Monday, December 25, 2017

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1752 (starts 12/27/17)

1967. The peak year of the psychedelic era. The year of Haight-Ashbury and the Summer of Love. The year that record companies began phasing out monoraul LPs in favor of stereo pressings. And, of course, the year of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. There was lots more going on in 1967, and this week's show is made up entirely of those various goings-on, starting with (naturally) the Beatles and their first single of the year.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Strawberry Fields Forever
Source:    LP: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1967
    The first song recorded for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Strawberry Fields Forever was instead issued as a single (along with Penny Lane) a few months before the album came out. The song went into the top 10, but was not released on an album until December of 1967, when it was included on the US version of Magical Mystery Tour.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Source:    CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    The top album of 1967 was the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was also the first US Beatle album to have a song lineup that was identical to the original UK LP. Consequently, it was also the first Beatle album released in the US to not include any songs that were also released as singles. Nonetheless, several tracks from the LP found their way onto the playlists of both top 40 AM and "underground" FM stations from coast to coast. Among the most popular of these tracks was John Lennon's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, which shows up on just about everyone's list of classic psychedelic tunes.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    I Am The Walrus
Source:    LP: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1967
    The Beatles' psychedelic period hit its peak with the BBC-TV premier of the surrealistic telefilm Magical Mystery Tour and its subsequent release on vinyl in December of 1967. Musically speaking, the centerpiece of Magical Mystery Tour was John Lennon's I Am The Walrus, which was the final track on both the British EP and side one of the US LP. The second half (more or less) of the piece contains audio from a live BBC radio broadcast that was added during the mono mixing process. At that time, the Beatles were still doing their original mixes in monoraul (single-channel) sound, then doing a stereo mix almost as an afterthought. The addition of live audio into the original mono mix meant that they would be unable to reproduce the process in stereo. So, at the point the BBC audio comes in, the true stereo version of I Am The Walrus suddenly becomes a "fake stereo" recording using techniques such as phasing and panning to create a stereo effect out of the mono mix. It also sounds really strange on headphones.

Artist:     Merry-Go-Round
Title:     Live
Source:     Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Emitt Rhodes
Label:     Rhino (original label: A&M)
Year:     1967
     While San Francisco was basking in the Summer of Love, radio listeners in L.A. were exhorted to Live by local favorites the Merry-Go-Round. 16-year-old drummer Emitt Rhodes had already established himself with the Palace Guard, but took center stage with the Merry-Go-Round. He would later go on to have a moderately successful solo career in the early 70s.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    Tracy Had A Hard Day Sunday
Source:    CD: Volume II
Writer(s):    Markley/Harris
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Once upon a time record producer Kim Fowley hired the Yardbirds to play a private Hollywood party. The Harris brothers, a pair of local art school students who had sent their homemade tapes to Fowley were impressed by the band's musical abilities. Bob Markley, an almost-30-year-old hipster with a law degree and an inheritance was impressed with the band's ability to attract teenage girls. Fowley introduced the Harris brothers to Markley, who expressed a willingness to finance them in return for letting him be their new lyricist (and tambourine player, apparently), and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was formed. Before it was all over the group had gone through a handful of personnel changes, recording half a dozen albums for at least three labels in the process, churning out an eclectic mix of psychedelic tunes such as Tracy Had A Hard Day Sunday, which appeared on the second album for Reprise Records (their third LP overall), appropriately titled Volume II.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Hideaway
Source:    CD: Underground
Writer(s):    Lowe/Tulin
Label:    Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    After the moderately successful first Electric Prunes album, producer David Hassinger loosened the reigns a bit for the followup, Underground. Among the original tunes on Underground was Hideaway, a song that probably would have been a better choice as a single than what actually got released: a novelty tune called Dr. Feelgood written by Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz, who had also written the band's first hit, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)

Artist:     Monkees
Title:     Peter Perceival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky/Pleasant Valley Sunday
Source:     LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
Writer:     Tork/Goffin/King
Label:     Colgems
Year:     1967
     The album version of Pleasant Valley Sunday differs from the single version in two ways. First, on the original LP Peter Tork's spoken piece Peter Perceival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky precedes the song on the album and is considered part of the same track. Second, the mix is different, with the background vocals more prominent on the stereo album mix. This is the mix used on most compilation CDs and thus heard on the radio more often. One of these days I'll dig up a copy of the single mix for comparison's sake.

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    The Ostrich
Source:    CD: Born To Be Wild-A Retrospective (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: Steppenwolf)
Writer(s):    John Kay
Label:    MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1967
    Although John Kay's songwriting skills were still a work in progress on the first Steppenwolf album, there were some outstanding Kay songs on that LP, such as The Ostrich, a song that helped define Steppenwolf as one of the most politically savvy rock bands in history. An edited version of The Ostrich was released several weeks earlier than the album itself as the B side of Steppenwolf's first single, A Girl I Knew.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Hole In My Shoe
Source:    CD: Smiling Phases (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: Heaven Is In Your Mind)
Writer(s):    Dave Mason
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
    Since the 1970s Traffic has been known as Steve Winwood's (and to a lesser degree, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood's) band, but in the early days some of the group's most popular songs were written and sung by co-founder Dave Mason. Hole In My Shoe was a single that received considerable airplay in the UK, despite being disliked by the rest of the band members. As was common practice in the UK at the time, the song was not included on the band's debut album. In the US, however, both Hole In My Shoe and the other then-current Traffic single, Paper Sun, were added to the album, replacing (ironically) a couple of Mason's other tunes.

Artist:    Simon and Garfunkel
Title:    Fakin' It
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Writer:    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    Fakin' It, originally released as a single in 1967, was a bit of a departure for Simon And Garfunkel, sounding more like British psychedelic music than American folk-rock. The track starts with an intro that is similar to the false ending to the Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever; midway through the record the tempo changes drastically for a short spoken word section that is reminiscent of the bridge in Traffic's Hole In My Shoe. The song was later included on the 1968 LP Bookends.

Artist:    Balloon Farm
Title:    A Question Of Temperature
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Appel/Schnug/Henny
Label:    Rhino (original label: Laurie)
Year:    1967
    It's not entirely clear whether the Balloon Farm was an actual band or simply an East Coast studio concoction. Regardless, they did manage to successfully cross bubble gum and punk with A Question Of Temperature, originally released on the Laurie label in 1967. Band member Mike Appel went on to have greater success as Bruce Springsteen's first manager.

Artist:    Marmalade
Title:    I See The Rain
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Campbell/McAleese
Label:    Rhino (original label: CBS)
Year:    1967
    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:    Tales Of Justine
Title:    Monday Morning
Source:    Mono British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    David Daltrey
Label:    EMI (original label: His Master's Voice)
Year:    1967
    Tales Of Justine started off in 1965 as the Court Jesters, an instrumental trio consisting of Paul Myerson on guitar, Chris Woodisse on bass, and Paul Hurford on drums. The lineup was completed with the addition of multi-instrumentalist David Daltrey, a cousin of the Who's Roger Daltrey, on lead vocals. Two years later the band signed with EMI, largely due to support from trainee producer Tim Rice and arranger Andrew Lloyd Webber, who helped the band with their debut single. Rice soon departed company with EMI and the band did not release any more records. Rice and Webber, however, went on to greater fame with their rock musicals Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph And The AmazingTechnicolor Dreamcoat, the second of which starred Daltrey himself.

Artist:    Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title:    Incense And Peppermints
Source:    Mono LP: The Best Of The Strawberry Alarm Clock (originally released regionally as 45 RPM B side, reissued nationally as A side)
Writer:    Carter/Gilbert/Weitz/King
Label:    Sundazed/Uni
Year:    1967 (original label: All-American; reissued nationally on Uni Records)
    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.

Artist:     Lemon Pipers
Title:     Green Tambourine
Source:     CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Leka/Pinz
Label:     BMG/RCA/Buddah
Year:     1967
     Oxford, Ohio's Lemon Pipers have the distinction of being the first band to score a number one hit for the Buddah label. Unfortunately for the band, it was their only hit.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Armenia City In The Sky/Heinz Baked Beans/Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands
Source:    LP: The Who Sell Out
Writer(s):    Keen/Entwistle/Townshend
Label:    Decca
Year:    1967
    Pete Townshend has always been a prolific songwriter. John Entwistle, while not as prolific as Townshend, has nonetheless written a number of quality tunes. It is a bit surprising, then, that the opening track of The Who Sell Out did not come from the pens of either of the band's songwriters. Instead, Armenia City In The Sky was written by one of the band's roadies, John Keene. Although not a household name, Keene was the lead vocalist for Thunderclap Newman (named for the band's recording engineer), who had a huge hit in 1969 with Keene's Something In The Air, which was produced by Townshend. The song segues into the first of many top 40-style jingles on the album, followed by Entwistle's whimsical Heinz Baked Beans, one of the many faux commercials on The Who Sell Out. The jingles were put there to create the illusion of listening to Britain's top pirate radio station, Radio London. I have to admit that, although I had never actually heard Radio London itself, I was fooled the first time I heard the album, especially when I heard what sounded like an actual commercial (Heinz Baked Beans) followed by a "more music" jingle I was familiar with from US radio stations that actually used it and then another song (Townshend's Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands). Rumor has it that the Texas company that created the jingles at one point threatened the Who with a lawsuit over their unauthorized use of the spots, but as far as I know nothing ever came of it.

Artist:    Youngbloods
Title:    Get Together
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: The Youngbloods)
Writer(s):    Dino Valenti
Label:    Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1967
    The Youngbloods, led by transplanted New Yorker Jesse Colin Young, were the second San Francisco band signed to industry leader RCA Victor Records. Their first album was released in 1967 but was overshadowed by the vinyl debuts of the Grateful Dead and Moby Grape, among others. In fact, the Youngbloods toiled in relative obscurity until 1969, when their own version of Dino Valenti's Let's Get Together (from the 1967 LP) was used in a TV ad promoting world peace. The song was subsequently released (with the title slightly shortened) as a single and ended up being the group's only hit record (as well as Valenti's most famous composition).

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Rock And Roll Woman
Source:    LP: Retrospective (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again and as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Stephen Stills
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth). Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina and Stephen Stills. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock and Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 40 years after it was recorded.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Everybody's Been Burned
Source:    CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    There is a common misconception that David Crosby's songwriting skills didn't fully develop until he began working with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. A listen to Everybody's Been Burned from the Byrds' 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday, however, puts the lie to that theory in a hurry. The track has all the hallmarks of a classic Crosby song: a strong melody, intelligent lyrics and an innovative chord structure. It's also my personal favorite tune from what is arguably the Byrds' best LP.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Sand And Foam
Source:    Mono LP: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic
Year:    1967
    When Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland's Donovan Leitch first came to prominence, he was hailed as Britain's answer to Bob Dylan. By 1966 he was recognized as the most popular folk singer in the UK. But Donovan was already starting to stretch beyond the boundaries of folk music, and in the fall of that year he released his first major US hit, Sunshine Superman. From that point on he was no longer Donovan the folk singer; he was now Donovan the singer-songwriter. Donovan continued to expand his musical horizons in 1967 with the release of the Mellow Yellow album and singles such as There Is A Mountain. The B side of Mountain was Sand And Foam, an acoustic number from the Mellow Yellow album.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Plastic Fantastic Lover
Source:    CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Marty Balin
Label:    RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:    1967
    Jefferson Airplane scored their first top 10 hit with Somebody To Love, the second single released from the Surrealistic Pillow album. Almost immediately, forward-thinking FM stations began playing other tracks from the album. One of those favored album tracks, Plastic Fantastic Lover, ended up being the B side of the band's follow-up single, White Rabbit. When the Airplane reunited in 1989 and issued their two-disc retrospective, 2400 Fulton Street, they issued a special stereo pressing of the single on white vinyl as a way of promoting the collection.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    White Rabbit
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Surrealistic Pillow)
Writer(s):    Grace Slick
Label:    Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1967
    The first time I heard White Rabbit was on Denver's first FM rock station, KLZ-FM. The station branded itself as having a top 100 (as opposed to local ratings leader KIMN's top 60), and prided itself on being the first station in town to play new releases and album tracks. It wasn't long before White Rabbit was officially released as a single, and went on to become a top 10 hit, the last for the Airplane.

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Somebody To Love
Source:     CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer:     Darby Slick
Label:     RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:     1967
     Jefferson Airplane's version of Somebody To Love (a song that had been previously recorded by Grace Slick's former band, the Great! Society) put the San Francisco Bay area on the musical map in early 1967. Somebody To Love was actually the second single released from Surrealistic Pillow, the first being My Best Friend, a song written by the Airplane's original drummer, Skip Spence.

Artist:     Moby Grape
Title:     Sitting By The Window
Source:     LP: Moby Grape
Writer:     Peter Lewis
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1967
     Moby Grape's powerful 1967 debut managed to achieve what few bands have been able to: a coherent sound despite having wildly different writing styles from the individual members. One of Peter Lewis's contributions to the album was Sitting By The Window, one of those rare songs that sounds better every time you hear it.

Artist:    Mad River
Title:    A Gazelle
Source:    Mono British import CD: The Berkeley EPs (originally released in US on EP: Mad River)
Writer(s):    Lawrence Hammond
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Wee)
Year:    1967
    Mad River was formed in 1965 in Yellow Spings, Ohio, as the Mad River Blues Band. The group (after several personnel changes) relocated to the Berkeley, California in spring of 1967, and soon began appearing at local clubs, often alongside Country Joe And The Fish. Around this time the band came into contact with Lonnie Hewitt, a jazz musician who had started his own R&B-oriented label, Wee. After auditioning for Fantasy Records, the band decided instead to finance their own studio recordings, which were then issued as a three-song EP on Wee. With all their material having been written and arranged before the band left Ohio, and then perfected over a period of months, Mad River's EP was far more musically complex than what was generally being heard in the Bay Area at the time. The opening track, Amphetamine Gazell (the title having been temporarily shortened to A Gazelle for the EP) contains several starts and stops, as well as time changes. Bassist Lawrence Hammond's high pitched, almost operatic, vocal style actually enhances the lyrics, which drummer Greg Dewey described as "a teenager's idea of what it must be like to be hip and cool in California". The song was recut (with its original title restored and even more abrupt starts and stops), for Mad River's Capitol debut LP the following year.

Artist:    Country Joe and the Fish
Title:    Section 43
Source:    LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer:    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    In 1966 Country Joe and the Fish released their original mono version of an instrumental called Section 43. The song was included on a 7" EP inserted in an underground newspaper called Rag Baby. In 1967 the group recorded an expanded stereo version of Section 43 and included it on their debut LP for Vanguard Records, Electric Music For The Mind And Body. It was this arrangement of the piece (and quite possibly this recording) that was used in D. A. Pennebacker's film chronicle of the Monterey International Pop Festival that June. Even Joe McDonald himself is unsure where it came from.

Artist:    Circus Maximus
Title:    Wind
Source:    CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s):    Bob Bruno
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Circus Maximus was formed out of the chance meeting of multi-instrumentalist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker in Greenwich Village in 1967. From the start the band was moving in different directions, with Bruno incorporating jazz elements into the band while Walker favored country-rock. Eventually the two would go their separate ways, but for the short time the band was together they made some of the best, if not best-known, psychedelic music on the East Coast. The band's most popular track was Wind, a Bruno tune from their debut album. The song got a considerable amount of airplay on the new "underground" radio stations that were popping up across the country 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).

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1752 (starts 12/27/17)

    1967 was the year that LPs became a force to be reckoned with in rock music. There were a number of reasons for this shift in the music world. Ever since the invention of radio, the AM band had dominated broadcasting, with FM stations garnering only a small fraction of the audience held by their AM counterparts. The majority of FM stations were, in fact, owned by AM stations, and usually carried the same programs as their parent stations, a practice known as simulcasting. In 1967, however, a new rule requiring FM radio stations to provide unique, non-simulcast programming for a certain number of hours per week went into effect. FM receivers were still somewhat of a rarity, however, and there was no way an FM station could go head to head with an existing AM station and pull in a large enough audience to attract advertising dollars. As a result, many station owners opted to run their FMs as a tax writeoff. This gave stations an opportunity to use the band to develop new formats. These formats were often spearheaded by former AM disc jockeys, who had long chafed at the limits imposed on them by the increasingly restrictive top 40 format. This, combined with a number of college radio stations going on the air, led to the development of so-called "underground" rock stations, found mostly in cities with a large college population.The nature of rock LPs was changing as well, as the old practice of using a lot of "filler" material was being supplanted by the artists themselves asserting more creative control over their recorded output. Yet another contributing factor to the rise of album rock is the fact that the members of the so-called baby boom generation were getting old enough to be able to afford albums (which generally cost four to five times as much as a typical single). The end result of all this was that, for the first time, a rock artist did not have to rely on a series of hit singles to be considered a success. Indeed, some of the most successful artists making their US debut in 1967, such as Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead, got by without having any top 40 hits in the US at all. This week's show focuses on some of those album-oriented artists and their 1967 recordings.

Artist:    Butterfield Blues Band
Title:    Born Under A Bad Sign
Source:    LP: The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw
Writer(s):    Jones/Bell
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    After two critically acclaimed LPs with the Butterfield Blues Band, guitarist Michael Bloomfield decided to get into other things in early 1967. Meanwhile, Paul Butterfield decided to add a horn section rather than replace Bloomfield. This gave the band's other guitarist, Elvin Bishop, an opportunity to strut his stuff. He did so well at strutting his stuff that Butterfield decided to name the band's next album The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw (Pigboy being Bishop's nickname). One of the tunes on that album is the William Bell song (co-written by Booker T. Jones) Born Under A Bad Sign, a song that would get even more exposure the following year when it was included on Cream's Wheels Of Fire.

Artist:     Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:     Purple Haze
Source:     LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer:     Jimi Hendrix
Label:     Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:     1967
     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 Experience
Title:    If 6 Was 9
Source:    CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Before 1967 stereo was little more than an excuse to charge a dollar more for an LP. That all changed in a hurry, as artists such as Jimi Hendrix began to explore the possibilities of the technology, in essence treating stereophonic sound as a multi-dimensional sonic palette. The result can be heard on songs such as If 6 Were 9 from the Axis: Bold As Love album, which is best listened to at high volume, preferably with headphones on.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Are You Experienced?
Source:    LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Until the release of Are You Experienced by the Jimi Hendrix Experience the emphasis in rock music (then called pop) was on the 45 RPM single, with albums seen as a luxury item that supplemented an artist's career rather than defined it. Are You Experience helped change all that. The album was not only highly influential, it was a major seller, despite getting virtually no airplay on top 40 radio. The grand finale of the LP was the title track, which features an array of studio effects, including backwards masking and tape loops. Interestingly enough, the album was originally issued only in a mono version in the UK, with European pressings using a simulated stereo mix. After Reprise bought the rights to release the LP in the US it hired its own engineers to create stereo mixes of the songs from the four-track master tapes.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Strange Brew
Source:    CD: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Clapton/Collins/Pappalardi
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Strange Brew, the opening track from Cream's Disraeli Gears album, was also released as a single in early 1967, although it did not chart in the US. Nonetheless, the song has proven popular enough over the years to be included on pretty much every Cream anthology album ever compiled, and even inspired a Hollywood movie of the same name.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Take It Back
Source:    LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    After seven years of serving in the Air Force liason office at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, my dad got transferred to Weisbaden Air Force Base in Germany. Standard practice at the time was for the married GI to go on ahead of the rest of the family and find a place to live "on the economy." My dad, already having quite a bit of time in the service, was able to instead get a spot in a place called Kastel, which was a group of WWII Panzer barracks that had been adapted for use by American military with families. When the rest of us arrived in August I was happily surprised to find that my dad, in addition to finding us a place to live, had bought a state-of-the-art Akai X-355 Tape Recorder, along with a pair of Koss headphones. I of course had to go to the Base Exchange to look for pre-recorded tapes. Already having experience with reel to reel machines, I knew that tapes recorded at 3 3/4 ips had more tape hiss than those recorded at 7 1/2 ips, so I was resolved to only buy tapes recorded at the faster speed. Unfortunately several albums I wanted were only available at the slower speed. The problem was resolved a year later when my dad finally got a Dual turntable to hook up to the tape recorded. I immediately went out and bought a reel of blank tape; the first album I made a copy of was Cream's Disraeli Gears. I would often fall asleep listening to that tape, which meant I ended up sleeping through the last songs on the album, including Take It Back. I must have done some kind of sleep learning, though, since to this day I can quote the lyrics of the entire song.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Tales Of Brave Ulysses
Source:    CD: Disraeli Gears
Writer:    Clapton/Sharp
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Cream was one of the first bands to break British tradition and release singles that were also available as album cuts. This tradition likely came about because the most popular 45 RPM records (both singles and extended play 45s) tended to stay in print indefinitely in the UK, unlike in the US, where a hit single usually had a shelf life of around 4-6 months then disappeared forever. When the Disraeli Gears album was released, however, the song Strange Brew, which leads off the LP, was released in Europe as a single. The B side of that single was Tales Of Brave Ulysses, which opens side two of the album.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source:    CD: Ten Years After
Writer(s):    Blind Willie Johnson, arr. Al Kooper
Label:    Deram
Year:    1967
    The first Ten Years After album had several cover tunes on it, including one that was actually a cover of a cover. Al Kooper of the Blues Project had initially reworked Blind Willie Johnson's I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes for inclusion on a blues sampler album for Elektra Records called What's Shakin', while at the same time working up a harder-edged version of the song for the Blues Project, which became the opening track for their Projections LP. Alvin Lee based his own interpretation of the tune on Kooper's solo arrangement, taking an even quieter approach to the song than Kooper himself.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Morning Dew
Source:    LP: The Grateful Dead
Writer(s):    Dobson/Rose
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1967
    One of the most identifiable songs in the Grateful Dead repertoire, Morning Dew was the first song ever written by Canadian folk singer Bonnie Dobson, who came up with the song in 1961 the morning after having a long discussion with friends about what life might be like following a nuclear holocaust. She began performing the song that year, with the first recorded version appearing on her 1962 live album At Folk City. The song was not published, however, until 1964, when Fred Neil decided to record his own version of the song for his album Tear Down The Walls. The first time the song appeared on a major label was 1966, when Tim Rose recorded it for his self-titled Columbia Records debut album. Rose had secured permission to revise the song and take credit as a co-writer, but his version was virtually identical with the Fred Neil version of the song. Nonetheless, Rose's name has been included on all subsequent recordings (though Dobson gets 75% of the royalties), including the Grateful Dead version heard on their 1967 debut LP.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Live And Let Live
Source:    CD: Forever Changes
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1967
    In late spring of 1967 L.A.'s most popular local band, Love, was falling apart, mostly due to constant partying on the part of some of the band members. This became a real issue for producer Bruce Botnick when it came time to begin sessions for the band's third LP, Forever Changes. Botnick had already lost his co-producer on the project, Neil Young, when Young's own band, Buffalo Springfield, found themselves hugely popular in the wake of the success of the single For What It's Worth, and Botnick was now faced with a heavier-than-expected workload. Botnick's solution to the problem became evident when the band entered Sunset Sound Recorders on June 9th, only to find a group of studio musicians already set up and ready to record. Two new Arthur Lee songs were recorded that day, and the rest of the band was literally shocked in sobriety, returning to the studio the next day to record overdubs on the tracks to make them sound more like the work of the band itself. After two month's worth of intensive practice, the band was ready to return to the studio, recording the first track for the album performed entirely by the band itself, Live And Let Live. The unusual first line of the song was reportedly the result of Lee falling asleep in a chair with his nose running during practice sessions.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    2000 Light Years From Home
Source:    CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    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:    Doors
Title:    The End
Source:    LP: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    Prior to recording their first album the Doors' honed their craft at various Sunset Strip clubs, working up live versions of the songs they would soon record, including their show-stopper, The End. Originally written as a breakup song by singer/lyricist Jim Morrison, The End runs nearly twelve minutes and includes a controversial spoken "Oedipus section". My own take on the famous "blue bus" line is that Morrison, being a military brat, was probably familiar with the blue shuttle buses used on military bases for a variety of purposes, including taking kids to school, and simply incorporated his experiences with them into his lyrics.  The End got its greatest exposure in 1979, when Oliver Stone used it in his film Apocalypse Now.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Stuck with a hermit at Yuletide (# 1751) (starts 12/20/17)

It's time to have a Cool Yule!

Artist:      John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Title:     Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Source:      CD: Now That's What I Call Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/Ono
Label:     Zomba (original label: Apple)
Year:     1971
     Originally intended as an anti-Vietnam War song, John and Yoko's Happy Xmas (War Is Over) has long since acquired classic status and is now one of the most familiar songs of the season. It was first released in the US in December of 1971, but due to a problem with the publisher did not appear in the rest of the world until November of 1972.

Artist:      Beatles
Title:     Christmas Time (Is Here Again)
Source:      CD single: Free As a Bird
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey)
Label:    Apple/Capitol
Year:     Recorded 1966 and 1967, released 19671997
     Every year the Beatles would record a special Christmas message to go out to members of their fan club, and mail it out on what was then known as a floppy disc. This was not the same as a computer floppy disc, however. In fact, the medium the Beatles used eventually came to be known as a flexi-disc, just to keep things from getting any more confusing. Regardless of what you called it, the things tended to wear out after just a few plays and I doubt there are many playable copies of these discs left in the universe. Luckily for us, George Martin had the foresight to hang on to everything the Beatles ever recorded, including this tune, which was chopped up and used for the 1967 Christmas Greeting. When the Beatles Anthology was released in 1997, the piece was included on the Free As a Bird CD single, and we got to hear the song in its uninterrupted entirety for the first time. Included at the end are Christmas greetings from the 1966 fan club disc and a bit of poetry read by John Lennon.

Artist:      Simon And Garfunkel
Title:     Silent Night/7 O'Clock News
Source:      CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Writer(s):    Gruber/Muhr, arr. Paul Simon   
Label:     Columbia       
Year:     1966
     Simon and Garfunkel's Silent Night/7 O'Clock News is unique for several reasons. The most obvious is that it uses two unrelated recordings to make an ironically chilling point. The first is a rendition of Franz Gruber's Silent Night, with vocals in the center channel and piano only coming from one speaker. As the song progresses a newscast in the other channel slowly gets louder. Eventually the song ends and there is only the news. What's also unusual is that this well-known Christmas carol is not featured on a Christmas album at all; instead it appears as the final track of the duo's 1966 LP Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme.

Artist:      Simon And Garfunkel
Title:     A Hazy Shade of Winter
Source:      CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Writer:    Paul Simon
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1966
     I wish I could take credit for putting Simon And Garfunkel's Silent Night/7 O'Clock News and A Hazy Shade of Winter back to back. The truth is I don't know who came up with the idea; my best guess is someone from Westwood One radio, as I first heard it done on one of their syndicated programs. Still, it's not a bad idea, and I happened to have a copy of the Westwood One version of the paired tracks, so there it is.

Artist:      Chuck Berry
Title:     Merry Christmas, Baby
Source:      Mono CD: The Chess Box (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer:    Baxter/Moore
Label:     Chess/MCA
Year:     1958
     Chuck Berry did not record too many cover tunes, as he was a prolific songwriter himself. However, for his 1958 Christmas single he cut this tasty version of Charles Brown's "other" Christmas song, Merry Christmas, Baby, originally recorded by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers (with Brown on lead vocal). The B side of Berry's single, Run Rudolph Run, was also a cover song, although the tune has come to be almost exclusively associated with Berry himself.

Artist:    Ike And Tina Turner
Title:    Merry Christmas Baby
Source:    CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Baxter/Moore
Label:    Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1964
    Ike Turner was a talent scout for Chess Records that formed a band called the Kings Of Rhythm in the early 50s, immediately scoring a #1 R&B hit backing Jackie Brenston on a song called Rocket 88. By 1964 he had married Anna Mae Bullock, who changed her name to Tina Turner and began receiving co-billing on Ike's records, such as the 1964 B side, Merry Christmas Baby. Although lyrically the same as the Charles Brown song of the same name, the track is musically worlds away from Brown's slow blues number.

Artist:      Solomon Burke
Title:     Presents For Christmas
Source:      CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Burke/Burke/Burke
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
Year:     1966
     Solomon Burke was a staple artist for the Atlantic label at a time when Atlantic itself was being overshadowed by the Stax/Volt labels that it distributed. Nonetheless, Burke had several R&B hits throughout the sixties and was highly respected by his fellow artists. Presents For Christmas captures Burke at his peak in 1966.

Artist:      Jimmy McCracklin
Title:     Christmas Time
Source:      Mono CD: Blue Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Jimmy McCracklin
Label:    Rhino (original label: Art-Tone)
Year:     1961
     Jimmy McCracklin recorded one of the catchiest, yet underplayed, tunes of the 50s when he did The Walk. Christmas Time, from a few years later, actually sounds like beach music. Go figure.

Artist:      James Brown
Title:     Santa Claus, Santa Claus
Source:      CD: Cool Yule (originally released on LP: Soulful Christmas)
Writer(s):    Bobbitt/Jones
Label:     Rhino (original label: King)
Year:     1968
     Few people would ever accuse James Brown of being a blues artist, but this recording of Santa Claus, Santa Claus (sometimes called just Santa Claus) from 1968 shows what it would have sounded like if he was.
Artist:      Ed "Cookie" Byrnes
Title:     Yulesville
Source:      CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Galanoy/Olafson/Barker
Label:    Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:     1959
     The ABC TV network was a perennial also-ran that was just starting to find a winning formula in the late 50s with shows targeted toward a younger audience. The most popular of these was 77 Sunset Strip, starring Ed "Cookie" Byrnes. He and co-star Connie Stevens, staying in character, cut a hit novelty record called Cookie, Cookie, which played on Cookie's propensity for combing his hair. Byrnes, again in character, followed it up with this hip retelling of the classic poem Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Artist:    Elvis Presley
Title:    Santa Claus Is Back In Town
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Lieber/Stoller
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1957
    Santa Claus Is Back In Town is the opening track on the 1957 LP Elvis' Christmas Album.  The song, written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, was also released that year in the UK as a single, going to the #7 spot on the charts. In the US, however, it remained available only as an album track until 1965, when it was released as a single, going to the #4 spot on the Billboard chart. For the B side, RCA reissued Blue Christmas, which had gone into the top 10 the previous year. The Blue Christmas/Santa Claus Is Back In Town single was certified platinum in 1999.

Artist:    Martels
Title:    Rockin' Santa Claus
Source:    Mono CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Mason/Robinson
Label:    Rhino (original label: Bella)
Year:    1959
    Rock history is littered with one-hit wonders, many of whom only got to release one single. The Martels, however, released only half a single, as the other side of the record was by another artist altogether. They cut Rockin' Santa Claus for the tiny Bella label in San Jose, California in 1959, and were never heard from since.

Artist:      Ray Stevens
Title:     Santa Claus Is Watching You
Source:      45 RPM single
Writer:    Ray Stevens
Label:     Mercury
Year:     1962
     I've mentioned something called the Grab Bag before. Basically, it was a sealed paper bag (sometimes with a clear plastic front) containing four 45 RPM records, generally "cut-outs" that were no longer in print. The one my family bought for Christmas of 1964 had a Sing Along With Mitch Christmas EP in the front. By far the oddest record in the bag was Santa Claus Is Watching You by Ray Stevens, although I seem to remember that version being slightly different than the one heard here. One thing that both versions had in common was the presence of Clyde the Camel from Stevens's first hit, Ahab the Arab.

Artist:      Sonics
Title:     Santa Claus
Source:      Mono CD: Cool Yule (originally released on LP: Merry Christmas)
Writer:    Greg Roslie
Label:     Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
Year:     1965
     The Pacific Northwest was home to several bands that can only be described as proto-punk (think Louie Louie). One of the top bands on the scene up there was the Sonics, who recorded raw hard-driving songs with titles like Psycho, the Witch and Strychnine. Santa Claus is very much in the same vein, making it the punkiest Christmas song of the sixties, if not all time.

Artist:    Bob Seger And The Last Heard
Title:    Sock It To Me Santa
Source:    Mono: Christmas A Go-Go (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Seger/Honaker/Lagassa
Label:    Wicked Cool (original label: Cameo)
Year:    1966
    Years before he was singing that old time rock 'n' roll on his way to Katnandu, Bob Seger led a band called the Last Heard. The band was formed when Seger decided to leave his former band, the Omens, to record a song called East Side Story. The song, released on the local Hideout label, was Seger's first hit, selling about 50,000 copies, mostly in the Detroit area. This led to a deal with Cameo-Parkway Records. The first single released by the band on Cameo was a Christmas tune called Sock It To Me Santa that predates fellow Detroiter Mitch Ryder's Sock It To Me-Baby by a few weeks. Seger, of course, would eventually sign with Capitol Records, changing the name of the band to the Bob Seger System, and later, the Silver Bullet Band.

Artist:      Beach Boys
Title:     Little Saint Nick (stereo single version)
Source:      CD: Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Wilson/Love
Label:    Capitol
Year:     1963
     When the Beach Boys first recorded Little Saint Nick they were the hottest surf music band in the country. A year later Beatlemania had set in, and a new version of Little Saint Nick was recorded for the Beach Boys Christmas Album. The new version put a greater emphasis on the vocals, and much of the original instrumentation was deleted from the arrangement. That is the version that usually gets heard on commercial radio every year. In the mid-70s, Carl Wilson, who by then had stepped into the leader's role formerly held by older brother Brian, pulled out the original 1963 tapes and created a new stereo mix of the song. The instruments have greater prominence in this version and include the distinctive sound of sleighbells that were completely exorcised from the 1964 version.

Artist:    Soupy Sales
Title:    Santa Claus Is Surfin' To Town
Source:    Mono CD: Christmas A Go-Go (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Gillespie/Coots
Label:    Wicked Cool/Reprise
Year:    1963
    Best known as the host of a popular kids' show on TV, Soupy Sales cut this bit of weirdness for the Reprise label in 1963. Need I say more?

Artist:      Eartha Kitt
Title:     Santa Baby
Source:      Mono CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1935-1954 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Javits/Springer/Springer
Label:     Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:     1953
     Eartha Kitt has one of the most unique voices in the history of jazz, and put it to good use on the original 1953 version of Santa Baby, a tune that has unfortunately in recent years become associated with Madonna. Kitt continued to perform with nearly as much energy as she had in the 50s right up to her death on Christmas Day, 2008.

Artist:      Rufus Thomas
Title:     I'll Be Your Santa Baby
Source:      Mono CD: Christmas A Go-Go (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Thomas/Roberts
Label:     Wicked Cool (original label: Stax)
Year:     1973
     Rufus Thomas had a long and storied career going back to the 1950s, first with Bear Cat, an answer song to Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller's Hound Dog, and later with his own series of "dog" hits (Walking the Dog being the most famous). By the mid-1960s he was an important member of the Stax/Volt stable of artists, where his daughter Carla was making a name for herself with hits like B-A-B-Y and (with Otis Redding) Tramp. After Stax severed its distribution deal with Atlantic Records Rufus Thomas stayed with the now fully independent Stax, releasing I'll Be Your Santa Baby in 1973.

Artist:      Clarence Carter
Title:     Back Door Santa
Source:      CD: Christmas A Go-Go (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Carter/Daniel
Label:     Wicked Cool (original label: Atlantic)
Year:     1969
     Clarence Carter is an icon of the beach music (for you non-Carolinians, beach music has nothing to do with surf music) crowd. For everyone else, he is a moderately successful soul artist known mostly for his mid-70s hit Slip Away. Regardless of where you might know him from, his Back Door Santa will surprise you with its down and funky energy.

Artist:    Ramsey Lewis Trio
Title:    Winter Wonderland
Source:    45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Writer(s):    Bernard/Smith
Label:    Cadet (original label: Argo)
Year:    1960
    The Ramsey Lewis Trio released their first LP, Ramsey Lewis and the Gentlemen of Swing, in 1956. They remained primarily a jazz band over their first ten years of existence, releasing several singles on the Argo label, a Chess subsidiary. As well as original material, the group recorded their own distinctive versions of standards such as the holiday-oriented Winter Wonderland, which appeared as a B side in 1960.

Artist:      Bobby "Boris" Pickett
Title:     Monster's Holiday
Source:      45 RPM single
Writer:    Bobby Pickett
Label:     Garpax
Year:     1962
     Bobby Picket scored big with his Halloween hit Monster Mash in 1962, and quickly followed it up with this sequel set around the Christmas holidays. Legendary producer Gary Paxton was responsible for both recordings making it onto vinyl and on the air.

Artist:      Spike Jones and His City Slickers
Title:     All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)
Source:      Mono CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1935-1954 (originally released as 78 RPM single)
Writer:    Don Gardner
Label:    Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:     1948
     Spike Jones and His City Slickers were a highly talented bunch who made music out of sound effects, toy instruments, and whatever else it occurred to them to use. Their forte was the novelty record, and no one did it better.  All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) was written by Middleton, NY schoolteacher Donald Yetter Gardner, who was inspired to write the song when he asked his second grade class what they wanted for Christmas and was struck by how many of them were lisping due to missing front teeth.

Artist:      Chipmunks
Title:     The Chipmunk Song
Source:      CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1955-Present (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Ross Bagdasarian
Label:    Rhino (original label: Liberty)
Year:     1958
     In 1958 pop-jazz composer/bandleader Ross Bagdasarian decided to play around with a variable-speed tape recorder and came up with the novelty hit Witch Doctor. He followed it up by using multiple tape machines to create a trio of sped up voices that he called the Chipmunks, and released this smash hit in time for the Christmas season. The success of The Chipmunk Song led to a Saturday morning cartoon series and a series of albums for the Liberty label. His son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. has revived the concept in recent years, although not with the same level of success.

Artist:    Royal Guardsmen
Title:    Snoopy's Christmas
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Hugo & Luigi/Weiss
Label:    Laurie
Year:    1967
    Like many American bands, the Ocala, Florida based Posmen decided to change their name to something more Anglo sounding in the wake of the British invasion of 1964. As the Royal Guardsmen they had their first regional hit in 1966 with a song called Baby Let's Wait. It was their next release, however, that established the direction the group's career would take from that point on. Snoopy vs. the Red Baron was a huge national hit, going all the way to the #2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1966. Several more Snoopy themed songs followed, including Snoopy's Christmas, released in 1967. The most recent of these is Snoopy vs. Osama, which came out in 2006.

Artist:    Dodie Stevens
Title:    Merry, Merry Christmas Baby
Source:    Mono CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Sylvia/Lopez
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dot)
Year:    1960
    Dodie Stevens only had one hit record, the semi-novelty Pink Shoelaces, which came out in 1959. That didn't stop her from trying her luck with a contemporary holiday tune called Merry, Merry Christmas Baby the following year. The song, based on the Tune Weavers' Happy, Happy Birthday Baby, came out on the Dot label, which was no stranger to cover songs, having established itself by releasing sanitized Pat Boone remakes of songs originally recorded by Little Richard and other early rock 'n' roll artists.

Artist:    Otis Redding
Title:    Merry Christmas Baby
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Baxter/Moore
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    Merry Christmas Baby was originally released by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, which featured Charles Brown on guitar and vocals, in 1947. Several different versions of the song have been recorded over the years by such diverse artists as Chuck Berry, Ike & Tina Turner, Hansen, Christina Aguilara, Bruce Springsteen and Brown himself. Otis Redding's version of the song was released in 1968, almost a year after the plane crash that killed the singer and most of his band.

Artist:      Charles Brown
Title:     Please Come Home For Christmas
Source:      CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1955-Present (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Brown/Redd
Label:    Rhino (original label: King)
Year:     1960
     By now just about everyone is familiar with the Eagles version of Please Come Home For Christmas. Not everyone, however, knows the song was written by blues great Charles Brown. Even fewer have actually heard Brown's 1960 original, which is a shame, as it blows the Eagles version clean out of the water.

Artist:      Johnny Preston
Title:     (I Want a) Rock and Roll Guitar
Source:      CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer:    J.P. Richardson
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mercury)
Year:     1960
     Johnny Preston recorded his signature song in 1960, the classic Running Bear, penned by J.P. Richardson, the Big Bopper. The pair teamed up again to create a brand new Christmas song, (I Want a) Rock and Roll Guitar, later the same year. Interesting enough, by the middle of the decade a guitar was exactly what many kids were indeed asking for. I should know; I got my first guitar (and amp) as a Christmas present after badgering my parents mercilessly for months. I think between the two they might have run about $100, which made it the most expensive Christmas I ever had.

Artist:      Ventures
Title:     Sleigh Ride
Source:     LP: The Ventures Christmas Album
Writer:    Leroy Anderson
Label:    Dolton
Year:     1965  
        The Ventures are by far the most successful instrumental rock group in history, with over 100 albums released over several decades. One of the most successful of these was their 1965 Christmas album, which featured this surfinated version of Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride, a piece usually associated with the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Artist:    Brenda Lee
Title:    Papa Noel
Source:    CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Ray Botkin
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1958
    Just about everyone is familiar with Brenda Lee's 1958 hit Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree. Not as well known is the flip side of that single, a song called Papa Noel. Lee, known as "Little Miss Dynamite" was first discovered by country legend Red Foley when still in her teens.

Artist:    Crystals
Title:    Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Source:    Mono CD: A Christmas Gift For You
Writer(s):    Coots/Gillespie
Label:    Phil Spector Records (original label: Philles)
Year:    1963
    In 1963 Phil Spector was riding high as one of the most successful record producers on the East coast. His "wall of sound" was heard on top 40 radio stations coast to coast on recordings by groups like the Crystals, who hit it big with And Then He Kissed Me and Da Doo Ron Ron that same year. Late in the year Spector issued an album called A Christmas Gift For You, which featured all the groups on his Philles label. The Crystals had three songs on the album, including an arrangement of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town that was later used by Bruce Springsteen.

Artist:    Ronettes
Title:    Frosty The Snowman
Source:    Mono CD: A Christmas Gift For You
Writer(s):    Nelson/Rollins
Label:    Phil Spector Records (original label: Philles)
Year:    1963
    1963 was probably the peak year for the Ronettes, with two of their biggest hits, Baby I Love You and Be My Baby, being released that year. To cap it all off they contirbuted a trio of tunes to Phil Spector's classic holiday LP, the first of which was their unique take on Frosty The Snowman.   

Artist:    Darlene Love
Title:    Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Source:    Mono CD: A Christmas Gift For You (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Spector/Greenwich/Barry
Label:    Phil Spector Records (original label: Philles)
Year:    1963
    Only one song from Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift For You was ever released as a single: Darlene Love's solo track, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Surprisingly, it was not a major hit and to this day is one of the least-played songs on the album.

Artist:      Jack Scott
Title:     There's Trouble Brewin'
Source:      CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Laura Veronica
Label:    Rhino (original label: Groove)
Year:     1963
Canadian born Jack Scott was one of the great rockabilly performers of the late 50s, scoring several top 10 hits, including My True Love and Burning Bridges. This 1963 recording of There's Trouble Brewin' shows him at the peak of his vocal powers.

Artist:      Canned Heat
Title:     Christmas Blues
Source:      Mono CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Canned Heat
Label:    Rhino (original label: Liberty)
Year:     1968
     Possibly the strangest pairing on record was the 1968 remake of The Chipmunk Song by the Chipmunks and Canned Heat. Yes, you read that correctly. Canned Heat did indeed provide the instrumental backing tracks for Simon, Theodore and Alvin's 10th anniversary remake of their best-known song. The B side of that record is a true gem: an original Canned Heat composition called Christmas Blues.

Artist:      Jethro Tull
Title:     Christmas Song
Source:      British import EP
Writer:    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:     1968
     I wanted to play one set made up entirely of songs from the psychedelic era performed by artists that I feature on the show on a fairly regular basis. One of these artists is the band Jethro Tull, led by flautist/acoustic guitarist/vocalist Ian Anderson. His somewhat cynical Christmas Song, originally released in the UK in 1968, did not appear in the US until the 1973 anthology album Living In the Past.
Artist:      Cadillacs
Title:     Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Source:      45 RPM vinyl
Writer:    Johnny Marks
Label:    Josie
Year:     1956
     Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has been recorded by a lot of different artists over the years, but this version by the Cadillacs stands out for its pure sense of fun. Doo-wop was at the peak of its popularity in 1956 and the Cadillacs, led by Earl "Speedoo" Carroll, were among the best of the bunch.

Artist:      Drifters
Title:     White Christmas
Source:      Mono CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1955-Present (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Irving Berlin
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
Year:     1955
     The Drifters were a kind of early R&B doowop supergroup made up of ex-members of other R&B groups such as Billy Ward's Dominoes. The most distinctive voice of the original Drifters was high tenor Clyde McPhatter (for whom Ray Stevens's famous camel was named), which is heard prominently on their version of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. Over the years the group's lineup changed many times and led to several former members forming competing groups, all using the Drifters name. Over time, members of these offshoots would in turn form their own Drifters, despite having virtually no connection to the original group. This is why it sometimes seems that half the doowop singers in the world claim to be former members of the Drifters.

Artist:      Marquees
Title:     Christmas In the Congo
Source:      Mono CD: Cool Yule (Originally released as 45 RPM single, possibly promo only)
Writer(s):    Masten/Botkin
Label:    Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:     1959
     I recently saw a signed publicity photo of the Marquees taken sometime in the late 1950s. One of the signatures is Marvin Gaye's. What I have not been able to find is any evidence that this record was actually released commercially, although at least one promo copy is known to exist.

Artist:      King Curtis
Title:     The Christmas Song
Source:      45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Mel Torme
Label:    Atco
Year:     1966
     King Curtis was one of the most in-demand saxophone players of the first wave of rock and roll. His best known work was on the song Yakety Yak by the Coasters in 1958. In the sixties he became the music director for the Atlantic Records group, appearing on a variety of recordings by artists such as Solomon Burke and occassionally releasing material on the Atco label under his own name. Tragically, his life was cut short when he was the victim of a stabbing when he attempted to stop junkies from shooting up on his front steps in New York.

Rockin' the Holidays of Confusion (# 1751) (starts 12/20/17)

This week we are Rockin' the Holidays of Confusion, with some pretty cool tracks ranging from Steeleye Span to Emerson, Lake And Palmer. See playlist below for details.

Artist:    Steeleye Span
Title:    The King
Source:    LP: Please To See The King
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Steeleye Span
Label:    Chrysalis (original label: Big Tree)
Year:    1971
    The King, adapted and recorded by Steeleye Span for their second LP, Please To See The King, has its origins in the old Irish "Cutty Wren" ceremony, wherein a wren in a cage is paraded around as if it were a king. Since the ceremony was traditionally held on December 26th, St. Stephen's Day, the song itself was often performed as a Christmas Carol. The tradition has seen a resurgence in recent years, but in England rather than Ireland.

Artist:      Jethro Tull
Title:     Ring Out Solstice Bells
Source:      LP: Songs From the Wood
Writer:    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:     1976
     Until the late 1940s the predominate form of recorded music was the 78 RPM (revolutions per minute) record, which was either 10 or 12 inches in diameter and made of a brittle material called shellac. The 10 inch version was the standard for popular music, with a running time of about 3 to 4 minutes. RCA Victor developed a direct replacement for the 78 that was 7 inches in diameter and ran at 45 RPM. Meanwhile, RCA's top rival, Columbia Records, developed a slower long-playing record that used something called microgroove technology that allowed up to half an hour's worth of recorded material per side. Somewhere along the way somebody decided to try the microgroove approach to the 45 and the Extended Play (EP) record was born. In the US, EPs were somewhat popular in the 1950s, but pretty much died out by the time of the Beatles, except for specialized formats such as children's records and low-budget cover labels that would hire anonymous studio musicians to re-create popular hits. In the UK, on the other hand, the format remained viable up through the mid-70s. Jethro Tull took advantage of the EP format to release a Christmas record in December of 1976. Ring Out Solstice Bells was the featured song on the EP, and would not be released in the US until the following spring, when it was included on the album Songs From the Wood.

Artist:    Greg Lake
Title:    I Believe In Father Christmas
Source:    British import 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Lake/Sinfield
Label:    Manticore
Year:    1975
    According to Greg Lake, I Believe In Father Christmas was not intended to be a Christmas song, despite its title. Lake said he wrote the song to protest the commercialization of Christmas. Peter Sinfield, who wrote the lyrics to the song, had a different take on the matter, saying that the words are about a loss of innocence and childhood belief. One thing they did agree on was that the song is not anti-religious, despite what some critics have said. In fact, Lake made his own views clear in an interview after the song was released, saying "I find it appalling when people say it's politically incorrect to talk about Christmas, you've got to talk about 'The Holiday Season'. Christmas was a time of family warmth and love. There was a feeling of forgiveness, acceptance. And I do believe in Father Christmas." The song was recorded in 1974 and released in 1975, while Lake was still a member of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. It was his most successful solo recording, going to the #2 spot on the British singles chart (kept out of the #1 spot by Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody).

Artist:      Kinks
Title:     Father Christmas
Source:      CD: Christmas A Go-Go (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Ray Davies
Label:     Wicked Cool (original label: Arista)
Year:     1977
     There are not many socially-conscious Christmas songs, especially slightly twisted ones like the Kinks' classic Father Christmas. Originally released in 1977 the track is recognized as one of the greatest rock Christmas songs ever, as well as one of Ray Davies' most unforgettable tunes.

Artist:      Foghat
Title:     All I Want For Christmas Is You
Source:      CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Dave Peverett
Label:    Rhino (original label: Bearsville)
Year:     1981
     Foghat was formed when all the members of Savoy Brown except leader Kim Simmonds decided to form their own band in the early 70s. After a moderately successful run, founding member "Lonesome" Dave Peverett was all set to call it quits in 1981, but not until after he wrote and recorded All I Want For Christmas Is You. The song was pressed as a promo single in 1981, but I'm not sure if it was ever released to the public.

Artist:      Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys)
Title:     Morning Christmas
Source:      CD: Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas
Writer:    Dennis Wilson)
Label:    Capitol
Year:     Recorded 1977, released 1998
     Dennis Wilson was not hanging around with the rest of the Wilson clan in 1977, but did want to make a contribution to their new Christmas album that year, so he sent in this recording of a song he wrote called Morning Christmas. The album ended up not being released, but the track finally did see the light of day on the Beach Boys' Ultimate Christmas collection issued in 1998.

Artist:    Big Crosby/David Bowie
Title:    Peace On Earth/The Little Drummer Boy
Source:    Mono CD: Now That's What I Call Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Grossman/Fraser/Kohan/Simeone/Onerati/Davis
Label:    Zomba (original label: RCA)
Year:    1982
    In 1977 David Bowie was deliberately trying to "normalize" his musical reputation following his stint as the "king of glitter-rock". One way of doing this was to appear on Bing Crosby's annual Christmas special on NBC-TV, about as mainstream an event as still existed in 1977. Bowie later admitted that the only reason he appeared on the show is that he knew his mother liked Crosby. The two were slated to exchange scipted stories describing each one's own family Christmas traditions before breaking into a duet of The Little Drummer Boy, a song made famous by the Harry Simeone Chorale in 1958. Bowie reportedly told the show's producers that he hated the song, and asked if he could sing something else instead. The producers responded by coming up with a whole new song, Peace On Earth, that was designed to be sung as a counterpoint to The Little Drummer Boy. On the show, Crosby sang the original tune and Bowie the new one, creating a new Christmas classic in the process. Sadly, Crosby died a month before the show aired. The song was not released on vinyl until 1982, when RCA issued it as a single. The song has gone on to become one of Bowie's most successful singles, as well as Crosby's last recording ever to hit the charts.

Artist:    Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Title:    The Three Kings And I (What Really Happened)
Source:    CD: The Christmas Attic
Writer(s):    O'Neil/Kinkel
Label:    Lava
Year:    1998
    The Christmas Attic was the second part of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Trilogy. Released in 1998, the music was not performed live until 2014. One of my personal favorite tracks on the album is The Three Kings And I (What Really Happened), which has a kind of beatnik feel to it. Good stuff.

Artist:    Queen
Title:    Jesus
Source:    LP: Queen
Writer(s):    Freddie Mercury
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1973
    Although technically not a Christmas song, Freddie Mercury's song Jesus, from the first Queen album, was one of the songs I knew I had to include on Rockin' the Holidays of Confusion. After all, without Jesus there wouldn't be a Christmas in the first place, right?

Artist:    Who
Title:    Christmas
Source:    LP: Tommy
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    Decca
Year:    1969
    Although not usually considered a Christmas song per se, The Who's Christmas, from the rock-opera Tommy, is actually one of the most thought-provoking pieces on the subject ever put to music. The song features the repeated question "How can he be saved from the eternal grave" if he remains unaware of who Jesus is, due to his inability to see or hear anything. It is the same kind of question I used to ask as a child about various aboriginal peoples that lived and died without ever having been exposed to Christian doctrine. Needless to say, I never did get a satisfactory answer from any of the adults I posed the question to.

Artist:      Cheech and Chong
Title:     Santa Claus and His Old Lady
Source:      CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Marin/Chong
Label:    Rhino (original label: Ode)
Year:     1971
     I heard Cheech And Chong's Santa Claus and His Old Lady on the radio the year it was released and managed to find a copy of the 45 only to have it disappear on me a few years later. Luckily, the folks at Rhino somehow knew of my dilemma and included it on their Rock and Roll Christmas CD (sure they did). Incidentally, the B side of that old 45 was Dave's Not Here from Cheech and Chong's first album.

Artist:    Chesterfield Kings
Title:    Hey Santa Claus
Source:    CD: Christmas A Go-Go
Writer(s):    Babiuk/Prevost/Morabito/Boise
Label:    Wicked Cool
Year:    2004
    Formed in the late 1970s in Rochester, NY, the Chesterfield Kings (named for an old brand of unfiltered cigarettes that my grandfather used to smoke) were instrumental in setting off the garage band revival of the 1980s. Although much of their material is self-released, they have a habit of showing up on various compilations such as Christmas A Go-Go, a 2004 presentation of Little Steven's Underground Garage released on the Wicked Cool label. As near as I can tell, this is the only place Hey Santa Claus appears.

Artist:      George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Title:     Rock And Roll Christmas
Source:      CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    George Thorogood
Label:    Rhino (original label: EMI America)
Year:     1983
     I'm not sure what prompted roots rocker George Thorogood to write Rock And Roll Christmas and record it with his the band, the Destroyers, but I'm glad he did. The tune was released as a single on the EMI America label in 1983.

Artist:    Keith Richards
Title:    Run Rudolph Run
Source:    Mono CD: Christmas A Go-Go (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Marks/Brodie
Label:    Wicked Cool (original label: Rolling Stones)
Year:    1978
    Chuck Berry is undisputably one of the most (if not the most) influential rock 'n' roll artists of 1950s. In fact, John Lennon once said of him that if they couldn't call it rock 'n' roll they'd have to call it Chuck Berry. Nonetheless, Berry has always had a bit of shady side to him. For instance, he had the reputation of being so cheap that he refused to hire his own touring band, instead using local bands to back him up at his gigs, whether they could perform his material competently or not. Another cost-saving measure he was known for was re-using old music tracks with new lyrics to create a whole new song. Finally, like many of his contemporaries in the blues world, Berry was not above borrowing someone else's ideas and putting his own name on it. Consider Run Rudolph Run, which was released by Berry as a B side in late 1958. The following year the song Little Queenie was released using the same backing tracks as Run Rudolph Run. The label on the original pressing of Run Rudolph Run credits the song to Chuck Berry Music/Brodie, despite the fact that the song was actually written by Marvin Brodie and Johnny Marks, while Little Queenie is credited entirely to Chuck Berry Music. Newer versions of Run Rudolph Run such as Keith Richards's 1978 single credit Brodie and Marks, while using a variation of the Berry arrangement of the tune.

Artist:    Emerson, Lake And Palmer
Title:    Nutrocker
Source:    LP: Pictures At An Exhibition
Writer(s):    Kim Fowley
Label:    Atlantic (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1972
    In 1962, Kim Fowley, the Zelig of 60s rock, managed to secure the rights to a rock 'n' roll arrangement of Tchaikovsky's March Of The Toy Soldiers from the Nutcracker ballet. He took this arrangement to a couple different Los Angeles record company labels, both of which recorded the song with their house bands. The second of these was released as Nut Rocker by B.Bumble And The Stingers. The song made it to the #23 spot on the US charts and hit #1 in the UK (which might explain how Fowley found himself producing British bands in London by the middle of the decade). Ten years later, Emerson, Lake And Palmer released their own live version of Nutrocker, which they had been using as an encore, on their Pictures At An Exhibition album.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1750 (starts 12/13/17)

Frank Zappa fans rejoice! Just three weeks after a side of We're Only In It For The Money we have side two of Absolutely Free, The M.O.I. American Pageant, including Brown Shoes Don't Make It.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    You Really Got Me
Source:    Mono CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Ray Davies
Label:    K-Tel (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1964
    You Really Got Me has been described as the first hard rock song and the track that invented heavy metal. You'll get no argument from me on either of those.
Artist:    Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title:    Just Like Me
Source:    CD: Greatest Hits
Writer(s):    Dey/Brown
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1965
    Just Like Me was the first top 10 single from Paul Revere And The Raiders, a band that deserves much more credit than they are generally given. The group started in the early part of the decade in Boise, Idaho, when Revere (his real name) hooked up with saxophonist Mark Lindsay. Like most bands at the time, the Raiders' repertoire consisted mostly of instrumentals, as PA systems were a luxury that required more space than was generally allotted to a small town band. It wasn't long before the Raiders relocated to Portland, Oregon, where they became a popular attraction at various clubs. After a hiatus caused by Revere's stint in the military, the band resumed its place as one of the founding bands of the Portland music scene. They soon made their first visit to a recording studio, recording Richard Berry's Louie Louie at around the same time as another popular Portland band, the Kingsmen. Due as much to superior promotion efforts from Wand Records as anything else, the Kingsmen's version ended up being a huge hit while the Raiders' version was virtually ignored. Undeterred, the band continued to grow in popularity, recording another single in 1964 (Like Long Hair) and going on tour. It was while playing in Hawaii that the band was noticed by none other than Dick Clark, who hired them to be the house band on his new afternoon TV show, Where The Action Is. He also got them a contract with Columbia Records, at the time the second-largest record company in the world. The Raiders were Columbia's first rock band, and they paired the band up with their hippest young producer, Terry Melcher. It was a partnership that would lead to a string of hits, starting with Steppin' Out in 1965. The next record, Just Like Me, was the first of a string of top 10 singles that would last until early 1967, when rapidly changing public tastes made the band seem antiquated compared to up and coming groups like Jefferson Airplane. Just Like Me, despite some rather cheesy lyrics, still holds up well after all these years. Much of the credit for that has to go to Drake Levin, whose innovative double-tracked guitar solo rocked out harder than anything else on top 40 radio at the time (with the possible exception of a couple of well-known Kinks songs).

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    For What It's Worth
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released as 45 RPM single and added to LP: Buffalo Springfield)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Year:    1966
    Most people associate the name Buffalo Springfield with the song For What It's Worth. And for good reason. The song is one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded, and to this day is in regular rotation on both oldies and classic rock radio stations. The song was written and recorded in November of 1966 and released in December. By then the first Buffalo Springfield LP was already on the racks, but until that point had not sold particularly well. When it became clear that For What It's Worth was becoming a breakout hit, Atco Records quickly recalled the album and added the song to it (as the opening track). All subsequent pressings of the LP (and later the CD) contain For What It's Worth, making earlier copies of the album somewhat of a rarity and quite collectable.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    Help, I'm A Rock
Source:    CD: Part One
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Ya gotta hand it to these guys. It takes cojones to record a cover of a Frank Zappa tune, especially within a year of the original Mothers of Invention version coming out. To top it off, the W.C.P.A.E.B. even released Help, I'm A Rock as a single, although the longer LP version is far superior.

Artist:    Iron Butterfly
Title:    Are You Happy
Source:    CD: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Writer(s):    Doug Ingle
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    Besides the title track itself, probably the best known song on Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album is a Doug Ingle tune called Are You Happy. Opening with a distinctive drum pattern followed by a shouted "are you happy?", the song is one of the most upbeat tunes on the entire album, and was fittingly placed at the end of the LP's first side.

Artist:    Fat Mattress
Title:    Walking Through A Garden
Source:    Mono LP: Fat Mattress (promo copy)
Writer(s):    Noel Redding
Label:    Atco
Year:    1969
    Despite being a member of one of the most popular, and highly respected bands in the world, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Noel Redding always felt a bit stifled by the dominance of Hendrix himself in the band, and wanted a chance to write and play his own material. Prior to hooking up with Hendrix in late 1966 Redding, as a guitarist, had been part of the early 1960s British group scene. In 1968, while the Experience was still together, Redding, along with vocalist Neil Landon, bass guitarist Jim Leverton and drummer Eric Dillon, formed the band Fat Mattress as a kind of side project. They eventually released two albums before disbanding in 1970. The songwriting chores for the band were split roughly evenly between Redding, Landon and Leverton, with Redding tending to work alone. Walking Through A Garden, from the first album, is a fairly typical Redding composition, with an emphasis on melody and lyrics rather than performance.

Artist:    Syd Barrett
Title:    Here I Go
Source:    CD: An Introduction To Syd Barrett (originally released on LP: The Madcap Laughs)
Writer(s):    Syd Barrett
Label:    Capitol (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1970
    Pink Floyd's original bandleader, Syd Barrett, began showing signs of mental illness as early as 1967. By 1968, his state of mind had deteriorated to the point that the rest of the band decided to continue on without him. Meanwhile, Barrett, after attempting to record a handful of solo tracks, found himself in psychiatric care at Cambridge. The following year, somewhat recovered, Barrett got to work on his first solo LP, which eventually became The Madcap Laughs. One of the better tracks recorded around that time was Here I Go. Unlike many of Barrett's songs from the period, Here I Go had been written in a matter of minutes, and was recorded almost as quickly, requiring no overdubs. Among the backing musicians on the tune were members of Joker's Wild and Humble Pie. The track was produced by Mick Jones.

Artist:      Allman Brothers Band
Title:     Don't Want You No More/It's Not My Cross To Bear
Source:      CD: Beginnings (originally released on LP: The Allman Brothers Band)
Writer(s):    Davis/Hardin/Allman
Label:    Polydor (original label: Capricorn)
Year:     1969
     The first Allman Brothers band album sold poorly outside of the southeastern US and was pulled from the shelves within a year. Meanwhile, the second album, Idlewild South, did a bit better and the third album, recorded live at the Fillmore East, was a breakout hit. This prompted Capricorn, which in the meantime had morphed from a production house to a full-blown label, to reissue the first two albums as a 2-record set for the price of one. "Don't Want You No More is an instrumental (co-written by Steve Winwood) that serves as an introduction to both the band and the first album, and segues directly into the Gregg Allman tune "It's Not My Cross To Bear".

Artist:    Crosby, Stills And Nash
Title:    Marrakesh Express
Source:    CD: Crosby, Stills And Nash
Writer(s):    Graham Nash
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    The first time I ever heard of Crosby, Stills And Nash was on Europe's powerhouse AM station Radio Luxembourg, which broadcast in an American-style top 40 format during the evening and into the early morning hours. As was common on top 40 stations, Radio Luxembourg had a "pick hit of the week", a newly-released song that the station's DJs felt was bound to be a big hit. One night in July of 1969 I tuned in and heard the premier of the station's latest pick hit: Marrakesh Express, by Crosby, Stills And Nash. Sure enough, the song climbed the British charts rather quickly, peaking at #17 (20 positions higher than in the US). The song itself was based on real events that Graham Nash experienced on a train ride in Morocco while still a member of the Hollies. Nash had been riding first class when he got bored and decided to check out what was happening in the other cars. He was so impressed by the sheer variety of what he saw (including ducks and chickens on the train itself) that he decided to write a song about it. The other members of the Hollies were not particularly impressed with the song, however, and its rejection was one of the factors that led to Nash leaving the band and moving to the US, where he hooked up with David Crosby and Stephen Stills. Crosby and Stills liked the song, and it became the trio's first single.

Artist:      Them
Title:     Black Widow Spider
Source:      CD: Time Out! Time In! For Them
Writer(s):    Lane/Pulley
Label:    Rev-Ola (original label: Tower)
Year:     1968
     Usually when a band used outside songwriters it's because their producer forced them into it, and almost always was a sore point with the band members. The liner notes for Them's second album for Tower, on the other hand, included a thank you note from the band to Tom Lane and Sharon Pulley, who wrote nearly every song on Time Out! Time In! For Them.

Artist:    Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title:    Unwind With The Clock
Source:    LP: Incense And Peppermints
Writer(s):    King/Weitz
Label:    Sundazed/Uni
Year:    1967
    After Incense And Peppermints became a huge international hit, the band was given the opportunity to record a full album, also titled Incense And Peppermints. The final track on the album, Unwind With The Clock, is a mostly instrumental piece with a jazzy feel to it that sounds like it was written specifically to be a set closer. The vocals that come in toward the end of the piece only reinforce that idea.

Artist:     Bobby Fuller Four
Title:     Baby My Heart
Source:     Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer:     Sonny Curtis
Label:     Rhino
Year:     Recorded 1966; released 2009.
     The Bobby Fuller Four perfected their blend of rock and roll and Tex-Mex in their native El Paso before migrating out to L.A. After scoring a huge hit with I Fought The Law, Fuller was found dead in his hotel room of unnatural causes. Baby My Heart, unreleased until 2009, is an indication of what might have been had Fuller lived long enough to establish himself further.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Lady Jane
Source:    CD: Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (London)
Year:    1966
    One of the best early Rolling Stones albums is 1966's Aftermath, which included such classics as Under My Thumb, Stupid Girl and the eleven-minute Goin' Home. Both the US and UK versions of the LP included the song Lady Jane, which was also released as the B side to Mother's Little Helper (which had been left off the US version of Aftermath to make room for Paint It, Black). The policy at the time was for B sides that got a significant amount of airplay to be rated separately from the A side of the single, and Lady Jane managed to climb to the # 24 spot on the Hot 100 (Mother's Little Helper peaked at # 8). Both tunes were also included on the 1967 LP Flowers.

Artist:    Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title:    San Franciscan Nights
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer:    Burdon/Briggs/Weider/Jenkins/McCulloch
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1967
    In late 1966, after losing several original members over a period of about a year, the original Animals disbanded. Eric Burdon, after releasing one single as a solo artist (but using the Animals name), decided to form a "new" Animals, keeping only drummer Barry Jenkins from the previous lineup. After releasing a moderately successful single, When I Was Young, the new band appeared at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. While in the area, the band fell in love with the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, during what came to be called the Summer Of Love. The first single to be released from their debut album, Winds Of Change, was a tribute to the city by the bay called San Franciscan Nights. Because of the topicality of the song's subject matter, San Franciscan Nights was not released in the UK as a single. Instead, the song Good Times (which was the US B side of the record), became the new group's biggest UK hit to date (and one of the Animals' biggest UK hits overall). Eventually San Franciscan Nights was released as a single in the UK as well (with a different B side) and ended up doing quite well.

Artist:    13th Power (aka Max Frost And The Troopers)
Title:    Free Lovin'
Source:    CD: Shape Of Things To Come (originally released on LP: Wild In The Streets soundtrack)
Writer(s):    Wibier/Hemrick
Label:    Captain High (original label:Tower)
Year:    1968
    One of the most intriguing mysteries in rock 'n' roll history concerns a band called the 13th Power. At the core of this mystery is the fact that nobody knows for sure whether there even was a band called the 13th Power. The first time I saw the name was on the 1968 soundtrack album from the movie Wild In The Streets. On that LP, all the songs that had been "performed" in the movie by Max Frost And The Troopers were credited to the 13th Power. However, the hit single from the movie, Shape Of Things To Come, listed Max Frost And The Troopers as the artist. To make things even more confusing, Tower Records, in the wake of the success of the single, released an entire album by Max Frost And The Troopers called (you guessed it) Shape Of Things To Come. Two tracks from that LP were subsequently released as a single on Mike Curb's Sidewalk label, with the 13th Power shown as the artist of record (sorry). The writing credits on those two tracks (and indeed, on most of the tracks on the Shape Of Things To Come album itself) included Paul Wibier, Dale Beckner, Stewart Martin, G. McClain and Barney Hector, all of which had been involved in writing songs for other soundtrack albums for Curb. (Just to confuse the matter even further some of those earlier songs were credited to a band called Mom's Boys.) Muddying the waters even further is a 13th Power single that came out in October of 1967 on the Sidewalk label, several months before the Wild In The Streets soundtrack album was released. The A side of that single was written by Wibier and Hector, while the B side is credited to Wibier/ McClain/ Martin/ Beckner and Hector. As a general rule, rock songs credited to five people are the work of an entire band, making this the likely lineup of the 13th Power, if indeed such a band actually existed. There is also a persistent rumor that the Max Frost And Troopers tracks on both albums were actually the work of Davie Allen And The Arrows, a moderately successful instrumental group that was best known for a tune called Blues Theme (from a 1966 movie called The Wild Ones). According to this rumor, the vocalist on Free Lovin' and other songs from the film was either Christopher Jones (who starred in the film) or possibly Paul Wibier. If anyone has any more information on the 13th Power, feel free to contact me through the Stuck in the Psychedelic Era web page (

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Discrepancy
Source:    CD: Beyond The Garage (originally released on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer:    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1967
    Discrepancy, one of Sean Bonniwell's most sophisticated recordings with his band the Music Machine, features two simultaneous vocal lines. The main one, sung by Bonniwell (in the left channel) as a single melody line, tells the story of a deteriorating relationship. In the opposite channel we hear a breathy multi-part vocal line that tells the same story from the perspective of the subconscious. The two come together lyrically from time to time to express key concepts such as the line "now I know I'm losing you", only to once again diverge onto their separate tracks. The bridge serves to further unite the two divergent lines with the repeating plea to "tell me what to do". Discrepancy is one of the few tracks recorded by the original Music Machine lineup that was never released on Original Sound Records, either as an LP track or on a 45 RPM single. Instead, the song was included on the LP Bonniwell Music Machine, released by Warner Brothers in 1967.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Taxman
Source:    CD: Revolver
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1966
    The Beatles' 1966 LP Revolver was a major step forward, particularly for guitarist George Harrison, who for the first time had three of his own compositions on an album. Making it even sweeter was the fact that one of these, Taxman, was chosen to lead off the album itself. Although Harrison is usually considered the band's lead guitarist, the solo in Taxman is actually performed by Paul McCartney, whose own style had a harder edge than Harrison's. Harrison, on the other hand, reportedly played bass (McCartney's usual instrument) on the track. This made the song difficult to perform live, but, as the world would soon know, the group had already decided to retire from live performing altogether in order to concentrate on perfecting their studio work.

Artist:    George Harrison
Title:    Dream Scene
Source:    CD: Wonderwall Music
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Apple
Year:    1968
    Here's one for trivia buffs: What was the first LP released on the Apple label? If you answered The Beatles (White Album) you'd be close, but not quite on the money. The actual first Apple album was something called Wonderwall Music from a film called (what else?) Wonderwall. The album itself was quite avant garde, with virtually no commercial potential. One of the most notable tracks on the album is Dream Scene, an audio collage that predates John Lennon's Revolution 9 by several months.

Artist:    Scrugg
Title:    I Wish I Was Five
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    John Kongos
Label:    Rhino (original label: Pye)
Year:    1968
    Johnny Kongos And The Beat Men were a highly successful band in South Africa, releasing several hit singles from 1962 through 1966, when Kongo decided to relocate to London. He soon formed Floribunda Rose with several other relocated South Africans, releasing one single in 1967. By 1968 the group had renamed itself Scrugg and signed with the Pye label. Before disbanding in 1969, Scrugg released three singles. The B side of their first single for Pye was the wistful I Wish I Was Five, released in April of 1967.
Artist:    Beacon Street Union
Title:    Mystic Mourning
Source:    British import CD: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s):    Ulaky/Weisberg/Rhodes
Label:    See For Miles (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1967
    If I had to choose one single recording that represents the psychedelic era, my choice would be Mystic Mourning, from the album The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union. Everything about the tune screams (whispers? purrs?) psychedelic, starting with a short spacy intro of electric piano over cymbals, leading into a raga beat with a solo bass line that builds up to a repeating riff that ends up getting played at various times by guitar, bass, and/or piano. The lyrics are appropriately existential, and both guitar and piano get a chance to show their stuff over the course of the nearly six-minute track.

Artist:     Frumious Bandersnatch
Title:     Hearts To Cry
Source:     British import CD: The Berkeley EPs (originally released on self-titled EP)
Writer:     Jack King
Label:     Big Beat (original label: Muggles Gramophone Works)
Year:     1968
     Rock music and the real estate business have something in common: location can make all the difference. Take the San Francisco Bay Area. You have one of the world's great Cosmopolitan cities at the north end of a peninsula. South of the city, along the peninsula itself you have mostly redwood forest land interspersed with fairly affluent communities along the way to Silicon Valley and the city of San Jose at the south end of the bay. The eastern side of the bay, on the other hand, spans a socio-economic range from blue collar to ghetto and is politically conservative; not exactly the most receptive environment for a hippy band calling itself Frumious Bandersnatch, which is a shame, since they had at least as much talent as any other band in the area. Unable to develop much of a following, they are one of the great "should have beens" of the psychedelic era, as evidenced by Hearts To Cry, the lead track of their 1968 untitled EP.

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:    Cream
Title:    Sweet Wine
Source:    LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Godfrey/Baker
Label:    Atco
Year:    1966
    When Cream was formed, both bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker had new music for the band to record (guitarist Eric Clapton having chosen to shut up and play his guitar for the most part). Most of these new songs, however, did not yet have words to go with the music. To remedy the situation, both musicians brought in outside lyricists. Baker chose poet Pete Brown, while Bruce chose to bring in his wife, Janet Godfrey. After a short time it became apparent that Bruce and Brown had a natural affinity for each other's material, and formed a partnership that would last years. Baker, meanwhile, tried working with Godfrey, but the two only came up with one song together, Sweet Wine, which was included on the band's debut LP, Fresh Cream.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    N.S.U.
Source:    CD: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Jack Bruce
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1966
    Although most of Jack Bruce's Cream songs were co-written with lyricist Pete Brown, there were some exceptions. One of the most notable of these is N.S.U. from Cream's debut LP. The song has proven popular enough to be included in the band's repertoire when they reunited for a three-day stint at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005.

Artist:      Mothers of Invention
Title:     The M.O.I. American Pageant
Source:       CD: Absolutely Free
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:     Ryko (original label: Verve)
Year:     1967
     Following up on their debut double-LP Freak Out, the Mothers came up with one of the first concept albums with Absolutely Free, which consisted of two "rock oratorios", each taking up one side of the album. Included in the M.O.I. American Pageant is Brown Shoes Don't Make It, which composer Frank Zappa described as a two-hour musical in condensed form (it runs slightly less than 7 minutes). The Pageant starts with Status Back Baby, which leads into Uncle Bernie's Farm, followed by Son Of Suzy Creamcheese before getting into Brown Shoes Don't Make It. As a coda, the piece ends with American Drinks And Goes Home. The entire oratoria runs about 19 minutes total.

Artist:    Velvet Underground
Title:    The Black Angel's Death Song
Source:    CD: The Velvet Underground And Nico
Writer(s):    Reed/Cale
Label:    Polydor (original label: Verve)
Year:    1967
    The Black Angel's Death Song was one of the more infamous early Velvet Underground songs. The song was written by John Cale and Lou Reed, who later said "The idea here was to string words together for the sheer fun of their sound, not any particular meaning." The band performed it at the Cafe Bizarre in Greenwich Village in 1965, prompting the club's manager to tell them not to play the song again. Of course the Velvets responded by playing it again "with a vengeance", resulting in them being fired. The studio version of The Black Angel's Death Song was recorded in 1966, features Cale's viola prominently throughout the track. Both Reed and Sterling Morrison detuned their guitars a full step for the recording.