Artist: Rolling Stones
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
If there was a British equivalent to the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations in terms of time and money spent on a single song, it might be We Love You, a 1967 single released by the Rolling Stones. To go along with the single (with its state-of-the-art production) the band spent a considerable sum making a full-color promotional video, a practice that would not become commonplace until the advent of MTV in the 1980s. Despite all this, US radio stations virtually ignored We Love You, choosing to instead flip the record over and play the B side, a tune called Dandelion. As to why this came about, I suspect that Bill Drake, the man behind the nation's most influential top 40 stations, simply decided that the less elaborately produced Dandelion was better suited to the US market than We Love You and instructed his hand-picked program directors at such stations as WABC, KHJ and WLS to play Dandelion. The copycat nature of top 40 radio being what it is, Dandelion ended up being a moderate hit in the US in the summer of '67.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: I'm A Man
Source: Mono LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: United Artists
The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve and Muff Winwood, was one of the UK's most successful white R&B bands of the sixties, cranking out a steady stream of hit singles. Two of them, the iconic Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man, were also major hits in the US, the latter being the last song to feature the Winwood brothers. Muff Winwood became a successful record producer. The group itself continued on for several years, but were never able to duplicate their earlier successes. As for Steve Winwood, he quickly faded off into obscurity, never to be heard from again. Except as the leader of Traffic. And a member of Blind Faith. And Traffic again. And some critically-acclaimed collaborations in the early 1980s with Asian musicians. Oh yeah, and a few major solo hits like While You See A Chance, Higher Love and Roll With It in the late 80s. Other than that, nothing.
Title: Sand And Foam
Source: Mono LP: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
When Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland's Donovan Leitch first came to prominence, he was hailed as Britain's answer to Bob Dylan. By 1966 he was recognized as the most popular folk singer in the UK. But Donovan was already starting to stretch beyond the boundaries of folk music, and in the fall of that year he released his first major US hit, Sunshine Superman. From that point on he was no longer Donovan the folk singer; he was now Donovan the singer-songwriter. Donovan continued to expand his musical horizons in 1967 with the release of the Mellow Yellow album and singles such as There Is A Mountain. The B side of Mountain was Sand And Foam, an acoustic number from the Mellow Yellow album.
Artist: Left Banke
Source: Mono CD: More Nuggets
Label: Rhino (original label: Smash)
For a while it looked as if the Left Banke would emerge as one of the most important bands of the late 60s. They certainly got off to a good start, with back-to-back top 10 singles Walk Away Renee and Pretty Ballerina. But then bandleader Michael Brown and Smash Records made a serious misstep, issuing a Brown solo effort called Ivy Ivy utilizing studio musicians and trying to pass it off as a Left Banke record. The other band members refused to go along with the charade and sent out letters to their fan club membership denouncing the single. The outraged fans, in turn, threatened to boycott any radio stations that played the single. Brown and the rest of the band, meanwhile, managed to patch things up enough to record a new single, Desiree, and released the song in late 1967. By then, however, radio stations were leary of playing anything with the words Left Banke on the label, and the song failed to chart, despite being an outstanding single. Brown left the Left Banke soon after.
Title: With None Shoes
Source: CD: All The Good That's Happening
Label: One Way (original label: Capitol)
Following the national success of Hey Joe in 1966, popular L.A. club band the Leaves signed a deal with Capitol Records that resulted in the album All The Good That's Happening. Unfortunately, by 1967 the group was already beginning to fall apart and the album lacked a consistent sound, despite having some decent tunes such as With None Shoes, which opens the second side of the LP.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: House Burning Down
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
The third Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Electric Ladyland, was the first to be produced entirely by Hendrix himself, rather than with Chas Chandler (with more than a little help from engineer Eddie Kramer). It was also the first to use state-of-the-art eight-track recording technology (not to be confused with the later 8-track tape cartridge), as well as several new tech toys developed specifically for Hendrix to play with. The result was an album with production standards far beyond anything else being attempted at the time. One song that showcases Hendrix's prowess as a producer is House Burning Down. Using effects such as phasing, double-tracking and stereo panning, Hendrix manages to create music that sounds like it's actually swirling around the listener rather than coming from a specific location. It's also the only rock song I can think of that uses a genuine tango beat (in the verses).
Title: Draft Resister
Source: LP: Monster
By far the most political of Steppenwolf's albums was their 1969 effort Monster. Although there is a chance that a truly unperceptive person might miss the point of the title track that opens the LP, the next song, Draft Resister, makes a point that even a dedicated Rush Limbaugh fan would notice.
Artist: James Gang
Title: The Bomber
Source: CD: James Gang Rides Again
Label: MCA (original label: ABC)
The second James Gang album saw the addition of a new bass player, Dale Peters, who replaced founding member Tom Kriss. Unlike the group's debut LP, James Gang Rides Again consisted almost entirely of material written by the band members themselves. The only exceptions were adaptations of Ravel's Bolero and Vince Guaraldi's Cast Your Fate To The Wind that guitarist Joe Walsh incorporated into the instrumental section Bomber, which at seven minutes was the longest track on the album. The beginning and end of the Bomber consist of a piece called Closet Queen, which was composed by the entire band. Shortly after the album's rellease the Ravel estate initiated legal proceedings against the band for using Bolero without permission. In response the record was recalled and a new version with Bolero edited out of the track was released in its place. Sometime in the 1980s the track was restored to its original length for a greatest hits compilation (although the shorter time appears in the credits) and that is the version used on subsequent CD releases of James Gang Rides Again as well.
Artist: Eric Burdon And The Animals
Source: CD: Winds Of Change
Label: Repertoire (original label: M-G-M)
The first album by the "new" Eric Burdon And The Animals, Winds Of Change, included three songs that were released as singles, however only one of the three got airplay in both the US and the UK. The US-only single was a song that Eric Burdon has since said was the one he was most proud of writing, a love generation song called Anything. In fact Burdon liked the song well enough to re-record it for a solo album in 1995.
Artist: Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title: Good Times
Source: 45 RPM single B side
By the end of the original Animals run they were having greater chart success with their singles in the US than in their native UK. That trend continued with the formation of the "new" Animals in 1967 and their first single, When I Was Young. Shortly after the first LP by the band now known as Eric Burdon And The Animals came out, M-G-M decided to release the song San Franciscan Nights as a single to take advantage of the massive youth migration to the city that summer. Meanwhile the band's British label decided to instead issue Good Times, (an autobiographical song which was released in the US as the B side to San Franciscan Nights) as a single, and the band ended up with one of their biggest UK hits ever. Riding the wave of success of Good Times, San Franciscan Nights eventually did get released in the UK and was a hit there as well.
Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title: The Black Plague
Source: CD: Winds Of Change
Label: Repertoire (original label: M-G-M)
One of the most interesting recordings of 1967 was Eric Burdon And The Animals' The Black Plague, which appeared on the Winds Of Change album. The Black Plague is a spoken word piece dealing with life and death in a medieval village during the time of the Black Plague (natch), set to a somewhat gothic piece of music that includes Gregorian style chanting and an occasional voice calling out the words "bring out your dead" in the background. The album itself had a rather distinctive cover, consisting of a stylized album title accompanied by a rather lengthy text piece on a black background, something that has never been done before or since on an album cover.
Title: The Word
Source: CD: Rubber Soul
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
The original concept for the album Rubber Soul was to show the group stretching out into 60s Rhythm and Blues (known at the time as "soul" music) territory. The US version of the album, however, deleted several of the more soulful numbers in favor of more folk-rock sounding songs (including a pair held over from the band's previous British LP, Help). This was done by Capitol records mainly to cash in on the sudden popularity of the genre in 1965. Not all of the more R&B flavored songs were deleted, however. John Lennon's The Word appeared on both US and UK versions of Rubber Soul.
Artist: ? And The Mysterians
Title: 96 Tears
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): The Mysterians
Although his birth certificate gives the name Rudy Martinez, the leader of the Mysterians had his name legally changed to "?" several years ago. He asserts that he is actually from the planet Mars and his lived among dinosaurs in a past life. Sometimes I feel like I'm living among dinosaurs in this life, so I guess I can relate a little.
Title: Heinz Baked Beans/Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands
Source: LP: The Who Sell Out
No, it's not a previously undiscovered collaboration between the Who's Pete Townshend and John Eric Entwistle. Rather, it's two seperate songs that, thanks to some radio jingles (both real and fake) run continuously on side one of the Who's third LP, The Who Sell Out. The jingles were put there to create the illusion of listening to Britain's top pirate radio station, Radio London. I have to admit that, although I had never actually heard Radio London itself, I was fooled the first time I heard the album, especially when I heard what sounded like an actual commercial (Entwistle's Heinz Baked Beans) followed by a "more music" jingle I was familiar with from US radio stations that actually used it and then another song (Townshend's Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands). Rumor has it that the Texas company that created the jingles at one point threatened the Who with a lawsuit over their unauthorized use of the spots, but as far as I know nothing ever came of it.
Source: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released on LP: The Birds, The Bees, And The Monkees)
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
The last Monkees top 10 single was also Michael Nesmith's least favorite Monkees song. Valleri was a Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart composition that the group had first recorded for the first season of their TV show in 1966. Apparently nobody was happy with the recording, however, and the song was never issed on vinyl. Two years later the song was re-recorded for the album The Birds, The Bees And The Monkees and subsequently released as a single. The flamenco-style guitar on the intro (and repeated throughout the song) was played by studio guitarist Louie Shelton, after Nesmith refused to participate in the recording.
Artist: Michael And The Messengers
Title: Romeo And Juliet
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: USA)
Outside of the nation's largest urban areas, it is a general rule that a musician's most reliable path to steady employment is to join a cover band playing various dance-oriented clubs in the area. Such bands generally outnumber by a large margin bands that perform their own material. After all, the average clubgoer wants to dance to their favorite tunes they hear on the radio, not some snotnose punk's idea of what a good song should be. One such cover band was Milwaukee's Michael And The Messengers. Never mind that there wasn't actually anyone named Michael in the band; the important thing was they played the songs exactly the way they sounded on the local radio station. In 1967 the Messengers got a chance to record a single for the Chicago-based USA label, which had just lost its only nationally successful act, the Buckinghams, to Columbia Records. Naturally they chose a cover song, Romeo And Juliet, that had been a hit three years earlier for a Detroit group called the Reflections. Predictably, the record only got played by stations in and around Milwaukee itself and the band never saw the inside of a recording studio again. This would have been the end of the story had not Lenny Kaye (yes, Patti Smith's guitarist) included the track on his original 1972 Nuggets compilation. Why he chose to include this cover tune over dozens (if not hundreds) of more worthy original tracks from the same time period is one of life's great unsolved mysteries.
Title: Sweet Wine
Source: LP: Fresh Cream
When Cream was formed, both bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker had new music for the band to record (guitarist Eric Clapton having chosen to shut up and play his guitar for the most part). Most of these new songs, however, did not yet have words to go with the music. To remedy the situation, both musicians brought in outside lyricists. Baker chose poet Pete Brown, while Bruce chose to bring in his wife, Janet Godfrey. After a short time it became apparent that Bruce and Brown had a natural affinity for each other's material, and formed a partnership that would last years. Baker, meanwhile, tried working with Godfrey, but the two only came up with one song together, Sweet Wine, which was included on the band's debut LP, Fresh Cream.
Artist: Motorcycle Abileen
Title: (You Used To) Ride So High
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on CD: Warren Zevon: The First Sessions)
Writer(s): Warren Zevon
Label: Rhino (original label: Varese Sarabande)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2003
One of the ripple effects of the British Invasion was the near-disappearance of the solo artist from the top 40 charts for several years. There were exceptions, of course. Folk singers such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, pop singers such as Jackie DeShannon and Dionne Warwick and more adult-oriented vocalists such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin all did reasonably well, but if you wanted to be a rock and roll star you had to have a band. Producers took to creating band names for pieces that were in fact entirely performed by studio musicians, and in a few cases a solo artist would use a band name for his own recordings. One such case is the Motorcycle Abilene, which was in reality producer Bones Howe on various percussion devices working with singer/songwriter Warren Zevon, who sings and plays all non-percussion instruments on (You Used To) Ride So High, a song he wrote shortly after disbanding Lyme And Cybelle (he was Lyme).
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Tobacco Road
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s): John D. Loudermilk
Label: RCA Victor
In their early days Jefferson Airplane, like most of their contemporaries, included several cover tunes in their repertoire. Unlike many other bands, however, the Airplane managed to stamp all of their covers with their own unmistakeable sound. One solid example is Tobacco Road, a song by John D. Loudermilk that had been a hit for the British invasion band Nashville Teens in 1964. The Airplane version, which appears on their debut LP, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, takes an entirely different approach than the Teens' rendition (or the similarly styled Blues Magoos version recorded around the same time as the Airplane's), laying off the power chords in favor of a jazzier approach more in tune with guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's style.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: 59th Street Bridge Song
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Simon And Garfunkel's 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) features two members of the Dave Brubeck Quartet: bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello. The song first appeared as an album track on Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme in 1966 and was later released as the B side of the 1967 single At The Zoo. Finally in 1970 the song was re-released, this time as an A side of a single after Simon And Garfunkel had split up. In the meantime another band, Harper's Bizarre (featuring future Doobie Brothers and Van Halen producer Ted Templeman on lead vocals), scored a hit with the song in early 1967.
Artist: Yellow Balloon
Title: Yellow Balloon
Source: Mono CD: Where the Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl and included on LP: The Yellow Balloon)
Writer(s): Zeckley/St. John/Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Canterbury)
After Jan Berry's near-fatal car wreck in April of 1966, partner Dean Torrance turned to songwriter Gary Zeckley for material for a new album. Zeckley responded by writing the song Yellow Balloon, but was unhappy with Jan and Dean's recording of the song and decided to cut his own version. The resulting recording, utilizing studio musicians for the instrumental tracks was released in May of 1967 on the Canterbury label and was a moderately successful hit, peaking at #25 (Jan and Dean's version stalled out at #111).
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: Ego Trip
Source: LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
1967 was also the year of the "Boss-Town Sound", a gimmick used to promote several Boston-based bands signed to the M-G-M label (M-G-M having been asleep at the wheel during the recent band-signing frenzy in San Francisco). Derided in the music press as a crass attempt to manipulate record buyers, the ultimate victims of this fraud were the bands themselves, many of which were actually quite talented. Ultimate Spinach was the brainchild of keyboardist Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote all the material for the group's first two LPs. When the stigma of being part of the whole boss-town thing became too much to deal with, Bruce-Douglas left the group. Although the Ultimate Spinach name continued to be used, subsequent albums had little in common musically with the two Bruce-Douglas LPs.
Title: Wonder People (I Do Wonder)
Source: CD: Forever Changes (bonus track)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
It's not entirely clear why Wonder People (I Do Wonder) was left off Love's Forever Changes album when it was first released in 1967. It could have been for space considerations; after a certain point more music on an LP means a loss of audio quality in order to fit it all. Another, more likely, possibility is that the song itself just wasn't dark enough to be a good fit with the rest of Forever Changes. Whatever the reason, the song is now available as a bonus track on the remastered CD version of the album. It's definitely worth a listen.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Absolutely Positively
Source: CD: Beyond The Garage (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer: Sean Bonniwell
Label: Sundazed (original label: Original Sound)
I'm going to use Sean Bonniwell's own words to describe Absolutely Positively: "Demanding that you get what you don't have without knowing what you want is the same as wanting what you haven't got, then not wanting it after you get it." Heady stuff that describes a very American attitude that has only become even more prevalent in the years since the song was written.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Let's Talk About Girls
Source: CD: No Way Out
Writer(s): Manny Freiser
Label: Sundazed (original label: Tower)
I find it sadly ironic that the first cut on the first album released by San Jose, California's Chocolate Watchband had a vocal track by Don Bennett, a studio vocalist under contract to Tower Records, replacing the original track by Watchband vocalist Dave Aguilar. Aguilar's vocals were also replaced by Bennett's on the Watchband's cover of Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour" on the same album. In addition, there are four instrumental tracks on the album that are played entirely by studio musicians. Worse yet, the entire first side of the Watchband's second LP was done by studio musicians and the third Watchband LP featured an entirely different lineup. The final insult was when Lenny Kaye, who assembled the original Nuggets collection in the early 1970s, elected to include this recording, rather than one of the several fine tracks that actually did feature Aguilar on vocals.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)).
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in early 1967. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation.
Title: She's My Girl
Source: Mono CD: Happy Together (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Magic (original label: White Whale)
After a moderate amount of success in 1965 with a series of singles starting with a cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, the Turtles found themselves running out of steam by the end of 1966. Rather than throw in the towel, they enlisted the services of the Bonner/Gordon songwriting team (from an East Coast band called the Magicians) and recorded their most successful single, Happy Together, in 1967. They dipped into the same well for another major hit, She's My Girl, later the same year.
Title: Everybody's Been Burned
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): David Crosby
There is a common misconception that David Crosby's songwriting skills didn't fully develop until he began working with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. A listen to Everybody's Been Burned from the Byrds' 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday, however, puts the lie to that theory in a hurry. The track has all the hallmarks of a classic Crosby song: a strong melody, intelligent lyrics and an innovative chord structure. It's also my personal favorite tune from what is arguably the Byrds' best LP.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Uni)
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.
Title: Grammophone Man
Source: CD: Spirit
Like most of the tracks on Spirit's 1968 debut LP, Grammophone Man combines rock and jazz in a way that has yet to be duplicated. Rather than create a jazz/rock fusion the group chose to switch gears mid-song. After a couple of minutes of a section that can best described as light rock, the song suddenly shifts into a fast-paced bop instrumental featuring Wes Montgomery style guitar work by Randy California and a short Ed Cassidy drum solo that eventually drops the tempo for a short reprise of the piece's main section.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Gotta Get Away
Source: LP: Psychedelic Lollipop
As was common with most 1966 LPs, the Blues Magoos debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, included a handful of cover songs, not all of which had been hits for other groups. One of the non-hits was Gotta Get Away, a fairly typical piece of garage rock that opens side two of the LP. The song was also selected as the B side for the group's second (and by far most successful) single, (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet. As the usual practice was to bring in outside songwriters for a new band's early singles and let the band write their own B side, it is possible that Gotta Get Away may have been the intended A side of the single.
Artist: Status Quo
Title: Pictures Of Matchstick Men
Source: Simulated stereo CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock
Writer(s): Francis Rossi
Label: Priority (original label: Pye)
If you have ever seen the film This Is Spinal Tap, the story of Britain's Status Quo might seem a bit familiar. Signed to Pye Records in 1967 the group scored a huge international hit with their first single, Pictures Of Matchstick Men, but were unable to duplicate that success with subsequent releases. In the early 1970s the band totally reinvented itself as a boogie band and began a run in the UK that resulted in them scoring more charted singles than any other band in history, including the Beatles and Rolling Stones. For all that, however, they never again charted in the US, where they are generally remembered as one-hit wonders. In addition to their UK success, Status Quo remains immensely popular in the Scandanavian countries, where they continue to play to sellout crowds on a regular basis.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: Gentle As It May Seem
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Heavy)
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
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.