Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1808 (starts 2/21/18)
Following the recent pattern of mini-themes for each of the show's segments, we have: first, a progression from folk to psychedelia and onward to chaos; next, two bands from the L.A. Underground. For our third segment we have both a 1968 set and then a short journey from the Beatles to the Stones via Los Angeles. Finally, a vinyl replay segment that starts with the vinyl versions of three tunes that have been played in recent weeks from CD sources and continues with a set that runs from 1965 to 1969.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Wednesday Morning, 3AM)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Sparrow is one of Paul Simon's most memorable tunes from the first Simon And Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning 3AM. The 1964 album failed to make the charts and was soon deleted from the Columbia catalog. The LP was re-issued in 1966 after producer Tom Wilson added electric instruments to another track from the album, The Sound Of Silence, turning Simon And Garfunkel into household names.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: From A Buick 6
Source: 45 RPM single B side (promo copy)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Although there were several unissued recordings made during the Highway 61 Revisited sessions, Bob Dylan and his producer, Tom Wilson, chose to instead use one of the already released album tracks as the B side for Positively 4th Street in September of 1965. The chosen track was From A Buick 6, a song that is vintage Dylan through and through.
Title: The Trip
Source: Mono CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released as 45 RPM B side and on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Sony (original label: Epic)
Donovan had already established a reputation in his native Scotland as the UK's answer to Bob Dylan, but had not had much success in the US, where his records were being released on the relatively poorly distributed Hickory label. That all changed in 1966, however, when he began to move beyond his folk roots and embrace a more electric sound. Unlike Dylan, who basically kept the same style as his acoustic songs, simply adding electic instruments, Donovan took a more holistic approach. The result was a body of music with a much broader range of sounds. The first of these new electric tunes was Sunshine Superman, sometimes cited as the first top 10 psychedelic hit. The B side of Sunshine Superman was a song called The Trip, which managed to be even more psychedelic than it's A side. Both songs soon appeared on Donovan's major US label debut, an album that was not even released in the UK due to a contractual dispute between the singer/songwriter and Pye Records.
Title: Flight From Ashiya
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: Fontana)
Although they did not have any hit singles, London's Kaleidoscope had enough staying power to record two album's worth of material for the Fontana label before disbanding. The group's first release was Flight From Ashiya, a single released in September of 1967. Describing a bad plane trip with a stoned pilot, the song is filled with chaotic images, making the song's story a bit hard to follow. Still, it's certainly worth a listen.
Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: You Got The Power-To Turn Me On
Source: 45 RPM single B side (originally released on LP: A New Time-A New Day)
Writer: Willie Chambers
The Chambers Brothers are one of the oddities of the psychedelic era. Formed in the fifties as a gospel group, the band slowly became more secularized over a period of time. This change led ultimately to their best-known song, Time Has Come Today, released in 1967 but not getting significant airplay until the following year. Time Has Come Today, however, was unlike any other song in their repertoire, which was much more funky in nature. You Got The Power-To Turn Me On, originally released on the 1968 album A New Time-A New Day, is a more typical example of the Chambers Brothers synthesis of psychedelic and funk, with a strong dose of blues thrown in for good measure.
Artist: Blind Faith
Title: Do What You Like
Source: CD: Blind Faith
Writer: Ginger Baker
Ginger Baker basically invented the rock drum solo, or at least was the first to record one in the studio, with the track Toad from the Fresh Cream album, released in 1966. A live version of the song was featured on the Wheels Of Fire album in 1968. The following year, recording technology had progressed to the point of allowing a true stereo mix of Baker's massive double bass drum setup for the track Do What You Like, a much more sophisticated composition than Toad. Featuring a vocal track as well as solos by all four band members, Do What You Like runs over 15 minutes in length.
Title: The Soft Parade
Source: CD: The Soft Parade
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
The Doors caught a lot of flack from their fans for their departure from the style that made them popular when they released their fourth LP, The Soft Parade. Ironically, the track that most resembles their previous efforts was the nearly nine minute title track, which starts with one of Jim Morrison's best-known monologues. You cannot petition the Lord with prayer, indeed!
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): The Doors
Originally chosen by the band to be the first single released from the L.A. Woman album, Changeling (listed on the album cover as The Changeling) was withdrawn in favor of Love Her Madly at the behest of Jan Holtzman, president of Elektra Records. Changeling later appeared as the B side of the album's next single, Riders On The Storm.
Title: Shaman's Blues
Source: CD: The Soft Parade
Writer: Jim Morrison
Often dismissed as the weakest entry in the Doors catalogue, The Soft Parade nonetheless is significant in that for the first time songwriting credits were given to individual band members. Shaman's Blues, in my opinion one of the four redeeming tracks on the album, is Jim Morrison's.
Artist: Music Machine
Source: British import CD: The Ultimate Turn On (originally released on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Big Beat (original label: Original Sound)
Sean Bonniwell had definite plans for the Music Machine's first album. His primary goal was to have all original material (with the exception of a slowed-down version of Hey Joe that he and fellow songwriter Tim Rose had been working on; (before you ask, both Rose and the Music Machine recorded it before Jimi Hendrix did). Unfortunately, the shirts at Original Sound Records did not take their own company name seriously and inserted four cover songs that the band had recorded for a local TV show. (This was just the first in a series of bad decisions by the aforementioned shirts that led to a great band not getting the success it deserved.) The best way to listen to Turn On The Music Machine, then, is to program your CD player to skip all the extra cover songs. Listened to that way, this track becomes the second song on the disc, following the classic Talk Talk.
Artist: Music Machine
Source: CD: Turn On The Music Machine
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
Sean Bonniwell was a member of the mainstream (i.e. lots of appearances on TV variety shows hosted by people like Perry Como and Bob Hope) folk group the Lamplighters in the early 60s. By 1966 he had morphed into one of the more mysterious figures on the LA music scene, leading a proto-punk band dressed entirely in black. Bonniwell himself wore a single black glove (Michael Jackson was about seven years old at the time), and was one of the most prolific songwriters of the time. His recordings, often featuring the distinctive Farfisa organ sound, were a primary influence on later LA bands such as Iron Butterfly and the Doors. A classic example of the Music Machine sound was the song Wrong, which was issued as the B side of the group's most successful single, Talk Talk.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly
Source: Mono British import CD: The Ultimate Turn On (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Big Beat (original label: Original Sound)
Someone should make a movie based on the life of Sean Bonniwell, the former member of the "whitebread folk" group New Christy Minstrels turned black-clad leader of one of the premier punk-rock bands of all time. Between being lied to by record companies and screwed over by his own manager, Bonniwell nonetheless managed to record two LPs worth of high-quality tracks with two entirely-different incarnations of the Music Machine before becoming disillusioned and leaving the music business entirely by the end of the decade. The Eagle Never Hunts the Fly, heard here in its original mono mix, was the last single released by the original lineup on Original Sound Records in early 1967. A new stereo mix of the song was issued later on in the year on the LP Bonniwell Music Machine on the Warner Brothers label.
Artist: Dick Dale/Del-Tones
Title: Take It Off
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of Dick Dale And His Del-Tones (originally released on LP: Surfer's Choice)
Writer(s): Dick Dale
Label: Rhino (original label: Del-Tone)
One of the most overlooked talents in the history of rock was guitarist Dick Dale. For one thing, the man pretty much single-handedly invented surf music. As an avid surfer himself, Dale wanted to express, through his guitar, the feel of catching a wave on a surfboard. Playing left-handed, Dale also pioneered the use of Leo Fender's latest invention, the portable reverb unit. Several variations of Fender Reverb amps were field tested by Dale, who played to crowds numbering in the thousands at a time when most rock shows were held in theaters with capacities of a few hundred. Dale was also a major influence on many young West Coast guitarists, including fellow left-hander Jimi Hendrix, who counted Dale as a friend as well. After releasing a handful of singles on his own Del-Tone label starting in September of 1961, Dale put out his first LP, Surfer's Choice, in November of 1962, two months after the Beach Boys released their own debut LP. Surfer's choice was recorded live, with the reverb in full bloom on tracks like Take It Off.
Artist: H.P. Lovecraft
Title: Mobius Trip
Source: CD: Two Classic Albums from H. P. Lovecraft: H. P. Lovecraft/H. P. Lovecraft II (originally released on LP: H.P. Lovecraft II)
Writer(s): George Edwards
Label: Collector's Choice (original label: Philips)
The second album by H.P. Lovecraft (the band, not the author) is sometimes referred to as the ultimate acid rock album. In fact, it has been rumoured to be the first album made entirely under the influence of LSD (although the same has been said of the 1967 Jefferson Airplane LP After Bathing At Baxter's and both albums by the 13th Floor Elevators as well). This may in part because the band had relocated from their native Chicago to Marin County, California, where they shared billing with established Bay Area bands like Big Brother and the Holding Company and the aforementioned Jefferson Airplane. The album also featured more original material than the band's debut LP, including the lounge-lizard-on-acid sounding Mobius Trip.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Revolution soundtrack)
Writer: Buffy Sainte-Marie
Label: Rhino (original label: United Artists)
Buffy St. Marie's Codine was a popular favorite among the club crowd in mid-60s California. In 1967, L.A. band The Leaves included it on their second LP. Around the same time, up the coast in San Francisco, the Charlatans selected it to be their debut single. The suits at Kama-Sutra Records, however, balked at the choice, and instead released a cover of the Coasters' The Shadow Knows. The novelty-flavored Shadow bombed so bad that the label decided not to release any more Charlatans tracks, thus leaving their version of Codine gathering dust in the vaults until the mid 1990s, when the entire Kama-Sutra sessions were released on CD. Meanwhile, back in 1968, Quicksilver Messenger Service were still without a record contract, despite pulling decent crowds at various Bay Area venues, including a credible appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. Not long after that the producers of the quasi-documentary film Revolution decided to include footage of three as-yet unsigned Bay Area bands, one of which was Quicksilver Messenger Service, who performed Codine in the film. Rather than use that performance for the soundtrack album, the producers chose to have the band re-record the song, making Codine the group's first officially released studio recording.
Artist: Lollipop Shoppe
Title: Who's It Gonna Be
Source: German import CD: The Weeds aka The Lollipop Shoppe (originally released on LP: Angels From Hell soundtrack)
Writer(s): Fred Cole
Label: Way Back (original label: Tower)
In 1968, with their single You Must Be A Witch climbing the charts, the Weeds (temporarily rechristened The Lollipop Shoppe by their manager Lord Tim) were selected to appear in a teensploitation flick called Angels From Hell. To save money, the film's producers chose not to show bandleader (and lead vocalist) Fred Cole's face in the film, however (they would have had to pay him actor's wages if they had). In the long run that was probably a good thing for Cole, however, as the film is not exactly considered a classic. The soundtrack album was a bit better than the film, with two songs each from the Lollipop Shoppe and the Peanut Butter Conspiracy (another band managed by Lord Tim). Both Lollipop Shoppe tracks, including album-closer Who's It Gonna Be, are now available on a German-made CD called The Weeds aka The Lollipop Shoppe.
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: And The Address
Source: LP: Shades Of Deep Purple
And The Address was, by all accounts, the very first Deep Purple song written by members of the band. In fact, the instrumental piece, which appeared as the opening track on the 1968 LP Shades Of Deep Purple, was actually written before Deep Purple itself was formed. Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore had answered an ad placed by Chris Curtis, a local musician who was trying to put together something called Roundabout, which would feature a rotating set of musicians on a circular stage, with Curtis himself fronting each group. The idea soon fell apart, but the first two people he recruited, Blackmore and Lord, decided to keep working together following Curtis's departure, eventually adding vocalist Rod Evans, bassist Nicky Simper and drummer Ian Paice to fill out the band's original lineup. After securing a record deal, the band went to work on their debut LP, with And The Address being the first song they started to record. The song became the band's set opener for much of 1968, until it was replaced by another instrumental called Hard Road (Wring That Neck), which appeared on the band's second LP, The Book Of Taliesyn. Since then, And The Address has hardly ever been played live.
Title: Norwegian Wood
Source: Mono CD: Rubber Soul
The first Beatle song to feature a sitar, Norwegian Wood, perhaps more than any other song, has come to typify the new direction songwriters John Lennon and Paul McCartney began to take with the release of the Rubber Soul album in December of 1965. Whereas their earlier material was written to be performed as well as recorded, songs like Norwegian Wood were first and foremost studio creations. The song itself was reportedly based on a true story and was no doubt a contributing factor to the disintegration of Lennon's first marraige.
Title: Hey Joe
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Billy Roberts
Label: Rhino (original label: Mira)
In 1966 there were certain songs you had to know how to play if you had any aspirations of being in a band. Among those were Louie Louie, Gloria and Hey Joe. The Byrds' David Crosby claims to have discovered Hey Joe, but was not able to convince his bandmates to record it before their third album. In the meantime, several other bands had recorded the song, including Love (on their first album) and the Leaves. The version of Hey Joe heard here is actually the third recording the Leaves made of the tune. After the first two versions tanked, guitarist Bobby Arlin, who had recently replaced founding member Bill Rinehart on lead guitar, came up with the idea of adding fuzz guitar to the song. It was the missing element that transformed a rather bland song into a hit record (the only national hit the Leaves would have). As a side note, the Leaves credited Chet Powers (aka Dino Valenti) as the writer of Hey Joe, but California-based folk singer Billy Roberts had copyrighted the song in 1962 and had reportedly been heard playing the tune as early as 1958.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: The Birdman Of Alkatrash
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Mark Weitz
The Birdman of Alkatrash was originally intended to be an A side. For some reason radio stations instead began playing the other side of the record and it became one of the biggest hits of 1967. That other side? Incense and Peppermints.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Street Fighting Man
Source: LP: Beggar's Banquet
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.
Title: Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out
Source: Mono LP: Now And Them
Writer(s): Jimmie Cox
The artist that comes to mind when I see the title of this Jimmy Cox tune is, of course, Eric Clapton, who included it on the Derek and the Dominos Layla album. This version of Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out, featuring vocalist Kenny McDowell, actually predates Clapton's by a couple years.
Title: (Roamin' Thro' The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM B side and on LP: Traffic)
Label: United Artists
The second Traffic album saw the band taking in a broader set of influences, including traditional English folk music. (Roamin' Through The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen, originally released as the B side to the Dave Mason tune No Face, No Name, No Number, combines those influences with the Steve Winwood brand of British R&B to create a timeless classic.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Gypsy Eyes
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Electric Ladyland, the last album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was a double LP mixture of studio recordings and live jams in the studio with an array of guest musicians. Gypsy Eyes is a good example of Hendrix's prowess at the mixing board as well as on guitar.
Title: I Need You
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Ray Davies
After a series of hard-rocking hits in 1964 such as You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night, the Kinks mellowed out a bit with songs like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You the following year. Lurking on the other side of Set Me Free, though, was a song that showed that the band still knew how to rock out: I Need You.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: I'm Gonna Make You Mine
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Possibly the loudest rockin' recordings of 1966 came from the Shadows of Knight. A product of the Chicago suburbs, the Shadows (as they were originally known) quickly established a reputation as the region's resident bad boy rockers (lead vocalist Jim Sohns was reportedly banned from more than one high school campus for his attempts at increasing the local teen pregnancy rate). After signing a record deal with the local Dunwich label, the band learned that there was already a band called the Shadows and added the Knight part (after their own high school sports teams' name). Their first single was a cover of Van Morrison's Gloria that changed one line ("around here" in place of "up to my room") and thus avoided the mass radio bannings that had derailed the original Them version. I'm Gonna Make You Mine was the second follow up to Gloria, but its lack of commercial success consigned the Shadows to one-hit wonder status until years after the band's breakup, when they finally got the recognition they deserved as one of the founding bands of garage/punk, and perhaps its greatest practicioner.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Let's Talk About Girls
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: No Way Out)
Writer(s): E. Freiser
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
I find it sadly ironic that Let's Talk About Girls, the first cut on the first album released by San Jose, California's Chocolate Watchband had a vocal track by Don Bennett, a studio vocalist under contract to Tower Records, replacing the original track by Watchband vocalist Dave Aguilar. Aguilar's vocals were also replaced by Bennett's on the Watchband's cover of Wilson Pickett's In the Midnight Hour on the same album. In addition, there are four instrumental tracks on the album that are played entirely by studio musicians. Worse yet, the entire first side of the Watchband's second LP was done by studio musicians and the third Watchband LP featured an entirely different lineup. The final insult was when Lenny Kaye, who assembled the original Nuggets collection in the early 1970s, elected to include this recording, rather than one of the several fine tracks that actually did feature Aguilar on vocals.
Title: Sugar In Your Tea
Source: LP: Harumi (mono promo copy)
Label: Verve Forecast
When it comes to obscurity, the album Harumi scores on multiple fronts. Virtually nothing is known about this Japanese-born artist other than the fact that sometime in the mid-60s he (yes, he, despite the fact that Harumi is generally a name associated with the female gender) relocated to New York and managed to get a contract with Verve Forecast records, where he recorded this self-titled double LP with producer Tom Wilson. As to the music itself, it is perhaps best described by reviewer Thom Jurek of Allmusic.com: "there is nothing at all like this record in the known universe." How accurate that assessment may be on tracks like Sugar In Your Tea is up to the individual listener to decide.
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Kay/Edmonton/St. Nicholas/Byrom
Steppenwolf, even more than most rock bands, was plagued by arguments between various band members, dating back to their pre-Steppenwolf days as the band known as Sparrow. One of the earliest casualties of these arguments was bassist Nick St. Nicholas, whose clashes with bandleader John Kay were a major factor in Sparrow's disbanding in early 1967. The band at that point had relocated from Toronto to San Francisco, and St. Nicholas decided to stay in town and form a new band, T.I.M.E., with guitarist Larry Byrom. John Kay, on the other hand, moved to Los Angeles, taking several Sparrow demo tapes with him in hopes of landing a record contract. This ultimately led to a meeting with producer Gabriel Mekler, who liked what he heard. This in turn led to Kay recruiting two former members of Sparrow, drummer Jerry Edmonton and keyboardist Goldy McJohn, along with new guitarist Michael Monarch to form a new band; with the addition of bassist Rushton Moreve, the new group (tentatively named Sparrow) was complete. When Mekler signed the new band to Dunhill Records, he insisted the band call itself Steppenwolf. This lineup recorded two successful albums before Moreve decided that L.A. was about to fall into the Pacific and left the band to move east. Rather than advertise for a bass player, the group asked St. Nicholas to rejoin his former bandmates; not long after that friction between Kay and Monarch would lead to Byrom joining Steppenwolf as Monarch's replacement. It was this lineup that recorded Steppenwolf's most political album, Monster, featuring the nine-minute title track that was also released, in edited form, as a single in 1969.