Artist: Orange Bicycle
Title: Last Cloud Home (originally released in UK as 45 RPM B side)
Source: Mono CD: Insane Times
Label: Zonophone (original label: Parlophone)
The Orange Bicycle were a somewhat obscure British group led by drummer/vocalist Wil Malone. The band had one successful single, Hyacinth Threads, which topped the French charts in the summer of 1967. The group continued to record without any great success for the next couple of years. One of their last and best recordings was Last Cloud Home, a B side from 1969.
Artist: Insect Trust
Title: Been Here And Gone So Soon
Source: LP: The Insect Trust
It's sometimes assumed that psychedelic rock was purely a west coast phenomena. The truth is that there were psychedelic bands popping up all over the place in the late 1960s. New York's brand of psychedelia was decidedly more avant garde than in other locations, due to the city's position as a major art center. The most famous link between pop art and psychedelic rock was Andy Warhol's sponsorship of the Velvet Underground, but it was not the only one. The United States Of America was born directly out of the New York art scene before relocating to Los Angeles. Less known was the Insect Trust, which included saxophonist Robert Palmer, who would go on to greater fame as a music critic for the Village Voice. The front person for the group was vocalist Nancy Jeffries, whose voice is heard on Been Here And Gone Too Soon, a track that bears some resemblance to the early country rock songs of the post-David Crosby Byrds recordings made in California around the same time. After a second, more R&B-oriented album for a different label, the Insect Trust disbanded in the early 1970s.
Title: A House Is Not A Motel
Source: CD: Comes In Colours (originally released on LP: Forever Changes)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Raven (original label: Elektra)
Arthur Lee was a bit of a recluse, despite leading the most popular band on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. When the band was not playing at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go Lee was most likely to be found at his home up in the Hollywood Hills, often in the company of fellow band member Bryan McLean. The other members of the band, however, were known to hang out in the most popular clubs, chasing women and doing all kinds of substances. Sometimes they would show up at Lee's house unbidden. Sometimes they would crash there. Sometimes Lee would get annoyed, and probably used the phrase which became the title of the second track on Love's classic Forever Changes album, A House Is Not A Motel.
Artist: Ugly Ducklings
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Canada as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Yorktown)
Coming from the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, the Ugly Ducklings made their first appearance in March of 1965 as the Strolling Bones, sounding a lot like their British idols, the...well, you can figure it out. By summer of that year they had changed their name and relocated to Yorkville, the epicenter of Toronto nightlife. In July of 1966 the Ducklings released their first single, Nothin', on the local Yorktown label. Thanks to an appearance at around the same time as the opening act for the Rolling Stones themselves, the Ugly Ducklings found themselves with a huge local hit record. A series of mildly successful singles and one album followed before the band underwent several personnel changes, as well as another name change (to Gnu) before finally disbanding in the early 1970s.
Title: Fool On The Hill
Source: British import stereo 45 RPM Extended Play album: Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles only came up with six new songs for their 1967 telefilm Magical Mystery Tour, enough to fill up only one side of an LP. Rather than use outtakes and B sides to complete the album (which they had done in 1965 for the Help album), the band chose to release the six songs on a two-record 45 RPM Extended Play set, complete with a booklet that included the storyline, lyric sheets and several still photographs from the film itself. Magical Mystery Tour appeared in this form in both the UK and in Europe, while in the US and Canada, Capitol Records instead issued the album in standard LP format, using the band's 1967 singles and B sides to fill up side two. None of the songs from the telefilm were issued as singles, although one, I Am The Walrus, was used as the B side to the Hello Goodbye single. Another song, Fool On The Hill, was covered by Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66, making the US charts in early 1968. By the 1980s, however, the only version of the song still played on the radio was the original Beatles version, with the footage from the Magical Mystery Tour telefilm used as a video on early music TV channels.
Title: Revolution 9
Source: CD: The Beatles
Label: Parlophone (original label: Apple)
Revolution is a song with a somewhat convoluted history. The first recorded version of the song was Revolution 1, which composer John Lennon wanted to release as a single in the fall of 1968. Pretty much everyone else, including producer George Martin, felt the song, in its original form, was not single material, and instead chose Paul McCartney's Hey Jude. Lennon responded by recording a new, faster, version of Revolution which was released as the B side to Hey Jude. Soon after that Lennon returned to the original recording, adding an audio collage that made the final recording over ten minutes long. He then separated the original recording from the collage, expanding the latter into an avant garde piece that he called Revolution 9. Both pieces were used on the band's next album, The Beatles (aka the White Album), which was released late in the year.
Title: Blue Jay Way
Source: British import stereo 45 RPM EP: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s): George Harrison
One night in 1967, while staying at a rented house on Blue Jay Way in the Hollywood hills, Beatle George Harrison got a phone call. Some friends that he was waiting for had gotten lost in the fog and were trying to find their way to the house. Harrison gave them some directions and suggested they ask a police officer for help. To help keep himself awake while waiting for his friends to show up, Harrison wrote a song about the situation that eventually became his only musical contribution to the band's new project, a telefilm called Magical Mystery Tour.
Title: Bonnie K
Source: LP: Autumn To Spring (originally released in UK on LP: Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack)
Label: Charisma (original label: Immediate)
The Nice was one of England's earliest progressive rock bands, best remembered for launching the career of keyboardist Keith Emerson. The band itself recorded several albums in the late 1960s, the first being Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack, a title derived from parts of each band member's surname. Although the album was not originally released in the US, a repackaged version that included a non-album single (a rocked out instrumental version of America from West Side Story), as well as several tracks from the original LP, such as Bonnie K, was issued on the Charisma label in 1973 under the title Autumn To Spring.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: A Christmas Camel
Source: LP: Procol Harum
In 1966 Gary Brooker, former member of British cover band the Paramounts, formed a songwriting partnership with lyricist Keith Reid. By spring of 1967 the two had at least an album's worth of songs written but no band to play them. They solved the dilemma by placing an ad in Melody Maker and soon formed a group called the Pinewoods. Their very first record was A Whiter Shade Of Pale, which soon became the number one song on the British charts (after the Pinewoods changed their name to Procol Harum). The problem was that the group didn't know any other songs, a problem that was solved by firing the drummer and guitarist and replacing them with two of Brooker's former bandmates, B.J. Wilson and Robin Trower. This second version of the group soon recorded an LP, which included several strong tracks such as A Christmas Camel.
Title: Someone's Coming
Source: Simulated stereo Canadian CD: Magic Bus-The Who On Tour
Writer(s): John Entwhistle
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Some songs just get no respect. First released in 1967 in the UK as the B side of I Can See For Miles, John Alec Entwistle's Someone's Coming got left off the US release entirely. It wasn't until the release of the Magic Bus single (and subsequent LP) in 1968 that the tune appeared on US vinyl, and then, once again as a B side. The Magic Bus album, however, was never issued on CD in the US, although it has been available as a Canadian import (heard here in glorious fake stereo) for several years. Finally, in 1995 the song found a home on a US CD as a bonus track on The Who Sell Out.
Artist: Mouse And The Traps
Title: A Public Execution
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Fraternity)
It's easy to imagine some kid somewhere in Texas inviting his friends over to hear the new Bob Dylan record, only to reveal afterwards that it wasn't Dylan at all, but this band he heard while visiting his cousins down in Tyler. Mouse and the Traps, in fact, got quite a bit of airplay in that part of the state with a series of singles issued in the mid-60s. A Public Execution is unique among those singles in that the artist on the label was listed simply as Mouse.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Gimme Some Lovin'
Source: Mono LP: Gimme Some Lovin' (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Steve Winwood
Label: United Artists
The 1980s movie The Big Chill used Gimme Some Lovin' by the Spencer Davis Group as the backdrop for a touch football game at an informal reunion of former college students from the 60s. From that point on, movie soundtracks became much more than just background music and soundtrack albums started becomming best-sellers. Not entirely coincidentally, 60s-oriented oldies radio stations began to appear in major markets as well. Most of them are now playing 80s oldies, by the way.
Source: Mono LP: Younger Than Yesterday
Roger McGuinn of the Byrds always exhibited an interest in the subject of extraterrestrial life. C.T.A.-102, from the Younger Than Yesterday album, addresses this subject from the angle of aliens tuning in to earth broadcasts to learn our language and culture and finding themselves exposed to rock and roll (and apparently liking it).
Title: Out Of Our Tree
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
The Pacific Northwest was, and is, home to a louder, harder-rocking and generally raunchier style of rock and roll than most other regions of the country. It's never been explained exactly why this is, but Kurt Cobain may have touched on it when he said that because the weather is such that it discourages outdoor activities (i.e, it rains a lot), there really isn't much else to do but go to places where live music is played. Another reason for the scene developing the way it did might be these guys, who practically invented raunch and roll. The Wailers were formed in 1958, doing mostly instrumental versions of songs by Chuck Berry, Little Richard and other early rock and roll/R&B artists. One of the hallmarks of the Wailers was that they played hard and loud, influencing later bands such as the Sonics to do the same. This meant that in order to be heard over the instruments, a vocalist had to basically scream out the lyrics. Etiquette Records, which was started by the Wailers themselves, was one of the first labels to release records with a healthy amount of distortion built in. This may have been due to budget limitations or it could have been a deliberate aesthetical choice. The result was garage-rock classics such as Out Of Our Tree, the echoes of which can be heard in the Grunge movement of the early 1990s.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Label: RCA Victor
After Bathing At Baxter's is generally considered the most pyschedelic of all the Jefferson Airplane albums. For one thing, the members were reportedly all on LSD through most of the creative process and were involved in entire package, right down to the decision to divide the album up into five suites and press the vinyl in such a way that the spaces in the vinyl normally found between songs were only present between the suites themselves, making it almost impossible to set the needle down at the beginning of the second or third song of a suite (there is a slight overlap between songs as well). The first suite on After Bathing At Baxter's is called Streetmasse. It consists of three compositions: Paul Kantner's The Ballad of You and Me and Pooniel; A Small Package of Value Will Come To You Shortly (a free-form jazz piece led by drummer Spencer Dryden); and the Paul Kantner/Marty Balin composition Young Girl Sunday Blues.
Title: The Trip
Source: Mono CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released as 45 RPM B side and on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Sony (original label: Epic)
Donovan had already established a reputation in his native Scotland as the UK's answer to Bob Dylan, but had not had much success in the US, where his records were being released on the relatively poorly distributed Hickory label. That all changed in 1966, however, when he began to move beyond his folk roots and embrace a more electric sound. Unlike Dylan, who basically kept the same style as his acoustic songs, simply adding electic instruments, Donovan took a more holistic approach. The result was a body of music with a much broader range of sounds. The first of these new electric tunes was Sunshine Superman, sometimes cited as the first top 10 psychedelic hit. The B side of Sunshine Superman was a song called The Trip, which managed to be even more psychedelic than it's A side. Both songs soon appeared on Donovan's major US label debut, an album that was not even released in the UK due to a contractual dispute between the singer/songwriter and Pye Records.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Thought Dream/Thursday/Eastern Jam
Source: LP: I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die
As a general rule, when rock bands sign their first record contract they already have at least an album's worth of material that they have been performing and perfecting over a period of time. The natural tendency is to use the best of this material for the band's debut LP, especially if there is any chance there may not be a follow up. If the album turns out to be a hit, two things happen. First, the band starts playing more often and to larger crowds. Second, the record company starts pressing the band for a follow-up album, to take advantage of the band's newfound popularity. The problem is that the band used all their best stuff on the first album and (because of point # 1) has not had the time to develop new material. This often results in a second album that is a mixture of untested new material and older songs that were deemed not good enough to include on the first album. Such is probably the case of I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die by Country Joe And The Fish. The LP was released only six months after the first Fish album and even the title track was a song that had previously been recorded and released independently by the band as an EP included as an insert in an underground newspaper. The other tracks on the album vary in quality, as a listen to three songs that run together on side two, Thought Dream, Thursday and Eastern Jam, demonstrates.
Artist: Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title: His Holy Modal Majesty
Source: LP: Super Session
One of the earliest electronic keyboard instruments was a device that came to be known as the Kooperphone, thanks to its use by Al Kooper as early as 1966, when he was a member of the Blues Project. The instrument could not play chords, only single notes, and Kooper used it extensively on tracks like His Holy Modal Majesty on the 1968 album Super Session. If that were all there was to the track it might be remembered as little more than a curiosity piece. Thanks to the outstanding improvisational abilities of Kooper, guitarist Michael Bloomfield, bassist Harvey Brooks and drummer Eddie Hoh however, the piece soars, changing style and tempo with a fluidity rarely found outside of jazz circles.
Artist: Del Shannon
Title: Silver Birch/I Think I Love You
Source: British import CD: The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover
Label: BGO (original label: Liberty)
Sometimes called Del Shannon's most consistent album (and certainly his most psychedelic), The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover was released in early 1968, long after Shannon's run at the top of the charts with songs like Runaway and Keep On Searching. The album was a departure from Shannon's usual style, with songs like Silver Birch (about a girl whose wedding plans came to nothing) replacing the usual "I'm the victim here" types of songs Shannon was famous for. Westover (Shannon's birth name) takes a more subdued, yet rich, vocal approach on songs like the self-penned I Think I Love You, resulting in one of the most underrated (and unheard) tracks of the psychedelic era.
Title: Passing The Time
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Although Jack Bruce is generally acknowledged as the member of Cream that provided the most psychedelic material that the band recorded, drummer Ginger Baker gave him a run for his money on the studio half of their third LP, Wheels Of Fire. Perhaps the best of these was Passing The Time, which alternates between a slow, dreamlike section notable for its use of a calliope and a fast section that rocks out as hard as anything the band performed live in concert.
Artist: Bee Gees
Title: Birdie Told Me
Source: 45 RPM Extended Play
Writer(s): Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb
The Extended Play 45 RPM record was a popular format in the 50s that by the late 60s had all but disappeared in the US. In the UK, however, the format was still economically viable (The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour had been originally released exclusively in that format, for example). Generally the songs on British EPs were either included on standard LPs in the US or not issued in the states at all. In 1968 Atco Records decided to take a chance and send out a promo in the EP format to various radio stations. The first track on that EP was Birdie Told Me. To my knowledge that EP was never released to the public.