Monday, April 9, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1815 [B 15] (starts 4/11/18)
This week: a backup show recorded in 2015 and held back for an event like me breaking my right arm and being unable to record any new shows for awhile. Guess that makes me a bit of a prophet, eh?
Title: I Feel Free
Source: LP: Fresh Cream
After an unsuccessful debut single (Wrapping Paper), Cream scored a bona-fide hit in the UK with their follow-up, I Feel Free. As was the case with nearly every British single at the time, the song was not included on Fresh Cream, the band's debut LP. In the US, however, singles were commonly given a prominent place on albums, and the US version of Fresh Cream actually opens with I Feel Free. To my knowledge the song, being basically a studio creation, was never performed live.
Artist: Davie Allan And The Arrows
Title: Blue's Theme
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: The Wild Ones-soundtrack and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
It is entirely possible that the Chocolate Watchband (or more accurately, the unknown producers of their first single) were indirectly responsible for giving the guitarist his biggest hit single. In 1966, movie producer Roger Corman hired Mike Curb to comeup with soundtrack music for his 1966 film The Wild Ones. Curb in turn contacted his longtime friend (and frequent collaborator) Allan to actually record the soundtrack with his band, the Arrows. The film was released in July of 1966, with the soundtrack album appearing soon after. The obvious high point of the album was the instrumental track Blue's Theme (which technically should have been Blues's Theme, since the film's main character, played by Peter Fonda, was named Heavenly Blues), but at first there were reportedly no plans to release the son as a single. However, late in the year the Chocolate Watchband were making their very first visit to a recording studio, and were asked to knock out a quick cover of Blues Theme, which was released (sans apostrophe) on the HBR label, credited to The Hogs. Curb must have heard about this as it was being prepared for release, as he managed to put out a single release of the original Davie Allan version of Blue's Theme before the HBR single hit the racks. Either that, or the HBR producers simply had bad info about Curb's intentions in the first place.
Artist: Mothers Of Invention
Title: Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder
Source: LP: Freak Out!
Writer(s): Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa showed his fondness for 50s doo-wop early on with songs like Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder, from the 1966 Mothers Of Invention album Freak Out! Two years later he would release Cruising with Ruben & the Jets as part of a four-album project called No Commercial Potential (the other three albums being Lumpy Gravy, We're Only in It for the Money and Uncle Meat).
Artist: Tommy James And The Shondells
Title: Hanky Panky
Source: Mono CD: The Best of Tommy James And The Shondells (orginally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Snap)
Once upon a time there was a girl group called the Summits who released a song called Hanky Panky as the B side of their only single in 1963. The song, which was also released as a B side by Brill building songwriters Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich's studio creation The Raindrops a few months later, started getting played by cover bands in the midwesterm US, including a South Bend, Indiana band called the Spinners. A Niles, Michigan high school kid named Tommy Jackson heard the Spinners play the song and taught it to his own band, the Shondells, getting some of the lyrics wrong in the process. In early 1964 the Shondells recorded their own version of Hanky Panky at the studios of WNIL radio, releasing it on their second single for the local Snap label later that year and pressing 2000 copies of the record. It's not entirely clear whether that recording of Hanky-Panky, credited to Jackson, was intended to be an A or B side, but it did get a decent amount of local airplay before fading off into obscurity. The original Shondells broke up in 1965 following graduation from high school, but a local teenager managed to get his hands on several copies of the record, trading them to Ernie's Record Mart in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for store credit. A local DJ, Bob Mack, picked up a copy of the record and began playing it as part of his "dance party". The song became a local hit, but by then Snap Records was out of business, prompting local Pittsburgh entrepeneurs to press new copies of the single. Meanwhile, a search for Tommy Jackson eventually prompted the singer, who by then was calling himself Tommy James, to show up in Pittsburgh...with no band. This led to Tommy hiring a local band called the Racounteurs to become the new Shondells, who soon signed with the New York based Roulette label, which reissued the original Shondells' recording of Hanky Panky in 1966. The song went all the way to the top of the national charts, prompting a series of successful followup singles for Tommy James And The Shondells over the next three years or so. And that, my friends, was how one became a rock star in the mid-1960s.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: For Emily, Whenever I Might Find Her
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Art Garfunkel's vocals were in the spotlight on For Emily, Whenever I Might Find Her, a track from the duo's third LP, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme. Other than the vocals, the only other instrument heard on the track is Paul Simon's guitar. Garfunkel has called the piece, which is still in his solo repertoire, "one of the most challenging" to perform, due to its somewhat free-form structure. A live version of the song was released as a single in 1972, making it to the # 53 spot on the charts. This was actually the second time the song appeared on 7" vinyl, as the studio version was used as the B side for the late 1966 single A Hazy Shade Of Winter.
Artist: The Bush
Title: To Die Alone
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: Hiback)
Originally known as the Bushmen, the Bush, from Rialto, California, were the most popular local band in the Inland Empire from 1965-66, even opening for their idols, the Rolling Stones, at one of their appearances at San Bernardino's Swing Auditorium. To Die Alone is a classic piece of garage-psych from the Bush, that appeared as the B side of their second single in 1966, with lyrics and song title provided by the Zelig-like Kim Fowley.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: She Has Funny Cars
Source: Mono LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Label: Sundazed (original 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: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Come Up The Years
Source: Mono LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
One of the most overused motifs in pop music is the "You're too young for me" song. This probably reflects, to a certain degree, a lifestyle that goes back to the beginnings of rock and roll (Chuck Berry did jail time for transporting a minor across state lines, Jerry Lee Lewis saw his career get derailed by his marraige to his 13-year-old cousin, etc.). Generally, the song's protagonist comes to a decision to put a stop to the relationship before it gets too serious. The Marty Balin/Paul Kantner tune Come Up The Years takes a more sophisticated look at the subject, although it still comes to the same conclusion (I can't do this because you're jailbait). In fact, the only rock songwriter I know of that came to any other conclusion on the matter was Bob Markley of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and that's what ultimately got him in trouble with the law.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Plastic Fantastic Lover
Source: Mono LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Label: Sundazed/BMG (original label: RCA Victor)
Following the success of Somebody To Love, Jefferson Airplane quickly followed up with their third single from the Surrealistic Pillow album, White Rabbit. Although it didn't get the same amount of top 40 airplay, Marty Balin's Plastic Fantastic Lover, issued as the B side of White Rabbit, has proved just as enduring as the A side. So much so that, when the Airplane reunited in 1989 and issued their two-disc retrospective, 2400 Fulton Street, they issued a special pressing of both songs on white vinyl as a way of promoting the collection. More recently, Sundazed has reissued the entire Surrealistic Pillow album in its original mono mix, which differs considerably from the more familiar stereo version.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Foxy Lady
Source: LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
The first track on the original UK release of Are You Experienced was Foxy Lady. The British custom of the time was to not include any songs on albums that had been previously released as singles. When Reprise Records got the rights to release the album in the US, it was decided to include three songs that had all been top 40 hits in the UK. One of those songs, Purple Haze, took over the opening spot on the album, and Foxy Lady was moved to the middle of side 2.
Source: Mono LP: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Museum is a song from one of Donovan's early albums that he re-recorded for his Mellow Yellow LP in 1967. The new arrangement, like many of the tracks on Mellow Yellow, uses electric guitar, violin and hand percussion (bongos, etc.) to supplement Donovan's acoustic guitar.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: (It's All Over Now) Baby Blue
Source: CD: Easter Everywhere
Writer: Bob Dylan
Label: Charly (original label: International Artists)
When the 13th Floor Elevators left their native Texas to do a series of gigs on the West Coast, the local media's reaction was basically "good riddance". After the band's successful California appearances (and a hit record with You're Gonna Miss Me), they returned to a hero's welcome by that same media that had derided the Elevators as a bunch of degenerate drug addicts just weeks before. Buoyed by this new celebrity, the band set out to record its masterpiece, Easter Everywhere. Although much of the album featured original material, there were a couple of cover tunes. Most notable was the inclusion of (It's All Over Now) Baby Blue, a Bob Dylan tune that had been recently recorded by San Jose's Chocolate Watchband.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: 2000 Man
Source: LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Setting any work of art in the relatively near future is always risky business (remember 1984?), but then again 33 years seems like forever when you yourself are still in your twenties. I mean who, including the Rolling Stones themselves, could have imagined that Mick, Keith, Charlie and company would still be performing well into the 21st century when they recorded 2000 Man for their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request? It's actually kind of interesting to listen to the lyrics now and see just how much of the song turned out to be an accurate prediction of what was to come.
Title: The Crystal Ship
Source: CD: The Doors
Writer: The Doors
Ever feel like you've discovered something really special that nobody else (among your circle of friends at any rate) knows about? At first you kind of want to keep it to yourself, but soon you find yourself compelled to share it with everyone you know. Such was the case when, in the early summer of 1967, I used my weekly allowance to buy copies of a couple of songs I had heard on the American Forces Network (AFN). As usual, it wasn't long before I was flipping the records over to hear what was on the B sides. I liked the first one well enough (a song by Buffalo Springfield called Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It, the B side of For What It's Worth), but it was the second one, the B side of the Doors' Light My Fire, that really got to me. To this day I consider The Crystal Ship to be one of the finest slow rock songs ever recorded.
Title: Savoy Truffle
Source: LP: The Beatles
Writer(s): George Harrison
George Harrison's skills as a songwriter continued to develop in 1968. The double-LP The Beatles (aka the White Album) contained four Harrison compositions, including Savoy Truffle, a tongue-in-cheek song about Harrison's friend Eric Clapton's fondness for chocolate. John Lennon did not participate in the recording of Savoy Truffle. The keyboards were probably played by Chris Thomas, who, in addition to playing on all four Harrison songs on the album, served as de facto producer when George Martin decided to take a vacation in the middle of the album's recording sessions.
Source: LP: Abbey Road
Take Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Turn a few notes around, add some variations and write some lyrics. Add the Beatles' trademark multi-part harmonies and you have John Lennon's Because, from the Abbey Road album. A simply beautiful recording.
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.
Artist: Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
Title: Dirty Blue Gene
Source: European import CD: Safe As Milk (bonus track)
Writer(s): Don Van Vliet
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1999
After the release of their debut LP for the Buddah label, Safe As Milk, in 1967, Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) and his Magic Band began work on a proposed double-LP to be called It Comes To You In A Plain Brown Wrapper. The project was never finished, and the band ended up changing labels before releasing any more material. Among the unfinished pieces is an instrumental track called Dirty Blue Gene that shows the first signs of the experimental direction the band would take after signing with Frank Zappa's Bizarre Productions a couple years later.
Title: She'd Rather Be With Me
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: White Whale
The Turtles knew a good thing when they found it, and in 1967 that good thing was Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon, a pair of New York songwriters who had been members of a band called the Magicians. The first Bonner/Gordon song to be recorded by the Turtles was Happy Together, a huge hit that knocked the Beatles' Penny Lane off the top of the charts. The next Turtles single was another Bonner/Gordon composition called She'd Rather Be With Me. That one peaked at #3. Before the year was over the Turtles would take two more Bonner/Gordon tunes into the top 20.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day
Source: LP: Back Door Men
Writer(s): Tommy Boyce
Label: Sundazed (original label: Dunwich)
Tommy Boyce actually had a songwriting career separate from his many collaborations with Bobby Hart. One of his early songs was Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day, which was first recorded as a single by the Colorado-based Astronauts (which gave producer Steve Venet co-writing credit) before getting included on the first Monkees album. Along the way the song got recorded by a handful of garage bands, including Chicago's Shadows Of Knight, whose version closely parallels the Astronauts' original.
Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title: When I Was Young
Source: Mono LP: The Best of Eric Burdon and the Animals-Vol. II (originally released as 45 RPM single)
After the Animals disbanded in 1966, Eric Burdon set out to form a new band that would be far more psychedelic than the original group. The first release from these "New Animals" was When I Was Young. The song was credited to the entire band, a practice that would continue throughout the entire existence of the group that came to be called Eric Burdon And The Animals.
Artist: Love Sculpture
Title: 3 O'Clock Blues
Source: CD: Blues Helping
Label: EMI (original US label: Rare Earth)
Founded in Cardiff, Wales in 1966 by guitarist Dave Edmunds, bassist John David and drummer Rob "Congo" Jones, Love Sculpture, a power trio from South Wales, was one of the hottest bands on the British blues-rock scene. Their first album, Blues Helping, consisted mainly of charged up covers of blues classics such as B.B. King's 3 O'Clock Blues. Following the group's breakup in 1970, Edmunds went on to have a successful career, both as a solo artist and as co-founder of the band Rockpile.
Source: British import CD: Kak-Ola (originally released in US on LP: Kak)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Epic)
The story of Kak is one of the strangest in rock history. Guitarists Gary Yoder and Dehner Patton had both been members of the Oxford Circle, the legendary East (San Francisco) Bay area band that broke up in early summer of 1967. Not long the breakup Yoder was approached by a guy named Gary Grelecki, who introduced himself as a fan of the band and offered to get Yoder a deal with Columbia, then the second largest record label in the country. Yoder figured that he didn't have anything to lose by saying yes; sure enough, two months later he got a call from Grelecki saying the contract was a done deal. Yoder got into contact with Dehner, who had been playing in a band called Cherry Jam since the Oxford breakup, performing original material in the Davis area. One of the other members of Cherry Jam was percussionist/harpsichordist Chris Lockheed, who had previously played in a band called the Majestics. The lineup was completed with the addition of bassist Joe-Dave Damrill, who had been playing with another Davis band called Group B. It turned out that Grelicki's father was with the CIA and had been using Columbia as a front for agency activities in East Asia, and actually had legitimate contacts at the label. The new band, Kak, was signed to Columbia's Epic subsidiary, releasing their only LP in 1969. Although neither the band (which played fewer than a dozen gigs in its entire existence) or the album was not a commercial success at the time, Kak gained a cult following that exists to this day. The most ambitious track on the album, Trieulogy, is made up of three originally unrelated pieces, Golgotha, Mirage and Rain, that Yoder later said "blended well together", adding that "it's a logical pattern, lyrically and musically."
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Season of the Witch (pt. 1)
Source: Mono CD: The Complete Atco Singles (originally released on LP: Renaissance and as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Real Gone/Rhino (original label: Atco)
The Vanilla Fudge are generally best remembered for their acid rock rearrangements of hit songs such as You Keep Me Hangin' On, Ticket To Ride and Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down). Their third album, Renaissance, while actually featuring more original material that their previous albums, still included a couple of these cover songs. The best-known of these was this rather spooky (and a little over-the-top) version of Donovan's Season Of The Witch, a song that was also covered by Al Kooper and Stephen Stills the same year on the first Super Session album. A mono single version of the song saw the track broken up into two pieces, one on each side of the 45 RPM record.
Title: Fire Brigade
Source: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Roy Wood
Label: Rhino (original label: A&M)
The Move scored their fourth consecutive British top 5 single with Fire Brigade, released in January of 1968. It would be the last single released by the group's original lineup.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in November of 1966. 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 the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation (and the second track on Rhino's first Nuggets LP).
Source: Mono LP: Younger Than Yesterday
Roger McGuinn of the Byrds always exhibited an interest in the subject of extraterrestrial life. C.T.A.-102, from the Younger Than Yesterday album, addresses this subject from the angle of aliens tuning in to earth broadcasts to learn our language and culture and finding themselves exposed to rock and roll (and apparently liking it).
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: Combination Of The Two
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s): Sam Andrew
Everything about Big Brother And The Holding Company can be summed up by the title of the opening track for their Cheap Thrills album (and their usual show opener as well): Combination Of The Two. A classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, Big Brother, with Janis Joplin on lead vocals, had an energy that neither Joplin or the band itself was able to duplicate once they parted company. On the song itself, the actual lead vocals for the verses are the work of Combination Of The Two's writer, bassist Sam Houston Andrew III, but those vocals are eclipsed by the layered non-verbal chorus that starts with Joplin then repeats itself with Andrew providing a harmony line which leads to Joplin's promise to "rock you, sock you, gonna give it to you now". It was a promise that the group seldom failed to deliver on.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Citizen Fear
Source: Mono CD: Ignition
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2000
Citizen Fear was one of the final, if not the very last, recording made by Sean Bonniwell's Music Machine. A collaboration between Bonniwell and engineer Paul Buff, the piece utilizes Buff's 10-track recording process to its fullest potential. Before the song could be released, however, the Music Machine had disbanded and Bonniwell had quit the music business in disillusionment, disappointment and/or disgust.
Artist: Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Source: CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s): Neil Young
After releasing a fairly well produced debut solo album utilizing the talents of several well-known studio musicians in late 1968, Neil Young surprised everyone by recruiting an unknown L.A. bar band and rechristening them Crazy Horse for his second effort, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The album was raw and unpolished, with Young's lead vocals recorded using a talkback microphone normally used by engineers to communicate with people in the studio from the control room. In spite of, or more likely because of, these limitations, the resulting album has come to be regarded as one of the greatest in the history of rock, with Young sounding far more comfortable, both as a vocalist and guitarist, than on the previous effort. Although the album is best known for three songs he wrote while running a fever (Cinnamon Girl, Cowgirl In The Sand, and Down By The River), there are plenty of good other songs on the LP, including the title track heard here.
Title: The Great Canyon Fire In General
Source: CD: Spirit
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
Among other things, Southern California is known for its periodic wildfires, which, fueled by hot Santa Ana winds, destroy everything in their path before they can be brought under control. In the summer of 1967, while the members of Spirit were living in L.A.'s Topanga Canyon and working on their first album, one of these wildfires took out about half of the canyon. Although the house the band was living in was spared, the entire area was evacuated and the members of Spirit (and their family) had to spend a week camped out at the beach. Now that's what I call roughing it!
Title: House For Everyone
Source: CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind (aka Mr. Fantasy)
Writer(s): Dave Mason
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
Although Traffic is now known mostly as a Steve Winwood band, many of their earliest songs were the creation of guitarist Dave Mason, whose songs tended to be a bit more psychedelic than Winwood's. One example is House For Everyone from the band's 1967 debut LP, which creatively uses tape edits to simulate a music box being wound up with short snippets of song sneaking through between turns of the key at the beginning of the track.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Everybody's Wrong
Source: LP: Buffalo Springfield
Writer: Stephen Stills
Buffalo Springfield is one of those rare cases of a band that actually sold more records after disbanding than while they were still an active group. This is due mostly to the fact that several members, including Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay and Jim Messina, went on to greater success in the 1970s, either with new bands or as solo artists. In the early days of Buffalo Springfield Stephen Stills was the group's most successful songwriter. The band's only major hit, For What It's Worth, was a Stills composition that was originally released shortly after the group's debut LP, and was subsequently added to later pressings of the album. Another, earlier, Stills composition from that first album was Everybody's Wrong, a somewhat heavy piece of folk-rock.