Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1805 (starts 1/31/18)
Once Again it's time to take a trip on the old Magical Mystery Tour bus. It's a trip that will take you 2000 Light Years From Home...and that's just the beginning.
Title: Magical Mystery Tour
Source: LP: Magical Mystery Tour
1967 had been a great year for the Beatles, starting with their double-sided hit single Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, followed by the iconic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album and their late summer hit All You Need Is Love, with its worldwide TV debut (one of the few events of the time to utilize satellite technology). The next project, however, did not go over quite so well. It had been over two years since the group's last major movie (HELP!), and the band decided that their next film would be an exclusive for broadcast on BBC-TV. Unlike the previous two films, this new project would not follow traditional filmmaking procedures. Instead it would be a more experimental piece; a series of loosely related songs and comedy vignettes connected by a loose plot about a bus trip to the countryside. Magical Mystery Tour made its debut in early December of 1967 to overwhelmingly negative reaction by viewers and critics alike (partially because the film was shown in black and white on the tradition minded BBC-1 network; a later rebroadcast in color on BBC-2 went over much better). The songs used in the film, however, were quite popular. Since there were only six of them, far too few for a regular LP, it was decided to issue the album as a pair of 45 RPM EPs, complete with lyric sheets and booklet recounting the story from the film. The original EPs were available in both stereo and mono versions in Europe and the UK. In the US, where the six tunes were supplemented by the band's five remaining single sides from 1967 to create an LP, Magical Mystery Tour was only available in stereo. Although both the EP and LP versions have different song orders than the telefilm, all three open the same way, with the film's title song. As it turns out, it's a particularly good way to start off this week's show as well.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: 2000 Light Years From Home
Source: LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request
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 2,000 Light Years From Home (the US B side of She's A Rainbow) made the top 40 charts.
Title: Baby, Please Don't Go
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Joe Williams
Label: Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
This rather unusual arrangement of Joe Williams classic Baby, Please Don't Go was the creation of producer/vocalist Curt Boettcher. Boettcher had previously worked with the Association, co-writing their first hit Along Comes Mary. While working on the Ballroom project for Our Productions in 1966 he came to the attention of Brian Wilson and Gary Usher. Usher was so impressed with Boettcher's creativity in the studio that he convinced his own bosses at Columbia Records to buy out Boettcher's contract from Our Productions. As a result, much of Boettcher's Ballroom project became part of Usher's own Sagittarius project, with only Baby, Please Don't Go (and its B side) released under the Ballroom name. Boettcher turned out to be so prolific that it was sometimes said that the giant "CBS" logo on the side of the building stood for Curt Boettcher's Studios.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: This Hammer
Source: Mono British import CD: The Best Of The Spencer Davis Group (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side and on LP: The Second Album)
Label: Island (original label: Fontana)
I could swear I've heard This Hammer before. I didn't know it was written by the members of the Spencer Davis Group, though.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Gimme Some Lovin'
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: United Artists
The movie The Big Chill used Gimme Some Lovin' by the Spencer Davis Group as the backdrop for a touch football game at an informal reunion of former college students from the 60s. From that point on, movie soundtracks became much more than just background music and soundtrack albums started becoming best-sellers. Not entirely coincidentally, 60s-oriented oldies radio stations began to appear on the FM dial in major markets as well. Ironically, most of those stations are now playing 80s oldies.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Trampoline (originally released as 45 RPM B side)
Source: Mono British import CD: The Best Of The Spencer Davis Group (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side and in US on LP:Gimme Some Lovin')
Writer: Steve Winwood
Label: United Artists
The Spencer Davis Group had a series of R&B flavored hit singles in the UK during the mid-1960s, but did not break in the US until 1967, the year that both keyboardist Steve Winwood and his brother, bassist Muff Winwood, left the band. Most of the band's first US LP, Gimme Some Lovin' was made up of those British singles, including Trampoline, which was originally issued as a B side in 1966.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Dupree's Diamond Blues
Source: LP: Aoxomoxoa
Label: Warner Brothers
The third Grateful Dead LP, Aoxomoxoa, was one of the first albums to be recorded using state-of-the-art sixteen track equipment, and the band, in the words of guitarist Jerry Garcia, "tended to put too much on everything...A lot of the music was just lost in the mix, a lot of what was really there." Garcia and bassist Phil Lesh would return to the master tapes in 1971, remixing the entire album for the version that has appeared on vinyl and CD ever since then. Recently, however, Warner Brothers and Rhino have released a limited edition pressing of the original mix on vinyl. All of the music on the LP, including Dupree's Diamond Blues (which was also released as a single) is credited to guitarist Jerry Garcia and bassist Phil Lesh, with lyrics by poet Robert Hunter.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Red House
Source: CD: Live At Woodstock
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Just about every time Jimi Hendrix made a live appearance he played his signature blues song, Red House. This is the version performed at Woodstock, using the band he was calling Gypsy, Sun And Rainbows at the time, although he also was heard to say "We're just a Band Of Gypsys" during his set.
Title: Mr. Farmer
Source: Mono British import CD: Singles A's and B's (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: A Web Of Sound)
Writer: Sky Saxon
Label: Big Beat (original label: GNP Crescendo)
With two tracks (Can't Seem To Make You Mine and Pushin' Too Hard) from their first album getting decent airplay on L.A. radio stations in 1966 the Seeds headed back to the studio to record a second LP, A Web Of Sound. The first single released from the album was Mr. Farmer, a song that once again did well locally. The single mix differs a bit from the album version, with the keyboards a bit more prominent in the mix. The song has a slightly different ending as well.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Let's Get Together
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s): Dino Valenti
Label: RCA Victor
Although Dino Valenti recorded a demo version of his song Let's Get Together in 1964, it wasn't until two years later that the song made its first appearance on vinyl as a track on Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. The Airplane version of the song is unique in that the lead vocals alternate between Paul Kantner, Signe Anderson and Marty Balin, with each one taking a verse and all of them singing on the chorus.
Title: Black Hearted Woman
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of The Standells (originally released on Tower LP: Why Pick On Me
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
The Standells rose to prominence (and immortality) with the 1966 hit Dirty Water, which has gone on to become Boston's unofficial theme song (despite the fact that none of the Standells had ever been to Boston at the time the song was released). The band had actually been around since 1962, when they were formed as the Standels, a name derived from their habit of standing around booking offices hoping to find work. Their first recording was released on the Linda label in 1964 (as Larry Tamblyn and the Standells). New lead vocalist and drummer Dick Dodd, a former mouseketeer and member of the Bel-Airs (who had a hit with the instrumental Mr. Moto), joined shortly after the band signed with Liberty Records in 1964. The group bounced around from label to label over the next couple of years, eventually signing with Tower. Following the success of Dirty Water they recorded the album Why Pick On Me (sometimes known as Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White). One of the strongest tracks from that album was Black Hearted Woman, a song that shows the Standells at the peak of their powers. The Standells also appeared in several B movies, including the 1967 cult classic Riot On Sunset Strip. Dodd left the Standells in 1968. The group continued on without him for a while, but never was able to duplicate their earlier success.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Flying High
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Any guesses to what a song called Flying High from an album called Electric Music For The Mind And Body by Country Joe And The Fish released in 1967 might be about? I thought not.
Title: Soul Kitchen
Source: CD: The Doors
Writer(s): The Doors
Every time I hear the opening notes of the Doors' Soul Kitchen, from their first album, I think it's When The Music's Over, from their second LP. I wonder if they did that on purpose?
Title: Paper Sun
Source: CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
There were several notable differences between the US and UK versions of the first Traffic album. For one thing they had different titles. In the US the album was called Heaven Is In Your Mind when it was released in early 1968 in the hope that the single of the same name would be a hit. When it became evident that the song wasn't going anywhere on the US top 40 charts the album was quickly retitled Mr. Fantasy, matching the original 1967 UK album. There were differences in the tracks on the album as well. One of the most notable changes was the inclusion of Paper Sun, a non-LP single that had been a British hit in late 1967. The version on the US album, however, was slightly different from its UK counterpart in that the song fades out quite a bit earlier than on the original version, with the deleted portion showing up at the end of the album.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Summertime Blues
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Vincebus Eruptum)
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
If 1967 was the summer of love, then 1968 was the summer of violence. Framed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, both major anti-establishment movements of the time (civil rights and anti-war) became increasing radicalized and more violent. The hippies gave way to the Yippies, LSD gave way to crystal meth, and there were riots in the streets of several US cities. Against this backdrop Blue Cheer released one of the loudest and angriest recordings ever to grace the top 40: the proto-metal arrangement of Eddie Cochrane's 1958 classic Summertime Blues. It was the perfect soundtrack of its time.
Title: Chicken Little Was Right
Source: CD: The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands
Writer: The Turtles
Label: Sundazed (original label: White Whale)
Like many of the bands of the time, the Turtles usually recorded songs from professional songwriters for their A sides and provided their own material for the B sides. In the Turtles' case, however, these B sides were often psychedelic masterpieces that contrasted strongly with their hits. Chicken Little Was Right, the B side of She's My Girl, at first sounds like something you'd hear at a hootenanny, but then switches keys for a chorus featuring the Turtles' trademark harmonies, with a little bit of Peter And The Wolf thrown in for good measure. This capacity for self-parody would come to serve band members Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan well a few years later, first as members of the Mothers (performing Happy Together live at the Fillmore East) and then as the Phorescent Leach and Eddie (later shortened to Flo And Eddie). The version of Chicken Little Was Right that appears on the 1968 album The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands differs a bit from the original single version of the song. In fact, it may be a new recording, although I have not been able to verify whether or not that is the case. The LP version does not have sitar in it, and has more of a bluegrass sound that the 1967 original.
Title: Last Night
Source: 45 RPM single
The first major hit to come from Memphis's Stax Records was Last Night, an instrumental from the Mar-Keys that made the top 10 in 1961. The Mar-Keys included future soul music impressario Isaac Hayes, as well as the entire membership of what would become Booker T. and the MGs. The song was originally released on the Satellite label out of Memphis, Tennessee. As Last Night was climbing the charts, a California label called Satellite Records threatened legal action over the use of the name, and the Memphis label quickly changed its name to Stax, reissuing the single with the same catalog number. Stax would soon become a major presence on the R&B charts, with acts like Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, and the aforementioned Booker T and the MGs scoring several hits for the label over the next decade.
Title: I'm Crying
Source: Mono LP: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Like most groups in the early 1960s, the Animals started their studio career by recording a mixture of songs provided to their producer by professional songwriters and covers of tunes previously recorded by other artists. Their first self-penned single was I'm Crying, a tune by vocalist Eric Burdon and organist Alan Price which was released in September of 1964. The song made the top 10 in Canada and the UK, but stalled out in the lower reaches of the top 40 in the US, falling far short of their previous international hit, House Of The Rising Sun. Producer Mickie Most decided from then on that songs written by the band itself would only be released as album tracks and B sides, a policy that stayed in effect until the Animals changed producers in 1966.
Title: Out Of Our Tree
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
The Pacific Northwest was, and is, home to a louder, harder-rocking and generally raunchier style of rock and roll than most other regions of the country. It's never been explained exactly why this is, but Kurt Cobain may have touched on it when he said that because the weather is such that it discourages outdoor activities (i.e, it rains a lot), there really isn't much else to do but go to places where live music is played. Another reason for the scene developing the way it did might be these guys, who practically invented raunch and roll. The Wailers were formed in 1958, doing mostly instrumental versions of songs by Chuck Berry, Little Richard and other early rock and roll/R&B artists. One of the hallmarks of the Wailers was that they played hard and loud, influencing later bands such as the Sonics to do the same. This meant that in order to be heard over the instruments, a vocalist had to basically scream out the lyrics. Etiquette Records, which was started by the Wailers themselves, was one of the first labels to release records with a healthy amount of distortion built in. This may have been due to budget limitations or it could have been a deliberate aesthetical choice. The result was garage-rock classics such as Out Of Our Tree, the echoes of which can be heard in the Grunge movement of the early 1990s.
Title: Most Exclusive Residence For Sale
Source: Mono LP: Face To Face
Writer(s): Ray Davies
By 1966, Ray Davies' songwriting had matured considerably from his power chord driven love songs You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night. Like many of the songs on the Kinks' 1966 and 1967 LPs, Most Exclusive Residence For Sale tells a story; in this case the story of a man who achieved great success, bought an expensive house and then found himself forced to sell it when his fortunes took a downward turn.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Albert Common Is Dead
Source: CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Electric Comic Book)
The second Blues Magoos LP, Electric Comic Book, was much in the same vein as their 1966 debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, with a mix of fast and slow originals and a couple of cover songs, one of which was done in an extended rave-up style. The second side opener, Albert Common Is Dead, is a fast rocker (with a slowed down final chorus) about an average guy's decision to take to the road, leaving his former life behind. As many young people were doing exactly that during the summer of 1967, you might expect such a song to become somewhat of a soundtrack of its times, but with so many other songs filling that role, Albert Common Is Dead was largely overlooked by the listening public.
Artist: Kaleidoscope (UK)
Title: A Dream For Julie
Source: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Fontana)
There were two different bands simultaneously using the name Kaleidoscope in the late 1960s, one in the US and one in the UK. The American Kaleidoscope, like many other West Coast bands, was basically electrified jug band music. The British band of the same name, like many other English groups, established their psychedelic credentials through the use of fantasy-oriented lyrics like "Strawberry monkeys are smiling for Julie, with small button eyes that reflect velvet flowers." Holy Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Batman!
Artist: Blind Faith
Title: Had To Cry Today
Source: LP: Blind Faith
Writer(s): Steve Winwood
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
One of the most eagerly-awaited albums of 1969 was Blind Faith, the self-titled debut album of a group consisting of Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker from Cream, Steve Winwood from Traffic and Rich Grech, who had played bass with a band called Family. The buzz about this new band was such that the rock press had to coin a brand-new term to describe it: supergroup. On release, the album shot up to the number one spot on the charts in record time. Of course, as subsequent supergroups have shown, such bands seldom stick around very long, and Blind Faith set the pattern early on by splitting up after just one LP and a short tour to promote it. The opening track of the album was a pure Winwood piece that showcases both Winwood and Clapton on separate simultaneous guitar tracks.
Title: Born On The Wrong Side Of Time
Source: British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: Taste)
Writer(s): Rory Gallagher
Label: Polydor (original US label: Atco)
Formed in Cork, Northern Ireland, in 1966, Taste, led by guitarist/vocalist Rory Gallagher, quickly established themselves as the area's premier power trio. By 1967 the group, which by then consisted of Gallagher, drummer John Wilson, and bassist Richard McCracken, was one of the hottest bands in the UK, opening for such bands as Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Cream (including Cream's farewell appearances at Royal Albert Hall in 1968). The group released their debut LP in 1969, supporting the album by opening for Blind Faith on their US tour. The band released one more LP before Gallagher decided to pursue a solo career in the 1970s.
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Brave New World
Source: LP: Homer soundtrack (originally released on LP: Brave New World)
Writer(s): Steve Miller
Label: Cotillion (original label: Capitol)
It took the Steve Miller Band half a dozen albums (plus appearances on a couple of movie soundtracks) to achieve star status in the early 1970s. Along the way they developed a cult following that added new members with each successive album. The fourth Miller album was Brave New World, the title track of which was used in the film Homer, a 1970 film that is better remembered for its soundtrack than for the film itself.
Artist: Fabulous Farquahr
Title: Sister Theresa's East River Orphanage
Source: LP: The Fabulous Farquahr
Writer(s): Barnswallow Farquahr
Label: Verve Forecast
The Fabulous Farquahr was, for lack of a better term, a hippy band from Branford, Connecticut who were quite popular among the locals in the mid to late 60s. According to the back cover of their only album, they were all members of British nobility, the Farquahr family, which somehow had been mysteriously left off the official peerage list. Each band member's first name was a species of songbird, such as leader Barnswallow Farquahr, who wrote Sister Theresa's East River Orphanage. The band's visual image was similar to San Francisco's Charlatans, and indeed, they seemed to have a similar fondness for the jug band style of music as well. Like their west coast counterparts, the Farquahr's good-time approach to music found them getting increasingly out of step with their counter-culture audience, which itself was becoming more radicalized as the decade wore on.
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.
Title: Softly To Me
Source: Australian import CD: Comes In Colours (originally released on LP: Love)
Writer: Bryan McLean
Label: Raven (original label: Elektra)
Before the signing of Love in 1966, Elektra was a folk and ethnic music label whose closest thing to a rock band was the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, which was at that time very much into creating as authentic Chicago blues sound as possible for a band from New York. Love, on the other hand, was a bona-fide rock band that was packing the clubs on the Sunset Strip nightly. To underscore the significance of the signing, Elektra started a whole new numbering series for Love's debut album. Bryan McLean's role as a songwriter in Love was similar to George Harrison's as a Beatle. He didn't have many songs on any particular album, but those songs were often among the best tracks on the album. The first of these was Softly To Me from the band's debut LP.
Title: Oh Those Eyes
Source: LP: I Can't Get A Friend 1965-1968 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Gerald Storch
Label: Light In The Attic (original label: Southern Sound)
The first Vagrants single, Oh Those Eyes, was released on the semi-professional Southern Sound label in 1965. The single came to the attention of Vince Scarza and Douglas Hickox, who were directing a teensploitation flick called Disk-o-Tek Holiday (hey I don't make these things up, really). The movie featured several bands performing a song or two apiece, and the Vagrants performance of Oh Those Eyes is considered a highlight of the film. The band then released a single on the Vanguard label before being discovered by Cream producer Felix Pappalardi, who got them a contract with Atco Records. Throughout their existence the Vagrants remained a popular club band, appearing alonside the likes of the Young Rascals and Vanilla Fudge (who "borrowed" many elements of the Vagrants' style when developing their own sound). Lead guitarist Leslie Weinstein would later shorten his last name to West and form Mountain with Pappalardi.
Title: I Gotta Move
Source: Mono CD: The Huns Conquer Ithaca, NY 1966
Writer(s): Rich La Bonte
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2017
In 1965, most bands in the upstate New York area were inspired mainly by the Beatles, and made their living doing cover songs of various British Invasion bands, particularly those with hits on the charts. And then along came the Huns, a group formed in Ithaca, NY by longtime schoolmates Frank Van Nostrand (bass) and John Sweeney (organ). The first member recruited for the new band was vocalist Rich La Bonte, who brought a Mick Jagger like swagger and his own material, including I Gotta Move. Filling out the band were Buz Warmkessel and drummer Dick Headley. The Huns, who by then had replaced Headley with Steve Dworetz and added rhythm guitarist Keith Ginsberg, made their only studio recordings on March 10, 1966 at Ithaca College's experimental TV studios in downtown Ithaca. Less than three months later the Huns were history, thanks in large part to Van Nostrand and Sweeney being asked by the college dean to pursue their academic careers elsewhere.
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: There's Always Tomorrow
Source: LP: Midnight Ride
We move now to sunny Los Angeles, circa 1966, where we find a band from Boise, Idaho starring in Dick Clark's daily national dance show, Where The Action Is. Paul Revere and the Raiders were one of the many bands of the early 1960s that helped lay the groundwork for the temporary democratization of American popular music later in the decade (for more on that click the "era" button at hermitradio.com). After honing their craft for years in the clubs of the Pacific Northwest the Raiders caught the attention of Clark, who called them the most versatile rock band he had ever seen. Clark introduced the band to Terry Melcher, which in turn led to Paul Revere and the Raiders being the first rock band ever signed to industry giant Columbia Records, at that time the second largest record company in the country. In addition to organist Revere the band featured Mark Lindsay on lead vocals and saxophone, Phil "Fang" Volker on bass, Drake Levin on lead guitar and Mike "Smitty" Smith on drums. Occassional someone other than Lindsay would get the opportunity to sing a lead vocal part, as Smitty does on There's Always Tomorrow, a song he co-wrote with Levin shortly before the guitarist quit to join the National Guard. Seriously, the guy who played the double-tracked lead guitars on Just Like Me quit the hottest band in the US at the peak of their popularity to voluntarily join the military. I'd say there was a good chance he was not one of the guys burning their draft cards that year.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Source: CD: Buffalo Springfield
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Although Buffalo Springfield are generally acknowldeged to among the pioneers of a softer rock sound that would gain popularity in the 70s with bands like the Eagles, Poco and Crosby, Stills and Nash, they did occasionally rock out a bit harder on tracks like Leave. Of particular note is lead guitarist Neil Young doing blues licks on Leave, a Stephen Stills tune from the first Buffalo Springfield album, released in 1966.