Title: Take It As It Comes
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: The Doors)
Writer(s): The Doors
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
L.A.'s Whisky-A-Go-Go was the place to be in 1966. Not only were some of the city's hottest bands playing there, but for a while the house band was none other than the Doors, playing a mixture of blues covers and original tunes. One evening in early August Jack Holzman, president of Elektra Records, and producer Paul Rothchild were among those attending the club, having been invited there to hear the Doors by Arthur Lee (who with his band Love was already recording for Elektra). After hearing two sets Holzman signed the group to a contract with the label, making the Doors only the second rock band on the Elektra label (the Butterfield Blues Band, although technically not a rock band, is considered by some to be the first, predating Love by several months). By the end of the month the Doors were in the studio recording songs like Take It As It Comes for their debut LP, which was released in January of 1967.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Death Sound Blues
Source: CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
I generally use the term "psychedelic" to describe a musical attitude that existed during a particular period of time rather than a specific style of music. On the other hand, the term "acid rock" is better suited for describing music that was composed and/or performed under the influence of certain mind-expanding substances. That said, the first album by Country Joe and the Fish is a classic example of acid rock. I mean, really, is there any other way to describe Death Sound Blues than "the blues on acid"?
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In) (originally released on LP: No Way Out and as 45 RPM single)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
It took me several years to sort out the convoluted truth behind the recorded works of San Jose, California's most popular local band, the Chocolate Watchband. While it's true that much of what was released under their name was in fact the work of studio musicians, there are a few tracks that are indeed the product of Dave Aguilar and company. Are You Gonna Be There, a song used in the cheapie teenspliotation flick the Love-In and included on the Watchband's first album, is one of those few. Even more ironic is the fact that the song was co-written by Don Bennett, the studio vocalist whose voice was substituted for Aguilar's on a couple of other songs from the same album.
Artist: Music Explosion
Title: Little Bit O' Soul
Source: CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1967 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Laurie)
Mansfield, Ohio, was home to the Music Explosion who made their mark as one-hit wonders in early 1967 with Little Bit O' Soul, a kind of primer on how to make a living as a rock band in the mid-60s in the American heartland. The Kazenatz-Katz production was an early forerunner of the bubble-gum movement that would dominate the top 40 charts the following year.
Title: Another Girl
Source: CD: Help!
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
A few years ago I picked up a DVD collection of every Beatle song that has video or film footage to go with it, including all the songs used in the film Help! One of my favorites is Paul McCartney's Another Girl. In the film, McCartney is seen standing behind a girl in a bikini playing air guitar (using her right arm as a guitar neck). Luckily, he wasn't finger picking.
Title: She's Leaving Home
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
One of the striking things about the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the sheer variety of songs on the album. Never before had a rock band gone so far beyond its roots in so many directions at once. One of Paul McCartney's most poignant songs on the album was She's Leaving Home. The song tells the story of a young girl who has decided that her stable homelife is just too unfulling to bear and heads for the big city. Giving the song added depth is the somewhat clueless response of her parents, who can't seem to understand what went wrong.
Title: The Night Before
Source: CD: Help!
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Paul McCartney was on a roll in 1965, writing several of his best songs that year (including the most covered song in the Beatles catalog, Yesterday), and playing lead guitar on several of them as well. A prime example is The Night Before from the film Help! The song boasts a sophisticated melody and chord structure without sacrificing commercial appeal. The electric piano on the song is played by John Lennon.
rtist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Blues From An Airplane
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
Blues From An Airplane was the opening song on the first Jefferson Airplane album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Although never released as a single, it was picked by the group to open their first anthology album, The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane, as well.
Source: CD: Fresh Cream
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
When the album Fresh Cream was released by Atco in the US it was missing one track that was on the original UK version of the album: the original studio version of Willie Dixon's Spoonful. A live version of Spoonful was included on the LP Wheels of Fire, but it wasn't until the 1970 soundtrack album for the movie Homer that the studio version was finally released in the US.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: A Hazy Shade Of Winter
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Writer: Paul Simon
Originally released as a single in late 1966, A Hazy Shade Of Winter was one of several songs slated to be used in the film The Graduate. The only one of these actually used was Mrs. Robinson. The remaining songs eventually made up side two of the 1968 album Bookends, although several of them were also released as singles throughout 1967. A Hazy Shade Of Winter, being the first of these singles (and the only one released in 1966), was also the highest charting, peaking at # 13 just as the weather was turning cold.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
Source: 45 RPM single
By mid-1966 there was a population explosion of teenage rock bands popping up in garages and basements all across the US, the majority of which were doing their best to emulate the grungy sound of their heroes, the Rolling Stones. The Stones themselves responded by ramping up the grunge factor to a previously unheard of degree with their last single of the year, Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow? It was the most feedback-laden record ever to make the top 40 at that point in time, and it inspired America's garage bands to buy even more powerful amps and crank up the volume (driving their parents to drink in the process).
Title: Country Dawg
Source: LP: Spaceship Earth
Writer(s): Robert Yeazel
Although it was considered a major city even in the 1960s, Denver, Colorado did not have the most vibrant of local music scenes. Why this was is a mystery to me, and I lived there until I was 14. The area has produced some successful bands over the years, however, and possibly the most successful of these was Sugarloaf, named for a nearby mountain (and ski resort). The band's second LP, Spaceship Earth, saw the addition of Robert Yeazel on guitar, who wrote several of the songs on the album, including Country Dawg.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Let's Work Together
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Wilbert Harrison
By a rather odd twist of fate Wilbert Harrison, known primarily for his 50s hit Kansas City, decided to reissue one of his lesser-known tunes, Let's Work Together, just a few weeks before a new Canned Heat version of the song was released in 1970. As it turns out, neither version became a major hit, although the Canned Heat version did get some airplay and managed to crack the Billboard Hot 100 that year.
Artist: Rovin' Flames
Title: How Many Times
Source: Mono LP: Pebbles Vol. 8 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: BFD (original label: Decca)
Tampa, Florida was home to the Rovin' Flames, who released a handful of singles for various local labels in 1965-66. After replacing their drummer and lead vocalist, the band landed a contract with Decca, at the time one of the "big six" record labels. The resulting single, How Many Times, co-written by new vocalist John Delise and released in 1967, was not the hit they hoped for, but thanks to its inclusion on various compilation albums over the years has become the Rovin' Flames' best-known recording.
Artist: Dave Clark Five
Title: She's A Lovin' Girl
Source: Mono LP: I Like It Like That
One of the few British Invasion bands to actually rival the Beatles in popularity, the Dave Clark Five were formed as a means to generate income for Clark's football (soccer to us colonials) team. Although primarily known as a singles band (as were most rock bands at the time), the DC5 did record a handful of decent LP tracks, including She's A Lovin' Girl from their 1965 album I Like It Like That.
Title: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor
Source: 45 RPM single B side
By 1967 the Yardbirds had moved far away from their blues roots and were on their fourth lead guitarist, studio whiz Jimmy Page. The band had recently picked up a new producer, Mickey Most, known mostly for his work with Herman's Hermits and the original Animals. Most had a tendency to concentrate solely on the band's single A sides, leaving Page an opportunity to develop his own songwriting and production skills on songs such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, a track that also shows signs of Page's innovative guitar style that would help define 70s rock.
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 in the late 80s. Other than that, nothing.
Artist: Moby Grape
Source: LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s): Skip Spence
As an ill-advised promotional gimmick, Columbia Records released five separate singles concurrently with the first Moby Grape album. Of the five singles, only one, Omaha, actually charted, and it only got to the #86 spot. Meanwhile, the heavy promotion by the label led to Moby Grape getting the reputation of being over-hyped, much to the detriment of the band's career.
Title: Up All Night
Source: Mono import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and on LP: Milestones)
Label: Zonophone UK (original US label: Capitol)
Stylistic and regional contemporaries of bands such as the MC5 and the Amboy Dukes, SRC were formed in 1965 as the Tremelos, soon changing their name to the Fugitives and releasing four singles and an album on various local Detroit labels. They released their first records under the name SRC in 1967, a pair of singles for the A[squared] label, which led to a contract with Capitol that resulted in one album per year from 1968-70. The most successful of these was the 1969 LP Milestones, which included the single Turn Into Love and its B side, Up All Night. After being dropped from the Capitol roster the group continued on for a couple more years, releasing a final single under the name Blue Scepter for Rare Earth Records in 1972.
Title: St. James Infirmary
Source: CD: Zephyr
Writer(s): J. Primrose
Label: One Way (original label: Probe)
Although most of the tracks on the first Zephyr album were written by members of the Boulder, Colorado band, there were a couple of cover tunes on it as well. The better of these was St. James Infirmary, a torch song made famous by Louis Armstrong in 1928, but whose origins can be traced to the 18th century. The track showcases both the multi-octave vocal capabilities of Candy Givens and the ability of guitarist Tommy Bolin to play jazz licks in addition to his more common blues-rock style.
Artist: It's A Beautiful Day
Title: Girl With No Eyes
Source: CD: It's A Beautiful Day
Writer(s): Linda and David LaFlamme
Label: San Francisco Sound (original label: Columbia)
The truth of the adage that adversity fuels creativity is nowhere more evident than on the 1969 debut album of San Francisco's It's A Beautiful Day. The band had spent much of the previous year in Seattle, Washington in a tiny room above the San Francisco Sound, a less-than-popular club owned by their manager, Matthew Katz. As the house band at the club, It's A Beautiful Day ostensibly got a percentage of the door, but as the place always had poor attendance the band was pretty much broke the entire time they spent there, making them virtual prisoners. During this time the husband and wife team of David and Linda LaFlamme concentrated on their songwriting, coming up with the material that eventually became the group's first album. The best of these tracks were collaborations between the two, including the band's signature song, White Bird, and the gentle Girl With No Eyes, which closes out side one of the original LP. Ironically, once the group was successful the LaFlammes split up, with Linda leaving the band altogether. Although It's A Beautiful Day continued on with a new keyboardist, David LaFlamme's solo material was not as strong as his collaborations with Linda and the group eventually disbanded.
Title: The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys
Source: CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys)
Traffic was formed in 1967 by guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Steve Winwood, drummer/vocalist Jim Capaldi, flautist/saxophonist Chris Wood and bassist/multi-instrumentalist Dave Mason. Winwood, at 18 the youngest member of the band, was already an established star as lead vocalist of the Spencer Davis Group, and it was in part his desire for more creative freedom that led to Traffic's formation. From the beginning there was creative tension within the band, and less than two years later the group broke up when Winwood left to join Blind Faith. In early 1970, following the demise of Blind Faith, Winwood began working on a solo album that ended up being a new Traffic album, John Barleycorn Must Die, instead. This was followed in 1971 by the band's most successful album, The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys. The long title track (eleven and a half minutes' worth) shows a more relaxed sounding band, with Wood, Capaldi, new bassist Rich Grech and percussionist Reebop Kwaku Baah creating a moody backdrop for Winwood's interpretation of Capaldi's somewhat cynical lyrics. Despite its length, The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys became a staple of FM rock stations for many years.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Atom Heart Mother Suite
Source: LP: Atom Heart Mother
The longest continuous piece of music ever committed to vinyl by Pink Floyd was not something from the Wall or Dark Side of the Moon, but the 23 1/2 minute Atom Heart Mother Suite (Shine On You Crazy Diamond is actually longer, but was interrupted by being split across two sides of an LP with other tracks between the two parts). The suite was also the last Pink Floyd piece to credit anyone outside the band as a songwriter; in this case Scottish composer/arranger Ron Geesin, who was brought in to help orchestrate and tie together the various sections of the piece. Primarily an instrumental, the piece has several distinct sections, although on vinyl and most CDs it is treated as a single track. Indeed, the drum and bass parts, which were the first tracks recorded, were recorded as a continuous take, giving the entire piece a consistent tempo throughout. The title was taken from a newspaper headline about a pregnant woman who had been fitted with a pacemaker; the actual headline was "Atom Heart Mother Found". Pink Floyd originally performed the suite live with a full orchestra, but after losing money on the tour decided to perform a pared down version and after a couple of years stopped performing the piece altogether. In recent years none of the band members has had anything good to say about the Atom Heart Mother Suite. Nonetheless, the piece stands as an important step on Pink Floyd's trip to the Dark Side of the Moon.
Artist: Savoy Brown
Title: Life's One Act Play
Source: Import CD: A Step Further
Writer(s): Chris Youlden
Label: Deram UK (original US label: Parrot)
Like many British blues bands, Savoy Brown had almost as many lineup changes as they did albums. In fact, it wasn't until their fourth LP, A Step Further, released in 1969, that the same two group of musicians appeared on two consecutive albums. This would, however, be the last Savoy Brown album to include lead vocalist and frontman Chris Youlden, who wrote several songs on the album, including Life's One Act Play. The band is supplemented on the track by a rather large string and horn section that would be absent from the group's next LP, Looking In.