Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1620 (starts 5/11/16)
Title: I Feel Free
Source: LP: Fresh Cream
After an unsuccessful debut single (Wrapping Paper), Cream scored a bona-fide hit in the UK with their follow-up, I Feel Free. As was the case with nearly every British single at the time, the song was not included on Fresh Cream, the band's debut LP. In the US, however, singles were commonly given a prominent place on albums, and the US version of Fresh Cream actually opens with I Feel Free. To my knowledge the song, being basically a studio creation, was never performed live.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: I Am Waiting
Source: British import LP: Aftermath
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The Aftermath album was a turning point for the Rolling Stones. For one thing, it was their first album recorded entirely in the US, and at a much more leisurely pace than their previous albums. This afforded the band the opportunity to spend more time working on their arrangements before committing songs to tape. It also gave Brian Jones a chance to experiment with instruments not normally associate with rock and roll music, such as sitar, dulcimer, marimbas, and koto. Aftermath was also the first Rolling Stones album made up entirely of songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, including the semi-acoustical I Am Waiting.
Title: Inside Looking Out
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Animalization)
Label: Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
One of the last songs recorded by the Animals before their first breakup, Inside Looking Out (a powerful song about life in prison) was covered a few years later by Grand Funk Railroad, who made it one of their concert staples. This has always been one of my all-time favorite rock songs.
Artist: Fat Mattress
Title: Iredescent Butterfly
Source: CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Neil Landon
Label: Grapefruit (original label: Polydor)
Fat Mattress was, in a sense, a sort of second (or maybe third) tier supergroup formed by Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding, first as a side project and then as his primary band. Other members included vocalist Neil Landon (Flower Pot Men) and bassist Jim Leverton (Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens), with Redding on guitar. Iredescent Butterfly was a song written by Landon that was recorded at the same time as the band's debut LP but was not released until 1969, when it appeared as a B side.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix/Band Of Gypsys
Title: Earth Blues
Source: LP: People, Hell And Angels
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2013
1969 was a strange year for Jimi Hendrix. For one thing, the guitarist was rock's highest-paid entertainer that year despite the fact that he did not release any new recordings. This was due, at least in part, to events happening offstage, the most important being a lawsuit filed by the producer of recordings made in 1965 by R&B vocalist Curtis Knight with Hendrix sitting in as a sideman. Hendrix had signed what appeared to be a standard release contract to the effect that he had been paid for the recordings and was not entitled to any royalties from them. The producer, however, claimed that Hendrix was under exclusive contract, and issued the recordings on an LP called Get That Feeling on the Capitol label, with Knight and Hendrix sharing equal billing on the album cover. A deal was worked out that Hendrix would provide Capitol with one album to make the lawsuit go away, consisting of either new studio recordings or a live performance of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Before this could happen, however, bassist Noel Redding left the band to join a new group called Fat Mattress. Hendrix, meanwhile, began work on several tracks with a variety of backing musicians, including his old Army buddy, bassist Billy Cox, and drummer Buddy Miles, who had already made a guest appearance on the third Experience album, Electric Ladyland. Finally, in December, it was decided that the trio, now calling themselves Band Of Gypsys, would record a series of four live New Year's concerts at the Fillmore East and issue the best performances as a live album. In preparation for the concerts, the group made several studio recordings, including an early version of Earth Blues. Unlike the version heard on the Rainbow Bridge album, this track contains no overdubs.
Title: A Day In The Life
Source: LP: Suite Feeling
Label: RCA Victor
Lighthouse was formed in Toronto in 1968 by vocalist/drummer Skip Prokop (formerly of the Paupers) and keyboardist/arranger Paul Hoffert. The idea was to combine a rock rhythm section with R&B-style horns and classical-style strings. The first move they made was to recruit guitarist Ralph Cole, whom the Paupers had shared a bill with in New York. The three of them then went about recruiting an assortment of friends, studio musicians and members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, making a demo tape and submitting it to M-G-M records, who immediately offered Lighthouse a contract. The band's manager, however, was able to get a better contract from RCA, and the group set about recording their first album, making their stage debut in Toronto in May of 1969. Among the original 13 members of the band were lead vocalist Vic "Pinky" Davin and saxophonist Howard Shore (who would become the leader of the house band for NBC's Saturday Night Live when that TV show made its debut in 1975). The group managed to record two albums that year: their eponymous debut album and the follow-up Suite Feeling. Both albums were recorded at Toronto's Eastern Sound Studio and released on the RCA Victor label in 1969. Although the group scored a couple of minor hits in their native Canada, they were not able to achieve commercial success in the US, and, after a third LP for RCA, changed labels to GRT, where (after several personnel changes, including lead vocals) they managed to chart two top 40 singles in 1971 and 1972. One of the more notable tracks from their second LP, Suite Feeling, was a cover of the Beatles' A Day In The Life that can best be described as "massive". The track brings the entire 13-piece band into play, with horns and strings featured prominently thoughout.
Title: Baby It's You
Source: Mono CD: Please Please Me
The Beatles, in their early days, performed a lot of cover tunes, such as Baby Its You, which had been a top 10 hit for the Shirelles' in 1961. When it came time for the fab four to record their first LP, producer George Martin simply had the band run through their usual live set in the studio with the tape machine running. Since that live set included Baby It's You, the song made it onto the album. In the US, the song first appeared on the VeeJay label on the LP Introducing...The Beatles and was later included on the Capitol LP The Early Beatles. Interestingly, although the Beatles arrangement of Baby Its You is, from a musical standpoint, a straight cover of the Shirelles version, there is a significant difference in the lyrics in that the Beatles chose to repeat the second verse rather than the first, giving the song a more upbeat ending.
Title: In My Life
Source: CD: Rubber Soul
Rubber Soul was the first Beatles album to be made up entirely of songs written by the band members themselves, mostly John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Lennon's contributions in particular were starting to move away from the typical "young love" songs the band had become famous for. One of the best examples is In My Life, which is a nostalgic look back at Lennon's own past (although put in such a way that it could be universally applied). Despite never being released as a single, In My Life remains one of the most popular songs in the Beatles catalog.
Title: I Saw Her Standing There
Source: Mono CD: Please Please Me
One of the most popular early Beatles songs, I Saw Her Standing There was originally released as the opening track for the band's first LP, Please Please Me, and was also included on the EP The Beatles (no. 1). In the US, the song was included on the Vee Jay release Introducing...The Beatles. In December of 1963 the tune was chosen as the B side of the Beatles' Capitol debut single, I Want To Hold Your Hand. Even as a B side, the song spent 11 weeks on the charts, peaking at #14. It was also included on the first Capitol Beatles album, Meet The Beatles, in 1964.
Title: Love Me Two Times
Source: LP: Strange Days
Writer(s): The Doors
Although the second Doors album is sometimes dismissed as being full of tracks that didn't make the cut on the band's debut LP, the fact is that Strange Days contains some of the Doors' best-known tunes. One of those is Love Me Two Times, which was the second single released from the album. The song continues to get heavy airplay on classic rock stations.
Title: Heaven And Hell
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
Throughout the mid-60s Australia's most popular band was the Easybeats, often called the Australian Beatles. Although their early material sounded like slightly dated British Invasion music (Australia had a reputation for cultural lag, and besides, half the members were British immigrants), by late 1966 guitarist Harry Vanda (one of the two Dutch immigrant members of the group) had learned enough English to be able to replace vocalist Stevie Wright as George Young's writing partner. The new team was much more adventurous in their compositions than the Wright/Young team had been, and were responsible for the band's first international hit, Friday On My Mind. By then the Easybeats had relocated to England, and continued to produce fine singles such as Heaven And Hell.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Mr. Second Class
Source: CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Year: Grapefruit (original label: United Artists)
The Spencer Davis Group managed to survive the departure of their star member, Steve Winwood (and has brother Muff) in 1967, and with new members Eddie Hardin (vocals) and Phil Sawyer (guitar) managed to get a couple more singles on the chart over the next year or so. The last of these was Mr. Second Class, a surprisingly strong composition from Hardin and Davis.
Title: No Good Without You
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): William Stevenson
Label: Rhino (original label: Decca)
Although they only released four singles from 1964-66 (the third of which being No Good Without You), the Birds were among the better UK bands not to get attention outside of their native land. Formed in 1963, the band was first known as the R&B Bohemians and then the Thunderbirds before shortening their name to the Birds. When the US Byrds came along, the Birds actually tried to sue them for using their name. What the group is probably best known for, however, is launching the career of guitarist Ron Wood, who would later join the Faces and is currently a member of some obscure British rock and roll band.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
San Jose, California, had a vibrant teen music scene in the late 60s, despite the fact that the relatively small (at the time) city was overshadowed by San Francisco at the other end of the bay (both cities were then, as now, considered part of the same metropolitan market). One of the more popular bands in town was Count Five, a group of five individuals who chose to dress up like Bela Lugosi's Dracula, capes and all. Musically, they idolized the Yardbirds (Jeff Beck era), and for slightly more than three minutes managed to sound more like their idols than the Yardbirds themselves (who by then had replaced Beck with Jimmy Page).
Artist: Attic Sound
Title: Look Straight Through You
Source: CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lyte Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Pioneer)
When it comes to the subject of rare late-60s singles, it doesn't get much more obscure than the band known as the Attic Sound, who released one single, Look Straight Through You, in December of 1967, on the Pioneer label out of Memphis, Tennessee. Unfortunately, nobody seems to know where the group itself hailed from, although there are some collectors in Michigan who claim they were from that state. Another source says they were from Silver Spring, Maryland, although it's hard to imagine how an East Coast band ended up recording for a Memphis label. Regardless, the record has come to be regarded as highly collectable, thanks to a strong hook with lots of reverb.
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: Funny Freak Parade
Source: LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
1967 was also the year of the "Boss-Town Sound", a gimmick used to promote several Boston-based bands signed to the M-G-M label (M-G-M having been asleep at the wheel during the recent band-signing frenzy in San Francisco). Derided in the music press as a crass attempt to manipulate record buyers, the ultimate victims of this fraud were the bands themselves, many of which were actually quite talented. One of the best remembered of these bands was Ultimate Spinach, the brainchild of keyboardist Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote all the material for the group's first two LPs. Although much of the Spinach material sounds like it could have been written by Country Joe McDonald, there are a few tracks, such as Funny Freak Parade, that have a totally original sound to them. The recording uses a wah-wah effect in a rather unique way (at least I don't recall it being used quite like this elsewhere).
Artist: Moby Grape
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Moby Grape)
Writer: Skip Spence
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
As an ill-advised promotional gimmick, Columbia Records released five separate singles concurrently with the first Moby Grape album. Of the five singles, only one, Omaha, actually charted, and it only got to the #86 spot. Meanwhile, the heavy promotion by the label led to Moby Grape getting the reputation of being over-hyped, much to the detriment of the band's career.
Artist: Squires Of The Subterrain
Title: Rain On Snow
Source: CD: Sandbox
Writer(s): Christopher Earl
Label: Rocket Racket
What happens when you combine environmentally conscious lyrics with music reminiscent of Brian Wilson's later Beach Boys albums such as Pet Sounds and Smile? In this case it's the 2012 album Sandbox from Squires Of The Subterrain. Based in Rochester, NY, the Squires are (is?) the work of Christopher Earl of Rochester, NY, who has been releasing independent recordings on his own Rocket Racket label for the better part of 20 years. Rain On Snow is one of many listenable tracks on Sandbox. Definitely worth checking out.
Artist: Brian Wilson
Title: Song For The Children/Child Is Father Of The Man
Source: CD: Brian Wilson Presents Smile
Rock history is full of stories about albums that were started with the best of intentions, but for one reason or another ended up on the shelf, sometimes indefinitely. Perhaps the most famous of these was the Beach Boys' follow up album to their critically acclaimed Pet Sounds LP. The album was to be called Smile, and the priveledged few who had heard the work in progress all agreed it was to be Brian Wilson's masterpiece, both as writer and producer. However, a series of problems, including internal disputes among the band members and Wilson's own mental state, kept pushing back the album's completion date. Finally the whole thing was scrapped, and a far less ambitious LP called Smiley Smile was hastily recorded in its place. The legend of the original Smile continued to grow over the years, however, with occasional fragments of the original tapes (which had first thought to have been destroyed) surfacing from time to time. Throughout this time Wilson had resisted the urge to reopen the Smile project, but in the early 2000s he began to integrate some of the songs into his live concerts, including a 2001 performance of Heroes And Villains at Radio City Music Hall in New York. This led to members of his current band suggesting that he work up the majority of Smile for new performances as a followup to his Pet Sounds Live concerts. Wilson approved the idea, and with the help of band member Darian Sahanaja in particular began updating the material for the 21st century, eventually reuniting with lyricist Van Dyke Parks to finish the project. The newly completed version of Smile was first performed live in February of 2004; the concert was a critical and commercial success, and Wilson's band continued to perform Smile throughout 2004 and 2005. Beginning in April of 2004 Wilson began work on a studio version of Smile, which required substantial reworking from the stage version. Finally, in September, of 2004, Brian Wilson Presents Smile was released. The completed version of Smile is divided into three sections: Americana, Cycle Of Life, and The Elements. The middle section, Cycle Of Life, is also the shortest, consisting of just four songs. The middle two parts of Cycle Of Life heard on this week's show are Song For The Children and Child Is Father Of The Man, both of which date back to the original 1966 Smile sessions.
Title: Too Many People
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mira)
The Leaves are a bit unusual in that in a city known for drawing wannabes from across the world, this local band's members were all native L.A.ins. Formed by members of a fraternity at Cal State Northridge, the Leaves had their greatest success when they took over as house band at Ciro's after the Byrds vacated the slot to go on tour. Like many bands of the time, they were given a song to record as a single by their producer (Love Minus Zero) and allowed to write their own B side. In this case that B side was Too Many People, written by bassist Jim Pons and guitarist Bill Rhinehart. The song ended up getting more airplay on local radio stations than Love Minus Zero, making it their first regional hit. The Leaves had their only national hit the following year with their third attempt at recording the fast version of Hey Joe, the success of which led to their first LP, which included a watered down version of Too Many People. The version heard here is the 1965 original. Eventually Pons would leave the Leaves, hooking up first with the Turtles, then Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention.
Title: Mellow Yellow
Source: Mono British import CD: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original US label: Epic)
Although the Mellow Yellow album came out in early 1967, the title track had been released several months earlier as a followup to Donovan's breakthrough US hit Sunshine Superman. Ironically, during Donovan's period of greatest US success none of his recordings were being released in his native UK, due to his ongoing contract dispute with Pye Records.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
While not as commercially successful as the Jefferson Airplane or as long-lived as the Grateful Dead (there's an oxymoron for ya), Country Joe and the Fish may well be the most accurate musical representation of what the whole Haight-Ashbury scene was about, which is itself ironic, since the band operated out of Berkeley on the other side of the bay. Of all the tracks on their first album, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine probably got the most airplay on various underground radio stations that were popping up on the FM dial at the time (some of them even legally).
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Kyrie Eleison/Mardi Gras
Source: CD: Mass In F Minor
Writer: David Axelrod
Label: Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
After the commercial disappointment of the Electric Prunes second LP, Underground, producer David Hassinger, who actually owned the rights to the Electric Prunes name, decided to use the band in an experiment. David Axelrod had written a rock-mass and was looking for a band to record it. It soon became apparent, however, that Axelrod's arrangements were beyond the technical skills of the Prunes, and studio musicians were brought in to complete the project. The result was Mass In F Minor, which with its royal purple cover stood out on the record racks but did not sell any better than the previous Prunes LP. Before fading off into obscurity the album was immortalized by having its opening track, Kyrie Eleison, featured in the film Easy Rider and subsequent soundtrack album.
Artist: Tommy James And The Shondells
Source: 45 RPM single B side
From a modern perspective it seems obvious that the only thing keeping Roulette Records going in the late 60s was the string of hits on the label by Tommy James and the Shondells. Oddly enough, Tommy James was one of many acts that initially tanked on the label. It was only when a Pittsburgh DJ began playing a two year old copy of Hanky Panky he had rescued from the throwaway pile in 1966 that the band's career took off. By then, however, the original Shondells had long-since disbanded and James found himself suddenly in demand with no band to back him up. He soon found a new group of Shondells and began cranking out an amazing streak of hits, including I Think We're Alone Now, Mony Mony, Crystal Blue Persuasion and Crimson and Clover. By 1969, however, the streak was coming to an end, with Sweet Cherry Wine being one of the group's last top 40 hits. The B side of that record was the decidedly psychedelic Breakaway. James would continue as a solo artist after the Shondells split up, scoring his last hit in 1971 with Draggin' The Line.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: Friends/Celebration Day
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin III
Following a year of almost constant touring to promote the first two Led Zeppelin albums, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page decided to take a break in early 1970, moving to a Welsh cottage with no electricity and concentrating on their songwriting skills. The result was an album, Led Zeppelin III, that differed markedly from its predecessors. Many of the songs on the album, such as Friends, were almost entirely acoustical, while others, like Celebration Day, were, if anything, more intense than anything on the band's first two albums. Once much of the material for the new album had been written, Page and Plant were joined by John Bonham and John Paul Jones at a place called Headley Grange, where the band rehearsed the new material, adding a few more songs in the process. The album itself caught the band's fans by surprise, and suffered commercially as a result, but has since come to be regarded as a milestone for the band.
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 and was bought by Allen Klein, who now operates the company as Abkco.
Artist: Janis Ian
Title: Lover Be Kindly
Source: LP: Janis Ian
Writer(s): Janis Ian
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
Thirty years before young female singer/songwriters such as Jewel and Alanis Morissette took the music world by storm there was a 15-year-old Janis Ian making music that was largely overlooked at the time, but has come to be regarded as groundbreaking in the years since the release of Ian's first LP in 1967. The album itself was commissioned by Atlantic Records, but after hearing some of Ian's controversial lyrics the shirts at the label decided not to release it. After several more labels rejected the album M-G-M subsidiary Verve decided to release one song from the album, Society's Child, as a single on its experimental Verve Forecast label. Famed conductor Leonard Bernstein featured the song on his prime-time TV special called Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution, which led to the song hitting the top 40 charts, eventually peaking at #14 (although it went all the way to the top of the charts in many key cities). This in turn led to the album being released in early 1967. Among the many outstanding tracks on the LP (as far as I'm concerned EVERY track on the album is outstanding) is a tune called Lover Be Kindly. Showing a mix of influences ranging from folk music to the Beatles, the song has a catchy melody and strong lyrics, quite an accomplishment for a virtually unkown artist who was 14 years old at the time the record was produced.
Title: (Roamin' Thro' The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM B side and on LP: Traffic)
Label: United Artists
The second Traffic album saw the band taking in a broader set of influences, including traditional English folk music. (Roamin' Through The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen, originally released as the B side to the Dave Mason tune No Face, No Name, No Number, combines those influences with the Steve Winwood brand of British R&B to create a timeless classic.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Watch Yourself
Source: LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer(s): Robert Yeazel
Although the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band usually wrote their own material, they occassionally drew from outside sources. One example is Watch Yourself, written by Robert Yeazel, who would go on to join Sugarloaf in time for their second LP, Spaceship Earth, writing many of the songs on that album.
Title: Porpoise Song
Source: CD: Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Head soundtrack)
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
In 1968 the Monkees, trying desperately to shed a teeny-bopper image, enlisted Jack Nicholson to co-write a feature film that was a 180-degree departure from their recently-cancelled TV show. This made sense, since the original fans of the show were by then already outgrowing the group. Unfortunately, by 1968 the Monkees brand was irrevocably tainted by the fact that the Monkees had not been allowed to play their own instruments on their first two albums. The movie Head itself was the type of film that was best suited to being shown in theaters that specialized in "art" films, but that audience was among the most hostile to the Monkees and the movie bombed. It is now considered a cult classic. Porpoise Song, a Gerry Goffin/Carole King composition used as the theme for Head, was also a departure in style for the Monkees, yet managed to retain a decidedly Monkees sound due to the distinctive lead vocals of Mickey Dolenz.