Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Somebody To Love
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer: Darby Slick
Over 40 years after the fact, it's hard to imagine just how big an impact Somebody To Love had on the garage band scene. Whereas before Somebody To Love came out you could just dismiss hard-to-cover songs as being "lame" anyway, here was a tune that was undeniably cool, and yet virtually impossible for anyone but the Airplane to play well (and even they were unable to get it to sound quite the same when they performed it live). Although garage bands would continue to exist (and still do), the days when a group of kids from the suburbs could form a band, play a handful of parties, maybe win a battle of the bands and write and record a hit record with virtually no prior experience were gone forever.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Can You See Me
Source: Mono LP: Are You Experienced (UK version) (original US release: LP: Smash Hits)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original US label: Reprise)
Year: 1967 (US 1969)
Before releasing the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, in the US, Reprise Records decided to make some changes to the track lineup, adding three songs that had been released as non-album singles in the UK. To make room for these, three songs were cut from the original UK version of the LP. The most popular of these three tracks was Can You See Me, a song that was included in the band's set at their US debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. Despite the audience's positive response to the song, the band apparently dropped Can You See Me from their live set shortly after Monterey. The song was originally slated to be released as the B side of The Wind Cries Mary, but instead was used as an album track.
Title: Someone's Coming
Source: CD: The Who Sell Out (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
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 for several years. Finally, in 1995 the song found a home on a US CD as a bonus track on The Who Sell Out.
Title: Have You Seen Her Face
Source: Mono LP: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): Chris Hillman
Perhaps the greatest surprise on the fourth Byrds album, Younger Than Yesterday, was the emergence of bassist Chris Hillman as a quality songwriter, already on a par with David Crosby and the recently-departed Gene Clark, and even exceeding Roger McGuinn as a solo writer (most of McGuinn's songs being collaborations). One of the many strong Hillman tracks on Younger Than Yesterday was Have You Seen Her Face, which eventually became the third single from the album.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: Oops I Can Dance
Source: CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Jerry Jeff Walker
Right from the start, the band Circus Maximus was being pulled in two musical directions by its co-founders, Bob Bruno and Jerry Jeff Walker. Although it was Bruno's song Wind that got the most airplay in 1967, it was Walker who went on to have a successful career as a singer/songwriter with songs like Mr. Bojangles. One of Walker's earliest songs was Oops I Can Dance from the first Circus Maximus album.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: The Masked Marauder
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Perhaps more than any other band, Country Joe and the Fish capture the essence of the San Francisco scene in the late 60s. Their first two releases were floppy inserts included in Joe McDonald's self-published Rag Baby underground newspaper. In 1967 the band was signed to Vanguard Records, a primarily folk-oriented prestige label that also had Joan Baez on its roster. Their first LP, Electric Music For the Mind and Body had such classic cuts as Section 43, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, and the political parody Superbird on it, as well as the mostly-instrumental tune The Masked Marauder. Not for the unenlightened.
Title: Hey Joe
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Billy Roberts
Label: Rhino (original label: Mira)
In 1966 there were certain songs you had to know how to play if you had any aspirations of being in a band. Among those were Louie Louie, Gloria and Hey Joe. The Byrds' David Crosby claims to have discovered Hey Joe, but was not able to convince his bandmates to record it before their third album. In the meantime, several other bands had recorded the song, including Love (on their first album) and the Leaves. The version of Hey Joe heard here is actually the third recording the Leaves made of the tune. After the first two versions tanked, guitarist Bobby Arlin, who had recently replaced founding member Bill Rinehart on lead guitar, came up with the idea of adding fuzz guitar to the song. It was the missing element that transformed a rather bland song into a hit record (the only national hit the Leaves would have). As a side note, the Leaves credited Chet Powers (aka Dino Valenti) as the writer of Hey Joe, but California-based folk singer Billy Roberts had copyrighted the song in 1962 and had reportedly been heard playing the tune as early as 1958.
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Laurie)
The Barbarians were originally formed in Cape Cod in 1963, and were known as much for their noncomformity as for their music. They were the first Boston area band to grow out their hair and wear leather sandals; To top it off their drummer, Vic "Moulty" Moulton, had lost his left hand in an accident when he was younger and wore a prosthetic hook. In 1966, after the band had moderate national success with a semi-novelty song called Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl, the band's producer, Doug Morris, talked Moulton into recording a faux-autobiographical song called Moulty, using New York studio musicians from a group called Levon and the Hawks (who had backed up such notables as Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan on tour and would, in a few years, become superstars in the own right after changing their name to The Band). Moulton, upon finding out that the recording had been released, was incensed, and went to the New York offices of Laurie Records, chasing the label's president around the office and breaking copies of the record over his head. Moulty was the last Barbarians record to appear on the Laurie label.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Mother's Little Helper
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
By 1966 the Rolling Stones had already had a few brushes with the law over their use of illegal drugs. Mother's Little Helper, released in Spring of '66, is a scathing criticism of the abuse of prescription drugs by the parents of the Stones' fans. Perhaps more than any other song of the time, Mother's Little Helper illustrates the increasingly hostile generation gap that had sprung up between the young baby boomers and the previous generation.
Artist: Trade Winds
Title: Mind Excursion
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Excursions)
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Kama Sutra)
The Trade Winds were a semi-studio band from New York that first scored in 1965 with the song New York Is A Lonely Town (When You're the Only Surfer Boy Around). A year later they had their second and last hit, Mind Excursion, which holds up as one of the best examples of "flower power" pop ever recorded.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: For Emily, Whenever I Might Find Her
Source: LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Art Garfunkel's vocals were in the spotlight on For Emily, Whenever I Might Find Her, a track from the duo's third LP, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme. Other than the vocals, the only other instrument heard on the track is Paul Simon's guitar. Garfunkel has called the piece, which is still in his solo repertoire, "one of the most challenging" to perform, due to its somewhat free-form structure. A live version of the song was released as a single in 1972, making it to the # 53 spot on the charts.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Positively 4th Street
Source: 45 RPM promo 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.
Artist: ? And The Mysterians
Title: 96 Tears
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): The Mysterians
Label: Abkco (original label: Cameo)
Although his birth certificate gives the name Rudy Martinez, the leader of the Mysterians had his name legally changed to "?" several years ago. He asserts that he is actually from the planet Mars and has lived among dinosaurs in a past life. Sometimes I feel like I'm living among dinosaurs in this life, so I guess I can relate a little. The band's only major hit, 96 Tears, has the distinction of being the last top 10 single on the Cameo label before Cameo-Parkway went bankrupt.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)).
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in early 1967. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation.
Artist: Asylum Choir
Title: Indian Style
Source: Look Inside The Asylum Choir
Leon Russell and Marc Benno were both well-established on the Los Angeles studio scene when they decided to record an album called Look Inside The Asylum Choir in 1968, using several of their fellow studio musicians. Sporting a cover depicting a roll of toilet paper against a background of tiles with the likenesses of Russell and Benno, the album was a curious mix of psychedelia and novelty, with Indian Style (which was also released as a single) being a good example of the latter. Look Inside The Asylum Choir was not an immediate success, but was reissued with a new cover following Russell's emergence as a star in his own right in the early 1970s.
Artist: Thunderclap Newman
Title: Something In The Air
Source: CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): John Keen
Label: Polydor (original label: Marmalade)
Thunderclap Newman was actually the creation of the Who's Pete Townshend, who assembled a bunch of studio musicians to work with drummer (and former Who roadie) John "Speedy" Keen. Keen had written Armenia City In The Sky, the opening track on The Who Sell Out, and Townshend set up the studio project to return the favor. Joining Keen were 15-year-old guitarist Jimmy McCulloch (who would eventually join Paul McCartney's Wings before dying of a heroin overdose in 1979), studio engineer Andy "Thunderclap" Newman (who had worked with Pink Floyd, among others) on piano, and Townshend himself on bass. Following the success of Something In The Air, the group recorded an album, but sales were disappointing and the group soon disbanded.
Title: Animal Zoo
Source: CD: Best Of Spirit (originally released on LP: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus)
Writer: Jay Ferguson
The last album by the original lineup of Spirit was Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus, released in 1970. The album was originally going to be produced by Neil Young, but due to other commitments Young had to bow out, recommending David Briggs, who had already produced Young's first album with Crazy Horse, as a replacement. The first song to be released as a single was Animal Zoo, but the tune barely cracked the top 100 charts. The album itself did better on progressive FM stations and has since come to be regarded as a classic. Shortly after the release of Twelve Dreams, Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes left Spirit to form Jo Jo Gunne.
Artist: Shadows of Knight
Title: Light Bulb Blues
Source: CD: Gloria (also released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Sundazed (original label: Dunwich)
Following the national success of their cover of Van Morrison's Gloria, Chicago's Shadows Of Knight returned to the studio to cut a cover of a Bo Diddley tune, Oh Yeah. For the B side of that record the band was allowed to record one of their own compositions. Light Bulb Blues captures the essence of the Shadows' style: hard-driving garage/punk that follows a traditional 12-bar blues progression. The result is a track that sounds a bit like a twisted variation on Muddy Waters's classic Rollin' And Tumblin'.
Title: Mother's Lament
Source: LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s): Trad., arr. Cream
The shortest-ever Cream recording was Mother's Lament, an old English drinking song that was tacked onto the end of the Disraeli Gears album. Other than the slightly off-key vocals (led by drummer Ginger Baker), the only instrument heard on the track is a piano (probably played by producer Felix Pappalardi).
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Source: British import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Roger Perkins
Label: Zonophone (original label: Capitol)
Possibly the most obscure song in the Quicksilver Messenger Service catalog, Bears appeared as the B side to Dino Valenti's Stand By Me (no relation to the Ben E. King song) in late 1968. To my knowledge, this novelty song was never included on any of the band's albums.
Title: People Are Strange
Source: LP: Strange Days (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: The Doors
The first single from the second Doors album was People Are Strange. The song quickly dispelled any notion that the Doors might be one-hit wonders and helped establish the band as an international act as opposed to just another band from L.A. The album itself, Strange Days, was a turning point for Elektra Records as well, as it shifted the label's promotional efforts away from their original rock band, Love, to the Doors, who ironically had been recommended to the label by Love's leader, Arthur Lee.
Title: Magical Mystery Tour
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
1967 had been a great year for the Beatles, starting with their double-sided hit single Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, followed by the iconic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album and their late summer hit All You Need Is Love, with its worldwide TV debut (one of the few events of the time to utilize satellite technology). The next project, however, did not go over quite so well. It had been over two years since the group's last major movie (HELP!), and the band decided that their next film would be an exclusive for broadcast on BBC-TV. Unlike the previous two films, this new project would not follow traditional filmmaking procedures. Instead it would be a more experimental piece; a series of loosely related songs and comedy vignettes connected by a loose plot about a bus trip to the countryside. Magical Mystery Tour made its debut in early December of 1967 to overwhelmingly negative reaction by viewers and critics alike (partially because the film was shown in black and white on the tradition minded BBC-1 network; a later rebroadcast in color on BBC-2 went over much better). The songs used in the film, however, were quite popular. Since there were only six of them, far too few for a regular LP, it was decided to issue the album as a pair of 45 RPM EPs, complete with lyric sheets and booklet recounting the story from the film. The original EPs were available in both stereo and mono versions in Europe and the UK. In the US, where the six tunes were supplemented by the band's five remaining single sides from 1967 to create an LP, Magical Mystery Tour was only available in stereo. Although both the EP and LP versions have different sequencing than the telefilm, all three open the same way, with the film's title song.
Title: Wild Honey Pie/The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill/While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Source: British import LP: The Beatles
By early 1968 the Beatles were beginning to show signs that they would not be together as a band much longer. The group had just experienced their first commercial & critical failure, the Magical Mystery Tour telefilm (although the soundtrack did quite well). Additionally, each member (except maybe Ringo) was starting to move off in his own direction as a songwriter. Nonetheless they went ahead with plans to form Apple, a company designed to market not only their music, but other products as well. The first album released on the new label was titled simply The Beatles and had a plain white cover, resulting in it soon becoming known as the White Album. It was the Beatles' first double-LP set, and the only one to feature all-new material. The music covered a wide variety of styles, some of which are even now hard to describe. As an example we have Paul McCartney's Wild Honey Pie, which segues into John Lennon's The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill. I defy anyone to define exactly what genre these two tracks are representative of. George Harrison had already written several songs that had appeared on various Beatle albums (and an occasional B side) through 1968, but his first acknowledged classic was While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which immediately follows Bungalow Bill on the album. The recording features Harrison's close friend, guitarist Eric Clapton, who at that time was enjoying superstar status as a member of Cream.
Title: I Am The Walrus
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
I once ranked over 5000 recordings from the 1920s through the 1990s based on how many times I could listen to each track without getting sick of hearing it. My original intention was to continue the project until I had ranked every recording in my collection, but after about ten years of near-continuous listening to 90-minute cassette tapes that I would update weekly I finally decided that I needed a break, and never went back to it. As a result, many of my favorite recordings (especially album tracks) never got ranked. Of those that did, every song on the top 10 was from the years 1966-69, with the top five all being from 1967. Although I never returned to the project itself, the results I did get convinced me that I was indeed stuck in the psychedelic era, and within five years I had created a radio show inspired by the project. Not surprisingly, the number one recording on my list was I Am The Walrus, a track from the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour that is often considered the apex of British psychedelia.
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: (Ballad Of The) Hip Death Goddess
Source: LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
Ultimate Spinach was the brainchild of Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote and arranged all the band's material. Although the group had no hit singles, some tracks, such as (Ballad of the) Hip Death Goddess received a significant amount of airplay on progressive "underground" FM stations. The recording has in more recent years been used by movie producers looking to invoke a late 60s atmosphere.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Voyage Of The Trieste
Source: CD: The Inner Mystique
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Sundazed (original label: Tower)
The Chocolate Watchband underwent a series of personnel changes starting in the late spring of 1967. By the end of that year the band no longer existed. This, apparently, was not considered a relevant fact by the people at Green Grass Productions, as they went ahead and released a new Chocolate Watchband album, The Inner Mystique, on the Tower label in February of 1968. Like the first Watchband album, The Inner Mystique had several tracks that were actually performed by studio musicians. In fact, the entire first side of the 8-song LP consisted of tracks put together by engineer Richie Podolor, and had nothing to do with the band itself. The first of these tracks, Voyage Of The Trieste, was written by the band's producer, Ed Cobb, who had also written the band's first official single, Sweet Young Thing, as well as several hits for the Standells, who were also signed to Green Grass. Somehow, the Chocolate Watchband managed to reform in time to record a third album, One Step Beyond, the following year, but that's a story for another week.
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Murder In My Heart For The Judge
Source: LP: Great Grape (originally released on LP: Wow)
Writer(s): Don Stevenson
Moby Grape was one of those bands that probably should have been more successful than they were, but were thrown off-track by a series of bad decisions by their own support personnel. First, Columbia damaged their reputation by simultaneously releasing five singles from their debut LP in 1967, leading to accusations that the band was nothing but hype. Then their producer, David Rubinson, decided to add horns and strings to many of the tracks on their second album, Wow, alienating much of the band's core audience in the process. Still, Wow did have its share of fine tunes, including drummer Don Stevenson's Murder In My Heart For The Judge, probably the most popular song on the album. The song proved popular enough to warrant cover versions by such diverse talents as Lee Michaels, Chrissy Hynde and Three Dog Night.
Artist: Del Shannon
Title: I Think I Love You
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover)
Writer(s): Del Shannon
Label: Rhino (original label: Liberty)
Del Shannon? The guy who did Runaway back in '62? Yep. Also the same Del Shannon who Tom Petty has acknowledged as his number one inspiration and who was on the verge of being asked to replace the late Roy Orbison in the Traveling Wilburys when he himself became the late Del Shannon. Unlike many of his early 60s contemporaries such as Bobby Vee or Fabian, Shannon was able to keep up with the times, as this piece of pure psychedelia (penned by Shannon himself) from the album The Further Adventures of Charles Westover demonstrates.
Title: Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
If ever a song could be considered a garage-punk anthem, it's Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, the follow-up single to the classic Dirty Water. Both songs were written by Standells' manager/producer Ed Cobb, the record industry's answer to Ed Wood.
Artist: The Light
Title: Back Up
Source: Mono CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: A&M)
The San Bernadino/Riverside area of southern California is probably better known to racing fans than to music afficionados, yet the area did have its share of local bands filling up various venues in the area in the late 60s. Among those bands was the Light, who released one single, Back Up, on the A&M label in 1967.
Artist: October Country
Title: My Girlfriend Is A Witch
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Michael Lloyd
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
By 1968 the L.A. under-age club scene was winding down, and several now out of work bands were making last (and sometimes only) attempts at garnering hits in the studio. One such band was October Country, whose first release had gotten a fair amount of local airplay, but who had become bogged down trying to come up with lyrics for a follow-up single. Enter Michael Lloyd, recently split from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and looking to become a record producer. Lloyd not only produced and wrote the lyrics for My Girlfriend Is A Witch, he also ended up playing drums on the record as well.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Flight Of The Phoenix
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Mark Farner
After five successful albums produced by Terry Knight, the members of Grand Funk Railroad decided to go it alone for their 1972 album Phoenix. The album was the first to include Craig Frost, who would eventually become a full member of the band, on keyboards, as can be heard on the LP's opening track, the instrumental Flight Of The Phoenix. Famed fiddler Doug Kershaw also appeared on the album.