This week we have several tracks by artists who managed to own a song that wasn't actually theirs. For example, we have Johnny Winter with his original studio version of a song that has become his signature song despite the fact that it was written by someone else entirely.
Artist: Johnny Winter
Title: Highway 61 Revisited
Source: LP: Second Winter
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
As good as the original Bob Dylan version of Highway 61 Revisited is, most would agree that Johnny Winter has managed to do it even better, to the point of making it his own signature song. His first recorded version of the song was on his 1969 album Second Winter, which was actually his third LP, but his second for Columbia. About a third of the tracks on the three-sided album were cover tunes, but Highway 61 Revisited blows the rest of them out of the water.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Anybody's Answer
Source: LP: On Time
Writer(s): Mark Farner
The first Grand Funk Railroad album, On Time, was savaged by the rock press when it was released in 1969, but by the following year had achieved gold record status, one of three Grand Funk Railroad albums to go gold in 1970. The success of the album came in spite of a nearly total lack of radio support for the band. Although a few tracks got some small amount of airplay on progressive FM stations, some tunes, such as Anybody's Answer, went virtually unheard by anyone not owning a copy of the album.
Artist: Rovin' Flames
Title: How Many Times
Source: Mono LP: Pebbles Vol. 8 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: BFD (original label: Decca)
Tampa, Florida was home to the Rovin' Flames, who released a handful of singles for various local labels in 1965-66. After replacing their drummer and lead vocalist, the band landed a contract with Decca, at the time one of the "big six" record labels. The resulting single, How Many Times, co-written by new vocalist John Delise and released in 1967, was not the hit they hoped for, but thanks to its inclusion on various compilation albums over the years has become the Rovin' Flames' best-known recording.
Title: You're Lost Little Girl
Source: CD: Strange Days
Writer: The Doors
The Doors second LP, Strange Days, was stylistically similar to the first, and served notice to the world that this band was going to be around for awhile. Songwriting credit for You're Lost Little Girl (a haunting number that's always been a personal favorite of mine) was given to the entire band, a practice that would continue until the release of The Soft Parade in 1969.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Lazy Day
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Although known mostly for being pioneers of baroque-rock, the Left Banke showed that they could, on occassion, rock out with the best of them on tracks like Lazy Day, which closed out their debut LP. The song was also issued as the B side of their second hit, Pretty Ballerina. Incidentally, after the success of their first single, Walk Away Renee, the band formed their own publishing company for their original material, a practice that was fairly common then and now. Interestingly enough, they called that company Lazy Day Music.
Title: Born Under A Bad Sign
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were pretty much considered the cream of the crop of the British blues scene in the mid 1960s, so it came as no surprise when they decided to call their new band Cream. Although the trio would go on to record several memorable non-blues tunes such as I Feel Free and White Room, they never completely abandoned the blues. Born Under A Bad Sign, co-written by Stax artists William Bell and Booker T. Jones, is one of the better known tracks from Cream's double-LP Wheels Of Fire, the last album released while the band was still together.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Red House
Source: Mono LP: Are You Experienced (UK version)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original UK label: Track)
One of the first songs recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Red House was omitted from the US version of Are You Experienced because, in the words of one recording company executive: "America does not like blues". At the time the song was recorded, Noel Redding was not yet comfortable using a bass guitar, and would work out his bass parts on a slightly-detuned hollow body six-string guitar with the tone controls on their muddiest setting (I learned to play bass the same way myself). The original recording of Red House that was included on the UK version of Are You Experienced features Redding doing exactly that. A second take of the song, with overdubs, was included on the 1969 Smash Hits album, but the original mono version heard here was not available in the US until the release of the Blues CD in 1994.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Stoned Woman/Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Source: LP: Ssssh!
Alvin Lee's band Ten Years After already had three albums out by the time they made a huge splash at Woodstock in 1969. Their fourth LP, Ssssh! was released that same year, and was soon climbing the album charts, despite getting little airplay on US radio stations. The best known track was a hard rocking version of the Sonny Boy Williamson blues classic Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, which had already been covered by several rock bands. Unlike previous versions, the TYA Schoolgirl was built around a driving repeated bass line and featured an extended instrumental section that stayed on the main chord rather than following the song's regular progression. The track was preceeded on the LP by a Lee composition, Stoned Woman, which leads into Schoolgirl without a break between songs.
Title: You Said
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Geoff Tindall
Label: Rhino (original label: Pye)
The Corn Flakes were formed in Oxford, England, but did not get much attention until they changed their name to the highly appropriate Primitives in 1964. Sounding like a cross between the Rolling Stones and The Who, the Primitives were able to garner several TV and magazine appearances based on their image alone. As can be heard on their second single, You Said, the band sounded a bit like a cross between the Who and the Rolling Stones. In 1966 the Primitives relocated to Italy, enjoying a much greater degree of chart success than they had been able to drum up in their own country.
Artist: Country Weather
Title: Fly To New York
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released only to radio stations, later included on Swiss CD: Country Weather)
Label: Rhino (original label: RD)
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2005
Country Weather started off as a popular dance band in Contra Costa County, California. In 1968 they took the name Country Weather and began gigging on the San Francisco side of the bay. In 1969, still without a record contract, they recorded an album side's worth of material, made a few one-sided test copies and circulated them to local radio stations. Those tracks, including Fly To New York, were eventually released on CD in 2005 by the Swedish label RD Records.
Artist: Mad River
Title: Amphetamine Gazelle
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Mad River)
Writer: Lawrence Hammond
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
By 1968 acid was no longer the drug of choice on the streets of San Francisco. In its place, crystal meth was beginning to dominate the scene, with a corresponding increase in ripoffs and burns. The local musicians often reflected this change, with some, such as Canned Heat, declaring that Speed Kills and moving south to Laurel Canyon. Others, such as Mad River (originally from Yellow Springs, Ohio, but Bay Area residents since early 1967), attempted to use ridicule to combat the problem, but with no appreciable success (speed freaks not being known for their sense of humor, or any other kind of sense for that matter).
Artist: Syndicate Of Sound
Title: Little Girl
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original labels: Hush and Bell)
San Jose California, despite being a relatively small city in the pre-silicon valley days, was home to a thriving music scene in the mid 60s that produced more than its share of hit records from 1966-68. One of the earliest and biggest of these hits was the Syndicate Of Sound hit Little Girl, which has come to be recognized as one of the best garage-rock songs of all time.
Source: LP: Chicago Transit Authority
Writer(s): Terry Kath
When living in Germany in 1969 I bought a copy of an album called Underground in a local record store. The album itself was on purple vinyl that glowed under a black light and featured a variety of artists that had recently released albums in the US on the Columbia label (since the name Columbia was trademarked by EMI in Europe and the UK, US albums from the American Columbia label were released on the CBS label instead). The opening track of the album was appropriately called Introduction and was also the opening track of the first Chicago (Transit Authority) album. Written by guitarist Terry Kath, the piece effectively showcases the strengths of the band, both as an extremely tight ensemble and as individual soloists, with no one member dominating the song.
Title: For No One
Source: CD: Revolver
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
With the predominance of the keyboards and french horn in the mix, For No One (essentially a Paul McCartney solo number) shows just how far the Beatles had moved away from their original image as a "guitar band" by the 1966 album Revolver.
Title: The Door Into Summer
Source: LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
After playing nearly all the instrumental tracks on their third album themselves, the Monkees came to the painful conclusion that they would not be able to repeat the effort and still have time to tape a weekly TV show. As a result, the fourth Monkees LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD., used studio musicians extensively, albeit under the creative supervision of the Monkees themselves. The group also had the final say over what songs ended up on the album, including The Door Into Summer, a tune by Bill Martin, a friend of band leader Michael Nesmith. For reasons that are too complicated to get into here (and probably wouldn't make much sense anyway), co-credit was given to the band's producer, Chip Douglas.
Artist: Marvin Gaye
Title: I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Source: CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1968 (originally released on LP: In The Groove)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tamla)
I Heard It Through The Grapevine was originally recorded by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, but Motown president Barry Gordy, Jr. refused to release the song, saying it needed to be stronger. Producer Norman Whitfield, who had co-written the song with Barrett Strong, then recorded a new version of the tune, this time using Marvin Gaye as vocalist. Gordy rejected this version as well. A third version of the song, with the tempo speeded up, was released by Gladys Knight and the Pips in late 1967 and climbed to the # 2 spot on the charts. Following the success of the Knight single, Gordy allowed Gaye's version to be included on his 1968 LP In The Groove, where it almost immediately began to get airplay. Gordy finally allowed this version to be released as a single in October of 1968, and it quickly climbed to the top of the charts, spending 7 weeks at # 1. In The Groove was retitled I Heard It Through The Grapevine and re-released in 1969, becoming Gaye's best selling album up to that point.
Artist: Leathercoated Minds
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: Mono LP: Ain't It Hard (originally released on LP: Trip Down The Sunset Strip)
Label: Sundazed (original label: Viva)
Roger and Terrye Tillison released their first single, Ain't It Hard, as the Gypsy Trips in 1965. Although the song wasn't a hit, it was covered by the Electric Prunes as their first single the following year. In 1967 the Tillisons teamed up with producer J.J. Cale for an album called Trip Down The Sunset Strip on the Viva label, credited to Leathercoated Minds. It was, as far as is known, the beginning of a long recording career for Cale, who had even greater success as the songwriter as such rock classics as After Midnight and Cocaine, both recorded by Eric Clapton, and has been credited as the creator of the "Tulsa Sound". Roger Tillison released a solo LP in 1970 with producer Jesse Ed Davis. Oddly enough, most of the tracks on Trip Down The Sunset Strip were somewhat bizarre covers of garage rock classics like Count Five's Psychotic Reaction, despite both Tillison and Cale (who passed away on July 26th, 2013, the day after this show was recorded) being talented songwriters in their own right.
Artist: Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
Title: Zig Zag Wanderer
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Safe As Milk)
Writer(s): Don Van Vliet
Label: Rhino (original label: Buddah)
Don Van Vliet made his first recordings as Captain Beefheart in 1965, covering artists like Bo Diddley in a style that could best be described as "punk blues." Upon hearing those recordings A&M Records, despite its growing reputation as a hot (fairly) new label, promptly cancelled the project. Flash forward a year or so. Another hot new label, Buddah Records, an offshoot of Kama Sutra Records that had somehow ended up being the parent rather than the subsidiary, was busy signing new acts like Johnny Winter, and ended up issuing Safe As Milk in 1967 as their very first LP. The good captain would eventually end up on his old high school acquaintance Frank Zappa's Bizarre Records, turning out classic albums like Trout Mask Replica, and the world would never be quite the same.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds
Source: LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Label: RCA Victor
Marty Balin says he came up with the title of the opening track of side two of Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow album by combining a couple of random phrases from the sports section of a newspaper. 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds works out to 216 MPH, by the way.
Artist: Lollipop Shoppe
Title: Mr. Madison Avenue
Source: CD: The Weeds aka The Lollipop Shoppe (originally released on LP: Angels From Hell soundtrack)
Writer(s): Stu Phillips
Label: Way Back (original label: Tower)
When it comes to long strange trips, the Grateful Dead have nothing on Fred Cole, the legendary indy rock pioneer. Like many baby boomers, he got into his first band at age 14. From there the story gets a bit more unique. At age 15 he played bass in a band called the Lords that became the backup band for Frank Sinatra, Jr. That may have been success enough for an average 15-year-old, but for Cole it was only the beginning. After one unsuccessful single the Lords split up and Cole found himself being groomed as the "white Stevie Wonder" by Mike Tell, the owner of the record label that had issued the Lords' single, working with a group of studio musicians led by Larry Williams (of Dizzy Miss Lizzy fame). The group cut a pair of songs using the name Deep Soul Cole (with Cole on lead vocals and bass) and a few copies were made of a possible single, but the record failed to get the attention of top 40 radio and Cole found himself forming a new band, the Weeds, in early 1966. After recording a single for Teenbeat Records, the group got what it thought was its big break when their manager told them they were booked as an opening act for the Yardbirds at the Fillmore in San Francisco. On arrival, however, they soon discovered that nobody, from Bill Graham on down, had any idea who they were. Thus, nearly broke and without a gig, the Weeds decided to do what any band with members of draftable age in 1966 would do: move to Canada. Unfortunately for the band, they only had enough gas to get to Portland, Oregon. Still, being young and resilient, they soon got a steady gig as the house band at a local coffeehouse, with Cole meeting his soon-to-be wife Toody in the process. The Weeds soon became an important part of the Portland music scene, with a series of appearances at the Crystal Ballroom supplementing their regular gig at The Folk Singer throughout 1967. Late in the year the band decided to move on, first to Sausalito, California (for about six months, playing all over the Bay area), then to Los Angeles, where they brazenly showed up unannounced at Lord Tim Productions with a demo tape. Lord Tim, then the manager of the Seeds and claiming to be the guy who coined the term "flower power", signed them on the spot. Soon, a new 45 RPM record appeared on MCA's Uni label: You Must Be A Witch. It came as a shock to the band, however, to see the name Lollipop Shoppe on the label rather than The Weeds. Apparently Lord Tim wanted to avoid any name confusion between the Seeds and the Weeds and arbitrarily decided to rename the band without consulting them first. Before long an entire album by the Lollipop Shoppe hit the shelves. Later in 1968 the band was invited to appear in the cheapie biker film Angels From Hell, although to avoid having to pay Cole for having a speaking (singing) role they only filmed him from the neck down. Two songs from the band, including Mr. Madison Avenue, appeared on the soundtrack album, released on the Tower label (big surprise there). After severing ties with Uni (and Lord Tim) in 1969, the band continued under various names for a few more years before finally giving way to one of the first, and most long-lived indy rock bands, Dead Moon, which was co-led by Fred and Toody Cole for over 20 years.
Title: All Day And All Of The Night
Source: Mono CD: 25 Years-The Ultimate Collection (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: PolyTel (original label: Reprise)
Following up on their worldwide hit You Really Got Me, the Kinks proved that lightning could indeed strike twice with All Day And All Of The Night. Although there have been rumours over the years that the guitar solo on the track may have been played by studio guitarist Jimmy Page, reliable sources insist that it was solely the work of Dave Davies, who reportedly slashed his speakers to achieve the desired sound.
Title: I Need You
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Ray Davies
After a series of hard-rocking hits in 1964 such as You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night, 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.
Title: Dedicated Follower Of Fashion
Source: Mono CD: 25 Years-The Ultimate Collection (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: PolyTel (original label: Reprise)
By 1966 Ray Davies's songwriting had taken a satirical turn with songs like Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, which lampooned the flamboyant lifestyle embraced by the Mods, a group of young fashionable Londoners who bought all their clothes on Carnaby Street. The Kinks, at this point, were having greater success in the UK than in the US, where they had been denied visas and were thus unable to tour to promote their records. That condition would only worsen until 1970, when the song Lola became an international smash, reviving the band's flagging fortunes.
Artist: Butterfield Blues Band
Source: Mono LP: What's Shakin'
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Label: Sundazed (original label: Elektra)
Unlike fellow New Yorkers the Blues Project, who were known for the long improvisational jams, the Butterfield Blues Band took a traditionalist approach to the blues, especially on their earliest recordings. Among those early tracks was a cover of Willie Dixon's Spoonful, which ended up not being used on their debut LP for Elektra. Jac Holzman, owner of Elektra, decided to issue the unused tracks (along with recordings from the Lovin' Spoonful, Eric Clapton's Powerhouse and others) on an anthology called What's Shakin' in 1966. The album itself was mostly overlooked by the record buying public at the time, but has since become an underground classic and has been recently reissued on both LP and CD.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): Blind Willie Johnson
Label: Verve Forecast
One lasting legacy of the British Invasion was the re-introduction to the US record-buying public to the songs of early Rhythm and Blues artists such as Blind Willie Johnson. This emphasis on classic blues in particular would lead to the formation of electric blues-based US bands such as the Butterfield Blues Band and the Blues Project. Unlike the Butterfields, who made a conscious effort to remain true to their Chicago-style blues roots, the Blues Project was always looking for new ground to cover, which ultimately led to them developing an improvisational style that would be emulated by west coast bands such as the Grateful Dead, and by Project member Al Kooper, who conceived and produced the first rock jam LP ever, Super Session, in 1968. As the opening track to their second (and generally considered best) LP Projections, I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes served notice that this was a new kind of blues, louder and brasher than what had come before, yet tempered with Kooper's melodic vocal style. An added twist was the use during the song's instrumental bridge of an experimental synthesizer known among band members as the "Kooperphone", probably the first use of any type of synthesizer in a blues record.
Title: You're A Better Man Than I
Source: Mono CD: Over, Under, Sideways, Down (originally released on LP: Having A Rave Up With The Yardbirds)
Writer(s): Mike & Brian Hugg
Label: Raven (original label: Epic)
Perhaps more than any other British Invasion band, the Yardbirds' US and UK catalogs varied considerably. This is because the band only released a pair of LPs in the UK, one of which was a live album, with the bulk of their studio output appearing on 45 RPM singles and EPs. In the US, on the other hand, the group released four (mostly) studio LPs, compiled from the various UK releases. One song, You're A Better Man Than I, actually came out on a US album four months before it was issued as a single B side in February of 1966 in the UK.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: We Used To Know
Source: CD: Stand Up
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis/Capitol (original US label: Reprise)
The first of many personnel changes for Jethro Tull came with the departure of guitarist Mick Abrahams in late 1968. His replacement was Tony Iommi from the band Earth, who joined just in time to make an appearance miming the guitar parts to A Song For Jeffrey on the Rolling Stones' Rock And Roll Circus, a TV special slated for a December airing on British TV, but pulled from the schedule at the last minute by the Stones themselves, who were not satisfied with their own performances on the show. The following month Iommi went back to Earth (who eventually changed their name to Black Sabbath) and Jethro Tull found a new guitarist, Martin Barre, in time to begin work on their second LP, Stand Up. Barre's guitar work is featured prominently on several tracks on Stand Up, including We Used To Know, a song that starts quietly and slowly builds to a wah-wah pedal dominated instrumental finale.
Artist: Eire Apparent
Title: The Clown
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released on LP: Sunrise)
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Buddah)
Eire Apparent was a band from Northern Ireland that got the attention of Chas Chandler, former bassist for the Animals in late 1967. Chandler had been managing Jimi Hendrix since he had discovered him playing in a club in New York a year before, bringing him back to England and introducing him to Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, who along with Hendrix would become the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Despite Eire Apparent having almost no recording experience, Chandler put them on the bill as the opening act for the touring Experience. This led to Hendrix producing the band's first and only album, Belfast, in 1968, playing on at least three tracks, including, most obviously, The Clown.