Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1326 (starts 6/27/13)

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    C.T.A.-102
Source:    Mono LP: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    McGuinn/Hippard
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    Roger McGuinn of the Byrds always exhibited an interest in the subject of extraterrestrial life. C.T.A.-102, from the Younger Than Yesterday album, addresses this subject from the angle of aliens tuning in to earth broadcasts to learn our language and culture and finding themselves exposed to rock and roll (and apparently liking it).

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Dr. Do-Good
Source:    CD: Underground
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    I have a theory that the decision makers at Reprise Records didn't bother to actually listen to this bit of weirdness from Underground, the second Electric Prunes album. Instead, they apparently just looked at the songwriting credits, saw that Dr. Do-Good was written by Annette Tucker and Nancy Mantz (the same songwriting team that had come up with the band's first big hit, I Had Too Much To Dream), and decided to issue it as the first single from the album, leaving everyone, including producer Dave Hassinger and the band members themselves, scratching their heads.

Artist:    Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title:    Incense And Peppermints (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Source:    Mono CD: Psychedelic Pop
Writer(s):    Carter/Gilbert/Weitz/King
Label:    BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Uni)
Year:    1967
    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.

Artist:    Spats
Title:    She Done Moved
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Dick And Bud Johnson
Label:    Rhino (original label: ABC Paramount)
Year:    1966
    ABC Paramount was a record label specifically formed to release records by artists who appeared on the ABC TV network (which was owned by the Paramount theater chain, which in turn had originally been owned by Paramount Pictures, who had divested themselves of the theater chain as a result of an anti-trust action). By the 60s the label had expanded into a major player in the industry with artists ranging from teen-idol Steve Alaimo to R&B favorites like the Impressions and the Tams. In 1966 they dropped the Paramount from their name and became simply ABC records (using the TV network logo). One of the last singles released before the change was She Done Moved, a middle-class teenager's lament from the Spats, an Orange County, California band led by brothers Dick and Bud Johnson. The song describes the heartbreak of having one's girlfriend suddenly relocate to another town, in this case Kansas City. As a military brat myself, I can relate somewhat.

Artist:    Remains
Title:    Don't Look Back
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Billy Vera
Label:    Rhino (original label: Epic)
Year:    1966
    The Remains were a Boston area band that were seemingly on the verge of finally hitting the big time in 1966. They had just finished opening for the Beatles on their last US tour and had procured the rights to record a song written by Billy Vera, who would score a huge hit of his own 20 years later with At This Moment. Somehow, though, Don't Look Back didn't make the charts, despite its obvious potential. It was the last of a series of disappointments for a group that had been cutting records since 1964, and they soon packed up their instruments for the last time.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Big Black Smoke
Source:    Mono CD: Face To Face (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Sanctuary (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    The Kinks had some of the best non-album sides of the 60s. Case in point: Big Black Smoke, which appeared as the B side of Dead End Street in November of 1966. The song deals with a familiar phenomenon of the 20th century: the small town girl that gets a rude awakening after moving to the big city. In this case the city was London, known colloquially as "the Smoke".

Artist:     McKendree Spring
Title:     Down By The River
Source:     LP: McKendree Spring 3
Writer:     Neil Young
Label:     Decca
Year:     1972
     Decca Records was considered one of the "big six" record companies of the 50s-60s, and one of the three based in New York. Unlike RCA Victor and Columbia, which had offices and studios on both coasts, Decca remained primarily an East Coast label, with a generous helping of imports supplementing the local talent. One of the last acts signed by the label was McKendree Spring, from Glens Falls, NY. Best described as a progressive folk-rock band, the group supplemented its basic rock instrumentation with violin, viola and synthesizers, all provided by Dr. Michael Dreyfuss. Their third album, released in 1972, starts off with a powerful version of the Neil Young classic Down By The River.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix
Title:    Somewhere
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Legacy
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 2013
    Although the Jimi Hendrix Experience did not officially disband until 1969, Hendrix himself was spending more and more time working with musicians outside the band as early as 1968. The Electric Ladyland album itself features guest appearances by the likes of Steve Winwood, Buddy Miles and Chris Wood, among others, and for years there have been even more recordings by non-Experience members rumored to exist. Among those legendary tracks is Somewhere, a piece that features Miles on drums, and, unusually, Stephen Stills on bass. In addition to a special 45 RPM single release, Somewhere is available on the 2013 album People, Hell and Angels. According to engineer Eddie Kramer, this is the final collection of unreleased studio tracks to be issued by the Hendrix family estate.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    I Don't Live Today
Source:    CD: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Some things stick in your mind for the rest of your life. One of those for me is seeing for the first time a black light poster of Jimi Hendrix playing his guitar with the caption I Don't Live Today. I don't believe Hendrix was being deliberately prophetic when he wrote and recorded this classic track for the Are You Experienced album, but it still spooks me a bit to hear it, even now.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix (Band Of Gypsys)
Title:    Power Of Soul
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Legacy
Year:    Recorded 1970, released 2013
    1969 was a strange year for Jimi Hendrix. For one thing, he did not release any new recordings that year, yet he remained the top money maker in rock music. One reason for the lack of new material was an ongoing dispute with Capitol Records over a contract he had signed in 1965. By the end of the year an agreement was reached for Hendrix to provide Capitol with one album's worth of new material. At this point Hendrix had not released any live albums, so it was decided to tape his New Year's performances at the Fillmore East with his new Band Of Gypsys (with drummer Buddy Miles and bassist Billy Cox), playing songs that had never been released in studio form. As it turns out, however, studio versions of many of the songs on that album did indeed exist, but were not issued until after Hendrix's death, when producer Alan Douglas put out a pair of LPs (Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning), that had some of the original drum and bass tracks (and even some guitar tracks) re-recorded by musicians that had never actually worked with Hendrix. One of those songs is Power Of Soul, which has finally been released in its original Band Of Gypsys studio version, with background vocals provided by Cox and Miles.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    White Rabbit
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Surrealistic Pillow)
Writer(s):    Grace Slick
Label:    Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1967
    The first time I heard White Rabbit was on Denver's first FM rock station, KLZ-FM. The station branded itself as having a top 100 (as opposed to local ratings leader KIMN's top 60), and prided itself on being the first station in town to play new releases and album tracks. It wasn't long before White Rabbit was officially released as a single, and went on to become a top 10 hit, the last for the Airplane.

Artist:    Generation
Title:    I'm A Good Woman
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on CD: Golden State Soul)
Writer(s):    Barbara Ozen
Label:    Rhino (original label: Ace/Kent)
Year:    Recorded 1967, released 2000
    Even as the original wave of San Francisco psychedelic bands were at their peak, a new, more dance-oriented group of bands were starting to fill the various ballrooms in the bay area. These new groups were built on a solid R&B base and included Tower of Power and Sly and the Family Stone, as well as a lesser-known band called The Generation. The Generation's main attraction was vocalist Lydia Pense, who, despite a petit frame, had one of the most powerful voices on the scene. The Generation managed to get into a recording studio to cut I'm A Good Woman and a few other tracks in 1967 before changing their name to Cold Blood the following year. Cold Blood continues to perform with Pense as the only original member still with the group. Their most recent album was a live CD released in 2008.

Artist:    Circus Maximus
Title:    Chess Game
Source:    CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s):    Bob Bruno
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Circus Maximus was driven by the dual creative talents of keyboardist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker. Although Walker went on to have the greatest success, it was Bruno's more jazz-influenced songwriting on songs like Chess Game that defined the band's sound.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Lucifer Sam
Source:    Mono CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Writer(s):    Syd Barrett
Label:    Capitol (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    Beyond a shadow of a doubt the original driving force behind Pink Floyd was the legendary Syd Barrett. Not only did he front the band during their rise to fame, he also wrote their first two singles, Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, as well as most of their first LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. In fact it could be argued that one of the songs on that album, Lucifer Sam, could have just as easily been issued as a single, as it is stylistically similar to the first two songs. Sadly, Barrett's mental health deteriorated quickly over the next year and his participation in the making of the band's next LP, A Saucerful Of Secrets, was minimal. He soon left the group altogether, never to return (although several of his former bandmates did participate in the making of his 1970 solo album, The Madcap Laughs).

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Act Naturally
Source:    LP: Yesterday…And Today
Writer(s):    Russell/Morrison
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1965
     Act Naturally, featuring Ringo Starr on lead vocals, was a country hit for Buck Owens. It is also one of the songs left off the US version of the Help! album and included on Yesterday and Today instead.

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    The Pusher
Source:    CD: Easy Rider Soundtrack (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf)
Writer(s):    Hoyt Axton
Label:    MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1968
    While AM radio was all over Born To Be Wild in 1968 (taking the song all the way to the # 2 spot on the top 40 charts), the edgier FM stations were playing heavier tunes from the debut Steppenwolf album. The most controversial (and thus most popular) of these heavier tunes was Hoyt Axton's The Pusher, with it's repeated use of the line "God damn the Pusher." Axton himself did not record the song until 1971, at which point the song was already burned indelibly in the public consciousness as a Steppenwolf tune.

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Magic Carpet Ride
Source:    CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf The Second)
Writer(s):    Moreve/Kay
Label:    Priority (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1968
    Steppenwolf's second top 10 single was Magic Carpet Ride, a song that combines feedback, prominent organ work by Goldy McJohn and an updated Bo Diddly beat with psychedelic lyrics. Along with Born To Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride (co-written by vocalist John Kay and bassist Rushton Moreve) has become one of the defining songs of both Steppenwolf and the late 60s.

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Born To Be Wild
Source:    CD: Easy Rider Soundtrack (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf)
Writer(s):    Mars Bonfire
Label:    MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1968
    Born To Be Wild's status as a counter-cultural anthem was cemented when it was chosen for the soundtrack of the movie Easy Rider. The popularity of both the song and the movie resulted in Steppenwolf becoming the all-time favorite band of bikers all over the world.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    Cheryl's Going Home
Source:    CD: Blues Project Anthology (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer(s):    Bob Lind
Label:    Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
Year:    1966
    It's kind of odd to hear a cover of a Bob Lind B side on an album by a band known for its progressive approach to the blues, but that's exactly what Cheryl's Going Home is. They did a pretty nice job with it, too.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Soul Kitchen
Source:    CD: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    Soul Kitchen was one of the more popular tracks from the Doors' first LP and has been included on at least one Greatest Hits collection. The Greatest Hits version, however, is the slightly slowed down stereo mix, which was the only version in print for nearly 40 years. This week we have the original mono mix, played at the actual speed at which it was recorded.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    As Kind As Summer
Source:    LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer(s):    Markley/Harris
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    The first time I heard As Kind As Summer from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil I jumped up to see what was wrong with my turntable. A real gotcha moment.

Artist:    Frijid Pink
Title:    Drivin' Blues
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Thompson/Beaudry
Label:    Parrot
Year:    1969
    Frijid Pink released two singles before hitting it big with their third, a distortion-ridden version of House Of The Rising Sun, in late 1969. The A side of their second single, Drivin' Blues, was recycled as the B side of House. I guess that's one way of getting your original material into the hands of the record buying public.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Shanghai Noodle Factory
Source:    LP: Last Exit
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi/Wood/Miller/Fallon
Label:    Island (original U.S. label: United Artists)
Year:    1968
    After Traffic split up (for the first time), Island Records decided to milk one more album out of one their most popular groups. To do so they took studio outtakes, singles that had not been included on previous albums and even an entire side of live performances, issuing the entire package in 1969 under the title Last Exit. Shanghai Noodle Factory, a song that was recorded without the participation of guitarist Dave Mason, was originally released in late 1968 as the B side of the Medicated Goo single.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Ruby Tuesday
Source:    LP: Through The Past, Darkly
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    One of the most durable songs in the Rolling Stones catalog, Ruby Tuesday was originally intended to be the B side of their 1967 single Let's Spend The Night Together. Many stations, however, balked at the subject matter of the A side and began playing Ruby Tuesday instead, which is somewhat ironic considering the song was about a groupie of the band's acquaintance.

Artist:    Herbal Mixture
Title:    Please Leave My Mind
Source:    British mono CD: Insane Times
Writer(s):    Tony McPhee
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Columbia UK)
Year:    1966
    After a stint backing up John Lee Hooker, guitarist T.S. McPhee branched out on his own with a band called Herbal Mixture in 1966. The group only cut two singles for the British Columbia label, the second of which featured a song that McPhee wrote called Please Leave My Mind as its B side. Eventually McPhee would come to greater fame as leader of the Groundhogs in the early 70s.

Artist:    Beau Brummels
Title:    Just A Little
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Elliott/Durand
Label:    Rhino (original label: Autumn)
Year:    1965
    Often dismissed as an American imitation of British Invasion bands such as the Beatles, the Beau Brummels actually played a pivotal role in rock music history. Formed in San Francisco in 1964, the Brummels were led by Ron Elliott, who co-wrote most of the band's material, including their two top 10 singles in 1965. The second of these, Just A Little, is often cited as the first folk-rock hit, as it was released a week before the Byrds' recording of Mr. Tambourine Man. According to Elliott, the band was not trying to invent folk-rock, however. Rather, it was their own limitations as musicians that forced them to work with what they had: solid vocal harmonies and a mixture of electric and acoustic guitars. Elliott also credits the contributions of producer Sylvester Stewart for the song's success. Conversely, Just A Little was Stewart's greatest success as a producer prior to forming his own band, Sly and the Family Stone, in 1967.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Living In The Past
Source:    Lebanese 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    By the end of the 1960s most UK labels had abandoned the British tradition of not including singles on LPs. One notable exception was Island Records, who continued to issue mutually exclusive Jethro Tull albums, singles and EPs into the early 1970s. Among those non-LP tracks was the 1969 single Living In The Past, which would not be included on an LP until 1972, when the song became the title track of a double LP Jethro Tull retrospective. The song then became a hit all over again, including in the US, where the original single had not been issued at all.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    As The Sun Still Burns Away
Source:    CD: Cricklewood Green
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Chrysalis (original label: Deram)
Year:    1970
    Generally considered to be Ten Years After's best album, Cricklewood Green featured such FM radio staples as Me And My Baby, 50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain and Love Like A Man. Another song to get airplay was As The Sun Still Burns Away, the final track on the album. Like Love Like A Man and other popular TYA tunes, As The Sun Still Burns Away is built on a repeating bass riff that is paralleled and sometimes embellished by Lee's guitar and Chick Churchill's keyboards.

Artist:    Dale Dale/Stevie Ray Vaughan
Title:    Pipeline
Source:    CD: The Best Of Dick Dale And His Del-Tones (originally released on LP: Back To The Beach soundtrack and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Spickard/Carmen
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1987
    As a one-time special treat we have a 1987 collaboration between two hall of fame guitarists: Dick Dale and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Dale was (and still is) known as the "King of the Surf Guitar" for good reason. He virtually invented the genre and was the man selected by Fender instruments to road test their new guitar amplifiers with built in reverberation units in the early 60s. Although he had few national hits (none of them making the upper reaches of the charts), his style of playing influenced every surf group from the Ventures to Jan and Dean. Stevie Ray Vaughan, of course, was one of the most respected electric blues guitarists to emerge from the Lone Star state in the 1980s, whose career was cut short by a tragic helicopter crash. The two of them got together to make just one recording: a searing remake of the Chantays' classic Pipeline for the soundtrack of the film Back To The Beach in 1987.

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