Monday, February 12, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1807 (starts 2/14/18)
This time around we start off on a groovy note (from Simon and Garfunkel) and keep on going until the Doors let us know just when the music is over. In between we have artists' sets from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, lots of album tracks and B side, a few hit singles and an Advanced Psych segment featuring Dada and Flick. Fun stuff!
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
Source: LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Writer: Paul Simon
One of Simon And Garfunkel's most popular songs, The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) originally appeared on their 1966 LP Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme. The recording was never, however, released as a single by the duo (although it did appear as a 1967 B side). When Columbia released a greatest hits compilation album (after the duo had split up), a live acoustic version of the song was included on the album. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) did make the top 40 in 1967, when it was recorded by Harper's Bizarre, a group featuring future Doobie Brothers and Van Halen producer Ted Templeman on lead vocals.
Artist: Small Faces
Title: Itchycoo Park
Source: British import CD: Ogden's Nut Gone Flake (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Charly (original label: Immediate)
Led by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, the Small Faces got their name from the fact that all the members of the band were somewhat vertically challenged. The group was quite popular with the London mod crowd, and was sometimes referred to as the East End's answer to the Who. Although quite successful in the UK, the group only managed to score one hit in the US, the iconic Itchycoo Park, which was released in late 1967. Following the departure of Marriott the group shortened their name to Faces, and recruited a new lead vocalist named Rod Stewart. Needless to say, the new version of the band did much better in the US than their previous incarnation.
Title: (Roamin' Through the Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen
Source: CD: Traffic
Label: Island (original US label: United Artists)
In its original run, Traffic only released two full albums (and a third that consisted of non-LP singles, studio outtakes and live tracks). The second of these, simply titled Traffic, featured several memorable tunes, including (Roamin' Through the Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen, a Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi collaboration.
Title: Rocky Raccoon
Source: LP: The Beatles
I had a friend in high school named Steve Head who was probably a better guitarist/vocalist than any of us realized. Part of the reason for the mystery was because he would only play one song in public: The Beatles' Rocky Raccoon, from the White Album. He nailed it, though.
Title: Get Back
Source: CD: Let It Be...Naked
Label: Capitol (original label: Apple)
Get Back was originally released as a single in 1969. This version of the song had reverb added, as well as a coda tacked onto the end of the song (the "Get Back Loretta" section) following a false ending. When Phil Spector was brought in to remix the tapes made for the aborted Get Back album project, he created a new mix without the reverb or coda, but including studio chatter at the beginning and end of the song. This version was used on the Let It Be album, released in 1970. Finally, in 2003, a third version of Get Back was released on the Let It Be...Naked CD. This version was stripped of all studio chatter and reverb, and does not include the coda from the single version.
Title: Glass Onion
Source: LP: The Beatles
John Lennon decided to have a little fun with Beatles fans when he wrote the lyrics to Glass Onion, the third song on the 1968 album The Beatles (aka the White Album). The song contains references to many earlier Beatles tunes, such as Strawberry Fields Forever, The Fool On The Hill and Lady Madonna. Glass Onion even contains a tongue-in-cheek reference to the whole "Paul is dead" rumor with the lines "Here's another clue for you all, the walrus was Paul". The track is notable for being the first song on the album to feature the entire band, as Paul played drums on Back In The USSR and Dear Prudence, which precede Glass Onion on the album's first side.
Title: A Walk In The Sun
Source: Mono LP: It Ain't Me Babe
Writer(s): Howard Kaylan
Label: White Whale
Trivia fact: the members of the Turtles had to get their parents to sign permission slips before they could record their debut LP, It Ain't Me Babe. Yep, they were that young when they scored their first top 10 single in 1965. With that in mind, it might be come as a surprise that vocalist Howard Kaylan had already written a few songs, including A Walk In The Sun, that were included on the album itself. The band, formed when all the members were still in high school, had been known prior to 1965 as the Crossfires, playing mostly surf music. They were the first, and most successful, artists signed to the Los Angeles based White Whale label.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Milk Cow Blues
Source: Mono CD: No Way Out (bonus track)
Writer(s): Kokomo Arnold
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1994
The members of the Chocolate Watchband had a clear set of priorities, and spending time in a recording studio was nowhere near the top of their list. Nonetheless, once they were signed to Tower Records they were obligated to at least make an effort at recording an album, even though they would much rather have been upstaging the various big name acts that they opened for. The result was that their producer, Ed Cobb, found it easier just to hire studio musicians to record tracks that were then included on the first two Chocolate Watchband albums. Even when the band itself did record the songs, Cobb would, on occasion, bring in studio vocalist Don Bennett to record his own lead vocals, replacing those of Dave Aguilar, whom Cobb felt sounded like a Mick Jagger impersonator (he was right, but Aguilar was damn good at it). There are a few recordings, however, that capture the true sound of the Watchband. Among those is their cover of Kokomo Arnold's Milk Cow Blues, using an arrangement similar to that of the Kinks on their Kink Kontroversy album. The song remained unreleased until the 1994 CD reissue of the band's first album, No Way Out.
Artist: First Edition
Title: Shadow In The Corner Of Your Mind
Source: LP: The First Edition
Writer(s): Mike Settle
The First Edition was formed by Mike Settle and Kenny Rogers, both members of the New Christy Minstrels, a group that made more appearances on TV variety shows than on the record charts (imagine a professional version of high school madrigal choir). The two wanted to get into something a little more hip than watered-down choral versions of Simon and Garfunkel songs and the like, and recorded an album that included folk-rock, country-rock and even the full-blown psychedelia of Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In), which ended up being their first single. For the B side of that single one of Settle's songs, Shadow In The Corner Of Your Mind, was selected. The song, a decent piece of folk-rock with reasonably intelligent lyrics, would have been hit record material itself if it weren't for the fact that by 1968 folk-rock had pretty much run its course.
Artist: Fairport Convention
Title: Chelsea Morning
Source: British import CD: Fairport Convention
Writer(s): Joni Mitchell
Although Joni Mitchell wrote Chelsea Morning, she was not the first person to record the song. That honor goes to Dave Van Ronk, who released the song on his 1967 LP Dave Van Ronk and the Hudson Dusters. The following year the song was included on the first Fairport Convention album, and remains my personal favorite of the many different versions of the tune. Mitchell herself finally recorded the song for her second LP, Clouds, in 1969. The song itself was inspired by Mitchell's room in New York's Chelsea neighborhood.
Title: White Room
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Although Cream's music was generally heard on progressive rock FM radio, they did have a couple of songs that crossed over onto AM top 40 radio as well. The second of these was White Room, a Jack Bruce/Pete Brown composition that leads off the band's third LP, Wheels Of Fire.
Artist: Bob Seger System
Title: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Bob Seger
Label: Starline (original label: Capitol)
People who are familiar with the 70s and 80s hits of Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band may be surprised to hear how much raw energy there is on Seger's early recordings with the Bob Seger System. The best known of these early records is Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, released as a single in 1969. The song did pretty well at the time, but it would be several years before Seger would return to the charts.
Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Title: Almost Cut My Hair
Source: LP: déjà vu
Writer(s): David Crosby
Almost Cut My Hair could have been the longest track on the Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young album déjà vu. As originally recorded it ran about 10 minutes in length. However, it was decided to fade the cut out starting at around the four-minute mark, leaving Neil Young's Country Girl (which was actually a suite of song fragments) as the longest track on the LP. Nonetheless, even at its shorter-than-recorded released length, David Crosby's counter-cultural anthem stands out as one of the band's most memorable recordings, and is arguably the single track that best incorporates Neil Young's unique lead guitar style into a group that is known mostly for its vocal harmonies.
Title: Eight Miles High
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Fifth Dimension)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Gene Clark's final contribution to the Byrds was his collaboration with David Crosby and Roger McGuinn, Eight Miles High. Despite a newsletter from the most powerful man in top 40 radio, Bill Drake, advising stations not to play this "drug song", the song managed to hit the top 20 in 1966. The band members themselves claimed that Eight Miles High was not a drug song at all, but was instead referring to the experience of travelling by air. In fact, it was Gene Clark's fear of flying that in part led to his leaving the Byrds.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era
In the early 1960s the San Bernardino/Riverside area of Southern California (sometimes known as the Inland Empire), was home to a pair of rival top 40 stations, KFXM and KMEN. The newer of the two, KMEN, had a staff that included Ron Jacobs, who would go on to co-create the Boss Radio format (more music, less talk!), and Brian Lord, one of the first American DJs to champion British Rock (even going so far as to have copies of Beatle albums shipped from record shops in London before they were released in the US), and the man responsible for setting up the Rolling Stones' first US gig (in San Bernardino). From 1965-67 Lord took a break from KMEN, moving north to the San Jose area. While there, he heard a local band playing in a small teen club and invited them to use his garage as a practice space. The band was Count Five, and, with Lord's help, they got a contract with L.A.'s Double Shot label, recording and releasing the classic Psychotic Reaction in 1966. Lord later claimed that this was the origin of the term "garage rock".
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: I Want You
Source: CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Blonde On Blonde)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
I Want You, Bob Dylan's first single of 1966, was released in advance of his Blonde On Blonde album and was immediately picked by the rock press to be a hit. It was.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: Thru The Rhythm
Source: CD: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
Label: Collectables (original label: International Artists)
The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators was reportedly recorded while the entire band was tripping on LSD, making it the first known example of acid rock to be released on vinyl. The album was also the first rock album to include the word psychedelic in its title. The band was formed by vocalist Roky Erickson, guitarist Stacy Sutherland and electric juggist Tommy Hall, who also provided lyrics for the group's original compositions such as Thru The Rhythm. Hearing is believing.
Artist: Early Rationals
Title: I Need You
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Rhino (original label: A Squared)
The Rationals were formed in 1965 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They soon got the attention of local label A2 (A Squared), and had a series of regional hits in the same Detroit soul-rock style favored by such notables as Mitch Ryder and Bob Seger. One of the best of these was a cover of a Kinks B side, I Need You, which the Rationals recorded in 1966, but did not release until 1968, when it appeared as a B side backing another artist entirely. To confuse the matter the record was credited to the Early Rationals. Even stranger was the fact that the Rationals released a Gerry Goffin/Carole King song called I Need You on the same label that same year. My money's on this one.
Title: Anyway Anyhow Anywhere
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Flick was formed in the mid-90s by the Thornton brothers, Oran and Trevor, who had been performing as an acoustic duo. The new band, which included bassist Eve Hill and drummer Paul Adam McGrath, played its first show in December of 1996 and issued its first EP the following spring. In 1998 Flick released their first full-length album on the Columbia label. One of the tracks from that album, The End, was also issued as a single on 7" 45 RPM vinyl, quite an unusual occurence in the 1990s. As an added bonus, a non-album track, a cover of the Who's Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, appeared on the B side of that single.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Year (originally released on LP: Out Of Our Heads and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Nanker Phelge
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The Rolling Stones embraced the Los Angeles music scene probably more than any other British invasion band. They attended the clubs on Sunset Strip when they were in town, recorded a lot of their classic recordings at RCA's Burbank studios, and generally did a lot of schmoozing with people in the record industry. This latter was the inspiration for their 1965 track The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man. The song is credited to the entire band, using the pseudonym Nanker Phelge.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Lady Jane
Source: CD: Aftermath (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
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 in the US 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).
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: It's All Over Now
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Bobby & Shirley Womack
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
During a 1964 on-air interview with the Rolling Stones, New York DJ Murray the K played a copy of a song called It's All Over Now by Bobby Womack's band, the Valentinos. The song had been a minor hit earlier in the year, spending two weeks in the top 100, and the Stones were reportedly knocked out by the record, calling it "our kind of song." Less than two weeks later the Stones recorded their own version of the song, which became their first number one hit in the UK. At first, Womack was reportedly against the idea of a British band recording his song, but changed his mind when he saw his first royalty check from the Stones' recording.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Box Of Rain
Source: LP: American Beauty
Label: Warner Brothers
The Grateful Dead released their second album of 1970, American Beauty, only four months after the similarly-styled Workingman's Dead. Unlike the earlier album, which was written entirely by the songwriting team of Jerry Garcia and poet Robert Hunter, American Beauty included songs from other band members, including bassist Phil Lesh, who, along with Hunter, wrote the LP's opening track, Box Of Rain.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: How Suite It Is
Source: CD: After Bathing At Baxter's
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
The second side of After Bathing At Baxters starts off fairly conventionally (for the Airplane), with Paul Kantner's Watch Her Ride, the first third or so of something called How Suite It Is. This leads (without a break in the audio) into Spare Chaynge, one of the coolest studio jams ever recorded, featuring intricate interplay between Jack Casady's bass and Jorma Kaukonen's guitar, with Spencer Dryden using his drum kit as enhancement rather than as a beat-setter. In particular, Casady's virtuoso performance helped redefine what could be done with an electric bass.
Artist: Mad River
Title: Wind Chimes
Source: Mono British import CD: The Berkeley EPs (originally released as 7" 33 1/3 RPM Extended Play mini-album)
Writer(s): Mad River
Label: Big Beat (original label: Wee)
Unlike most San Francisco Bay Area bands of the mid to late 1960s, Mad River was already a functioning band when they arrived on the scene from their native Ohio in 1967. The group, consisting of Lawrence Hammond (vocals, bass), David Robinson (guitar), Rick Bockner (guitar) and Greg Dewey (drums, vocals), had been formed in 1965 as the Mad River Blues Band in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where all of the members were attending college. By the time they relocated to Berkeley in early 1967 they had developed a unique style of their own. Once in Berkeley, the band quickly established themselves as one of the most "underground" bands in the area, often appearing on the bill with Country Joe And The Fish. In fact, it was the latter band that inspired Mad River to record an EP later that year. Following an unsuccessful audition for Fantasy Records, Mad River cut a three-song EP for the small Wee label. The entire second side of the disc was a six and a half minute long piece called Wind Chimes. The band later recut the track for their first full-length album the following year.
Title: When The Music's Over
Source: LP: Strange Days
Writer(s): The Doors
I remember the first time I heard When The Music's Over. My girlfriend's older brother had a copy of the Strange Days album on the stereo in his room and told us to get real close to the speakers so we could hear the sound of a butterfly while he turned the volume way up. What we got, of course, was a blast of "...we want the world and we want it now." Good times.