Monday, December 4, 2017

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1749 (starts 12/6/17)

This week it's Four Sides of the Psychedelic Era. It starts with a segment I call '67 Was a Very Good Year. Next, one for Frank and John (you know who you are). Our third segment is the Psychedelic Era In Reverse, as we work our way backwards from 1970 to 1964. Finally, a pair of long studio jams to wrap it all up.

Artist:    Left Banke
Title:    She May Call You Up Tonight
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Brown/Martin
Label:    Smash
Year:    1967
    Unlike their first two singles, Walk Away Renee and Pretty Ballerina, the Left Banke's third single, She May Call You Up Tonight, failed to chart, possibly due to the release two months earlier of a song called Ivy Ivy, written by keyboardist Michael Brown and shown on the label as being by the Left Banke. Ivy Ivy was in reality performed entirely by session musicians, including lead vocals by Bert Sommer, who would be one of the acoustic acts on the opening afternoon of the Woodstock festival a couple years later. The resulting fued between Brown and the rest of the band left a large number of radio stations gun shy when came to any record with the name Left Banke on the label, and She May Call You Up Tonight tanked.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Comin' Back To Me
Source:    Mono LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Marty Balin
Label:    Sundazed (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1967   
    When Marty Balin arrived at the studio with this brand new song, only Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Jack Cassidy and Jerry Garcia were on hand to play on the subsequent recording. Balin, Kantner, Garcia and Cassidy all play guitar, while Slick provides the airy recorder track.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
Source:    LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol/EMI
Year:    1967
    According to principal songwriter John Lennon, Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite was inspired by a turn of the century circus poster that the Beatles ran across while working on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Most of the lyrics refer to items on the poster itself, such as Henry the Horse and the Hendersons.

Artist:    Timon
Title:    Bitter Thoughts Of Little Jane
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):    Timon Dogg
Label:    Rhino (original label: Pye)
Year:    1967
    Timon Dogg was a British folk singer that came up with one of the creepiest songs I've ever heard. Bitter Thoughts Of Little Jane, with its too-happy music providing a stark contrast to its macabre lyrics, was released as a single on the Pye label in late 1967. The following year Dogg signed with the Beatles' Apple label, but a planned album was never completed. Dogg later could be found working as a street singer in the London Underground, often alongside his close friend John Mellon (who would later change his name to Joe Strummer and form a band called the Clash). Dogg would eventually appear as a guest vocalist on a song he wrote called Lose This Skin on the 1980 Clash album Sandinista.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Dance The Night Away
Source:    CD: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    The album Fresh Cream was perhaps the first LP from a rock supergroup, although at the time a more accurate description would have been British blues supergroup. Much of the album was reworking of blues standards by the trio of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, all of whom had established their credentials with various British blues bands. With Disraeli Gears, however, Cream showed a psychedelic side as well as their original blues orientation. Most of the more psychedelic material, such as Dance the Night Away, was from the songwriting team of Bruce and lyricist Pete Brown.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Foxy Lady
Source:    LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    The first track on the original release of Are You Experienced was Foxy Lady. The British custom of the time was to not include any songs on albums that had been previously released as singles. When Reprise Records got the rights to release the album in the US, it was decided to include three songs that had all been top 40 hits in the UK. One of those songs, Purple Haze, took over the opening spot on the album, and Foxy Lady was moved to the middle of side 2. For some reason Reprise Records misspelled the title as Foxey Lady, and continued to do so on posthumous compilations such as The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    Steve's Song
Source:    Mono CD: Projections
Writer(s):    Steve Katz
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Verve Folkways)
Year:    1966
    The members of the Blues Project came from a variety of backgrounds, including jazz, rock, classical and of course, blues. Guitarist Steve Katz had the strongest connection to the Greenwich Village folk scene and was the lead vocalist on the Project's recording of Donovan's Catch The Wind on their first LP. For their second album Katz wrote his own song, entitled simply Steve's Song. The tune starts with a very old-English style repeated motif that gets increasing complicated as it repeats itself before segueing into a more conventional mode with Katz on the lead vocal. Katz would write and sing similarly-styled tunes, such as Sometimes In Winter, during his tenure as guitarist for Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Parachute Woman
Source:    CD: Beggar's Banquet
Writer:    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1968
    The last Rolling Stones album with the original lineup was Beggar's Banquet, released in 1968. The album itself was a conscious effort on the part of the band to get back to their roots after the psychedelic excesses of Their Satanic Majesties Request. Sadly, Brian Jones was fast deteriorating at the time and his contributions to the album are minimal compared to the band's earlier efforts. As a result, Keith Richards was responsible for most of the guitar work on Beggar's Banquet, including both lead and rhythm parts on Parachute Woman.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Oh! Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin')
Source:    Mono LP: The Rolling Stones Now!
Writer(s):    Barbara Lynn Ozen
Label:    London
Year:    1965
    There was one song on the US-only compilation album The Rolling Stones Now that had not yet appeared in the band's native England. That song was a cover of Barbara Lynn's Oh! Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin'), which would be included on the UK version of their next LP, Out Of Our Heads. The song was written by Barbara Lynn Ozen, whose story is quite remarkable in its own right. For one thing she was a female R&B artist that wrote her own material at a time when the assembly-line produced Motown sound was coming to dominate the soul charts. Even more unusual, Ozen was a guitarist as well as a vocalist. To top it off, she played left-handed! Her best knows song was You'll Lose A Good Thing, which went all the way to the top of the R&B charts and was later covered by the San Francisco band Cold Blood. Using the stage name Barbara Lynn, Ozen remains active in her native Beaumont, Texas.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Street Fighting Man
Source:    CD: Beggar's Banquet
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1968
    The Rolling Stones were at a low point in their career following their most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which came out in late 1967. As a response to charges in the rock press that they were no longer relevant the Stones released Jumpin' Jack Flash as a single in early 1968, following it up with the Beggar's Banquet album later in the year. The new album included the band's follow-up single, Street Fighting Man, a song that was almost as anthemic as Jumpin' Jack Flash itself and went a long ways toward insuring that the Rolling Stones would be making music on their own terms for as long as they chose to.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Party Line
Source:    Mono British import CD: LP: Face To Face
Writer(s):    Ray and Dave Davies
Label:    Sanctuary (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    The first Kinks album I ever bought was Face To Face. I saw it in the cutout bin at the Base Exchange in Ramstein Germany sometime in 1968 on sale for half a buck (or maybe even less) and remembered that I had liked the song Sunny Afternoon when it was being played on the radio in the fall of 1966, so I figured why not? At the time I was using a $10 portable Philips record player that I had gotten for my birthday that year (which in the US was sold under the Mercury name for twice that much), so I didn't even notice that the album was not in stereo. It didn't matter anyway, because the first song on the album, Party Line, made me a Kinks fan for life.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    So Mystifying
Source:    Mono LP: You Really Got Me
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1964
    So Mystifying is one of the earliest Ray Davies songs to be recorded by the Kinks. The song first appeared on their 1964 debut LP (entitled The Kinks in the UK and issued as You Really Got Me in the US). As such, it should be listened to for its historic value as much as for any aesthetic pleasure it might bring.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Holiday In Waikiki
Source:    Mono British import CD: Face To Face
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Sanctuary (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    Ray Davies's original idea for the Kinks' 1966 album Face To Face was to tie all the songs together through the use of sound effects to create one continuous audio track. The band's UK record company vetoed the idea, however, and for the most part the sound effects were left on the cutting room floor. One exception to this was Holiday In Waikiki, which retains its oceanic intro.

Artist:    W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band
Title:    Hippy Elevator Operator
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Caldwell/Zinner
Label:    Rhino (original label: HBR)
Year:    1966
    Sometime in 1966, Redondo Beach, California band the Bees decided to start calling themselves the W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band. The new name was interesting enough to attract the attention of HBR, also known as Hanna-Barbera Records, a company owned by the TV animation studio that was famous for characters like Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and the Flintstones. Unfortunately for the band, DJs tended to not take records on the label too seriously, and after a short recording career that culminated in a single called Hippy Elevator Operator, the band faded off into obscurity (followed shortly thereafter by HBR itself).

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

Artist:    Count Five
Title:    Psychotic Reaction
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ellner/Chaney/Atkinson/Byrne/Michalski
Label:    Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
Year:    1966
    San Jose, California, had a vibrant teen music scene in the late 60s, despite the fact that the relatively small city was overshadowed by San Francisco at the other end of the bay (both cities are considered part of the same metropolitan market). One of the more popular bands in town was this group of five individuals who chose to dress up like Bela Lugosi's Dracula, capes and all. Musically, they idolized the Yardbirds (Jeff Beck era), and for slightly more than three minutes managed to sound more like their idols than the Yardbirds themselves (who by then had replaced Beck with Jimmy Page).

Artist:    Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title:    Good Golly Miss Molly
Source:    LP: Bayou Country
Writer(s):    Blackwell/Marascallo
Label:    Fantasy
Year:    1969
    Although the second Creedence Clearwater Revival album, Bayou Country, contained mostly John Fogerty originals, there was one notable cover song on the LP: a version of Good Golly Miss Molly that was rowdy enough to make Little Richard proud.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Star Collector (alternate mix)
Source:    CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD. (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Goffin/King
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1967
    The Monkees were one of the first bands to utilize the Moog synthesizer on a rock record. One of the two tracks that uses the device extensively is Star Collector, a song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and sung by the late Davy Jones. Usually Jones was picked to sing the band's love ballads. Star Collector, on the other hand, is a wild, almost humorous look at rock groupies; the type of song that on earlier Monkees albums would have been given to Peter Tork to sing. The synthesizer in Star Collector was programmed and played by Paul Beaver (of Beaver and Krause). Tork later said that he didn't think much of Beaver's performance, saying "he played it like a flute or something" rather than exploit the unique sounds the Moog was capable of producing. This alternate mix of the song has a longer running time and considerably more experimentation on Beaver's part than the released version of the tune, and as far as I'm concerned is far superior to what was originally included on Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Samba Pa Ti
Source:    CD: Abraxas
Writer(s):    Carlos Santana
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    One of the most enduring tracks from Santana's second LP, Abraxas, Samba Pa Ti starts off as a slow instrumental, slowly picking up the pace and adding percussion to give it a decidedly latin flavor. As far as I know, Carlos Santana still includes Samba Pa Ti in his concert repertoire.

Artist:    Donovan/Jeff Beck Group
Title:    Barabajabal (Love Is Hot)
Source:    CD: Donovan's Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Barabajagal)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic/Legacy
Year:    1969
    Donovan Leitch enlisted the Jeff Beck Group as collaborators for Barabajabal (Love Is Hot), a track from his 1969 Barabajal album. Sometimes the song itself is erroreously referred to as Goo Goo Barabajabal, but I'm going with what's on the original 45 RPM label.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Summertime
Source:    CD: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Gershwin/Heyward
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    Janis Joplin, on the 1968 Big Brother And The Holding Company album Cheap Thrills, sounds like she was born to sing Gershwin's Summertime. Maybe she was.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Colors For Susan
Source:    LP: I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die
Writer:    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    The second Country Joe And The Fish album, I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die, was, like the band's debut LP, made up of equal parts acid-rock, jug band and what would come to be known as "rock and soul" music. The most acid-rock sounding track on the album is the instrumental Colors For Susan, which is kind of like Bass Strings minus the lyrics.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in November of 1966. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation (and the second track on Rhino's first Nuggets LP).

Artist:    Grass Roots
Title:    Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man)
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1965
    In late 1965 songwriters/producers P.F. Sloan (Eve of Destruction) and Steve Barri decided to create a series of records by a band called the Grass Roots. The problem was that there was no band called the Grass Roots (at least not that they knew of), so Sloan and Barri decided to recruit an existing band and talk them into changing their name. The band they found was the Bedouins, one of the early San Francisco bands. As the rush to sign SF bands was still months away, the Bedouins were more than happy to record the songs Sloan and Barri picked out for them. The first single by the newly-named Grass Roots was a cover of Bob Dylan's Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man). The band soon got to work promoting the single to Southern California radio stations, but with both the Byrds and the Turtles already on the charts with Dylan covers it soon became obvious that the market was becoming saturated with folk-rock. After a period of months the band, who wanted more freedom to write and record their own material, had a falling out with Sloan and Barri and it wasn't long before they moved back to San Francisco, leaving drummer Joel Larson in L.A. The group, with another drummer, continued to perform as the Grass Roots until Dunhill Records ordered them to stop. Eventually Dunhill would hire a local L.A. band called the 13th Floor (not to be confused with Austin, Texas's 13th Floor Elevators) to be the final incarnation of the Grass Roots; that group would crank out a series of top 40 hits in the early 70s. Meanwhile the original lineup changed their name but never had the opportunity to make records again.

Artist:    Primitives
Title:    You Said
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Geoff Tindall
Label:    Rhino (original label: Pye)
Year:    1964
    The Corn Flakes were formed in Oxford, England, but did not get much attention until they changed their name to the highly appropriate Primitives in 1964. Following the name change, the Primitives were able to garner several TV and magazine appearances based on their image alone. As can be heard on their second single, You Said, the band sounded a bit like a cross between the Who and the Rolling Stones. In 1966 the Primitives relocated to Italy, enjoying a much greater degree of chart success than they had been able to drum up in their own country.

Artist:    Peter Green
Title:    Hidden Depth/The End Of The Game
Source:    LP: The End Of The Game
Writer(s):    Peter Green
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1970
    After leaving the band he founded, Fleetwood Mac, in 1970, guitarist Peter Green recorded what can only be described as an album full of free-form guitar work, accompanied by various backup musicians. The album is divided into six tracks, although some of them track so closely together that they have to get played as a single track. Case in point: Hidden Depth and The End Of The Game, the final two tracks on the LP.

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    Liberation
Source:    Chicago Transit Authority
Writer(s):    James Pankow
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Liberation, the last track on the Chicago Transit Authority album, was recorded live in the studio in a single take. Yes, they were that good.

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