Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1621 (starts 5/18/16)
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Alley Oop
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Dallas Frazier
Label: Sundazed/Kama Sutra
The Lovin' Spoonful didn't actually release their version of the old Hollywood Argyles song Alley Oop as a single in 1965. In fact, they didn't release the song at all, even though it was recorded during the same sessions that became their debut LP that year. In 2011 the people at Sundazed decided to create a "single that never was", pairing Alley Oop with the full-length version of Night Owl Blues, a song that had been included on the 1965 debut in edited form. The Spoonful version of Alley Oop has an almost garage-band feel about it, and is perhaps the best indication on vinyl of what the band actually sounded like in their early days as a local fixture on the Greenwich Village scene.
Source: Mono LP: Love
Emotions, the last track on side one of the first Love album, sounds like it could have come directly from the soundtrack of one the spaghetti westerns that were popular with moviegoers in the mid-1960s. Probably not coincidentally, the instrumental is also the only Love recording to carry a writing credit for lead guitarist Johnny Echols (with the exception of the 17-minute jam Revelation on their second LP, which is credited to the entire band).
Title: The Crystal Ship
Source: CD: The Doors
Writer: The Doors
Ever feel like you've discovered something really special that nobody else (among your circle of friends at any rate) knows about? At first you kind of want to keep it to yourself, but soon you find yourself compelled to share it with everyone you know. Such was the case when, in the early summer of 1967, I used my weekly allowance to buy copies of a couple of songs I had heard on the American Forces Network (AFN). As usual, it wasn't long before I was flipping the records over to hear what was on the B sides. I liked the first one well enough (a song by Buffalo Springfield called Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It, the B side of For What It's Worth), but it was the second one, the B side of the Doors' Light My Fire, that really got to me. To this day I consider The Crystal Ship to be one of the finest slow rock songs ever recorded.
Title: Magic Carpet Ride
Source: CD: Steppenwolf the Second
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Steppenwolf's second top 10 single was Magic Carpet Ride, a song that combines feedback, prominent organ work by Goldy McJohn and an updated Bo Diddly beat with psychedelic lyrics. Along with Born To Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride (co-written by vocalist John Kay and bassist Rushton Moreve) has become one of the defining songs of both Steppenwolf and the late 60s.
Title: Got To Get You Into My Life
Source: British import LP: Revolver
One of the best known songs on the Beatles' 1966 album Revolver is Paul McCartney's Got To Get You Into My Life. The song was not released as a single until 1976, when it became the last original Beatles song to hit the top 10 (Free As A Bird, a fleshing out of a John Lennon demo recording by the three living members of the band, made the top 10 nearly 20 years later). McCartney later revealed that the song was an ode to pot, saying "'Got to Get You into My Life' was one I wrote when I had first been introduced to pot ... So [it's] really a song about that, it's not to a person." John Lennon called Got to Get You into My Life one of Paul's best songs.
Title: Sunny Afternoon
Source: Mono LP: Face To Face
Writer: Ray Davies
My family got its first real stereo (a GE console model with a reel-to-reel recorder instead of a turntable) just in time for me to catch the Kinks' Sunny Afternoon at the peak of its popularity. My school had just gone into split sessions and all my classes were over by one o'clock, which gave me the chance to explore the world of top 40 radio for a couple hours every day without the rest of the family telling me to turn it down (or off).
Title: Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source: Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ed Cobb
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
The Standells were probably the most successful band to record for the Tower label (not counting Pink Floyd, whose first LP was issued, in modified form, on the label after being recorded in England). Besides their big hit Dirty Water, they hit the charts with other tunes such as Why Pick On Me, Try It, and the punk classic Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White. All but Try It were written by producer Ed Cobb, who has to be considered the most prolific punk-rock songwriter of the 60s, having also written some of the Chocolate Watch Band's best stuff as well.
Title: Writer In The Sun
Source: LP: Mellow Yellow
Writer: Donovan Leitch
In 1966-67 Donovan's career was almost derailed by a contractual dispute with his UK label, Pye Records. This resulted in two of his albums, Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow, not being issued in the UK. At the time he felt that there was a real chance that he would be forced into retirement by the dispute, and wrote Writer In The Sun as a way of addressing the subject. Ironically his career was going nowhere but up in the US due to him switching from the relatively small Hickory label to industry giant Columbia's subsidiary label Epic Records and scoring top 10 singles with Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow. His success with those records in the US may have been a factor in Pye settling with the singer-songwriter and issuing a British album that combined tracks from the two albums in late 1967.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Source: Mono CD: Psychedelic Pop
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Uni)
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: David Bowie
Title: All The Madmen
Source: CD: The Man Who Sold The World
Writer(s): David Bowie
Label: Parlophone (original label: Mercury)
Although most critics agree that the so-called "glitter era" of rock music originated with David Bowie's 1972 LP The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, a significant minority argue that it really began with Bowie's third album, The Man Who Sold The World, released in 1970 in the US and in 1971 in the UK. They point out that World was the first Bowie real rock album (the previous two being much more folk oriented), and cite songs such as All The Madmen, as well as the album's title cut, as the prototype for Spiders From Mars. All The Madmen itself is one of several songs on the album that deal with the subject of insanity, taking the view that an insane asylum may in fact be the sanest place to be in modern times. Whenever I hear the song I think of the film One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, which makes a similar statement.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: The Windmills Of Your Mind
Source: The Complete Atco Singles
Label: Real Gone Music/Rhino
Vanilla Fudge all but abandoned their early practice of slowing down and psychedelicizing pop tunes after their first LP, but by their fifth album, Rock and Roll, they were at it again, as this revisioning of The Windmills Of Your Mind (a US hit for Dusty Springfield and an even bigger UK hit for Noel Harrison) shows. Although not audible on the recording itself, drummer Carmine Appice later said he liked the melody of the song so much that he was lying on the floor of the studio singing along with Mark Stein as the song was being taped.
Title: Swami-Plus Strings, etc.
Source: LP: Head soundtrack
Writer(s): Dolenz/Jones/Nesmith/Tork/Thorne, compiled by Jack Nicholson
Head was the first and only feature-length film from the Monkees, released in 1968 after the group's weekly TV show left the air. Unlike the TV show, Head was aimed at a more sophisticated audience, but ended up being a commerical failure. In more recent years the movie has taken on more of a cult classic status, thanks in part to the script by a then-unknown Jack Nicholson. The soundtrack album, compiled by Nicholson, features several new songs by the band, with bits of dialogue and sound effects from the film, as well as incidental music from Ken Thorne. All of these can be heard on the final track of the album, Swami-Plus Strings, etc. Not long after Head was released, Peter Tork became the first ex-Monkee, wanting to pursue projects that might be taken a bit more seriously than the "prefab four".
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Marty Balin says he came up with the song title 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds by combining a couple of random phrases from the sports section of a newspaper. 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds works out to 216 MPH, by the way.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: White Rabbit
Source: LP: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Surrealistic Pillow)
Writer: Grace Slick
Label: RCA Victor
A few years back a co-worker asked me about what kind of music I played on the show. When I told him the show was called Stuck in the Psychedelic Era he immediately said "Oh, I bet you play White Rabbit a lot, huh?" As a matter of fact, I do, although not as much as some songs.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Plastic Fantastic Lover
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Jefferson Airplane scored their first top 10 hit with Somebody To Love, the second single released from the Surrealistic Pillow album. Almost immediately, forward-thinking FM stations began playing other tracks from the album. One of those favored album tracks, Plastic Fantastic Lover, ended up being the B side of the band's follow-up single, White Rabbit. When the Airplane reunited in 1989 and issued their two-disc retrospective, 2400 Fulton Street, they issued a special stereo pressing of the single on white vinyl as a way of promoting the collection.
Artist: Dino, Desi And Billy
Title: The Rebel Kind
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Lee Hazlewood
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Dino Martin, Desi Arnaz, Jr. and Billy Hinsche were high school classmates at Hollywood High. Dino's father Dean was one of the most successful artists on Reprise Records, owned by his friend (and fellow rat-packer) Frank Sinatra, making it a snap for the boys to get a contract with the label. The fact that Desi Arnaz, Jr. (the famous "little Ricky" of "I Love Lucy" fame) was already a household name didn't hurt either. The three of them scored big with I'm A Fool in 1965. Subsequent singles such as The Rebel Kind did not do so well, despite the fact that the song was written by Lee Hazlewood, himself a successful country artist. The group finally split up in 1970 when Desi joined the cast of his mother's TV show. Dino went on to have a successful career as an actor and professional tennis player, while Billy Hinsche stayed in the music business, providing backing vocals for such diverse artists as Joan Jett and Elton John and doing session work and touring with the Beach Boys.
Artist: McFadden's Parachute
Source: CD: Psolipsystic Psychedelic Pslyces Of McFadden's Parachute
Writer(s): Darren Brennessel
Although the psychedelic era itself officially covers only a few years in the late 1960s, for many the spirit of the era's music lives on. One such person is Darren Brennessel of Rochester, NY, who is the mastermind behind over two dozen McFadden's Parachute albums. Brennessel has been playing professionally since 1989, when he was the drummer for a band called the Purple Flashes, conceiving and recording the first McFadden's Parachute album as a side project. In the years since, in addition to playing multiple instruments on McFadden's Parachute albums then Brennessel has continued to play drums with a variety of bands, including Sky Saxon's Green Forests, which recorded an as-yet unreleased album in 2004. Brennessel has recently sent me a special sampler collection of McFadden's Parachute tracks recorded mostly in the 1990s. One of the earliest tracks on this collection, Summerspace, opens up disc two of this collection, as well as this week's edition of Advanced Psych.
Artist: Tol-Puddle Martyrs
Title: The News
Source: CD: A Celebrated Man
Writer(s): Peter Rechter
Label: Secret Deals
The original Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of farmers in the English village of Tolpuddle who had the temerity to try organizing what amounts to a union in the 19th century. For their efforts they found themselves deported to the penal colony now known as Australia. But that doesn't really concern us. What I wanted to talk about was the original Tol-Puddle Martyrs (note the hyphen), the legendary Australian band that evolved from a group called Peter And The Silhouettes. Well, not exactly. What I really wanted to talk about is the current incarnation of the Tol-Puddle Martyrs. Still led by Peter Rechter, the Martyrs have released a series of CDs since 2007 (including a collection of recordings made by the 60s incarnation of the band). Among those CDs is the 2009 album A Celbrated Man, which contains several excellent tunes such as The News, which takes a look at...well, the news, actually. Thanks to Peter Rechter himself, we will be hearing tracks from all the Tol-Puddle Martyrs albums over the next few months and beyond.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: High Blood Pressure
Source: LP: Back Door Men
In the mid 1960s it was common practice for albums, especially those from second-tier or regional record labels such as Dunwich, to include several "filler" tracks to go along with whatever hits the album might include. The second album from the Shadows Of Knight, Back Door Men, is no exception. Among these tracks was a remake of a tune from Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns called High Blood Pressure, originally released in 1958 on the Ace label. It's pretty easy to imagine the Shadows performing the song at a suburban Chicago high school dance.
Title: Outside Chance
Source: French import CD: Happy Together (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Magic (original label: White Whale)
The Turtles' Outside Chance is distinctive for several reasons. First, it was the last single released before Happy Together, the song that would become the band's signature song. It was also their first single since It Ain't Me Babe not to hit the charts, which is kind of hard to understand, as it really is a well-crafted record with a catchy hook. Outside Chance is also notable for being co-written by Warren Zevon, making the record's lack of success even more unfathomable.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission)
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Paul Simon's sense of humor is on full display on A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission). The song first appeared, with slightly different lyrics on Simon's 1965 LP The Paul Simon Songbook, which was released only in the UK after Simon and Garfunkel had split following the disappointing sales of their first Columbia LP, Wednesday Morning 3AM. When the duo got back together following the surprise success of an electrified version of The Sound Of Silence, the re-recorded the tune, releasing it on their third Columbia LP, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. The song is a deliberate parody/tribute to Bob Dylan, written in a style similar to It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), and is full of sly references to various well-known personages of the time as well as lesser-known acquaintances of Simon himself.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Summertime Blues
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Vincebus Eruptum)
Label: Priority (original label: Philips)
European electronics giant Philips had its own record label in the 1960s. In the US, the label was distributed by Mercury Records, and was known primarily for a long string of hits by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. In 1968 the label surprised everyone by signing the loudest band in San Francisco, Blue Cheer. Their cover of the 50s Eddie Cochrane hit Summertime Blues was all over both the AM and FM airwaves that summer.
Artist: Fifty Foot Hose
Title: Red The Sign Post
Source: LP: Cauldron
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: Amboy Dukes
Title: Dr. Slingshot
Source: British import CD: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
The original idea behind the second Amboy Dukes album was for Ted Nugent to write all the songs on side one of the LP and Steve Farmer to write side two. It didn't quite work out that way, however, as the two guitarists ended up collaborating on three of the album's tracks. One song in particular, Dr. Slingshot (which closes out side one of the LP), is a truly collaborative effort in that the music was written by Nugent, while two different sets of lyrics came from the pen of Farmer. One of those sets is sung by Farmer himself, while the other is sung by keyboardist Andy Solomon, who had only recently joined the Dukes, replacing Rick Lober.
Artist: James Gang
Title: Funk #49/Ashtonpark
Source: CD: James Gang Rides Again
Label: MCA (original label: ABC)
Following the release of their first LP, Yer' Album, the James Gang toured extensively, giving them little time to work up material for their followup album. Nonetheless, they managed to turn out a classic with the 1970 release James Gang Rides Again. The album starts with the song that all three band members agree was already worked out by the time they hit the studio, Funk #49. The song (which is probably the band's best known tune) is followed immediately by Ashtonpark, a short instrumental that picks up where Funk #49 fades out. The track is essentially Joe Walsh, Dale Peters and Jim Fox jamming over an echo effect created by cycling the playback of Walsh's guitar back through the record head of the studio tape recorder.
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: Down On The Corner
Source: LP: Willy and the Poor Boys
Writer(s): John Fogerty
By mid-1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the hottest acts in the country. Their three most recent singles had all just barely missed hitting the top of the charts, each peaking at the # 2 spot and the just about everyone was looking forward to hearing their next record. That record was the Willy And The Poor Boys album, which included the band's first double A sided single, Down On The Corner and Fortunate Son. Both songs ended up near the top of the charts, peaking at...you guessed it: number two.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)
Source: CD: Shine On Brightly
Procol Harum is not generally thought of as a novelty act. The closest they ever came was this track from the Shine On Brightly album that steals shamelessly from a classical piece I really should know the name of but don't. Even then, Skip Softly (My Moonbeams) ends up being as much a showcase for a then-young Robin Trower's guitar work as anything else.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
When it comes right down to it Buffalo Springfield has one of the highest ratios of songs recorded to songs played on the radio of any band in history, especially if you only count the two albums worth of material that was released while the band was still active. This is probably because Buffalo Springfield had more raw songwriting talent than just about any two other bands. Although Neil Young was just starting to hit his stride as a songwriter, bandmate Stephen Stills was already at an early peak, as songs like Bluebird clearly demonstrate.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Two Trains Running
Source: CD: The Blues Project Anthology (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer: McKinley Morganfield
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Folkways)
My first two years as a student at the University of New Mexico were spent living off-campus in a large house shared by five other people (a varying number of which were also students). One day while rummaging through the basement I ran across a couple boxes full of reel-to-reel tapes. As I was the only person living there with a reel-to-reel machine and nobody seemed to know where the tapes had come from, I appropriated them for my own use. Unfortunately, many of the tapes were unlabeled, so all I could do was make a guess as to artists and titles of the music on them. One of those tapes was labelled simply "Love Sculpture". It wasn't until a fortuitous trip to a local thrift store a couple of years later that I realized that the slow version of Two Trains Running on the tape was not Love Sculpture at all, but was in fact the Blues Project, from their Projections album. This slowed down version of the Muddy Waters classic has what is considered to be one of the great accidental moments in recording history. About 2/3 of the way through Two Trains Running, Danny Kalb realized that one of the strings on his guitar had gone out of tune, and managed to retune it on the fly in such a way that it sounded like he had planned the whole thing.