This week we start off with a special track from Wilmer And The Dukes, who are being inducted into the Rochester (NY) Music Hall Of Fame this April. The band, from Geneva, NY (where Stuck in the Psychedelic Era originates) was well-known across Western New York throughout the 60s and into the early 1970s. Congratulations, guys!
Artist: Wilmer And The Dukes
Title: Living In The USA
Source: CD: Wilmer And The Dukes
Writer(s): Steve Miller
Label: Forevermore (original label: Aphrodisiac)
Although they never hit it big nationally, Wilmer (Alexander) And The Dukes were one of the most consistently popular bands in Western New York and Pennsylvania, playing regularly from 1961 to 1974. The Geneva, NY-based group only recorded one self-titled album in 1968 for Buffalo's Aphrodisiac label, as well as a handful of singles, some of which found success as far away as Phoenix and Bakersfield, California. For the most part the band played cover songs in their own style, such as Steve Miller's Living In The USA, which in addition to opening their LP was released as a single. In April of 2015 the band was recognized for its achievements by being inducted into the Rochester (NY) Music Hall Of Fame.
Artist: Aphrodite's Child
Title: Magic Mirror
Source: CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released in Europe as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Polydor (original European label: Mercury) (released in UK on Polydor)
Aphrodite's Child was formed in Greece in 1967, but left following a right-wing military coup that severely curtailed both political and artistic freedoms in that country. The band had been invited by Mercury Records to come to London and record, but were refused entry to the UK due to problems with their work permits and found themselves in Paris instead. Mercury's parent label, Philips, soon signed the band to a contract to record in France. Their first single for the label, Rain And Tears, was a top 10 single in several European countries and led to an equally popular album, End Of The World, that established Aphrodite's Child as one of the continent's most popular acts. That popularity did not extend to the UK, however, and subsequent records failed to make a dent on the British charts. One 1969 single was not even released in the UK by the band's regular label, Mercury, and was instead issued independently by the Polydor label. The B side of that single, Magic Mirror, shows a band just beginning to transition from their early psychedelic sound to the more experimental one that would characterize their best known work, a concept double LP based on the biblical book of Revelation called 666. The band's leader, Evangahlos Papathanassiou, would later shorten his name to Vangelis and become one of the world's top electronic music pioneers.
Source: LP: Santana
Writer(s): Santana (band)
Santana was originally a free-form jam band, but, at the insistence of manager Bill Graham began to write more structured songs for their first studio LP. Released in 1969, the album received less than glowing reviews from the rock press, but following the band's successful appearance at Woodstock, the LP eventually peaked at # 4 on the Billboard album charts. One of the lesser known tracks on the album was Persuasion, an instrumental that reflects the group's jam band roots.
Source: CD: Rubber Soul
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
The oldest song on the Rubber Soul album, Wait was originally recorded for the Help album, but did not make the final cut. Six months later, when the band was putting the finishing touches on Rubber Soul, they realized they would not be able to come up with enough new material in time for a Christmas release, so they added some overdubs to Wait and included it on the new album. The song itself was a collaboration between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, with the two sharing vocals throughout the tune.
Artist: Deepest Blue
Title: Pretty Little Thing
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Blue-Fin)
Los Angeles, California has long been known for its urban sprawl, and in the mid-1960s it seemed like every one of its dozens of suburbs had at least one semi-professional garage band playing at various parties, bowling alleys, teen clubs and of course, high school gymnasiums. One such band was Deepest Blue, from Pomona, a suburb on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County best known for its race car track. Led by vocalist Earl Shackleford and guitarist Russell Johnson, the group performed locally as the Doves, but for reasons now forgotten recorded first under the name Egyptian Candy and then as Deepest Blue. Both records were released on labels that are considered obscure even by garage-rock standards, and by the end of the decade, the Doves/Egyptian Candy/Deepest Blue were naught but a footnote in L.A. music history.
Artist: Every Mother's Son
Title: Come On Down To My Boat
Source: 45 RPM single
New York, for being the largest city in the world (at the time) had relatively few popular local bands. Perhaps this is because of the wealth of entertainment and cultural choices in the Big Apple. In fact, the only notable local music scene was in Greenwich Village, which was more into folk and blues than mainstream rock. There were a few rock bands formed in New York, though. One example was Every Mother's Son, one-hit wonders with Come On Down To My Boat in 1967.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: My Mirage
Source: LP: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Writer(s): Doug Ingle
One thing about Iron Butterfly's In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida album is that almost nobody remembers any of the songs from the other side of the album. That's a bit of a shame, because there are a couple of really good tunes on there, such as My Mirage, a Doug Ingle composition that helped lay the groundwork for the progressive rock movement of the 1970s.
Artist: Great! Society
Title: Somebody To Love
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Conspicuous Only In Its Absence)
Writer(s): Darby Slick
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1968
One of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era (and of the so-called San Francisco sound) is Somebody To Love, released by Jefferson Airplane in 1967 on their Surrealistic Pillow album. Somebody To Love was written by Darby Slick, guitarist for another San Francisco band, Great! Society. The Society had released the song, featuring Slick's sister-in-law Grace on lead vocals, as a single in early 1966 but was unable to get any local airplay for the record. In June the group played the Matrix, a club managed by Marty Balin, leader of Jefferson Airplane. The entire gig was recorded (probably by legendary Grateful Dead soundman Owsley Stanley, whose board recordings usually isolated the vocals in one channel and the instruments in the other to provide the band with a tape they could use to critique their own performance) and eventually released on an album called Conspicuous Only In Its Absence two years after Great! Society disbanded. Within a few weeks of this performance Grace Slick would leave the group to join Jefferson Airplane, taking the song with her. This whole set of circumstances can't help but raise the question of whether Balin was using the Society's gig at the Matrix as a kind of sideways audition for Slick.
Artist: Allman Brothers Band
Title: In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
Source: LP: At Fillmore East
Writer(s): Dicky Betts
Label: Mercury (original label: Capricorn)
One of the greatest instrumentals in rock history, In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed was written by Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dicky Betts). The song got it's name from a headstone that Betts saw at the Rose Hill Cemetary in Macon, Georgia. That same cemetary is where band members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley were eventually buried. The version of the song heard on the 1971 album At Fillmore East was recorded live on March 13, 1971 and contains no edits or overdubs.
Artist: Paul McCartney
Title: Mama Miss America
Source: LP: McCartney
Writer(s): Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney began working on his first solo album before the Beatles officially broke up. In fact, it was the release of that album that led him to publicly announce the dissolution of the band on April 10, 1970. In September, 1969, John Lennon had privately informed the rest of the group that he was leaving the Beatles, and McCartney responded by making a series of home recordings on which he played all the instruments himself. Among those recordings was an ad-libbed recording he called Mama Miss America, which was actually made up of two separate recordings spliced together. The album, released in April of 1970, was savaged by the rock press. Nonetheless, McCartney spent three weeks at the top of the Billboard LP charts that year.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix/Band Of Gypsys
Title: Mannish Boy
Source: CD: Blues
Muddy Waters reportedly wrote and recorded Mannish Boy in response to Bo Diddley's I'm A Man. The Waters tune was so similar to Diddley's that Bo was given co-writing credit (as Elias McDaniel) on Muddy's record. In 1969 Jimi Hendrix did his own version of the later tune, with Buddy Miles and drums and Billy Cox on bass. The recording was eventually released on the 2010 compilation CD Blues.
Title: Five To One
Source: CD: Waiting For The Sun
Writer(s): The Doors
Despite the fact that it was the Doors' only album to hit the top of the charts, Waiting For The Sun was actually a disappointment for many of the band's fans, who felt that the material lacked the edginess of the first two Doors LPs. One notable exception was the album's closing track, Five To One, which features one of Jim Morrison's most famous lines: "No one here gets out alive".
Title: Pushin' Too Hard
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: The Seeds and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Pushin' Too Hard was originally released as a single in 1965 (under the title You're Pushin' Too Hard), but did not make an immediate impression. The following year the tune started getting some local airplay on Los Angeles area stations. This in turn led to the band recording their first album, The Seeds, which was released in spring of 1966. A second Seeds LP, A Web Of Sound, hit L.A. record stores in the fall of the same year. Meanwhile, Pushin' Too Hard started to get national airplay, hitting its peak position on the Billboard charts in February of 1967.
Title: Space Odyssey
Source: CD: The Notorious Byrd Brothers
Roger McGuinn has never made a secret for his love of science fiction. It comes as no surprise, then, that his lyrics for Space Odyssey were inspired by Arthur C. Clarke's short story The Sentinel. Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick would later do a film version of the Sentinel entitled (wait for it) 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Title: Eight Miles High
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released on LP: Fifth Dimension)
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Columbia)
By all rights, the Byrds' Eight Miles High should have been a huge hit. Unfortunately, Bill Drake, the most influential man in the history of Top 40 radio, got it into his head that this was a drug song, despite the band's insistence that it was about a transatlantic plane trip. The band's version actually makes sense, as Gene Clark had just quit the group due to his fear of flying (he is listed as a co-writer of the song), and the subject was probably a hot topic of discussion among the remaining members.
Title: Goin' Back
Source: CD: The Notorious Byrd Brothers
In 1967 David Crosby was vehemently opposed to including the Gerry Goffin/Carole King song Goin' Back on the next Byrds album. His reasoning was that the group had plenty of good songwriters and did not need to record outside material, especially a song that had already been a hit in the UK for Dusty Springfield the previous year. The situation was made worse by the fact that one of the songs Crosby wanted to include on the album, Triad, was detested by the band's other two songwriters, Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman. In the long run, Crosby was fired and Goin' Back was included on the group's next LP, The Notorious Byrd Brothers. Meanwhile, Triad got recorded by Jefferson Airplane and the Byrds' version of the song sat on the shelf for many years before finally being included on a CD box set.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Cheryl's Going Home
Source: LP: Projections
Writer: Bob Lind
Label: Verve Forecast
It's kind of odd to hear a cover of a Bob Lind B side on an album by a band known for its progressive approach to the blues, but that's exactly what Cheryl's Going Home is. The Blues Project did a pretty nice job with it, too.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Steve's Song
Source: Mono CD: Projections
Writer(s): Steve Katz
Label: Sundazed (original label: Verve Forecast)
The members of the Blues Project came from a variety of backgrounds, including jazz, rock, classical and of course, blues. Guitarist Steve Katz had the strongest connection to the Greenwich Village folk scene and was the lead vocalist on the Project's recording of Donovan's Catch The Wind on their first LP. For their second album Katz wrote his own song, entitled simply Steve's Song. The tune starts with a very old-English style repeated motif that gets increasing complicated as it repeats itself before segueing into a more conventional mode with Katz on the lead vocal. Katz would write and sing simlarly-styled tunes, such as Sometimes In Winter, as a member of Blood, Sweat and Tears.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: The Flute Thing
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): Al Kooper
Label: Verve Forecast
The Blues Project was one of the most influential bands in rock history, yet to this day remains one of the most obscure. Perhaps the first of the "underground" rock bands, the Project made their name by playing small colleges across the country (including Hobart College, where Stuck in the Psychedelic Era is produced). The Flute Thing, from the group's first studio LP, Projections, features bassist Andy Kuhlberg on flute, with rhythm guitarist Steve Katz taking over the bass playing, joining lead guitarist Danny Kalb and keyboardist Al Kooper for a tune that owes more to jazz artists like Roland Kirk than to anything top 40 rock had to offer at the time.
Title: I Don't Want To Follow You
Source: Mono LP: Ain't It Hard (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Sundazed (original label: Viva)
The Wailers could well be the most important band you think is another band entirely. Formed in Seattle in the late 1950s, they were the first rock band in history to form their own record label (Etiquette) and are usually thought of as the founders of the entire Seattle music scene as well. By the mid 60s the band had established itself up and down the entire West Coast, including San Francisco, where they often shared the bill with bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service. In 1967 they made a trip to L.A. to record a pair of sides for Snuff Garrett's Viva label, toning down their trademark feedback and distortion drenched sound considerably. The B side of that single, I Don't Want To Follow You, appears on the album Ain't It Hard, a collection of tracks originally released by Viva. And, no, Bob Marley was never of member of these Wailers.
Artist: Boston Tea Party
Title: My Daze
Source: Mono CD: An Overdose Of Heavy Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Vogue International)
Despite the implications of their name, the Boston Tea Party was actually from Burbank, California. The group cut three singles and one album before disbanding. The best of those singles was My Daze, released on the Vogue International label in 1967.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Comin' Back To Me
Source: Mono LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Label: Sundazed (original label: RCA Victor)
When Marty Balin arrived at the studio with this brand new song, only Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Jack Cassidy and Jerry Garcia were on hand to play on the subsequent recording. Balin, Kantner, Garcia and Cassidy all play guitar, while Slick provides the airy recorder track.
Title: Hoochie Coochie Man
Source: CD: Steppenwolf
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
A major driving force behind the renewed interest in the blues in the 1960s was the updating and re-recording of classic blues tunes by contempory rock musicians. This trend started in England, with bands like the Yardbirds and the Animals in the early part of the decade. By the end of the 60s a growing number of US bands were playing songs such as Hoochie Coochie Man, a tune originally recorded by Muddy Waters in 1954. Like Cream's Spoonful and Led Zeppelin's You Shook Me, Hoochie Coochie Man was written by Willie Dixon. The 1968 Steppenwolf version of the song slows the tempo down a touch from the original version and features exquisite sustained guitar work by Michael Monarch.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Double Yellow Line
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound, stereo LP version released on Warner Brothers)
One of the Original Sound singles that also appeared on the Warner Brothers LP Bonniwell Music Machine, Double Yellow Line features lyrics that were literally written by Bonniwell on the way to the recording studio. In fact, his inability to stay in his lane while driving with one hand and writing with the other resulted in a traffic ticket. The ever resourceful Bonniwell wrote the rest of the lyrics on the back of the ticket and even invited the officer in to watch the recording session. He declined.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Sometimes I Think About
Source: CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Although it sounds like it could have been a remake of an old blues tune, Sometimes I Think About is actually a Blues Magoos original. The song, from their debut Psychedelic Lollipop album, is slow and moody, yet actually rocks out pretty hard, a pattern that would become somewhat of a hard rock cliche in the 1970s (think Grand Funk Railroad's Heartbreaker).
Title: Heart Full Of Soul
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Graham Gouldman
Heart Full Of Soul, the Yardbirds' follow-up single to For Your Love was a huge hit, making the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic in 1965. The song, the first to feature guitarist Jeff Beck prominently, was written by Graham Gouldman, who was then a member of Wayne Fontana's Mindbenders and would later be a founding member of 10cc.