Monday, November 20, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1747 (starts 11/22/17)
This week, We're Only In It For The Money...or at least that's what Frank Zappa and the Mothers would have you believe in 1968...........................................................
Title: Revolution 1
Source: CD: The Beatles
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Apple)
The Beatles' Revolution has a somewhat convoluted history. The song, as originally recorded, was over eight minutes long and included what eventually became Revolution 1 and part of Revolution 9. The song's writer, John Lennon, at some point decided to separate the sections into two distinct tracks, both of which ended up on the Beatles self-titled double LP (aka the White Album). Lennon wanted to release Revolution 1 as a single, but was voted down by both George Harrison and Paul McCartney on the grounds that the song's tempo was too slow. Lennon then came up with a faster version of the song, which ended up being released a few weeks before the album came out as the B side to the band's 1968 single Hey Jude. As a result, many of the band's fans erroneously assumed that Revolution 1 was the newer version of the song.
Title: Fool On The Hill
Source: British import stereo 45 RPM Extended Play album: Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles only came up with six new songs for their 1967 telefilm Magical Mystery Tour, enough to fill up only one side of an LP. Rather than use outtakes and B sides to complete the album (which they had done in 1965 for the Help album), the band chose to release the six songs on a two-record 45 RPM Extended Play set, complete with a booklet that included the storyline, lyric sheets and several still photographs from the film itself. Magical Mystery Tour appeared in this form in both the UK and in Europe, while in the US and Canada, Capitol Records instead issued the album in standard LP format, using the band's 1967 singles and B sides to fill up side two. None of the songs from the telefilm were issued as singles, although one, I Am The Walrus, was used as the B side to the Hello Goodbye single. Another song, Fool On The Hill, was covered by Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66, making the US charts in early 1968. By the 1980s, however, the only version of the song still played on the radio was the original Beatles version, with the footage from the Magical Mystery Tour telefilm used as a video on early music TV channels.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I've Got A Way Of My Own
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): L. Ransford
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2016
Not all of the songs the Electric Prunes recorded during sessions for their debut LP, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), ended up being included on the album itself. Among the unused tracks was a cover of a Hollies B side called I've Got A Way Of My Own. The song was actually one of the first tunes that the band recorded, while they were still, in the words of vocalist James Lowe, "searching for a sound and style we could capture on a record." Following the sessions the band decided that harmonies were better left to other groups, and I've Got A Way Of My Own remained unreleased until the 21st century.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Worried Life Blues
Source: LP: Psychedelic Lollipop
Writer(s): Major Merriweather
Major "Big Macao" Merriweather was an early blues artist who is best known for a song he wrote and recorded in 1941. Worried Life Blues has since been covered literally hundreds of times, including a 1965 version on the US-only LP The Animals On Tour. The Blues Magoos apparently were impressed by the Animals' recording of the song, as they copied the arrangement pretty much note for note for their own debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop, the following year.
Title: Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
The Standells were probably the most successful band to record for the Tower label (not counting Pink Floyd, whose first LP was issued, in modified form, on the label after being recorded in England). Besides their big hit Dirty Water, they hit the charts with other tunes such as Why Pick On Me, Try It, and the punk classic Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White. Both Good Guys and Dirty Water were written by producer Ed Cobb, who has to be considered the most prolific punk-rock songwriter of the 60s, having also written songs for the "E" Types and Chocolate Watchband (both of which he also produced).
Artist: Randy Newman
Title: Last Night I Had A Dream
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Randy Newman
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Randy Newman has, over the course of the past fifty-plus years, established himself as a Great American Writer of Songs. His work includes dozens of hit singles (over half of which were performed by other artists), nearly two dozen movie scores and eleven albums as a solo artist. Newman has won five Grammys, as well as two Oscars and Three Emmys. Last Night I Had A Dream was Newman's second single for the Reprise label (his third overall), coming out the same year as his first LP, which did not include the song.
Title: Porpoise Song
Source: CD: Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Head soundtrack)
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
In 1968 the Monkees, trying desperately to shed a teeny-bopper image, enlisted Jack Nicholson to co-write a feature film that was a 180-degree departure from their recently-cancelled TV show. This made sense, since the original fans of the show were by then already outgrowing the group. Unfortunately, by 1968 the Monkees brand was irrevocably tainted by the fact that the Monkees had not been allowed to play their own instruments on their first two albums. The movie Head itself was the type of film that was best suited to being shown in theaters that specialized in "art" films, but that audience was among the most hostile to the Monkees and the movie bombed. It is now considered a cult classic. Porpoise Song, a Gerry Goffin/Carole King composition used as the theme for Head, was also a departure in style for the Monkees, yet managed to retain a decidedly Monkees sound due to the distinctive lead vocals of Mickey Dolenz.
Source: British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released in US as 45 RPM single)
Label: Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Cotillion)
One of the most bizarre concepts to come out of the psychedelic era was a song called Lucifer (yes, That Lucifer, Prince of Darkness, Ruler of Hell, etc.), done in a style similar to that of the 1910 Fruitgum Company. Yes, that's right. A bubble gum song about the devil. Lucifer was the product of the minds of Joey Levine and Marc Bellack, who had previously collaborated on the Standells' Try It, and would later produce a single called Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me) by a band called Reunion. Also involved with the Lucifer project was co-producer David Lucas, who, along with Bellack, would have fronted a band called The Salt had the single taken off. Luckily for all of us, it didn't.
Artist: Al Kooper/Stephen Stills/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title: Harvey's Tune
Source: CD: Super Session
Writer(s): Harvey Brooks
Probably the most overlooked track on the classic Super Session LP is the album's closer, a two-minute instrumental called Harvey's Tune. The piece was written by bassist Harvey Brooks, who, along with Mike Bloomfield, had been a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and later, the Electric Flag.
Artist: Lothar And The Hand People
Title: This Is It
Source: CD: Presenting…Lothar And The Hand People
Label: Microwerks (original label: Capitol)
Lothar and the Hand People was a band formed in Denver, Colorado in 1965 that relocated, not to California as would be expected, but to the wilds of Manhattan, where they quickly became favorites of the avant-garde crowd. One of the reasons was Lothar itself. Yes, I did say "it" self. You see, Lothar was a theremin, one of those weird sounding things heard in vintage science fiction movies and on the Beach Boys hit Good Vibrations. It resembled nothing more than a box with a pair of antennae sticking out of the top. Lothar made just one sound, a tone created by an oscillator. That tone was varied by someone waving their hands around in the general vicinity of the antennae, thus the "hand people". Unfortunately for the band, the very thing that made them popular in New York was the one thing that could not be translated into an audio medium, and neither of the groups two albums sold particularly well. One of their more commercial tunes was You Won't Be Lonely, from their debut LP. Try to imagine someone flailing their arms wildly above a box as you listen to it.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: In The Country
Source: CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Label: Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
By 1968, several bands, particularly in southern California, were starting to incorporate elements of country music into what were otherwise rock recordings. Some, like the Byrds and Poco, ended up being recognized as pioneers of what came to be known as country-rock. Others, such as L.A.'s West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, merely flirted with the idea on tracks such as In The Country on their fourth LP, Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil. By this point, conflicts within the band were starting to take their toll, and combined with a decided lack of commercial success, led to the band losing its contract with Reprise Records and falling into obscurity before finally calling it quits in 1970.
Artist: Janis Ian
Title: Then Tangles Of My Mind
Source: LP: Janis Ian
Writer(s): Janis Ian
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast
Janis Ian first came to national prominence at the age of 16 when her song Society's Child was featured on a Leonard Berstein TV special called Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution in 1967. Ian had written and recorded the song two years earlier for Atlantic Records, which chose not to release the record, instead returning the master to Ian herself. Ian then shopped the song around until it was picked up by the Verve Forecast label. The single was actually issued three times by the label before Ian's appearance on the Bernstein generated enough interest in the song to make it a hit, peaking at #14 on the national charts in the summer of 1967 despite being banned on several radio stations for being too controversial (the song was about inter-racial dating). The success of Society's Child led to Ian's self-titled debut LP being released that same year. Although not a major commercial success, the album boasts several excellent songs, including Then Tangles Of My Mind.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: At The Zoo
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Simon and Garfunkel did not release any new albums in 1967, instead concentrating on their live performances. They did, however, issue several singles over the course of the year, most of which ended up being included on 1968's Bookends LP. At The Zoo was one of the first of those 1967 singles. It's B side ended up being a hit as well, but by Harper's Bizarre, which took The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) to the top 10 early in the year.
Title: CD: Epistle To Dippy (alt. arrangement)
Source: CD: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original label: Epic)
Following up on his successful Mellow Yellow album, Donovan released Epistle To Dippy in the spring of 1967. The song, utilizing the same kind of instrumentation as Mellow Yellow, was further proof that the Scottish singer was continuing to move beyond the restrictions of the "folk singer" label and was quickly becoming the model for what would come to be called "singer/songwriters" in the following decade. Due to an ongoing contractual dispute between the artist and his UK record label (Pye), Epistle To Dippy was only released in the US. This alternate arrangement of the song was recorded about 10 months after the single version and features a violin prominently, replacing the electric guitar used on the original.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Sitting On Top Of The World
Source: CD: The Grateful Dead
Label: Warner Brothers
Most versions of Sitting On Top Of The World (such as the one by Cream) have a slow, melancholy tempo that emphasizes the irony of the lyrics. The Grateful Dead version, on the other hand, goes at about twice the speed and has lyrics I have never heard on any other version. I suspect this is because, like most of the songs on the first Dead album, the tune was part of their early live repertoire; a repertoire that called for a lot of upbeat songs to keep the crowd on their feet. Is this Rob "Pig Pen" McKernon on the vocals? I think so, but am open to any corrections you might want to send along (just use the contact button on the www.hermitradio.com website).
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Astronomy Domine
Source: CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (originally released in UK and Canada)
Writer(s): Syd Barrett
Label: Capitol (original label: EMI Columbia)
When the US version of the first Pink Floyd LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, was released on the Tower label, it was missing several tracks that had appeared on the original British version of the album. Among the most notable omissions was the original album's opening track, Astronomy Domine, which was replaced by the non-LP single See Emily Play. Astronomy Domine is a Syd Barrett composition that was a popular part of the band's stage repertoire for several years. The piece is considered one of the earliest examples of "space rock", in part because of the spoken intro (by the band's manager Peter Jenner) reciting the names of the planets (and some moons) of the solar system through a megaphone.
Title: I See The Rain
Source: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: CBS)
Formed in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1961 as the Gaylords, the Marmalade is best known for its international smash hit Reflections Of My Life in late 1968. One often overlooked song was I See The Rain, which Jimi Hendrix once called his favorite record of 1967. The song was not a hit in either the US or UK, although it did make the top 30 in the Netherlands.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Source: British import CD: Easter Everywhere
Label: Charly (original label: International Artists)
The first album by the 13th Floor Elevators has long been considered a milestone, in that it was one of the first truly psychedelic albums ever released (and the first to actually use the word "psychedelic" in the title). For their followup LP, the group decided to take their time, going through some personnel changes in the process. Still, the core membership of Roky Erickson, Tommy Hall and Stacy Sutherland held it together long enough to complete Easter Everywhere, releasing the album in 1967. The idea behind the album was to present a spiritual vision that combined both Eastern and Western religious concepts in a rock context. For the most part, such as on tracks like Levitation, it succeeds remarkably well, considering the strife the band was going through at the time.
Artist: Mothers of Invention
Title: We're Only In It For The Money (part two)
Source: CD: We're Only In It For The Money
Writer: Frank Zappa
Label: Ryko (original label: Verve)
Following the release of Absolutely Free, Frank Zappa began working on an album that would feature music by the Mothers of Invention interspersed with Lenny Bruce comedy routines. However, the events of the Summer of Love, along with the chart dominance that summer of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band caused him to rethink the whole thing. Instead, he came up with an album that satirized Sgt.Pepper's, the San Francisco scene, and American culture in general (the latter being a theme that would characterize his entire career). This time around we present the second side of the original album, starting with a short piece called Hot Poop that was a sort of hidden track tacked onto the end of side one. The side officially starts with an instrumental piece called Nasal Retentive Calliope Music, which is really more of an audio collage inspired by the works of avant-garde classical composer Edgard Varese, Zappa's musical hero. The first actual song on the side is Let's Make The Water Turn Black, which tells the story of brothers Ronnie and Kenny growing up in middle-class America. This is followed by The Idiot Bastard Son. I think we all knew someone like that growing up. This is followed by perhaps the only song on the album with true commercial potential: Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance. It's also the most positive song Zappa ever wrote, so of course he had to follow it up with a reprise of What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body, one of the highlights of side one. Finally, we have the band's statement of who they were, Mother People, which is followed by another Varese-inspired instrumental, The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny.
Artist: Neil Young
Title: Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Source: 45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s): Neil Young
In the wake of the massive success of the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album deja vu, each of the band members were given the opportunity to record solo albums. Neil Young, being the only member to have already released two solo LPs, chose to base his work on a screenplay by Dean Stockwell and Herb Bermann for a proposed film to be called After The Gold Rush. Although the film was never made, Young liked the title, and used it for his 1970 solo album. Two singles were released from the album, the first being Only Love Can Break Your Heart, which was a minor hit, reaching the #33 spot. Stephen Stills contributed backup vocals to the track.
Artist: Blues Image
Title: Clean Love
Source: CD: Open
Writer(s): Blues Image
Label: Sundazed (original label: Atco)
The story of Blues Image is tied closely with the legendary south Florida nightclub Thee Image. Blues Image was the house band there (and had helped set up the club itself) and were already well known and respected in musicians' circles by the time they released their first LP in 1969. Although the LP sold moderately, it failed to generate any airplay on either top 40 or progressive FM radio. The group came up with a genuine hit single, Ride Captain Ride, in 1970, but their second LP, Open, charted even lower than their first one, despite having some outstanding tracks, including Ride Captain Ride and one of the best blues-rock tracks ever recorded, the eight-minute long Clean Love. Frustrated by the lack of success, guitarist Mike Pinera left the band to replace Eric Brann in Iron Butterfly, and after an even less successful third LP Blues Image called it quits.
Artist: Albert King/Steve Cropper/Pop Staples
Title: Opus De Soul
Source: LP: Jammed Together
Although Stax records was best known for its Memphis soul recordings by such artists as Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and Booker T. and the MGs, the label also was home to one of the most popular blues guitarists of the late 60s: Albert King. Among King's many recordings for the label is a collection of studio jams with MG guitarist Steve Cropper and the legendary Pop Staples called Jammed Together. Although not the most notable album in the Stax catalog, Jammed Together is still quite listenable, especially on instrumental pieces like Opus De Soul, which captures the essence of three talented musicians doing what they do best.
Artist: Sly And The Family Stone
Source: CD: Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Life)
Writer(s): Sylvester Stewart
The third Sly And The Family Stone album, Life, was not as successful commercially as its predecessor, Dance To The Music. Nonetheless, it's a solid effort, as can be heard on the title track (that was also released as a single). The song itself is the kind of "message" song that the band would focus on more intensely on their next album, Stand!
Title: No Return
Source: CD: Something Else
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Ray Davies continued to expand his musical horizons as a songwriter on the 1967 album Something Else By The Kinks. A good example of this is No Return, which has a kind of laid-back jazzy feel to it. Although the album did not sell well when it was released (for a variety of reasons), it has since come to be held in high regard by Kinks fans.
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Polydor)
In 1964 a group of American GIs stationed in Germany decided to get together and form a rock band. After their respective tours of duty ended they decided to stay in the country and in 1966 recorded this single for Polydor. Knowing that a large segment of their audience had a rudimentary grasp of English at best, they deliberately crafted a tune that would be easy to comprehend with clear, almost chanted lyrics. To take the chanting concept a step further they all had square patches shaved off the top of their heads and dressed in brown robes. After thinking about it for a couple days I think I've finally figured out who these guys remind me of: early AC/DC, especially Bon Scott's vocals. Compare this to Jailbreak. You'll hear what I mean.
Title: Hey Joe
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Billy Roberts
Label: Rhino (original label: Mira)
In 1966 there were certain songs you had to know how to play if you had any aspirations of being in a band. Among those were Louie Louie, Gloria and Hey Joe. The Byrds' David Crosby claims to have discovered Hey Joe, but was not able to convince his bandmates to record it before their third album. In the meantime, several other bands had recorded the song, including Love (on their first album) and the Leaves. The version of Hey Joe heard here is actually the third recording the Leaves made of the tune. After the first two versions tanked, guitarist Bobby Arlin, who had recently replaced founding member Bill Rinehart on lead guitar, came up with the idea of adding fuzz guitar to the song. It was the missing element that transformed a rather bland song into a hit record (the only national hit the Leaves would have). As a side note, the Leaves credited Chet Powers (aka Dino Valenti) as the writer of Hey Joe, but California-based folk singer Billy Roberts had copyrighted the song in 1962 and had reportedly been heard playing the tune as early as 1958.
Artist: Harbinger Complex
Title: I Think I'm Down
Source: Mono British import CD: With Love-A Pot Of Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Brent)
Most garage/club bands never made it beyond a single or two for a relatively small independent label. Freemont, California's Harbinger Complex is a good example. The group was one of many that were signed by Bob Shad, owner of Mainstream Records and its various subsidiaries such as Time and Brent. The band had already released one single on the independent Amber label and were recording at Golden State Recorders in San Francisco when they were discovered by Shad, who signed them to Brent. The band's first single for the label was the British-influenced I Think I'm Down, which came out in 1966 and was included on Mainstream's 1967 showcase album With Love-A Pot Of Flowers.