Monday, May 1, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1718 (starts 5/3/17)
Someone recently asked for more Pink Floyd on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era. This week you get exactly that. And sets from Cream and the Kinks. And a whole lot of other stuff, too. See what happens when you ask?
Artist: Human Beinz
Title: Nobody But Me
Source: CD: Battle Of The Band-Vol. II (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ron, Rudy and O'Kelley Isley
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
The Human Beinz were a band that had been around since 1964 doing mostly club gigs in the Youngstown, Ohio area as the Premiers. In the late 60s they decided to update their image with a name more in tune with the times and came up with the Human Beingz. Unfortunately someone at Capitol misspelled their name on the label of Nobody But Me, and after the song became a national hit the band was stuck with the new spelling. The band split up in 1969, but after Nobody But Me was featured in the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill: Vol.1, original leader Ting Markulin reformed the band with a new lineup that has appeared in the Northeastern US in recent years.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Source: LP: Between The Buttons
Often dismissed as the beginning of a departure from their blues roots, the Rolling Stones first LP of 1967, Between The Buttons, actually has a lot of good tunes on it, such as Connection, a song with multiple meanings. Most studios at that time only had four tracks available and would use two tape machines to mix the first tracks recorded on one machine (usually the instrumental tracks) down to a single track on the other machine, freeing up the remaining tracks for overdubs. This process, known as "bouncing", sometimes happened two or three times on a single recording if extra overdubs were needed. Unfortunately each pass resulted in a loss of quality on the bounced tracks, especially if the equipment was not properly maintained. This is particularly noticeable on Connection, as the final mix seems to have lost most of its high and low frequencies, resulting in an unintentionally "lo-fi" recording.
Title: Remember Sam
Source: Mono LP: Friday On My Mind
Label: United Artists
Following up on their international hit Friday On My Mind, the Easybeats released their first album under their new contract with United Artists in early 1967. The album came out in Europe first under the title Good Friday, then appeared later the same month in North America, retitled Friday On My Mind and sporting a different cover. Although there were a couple of cover songs on the LP, the bulk of the album's material, including Remember Sam, was written by band members Harry Vanda and George Young, who had emerged the previous year as the band's primary songwriting team.
Source: CD: Help!
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
One of the best-known songs of all time, Help was the theme of the second Beatles movie. The soundtrack album featured a combination of songs that were used in the film and new material, most of which was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The album cover itself shows the four Beatles holding their arms out in positions resembling those used by flagmen using semaphore. Supposedly they were spelling out the word "help", but those knowledgeable in semaphore say that the four letters they are signaling are entirely different, and actually make no sense. Regardless, the album represents the zenith of the early Beatles sound, with a few hints of the direction they would begin to take with their next LP, Rubber Soul.
Title: No Me Tomorrow
Source: British import CD: With Love-A Pot Of Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
No Me Tomorrow, the B side of the only single issued on the Mainstream label by the Los Angeles based Euphoria, can best be described as the dark side of folk rock. Most of the song is in a minor key, with almost suicidal lyrics. About 3/4 of the way through, though, it becomes a high energy instrumental that sounds like a cross between Dick Dale and Ginger Baker. Euphoria itself was the creation of multi-instrumentalists Wesley Watt and Bill Lincoln, who wrote No Me Tomorrow. At the time Ne Me Tomorrow was recorded, Euphoria also included drummer David Potter (who had been with the group right from the start) and Texans James Harrell (guitar) and Peter Black (bass), both of which had been members of the Houston-based Misfits. Lincoln had already left the group (temporarily it turns out) to get married and move to England. A Euphoria LP appeared in 1969 on the Capitol label that included both Watt and Lincoln, along with several studio musicians.
Title: Silas Stingy
Source: LP: The Who Sell Out
Writer(s): John Entwistle
John Alec Entwistle did not write average songs. For example, his best known song, Boris The Spider, was about, well, a spider. Whiskey Man dealt with a drunk's imaginary friend. And then there was Silas Stingy, from The Who Sell Out. The song tells the story of a man who was so miserly he spent his entire fortune on protecting his money, thus ending up with nothing at all. One of my all-time favorite Who tracks.
Artist: October Country
Title: My Girlfriend Is A Witch
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Michael Lloyd
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
By 1968 the L.A. under-age club scene was winding down, and several now out of work bands were making last (and sometimes only) attempts at garnering hits in the studio. One such band was October Country, whose first release had gotten a fair amount of local airplay, but who had become bogged down trying to come up with lyrics for a follow-up single. Enter Michael Lloyd, recently split from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and looking to become a record producer. Lloyd not only produced and wrote the lyrics for My Girlfriend Is A Witch, he also ended up playing drums on the record as well.
Title: Evil Ways
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Santana)
Writer(s): Clarence Henry
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Evil Ways was originally released in 1968 by jazz percussionist Willie Bobo on an album of the same name. When Carlos Santana took his new band into the studio to record their first LP, they made the song their own, taking it into the top 10 in 1969.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Pali Gap
Source: CD: South Saturn Delta (originally released on LP: Rainbow Bridge)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Although it first appeared (in a shorter version) on the Rainbow Bridge album, Pali Gap was, in reality, a portion of a jam session. Hendrix, along with drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Billy Cox, were just putting the finishing touches on Dolly Dagger on July 1, 1970. As the band continued to play through what would be a fadeout in the final mix, Cox began playing the bass line of Gimme Some Lovin'. Hendrix and Mitchell joined in on what became a 10-minute long jam. About three minutes in, Hendrix began playing a new riff, with the others quickly falling into. It was this section of the tape that would eventually be issued as Pali Gap (titled post-humously by Hendrix's manager, Michael Jeffery).
Title: Sweet Wine
Source: CD: Fresh Cream
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
When Cream was formed, both bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker had new music for the band to record (guitarist Eric Clapton having chosen to shut up and play his guitar for the most part). Most of these new songs, however, did not yet have words to go with the music. To remedy the situation, both musicians brought in outside lyricists. Baker chose poet Pete Brown, while Bruce chose to bring in his wife, Janet Godfrey. After a short time it became apparent that Bruce and Brown had a natural affinity for each other's material, and formed a partnership that would last years. Baker, meanwhile, tried working with Godfrey, but the two only came up with one song together, Sweet Wine, which was included on the band's debut LP, Fresh Cream.
Source: LP: Fresh Cream
Writer: Jack Bruce
The first Cream album starts off the with powerful one-two punch of I Feel Free and N.S.U. Although I Feel Free was a purely studio creation that never got performed live, N.S.U. became a staple of the band's concert performances, and was even performed by various other bands that bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce was a member of over the years.
Title: The Coffee Song
Source: CD: Fresh Cream (bonus track originally released in Sweden on LP: Fresh Cream and as 45 RPM single B side)
Cream's debut single, Wrapping Paper, appeared in England in 1966. The record did not chart and was soon forgotten. Cream's next single, I Feel Free, was a huge hit in the UK and the band soon got to work on their first LP. The practice in the UK at the time was to not include any songs on an album that had previously been released as singles; Fresh Cream partially broke with this tradition by using I Feel Free's B side, N.S.U., as the opening track. When a US version of Fresh Cream was released in early 1967, I Feel Free was added to the lineup (replacing the original studio version of Spoonful). Neither side of the band's first single was included on the album...with one notable exception. The German pressing of Fresh Cream used the same track listing as the original UK version, but a Swedish version, manufactured in Germany, had two extra tracks: Wrapping Paper and another unreleased recording, The Coffee Song. Neither song was released anywhere else until the late 1980s, when the first US CD version of Fresh Cream included all the tracks from the various LP pressings of the album. For unknown reasons, subsequent releases of Fresh Cream have not included either Wrapping Paper or The Coffee Song (although the band members' oft expressed distaste for both songs may have something to do with it).
Title: As Far As You Can See (As Much As You Can Feel)
Source: LP: In The Garden
Writer: Enrico Rosenbaum
From late 1969 to mid 1970 Gypsy was the house band at L.A's Whisky-A-Go-Go. During that period they released their first album, featuring the song Gypsy Queen. By the time the band's second LP, In The Garden, was released the group had gone through several personnel changes, with only keyboardist James Walsh, guitarist James Johnson and bandleader Enrico Rosenbaum, who played guitar and sang lead vocals, remaining from the lineup that had recorded the first LP. The new members included Bill Lordan (who would go on record several albums with Robin Trower) on drums and the legendary Willie Weeks on bass.
Artist: Crosby, Stills And Nash
Title: Wooden Ships
Source: LP: So Far (originally released on LP: Crosby, Stills And Nash)
Among the various legendary characters on the late 60s San Francisco music scene, none is more reviled than Matthew Katz. His mistreatment of It's A Beautiful Day is legendary. Just about every band he managed was desperate to get out of their contract with him, including Moby Grape and Jefferson Airplane. In fact, it was because of the Airplane's fight to get out from under Katz's thumb that Paul Kantner did not get a writing credit for Wooden Ships on the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album. David Crosby had this to say on the matter: "Paul called me up and said that he was having this major duke-out with this horrible guy who was managing the band, and he was freezing everything their names were on. 'He might injunct the release of your record,' he told me. So we didn’t put Paul’s name on it for a while. In later versions, we made it very certain that he wrote it with us. Of course, we evened things up with him with a whole mess of cash when the record went huge." Although Jefferson Airplane eventually won their battle with Katz, others weren't so fortunate. Katz's San Francisco Sound still owns the rights to recordings by Moby Grape and It's A Beautiful Day, which explains why it's so hard to find quality copies of those recordings these days. Anyone want to take a guess how much the surviving members of those bands receive in royalties from the CD reissues of their albums?
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Talk Talk
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound)
When it came time for Sean Bonniwell's band, the Music Machine, to go into the studio, the group decided to go for the best sound possible. This meant signing with tiny Original Sound Records, despite having offers from bigger labels, due to Original Sound having their own state-of-the-art eight-track studios. Unfortunately for the band, they soon discovered that having great equipment did not mean Original Sound made great decisions. One of the first, in fact, was to include a handful of cover songs on the Music Machine's first LP that were recorded for use on a local TV show. Bonniwell was livid when he found out, as he had envisioned an album made up entirely of his own compositions (although he reportedly did plan to use a slowed-down version of Hey Joe that he and Tim Rose had worked up). From that point on it was only a matter of time until the Music Machine and Original Sound parted company, but not until after they scored a big national hit with Talk Talk (which had been previously recorded at RCA's Burbank studios) in 1966.
Source: Mono British import CD: Face To Face
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Sanctuary (original label: Pye; original US label: Reprise)
Ray Davies was well into his satirical phase when he wrote and recorded Dandy for the Kinks' 1966 album Face To Face. The song was a top 10 single in the UK, but was only available as an album track in the US. Later that year the song was covered by Herman's Hermits, becoming a hit on the US top 40 charts (but not in England).
Title: Tired Of Waiting For You
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Priority (original label: Reprise)
After a series of hard-rocking hits such as You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night, the Kinks surprised everyone with the highly melodic Tired Of Waiting For You in 1965. As it turns out the song was just one of many steps in the continually maturing songwriting of Ray Davies.
Source: Mono British import CD: Face To Face
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Sanctuary (original label: Pye; original US label: Reprise)
One of the best albums in the Kinks library is Face To Face. Released in 1966, the album features such classics and Sunny Afternoon and Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, as well as some lesser-known (yet excellent) tracks such as Fancy, a personal favorite of songwriter Ray Davies, who recalls coming with the song late one night on his old Framus guitar. My first guitar was a Framus, but I sure didn't come up with anything remotely as cool as Fancy on it.
Artist: Eire Apparent
Title: The Clown
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released on LP: Sunrise)
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Buddah)
Eire Apparent was a band from Northern Ireland that got the attention of Chas Chandler, former bassist for the Animals in late 1967. Chandler had been managing Jimi Hendrix since he had discovered him playing in a club in New York a year before, bringing him back to England and introducing him to Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, who along with Hendrix would become the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Despite Eire Apparent having almost no recording experience, Chandler put them on the bill as the opening act for the touring Experience. This led to Hendrix producing the band's first and only album, Sunrise, in 1968, playing on at least three tracks, including, most obviously, The Clown.
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: Your Head Is Reeling
Source: LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer: Ian Bruce-Douglas
Ultimate Spinach was one of a group of bands signed by M-G-M in 1967 and marketed as being representative of the "Boss-town sound". Unfortunately for all involved, there really was no such thing as a "Boss-town sound" (for that matter there was no such thing as a "San Francisco sound" either, but that's another story). All the hype aside, Ultimate Spinach itself was the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Ian Bruce-Palmer, who wrote and arranged all the band's material. The opening track of side two of the band's debut album is a piece called Your Head Is Reeling, which, despite the somewhat cheesy spoken intro, is as good or better than any other raga styled song of the time.
Title: Renaissance Fair
Source: CD: 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.
Artist: Sound Magics
Title: Don't You Remember
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in the Netherlands as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): van Waegeningh/Mouris
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
Who were the Sound Magics? Good question. Here's what's known: they were a Dutch band, either from Doesburgse or Arnhem, that released two singles on the Philips label, the first of which was Don't You Remember, which hit the racks in 1966. The song was co-written by Rob van Waegeningh, who would resurface with a band called Moan (or the Moans) a couple of years later. One other thing: these guys seem to have been pretty well-financed, judging by the huge (for 1966) guitar amps they included on the picture sleeve of the Don't You Remember single.
Artist: Beau Brummels
Title: Just A Little
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Autumn)
Often dismissed as an American imitation of British Invasion bands such as the Beatles, the Beau Brummels actually played a pivotal role in rock music history. Formed in San Francisco in 1964, the Brummels were led by Ron Elliott, who co-wrote most of the band's material, including their two top 10 singles in 1965. The second of these, Just A Little, is often cited as the first folk-rock hit, as it was released a week before the Byrds' recording of Mr. Tambourine Man. According to Elliott, the band was not trying to invent folk-rock, however. Rather, it was their own limitations as musicians that forced them to work with what they had: solid vocal harmonies and a mixture of electric and acoustic guitars. Elliott also credits the contributions of producer Sylvester Stewart for the song's success. Conversely, Just A Little was Stewart's greatest success as a producer prior to forming his own band, Sly and the Family Stone, in 1967.
Artist: Nashville Teens
Title: Tobacco Road
Source: Mono CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: John D. Loudermilk
Label: KTel (original label: London)
The Nashville Teens were not teens. Nor were they from Nashville. In fact, they were one of the original British Invasion bands. Their version of John D. Loudermilk's Tobacco Road was a huge international hit in the summer of 1964. The lead guitar parts on the recording are the work of studio musician Jimmy Page.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: The Scarecrow
Source: CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Writer: Syd Barrett
Label: Capitol (original label: Tower)
Even people with only a passing familiarity with rock history know the name Pink Floyd. The album Dark Side Of The Moon set records for longevity on the Billboard album charts and the film version of The Wall was a midnight movie standard for years. With all that success it's easy to overlook the contributions made by the band's original lead guitarist and primary songwriter Syd Barrett. After two succesful singles, both written by Barrett, the band booked time in the Abbey Road studios to record their first LP, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (coincidentally, the Beatles were also at Abbey Road at that time recording Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band). Again, Barrett was the writer of record of the majority of material on the album, either as part of a group writing effort or, as is the case with Scarecrow, the sole songwriter. Sadly, mental health issues would sideline Barrett after Piper hit the racks and after contributing only a couple songs to the follow-up LP, A Saucerful Of Secrets, Barrett left Pink Floyd altogether, to be permanently replaced by David Gilmour.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: A Saucerful Of Secrets
Source: CD: A Saucerful Of Secrets
Label: EMI (original label: Tower)
I think it's safe to say that, along with George Harrison's Wonderwall Music, A Saucerful Of Secrets has to have been the most avant-garde album to come from a British rock band in 1968. Significantly, neither did well on the charts. In fact, A Saucerful Of Secrets is the only Pink Floyd LP not to hit the Billboard album charts when it was released (although it did make it in years later as part of a double-LP package). The fact that the album appeared on Capitol's notoriously low-budget Tower subsidiary probably did not help matters, as the album got virtually no promotional support from the label. Neither did the fact that the album's title track/centerpiece was a twelve-minute long instrumental (then, as now, vocals almost always drew a bigger audience than instrumentals). Nonetheless the piece, which consists of four parts (Something Else, Syncopated Pandemonium, Storm Signal and Celestial Voices), represents a significant chapter in the history of Pink Floyd, as it was the band's first major composition not to include input from founding member Syd Barrett, whose songwriting had dominated the band's early recorded work.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Matilda Mother
Source: CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Writer(s): Syd Barrett
Label: Capitol (original label: Tower)
Listening to tracks like Matilda Mother, I can't help but wonder where Pink Floyd might have gone if Syd Barrett had not succumbed to mental illness following the release of the band's first LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, in 1967. Unlike the rest of the band members, Barrett had the ability to write songs that were not only adventurous, but commercially viable as singles as well. After Barrett's departure, it took the group several years to become commercially successful on their own terms (although they obviously did). We'll never know what they may have done in the intervening years were Barrett still at the helm.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: The Great Banana Hoax
Source: CD: Underground
Label: Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
The second Electric Prunes LP, Underground, saw the band gaining greater creative control over the recording process than at any other time in their career (until their reformation in the 1990s). The album's opening track, The Great Banana Hoax, is notable for two reasons: first, it was composed by band members and second, it has nothing to do with bananas. The title probably refers to the rumor circulating at the time that Donovan's Mellow Yellow was really about smoking banana peels to get high. The song itself is an indication of the musical direction the band itself wanted to go in before it got sidetracked (some would say derailed) by producer David Hassinger, who would assert control to the point of eventually replacing all the original members of the band by their fourth album (yes, some producers had that kind of power in those days).
Artist: Elastik Band
Source: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): David Cortopassi
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Just plain weird, and probably politically incorrect as well, Spazz was the work of five young men from Belmont, California calling themselves the Elastik Band. For some odd reason, someone at Atco Records thought Spazz might be commercially viable, and released the track as a single in late 1967. They were wrong.
Artist: Small Faces
Title: Itchycoo Park
Source: British import CD: Ogden's Nut Gone Flake (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Charly (original label: Immediate)
Led by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, the Small Faces got their name from the fact that all the members of the band were somewhat vertically challenged. The group was quite popular with the London mod crowd, and was sometimes referred to as the East End's answer to the Who. Although quite successful in the UK, the group only managed to score one hit in the US, the iconic Itchycoo Park, which was released in late 1967. Following the departure of Marriott the group shortened their name to Faces, and recruited a new lead vocalist named Rod Stewart. Needless to say, the new version of the band did much better in the US than their previous incarnation.