Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1809 (starts 2/28/18)
This week we feature two 2017 tracks on our Advanced Psych segment; one from Country Joe McDonald and the other from the Disreputable Few. We also have sets from 66, 67 and 68, progressions and regressions through the entire era and, to top it all off, a Beatles set! First, though, some Fresh Garbage.
Title: Fresh Garbage
Source: European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Spirit)
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
Label: Sony Music (original label: Ode)
Much of the material on the first Spirit album was composed by vocalist Jay Ferguson while the band was living in a big house in California's Topanga Canyon outside of Los Angeles. During their stay there was a garbage strike, which became the inspiration for the album's opening track, Fresh Garbage. The song starts off as a fairly hard rocker and suddenly breaks into a section that is pure jazz, showcasing the group's instrumental talents, before returning to the main theme to finish out the track.The group used a similar formula on about half the tracks on the LP, giving the album and the band a distinctive sound right out of the box.
Artist: Bohemian Vendetta
Title: All Kinds Of Highs
Source: British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released on LP: Bohemian Vendetta)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
Originally formed as the Bohemians in 1966, the Bohemian Vendetta hailed from New York's Long Island. Like their fellow Long Islanders Vanilla Fudge and the Vagrants, the Bohemians were known for doing heavy versions of popular songs like (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction and House Of The Rising Sun, both of which appeared on their self-titled album in 1968. The band, consisting of Brian Cooke (organ, lead vocals), Nick Manzi (lead guitar), Randy Pollock (rhythm guitar), Victor Muglia (bass) and Chuck Monica (drums), released their first single, a one-off called Enough, on the United Artists label in 1967. The following year they released their first (and only) album for Bob Shad's Mainstream label. Like fellow Long Islanders the Vagrants, the Bohemian Vendetta performed heavy versions of popular songs like (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction and House Of The Rising Sun, but it was original material like All Kinds Of Highs that showed the band's true potential. Unfortunately, being signed to Mainstream was a kind of death warrant at the time, and the Bohemian Vendetta soon disappeared forever.
Artist: Grass Roots
Title: Bella Linda
Source: CD: Temptation Eyes (originally released on LP: Golden Grass and as 45 RPM single)
Label: MCA Special Products (original label: Dunhill)
By the 1980s it was common practice for a record label to include one new song on a greatest hits compilation. This practice can be traced back to bands like the Grass Roots, whose Golden Grass LP included a tune called Bella Linda. The song, which incorporates strings arranged by Jimmie Haskell, is generally acknowledged to mark the end of the Roots' psychedelic period, with their later recordings taking on more of an R&B/pop flavor.
Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: Time Has Come Today
Source: CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released on LP: The Time Has Come; edited version released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Joe and Willie Chambers
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year: 1967 (edited version released 1968)
One of the quintessential songs of the psychedelic era is the Chambers Brothers' classic Time Has Come Today. The song was originally recorded and issued as a single in 1966. The more familiar version heard here, however, was recorded in 1967 for the album The Time Has Come. The LP version of the song runs about eleven minutes, way too long for a 45 RPM record, so before releasing the song as a single for the second time, engineers at Columbia cut the song down to around 3 minutes. The edits proved so jarring that the record was recalled and a re-edited version, clocking in at 4:55 became the third and final single version of the song, hitting the charts in 1968.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Purple Haze
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Purple Haze has one of the most convoluted release histories of any song ever recorded. Originally issued in the UK as a single, it scored high on the British charts. When Reprise got the rights to release the first Hendrix album, Are You Experienced?, they chose to replace the first track on the album with Purple Haze, moving the original opening track, Foxy Lady, to side two of the LP. The song next appeared on the Smash Hits album, which in Europe was on the Polydor label. This was the way things stayed until the early 1990s, when MCA acquired the rights to the Hendrix catalog and re-issued Are You Experienced? with the tracks restored to the UK ordering, but preceded by the six non-album sides (including Purple Haze) that had originally been released prior to the album. Most recently, the Hendrix Family Trust has again changed labels and the US version of Are You Experienced? is once again in print, this time on Sony's Legacy label. This means that Purple Haze (heard here in its original mono mix) has now been released by all three of the world's major record companies. That's right. There are only three major record companies left in the entire world, Sony (which owns Columbia and RCA, among others), Warner Brothers (which owns Elektra, Atlantic, Reprise and others) and Universal (which started off as MCA and now, as the world's largest record company, owns far too many current and former labels to list here). Don't you just love out of control corporate consolidation?
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Lucifer Sam
Source: Mono CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Writer(s): Syd Barrett
Label: Capitol (original label: Tower)
Beyond a shadow of a doubt the original driving force behind Pink Floyd was the legendary Syd Barrett. Not only did he front the band during their rise to fame, he also wrote their first two singles, Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, as well as most of their first LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. In fact it could be argued that one of the songs on that album, Lucifer Sam, could have just as easily been issued as a single, as it is stylistically similar to the first two songs. Sadly, Barrett's mental health deteriorated quickly over the next year and his participation in the making of the band's next LP, A Saucerful Of Secrets, was minimal. He soon left the group altogether, never to return (although several of his former bandmates did participate in the making of his 1970 solo album, The Madcap Laughs).
Title: Laugh At Me
Source: Mono CD: Songs Of Protest (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Sonny Bono
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Sonny Bono knew how to dress hip. In fact, maybe too hip. At least, that's what the owners of an upscale Italian restaurant in Los Angeles seemed to think when they refused him entrance to their establishment based on his "hippy attire". The thing is, ya gotta tread lightly when dealing with a songwriter, especially one with hit singles on the charts. Sonny's response was to write a song about the incident, and to make sure everyone knew just what inspired the song. The song in question, Laugh At Me, was a top 10 single (Sonny's only one as a solo artist), and even went to #1 in Canada. I don't imagine the proprietors of Montoni's restaurant were too thrilled.
Artist: Van Dyke Parks
Title: Come To The Sunshine
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Van Dyke Parks
Label: Rhino (original label: M-G-M)
Van Dyke Parks is probably best known for being Brian Wilson's collaborator of choice for the legendary (but unreleased) Smile album. Parks, however, did have an identity of his own, as this recording of Come To The Sunshine shows. The song became a minor hit for WB labelmates Harper's Bizarre, although it did not have nearly the success of their first effort, a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy).
Title: We're Going Wrong
Source: Mono Russian import LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer: Jack Bruce
Label: Lilith (original label: Atco)
On Fresh Cream the slowest-paced tracks were bluesy numbers like Sleepy Time Time. For the group's second LP, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce came up with We're Going Wrong, a song with a haunting melody supplemented by some of Eric Clapton's best guitar fills. Ginger Baker put away his drumsticks in favor of mallets, giving the song an otherworldly feel.
Title: Let No Man Steal Your Thyme
Source: LP: The Pentangle
Writer(s): Trad., arr. Cox/Jansch/McShee)
Let No Man Steal Your Thyme is a traditional English folk song that traces it roots back to at least 1689 (in written form) and probably originated in oral form much earlier. The song warns young girls (in that oblique way that English folk songs have) of the dangers of taking on a false lover. Whether "thyme" is a metaphor for something else is up to the listener. The Pentangle (John Renbourne, Bert Jansch, Jacqui McShee, Terry Cox and Danny Thompson) brought a jazz-rock sensibility to the tune for the opening track on their debut LP in 1968 (which is, after all, just 1698 with the numbers mixed up, right?).
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: Never Learn Not To Love
Source: British import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: 20/20)
Writer(s): Dennis Wilson
Label: Zonophone (original label: Capitol)
There are several interesting facts about the Beach Boys's Never Learn Not To Love. First off, although credited entirely to Dennis Wilson, the song is actually a reworked version of a song called Cease To Exist by an aspiring folk singer named Charles Manson. Yes, that Charles Manson. In fact, a studio version of Manson's original song was released in 1970 on Manson's only studio LP, Lie: The Love And Terror Cult. Manson had met Wilson after the Beach Boys drummer had picked up a couple of Manson's female followers hitchhiking and taken them to his Malibu home. Wilson actually thought Manson's material had potential, and even introduced Manson to some of his contacts in the music business. As Manson's behavior became increasingly erratic, however, Wilson began to distance himself from the cult leader. Reportedly, Manson was none too happy to not get a songwriting credit for Never Learn Not To Love.
Title: Sittin' On A Rainbow
Source: LP: Mountain Climbing!
Although it was preceded by a Leslie West solo album called Mountain, Climbing! is officially the debut album of the band called Mountain. Both west and bassist Felix Pappalardi appeared on both albums, the band itself included Corky Laing on drums, as well as (on some tracks) keyboardist Steve Knight. One of the least known songs on Mountain Climbing! is Sittin' On A Rainbow, written by West and Laing with Pappalardi's wife Janet Collins.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Time Is On My Side
Source: CD: Bog Hits (High Tide And Green Grass) (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Jerry Ragovoy (as Norman Meade)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
There were actually two versions of the Rolling Stones' hit single, Time Is On My Side. The first had an organ intro with some pretty rough sounding background vocals. That version was soon replaced with the more familiar version heard here, with a Brian Jones guitar intro.
Title: All Day And All Of The Night
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Eric (original label: Reprise)
Following up on their worldwide hit You Really Got Me, the Kinks proved that lightning could indeed strike twice with All Day And All Of The Night. Although there have been rumors over the years that the guitar solo on the track may have been played by studio guitarist Jimmy Page, reliable sources insist that it was solely the work of Dave Davies, who reportedly slashed his speakers to achieve the desired sound.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: For What It's Worth
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released as 45 RPM single and added to LP: Buffalo Springfield)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Most people associate the name Buffalo Springfield with the song For What It's Worth. And for good reason. The song is one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded, and to this day is in regular rotation on both oldies and classic rock radio stations. The song was written and recorded in November of 1966 and released in December. By then the first Buffalo Springfield LP was already on the racks, but until that point had not sold particularly well. When it became clear that For What It's Worth was becoming a breakout hit, Atco Records quickly recalled the album and added the song to it (as the opening track). All subsequent pressings of the LP (and later the CD) contain For What It's Worth, making earlier copies of the album somewhat of a rarity and quite collectable.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night))
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Reprise)
The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in late 1966 and hitting the charts in early 1967. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on both the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation and Rhino's first Nuggets LP.
Source: Mono CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Malo)
Obviously a one-note gimmick, Adam consisted of Adam Taylor, Adam London, Adam Dawson and Adam Schnug, releasing one single called Eve in 1966. The following year a band called the Balloon Farm released A Question Of Temperature. It has long been suspected that they were both the same band. My own theory is that both tracks are the work of New York studio musicians having a little after-hours fun, similar to what was going on in Los Angeles with projects such as Sagittarius and the Ballroom.
Artist: Uncalled For
Title: Do Like Me
Source: Mono LP: Pebbles Vol. 8
Writer(s): Uncalled For
Label: BFD (original labels Dollie, Laurie)
Virtually nothing is known about the Uncalled For other than that they came from Youngstown, Ohio (which was still a vital steel-making center with a thriving local music scene in the 1960s) and recorded one 1967 single, Do Like Me, for the local Dollie label. The song was apparently successful enough to be picked up by a national label, Laurie, and re-released later in the year. If anyone knows more about the Uncalled For, feel free to drop me a line.
Artist: Disreputable Few
Title: Peace Pipe
Source: CD: Ain't Who I Was
Writer(s): Disreputable Few
Credit for Peace Pipe, from the Disreputable Few CD Ain't Who I Was, has to go to our Associate Producer, Greg Cotterill. Greg's contact in the music business, which far exceed my own, include Dennis McNally, who is closely associated with the Grateful Dead and their own circle of friends. Among that circle is a band called the Disreputable Few, which consists of Mark Tremalgia (guitar, slide guitar, dobro, vocals), Randy Ray Mitchell (guitar, slide guitar, keys, vocals), Paul Ill (bass, upright bass, keys, vocals) and Dan Potruch (drums, precussion). A few weeks ago I played Farmer Brown, a track recommended by Dennis himself. This time around I'm going with Peace Pipe, the track that most grabbed me the first time I listened to the entire album.
Artist: Country Joe McDonald
Title: Sadness And Pain
Source: CD: 50
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rag Baby
50 years after the Summer Of Love Country Joe McDonald released an album called 50. The songs, while recorded up to modern production standards, reflect the same sort of social awareness and activism that have always characterized McDonald's work. Case in point: Sadness And Pain, which carries a timeless message.
Source: CD: Past Masters-volume two (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
The Beatles' B side to their 1966 hit Paperback Writer was innovative in more than one way. First off, the original instrumental tracks were actually recorded at a faster speed (and higher key) than is heard on the finished recording. Also, it is the first Beatle record to feature backwards masking (John Lennon's overdubbed vocals toward the end of the song were recorded with the tape playing in reverse). Needless to say, both techniques were soon copied and expanded upon by other artists.
Title: Cry Baby Cry
Source: CD: The Beatles
Unlike many of the songs on The Beatles (white album), Cry Baby Cry features the entire band playing on the recording. After a full day of rehearsal, recording commenced on July 16, 1968, with John Lennon's guitar and piano, Paul McCartney's bass and Ringo Starr's drum tracks all being laid down on the first day. The remaining overdubs, including most of the vocals and George Harrison's guitar work (played on a Les Paul borrowed from Eric Clapton) were added a couple of days later. At the end of the track, McCartney can be heard singing a short piece known as "Can you take me back", accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar in a snippet taken from a solo session the following September.
Title: The Ballad Of John And Yoko
Source: CD: Past Masters-volume two (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Parlophone (original label: Apple)
The Ballad Of John And Yoko probably has more in common with The Beatles (White Album), than any other single released by the band. John Lennon had written the song as a chronicle of recent events in his life, and on April 19, 1969 had presented the song to Paul McCartney at his home. The two of them recorded the song that night, with John on guitars and lead vocals and Paul playing bass and drums. Neither George Harrison (who was on vacation at the time) or Ringo Starr (who was co-starring with Peter Sellers in a movie called The Magic Christian) are on the recording, although both appear on the Harrison-penned B side of the single, Old Brown Shoe.
Artist: James Gang
Title: Things I Could Be
Source: LP: Thirds
Writer(s): Jim Fox
It's easy to overlook the contributions of drummer Jim Fox on the early James Gang albums, so let me enlighten you a bit. For one thing, Fox actually founded the band in the first place, recruiting bassist Tom Kriss and guitarist Joe Walsh to complete the band's first lineup. Walsh soon came to dominate the band, yet Fox continued to make key contributions to the band's overall sound, both as a drummer and, on occasion, a songwriter and vocalist. All these talents are on display (as well as some tasty slide guitar work from Walsh) on Things I Could Be, from the album Thirds. This is actually one of my favorite James Gang tracks, with a hypnotic quality about it that makes you want to play it over and over.
Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Title: Everybody I Love You
Source: CD: déjà vu
The last track on the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album déjà vu is a Stephen Stills/Neil Young collaboration that sets the stage for the Stills/Young band a couple of years later. Stylistically it's pretty easy to figure out which part of Everybody I Love You was written by Stephen Stills and which part was written by Neil Young. What's interesting is how well the two parts actually fit together. As far as I know this is actually the first songwriting collaboration between the two, despite being bandmates in Buffalo Springfield since 1966 (and knowing each other even longer).
Artist: Tommy James And The Shondells
Title: Ball Of Fire
Source: CD: The Best Of Tommy James And The Shondells (originally released on LP: Greatest Hits and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Roulette)
From a modern perspective it seems obvious that the only thing keeping Roulette Records going in the late 60s was the string of hits on the label by Tommy James and the Shondells. Oddly enough, Tommy James was one of many acts that initially tanked on the label. It was only when a Pittsburgh DJ began playing a two year old copy of Hanky Panky he had rescued from the throwaway pile in 1966 that the band's career took off. By then, however, the original Shondells had long-since disbanded and James found himself suddenly in demand with no band to back him up. He soon found a new group of Shondells and began cranking out an amazing streak of hits, including I Think We're Alone Now, Mony Mony, Crystal Blue Persuasion and Crimson and Clover among others. One of those others was Ball Of Fire, a tune recorded specifically for the band's Greatest Hits album and subsequently released as a single in 1969. It was, at the time, an innovative way to introduce a new song, although the practice would become fairly common in the 1980s.
Title: Hello It's Me
Source: CD: Battle Of The Bands- Vol. two (originally released on LP: Nazz and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Todd Rundgren
Label: Era (original label: SRC)
Hello It's Me started off as the B side of the first single released by the Philadelphia-based Nazz from their debut LP in 1968. The song's A side, Open My Eyes, was not doing much of anything until a DJ at Boston's WMEX accidentally played the wrong side of the record and decided he liked Hello It's Me better than Open My Eyes. The song ended up doing well in Boston and in Canada, but did not really take off until bandleader Todd Rundgren re-recorded the tune for his Something/Anything album a few years later.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: She Has Funny Cars
Source: LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Label: RCA Victor
She Has Funny Cars, the opening track of Jefferson Airplane's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow, was a reference to some unusual possessions belonging to new drummer Spencer Dryden's girlfriend. As was the case with many of the early Airplane tracks, the title has nothing to do with the lyrics of the song itself. The song was also released as the B side to the band's first top 10 single, Somebody To Love.
Artist: Wee Four
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: Nu Sound LTD.
Vocalist/drummer Terry Pilittere founded the Dimensions in Rochester, NY in 1962. In 1965, after a couple of personnel changes, the band changed its name to the Wee Four (apparently inspired by the fact that none of them members was over 5'8" tall). In 1966 they released their only single, Weird, on the Nu Sound label. The garage rock classic was written by Pilittere with his friend Jim Obi. After recording a few more unreleased tunes with the Wee Four, Pilittere split with the band to record as a solo artist.
Title: We Could Be So Good Together
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): The Doors
Released in advance of the third Doors album, We Could Be So Good Together was the B side of one of the most unusual songs to ever make the top 40 charts: The Unknown Soldier. Unconfirmed rumors about We Could Be So Good Together say that the song was actually written in the band's early days before their signing with Elektra Records, but was left off the first two Doors albums. Lyrically it does seem to share an optimism with earlier Jim Morrison lyrics that was largely replaced by cynicism in his later years. The single version contains a short Thelonius Monk riff about a minute and a half into the song that is missing from the LP version heard on Waiting For The Sun.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Doctor Please
Source: Mono LP: Vincebus Eruptum
Writer(s): Dick Peterson
With it's raw feedback-drenched guitar and bass and heavily distorted drums, Blue Cheer is often cited as the first heavy metal band. If any one song most demonstrates their right to the title it's Doctor Please from the Vincebus Eruptum album. Written by bassist Dick Peterson, the song is exactly what your parents meant by "that noise". Contrary to the rumor going around in 1970, guitarist Leigh Stephens did not go deaf after recording two albums with Blue Cheer. In fact, he went to England and recorded the critically-acclaimed (but seldom heard) Red Weather album with some of the UK's top studio musicians.