Monday, January 1, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1801 (starts 1/3/18)
This week's show starts and ends with '69 in San Francisco. We open with Sly and the Family Stone performing one of the all-time greats and close with an entire album side from one of the original jam bands, Quicksilver Messenger Service. Happy Trails, everyone!
Artist: Sly And The Family Stone
Title: I Want To Take You Higher
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Stand and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Sly Stone
Label: Priority (original label: Epic)
Sylvester Stewart was a major presence on the San Francisco music scene for several years, both as a producer for Autumn Records and as a popular local disc jockey. In 1967 he decided to take it to the next level, using his studio connections to put together Sly And The Family Stone. The band featured a solid lineup of musicians, including Larry Graham, whose growling bass line figures prominently in their 1969 recording of I Want To Take You Higher. The song was originally released as a B side, but after the group blew away the crowd at Woodstock the recording was re-released as a single the following year.
Title: What A Bringdown
Source: CD: Goodbye Cream
Writer(s): Ginger Baker
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Right around the time that Cream's third LP, Wheels Of Fire, was released, the band announced that it would be splitting up following its upcoming tour. Before starting the tour the band recorded three tracks, each one written by one of the three band members. Both Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce worked with collaborators on their songs, while drummer Ginger Baker was given full credit for his tune, What A Bringdown (which was sung by Bruce). As it turned out those would be the only studio recordings on the final Cream album, Goodbye Cream, released in 1969, which in addition to the three new songs had several live tracks from a 1968 performance at the Los Angeles Palladium.
Artist: Mother Tucker's Yellow Duck
Title: One Ring Jane
Source: British import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released in Canada on LP: Home Grown Stuff)
Label: Zonophone (original label: Capitol)
Sometimes called Canada's most psychedelic band, Mother Tucker's Yellow Duck was formed in British Columbia in 1967. After recording one unsuccessful single for London, the Duck switched to Capitol Records' Canadian division and scored nationally with the album Home Grown Stuff. After a couple more years spent opening for big name bands such as Alice Cooper and Deep Purple and a couple more albums (on the Capitol-owned Duck Records) the group disbanded, with vocalist/guitarist Donny McDougall joining the Guess Who in 1972.
Title: Sunny Afternoon
Source: Mono Canadian import CD: 25 Years-The Ultimate Collection (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Face To Face)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Polygram/PolyTel (original label: Reprise)
1966 was the year that Ray Davies's songwriting began to take a sardonic turn. Sunny Afternoon, using a first person perspective, manages to lampoon the idle rich through mock sympathy. Good stuff, and the Kinks' last song to make US top 40 charts until 1970, when the international hit Lola gave the band a much needed career boost.
Title: I'm Not Like Everybody Else
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Ray Davies
One of the most popular songs in the Kinks' catalog, I'm Not Like Everybody Else was originally written for another British band, the Animals. When that group decided not to record the tune, the Kinks did their own version of the song, issuing it as the B side of the 1966 hit Sunny Afternoon. Although written by Ray Davies, it was sung by his brother Dave, who usually handled the lead vocals on only the songs he himself composed. Initially not available on any LPs, the song has in recent years shown up on various collections and as a bonus track on CD reissues of both the Kink Kontroversy and Face To Face albums. Both Davies brothers continue to perform the song in their live appearances.
Title: Dead End Street
Source: Mono Canadian import CD: 25 Years-The Ultimate Collection (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Polygram/PolyTel (original label: Reprise)
The last major Kinks hit in the US was Sunny Afternoon in the summer of 1966. The follow-up Deadend Street, released in November, was in much the same style, but did not achieve the same kind of success in the US (although it was a top five hit in the UK). The Kinks would not have another major US hit until Lola in 1970.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: She Wandered Through The Garden Fence
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Procol Harum (stereo bonus track)
The first Procol Harum LP, although recorded using 4-track equipment, was originally mixed in monoraul only. In the US, however, where mono LPs were being phased out, the album was electronically re-channeled to simulate stereophonic sound. This practice was largely abandoned by 1970, although there were still a few exceptions, usually among reissues of older recordings. If you really want to know how this "fake" stereo sounds, we have She Wandered Through The Garden Fence, from one of those original 1967 US pressings of the album.
Title: So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star
Source: Mono LP: Younger Than Yesterday
By early 1967 there was a building resentment among musicians and rock press alike concerning the instant (and in many eyes unearned) success of the Monkees. One notable expression of this resentment was the Byrds' So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star, which takes a somewhat sarcastic look at what it takes to succeed in the music business. Unfortunately, much of what they talk about in the song continues to apply today (although the guitar has been somewhat supplanted by the computer as the instrument of choice).
Title: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Source: Simulated Stereo CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!)
Writer(s): Pete Seeger
Label: Priority (origina label: Columbia)
After their success covering Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man, the band turned to an even more revered songwriter: the legendary Pete Seeger. Turn! Turn! Turn!, with lyrics taken directly from the book of Ecclesiastes, was first recorded by Seeger in the early 60s, nearly three years after he wrote the song. The song was never mixed in true stereo, forcing the band's record label to use a simulated stereo mix on stereo copies of the LP. Once monoraul albums were phased out in the late 1960s, this "fake" stereo version remained the only one available for many years, appearing on various compilations before a mid-1990s remaster of the Turn! Turn! Turn! album used the original mono mix.
Title: Two Much
Source: Mono CD: Ignition (Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Year: Recorded 1965, released 2000
In the early 1960s guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Sean Bonniwell left the Wayfarers (a folk group that recorded for the RCA Victor label) to embark on a musical journey that would eventually lead to the formation of the Music Machine in 1966. His first step in that direction was to put together a three-piece band called the Ragamuffins, with bass player (and future bigtime record producer) Keith Olsen and drummer Ron Edgar, himself an early folk-rocker. The group recorded a few demos in 1965, including the British-influenced Two Much. Within a year the group would expand with the addition of organist Doug Rhodes and lead guitarist Mark Landon to form the Music Machine, known for the intense two-minute long punk classic Talk Talk.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Lovin' You
Source: LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful
Writer(s): John Sebastian
The Lovin' Spoonful hit their creative peak with their third album, Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful, in 1966. The LP included four hit singles, plus a couple of songs that became hits for other artists. One of those tunes was the album's opening track, Lovin' You, which Bobby Darin took into the top 40 that same year and Dolly Parton later covered for her award-winning album Here You Go Again.
Artist: Left Banke
Source: Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Smash)
For a while it looked as if the Left Banke would emerge as one of the most important bands of the late 60s. They certainly got off to a good start, with back-to-back top 10 singles Walk Away Renee and Pretty Ballerina. But then bandleader Michael Brown and Smash Records made a serious misstep, issuing a Brown solo effort called Ivy Ivy utilizing studio musicians and trying to pass it off as a Left Banke record. The other band members refused to go along with the charade and sent out letters to their fan club membership denouncing the single. The outraged fans, in turn, threatened to boycott any radio stations that played the single. Brown and the rest of the band, meanwhile, managed to patch things up enough to record a new single, Desiree, and released the song in late 1967. By then, however, radio stations were leery of playing anything with the words Left Banke on the label, and the song failed to chart, despite being an outstanding single. Brown left the Left Banke soon after.
Artist: Randy Newman
Title: Last Night I Had A Dream
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Randy Newman
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Randy Newman has, over the course of the past fifty-plus years, established himself as a Great American Writer of Songs. His work includes dozens of hit singles (over half of which were performed by other artists), nearly two dozen movie scores and eleven albums as a solo artist. Newman has won five Grammys, as well as two Oscars and Three Emmys. Last Night I Had A Dream was Newman's second single for the Reprise label (his third overall), coming out the same year as his first LP, which did not include the song.
Artist: Savoy Brown
Title: Made Up My Mind
Source: British import CD: A Step Further
Writer: Chris Youlden
Label: Deram (original US label: Parrot)
To coincide with a US tour, the fourth Savoy Brown album, A Step Further, was actually released in North America several months before it was in the UK, with Made Up My Mind being simultaneously released as a single. Luckily for the band, 1969 was a year that continued the industry-wide trend away from hit singles and toward successful albums instead, at least among the more progressive groups, as the single itself tanked. Aided by a decent amount of airplay on progressive FM radio, however, the album (the last to feature lead vocalist Chris Youlden) peaked comfortably within the top 100.
Title: House Of The Rising Sun
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): trad., arr. Price
Label: Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Sometimes, to use a baseball analogy, you hit a home run in your first time out fo the box. Such was the case with the Animals recording of the traditional folk song House Of The Rising Sun. The record, released in 1964, went to the top of the charts virtually all over the planet and the song itself has long since come to be identified specifically with the Animals, despite its 19th century (some say even earlier) origins. In fact, Bob Dylan, who recorded the song years before the Animals, removed the song from his own repertoire when he was accused of stealing it from the latter band. Dave Van Ronk, who taught the song to Dylan in the first place, has claimed that the Animals were actually using his arrangement of the song. Regardless, the fact remains that if you were going to play guitar in a rock and roll band in the mid-60s you had to know how to play the Animals version of House Of The Rising Sun. It helped if you had the stamina in your chord hand to still be playing it six verses later.
Title: You Told Me
Source: CD: Headquarters
Writer(s): Michael Nesmith
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
After Don Kirschner got himself fired from Colgems for issuing the album More of the Monkees without the band's knowledge or permission (as well as a subsequent single that was sent out in promo form to radio stations and almost immediately rescinded), the band members insisted on having greater artistic control over what was being issued with their names on it. The end result was the Headquarters album, the only Monkees LP to feature the band members playing virtually all the instruments (with a few exceptions, notably producer Chip Douglas playing bass guitar). Although the Michael Nesmith composition You Told Me starts off side one of the LP, it was actually the third and final Nesmith track to be recorded for Headquarters. Peter Tork plays banjo on the song, which was sung by Nesmith himself.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: Warner Brothers
The nearest thing the Grateful Dead had to a hit single before 1986 was Truckin', a feelgood tune sung by Bob Weir from the American Beauty album. I actually have a video clip on DVD of the band doing the song live on some TV show.
Title: Come Together
Source: CD: Abbey Road
After the Beatles released their 1968 double LP (the so-called White Album), they went to work on their final film project, a documentary about the band making an album. Unfortunately, what the cameras captured was a group on the verge of disintegration, and both the album and the film itself were shelved indefinitely. Instead, the band went to work recording an entirely new group of compositions. Somehow, despite the internal difficulties the band was going through, they managed to turn out a masterpiece: Abbey Road. Before the album itself came out, a single was released. The official A side (green Apple label) was George Harrison's Something, the first Harrison song ever to be released as a Beatle A side. The other A side (Apple core label) was the song that opened the album itself, John Lennon's Come Together. In later years Come Together came to be Lennon's signature song and was a staple of his live performances.
Title: Listen, Listen!
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Emmitt Rhodes
Label: Rhino (original label: A&M)
In 1968, drummer/vocalist Emmit Rhodes was on the verge of branching out on a solo career. One of the last songs released under the Merry-Go-Round banner was a tune called Listen, Listen! The track shows a strong Beatle influence, although it tends to rock out a bit harder than the average Beatle song.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Red House
Source: Mono CD: Blues (originally released in UK on LP: Are You Experienced)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original UK label: Track)
One of the first songs recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Red House was omitted from the US version of Are You Experienced because, in the words of one recording company executive: "America does not like blues". At the time the song was recorded, Noel Redding was not yet comfortable using a bass guitar, and would work out his bass parts on a slightly-detuned hollow body six-string guitar with the tone controls on their muddiest setting (I learned to play bass the same way myself). The original recording of Red House that was included on the UK version of Are You Experienced features Redding doing exactly that. A second take of the song, with overdubs, was included on the 1969 Smash Hits album, but the original mono version heard here was not available in the US until the release of the Blues CD in 1994.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: Pet Sounds
Source: Mono LP: Pet Sounds
Writer(s): Brian Wilson
Originally titled Run James Run, Brian Wilson's instrumental Pet Sounds was intended for a James Bond film, but instead ended up as the title track of the Beach Boys' most celebrated album (although it actually appears close to the end of the album itself). The track somewhat resembles a 60s update of the Tiki room recordings made by Martin Denny in the 1950s, with heavily reverberated bongos and guiro featured prominently over a latin beat. Although credited to the Beach Boys, only Brian Wilson appears on the track (on piano), with the remainder of the instruments played by various Los Angeles studio musicians collectively known as the Wrecking Crew.
Artist: Grass Roots
Title: You're A Lonely Girl
Source: 45 RPM single B side
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 (Ballad Of A Thin Man). The B side was You're A Lonely Girl, a Sloan/Barri composition. The Bedouins would soon grow disenchanted with their role and move back to San Francisco, leaving Sloan and Barri the task of finding a new Grass Roots. Eventually they did, and the rest is history. The Bedouins never recorded again.
Song: One Two Brown Eyes
Source: Mono LP: Them
Writer(s): Van Morrison
Van Morrison's One Two Brown Eyes was first released in the UK in late 1964 as the B side of Them's first single. It was included on the US version of Them's first album, but not on the version released in the UK.
Artist: It's A Beautiful Day
Title: Don And Dewey
Source: LP: Marrying Maiden
Writer(s): David LaFlamme
The highlight of the 1970 album Deep Purple In Rock is the ten-minute long antiwar song Child In Time, which got a considerable amount of airplay, both in the US and Europe. Several critics picked up on the fact that the song's opening organ riff was an exact copy of the opening of Bombay Calling, a track from the first album by It's A Beautiful Day, released in 1968. While this may seem on the surface to be a clear case of plagiarism, there are other factors to consider. For one thing, once you get past the intro, the two songs move in entirely different directions. Also, there is good reason to believe that Deep Purple "borrowed" the riff (which they freely admitted at the time, incidentally) as a bit of quid pro quo in the first place. You see, two years earlier, at around the same time as the first It's A Beautiful Day album came out, Deep Purple released their second hit single in the US, a cover of Neil Diamond's Kentucky Woman. The B side of that single was an instrumental called Hard Road, that also appeared on their second LP, The Book Of Taleisyn, under the title Wring That Neck. Two years later, at around the same time that Deep Purple In Rock appeared on the record racks, the second It's A Beautiful Day album, Marrying Maiden, was released. The opening of that album, an instrumental called Don And Dewey, bears more than a passing resemblance to Hard Road (Wring That Neck); it is practically a note for note copy of the Deep Purple track, albeit scored for different instruments. So the question is: were both Child In Time and Don And Dewey examples of plagiarism, or were they in fact sly declarations of admiration between the two bands? Whatever the answer is, it doesn't change the fact that they are all excellent tracks; in fact, Don And Dewey is by far the best song on Marrying Maiden, and accordingly got the most airplay, especially on the US West Coast.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: Mona/Maiden Of The Cancer Moon/Calvary/Happy Trails
Source: LP: Happy Trails
Most everyone familiar with Quicksilver Messenger Service agrees that the band's real strength was its live performances. Apparently the folks at Capitol Records realized this as well, since the band's second LP was recorded (mostly) live at Bill Graham's two Fillmore Auditoriums. The second side of the Happy Trails album starts with a Bo Diddly cover, Mona, which segues directly into a Gary Duncan composition, Maiden Of The Cancer Moon. The original performance segued directly into the more avant-garde Calvary (also credited to Duncan), but for the album a studio recreation of that performance was used (although the album sleeve makes it clear that it was recorded "live" at Golden State Recorders, indicating that it was done in a single take without any overdubs). The album side finishes up with a rather goofy take on the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans signature song Happy Trails, which Evans herself wrote.