Title: Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)
Source: Mono LP: The Doors
The oldest song in the Doors' 1967 repertoire, Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) started off as a fictional song, originally published in Bertolt Brecht's Hauspostille in 1927. It was set to music by Kurt Weill for his 1927 Mahogonny Songspeil and then used in the Weill/Brecht opera Aufsteig und Fall der Stadt Mahoganny (Rise and Fall of the City of Mahoganny) in 1930. It was first recorded by Weill's wife Lotte Lenye in 1930 to publicize the opera, despite the fact that Lenye was not a cast member. Unlike the music in the rest of the Opera the lyrics to Alabama Song have always been in English, making it a natural choice for an American band like the Doors to record. The song was one of the most popular in the Doors' repertoire and was included on The Best of the Doors anthology.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: The Last Wall Of The Castle
Source: CD: After Bathing At Baxters
Writer(s): Jorma Kaukonen
Label: BMG Heritage/RCA
Following the massive success of the Surrealistic Pillow album with its two top 10 singles (Somebody To Love and White Rabbit) the members of Jefferson Airplane made a conscious choice to put artistic goals above commercial ones for their next LP, After Bathing At Baxter's. The result was an album that defines the term "acid rock" in more ways than one. One of the few songs on the album that does not cross-fade into or out of another song is this tune from Jorma Kaukonen, his first non-acoustic song to be recorded by the band.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Source: LP: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
Circus Maximus was formed out of the chance meeting of multi-instrumentalist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker in Greenwich Village in 1967. From the start the band was moving in different directions, with Bruno incorporating jazz elements into the band while Walker favored country-rock. Eventually the two would go their separate ways, but for the short time the band was together they made some of the best, if not best-known, psychedelic music on the East Coast. The band's most popular track was Wind, a Bruno tune from their debut album. The song got a considerable amount of airplay on the new "underground" radio stations that were popping up across the country at the time.
Title: Action Woman
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Distortions)
Writer(s): Warren Hendrick
Label: Rhino (original labels: Scotty and Warick)
The Litter was one of many bands to come under the guidance of Warren Kendrick, owner of the Minneapolis-based Warick Records (later Warwick). Their first album, Distortions, was comprised mostly of cover songs of mainly British groups, but did include a pair of songs written by Hendrick himself, including Action Woman, which was also released as the band's first single in January of 1967. The group made two more albums, including one for ABC's Probe label in 1969, before disbanding, reuniting in the late 90s for a pair of CDs on the Arf! Arf! label.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Green Destroys The Gold
Source: LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s): Wayne Ulaky
The Beacon Street Union found itself handicapped by being signed to M-G-M and being promoted as part of the "boss-town sound." The problem was that there was no "boss-town sound", any more than there was a San Francisco sound or an L.A sound (there is a Long Island Sound, but that has nothing to do with music). In fact, the only legitimate "sound" of the time was the "Motown Sound", and that was confined to a single record company that achieved a consistent sound through the use of the same studio musicians on virtually every recording. What made the situation even more ironic for the Union was that by the time their first LP came out they had relocated to New York City anyway. If there is a New York sound, it has more to do with traffic than music.
Title: The Kids Are Alright
Source: Mono CD: Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy (originally released on LP: My Generation)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
When the Who Sings My Generation album came out in the US in 1966, it featured several songs that had originally been issued as singles in the UK, including a song that would later be used as a title for the band's first concert film. The Kids Are Alright, one of the group's first charted hits in 1965, is probably the most Beatle-sounding of all Who songs.
Title: I Want You
Source: Mono British import CD: Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Spectrum (original label: Fontana)
The Troggs are best known in the US for their 1966 hit Wild Thing, a song that is still recognizable to most Americans today. In reality, though, the Troggs were one of England's most successful and long-lived bands, charting several hit records and remaining active until the death of lead vocalist Reg Presley in 2013. Among their most popular songs in the UK was I Want You, which was released as the B side of With A Girl Like You, the follow up to Wild Thing and the Troggs' only #1 record in the UK. (Wild Thing stalled out at #2 in the UK, although it did top the US charts).
Artist: Butterfield Blues Band
Source: CD: East-West
Along with the Blues Project, the Butterfield Blues Band (and guitarist Michael Bloomfield in particular) are credited with starting the movement toward improvisation in rock music. Both are cited as influences on the new bands that were cropping up in San Francisco in late 1966m including Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead. The first Butterfield album did not have much in the way of improvisation, however, as Butterfield himself was a Chicago blues traditionalist who, like many of his idols, held the reins of the band tightly and did not tolerate deviation. By the time of the band's second LP, however, the group was becoming more of a democracy, especially after their successful live shows brought rave reviews for the musicianship of the individual members, especially Bloomfield (who in some polls was rated the number one guitarist in the country). Bloomfield used this new clout to push for more improvisation, and the result was the classic album East-West. The title track itself is a modal piece; that is, it (in jazz terms) stays on the One rather than following a traditional blues progression. Within that framework Bloomfield's solo uses scales found in eastern music (Indian in particular); hence the title of the piece: East-West. Another difference between East-West and the first Butterfield album was that second guitarist Elvin Bishop, who had played strictly rhythm guitar on the debut, got a chance to do some solo work of his own on East-West. Bishop would soon find himself the band's lead guitarist when Bloomfield left to form the Electric Flag in 1967.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: The Masked Marauder
Source: CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Perhaps more than any other band, Country Joe and the Fish capture the essence of the San Francisco scene in the late 60s. Their first two releases were floppy inserts included in Joe McDonald's self-published Rag Baby underground newspaper. In 1967 the band was signed to Vanguard Records, a primarily folk-oriented prestige label that also had Joan Baez on its roster. Their first LP, Electric Music For the Mind and Body had such classic cuts as Section 43, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, and the political parody Superbird on it, as well as the mostly-instrumental tune The Masked Marauder. Not for the unenlightened.
Title: We're Going Wrong
Source: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s): Jack Bruce
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
On Fresh Cream the slowest-paced tracks were bluesy numbers like Sleepy Time Time. For the group's second LP, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce came up with We're Going Wrong, a song with a haunting melody supplemented by some of Eric Clapton's best guitar fills. Even Ginger Baker set aside his drumsticks in favor of mallets, giving the song an otherworldly feel.
Title: Heaven And Hell
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
Throughout the mid-60s Australia's most popular band was the Easybeats, often called the Australian Beatles. Although their early material sounded like slightly dated British Invasion music (Australia had a reputation for cultural lag, and besides, half the members were British immigrants), by late 1966 guitarist Harry Vanda (one of the two Dutch immigrant members of the group) had learned enough English to be able to replace vocalist Stevie Wright as George Young's writing partner. The new team was much more adventurous in their compositions than the Wright/Young team had been, and were responsible for the band's first international hit, Friday On My Mind. By then the Easybeats had relocated to England, and continued to produce fine singles such as Heaven And Hell.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Source: LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Sometime in late 1966 Jimi Hendrix was visiting his girlfriend's mother's house in London for the first time. It was a cold rainy night and Jimi immediately noticed that there was a dog curled up in front of the fireplace. Jimi's first action was to scoot the dog out of the way so he himself could benefit from the fire's warmth, using the phrase "Move over Rover and let Jimi take over." The phrase got stuck in his head and eventually became the basis for one of his most popular songs. Although never released as a single, Fire was a highlight of the Jimi Hendrix Experience's live performances, often serving as a set opener.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Get Me To The World On Time
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
With I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) climbing the charts in early 1967, the Electric Prunes turned to songwriter Annette Tucker for two more tracks to include on their debut LP. One of those, Get Me To The World On Time (co-written by lyricist Jill Jones) was selected to be the follow up single to Dream. Although not as big a hit, the song still did respectably on the charts (and was actually the first Electric Prunes song I ever heard on FM radio).
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: Bookends Theme/Save The Life Of My Child/America
Source: LP: Bookends
Writer(s): Paul Simon
An early example of a concept album (or at least half an album) was Simon And Garfunkel's fourth LP, Bookends. The side starts and ends with the Bookends theme. In between they go through a sort of life cycle of tracks, from Save The Life Of My Child (featuring a synthesizer opening programmed by Robert Moog himself), into America, a song that is very much in the sprit of Jack Kerouak's On The Road. One of these days I'll play the rest of the side, which takes us right into the age that many of us who bought the original LP are now approaching.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Journey To The Center Of The Mind)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
The title track of the second Amboy Dukes album, Journey To The Center Of The Mind, is by far their best known recording, going all the way to the #16 spot on the top 40 in 1968. The song features the lead guitar work of Ted Nugent, who co-wrote the song with guitarist/vocalist Steve Farmer. Journey To The Center Of The Mind would be the last album to feature lead vocalist John Drake, who left the band for creative reasons shortly after the album's release.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Source: CD: Cheap Thrills
Janis Joplin, on the 1968 Big Brother And The Holding Company album Cheap Thrills, sounds like she was born to sing Gershwin's Summertime. Maybe she was.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Who's Been Sleeping Here
Source: LP: Between The Buttons
Between The Buttons, released in early 1967, shows the Rolling Stones beginning to experiment with a more psychedelic sound than on previous albums. Brian Jones, in particular, took up several new instruments, including the sitar, heard prominently on the track Who's Been Sleeping Here. The next LP, Their Satanic Majesties Request, would take the group even further into psychedelic territory, prompting a back to basics approach the following year.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Mother's Little Helper
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
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: Rolling Stones
Title: Let's Spend The Night Together
Source: LP: Between The Buttons
I seem to recall some TV show (Ed Sullivan, maybe?) making Mick Jagger change the words to "Let's Spend Some Time Together". I can't imagine anyone doing that to the Stones now. Nor can I imagine the band agreeing to it.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: You Still Believe In Me
Source: Mono LP: Pet Sounds
Although they were one of the first self-contained US rock bands, by 1966 the Beach Boys were using studio musicians almost exclusively on their recordings. At the same time Brian Wilson, who by then was writing all the band's music, had retired from performing with the band onstage. These factors combined to give Wilson the freedom to create the album that is often considered his and the band's artistic peak, Pet Sounds. Much of the material on the album, such as You Still Believe In Me, was written with the help of lyricist Tony Asher. Like many of the songs on Pet Sounds, You Still Believe In Me includes unusual instrumentation such as a theramin and even a bicycle bell.
Title: You I'll Be Following
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Love)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
When the Byrds decided to tour heavily to support their early hits Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn!, Arthur Lee's band Love was more than happy to fill the void left on the L.A. club scene. The group quickly established itself as the top band on the strip and caught the attention of Elektra Records, an album-oriented label that had previously specialized in blues and folk music but was looking to move into rock. Love was soon signed to a contract with Elektra and released their self-titled debut LP in 1966. That album featured songs that were primarily in a folk-rock vein, such as You I'll Be Following, although even then there were signs that bandleader Arthur Lee was capable of writing quality tunes that defied easy classification. Love would remain the top band on the strip for the next year and a half, releasing two more albums before the original group dissolved. To maintain their status as local heroes, Love chose to stay close to home. The lack of time spent promoting their records ultimately led to them being supplanted as the star group for Elektra by the Doors, a band that had been recommended to the label by Lee himself.
Artist: Downliners Sect
Title: Why Don't You Smile Now
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released on LP: The Rock Sect's In)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia UK)
The Downliners Sect was one of the more unusual British bands of the mid-sixties, with a penchant for choosing unconventional material to record. Their second LP, for instance, was made up of covers of songs originally recorded by US Country and Western artists. Their third LP, The Rock Sect's In, was (as the title implies) more of a straight rock album than their previous efforts. Still, they managed to find unique material to record, such as Why Don't You Smile Now, a song chosen from a stack of producers' demos from the US. Although nobody seems to know who Philips or Vance were, the Reed and Cale in the songwriting credits were none other than Lou and John, in a pre-Velvet Underground incarnation.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Two Trains Running
Source: LP: Special Disc Jockey Record (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer(s): McKinley Morganfield
Label: Verve Forecast
Possibly the most influential (yet least known outside of musicians' circles) band of the Psychedelic Era was the Blues Project. Formed in 1965 in Greenwich Village, the band worked its way from coast to coast playing mostly college campuses, in the process blazing a path that continues to be followed by underground/progressive/alternative artists. As if founding the whole college circuit wasn't enough, they were arguably the very first jam band, as their version of the Muddy Waters classic Two Trains Running demonstrates. Among those drawing their inspiration from the Blues Project were the Warlocks, a group of young musicians who were traveling with Ken Kesey on the Electric Cool-Aid Acid Test tour bus. The Warlocks would soon change their name to the Grateful Dead and take the jam band concept to a whole new level.
Title: Alabama Bound
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer: trad., arr. The Charlatans
Label: Rhino (original label: Ace/Big Beat)
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1996
Despite being one of the most important bands on the San Francisco scene, the Charlatans did not have much luck in the recording studio. Their first sessions were aborted, the planned LP for Kama Sutra was shelved by the label itself, and the band was overruled in their choice of songs to be released on their first (and only) single issued from the Kama Sutra sessions. In 1967, however, they did manage to get some decent tracks recorded. Unfortunately, those tracks were not released until 1996, and then only in the UK. The centerpiece of the 1967 sessions was this six-and-a-half minute recording of a traditional tune that is considered by many to be the Charlatans' signature song: Alabama Bound.