Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1533 (starts 8/12/15)
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: 19th Nervous Breakdown
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
19th Nervous Breakdown is one of the Rolling Stones' best known songs from their first decade. Recorded in 1965 and released in early 1966, it was their first single of what would be one of their best years. The song starts with a signature guitar riff from Keith Richards and is known for Billy Wyman's repeated descending bass line near the end of the song. At nearly four minutes in length, 19th Nervous Breakdown brazenly exceeded the three and a half minute limit that was unofficially in effect for top 40 radio of the time. Stephen King made the song part of his "19" mystique in the last few books in his Dark Tower series, as one major character hears the song played on a transistor radio on the streets of New York City in the moments leading up to his "death".
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Who's Been Sleeping Here
Source: LP: Between The Buttons
Between The Buttons, released in early 1967, shows the Rolling Stones beginning to experiment with a more psychedelic sound than on previous albums. Brian Jones, in particular, took up several new instruments, including the sitar, heard prominently on the track Who's Been Sleeping Here. The next LP, Their Satanic Majesties Request, would take the group even further into psychedelic territory, prompting a back to basics approach the following year.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Street Fighting Man
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Beggar's Banquet)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The Rolling Stones were at a low point in their career following their most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which came out in late 1967. As a response to charges in the rock press that they were no longer relevant the Stones parted company with their longtime producer, Andrew Loog Oldham and began an equally long association with Jimmy Miller, who had already established himself as a top producer working with Steve Winwood of the Spencer Davis Group and later Traffic. The first song Miller produced with the Stones was Street Fighting Man, which appeared on the 1968 LP Beggar's Banquet. Before that LP was released, however, the band recorded an even more iconic single, Jumpin' Jack Flash, which was the first Miller/Stones production to be heard by the general public.
Title: I Can't Make A Friend
Source: Mono LP: I Can't Make A Friend 1965-1968 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Light In The Attic (original label: Vanguard)
The Vagrants were one of several "blue-eyed soul" bands from New York's Long Island area, and were best known for their regular appearances at The Action House in Island Park, one of the late 60's most popular rock clubs on Long Island. The group consisted of Peter Sabatino on vocals, harmonica, and tambourine, Leslie Weinstein on vocals and guitar, his brother Larry on vocals and bass guitar, Jerry Storch (also known as Jay Storch) on organ, and Roger Mansour on drums. They released their first single, Oh Those Eyes, on the Southern Sounds label in 1965, and even performed the song in a beach party film called Disk-o-Tek Holiday. The following year the band signed its first official record contract with Vanguard Records, a respected folk/jazz label not known for issuing what was then called "pop" music. The group released one single for Vanguard, I Can't Make A Friend, which was co-written by Storch, before switching over to the Atco label for a series of singles over a period of about two years. Following the breakup of the Vagrants, Leslie Weistein changed his name to Leslie West, and along with the band's producer, Felix Pappalardi, formed his own band, Mountain.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: Who Do You Love
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on CD: Quicksilver: Lost Gold And Silver)
Writer(s): Elias McDaniel
Label: Rhino (original label: Collector's Choice)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1999
The classic San Francisco music scene (c 1966) had at its core three popular local bands: Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Although none of these bands were at their artistic peak, they did epitomize the spirit of the city's counter-culture and the Haight-Ashbury district in particular. The Airplane was the first to experience national success, thanks to a membership shuffle in late 1966 that brought Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden into the group. The Dead followed in 1967, leaving only Quicksilver without a record contract as late as 1968. By the time they did sign their deal to Capitol, Quicksilver had already had its own share of personnel changes, including the departure of original lead vocalist Jim Murray. In fact, the only QMS recording I know of with Murray at the helm is this 1966 demo of the Bo Diddley classic Who Do You Love, featuring an extended jam that was typical of the band in its early days.
Title: Softly To Me
Source: Mono CD: Love Story (originally released on LP: Love)
Writer: Bryan McLean
Bryan McLean's role as a songwriter in Love was similar to George Harrison's as a Beatle. He didn't have many songs on any particular album, but those songs were universally among the best tracks on the album. The first of these was Softly To Me from the band's debut LP. Before the signing of Love in 1966, Elektra was a folk and ethnic music label whose closest thing to a rock band was the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, which was at that time very much into creating as authentic Chicago blues sound as possible for a band from New York. Love, on the other hand, was a bona-fide rock band that was packing the clubs on the Sunset Strip nightly. To underscore the significance of the signing, Elektra started a whole new numbering series for Love's debut album.
Artist: Beach Boys
Source: Mono CD: Good Vibrations-Thirty Years Of The Beach Boys (originally released on LP: All Summer Long and included on EP: Four By The Beach Boys)
Despite having the British Invasion to contend with, the Beach Boys did quite well in 1964, chalking up their first #1 hit (I Get Around), and releasing three successful LPs. Perhaps the best of these was All Summer Long, which, in addition to I Get Around and the title track, included two songs that would make the Billboard top 100 despite not being released as singles. The two songs, Wendy and Little Honda, appeared on the group's one and only Extended Play release, Four By The Beach Boys, with Wendy peaking at # 44 and Little Honda at # 65. Wendy itself is an example of Brian Wilson's growing sophistication as a composer, with several unusual chord progressions throughout the song.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Source: LP: Atom Heart Mother
Writer(s): Roger Waters
Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother album was the band's first LP to go all the way to the top of the British charts. Like its predecessor, Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother features the entire band on one side of the LP, with the individual members each contributing one tune to the other. Roger Waters' entry was the quiet and introspective If, with Waters's acoustic guitar being the primary focus of the track, which opens side two of the LP.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Poor Moon
Source: CD: The Very Best Of Canned Heat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Al Wilson
Label: Capitol (original label: Liberty)
Poor Moon is a Canned Heat tune written by guitarist Al "Blind Owl" Wilson. The song was released as a single in 1969, but only made it to the # 113 spot on the charts. As the song was not included on any albums at the time, it qualifies as perhaps the most obscure song in the entire Canned Heat catalog.
Title: The Sun Won't Shine Forever
Source: CD: A Deadly Dose Of Wild Psych (originally released as stereo 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Jon Uzonyi
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Accent)
Peacepipe was a Southern California band led by guitarist John Uzonyi, who wrote both sides of the band's only single, The Sun Won't Shine Forever b/w Lazy River Blues, released in 1969. The following year Peacepipe recorded an entier album's worth of material that went unreleased until 1995. The 1995 CD Rockadelic, which collects all that unreleased material, does not include either side of the single.
Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: Time Has Come Today
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: The Time Has Come)
Writer(s): Joe and Willie Chambers
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
One of the quintessential songs of the psychedelic era is the Chambers Brothers' classic Time Has Come Today. The song was originally recorded and issued as a single in 1966. The more familiar version heard here, however, was recorded in 1967 for the album The Time Has Come. The LP version of the song runs about eleven minutes, way too long for a 45 RPM record, so before releasing the song as a single for the second time, engineers at Columbia cut the song down to around 3 minutes. The edits proved so jarring that the record was recalled and a re-edited version, clocking in at 4:57 became the third and final single version of the song, hitting the charts in 1968.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mercury)
The Blues Magoos (original spelling: Bloos, not surprising for a bunch of guys from the Bronx) were either the first or second band to use the word psychedelic in an album title. Both they and the 13th Floor Elevators released their debut albums in 1966 and it is unclear which one actually came out first. What's not in dispute is the fact that Psychedelic Lollipop far outsold The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. One major reason for this was the fact that (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet was a huge national hit in early 1967, which helped album sales considerably. Despite having a unique sound and a look to match (including electric suits), the Magoos were unable to duplicate the success of Nothin' Yet on subsequent releases, partially due to Mercury's pairing of two equally marketable songs on the band's next single without indicating to stations which one they were supposed to be playing.
Title: She's My Girl
Source: 20 Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: White Whale)
After a moderate amount of success in 1965 with a series of singles starting with a cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, the Turtles found themselves running out of steam by the end of 1966. Rather than throw in the towel, they enlisted the services of the Bonner/Gordon songwriting team and recorded their most successful single, Happy Together, in 1967. They dipped into the same well for She's My Girl later the same year.
Title: Passing The Time
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Although Jack Bruce is generally acknowledged as the member of Cream that provided the most psychedelic material that the band recorded, drummer Ginger Baker gave him a run for his money on the studio half of their third LP, Wheels Of Fire. Perhaps the best of these was Passing The Time, which alternates between a slow, dreamlike section notable for its use of a calliope and a fast section that rocks out as hard as anything the band performed live in concert.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Source: LP: Stand Up
Writer: Ian Anderson
The second Jethro Tull album, Stand Up, saw the band moving a considerable distance from its blues-rock roots, as flautist Ian Anderson asserted himself as leader and sole songwriter for the group. Nowhere is that more evident than on the instrumental Bouree, which successfully melds jazz and classical influences into the Jethro Tull sound.
Title: All Day And All Of The Night
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Eric (original label: Reprise)
Following up on their worldwide hit You Really Got Me, the Kinks proved that lightning could indeed strike twice with All Day And All Of The Night. Although there have been rumors over the years that the guitar solo on the track may have been played by studio guitarist Jimmy Page, reliable sources insist that it was solely the work of Dave Davies, who reportedly slashed his speakers to achieve the desired sound.
Title: I Get Mad
Source: LP: Philisteens
Label: Radio Free America
As strange as it may seem at first, there were actually several American rock bands operating in Germany in the late 1960s. Some of these bands were made up of GIs stationed at various bases, while others were formed by high school aged military dependents. Among the best of these bands was the Gobi Desert Canoe Club, whose membership came mostly from Ramstein Air Force Base. The driving force of the Canoe Club was a guy named Larry Otis, a high school senior who was generally acknowledged to be the best guitarist around. Larry's brother Jeff and I were dating twin sisters at the time, so I occasionally got the chance to hear Larry practicing in the room he and Jeff shared. In fact, Larry spent nearly all of his spare time practicing, which pretty much explains how he got to be so good. All of us left Germany at around the same time, and I lost contact with the Otis brothers for several years. By the late 1970s I had moved to Albuquerque, NM, and ran into Jeff near the University of New Mexico campus sometime around 1980. I found out that Larry was also living in town and was playing guitar professionally. It turns out he was in a three-piece group called the Philisteens, providing the bulk of the lead vocals as well as all of the guitar work, and co-writing all the band's songs, such as I Get Mad, with the other two members, drummer Mike Glover and bassist Roger Neil. The Philisteens recorded a self-titled LP in 1982. Not long after that Otis left the group, and would next resurface as a member of Crawling Walls. The Philisteens, meanwhile, continued on with guitarist Steve LaRue, relocating to Los Angeles and eventually signing with MCA Records.
Artist: Crawling Walls
Title: The Brain That Wouldn't Fry
Source: LP: Inner Limits
Writer(s): Bob Fountain
The Crawling Walls, from Albuquerque, NM, was one of the first "Neo-Psychedelic" bands of the 80s. Led by Bob Fountain, this band featured guitarist Larry Otis, whom I've known since we were in high school on a military base in Germany. How this LP, which I found in the WEOS vinyl archives a few years back, came to upstate New York from New Mexico is beyond me. Oddly enough, both an LP and an EP by one of Larry's earlier Albuquerque bands, the Philisteens, was also in the archives. If anyone has any info on how these rare pressings found their way up here, I'd love to hear it, as I lost contact with Larry back in the mid-1980s when he left Albuquerque to move to....umm, somewhere in New York.
Title: Have You Heard The Word
Source: Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Grapefruit (original label: Beacon)
Have You Heard The Word was the result of a drunken 1969 recording session attended by Steve Groves and Steve Kipner (known collectively as Tin Tin), Maurice Gibb (of the Bee Gees) and Gibbs's brother-in-law Billie Lawrie. A tape of the session was leaked to Beacon Records, who issued it as a single credited to the Fut. The song has been repeated mistaken for a lost Beatle track; in fact, Yoko One even tried to copyright the piece as a lost John Lennon composition in 1985.
Artist: Booker T. And The MGs
Title: Time Is Tight
Source: LP: Up Tight
Time Is Tight was originally recorded for the soundtrack of the 1968 movie Up Tight by Booker T. And The MGs. The song proved popular enough to be issued as a single, but the group elected to record an entirely new version of the tune for single release. The single version slowed down the tempo and left out the extended intro and so-called breakdown section of the tune.
Title: Six Man Band
Source: LP: Greatest Hits
Writer(s): Terry Kirkman
Label: Warner Brothers
The Association had a solid two years of hits starting with their 1966 single Along Comes Mary. They did even better with the followup, Cherish, which went all the way to the # 2 spot on the national charts. They hit their peak in 1967 with two top five singles, Windy and Never My Love, and had their last top 40 hit in 1968 with the song Time For Livin'. By this time the band was being criticized for its use of studio musicians rather than the band members themselves, and the Association responded with the song Six Man Band, which was released as a single later the same year. Although the song did not chart, it was included on the group's Greatest Hits album that same year.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Death Sound Blues
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
I generally use the term "psychedelic" to describe a musical attitude that existed during a particular period of time rather than a specific style of music. On the other hand, the term "acid rock" is better suited for describing music that was composed and/or performed under the influence of certain mind-expanding substances. That said, the first album by Country Joe and the Fish is a classic example of acid rock. I mean, really, is there any other way to describe Death Sound Blues than "the blues on acid"?
Title: Birthday/Yer Blues
Source: CD: The Beatles
Label: Parlophone (original label: Apple)
One of the great ironies of rock history was that the album entitled simply The Beatles was the one that had the fewest songs with all four of the band members playing on them. By 1968 the Beatles were experiencing internal conflicts, and nearly all of John Lennon and Paul McCartney's songs were played by just the two of them, while George Harrison's songs (and Ringo Starr's single contribution as a songwriter) featured an array of some of the UK's top musicians (including guitarist Eric Clapton). The opening tracks of side three of the album are typical of this approach, as Birthday is essentially a McCartney solo piece. Yer Blues, on the other hand, has Lennon singing and playing guitar, with probably McCartney on bass and drums. The first performance of Yer Blues in front of a live audience was in December of 1968 as part of the Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus. It was not the Beatles however, that performed the tune. Instead, Yer Blues was played by the Dirty Mac, a jam band consisting of Lennon, Clapton, drummer Mitch Mitchell (of the Jimi Hendrix Experience), and the Stones' Keith Richards on bass. That performance was never seen, other than by the studio audience, until the entire Circus was released on DVD a few years ago (Mick Jagger reportedly had the entire project shelved due to his dissatisfaction with the Stones' performance).
Title: Baby, You're A Rich Man
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Baby, You're A Rich Man was one of the last collaborations between John Lennon and Paul McCartney and addresses the Beatles' longtime manager Brian Epstein, although not by name. Lennon came up with the basic question "how does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?" (a popular term for the young and hip in late 60s London), which became the basis for the song's verses, which were combined with an existing, but unfinished, Paul McCartney chorus (Baby, You're A Rich Man, too). The finished piece was issued as the B side of the Beatles' second single of 1967, All You Need Is Love, and later remixed in stereo and included on the US-only LP version of Magical Mystery Tour.
Title: Tomorrow Never Knows
Source: CD: Revolver
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
A few years ago I started to compile an (admittedly subjective) list of the top psychedelic songs ever recorded. Although I never finished ranking the songs, one of the top contenders for the number one spot was Tomorrow Never Knows. The song is one of the first to use studio techniques such as backwards masking and has been hailed as a studio masterpiece.
Artist: Sly And The Family Stone
Title: I Want To Take You Higher
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Stand and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Sly Stone
Label: Priority (original label: Epic)
Sylvester Stewart was a major presence on the San Francisco music scene for several years, both as a producer for Autumn Records and as a popular local disc jockey. In 1967 he decided to take it to the next level, using his studio connections to put together Sly And The Family Stone. The band featured a solid lineup of musicians, including Larry Graham, whose growling bass line figures prominently in their 1969 recording of I Want To Take You Higher. The song was originally released as a B side, but after the group blew away the crowd at Woodstock the recording was re-released as a single the following year.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Until The Poorest People Have Money To Spend
Source: LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
The final West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album for Reprise, Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil, is generally considered the group's best album as well, despite the absence of founding member Danny Harris (who would return for their next LP on the Amos label). As always, Bob Markley provided the lyrics for all the band's original songs on the LP, including Until The Poorest People Have Money To Spend, which Shaun Harris wrote the music for. Although the sentiment expressed in the song is a good one, the sincerity of Markley's lyrics is somewhat suspect, according to guitarist Ron Morgan, who said that Markley was notoriously miserly with his own money (of which he had inherited quite a lot).
Title: I Can't See Your Face In My Mind
Source: LP: Strange Days
Writer(s): The Doors
One of the most haunting Doors ever recorded is I Can't See Your Face In My Mind, from their second 1967 LP, Strange Days. It also ranks among the most sadness-evoking song titles I've ever run across. Such is the power of poetry, I guess. Frankly I'm surprised that the Alzheimer's Association hasn't purchased the rights to the song to use on one of their TV fundraising spots.
Title: Dear Mr. Fantasy
Source: CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: Heaven Is In Your Mind, aka Mr. Fantasy)
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
Steve Winwood is one of those artists that has multiple signature songs, having a career that has spanned decades (so far). Still, if there is any one song that is most closely associated with the guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist, it's Dear Mr. Fantasy from Traffic's 1967 debut LP Mr. Fantasy. The album was originally released in a modified version in the US in early 1968 under the title Heaven Is In Your Mind, but later editions of the LP, while retaining the US track order and running time, were renamed to match the original British title.