Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1733 (starts 8/16/17)
This week's show includes the first part of an interview with Country Joe McDonald, as we continue our summer long song by song showcase of the album 50. Lots of other good stuff, too, including side two of Eric Burdon and the Animals The Twain Shall Meet and a rare Jimi Hendrix jam.
Source: CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
Writer(s): Craig Smith
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
The first song on the Monkees' fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD. was also the most controversial. Michael Nesmith, as a side project, had been producing songs for a group led by Craig Vincent Smith called the Penny Arkade. One song in particular, Salesman, impressed Nesmith so much that he decided to produce a Monkees version of the song as well. The track was then used in a Monkees TV episode called The Devil And Peter Tork. NBC-TV at first refused to air the episode, claiming that the line "Salesman with your secret goods that you push while you talk" was a veiled drug reference (although producer Bert Schnieder was convinced the real reason was the liberal use of the word "hell" in the show's script).
Artist: Young Rascals
Title: It's Wonderful
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Once Upon A Dream)
Label: Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
Psychedelic rock is generally considered to have begun on the West Coast (although Austin, Texas has a legitimate claim as well). By the time of the Summer of Love, however, psychedelic rock was a national trend. New York had always been one of the major centers of the music industry, so it's not surprising that on the East Coast 1967 was the year of the psychedelic single. One of the most popular New York bands of the time was the Young Rascals, generally considered to be the greatest blue-eyed soul band of the era, if not of all time. Still, the times being what they were, the Rascals departed from their usual style more than once in '67, first with the smash hit How Can I Be Sure, and then with their own psychedelic single, It's Wonderful, released in November of the same year.
Artist: Superfine Dandelion
Title: Crazy Town (Move On Little Children)
Source: CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
The Mile Ends were a Phoenix, Arizona band that were regulars at a local teen club called the Fifth Estate, which was run by a guy named Jim Musil. Musil became the group's manager, booking studio time to record a drinking song called Bottle Up And Go in 1966. Not long after that the group, now consisting of guitarists Mike McFadden and Ed Black, along with drummer Mike Collins, began calling themselves the Superfine Dandelion for a studio project sponsored by Musil. The group recorded an album's worth of material that came to the attention of Bob Shad, who was looking for material to issue on his Mainstream label. Shad bought the tapes, releasing the album in November of 1967. Shad chose Crazy Town (Move On Little Children) as a single, but a lack of interest by both radio and the record buying public brought the story of the Superfine Dandelion to a close by mid-1968.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Purple Haze
Source: LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Purple Haze has one of the most convoluted release histories of any song ever recorded. Originally issued in the UK as a single, it scored high on the British charts. When Reprise got the rights to release the first Hendrix album, Are You Experienced?, they chose to replace the first track on the album with Purple Haze, moving the original opening track, Foxy Lady, to side two of the LP. The song next appeared on the Smash Hits album, which in Europe was on the Polydor label. This was the way things stayed until the early 1990s, when MCA (now Universal) acquired the rights to the Hendrix catalog and re-issued Are You Experienced? with the tracks restored to the UK ordering, but preceded by the six non-album sides (including Purple Haze) that had originally been released prior to the album. Most recently, the Hendrix Family Trust has again changed labels and the US version of Are You Experienced? is once again in print, this time on Sony's Legacy label. This means that the song has now been released by all three of the currently existing major record companies.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Jam 292
Source: CD: Blues
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Jam 292 is basically a blues jam recorded at the Record Plant in New York in May of 1969. If you listen real close you can hear the occasional tinkling of piano keys played by Sharon Layne. Really, though, this one's all about the guitar solos.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: The Wind Cries Mary
Source: LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
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 the A sides of the three singles that the Jimi Hendrix Experience had released in the UK, which were then added to the album, replacing three of the original tracks. The third of these singles was The Wind Cries Mary, which had hit the British charts in February of 1967. The tune opens up side two of the American LP.
Title: Last Time Around
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Dennis Dahlquist
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
The Del-Vetts were from Chicago's affluent North Shore. Their gimmick was to show up at a high school dance by driving their matching corvettes onto the gymnasium dance floor. Musically, like most garage/punk bands, they were heavily influenced by the British invasion bands. Unlike most garage/punk bands, who favored the Rolling Stones, the Del-Vetts were more into the Jeff Beck incarnation of the Yardbirds. The 'Vetts had a few regional hits from 1965-67, the biggest being this single issued on the Dunwich label, home of fellow Chicago suburbanites the Shadows of Knight. In retrospect, considering the song's subject matter, Last Time Around may well be the very first death metal rock song ever recorded.
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released in UK only on LP: Fresh Cream)
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Label: Cotillion (original label: Reaction)
When the album Fresh Cream was released by Atco in the US it was missing one track that was on the original UK version of the album: the band's original studio version of Willie Dixon's Spoonful. A live version of Spoonful was included on the LP Wheels of Fire, but it wasn't until the 1970 soundtrack album for the movie Homer that the studio version was finally released in the US. Unfortunately the compilers of that album left out the last 25 seconds or so from the original recording.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow
Source: LP: Incense And Peppermints
The song Incense And Peppermints was originally a B side released in 1967 on the regional All-American label in southern California. DJs began flipping the record over, however, and the song soon attracted the interest of the people at MCA, who reissued the record on their Uni label. The song was such a huge national hit that Uni gave the band the go ahead to record an entire album. That album, also titled Incense And Peppermints, contained several fine songs, including Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow. This unsung psychedelic classic opens with a flute solo from Steve Bartek, who co-wrote Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow. Strange as it may seem, Bartek was not considered a member of the Strawberry Alarm Clock, although he co-wrote (with bass player George Bunnell) four of the album's 12 tracks and plays on most of them.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Pow R. Toc H.
Source: CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Label: Capitol (original label: Tower)
British psychedelic music was always more avant-garde than its US counterpart, and Pink Floyd was at the forefront of the British psychedelic scene. Pow R. Toc H., one of the few tracks on their first LP that was written by the entire group (most of The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was written by Syd Barrett), was a hint of things to come.
Title: Fixing A Hole
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The first Beatle album to appear with the same tracks in the same order on both US and UK versions was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The only differences between the two were a lack of spaces in the vinyl (called "banding") on the UK version and a bit of gobbledygook heard at the end of the record (but only if you did not have a turntable that automatically lifted the needle out of the groove after the last track). The main consequence of this is that disc jockeys in the US had an easier time cueing up tracks like Fixing A Hole in the days before the album came out on CD.
Title: You're Lookin' Fine
Source: Mono British import CD: Face To Face
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Sanctuary (original US label: Reprise)
One of the earliest recordings included on the Kinks' 1966 album Face To Face, You're Lookin' Fine is also the least tied into the album's loose theme of sardonic looks at social issues. In fact, You're Lookin' Fine is actually a pretty straightforward rock song, which by late 1965 (when it was recorded) was becoming somewhat of a rarity for songwriter Ray Davies.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: Mono LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer: Paul Kantner
Label: Sundazed (original label: RCA Victor)
D.C.B.A.-25 was named for the chords used in the song. As for the "25"...it was 1967. In San Francisco. Paul Kantner wrote it. Figure it out.
Title: I Love You
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Chris White
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
By 1968 the major labels had signed just about every San Francisco band with any perceived potential. Capitol, having had some success with the Chocolate Watchband from San Jose on its Tower subsidiary, decided to sign another south bay band, People, to the parent label. The most successful single for the band was a new recording of an obscure Zombies B side. I Love You ended up hitting the top 20 nationally, despite the active efforts of two of the most powerful men in the music industry, who set out to squash the song as a way of punishing the record's producer for something having nothing to do with the song or the band itself.
Artist: Inner Light
Source: Mono CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Dick Steffes
Label: Arf! Arf!
You probably wouldn't expect a recording by a band from a farming community named Page, North Dakota, to be very psychedelic, even if the band's name was the Inner Light. And indeed, if you only heard the A side of this band's only single, you'd be absolutely right. The B side, however, the fuzztone flavored Temptation, is another story altogether. The record was one of the few freestanding releases by the Century Custom Recording Service, which usually released made to order records by school orchestras and church groups.
Artist: Dave Clark Five
Title: Glad All Over
Source: Mono CD: 5 By Five (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Hollywood (original label: Epic)
The Dave Clark Five were originally formed as a way of raising money for Clark's football (soccer) team. Toward the end of 1963 they scored a number one hit in England with Glad All Over, which was released to an enthusiastic US audience a few months later. For a while they even rivaled the Beatles in popularity.
Artist: Country Joe McDonald
Title: Era Of Guns (includes comments from artist)
Source: CD: 50
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rag Baby
Country Joe McDonald's latest album, 50, contains several tunes that address topics like the environment, racism, the current political climate and other relevant issues. Era Of Guns addresses the proliferation of violence in modern times, repeating the world weary phrase "Just another day in the era of guns."
Artist: Liquid Scene
Title: Which Side Of Time Are You On
Source: CD: Revolutions
Writer(s): Becki diGregorio
My favorite new band (by a long shot), Liquid Scene was formed by a group of San Francisco Bay area musicians that shared a love of 60s psychedelic music. Led by multi-instrumentalist Becki diGregorio, the band also includes guitarist Tom Ayers, bassist Endre Tarczy (who also provides some keyboard parts) and drummer Trey Sabatelli. Liquid Scene's first album, Revolutions, was released in late 2014. All nine tracks, including Which Side Of Time Are You On, are worth repeated listenings. I'm looking forward to their next effort.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night))
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Reprise)
The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in late 1966 and hitting the charts in early 1967. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on both the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation and Rhino's first Nuggets LP.
Title: Friday On My Mind
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: United Artists)
Considered by many to be the "greatest Australian song" ever recorded, the Easybeats' Friday On My Mind, released in late 1966, certainly was the first (and for many years only) major international hit to emerge from the island continent. Rhythm guitarist George Young, who co-wrote Friday On My Mind, would go on to produce another Australian band featuring his two younger brothers, Angus and Malcolm.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Just Like A Woman
Source: LP: Blonde On Blonde
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
By late 1966 the shock of Bob Dylan's going electric had long since worn off and Dylan was enjoying a string of top 40 hits in the wake of the success of Like A Rolling Stone. One of the last hits of the streak was Just Like A Woman, a track taken from his Blonde On Blonde album. This was actually the first Bob Dylan song I heard on top 40 radio.
Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title: The Twain Shall Meet (side two)
Source: LP: The Twain Shall Meet
The Twain Shall Meet was the second album from Eric Burdon and the Animals, the new group formed in early 1967 after Eric Burdon changed his mind about embarking on a solo career. Produced by Tom Wilson (who had also produced Bob Dylan's first electric recordings and the Blues Project's Projections album), The Twain Shall Meet was an ambitious work that shows a band often reaching beyond its grasp, despite having its heart in the right place. For the most part, though, side two of the album works fairly well, starting with the anti-war classic Sky Pilot and continuing into the instrumental We Love You Lil. The final section, All Is One, is a unique blend of standard rock instrumentation (guitar, bass, drums, keyboards) combined with strings, horns, sitar, bagpipes, oboe, flute, studio effects, and drone vocals that builds to a frenetic climax, followed by a spoken line by Burdon to end the album.
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Source: LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer: Ian Bruce-Douglas
Trying to take in the entire first Ultimate Spinach album (or even just one side of it) can be a bit overwhelming. Taken individually, however, songs like Pamela, which closes the album, are actually quite listenable.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: Iron Butterfly Theme
Source: CD: Heavy
Writer(s): Doug Ingle
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Although much of the material on the first Iron Butterfly album, Heavy, has a somewhat generic L.A. club sound to it, the final track, the Iron Butterfly Theme, sounds more in line with the style the band would become known for on their In-A-Gadda-Vida album a few months later.