Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1622 (starts 5/25/16)
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: A Song For Jeffrey
Source: LP: Living In The Past (originally released on LP: This Was)
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis (original label: Reprise)
Jethro Tull's second single (and first European hit) was A Song For Jeffrey from their debut LP, This Was. The Jeffrey in the song title is Jeffrey Hammond, who, according to the liner notes, was "one of us, though he doesn't play anything". The notes go on to say he "makes bombs and stuff". In fact, Hammond would replace bassist Glen Cornick a few albums later and remain with the group for several years. The song itself proved popular enough that when the band compiled their first Anthology album, Living In The Past, A Song For Jeffrey was chosen to open the album.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: Unconscious Power
Source: CD: Heavy
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Formed in San Diego, California, in 1966, Iron Butterfly quickly relocated to L.A. and became part of the underground club scene there. In 1967 they signed with the Atco label, recording their first album, Heavy. Before the LP could be released, however, the band split up, prompting Atco to cancel the project, since there was no longer a band called Iron Butterfly to promote the album. Undaunted, keyboardist/vocalist Doug Ingle and drummer Ron Bushy recruited two new members to fill out the lineup, and in 1968 Heavy was finally released. The lead single from the album was a song called Possession, written by Ingle. The B side of that single, Unconscious Power, was based on a riff by original guitarist Danny Weis, with Ingle fleshing out the tune and arranging the piece. The somewhat metaphysical lyrics were provided by Bushy and sung by Ingle.
Artist: Rainbow Ffolly
Title: Sun Sing
Source: CD: Insane Times (originally released on LP: Sallies Fforth)
Label: Zonophone (original label: Parlophone)
Some records can only be described as "magical". Such is the case with Sun Sing, from the only Rainbow Ffolly album Sallies Fforth. The album itself is essentially a bunch of demo tapes made by a group of High Wycombe (a city of about 100,000 about 30 miles from London) art students led by the Dunsterville brothers, Jonathan and Richard. The tapes were made at a local studio in Rickmansworth during off hours and are characterized by the unorthodox approach to record-making used by the group. At the suggestion of the studio owners, the group added various jingles and sound effects between the songs (similar to the approach used on The Who Sell Out) and sold the project as a "sound package" to EMI, which issued it on its Parlophone label in 1968.
Artist: Grass Roots
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Feelings and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
In 1968 the Grass Roots decided to assert themselves and take artistic control of their newest album, Feelings, writing most of the material for the album themselves. Unfortunately for the band, the album, as well as its title track single, fared poorly on the charts. From that point on the Grass Roots were firmly under the control of producers/songwriters Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan, cranking out a series of best-selling hits such as I'd Wait A Million Years and Midnight Confessions (neither of which get played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, incidentally).
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: No Expectations
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released on LP: Beggar's Banquet and as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The first single to be released from Beggar's Banquet was Street Fighting Man, which was also the first Rolling Stones track to be produced by Jimmy Miller, who had already established a reputation working with Steve Winwood, both with the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic. Brian Jones's slide guitar work on The B side of the single, No Expectations, is sometimes considered his last important contribution to the band.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Gimme Some Lovin'
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: United Artists
The movie The Big Chill used Gimme Some Lovin' by the Spencer Davis Group as the backdrop for a touch football game at an informal reunion of former college students from the 60s. From that point on, movie soundtracks became much more than just background music and soundtrack albums started becoming best-sellers. Not entirely coincidentally, 60s-oriented oldies radio stations began to appear in major markets as well. Ironically, most of those stations are now playing 80s oldies.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Source: Mono CD: Birth Of The Dead (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Gus Cannon
Label: Rhino (original label: Scorpio)
The first Grateful Dead record was actually a limited edition single on San Francisco's Scorpio label, released in 1966. The band had already cut a few tracks in 1965 when they were still known as the Warlocks, but none of those had been released. Both sides of the Scorpio single were cover songs featuring Jerry Garcia on vocals. The A side was a Gus Cannon tune called Stealin', which is a fairly good indication of what the band was doing in 1966 (before seeing the Blues Project perform at the Fillmore inspired them to develop their own improvisational skills).
Title: Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies
Source: Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Renaissance)
Writer(s): Gary Alexander
Label: Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Valiant)
Following up on their monster hit Cherish, the Association released their most overtly psychedelic track, Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies, in late 1966, in advance of their second LP, Renaissance. The group had wanted to be more involved in the production process, and provided their own instrumental tracks for the tune, written by band member Gary Alexander. Unfortunately for the band, the single barely made the top 40, peaking at # 35, which ultimately led to the band relying more on outside songwriters and studio musicians for their later recordings such as Never My Love and Windy.
Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title: The Twain Shall Meet (side two)
Source: LP: The Twain Shall Meet
The Twain Shall Meet was the second album from Eric Burdon and the Animals, the new group formed in early 1967 after Eric Burdon changed his mind about embarking on a solo career. Produced by Tom Wilson (who had also produced Bob Dylan's first electric recordings and the Blues Project's Projections album), The Twain Shall Meet was an ambitious work that shows a band often reaching beyond its grasp, despite having its heart in the right place. For the most part, though, side two of the album works fairly well, starting with the anti-war classic Sky Pilot and continuing into the instrumental We Love You Lil. The final section, All Is One, is a unique blend of standard rock instrumentation (guitar, bass, drums, keyboards) combined with strings, horns, sitar, bagpipes, oboe, flute, studio effects, and drone vocals that builds to a frenetic climax, followed by a spoken line by Burdon to end the album.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Porpoise Mouth
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
The songs on the first Country Joe And The Fish album ranged from silly satire (Super Bird) to downright spacey. One of the spaciest tracks on the album is Porpoise Mouth, both lyrically and musically.
Artist: Human Expression
Title: Optical Sound
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Accent)
One thing Los Angeles had become known for by the mid-1960s was its urban sprawl. Made possible by one of the world's most extensive regional freeway systems, the city had become surrounded by suburbs on all sides (except for the oceanfront). Many of these suburbs were (and are) in Orange County, home to Anaheim stadium, Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm. The O.C. was also home to the Human Expression, a band that recorded a trio of well-regarded singles for the Accent label. The second of these was Optical Sound. True to its name, the song utilized the latest technology available to achieve a decidedly psychedelic sound.
Artist: Tol-Puddle Martyrs
Title: Social Cell
Source: Mono CD: Tol-Pubble Martyrs (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Peter Rechter
Label: Secret Deals (original labels: Pacific/Spiral)
Over the past six months or so I have been showcasing the 21st century work of an Australian band called Tol-Puddle Martyrs on our Advanced Psych segment. This time around we have a 1967 from the band's original incarnation. Social Cell was originally released as a B side on the Pacific label, until the owner of the Pacific label was informed that there was already a Pacific label operating in Melbourne. At that time the label was hastily changed to Spiral, with the record having the same catalogue number.
Artist: Squires Of The Subterrain
Title: Alexander Mannequin
Source: Mono CD: Feel The Sun
Writer(s): Christopher Zajkowski
Label: Rocket Racket
Based in Rochester, NY, the Squires Of The Subterrain 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. Alexander Mannequin, from the 2008 album Feel The Sun, has a feel similar to the Beatles during their most psychedelic period (think Magical Mystery Tour), yet maintains a strong sense of originality as well.
Artist: Liquid Scene
Title: Which Side Of Time Are You On
Source: CD: Revolutions
Writer(s): Becki diGregorio
My favorite new band (by a long shot), Liquid Scene was formed by a group of San Francisco Bay area musicians that shared a love of 60s psychedelic music. Led by multi-instrumentalist Becki diGregorio, the band also includes guitarist Tom Ayers, bassist Endre Tarczy (who also provides some keyboard parts) and drummer Trey Sabatelli. Liquid Scene's first album, Revolutions, was released in late 2014. All nine tracks, including Which Side Of Time Are You On, are worth repeated listenings. I'm looking forward to their next effort.
Title: Hey Joe
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Billy Roberts
Label: Rhino (original label: Mira)
In 1966 there were certain songs you had to know how to play if you had any aspirations of being in a band. Among those were Louie Louie, Gloria and Hey Joe. The Byrds' David Crosby claims to have discovered Hey Joe, but was not able to convince his bandmates to record it before their third album. In the meantime, several other bands had recorded the song, including Love (on their first album) and the Leaves. The version of Hey Joe heard here is actually the third recording the Leaves made of the tune. After the first two versions tanked, guitarist Bobby Arlin, who had recently replaced founding member Bill Rinehart on lead guitar, came up with the idea of adding fuzz guitar to the song. It was the missing element that transformed a rather bland song into a hit record (the only national hit the Leaves would have). As a side note, the Leaves credited Chet Powers (aka Dino Valenti) as the writer of Hey Joe, but California-based folk singer Billy Roberts had copyrighted the song in 1962 and had reportedly been heard playing the tune as early as 1958.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: There's A Chance We Can Make It
Source: Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
Following up on their biggest hit, (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet, the Blues Magoos released a song called There's A Chance We Can Make It backed with Pipe Dream for their next single. Unfortunately for both songs, some stations elected to play There's A Chance We Can Make It while others preferred Pipe Dream. The result was that neither song charted as high as it could have had it been released with a weaker B side. This had the ripple effect of causing Electric Comic Book (the album both songs appeared on) to not chart as well as its predecessor Psychedelic Lollipop had. This in turn caused Mercury Records to lose faith in the Blues Magoos and not give them the kind of promotion that could have kept the band in the public eye beyond its 15 minutes of fame. The ultimate result was that for many years, there were an excessive number of busboys and cab drivers claiming to have once been members of the Blues Magoos and not many ways to disprove their claims, at least until the internet made information about the group's actual membership more accessible.
Title: White Room
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Although Cream's music was generally heard on progressive rock FM radio, they did have a couple of songs that crossed over onto AM top 40 radio as well. The second of these was White Room, a Jack Bruce/Pete Brown composition that leads off the band's third LP, Wheels Of Fire.
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Before The Beginning
Source: CD: Then Play On
Writer(s): Peter Green
Fleetwood Mac's third album, Then Play On, was the first Fleetwood Mac album to include guitarist Danny Kirwan, and was the second to feature a guest appearance by keyboardist Christine Perfect, who would eventually marry bassist John McVie and become a full-time member of the band. Perhaps more importantly, however, Then Play On was also the final album to include the band's founder, guitarist Peter Green. Nearly half the songs on the album were written by Green, including the haunting final track, Before The Beginning.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: At The Zoo
Source: LP: Bookends (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Simon and Garfunkel did not release any new albums in 1967, instead concentrating on their live performances. They did, however, issue several singles over the course of the year, most of which ended up being included on 1968's Bookends LP. At The Zoo was one of the first of those 1967 singles. It's B side ended up being a hit as well, but by Harper's Bizarre, which took The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) to the top 10 early in the year.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: You Got Me Floatin'
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience took four-track recording technology to new levels with their second LP, Axis: Bold As Love on songs like You Got Me Floatin'. The track opens with backwards guitar followed by a memorable riff that continues throughout the song. The entire instrumental break also uses backward-masked guitar, making a somewhat simplistic song into a track that bears further listens.
Artist: Guess Who
Title: It's My Pride
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Canada as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Randy Bachman
Label: Rhino (original label: Quality)
The Guess Who were formed in 1962 in Winnipeg, Ontario as Chad Allen and the Reflections, changing their name to Chad Allen and the Expression in 1964. The group recorded a cover of a Johnny Kidd song, Shakin' All Over, in 1965. The record was not released under the band's actual name, however; in a bid to get more airplay for the song, the record was credited to "Guess Who?". This was during the peak of the British Invasion, and the producers hoped that DJs might assume it was some well-known British band and give the record a shot. Of course, such a thing could never happen these days, as commercial radio DJs are not allowed to choose what music to play. The ploy worked so well (the song was a hit in both the US and Canada) that the band decided to keep the name Guess Who, and continued to crank out hit after hit in their native Canada, although they would not hit the US charts again until 1969. In 1966 the group picked up a second vocalist, Burton Cummings, and within a few months founder Allen left the band, leaving Cummings as the group's front man. One of their more popular Canadian hits was It's My Pride, a song written by guitarist Randy Bachman and released as a single in 1967. Bachman would soon team up with Cummings to write a string of hits, including These Eyes and American Woman, before leaving the Guess Who in the early 70s to form his own band, Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
Artist: Tiffany Shade
Title: A Quiet Revolution
Source: Mono British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released in US on LP: Tiffany Shade)
Writer(s): Michael Barnes
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
From 1967 through 1970 Bob Shad's Mainstream label released over two dozen rock albums. Most of these albums were by bands that were known only to audiences in their own hometowns. Indeed, most of these albums were highly forgettable. This was due in large part to the fact that Shad would book the absolute minimum amount of studio time required to get an LP's worth of material recorded. This generally meant using the first take of every recording, even if the band felt they could do better if they had a little more time. As a result, most late 60s Mainstream LPs ended up on the budget rack not long after their release, and, at least in some cases, even the band members themselves considered the whole thing a waste of time and effort. Such is the case with Cleveland's Tiffany Shade, which consisted of guitarist/lead vocalist Mike Barnes, keyboardist Bob Leonard, drummer Tom Schuster and bassist Robb Murphy. The group's manager recommended the group to Shad, who booked two eight-hour sessions for the band at the Cleveland Recording Company. Fortunately, the band was better prepared than most of the Mainstream bands, and actually turned out a halfway decent album, thanks in large part to Barnes's talent as a songwriter, which can be heard on tunes like A Quiet Revolution.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (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.
Title: Everything (That's Mine)
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in the Netherlands as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Rob Van Leeuwen
Label: Rhino (original label: Havok)
The Motions were formed in The Hague in 1964 by vocalist Rudy Bennett and guitarist Rob Van Leeuwen, both of which had been members of Ritchie Clark & The Ricochets. They soon became one of Holland's most popular bands, releasing several singles between 1964 and 1967. One of their most celebrated tunes was a B side written by Van Leeuwen called Everything (That's Mine), released in 1966 on the Havok label. While still a member of the Motions, Bennett was able to launch a solo career that same year. In 1967, however, the group was dealt a crippling blow when Van Leeuwen left to form Shocking Blue, which had a huge international hit in 1969 with the song Venus, also written by Van Leeuwen.
Artist: Penny Arkade
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on CD: Not The Freeze)
Writer(s): Craig Vincent Smith
Label: Rhino (original label: Sundazed)
Year: Recorded: 1967; released 2009
In 1967 Michael Nesmith, realizing that the Monkees had a limited shelf life, decided to produce a local L.A. band, Penny Arkade, led by singer/songwriter Craig Vincent Smith. Nesmith already had several production credits to his name with the Monkees, including a recording of Smith's Salesman on their 4th LP. Swim, like Salesman, has a touch of country about it; indeed, Nesmith himself was one of the earliest proponents of what would come to be called country-rock. In 1967, however, country-rock was still at least a year away and Nesmith was unable to find a label willing to release the record.
Title: Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
Source: LP: The Beatles
Sporting the longest title of any Beatles recording, Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey is also one of the hardest-rocking late period Beatle tracks. There are two schools of thought concerning the subject matter of the lyrics. According to Lennon, the song is about himself and Yoko Ono, who was his constant companion during recording sessions for what would come to be known as the "White album". The other, more negative view, is that the one expressed by Paul McCartney that the Monkey was heroin, which both Lennon and Ono were getting into at the time. Since Lennon wrote the song, his version of things is the generally accepted one.
Artist: Bubble Puppy
Source: British import CD: A Gathering Of Promises
Label: Charly (original label: International Artists)
The Bubble Puppy came into existence in 1967, when two former members of the legendary Corpus Christie,Texas garage band the Bad Seeds, guitarist Rod Prince and keyboardist/bassist Roy Cox, relocated to San Antonio, recruiting guitarist Todd Potter and drummer Craig Root to form the new band. Success came quickly in the form of the band's very first gig, opening for the Who at the San Antonio Colosseum. After David Fore replaced Root in the band, the group relocated to Austin, where they got a steady gig at the Vulcan Gas Company. By 1968 the Bubble Puppy was traveling all over Texas for gigs, and late in the year got a contract with Houston-based International Artists, a label that had already gained notoriety by signing the 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola. After releasing a surprise top 40 hit, Hot Smoke And Sassafras in December of 1968, the band got to work on a full album, A Gathering Of Promises. International Artists failed to get the album, which was full of fine tunes like Beginning, out quickly enough to capitilize of the popularity of Hot Smoke And Sassafras, and further hurt the band's chance of success by refusing to grant licensing rights on the single to Apple Records for European release. By 1970 the band and the label had parted company, with the Bubble Puppy relocating to Los Angeles and changing their name to Demian.
Title: People Are Strange
Source: LP: Strange Days (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: The Doors
The first single from the second Doors album was People Are Strange. The song quickly dispelled any notion that the Doors might be one-hit wonders and helped establish the band as an international act as opposed to just another band from L.A. The album itself, Strange Days, was a turning point for Elektra Records as well, as it shifted the label's promotional efforts away from their original rock band, Love, to the Doors, who ironically had been recommended to the label by Love's leader, Arthur Lee.