Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1325 (starts 6/20/13)

Artist:    Peter, Paul And Mary
Title:    Blowin' In The Wind
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1963
    Just as knowing the chords for Van Morrison's Gloria was pretty much a prerequisite for being in a garage band, being able to play Bob Dylan's Blowing In The Wind was a must for anyone attempting to play folk music at a party in the mid-1960s. If there was more than one of you singing, you most likely used the Peter, Paul and Mary arrangement of the tune, with its three-part harmony. Their version was by far the most popular recording of the song, going all the way to the # 2 spot on the top 40 charts in the summer of '63.

Artist:     Rolling Stones
Title:     No Expectations
Source:     CD: Beggar's Banquet
Writer:     Jagger/Richards
Label:     Abkco (original label: London)
Year:     1968
     After the heavy dose of studio effects on Their Satanic Majesties Request, the Rolling Stones took a back-to-basics approach for their next album, Beggar's Banquet, the first to be produced by Jimmy Miller (who had previously worked with Steve Winwood in Traffic and the Spencer Davis Group). No Expectations, the second track on the album, uses minimal instrumentation and places a greater emphasis on Mick Jagger's vocals and Brian Jones's slide guitar work. Sadly, it was to be Jones's last album as a member of the Rolling Stones, as heavy drug use was already taking its toll (and would soon take his life as well).

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Little Miss Queen Of Darkness
Source:    Mono LP: Face To Face
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1966
    Although the Kinks were putting out some of their most classic recordings in 1966 (A Well Respected Man, Sunny Afternoon), the band was beset with problems not entirely of their own making, such as being denied visas to perform in the US and having issues with their UK label, Pye Records. Among those issues was the cover of their LP Face To Face, which bandleader Ray Davies reportedly hated, as the flower power theme was not at all representative of the band's music. There were internal problems as well, with bassist Peter Quaife even quitting the band for about a month during the recording of Face To Face. Although a replacement for Quaife, John Dalton, was brought in, the only track he is confirmed to have played on was a Ray Davies tune called Little Miss Queen Of Darkness.

Artist:    Shadows Of Knight
Title:    Peepin' And Hidin'
Source:    LP: Back Door Men
Writer(s):    Jimmy Reed
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    When the Shadows Of Knight first entered the recording studio to work on their first LP, Gloria, the band featured Warren Rogers on lead guitar and Joe Kelley on bass. It soon became evident, however, the Kelley had a lot more talent as an instrumentalist than anyone had realized, and by the time the album was completed Kelley and Rogers had traded instruments. The band's second LP, Back Door Men, saw Kelley taking even a bigger role on tracks like Jimmy Reed's Peepin' And Hidin', which features Kelley on lead vocals, as well as his usual lead guitar and blues harp.

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 the duo Lyme And Cybelle (he was Lyme).

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix
Title:    New Rising Sun
Source:    CD: Voodoo Soup
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA
Year:    1968
    Although Alan Douglas is much maligned for posthumously adding new instrumental tracks to various unfinished Jimi Hendrix recordings and releasing them on albums like Midnight Lightning, he did manage to unearth a few gems as well. One such gem is a 1968 recording of New Rising Sun, which features Hendrix making a rare appearance on drums as well as playing all the guitar parts, making this a true solo recording (as far as I can tell there is no bass guitar on the track). The unusual guitar sound was achieved by feeding the entire track through either a UniVibe unit or a Leslie rotating horn speaker cabinet. As the UniVibe was not commercially available until late 1969, the Leslie seems the more likely case (although an artist of Hendrix's stature certainly could have had access to an experimental model of the UniVibe in 1968, if indeed such a model existed).

Artist:    Cat Mother And The All Night Newsboys
Title:    How I Spent My Summer
Source:    LP: The Street Giveth…and the Street Taketh Away
Writer(s):    Robert Smith
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1968
    1968 saw Jimi Hendrix getting more into the production end of the recording process, not only with his own band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but with a band from the US east coast known as Cat Mother And The All Night Newsboys. Although the band is best known for Good Old Rock And Roll, a tribute to late 50s rock pioneers, Cat Mother's music was actually rooted more in the folk and blues revival movement of the mid-60s centered in New York's Greenwich Village, as heard on tracks such as How I Spent My Summer from their Hendrix co-produced debut LP The Street Giveth…and the Street Taketh Away.

Artist:    Max Frost And The Troopers
Title:    Shape Of Things To Come
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Wild In The Streets (soundtrack))
Writer(s):    Mann/Weill
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1968
    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.

AArtist:    Them
Title:    Square Room
Source:    Mono LP: Now And Them
Writer(s):    Them
Label:    Tower
Year:    1968
     After Van Morrison left Them to try his luck as a solo artist, the rest of the band went back to Ireland, recording an album as the Belfast Gypsys before recruiting new vocalist Kenny McDowell and relocating to California. After securing a record deal with Tower Records they went to work on the Now and Them album in late 1967, releasing the LP in January of '68. The standout track of the album is the nearly ten minute Square Room, an acid rock piece that showcases the work of guitarist Jim Armstrong.

Artist:    Guess Who
Title:    Friends Of Mine
Source:    CD: Wheatfield Soul
Writer:    Bachman/Cummings
Label:    Iconoclassic (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1968
    On first listen, Friends Of Mine may appear to be a Doors ripoff, but the band members themselves claim it was inspired more by the Who's first mini-opera, A Quick One While He's Away. Regardless of the source of inspiration, this was certainly the most pyschedelic track ever released by a band known more for catchy pop ballads like These Eyes and No Sugar Tonight. Interestingly enough, RCA released a 45 RPM stereo promo of the song to radio stations, with the 10+ minute track split across the two sides of the record. I first heard this cut on the American Forces Network (AFN) in Germany on a weekly show called Underground that ran at midnight on Saturday nights. I doubt any Generals were listening.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Feelin' Alright
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Traffic)
Writer(s):    Dave Mason
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1968
    Although Traffic is generally known as an early staple of progressive FM radio, the band had its share of hit singles in its native England as well. Many of these early hits were written by guitarist/vocalist Dave Mason, who would leave the band in 1968, only to return for the live Welcome To The Canteen album before leaving again, this time for good. One of Mason's most memorable songs was Feelin' Alright, from Traffic's self-titled second LP. The song very quickly became a rock standard when Joe Cocker sped it up and made it his own signature song. Grand Funk Railroad slowed it back down and scored a hit with their version in 1971, and Mason himself got some airplay with a new solo recording of the song later in the decade. Even comedian John Belushi got into the act with his dead-on cover of Cocker's version of the song on the Saturday Night Live TV show.

Artist:     David Bowie
Title:     Andy Warhol
Source:     Stereo 45 RPM single B side (originally released on LP: Hunky Dory)
Writer:     David Bowie
Label:     RCA Victor
Year:     1971
     Although the song Changes appeared on Bowie's third LP for RCA, the label went back to Bowie's first RCA album, Hunky Dory, for the B side. The pairing makes for an interesting contrast between Bowie's pre and post Ziggy Stardust styles.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Bert's Blues
Source:    Mono LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic/Sundazed
Year:    1966
    In 1966 Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan Leitch got into a contractual dispute with his record label, Pye Records UK. Up to that point his records had appeared in the US on the independent Hickory label. Now, however, he was about to make his US major label debut (on Epic), and the dispute with Pye led to his newest album, Sunshine Superman, being released only in North America. Like Bob Dylan, Donovan was beginning to expand beyond his folk roots, but in addition to the usual rock instruments (guitar, bass, drums, organ) Donovan used older acoustic instruments such as strings and harpsichord as well as experimenting with modern jazz arrangements and instrumentation. Somehow he managed to combine all of these elements in one track, Bert's Blues. Surprisingly, it worked.

Artist:    Garden Club
Title:    Little Girl Lost-And-Found
Source:    Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s):    Walsh/Almer
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1967
    Garden Club was in reality Ruthann Friedman (who wrote the Association hit Windy) on vocals with a bunch of studio musicians performing a song co-written by Tandyn Almer (co-writer of the Association hit Along Comes Mary and inventor of the dual-chamber bong). Oddly enough, the track reminds me somehow of Suzanne Vega.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil
Source:    CD: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: After Bathing At Baxter's)
Writer(s):    Paul Kantner
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1967
    The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil (the title being a reference to Fred Neil) was never issued as a single. Nonetheless, the band decided to include it on their first anthology album, The Worst of Jefferson Airplane. This, in fact, was typical of the collection, which favored the songs the band considered their best over those that were considered the most commercial. Interesting enough, the original plan for After Bathing At Baxter's (the album the song first appeared on) was to use a nine minute live version of Ballad, but that idea was scrapped in favor of dividing the album into five suites, the first of which opened with the studio version of the tune.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    In The Morning
Source:    LP: Early Flight
Writer(s):    Jorma Kaukonen
Label:    Grunt
Year:    Recorded 1966, released 1974
    One of the earliest and best collections of previously released material from a major rock band was the Jefferson Airplane's Early Flight LP, released in 1974. Among the rarities on the LP is In The Morning, and blues jam with Jorma Kaukonen on vocals and lead guitar that runs over six minutes long. The length itself precluded the track being included on the band's debut LP, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, despite the obvious quality of the performance. The song has since been included as a bonus track on the CD version of JATO.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Somebody To Love
Source:    CD: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Surrealistic Pillow)
Writer(s):    Darby Slick
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1967
    The monster hit that put the San Francisco Bay area on the musical map in early 1967, Somebody To Love was actually the second single released from the Jefferson Airplane's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow; the first being the Skip Spence tune My Best Friend.

Artist:    Simon and Garfunkel
Title:    Sparrow
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Wednesday Morning, 3AM)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1964
    Sparrow is one of Paul Simon's most memorable tunes from the first Simon And Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning 3AM. The 1964 album failed to make the charts and was soon deleted from the Columbia catalog. The LP was re-issued in 1966 after producer Tom Wilson added electric instruments to another track from the album, The Sound Of Silence, turning Simon And Garfunkel into household names.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Ripple
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Hunter/Garcia
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    The album Live Dead was a turning point for the Grateful Dead. Up to that point the band had been trying to recreate the group's live performances in the studio. Now that that goal was accomplished, it was time to take a new look at the studio and what they would be doing in it. The answer was to concentrate on their songwriting, particularly that of Jerry Garcia and poet/lyricist Robert Hunter, who had been working with the band for a couple of years already. The next two Dead albums, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty (both released in 1970), did just that, and are among the most popular albums the band has ever recorded. There was only one single released from American Beauty, featuring Truckin', their most popular song up to that point, backed with Ripple, another Hunter/Garcia composition. These became the only two songs from American Beauty to be released in edited mono form. The distinctive mandolin work on the song came from David Grisman; it was his first of many collaborations with Garcia and the Dead.

Artist:    Warlocks
Title:    Can't Come Down
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer:    Garcia/Kreutzmann/Lesh/McKernan/Weir
Label:    Rhino
Year:    Recorded 1965
    In 1965 Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters were travelling around conducting the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests, basically an excuse to turn on people to LSD. Part of Kesey's entourage was a group of young musicians calling themselves the Warlocks. Toward the end of the year, producer Sylvester Stewart (aka Sly Stone) brought the Warlocks into the studio to cut some songs. The songs themselves did not get released until 1999, when the Warlocks (now calling themselves the Grateful Dead) decided to include them on an anthology album. The lead vocals are by guitarist Jerry Garcia, although they don't sound much like his later Grateful Dead recordings.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Truckin'
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Hunter/Garcia/Lesh/Weir
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    The nearest thing the Grateful Dead had to a hit single before 1986 was Truckin', a feelgood tune sung by Bob Weir from the American Beauty album. I actually have a video clip on DVD of the band doing the song live on some TV show.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Evil Ways
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Santana)
Writer(s):    Clarence Henry
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Evil Ways was originally released in 1968 by jazz percussionist Willie Bobo on an album of the same name. When Carlos Santana took his new band into the studio to record their first LP, they made the song their own, taking it into the top 10 in 1969.

Artist:    Wailers
Title:    I Don't Want To Follow You
Source:    Mono LP: Ain't It Hard (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Morill/Gardner
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Viva)
Year:    1967
    The Wailers could well be the most important band you've never heard of. Formed in Seattle in the late 1950s, they were the first rock band in history to form their own record label (Etiquette) and are usually thought of as the founders of the entire Seattle music scene as well. By the mid 60s the band had established itself up and down the entire West Coast, including San Francisco, where they often shared the bill with bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service. In 1967 they made a trip to L.A. to record a pair of sides for Snuff Garrett's Viva label, toning down their trademark feedback and distortion drenched sound considerably. The B side of that single, I Don't Want To Follow You, appears on the album Ain't It Hard, a collection of tracks originally released by Viva.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Take It Back
Source:    LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    RSO (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    The very first album I recorded on my dad's new Akai X-355 reel-to-reel deck was Cream's 1967 LP Disraeli Gears. It was also the very first CD I ever bought (along with Axis: Bold As Love). Does that tell you anything about my opinion of this album?

Artist:    Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title:    Why Why Why (Is It So Hard)
Source:    LP: Spirit of '67
Writer(s):    Phil Volk
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    After lead vocalist/saxophonist Mark Lindsay and bandleader/keyboardist Paul Revere, the most visible member of the Raiders was probably bassist Phil "Fang" Volk, in large part due to the band's daily national exposure on Dick Clark's afternoon pop music TV showcase Action. Such was Fang's popularity that he even got to take center stage from time to time, for example on the track Why Why Why (Is It So Hard), a song he penned himself for the group's third Columbia album, Spirit Of '67. Sadly, as the band's popularity waned following the cancellation of Action, the focus shifted almost entirely to Lindsay, and the rest of the band became little more than supporting players from 1967 on. Disenchanted with the direction the band was going, Volk, along with lead guitarist Drake Levin and drummer Mike "Smitty" Smith, left the group in 1967 to form their own band, the Brotherhood. Unfortunately, contractual problems between Columbia and the Brotherhood's label, RCA, kept their debut LP off the shelves for over a year, killing any momentum the new group may have had.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Positively 4th Street
Source:    Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    Recorded during the same 1965 sessions that produced the classic Highway 61 Revisited album, Positively 4th Street was deliberately held back for release as a single later that year. It would not appear on an LP until the first Dylan Greatest Hits album was released in 1967.

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