Artist: Henry Mancini
Title: The Pink Panther Theme
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Henry Mancini
Year: 1964 (LP version released 1963)
In one sense, Henry Mancini was a bit of an anachronism, as a writer of heavily orchestrated, melodic pop songs in the Cole Porter tradition at a time when rock and roll was king. Despite this, Mancini was responsible for creating some of the best-known music of the time, including the oft-covered theme from the TV show Peter Gunn. His most enduring piece, however, has to be the Pink Panther Theme, from the movie (and later a series of theatrical cartoons) of the same name. Although the full stereo version of the song featured on the original 1963 soundtrack album is close to four minutes long, it was this 2 1/2 minute mono version that was heard on nearly every radio station in the world in 1964.
Title: Pushin' Too Hard
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: The Seeds)
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
The Seeds originally released their biggest hit in late 1965 under the title You're Pushin' Too Hard. It wasn't until the song was re-released in 1966 under the more familiar title Pushin' Too Hard that it became a local L.A. hit, and it wasn't until spring of 1967 that the tune took off nationally. The timing was perfect for me, as the new FM station (KLZ-FM Denver) I was listening to jumped right on it.
Artist: Rising Sons
Title: By And By (Poor Me)
Source: CD: The Rising Sons featuring Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder
Writer(s): Charley Hutton
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1992
Although they were, for a short time in 1966, one of the most talked about bands on L.A.'s Sunset Strip, the Rising Sons were never able to translate that into a successful recording career. This is attributable in part to the fact that there had never been a band like the Rising Sons (at least on the West Coast), and the people at Columbia Records just didn't have a clue what to do with them. For one thing, the group itself was conceived on the East Coast, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when a young folk-blues performer by the name of Taj Mahal met up with 12-string guitarist Jesse Lee Kincaid. Kincaid was himself a transplant from the West Coast, having moved east to learn what he could from the Reverend Gary Davis. Mahal soon convinced Kincaid to return to L.A. in order to hook up with Mahal's teenaged friend Ryland Cooder. Both Kincaid and Cooder had studied under Kincaid's uncle Fred Gerlach, and it wasn't look before the three of them decided to form a band together. With the addition of bassist Gary Marker and drummer Ed Cassidy, both of whom had experience in jazz bands, the lineup was complete. Cassidy was soon replaced by Kevin Kelley, who had more of a rock orientation, and the band found itself signing with Columbia in 1965. Columbia assigned Terry Melcher (who was also working with Paul Revere and the Raiders) to produce the band, but Melcher was not able to find a way to achieve a cohesive sound from such a varied group of musicians, and the recordings, including a tasty version of blues legend Charley Hutton's Poor Me, retitled By And By, remained unreleased until 1992.
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 writer of 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 being talented songwriters in their own right.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound, stereo LP version released on Warner Brothers)
The Music Machine was by far the most advanced of all the bands playing on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. Not only did they feature tight sets (so that audience members wouldn't get the chance to call out requests between songs), they also had their own visual look that set them apart from other bands. With all the band members dressed entirely in black (including dyed hair) and wearing one black glove, the Machine projected an image that would influence such diverse artists as the Ramones and Michael Jackson in later years. Musically, Bonniwell's songwriting showed a sophistication that was on a par with the best L.A. had to offer, demonstrated by a series of fine singles such as The Eagle Never Hunts the Fly. Unfortunately, problems on the business end prevented the Music Machine from achieving the success it deserved and Bonniwell eventually quit the music business altogether in disgust.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: My Best Friend
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer: Skip Spence
Although drummer Skip Spence had left Jefferson Airplane after the group's first LP, he did leave a song behind. My Best Friend was actually released as a single before Somebody To Love, making it the first single released from the Surrealistic Pillow album (it peaked at #103). Spence, meanwhile, was about to make a big splash as a founding member of Moby Grape.
Title: Tangerine Puppet
Source: Simulated stereo LP: The Pye History Of Pop Music Vol. 2-Donovan (originally released on LP: Catch The Wind)
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: Pye (original US label: Hickory)
Considering his later stature as an artist, it's hard to imagine Donovan as a strictly regional success, yet his earliest albums for Pye generated very little interest beyond his native Scotland. Athough his first LP, What's Bid Did And What's Bin Hid, was released in the US (on the second-tier Hickory label), it was retitled Catch The Wind, and did not sell particularly well. In fact, many of the tracks on the album, such as the instrumental Tangerine Puppet, got greater circulation several years later on anthology albums such as The Pye History Of Pop Music Vol. 2-Donovan, which was released in the early 1980s.
Title: Sunny Afternoon
Source: Mono LP: Face To Face
Writer: Ray Davies
My family got its first real stereo (a GE console model with a reel-to-reel recorder instead of a turntable) just in time for me to catch the Kinks' Sunny Afternoon at the peak of its popularity. My school had just gone into split sessions and all my classes were over by one o'clock, which gave me the chance to explore the world of top 40 radio for a couple hours every day without the rest of the family telling me to turn it down (or off).
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Parachute Woman
Source: LP: Beggar's Banquet
The last Rolling Stones album with the original lineup was Beggar's Banquet, released in 1968. The album itself was a conscious effort on the part of the band to get back to their roots after the psychedelic excesses of Their Satanic Majesties Request. Sadly, Brian Jones was fast deteriorating at the time and his contributions to the album are minimal compared to the band's earlier efforts. As a result, Keith Richards was responsible for most of the guitar work on Beggar's Banquet, including both lead and rhythm parts on Parachute Woman.
Artist: Small Faces
Title: Donkey Rides, A Penny A Glass
Source: CD: Ogden's Nut Gone Flake (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Charly (original label: Immediate)
London's East End has always had a bit of an unsavory reputation, and in addition was the hardest hit area when the city was bombed during World War II. It was natural, then, that the East End's own local pop stars were just a bit rowdier than some of their counterparts. The most popular band to emerge from the area was the Small Faces, so named because every member of the group was vertically challenged. The group first hit the UK top 40 charts in 1966, and scored a huge international hit the following year with Itchycoo Park. Although they never equalled the success of that record with subsequent releases outside of the UK, they did continue to pack in the crowds locally, and generated an audience excitement equal to that of the Beatles themselves in terms of raw screaming fans (in fact, this was a factor in lead vocalist Steve Marriot's decision to leave the band and form Humble Pie in 1969). The Small Faces also continued to crank out hit records in their native land, as well as quality B sides such as Donkey Rides, A Penny A Glass, which was on the flip of The Universal in 1968. After the departure of Marriot, the band drifted for a while before hooking up with Ron Wood and Rod Stewart, shortening their name to Faces, as both new members were too tall to carry on with the band's original image.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Shine On Brightly
Source: CD: Shine On Brightly
Although it was never released as a single, the title track of Procol Harum's second album, Shine On Brightly, is probably their most commercially viable song on the album. Opening with power chords from organist Matthew Fischer and augmented by guitarist Robin Trower, the song quickly moves into psychedelic territory with some of Keith Reid's trippiest lyrics ever, including the refrain "my befuddled brain shines on brightly, quite insane." One of their best tracks ever.
Title: Back Door Man
Source: CD: The Doors
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
In their early days as an L.A. club band, the Doors supplemented their growing body of original material with covers of classic blues tunes (rather than covers of top 40 hits like many of their contemporaries). Perhaps best of these was Willie Dixon's Back Door Man, which had been a mid-50s R&B hit for Howlin' Wolf. The Doors themselves certainly thought so, as it was one of only two cover songs on their debut LP.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
When it comes right down to it Buffalo Springfield has one of the highest ratios of songs recorded to songs played on the radio of any band in history, especially if you only count the two albums worth of material that was released while the band was still active. This is probably because Buffalo Springfield had more raw songwriting talent than just about any two other bands. Although Neil Young was just starting to hit his stride as a songwriter, bandmate Stephen Stills was already at an early peak, as songs like Bluebird clearly demonstrate.
Artist: Quiet Jungle
Source: Mono CD: An Overdose Of Heavy Psych (originally released in Canada as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Mark Taylor
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Yorkshire)
Musically speaking, 1967 was a busy year in the US, with the Summer of Love in San Francisco, the aftermath of the Sunset Strip crackdowns on teenagers in Los Angeles, Andy Warhol's unveiling of the Velvet Underground in New York, and of course, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band casting its shadow over everything. It's easy to see, then, how happenings in neighboring Canada pretty much went under the radar, with bands like the Guess Who cranking out hit after hit without getting any attention whatsoever south of the border. That all changed in 1969 for that band, but other groups, such as Toronto's Quiet Jungle, were never successful outside of Canada itself. That did not stop Yorkshire Records from putting out plenty of singles, however, including Everything, a 1967 tune from the aforementioned Quiet Jungle.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Valleys Of Neptune
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Year: Recorded 1970, released 2010
Even before the breakup of the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1969, Hendrix was starting to work with other musicians, including keyboardist Steve Winwood and wind player Chris Wood from Traffic, bassist Jack Casidy from Jefferson Airplane and Electric Flag drummer Buddy Miles among others. Still, he kept showing a tendency to return to the power trio configuration, first with Band of Gypsys, with Miles and bassist Billy Cox and, in 1970, a new trio that was sometimes referred to as the "new" Jimi Hendrix Experience. This trio, featuring Cox along with original Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell, recorded extensively in the months leading up to Hendrix's death, leaving behind hours of tapes in various stages of completion. Among those recordings was a piece called Valleys Of Neptune that was finally released, both as a single and as the title track of a new CD, in 2010.
Title: (Roamin' Thro' The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM B side and on LP: Traffic)
Label: United Artists
The second Traffic album saw the band taking in a broader set of influences, including traditional English folk music. (Roamin' Through The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen, originally released as the B side to the Dave Mason tune No Face, No Name, No Number, combines those influences with the Steve Winwood brand of British R&B to create a timeless classic.
Artist: Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels
Title: Devil With A Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Eric (original label: DynaVoice)
When it came down to old-fashioned get-out-on-the-dance-floor blue-collar rock 'n' roll, there was no local scene that could match the Detroit scene, and the unquestioned kings of Detroit rock 'n' roll in 1966 were Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Ryder's boys cranked out hit after hit, many of which made the national charts, including Little Latin Lupe Lu, Sock It To Me-Baby!, and their biggest hit of all: Devil With A Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly. Rock on!
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: The Times They Are A-Changin'
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings (originally released on LP: The Times They Are A-Changin')
Writer: Bob Dylan
I vaguely remember seeing a movie back in the 80s (I think it may have been called The Wanderers) about a late-50s gang from an Italian-American neighborhood somewhere in New York City. I really don't remember much about the plot of the film, but I do remember a bit near the end, where the main character walks down a street in Greenwich Village and hears the sound of Bob Dylan coming from a coffee house singing The Times They Are A-Changin'. I've often thought of that scene and how it symbolized the shift from the conformist culture of the late 50s (represented by the peer pressure-driven gang life) giving way to the turbulence that would characterize the 1960s.
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.
Title: Mr. Nobody
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of The Standells (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Larry Tamblyn
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
The third Standells single of 1966, Why Pick On Me, was probably also their weakest, but it did sport a decent B side. Mr. Nobody, written by Larry Tamblyn (brother of Russ, I believe), is yet another example of why the Standells are sometimes considered the first punk rock band (though not by those with any real knowledge of the band's history).
Artist: George Harrison
Title: Let It Down
Source: LP: All Things Must Pass
Writer(s): George Harrison
Label: Capitol (original label: Apple)
Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney were both in the public eye following the breakup of the Beatles, it was George Harrison who beat both of them to the punch by releasing a solo album in 1970. The album, All Things Must Pass, was also historic in that it was the first triple-LP ever released by a single artist. Several tracks from the album got airplay on progressive FM radio in the US, including Beware of Darkness and Isn't It A Pity, while another track, My Sweet Lord, got extensive airplay on top 40 AM stations. One of the stronger tracks not to get a lot of airplay was Let It Down, which is also one of the heaviest tracks on the album.
Source: LP: The Flock
Writer: The Flock
The Flock's 1969 debut album featured liner notes by British blues guru John Mayall, who called them the best band in America. Despite this stellar recommendation, the Flock (one of two bands with horn sections from the city of Chicago making their recording debut on Columbia Records in 1969) was unable to attract a large audience and disbanded after only two LPs. Violinist Jerry Goodman would go on to be a founding member of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra in the early 1970s.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock
Detroit was one of the major centers of pop music in the late 60s. In addition to the myriad Motown acts, the area boasted the popular retro-rock&roll band Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the harder rocking Bob Seger System, the non-Motown R&B band the Capitols, and Ted Nugent's outfit, the Amboy Dukes, who scored big in 1968 with Journey To The Center Of The Mind.
Artist: Capes Of Good Hopes
Title: Lady Margaret
Source: Mono CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lite Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Round)
Unlike modern top 40 stations, which have almost identical playlists no matter where they are geographically located, 60s stations tended to spice up their playlists with local talent. Nowhere was this trend more noticable than in the Chicago area, where bands like the Buckinghams, SRC and the oddly-named Capes Of Good Hopes were able to hear themselves on the radio. In a few cases like the Capes' Lady Margaret, band members such as Dick Toops and Joel Cory could even tell their friends "I wrote that!"
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Little Olive
Source: Mono CD: The Complete Reprise Singles (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): James Lowe
Label: Real Gone Music/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Allowing a band to compose its own B side was a fairly common practice in the mid-1960s, as it saved the producer from having to pay for the rights to a composition by professional songwriters. As a result, many B sides were actually a better indication of what a band really was about, since most A sides were picked by the record's producer, rather than the band. Such is the case with Little Olive, a song written by the Electric Prunes' Jim Lowe and released as the B side of their debut single in 1966.
Artist: Eddie Floyd
Title: Knock On Wood
Source: CD: Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Vol. 6 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Atlantic (original label: Stax)
One of many great tracks to come from the Memphis, Tennessee studios of Stax Records in 1966 was Eddie Floyd's Knock On Wood. Like many Stax hits, the song was co-written by guitarist Steve Cropper, himself a member of first the Mar-Keys, then Booker T. and the MGs, and more recently the Blues Brothers Band.
Title: Hey Gyp
Source: CD: Best of Eric Burdon and the Animals (originally released on US-only LP: Animalism)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
Shortly before the original Animals disbanded in 1966, M-G-M Records collected several songs that had yet to be issued in the US and put out an album called Animalism (not to be confused with Animalisms, a UK album from earlier that year). One of the more outstanding tracks on that album was this cover of a Donovan tune that almost seems like it was written with Eric Burdon's voice in mind.
Title: Baby, Please Don't Go
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Joe Williams
Label: Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
This rather unusual arrangement of Joe Williams classic Baby, Please Don't Go was the creation of producer/vocalist Curt Boettcher. Boettcher had previously worked with the Association, co-writing their first hit Along Comes Mary. While working on the Ballroom project for Our Productions in 1966 he came to the attention of Brian Wilson and Gary Usher. Usher was so impressed with Boettcher's creativity in the studio that he convinced his own bosses at Columbia Records to buy out Boettcher's contract from Our Productions. As a result, much of Boettcher's Ballroom project became part of Usher's own Sagittarius project, with only Baby, Please Don't Go released under the Ballroom name. Boettcher turned out to be so prolific that it was sometimes said that the giant CBS on the side of the building stood for Curt Boettcher's Studios.
Title: I Love You
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Chris White
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
By 1968 the major labels had signed just about every San Francisco band with any perceived potential. Capitol, having had some success with the Chocolate Watchband from San Jose on its Tower subsidiary, decided to sign another south bay band, People, to the parent label. The most successful single for the band was a new recording of an obscure Zombies B side. I Love You ended up hitting the top 20 nationally, despite the active efforts of two of the most powerful men in the music industry, who set out to squash the song as a way of punishing the record's producer for something having nothing to do with the song or the band itself.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Please Don't Worry
Source: CD: Grand Funk
Grand Funk Railroad bridged the gap from garage rock to heavy metal, almost single-handedly creating arena rock in the process. Their sound was as raw and unpolished as any garage band (at least at first) and the rock press universally detested them. Nonetheless, Mark Farner, Mel Schacher and Don Brewer struck a (power) chord with the concertgoing/record-buying public and was the first band to consistently play to sellout crowds at large-scale venues such as sports arenas. Grand Funk played loud; so loud, in fact, that it was impossible to hear anything but the band itself when they were playing (even your own screaming). Please Don't Worry, from Grand Funk Railroad's self-title second album (often referred to as the red album), is as typical an early Grand Funk song as you're going to find, with its driving power chords and screaming lead guitar solo and Mark Farner's distinctive barely-on-key vocals.