Monday, September 8, 2014

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1437 (B8) (starts 9/10/14)

Artist:    Cream
Title:    N.S.U.
Source:    CD: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Jack Bruce
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1966
    Although most of Jack Bruce's Cream songs were co-written with lyricist Pete Brown, there were some exceptions. One of the most notable of these is N.S.U. from Cream's debut LP. The song has proven popular enough to be included in the band's repertoire when they reunited for a three-day stint at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    SWLABR
Source:    Mono European import LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Lilith (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    I distinctly remember this song getting played on the local jukebox just as much as the single's A side, Sunshine Of Your Love (maybe even more). Like most of Cream's more psychedelic material, SWLABR (the title being an anagram for She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow) was written by the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and poet Pete Brown. Brown had originally been brought in as a co-writer for Ginger Baker, but soon realized that he and Bruce had better songwriting chemistry.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Sleepy Time Time
Source:    CD: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Bruce/Godfrey
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1966
    When Cream was first formed, both Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker worked with co-writers on original material for the band. Baker's partner was Pete Brown, while Bruce worked with his wife, Janet Godfrey. Eventually Bruce and Brown began collaborating, creating some of Cream's most memorable songs, but not before Bruce and Godfrey wrote Sleepy Time Time, one of the high points of the Fresh Cream album.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Honky Tonk Women
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1969
    After revitalizing their career with Jumpin' Jack Flash and Street Fighting Man in 1968, the Stones delivered the coup-de-grace with a true monster of a hit: the classic Honky Tonk Women. The song was the first single without Brian Jones, who had been found dead in his swimming pool shortly after being kicked out of the band. Jones's replacement, Mick Taylor (fresh from a stint with blues legend John Mayall), plays slide guitar on the track.

Artist:    Electric Flag
Title:    You Don't Realize
Source:    LP: The Best Of The Electric Flag (originally released on LP: A Long Time Comin')
Writer(s):    Michael Bloomfield
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    After leaving the Butterfield Blues Band in early 1967, guitarist Michael Bloomfield announced to intention to form a new band that would feature what he called "American music": a mixture of blues, jazz, R&B (particularly the Memphis sound as defined by the artists on the Stax and Volt labels), and rock, with a little country and gospel thrown in for good measure. The result was the Electric Flag, originally known as the American Music Band. In addition to Bloomfield, the Electric Flag featured vocalist Nick Gravenites, bassist Harvey Brooks, keyboardist Barry Goldberg and drummer Buddy Miles. After a critically-aclaimed (and somewhat avant-garde) soundtrack album for the movie The Trip, the group went to work on their "official" debut album, A Long Time Comin', which was released in March of 1968, in the meantime touring extensively. By the time the album was completed, Bloomfield was showing signs of burnout, made worse by his chronic insomnia, which he attempted to medicate by using heroin. As a result, A Long Time Comin' has more songs by the other band members (particularly Gravenites) than by Bloomfield himself. One of the few Bloomfield originals on the LP was You Don't Realize, a slow soulful number reminiscent of Otis Redding, who had died tragically a short time before the album's release. By June of 1968 Bloomfield had left the band, and would next appear on the Super Session album with keyboardist/vocalist Al Kooper.

Artist:    Love
Title:    You Set The Scene
Source:    CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Forever Changes)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Rhino (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1967
    During the production of Forever Changes, vocalist/guitarist Arthur Lee became convinced that he was destined to die soon after the release of the album. Accordingly, he crafted lyrics that were meant to be his final words to the world. As the final track on the LP, You Set The Scene in particular reflected this viewpoint. As it turned out, Forever Changes was not Lee's swan song. It was, however, the last album to feature the lineup that had been the most popular band on Sunset Strip for the past two years. Subsequent Love albums would feature a whole new group of musicians backing Lee, and would have an entirely different sound as well. Ironically, Lee was still around at the dawn of the 21st century over 30 years later (dying of acute myeloid leukemia in 2006), outliving several of his old bandmates.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Chasing Shadows
Source:    LP: Purple Passages (originally released on LP: Deep Purple)
Writer(s):    Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Tetragrammaton)
Year:    1969
    As a general rule, recording artists tend to do better on their home ground than anywhere else. Even the Beatles already had a pair of chart-topping British singles (Please Please Me and She Loves You) under their collective belts by the time they touched off the British Invasion of the US with I Want To Hold Your Hand in 1964. There are exceptions, however. One British band that had huge success in the US, yet was unable to buy a hit in its native England, was the original incarnation of a band called Deep Purple. The group had a major US hit right out of the box with their 1968 cover of Joe South's Hush, but the song did not chart at all in the UK. The band's US label, Tetragrammaton, promoted the band heavily and the group's debut LP, Shades Of Deep Purple, was the all-time best selling album in that label's short history. The band followed Shades up with a second LP, The Book Of Taleisyn, that included another hit cover song, this time of Neil Diamond's Kentucky Woman. Still, the British record-buying public was unimpressed, and it was estimated that the group on the average made fifteen to twenty times as much money per gig in the US than they did at home. Unfortunately for the band, Tetragrammaton was badly managed and went belly up just days after the release of the band's self-titled third album. This left the band without a US label and still unsuccessful at home. This, combined with internal conflicts about what direction the band should take musically, led to major personnel changes. Ultimately those changes, particularly the addition of lead vocalist Ian Gilliam, proved beneficial, as Deep Purple became one of the top rock bands in the world in the early 1970s. This in turn led to Warner Brothers, the band's new US label, releasing a compilation album of the group's early material called Purple Passages, which included almost the entire third album. Among the outstanding tracks from that album is Chasing Shadows, which utilizes African rhythms from drummer Ian Paice, as well as a strong performance by the band's original vocalist, Rod Evans, who would go on to become the front man for a band called Captain Beyond in the early 1970s.

Artist:    Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Title:    Rest Cure
Source:    European import CD: The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Writer(s):    Brown/Crane
Label:    Polydor (original US label: Atlantic)
Year:    1968
    One of the more disturbing trends of the early 1970s was the rise of "glitter-rock" artists such as T-Rex, Gary Glitter and, of course, David Bowie. Glitter-rock was not so much as musical style as it was a performance art, with an emphasis on outrageous visual presentation set against a rock background, like a cross between French cabaret and a college frat party. The guy who started it all was a Britisher named Arthur Brown. While other rockers were playing as loudly as they could get away with, occassionally destroying their instruments in the process, Brown was busy being dropped onto stage suspended by a crane, wearing a glittering mask and colorful costumes (both male and female) and, on occasion, a crown of actual fire. Musically, Arthur Brown was at least as adventurous as any of his contemporaries, yet could exhibit a commercial side as well, as can be heard on Rest Cure, a track from his first album that was also selected to be the B side of his hit single, Fire. It was probably a good choice, as I remember hearing it played almost as often as Fire itself on the local jukebox.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Flying
Source:    British import 45 RPM EP: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    1967 was an odd year for the Beatles. They started it with one of their most successful double-sided singles, Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, and followed it up with the iconic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. From there, they embarked on a new film project. Unlike their previous movies, the Magical Mystery Tour was not made to be shown in theaters. Rather, the film was aired as a television special shown exclusively in the UK. The airing of the film coincided with the release (in the UK and Europe) of a two-disc extended play 45 RPM set featuring the six songs from the special. It was not until later in the year that the songs were released in the US, on an album that combined the songs from the film on one side and all the non-LP single sides they had released that year on the other. Among the songs from the film is Flying, a rare instrumental track that was credited to the entire band.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    D.C.B.A.-25
Source:    CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Paul Kantner
Label:    RCA
Year:    1967
    D.C.B.A.-25 was named for the chords used in the song. As for the "25" was early 1967. In San Francisco. Paul Kantner wrote it. Figure it out.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Today
Source:    CD: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Surrealistic Pillow)
Writer(s):    Balin/Kantner
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1967
    Uncredited guest guitarist Jerry Garcia adds a simple, but memorable recurring fill riff to Today, an early collaboration between rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner and bandleader Marty Balin on Jefferson Airplane's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Comin' Back To Me
Source:    CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer:    Marty Balin
Label:    RCA
Year:    1967
    Marty 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 Balin, Paul Kantner, Jack Casady and an uncredited Jerry Garcia on guitars and Grace Slick on recorder.

Artist:    Pentangle
Title:    Lord Franklin
Source:    British import CD: Cruel Sister
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Pentangle
Label:    Castle (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1970
    One of the hardest to define bands of the late 1960s was a group of five British musicians calling themselves Pentangle. Two of the members, John Renbourne and Bert Jansch, were well-established and highly influential acoustic guitarists with several solo albums each to their credit. The rhythm section of Danny Thompson and Terry Cox, on the other hand, were from jazz backgrounds, while vocalist Jacqui McShee was a relatively new talent making a name for herself in coffee houses. Making their debut in 1967, the group was an overnight commercial success. By 1970, however, they were feeling a bit trapped by their own success and decided to record an album that was quite a departure from their previous efforts. Unlike their previous albums, Cruel Sister contained no original compositions. Instead, the group turned their talents to rearranging traditional English folk ballads such as Lord Franklin. Although the LP marked the beginning of the group's commercial decline, it is nonetheless an excellent album, well worth checking out.

Artist:    Grass Roots
Title:    Let's Live For Today
Source:    CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Julian/Mogull/Shapiro
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1967
    This well-known 1967 hit by the Grass Roots started off as a song by the Italian band the Rokes, Piangi Con Mi, released in 1966. The Rokes themselves were originally from Manchester, England, but had relocated to Italy in 1963. Piangi Con Mi was their biggest hit to date, and it the band decided to re-record the tune in English for release in Britain (ironic, considering that the band originally specialized in translating popular US and UK hits into the Italian language). The original translation didn't sit right with the band's UK label, so a guy from the record company came up with new lyrics and the title Let's Live For Today. The song still didn't do much on the charts, but did get the attention of former Brill building songwriter Jeff Barri, whose current project was writing and producing a studio band known as the Grass Roots with his partner P.F. Sloan. The song became such a big hit that the Grass Roots became a real perfoming band and had several hits over the next couple of years.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Oh, Sweet Mary
Source:    LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Albin/Andrew/Getz/Gurley/Joplin
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    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:    Them
Title:     Walking In The Queen's Garden
Source:     LP: Now and Them
Writer:     Them
Label:     Tower
Year:     1968
     After recruiting new lead vocalist Kenny McDowell, Them moved out to California and recorded a couple LPs for Capitol's low-budget exploitation label Tower. Unlike the second of these Tower albums (Time Out! Time In! For Them), which featured mostly songs written by the husband and wife team of Tom Pulley and Vivian Lane, Now and Them had an eclectic mix of songs from a variety of sources. One of these songs, Walking In The Queen's Garden, was even credited to the band itself. Interestingly, it is also the post-Van Morrison Them song that sounds the most like it could have been penned by Morrison himself.

Artist:    Fairport Convention
Title:    It's Alright, It's Only Witchcraft
Source:    CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Fairport Convention)
Writer(s):    Hutchings/Thompson
Label:    Polydor (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1967
    Fairport Convention has long been known for being an important part of the British folk music revival that came to prominence in the early 70s. Originally, however, the band was modeled after the folk-rock bands that had risen to prominence on the US West Coast from 1965-66. Their first LP was released in the fall of 1967, and drew favorable reviews from the UK rock press, which saw them at Britain's answer to Jefferson Airplane. One of the LP's highlights is It's Alright, It's Only Witchcraft, which features electric guitar work by Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol that rivals that of Jorma Kaukonen.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers
Source:    Mono CD: The Complete Reprise Singles (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Chambers/Holiday/Lewis
Label:    Real Gone Music/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1969
    The band heard on Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers, the final single released by the Electric Prunes, sounds nothing like the band's earlier material. In fact, to me it sounds more like an early Three Dog Night recording. This is not all that surprising, considering that it was actually an entirely different band that included former West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band guitarist Ron Morgan, who would go on to become an early member of Three Dog Night. Early on in the group's career they had signed over the rights to the name Electric Prunes to producer Dave Hassinger. After the original group's second LP failed to make a significant dent in the charts Hassinger decided that the next Prunes LP would be a Catholic Mass composed by David Axelrod. Unfortunately, the members of the band were not up to the demands of Axelrod's arrangements and a Canadian group named the Collectors was brought in to (anonymously) play most of the instrumental tracks on the album. The Collectors, however, were never officially members of the Electric Prunes (in fact they eventually changed their name to Chilliwack), and Hassinger eventually brought in still another set of musicians for the band's fifth and final LP, Just Good Old Rock And Roll. The album yielded two singles, the second of which was a song called Love Grows that was backed with Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Crosstown Traffic
Source:    LP: Smash Hits (originally released on LP: Electric Ladyland)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    By 1968 it didn't matter one bit whether the Jimi Hendrix Experience had any hit singles; their albums were guaranteed to be successful. Nonetheless the Electric Ladyland album had no less that three singles on it (although one was a new stereo mix of a 1967 single). The first single to be released concurrently with Electric Ladyland was Crosstown Traffic, a song that has been included on several anthologies, including the Smash Hits LP, over the years.

Artist:    Status Quo
Title:    Pictures Of Matchstick Men
Source:    Mono CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Francis Rossi
Label:    BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Pye)
Year:    1967
    If you have ever seen the film This Is Spinal Tap, the story of Britain's Status Quo might seem a bit familiar. Signed to Pye Records in 1967 the group scored a huge international hit with their first single, Pictures Of Matchstick Men, but were unable to duplicate that success with subsequent releases. In the early 1970s the band totally reinvented itself as a boogie band and began a run in the UK that resulted in them scoring more charted singles than any other band in history, including the Beatles and Rolling Stones. For all that, however, they never again charted in the US, where they are generally remembered as one-hit wonders. In addition to their UK success, Status Quo remains immensely popular in the Scandanavian countries, where they continue to play to sellout crowds on a regular basis.

Artist:    Kingsmen
Title:    Money
Source:    LP: The Kingsmen
Writer(s):    Gordy/Bradford
Label:    Wand
Year:    1963
    It's seems like just about everybody who recorded an album in 1963 included a cover of Barrett Strong's hit Money on it. The Kingsmen, riding high on the popularity of their own hit version of Louie Louie, were no exception.

Artist:    Al Kooper/Stephen Stills/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title:    CD: You Don't Love Me
Source:    Super Session
Writer(s):    Willie Cobbs
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1968
    You Don't Love Me was originally recorded and released as a single by Willie Cobbs in 1960. Although the song is credited solely to Cobbs, it strongly resembles a 1955 Bo Diddley B side, She's Fine She's Mine, in its melody, lyrics and repeated guitar riff. The Cobbs single was a regional hit on the Mojo label in Memphis, but stalled out nationally after being reissued on Vee-Jay Records, due to the label pulling promotional support from the song due to copyright issues. A 1965 version by Junior Wells with Buddy Guy saw some minor changes in the lyrics to the song; it was this version that was covered by Al Kooper and Stephen Stills for the 1968 Super Session album. The recording extensively uses an effect called flanging, a type of phase-shifting that was first used on the Jimi Hendrix track Bold As Love.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    A Child Of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death
Source:    LP: Volume 3-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer:    Markley/Morgan
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    Bob Markley was a somewhat unique character on the LA scene. An heir from the Midwest and a moderately successful TV personality in Oklahoma, Markley had not been able to make a dent in tinsel town until he offered to finance the Harris brothers and become their tambourine player and (eventually) lead singer and lyricist. Although he is often accused of buying his way into rock and roll, he did have a certain gift for irony in his lyrics, as evidenced by A Child Of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death. The song itself (lyrics aside), was the work of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's most underrated member, guitarist Ron Morgan. By the time Volume 3 was being recorded, Morgan's enthusiam for the band was almost non-existent (apparently working with a guy like Markley could have that effect on some people). Nonetheless, he managed to write some of the group's most memorable tunes, including this one.

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)
Writer(s):    Nugent/Farmer
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
Year:    1968
    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:     Grateful Dead
Title:     New, New Minglewood Blues
Source:     LP: The Grateful Dead
Writer:     McGannahan Skjellyfetti
Label:     Warner Brothers
Year:     1967
     You may be wondering just who McGannahan Skjellyfetti is. Well, I guess you could say it's a close relative of Nanker Phelge, the pseudonym used for early Rolling Stones songs that were written by the entire band. I'm not an expert on the Dead by any means, but I believe that this track features "Pig Pen" McKernan on vocals.

Artist:    Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title:    Gold And Silver
Source:    Quicksilver Messenger Service
Writer(s):    Duncan/Schuster
Label:    RockBeat
Year:    1968
    There are differing opinions on just how serious legendary San Francisco singer/songwriter and all-around iconoclast Dino Valenti was being when, at a jam session with guitarist John Cippolina one night, he suggested that the two of them form a band. Since Valenti was busted for drugs the very next day (and ended up spending the next two years in jail), we'll never know for sure. Cippolina, however, was motivated enough to begin finding members for the new band, including bassist David Freiberg (later to join Starship) and drummer Skip Spence. When Marty Balin stole Spence away to join his own new band (Jefferson Airplane), he tried to make up for it by introducing Cippolina to vocalist/guitarist Gary Duncan and drummer Greg Elmore, whose own band, the Brogues, had recently disbanded. Taking the name Quicksilver Messenger Service (so named for all the member's astrological connections with the planet Mercury), the new band soon became a fixture on the San Francisco scene. Inspired by the Blues Project, Cippolina and Duncan quickly established a reputation for their dual guitar improvisational abilities on songs like Gold And Silver. Unlike other San Francisco bands such as the Airplane and the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service did not jump at their first offer from a major record label, preferring to hold out for the best deal. This meant their debut album did not come out until 1968, missing out on the initial buzz surrounding the summer of love.

Artist:    Kak
Title:    Lemonade Kid
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Kak)
Writer(s):    Gary Lee Yoder
Label:    Rhino (original label: Epic)
Year:    1969
    Kak was a group from Davis, California that was only around long enough to record one LP for Epic. That self-titled album did not make much of an impression commercially, and was soon out of print. Long after the band had split up, critics began to notice the album, and copies of the original LP are now highly-prized by collectors. Songs like the Lemonade Kid show that Kak had a sound that holds up better today than many of the other artists of the time. In fact, after listening to this track a couple times I went out and ordered a copy of the import CD reissue of the Kak album.

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