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.
Title: Strawberry Fields Forever
Source: LP: Magical Mystery Tour
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.
Title: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Source: CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
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.
Title: I Am The Walrus
Source: LP: Magical Mystery Tour
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.
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)
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
Label: Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
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
Source: CD: Underground
Label: Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
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)
Title: Peter Perceival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky/Pleasant Valley Sunday
Source: LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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
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)
Label: Rhino (original label: Laurie)
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.
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)
Label: Rhino (original label: CBS)
Formed in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1961 as the Gaylords, the Marmalade is best known for its international smash hit Reflections Of My Life in late 1968. One often overlooked song was I See The Rain, which Jimi Hendrix once called his favorite record of 1967. The song was not a hit in either the US or UK, although it did make the top 30 in the Netherlands.
Artist: 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)
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)
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)
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.
Title: Armenia City In The Sky/Heinz Baked Beans/Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands
Source: LP: The Who Sell Out
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.
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)
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
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.
Title: Everybody's Been Burned
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): David Crosby
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.
Title: Sand And Foam
Source: Mono LP: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
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
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)
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
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
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)
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
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
Source: CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
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)
Label: Rhino (original label: Roulette)
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).