Monday, August 21, 2017

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1734 (starts 8/23/17)

All kinds of good stuff this week, with long tracks from the Doors and the Grateful Dead and artists' sets from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and Cream highlighting the show.

Artist:     Them
Song:     One Two Brown Eyes
Source:     Mono LP: Them
Writer(s):    Van Morrison
Label:     Parrott
Year:     1964
     Van Morrison's One Two Brown Eyes was first released in the UK in late 1964 as the B side of Them's first single. It was included on the US version of Them's first album, but not on the version released in the UK.

Artist:    Hollies
Title:    Look Through Any Window
Source:    Mono LP: The Very Best Of The Hollies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Gouldman/Silverman
Label:    United Artists (original label: Imperial)
Year:    1965
    Although the Hollies were far more popular in their native England than in the US, they did have their fair share of North American hits. The first Hollies tune to crack the US top 40 was Look Through Any Window, released in December of 1965 and peaking at #33 in early 1966. The song did even better in Canada, going all the way to the #3 spot.

Artist:     Chocolate Watch Band
Title:     Sweet Young Thing
Source:     Mono CD: More Nuggets (CD bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Ed Cobb
Label:     Sundazed (original label: Uptown)
Year:     1967
     There is actually very little on vinyl that captures the actual live sound of the Chocolate Watchband, as most of their recorded work was heavily influenced by producer Ed Cobb. One of the few records that does accurately represent the Watchband sound is Cobb's Sweet Young Thing. The song was released as the Watchband's first single (under their own name) on the Uptown label in January of 1967. They had previously released a quickie cover version of Davie Allan's Blues Theme as the Hogs on the HBR label in 1966.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    She Hangs Out
Source:    LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD
Writer(s):    Jeff Barry
Label:    Colgems
Year:    1967
    She Hangs Out is a tune written by Jeff Barry that, through no fault of its own, became the straw that broke the camel's back. In this particular case, the camel was rock impressario Don Kirschner, who, until early 1967, was music director for all things Monkees. The song was one of many recorded in 1966 for use on the Monkees TV show. A dozen songs had been chosen for the first Monkees album in late 1966. The situation at that time was such that the Monkees themselves didn't really have much of a voice in what was included on that album (actually, "voice" was about the only thing the band members did have on most of the tracks). At the time, however, just getting the album out in time for Christmas overrode other considerations, and the band basically stood by and let Krischner run the show. Early the next year, however, Kirschner once again raised the ire of the band members by releasing a second LP, More Of The Monkees, without the band's knowledge or input (other than the vocals that had been recorded in 1966). The Monkees responded by recording a new song, All Of Your Toys, intending it to be their third single. Kirschner, however, again without knowledge or consent of the band, released a Neil Diamond-penned track, A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, backed with a Jeff Barry song, She Hangs Out, as a single. Both tracks were produced by Barry, and were essentially solo efforts by Davy Jones, whose lead vocals had at that point only appeared on album tracks, accompanied by studio musicians. Ultimately this unauthorized move by Kirschner led to his being taken off the entire Monkees project and the single withdrawn from circulation. The Monkees were not done with She Hangs Out, however. Later in 1967 the band re-recorded the song, this time playing most of the instruments themselves, for inclusion on their fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.

Artist:    Troggs
Title:    Little Girl
Source:    Mono British import CD: The Troggs Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Reg Presley
Label:    Spectrum (original US label: Fontana)
Year:    1968
    Although best known for their 1966 hit Wild Thing, the Troggs actually had a string of successful singles in their native UK. Even some of their minor hits, such as the 1968 single Little Girl, are fondly remembered by fans of the Troggs, which include members of R.E.M. and the Police, among others.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Something
Source:    LP: Abbey Road
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Apple
Year:    1969
    For years, the Beatles' George Harrison had felt that he was not getting the respect he deserved from his bandmates for his songwriting ability. That all changed in 1969 when he introduced them to his latest tune for inclusion on the Abbey Road album. Something impressed everyone who heard it, including John Lennon (who said it was the best song on the album), Paul McCartney (who called it Harrison's best song ever) and even producer George Martin, who made sure the song was released as the A side of the only single from Abbey Road. Commercially, Something was a major success as well, going to the top of the US charts and placing in the top 5 in the UK. Perhaps more tellingly, Something is the second most covered song in the entire Beatles catalog (behind Paul McCartney's Yesterday), with over 150 artists recording the tune over the years.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Singing All Day
Source:    CD: Benefit (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Capitol/Chrysalis
Year:    1970
    Singing All Day is one of several tracks recorded during the sessions for the third Jethro Tull LP, Benefit, but not included on the album itself. The song finally got released in 1973 on the Living In The Past album and is now available as a bonus track on the CD version of Benefit.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    I'm So Glad
Source:    Mono CD: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Skip James
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1966
    Unlike later Cream albums, which featured psychedelic cover art and several Jack Bruce/Pete Brown collaborations that had a decidedly psychedelic sound, Fresh Cream was marketed as the first album by a British blues supergroup, and featured a greater number of blues standards than subsequent releases. One of those covers that became a concert staple for the band was the old Skip James tune I'm So Glad. The song has become so strongly associated with Cream that the group used it as the opening number for all three performances when they staged a series of reunion concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in 2004. For reasons unknown, the studio version of I'm So Glad has never been mixed in stereo.

Artist:     Cream
Title:     N.S.U.
Source:     LP: Fresh Cream
Writer:     Jack Bruce
Label:     Atco
Year:     1966
     The US version of Fresh Cream starts off the with powerful one-two punch of I Feel Free and N.S.U. Although I Feel Free was a purely studio creation that never got performed live, N.S.U. became a staple of the band's concert performances, and was even performed by various other bands that bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce was a member of over the years.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Dreaming
Source:    CD: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Jack Bruce
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1966
    Although Cream recorded several songs that bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce co-wrote with various lyricists (notably poet Pete Brown), there were a few that Bruce himself wrote words for. One of these is Dreaming, a song from the band's first LP that features both Bruce and guitarist Eric Clapton on lead vocals. Dreaming is also one of the shortest Cream songs on record, clocking in at one second under two minutes in length.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Alligator/Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)
Source:    LP: Anthem Of The Sun
Writer(s):    Lesh/McKernan/Hunter/Garcia/Kreutzmann/Weir
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1968
    After a debut album that took about a week to record (and that the band was unanimously unhappy with) the Grateful Dead took their time on their second effort, Anthem Of The Sun. After spending a considerable amount of time in three different studios on two coasts and not getting the sound they wanted (and shedding their original producer along the way) the Dead came to the conclusion that the only way to make an album that sounded anywhere near what the band sounded like onstage was to use actual recordings of their performances and combine them with the studio tracks they had been working on. Side two of the album, which includes the classic Alligator and the more experimental Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks), is basically an enhanced live performance, with new vocal tracks added in the studio. Alligator itself is notable as the first Grateful Dead composition to feature the lyrics of Robert Hunter, who would become Jerry Garcia's main collaborator for many many years. Anthem Of The Sun, along with other early Dead albums, was remixed by Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh in 1973, and the new mix was used on all subsequent pressings of the LP (and later CD). Recently, Rhino records has pressed a new vinyl copy of Anthem Of The Sun using the original 1968 mix of the album, which is what I've used on this week's show.

Artist:     Kinks
Title:     Love Me Till The Sun Shines
Source:     CD: Something Else
Writer:     Dave Davies
Label:     Reprise
Year:     1967
     The 1967 album Something Else By The Kinks was a turning point for the band in more ways than one. It was the first Kinks album produced entirely by Ray Davies, as well as the first Kinks album to be released in stereo. Something Else also saw the emergence of the younger Davies brother, Dave, as a songwriter in his own right on songs like Love Me Till The Sun Shines. I'm not sure, but it sounds to me like Dave Davies is the singer on the track as well.

Artist:    Crosby, Still, Nash & Young
Title:    Ohio
Source:    LP: So Far (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    One of the most powerful records to come out of the Nixon years, Ohio was written by Neil Young in response to shooting deaths of four college students by National Guard troops at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Young wrote the lyrics after seeing photos of the incident in Life Magazine. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young recorded the song with their new rhythm section of Calvin Samuels and Johnny Barbata on May 21st. The recording was rush released within a few week, becoming a counter-culture anthem and cementing the group's reputation as spokesmen for their generation. Young later referred to the Kent State shootings as "probably the biggest lesson ever learned at an American place of learning," adding that "David Crosby cried when we finished this take." Crosby can be heard ad-libbing "Four, why? Why did they die?" and "How many more?" during the song's fadeout. 

Artist:    Country Joe McDonald
Title:    Where Did The Time Go
Source:    CD: 50
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Rag Baby
Year:    2017
    50 years after the release of the album Electric Music For The Mind And Body we find Country Joe McDonald asking the musical question Where Did The Time Go. Sometimes, though, it seems that things haven't really changed all that much since the 1960s, when a growing number of people were expressing their disenchantment with the status quo and, in particular, the political leaders of the time.

Artist:    George Harrison
Title:    When We Was Fab
Source:    CD: Cloud Nine
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Dark Horse
Year:    1987
    George Harrison recorded two different songs referencing his years as a member of the world's most popular rock band. The first, All Those Years Ago, was done in Harrison's own early 80s style, and was released not long after the death of former bandmate John Lennon. The second, When We Was Fab, was stylistically a throwback to the Beatles' most psychedelic period, with a strong resemblance to Lennon's I Am The Walrus from Magical Mystery Tour. The song appeared on Harrison's Cloud Nine album, which was recorded around the same time as the first Traveling Wilburys album, and features guest appearances from some of the other members of that group, including Beatles fans Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty.

Artist:     West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:     A Child Of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death
Source:     CD: A Child's Guide To Good and Evil
Writer:     Markley/Morgan
Label:     Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Year:     1968
     A Child's Guide To Good and Evil is generally considered the best album from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band as well as their most political one. A Child Of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death has a kind of creepy humor to it that makes it stand out from the many antiwar songs of the time.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    Ritual #1
Source:    LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer(s):    Markley/Ware
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    Technically, Volume III is actually the fourth album by the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. The first one was an early example of a practice that would become almost mandatory for a new band in the 1990s. The LP, titled Volume 1, was recorded at a home studio and issued independently by the Harris brothers. Many of the songs on that LP ended up being re-recorded for their major label debut, which they called Part One. That album was followed by Volume II, released in late 1967. The following year they released their final album for Reprise, which in addition to being called Volume III was subtitled A Child's Guide To Good And Evil. Included on that album were Ritual #1 and Ritual #2, neither of which sounds anything like the other.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    Until The Poorest People Have Money To Spend
Source:    CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer(s):    Markley/Harris
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
            The final West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album for Reprise, Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil, is generally considered the group's best album as well, despite the absence of founding member Danny Harris (who would return for their next LP on the Amos label). As always, Bob Markley provided the lyrics for all the band's original songs on the LP, including Until The Poorest People Have Money To Spend, which Shaun Harris wrote the music for. Although the sentiment expressed in the song is a good one, the sincerity of Markley's lyrics is somewhat suspect, according to guitarist Ron Morgan, who said that Markley was notoriously miserly with his own money (of which he had inherited quite a lot).
Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Oh, Sweet Mary
Source:    LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Albin/Andrew/Getz/Gurley/Joplin
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    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, for a breath of fresh air, a bridge section played at a slower tempo than the rest of the tune.

Artist:    Amboy Dukes
Title:    Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Journey To The Center Of The Mind and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Nugent/Farmer
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
Year:    1968
    Detroit was one of the major centers of pop music in the late 60s. In addition to the myriad Motown acts, the area boasted the popular retro-rock&roll band Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the harder rocking Bob Seger System, the non-Motown R&B band the Capitols, and Ted Nugent's outfit, the Amboy Dukes, who scored big in 1968 with Journey To The Center Of The Mind.

Artist:    Guess Who
Title:    Pink Wine Sparkles In The Glass
Source:    CD: Wheatfield Soul
Writer(s):    Bachman/Cummings
Label:    Iconoclassic (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1968
    Originally written as a poem, Pink Wine Sparkles In The Glass, from the 1968 Guess Who album Wheatfield Soul, is on the surface a fairly light psychedelic tune. Hidden within the lyrics, however, are hints of Burton Cummings' awareness of social issues, an awareness that would only continue to grow over the next few years, resulting in classics like American Woman and Share The Land. Guitarist Randy Bachman apparently liked the original poem so much that he wrote music to go with it. Cummings, who normally played keyboards, plays rhythm guitar on the song.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    May This Be Love
Source:    CD: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    The original UK version of Are You Experienced? featured May This Be Love as the opening track of side two of the album. In the US, the UK single The Wind Cries Mary was substituted for it, with May This Be Love buried deep on side one. It's obvious that Hendrix thought more highly of the song than the people at Reprise who picked the track order for the US album.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Tattoo
Source:    LP: The Who Sell Out
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    Decca
Year:    1967
    Starting in 1966, the Who wrote songs about things no other rock group had even considered writing songs about. Happy Jack, for instance, was about a guy who would hang out on the beach and let the local kids tease (but not faze) him. I'm A Boy was about a guy whose mother insisted on dressing him the same as his sisters. And I'm not even getting into the subject matter of Pictures Of Lily. The Who Sell Out, released in December of 1967, continued this trend with songs like Tattoo, about an adolescent and his brother who go out and get (without their parents' permission) their first tattoos. The song is accompanied by a jingle for Radio London, the most successful of the British pirate radio stations that operated from studios in London but utilized illegal transmitters floating on platforms off the coast (the BBC having a monopoly on broadcasting at the time).

Artist:    Third Bardo
Title:    I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Evans/Pike
Label:    Rhino (original label: Roulette)
Year:    1967
    The Third Bardo (the name coming from the Tibetan Book of the Dead) only released one single, but I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time has become, over a period of time, one of the most sought-after records of the psychedelic era. Not much is known of this New York band made up of Jeffrey Moon (vocals), Bruce Ginsberg (drums), Ricky Goldclang (lead guitar), Damian Kelly (bass) and Richy Seslowe (guitar).

Artist:    Doors
Title:    When The Music's Over
Source:    CD: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    I remember the first time I heard When The Music's Over. My girlfriend's older brother had a copy of the Strange Days album on the stereo in his room and told us to get real close to the speakers so we could hear the sound of a butterfly while he turned the volume way up. What we got, of course, was a blast of "...we want the world and we want it now." Good times.

Artist:     Otis Redding
Title:     Try A Little Tenderness
Source:     LP: Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival
Writer:     Woods/Campbell/Connelly
Label:     Reprise
Year:     1967
            One of the most electrifying performances at the legendary Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967 happened on Saturday night during a rainstorm. Otis Redding (backed by Booker T. and the MGs, with Wayne Jackson on trumpet and Andrew Love on sax) was scheduled for the closing slot, but due to technical problems earlier in the day found himself with only enough time for five songs before the festival had to shut down for the night. At the end of his closing song, Try A Little Tenderness, Redding can be heard saying "I've got to go now. I don't want to go" as the festival's organizers, mindful of the terms of their permit, were rushing him off the stage.

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