This week, after starting off with three tracks from bands who were on the Stuck in the Psychedelic Era 20 most-played artists of 2012 list we veer off the beaten path for the remainder of the show. To illustrate just how far off that path we stray, here are some numbers for you: Total number of tracks played this week: 28; Top 20 songs from the 2012 list played on this week's show: 0; Tracks being played for the first time this week: 9; Top 20 artists from last year's list played this week: 6 (four of which are in the first half-hour); Artists making their first appearance on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era this week: 3. Who says you can't find new stuff from 40+ years ago?
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Paul Kantner
Label: RCA Victor
One of the first songs written by Paul Kantner without a collaborator was this highly listenable tune from Surrealistic Pillow. Kantner says the title simply refers to the basic chord structure of the song, which is built on a two chord verse (D and C) and a two chord bridge (B and A). That actually fits, but what about the 25 part? [insert enigmatic smile here]
Title: My Back Pages
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
One of the items of contention between David Crosby and Roger McGuinn was the latter's insistence on continuing to record covers of Bob Dylan songs when the band members themselves had a wealth of their own material available. Indeed, it was reportedly an argument over whether or not to include Crosby's Triad on the next album that resulted in Crosby being fired from the band in October of 1967. Nonetheless, the last Dylan cover with Crosby still in the band was perhaps their best as well. Although not as big a hit as Mr. Tambourine Man, My Back Pages from the Younger Than Yesterday album did respectably well on the charts, becoming one of the Byrds' last top 40 hits.
Source: LP: Revolver
Writer(s): George Harrison
Label: Parlophone (2012 international vinyl release; original US label: Capitol)
The Beatles' 1966 LP Revolver was a major step forward, particularly for guitarist George Harrison, who for the first time had three of his own compositions on an album. Making it even sweeter was the fact that one of these, Taxman, was chosen to lead off the album itself. Although Harrison is usually considered the band's lead guitarist, the solo in Taxman is actually performed by Paul McCartney.
Artist: Penny Peeps
Title: Model Village
Source: Mono import CD: Insane Times (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Zonophone (UK) (original label: Liberty)
Although the British psychedelic era was considerably shorter (only about two years long) than its American counterpart, there are a surprisingly large number of British psych-pop singles that were never issued in the US. Among those was a somewhat forgettable song called Little Man With A Stick, released in 1967 by a band called the Penny Peeps. The band took its name from the risque coin-fed viewers at Brighton Beach (apparently London's version of Coney Island). Emulating his American counterparts, producer Les Reed (who wrote Little Man), allowed the band itself to come up with its own B side. The result was Model Village, a track that manages to convey a classic garage-rock energy while remaining uniquely British.
Artist: Brenda Lee
Title: Coming On Strong
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): David Wilkins
In the mid 1970s a band called Golden Earring scored a huge hit with a song called Radar Love. One of the most memorable lines of the song was a reference to a "forgotten song" by Brenda Lee called Coming On Strong. Oddly enough, I just happened to have a copy of the original 45 RPM single from 1966, so I thought I'd share it with you this week. Hey, I did say we were veering off the beaten path!
Artist: Lemon Drops
Title: I Live In The Springtime
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era
Writer(s): Roger Weiss
Label: Rhino (original label: Rembrandt)
Sometimes it's all about being in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately for the Lemon Drops, that place and time was not the Chicago suburbs in early 1967. Otherwise they might have had a hit record with I Live In The Springtime, a rather nice piece of psychedelia. It probably didn't help that their label, Rembrandt, was not able to put together the same kind of national distribution deal that another Chicago label, Dunwich, had been able to the previous year with the Shadows Of Knight's version of Gloria.
Artist: Flamin' Groovies
Title: I'm Drowning
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Sneakers)
Writer(s): Roy Loney
Label: Rhino (original label: Snazz)
An anomoly among San Francisco bands, the Flamin' Groovies were in a sense a throwback to the early days of the local SF music scene, with an emphasis on basic rock and roll rather than extended jamming of psychedelic experimentation. Although they eventually ended up signing a contract with a major label, it was their self-issued 10" mono LP (or maybe EP) Sneakers that captured the essence of the band. I'm Drowning was written by original lead vocalist Roy Loney, who would be gone by the time the band made their major label debut.
Title: Overture From Tommy
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
The Who released their third LP, The Who Sell Out, in December of 1967. For the next year, all that would be heard from the band were a couple of singles and a compilation album (Magic Bus) that the band itself did not approve. Meanwhile, several other bands, including the Beatles, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream, released double LP sets that sold quite well. Little did anyone know that the mysteriously absent Who was in fact working on a project that would make rock history. In early 1969 the Who finally released their own double LP set: the world's first rock-opera, Tommy. That summer the band performed Tommy in its entirety at the Woodstock Performing Arts Festival in upstate New York. The final part of that performance was included in the documentary film and soundtrack album from the festival the following year. The group's US label, Decca, responded by releasing the end portion of the last track on the studio version of Tommy, We're Not Gonna Take It, as a single called See Me Feel Me. For the B side, Decca chose the first four minutes of the Overture that opens the LP, adding the words "From Tommy" for those record buyers who might have been living on another planet for the past year.
Artist: We The People
Title: Mirror Of Your Mind
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Thomas Talton
Label: Rhino (original label: Challenge)
We The People were formed when an Orlando, Florida newspaper reporter talked members of two local bands to combine into a garage/punk supergroup. The result was one of the most successful regional bands in Florida history. After their first recording got airplay on a local station, they were signed to record in Nashville for Challenge Records (a label actually based in Los Angeles) and cranked out several regional hits over the next few years. The first of these was Mirror Of Your Mind. Written by lead vocalist Tom Talton, the song is an in-your-face rocker that got played on a number of local stations and has been covered by several bands since.
Artist: Balloon Farm
Title: A Question Of Temperature
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Laurie)
Few, if any, bands managed to successfully cross bubble gum and punk like the Balloon Farm with A Question Of Temperature, originally released on the Laurie label in 1967. Band member Mike Appel went on to have greater success as Bruce Springsteen's first manager.
Artist: Ace Of Cups
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 Microgram in the book Electric Koolaid 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. Lead vocals are by Mary Gannon.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Turn On Your Love Light
Source: LP: Live Dead
Label: Warner Brothers
After two years' (and three albums) worth of trying to capture their live sound in the studio, the Grateful Dead decided just to cut to the chase and release a live album. The result was the double LP Live Dead, one of the most successful releases in Grateful Dead history. The album itself is one continuous concert, with each side fading out at the end, with a bit of overlap at the beginning of the next side. Most of the material on Live Dead was written by the band itself, the sole exception being a fifteen-minute long rendition of Bobby Bland's 1961 hit Turn On Your Love Light, featuring vocals by organist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.
Title: Who Do You Love
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Elias McDaniel
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love had become somewhat of a rock and roll dance standard by the mid-1960s, with several bands recording the tune. Probably the most overtly psychedelic version came from East Lansing, Michigan's Woolies. The group was discovered by Dunhill Records' Lou Adler and were flown out to L.A. to record the song, which was originally considered the B side of their debut single. When some radio stations started flipping the record over to play Who Do You Love, Dunhill was slow to promote the song, and it stalled out in the lower reaches of the charts. Disillusioned by the whole experience, all but one member of the Woolies returned to Michigan, where they formed their own label and recorded a series of moderately successful regional hits.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Do You Believe In Magic
Source: CD: Battle Of The Bands (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Do You Believe In Magic)
Writer(s): John Sebastian
Label: Era (original label: Kama Sutra)
Do You Believe In Magic, the debut single by the Lovin' Spoonful, was instrumental in establishing not only the band itself, but the Kama Sutra label as well. Over the next couple of years, the Spoonful would crank out a string of hits, pretty much single-handedly keeping Kama Sutra in business. In 1967 the band's lead vocalist and primary songwriter John Sebastian departed the group for a solo career, and Kama Sutra itself soon morphed into a company called Buddah Records. Buddah (the misspelling being discovered too late to be fixed) soon came to dominate the "bubble gum" genre of top 40 music throughout 1968 and well into 1969, but eventually proved in its own way to be as much a one-trick pony as its predecessor.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Summer Is The Man
Source: Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
Following up on their successful debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop, the Blues Magoos released Electric Comic Book in March of 1967. Unfortunately the first single from the album had two equally strong songs, one of which was favored by the producers and the other by the band. Radio stations were unsure which song to push, and as a result, neither made the top 40, which in turn had a negative effect on album sales. Most of the remaining tracks on the album were written by the band members, including Summer Is The Man, a song with an interesting chord structure, a catchy melody and somewhat existential lyrics.
Artist: Grass Roots
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
The Grass Roots had their origins as the San Francisco band the Bedoins, but by 1968 had lost all but one of the original members and had become pretty much a vehicle for the songwriting team of Jeff Barri and P.F. Sloan. They released three singles in 1968, the third of which was Midnight Confessions, the group's only certified gold record. The song immediately preceeding it was Feelings which failed to chart (possibly because it was not written by Sloan and Barri). Of course that means I play Feelings fairly regularly. Midnight Confessions? Not at all.
Title: Power Play
Source: CD: Monster
Writer(s): John Kay
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
1969's Monster album is generally considered the most political of Steppenwolf's albums. A listen to Power Play certainly lends creedence to that viewpoint.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): Blind Willie Johnson
Label: Verve Forecast
One lasting legacy of the British Invasion was the re-introduction to the US record-buying public to the songs of early Rhythm and Blues artists such as Blind Willie Johnson. This emphasis on classic blues in particular would lead to the formation of electric blues-based US bands such as the Butterfield Blues Band and the Blues Project. Unlike the Butterfields, who made a conscious effort to remain true to their Chicago-style blues roots, the Blues Project was always looking for new ground to cover, which ultimately led to them developing an improvisational style that would be emulated by west coast bands such as the Grateful Dead, and by Project member Al Kooper, who conceived and produced the first rock jam LP ever, Super Session, in 1968. As the opening track to their second (and generally considered best) LP Projections, I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes served notice that this was a new kind of blues, louder and brasher than what had come before, yet tempered with Kooper's melodic vocal style. An added twist was the use during the song's instrumental bridge of an experimental synthesizer known among band members as the "Kooperphone", probably the first use of any type of synthesizer in a blues record.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: I Can't Quit You
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Led Zeppelin has come under fire for occassionally "borrowing" lyrics and even guitar riffs from old blues songs (never mind the fact that such "borrowing" was a common practice among the old bluesmen themselves) but, at least in the case of the first Zeppelin album, full songwriting credit was given to Willie Dixon for a pair of songs, one of which was I Can't Quit You. Still, it can't be denied that messrs. Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones completely revamped the blues classic into something uniquely their own.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: 2000 Man
Source: LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Setting any work of art in the relatively near future is always risky business (remember 1984?), but then again 33 years seems like forever when you yourself are still in your twenties. I mean who, including the Rolling Stones themselves, could have imagined that Mick, Keith, Charlie and company would still be performing well into the 21st century when they recorded 2000 Man for their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request? It's actually kind of interesting to listen to the lyrics now and see just how much of the song turned out to be an accurate prediction of what was to come.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: I Wanna Be Your Man
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have written so many classic songs together that it's hard to imagine a time when they had yet to pen their first hit. That was precisely the case, however, in the early days of the Rolling Stones, when they were barely scratching the bottom of the British charts with covers of blues songs from the 1950s. A chance meeting with John Lennon and Paul McCartney, however, resulted in the Stones being given a song called I Wanna Be Your Man which became the band's first top 20 hit in the UK. The song was later released as the B side to the Stones' first US charted single, Not Fade Away.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: She's A Rainbow
Source: LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request
The only song from the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request album to get significant airplay in the US was She's A Rainbow, released as a single in the fall of '67. Oddly enough it was the single's B side, 2,000 Light Years From Home, that charted in Germany, while yet another song from the album, In Another Land, was released only in the UK and touted as the first Bill Wyman solo song (although still a Rolling Stones record). This perhaps is a reflection of the uncertainty surrounding the Rolling Stones' role in the world of rock at the time. That uncertainty would soon be dispelled when the band hired a new producer, Jimmy Miller, the following year and released Jumpin' Jack Flash, an undisputed classic that helped define the band for years to come.
Title: Lemon Chimes
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Bill Martin
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
The Dillards are best known as the Darlings, the fictional bluegrass band that occassionally showed up on TV's Andy Griffith show. They moved a bit away from their traditional sound for a pair of singles for Capitol in 1965. The song Lemon Chimes, written by roommate Bill Martin, was the more successful of those singles, although, like Bob Dylan, the Dillards came under fire from bluegrass purists for using electric instruments on the record.
Artist: Mamas And The Papas
Title: Dancing Bear
Source: CD: The Mamas And The Papas
Writer(s): John Phillips
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
The second Mamas And The Papas album was marked by internal strife that came about when it was discovered that mama Michelle and papa Denny were having an affair, despite Michelle's being married to papa John. Mama Michelle was fired shortly before work on the album commenced and a new mama, Jill, was brought in to replace her. Midway through the album the group realized the inherent unfairness of firing Michelle but not Denny and invited her back to the band, letting Jill go in the process. As a result, nobody is sure just which vocals on the album are Michelle's and which are Jill's. One thing that is not in question is that Dancing Bear (which predates Simon & Garfunkel's similarly-themed El Condor Pasa by several years) is one of the most memorable songs on the album.
Artist: Hour Glass
Source: Import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released on LP: Hour Glass)
Writer(s): Edgar Allen Poe, arr. Peter Alin
Label: Zonophone (UK) (original US label: Liberty)
On the avant-garde side we have the most experimental (and most psychedelic) track by a band known mostly as the band Duane and Gregg Allman were in before they formed the Allman Brother Band. The Hour Glass, by most accounts, was a decent jam band when they played live. Their record producers, however, kept trying to shoehorn them into a blue-eyed soul mold, mainly because Gregg Allman's vocals sounded black to them. Only on a few tracks on their second LP did they show any of their improvisational talents. Bells, on the other hand, a spoken adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe poem set against a musical background, was a true departure for the group, both from their studio sound and their live performances. The track appeared on the group's 1967 debut LP.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: An Untitled Protest
Source: LP: The Life And Times Of Country Joe And The Fish (originally released on LP: Together)
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
By 1968 the Summer Of Love, with its emphasis on peace, love and mind-expanding substances, was only a memory in the San Francisco area. In its place a new cynicism was beginning to take hold, brought on by a combination of increased racial tensions and elevated anxiety over the ongoing war in Vietnam nationally and an influx of harder, less beneficial drugs into the Bay Area itself. The music of local bands such as Country Joe And The Fish was becoming more cynical as well, as An Untitled Protest from the band's third LP, Together, illustrates.
Title: He's Always There
Source: Import CD: Roger The Engineer (original UK title: The Yardbirds; original US title: Over, Under, Sideways, Down)
Label: Great American Recording Company (UK) (original US label: Epic)
After releasing several singles and EPs in the UK (several of which were combined to create US-only LPs), as well as one live album, the Yardbirds finally got the opportunity to record their first (and, as it turns out, only) studio LP in 1966. Originally entitled the Yardbirds in the UK and Over, Under, Sideways, Down in the US, the album contained the first Yardbirds songs to have both mono and stereo mixes, all of which were written by members of the band itself (the live album had contained several covers). The British version of the LP had distinctive cover drawings by guitarist Chris Dreja, the most prominent being a caricature of the album's recording engineer, Roger Cameron with the caption "Roger the Engineer" on the front cover. Because of this drawing, the album came to be commonly known as Roger The Engineer. In many ways the album represents a creative peak for the group, with tracks like He's Always There showing a different side of the band than had been heard on their previous recordings. Not long after the album was released, the band would undergo a series of personnel changes, starting with the departure of bassist Paul Samwell-Smith and the addition of Jimmy Page as second lead guitarist (moving Dreja to bass) and the subsequent departure of lead guitarist Jeff Beck. Although the band would continue to record singles for the next couple of years, with Page taking a more dominant role in the band's live performances, it was becoming clear that the Yardbirds' best years were behind them, and in 1969 Page would officially disband the Yardbirds to form a new group, Led Zeppelin.
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: The Great Airplane Strike (originally released on LP: Spirit Of '67 and as 45 RPM single)
Source: CD: Greatest Hits
In 1966 Paul Revere and the Raiders were at the peak of their popularity, scoring major hits that year with Hungry and Kicks. The last single the band released that year was The Great Airplane Strike from the Spirit Of '67 album. Written by band members Revere and Mark Lindsay, along with producer Terry Melcher, The Great Airplane Strike stands out as a classic example of Pacific Northwest rock, a style which would eventually culminate in the grunge movement of the 1990s.