Monday, January 16, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1703 (starts 1/18/17)
A lot of good stuff this week, including sets from Jefferson Airplane (all from their first LP) and the Kinks. Also, a classic 13-minute long space jam from the Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland album and lots more fun stuff.
Title: Someone's Coming
Source: CD: The Who Sell Out (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): John Entwhistle
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Some songs just get no respect. First released in 1967 in the UK as the B side of I Can See For Miles, John Alec Entwistle's Someone's Coming got left off the US release entirely. It wasn't until the release of the Magic Bus single (and subsequent LP) in 1968 that the tune appeared on US vinyl, and then, once again as a B side. The Magic Bus album, however, was never issued on CD in the US, although it has been available as a Canadian import for several years. Finally, in 1995 the song found a home on a US CD as a bonus track on The Who Sell Out.
Title: End Of The Night
Source: LP: The Doors
Writer(s): The Doors
The Doors first big break came when they opened for Love at L.A.'s most famous club, the Whisky-A-Go-Go, and became friends with the members of the more established popular local band. Love was already recording for Elektra Records, and enthusiastically recommended that the label sign the Doors as well. Elektra did, and the Doors went on to become one of the most successful and influential bands in rock history. Although not as well-known as Light My Fire or The End, the dark and moody End Of The Night is a classic early Doors tune, from the opening bent chords from guitarist Robby Krieger to the spooky keyboard work of Ray Manzarek and of course Jim Morrison's distinctive vocals, all backed up by John Densmore's tastefully understated drumming.
Title: Blue Jay Way
Source: LP: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s): George Harrison
The Beatles' psychedelic period hit its peak with the late 1967 release of the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack. As originally conceived there were only six songs on the album, too few for a standard LP. The British solution was to present Magical Mystery Tour as two Extended Play (EP) 45 RPM records in a gatefold sleeve with a 23 page booklet featuring lyrics and scenes from the telefilm of the same name (as well as the general storyline in prose form). As EPs were out of vogue in the US, Capitol Records, against the band's wishes, added five songs that had been issued as single A or B sides in 1967 to create a standard LP. The actual Magical Mystery Tour material made up side one of the LP, while the single sides were on side two. The lone George Harrison contribution to the project was Blue Jay Way, named for a street in the Hollywood Hills that Harrison had rented that summer. As all five of the extra tracks were credited to the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team, this meant that each of the band's 1967 albums had only one Harrison composition on them. This became a point of contention within the band, and on the Beatles' next album (the white album), Harrison's share of the songwriting had doubled.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: No Way Out
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: No Way Out and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
The Chocolate Watchband, from the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area (specifically Foothills Junior College in Los Altos Hills), were fairly typical of the South Bay music scene, centered in San Jose. Although they were generally known for lead vocalist Dave Aguilar's ability to channel Mick Jagger with uncanny accuracy (and a propensity for blowing better known acts off the stage), producer Ed Cobb gave them a more psychedelic sound in the studio with the use of studio effects and other enhancements (including adding tracks to their albums that were performed entire by studio musicians). The title track of No Way Out is credited to Cobb, but in reality is a fleshing out of a jam the band had previously recorded, but never released.
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: Chants R&B
Title: I'm Your Witch Doctor
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in New Zealand as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): John Mayall
Label: Rhino (original label: Action)
The Chants R&B were formed in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1964 and were heavily influenced by such punkish UK bands as the Pretty Things and Them. Shortly after the released of their first single in mid-1966, the group got a new guitarist, Max Kelly, whose efforts helped make their second single, a wild cover of John Mayall's I'm Your Witch Doctor, a national hit. Before they could return to the studio however, it was discovered that Kelly, whose real name was Matt Croke, was actually a deserter from the Australian Air Force, and was soon deported. The rest of the band followed him to Sydney, but things didn't work out and the band split up in early 1967.
Title: Mellow Yellow
Source: Mono LP: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
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: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Let's Get Together
Source: Mono LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s): Dino Valenti
Label: RCA Victor
Although Dino Valenti recorded a demo version of his song Let's Get Together in 1964, it wasn't until two years later that the song made its first appearance on vinyl as a track on Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. The Airplane version of the song is unique in that the lead vocals alternate between Paul Kantner, Signe Anderson and Marty Balin, with each one taking a verse and all of them singing on the chorus.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Run Around
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
The first Jefferson Airplane album was dominated by the songwriting of the band's founder, Marty Balin, both as a solo writer and as a collaborator with other band members. Run Around, from Balin and rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner, is fairly typical of the early Jefferson Airplane sound.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Come Up The Years
Source: Mono LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
One of the most overused motifs in pop music is the "You're too young for me" song. This probably reflects, to a certain degree, a lifestyle that goes back to the beginnings of rock and roll (Chuck Berry did jail time for transporting a minor across state lines, Jerry Lee Lewis saw his career get derailed by his marraige to his 13-year-old cousin, etc.). The Marty Balin/Paul Kantner tune Come Up The Years takes a more sophisticated look at the subject, although it still comes to the same conclusion (I can't do this because you're jailbait). In fact, the only rock songwriter I know of that came to any other conclusion on the matter was Bob Markley of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and that's what ultimately got him in trouble with the law.
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.
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From the Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Challenge)
A lot of people thought the song Lies was the Beatles recording under a pseudonym when it came out. It wasn't, and I can't help but wonder why anyone would have thought the Beatles had any need to record under a different name (the Knickerbockers) and release a song on a second-tier label (Challenge) in the first place. Is it a Richard Bachman kind of thing?
Title: And More
Source: Mono LP: Love
Although the Paul Butterfield Blues Band was already recording for Elektra, the first genuine rock band to be signed to the label was L.A.'s Love. The band had originally planned to call itself the Grass Roots, but soon discovered that the songwriting team of Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan had already locked up the name. Jan Holzman, owner of Elektra, was so high on Love that he created a whole new numbering series for their first album (the same series that later included the first few Doors LPs). Most of Love's songs were written by multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Arthur Lee, with a handful of tunes provided by rhythm guitarist/vocalist Bryan MacLean. The two seldom collaborated, despite sharing a house in the Hollywood hills that had once belonged to Bela Lugosi. One of the few songs they did collaborate on was And More, a tune from the first album that shows the two songwriters' interest in folk-rock as popularized by fellow L.A. band the Byrds.
Title: Baby, Please Don't Go
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Joe Williams
Label: Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
This rather unusual arrangement of Joe Williams classic Baby, Please Don't Go was the creation of producer/vocalist Curt Boettcher. Boettcher had previously worked with the Association, co-writing their first hit Along Comes Mary. While working on the Ballroom project for Our Productions in 1966 he came to the attention of Brian Wilson and Gary Usher. Usher was so impressed with Boettcher's creativity in the studio that he convinced his own bosses at Columbia Records to buy out Boettcher's contract from Our Productions. As a result, much of Boettcher's Ballroom project became part of Usher's own Sagittarius project, with only Baby, Please Don't Go (and its B side) released under the Ballroom name. Boettcher turned out to be so prolific that it was sometimes said that the giant "CBS" logo on the side of the building stood for Curt Boettcher's Studios.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Ritual # 2
Source: LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
There's a reason music like that of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band is sometimes called Acid Rock, and Ritual #2, from the band's last album for Reprise, Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil, is as good an example as you'll find. Best listened to with headphones on.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It
Source: LP: Buffalo Springfield
Writer(s): Neil Young
The first Neil Young song I ever heard was Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It, which was issued as the B side of For What It's Worth in 1967. I had bought the single and, as always, after my first listen flipped the record over to hear what was on the other side. (Years later I was shocked to learn that there were actually people who never listened to the B side of records they bought. I've never been able to understand that.) Anyway, at the time I didn't know who Neil Young was, or the fact that although Young was a member of Buffalo Springfield it was actually Richie Furay singing the song on the record. Now I realize that may seem a bit naive on my part, but I was 14 at the time, so what do you expect? At least I had the good taste to buy a copy of For What It's Worth in the first place (along with the Doors' Light My Fire and the Spencer Davis Group's I'm A Man if I remember correctly). Where I got the money to buy three current records at the same time is beyond me, though.
Artist: First Edition
Title: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: The First Edition and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Mickey Newbury
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
In 1968, former New Christy Mistrels members Kenny Rogers and Mike Settle decided to form a psychedelic rock band, the First Edition. Although Settle was the official leader on the first album, it was Rogers who would emerge as the star of the band, even to the point of eventually changing the band's name to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. That change reflected a shift from psychedelic to country flavored pop that would eventually propel Rogers to superstar status.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Portable People
Source: CD: Ten Years After (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Following the release of the 1967 debut LP, Ten Years After got to work on what was to be a followup album. These plans got sidetracked, however, when it was decided that their second LP would be made up of live performances taped at a London club near a recording studio. This left the band with several finished studio recordings, many of which were the same songs that would appear on the live Undead album. Two of the other unused studio tracks became the band's first US single, the A side of which was a tune called Portable People. This song remained unavailable in any other form for several years, finally appearing as a bonus track on the CD version of their first album.
Title: Surfer Dan
Source: CD: The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands
Writer: The Turtles
Label: Sundazed (original label: White Whale)
In 1968 the Turtles decided to self-produce four recordings without the knowledge of their record label, White Whale. When company executives heard the tapes they rejected all but one of the recordings. That lone exception was Surfer Dan, which was included on the band's 1968 concept album Battle of the Bands. The idea was that each track (or band, as the divisions on LPs were sometimes called) would sound like it was recorded by a different group. As the Turtles had originally evolved out of a surf band called the Crossfires, that name was the obvious choice for the Surfer Dan track. The song was also chosen to be the B side of Elenore, the Turtles biggest hit of 1968.
Source: Mono LP: Face To Face
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Ray Davies was well into his satirical phase when he wrote and recorded Dandy for the Kinks' 1966 album Face To Face. Later that year the song was covered by Herman's Hermits, becoming a hit on the US top 40 charts.
Title: I Need You
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Ray Davies
After a series of hard-rocking hits in 1964 such as You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night, the Kinks mellowed out a bit with songs like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You the following year. Lurking on the other side of Set Me Free, though, was a song that showed that the band still knew how to rock out: I Need You.
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). Of course, none of the stereo FM stations were playing rock songs in 1966, but since the Kinks were still only mixing their songs in mono at that point it didn't really matter.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Source: LP: Revolution soundtrack
Writer(s): Buffy St. Marie
Label: United Artists
Buffy St. Marie's Codine was a popular favorite among the club crowd in mid-60s California. In 1967, L.A. band The Leaves included it on their second LP. Around the same time, up the coast in San Francisco, the Charlatans selected it to be their debut single. The suits at Kama-Sutra Records, however, balked at the choice, and instead sold the band's master tapes to Kapp Records, who then released the group's cover of the Coasters' The Shadow Knows (and sped up the master tape in the mastering process). The novelty-flavored record bombed so bad that the label decided not to release any more Charlatans tracks, thus leaving their version of Codine gathering dust in the vaults until the mid 1990s, when the entire Kama-Sutra sessions were released on CD. Meanwhile, back in 1968, fellow San Francisco band Quicksilver Messenger Service was still without a record contract, despite pulling decent crowds at various Bay Area venues, including a credible appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. Quicksilver did find their way onto vinyl, however, when the producers of the quasi-documentary film Revolution decided to include footage of the band playing Codine, and commissioned this studio recording of the song for the soundtrack album.
Title: Deserted Cities Of The Heart
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
The most psychedelic of Cream's songs were penned by Jack Bruce and his songwriting partner Pete Brown. One of the best of these was chosen to close out the last studio side of the last Cream album released while the band was still in existence. Deserted Cities Of The Heart is a fitting epitaph to an unforgettable band.
Title: Born To Be Wild
Source: CD: Easy Rider Soundtrack (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf)
Writer(s): Mars Bonfire
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Born To Be Wild's status as a counter-cultural anthem was cemented when it was chosen for the soundtrack of the movie Easy Rider. The popularity of both the song and the movie resulted in Steppenwolf becoming the all-time favorite band of bikers all over the world.
Artist: Max Frost And The Troopers
Title: Shape Of Things To Come
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Wild In The Streets (soundtrack))
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
Max Frost was a politically savvy rock star who rode the youth movement all the way to the White House, first through getting the support of a hip young Senator, then getting the age requirements for holding high political office lowered to 21, and finally lowering the voting age to 14. Everyone over 30 was locked away in internment camps, similar to those used during WWII by various governments to hold those of questionable loyalty to the current regime. What? You don't remember any of that? You say it sounds like the plot of a cheapie late 60s teen exploitation flick? Right on all counts. "Wild in the Streets" starred Christopher Jones as the rock star, Hal Holbrook as the hip young senator, and a Poseidon Adventure-sized Shelly Winter as the rock star's interred mom. Richard Pryor, in his film debut, played the band's drummer/political activist Stanley X. The band itself, Max Frost And The Troopers, was actually either a group called the 13th Power (as credited on the label) or Davie Allen And The Arrows, an instrumental group that was often called on to provide music for teen-oriented B movie soundtracks.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: The Dangling Conversation
Source: LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Writer(s): Paul Simon
The first Simon and Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning 3AM, originally tanked on the charts, causing Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel to temporarily pursue solo careers. Simon went to England, where he wrote and recorded an album's worth of material. Meanwhile, producer Tom Wilson, fresh from producing Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone, went into the studio with the original recording of the song Sound of Silence and added electric instruments to it. The result was a surprise hit that led Paul Simon to return to the US, reuniting with Art Garfunkel and re-recording several of the tunes he had recorded as a solo artist for a new album, Sounds of Silence. The success of that album prompted Columbia to re-release Wednesday Morning, 3AM, which in turn became a bestseller. Meanwhile, Simon and Garfunkel returned to the studio to record an album of all new material. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was yet another success that spawned several hit songs, including The Dangling Conversation, a song Simon described as similar to The Sound Of Silence, but more personal. The song was originally released as a single in fall of 1966, before the album itself came out.
Title: My Back Pages
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
One of the items of contention between David Crosby and Roger McGuinn was the latter's insistence on continuing to record covers of Bob Dylan songs when the band members themselves had a wealth of their own material available. Indeed, it was reportedly an argument over whether or not to include Crosby's Triad on the next album that resulted in Crosby being fired from the band in October of 1967 (although other factors certainly played into it as well). Nonetheless, the last Dylan cover with Crosby still in the band was perhaps their best as well. Although not as big a hit as Mr. Tambourine Man, My Back Pages from the Younger Than Yesterday album did respectably well on the charts, becoming one of the Byrds' last top 40 hits.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away)
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away) from the Electric Ladyland album is the longest work created purely in the studio by Jimi Hendrix, with a running time of over 16 minutes. The piece starts with tape effects that lead into the song's main guitar rift. The vocals and drums join in to tell a science fiction story set in a future world where the human race has had to move underwater in order to survive some unspecified catastrophe. After a couple verses, the piece goes into a long unstructured section made up mostly of guitar effects before returning to the main theme and closing out with more effects that combine volume control and stereo panning to create a circular effect. As is the case with several tracks on Electric Ladyland, 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away) features Hendrix on both guitar and bass, with Mitch Mitchell on drums and special guest Chris Wood (from Traffic) on flute.
Artist: James Gang
Title: Wrapcity In English/Fred
Source: CD: Yer' Album
Writer: Joe Walsh
Label: MCA (original label: Bluesway)
The only rock record to ever be released on the Bluesway label was Yer' Album, the debut LP by Cleveland's James Gang. Featuring Joe Walsh on Guitar, Tom Criss (who would leave the band after this album) on bass and Dale Peters on drums, the group was one of the first "power trios" of the 70s. Unlike the group's later efforts, Yer' Album included cover tunes written by such diverse composers as Stephen Stills, Jerry Ragavoy and Jeff Beck, as well as a smattering of original compositions. One of those originals was Fred, a Walsh song that was described in the liner notes as "and it's straaaaaaaange." It is preceded by a short fully orchestrated Walsh instrumental called Wrapcity In English that tracks directly into Fred.
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Chasing Shadows
Source: LP: Purple Passages (originally released on LP: Deep Purple)
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Tetragrammaton)
As a general rule, recording artists tend to do better on their home ground than anywhere else. Even the Beatles already had a pair of chart-topping British singles (Please Please Me and She Loves You) under their collective belts by the time they touched off the British Invasion of the US with I Want To Hold Your Hand in 1964. There are exceptions, however. One British band that had huge success in the US, yet was unable to buy a hit in its native England, was the original incarnation of a band called Deep Purple. The group had a major US hit right out of the box with their 1968 cover of Joe South's Hush, but the song did not chart at all in the UK. The band's US label, Tetragrammaton, promoted the band heavily and the group's debut LP, Shades Of Deep Purple, was the all-time best selling album in that label's short history. The band followed Shades up with a second LP, The Book Of Taleisyn, that included another hit cover song, this time of Neil Diamond's Kentucky Woman. Still, the British record-buying public was unimpressed, and it was estimated that the group on the average made fifteen to twenty times as much money per gig in the US than they did at home. Unfortunately for the band, Tetragrammaton was badly managed and went belly up just days after the release of the band's self-titled third album. This left the band without a US label and still unsuccessful at home. This, combined with internal conflicts about what direction the band should take musically, led to major personnel changes. Ultimately those changes, particularly the addition of lead vocalist Ian Gilliam, proved beneficial, as Deep Purple became one of the top rock bands in the world in the early 1970s. This in turn led to Warner Brothers, the band's new US label, releasing a compilation album of the group's early material called Purple Passages, which included almost the entire third album. Among the outstanding tracks from that album is Chasing Shadows, which utilizes African rhythms from drummer Ian Paice, as well as a strong performance by the band's original vocalist, Rod Evans, who would go on to become the front man for a band called Captain Beyond in the early 1970s.