Artist: Canned Heat
Title: On The Road Again
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Label: Silver Spotlight (original label: Liberty)
Canned Heat was formed by a group of blues record collectors in San Francisco. Although their first album consisted entirely of cover songs, by their 1968 album Boogie With Canned Heat they were starting to compose their own material, albeit in a style that remained consistent with their blues roots. On The Road Again, the band's second and most successful single (peaking at # 16) from that album, is actually an updated version of a 1953 recording by Chicago bluesman Floyd Jones (which was in turn adapted from delta bluesman Tommy Johnson's 1928 recording of a song called Big Road Blues) that guitarist/vocalist Al "Blind Owl" Wilson reworked, adding a tambura drone to give the track a more psychedelic feel. Wilson actually had to retune the sixth hole of his harmonica for his solo on the track.
Source: LP: Spaceship Earth
The second Sugarloaf album saw the addition of Robert Yeazel on 2nd lead guitar to the band's lineup, adding considerably to the band's depth. Spaceship Earth, however, despite being a better album overall than their debut LP, did not have the benefit of a # 1 hit single (Green-Eyed Lady) and only made it to the # 111 spot on the Billboard albums chart. Nonetheless, the album contains many fine tracks, such as Woman, which was written by most of the band's then-current members.
Artist: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Title: Fish Song
Source: 45 RPM single B side (originally released on LP: All The Good Times)
Writer(s): Jimmie Fadden
Label: United Artists
Following the success of their 1970 album Uncle Charlie And His Dog Teddy (with the international hit Mr. Bojangles), the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band took their time on their next LP, All The Good Times. The new album had no hit singles of its own, but one track, Fish Song, was selected for release as a B side to their 1973 single Cosmic Cowboy, which, although not a big AM hit, did get some modest airplay on a handful of FM stations that were experimenting with country-rock.
Title: My Flash On You
Source: Mono CD: Love Story (originally released on 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: Balloon Farm
Title: A Question Of Temperature
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (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 this 1967 classic, originally released on the Laurie label. Band member Mike Appel went on to greater fame as Bruce Springsteen's first manager.
Artist: Max Frost And The Troopers
Title: Shape Of Things To Come
Source: CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released on LP: Wild In The Streets soundtrack)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
Max Frost was a politically savvy rock star who rode the youth movement all the way to the White House, first through getting the support of a hip young Senator, then getting the age requirements for holding high political office lowered to 21, and finally lowering the voting age to 14. Everyone over 30 was locked away in internment camps, similar to those used during WWII by various governments to hold those of questionable loyalty to the current regime. What? You don't remember any of that? You say it sounds like the plot of a cheapie late 60s teen exploitation flick? Right on all counts. "Wild in the Streets" starred Christopher Jones as the rock star, Hal Holbrook as the hip young senator, and a Poseidon Adventure-sized Shelly Winter as the rock star's interred mom. Richard Pryor, in his film debut, played the band's drummer/political activist Stanley X. Imagine that.
Artist: Kim Fowley
Source: Import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released on LP: Outrageous)
Label: Zonophone UK (original label: Imperial)
Like a hip Hollywood Forrest Gump, Kim Fowley kept popping up in various capacities throughout the 60s and 70s on records like Alley Oop (co-producer), Nut Rocker (writer, arranger) and the first three Runaways albums (producer and guy who introduced the band members to each other), working with such diverse talents as Gene Vincent, Helen Reddy and Kiss. He has also managed to rack up an impressive catalog as a solo artist, with over two dozen albums to his credit. The most successful of these was his 1968 LP Outrageous, which includes the song Bubblegum (also called Bubble Gum). Despite the title, the track has nothing in common with bands like the 1910 Fruitgum Company. In fact, the song is sometimes cited as one of the first glam-rock recordings.
Artist: Three Dog Night
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Russ Ballard
Before the Beatles came along a typical pop group consisted of three or more vocalists backed by studio musicians and performing material provided by professional songwriters. In a sense Three Dog Night was a throwback to that earlier model, as the group was formed around a nucleus of three vocalists: Chuck Negron, Cory Wells and Danny Hutton. Unlike the early 60s groups, however, Three Dog Night chose to hire a fixed set of instrumentalists to both play on their records and perform live material (most of which did indeed come from professional songwriters). One of their many hit singles was Liar, a song written by Argent's lead vocalist Russ Ballard and originally released on that group's 1970 debut LP. The Three Dog Night version went into the US top 10 in 1971.
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.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: The House At Pooniel Corners
Source: CD: Crown Of Creation
Jefferson Airplane was just starting to get political when they released their Crown Of Creation album in September of 1968. Two months later they, at the suggestion of Swiss-French filmmaker Jean-Luc Goddard, set up their equipment on a Manhattan rooftop without getting a permit and performed their most political song from the album, The House At Pooniel Corners. It should be noted that this guerilla performance happened two months before the more famous Beatles rooftop performance in London that was included in the Let It Be movie. The Airplane filmed the gig, but it was not released for several years. The full performance is now available on a DVD called Fly Jefferson Airplane.
Title: Lemonade Kid
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Kak)
Writer(s): Gary Lee Yoder
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
Kak was a group from Davis, California that was only around long enough to record one LP for Epic. That self-titled album did not make much of an impression commercially, and was soon out of print. Long after the band had split up, critics began to notice the album, and copies of the original LP are now highly-prized by collectors. Songs like the Lemonade Kid show that Kak had a sound that holds up better today than many of the other artists of the time. In fact, after listening to this track a couple times I went out and ordered a copy of the import CD reissue of the Kak album.
Artist: Tommy Boyce And Bobby Hart
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Year: Recorded 1965, released 2009
Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were really hoping to be selected for the new band that Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures was putting together to star in a new weekly TV series. To that effect they produced and recorded several of their own songs, using some of L.A's top studio musicians. Most of those recordings ended up on the first two Monkees albums, with re-recorded vocals by the four young men that were officially in the band. This early demo of Words (a song that the Monkees re-recorded in 1967 and took into the top 40 as a B side), shows what the band may have sounded like if Boyce and Hart themselves had made the cut.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Lady Jane
Source: CD: Aftermath (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
One of the best early Rolling Stones albums is 1966's Aftermath, which included such classics as Under My Thumb, Stupid Girl and the eleven-minute Goin' Home. Both the US and UK versions of the LP included the song Lady Jane, which was also released as the B side to Mother's Little Helper (which had been left off the US version of Aftermath to make room for Paint It, Black). The policy at the time was for B sides that got a significant amount of airplay to be rated separately from the A side of the single, and Lady Jane managed to climb to the # 24 spot on the Hot 100 (Mother's Little Helper peaked at # 8).
Title: Waltz Of The Flies
Source: LP: Time Out! Time In! For Them
Writer(s): Tom Lane
Once you get past the facts that 1) this a band best known as the starting place of a singer (Van Morrison) who was no longer with the group by the time this album was recorded, and 2) this album came out on Tower Records, the audio equilivant of AIP movie studios, you can appreciate the fact that Time Out! Time In! For Them is actually a pretty decent album.
Artist: Electric Flag
Title: Groovin' Is Easy
Source: Mono LP: A Long Time Comin'
Writer(s): Nick Gravenites
After leaving the Butterfield Blues Band, guitarist Michael Bloomfield hooked up with keyboardist Barry Goldberg and drummer Buddy Miles to form the Electric Flag in 1967, a band that also included vocalist/songwriter Nick Gravenites and Butterfield alumni Harvey Brooks on bass. After a soundtrack album written entirely by Bloomfield for a Peter Fonda movie called the Trip and released in 1967, the group set about recording their "official" debut LP, A Long Time Comin'. The album featured tracks from a variety of sources, including Gravenites' Groovin' Is Easy.
Artist: David Bowie
Source: CD: The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
Writer(s): David Bowie
Label: Ryko (original label: RCA Victor)
After a series of mildly successful acoustically-oriented albums such as Hunky Dory and The Man Who Sold The World, David Bowie achieved superstar status with the release of The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars in 1972. The album itself tells the story of an extra-terrestrial visitor who achieves rock star status, as described in the song Star.
Title: A Well Respected Man
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Eric (original label: Reprise)
The Kinks were one of the original British Invasion bands, scoring huge R&B-influenced hits with You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night in 1964. The hits continued in 1965 with more melodic songs like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You. 1966 saw Ray Davies's songwriting take a satiric turn, as A Well Respected Man amply illustrates. Over the next few years the Kinks would continue to evolve, generally getting decent critical reviews and moderate record sales for their albums. The title of one of those later albums, Muswell Hillbillies, refers to the Davies brothers hometown of Muswell Hill, North London.
Title: What Do You Want
Source: CD: Roger The Engineer (originally released in US as Over, Under, Sideways, Down)
Label: Great American Music (original US label: Epic)
In 1966 the Yardbirds went into the studio to record their first (and only) full-length album of original material. The album was titled simply The Yardbirds, although outside of the UK it was issued as Over, Under, Sideways, Down with an altered song lineup. The original UK cover featured a caricature of studio engineer Roger Cameron drawn by the band's rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja, and eventually the album itself came to be known unofficially as Roger The Engineer. The most recent CD issue of the album has made that the official title. All the tracks on the album are credited to the entire band, including What Do You Want, which was included on all versions of the original LP.
Title: Inside Looking Out
Source: Mono LP: Animalization
One of the last songs recorded by the Animals before their first breakup, Inside Looking Out (a powerful song about life in prison) was covered a few years later by Grand Funk Railroad, who made it one of their concert staples. This has always been one of my all-time favorite rock songs, no matter who recorded it.
Artist: Limey And The Yanks
Title: Guaranteed Love
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Star-Burst)
Limey and the Yanks were an Orange County, California band that boasted an honest-to-dog British lead vocalist. Despite being kind of Zelig-like on the L.A. scene, they only recorded two singles. The first one, Guaranteed Love, was co-written by Gary Paxton, best known for his involvement in various novelty records, including the Hollywood Argyles' Alley Oop, which he co-wrote with Kim Fowley, and Bobby "Boris" Pickett's Monster Mash, which was released on Paxton's own Garpax label.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: There's A Chance We Can Make It
Source: CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Electric Comic Book)
Following the success of (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet, the Blues Magoos released There's A Chance We Can Make It, backed with Pipe Dream, both from the Electric Comic Book album. Or possibly it was the other way around; and therein lies the problem. Mercury failed to specify which side of the record was the A side, and radio stations were equally divided as to which song to play. As a result, neither song was able to make the upper reaches of the charts, despite both being hit material.
Artist: Hearts And Flowers
Title: Tin Angel (Will You Ever Come Down)
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Larry Murray
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Hearts and Flowers (featuring a pre-Eagles Bernie Leadon on lead guitar) is known as one of the pioneering country-rock bands, but in 1968 they recorded what could well be regarded as a lost psychedelic masterpiece. Producer Steve Venet reportedly had Sgt. Pepper in mind as he crafted out Larry Murray's Tin Angel over a period of weeks, paying attention to the minutest details of the recording process. The result speaks for itself.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Crash Landing
Source: LP: People, Hell And Angels
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2013
By 1969 Jimi Hendrix had become almost as adept at expressing himself vocally as he was on the guitar. Crash Landing, essentially a jam session with improvised lyrics, contains a warning to his girlfriend to slow down on her drug use before it's too late. Many of the ideas expressed here would be refined for use in his 1970 track Freedom, which was released as a single shortly after his death. Musicians on this 1969 recording include Hendrix's longtime friend Billy Cox on bass, as well as Rocky Isaac on drums, with additional percussion provided by Al Marx.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Point Of No Return
Source: Mono CD: Ignition
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2000
Sean Bonniwell is not particularly known for his political songs, however, the few he did write and record are quite powerful. An early example is Point Of No Return, recorded shortly after the formation of the Music Machine in 1966, but not released until the 2000 CD Ignition. One unforgettable line: "Does anyone know what the asking price of life is today? Eighteen or so, and they'll wrap you up and give you away." Pretty powerful stuff, especially considering that Bonniwell, born in 1940, was well past his own teen years by 1966.
Title: Rollin' Machine
Source: LP: A Web Of Sound
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: GNP Crescendo
Is there anyone out there that really thinks this is a song about a car? I thought not.
Title: Let Me Be
Source: CD: 20 Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: It Ain't Me Babe)
Writer(s): P.F. Sloan
Label: Rhino (original label: White Whale)
The Turtles were nothing if not able to redefine themselves when the need arose. Originally a surf band known as the Crossfires, the band quickly adopted an "angry young men" stance with their first single, Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, and the subsequent album of the same name. For the follow-up single the band chose a track from their album, Let Me Be, that, although written by a different writer, had the same general message as It Ain't Me Babe. The band would soon switch over to love songs like You Baby and Happy Together before taking their whole chameleon bit to its logical extreme with an album called Battle Of The Bands on which each track was meant to sound like it was done by an entirely different band.
Artist: Mandrake Paddle Steamer
Title: Strange Walking Man
Source: Mono import CD: Insane Times (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Zonophone (UK) (originally label: Columbia UK)
Mandrake Paddle Steamer was the brainchild of art school students Martin Briley and Brian Engle, who, with producer Robert Finnis, were among the first to take advantage of EMI's new 8-track recording equipment at their Abbey Road studios. The result was Strange Walking Man, a single released in 1969. The track includes a coda created by Finnis by splicing a tape of studio musicians playing a cover version of an Incredible String Band tune, Maybe Someday.
Artist: King Crimson
Title: Happy Family
Source: British import LP: Lizard
King Crimson may well hold the record for the most lineup changes by a rock band. By the time their third album, Lizard, was released, only guitarist Robert Fripp and lyricist Peter Sinfield remained from the lineup that had created the band's debut LP. New vocalist Gordon Haskell and drummer Andy McCulloch would only stick around long enough to record one album, and never performed with the band live. Happy Family, a song about the breakup of the Beatles, is one of the most accessible tracks on the album.
Artist: Country Joe and the Fish
Title: Section 43
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer: Joe McDonald
In 1966 Country Joe and the Fish released their original mono version of an instrumental called Section 43. The song was included on a 7" EP inserted in an underground newspaper called Rag Baby. In 1967 the group recorded an expanded stereo version of Section 43 and included it on their debut LP for Vanguard Records, Electric Music For The Mind And Body. It was this arrangement of the piece that the group performed live at the Monterey International Pop Festival that June.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: No Way Out
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: No Way Out and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
The Chocolate Watchband, from the southern part of the Bay Area (specifically Foothills Junior College in Los Altos Hills), were fairly typical of the south bay music scene, centered in San Jose. Although they were generally known for lead vocalist Dave Aguilar's ability to channel Mick Jagger with uncanny accuracy, producer Ed Cobb gave them a more psychedelic sound in the studio with the use of studio effects and other enhancements (including adding tracks to their albums that were performed entire by studio musicians). The title track of No Way Out is credited to Cobb, but in reality is a fleshing out of a jam the band had previously recorded, but never released.