Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1633 (starts 8/17/16)
Title: Over Under Sideways Down
Source: 45 RPM single
The only Yardbirds album to feature primarily original material was released under different titles in different parts of the world. The original UK version was called simply The Yardbirds, while the US album bore the Over Under Sideways Down title. In addition, the UK album was unofficially known as Roger the Engineer because of band member Chris Dreja's drawing of the band's recording engineer on the cover. The title cut was the last single to feature Jeff Beck as the band's sole lead guitarist (the follow-up single, Happenings Ten Years Time Ago, featured both Beck and Jimmy Page).
Title: Shapes Of Things
Source: Over, Under, Sideways, Down
After scoring big with songs written by outside songwriters such as Graham Gouldman (For Your Love, Heart Full Of Soul), the Yardbirds decided to try their hand at writing their own hit song. The result was Shapes Of Things, which went to the # 3 spot in the UK and just barely missed being a top 10 single in the US as well.
Title: I'm A Man
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Elias McDaniel
For many, the Yardbirds version of I'm a Man is the definitive version of the Bo Diddley classic. Oddly enough, the song was released as a single only in the US, where it made it into the top 10 in 1965.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: For What It's Worth
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released as 45 RPM single and added to LP: Buffalo Springfield)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Most people associate the name Buffalo Springfield with the song For What It's Worth. And for good reason. The song is one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded, and to this day is in regular rotation on both oldies and classic rock radio stations. The song was written and recorded in November of 1966 and released in January of 1967. By then the first Buffalo Springfield LP was already on the racks, but until that point had not sold particularly well. When it became clear that For What It's Worth was becoming a breakout hit, Atco Records quickly recalled the album and added the song to it (as the opening track). All subsequent pressings of the LP (and later the CD) contain For What It's Worth, making earlier copies of the album somewhat of a rarity and quite collectable.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Tobacco Road
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s): John D. Loudermilk
Label: RCA Victor
In their early days Jefferson Airplane, like most of their contemporaries, included several cover tunes in their repertoire. Unlike many other bands, however, the Airplane managed to stamp all of their covers with their own unmistakeable sound. One excellent example of this is the Airplane's version of Tobacco Road, a song by John D. Loudermilk that had been a hit for the British invasion band Nashville Teens in 1964. The Airplane version, which appears on their debut LP, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, takes an entirely different approach than the Teens' rendition (or the similarly styled Blues Magoos version recorded around the same time as the Airplane's), laying off the power chords in favor of a jazzier approach more in tune with guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's style.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: Ballad Of A Useless Man
Source: LP: Midnight Ride
Writer(s): Drake Levin
Midnight Ride was probably the artistic peak, if not the commercial one, for Paul Revere And The Raiders. Released in 1966, it was the only Raiders album to include songwriting contributions from all five members. In fact, it was the move away from such egalitarian principles that prompted lead guitarist Drake Levin, who wrote Ballad Of A Useless Man, to leave the group not long after Midnight Ride's release. Subsequent releases from the Raiders saw the band moving in an increasingly commercial direction, eventually all but abandoning their roots as one of the best rock and roll bands to come out of the Pacific Northwest.
Title: Strange Days
Source: CD: Strange Days
Writer(s): The Doors
One of the first rock albums to not picture the band members on the front cover was the Doors' second LP, Strange Days. Instead, the cover featured several circus performers doing various tricks on a city street, with the band's logo appearing on a poster on the wall of a building. The album itself contains some of the Doors' most memorable tracks, including the title song, which also appears on their greatest hits album despite never being released as a single.
Title: Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
According to principal songwriter John Lennon, Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite was inspired by a turn of the century circus poster that the Beatles ran across while working on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Most of the lyrics refer to items on the poster itself, such as Henry the Horse and the Hendersons.
Artist: Quiet Jungle
Source: Mono CD: An Overdose Of Heavy Psych (originally released in Canada as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Mark Taylor
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Yorkshire)
Musically speaking, 1967 was a busy year in the US, with the Summer of Love in San Francisco, the aftermath of the Sunset Strip crackdowns on teenagers in Los Angeles, Andy Warhol's unveiling of the Velvet Underground in New York, and of course, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band casting its shadow over everything. It's easy to see, then, how happenings in neighboring Canada pretty much went under the radar, with bands like the Guess Who cranking out hit after hit without getting any attention whatsoever south of the border. That all changed in 1969 for that band, but other groups, such as Toronto's Quiet Jungle, were never successful outside of Canada itself. That did not stop Yorkshire Records from putting out plenty of singles, however, including Everything, a 1967 tune from the aforementioned Quiet Jungle.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound, stereo LP version released on Warner Brothers)
The Music Machine was by far the most advanced of all the bands playing on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. Not only did they feature tight sets (so that audience members wouldn't get the chance to call out requests between songs), they also had their own visual look that set them apart from other bands. With all the band members dressed entirely in black (including dyed hair) and wearing one black glove, the Machine projected an image that would influence such diverse artists as the Ramones and Michael Jackson in later years. Musically, Bonniwell's songwriting showed a sophistication that was on a par with the best L.A. had to offer, demonstrated by a series of fine singles such as The Eagle Never Hunts the Fly. Unfortunately, problems on the business end prevented the Music Machine from achieving the success it deserved and Bonniwell eventually quit the music business altogether in disgust.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: Bright Light Lover
Source: CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
Keyboardist Bob Bruno's contributions as a songwriter to Circus Maximus tended to favor jazz arrangements. On Bright Light Lover, however, from the band's fist album, he proves that he could rock out with the raunchiest of the garage bands when the mood hit.
Title: Lawdy Mama
Source: LP: Live Cream
Writer(s): Trad., arr. Eric Clapton
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1970
Lawdy Mama (sometimes known as Hey Lawdy Mama) is a blues song that goes back at least as far as the 1920s. In 1965 Junior Wells and Buddy Guy recorded a Chicago blues version of the song for the Hoodoo Man Blues album. It was this version that Cream performed on a December 1966 BBC broadcast, recording a similar version in the studio in early 1967. They then reworked the instrumental tracks but kept Wells's lyrics for a second version of Lawdy Mama, which they also recorded in early 1967. Still not satisfied with the way the song was going, producer Felix Pappalardi and his wife Janet Collins came up with a whole new melody line and lyrics to go with the newer instrumental tracks; Eric Clapton then added his vocals and a new guitar track to the recording, which was released under the title Strange Brew on the Disraeli Gears album. Meanwhile, a mix of the second version of Lawdy Mama was set aside, and eventually got released as the only studio track on the 1970 album Live Cream. Luckily, the then-common practice of superimposing fake crowd sounds to make a studio recording sound like a live track was not followed by the producers of Live Cream.
Artist: Music Explosion
Title: Little Bit O' Soul
Source: CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1967 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Laurie)
Mansfield, Ohio, was home to the Music Explosion, who made their mark as one-hit wonders in early 1967 with Little Bit O' Soul, a kind of primer on how to make a living as a rock band in the mid-60s American heartland. The Kazenatz-Katz production was an early forerunner of the bubble-gum movement that would dominate the top 40 charts the following year.
Title: The Door Into Summer
Source: LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
After playing nearly all the instrumental tracks on their third album themselves, the Monkees came to the painful conclusion that they would not be able to repeat the effort and still have time to tape a weekly TV show. As a result, the fourth Monkees LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD., used studio musicians extensively, albeit under the creative supervision of the Monkees themselves. The group also had the final say over what songs ended up on the album, including The Door Into Summer, a tune by Bill Martin, a friend of band leader Michael Nesmith. For reasons that are too complicated to get into here (and probably wouldn't make much sense anyway), co-credit was given to the band's producer, Chip Douglas.
Title: She's Not There
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer: Rod Argent
Label: London (original label: Parrot)
Most of the original British invasion bands were guitar-oriented, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. One notable exception was the Zombies, whose leader, Rod Argent, built the group around his electric piano. Their first single, She's Not There, was a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic and is ranked among the top British rock songs of all time.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: What A Shame
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: The Rolling Stones Now)
One of the earlier Mick Jagger/Keith Richards collaborations to get recorded by the Rolling Stones, What A Shame is basically a typical early Stones tune, released as the B side of Heart Of Stone in 1964. It was included on the 1965 LP The Rolling Stones Now.
Title: You Really Got Me
Source: CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: K-Tel (original label: Reprise)
You Really Got Me has been described as the first hard rock song and the track that invented heavy metal. You'll get no argument from me on either of those.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): Blind Willie Johnson
Label: Verve Forecast
One lasting legacy of the British Invasion was the re-introduction to the US record-buying public to the songs of early Rhythm and Blues artists such as Blind Willie Johnson. This emphasis on classic blues in particular would lead to the formation of electric blues-based US bands such as the Butterfield Blues Band and the Blues Project. Unlike the Butterfields, who made a conscious effort to remain true to their Chicago-style blues roots, the Blues Project was always looking for new ground to cover, which ultimately led to them developing an improvisational style that would be emulated by west coast bands such as the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service, and by Project member Al Kooper, who conceived and produced the first rock jam LP ever, Super Session, in 1968. As the opening track to their second (and generally considered best) LP Projections, I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes served notice that this was a new kind of blues, louder and brasher than what had come before, yet tempered with Kooper's melodic vocal style. An added twist was the use during the song's instrumental bridge of an experimental synthesizer known among band members as the "Kooperphone", probably the first use of any type of synthesizer in a blues record.
Title: Renaissance Fair
Source: Mono LP: Younger Than Yesterday
Younger Than Yesterday was David Crosby's last official album with the Byrds (he was fired midway through the recording of The Notorious Byrd Brothers) and the last one containing any collaborations between Crosby and Jim (now Roger) McGuinn. Renaissance Fair is one of those collaborations. The song was inspired by a free concert given in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park by the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, among others.
Title: Prelude-Nothing To Hide
Source: CD: The Best Of Spirit (originally released on LP: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus)
Writer(s): Randy California
Spirit's first few albums had generated good reviews but poor sales. Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus was considered at the time to be their last chance to reach a larger audience. The pseudo-polygamous lyrics of the album's opening track, Prelude-Nothing To Hide, are actually about the band members' commitment to their music, a commitment that is apparent throughout the album. Unfortunately even that level of commitment did not translate to commercial success, leading vocalist Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes to split from Spirit to form Jo Jo Gunne soon thereafter.
Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Source: LP: So Far (originally released on LP: déjà vu)
Writer(s): Joni Mitchell
It's somewhat ironic that the most famous song about the Woodstock Music and Art Festival was written by someone who was not even at the event. Joni Mitchell had been advised by her manager that she would be better off appearing on the Dick Cavett show that weekend, so she stayed in her New York City hotel room and watched televised reports of what was going on up at Max Yasgur's farm. Further inspiration came from her then-boyfried Graham Nash, who shared his firsthand experiences of the festival with Mitchell. The song was first released on the 1970 album Ladies Of The Canyon, and was made famous the same year when it was chosen to be the first single released from the Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young album déjà vu. The CSNY version peaked just outside of the Billboard top 10.
Artist: Wet Paint
Title: Glass Road
Source: CD: A Deadly Dose Of Wild Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Wet Paint
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Onyx)
Although most of the bands recording in the state of Massachusetts used studios in Boston, there were some exceptions. One such case was a band called Wet Paint, who recorded at Eastern Sounds Recordings in Metheun. Eastern even had its own in-house record label, Onyx, which is where Glass Road was released in 1968.
Artist: King Crimson
Title: I Talk To The Wind/Epitaph
Source: LP: In The Court Of The Crimson King
During my years in Albuquerque, New Mexico I had a friend named Dave Meaden. It was Dave who first introduced me to King Crimson's first album, In The Court Of The Crimson King, featuring lyrics by poet Peter Sinfield. Dave was such a big fan of Sinfield's work that he had actually handwritten the entire lyrics to Epitaph on a flag that he had hanging in his living room. I usually don't pay all that much attention to lyrics, being more of an instrumentalist, but for this particular piece I have to make an exception. In fact, I'm posting the entire text of Epitaph right here:
The wall on which the prophets wrote is cracking at the seams.
Upon the instruments of death the sunlight brightly gleams.
When every man is torn apart with nightmares and with dreams,
Will no one lay the laurel wreath as silence drowns the screams?
Between the iron gates of fate, the seeds of time were sown,
And watered by the deeds of those who know and who are known;
Knowledge is a deadly friend when no-one sets the rules.
The fate of all mankind, I see, is in the hands of fools.
Confusion will be my epitaph,
As I crawl a cracked and broken path.
If we make it we can all sit back and laugh.
But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying,
Yes I fear tomorrow I'll be crying.
Epitaph is preceded on the album by a Greg Lake composition called I Talk To The Wind, with lyrics by Sinfield. The song is a quiet, reflective piece, highlighted by classically-oriented flute solos by Ian McDonald. The two tracks are tightly-sequenced on the original LP, and really need to be heard as one continuous piece to be full appreciated.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Love Or Confusion
Source: Mono LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
A little-known fact is that the original European version of Are You Experienced, in addition to having a different song lineup, consisted entirely of mono recordings. When Reprise got the rights to release the album in North America, its own engineers created new stereo mixes from the 4-track master tapes. As most of the instrumental tracks had already been mixed down to single tracks, the engineers found themselves doing things like putting the vocals all the way on one side of the mix, with reverb effects and guitar solos occupying the other side and all the instruments dead center. Such is the case with Love Or Confusion, with some really bizarre stereo panning thrown in at the end of the track. In recent years engineer Eddie Kramer has recreated the original mono mix (and track lineup) of the UK edition of Are You Experienced, using tube-based analog equipment to get the most authentic sound.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Up From The Skies
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Our second song of tonight's 1967 Jimi Hendrix Experience set is a tune that was actually released as a single in the US, at around the same time as Burning of the Midnight Lamp was having a successful run on the UK singles charts. Axis: Bold As Love, however, was one of the LPs that proved that having a top 40 hit was no longer necessary or even desirable for a rock band to be considered a success in the US, and Up From The Skies was seldom, if ever, heard on top 40 AM radio stations.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Are You Experienced?
Source: Mono LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Until the release of Are You Experienced by the Jimi Hendrix Experience the emphasis in rock music (then called pop) was on the 45 RPM single, with albums seen as a luxury item that supplemented an artist's career rather than defined it. Are You Experience helped change all that. The album was not only highly influential, it was a major seller, despite getting virtually no airplay on top 40 radio. The grand finale of the LP was the title track, which features an array of studio effects, including backwards masking and tape loops. Interestingly enough, the album was originally issued only in a mono version in the UK, with European pressings using a simulated stereo mix. After Reprise bought the rights to release the LP in the US it hired its own engineers to create stereo mixes of the songs from the four-track master tapes.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Until The Poorest People Have Money To Spend
Source: LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
The final West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album for Reprise, Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil, is generally considered the group's best album as well, despite the absence of founding member Danny Harris (who would return for their next LP on the Amos label). As always, Bob Markley provided the lyrics for all the band's original songs on the LP, including Until The Poorest People Have Money To Spend, which Shaun Harris wrote the music for. Although the sentiment expressed in the song is a good one, the sincerity of Markley's lyrics is somewhat suspect, according to guitarist Ron Morgan, who said that Markley was notoriously miserly with his own money (of which he had inherited quite a lot).
Artist: Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity
Title: This Wheel's On Fire
Source: Mono CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Polydor (original label: Marmalade)
Julie Driscoll got her start as secretary of the Yardbirds' fan club while still in her late teens. The band's manager, Giorgio Gomelsky, was so impressed with her voice that he himself got her first single released in late 1963. From there she joined a band called Steampacket, working with two other vocalists, Long John Baldry and Rod Stewart. Another member of Steampacket was organist Brian Auger, who, after the demise of Steampacket, formed his own band, the Trinity, in 1967. Working with Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity recorded an LP, Open, for Gomelsky's new Marmalade label in 1968. The featured single from Open was This Wheel's On Fire, a song written by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko of The Band. Driscoll, over a period of time, gravitated toward jazz, eventually moving to the US where she continues to perform.
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: Jazz Thing
Source: Mono promo LP: Behold And See
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
Although the second Ultimate Spinach album, Behold And See, is generally considered inferior to the group's debut effort, there are a few high points that are among the best tracks the band ever recorded. Perhaps the strongest track on the album is Jazz Thing, which almost sounds like a Bob Bruno Circus Maximus track.