Monday, April 2, 2018

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era #1814 (starts 4/4/18)

    Once again, most of the sets this week are from specific years, although we do vary it a bit in the first half hour. We also have artists sets from the Airplane, the Stones and Simon & Garfunkel.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Wait Until Tomorrow
Source:    CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Jimi Hendrix showed a whimsical side with Wait Until Tomorrow, a track from his second Jimi Hendrix Experience LP, Axis: Bold As Love. The song tells a story of a young man standing outside his girlfriend's window trying to convince her to run away from him. He gets continually rebuffed by the girl, who keeps telling him to Wait Until Tomorrow. Ultimately the girl's father resolves the issue by shooting the young man. The entire story is punctuated by outstanding distortion-free guitar work that showcases just how gifted Hendrix was on his chosen instrument.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Absolutely Positively
Source:    CD: Beyond The Garage (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer:    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1967
    I'm going to use Sean Bonniwell's own words to describe Absolutely Positively: "Demanding that you get what you don't have without knowing what you want is the same as wanting what you haven't got, then not wanting it after you get it." Heady stuff that describes a very American attitude that has only become even more prevalent in the years since the song was written.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Happen To Love You
Source:    CD: Underground
Writer(s):    Goffin/King
Label:    Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Arguably the most commercial-sounding cut on the second Electric Prunes album, Underground, I Happen To Love You was inexplicably passed over as a potential single in favor of the bizarre Dr. Do-Good, which did nothing on the charts, and did more harm than good to the band's reputation. Written by the highly successful songwriting team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, I Happen To Love You may not have fit the psychedelic image that the band's promotional team was looking to push, but probably would have gotten a decent amount of airplay on top 40 radio.

Artist:    Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title:    Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You
Source:    CD: Quicksilver Messenger Service (originally released on LP: Revolution soundtrack)
Writer(s):    Darling/Bennett/Bradon
Label:    Rock Beat (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1968
            Revolution was a 1968 documentary film following the adventures of a young hippie woman named Daria Halprin in 1967 San Francisco. The movie featured music from several notable Bay Area bands, including the already popular Country Joe And The Fish, the newly formed Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks and the all-female Ace Of Cups. Three unsigned bands (Mother Earth, the Steve Miller Band and Quicksilver Messenger Service) appeared in the film as well, and were included on the movie soundtrack album. Of the three, the most popular was Quicksilver Messenger Service, who had already had offers from major record labels, but were holding out for the best deal (a move that probably backfired, since they were unable to take advantage of the massive media buzz surrounding the summer of love). The band's considerable talents were on display on the song Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You. Quicksilver's arrangement of the tune is considerably different than the 1969 Led Zeppelin version, to the point of sounding like an entirely different song, however, the similarity of the lyrics is pretty hard to miss.
Artist:    Fifty Foot Hose
Title:    Red The Sign Post
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Cauldron)
Writer(s):    Roswicky/Blossom
Label:    Rhino (original label: Limelight)
Year:    1968
    Although most of the more avant-garde bands of the psychedelic era were headquarted in New York, there were some exceptions, such as San Francisco's Fifty Foot Hose. The core members of the band were founder and bassist Louis "Cork" Marcheschi, guitarist David Blossom, and his wife, vocalist Nancy Blossom. The group used a lot of unusual instruments, such as theramin, Moog synthesizer and prepared guitar and piano. Probably their most commercial song was Red The Sign Post from the LP Cauldron. After that album the group called it quits, with most of the members joining the cast of Hair. In fact, Nancy Blossom played lead character Sheila in the San Francisco production of the musical.

Artist:    Al Kooper/Stephen Stills/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title:    You Don't Love Me
Source:    LP: Super Session
Writer(s):    Willie Cobb
Label:    Sundazed/Columbia
Year:    1968
    You Don't Love Me was originally recorded and released as a single by Willie Cobbs in 1960. Although the song is credited solely to Cobbs, it strongly resembles a 1955 Bo Diddley B side, She's Fine She's Mine, in its melody, lyrics and repeated guitar riff. The Cobbs single was a regional hit on the Mojo label in Memphis, but stalled out nationally after being reissued on Vee-Jay Records, due to the label pulling promotional support from the song due to copyright issues. A 1965 version by Junior Wells with Buddy Guy saw some minor changes in the lyrics to the song; it was this version that was covered by Al Kooper and Stephen Stills for the 1968 Super Session album. The recording extensively uses an effect called flanging, a type of phase-shifting that was first used in stereo on the Jimi Hendrix Experience track Bold As Love.

Artist:     Cream
Title:     Deserted Cities Of The Heart
Source:     CD: Wheels Of Fire
Writer:     Bruce/Brown
Label:     Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:     1968
     The most psychedelic of Cream's songs were penned by Jack Bruce and his songwriting partner Pete Brown. One of the best of these was chosen to close out the last studio side of the last Cream album released while the band was still in existence. Deserted Cities Of The Heart is a fitting epitaph to an unforgettable band.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Vagabond Virgin
Source:    CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: Traffic)
Writer(s):    Mason/Capaldi
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1968
    Many, if not most, of Traffic's best-known songs were collaborations between guitarist/keyboardist Steve Winwood and drummer Jim Capaldi, who supplied the lyrics. One song on the second Traffic album, featured music by guitarist Dave Mason with lyrics by Capaldi. Sounding a lot like a Mason solo effort (as most of his songs did), Vagabond Virgin is a bit of an anomaly in that respect. Still, it's worth a listen.

Artist:    Simon and Garfunkel
Title:    A Hazy Shade Of Winter
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Writer:    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966 (first stereo release: 1968)
    Originally released as a single in late 1966, A Hazy Shade Of Winter was one of several songs slated to be used in the film The Graduate. The only one of these actually used was Mrs. Robinson. The remaining songs eventually made up side two of the 1968 album Bookends, although several of them were also released as singles throughout 1967. A Hazy Shade Of Winter, being the first of these singles (and the only one released in 1966), was also the highest charting, peaking at # 13 just as the weather was turning cold.

Artist:    Simon and Garfunkel
Title:    A Most Peculiar Man
Source:    LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer:    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    You would think that a high school on a US military facility would be inclined to use the most staunchly traditional teaching methods known to man. Surprisingly, though, this was not the case at General H. H. Arnold High School in Weisbaden, Germany. In fact, the English department was teaching some sort of new system that dispensed with terms such as verb and noun and replaced them with a more conceptual approach to language. What I best remember about my Freshman English class is the day that my rather Bohemian teacher (he wore sandals to class!), actually brought in a copy of the Sounds Of Silence and had us dissect two songs from the album, Richard Cory and A Most Peculiar Man. We spent several classes discussing the similarities (they both deal with a suicide by someone representing a particular archetype) and differences (the methods used and the archetypes themselves) between the songs. I have forgotten everything else about that class and its so-called revolutionary approach, but those two songs have stayed with me my entire life. I guess that teacher (whose name I have forgotten) was on to something.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission)
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    Paul Simon's sense of humor is on full display on A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission). The song first appeared, with slightly different lyrics on Simon's 1965 LP The Paul Simon Songbook, which was released only in the UK after Simon and Garfunkel had split following the disappointing sales of their first Columbia LP, Wednesday Morning 3AM. When the duo got back together following the surprise success of an electrified version of The Sound Of Silence, the re-recorded the tune, releasing it on their third Columbia LP, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. The song is a deliberate parody/tribute to Bob Dylan, written in a style similar to It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), and is full of sly references to various well-known personages of the time as well as lesser-known acquaintances of Simon himself.

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    This Hammer
Source:    Mono LP: Gimme Some Lovin' (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side and on LP: The Second Album)
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Winwood/Winwood/York/Davis
Label:    United Artists (original UK label: Fontana)
Year:    1965
    I could swear I've heard This Hammer before. Maybe under the title The Hammer Song. Gov't Mule, maybe?

Artist:    John Mayall's Bluesbreakers
Title:    Parchman Farm
Source:    Mono British import 45 RPM EP
Writer(s):    Mose Allison
Label:    R&B
Year:    Recorded 1966, released 2016
    John Mayall's Bluesbreakers included several talented musicians over the years, many of whom went on to become stars in their own right. Not every Bluesbreakers lineup saw the inside of a recording studio, however. In fact, the only known recording of Mayall's cover of Mose Allison's Parchman Farm, which includes Eric Clapton on guitar, Jack Bruce on bass and Hughie Flint on drums, is from a live radio broadcast in 1966 (presumably for the BBC since they were the only legal radio broadcaster in the UK at the time). The recording sat on the shelf for 50 years before finally being released on a four song EP in the UK.

Artist:     Moby Grape
Title:     Omaha
Source:     Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 promo sampler (originally released on LP: Moby Grape)
Writer:     Skip Spence
Label:     Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:     1967
     As an ill-advised promotional gimmick, Columbia Records released five separate singles concurrently with the first Moby Grape album. Of the five singles, only one, Omaha, actually charted, and it only got to the #86 spot. Meanwhile, the heavy promotion by the label led to Moby Grape getting the reputation of being over-hyped, much to the detriment of the band's career. Oddly enough, although the stereo version of Omaha is included on the Rhino box set Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70, the promo sampler taken from the set uses the rare mono mix of the song.

Artist:    Bubble Puppy
Title:    Hot Smoke And Sassafras
Source:    CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: A Gathering Or Promises)
Writer(s):    Prince/Cox/Potter/Fore
Label:    Priority (original label: International Artists)
Year:    1968
    Bubble Puppy was a band from San Antonio, Texas that relocated to nearby Austin and signed a contract with International Artists, a label already known as the home of legendary Texas psychedelic bands 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola. The group hit the national top 20 in early 1969 with Hot Smoke and Sassafras, a song that was originally released the previous year as a B side. Not long after the release of their first LP, A Gathering Of Promises, the band relocated to California and changed their name to Demian, at least in part to disassociate themselves with the then-popular "bubble gum" style (but also because of problems with International Artists).

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Porpoise Song
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Head soundtrack)
Writer(s):    Goffin/King
Label:    Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year:    1968
    In 1968 the Monkees, trying desperately to shed a teeny-bopper image, enlisted Jack Nicholson to co-write a feature film that was a 180-degree departure from their recently-cancelled TV show. This made sense, since the original fans of the show were by then already outgrowing the group. Unfortunately, by 1968 the Monkees brand was irrevocably tainted by the fact that the Monkees had not been allowed to play their own instruments on their first two albums. The movie Head itself was the type of film that was best suited to being shown in theaters that specialized in "art" films, but that audience was among the most hostile to the Monkees and the movie bombed. It is now considered a cult classic.

Artist:    Janis Ian
Title:    Lover Be Kindly
Source:    LP: Janis Ian
Writer(s):    Janis Ian
Label:    Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
Year:    1967
    Thirty years before young female singer/songwriters such as Jewel and Alanis Morissette took the music world by storm there was a 15-year-old Janis Ian making music that was largely overlooked at the time, but has come to be regarded as groundbreaking in the years since the release of Ian's first LP in 1967. The album itself was commissioned by Atlantic Records, but after hearing some of Ian's controversial lyrics the shirts at the label decided not to release it. After several more labels rejected the album M-G-M subsidiary Verve decided to release one song from the album, Society's Child, as a single on its experimental Verve Forecast label. Famed conductor Leonard Bernstein featured the song on his prime-time TV special called Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution, which led to the song hitting the top 40 charts, eventually peaking at #14 (although it went all the way to the top of the charts in many key cities). This in turn led to the album being released in early 1967. Among the many outstanding tracks on the LP (as far as I'm concerned EVERY track on the album is outstanding) is a tune called Lover Be Kindly. Showing a mix of influences ranging from folk music to the Beatles, the song has a catchy melody and strong lyrics, quite an accomplishment for a virtually unkown artist who was 14 years old at the time the record was produced.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    All Summer Long
Source:    Mono CD: Good Vibrations-Thirty Years Of The Beach Boys (originally released on LP: All Summer Long)
Writer(s):    Brian Wilson
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1964
    From 1963 to 1967 (with one exception), the best part of my year began in early June with the arrival of my grandparents, who would travel across country to visit us in Denver. They would generally stay with us for a week or two, after which my mom, brother and I would hop in my grandfather's Rambler and head back east for the next few weeks. Back in those days it was perfectly OK for a kid my age to ride in the front seat, which is exactly where I was whenever my grandfather was behind the wheel. I even got to play with the radio, which was a big deal considering the only radio in our house was a little clock radio in my parents' bedroom, where I seldom got to listen to it. Like any kid, I would spend a lot of time changing stations until finding a song I really liked. In 1964, one of those songs was All Summer Long by the Beach Boys. Although I did not know it, I was actually hearing something highly unusual: a non-single album track by someone other than the Beatles being played on top 40 radio. To this day All Summer Long is among my favorite Beach Boys songs.

Artist:      Rolling Stones
Title:     The Last Time
Source:      Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):     Jagger/Richards
Label:     Abkco (original label: London)
Year:     1965
     Released in late winter of 1965, The Last Time was the first single to hit the top 10 in both the US and the UK (being their third consecutive #1 hit in England) and the first one written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Despite that, it would be overshadowed by their next release: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, which went to the top of the charts everywhere and ended up being the #1 song of 1965.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    19th Nervous Breakdown
Source:    Mono CD: Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass) (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1966
    19th Nervous Breakdown is one of the Rolling Stones' best known songs from their first decade. Recorded in 1965 and released in early 1966, it was their first single of what would be one of their best years. The song starts with a signature guitar riff from Keith Richards and is known for Billy Wyman's repeated descending bass line near the end of the song. At nearly four minutes in length, 19th Nervous Breakdown brazenly exceeded the three and a half minute limit that was unofficially in effect for top 40 radio of the time. Stephen King made the song part of his "19" mystique in the last few books in his Dark Tower series, as one major character hears the song played on a transistor radio on the streets of New York City in the moments leading up to his "death".

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Dear Doctor
Source:    CD: Beggar's Banquet
Writer:    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1968
    In late 1968 four new albums by four different bands were competing for space on the record racks: The Beatles (white album), Cream's Wheels Of Fire, the Jimi Hendrix Experience's Electric Ladyland and the Rolling Stones' Beggar's Banquet. I can't imagine four albums that influential (or even that good) ever being released at the same time again. Just to further illustrate the point we have the song Dear Doctor. Compared to most of the songs on these four albums, the country-styled Dear Doctor is, at best, a novelty number. Yet taken on its own merits the song compares favorably with probably 90% of what's been recorded by any rock band (and a lot of country artists as well) in the years since.

Artist:     Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title:     The Great Airplane Strike
Source:     LP: Spirit of '67
Writer:     Revere/Melcher/Lindsay
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1966
      Often dismissed for their Revolutionary War costumes and frequent TV appearances, Paul Revere and the Raiders were actually one of the first great rock bands to emerge from the Pacific Northwest. Their accomplishments include recording Louie Louie BEFORE the Kingsmen did and being the first rock band signed to industry giant Columbia Records. The Great Airplane Strike is a good example of just how good a band they really were.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    She'll Return It
Source:    LP: Animalization
Writer(s):    Jenkins/Rowberry/Burdon/Chandler/Valentine
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1966
    As a general rule the Animals, in their original incarnation, recorded two kinds of songs: hit singles from professional songwriters such as Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and covers of blues and R&B tunes, the more obscure the better. What they did not record a lot of was original tunes from the band members themselves. This began to change in 1966 when the band began to experience a series of personnel changes that would ultimately lead to what amounted to an entirely new group, Eric Burdon And The Animals, in 1967. One of the earliest songs to be credited to the entire band was She'll Return It, from the Animalization album. In retrospect, it is one of the strongest tracks on one of their strongest LPs.

Artist:    Zipps
Title:    Kicks And Chicks
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in the Netherlands as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Nuyten/Katerberg
Label:    Rhino (original label: Relax)
Year:    1966
    In 1966 various people in the US music industry were obsessed with what they called "drug songs" such as the Byrds' classic Eight Miles High. In reality, the real drug song action was in the Netherlands, where the Zipps (from a place called Dordrecht) were handing out publicity stickers that read "Be Stoned: Dig Zipps: Psychedelic Sound" and performing a song called LSD-25 on national television. The group was formed in 1965 by members of the Beattown Skifflers and the Moving Strings and quickly caught on with the local Beat crowd and early hippies. Their second single, Kicks And Chicks, was a documentation of the band's own way of life, with lines like "I read only books of Jack Kerouac, he's the only priest in my life" cementing the group's beat credentials. Although the Zipps never recorded a full-length LP, they remained a popular band on the local underground scene until they disbanded in 1971.
Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    The Last Wombat In Mecca
Source:    LP: Your Saving Grace
Writer(s):    Lonnie Turner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    I'll be honest here. The Last Wombat In Mecca, by bassist Lonnie Turner of the Steve Miller Band, is not the best song on the album Your Saving Grace. It does have, however, one of the coolest song titles ever conceived. For that alone, it deserves to be heard (and it's really not all that bad of a song).

Artist:    Young-Holt Unlimited
Title:    Soulful Strut
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Record/Sanders
Label:    Brunswick
Year:    1969
    Despite all kinds of shadiness associated with it, Soulful Strut is one of the coolest instrumentals ever to grace the top 40 charts. What kinds of shadiness, you ask? Well, for starters we have the fact that it was supposed to be a vocal track by Barbara Acklin, but the producer, Carl Davis, decided to delete her original vocal track and replace it with a piano track played by Floyd Morris. This despite the fact that the song was actually co-written by Ackin's husband at the time, Eugene Record (great name there, by the way, especially for a songwriter in the late 1960s). Furthering the shade factor we have the fact that although the single is credited to Young-Holt Unlimited, neither Eldee Young nor Red Holt actually played on the recording!

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    D.C.B.A.-25
Source:    CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Paul Kantner
Label:    RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:    1967
    One of the first songs written by Paul Kantner without a collaborator was this highly listenable tune from Surrealistic Pillow. Kantner says the title simply refers to the basic chord structure of the song, which is built on a two chord verse (D and C) and a two chord bridge (B and A). That actually fits, but what about the 25 part? [insert enigmatic smile here]

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Share A Little Joke
Source:    LP: Crown Of Creation
Writer(s):    Marty Balin
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1968
    Jeffeerson Airplane's fourth LP, Crown Of Creation, is generally considered to be the pinnacle of the group's psychedelic period. The album's songs deal with a variety of subjects, including politics, hippy sociology, and even a touch of science fiction. Founder Marty Balin, who had written much of the material on the band's first two albums, only contributed one solo effort to the album, the whimsical Share A Little Joke.

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Somebody To Love
Source:     CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer:     Darby Slick
Label:     RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:     1967
     Jefferson Airplane's version of Somebody To Love (a song that had been previously recorded by Grace Slick's former band, the Great! Society) put the San Francisco Bay area on the musical map in early 1967. Somebody To Love was actually the second single released from Surrealistic Pillow, the first being My Best Friend, a song written by the Airplane's original drummer, Skip Spence.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    Rush Hour
Source:    Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
Writer(s):    Gilbert/Scala/Daking/Theilhelm/Esposito
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1967
    One of the best examples of music and subject matter supporting each other ever recorded is the Blues Magoos' Rush Hour from their Electric Comic Book album. From the overdriven opening chord through the crash and burn ending, the track maintains a frantic pace that resembles nothing more than a musical traffic jam. Rush Hour is also the only Blues Magoos track I know of to include writing credits for the entire band, including drummer Geoff Daking's only official songwriting credit.

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband
Title:    Don't Need Your Lovin'
Source:    Mono CD: One Step Beyond (originally released on LP: Riot On Sunset Strip soundtrack album)
Writer(s):    Dave Aguilar
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    The Chocolate Watchband was famously unprepared virtually every time they entered a recording studio (although it might be more accurate to say they just didn't give a damn). Their appearance on the set of the film Riot On Sunset Strip was no exception. The band actually did have one song prepared for the film, a Dave Aguilar original called Don't Need Your Lovin'. The track was recorded live on the Paramount soundstage and is a better representation of what the band was all about than any of their studio tracks.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    The End
Source:    LP: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    Prior to recording their first album the Doors' honed their craft at various Sunset Strip clubs, working up live versions of the songs they would soon record, including their show-stopper, The End. Originally written as a breakup song by singer/lyricist Jim Morrison, The End runs nearly twelve minutes and includes a controversial spoken "Oedipus section". My own take on the famous "blue bus" line is that Morrison, being a military brat, was probably familiar with the blue shuttle buses used on military bases for a variety of purposes, including taking kids to school, and simply incorporated his experiences with them into his lyrics.  The End got its greatest exposure in 1979, when Oliver Stone used it in his film Apocalypse Now.

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