Monday, October 23, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1743 (starts 10/25/17)
We've got some nice artists' sets this week from Love, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Seeds. Also, an advanced psych segment featuring the Dukes of Strasphophear and * repeat repeat.
Title: My Little Red Book
Source: Australian import CD: Comes In Colours (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Raven (original label: Elektra)
My Little Red Book was a song originally composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the soundtrack of the movie What's New Pussycat and performed by Manfred Mann. It didn't sound anything like Love's version (the first rock single issued on the Elektra label), which is acknowledged as one of the first true punk classics.
Title: 7&7 Is
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single. Stereo version released on LP: Da Capo)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
The word "seven" does not appear anywhere in the song 7&7 Is. In fact, I have no idea where Arthur Lee got that title from. Nonetheless, the song is among the most intense tracks to ever make the top 40. 7&7 Is starts off with power chords played over a constant drum roll (possibly played by Lee himself), with cymbals crashing over equally manic semi-spoken lyrics. The song builds up to an explosive climax: an atomic bomb blast followed by a slow post-apocalyptic instrumental that quickly fades away.
Title: Alone Again Or
Source: Australian import CD: Comes In Colours (originally released on LP: Forever Changes)
Writer(s): Bryan MacLean
Label: Raven (original label: Elektra)
The only song Love ever released as a single that was not written by Arthur Lee was Alone Again Or, issued in 1970. The song had originally appeared as the opening track from the Forever Changes album three years earlier. Bryan McLean would later say that he was not happy with the recording due to his own vocal being buried beneath that of Lee, since Lee's part was meant to be a harmony line to McLean's melody. McLean would later re-record the song for a solo album, but reportedly was not satisfied with that version either.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Positively 4th Street
Source: CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Recorded during the same 1965 sessions that produced the classic Highway 61 Revisited album, Positively 4th Street was deliberately held back for release as a single later that year. The stereo mix would not appear on an LP until the first Dylan Greatest Hits album was released in 1967.
Artist: Grass Roots
Title: Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man)
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
In late 1965 songwriters/producers P.F. Sloan (Eve of Destruction) and Steve Barri decided to create a series of records by a band called the Grass Roots. The problem was that there was no band called the Grass Roots (at least not that they knew of), so Sloan and Barri decided to recruit an existing band and talk them into changing their name. The band they found was the Bedouins, one of the early San Francisco bands. As the rush to sign SF bands was still months away, the Bedouins were more than happy to record the songs Sloan and Barri picked out for them. The first single by the newly-named Grass Roots was a cover of Bob Dylan's Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man). The band soon got to work promoting the single to Southern California radio stations, but with both the Byrds and the Turtles already on the charts with Dylan covers it soon became obvious that the market was becoming saturated with folk-rock. After a period of months the band, who wanted more freedom to write and record their own material, had a falling out with Sloan and Barri and it wasn't long before they moved back to San Francisco, leaving drummer Joel Larson in L.A. The group, with another drummer, continued to perform as the Grass Roots until Dunhill Records ordered them to stop. Eventually Dunhill would hire a local L.A. band called the 13th Floor (not to be confused with Austin, Texas's 13th Floor Elevators) to be the final incarnation of the Grass Roots; that group would crank out a series of top 40 hits in the early 70s. Meanwhile the original lineup changed their name but never had the opportunity to make records again.
Title: Nothin' In This World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl
Source: Mono LP: Kinda Kinks
Writer(s): Ray Davies
The Kinks can never be accused of resting on their laurels. Despite virtually inventing hard rock with their 1964 singles You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night, the band, led by Ray Davies, virtually abandoned their own style the following year, moving into more melodic territory with singles like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You, as well as folky material such as Nothin' In This World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl, on their LP Kinda Kinks.
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Hey Grandma
Source: LP: Moby Grape
One of the most talked-about albums to come from the San Francisco music scene in 1967 was Moby Grape's debut album. Unfortunately a lot of that talk was from Columbia Records itself, which resulted in the band getting a reputation for being overly hyped, much to the detriment of the band's future efforts. Still, that first album did have some outstanding tracks, including Hey Grandma, which opens side one of the LP.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: 2000 Light Years From Home
Source: CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Nowhere was the ripple effect of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band more noticable than on the Rolling Stones fall 1967 release Their Satanic Majesties Request. The cover featured the band members in various sorcerous regalia in a seven-inch picture on the kind of holographic paper used for "magic rings" found in bubble-gum machines and pasted over regular album-cover stock, which was a simple pattern of faded white circles on a blue background (it kind of looked like dark wallpaper). Musically it was the most psychedelic Stones album ever released. Interesting enough, different songs were released as singles in different countries. In the US the single was She's A Rainbow, while in Germany and the Netherlands 2,000 Light Years From Home (the US B side of She's A Rainbow) got significant airplay, making the top 5 in both countries.
Artist: Peanut Butter Conspiracy
Title: Living Dream
Source: CD: The Great Conspiracy
Writer(s): Alan Brackett
Label: Collectables (original label: Columbia)
Originally formed in 1964 as Ashes, the Peanut Butter Conspiracy was a popular Los Angeles club band. Signed to Columbia in late 1966, the group recorded two LPs for the label, both of which were released in 1967. Critics generally agree that the second album, on which the band was given more artistic freedom, was the better of the two. Living Dream, from The Great Conspiracy, is a good example of what that second LP sounded like. It was not, however, commercially successful, and by the time a third album was released in 1969, both the membership and the record label had changed. The PBC disbanded the following year.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: No Way Out
Source: Mono British import CD: Melts In Your Brain, Not On Your Wrist (originally released on LP: No Way Out and as a 45 RPM single B side)
Writer: Ed Cobb
Label: Big Beat (original label:Tower)
The Chocolate Watchband, from the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area (specifically Foothills Junior College in Los Altos Hills), were fairly typical of the south bay music scene, centered in San Jose. Although they were generally known for lead vocalist Dave Aguilar's ability to channel Mick Jagger with uncanny accuracy, producer Ed Cobb gave them a more psychedelic sound in the studio with the use of studio effects and other enhancements (including adding tracks to their albums that were performed entire by studio musicians). Cobb also pulled other questionable stuff, such as taking credit for the finished version of the song No Way Out, despite the fact that the basic tracks came from a jam session recorded months earlier by the band itself.
Title: I Am The Walrus
Source: LP: Magical Mystery Tour
1967 had been a great year for the Beatles, starting with their double-sided hit single Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, followed by the iconic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album and their late summer hit All You Need Is Love, with its worldwide TV debut (one of the few events of the time to utilize satellite technology). The next project, however, did not go over quite so well. It had been over two years since the group's last major movie (HELP!), and the band decided that their next film would be an exclusive for broadcast on BBC-TV. Unlike the previous two films, this new project would not follow traditional filmmaking procedures. Instead it would be a more experimental piece; a series of loosely related songs and comedy vignettes connected by a loose plot about a bus trip to the countryside. Magical Mystery Tour made its debut in early December of 1967 to overwhelmingly negative reaction by viewers and critics alike (partially because the film was shown in black and white on the tradition minded BBC-1 network; a later rebroadcast in color on BBC-2 went over much better). The songs used in the film, however, were quite popular. Since there were only six of them, far too few for a regular LP, it was decided to issue the album as a pair of 45 RPM EPs, complete with lyric sheets and booklet recounting the story from the film. The original EPs were available in both stereo and mono versions in Europe and the UK. In the US, where the six tunes were supplemented by the band's five remaining single sides from 1967 to create an LP, Magical Mystery Tour was only available in stereo. Although both the EP and LP versions have different song orders than the telefilm, all three open the same way, with the film's title song.
Title: Ferris Wheel
Source: LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
In the fall of 1966 the career of Scottish folk singer Donovan Leitch took an odd turn. Up until that point in time he had a run of successful records in the UK but got very little airplay in the US. Two events, however, combined to turn the entire situation around 180 degrees. First, Donovan had just signed a contract with Epic Records in the US, a major step up from the poorly distributed and even more poorly promoted Hickory label. At the same time contract negotiations between the singer/songwriter and his British label, Pye, had come to an impasse. As a result Donovan's next LP, Sunshine Superman, was released only in the US, making songs like Ferris Wheel unavailable to his oldest fans. His popularity in the UK suffered greatly from lack of any new recordings over the next year, while it exploded in the US with consecutive top 10 singles Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow in 1966. From that point on Donovan would have his greatest success in North America, even after securing a new record contract in the UK in late 1967.
Title: Tantalising Maggie
Source: CD: The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack
Label: Fuel 2000 (original label: Immediate)
The Nice, the first band to fuse rock, jazz and classical music, creating a totally new genre in the process, had rather unique origins. In 1966 Ike and Tina Turner did a tour of England, with their backup vocal group, the Ikettes, in tow. One of the Ikettes, P.P. Arnold, made such a strong impression on both Mick Jagger and his manager/producer, Andrew Loog Oldham, that they convinced her to stay in London and embark on a solo career. Starting in April of 1967, Oldham, who was in the process of setting up his own record label, set about putting together a band to back her up. Oldham's first recruit was bassist Lee Jackson of the local R&B group Gary Farr and the T-Bones. Jackson soon brought in former fellow T-Bone Keith Emerson, who was already getting a reputation as the London club circuit's hottest Hammond organ player. The two of them soon recruited guitarist Davy O'List and drummer Brian Davison to complete the new band, which Oldham had already decided would be called the Nice. To save money, Oldham, instead of hiring an opening act, let the Nice do a short warmup set before being joined by Arnold onstage. Since Arnold herself performed a fairly standard mix of R&B and soul songs, the Nice were encouraged to create something different for their own set. That "something different" ended up being a mix of jazz, classical and psychedelic rock that had never been heard before. It wasn't long before the Nice, with their new "progressive rock" sound, became a bigger attraction than Arnold herself, and by the end of the year the Nice had signed with Oldham's new label, Immediate Records. In December of 1967 The Thoughts Of Everlist Davjack (the title being an amalgamation of the members' last names) was released. Early releases of the album gave shared songwriting credits to the entire band. The CD reissue of The Thoughts Of Everlist Davjack, however, is more specific, with Emerson and Jackson sharing writing credit on tracks like Tantalising Maggie.
Artist: Mass Temper
Source: Mono CD: A Deadly Dose Of Wylde Psych (originally released on 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Kix)
Bailey, NC, may seem an unlikely place to find a proto-metal band, but that's exactly where Mass Temper hailed from. Gravedigger, the A side of a single on the Kix label, is almost impossible to find in its original form, mainly because there were only 100 copies of the record ever pressed. Not much else is known about the record, other than the sad fact that the lead guitarist (presumably either Cassidy or Pittman) died a year after the single was released.
Artist: John McLaughlin
Source: British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Extrapolation)
Writer(s): John McLaughlin
Label: Polydor (original label: Marmalade)
Best known as the founder of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, guitarist John McLaughlin performed with a number of legendary British artists before recording his solo debut album, Extrapolation, for Giorgio Gomelsky's Marmalade label in 1969. As can be heard on the title track, McLaughlin was already quite accomplished on his instrument at this point in his career. When Marmalade folded McLaughlin moved to New York, where he joined up with Miles Davis (on the Bitches Brew album) before forming the Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1971. Now known as Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, the guitarist remains one of the world's most highly respected jazz guitarists.
Artist: Notes From The Underground
Title: You Don't Love Me
Source: British import CD: The Berkeley EPs
Writer(s): Mark Mandrell
Label: Big Beat
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1995
When it comes to describing Berkeley, California, the first word that comes to mind is "alternative." For one thing, Berkeley sits across Oakland Bay from San Francisco, making it a natural alternative to the city itself. This sense of being an alternative extends itself to the local music scene as well. While San Francisco was developing bands like Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead, Berkeley was fostering groups like Country Joe And The Fish and Notes From The Underground. Unlike other Berkeley bands, however, Notes From The Underground stayed away from politics, and were generally less experimental than their contemporaries on the north side of the Bay. The Notes took over the Fish's spot at the place known as the Jabberwock when that band began playing more out-of-town gigs, and eventually followed in Country Joe's footsteps by issuing their own self-titled EP in 1967. In addition to the five songs issued on the EP the group recorded three more songs that remained unreleased until 1995, when they appeared on a British compilation disc called The Berkeley EPs. One of these song is You Don't Love Me, which bears no resemblance to the old Willie Cobb tune covered by several rock bands in the late 60s and early 70s (including the Allman Brothers Band). This You Don't Love Me was written by guitarist Mark Mandell (no relation to Harvey), who co-founded Notes From The Underground in 1965.
Artist: * repeat repeat
Title: Be This Way
Source: CD: Floral Canyon
Writer(s): Jared Corder
* repeat repeat was co-founded by guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Jarded Corder and drummer Andy Herrin sometime before 2014. Early on the Nashville, Tennessee duo realized the need for a female vocalist, but weren't able to find the right one until their producer suggested Corder's wife Kristyn give it a shot. Everything fell into place quickly after that, starting with their debut CD Bad Latitude. Their latest album, Floral Canyon, reflects their own blend of 60s West Coast garage punk and east coast underground with a healthy dose of originality on tracks like Be This Way.
Artist: Dukes Of Stratosphear
Title: 25 O'Clock
Source: CD: Chips From The Chocolate Factory (originally released on EP: 25 O'Clock)
Writer(s): Andy Partridge
Label: Caroline (original label: Virgin)
In 1985, XTC decided to take a break and record an EP, 25 O'Clock, anonymously as the Dukes of Stratosphear. They circulated rumours that this was some previously undiscovered psych band from the late 1960s. Of course, everyone should have suspected that something was not quite as it seemed with the Dukes, as the EP (or "mini-album") was released on April Fool's Day of 1985. Still, the authentic recreation of mid to late 60s production techniques, as well as its Disraeli Gears-inspired album cover, were enough to keep people guessing, at least for a while. Ironically, 25 O'Clock actually outsold the then-current XTC album.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: You Got Me Floatin'
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience took four-track recording technology to new levels with their second LP, Axis: Bold As Love on songs like You Got Me Floatin'. The track opens with backwards guitar followed by a memorable riff that continues throughout the song. The entire instrumental break also uses backward-masked guitar, making a somewhat simplistic song into a track that bears further listens.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Red House
Source: LP: Smash Hits
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1969
There were actually two different versions of Red House released by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, both of which came from the same December, 1966, sessions. The original version was included on the European pressing of the Are You Experienced album, which was issued in early 1967. The album was not originally available in stereo, and a true stereo mix of this version of Red House was never made, as the track was left off the remixed American version of the LP. In spring of 1967 the band attempted to get a better version of the song, but neither Hendrix or bassist Noel Redding (who had played the original bass part on a regular guitar with its tone controls set to mimic a bass guitar) were satisfied with the later versions. Only one portion of these new recordings was kept, and was combined with the original take to create a new stereo mix for the US version of the 1969 Smash Hits album. This newer mix was also used by MCA for both the 1993 CD reissue of Are You Experienced and the Ultimate Experience anthology.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Wait Until Tomorrow
Source: LP: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix showed a whimsical side with Wait Until Tomorrow, a track from his second Jimi Hendrix Experience LP, Axis: Bold As Love. The song tells a story of a young man standing outside his girlfriend's window trying to convince her to run away from him. He gets continually rebuffed by the girl, who keeps telling him to Wait Until Tomorrow. Ultimately the girl's father resolves the issue by shooting the young man. The entire story is punctuated by outstanding distortion-free guitar work that showcases just how gifted Hendrix was on his chosen instrument.
Title: I Feel Free
Source: LP: Fresh Cream
After an unsuccessful debut single (Wrapping Paper), Cream scored a bona-fide hit in the UK with their follow-up, I Feel Free. As was the case with nearly every British single at the time, the song was not included on Fresh Cream, the band's debut LP. In the US, however, singles were commonly given a prominent place on albums, and the US version of Fresh Cream actually opens with I Feel Free. To my knowledge the song, being basically a studio creation, was never performed live.
Title: Happy Jack
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Pete Townshend
Happy Jack was originally released as a single in the UK in late 1966. It did not hit the US airwaves, however, until the early months of 1967. (I heard it for the first time on KLZ-FM, a Denver station whose format was a forerunner of progressive rock. KLZ-FM didn't call themselves a rock station. They instead marketed themselves as playing the top 100, as opposed to the top 60 played on KIMN, the dominant AM station in the city.) Although the song was not intended to be on an album, Decca Records quickly rearranged the track order of the Who's second album, A Quick One, to make room for the song, changing the name of the album itself to Happy Jack in the process. This rechanneled stereo mix of the song (using a much more realistic process than Capitol used with the Beach Boys' records) came out on the LP Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy in the early 1970s, but when the album was reissued on CD the original mono master was used instead.
Title: No Escape
Source: Mono British import CD: Singles As & Bs 1965-1970 (originally released on LP: The Seeds and as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: GNP Crescendo
L.A.'s Seeds released their first album in 1966, following up on the local success of their first single, Can't Seem To Make You Mine, the previous year. Several more singles followed, including Mr. Farmer in December of 1966. For some unknown reason (a stylistic similarity to Pushin' Too Hard, perhaps?) No Escape, a song from the band's first album, was initially chosen for the B side of that single, despite the fact that the group's second LP, A Web Of Sound, was released around the same time. Whatever the reason, Mr. Farmer was reissued with a different B side the following month.
Title: Wish Me Up
Source: 45 RPM single B side
By the time the 60s had come to an end, the Seeds, who had spearheaded the flower power movement in the middle of the decade, were on their last legs. Only Sky Saxon and Daryl Hooper were left from the original group, and they had lost their contract with GNP Crescendo. Their manager was able to secure a contract to record a pair of singles for M-G-M, but, as can be heard on the B side of the first single, Wish Me Up, the old energy just wasn't there anymore.
Title: Pushin' Too Hard (uncut original studio version)
Source: Mono British import CD: Singles As & Bs 1965-1970
Writer: Sky Saxon
Label: Big Beat
Year: Recorded 1965, released 2012
The Seeds' Pushin' Too Hard is rightfully considered one of the true classics of psychedelic garage rock. The version usually heard, however, is about half a minute shorter than the actual recording made by the band in 1965. The uncut mono mix of the song finally surfaced on the
Singles As & Bs 1965-1970 collection issued in the UK by Big Beat. The main difference is the presence of an extra verse that was cut from the final mix and a bit of a different ending.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Night Owl Blues
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Label: Kama Sutra/Sundazed
Year: Recorded 1965, released 2011
Night Owl Blues was first released on the Lovin Spoonful's first album, Do You Believe In Magic, making an encore appearance as the B side of their 1966 hit Daydream. The original recording was edited down to less than three minutes on both releases. In 2011 Sundazed issued a previously unreleased recording of the Spoonful's high energy cover of the Hollywood Argyles hit Alley Oop on 45 RPM vinyl, backed with a longer, less edited version of Night Owl Blues made from the same original 1965 recording as the earlier release. The track features blues harp from John Sebastian and a rare electric guitar solo from Zal Yanovsky.
Title: Grim Reaper Of Love
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: White Whale)
The Turtles had some early success in 1965 as a folk-rock band, recording the hit version of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe and PF Sloan's Let Me Be. By 1966, however, it was getting harder and harder for the group to get a hit record. One attempt was Grim Reaper Of Love, co-written by Turtles lead guitarist Al Nichol. Personally I think it's a pretty cool tune, but was probably a bit too weird to appeal to the average top 40 radio listener in 1966. Grim Reaper Of Love did manage to make it to the # 81 spot on the charts, unlike the band's next two singles that failed to chart at all. It wasn't until the following year, when the Turtles recorded Happy Together, that the band would make it back onto the charts.
Title: Heaven And Hell
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
Throughout the mid-60s Australia's most popular band was the Easybeats, often called the Australian Beatles. Although their early material sounded like slightly dated British Invasion music (Australia had a reputation for cultural lag, and besides, half the members were British immigrants), by late 1966 guitarist Harry Vanda (one of the two Dutch immigrant members of the group) had learned enough English to be able to replace vocalist Stevie Wright as George Young's writing partner. The new team was much more adventurous in their compositions than the Wright/Young team had been, and were responsible for the band's first international hit, Friday On My Mind. By then the Easybeats had relocated to England, and continued to produce fine singles such as Heaven And Hell.
Title: Cryin' To Be Heard
Source: CD: Traffic
Writer(s): Dave Mason
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
Dave Mason's role as a member of Traffic has always been a bit hard to pin down. He left the band on more than one occasion, only to rejoin at exactly the right time to make his own music factor prominently in the band's recordings. After leaving the group even before their debut album was released in the US, Mason returned in time to write five of the ten songs on the band's self-title second LP, including the seldom heard Cryin' To Be Heard (see what I did there?). True to form, Mason left once again soon after the album was recorded, only to rejoin in time for their 1971 live album Welcome To The Canteen.
Artist: Elephant's Memory
Title: Brief Encounter
Source: CD: Elephant's Memory
Writer(s): Richard Sussman
Label: BMG/Collector's Choice (original label: Buddah)
One of the hardest-to-describe bands of the late 1960s, Elephant's Memory was formed by singer/saxophonist/flautist/clarinetist Stan Bronstein and drummer Rick Frank, along with bassist/trombonist Myron Yules. One early member of the band was vocalist Carly Simon, although by the time the band recorded their debut LP in 1969 she had been replaced by Michal Shapiro. Filling out the band's 1969 lineup were keyboardist Richard Sussman and guitarists John Ward and Chester Ayres. Shapiro's vocals were particularly well suited to the band's jazzier numbers, such as Brief Encounter, which also incorporates elements of latino music.