Monday, August 7, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1732 (starts 8/9/17)
First we go up, then we go down. Then we go up again and we go down again...through the years, that is. Then, it's time for another track from the new Country Joe McDonald album before resuming our roller coaster ride.
Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: Time Has Come Today
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: The Time Has Come)
Writer(s): Joe and Willie Chambers
Label: Priority (original label: Columbia)
Year: LP released 1967, single edit released 1968
Time Has Come Today has one of the most convoluted histories of any song of the psychedelic era. First recorded in 1966 and released as a two-and-a-half minute single the song flopped. The following year an entirely new eleven minute version of the song was recorded for the album The Time Has Come, featuring an extended pyschedelic section filled with various studio effects. In late 1967 a three minute edited version of the song was released that left out virtually the entire psychedelic section of the recording. Soon after that, the single was pulled from the shelf and replaced by a longer edited version that included part of the psychedelic section. That version became a hit record in 1968, peaking just outside the top 10. This is actually a stereo recreation of that mono second edited version.
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: Born On The Bayou
Source: LP: Bayou Country
Writer(s): John Fogerty
If there is any single song that sums up what Creedence Clearwater Revival was all about, it could very well be Born On The Bayou, the opening track of CCR's second LP, Bayou Country. The song, which was written by John Fogerty late at night, became the opening for nearly every Creedence concert over the next few years, and is considered by many to be the band's signature song. Oddly enough, John Fogerty had never set foot on a bayou in his life when he wrote the song, but had always been a fan of the movie Swamp Fever, as well as having a fascination with "every other bit of southern bayou information that had entered my imagination from the time I was born."
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Sweet Dream
Source: LP: Living in the Past
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Jethro Tull released several singles that were not originally available on their LPs. Among the best of these was Sweet Dream, a 1969 track that was released in the UK and continental Europe, as well as selected Middle Eastern countries, but not in the US or Canada. The song finally appeared in North America on the Living In The Past album in 1973, and is now available as a bonus track on the Stand Up CD.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Good Good Lovin'
Source: Mono CD: The Complete Atco Singles (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Real Gone/Rhino
Originally recorded for the album Near The Beginning, the Vanilla Fudge original Good Good Lovin' instead appeared as the B side of the band's hard-driving cover of Jr. Walker's Shotgun. As a general rule, the Fudge were better at arranging other people's material than in composing their own, but Good Good Lovin' is actually a pretty powerful piece musically, with some antiwar lyrics thrown in for good measure.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Source: LP: Bookends
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Originally written for (but not used in) the film The Graduate, Overs is the middle part of a series of songs on side one of the Bookends album that follow the cycle of life from childhood to old age. The song deals with a long relationship that is coming to an end after years of slow stagnation. Musically the tune is quiet and contemplative, with a loose structure that has more in common with the cool jazz of Miles Davis than either folk or rock.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: The Wind Cries Mary
Source: LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP Are You Experienced?)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
The US version of Are You Experienced was significantly different than its UK counterpart. For one thing, the original UK album was only available in mono. For the US version, engineers at Reprise Records, working from the original multi-track masters, created all new stereo mixes of about two-thirds of the album, along with all three of the singles that the Jimi Hendrix Experience had released in the UK. The third of these singles was The Wind Cries Mary, which had hit the British charts in February of 1967.
Title: The Bells Of Rhymney
Source: LP: The Byrds' Greatest Hits
It's hard to argue with the fact that the Byrds, on the early albums, did a lot of Bob Dylan covers. In fact, their first hit, Mr. Tambourine Man, was written by Dylan, as were three other tracks on their first LP. Dylan was not the only artist covered by the Byrds, however. Their second #1 hit, Turn Turn Turn, was written by Pete Seeger, as was The Bells Of Rhymney, a track on their first LP. The song was adapted by Seeger from a lyric by Welsh poet Idris Davies, and tells the story of a coal mining disaster in Wales. The Byrds began performing the song during their time as the house band at Ciro's, a club on Los Angeles's Sunset Strip, and it quickly became an audience favorite. George Harrison was reportedly influenced by Roger McGuinn's guitar riff for The Bells Of Rhymney when writing his own If I Needed Someone for the Rubber Soul album.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Let's Get Together
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s): Dino Valenti
Label: RCA Victor
Although Dino Valenti recorded a demo version of his song Let's Get Together in 1964, it wasn't until two years later that the song made its first appearance on vinyl as a track on Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. The Airplane version of the song is unique in that the lead vocals alternate between Paul Kantner, Signe Anderson and Marty Balin, with each one taking a verse and all of them singing on the chorus.
Title: Pay You Back With Interest
Source: CD: The Best Of The Hollies
Label: Cema Special Products (original label: Imperial)
By 1967 the Hollies had actually achieved a level of popularity in the US that allowed them to issue singles that were not available in their native UK. One of these was Pay You Back With Interest, which made the US top 20 in 1967. The tune was written by the Hollies' usual songwriting partnership of Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, and Graham Nash, who left the group the following year, citing creative differences with the rest of the band members.
Artist: Los Chijuas
Title: Changing The Colors Of Life
Source: CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Jose and Julian Ganem
Label: Rhino (original label: Musart)
Although it was issued on an American label, Changing The Colors Of Life was actually the product of Los Chijuas, a band from Ciudad Juarez, a city located directly across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. Like Tijuana, Juarez was a popular destination for off-duty US military personnel from White Sands Missile Range, Holloman AFB (both in New Mexico) and especially Fort Bliss, located in El Paso itself. The city had a strong local music scene, with bands performing various mixtures of salsa, ranchero, mariachi, rock and soul nightly at the city's many clubs. One band that stood out from the rest was Los Chijuas, who, unlike most of the local groups, was strongly influenced by the folk-rock movement that had stormed the US West Coast just a couple years earlier. Changing The Colors Of Life, written by co-founders Jose and Julian Ganem, was recorded in Juarez, but released on the American Musart label in 1968. The group also had a hit in Mexico that same year with their own version of Bob Dylan's Mighty Quinn, thanks in part to the support of El Paso disc jockey Steve Crosno, who in addition to being the voice of XELO (the bilingual AM top 40 station radiating 100 kilowatts of power from south of the border) was host of a weekly dance show on a local El Paso TV station.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: Oh, Sweet Mary
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
The only song credited to the entire membership of Big Brother And The Holding Company on their Cheap Thrills album was Oh, Sweet Mary (although the original label credits Janis Joplin as sole writer and the album cover itself gives only Joplin and Peter Albin credit). The tune bears a strong resemblance to Coo Coo, a non-album single the band had released on the Mainstream label before signing to Columbia. Oh, Sweet Mary, however, has new lyrics and a "dreamy" bridge section played at a slower tempo than the rest of the tune.
Artist: Janis Ian
Title: Janey's Blues
Source: LP: Janis Ian
Writer(s): Janis Ian
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
Following the success of her first hit single, Society's Child, singer/songwriter/poet Janis Ian released her self-titled debut LP in early 1967, follwing it up with two more albums, For All The Seasons Of Your Mind and The Secret Life Of J. Eddy Fink, over the next year or so. Although there were singles released from each of these, none of them got much chart action. Finally, in late 1968, her label decided to go back to her debut LP for her fifth single, Janey's Blues. I suspect the song's length (nearly five minutes) automatically kept many AM radio DJs from playing the song, which is a shame, as Janey's Blues is one of the undiscovered gems of the late 1960s.
Artist: Outsiders (Dutch band)
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in the Netherlands as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Relax)
The Outsiders were formed in Holland in 1964 by vocalist Wally Tax and guitarist Ronald Splinter. Although most of the band members were only 15, they managed to get a four night a week gig at a local club, and by 1966 had become one of the top bands in the country. Touch was the fifth of many hit singles for the band, which split up in 1969.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Do You Believe In Magic
Source: CD: Battle Of The Bands (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Do You Believe In Magic)
Writer(s): John Sebastian
Label: Era (original label: Kama Sutra)
Do You Believe In Magic, the debut single by the Lovin' Spoonful, was instrumental in establishing not only the band itself, but the Kama Sutra label as well. Over the next couple of years, the Spoonful would crank out a string of hits, pretty much single-handedly keeping Kama Sutra in business. In 1967 the band's lead vocalist and primary songwriter John Sebastian departed the group for a solo career, and Kama Sutra itself soon morphed into a company called Buddah Records. Buddah (the misspelling being discovered too late to be fixed) soon came to dominate the "bubble gum" genre of top 40 music throughout 1968 and well into 1969, but eventually proved in its own way to be as much a one-trick pony as its predecessor.
Artist: Blues Image
Title: Ride Captain Ride
Source: CD: Open
Writer: Blues Image
Label: Sundazed (original label: Atco)
After having mild commercial success with their self-titled debut album in 1969, Blues Image deliberately set out to write a hit song for their second LP, Open. The result was Ride Captain Ride, which made the top 40 in 1970. The album itself, however, did not do as well as its predecessor, and was the last one issued by the band's original lineup.
Title: Top Of The Pops
Source: Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One
Writer(s): Ray Davies
For reasons that now really don't make a whole lot of sense, the Kinks were blacklisted by the American Federation of Musicians from 1965 through 1969, meaning they couldn't perform in the US. This, in turn, had a negative effect on the group's record sales, as they were unable to promote their new music through touring. As a result, the Kinks suffered a dearth of hits in the US throughout the late 1960s. As soon as the ban was lifted, the Kinks arranged a US tour, but illnesses suffered by various band members forced cancellation of all but a handful of the scheduled gigs. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it gave Ray Davies plenty of time to work on new material. The result was the 1970 album Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One, featuring the song Lola, which was their most successful single since the 1966 hit Sunny Afternoon. The album itself is a concept album taking a somewhat skewed look at the music industry itself. One obvious example is the song Top Of The Pops, which was also the name of a popular weekly British TV show that showcased the top songs of the day.
Artist: Country Joe McDonald
Title: Daughter Of England
Source: CD: 50
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rag Baby
Country Joe McDonald's new album, 50, has been described as "a contemporary survey of current topics". That label certainly applies to Daughter Of England, a song about the current state of affairs in what was once the crown jewel of the British colonial empire and has now become the most powerful (and some say most dangerous) nation on Earth.
Title: Living In A Drug Zone
Source: CD: Thank You, Bonzo
The Mumphries evolved out of an earlier Albuquerque band called the Soft Corp. Unlike the Mumphries, the Soft Corps had a somewhat fluid membership, with some members taking the stage while others sat out particular numbers. The drummer for the Soft Corps was Jim Schwar, who is currently active on the Albuquerque jazz scene. Schwar provided most of the lyrics for Living In A Drug Zone, a somewhat sardonic look at what was left of the 60s/70s counterculture as the 1980s were coming to a close (Albuquerque being famously ten years behind the times). The song was one of bassist Quincy Adams's favorites, so it became part of the Mumphries repertoire as well. For those paying close attention to the lyrics, Cabin Lance was (and probably still is) a busker who was regularly seen hanging out in the area of the University of New Mexico, playing what he calls "Kentucky reggae".
Title: Can You Travel In The Dark Alone
Source: LP: Gandalf
Writer(s): Peter Sando
What's in a name? Well, when You're a rock band and your name is the Rhagoos, apparently not enough to keep the producers happy. The name the producers suggested, however, was even worse. I mean, you really can't blame the band members for hating a name like the Knockrockers, right? It took a while, but after throwing around several possibilities, the band decided to go with Gandalf And The Wizards, a name suggested by drummer Davy Bauer that was later shortened to just Gandalf. Gandalf only recorded one album, which was released on the Capitol label in 1969. Most of the tracks on that album were cover songs, with only two originals, both of which were provided by guitarist Peter Sando. Of those, Can You Travel In The Dark Alone is the more notable. For the completists among you, the other two members of this New York band were Bob Muller (bass) and Frank Hubach (keyboards). I'm not sure who provided the vocals, although my guess would be Sando.
Title: Supplicio/Can You Dig It
Source: LP: Head
Writer(s): Peter Tork
Peter Tork only received two solo writing credits for Monkees recordings. The first, and most familiar, was For Pete's Sake, which was released on the Headquarters album in 1967 and used as the closing theme for the second season of their TV series. The second Tork solo piece was the more experimental Can You Dig It used in the movie Head and included on the 1968 movie soundtrack album. Not long after Head was completed, Tork left the group, not to return until the 1980s, when MTV ran a Monkees TV series marathon, introducing the band to a whole new generation and prompting a reunion tour and album. Supplicio, which precedes Can You Dig It on the LP, is a short bit of uncredited electronics effects that lead into the Tork tune.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (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.
Title: See See Rider
Source: LP: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals Vol. II (originally released on LP: Animalization)
Writer(s): Ma Rainey
One of the last singles released by the original incarnation of the Animals, See See Rider traces its roots back to the 1920s, when it was first recorded by Ma Rainey. The Animals version is considerably faster than most other recordings of the song, and includes a signature opening rift by organist Dave Rowberry (who had replaced founder Alan Price prior to the recording of the Animalization album that the song first appeared on) that is unique to the Animals' take on the tune.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
Source: Simulated stereo LP: More Hot Rocks (Big Hits and Fazed Cookies) (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Flowers)
By mid-1966 there was a population explosion of teenage rock bands popping up in garages and basements all across the US, the majority of which were doing their best to emulate the grungy sound of their heroes, the Rolling Stones. The Stones themselves responded by ramping up the grunge factor to a previously unheard of degree with their last single of the year, Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow? It was the most feedback-laden record ever to make the top 40 at that point in time, and it inspired America's garage bands to buy even more powerful amps and crank up the volume (driving their parents to drink in the process).
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Steve's Song
Source: Mono CD: Projections
Writer(s): Steve Katz
Label: Sundazed (original label: Verve Folkways)
The members of the Blues Project came from a variety of backgrounds, including jazz, rock, classical and of course, blues. Guitarist Steve Katz had the strongest connection to the Greenwich Village folk scene and was the lead vocalist on the Project's recording of Donovan's Catch The Wind on their first LP. For their second album Katz wrote his own song, entitled simply Steve's Song. The tune starts with a very old-English style repeated motif that gets increasing complicated as it repeats itself before segueing into a more conventional mode with Katz on the lead vocal. Katz would write and sing similarly-styled tunes, such as Sometimes In Winter, during his tenure as guitarist for Blood, Sweat and Tears.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Sometimes I Think About
Source: LP: Psychedelic Lollipop
Although it sounds like it could have been a remake of an old blues tune, Sometimes I Think About is actually a Blues Magoos original. The song, from their debut Psychedelic Lollipop album, is slow and moody, yet actually rocks out pretty hard, a pattern that would become somewhat of a hard rock cliche in the 1970s (think Grand Funk Railroad's Heartbreaker).
Artist: Bee Gees
Source: CD: Bee Gees 1st
Writer(s): Barry and Robin Gibb
Label: Reprise (original label: Atco)
Prior to 1967 the Bee Gees were virtually unknown beyond Australia and New Zealand. That all changed in a big way when the three Gibb brothers, Barry, Robin and Maurice, relocated to London and signed new recording contracts with Polydor in the UK and Atco in the US. The first album to come out on these labels (entitled Bee Gees 1st, despite it actually being their third LP) had no less than three hit singles on it in the US, and two in the UK. The song that was only released as a single in North America was Holiday, a slow, heavily orchestrated tune that was described by one music critic as "elegantly schlocky". The Bee Gees would continue to make records in a similar vein into the early 1970s, before transforming themselves into poster children for disco music later in the decade.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Summertime Blues
Source: Dutch import LP: Vincebus Eruptum
European electronics giant Philips had its own record label in the 1960s. In the US, the label was distributed by Mercury Records, and was known primarily for a long string of hits by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. In 1968 the label surprised everyone by signing the loudest band in San Francisco, Blue Cheer. Their cover of the 50s Eddie Cochrane hit Summertime Blues was all over both the AM and FM airwaves that summer.
Title: Soul Sacrifice
Source: LP: Santana
Of all the bands formed in the late 1960s, very few achieved any degree of popularity outside of their local community. Fewer still could be considered an influence on future stars. Most rare of all are those who managed to be both popular and influential while maintaining a degree of artistic integrity. One name that comes immediately to mind is Santana (both the band and the man). It might be surprising, then, to hear that the first Santana album, released in 1969, was savaged by the rock press, particularly the San Francisco based Rolling Stone magazine, who called it boring and repetitious. It wasn't until the band performed Soul Sacrifice (heard here in its original studio version) at Woodstock that Santana became major players on the rock scene.
Artist: Morning Dew
Title: Crusader's Smile
Source: British import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released in US on LP: Morning Dew)
Writer(s): Mal Robinson
Label: Zonophone (original label: Roulette)
In the late 1960s Roulette Records was pretty much wholly supported by one act: Tommy James And The Shondells, who had cranked out a string of hit records starting with Hanky Panky in 1966 (the song had actually, however, been released in 1964). There were other artists recording for the label, however, but for the most part their efforts went unnoticed by the record buying public. This is a bit of a shame, as some of those artists, such as Morning Dew, were actually pretty good. The Topeka, Kansas band took its name from the Tim Rose song made famous by the Grateful Dead, and on most tracks sounded pretty much exactly as one would expect. The group's only LP, released in 1970, started off on a bit more energetic note with the song Crusader's Smile, which was written by band leader Mal Robinson.