Monday, July 3, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1727 (starts 7/5/17)
Our Advanced Psych summerfest continues (albeit back down to two tracks per show) with another Country Joe McDonald piece from his new album 50 and a tune from indy band A Cast Of Thousands. Plus a whole lot of 1967, a Hendrix set and several progressions through the years.
Title: 7&7 Is
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single. Stereo version released on LP: Da Capo)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
The word "seven" does not appear anywhere in the song 7&7 Is. In fact, I have no idea where Arthur Lee got that title from. Nonetheless, the song is among the most intense tracks to ever make the top 40. 7&7 Is starts off with power chords played over a constant drum roll (possibly played by Lee himself), with cymbals crashing over equally manic semi-spoken lyrics. The song builds up to an explosive climax: an atomic bomb blast followed by a slow post-apocalyptic instrumental that quickly fades away.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: She Has Funny Cars
Source: LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Label: RCA Victor
She Has Funny Cars, the opening track of Jefferson Airplane's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow, was a reference to some unusual possessions belonging to new drummer Spencer Dryden's girlfriend. As was the case with many of the early Airplane tracks, the title has nothing to do with the lyrics of the song itself. The song was also released as the B side to the band's first top 10 single, Somebody To Love.
Artist: Fairport Convention
Source: Mono British import CD: Fairport Convention (bonus track)
Writer(s): Leonard Cohen
Sometime after the release of their debut LP, Fairport Convention went back into the studio to record one of their most popular concert numbers, a cover of Leonard Cohen's Suzanne, featuring solo vocals from Ian Matthews (then known as Ian MacDonald). The fact that there are no female vocals on the recording is an indication that the song was probably recorded after the departure of Judy Dyble but before the arrival of new vocalist Sandy Denny.
Artist: Every Mother's Son
Title: Dolls In The Clock
Source: Mono LP: Every Mother's Son's Back
Writer(s): Dennis and Larry Larden
For being the largest city in the world (at the time) New York had relatively few popular local bands. Perhaps this is because of the wealth of entertainment and cultural choices in the Big Apple. In fact, the only notable local music scene was in Greenwich Village, which was more into folk and blues than mainstream rock. There were a few rock bands formed in New York, though. One example was Every Mother's Son, one-hit wonders with Come On Down To My Boat in 1967. The group was successful enough to record a second LP, Every Mother's Son's Back, later the same year. Although the album had no hit singles, it did have some interesting tracks such as Dolls In The Clock.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: All Sold Out
Source: LP: Between The Buttons
The Rolling Stones were on the verge of a transition period when they recorded Between The Buttons in August and September of 1966. Much of the album, including tracks like All Sold Out, were pretty much in the same vein as the songs on their previous album, Aftermath, yet Between The Buttons also marked the beginning of the band's brief flirtation with psychedelia as well. From a production standpoint the album suffered from the limitations of 4-track technology, which necessitated the use of "bouncing" (pre-mixing multiple tracks down to a single track to make room for overdubs on the original tracks), a process that often resulted in a loss of audio fidelity. In fact, Mick Jagger later referred to most of Between The Buttons as "more of less rubbish" because of the overall sound quality.
Artist: Mad River
Title: A Gazelle
Source: Mono British import CD: The Berkeley EPs (originally released in US on EP: Mad River)
Writer(s): Lawrence Hammond
Label: Big Beat (original label: Wee)
Mad River was formed in 1965 in Yellow Spings, Ohio, as the Mad River Blues Band. The group (after several personnel changes) relocated to the Berkeley, California in spring of 1967, and soon began appearing at local clubs, often alongside Country Joe And The Fish. Around this time the band came into contact with Lonnie Hewitt, a jazz musician who had started his own R&B-oriented label, Wee. After auditioning for Fantasy Records, the band decided instead to finance their own studio recordings, which were then issued as a three-song EP on Wee. With all their material having been written and arranged before the band left Ohio, and then perfected over a period of months, Mad River's EP was far more musically complex than what was generally being heard in the Bay Area at the time. The opening track, Amphetamine Gazell (the title having been temporarily shortened to A Gazelle for the EP) contains several starts and stops, as well as time changes. Bassist Lawrence Hammond's high pitched, almost operatic, vocal style actually enhances the lyrics, which drummer Greg Dewey described as "a teenager's idea of what it must be like to be hip and cool in California". The song was recut (with its original title restored and even more abrupt starts and stops), for Mad River's Capitol debut LP the following year.
Title: Light My Fire
Source: Mono LP: The Doors
Writer(s): The Doors
The first Doors album was the only one to be released in both mono and stereo versions. Due to an error in the mastering process the stereo version was slowed down by about 3.5%, or about half a step in musical terms. As the mono version was deleted from the Elektra catalog soon after the album's release, the error went unnoticed for many years until a college professor contacted engineer Bruce Botnick and told him of the discrepancy. This particular mono copy of the album is a bit worn, but still listenable. See if you can tell the difference.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: The Grateful Dead
Writer(s): McGannahan Skjellyfetti
Label: Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
The Grateful Dead's debut single actually sold pretty well in the San Francisco Bay area, where it got airplay on top 40 stations from San Francisco to San Jose. Around the rest of the country, not so much, but the Dead would soon prove that there was more to survival than having a hit record. Writing credits on The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion) were given to McGannahan Skjellyfetti, which like the Rolling Stones' Nanker Phelge was a name used for songs written by the entire band (it took up less space on the label).
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: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Bang Bang
Source: LP: Vanilla Fudge
Writer: Sonny Bono
Vanilla Fudge made their reputation by taking popular hit songs, such as the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On, and extensively re-arranging them, giving the songs an almost classical feel. In fact, some of their arrangements incorporated (uncredited) snippets of actually classical pieces. One glaring example is the Vanilla Fudge arrangement of Cher's biggest solo hit of the 60s, Bang Bang (written by her then-husband Sonny Bono). Unfortunately, although I recognize the classical piece the band uses for an intro to Bang Bang, I can't seem to remember what it's called or who wrote it. Anyone out there able to help? I think it may have been used in a 1950s movie like The King And I or Attack of the Killer Women from Planet X.
Artist: Brass Buttons
Title: Hell Will Take Care Of Her
Source: Mono CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Jay Copozzi
Label: Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Cotillion)
Rochester, New York, was home to both guitarist Gene Cornish and a band called the Brass Buttons. Cornish, who had been born in Ottawa, Canada, left Rochester for New York City in the early 1960s, eventually co-founding the most successful blue-eyed soul band in history, the (Young) Rascals. By 1968 the Rascals had formed their own production company, Peace, and Cornish invited his friends from the Brass Buttons to record a pair of songs for Peace. The recordings, including a scathing breakup song called Hell Will Take Care Of Her, were released on Atlantic's Cotillion subsidiary in 1968.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Source: LP: The Cry Of Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Recorded during July and August of 1970, Drifting was first released on the 1971 album The Cry Of Love six months after the death of Jimi Hendrix. The song features Hendrix on guitar and vocal, Mitch Mitchell on drums and Billy Cox on bass. Buzzy Linhart makes a guest appearance on the tune, playing vibraphone.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: All Along The Watchtower
Source: LP: Smash Hits (originally released on LP: Electric Ladyland)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Although there have been countless covers of Bob Dylan songs recorded by a variety of artists, very few of them have become better known than the original Dylan versions. Probably the most notable exception is the Jimi Hendrix Experience version of All Along The Watchtower on the Electric Ladyland album. Hendrix's arrangement of the song has been adopted by several other musicians over the years, including Neil Young (at the massive Bob Dylan tribute concert) and even Dylan himself.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Belly Button Window
Source: CD: First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (originally released on LP: The Cry Of Love)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Following the death of Jimi Hendrix, Reprise Records got to work compiling tracks for The Cry Of Love, the first of many posthumous Hendrix albums released by the label. The final track on the LP was an unfinished piece called Belly Button Window that featured Hendrix on vocals and electric guitar, with no other musicians appearing on the track. In the late 1990s the Hendrix family released a CD called First Rays Of The New Rising Sun that was based on Hendrix's own plans for a double-length album that he was working on at the time of his death. First Rays Of The New Rising Sun ends with the same bare bones recording of Belly Button Window that was used on The Cry Of Love.
Title: Mr. Armageddon
Source: British import CD: Psychedelic At Abbey Road (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: We Are Everything You See)
Writer(s): Norman Haines
Label: EMI (original label: Parlophone)
It's probably more than appropriate that a band from Birmingham, England, home of the industrial revolution, would have a name like Locomotive. Led by vocalist/guitarist Norman Haines, the group also included Mick Taylor (trumpet), Will Madge (keyboards), Mick Hincks (bass), and Bob Lamb (drums). After making their vinyl debut on the Direction label, the band moved to the larger Parlophone, recording their only album in 1968. The album, including the single Mr. Armageddon, was released in January of 1969. Not long after the album appeared on the racks Haines disbanded Locomotive and formed the Norman Haines group.
Artist: Herman's Hermits
Title: A Must To Avoid
Source: Mono CD: Their Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Following in the footsteps of the Beatles, Herman's Hermits starred in a movie called Hold On! Released in 1966, this was actually the second film to feature the group, although the first one, When The Boys Meet The Girls, was actually a Connie Francis vehicle that also featured appearances from Sam The Sham and the Pharoahs, Louis Armstrong, and other well-known musicians (even Liberace!). The music for the earlier film was written by Fred Karger, so naturally the producers turned to him for songs for the new film, originally meant to be titled There's No Place Like Space. Neither the band or their producer, Mickey Most, were happy with Karger's theme song, however, so they asked co-star Shelley Fabares's husband, record mogul Lou Adler, for help. Adler had just started his own record label, Dunhill, and was working closely with songwriters Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan on a project that would eventually become a band called the Grass Roots. Barri and Sloan agreed to write songs for the film, and its soundtrack album, now tentatively titled A Must To Avoid. Although the producers ultimately vetoed that title, Sloan and Barri had already written the song, and it became the lead single from the movie's soundtrack album. A Must To Avoid, released in late 1965 in advance of the film itself, ended up being one of Herman's Hermits biggest hits, reaching the top 10 in several countries, including New Zealand, where it hit the #1 spot.
Artist: Country Joe McDonald
Title: Poppa And Momma
Source: CD: 50
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rag Baby
Poppa And Momma, from the 2017 Country Joe McDonald album 50, has a message that is totally at odds with the current "me and mine" philosophy that dominates modern American thinking. No wonder I like it so much.
Artist: A Cast Of Thousands
Source: CD: Alone In The Crowd
Writer(s): Beth Beer
Despite the implications of their name, A Cast Of Thousands is actually three people: Terry Cuddy (guitar), Beth Beer (bass) and Jim Andrews (drums). All are from Auburn, NY, where the band was formed in 2010. Their third album, Alone In The Crowd, has 16 tracks, most of which were written by Beers, who also handles the lead vocals on tunes such as Salvation. If you're into songs that actually mean something, this one is definitely worth checking out.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Like A Rolling Stone
Source: CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Highway 61 Revisited)
Writer: Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan incurred the wrath of folk purists when he decided to use electric instruments for his 1965 LP Highway 61 Revisited. The opening track on the album is the six-minute Like A Rolling Stone, a song that was also selected to be the first single released from the new album. After the single was pressed, the shirts at Columbia Records decided to cancel the release due to its length. An acetate copy of the record, however, made it to a local New York club, where, by audience request, the record was played over and over until it was worn out (acetate copies not being as durable as their vinyl counterparts). When Columbia started getting calls from local radio stations demanding copies of the song the next morning they decided to release the single after all. Like A Rolling Stone ended up going all the way to the number two spot on the US charts, doing quite well in several other countries as well.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer: John Sebastian
Label: Buddah (original label: Kama Sutra)
One of the most popular songs of 1966 was Daydream by the Lovin' Spoonful. Like many of the songs on the Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful album, Daydream is a departure from the style of the band's early singles such as Do You Believe In Magic. It's also one of the few songs with whistling in it to hit the number one spot on the charts.
Artist: "E" Types
Title: Put The Clock Back On The Wall
Source: CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
The E-Types were originally from Salinas, California, which at the time was known for it's sulfiric smell by travelers along US 101. As many people from Salinas apparently went to "nearby" San Jose (about 60 miles to the north) as often as possible, the E-Types became regulars on the local scene, eventually landing a contract with Tower Records and Ed Cobb, who also produced the Standells and the Chocolate Watchband. The Bonner/Gordon songwriting team were just a couple months away from getting huge royalty checks from the Turtles' Happy Together when Put The Clock Back On The Wall was released in early 1967. The song takes its title from a popular phrase of the time. After a day or two of losing all awareness of time (and sometimes space) it was time to put the clock back on the wall, or get back to reality if you prefer.
Title: 900 Million People Daily (All Making Love)
Source: Mono British import CD: Singles As & Bs (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: Big Beat (original label: GNP Crescendo)
The last single released by the classic Seeds lineup of Sky Saxon (vocals), Jan Savage (guitar), Rick Andridge (drums) and Daryl Hooper (keyboards) was a Jan Savage tune called Satisfy You. The B side of the single was the last truly classic Seeds song, a Sky Saxon composition called 900 Million People Daily (All Making Love). It was the band's only release of 1968, coming out early in the year. By this point the band was not gigging regularly, and Andridge quit the band in June, hastening the group's decline. The band's next recording sessions would be produced by Kim Fowley, using outside material that really didn't fit the Seeds at all. By 1970, with Saxon's personal situation deteriorating rapidly, the Seeds completely fell apart.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: The People In Me
Source: CD: Turn On The Music Machine
Writer: Sean Bonniwell
Label: Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
After Talk Talk soared into the upper reaches of the US charts the Music Machine's management made a tactical error. Instead of promoting the follow-up single, The People In Me, to the largest possible audience, the band's manager gave exclusive air rights to a new station at the far end of the Los Angeles AM radio dial. As local bands like the Music Machine depended on airplay in L.A. as a necessary step to getting national exposure, the move proved disastrous. Without any airplay on influential stations such as KFI, The People In Me was unable to get any higher than the # 66 spot on the national charts. Even worse for the band, the big stations remembered the slight when subsequent singles by the Music Machine were released, and by mid-1967 the original lineup had disbanded.
Title: Randy Scouse Git
Source: CD: Headquarters
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
The original concept for the Monkees TV series was that the band would be shown performing two new songs on each weekly episodes. This meant that, even for an initial 13-week order, 26 songs would have to be recorded in a very short amount of time. The only way to meet that deadline was for several teams of producers, songwriters and studio musicians to work independently of each other at the same time. The instrumental tracks were then submitted to musical director Don Kirschner, who brought in Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith to record vocal tracks. Although some of the instrumental tracks, such as those produced by Nesmith, had Nesmith and Tork playing on them, many did not. Some backing tracks were even recorded in New York at the same time as the TV show was being taped in L.A. In a few cases, the Monkees themselves did not hear the songs until they were in the studio to record their vocal tracks. A dozen of these recordings were chosen for release on the first Monkees LP in 1966, including the hit single Last Train To Clarksville. When it became clear that the show was a hit and a full season's worth of episodes would be needed, Kirschner commissioned even more new songs (although by then Clarksville was being featured in nearly every episode, mitigating the need for new songs somewhat). Without the band's knowledge Kirschner issued a second album, More Of The Monkees, in early 1967, using several of the songs recorded specifically for the TV show. The band members were furious, and the subsequent firestorm resulted in the removal of Kirschner from the entire Monkees project. The group then hired Turtles bassist Chip Douglas to work with the band to produce an album of songs that the Monkees themselves would both sing and play on. The album, Headquarters, spent one week at the top of the charts before giving way to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. There were, however, no singles released from the album; at least not in the US. It turns out that the seemingly nonsensical title of the album's final track, Randy Scouse Git, was actually British slang for horny guy from Liverpool, or something along those lines. The song was released everywhere but the continental US under the name Alternate Title and was a surprise worldwide hit.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Boogie Music
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Living The Blues and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): L.T.Tatman III
Label: United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Canned Heat was formed in 1966 by a group of San Francisco Bay Area blues purists. Although a favorite on the rock scene, the band continued to remain true to the blues throughout their existence, even after relocating to the Laurel Canyon area near Los Angeles in 1968. The band's most popular single was Going Up the Country from the album Living the Blues. An edited version of Boogie Music, also from Living the Blues, was issued as the B side of that single. This is a stereo mix of that version, featured on a United Artists anthology album released in 1969.
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Brave New World
Source: LP: Homer soundtrack (originally released on LP: Brave New World)
Writer(s): Steve Miller
Label: Cotillion (original label: Capitol)
It took the Steve Miller Band half a dozen albums (plus appearances on a couple of movie soundtracks) to achieve star status in the early 1970s. Along the way they developed a cult following that added new members with each successive album. The fourth Miller album was Brave New World, the title track of which was used in the film Homer, a 1970 film that is better remembered for its soundtrack than for the film itself.
Title: Everybody's Been Burned
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): David Crosby
There is a common misconception that David Crosby's songwriting skills didn't fully develop until he began working with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. A listen to Everybody's Been Burned from the Byrds' 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday, however, puts the lie to that theory in a hurry. The track has all the hallmarks of a classic Crosby song: a strong melody, intelligent lyrics and an innovative chord structure. It's also my personal favorite tune from what is arguably the Byrds' best LP.
Title: Dance The Night Away
Source: LP: Disraeli Gears
Label: RSO (original label: Atco)
The album Fresh Cream was perhaps the first LP from a rock supergroup, although at the time a more accurate description would have been British blues supergroup. Much of the album was reworking of blues standards by the trio of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, all of whom had established their credentials with various British blues bands. With Disraeli Gears, however, Cream showed a psychedelic side as well as their original blues orientation. Most of the more psychedelic material, such as Dance the Night Away, was from the songwriting team of Bruce and lyricist Pete Brown.
Title: War And Peace
Source: The Thoughts Of Everlist Davjack
Writer(s): Keith Emerson
Label: Fuel 2000
The Nice, the first band to fuse rock, jazz and classical music, creating a totally new genre in the process, had rather unique origins. In 1966 Ike and Tina Turner did a tour of England, with their backup vocal group, the Ikettes, in tow. One of the Ikettes, P.P. Arnold, made such a strong impression on both Mick Jagger and his manager/producer, Andrew Loog Oldham, that they convinced her to stay in London and embark on a solo career. Starting in April of 1967, Oldham, who was in the process of setting up his own record label, set about putting together a band to back her up. Oldham's first recruit was bassist Lee Jackson of the local R&B group Gary Farr and the T-Bones. Jackson soon brought in former fellow T-Bone Keith Emerson, who was already getting a reputation as the London club circuit's hottest Hammond organ player. The two of them soon recruited guitarist Davy O'List and drummer Brian Davison to complete the new band, which Oldham had already decided would be called the Nice. To save money, Oldham, instead of hiring an opening act, let the Nice do a short warmup set before being joined by Arnold onstage. Since Arnold herself performed a fairly standard mix of R&B and soul songs, the Nice were encouraged to create something different for their own set. That "something different" ended up being a mix of jazz, classical and psychedelic rock that had never been heard before. It wasn't long before the Nice, with their new "progressive rock" sound, became a bigger attraction than Arnold herself, and by the end of the year the Nice had signed with Oldham's new label, Immediate Records. In December of 1967 The Thoughts Of Everlist Davjack (the title being an amalgamation of the members' last names) was released. Early releases of the album gave shared songwriting credits to the entire band. The CD reissue of The Thoughts Of Everlist Davjack, however, is more specific, with Emerson getting sole writing credit for War And Peace, the opening track of side two of the original LP.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Lazy Day
Source: LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
Although known mostly for being pioneers of baroque-rock, the Left Banke showed that they could, on occassion, rock out with the best of them on tracks like Lazy Day, which closed out their only LP. The song was also issued as the B side of their second hit, Pretty Ballerina. Incidentally, after the success of their first single, Walk Away Renee, the band formed their own publishing company for their original material, a practice that was fairly common then and now. Interestingly enough, they called that company Lazy Day Music.