Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1546 (starts 11/11/15)
Title: Over Under Sideways Down
Source: Simulated stereo Australian import CD: Over, Under, Sideways, Down (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Raven (original US label: Epic)
The only Yardbirds album to feature primarily original material was released under different titles in different parts of the world. The original UK version was called simply The Yardbirds, while the US album bore the title Over, Under, Sideways, Down. In addition, the UK album was unofficially known as Roger the Engineer because of band member Chris Dreja's drawing of the band's recording engineer on the cover. The title cut was the last single to feature Jeff Beck as the band's sole lead guitarist (the follow-up single, Happenings Ten Years Time Ago, featured both Beck and Jimmy Page).
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Somebody To Love
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Darby Slick
Label: RCA Victor
Over 40 years after the fact, it's hard to imagine just how big an impact this song 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). Oddly enough, the first recorded version of the song (by Great! Society) was itself more of a garage-rock performance, as was heard a couple weeks ago.
Artist: Deep Purple
Source: CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Tales Of Deep Purple)
Writer: Joe South
Label: K-Tel (original label: Tetragrammaton)
British rockers Deep Purple scored a huge US hit in 1968 with their rocked out cover of Hush, a tune written by Joe South that had been an international hit for Billy Joe Royal the previous year. Oddly enough, the song was virtually ignored in their native England. The song was included on the album Tales Of Deep Purple, the first of three LPs to be released in the US on Tetragrammaton Records, a label partially owned by actor/comedian Bill Cosby. When Tetragrammaton folded shortly after the release of the third Deep Purple album, The Book Of Taleisyn, the band was left without a US label, and went through some personnel changes, including adding new lead vocalist Ian Gilliam (who had sung the part of Jesus on the original Jesus Christ Superstar album) before signing to Warner Brothers and becoming a major force in 70s rock. Meanwhile, original vocalist Rod Evans hooked up with drummer Bobby Caldwell and two former members of Iron Butterfly to form Captain Beyond before fading from public view.
Artist: Tommy James And The Shondells
Title: Crystal Blue Persuasion
Source: LP: The Best Of Tommy James And The Shondells (originally released as 45 RPM single)
One of the last and best hit singles for Tommy James and the Shondells was Crystal Blue Persuasion, released in 1969. Although sometimes considered to be a drug song (especially after its recent use in the TV series Breaking Bad), the song was actually inspired by various Biblical passages, according to James's manager. In particular, he cites the books of Ezekiel, with its references to a blue light representing the presence of God and both Isaiah and Revelation, which speak of a future age of peace and harmony. The song was a major hit for the band, climbing just shy of the top spot on the Billboard charts.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Here Right Now
Source: LP: Gimme Some Lovin' (originally released in UK on LP: Their First LP)
Writer(s): Steve Winwood
Label: United Artists (original label: Fontana)
The Spencer Davis Group was formed in 1963 by Welsh guitarist Spencer Davis, who recruited the Winwood brothers, Muff (on bass) and Steve (on organ and lead vocals), along with drummer Pete York for his new band. Originally known as the Rhythm And Blues Quartette, the band changed its name in 1964 when they signed with Chris Blackwell's Island Records. Muff Winwood came up with the band's new name, saying "Spencer was the only one who enjoyed doing interviews, so I pointed out that if we called it the Spencer Davis Group, the rest of us could stay in bed and let him do them." The group released their first LP, entitled Their First LP, in 1965. One of the standout tracks on that album was a Steve Winwood tune called Here Right Now that was later chosen for inclusion of their first American LP, Gimme Some Lovin', in 1967.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Hey Joe
Source: CD: The Ultimate Experience (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
The first track recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was Hey Joe, a song that Hendrix had seen Tim Rose perform in Greenwich Village before relocating to London to form his new band. It was released as a single in the UK in late 1966 and went all the way to the # 3 spot on the British top 40. Hendrix's version is a bit heavier than Rose's and leaves off the first verse ("where you going with that money in your hand") entirely. Although Rose always claimed that Hey Joe was a traditional folk song, the song was actually copyrighted in 1962 by California folk singer Billy Roberts. By the time Hendrix recorded Hey Joe several American bands had recorded a fast version of the song, with the Leaves hitting the US top 40 with it in early 1966.
Title: The Castle
Source: Mono CD: Love Story (originally released on LP: Da Capo)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Considering that both of their first two LPs had cover photos taken against the backdrop of Bela Lugosi's former residence in the Hollywood Hills (known as Dracula's Castle), it is perhaps inevitable that Love would have a track called The Castle on one of these albums. Sure enough, one can be found near the end of the first side of 1967's Da Capo, an album that was all but buried by the attention being given to the debut LP of Love's new labelmates, the Doors, which came out around the same time. The song itself is an indication of the direction that band was moving in, away from the straight folk/garage-rock of their first LP toward the more sophiscated sound of Forever Changes, which would be released later the same year.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Dark Star (single version)
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Studio recording. Single version. Shortest Dark Star ever.
Title: Tales Of Brave Ulysses
Source: LP: Disraeli Gears
Cream was one of the first bands to break British tradition and release singles that were also available as album cuts. This tradition likely came about because 45 RPM records (both singles and extended play 45s) tended to stay in print indefinitely in the UK, unlike in the US, where a hit single usually had a shelf life of around 2-3 months then disappeared forever. When the Disraeli Gears album was released, however, the song Strange Brew, which leads off the LP, was released in Europe as a single. The B side of that single was Tales Of Brave Ulysses, which opens side two of the album.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Gone And Passes By
Source: CD: No Way Out
Writer(s): Dave Aguilar
Label: Sundazed (original label: Tower)
Producer Ed Cobb, years after the fact, expressed regret that he didn't take the time to discover for himself what made the Chocolate Watchband such a popular band among San Jose, California's teenagers. Instead, he tried to present his own vision of what a psychedelic band should sound like on the group's debut LP, No Way Out. Many of the tracks on the album used studio musicians, and two of the tracks featuring the Watchband itself used studio vocalist Don Bennett instead of Dave Aguilar, including the single Let's Talk About Girls. The remaining tracks, altough featuring the full band, were somewhat obscured by additional instruments, particular the sitar, which was not normally used by the band when performing live. This synthesis of Cobb's vision and the actual Watchband is probably best illustrated by the song Gone And Passes By, an Aguilar composition that somewhat resembles a psychedelicized version of the Rolling Stones' cover of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away.
Artist: Tuesday's Children
Title: A Strange Light From The East
Source: Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Phil Cordell
Label: Grapefruit (original label: King)
Tuesday's Children, a North London band originally known as the Prophets, recorded half a dozen single for almost as many labels from 1966-68. Arguably, the best of these was a song called A Strange Light From The East, released in 1967 on the local King label (no relation to the US label of the same name). The song, written by guitarist Phil Cordell, made the Radio London "Fab 40", but failed to generate any significant sales.
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.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly (demo version)
Source: Mono British import CD: The Ultimate Turn On
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Big Beat
Someone should make a movie based on the life of Sean Bonniwell, the former member of the "whitebread folk" group New Christy Minstrels turned black-clad leader of one of the premier punk-rock bands of all time. Despite being lied to by record companies and screwed over by his own manager, Bonniwell managed to record two LPs worth of high-quality tracks with two entirely-different incarnations of the Music Machine before becoming disillusioned and leaving the music business entirely by the end of the decade. The Eagle Never Hunts the Fly (heard here in demo form) was one of the last singles released by the original lineup.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: I Wanna Be Your Man
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have written so many classic songs together that it's hard to imagine a time when they had yet to pen their first hit. That was precisely the case, however, in the early days of the Rolling Stones, when they were barely scratching the bottom of the British charts with covers of blues songs from the 1950s. A chance meeting with John Lennon and Paul McCartney, however, resulted in the Stones being given a song called I Wanna Be Your Man which became the band's first top 20 hit in the UK. The song was later released as the B side to the Stones' first US charted single, Not Fade Away.
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, however, 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.
Artist: Harbinger Complex
Title: Sometimes I Wonder
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Amber)
The city of San Francisco had a well-documented music scene in the 1960s that brought bands like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Santana to national prominence. Across the bay, however, was a more typical mid-60s scene centered around teen-oriented bands that would play high school dances, shopping center parking lots and of course participate in various "battle of the bands" competitions. Among the best of these was Fremont's Harbinger Complex. Formed in 1963 by guitarists Ron Rotarius and Bob Hoyle III, who had playing together since they were in the eighth grade, the group was first known as the Norsemen. When Hoyle was called to active duty in Vietnam in 1965 the band brought in vocalist Jim Hockstaff and soon changed its name to Harbinger Complex. Hoyle returned from 'Nam in 1966, and he and Hockstaff soon formed a writing partnership. All three of the band's singles, including the 1966 track Sometimes I Wonder, were written by the two. After Hockstaff's departure in early 1967 the group tried to continue on with a new vocalist, but did not make any more records. By the end of the year Harbinger Complex was history.
Title: One Track Mind
Source: Mono CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: L. Colley/K. Colley
Label: Rhino (original label: Challenge)
After successfully fooling many people into thinking that they were the Beatles recording under a different name with their 1965 hit Lies, the Knickerbockers (originally from Bergenfield, New Jersey) went with a more R&B flavored rocker for their follow up single. Unfortunately their label, the Los Angeles-based Challenge Records, did not have the resources and/or skills to properly promote the single.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Sugar The Road
Source: CD: Cricklewood Green
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Label: Chrysalis (original label: Deram)
Ten Years After's fourth LP, Cricklewood Green, was the band's first release following their appearance at Woodstock, and by all accounts they made the best of the situation with what is generally considered to be their best studio album. In addition to progressive FM radio favorites Love Like A Man and 50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain, the album contains several tunes that show the group's diversity, such as Sugar The Road, which opens side one of the LP.
Title: Move Over
Source: LP: The ABC Collection (originally released on LP: Monster)
Label: ABC (original label: Dunhill)
Although Monster is generally regarded as Steppenwolf's most political album, a few songs on the LP, such as Move Over, were a throwback to the more basic rock and roll style that initially propelled Steppenwolf to stardom. The song was also released as a single, doing better than any subsequent release.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Source: LP: Bookends
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Originally written for (but not used in) the film The Graduate, Overs is the middle part of a series of songs on side one of the Bookends album that follow the cycle of life from childhood to old age. The song deals with a long relationship that is coming to an end after years of slow stagnation. Musically the tune is quiet and contemplative, with a loose structure that has more in common with the cool jazz of Miles Davis than either folk or rock.
Title: The Girl With No Name
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): Chris Hillman
A failed relationship was the inspiration for The Girl With No Name, one of five songs written or co-written by Byrds bassist Chris Hillman for the group's fourth LP, Younger Than Yesterday. The tune has a strong country feel to it, presaging Hillman's future career as a member of the Desert Rose Band in the 1980s. Guitarist Clarence White, who would soon become a member of the band, makes an early appearance on the track.
Artist: Mothers Of Invention
Title: You Didn't Try To Call Me
Source: CD: Freak Out!
Writer: Frank Zappa
Label: Ryko (original label: Verve)
The double-LP debut Mothers Of Invention album, Freak Out!, featured a variety of tunes ranging from almost straight pop songs like Wowie Zowie, to the wildly experimental Return of the Son of Monster Magnet that took up an entire album side. You Didn't Try To Call Me, from side two, is one of the former, describing (with roles obviously reversed) a situation that a female acquaintance of the band had found herself in recently.
Source: LP: Animalization
As a general rule, the original Animals wrote very little of their own material, preferring to record covers of their favorite blues songs to supplement the songs from professional songwriters that producer Mickie Most picked for single release. One notable exception is Cheating, a strong effort from vocalist Eric Burdon and bassist Chas Chandler that appeared on the Animalization album. The hard-driving song was also chosen for release as a B side in 1966.
Title: Red Rubber Ball
Source: LP: Red Rubber Ball
Paul Simon moved to London in early 1965, after his latest album with Art Garfunkel, Wednesday Morning 3 AM, had been deleted from the Columbia Records catalog after just a few weeks due to poor sales. While in the UK Simon found himself performing on the same bill as the Seekers, an Australian band that had achieved some international success with folky pop songs like A World Of Our Own. Needing cash, Simon wrote (with Seekers guitarist/vocalist Bruce Woodley) Red Rubber Ball, selling the song to the group for about 100 pounds. After returning to the US and reuniting with Garfunkel, Simon offered the song to the Cyrkle, who took the song all the way to the #4 spot on the charts.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Catch The Wind
Source: LP: DJ sampler (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Verve Forecast
One of the more underrated talents in US rock is guitarist Steve Katz. One of the original members of the Blues Project, Katz always comes across as a team player, subsuming his own ego to the good of the band. When it was time for Andy Kuhlberg to play a flute solo onstage at Monterey, Katz was the one who obligingly shifted over to bass guitar to cover for him. Steve Katz did occasionally get the chance to shine, though. As a singer/songwriter he provided Sometimes In Winter for the album Blood, Sweat and Tears and Steve's Song for the Blues Project's Projections album. One of his more obscure recordings is the Blues Project version of Donovan's Catch The Wind. The song was released as a B side and included on a special DJ sampler album distributed to radio stations in 1966.
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
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 (again only in the UK) 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.
Title: Helter Skelter
Source: CD: The Beatles
Label: Parlophone (original label: Apple)
Possibly the most controversial song in the entire Beatles catalog, Helter Skelter was Paul McCartney's response to an article in a British trade paper about the Who's latest single, I Can See For Miles. The author of the article referred to the Who song as the heaviest song ever recorded, and McCartney, without benefit of having actually heard I Can See For Miles, decided to go the Who one better. The lyrics of song are innocent enough, as they describe the sensation of repeatedly riding a slide in a playground, yet were vague enough to be open to interpretation by one Charles Manson. It was Manson's use of the words "Helter Skelter" (painted in blood) in his campaign to incite a race war in the US that gave the song its initial notoriety; a notoriety that was cemented when it was used as a title of a book by the L.A. District Attorney who brought Manson's group to justice.
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.
Title: Love Minus Zero
Source: Mono CD: Hey Joe (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Label: One Way (original label: Mira)
Of all the various covers of Bob Dylan songs over the years, one of the most obscure has to be the Leaves' version of Love Minus Zero, released as a B side in 1965. It is suggested that the song may have been intended to be the A side of the band's debut single, since folk-rock was the hot thing in Los Angeles in 1965, but even before the record was officially released local radio stations were instead playing Too Many People, a Leaves original on the other side of the record that is now recognized as a garage-rock classic. This set the stage for the national success of their 1966 fuzztone-drenched fast version of Hey Joe, which has since appeared on several anthology albums.
Source: Mono CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Malo)
Obviously a one-note gimmick, Adam consisted of Adam Taylor, Adam London, Adam Dawson and Adam Schnug, releasing one single called Eve in 1966. The following year a band called the Balloon Farm released A Question Of Temperature. It has long been suspected that they were both the same band. My own theory is that both tracks are the work of New York studio musicians having a little after-hours fun, similar to what was going on in Los Angeles with projects such as Sagittarius and the Ballroom.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints
Source: 45 RPM single
Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was originally released to Los Angeles area radio stations it was intended to be the B side of The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side.
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: Blues Magoos
Title: Baby, I Want You
Source: Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
Although not as well-known as their debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop, the Blues Magoos' Electric Comic Book is a worthy successor to that early psychedelic masterpiece. Handicapped by a lack of hit singles, the album floundered on the charts, despite the presence of songs like Baby, I Want You, one of many original tunes on the LP.