Monday, April 17, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1716 (starts 4/19/17)
This week Stuck in the Psychedelic Era breaks its all-time record for most songs played in a two-hour show. It starts with a set of Beatle tunes and ends with a Procol Harum classic. In between...
Title: Come Together
Source: LP: Abbey Road
After the Beatles released their 1968 double LP (the so-called White Album), they went to work on their final film project, a documentary about the band making an album. Unfortunately, what the cameras captured was a group on the verge of disintegration, and both the album and the film itself were shelved indefinitely. Instead, the band went to work recording an entirely new group of compositions. Somehow, despite the internal difficulties the band was going through, they managed to turn out a masterpiece: Abbey Road. Before the album itself came out, a single was released. The official A side was George Harrison's Something, the first Harrison song ever to be released as a Beatle A side. The other side was the song that opened the album itself, John Lennon's Come Together. In later years Come Together came to be Lennon's signature song and was a staple of his live performances.
Title: You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)
Source: Mono CD: Past Masters-vol. 2 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Basically a studio concoction assembled by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) was originally intended to be released as a 1969 single by the Plastic Ono Band. The track was the result of four separate recording sessions dating back to 1967 and originally ran over six minutes long. The instrumental tracks were recorded around the same time the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in Spring of 1967. Brian Jones added a saxophone part on June 8th of that year. In April of 1969 Lennon and McCartney added vocals, while Lennon edited the entire track down to slightly over four minutes. The single was readied for a November release, but at the last minute was withdrawn. The recording was instead released as the B side of the Beatles' Let It Be single the following year.
Source: LP: Abbey Road
Take Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Turn a few notes around, add some variations and write some lyrics. Add the Beatles' trademark multi-part harmonies and you have John Lennon's Because, from the Abbey Road album. A simply beautiful recording.
Artist: George Harrison
Source: CD: Wonderwall Music
Writer(s): George Harrison
Starting in 1966 George Harrison showed an intense interest in the music of sitarist Ravi Shankar, and in Indian classical music in general, even to the point of learning to play the sitar himself. His first composition along those lines was Love You To, from the Revolver album, followed in 1967 by Within You Without You from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In 1968 Harrison took it a step further by composing and performing music for the soundtrack of a film by director Joe Massot called called Wonderwall. The film itself dealt with a wall separating two apartments occupied by individuals from extremely different backgrounds (a lonely college professor and a Vogue model), and a small gap in the wall itself creating a bridge between the two. Harrison used the film as a springboard to fuse music from Eastern (Indian classical) and Western (rock) traditions, introducing Western audiences to various Indian instruments in the process. The album, Wonderwall Music, was Harrison's first solo project as well as the first album released on the Apple label (predating the White album by several weeks). The album featured several guest musicians, including Eric Clapton, who is probably the lead guitarist on Ski-ing, the shortest track on the album. Although Wonderwall Music was not a commercial success at the time of its release, it has since come to be highly regarded as a forerunner of both electronica and world music.
Title: Straight Arrow
Source: CD: Spirit
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
Spirit was born when high school students and garage rockers Randy California, Jay Ferguson, Mark Andes and John Locke started jamming with California's stepfather, jazz drummer Ed Cassidy. The result was one of the earliest examples of jazz-rock, although the jazz element would be toned down for later albums. Unlike the later fusion bands, Spirit's early songs tended to be sectional, with a main section that was straight rock often leading into a more late bop styled instrumental section reminiscent of Wes Montgomery's recordings. Vocalist Jay Ferguson wrote most of the band's early material, such as Straight Arrow from their 1968 debut album.
Title: Magic Carpet Ride
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf The Second)
Label: Priority (original label: Dunhill)
Steppenwolf's second top 10 single was Magic Carpet Ride, a song that combines feedback, prominent organ work by Goldy McJohn and an updated Bo Diddly beat with psychedelic lyrics. Along with Born To Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride (co-written by vocalist John Kay and bassist Rushton Moreve) has become one of the defining songs of both Steppenwolf and the late 60s.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: She's Coming Home
Source: LP: Psychedelic Lollipop
Generally speaking, cheatin' songs in 1966 were considered the province of country music. The few exceptions, such as Paul Revere and the Raiders' Steppin' Out, were all told from the victim's point of view. The Blues Magoos, however, turned the entire thing upside down with She's Coming Home, a song about having to break up with one's new girlfriend in the face of the old one returning from...(prison? military duty? the hospital? The lyrics never make that clear). The unusual nature of the song is in keeping with the cutting edge image of a band that was among the first to use the word psychedelic in an album title and had to have been the first to wear electric suits onstage.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: I've Loved You
Source: Mono British import CD: The Ultimate Turn On (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Big Beat (original label: Original Sound)
The fourth and final single released on the Original Sound label by the Music Machine is generally considered to be the most psychedelic one as well. The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly is a feedback drenched political statement, while its B side, I've Loved You, can best be described as primal (three years before John Lennon brought primal scream therapy into the spotlight with songs like Cold Turkey and Remember). The band recorded a few more tunes before falling apart in mid-1967, but those recordings ended up on a different label, either as singles or on the album Bonniwell Music Machine that was released later in the year.
Title: The Unknown Soldier
Source: CD: Waiting For The Sun (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: The Doors
One of the oddest recordings to get played on top 40 radio was the Door's 1968 release, The Unknown Soldier. The song is notable for having it's own promotional film made by keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who had been a film major at UCLA when the Doors were formed. It's not known whether the song was written with the film in mind (or vice versa), but the two have a much greater synergy than your average music video.
Artist: Acid Gallery
Title: Dance Around The Maypole
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Roy Wood
Label: Rhino (original label: CBS)
Possibly the top British band to not have a hit in the US was the Move. The band was so popular that when BBC One signed on for the first time in 1967, the Move's current hit, Flowers In The Rain, was chosen to be the first song played on the station. The band, led by Roy Wood, produced many spinoff projects as well. One of these was called the Acid Gallery, which released a song called Dance Around The Maypole in 1969. Although Wood himself wrote the song and his voice is featured prominently in the mix, the rest of the Move was not included on the record. It is believed that the actual group was a band called the Epics, who would soon change their name to Christie and have a minor hit with the song Yellow River.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Pledging My Time
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
The B side of the first single from Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde album was Pledging My Time, a blues tune that features Robbie Robertson (who had been touring with Dylan) on guitar. The song was one of three tracks recorded in four takes in Nashville on March 8th of 1966. The single version of the song heard here fades after only two minutes (the album version being considerably longer).
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
After the surprise success of the Sound Of Silence single, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel (who had disbanded their partnership after the seeming failure of their Wednesday Morning 3 AM album in 1964) hastily reunited to record a new LP, Sounds Of Silence. The album, released in early 1966, consisted mostly of electrified versions of songs previously written by Simon, many of which had appeared in the UK in acoustic form on his 1965 solo LP The Paul Simon Songbook. With their newfound success, the duo set about recording an album's worth of new material. This time around, however, Simon had the time (and knowledge of what was working for the duo) to compose songs that would play to both the strengths of himself and Garfunkel as vocalists, as well as take advantage of the additional instrumentation available to him. The result was Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme, featuring tracks such as The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine, an energetic piece satirizing rampant consumerism and the advertising industry.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: Let's Go Away For Awhile
Source: 45 RPM single B side (originally released on LP: Pet Sounds)
Writer: Brian Wilson
Although the Beach Boys are known primarily as a vocal group, their catalog is sprinkled with occassional instrumental pieces, usually featuring the youngest Wilson brother, Carl, on lead guitar. By 1966, however, the band was using studio musicians extensively on their recordings. This was taken to its extreme on the Pet Sounds album with the tune Let's Go Away For Awhile, which was made without the participation of any of the actual band members (except composer/producer Brian Wilson, who said at the time that the track was the most satisfying piece of music he had ever made).
To give the song even greater exposure, Wilson used the track as the B side of the band's next single, Good Vibrations.
Source: CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
Writer(s): Craig Smith
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
The first song on the Monkees' fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD. was also the most controversial. Michael Nesmith, as a side project, had been producing songs for a group led by Craig Vincent Smith called the Penny Arkade. One song in particular, Salesman, impressed Nesmith so much that he decided to produce a Monkees version of the song as well. The track was then used in a Monkees TV episode called The Devil And Peter Tork. NBC-TV at first refused to air the episode, claiming that the line "Salesman with your secret goods that you push while you talk" was a veiled drug reference (although producer Bert Schnieder was convinced the real reason was the liberal use of the word "hell" in the show's script).
Artist: Ronnie Burns
Title: Exit Stage Right
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Australia as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb
Label: Rhino (original label: Spin)
Prior to relocating to London in early 1967, the Bee Gees completed several demo recordings for producer Ossie Byrne in Hurstville, Australia. Byrne, in addition to producing the Bee Gees' Australian recordings, had a singer named Ronnie Burns under contract as well. Burns had first achieved popularity as vocalist with the Australian beat group known as the Flies, but had left the band in 1965 to pursue a solo career. Byrne had Burns add new vocals over the Bee Gees demos, including Exit Stage Right. It turned out to be a winning combination, as Exit Stage Right became a sizable hit when released as a single on Australia's Spin label.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: See Emily Play
Source: Mono CD: Relics (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Syd Barrett
Label: Capitol (original label: Tower)
Following up on their first single, Arnold Layne, Pink Floyd found even greater chart success (at least in their native England) with See Emily Play. Released in June of 1967, the song went all the way to the #6 spot on the British charts. In the US the song failed to chart as a single, although it was included on the US version of Pink Floyd's debut LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. The "Emily" in question is reportedly the sculptor Emily Young, who in those days was nicknamed the "psychedelic schoolgirl" at London's legendary UFO club.
Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title: When I Was Young
Source: Mono CD: The Best of Eric Burdon and the Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
After the Animals disbanded in 1966, Eric Burdon set out to form a new band that would be far more psychedelic than the original group. The first release from these "New Animals" was When I Was Young. The song was credited to the entire band, a practice that would continue throughout the entire existence of the group that came to be called Eric Burdon And The Animals.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Foxy Lady
Source: LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
The first track on the original release of Are You Experienced was Foxy Lady. The British custom of the time was to not include any songs on albums that had been previously released as singles. When Reprise Records got the rights to release the album in the US, it was decided to include three songs that had all been top 40 hits in the UK. One of those songs, Purple Haze, took over the opening spot on the album, and Foxy Lady was moved to the middle of side 2. For some reason Reprise Records misspelled the title as Foxey Lady, and continued to do so on posthumous compilations such as The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two.
Title: The Train Kept A-Rollin'
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Great Hits (originally released on LP: Having A Rave-Up)
Originally recorded by Tiny Bradshaw in 1951, The Train Kept A-Rollin' was transformed from a relatively unremarkable jump blues tune into a rock classic when it was reworked by Jeff Beck and the Yardbirds in 1965. The song was chosen to be featured in the film Blowup the following year, but when the filmmakers ran into difficulties securing copyrights to the song Yardbirds vocalist Keith Relf came up with new lyrics and a new title, Stroll On. The entire band, including new member Jimmy Page, was given songwriting credit for the 1966 version of the song.
Title: A Well Respected Man
Source: LP: Kinkdom
Writer: Ray Davies
The Kinks were one of the original British Invasion bands, scoring huge R&B-influenced hits with You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night in 1964. The hits continued in 1965 with more melodic songs like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You. By the end of the year Ray Davies's songwriting was beginning to take a satiric turn, as A Well Respected Man amply illustrates. Over the next few years the Kinks would continue to evolve, generally getting decent critical reviews and moderate record sales for their albums. The title of one of those later albums, Muswell Hillbillies, refers to the Davies brothers hometown of Muswell Hill, North London.
Artist: Family Tree
Title: Live Your Own Life
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mira)
The Family Tree was actually one of the first rock bands to play the Fillmore, but even then were seen as interlopers due to their propensity for dressing and sounding like the Beatles and other Mercybeat bands. Live Your Own Life was intended for release on San Francisco's premier local label, Autumn Records, but for some unknown reason ended up on Mira (the same label that released L.A. band the Leaves' first records). Live Your Own Life is sometimes known as The Airplane Song due to its perceived similarity to some early Jefferson Airplane recordings.
Title: Bottle Of Wine
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Tom Paxton
Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs had previously had the number one song of the entire year 1963 with Sugar Shack, but had been completely derailed the following year by the British Invasion. After a nearly five-year drought they returned to the charts with Bottle of Wine in 1968. The Fireballs have the distinction of being one of the only bands from New Mexico ever to hit it big on the charts, recording all their hits at the same Norman Petty studios in Clovis, NM that Buddy Holly had used. After the Fireballs stopped recording, Petty moved into larger, more modern facilities that were used for the first record by country singer LeAnn Rimes in the 1990s. The original Norman Petty studios are now the Buddy Holly Museum.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens
Source: LP: The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens
While the first Beacon Street Union album is considered a psychedelic masterpiece, the followup LP, The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens, has a decidedly different feel to it. Some of this is attributable to a change in producer from Tom Wilson, whose work with Bob Dylan, the Mothers of Invention and others is legendary, to Wes Farrell, whose greatest success would come producing the Partridge Family in the early 1970s. Farrell used strings extensively to create a noticably more middle-of-the-road sound, as can be heard on the album's title track.
Artist: Fire Birds
Title: No Tomorrows
Source: CD: An Overdose Of Heavy Psych (originally released on LP: Light My Fire)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Crown)
Throughout the 50s and 60s there were literally hundreds of budget labels that made their fortunes fooling record buyers into thinking they were getting hit records at a discounted price, when in reality they were getting cheap cover versions by uncredited and underpaid studio musicians. One of the most successful of these budget labels was Crown, a label created in 1953 by the Bahari Brothers which specialized in low-priced LPs spotlighting either a specific genre (polka, blues, gospel, etc.) or a particular artist via a tribute album that did not include any recordings by the actual artist. In 1969 Crown released a pair of hard psychedelic LPs: Hair, by 31 Flavors, and Light My Fire, by the Firebirds. In reality, they were both by the same band, rumored to be a local Los Angeles group that was not actually called either the Firebirds or 31 Flavors. Unlike most Crown releases, however, these two albums featured original material such as No Tomorrow that would not have been out of place beside albums by Blue Cheer or early Grand Funk Railroad.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Two Heads
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s): Grace Slick
Label: RCA Victor
The third Jefferson Airplane album, After Bathing At Baxter's, saw the group moving in increasingly experimental directions, as Grace Slick's two contributions to the LP attest. The more accessible of the two was Two Heads, which was the first part of Schizoforest Love Suite, the fifth and final "suite" on the album.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Plastic Fantastic Lover
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
Jefferson Airplane scored their first top 10 hit with Somebody To Love, the second single released from the Surrealistic Pillow album. Almost immediately, forward-thinking FM stations began playing other tracks from the album. One of those favored album tracks, Plastic Fantastic Lover, ended up being the B side of the band's follow-up single, White Rabbit. When the Airplane reunited in 1989 and issued their two-disc retrospective, 2400 Fulton Street, they issued a special stereo pressing of the single on white vinyl as a way of promoting the collection.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: The Last Wall Of The Castle
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer: Jorma Kaukonen
Label: RCA Victor
Following the massive success of the Surrealistic Pillow album with its two top 10 singles (Somebody To Love and White Rabbit) the members of Jefferson Airplane made a conscious choice to put artistic goals above commercial ones for their next LP, After Bathing At Baxter's. The result was an album that defines the term "acid rock" in more ways than one. One of the few songs on the album that does not cross-fade into or out of another song is this tune from Jorma Kaukonen, his first non-acoustic song to be recorded by the band.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Parchman Farm
Source: CD: The Blues Project Anthology
Writer(s): Mose Allison
Year: Recorded 1965, released 1997
Autumn of 1965 was a busy, and quite productive, time for the Greenwich Village based Blues Project. The band had added keyboardist Al Kooper in mid-October. At around that same time they signed with MGM's Verve Forecast label and got a steady gig at Howard Solomon's Cafe Au Go Go, on Bleeker Street in the Village. By early November they were playing to a full house every night, prompting Solomon to organize a Thanksgiving weekend bash to be called the Blues Bag. In addition to the Blues Project, the playbill included John Lee Hooker, Son House, Bukka White, Geoff Muldaur, Eric Anderson and several electric bands, including Buzzy Linhart's Seventh Sons. Solomon managed to get Verve Folkways to not only record the Blues Project's portion of the show, but to finance the entire weekend gig. The tracks recorded at the Blues Bag were to be used for the Blues Project's debut LP, but in January a huge problem caused everyone involved to rethink their plans. Lead vocalist Tommy Flanders had a girlfriend who convinced him that he was the band's big star and as such, should get special treatment from pretty much everyone. When the rest of the band took exception to this idea Flanders walked out, never to return. For obvious reasons, nobody wanted to release an album featuring a lead vocalist who was no longer a member of the band; the solution was to set up another live recording session, again at the Cafe Au Go Go. Ultimately, some of the tracks with Flanders were used on the album, with the remaining tracks remaining unreleased until 1997, when the Blues Project Anthology was released. Among those unreleased tracks was the band's take on the old Mose Allison tune, Parchman Farm.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: The Flute Thing
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): Al Kooper
Label: Verve Forecast
The Blues Project was one of the most influential bands in rock history, yet to this day remains one of the most obscure. Perhaps the first of the "underground" rock bands, the Project made their name by playing small colleges across the country (including Hobart College, where Stuck in the Psychedelic Era is produced). The Flute Thing, from the group's first studio LP, Projections, features bassist Andy Kuhlberg on flute, with rhythm guitarist Steve Katz taking over the bass playing, joining lead guitarist Danny Kalb and keyboardist Al Kooper for a tune that owes more to jazz artists like Roland Kirk than to anything top 40 rock had to offer at the time.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Gentle Dreams
Source: CD: The Blues Project Anthology (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
There is no question that the Blues Project was a band ahead of its time. They were the first jam band, touring extensively from coast to coast, influencing countless musicians along the way (including the members of a band called the Warlocks, who would soon change their name to the Grateful Dead) to take a chance on improvisation. Still, they existed at a time when top 40 radio airplay was the measure of success. By this standard, the Blues Project was a dismal failure. Their only charted single, Al Kooper's No Time Like The Right Time, stalled out at #97, spending all of two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, and even that rather excellent track was not representative of the band's live sound. In fact, none of the Blues Project singles (excepting their cover of Back Door Man) sounded much like the Blues Project that so excited audiences on college campuses across America. The problem was, in my opinion, that they were actually trying too hard to have a hit record, rather than playing to their own strengths. This is apparent when listening to the group's final single for the Verve Forecast label, a tune called Gentle Dreams co-written by guitarist Steve Katz (who sings on the track) and flautist/bassist Andy Kuhlberg. Like all of Katz's compositions, Gentle Dreams feels more like a folk song than the rest of the band's material. Unfortunately, Katz's vocals were not yet up to the level of quality he would achieve as a member of Blood, Sweat And Tears a few years later.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Uni)
Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was originally released to Los Angeles area radio stations it was intended to be the B side of The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side.
Artist: Third Bardo
Title: I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time
Source: Mono British import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released in US as 45 RPM single)
Label: Zonophone (original label: Roulette)
The Third Bardo (the name coming from the Tibetan Book of the Dead) only released one single, but I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time has become, over a period of time, one of the most sought-after records of the psychedelic era. Not much is known of this New York band made up of Jeffrey Moon (vocals), Bruce Ginsberg (drums), Ricky Goldclang (lead guitar), Damian Kelly (bass) and Richy Seslowe (guitar).
Artist: Tol-Puddle Martyrs
Title: Social Cell
Source: Mono CD: Tol-Pubble Martyrs (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Peter Rechter
Label: Secret Deals (original labels: Pacific/Spiral)
The Tol-Puddle Martyrs' Social Cell was originally released as a B side on the Pacific label, until the owner of the Pacific label was informed that there was already a Pacific label operating in Melbourne. At that time the label was hastily changed to Spiral, with the record having the same catalogue number.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Source: 45 RPM single (simulated stereo reissue)
Label: A&M (original label: Deram)
Often credited as being the first progressive rock band, Procol Harum drew heavily from classical music sources, such as the Bach inspired theme used by organist Matthew Fisher as the signature rift for A Whiter Shade of Pale. Fisher initially did not get writing credit for his contributions to the song, but finally, after several lawsuits, began collecting royalties for the song in 2009. A Whiter Shade Of Pale, incidentally, holds the distinction of being the most-played song on the British airwaves of the past 70 years.