Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1629 (starts 7/20/16)
Title: Magical Mystery Tour
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
1967 had been a great year for the Beatles, starting with their double-sided hit single Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, followed by the iconic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album and their late summer hit All You Need Is Love, with its worldwide TV debut (one of the few events of the time to utilize satellite technology). The next project, however, did not go over quite so well. It had been over two years since the group's last major movie (HELP!), and the band decided that their next film would be an exclusive for broadcast on BBC-TV. Unlike the previous two films, this new project would not follow traditional filmmaking procedures. Instead it would be a more experimental piece; a series of loosely related songs and comedy vignettes connected by a loose plot about a bus trip to the countryside. Magical Mystery Tour made its debut in early December of 1967 to overwhelmingly negative reaction by viewers and critics alike (partially because the film was shown in black and white on the tradition minded BBC-1 network; a later rebroadcast in color on BBC-2 went over much better). The songs used in the film, however, were quite popular. Since there were only six of them, far too few for a regular LP, it was decided to issue the album as a pair of 45 RPM EPs, complete with lyric sheets and booklet recounting the story from the film. The original EPs were available in both stereo and mono versions in Europe and the UK. In the US, where the six tunes were supplemented by the band's five remaining single sides from 1967 to create an LP, Magical Mystery Tour was only available in stereo. Although both the EP and LP versions have different sequencing than the telefilm, all three open the same way, with the film's title song.
Artist: Noel Harrison
Title: Sign Of The Queen
Source: Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Warner Strategic Marketing
Noel Harrison is no relation to George Harrison. He is, however the son of actor Rex Harrison, which no doubt helped him get a contract with Reprise Records, which had recently been acquired from original owner Frank Sinatra by Warner Brothers. The fact that he also was also co-starring in the spinoff series The Girl From Uncle probably played into it as well. Among the tunes recorded by Harrison was Sign Of The Queen, a B side released in 1967. The tune was written by Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley, who would have a huge hit of their own four years later with a song called One Toke Over The Line.
Source: CD: The Who Sell Out
The Who's most psychedelic album was The Who Sell Out, released in December of 1967. In addition to a wealth of outstanding songs, the album contained several short faux commercials such as the song Medac, written by bassist John Entwistle, which runs 57 seconds. The piece tells the story of a boy whose acne is out of control until he tries a new product, Medac, which makes his face as smooth as "a baby's bottom".
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.
Title: Round Again
Source: LP: And Now…Along Comes The Association
Writer(s): Gary Alexander
Although they are now best remembered for love ballads such as Cherish and Never My Love, the Association was, in their early days, one of the hottest and tightest acts on the Los Angeles club scene. Their first LP, for the Valiant label, reflects the sheer amount of raw talent in the band, including Gary Alexander, who wrote the offbeat Round Again.
Artist: Pride And Joy
Title: If You're Ready
Source: LP: The Dunwich Records Story (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Dennis Dahlquist
Label: Tutman (original label: Dunwich)
Formed in 1964 in Chicago's affluent Highland Park suburb, the Del-Vetts were one of the Windy City's most popular teen bands, playing places like The Cellar and The Rolling Stone nearly every night. After releasing one single for the Seeburg label (a cover of the Righteous Brothers' Little Latin Lupe Lu), the signed with Dunwich Records, cutting three singles for the label. The last of these came out after the band had changed its name to Pride And Joy in 1967, a decision made by, believe it or not, their own fan club. The B side of that final single was If You're Ready, written by Dennis Dahlquist, who had also written their best-known tune, Last Time Around.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: In Time
Source: CD: Crown Of Creation
1968 was one of the most strife-ridden years in modern history. First civil-rights leader Martin Luther King, then presidential candidate Robert Kennedy were struck down by assassins' bullets. Riots rocked the streets of several US cities. The youth of America had seemingly declared war on its elders and the nation was becoming increasingly polarized over the Vietnam War. It was against this backdrop that Jefferson Airplane released their fourth LP, Crown Of Creation. The cover itself showed distorted images of the band members superimposed on a photograph of a mushroom cloud. The songs, such as the Paul Kantner/Marty Balin collaboration In Time, were darker than those on the band's preceding albums, yet not quite as confrontational as those on their next LP, Volunteers. It was perhaps the perfect album for its time.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Source: 45 RPM single (taken from LP: Just Good Rock And Roll)
Writer: M. Herron/J. Herron
After 1968's Mass In F Minor, which saw the members of the Electric Prunes being replaced by studio musicians, the group decided to call it quits. Producer David Hassinger, who had the legal rights to the band's name, had different ideas and put together a "new improved" Electric Prunes lineup to record the 1969 album Just Good Rock And Roll. The late Ron Morgan, lead guitarist for the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, was part of this new lineup, which may in fact have been an early version of Three Dog Night. The album had even less success than the three previous Prunes albums, and Hassinger finally retired the name. Various former members of the band reunited in the 21st century, making concert appearances and recording new material. None of the members of the "new improved" lineup, however, have performed with the current group.
Artist: Guess Who
Source: CD: American Woman
Label: Buddha/BMG (original label: RCA Victor)
Often dismissed as lightweights, the Guess Who nonetheless put out a classic with the American Woman album. The only track on side one that was not released as a single was Talisman, a moody ballad that features Randy Bachman on acoustic guitar and Burton Cummings on vocals. The track includes a piano coda played by Cummings.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Red House
Source: CD: Are You Experienced? (originally released on LP: Smash Hits)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1969
There were actually two different versions of Red House released by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, both of which came from the same December, 1966, sessions. The original version was included on the European pressing of the Are You Experienced album, which was issued in early 1967. The album was not originally available in stereo, and a true stereo mix of this version of Red House was never made, as the track was left off the remixed American version of the LP. In spring of 1967 the band attempted to get a better version of the song, but neither Hendrix or bassist Noel Redding (who had played the original bass part on a regular guitar with its tone controls set to mimic a bass guitar) were satisfied with the later versions. Only one portion of these new recordings was kept, and was combined with the original take to create a new stereo mix for the US version of the 1969 Smash Hits album. This newer mix was also used by MCA for both the 1993 CD reissue of Are You Experienced and the Ultimate Experience anthology.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: If 6 Was 9
Source: LP: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Before 1967 stereo was little more than an excuse to charge a dollar more for an LP. That all changed in a hurry, as artists such as Jimi Hendrix began to explore the possibilities of the technology, in essence treating stereophonic sound as a multi-dimensional sonic palette. The result can be heard on songs such as If 6 Were 9 from the Axis: Bold As Love album, which is best listened to at high volume, preferably with headphones on. Especially the spoken part in the middle, when Jimi says the words "I'm the one who's got to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want." It sounds like he's inside your head with you.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Source: CD: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Track)
It was common in the 1960s for artists to include "filler" material on their albums, with their best stuff being saved for single releases. Although the Jimi Hendrix Experience made making the best albums a priority, there was still material on their first LP that Hendrix himself considered filler. One of these was Remember, which was also one of three tracks deleted from the US version of the LP to make room for three UK singles that were not on the UK version of Are You Experienced. Still, filler for Jimi Hendrix is as good as or better than 99% of many other artists' best material, as can be heard here.
Artist: Principal Edwards Magic Theatre
Title: Lament For The Earth
Source: Mono British import CD: Lve, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Grapefruit (original label: Dandelion)
Although his business partner once referred to them as "the most pretentious act I have ever come across" British DJ John Peel signed Principal Edwards Magic Theatre to his Dandelion label in 1969, issuing two LPs and at least one single before the group moved over to rival Deram Records. The group itself was a collection of singers, poets, dancers, choreographers, designers, sound and lighting engineers who had come together at the University of Exeter. Lament For The Earth is an early example of ecologically aware rock music, issued as a B side in December of 1969.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: Real Fright
Source: LP: Ball
Real Fright is one of the more memorable tracks on Ball, the last Iron Butterfly album to feature guitarist Eric Brann, who left the band to embark on a totally unremarkable solo career. They never learn.
Title: Leaving Blues
Source: British import CD: Taste
Writer(s): Huddie Ledbetter
Taste was formed in Cork, Ireland, in 1966 by guitarist/vocalist Rory Gallegher. A move to the UK in 1968 resulted in all the members except Gallegher leaving the group, to be replaced by Richard McKraken on bass and John Wilson on drums. The band then moved to London, where they signed with Polydor Records, releasing their first LP in 1969. The album featured a mix of Gallegher originals and adapations of blues classics such as Leadbelly's Leaving Blues.
Title: Flowers In The Rain
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Roy Wood
The Move was one of Britain's most popular acts in the mid to late 1960s. That popularity, however, did not extend to North America, where the band failed to chart even a single hit. The closest they came was Flowers In The Rain, a song that made it to the # 2 spot in England and was the very first record played on BBC Radio One (the first legal top 40 station in the UK). Eventually Roy Wood would depart to form his own band, Roy Wood's Wizzard, and the remaining members would evolve into the Electric Light Orchestra.
Artist: Chesterfield Kings
Title: I Can't Get Nothin'
Source: LP: Don't Open Til Doomsday
Formed in the late 1970s in Rochester, NY, the Chesterfield Kings (named for an old brand of unfiltered cigarettes that my grandfather used to smoke) were instrumental in setting off the garage band revival of the 1980s. Their earliest records were basically a recreation of the mid-60s garage sound, although by the time their 1987 album, Don't Open Til Doomsday, was released they had gone through some personnel changes that resulted in a harder-edged sound on tracks like I Can't Get Nothin'.
Artist: Higher State
Title: Smoke And Mirrors
Source: CD: Volume 27
Writer(s): Paul Messis
Label: 13 O'Clock
Formed in the town of Sandgate, Kent in the UK in 2005, the Higher State are one of the best examples of modern garage rock. The group, featuring Marty Ratcliffe on guitar, vocals and organ, Paul Messis on bass and guitar and Scarlett Rickard on drums, has four album's the their credit, including their 2016 release Volume 27. All the tracks on Volume 27 were written by either Ratcliffe or Messis, including the final track on the album, Smoke And Mirrors, which was penned by Messis.
Title: Zor And Zam
Source: LP: The Birds, The Bees And The Monkees
Writer(s): B. Chadwick/J. Chadwick
By mid-1968 the Monkees were already beginning to fade, although they still had enough star power that their fifth LP, The Birds, The Bees And The Monkees, made it to the #3 spot on the Billboard album charts. Still, it was the first album by the band not to go all the way to the top of the charts, being released shortly after the cancellation of the Monkees TV show. Most of the songs on The Birds, The Bees And The Monkees were produced by the individual band members (except PeterTork, who had almost nothing to do with the making of the album itself and would leave the band by the end of the year). Among the Mickey Dolenz tracks is a strange little tune called Zor And Zam, about two kings who prepare to wage a war, only to find a lack of participants among their own people. The song, written by Bill and John Chadwick, was featured in the final episode of the Monkees TV series.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: As Kind As Summer
Source: LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
The first time I heard As Kind As Summer from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil I jumped up to see what was wrong with my turntable. A real gotcha moment.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Spider In My Web
Source: LP: Undead
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Ten Years After was always known more for their live performances than for their studio work. In fact, their biggest break was playing live at Woodstock. It should come as no surprise, then, that they chose to release a live album as their second LP in 1968. The album is basically a showcase for Alvin Lee's guitar pyrotechnics, although there are a couple tunes, such as Spider In My Web, that he wrote himself.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: One Kind Favor
Source: British import CD: Living The Blues
Writer(s): L T Tatman III
Label: BGO (original label: Liberty)
Canned Heat's best known song is Going Up The Country, a single from the band's third LP, Living The Blues. The B side of that single, One Kind Favor, was also from the same album. One Kind Favor is one of two tracks on Living The Blues (the other being Boogie Music) credited to L.T. Tatman III, a name sometimes thought to be a pseudonym for one or more of the band members. The song itself bears a strong resemblance to an earlier Canned Heat single, On The Road Again, which appeared on the band's second LP, Boogie With Canned Heat.
Title: Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Source: Mono LP: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
1965 was a huge year for the Animals. Coming off the success of their 1964 smash House Of The Rising Sun, the Newcastle group racked up three major hits in 1965, including Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, a song originally recorded by jazz singer Nina Simone. The Animals version speeded up the tempo and used a signature riff that had been taken from Simone's outro. The Animals version of Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood made the top 20 in the US and the top five in both the UK and Canada.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: A Hazy Shade Of Winter
Source: LP: Bookends
Writer: Paul Simon
Originally released as a single in 1966, A Hazy Shade Of Winter was one of several songs written for the film The Graduate. The only one of these actually used in the film was Mrs. Robinson. The remaining songs eventually made up side two of the 1968 album Bookends, although several of them were also released as singles throughout 1967. A Hazy Shade Of Winter, being the first of these singles (and the only one released in 1966), was also the highest charting, peaking at # 13 just as the weather was turning cold.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: You Keep Me Hangin' On
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
The LP version of the Vanilla Fudge's cover of the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On ran something like 6-7 minutes. For single release the song was cut down considerably, clocking in at around three minutes. It was also available only in mono, which is how Rhino chose to present it when they released thier first Nuggets series (not to be confused with Lenny Kaye's original collection from 1972) in the early 1980s.
Artist: October Country
Title: My Girlfriend Is A Witch
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Michael Lloyd
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
By 1968 the L.A. under-age club scene was winding down, and several now out of work bands were making last (and sometimes only) attempts at garnering hits in the studio. One such band was October Country, whose first release had gotten a fair amount of local airplay, but who had become bogged down trying to come up with lyrics for a follow-up single. Enter Michael Lloyd, recently split from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and looking to become a record producer. Lloyd not only produced and wrote the lyrics for My Girlfriend Is A Witch, he also ended up playing drums on the record as well.
Artist: Fairport Convention
Title: Tam Lin
Source: LP: Leige and Leaf
Writer(s): Trad. arr. Swarbuck
Fairport Convention was hailed as England's answer to Jefferson Airplane when they first appeared. As Tam Lin, from their 1969 album Leige And Lief shows, they soon established a sound all their own. Sandy Denny, heard here on lead vocals, is probably best known to US audiences for her backup vocals on Led Zeppelin's The Battle of Evermore from their fourth LP.
Artist: Blues Image
Title: Clean Love
Source: CD: Open
Writer(s): Blues Image
Label: Sundazed (original label: Atco)
The story of Blues Image is tied closely with the legendary south Florida nightclub Thee Image. Blues Image was the house band there (and had helped set up the club itself) and were already well known and respected in musicians' circles by the time they released their first LP in 1969. Although the LP sold moderately, it failed to generate any airplay on either top 40 or progressive FM radio. The group came up with a genuine hit single, Ride Captain Ride, in 1970, but their second LP, Open, charted even lower than their first one, despite having some outstanding tracks, including Ride Captain Ride and one of the best blues-rock tracks ever recorded, the eight-minute long Clean Love. Frustrated by the lack of success, guitarist Mike Pinera left the band to replace Eric Brann in Iron Butterfly, and after an even less successful third LP Blues Image called it quits.
Title: New York City Blues
Source: Canadian simulated stereo import LP: Shapes Of Things
One of the hardest to find Yardbirds tracks, New York City Blues appeared as a the B side of the hit single Shapes Of Things in 1966, but only in North America. I found a copy on a Canadian double album put out in the 1980s by a radio station known as The Bomb. As you may have guessed from the title, the tune is basically a blues jam with vocals added.