Monday, July 17, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1729 (starts 7/19/17)
A lot of "new" stuff this week, with nearly a quarter of the tracks having never been played on the show before. Four of these are from artists making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut, too!
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing
Source: CD: Buffalo Springfield
Writer: Neil Young
One of the most influential folk-rock bands to come out of the L.A. scene was the Buffalo Springfield. The Springfield had several quality songwriters, including Neil Young, whose voice was deemed "too weird" by certain record company people. Thus we have Richie Furay handling the lead vocals on Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing, the group's debut single. The track was just one of several Young songs sung by Furay on the band's first album. By the time the second Buffalo Springfield album was released things had changed somewhat, and Young got to do his own lead vocals on songs like Mr. Soul and Broken Arrow.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Six O'Clock
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): John Sebastian
Label: Kama Sutra
The last top 20 hit for the Lovin' Spoonful was Six O'Clock, released in 1967. Shortly after the record came out John Sebastian left the group. The remaining members tried to carry on without him for a while, but were never able to duplicate the success of the Sebastian years.
Artist: Sound Sandwich
Title: Tow Away
Source: Mono LP: Ain't It Hard (released to radio stations as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Johnny Cole
Label: Sundazed (original label: Viva)
Sound Sandwich was a young (as in high school age) Los Angeles band that came under the wing of producer Johnny Cole, who wrote both of the band's singles. The second of these, Tow Away, does not show up in the database I usually use, leading me to believe the record was only released as a promo to L.A. area radio stations shortly before Viva Records closed its doors permanently.
Artist: Deep Purple
Source: CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Shades Of Deep Purple)
Writer: Joe South
Label: K-Tel (original label: Tetragrammaton)
British rockers Deep Purple scored a huge US hit in 1968 with their rocked out cover of Hush, a tune written by Joe South that had been an international hit for Billy Joe Royal the previous year. Oddly enough, the Deep Purple version of the tune was virtually ignored in their native England. The song was included on the album Shades Of Deep Purple, the first of three LPs to be released in the US on Tetragrammaton Records, a label partially owned by actor/comedian Bill Cosby. When Tetragrammaton folded shortly after the release of the third Deep Purple album, The Book Of Taleisyn, the band was left without a US label, and went through some personnel changes, including the addition of new lead vocalist Ian Gillian (who had sung the part of Jesus on the original Jesus Christ Superstar album), before signing to Warner Brothers and becoming a major force in 70s rock. Meanwhile, original vocalist Rod Evans hooked up with drummer Bobby Caldwell and two former members of Iron Butterfly to form Captain Beyond before fading from public view.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Summertime Blues
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Vincebus Eruptum)
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
If 1967 was the summer of love, then 1968 was the summer of violence. Framed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, both major anti-establishment movements of the time (civil rights and anti-war) became increasing radicalized and more violent. The hippies gave way to the Yippies, LSD gave way to crystal meth, and there were riots in the streets of several US cities. Against this backdrop Blue Cheer released one of the loudest and angriest recordings ever to grace the top 40: the proto-metal arrangement of Eddie Cochrane's 1958 classic Summertime Blues. It was the perfect soundtrack of its time.
Title: Psychedelic Senate
Source: CD: Shape Of Things To Come (originally released on LP: Wild In The Streets soundtrack)
Writer(s): Les Baxter
Label: Captain High (original label: Tower)
If I had to pick the most unlikely person to record something psychedelic that actually did record something psychedelic, that person would have to be Les Baxter. Born in 1922, Baxter became well-known in the 1940s as a composer and arranger for various swing bands. By the 50s he was leading his own orchestra, recording his own brand of what came to be known as "exotica", easy-listening music flavored with elements taken from non-Western musical traditions. In the 1960s he scored dozens of movie soundtracks, including many for the relatively low-budget American International Pictures, working with people like Roger Corman on films like The Raven, The Pit And The Pendulum and House Of Usher, as well as teen exploitation films like Beach Blanket Bingo. It was through this association that he got involved with a film called Wild In The Streets in 1968. Although much of the film's soundtrack was made up of songs by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and performed by the fictional Max Frost And The Troopers, there were a few Baxter pieces included as well, including Psychedelic Senate, a bit of incidental music written to underscore a scene wherein the entire US Senate gets dosed on LSD.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: Fakin' It
Source: LP: Bookends
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Fakin' It, originally released as a single in 1967, was a bit of a departure for Simon And Garfunkel, sounding more like British psychedelic music than American folk-rock. The track starts with an intro that is similar to the false ending to the Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever; midway through the record the tempo changes drastically for a short spoken word section that makes a reference to a "Mr. Leitch" (the last name of the Scottish folksinger turned psychedelic pioneer Donovan). The stereo mix of Fakin' It was first released on the 1968 LP Bookends.
Artist: H.P. Lovecraft
Title: I've Been Wrong Before
Source: CD: H.P. Lovecraft
Writer(s): Randy Newman
Label: Collector's Choice/Universal Music Special Markets
Formed in Chicago in 1967 by former folk singer George Edwards and classically trained multi-instrumentalist Dave Michaels, H.P. Lovecraft specialized in a brand of psychedelia inspired by the works of the author whose name they bore. The band's greatest strength was their ability to create a mood through their music, regardless of whether it was on their original material or on the cover songs that made up the majority of their debut LP, released late in the year. One such cover song was I've Been Wrong Before, a Randy Newman tune that had been a British hit for singer Cilia Black the previous year. The song had also been covered by Dusty Springfield and the California garage band New Breed, but the Lovecraft version has a mystical quality that sets it apart from the other versions of the tune.
As mentioned on this week's show, Drambuie by the Rochester, NY area band known as the Coachmen, is a complete mystery to me. A copy of the recording was provided to me by Tom at the Bop Shop up in the city itself. Normally I wouldn't even consider playing something without knowing who to credit, but the track is so cool that I had to give listeners a shot at hearing it, in the hopes that someone out there might be able to provide a little background info on it. That means you, so if you've got something for me, I'm listening.
Title: Pictures And Designs
Source: LP: A Web Of Sound
Label: GNP Crescendo
The first Seeds album was somewhat unusual for its time in that all the songs on the album (including both singles from the album) were written by members of the band itself. Unfortunately this resulted in a sort of formulaic sameness from one track to the next, with many tunes sounding like attempts to recapture the magic of their most famous song, Pushin' Too Hard. The second Seeds album, A Web Of Sound, also was made up of (mostly) original material, but this time Sky Saxon and company made an effort to expand beyond the formula with tracks like Pictures And Designs, which starts off sounding a bit like the Yardbirds, but soon becomes a snarling punk drone that manages to break new ground for the band while maintaining the distinctive Seeds sound.
Artist: New Dawn
Title: Slave Of Desire
Source: British import CD: With Love-A Pot Of Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
New Dawn, from the small town of Morgan Hill, California (a few miles south of San Jose), was not really a band. Rather, it was a trio of singer/songwriters who utilized the services of various local bands for live performances and studio musicians for their recordings. Schoolmates Tony Supnet, who also played guitar, Mike Leonti and Donnie Hill formed the group in 1961, originally calling themselves the Countdowns. They released a pair of singles on the local Link label, the second of which was recorded at San Francisco's Golden State Recorders. It was around that time that Bob Shad, owner of Mainstream Records, was in the Bay Area on a talent search. Shad was holding his auditions at Golden State, giving bands that had already recorded there an automatic in. Shad was impressed enough to offer the trio a contract, which resulted in a pair of singles using the name New Dawn. Although most of the group's material could best be described as light pop, the B side of the second single, a tune called Slave Of Desire, was much grittier. Leonti is the lead vocalist on the track, which, like the group's other recordings, utilized the talents of local studio musicians.
Source: CD: Spirit (bonus track)
Writer(s): Randy California
As is often the case, Spirit recorded more material for their first album than they could actually fit on two sides of LP vinyl without sacrificing sound quality. As a result, there were several unused tracks laying around for many years. In fact, it wasn't until the 1990s that some of these songs would finally be released as bonus tracks on the CD reissue of the first Spirit album. Among these "new" tunes is a Randy California composition called Veruska, a tune that starts off quietly, then gets very heavy before turning quiet again.
Title: Let The Duchess Go
Source: LP: Sea Train
Very few bands can claim to have gone through the kind of total changes that Seatrain experienced in their relatively short existence. Formed in Marin County, California by former members of the Blues Project, Mystery Trend and Jim Kweskin's Jug Band, Seatrain's first LP was released as a Blues Project album called Planned Obsolescence, in order to fulfill contractual obligations incurred by two of its members, Andy Kulberg and Roy Blumenthal. The official debut of Seatrain came in 1969 with the album Sea Train, released on the A&M label. Most of the songwriting came from guitarist John Gregory and vocalist Jim Roberts. The band's sound on this album might be best described as progressive folk music, with a strong element of fantasy, as can be heard on tracks like Let The Duchess Go. By the time Seatrain released its final album in 1973 only Kulberg remained from the band's original lineup, the group had relocated to Marblehead, Massachusetts and, most importantly, had completely changed its style to what would now be considered Americana, but at the time had people scratching their heads trying to figure out what to call it.
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: Don't Look Now (It Ain't You Or Me)
Source: LP: Willy And The Poor Boys
Writer: John Fogerty
The country-flavored Don't Look Now (It Ain't You Or Me) was never released as a single. Nor did it receive much FM airplay. Nonethelesst the song, which occupies the second spot on Creedence Clearwater Revival's Willy And The Poor Boys album, was featured on the second volume of Creedence Gold, indicating that it had somewhat of a following.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)
Source: CD: Shine On Brightly
Procol Harum is not generally thought of as a novelty act. The closest they ever came was this track from the Shine On Brightly album that steals shamelessly from a classical piece I really should know the name of but don't. Even then, Skip Softly (My Moonbeams) ends up being as much a showcase for a then-young Robin Trower's guitar work as anything else.
Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: Time Has Come Today
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: The Time Has Come)
Writer(s): Joe and Willie Chambers
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
One of the quintessential songs of the psychedelic era is the Chambers Brothers' classic Time Has Come Today. The song was originally recorded and issued as a single in 1966. The more familiar version heard here, however, was recorded in 1967 for the album The Time Has Come. The LP version of the song runs about eleven minutes, way too long for a 45 RPM record, so before releasing the song as a single for the second time, engineers at Columbia cut the song down to around 3 minutes. The edits proved so jarring that the record was recalled and a re-edited version, clocking in at 4:57 became the third and final single version of the song, hitting the charts in 1968.
Title: Think For Yourself
Source: Mono CD: Rubber Soul
Writer(s): George Harrison
By the end of 1965 George Harrison was writing an average of two songs per Beatle album. On Rubber Soul, however, one of his two songs was deleted from the US version of the album and appeared on 1966's Yesterday...And Today LP instead. The remaining Harrison song on Rubber Soul was Think For Yourself. Harrison later said that he was still developing his songwriting at this point and that bandmate John Lennon had helped write Think For Yourself.
Artist: Country Joe McDonald
Title: Round And Round
Source: CD: 50
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rag Baby
One of the most haunting tracks on the new Country Joe McDonald album, 50, Round And Round is about nothing less than life itself. Well, our lives, at least. I kind of doubt that the various non-sentient species on our planet think much about this stuff.
Title: The End
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Oran & Trevor Thornton
Flick was formed in the mid-90s by the Thornton brothers, Oran and Trevor, who had been performing as an acoustic duo. The new band, which included bassist Eve Hill and drummer Paul Adam McGrath, played its first show in December of 1996 and issued its first EP the following spring. In 1998 Flick released their first full-length album on the Columbia label. One of the tracks from that album, The End, was also issued as a single on 7" 45 RPM vinyl, quite an unusual occurence in the 1990s.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Little Wing
Source: CD: The Ultimate Experience (originally released on LP: Axis: Bold As Love)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Although it didn't have any hit singles on it, Axis: Bold As Love, the second album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was full of memorable tunes, including one of Hendrix's most covered songs, Little Wing. The album itself is a showcase for Hendrix's rapidly developing skills, both as a songwriter and in the studio. The actual production of the album was a true collaborative effort, combining Hendrix's creativity, engineer Eddie Kramer's expertise and producer Chas Chandler's strong sense of how a record should sound, acquired through years of recording experience as a member of the Animals.
Artist: Lamp Of Childhood
Title: No More Running Around
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
I've often wondered how it was that a somewhat raunchy rock band like Steppenwolf ended up on the same pop-oriented record label (Dunhill) as the Mamas and the Papas, the Grass Roots and 3 Dog Night. It turns out the Dunhill connection was from the man who produced Steppenwolf, Gabriel Mekler. Mekler was a member of the Lamp Of Childhood, a group that also included Cass Elliot's husband James Hendricks. Although the Lamp had a solid pop sound, they never really caught on and by the time their third and most successful single, No More Running Around, was released, the members had already moved on to other things (like, for instance, producing Steppenwolf records, or in the case of drummer Billy Mundi, joining the Mothers Of Invention).
Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title: Good Times
Source: CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Winds Of Change)
Label: Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
By the end of the original Animals' run they were having greater chart success with their singles in the US than in their native UK. That trend continued with the formation of the "new" Animals in 1967 and their first single, When I Was Young. Shortly after the first LP by the band now known as Eric Burdon And The Animals came out, M-G-M decided to release the song San Franciscan Nights as a single to take advantage of the massive youth migration to the city that summer. Meanwhile the band's British label decided to instead issue Good Times (an autobiographical song which was released in the US as the B side to San Franciscan Nights) as a single, and the band ended up with one of their biggest UK hits ever. Riding the wave of success of Good Times, San Franciscan Nights eventually did get released in the UK and was a hit there as well.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Season of the Witch
Source: LP: Renaissance
Writer: Donovan Leitch
The Vanilla Fudge are generally best remembered for their acid rock rearrangements of hit songs such as You Keep Me Hangin' On, Ticket To Ride and Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down). Their third album, Renaissance, while actually featuring more original material that their previous albums, still included a couple of these cover songs. The best-known of these was this rather spooky (and a little over-the-top) version of Donovan's Season Of The Witch, a song that was also covered by Al Kooper and Stephen Stills the same year on the first Super Session album.
Artist: Muddy Waters
Title: The Same Thing
Source: LP: Fathers And Sons
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Muddy Waters caught some flack for his 1968 album Electric Mud, which was, in a loose way, a concept album presenting the legendary bluesman in the role of a psychedelic rock star. He returned to his roots in a big way, however, with the 1969 double-LP album Fathers And Sons. The album came about when guitarist Michael Bloomfield told Marshall Chess that he and Paul Butterfield would be in Chicago for a charity concert and wanted to record an album with Waters while they were in town. Chess then recruited Donald "Duck" Dunn (from Booker T. & the M.G.s), pianist Otis Spann and drummer Sam Lay for the project. The group spent three days recording studio tracks, followed by a live concert on the following night that was recorded as well. The first LP contained the studio tracks, while the second record included live versions of classic tunes such as Willie Dixon's The Same Thing. Fathers And Sons ended up being Muddy Waters's highest charting album of his career, reaching #70 on the Billboard top 200 album chart.
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Boysenberry Jam
Source: LP: Grape Jam
For their second album, San Francisco's Moby Grape decided to throw in something extra. Instead of a single LP at the standard price, the group added a second album for just a dollar more. This second album, packaged in its own cover, was made up of a series of jam sessions featuring various band members, with a couple of guest artists thrown in. One of the hardest rocking of these was Boysenberry Jam, which features guitarist Jerry Miller, drummer Don Stevenson and bassist Bob Mosley on their usual instruments, along with Skip Spence playing the piano. This was really not all that surprising, given that Spence, normally a guitarist, had been the original drummer of Jefferson Airplane, proving his versatility.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Two Heads
Source: European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: After Bathing At Baxter's)
Writer(s): Grace Slick
Label: Sony Music (original US 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 the fifth and final "suite" on the album.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: Trombone Dixie
Source: Mono CD: Pet Sounds (bonus track)
Writer(s): Brian Wilson
Nobody seems to know for sure just what Brian Wilson's intentions were for the reel of recording tape labeled "Trombone Dixie" and containing a three minute long instrumental piece. The track was recorded in November of 1965, not long before the sessions that would produce the title track of the Pet Sounds album. Although David Leaf speculates (in the liner notes for the 1990 reissue of Pet Sounds) that Trombone Dixie was probably an instrumental, it sounds to me more like a backing track on which vocals were never added. I guess only Brian Wilson himself knows for sure, and he ain't sayin'.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: I Don't Know Why aka Don't Know Why I Love You
Source: CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
In 1969 Stevie Wonder released a single called Don't Know Why I Love You. Before the record could take off, however, several radio stations decided to instead play the B side of the record, a balled called My Cherie Amour. The song became, to that point, Wonder's biggest hit, and Don't Know Why I Love You quietly faded off into obscurity. Or rather it would have, if not for the fact that the Rolling Stones recorded their own version of the tune (retitling it I Don't Know Why) around the same time the Stevie Wonder version was released. The Stones, however, did not release the recording immediately. In fact, by the time the record was released (in 1975), the band was no longer associated with either London Records, which issued the recording, or Allen Klein, who had managed to gain control of all of the Stones' London era recordings, and did not authorize the recording to be released.
Source: LP: Goodbye Cream
Famously co-written by Eric Clapton and a psuedononomous George Harrison, Badge remains one of the best-loved songs in Clapton's repertoir. Both guitarists are featured prominently on this recording. Felix Pappaliardi (the unofficial 4th member of Cream and co-founder of Mountain) plays the tinkly piano.