Monday, July 24, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1730 (starts 7/26/17)
A lot of tunes from 1966, '67, and '68 this time around, with a couple from 1969 and new tracks from Boris Garcia and Country Joe McDonald. Enjoy!
Title: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends
Source: CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
One of the first tracks recorded for the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was the title track itself, which opens up side one of the LP. The following song, With A Little Help From My Friends (tentatively titled Bad Finger Boogie at the time), was recorded nearly two months later, yet the two sound like one continuous performance. In fact, it was this painstaking attention to every facet of the recording and production process that made Sgt. Pepper's such a landmark album. Whereas the first Beatle album took 585 minutes to record, Sgt. Pepper's took over 700 hours. At this point in the band's career, drummer Ringo Starr was generally given one song to sing (usually written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney) on each of the group's albums. Originally, these were throwaway songs such as I Wanna Be Your Man (which was actually written for the Rolling Stones), but on the previous album, Revolver, the biggest hit on the album ended up being the song Ringo sang, Yellow Submarine. Although no singles were released from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, With A Little Help From My Friends received considerable airplay on top 40 radio and is one of the most popular Beatle songs ever recorded.
Artist: Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title: Poem By The Sea/Paint It Black
Source: LP: Winds Of Change
One of the highlights of the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967 was the onstage debut of Eric Burdon's new Animals, a group much more in tune with the psychedelic happenings of the summer of love than its working class predecessor. The showstopper for the band's set was an extended version of the Rolling Stone's classic Paint It, Black. That summer saw the release of the group's first full LP, Winds Of Change, which included a studio version of Paint It, Black preceded by a slow piece called Poem By The Sea.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Cat Talking To Me
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Year: Recorded 1967, released 2010
The 1967 recording of Cat Talking To Me sat on the shelf for over thirty years before being released as the B side to the Valleys Of Neptune single in 2010. The song is notable for two reasons. The first is rather obvious in that it features a rare lead vocal by drummer Mitch Mitchell. The second thing that makes the song stand out from other Experience recordings is a bit more subtle. Cat Talking To Me is musically much more consistent with Hendrix's later tracks, especially those heard on various posthumous releases, than anything else he was working on in 1967.
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: Young Rascals
Title: I Don't Love You Anymore
Source: CD: Groovin'
Writer(s): Gene Cornish
Label: Warner Special Products (original label: Atlantic)
For many teenagers in the 1960s the most necessary social skill (at least when dealing with members of the opposite sex) was not a verbal skill at all; rather, it was the ability to get out onto the dance floor and gyrate. It didn't really matter if you knew the latest steps; nobody was watching you anyway. What counted was the willingness to risk making a fool of one's self for the sake of impressing the girl (or boy) of your choice. Your first time out with a particular partner was always when a fast song was playing. This was usually followed by at least one more up tempo tune before you got to the real payoff: the slow dance. A good band could always sense when it was time for a slow song, and the Young Rascals, in their early days, was among the best at keeping a dance floor filled. This ability was still evident on their third album, Groovin', which was released in early 1967. While the band's usual songwriting team of Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati provided an ample supply of danceable fast tunes, it was bassist Gene Cornish that came up with songs ideally suited to slow dancing. One such tune was I Don't Love You Anymore, which appears at just the right place on side two of the original LP.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: For What It's Worth
Source: LP: Retrospective (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Buffalo Springfield (revised version))
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Most people associate the name Buffalo Springfield with the song For What It's Worth. And for good reason. The song is one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded, and to this day is in regular rotation on both oldies and classic rock radio stations. The song was written and recorded in November of 1966 and released in January of 1967. By then the first Buffalo Springfield LP was already on the racks, but until that point had not sold particularly well. When it became clear that For What It's Worth was turning into a major hit, Atco Records quickly recalled the album and added the song to it (as the opening track). All subsequent pressings of the LP (and later the CD) contain For What It's Worth, making earlier copies of the album somewhat of a rarity and quite collectable.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Come On In
Source: British import CD: The Ultimate Turn On (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Big Beat (original label: Original Sound)
It only cost a total of $150 for the Music Machine to record both sides of their debut single at RCA Studios in Los Angeles, thanks to the band having been performing the songs live for several months. The band then took the tapes to Original Sound, who issued Talk Talk and Come On In on their own label. It may seem odd now, but original promo copies of the record show Come On In, a song that in many ways anticipated bands like the Doors and Iron Butterfly, as the "plug side" of the record, rather than Talk Talk, which of course went on to be the band's only major hit.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: It's No Secret
Source: LP: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (Originally released on LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off)
Writer: Marty Balin
Label: RCA Victor
Although national stardom was still an album (and a couple of essential personnel changes) away, It's No Secret got a lot of airplay in the San Francisco Bay area and was featured in a Bell Telephone TV special on the hippie movement in 1966.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Fly Away
Source: The Blues Project Anthology (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer: Al Kooper
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Folkways)
The Blues Project has a permanent place in rock history, both for pioneering the idea of touring coast to coast playing college venues and as the first jam band. Still, they were never able to break into top 40 radio at a time when a top 40 hit was considered essential to a band's commercial success. Keyboardist Al Kooper, on the other hand, was no stranger to hit records, having co-written This Diamond Ring, a song that became the first number one hit for Gary Lewis and the Playboys (although Kooper himself hated their arrangement of the song) in 1965. One of Kooper's attempts at writing a hit song for the Blues Project was Fly Away, included on their second LP, Projections.
Title: My Little Red Book
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released on LP: Love)
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
The first rock record ever released by Elektra Records was a single by Love called My Little Red Book. The track itself (which also opens Love's debut LP), is a punked out version of a tune originally recorded by Manfred Mann for the What's New Pussycat movie soundtrack. Needless to say, Love's version was not exactly what Burt Bacharach and Hal David had in mind.
Title: Find The Hidden Door
Source: British Import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in UK on LP: Before The Dream Faded)
Label: Grapefruit (original label: Cherry Red)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1982
One of London's most legendary psychedelic bands was actually from California. The story of the Misunderstood started in 1963 when three teenagers from Riverside, California decided to form a band called the Blue Notes. Like most West Coast bands of the time, the group played a mixture of surf and 50s rock 'n' roll cover songs, slowly developing a sound of their own as they went through a series of personnel changes, including the addition of lead vocalist Rick Brown. In 1965 the band changed their name to the Misunderstood and recorded six songs at a local recording studio. Although the recordings were not released, the band caught the attention of a San Bernardino disc jockey named John Ravencroft, an Englishman with an extensive knowledge of the British music scene. In June of 1966 the band, with Ravencroft's help, relocated to London, where they were joined by a local guitarist, Tony Hill. Ravencroft's brother Alan got the band a deal with Fontana Records, resulting in a single in late 1966, I Can Take You To The Sun, that took the British pop scene by storm. In addition to that single, the band recorded a handful of outstanding tracks that remained unreleased until the 1980s. Among those unreleased tracks was a masterpiece called Find The Hidden Door, written (as were most of the songs the band recorded in London) by Brown and Hill. Problems with their work visas soon derailed the Misunderstood, and the band members soon found themselves being deported back to the US, and in one case, drafted into the US Army.
Artist: Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
Title: Big Black Baby Shoes
Source: British import CD: Safe As Milk (bonus track)
Writer(s): Don Van Vliet
Label: Rev-Ola (original US label: Buddah)
Following the release of Safe As Milk, Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band got to work on a proposed double LP to be called It Comes To You In A Plain Brown Wrapper. The band's label, however, apparently decided that the experimental direction initiated by Beefheart was not where they wanted to be headed, and dropped the Magic Band from their roster before even vocal tracks could be added to existing tracks like Big Black Baby Shoes. The Captain and his crew reworked some of those tracks for their second LP, Strictly Personal, which was released on the Blue Thumb label in 1968. Meanwhile, Buddah Records became synonomous with the "bubble gum" sound that dominated top 40 radio that year with songs like Yummy Yummy Yummy and 1,2,3 Red Light.
Artist: Fifty Foot Hose
Source: LP: Cauldron
Although New York is generally considered the epicenter for avant-garde rock, there were things happening out on the West Coast as well, including the United States Of America (led by an expatriot Manhattanite) in Los Angeles and Fifty Foot Hose in San Francisco. Fifty Foot Hose featured Cork Marcheschi's homemade electronic instruments and the unique vocal style of Nancy Blossom. This week's show closes with the title track of Fifty Foot Hose's only LP, Cauldron. The group disbanded when all of the members except Marcheschi left to join the cast of the musical Hair. Nancy Blossom herself played the female lead, Sheila, in the San Francisco production of the rock musical.
Title: Lemonade Kid
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Kak)
Writer(s): Gary Lee Yoder
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
Kak was a group from Davis, California that was only around long enough to record one LP for Epic. That self-titled album did not make much of an impression commercially, and was soon out of print. Long after the band had split up, critics began to notice the album, and copies of the original LP are now highly-prized by collectors. Songs like the Lemonade Kid show that Kak had a sound that holds up better today than many of the other artists of the time. In fact, after listening to this track a couple times I went out and ordered a copy of the import CD reissue of the Kak album.
Artist: Whatt Four
Title: You're Wishin' I Was Someone Else
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mercury)
By 1967 Mercury Records had long since moved beyond its roots as a regional Chicago label. In fact, Mercury, along with Capitol, Columbia, M-G-M, Decca and RCA Victor, was one of the "Big Six" record labels of the time, so called because between them they owned virtually all of the commercial record pressing plants in the country. It was really no surprise, then, to see Mercury signing local acts and releasing the records regionally in other parts of the country as well as Chicago. One such act was Riverside, California's Whatt Four, who took their shot at the brass ring in 1967 with a song called You're Wishin' I Was Someone Else.
Artist: Country Joe McDonald
Title: I Don't Think So
Source: CD: 50
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rag Baby
Our presentation of Country Joe McDonald's 2017 album 50 at the rate of one song per week this summer continues with the second track from the album, a tune called I Don't Think So that probably could be classified as "Americana", for lack of a better term. Nice stuff.
Artist: Boris Garcia
Title: I'd Do Anything
Source: CD: Around Some Corner
Writer(s): Jeff Otto
One of the drawbacks of an overall environment of diversity in music is that gems such as the Boris Garcia album Around Some Corner are almost completely overlooked by the music consuming public. The band, which has been performing and recording for several years now is built around the talents of two songwriters, Jeff Otto and Bob Stirner. Although each writer is credited individually for their songs, both participate in the process in developing the basic ideas into full-fledged compositions such as I'd do Anything. Besides Otto, who provides vocals and plays ukelele, and Stirner, who plays acoustic guitar on the track, the recording includes contributions from Bud Burroughs (mandolin, mellotron), Tim Kelly (drums), E.J. Simpson (bass), Chip Desnoyers (pedal steel) and Tim Carbone (backing vocals).
Artist: Paul Revere/Raiders
Title: In My Community
Source: LP: Spirit of '67
Writer(s): Phil Volk
Paul Revere And The Raiders had a truly great 1966, with three LPs going gold that year. The last of these (and, quite honestly, the last truly great Raider album), was Spirit of '67, released in late November, just in time for the Christmas rush. Like the two previous albums, Spirit of '67 contains a handful of tunes written and sung by someone other than Mark Lindsay. One of these, In My Community, showcases the talents of Phil "Fang" Volk, the group's longtime bassist. Sadly, the band would come to rely more and more on studio musicians to get across the musical vision of Lindsay and keyboardist Revere, to the exclusion of other band members. In fact, Volk and drummer Mike Smith would soon leave the Raiders, hooking up with former Raider lead guitarist Drake Levin to form the harder rocking Brotherhood in 1967.
Title: You're A Better Man Than I
Source: Mono Australian import CD: Over, Under, Sideways, Down (originally released in US on LP: Having A Rave Up With The Yardbirds)
Writer(s): Mike & Brian Hugg
Label: Raven (original label: Epic)
Perhaps more than any other British Invasion band, the Yardbirds' US and UK catalogs varied considerably. This is because the band only released a pair of LPs in the UK, one of which was a live album, with the bulk of their studio output appearing on 45 RPM singles and EPs. In the US, on the other hand, the group released four (mostly) studio LPs, compiled from the various UK releases. One song, You're A Better Man Than I, actually came out on a US album four months before it was issued as a single B side in February of 1966 in the UK.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Richard Cory
Source: LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer(s): Paul Simon
My ultra-cool 9th-grade English teacher brought in a copy of Simon And Garfunkel's Sounds Of Silence album one day. As a class, we deconstructed the lyrics of two of the songs on that album: A Most Peculiar Man and Richard Cory. Both songs deal with suicide, but under vastly different circumstances. Whereas A Most Peculiar Man is about a lonely man who lives an isolated existence as an anonymous resident of a boarding house, Richard Cory deals with a character who is a pillar of society, known and envied by many. Too bad most high school English classes weren't that interesting.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You
Source: CD: This Was
Writer: Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Ian Anderson has often said that he disagreed with record company executives who characterized Jethro Tull as a blues band when the band's first LP, This Was, was released. Yet one of the most traditional sounding blues tunes on that LP was written by Anderson himself. Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You sounds like it could easily have come from the pen of Jimmy Reed. Speaking of record labels, This Was, like all the early Tull albums, was originally released in the US on the Reprise label. Reprise had a policy (instituted by its founder and original owner, Frank Sinatra) of allowing its artists to retain ownership of the recordings released on the label, which is why most of the material released on Reprise in the late 60s has been reissued on other labels.
Artist: Al Kooper/Stephen Stills/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title: You Don't Love Me
Source: LP: Super Session
Writer(s): Willie Cobb
You Don't Love Me was originally recorded and released as a single by Willie Cobbs in 1960. Although the song is credited solely to Cobbs, it strongly resembles a 1955 Bo Diddley B side, She's Fine She's Mine, in its melody, lyrics and repeated guitar riff. The Cobbs single was a regional hit on the Mojo label in Memphis, but stalled out nationally after being reissued on Vee-Jay Records, due to the label pulling promotional support from the song due to copyright issues. A 1965 version by Junior Wells with Buddy Guy saw some minor changes in the lyrics to the song; it was this version that was covered by Al Kooper and Stephen Stills for the 1968 Super Session album. The recording extensively uses an effect called flanging, a type of phase-shifting that was first used in stereo on the Jimi Hendrix Experience track Bold As Love.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Nashville Cats
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful)
Writer(s): John B. Sebastian
Label: Cotillion (original label: Kama Sutra)
After the success of their debut LP, Do You Believe In Magic, The Lovin' Spoonful deliberately set out to make a followup album that sounded like it was recorded by several different bands, as a way of showcasing their versatility. With Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful, released in 1966, they did just that. Songs on the album ranged from the folky Darlin' Be Home Soon to the rockin' psychedelic classic Summer In The City, with a liberal dose of what would come to be called country rock a few years later. The best example of the latter was Nashville Cats, a song that surprisingly went into the top 40 (but did not receive any airplay from country stations) and became a staple of progressive FM radio in the early 70s.
Artist: Other Half
Title: Mr. Pharmacist
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Jeff Nowlen
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
The Other Half was one of the many bands that could be found playing the local L.A. clubs when the infamous Riot On Sunset Strip happened in 1966. They are also the only other band I know of besides the Seeds that recorded for the GNP Crescendo label. The guitar solo is provided by Randy Holden, who would end up replacing Leigh Stephens in Blue Cheer a few years later.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: CD: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Label: Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Only a handful of tunes make virtually everyone's list of "psychedelic" songs. The Electric Prunes' I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) so well defines the genre that Lenny Kaye himself chose it to be the opening track on the original Nuggets album.
Title: Sunshine Superman
Source: CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released in edited form on 45 RPM vinyl and on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Sony Music Special Products (original label: Epic)
Donovan's hugely successful Sunshine Superman is sometimes credited as being the tsunami that launched the wave of psychedelic music that washed over the shores of pop musicland in 1967. OK, I made that up, but the song really did change the direction of American pop as well as Donovan's own career. Originally released as a three and a quarter minute long single, the full unedited four and a half minute long stereo mix of the song heard here did not appear on vinyl until Donovan's 1969 Greatest Hits album.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Gimme Some Lovin'
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: United Artists
The movie The Big Chill used Gimme Some Lovin' by the Spencer Davis Group as the backdrop for a touch football game at an informal reunion of former college students from the 60s. From that point on, movie soundtracks became much more than just background music and soundtrack albums started becoming best-sellers. Not entirely coincidentally, 60s-oriented oldies radio stations began to appear in major markets as well. Ironically, most of those stations are now playing 80s oldies.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Baby Please Don't Go
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: The Amboy Dukes)
Writer(s): Joe Williams
Label: Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
The Amboy Dukes were a garage supergroup formed by guitarist Ted Nugent, a Chicago native who had heard that Bob Shad, head of jazz-oriented Mainstream Records, was looking for rock bands to sign to the label. Nugent relocated to Detroit in 1967, where he recruited vocalist John Drake, guitarist Steve Farmer, organist Rick Lober, bassist Bill White and drummer Dave Palmer, all of whom had been members of various local bands. The Dukes' self-titled debut LP was released in November of 1967. In addition to seven original pieces, the album included a handful of cover songs, the best of which was their rocked out version of the old Joe Williams tune Baby Please Don't Go. The song was released as a single in January of 1968, where it got a decent amount of airplay in the Detroit area, and was ultimately chosen by Lenny Kaye for inclusion on the original Nuggets compilation album.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Sadie Said No
Source: LP: The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union
By the time the first Beacon Street Union album was released the band had already relocated to New York. That didn't stop executives from M-G-M from including the Union as part of its "Bosstown Sound" promotion. In the short term it may have generated some interest, but it was soon clear that the "Bosstown Sound" was empty hype, which in the long run hurt the band's credibility. This is a shame, since the music on The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union is actually quite listenable, as Sadie Said No, which opens side two of the original LP, demonstrates.
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Oh Well
Source: Mono LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: Then Play On)
Writer(s): Peter Green
Fleetwood Mac had already established themselves as one of Britain's top up-and-coming blues bands by the time Then Play On was released in 1969. The band had just landed a deal in the US with Reprise, and Then Play On was their American debut LP. At the same time the album was released in the UK, a new non-LP single, Oh Well, appeared as well. The song was a top pick on Radio Luxembourg, the only non-BBC English language top 40 station still operating in 1969, and Oh Well soon shot all the way to the # 2 spot on the British charts. Meanwhile the US version of Then Play On (which had originally been issued with pretty much the same song lineup as the British version) was recalled, and a new version with Oh Well added to it was issued in its place. The song itself has two distinct parts: a fast blues-rocker sung by lead guitarist Peter Green lasting about two minutes, and a slow moody instrumental that runs about seven minutes. The original UK single featured about a minute's worth of part two tacked on to the end of the A side (with a fadeout ending), while the B side had the entire part two on it. Both sides of the single were added to the US version of the LP, which resulted in the first minute of part two repeating itself on the album.