Artist: Procol Harum
Title: A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: A&M (original label: Deram)
Often credited as being the first progressive rock band, Procol Harum drew heavily from classical music sources, such as the Bach inspired theme used by organist Matthew Fisher as the signature rift for A Whiter Shade of Pale. The song itself holds the distinction of being the most-played song on the British airwaves of the past 70 years.
Title: Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush
Source: Mono CD: Mr. Fantasy
For many years I was completely oblivious to the existence of a movie called Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush. The Traffic song of the same name, however, has been a favorite of mine for quite some time (I have black and white video footage of the band performing the song on some old British TV show). The song was released as a single in 1967 and was not included on either the US or UK version of the Mr. Fantasy album (originally known in the US as Heaven Is In Your Mind).
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In)
Source: Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: No Way Out)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
The Chocolate Watchband are unique in that they managed to attain legendary status in spite of their record label or even their own management. The band started off well enough; a group of guys enrolled at Foothills Junior College in what would become Silicon Valley forming a band to play mostly covers by such hard-edged British bands as the Kinks and the Rolling Stones. The problems started when they signed a management contract with Ed Cobb, who also managed and produced the Standells and other garage-punk bands. Cobb, at that point, was looking to make inroads with the crowd that was buying records by the Seeds and other flower power groups, and tried his best to reshape the Watchband into a more psychedelic sound. Unfortunately, the band was really not suited to what Cobb wanted, so Cobb brought in studio musicians to present his musical vision. The result was a pair of albums that both sounded like they had been recorded by two entirely different groups...because they had (some tracks even deleted Dave Aguilar's original lead vocals in favor of those provided by studio singer Don Bennett). One of the few true Watchband tracks is Are You Gonna Be There, a song written and recorded in one day for use in the cheapie teenspliotation flick the Love-In and included on the Watchband's first album. The irony about this track is the fact that the song was co-written by none other than Don Bennett..
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Paul Kantner
Label: RCA Victor
One of the first songs written by Paul Kantner without a collaborator was this highly listenable tune from Surrealistic Pillow. Kantner says the title simply refers to the basic chord structure of the song, which is built on a two chord verse (D and C) and a two chord bridge (B and A). That actually fits, but what about the 25 part? [insert enigmatic smile here]
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: How Suite It Is
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxters
Label: RCA Victor
The second side of After Bathing At Baxters starts off fairly conventionally (for the Airplane), with Paul Kantner's Watch Her Ride, the first third or so of something called How Suite It Is. This leads (without a break in the audio) into Spare Chaynge, one of the coolest studio jams ever recorded, featuring intricate interplay between Jack Cassidy's bass and Jorma Kaukonen's guitar, with Spencer Dryden using his drum kit as enhancement rather than as a beat-setter. In particular, Cassidy's virtuoso performance helped redefine what could be done with an electric bass.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Comin' Back To Me
Source: LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Label: RCA Victor
Uncredited guest guitarist Jerry Garcia adds a simple, but memorable recurring fill riff to this Marty Balin tune. Balin, in his 2003 liner notes to the remastered release of Surrealistic Pillow, claims that Comin' Back To Me was written in one sitting under the influence of some primo stuff given to him by Paul Butterfield. Other players on the recording include Paul Kantner and Balin himself on guitars, Jack Casady on bass and Grace Slick on recorder.
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: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: Oh, Sweet Mary
Source: CD: Cheap Thrills
The only song credited to the entire membership of Big Brother And The Holding Company on their Cheap Thrills album was Oh, Sweet Mary (although some copies credit Janis Joplin as sole writer). The tune bears a strong resemblance to Coo Coo, a non-album single the band had released on the Mainstream label before signing to Columbia. Oh, Sweet Mary, however, has new lyrics and a "dreamy" bridge section played at a slower tempo than the rest of the tune.
Artist: Public Nuisance
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on CD: Gotta Survive)
Writer(s): David Houston
Label: Rhino (original label: Frantic)
Year: Recorded 1968, released 2003
Looking and sounding a lot like the Ramones would in the late 70s, Public Nuisance found itself the victim of unusual circumstances that led to the cancellation of their only LP in 1968. Producer Terry Melcher, who had risen to fame as producer of Paul Revere and the Raiders, had made the mistake of rejecting tapes sent to him by a wannabe rock star named Charles Manson. When Manson achieved the fame and notoriety that had eluded him as a musician (by killing a bunch of people), Melcher felt it prudent to go into hiding, shelving the Public Nuisance project in the process. The album was finally released 35 years later on the independent Frantic label.
Artist: Albert Collins
Source: LP: Underground Gold (originally released on LP: Love Can Be Found Anywhere (Even In A Guitar))
Writer(s): Stephen Hollister
Label: Liberty (original label: Imperial)
Albert Collins was a Texas bluesman who had been recording for various Houston-based labels over a period of ten years when he was approached by the members of Canned Heat, who offered to help him secure a record deal with Imperial Records in 1968. Collins soon relocated to first Kansas City and then Palo Alto, California, where he recorded the album Love Can Be Found Anywhere (Even In A Guitar). The album's title was taken from a line used by Robert Hite in Canned Heat's Fried Hockey Boogie and included several strong tracks, including Pushin'. Hite also wrote liner notes for the album, which was released in November of 1968.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Journey To The Center Of The Mind)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
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: Grass Roots
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Feelings and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
The Grass Roots had their origins as the San Francisco band the Bedoins, but by 1968 had lost all but one of the original members and had become pretty much a vehicle for the songwriting team of Jeff Barri and P.F. Sloan. They released three singles in 1968, the third of which was Midnight Confessions, the group's only certified gold record. The song immediately preceeding it was Feelings which failed to chart (possibly because it was not written by Sloan and Barri). Of course that means I play Feelings fairly regularly. Midnight Confessions? Not at all.
Title: Time Won't Let Me
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
From Cleveland we have another local band signed to a major label, in this case Capitol Records, which at the time was having great success with both the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Lead vocalist Sonny Gerachi would reappear a few years later with the band Climax, singing a song called Precious and Few, which is one of the greatest juxtapositions of artist names and song titles ever.
Title: Over Under Sideways Down
Source: Mono CD: Over, Under, Sideways, Down (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Raven (original US label: Epic)
The only Yardbirds album to feature primarily original material was released under different titles in different parts of the world. The original UK version was called simply The Yardbirds, while the US album bore the Over, Under, Sideways, Down title. In addition, the UK album was unofficially known as Roger the Engineer because of band member Chris Dreja's drawing of the band's recording engineer on the cover. The title cut was the last single to feature Jeff Beck as the band's sole lead guitarist (the follow-up single, Happenings Ten Years Time Ago, featured both Beck and Jimmy Page).
Source: CD: The Best Of The Standells (originally released on LP: Try It)
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
Although Standell's producer Ed Cobb had his faults (among them an inability to full appreciate the talents of the Chocolate Watchband, whom he also managed), he did write some truly cool songs for the band, including Dirty Water, Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, and an overlooked classic called Barracuda. One of the last of Cobb's songs to be recorded by the band, Barracuda, from the 1967 LP Try It, could be said to represent the culmination of the entire garage-rock movement, as a lighter style of pop music (the title track of the album itself being a good example) that would be known as "bubble-gum" was already starting to appear.
Title: What's The Matter Baby
Source: Mono LP: Now And Them
Following the departure of Van Morrison, the remaining members of Them returned to their native Belfast and recruited a new vocalist, Kenny McDowell, before relocating to California and recording two albums for the Tower label in 1968. The first of these albums, Now And Them, contained songs from a variety of sources and performed in a variety of styles. Among the notable songs on the LP was a cover of Timi Yuro's What's The Matter Baby done in a blue-eyed soul style.
Title: I'm Crying
Source: Mono LP: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Like most groups in the early 1960s, the Animals started their studio career by recording a mixture of songs provided to their producer by professional songwriters and covers of tunes previously recorded by other artists. Their first self-penned single was I'm Crying, a tune by vocalist Eric Burdon and organist Alan Price which was released in September of 1964. The song made the top 10 in Canada and the UK, but stalled out in the lower reaches of the top 40 in the US, falling far short of their previous international hit, House Of The Rising Sun. Producer Mickie Most decided from then on that songs written by the band itself would only be released as album tracks and B sides, a policy that stayed in effect until the Animals changed producers in 1966.
Title: I've Just Seen A Face
Source: LP: Rubber Soul (originally released in UK on LP: Help)
Label: Capitol (original UK label: Parlophone)
Consider the case of Dave Dexter, Jr. Dexter was the guy at Capitol Records who decided in late 1962 that there was no profit in Capitol releasing records by the hot new British band known as the Beatles that had just been signed to their UK partner label, EMI. After he was finally persuaded to issue I Want To Hold Your Hand as a single in late 1963, he became the guy responsible for determining which songs got released in what format: LP or 45 RPM single. He also set the song lineups for all the Beatle albums released in the US up to and including Revolver in 1966. In 1965 he decided to change the entire tone of the Rubber Soul album by deleting the more soulful numbers and substituting a pair of more acoustical tunes that he had left off the US release of Help. This was a deliberate attempt to tie in the Beatles with the folk-rock movement, which at the time of Rubber Soul's release was at the peak of its popularity. Oddly enough, there are still people out there who prefer the US version of the album, from which this track (one of the two songs from the UK version of Help) was played.
Title: Happy Jack (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Source: Mono CD: Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Happy Jack was originally released as a single in the UK in late 1966. It did not hit the US airwaves, however, until the early months of 1967. (I heard it for the first time on KLZ-FM, a Denver station whose format was a forerunner of progressive rock. KLZ-FM didn't call themselves a rock station. They instead marketed themselves as playing the top 100, as opposed to the top 60 played on KIMN, the dominant AM station in the city.) Although the song was not intended to be on an album, Decca Records quickly rearranged the track order of the Who's second album, A Quick One, to make room for the song, changing the name of the album itself to Happy Jack in the process. This rechanneled stereo mix of the song (using a much more realistic process than Capitol used with the Beach Boys' records) came out on the LP Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy in the early 1970s, but when the album was reissued on CD the original mono master was used instead.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
It is a little known fact that, for a short time in early 1967, Country Joe McDonald and Janis Joplin were lovers. This could very well explain why Joe sounds just a bit like Janis on the song Love, from the first Country Joe And The Fish album, Electric Music For The Mind And Body, which was released in May of that year.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Barterers And Their Wives
Source: 45 RPM single B side
The Left Banke made a huge impact with their debut single, Walk Away Renee, in late 1966. All of a sudden the rock press (such as it was in 1966) was all abuzz with talk of "baroque rock" and how it was the latest, greatest thing. The band soon released a follow-up single, Pretty Ballerina, which made the top 10 as well, which led to an album entitled (naturally enough) Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina, which featured several more songs in the same vein, such as Barterers And Their Wives, which was also released as a B side later that year. An unfortunate misstep by keyboardist Michael Brown, however, led to the Left Banke's early demise, and baroque rock soon went the way of other sixties fads.
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Otis Redding
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Sounding a lot like the Rascals, the Vagrants were a popular Long Island band led by singer Peter Sabatino and best remembered for being the group that had guitarist Leslie Weinstein in it. Weinstein would change his last name to West and record a solo album called Mountain before forming the band of the same name. This version of Respect is fairly faithful to the original Otis Redding version. Unfortunately for the Vagrants, Aretha Franklin would release her rearranged version of the song just a few weeks after the Vagrants, relegating their version of the tune (and the Vagrants themselves) to footnote status.
Artist: Sly And The Family Stone
Title: Woodstock Medley
Source: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer(s): Sylvester Stewart
Listening to the Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm CD and comparing it to the original Woodstock soundtrack album, you might notice that there were a few minor tweaks made for the original release. Overall, though, this was one of the least altered recordings used for the original soundtrack album. It's easy to see why. Sly Stone managed to assemble a band that was at the same time tight and chaotic, with an infectious energy that kept the crowd going throughout the entire 17 minute medley. No mean feat, considering the altered mental state of much of the audience that night.
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: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Watch Yourself
Source: LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer(s): Robert Yeazel
Although the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band usually wrote their own material, they occassionally drew from outside sources. One example is Watch Yourself, written by Robert Yeazel, who would go on to join Sugarloaf in time for their second LP, Spaceship Earth, writing many of the songs on that album.