Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1327 (starts 7/4/13)

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband
Title:    Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released on LP: No Way Out and as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    McElroy/Bennett
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    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:    Traffic
Title:    Smiling Phases
Source:    CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi/Wood
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
    The standard practice in the UK during the 60s was to not include songs that had been released as singles on LPs. This left several songs, such as the 1967 B side Smiling Phases, only available on 45 RPM vinyl until the group's first greatest hits anthology was released. In the US the song was more widely circulated, having been included on the American version of Traffic's debut LP (originally issued as Heaven Is In Your Mind but soon retitled Mr. Fantasy). Smiling Phases has since come to be recognized as one of Traffic's most iconic tunes, and has been covered by such bands as Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    Here's Where You Belong
Source:    CD: Part One
Writer(s):    P.F. Sloan
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    If Here's Where You Belong sounds like it might have been a Turtles song, there's good reason for it. Many of the early Turtles hits were written by L.A. songwriter P.F. Sloan, who also wrote Barry McGuire's Eve Of Destruction and, with partner Steve Barri, was the driving force behind the Grass Roots in the early 1970s. A chance meeting between Sloan and the members of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band at a taping for the Ed Sullivan show led to the band recording Here's Where You Belong for their first major label album, Part One, released in early 1967. It was, as it turned out, the band's most commercial sounding release, although, oddly enough, it was never issued as a single.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    I Need You
Source:    Mono LP: Kinkdom
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1965
    After a series of hard-rocking hits in 1964 such as You Really Got Me, the Kinks mellowed out a bit with songs like Set Me Free the following year. Lurking on the other side of the single, though, was a song that showed that the band still knew how to rock out: I Need You. The song was also included on the 1965 LP Kinks Kinkdom, and went on to become something of a garage rock standard.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Mother's Little Helper
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1966
    By 1966 the Rolling Stones had already had a few brushes with the law over their use of illegal drugs. Mother's Little Helper, released in spring of 1966, is a scathing criticism of the parents of the Stones' fans for their habitual abuse of "legal" prescription drugs while simultaneously persecuting those same fans (and the band itself) for smoking pot. Perhaps more than any other song that year, Mother's Little Helper illustrates the increasingly hostile generation gap that had sprung up between the young baby boomers and the previous generation.

Artist:    Rumors
Title:    Hold Me Now
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Turner/Prinsky
Label:    Rhino (original label: Gemcor)
Year:    1965
    The Rumors are in some ways the prototypical west coast garage-rock band. Formed sometime around 1963, the band slowly built up a following that eventually led to them cutting a record for Gemcor, a small local label owned by Gary Paxton, producer of such novelty records as Alley Oop and Monster Mash. The song they chose was a crowd favorite that they retitled Hold Me Now (the original title having a considerably less radio-friendly verb). As it turned out, the record's only airplay was as the song that got interrupted by "Officer Big Mac" announcing a "McDonald's Alert" in a local radio commercial (ironically before the title of the song even came up in the lyrics). Thus we have a case of not 15 minutes, but merely 15 seconds, of fame.

Artist:    Lowell George And The Factory
Title:    Candy Cane Madness
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on CD: Lightning-Rod Man)
Writer(s):    George/Klein
Label:    Rhino (original label: Bizarre/Straight)
Year:    Recorded 1966, released 1993
    Toward the end of 1966 a band called the Factory appeared on the L.A. club scene. They managed to book studio time, but were never able to find a label willing to release the tracks they recorded. Band member Lowell George would later go on to produce other artists such as the GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously) for Frank Zappa's Bizarre Productions and finally become famous as the founder of the band Little Feat. Eventually the old Factory tracks were issued on a CD on the Bizarre/Straight label originally founded by Zappa.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Source:    LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    The top album of 1967 was the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was also the first US Beatle album to have a song lineup that was identical to the original UK LP. As such, it was also the first Beatle album released in the US to not include any songs that were also released as singles. Nonetheless, several tracks from the LP found their way onto the playlists of both top 40 AM and "underground" FM stations from coast to coast. Among the most popular of these tracks was John Lennon's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, which shows up on just about everyone's list of classic psychedelic tunes.

Artist:     Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:     One Rainy Wish
Source:     CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer:     Jimi Hendrix
Label:     MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:     1967
     In the summer of 1967 my dad (who was a Sergeant in the Air Force), got transferred to Lindsay Air Station in Weisbaden, Germany. The housing situation there being what it was, it was several weeks before the rest of us could join him, and during that time he went out and bought an Akai X-355 reel to reel tape recorder that a fellow GI had picked up in Japan. The Akai had small speakers built into it, but the best way to listen to it was through headphones. It would be another year before he would pick up a turntable, so I started buying pre-recorded reel to reel tapes. Two of the first three tapes I bought were Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold As Love, both by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. As I was forced to share a bedroom with my little brother I made it a habit to sleep on the couch instead, usually with the headphones on listening to Axis: Bold As Love. I was blown away by the stereo effects on the album, which I attributed (somewhat correctly) to Hendrix, although I would find out years later that much of the credit belongs to engineer Eddie Kramer as well. One Rainy Wish, for example, starts off with all the instruments in the center channel (essentially a mono mix). After a few seconds of slow spacy intro the song gets into gear with vocals isolated all the way over to the left, with a guitar overdub on the opposite side to balance it out. As the song continues, things move back and forth from side to side, fading in and out at the same time. It was a hell of a way to drift off to sleep every night.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less)
Source:    CD: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    For a follow-up to the hit single I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), producer Dave Hassinger chose another Annette Tucker song (co-written by Jill Jones) called Get Me To The World On Time. This was probably the best choice from the album tracks available, but Hassinger may have made a mistake by choosing Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less) as the B side. That song, written by the same Tucker/Mantz team that wrote I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) could quite possibly been a hit single in its own right if it had been issued as an A side. I guess we'll never know for sure.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Cream Puff War
Source:    CD: The Grateful Dead
Writer(s):    Jerry Garcia
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1967
    The first Grateful Dead album was recorded in a matter of days, and was mostly made up of cover tunes that the band was currently performing. The two exceptions were The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion), which was credited to the entire band, and Cream Puff War, a song written by guitarist Jerry Garcia. The two tracks were paired up on the band's first single as well. Cream Puff War, as recorded, ran nearly three and a half minutes, but was edited down to 2:28 at the insistence of the corporate shirts at Warner Brothers Records.

Artist:    Janis Joplin
Title:    Work Me Lord
Source:    Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer(s):    Nick Gravenites
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1969
    After leaving Big Brother and the Holding Company in late 1968 Janis Joplin formed a new outfit, the Kozmic Blues Band, to back her up, both in concert and on her first solo LP, I Got Dem 'Ol Kozmic Blues Again Mama. Although there was indisputedly a greater amount of raw talent in the new band, they lacked synergy with Joplin's style and ultimately failed to provide a proper vehicle for her talents. This became quite evident when she and the new band performed a set that failed to excite the crowd at Woodstock. The closest they came was with a performance of Work Me Lord, a song written specifically for Joplin by Nick Gravenites of the Electric Flag (another band that failed to live up to its potential).

Artist:    Donovan/Jeff Beck Group
Title:    Goo Goo Barabajabal (Love Is Hot)
Source:    CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released on LP: Barabajagal)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Sony Music Special Products (original label: Epic)
Year:    1969
    Donovan Leitch enlisted the Jeff Beck Group as collaborators for Goo Goo Barabajabal (Love Is Hot), a track from his 1969 Barabajal album. Sometimes the song itself is erroreously referred to as Barabajabal, making for a bit of confusion.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Sunny South Kensington
Source:    Mono British import CD: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    EMI (original label: Epic)
Year:    1967
    Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan Leitch followed up his 1966 hit single Sunshine Superman with an album of the same name. He then repeated himself with the song and album Mellow Yellow. Although there were no other singles released from either album, the song Sunny South Kensington, which was done in much the same style as Superman, was a highlight of the Mellow Yellow album. Due to a contractual dispute in the UK between Donovan and Pye Records, neither LP was issued in its original form in Britain.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Bert's Blues
Source:    Mono CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Sony (original label: Epic)
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:    Focus
Title:    Focus II
Source:    Moving Waves
Writer(s):    Thijs van Leer
Label:    Sire
Year:    1971
    The second Focus album, released in 1971, was originally called Focus II. It got favorable critical reviews, but poor distribution in the US until it was reissued under the title Moving Waves in early 1973 on a different label. At that time the opening track of the LP, Hocus Pocus, was released as a single and ended up going into the top 10, which in turn helped album sales immensely. Because of the name change, the album has the distinction of having not one, but two title tracks: the song Moving Waves is a one of the few vocal tracks on the album, while Focus II is probably the best representation of the band's total sound, incorporating elements of jazz, rock and classical music.

Artist:    Left Banke
Title:    Walk Away Renee
Source:    LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
Writer(s):    Brown/Calilli/Sansune
Label:    Smash/Sundazed
Year:    1966
    The Left Banke's Walk Away Renee is one of the most covered songs in rock history, starting with a version by the Four Tops less than two years after the original recording had graced the top 5. The Left Banke version kicked off what was thought at the time to be the latest trend: baroque rock. The trend died an early death when the band members themselves made some tactical errors resulting in radio stations being hesitant to play their records.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    A Song For All Seasons
Source:    CD: Volunteers
Writer(s):    Spencer Dryden
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1969
    When it comes to Jefferson Airplane rarities, there is nothing more rare than a Spencer Dryden composition. In fact, to my knowledge, A Song For All Seasons is the only one that he is given sole credit for. The song itself is a bit of a novelty, sounding like it would be more at home on a Rolling Stones (Let It Bleed era) album than an Airplane one, which is even odder when one considers Dryden's jazz background.

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:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    The Farm
Source:    CD: Volunteers
Writer(s):    Kantner/Blackman
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1969
    Although Jefferson Airplane was never known as a country-rock band, they did record a few tracks that could be considered early examples of the genre, especially on their later albums. Among the first of these tracks was The Farm, a Paul Kantner piece from the Volunteers album. Although the album itself is generally known for it's strident antiwar (and pro-anarchic) stance, The Farm leans more toward the album's secondary themes of community and ecology.

Artist:    1910 Fruitgum Co.
Title:    (Poor Old) Mr. Jensen
Source:    LP: Simon Says
Writer(s):    Taxin/Katz/Kasenatz
Label:    Buddah
Year:    1968
    The 1910 Fruitgum Company is a difficult band to write about. For one thing, they were among the most successful of the so-called bubble gum bands to appear on the Buddah label in 1968, yet got virtually no respect from the music community, despite the fact that, according to drummer Floyd Marcus, the band members themselves were responsible for all the vocal and instrumental tracks on their debut LP, Simon Says. This is probably because the Fruitgum Company was seen as purveyors of frivolous fluff at a time when rock was obsessed with taking itself Seriously. Nonetheless, there are tracks on the album with at least some redeeming qualities, such as (Poor Old) Mr. Jensen, which closes out the LP.

Artist:    Bubble Puppy
Title:    Hot Smoke And Sassafras
Source:    CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: A Gathering Or Promises)
Writer(s):    Prince/Cox/Potter/Fore
Label:    Priority (original label: International Artists)
Year:    1969
    Bubble Puppy was a band from San Antonio, Texas that relocated to nearby Austin and signed a contract with International Artists, a label already known as the home of legendary Texas psychedelic bands 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola. The group hit the national top 20 with Hot Smoke and Sassafras, a song that was originally intended to be a B side, in 1969. Not long after the release of their first LP, A Gathering Or Promises, the band relocated to California and changed their name to Demian, at least in part to disassociate themselves with the then-popular "bubble gum" style (but also because of problems with International Artists).

Artist:    Gypsy
Title:    Dead And Gone
Source:    LP: Gypsy
Writer(s):    Enrico Rosenbaum
Label:    Metromedia
Year:    1970
    Originally formed as the Underbeats in 1962, Gypsy had its greatest success after changing their name and moving to L.A. in 1969. They became the house band at the legendary Whisky-A-Go-Go for about eight months, starting in September of 1969, and during that time signed with Metromedia Records, a company owned by what would eventually become the Fox Television Network. The band made their recording debut with a double LP that included the single Gypsy Queen. Most of the band's material was written by guitarist/vocalist Enrico Rosenbaum, including the longest track on the album, Dead And Gone. After one more LP for Metromedia, the band started going through a series of personnel changes, eventually (after Rosenbaum's departure) changing their name to the James Walsh Gypsy Band (Walsh being the keyboardist of the group). Drummer Bill Lordan, after a short stint with Sly and the Family Stone, joined up with Robin Trower, an association that lasted many years.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    The Nile Song
Source:    British import simulated stereo LP: Soundtrack From The Film More
Writer(s):    Roger Waters
Label:    Columbia (UK)
Year:    1969
    After the replacement of Syd Barrett by his childhood friend David Gilmore midway through the making of the second Pink Floyd album, the new lineup got to work on a new project: a soundtrack for a film by Luxembourg director Barbet Schroeder called More. The soundtrack album contains more acoustic numbers than any other Pink Floyd LP, but is better known for a pair of tunes that are among the hardest rocking tracks the band ever recorded. One of those, the Nile Song, was released as a single, but only in France, Japan and New Zealand. The Roger Waters tune is probably as close to heavy metal that Pink Floyd ever got.

Artist:    Beacon Street Union
Title:    King Of The Jungle
Source:    LP: The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens
Writer(s):    Wright/Tarachney/Weisberg
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1968
    The Beacon Street Union's second album was quite a bit different from their first one, The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union. Whereas Eyes consisted of all-original material, Clown included a pair of cover tunes (Blue Suede Shoes and a 17-minute version of Baby, Please Don't Go), an orchestral piece (The Clown's Overture), and this bit of strangeness called King Of The Jungle. All this leads me to believe that the band itself gave up on the project halfway through, leaving producer Wes Farrell (he of Partridge Family fame) to scrounge through the outtakes and rejected tracks to fill out the album. Just my opinion, of course.

Artist:    Mystery Trend
Title:    Johnny Was A Good Boy
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Nagle/Cuff
Label:    Rhino (original label: Verve)
Year:    1967
    The Mystery Trend was a bit of an anomaly. Contemporaries of bands such as the Great! Society and the Charlatans, the Trend always stood a bit apart from the rest of the crowd, playing to an audience that was both a bit more affluent and a bit more "adult" (they were reportedly the house band at a Sausalito strip club). Although they played in the city itself as early as 1965, they did not release their first record until early 1967. The song, Johnny Was A Good Boy, tells the story of a seemingly normal middle-class kid who turns out to be a monster (without actually specifying what he did), surprising friends, family and neighbors. The same theme would be used by XTC in the early 1980s in the song No Thugs In Our House, one of the standout tracks from their landmark English Settlement album.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    John Riley (instrumental version 1)
Source:    CD: Fifth Dimension (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Gibson/Neff
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1966
    While working on the song John Riley for their Fifth Dimension album, the Byrds decided to play around a bit between takes. Using the same basic chord structure, they changed the tempo and beat for this instrumental recording of the traditional English folk ballad.

Artist:    John Coltrane
Title:    Blue Train-Part II
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    John Coltrane
Label:    Silver Spotlight
Year:    1957
    Since I'm playing a track from way before the psychedelic era (possibly before the word "psychedelic" even existed and certainly before it came into common use), I thought it would be appropriate to talk briefly about the early history of this show. First off, it was not originally called Stuck in the Psychedelic Era; in fact, it was not specifically about the psychedelic era at all. The show made its debut in the summer of 2000 as a 90 minute weekly Adult Album Alternative music show called That Show You Hear On Thursday Night on WEOS in Geneva, NY. I had been working fairly steadily in commercial radio for a number of years and during that time had acquired hundreds of records and CDs, many of which were promo copies of songs sent out to, but not used, by radio stations I had worked at. Some of them were actually quite good, but not appropriate for the format of the station that they were given to; these, mixed with classic rock tracks and oldies from my collection, were to be the foundation of the new show. Not long after the show made its debut WEOS began carrying local City Council meetings once a month on Wednesday nights. This was an issue for Nobody, the creator/host of the annual Homelessness Radio Telethon (Radiothon?), who at the time also had a weekly talk show on WEOS on Wednesday nights and did not want to be pre-empted on a regular basis. The solution was for the two of us to trade nights, as his show had been on the air long enough to build up a following, especially among listeners in nearby Ithaca. By then I had already decided to change the name of the show to Stuck in the 20th Century, as I had made a conscious decision not to include any current releases on the playlist. One thing I did almost every week in those days was to play a track featuring jazz great John Coltrane, either fronting his own group or working with Miles Davis. I would always start the set with the words "It's Coltrane time." Not much of a catchphrase, I know, but there are still some people out there that remember it. So for those of you who have been along for the ride since's Coltrane Time, as we feature the mono mix of part two of the title track of Coltrane's 1957 Blue Train album.

    And now for you completists out there we have the rest of the story: The show continued to be called Stuck in the 20th Century throughout 2001. That year New Year's Eve happened to fall on a Wednesday night, and I decided to do something special to celebrate. I had always had fond memories of another New Year's Eve show that I had heard just a few days after becoming a volunteer at KUNM in Albuquerque, NM in late 1975. It was my first gig at a noncommercial station, and, after hearing the set of songs I had put together for an on-air audition the program director instructed me to spend a week listening to the station to get an idea of where it was at musically. Thus I happened to be tuned in on New Year's Eve for a special locally-produced "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" show that featured bands like the Yardbirds, Electric Prunes, Blues Magoos, Standells, Kinks, Chocolate Watchband, Shadows of Knight, Amboy Dukes...essentially everything that was on Lenny Kaye's original Nuggets double album with a little British rock thrown in. Remembering how much I enjoyed hearing that show I decided to do something similar, and for that week only, changed the name of the show to Stuck in the Psychedelic Era. After 90 minutes I realized that there were tons of songs I had wanted to play but didn't get to for lack of time, so I decided to continue the idea the following week, and then came up with some other excuse to extend it yet another week. By then it became obvious even to me that this was the show I wanted to do, so I made it permanent. Eventually Stuck in the Psychedelic Era moved to Saturday nights, expanding to two hours in the process. On Memorial Day weekend 2010 Stuck in the Psychedelic Era began its run as a syndicated show, and has been slowly taking over the world ever since. Speaking of the world, I finally found a copy of the now out-of-print Nuggets 2 box set, with 108 tracks from the same time period as the first box set, but from bands operating outside the US. The best part is that all but two of these are tracks I didn't have access to before (and from what I've had the chance to sample so far they're all good stuff), so you can expect to hear a lot of "new" songs added to the mix in the near future.

And now a word from a Canadian artist:

Title:    Cinnamon Girl
Source:    LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    My favorite Neil Young song has always been Cinnamon Girl. I suspect this is because the band I was in the summer after I graduated from high school used an amped-up version of the song as our show opener (imagine Cinnamon Girl played like I Can See For Miles and you get a general idea of how it sounded). If we had ever recorded an album, we probably would have used that arrangement as our first single. I finally got to see Neil Young perform the song live (from the 16th row even) with Booker T. and the MGs as his stage band in the mid-1990s. It was worth the wait.

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