Monday, January 30, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1705 (starts 2/1/17)
This week's show is a strange mix of some truly obscure tracks (such as Dino Valenti's demo tape of Let's Get Together) and exceedingly well-known tunes (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, anyone?). Even our two artists' sets have this contrast within them. And look how the whole thing starts!
Artist: John Barry
Title: The James Bond Theme
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Monty Norman
Label: United Artists
From the soundtrack of the film Dr. No we have the original James Bond theme. A few years after this record was made John Barry, who conducted the orchestra for the movie score, filed a lawsuit claiming that he actually co-wrote the theme music. At this point, however, Monty Norman is still considered the sole composer in the eyes of the law.
Artist: Dino Valenti
Title: Let's Get Together
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer(s): Chet Powers (Dino Valenti)
At first glance this version of Let's Get Together could be mistaken for a cover tune. In reality, though, Dino Valenti was one of several aliases used by the guy who was born Chester Powers. Perhaps this was brought on by his several encounters with the law, most of which led to jail time. By all accounts, Valenti was one of the more bombastic characters on the San Francisco scene. The song was first commercially recorded by Jefferson Airplane in 1966, but it wasn't until 1969, when the 1967 Youngbloods version was re-released with the title shortened to Get Together, that the song became a major hit.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Night Owl Blues
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Label: Kama Sutra/Sundazed
Year: Recorded 1965, released 2011
Night Owl Blues was first released on the Lovin Spoonful's first album, Do You Believe In Magic, making an encore appearance as the B side of their 1966 hit Daydream. The original recording was edited down to less than three minutes on both releases. In 2011 Sundazed issued a previously unreleased recording of the Spoonful's high energy cover of the Hollywood Argyles hit Alley Oop on 45 RPM vinyl, backed with a longer, less edited version of Night Owl Blues made from the same original 1965 recording as the earlier release. The track features blues harp from John Sebastian and a rare electric guitar solo from Zal Yanovsky.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Gimme Some Lovin'
Source: Mono LP: Gimme Some Lovin' (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Steve Winwood
Label: United Artists
The 1980s 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 becomming best-sellers. Not entirely coincidentally, 60s-oriented oldies radio stations began to appear in major markets as well. Most of them are now playing 80s oldies, by the way.
Title: A House Is Not A Motel
Source: CD: Love Story (originally released on LP: Forever Changes)
Writer: Arthur Lee
Arthur Lee was a bit of a recluse, despite leading the most popular band on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. When the band was not playing at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go Lee was most likely to be found at his home up in the Hollywood Hills, often in the company of fellow band member Bryan McLean. The other members of the band, however, were known to hang out in the most popular clubs, chasing women and doing all kinds of substances. Sometimes they would show up at Lee's house unbidden. Sometimes they would crash there. Sometimes Lee would get annoyed, and probably used the phrase which became the title of the second track on Love's classic Forever Changes album, A House Is Not A Motel.
Artist: Merrell Fankhauser And (His Trusty) HMS Bounty
Title: A Visit With Ayshia
Source: CD: Things
Writer(s): Merrell Fankhauser
Label: Sundazed (original label: Shamley)
Merrill Fankhauser first started playing guitar shortly after moving to San Luis Obispo, California in his teens. By 1960 he had become proficient enough to join a local band, the Impacts, as lead guitarist. In 1962 the Impacts got what they thought was a lucky break, but that turned out to be a classic example of people in the music business taking advantage of young, naive musicians. Following a successful gig at a place called the Rose Garden Ballroom they were approached by a guy named Norman Knowles, who played saxophone with a band called the Revels. Knowles convinced the Impacts to record an album's worth of material at Tony Hilder at Hilder's backyard studio in the Hollywood area. The two of them then took the recordings to Bob Keene, who issued them on his own Del-Fi label. It is not known how much money Knowles and Hilder made on the deal, but the Impacts never saw a penny of it, having signed a contract giving the band the grand total of one US dollar. Not long after the incident Fankhauser left the Impacts to move to Lancaster, Calfornia, where he formed a new band, the Exiles, in 1964. The Exiles had some regional success with a song called Can't We Get Along before breaking up, with Fankhauser returning to the coast to form his own band, Merrell and the Xiles. This band had a minor hit with a song called Tomorrow's Girl in 1967, leading to an album issued under the name Fapardokly (a mashup of band members' Fankhauser, Parrish, Dodd and Lee's last names). Fankhauser and Dodd then formed another band called Merrell Fankhauser And (His Trusty) HMS Bounty, which landed a contract with Uni Records (the label that would became MCA), issuing a self-titled album in 1968. This album was even more psychedelic than Fapardokly, as can be heard on A Visit With Ayshia. Fankhauser has been involved with several other projects since then, including a band called Mu in the early 1970s and, more recently the Fankhauser Cassidy band with drummer Ed Cassidy from Spirit. His latest project is an MP3 album called Signals From Malibu, released in 2015.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Doncha Bother Me
Source: CD: Aftermath
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Aftermath was an album of firsts. It was the first Rolling Stones album to consist entirely of original compositions by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It was the first Rolling Stones album released in true stereo. It was the first Rolling Stones album to be recorded entirely in the US. Finally, it was the album that saw Brian Jones emerge as a multi-instrumentalist, leaving Richards to do most of the guitar work. At over 50 minutes, Aftermath was one of the longest albums released by a rock band up to that point, and it features one of the first rock songs to run over 10 minutes in length (Goin' Home). Although Jones (and bassist Bill Wyman) did a lot of experimenting with new (to them) instruments, several of the tracks, such as Doncha Bother Me, are classic Stones material in the vein of the Chicago blues that was such a major influence on the band's style.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Parachute Woman
Source: LP: Beggar's Banquet
The last Rolling Stones album to feature the band's original lineup was Beggar's Banquet, released in 1968. The album itself was a conscious effort on the part of the band to get back to their roots after the psychedelic excesses of Their Satanic Majesties Request. The band's founder, Brian Jones, was fast deteriorating at the time and his contributions to the album are minimal compared to the band's earlier efforts. As a result, Keith Richards was responsible for most of the guitar work on Beggar's Banquet, including both lead and rhythm parts on Parachute Woman.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Let's Spend The Night Together
Source: CD: Flowers (originally released on LP: Between The Buttons)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The Rolling Stones second LP of 1967 was Flowers, one of a series of US-only albums made up of songs that had been released in various forms in the UK but not in the US. In the case of Flowers, though, there were a couple songs that had already been released in the US-but not in true stereo. One of those was Let's Spend The Night Together, a song intended to be the A side of a single, but that was soon banned on a majority of US radio stations because of its suggestive lyrics. Those stations instead flipped the record over and began playing the B side, Ruby Tuesday (apparently not realizing it was about a rock groupie). Ruby Tuesday ended up in the top 5, while Let's Spend The Night Together barely cracked the top 40. The Stones did get to perform the tune on the Ed Sullivan Show, but only after promising to change the lyrics to "let's spend some time together." Later on the same year the Doors made a similar promise to the Sullivan show to modify the lyrics of Light My Fire, but when it came time to actually perform the song Jim Morrison defiantly sang the lyrics as written. The Doors were subsequently banned from making any more appearances on the Sullivan show. Ironically, the Rolling Stones never appeared again on the show, either, so apparently their compromise was for naught.
Title: Cry Baby Cry
Source: CD: The Beatles
Unlike many of the songs on The Beatles (white album), Cry Baby Cry features the entire band playing on the recording. After a full day of rehearsal, recording commenced on July 16, 1968, with John Lennon's guitar and piano, Paul McCartney's bass and Ringo Starr's drum tracks all being laid down on the first day. The remaining overdubs, including most of the vocals and George Harrison's guitar work (played on a Les Paul borrowed from Eric Clapton) were added a couple of days later. At the end of the track, McCartney can be heard singing a short piece known as "Can you take me back", accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar in a snippet taken from a solo session the following September.
Title: I Am The Walrus
Source: Stereo British import 45 RPM EP: Magical Mystery Tour
Common practice in the UK in the 1960s was to avoid duplication between single releases and album tracks. This led to a unique situation for the Beatles and their British label, EMI/Parlophone, in December of 1967. The band had self-produced a new telefilm to be shown on BBC-TV called Magical Mystery Tour and wanted to make the songs from the film available to the record-buying public in time for Christmas. The problem was that there were only six songs in the one-hour telefilm, not nearly enough to fill an entire album. The solution was to release the songs on a pair of Extended Play 45 RPM records, along with several pages of song lyrics, illustrations and stills from the film itself. My own introduction to Magical Mystery Tour was a friend's German copy of the EPs, and when years later I had the opportunity to pick up a copy of the original UK version, I of course couldn't resist. That copy got totalled in a flood a few years back, but in 2012 I was finally able to locate another copy of the EP set, which is the source of this week's airing of the ultimate British psychedelic recording, I Am The Walrus.
Title: Savoy Truffle
Source: CD: The Beatles
Writer(s): George Harrison
Label: Parlophone (original label: Apple)
George Harrison's skills as a songwriter continued to develop in 1968. The double-LP The Beatles (aka the White Album) contained four Harrison compositions, including Savoy Truffle, a tongue-in-cheek song about Harrison's friend Eric Clapton's fondness for chocolate. John Lennon did not participate in the recording of Savoy Truffle. The keyboards were probably played by Chris Thomas, who, in addition to playing on all four Harrison songs on the album, served as de facto producer when George Martin decided to take a vacation in the middle of the album's recording sessions.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Albert Common Is Dead
Source: Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
The second Blues Magoos LP, Electric Comic Book, was much in the same vein as their 1966 debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, with a mix of fast and slow originals and a couple of cover songs, one of which was done in an extended rave-up style. The second side opener, Albert Common Is Dead, is a fast rocker (with a slowed down final chorus) about an average guy's decision to take to the road, leaving his former life behind. As many young people were doing exactly that during the summer of 1967, you might expect such a song to become somewhat of a soundtrack of its times, but with so many other songs filling that role, Albert Common Is Dead was largely overlooked by the listening public.
Source: CD: The Best Of The Standells (originally released on LP: Try It)
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
Although Standell's producer Ed Cobb had his faults (among them an inability to fully appreciate the talents of the Chocolate Watchband, whom he also managed), he did write some truly cool songs for the band, including Dirty Water, Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, and an overlooked classic called Barracuda. One of the last of Cobb's songs to be recorded by the band, Barracuda, from the 1967 LP Try It, could be said to represent the culmination of the entire garage-rock movement, as a lighter style of pop music (the title track of the album itself being a good example) that would be known as "bubble-gum" was already starting to appear.
Artist: Mad River
Title: Wind Chimes
Source: Mono British import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released on LP: Mad River)
Writer(s): Mad River
Label: Zonophone (original label: Capitol)
When Mad River's debut LP was released, the San Francisco rock press hailed it as "taking rock music as far as it could go." Indeed, songs like Wind Chimes certainly pushed the envelope in 1968, when bubble gum was king of top 40 radio and progressive FM stations were still pretty much in the future. One thing that helped was the band members' friendship with avant-garde poet Richard Brautigan, who pulled whatever strings he could to get attention for his favorite local band. Still, the time was not yet right for such a band as Mad River, who had quietly faded away by the early 1970s.
Title: We're Not On The Same Trip
Source: British import CD: The Amazing Charlatans
Writer(s): Dan Hicks
Label: Big Beat
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1996
Few bands have achieved such legendary status (without actually being heard by most people) as the Charlatans. Formed in 1964, The Charlatans were literally the first acid-influenced rock band, although their music actually bears little resemblance of what has come to be known as acid-rock. The Charlatans were actually hard to define musically, since each of the five individuals making up the group (George Hunter, Richard Olsen, Mike Wilhelm, Michael Ferguson and Dan Hicks) had their own unique musical vision. One thing the members did have in common was a sense of theatrics, with each member taking on a particular historical persona (Edwardian aristocrat, Mississippi gambler, old west gunfighter, etc.) and dressing to fit that persona. Another thing the band members had in common was a fondness for LSD, which until 1966 was still legal to ingest. My personal favorite Charlatans recording, We're Not On The Same Trip (a Dan Hicks tune recorded in 1967) reflects this prodigious use of the subtance.
Artist: Little Richard
Title: Dew Drop Inn
Source: 45 RPM single B side
It can't be called psychedelic by any stretch of the imagination, I admit, but it's still a kick to pull out a Little Richard B side from 1970 and notice how similar Dew Drop Inn sounds to Creedence Clearwater Revival, at the time one of the hottest bands in the nation (if not the hottest).
Artist: Blind Faith
Title: Had To Cry Today
Source: CD: Blind Faith
Writer(s): Steve Winwood
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
One of the most eagerly-awaited albums of 1969 was Blind Faith, the self-titled debut album of a group consisting of Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker from Cream, Steve Winwood from Traffic and Rich Grech, who had played bass with a band called Family. The buzz about this new band was such that the rock press had to coin a brand-new term to describe it: supergroup. On release, the album shot up to the number one spot on the charts in record time. Of course, as subsequent supergroups have shown, such bands seldom stick around very long, and Blind Faith set the pattern early on by splitting up after just one LP and a short tour to promote it. The opening track of the album was a pure Winwood piece that showcases both Winwood and Clapton on separate simultaneous guitar tracks.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Mystic Mourning
Source: British import CD: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Label: See For Miles (original label: M-G-M)
If I had to choose one single recording that represents the psychedelic era, my choice would be Mystic Mourning, from the album The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union. Everything about the tune screams (whispers? purrs?) psychedelic, starting with a short spacy intro of electric piano over cymbals, leading into a raga beat with a solo bass line that builds up to a repeating riff that ends up getting played at various times by guitar, bass, and/or piano. The lyrics are appropriately existential, and both guitar and piano get a chance to show their stuff over the course of the nearly six-minute track.
Title: I Happen To Love You
Source: Mono British import CD: Now And Them (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rev-Ola (original US label: Ruff)
Following the departure of frontman Van Morrison in June of 1966, the remaining members of Them returned to Belfast, where they recruited Kenny McDowell, formerly of a band called the Mad Lads, who had in fact opened for Them on several occasions. With no record deal, however, the band was at a loss as to what to do next; the solution came in the form of a recommendation from Carol Deck, editor of the California-based magazine The Beat, which led to the band relocating to Amarillo, Texas, where they cut a single for the local Scully label. The follow up single, released on Ruff Records, was a tune called Walking In The Queen's Garden that came to the attention of the people at Capitol Records, who reissued the single on their Tower subsidiary. Within a month the record company had issued a promo version of the single that shifting the emphasis to the original B side, a Gerry Goffin/Carole King collaboration called I Happen To Love You that had been previously recorded by the Electric Prunes, but not issued as a single. This led to Now And Them, the first of two albums the band released on the Tower label in 1968.
Artist: Davie Allan And The Arrows
Title: The Lonely Rider
Source: Mono LP: The Wild Angels (soundtrack)
Writer(s): Mike Curb
Davie Allen is best known for providing music for the soundtracks of several teen-oriented and biker movies from the 1960s. Allan grew up in the San Fernando Valley of California, where he met Mike Curb, with whom he would form an instrumental surf band. Curb, who had a keen business sense, formed his own Curb Records label in 1963, issuing Allan's first single, War Path. Allan played on several other singles for Curb as a session guitarist, both on the Curb label and its successor, Sidewalk Records. Around that same time Curb made a deal with Roger Corman's American International Pictures to supply music for the director's youth-oriented films. This led to the formation of the Arrows, a loose aggregation of studio musicians that Allan would utilize for various projects. Most of the Arrow's early recordings were fairly unremarkable, although he did get some local L.A. radio airplay for a song called Apache '65. Allan's big break came when he acquired a fuzz box for his guitar, using it for his most famous recording, Blues Theme from the film The Wild Angels. The shortest track from the Wild Angels soundtrack album was a piece called The Lonely Rider, which barely tops one minute (although the album cover lists it as being twice that length. The film itself is notable for its cast, which included Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra and Bruce Dern, among others.
Artist: Great Society
Title: Double Triptamine Superautomatic Lovin' Man
Source: CD: Born To Be Burned
Writer: David Miner
The last person to join San Francisco's Great Society was also its most prolific songwriter. David Miner, who had been a postal worker prior to joining the band, brought along several songs that he had written in his native Texas, including Double Triptamine Superautomatic Lovin' Man, which was one of many unreleased recordings made by the band in 1966. Miner also handles lead vocals on the tune.
Title: Did He Die
Source: British import CD: Singles As & Bs (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: Big Beat (original label: M-G-M)
Of the four songs recorded for and released on the M-G-M label by the Seeds in 1970, the B side of the band's final single was arguably the best of the bunch. Did He Die is an anti-war song credited entirely to Sky Saxon, due more, I suspect, to his in your face lyrics than any actual musical contribution he may have made to the song. Still, the record does have flashes of the old Seeds magic, and serves as a fitting epitaph for one of the most iconic bands of the psychedelic era.
Artist: Scarlet Letter
Source: Mono British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
One of the Detroit music scene's most overlooked bands, the Scarlet Letter released three singles for Bob Shad's Mainstream label. The best of these was a tune called Mary Maiden, with the equally strong Timekeeper on the flip side. The group also released a single on the Time label (a subsidiary of Mainstream) using the name Paraphernalia in 1968.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Source: LP: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Writer(s): Doug Ingle
I think there is a law on the books somewhere that says I need to play the full version of Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida every so often, so here it is. Again.
Title: Back Door Man
Source: CD: The Doors
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
In their early days as an L.A. club band, the Doors supplemented their growing body of original material with covers of classic blues tunes (rather than covers of top 40 hits like many of their contemporaries). Perhaps best of these was Willie Dixon's Back Door Man, which had been a mid-50s R&B hit for Howlin' Wolf. The Doors themselves certainly thought so, as it was one of only two cover songs on their debut LP.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I've Got A Way Of My Own
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): L. Ransford
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2016
Not all of the songs the Electric Prunes recorded during sessions for their debut LP, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), ended up being included on the album itself. Among the unused tracks was a cover of a Hollies B side called I've Got A Way Of My Own. The song was actually one of the first tunes that the band recorded, while they were still, in the words of vocalist James Lowe, "searching for a sound and style we could capture on a record." Following the sessions the band decided that harmonies were better left to other groups, and I've Got A Way Of My Own remained unreleased until the 21st century.