Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Sympathy For The Devil
Source: LP: Beggar's Banquet
When I was a teenager I would occasionally hear some adult make a comment about how rock and roll was the "Devil's music." This only got more ridiculous in 1968, when the Rolling Stones released Sympathy For The Devil as the opening track on their Beggar's Banquet album. Mick Jagger, who wrote the lyrics, was actually somewhat mystified by such reactions, as it was, after all, only one song on an album that also included such tunes as Prodigal Son (based on a Bible story) and Salt Of The Earth, a celebration of the common man. There is no doubting, however, that Sympathy For The Devil itself is a classic, and has been a staple of the band's live sets since the late 1980s.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: 2000 Man
Source: CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Setting any work of art in the relatively near future is always risky business (remember 1984?), but then again 33 years seems like forever when you yourself are still in your twenties. I mean who, including the Rolling Stones themselves, could have imagined that Mick, Keith, Charlie and company would still be performing well into the 21st century when they recorded 2000 Man for their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request? It's actually kind of interesting to listen to the lyrics now and see just how much of the song turned out to be an accurate prediction of what was to come.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Street Fighting Man
Source: LP: Beggar's Banquet
The Rolling Stones were at a low point in their career following their most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which came out in late 1967. As a response to charges in the rock press that they were no longer relevant the Stones released Jumpin' Jack Flash as a single in early 1968, following it up with the Beggar's Banquet album later in the year. The new album included the band's follow-up single, Street Fighting Man, a song that was almost as anthemic as Jumpin' Jack Flash itself and went a long ways toward insuring that the Rolling Stones would be making music on their own terms for as long as they chose to.
Source: Mono LP: Face To Face
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Face To Face was the first Kinks album to consist entirely of songs written by Ray Davies. It is also generally considered to be the beginning of the Kinks' "golden age", with the band moving away from the hard-rocking, but simplistic songs that characterized their early period into the sardonic social commentary that would become a Kinks hallmark for the next several years. Face To Face was also far more experimental musically than the band's previous efforts, with songs like Fancy, one of the first songs to incorporate Indian influences into rock music.
Title: Within You Without You
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s): George Harrison
George Harrison began to take an interest in the Sitar as early as 1965. By 1966 he had become proficient enough on the Indian instrument to compose and record Love You To for the Revolver album. He followed that up with perhaps his most popular sitar-based track, Within You Without You, which opens side two of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Harrison would record one more similarly-styled song, The Inner Light, in 1968, before deciding that he was never going to be in the same league as Ravi Shankar, whom Harrison had become friends with by that time. For the remainder of his time with the Beatles Harrison would concentrate on his guitar work and songwriting skills, resulting in classic songs such as While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something and Here Comes The Sun.
Artist: Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title: Sky Pilot
Source: CD: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals (originally released on LP: The Twain Shall Meet)
Label: Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
After the original Animals lineup disbanded in late 1966, lead vocalist Eric Burdon quickly set out to form a "New Animals" group that would come to be called Eric Burdon and the Animals. Their biggest hit was 1968's Sky Pilot, a song that was so long it had to be split across two sides of a 45 RPM record. The uninterrupted version of the song was included on the group's second album, The Twain Shall Meet.
Source: CD: Born To Be Wild-A Retrospective (originally released on LP: Monster)
Writer(s): Kay/Edmonton/St. Nicholas/Byrom
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Steppenwolf, even more than most rock bands, was plagued by arguments between various band members, dating back to their pre-Steppenwolf days as the band known as Sparrow. One of the earliest casualties of these arguments was bassist Nick St. Nicholas, whose clashes with bandleader John Kay were a major factor in Sparrow's disbanding in early 1967. The band at that point had relocated from Toronto to San Francisco, and St. Nicholas decided to stay in town and form a new band, T.I.M.E., with guitarist Larry Byrom. John Kay, on the other hand, moved to Los Angeles, taking several Sparrow demo tapes with him in hopes of landing a record contract. This ultimately led to a meeting with producer Gabriel Mekler, who liked what he heard. This in turn led to Kay recruiting two former members of Sparrow, drummer Jerry Edmonton and keyboardist Goldy McJohn, along with new guitarist Michael Monarch to form a new band; with the addition of bassist Rushton Moreve, the new group (tentatively named Sparrow) was complete. When Mekler signed the new band to Dunhill Records, he insisted the band call itself Steppenwolf. This lineup recorded two successful albums before Moreve decided that L.A. was about to fall into the Pacific and left the band to move east. Rather than advertise for a bass player, the group asked St. Nicholas to rejoin his former bandmates; not long after that friction between Kay and Monarch would lead to Byrom joining Steppenwolf as Monarch's replacement. It was this lineup that recorded Steppenwolf's most political album, Monster, featuring the nine-minute title track that was also released, in edited form, as a single in 1969.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: The Prophet
Source: LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
The Beacon Street Union had already relocated to New York from their native Boston by the time their first LP, The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union, appeared in early 1968. Unfortunately, they were grouped together with other Boston bands such as Ultimate Spinach by M-G-M Records as part of a fictional "Boss-Town Sound", which ultimately hurt the band's chances far more than it helped them. The album itself is actually one of the better psychedelic albums of the time, with tracks like The Prophet, which closes out side two of the original LP, combining somewhat esoteric music and lyrics effectively.
Artist: Sound System
Title: Take A Look At Yourself
Source: Mono CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Romat)
Greenville, North Carolina, a small city in the heart of tobacco country, is not the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of garage rock. For one thing, there were very few AM stations playing rock and roll (most were country) and FM was virtually non-existent in the area. For another, the rural nature of eastern Carolina meant that many young people, when they were not in school, were busy earning summer money working on farms, or at least in farm-related industries. Nonetheless, the Sound System managed to record Take A Look At Yourself, a classic slice of garage-punk, at Pitt Sound Studio in early 1967, releasing the song on the tiny Romat label. What happened after that is anyone's guess.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: At The Zoo
Source: LP: Bookends (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Simon and Garfunkel did not release any new albums in 1967, instead concentrating on their live performances. They did, however, issue several singles over the course of the year, most of which ended up being included on 1968's Bookends LP. At The Zoo was one of the first of those 1967 singles. It's B side ended up being a hit as well, but by Harper's Bizarre, which took The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) to the top 10 early in the year.
Title: Que Vida!
Source: CD: Da Capo
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
The first Love album was pretty much garage rock. Their second effort, however, showed off the rapidly maturing songwriting skills of both Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean. Que Vida! (yes, I know that technically there should be an upside down exclamation point at the beginning of the song title, but my keyboard doesn't speak Spanish) is a good example of Lee moving into territory usually associated with middle-of-the-road singers such as Johnny Mathis. Lee would continue to defy convention throughout his career, leading to a noticable lack of commercial success even as he won the respect of his musical peers.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: You Know I've Got The Rest Of My Life To Go
Source: CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
Circus Maximus was led by Bob Bruno and Jerry Jeff Walker, who had met in New York's Greenwich Village in 1967. As a general rule Bruno's contributions to the band's first album were more jazz-oriented, with a tinge of Country Joe-style psychedelia, while Walker's material fits somewhere between folk-rock and country-rock. You Know I've Got The Rest Of My Life To Go, however, is a Bruno composition that sounds more like a Walker tune. Interesting stuff.
Artist: Three Dog Night
Title: Rock And Roll Widow
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Three Dog Night are generally not remembered for their songwriting abilities. Almost all of their hits were covers of songs that had been previously recorded by the songwriters themselves, such as Randy Newman's Mama Told Me (Not To Come). Rock And Roll Widow, appearing on the B side of that record, is a rare exception, credited to all seven band members.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Julia Dream
Source: CD: Relics (reissue of original album) (song orginally released in UK on 45 RPM vinyl)
Writer: Roger Waters
Label: Capitol (original label: Harvest)
With Sid Barrett becoming increasingly unreliable, the other members of Pink Floyd decided to invite Barrett's childhood friend, guitarist David Gilmour, into the band. One of the earliest recordings with Gilmour was Julia Dream, a B side released in 1968 and included on the Relics LP in the early 1970s.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Source: LP: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Writer(s): Doug Ingle
I think there is a law on the books somewhere that says I need to play the full version of Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida every so often, so here it is.
Artist: Sonny And Cher
Title: It's Gonna Rain
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Sonny Bono
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Despite massive commercial success as half of the Sonny And Cher duo, Sonny Bono has never gotten the respect he deserves as a producer, songwriter and all-around promotional genius. He did, after all, make a superstar out of Cher, despite the fact that there were (and are) literally thousands of vocalists with more raw talent. As far as production goes, Bono borrowed heavily from Phil Spector's techniques, yet came up with a sound all his own. The same could be said for his songwriting, which, when analyzed closely, is far more sophisticated than it at first appears to be. This can be heard on even the earliest Sonny And Cher recordings, such as It's Gonna Rain, a song which originally appeared as the B side to the duo's breakout hit I Got You Babe in 1965.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Positively 4th Street
Source: CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Recorded during the same 1965 sessions that produced the classic Highway 61 Revisited album, Positively 4th Street was deliberately held back for release as a single later that year. It would not appear on an LP until the first Dylan Greatest Hits album was released in 1967.
Title: Girl I Want You
Source: LP: The Seeds
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: GNP Crescendo
Considering what else was available on vinyl in 1966, a listen to Girl I Want You, from the first Seeds LP, makes it easy to understand why some people in Los Angeles were convinced that the Seeds were actually visitors from another planet.
Artist: Country Joe and the Fish
Title: Section 43
Source: CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer: Joe McDonald
In 1966 Country Joe and the Fish released their original mono version of an instrumental called Section 43. The song was included on a 7" EP inserted in an underground newspaper called Rag Baby. In 1967 the group recorded an expanded stereo version of Section 43 and included it on their debut LP for Vanguard Records, Electric Music For The Mind And Body. It was this arrangement of the piece that the group performed live at the Monterey International Pop Festival that June.
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Black Sabbath
Source: LP: Black Sabbath
Label: Warner Brothers
This track has to hold some kind of record for "firsts". Black Sabbath, by Black Sabbath, from the album Black Sabbath is, after all, the first song from the first album by the first true heavy metal band. The track starts off by immediately setting the mood with the sound of church bells in a rainstorm leading into the song's famous tri-tone (often referred to as the "devil's chord") intro, deliberately constructed to evoke the mood of classic Hollywood horror movies. Ozzy Osborne's vocals only add to the effect. Even the faster-paced final portion of the song has a certain dissonance that had never been heard in rock music before, in part thanks to Black Sabbath's deliberate use of a lower pitch in their basic tuning. The result is something that has sometimes been compared to a bad acid trip, but is unquestionably the foundation of what came to be called heavy metal.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Hear Me Calling
Source: CD: Stonedhenge
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Ten Years After's third album, Stonedhenge, was the band's first real attempt to take advantage of modern studio techniques to create something other than a facsimile of their live performances. Included on the album are short solo pieces, as well as half a dozen longer tracks featuring the entire band. One of the most popular of these full-band tracks is Hear Me Calling, which finishes out side one of the original LP. The song itself follows a simple blues structure, but is augmented by dynamic changes in volume as well as dizzying stereo effects. TYA would continue to develop their studio technique on their next LP, the classic Cricklewood Green.