Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Purple Haze
Source: LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Purple Haze has one of the most convoluted release histories of any song ever recorded. Originally issued in the UK as a single on the new Track label, it scored high on the British charts. When Reprise, a division of what is now WEA, got the rights to release the first Hendrix album, Are You Experienced, in the US, they chose to replace the first track on the album with Purple Haze, moving the original opening track, Foxy Lady, to side two of the LP. The song next appeared on the Smash Hits album, which in Europe was on the Polydor label. This was the way things stayed until the early 1990s, when MCA (now Universal) acquired the rights to the Hendrix catalog and re-issued Are You Experienced with the tracks restored to the UK ordering, but preceded by the six non-album sides (including Purple Haze) that had originally been released prior to the album. Most recently, the Hendrix Family Trust has again changed labels and the US version of Are You Experienced? is once again in print, this time on Sony's Legacy label. This means that Purple Haze, as well as the rest of the Jimi Hendrix Experience catalog, has the distinction of having been released by every major record company in the world (yes, there are only three now).
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: 51st Anniversary
Source: Mono CD: Are You Experienced? (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Track)
The first Jimi Hendrix Experience single of 1967 (and the first for Track Records) was the classic Purple Haze, released on March 17, 1967. For the B side, the band chose one of producer Chas Chandler's favorite tracks, 51st Anniversary. The song expressed Hendrix's views on marraige by looking at it first from 51 years after the wedding, and then working his way back through the years. The first half, in Hendrix's words, was "just saying the good things about marraige, or maybe the usual things about marraige. The second part of the record tells about the parts of marraige which I've seen." Hendrix's own parents got married when his mother was just 17, just like the girl in the song. Musically, 51st Anniversary is unique in that it is the only Hendrix song ever released that did not have a guitar solo, although the recording does feature five guitar overdubs linked together throughout the track.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Castles Made Of Sand
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
When I was a junior in high school I used to fall asleep on the living room couch with the headphones on, usually listening to pre-recorded reel-to-reel tapes of either the Beatles' Revolver album or one of the first two albums by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. One song in particular from the second Hendrix album, Axis: Bold As Love, always gave me a chill when I heard it: Castles Made Of Sand. The song serves as a warning not to put too much faith in your dreams, and stands in direct contrast to the usual goal-oriented American attitude.
Title: For Your Love
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Graham Gouldman
The last Yardbirds song to feature guitarist Eric Clapton, For Your Love was the group's fist US hit, peaking at the # 6 slot. The song did even better in the UK, peaking at # 3. Following its release, Clapton left the Yardbirds, citing the band's move toward a more commercial sound and this song in particular as reasons for his departure (ironic when you consider songs like his mid-90s hit Change the World or his slowed down lounge lizard version of Layla). For Your Love was written by Graham Gouldman, who would end up as a member of Wayne Fontana's Mindbenders and later 10cc with Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.
Title: Last Time Around
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Dennis Dahlquist
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Dunwich Records was a small indepent label in Chicago that got national distribution through a deal with Atlantic Records. Their biggest act was the Shadows of Knight, who topped the charts with their cover of Van Morrison's Gloria in 1966. One of the most successful other bands on the label was the Del-Vetts, from Chicago's affluent North Side (band members had matching white Corvettes, hence the name.) Last Time Around, sounding a lot like the Yardbirds, was their only nationally charted song, although they did get airplay in the midwest with other songs as well.
Artist: Chris Carpenter
Title: This World (Is Closing In On Me)
Source: Mono CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lyte Psych (originally released in Canada as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): L. Drake
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Stone; released in US on Sidra, Oceanside and United Artists)
This World (Is Closing In On Me) was a lavishly produced piece from Detroit's Chris Carpenter that was released on several different labels in 1967. The song first appeared on the Stone label in Canada, then on local Detroit labels Sidra and Oceanside (the latter being the source material for Arf Arf's CD reissue of the track). The recording was also picked up for national distribution by United Artists and was also issued on colored vinyl on the Sound Patterns label, but credited to "Preston" rather than Chris Carpenter. A strange history indeed!
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Blue Avenue
Source: British import CD: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s): Wayne Ulaky
Label: See For Miles (original US label: M-G-M)
Although never issued as a single in the US, Blue Avenue, from The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union, was the band's most popular song among UK radio listeners. This is due to the fact that the song was played by England's most influential DJ, John Peel, on his "Top Gear" show. One of the many garage bands I was in learned the song and played it at a failed audition for the Ramstein AFB Airman's club, although all five guys in the audience seemed to get a kick out of hearing me strum my guitar's deadened strings on the song's intro.
Artist: Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
Title: China Pig
Source: CD: Trout Mask Replica
Writer(s): Don Van Vliet
Label: Reprise (original label: Straight)
Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band did probably more label hopping than any other band of the psychedelic era. Following one single for Herb Alpert's A&M label (that was only released in the Los Angeles area), the group, led by Don Van Vliet, recorded one LP each for three different labels from 1967 to 1968 before finally landing at Frank Zappa's Straight Records in 1969. Their first LP for the label, Trout Mask Replica, is considered a landmark in avant-garde rock and has made several all-time greatest albums lists in the years since it was released. The Captain was originally known for his unique take on the blues, and that style can still be heard on tunes like China Pig, one of the longer tracks on the album.
Artist: Velvet Underground
Title: Cool It Down
Source: LP: Loaded
Writer(s): Lou Reed
The final Velvet Underground album to feature Lou Reed, Loaded was a deliberate attempt by the band to move away from Andy Warhol's avant-garde leanings and become a commercial success. All 10 songs on the LP were edited down for their maximum commercial impact, including Cool It Down. VU drummer Maureen Tucker was pregnant at the time the album was recorded, and does not play on any of the tracks, although she does appear in the credits. Multi-instrumentalist Doug Yule was a major creative force on the album, singing lead on four tracks, as well as playing all the bass, piano and organ parts. Lou Reed, who sang lead on the remaining six tracks, including Cool It Down (which, incidentally features a guitar solo by Yule), wrote all the songs on the album, although originally the entire band was given songwriting credits. Reed was unhappy with the finished album, however, and left the band three months before it was released.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Come On In
Source: British import CD: The Ultimate Turn On (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Big Beat (original label: Original Sound)
It only cost a total of $150 for the Music Machine to record both sides of their debut single at RCA Studios in Los Angeles, thanks to the band having been performing the songs live for several months. The band then took the tapes to Original Sound, who issued Talk Talk and Come On In on their own label. Although Talk Talk was the obvious hit, more melodic songs like Come On In had perhaps a greater influence on later bands such as the Doors and Iron Butterfly.
Title: Daily Nightly
Source: CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD.
Writer(s): Michael Nesmith
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
One of the first rock songs to feature a Moog synthesizer was the Monkees' Daily Nightly from the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD. Micky Dolenz, who had a reputation for nailing it on the first take but being unable to duplicate his success in subsequent attempts, was at the controls of the new technology for this recording of Michael Nesmith's most psychedelic song (he also sang lead on it).
Artist: Fifty Foot Hose
Title: Red The Sign Post
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Cauldron)
Label: Rhino (original label: Limelight)
Although most of the more avant-garde bands of the psychedelic era were headquarted in New York, there were some exceptions, such as San Francisco's Fifty Foot Hose. The core members of the band were founder and bassist Louis "Cork" Marcheschi, guitarist David Blossom, and his wife, vocalist Nancy Blossom. The group used a lot of unusual instruments, such as theramin, Moog synthesizer and prepared guitar and piano. Probably their most commercial song was Red The Sign Post from the LP Cauldron. After that album the group called it quits, with most of the members joining the cast of Hair. In fact, Nancy Blossom played lead character Sheila in the San Francisco production of the musical.
Artist: Blues Image
Title: Reality Does Not Inspire
Source: LP: Blues Image
Writer(s): Blues Image
Formed in 1967, Blues Image cited Greenwich Village's Blues Project as their primary inspiration, and is generally acknowledged to be Florida's first jam band. They were also one of the few bands to open their own club, the legendary Thee Image, and played host to many big name acts during the club's short run. Among the Blues Images fans was Jimi Hendrix, who once told them they did great arrangements of other people's material, but their own stuff was relatively weak. The band responded by temporarily putting their original material on the shelf, pulling it out later and giving it the same treatment they would any other cover song. This approach seemed to work well, as Reality Does Not Inspire, the nine minute "showcase" track for their debut LP demonstrates.
Title: Mouthful Of Grass
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Free's breakthrough single, All Right Now, was released in 1970. The B side, however, was an instrumental called Mouthful Of Grass that was taken from the group's second LP, released the previous year. Like most of Free's material from 1969 on, Mouthful Of Grass was written by lead vocalist Paul Rodgers and bassist Andy Fraser (who was all of sixteen years old at the time).
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.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era
In the early 1960s the San Bernardino/Riverside area of Southern California (sometimes known as the Inland Empire), was home to a pair of rival top 40 stations, KFXM and KMEN. The newer of the two, KMEN, had a staff that included Ron Jacobs, who would go on to co-create the Boss Radio format (more music, less talk!), and Brian Lord, one of the first American DJs to champion British Rock (even going so far as to have copies of Beatle albums shipped from record shops in London before they were released in the US), and the man responsible for setting up the Rolling Stones' first US gig (in San Bernardino). From 1965-67 Lord took a break from KMEN, moving north to the San Jose area. While there, he heard a local band playing in a small teen club and invited them to use his garage as a practice space. The band was Count Five, and, with Lord's help, they got a contract with L.A.'s Double Shot label, recording and releasing the classic Psychotic Reaction in 1966. Lord later claimed that this was the origin of the term "garage rock".
Source: CD: Puzzle
In the early 1990s I found myself within listening range of a Virginia Beach radio station that called itself The Coast. Unlike other radio stations in the area, each of which had a tight playlist determined by extensive audience research, The Coast was a relatively free-form station that played an eclectic mix of classic, modern and alternative rock. Among the bands that got airplay on The Coast was a new three-piece band from California called Dada. Consisting of guitarist Michael Gurley, and bassist Joie Calio (who shared lead vocals) along with drummer Phil Leavitt, Dada made their recording debut with the 1992 album Puzzle. The first single released from the album, Dizz-Knee Land, got a lot of airplay on more mainstream rock stations, but it was the album's opening track, Dorina, that really grabbed my attention when I heard it on The Coast.
Artist: Human Beinz
Title: Nobody But Me
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as a 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ron, Rudy and O'Kelley Isley
Label: LP: Rhino (originally released on Capitol)
The Human Beingz were a band that had been around since 1964 doing mostly club gigs in the Youngstown, Ohio area as the Premiers. In the late 60s they decided to update their image with a name more in tune with the times and came up with the Human Beingz. Unfortunately someone at Capitol Records misspelled their name (leaving out the "g") on the label of Nobody But Me, and after the song became a national hit the band was stuck with the new spelling. The band split up in 1969, but after Nobody But Me was featured in the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill: Vol.1, original leader Ting Markulin reformed the band with a new lineup that has appeared in the Northeastern US in recent years.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)
Source: LP: The Grateful Dead
Writer: McGannahan Skjellyfetti
Label: Warner Brothers
I once knew someone from San Jose, California who had an original copy of the single version of The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion), the opening track from the first Grateful Dead album. It was totally worn out from being played a few hundred times, though.
Artist: Otis Redding
Title: I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)
Source: LP: Historic Performances Recorded At The Monterey International Pop Festival
Although his name had appeared on the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts since 1962, it wasn't until the release of I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) in 1965 that Redding began to get noticed by the public at large. The song hit # 2 on the R&B chart and just barely missed making the top 20 on the mainstream chart. Two years later Redding performed the song as part of his set at the Monterey International Pop Festival, backed by Booker T and the MGs, along with the Bar-Kays horn section. Less than a year later a plane crash would claim the lives of Redding and the Bar-Kays, just as the singer was achieving his greatest success.
Artist: Richie Havens
Title: Just Like A Woman
Source: LP: Mixed Bag
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Label: Verve Forecast
Mixed Bag was Richie Havens's first LP, released in 1967 on the then-new Verve Forecast label. As the title implies, the album is a mixture of original and cover tunes, and was meant to showcase Havens's range as a performer. One of the more notable tracks is his rearrangement of Bob Dylan's Just Like A Woman, which had been a top 40 hit the previous fall.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: The Great Banana Hoax
Source: CD: Underground
Label: Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
The second Electric Prunes LP, Underground, saw the band gaining greater creative control over the recording process than at any other time in their career (until their reformation in the 1990s). The album's opening track, The Great Banana Hoax, is notable for two reasons: first, it was composed by band members and second, it has nothing to do with bananas. The title probably refers to the rumor circulating at the time that Donovan's Mellow Yellow was really about smoking banana peels to get high. The song itself is an indication of the musical direction the band itself wanted to go in before it got sidetracked (some would say derailed) by producer David Hassinger, who would assert control to the point of eventually replacing all the original members of the band by their fourth album (yes, some producers had that kind of power in those days).
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Lazy Day
Source: LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
Although known mostly for being pioneers of baroque-rock, the Left Banke showed that they could, on occassion, rock out with the best of them on tracks like Lazy Day, which closed out their debut LP. The song was also issued as the B side of their second hit, Pretty Ballerina. Incidentally, after the success of their first single, Walk Away Renee, the band formed their own publishing company for their original material, a practice that was fairly common then and now. Interestingly enough, they called that company Lazy Day Music.
Artist: Small Faces
Title: (Tell Me) Have You Ever See Me
Source: CD: Ogden's Nut Gone Flake (originally released on LP: There Are But Four Small Faces)
Label: Charly (original label: Immediate)
The Small Faces discography can be a bit confusing, mostly because they released two self-titled albums in the UK on two different labels (Decca and Immediate) over a two-year period. To make it even more confusing, some of the songs on the second album were remakes of songs from the first one. Among those remade songs was (Tell Me) Have You Ever See Me, a tune that is now included on the import CD reissue of the group's next album, 1968's Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. One final note: the second Small Faces album was eventually released in the US, but under the title There Are But Four Small Faces, distributed by Columbia Records.
Artist: MC Squared
Title: My Mind Goes High
Source: Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Reprise)
MC2 (pronounced "em see squared") only released one single, the folk-pop tinged My Mind Goes High on the Reprise label in 1967, before disbanding following a dispute with their producer, Lenny Waronker. One member, however, drummer Jim Keltner, went on to make a name for himself playing on John Lennon's albums in the early 70s and doing studio work for a variety of well-known acts. He also toured with Booker T & the MGs in the 1990s, appearing onstage backing up Neil Young.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: She Has Funny Cars
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Label: RCA Victor
She Has Funny Cars, the opening track of Jefferson Airplane's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow, was a reference to some unusual possessions belonging to new drummer Spencer Dryden's girlfriend. As was the case with many of the early Airplane tracks, the title has nothing to do with the lyrics of the song itself. The song was also released as the B side to the band's first top 10 single, Somebody To Love. The mono mix used for the single has noticably less reverb than the more familiar stereo version of the song.
Title: Baby, Please Don't Go
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Backtrackin' (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Joe Williams
Label: London (original label: Parrot)
Belfast, Northern Ireland was home to one of the first bands that could be legitimately described as punk rock. Them, led by the fiery Van Morrison, quickly got a reputation for being rude and obnoxious, particularly to members of the English press (although it was actually a fellow Irishman who labeled them as "boorish"). Their first single was what has come to be considered the definitive version of the 1923 Joe Williams tune Baby, Please Don't Go. Despite its UK success, the song did not appear on any of the band's original US albums. Finally, in 1974, London Records included Baby, Please Don't Go on a collection of UK singles and album tracks that had not been previously released in the US. Oddly enough, the song's B side ended up being the song most people associate with Them: the classic Gloria, which was released as Them's US debut single in 1965 but promptly found itself banned on most US radio stations due to suggestive lyrics. Them's recording of Baby, Please Don't Go enjoyed a resurgence in the 1980s when it was used in the hit movie Good Morning Vietnam.
Title: Black Widow Spider
Source: LP: Time Out! Time In! For Them
After Van Morrison left Them for a solo career, the band headed back to Belfast, where they recruited vocalist Kenny McDowell. Them soon relocated permanently to the US west coast, where they landed a contract with Tower Records. After a first album that featured songs from a variety of sources, they hooked up with Sharon Pulley and Tom Lane, who wrote an album's worth of material for the band. That album was Time Out! Time In! For Them, an album that has stayed under the radar for over 40 years, despite tunes like Black Widow Spider, which closes out the first side of the LP.
Title: Just A Little Bit
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Backtrackin' (originally released in UK on LP: The Angry Young Them)
Label: London (original label: Decca)
Like many mid-60s albums, the debut effort from Belfast's Them had a slightly different track lineup on either side of the Atlantic, with a few of the songs from the British version left off the American album. One of the songs from The Angry Young Them that was left of its US counterpart (titled simply Them) was a remake of a 1959 Roscoe Gordon tune called Just A Little Bit. The song finally appeared in the US on an album called Backtrackin' in 1974. By then, however, LPs were being pressed only in stereo, whereas the original recordings used were all mixed monoraully. Rather than use the mono mixes, London Records chose to create "fake stereo" mixes of the songs on the LP.
Artist: Janis Joplin
Title: Move Over (take 13)
Source: CD: The Pearl Sessions
Writer(s): Janis Joplin
The Pearl Sessions CD, released in 2012, features many early takes of songs included on Janis Joplin's final album, Pearl. Among those are three takes of Move Over, arranged back to back on the CD as a way of documenting the evolution of the Full Tilt Boogie Band's arrangement of the Joplin-penned tune. The middle of these three takes includes hand clapping over the intro and an extended fade out section at the end of the song that features Joplin improvising vocals lines for almost a full minute.