originally released on LP: Living The Blues)
Writer(s): Alan Wilson
Label: Capitol (original label: Liberty)
Canned Heat built up a solid reputation as one of the best blues-rock bands in history, recording several critically-acclaimed albums over a period of years. What they did not have, however, was a top 10 single. The nearest they got was Going Up The Country from their late 1968 LP Living The Blues, which peaked in the #11 spot in early 1969.
Artist: Fat Mattress
Title: Mr. Moonshine
Source: Mono LP: Fat Mattress
After the Jimi Hendrix Experience split up, Noel Redding hooked up with a band called Fat Mattress, playing bass, co-writing songs and occassionally singing on songs like Mr. Moonshine. The band's name may have come from a quote by Hendrix at the Experience's Monterey Pop Festival appearance, when he responded to negative comments by critics by saying "...or they say we have fat mattresses or that we wear golden underwear". It could even be that Hendrix got the phrase from Redding himself. Since all three members of the Experience are dead now, I guess we'll never know. Regardless, Fat Mattress failed to make much of an impression on either critics or audiences and Redding's career was effectively over with the band's demise.
Artist: Dino Valenti
Title: Let's Get Together
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer(s): Chet Powers (Dino Valenti)
At first glance this version of Let's Get Together could be mistaken for a cover tune. In reality, though, Dino Valenti was one of several aliases used by the guy who was born Chester Powers. Perhaps this was brought on by his several encounters with the law, most of which led to jail time. By all accounts, Valenti was one of the more bombastic characters on the San Francisco scene. The song was first commercially recorded by Jefferson Airplane in 1966, but it wasn't until 1969, when the 1967 Youngbloods version was re-released with the title shortened to Get Together, that the song became a major hit.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: I Can't Get Enough Of It
Source: Mono 45 RPM single B side
Label: United Artists
One listen to the B side of the Spencer Davis Group's1967 hit I'm A Man and it's easy to see why the young Stevie Winwood was often compared to Ray Charles by the British music press. I Can't Get Enough Of It, co-written by producer Jimmy Miller, features Winwood on both lead vocal and piano. Winwood would leave the group shortly after the release of this single and soon resurface with the more psychedelically-tinged Traffic later the same year.
Artist: Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Title: Fire Poem/Fire
Source: CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown)
Label: Polydor (original label: Atlantic)
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was unusual for their time in that they were much more theatrical than most of their contemporaries, who were generally more into audio experimentation than visual. I have a video of Fire being performed (or maybe just lip-synched). In it, all the members are wearing some sort of mask, and Brown himself is wearing special headgear that was literally on fire. There is no doubt that The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown sowed the seeds of what was to become the glitter-rock movement in the early to mid 70s. This week we have the uncut stereo version of Fire along with the Fire Poem that precedes it on the original album.
Title: Porpoise Song
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Head soundtrack)
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
In 1968 the Monkees, trying desperately to shed a teeny-bopper image, enlisted Jack Nicholson to co-write a feature film that was a 180-degree departure from their recently-cancelled TV show. This made sense, since the original fans of the show were by then already outgrowing the group. Unfortunately, by 1968 the Monkees brand was irrevocably tainted by the fact that the Monkees had not been allowed to play their own instruments on their first two albums. The movie Head itself was the type of film that was best suited to being shown in theaters that specialized in "art" films, but that audience was among the most hostile to the Monkees and the movie bombed. It is now considered a cult classic. Porpoise Song, a Gerry Goffin/Carole King composition used as the theme for Head, was also a departure in style for the Monkees, yet managed to retain a decidedly Monkees sound due to the distinctive lead vocals of Mickey Dolenz.
Artist: Del Shannon
Title: Runnin' On Back
Source: CD: The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover
Label: BGO (original label: Liberty)
Del Shannon showed his versatility as well as his ability to keep up with the times on his most Psychedelic album, 1968's The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover (Charles Westover being Shannon's given name). The song Runnin' On Back was also released as a B side of his Thinkin' It Over single that year.
Title: Someone's Coming
Source: CD: The Who Sell Out (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): John Entwhistle
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Some songs just get no respect. First released in 1967 in the UK as the B side of I Can See For Miles, John Alec Entwistle's Someone's Coming got left off the US release entirely. It wasn't until the release of the Magic Bus single (and subsequent LP) in 1968 that the tune appeared on US vinyl, and then, once again as a B side. The Magic Bus album, however, was never issued on CD in the US, although it has been available as a Canadian import for several years. Finally, in 1995 the song found a home on a US CD as a bonus track on The Who Sell Out.
Title: Touch Me
Source: CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: The Soft Parade and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Robby Kreiger
The fourth Doors album, The Soft Parade, was a departure from their previous work. No longer would the entire band be credited for all the tracks the band recorded. In addition, the group experimented with adding horns and other studio embellishments. Nowhere is this more evident than on Touch Me, the only hit single from the album.
Title: Store Bought-Store Thought
Source: LP: The Flock
Writer(s): The Flock
The Flock's 1969 debut album featured liner notes by British blues guru John Mayall, who called them the best band in America. Despite this stellar recommendation, the Flock (one of two bands with horn sections from the city of Chicago making their recording debut on Columbia Records in 1969) was unable to attract a large audience and disbanded after only two LPs. Most of the tracks on the album, including the seven minute Store Bought-Store Thought, were early examples of the progressive rock that was becoming popular on FM stations across the country at the time. Violinist Jerry Goodman would go on to be a founding member of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra in the early 1970s.
Source: CD: Past Masters-vol. 2 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
The Beatles' B side to their 1966 hit Paperback Writer was innovative in more than one way. First off, the original instrumental tracks were actually recorded at a faster speed (and higher key) than is heard on the finished recording. Also, it is the first Beatle record to feature backwards masking (John Lennon's overdubbed vocals toward the end of the song were recorded with the tape playing in reverse). Needless to say, both techniques were soon copied and expanded upon by other artists.