Monday, April 30, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1818 [B18] (starts 5/2/18)
Once again the emphasis is on deep tracks on a show recorded in December of 2016, but never before aired, that includes artists' sets from three British bands and a track from an album that I have been misreading the title of for over 50 years (hint: it's by the Buckinghams).
Source: CD: Goodbye Cream
Famously co-written by Eric Clapton and a psuedononomous George Harrison, Badge remains one of the best-loved songs in Clapton's repertoir. Both guitarists are featured prominently on this recording. Felix Pappaliardi (the unofficial 4th member of Cream and co-founder of Mountain) plays the tinkly piano.
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Although the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and Pete Brown are best known for providing Cream with its more psychedelic songs such as White Room and SWLABR, they did occasionally come up with bluesier numbers such as Politician from the Wheels Of Fire album. The song quickly became a staple of Cream's live performances.
Title: Doing That Scrapyard Thing
Source: CD: Goodbye Cream
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
In its original form, the album Goodbye Cream had three new studio tracks on it, one for each member of the band. Jack Bruce's contribution was Doing That Scrapyard Thing, co-written (as were the majority of Bruce's compositions) by poet Pete Brown. Lyrics don't get much more psychedelic than this.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: My Sunday Feeling
Source: CD: This Was
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
For years my only copy of Jethro Tull's first LP, This Was, was a cassette copy I had made myself. In fact, the two sides of the album were actually on two different tapes (don't ask why). When I labelled the tapes I neglected to specify which tape had which side of the album; as a result I was under the impression that My Sunday Feeling was the opening track on the album. It turns out it was actually the first track on side two, but I still tend to think of it as the "first" Jethro Tull song, despite the fact that the band had actually released a single, Sunshine Day, the previous year for a different label.
Title: Real Life Permanent Dream
Source: British import CD: Insane Times (originally released on LP: tomorrow)
Writer(s): Keith Hopkins
Label: Zonophone (original label: Parlophone)
One of the most prominent bands to emerge from London's psychedelic underground, Tomorrow never quite achieved the success it deserved, despite having several opportunities to show their stuff. Evolving out of the British soul cover band The In Crowd, Tomorrow was the band originally slated to appear in the film Blow Up, and even recorded the movie's theme song before having to bow out of the project (the Yardbirds appeared instead). They did get a decent amount of airplay for their 1967 single My White Bicycle, enabling them to record an entire album for Parlophone in 1968. Real Life Permanent Dream is a track from that album that showcases the talents of guitarist Steve Howe, who would go on to become a genuine rock star when he became a member of Yes in the early 1970s.
Title: Jennifer Juniper
Source: British import CD: The Hurdy Gurdy Man
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original label: Epic)
Donovan's British label, Pye, chose not to release 1967's Wear Your Love Like Heaven as a single. As a result, Donovan had no current tunes on the British charts in January of 1968, when he recorded Jennifer Juniper. The song was an instant British hit when released the following month, going to the #5 spot on the charts. The song did not do as well when it was released a month later in the US, however, stalling out at #35. The song was later included on the 1968 LP The Hurdy Gurdy Man.
Title: Yellow Submarine
Source: CD: Revolver
Ringo's greatest hit. (What, you expected some sort of hidden insight into one of the best-known songs in pop culture history???)
Title: Fixing A Hole
Source: CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Until 1967 every Beatle album released in the US had at least one hit single included that was not on the British version of the album (or was never released as a single in the UK). With the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, however, the track lineup became universal, making it the first Beatle album released in the US to not have a hit single on it. Nonetheless, the importance (and popularity) of the album was such that virtually every song on it got top 40 airplay at one time or another, although some tracks got more exposure than others. One of the many tracks that falls in between these extremes is Fixing A Hole, a tune by Paul McCartney that features the harpsichord prominently.
Title: She Said She Said
Source: CD: Revolver
The last song to be recorded for the Beatles' Revolver album was She Said She Said, a John Lennon song inspired by an acid trip taken by members of the band (with the exception of Paul McCartney) during a break from touring in August of 1965. The band's manager, Brian Epstein, had rented a large house in Beverly Hills, but word had gotten out and the Beatles found it difficult to come and go at will. Instead, they invited several people, including the original Byrds and actor Peter Fonda, to come over and hang out with them. At some point, Fonda brought up the fact that he had nearly died as a child from an accidental gunshot wound, and used the phrase "I know what it's like to be dead." Lennon was creeped out by the things Fonda was saying and told him to "shut up about that stuff. You're making me feel like I've never been born." The song itself took nine hours to record and mix, and is one of the few Beatle tracks that does not have Paul McCartney on it (George Harrison played bass). Perhaps not all that coincidentally, Fonda himself would star in a Roger Corman film called The Trip (written by Jack Nicholson and co-starring Dennis Hopper) the following year.
Title: Bucket T
Source: CD: A Quick One (bonus track originally released in UK on EP: Ready Steady Who)
Label: MCA (original label: Track)
Ready Steady Go was Britain's answer to American Bandstand. A hugely popular one-shot special edition of the show called Ready Steady Who aired in 1966. A five song EP (also called Ready Steady Who) had an entirely different set of songs than the TV special, and included some real oddities such as their version of the Batman theme and Bucket T, a hot rod song from earlier in the decade.
Title: Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands
Source: The Who Sell Out
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
There are at least three versions of Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands. A faster, electric version of the song was released only in the US as the B side to I Can See For Miles, while this semi-latin flavored acoustic version was included on The Who Sell Out. Yet another version is featured as a bonus track on the 1993 CD release of Sell Out.
Title: In The City
Source: CD: A Quick One (bonus track originally released in UK as a 45 RPM single B side)
Label: MCA (original UK label: Track)
The war between the Who and Brunswick Records continued throughout 1966 with Brunswick responding to each new Who single with one of their own, using album tracks from the My Generation album. Despite this all the new Who singles on Reaction/Polydor that year made it to the top 5 in the UK, while the Brunswick singles did increasingly worse with each subsequent release. Brunswick finally gave up the battle after I'm A Boy (on Reaction) went all the way to # 2 on the UK charts, while Brunswick's La-La-La-Lies didn't even crack the top 100. The B side of I'm A Boy was In The City, a rare collaboration between bassist John Entwhistle and drummer Keith Moon. The song was included on the CD remastered version of the Who's second album, A Quick One, released in 1993.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: The Times They Are A-Changin'
Source: CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: The Times They Are A-Changin')
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
I vaguely remember seeing a movie back in the 80s (I think it may have been called The Wanderers) about a street gang from an Italian-American neighborhood somewhere in New York City, circa 1960. I really don't remember much about the plot of the film, but I do remember a bit near the end, where the main character walks down a street in Greenwich Village and hears the sound of Bob Dylan coming from a coffee house singing The Times They Are A-Changin'. I've often thought of that scene and how it symbolized the shift from the conformist culture of the late 50s (represented by the peer pressure-driven gang life) to the turbulence that would characterize the 1960s.
Artist: The Word (aka War Babies)
Title: Now It's Over
Source: Mono British import CD: With Love- A Pot Of Flowers (bonus track originally released in US as 45 RPM single)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Brent)
Now it's Over was a one-off folk-rock single by multi-instrumentalists Wesley Watt and Bill Lincoln, recording as the Word, on Bob Shad's Brent label in 1965. The duo had originally recorded the song for the Highland label under the name War Babies, and would resurface in 1966 with a group called Euphoria.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: You're Gonna Miss Me
Source: CD: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
Writer: Roky Erickson
Label: Collectables (original label: International Artists)
If anyplace outside of California has a legitimate claim to being the birthplace of the psychedelic era, it's Austin, Texas. That's mainly due to the presence of the 13th Floor Elevators, a local band led by Roky Erickson that had the audacity to use an electric jug onstage. Their debut album was the first to actually use the word psychedelic (predating the Blues Magoos' Psychedelic Lollipop by mere weeks). Musically, their leanings were more toward garage-rock than acid-rock, at least on their first album (they got more metaphysical with their follow-up album, Easter Everywhere).
Artist: Janis Ian
Title: Janey's Blues
Source: LP: Janis Ian
Writer(s): Janis Ian
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
Following the success of her first hit single, Society's Child, singer/songwriter/poet Janis Ian released her self-titled debut LP in early 1967, follwing it up with two more albums, For All The Seasons Of Your Mind and The Secret Life Of J. Eddy Fink, over the next year or so. Although there were singles released from each of these, none of them got much chart action. Finally, in late 1968, her label decided to go back to her debut LP for her fifth single, Janey's Blues. I suspect the song's length (nearly five minutes) automatically kept many AM radio DJs from playing the song, which is a shame, as Janey's Blues is one of the undiscovered gems of the late 1960s.
Artist: World Column
Title: Lantern Gospel
Source: Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Atco)
World Column was actually an R&B band from the midwest that, for some unknown reason, decided to change styles and record a song which has since become a psychedelic classic. Lantern Gospel, released in the summer of 1968, appeared on a dozen bootleg compilation albums before finally being officially released on the Rhino Handmade CD My Mind Goes High, which is now available in the UK through Warner Strategic Marketing.
Artist: Guess Who
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Canned Wheat)
Label: Priority (original label: RCA Victor)
Following the success of their American LP debut, Wheatfield Soul (and the hit single These Eyes), the Guess Who headed back to the studio to record their fifth album, Canned Wheat. RCA Victor had a policy stating that groups signed to the label had to use RCA's own studios, whether they wanted to or not. The Guess Who and their producer, Jack Richardson, however, felt that RCA's New York studios were to inferior to A&R studios, where Wheatfield Soul had been recorded, and to prove their point secretly re-recorded two songs, Laughing and Undun, at A&R. They then sent dubs of the two new recordings to the shirts at RCA, who immediately issued the recordings as the band's next single, unaware that they had been recorded at A&R. By the time RCA realized what was going on, the single was already climbing the charts (eventually hitting the #10 spot), and ended up using the two new recordings on Canned Wheat. The remainded of the album was made up of the tracks recorded at RCA Studios. Their next album, American Woman, would be recorded at RCA's brand new Mid-America Recording Center in Chicago.
Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Source: LP: So Far (originally released on LP: déjà vu)
Writer(s): Joni Mitchell
It's somewhat ironic that the most famous song about the Woodstock Music and Art Festival was written by someone who was not even at the event. Joni Mitchell had been advised by her manager that she would be better off appearing on the Dick Cavett show that weekend, so she stayed in her New York City hotel room and watched televised reports of what was going on up at Max Yasgur's farm. Further inspiration came from her then-boyfried Graham Nash, who shared his firsthand experiences of the festival with Mitchell. The song was first released on the 1970 album Ladies Of The Canyon, and was made famous the same year when it was chosen to be the first single released from the Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young album déjà vu. The CSNY version peaked just outside of the Billboard top 10.
Title: Fresh Garbage
Source: CD: Spirit
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
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: Fever Tree
Title: Man Who Paints The Pictures
Source: LP: Fever Tree
Fever Tree is one of those bands that bridges the gap from the psychedelic rock of the late 60s to the progressive rock of the early 70s. Formed in Houston, the band recorded a couple of singles for Bob Shad's Mainstream label, both of which were successful enough for their producers, the husband and wife team of Scott and Vivian Holtzman, to move the band to Los Angeles, where they signed with Uni Records (now known as MCA). Fever Tree's 1968 debut LP for Uni featured arrangements by David Angel, who had provided string and horn arrangements for the critically-acclaimed Love album, Forever Changes, the previous year. Overall, side one is the stronger side of the LP, featuring the band's best-known song, San Francisco Girls (Return Of The Native), and the hard-rocking Man Who Paints The Pictures, among others.
Artist: Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title: Sky Pilot
Source: CD: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals (originally released on LP: The Twain Shall Meet)
Label: Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
After the original Animals lineup disbanded in late 1966, lead vocalist Eric Burdon quickly set out to form a "New Animals" group that would come to be called Eric Burdon and the Animals. Their biggest hit was 1968's Sky Pilot, a song that was so long it had to be split across two sides of a 45 RPM record. The uninterrupted version of the song was included on the group's second album, The Twain Shall Meet.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Quite Rightly So
Source: CD: Shine On Brightly
In 1969, while living on Ramstein AFB in Germany, my dad managed to get use of one of the basement storage rooms in building 913, the 18-unit apartment building we resided in. For a few months (until getting in trouble for having overnight guests and making too much noise...hey I was 16, whaddaya expect?) I got to use that room as a bedroom. I had a small record player that shut itself off when it got to the end of the record, which meant I got to go to sleep every night to the album of my choice. As often as not that album was Shine On Brightly, a copy of which I had gotten in trade for another album (the Best of the Beach Boys I think) from a guy who was expecting A Whiter Shade of Pale and was disappointed to discover it was not on this album. I always thought I got the better end of that deal, despite the fact that there was a skip during the fade of Quite Rightly So, causing the words "one was me" to repeat over and over until I scooted the needle over a bit. Luckily Quite Rightly So is the first song on the album, so I was usually awake enough to do that.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: I Need A Man To Love
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
Big Brother and the Holding Company recorded their first album at the Chicago studios of Mainstream records in 1967. Mainstream, however, was a jazz label and their engineers had no idea how to make a band like Big Brother sound good. When the band signed to Columbia the following year it was decided that the best way to record the band was onstage at the Fillmore West. As a result, when Cheap Thrills was released, four of the seven tracks were live recordings, including the Janis Joplin/Peter Albin collaboration I Need A Man To Love.
Title: Good Times
Source: CD: More Nuggets (originally released in UK and Australia as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
The Easybeats were Australia's most popular band in the sixties. Formed in 1964 at a migrant hostel in Sidney (all the members came from immigrant families), the band's earliest British Invasion styled hits were written by rhythm guitarist George Young (older brother of AC/DC's Angus and Malcolm Young) and lead vocalist "Little" Stevie Wright. By 1966, however, lead guitarist Harry Vanda (originally from the Netherlands) had become fluent in English and with the song Friday On My Mind replaced Wright as Young's writing partner (although Wright stayed on as the band's frontman). Around that same time the Easybeats relocated to England, although they continued to chart hits on a regular basis in Australia. One of their most memorable songs was Good Times from the 1968 album Vigil, featuring guest vocalist Steve Marriott. Young and Vanda later moved back to Australia and recorded a series of records under the name Flash and the Pan that were very successful in Australia and Europe. Stevie Wright went on to become Australia's first international pop star. The song Good Times became a hit for another Australian band, INXS, in the 1980s when it was used in the film The Lost Boys.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
If there was a British equivalent to the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations in terms of time and money spent on a single song, it might be We Love You, a 1967 single released by the Rolling Stones. To go along with the single (with its state-of-the-art production) the band spent a considerable sum making a full-color promotional video, a practice that would not become commonplace until the advent of MTV in the 1980s. Despite all this, US radio stations virtually ignored We Love You, choosing to instead flip the record over and play the B side, a tune called Dandelion. As to why this came about, I suspect that Bill Drake, the man behind the nation's most influential top 40 stations, simply decided that the less elaborately produced Dandelion was better suited to the US market than We Love You and instructed his hand-picked program directors at such stations as WABC (New York), KHJ (Los Angeles) and WLS (Chicago) to play Dandelion. The copycat nature of top 40 radio being what it is, Dandelion ended up being a moderate hit in the US in the summer of '67.
Artist: First Crew To The Moon
Title: The Sun Lights Up The Shadows Of Your Mind
Source: Mono British import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Jerry Milstein
Label: Zonophone (original label: Roulette)
Originally known as the Back Door Men, and later the Bootleggers, Brooklyn, NY's First Crew To The Moon signed with the Roulette label on the recommendation of legendary songwriter Doc Pomus. Unfortunately for the band, their only record for Roulette, a song called Spend Your Life With Me, was released just as the label's entire promotional budget was being spent on the latest single by labelmates Tommy James And The Shondells, a tune called I think We're Alone Now. To add insult to injury, Roulette misspelled the band's name on both sides of the record, inadvertently rechristening them First Crow To The Moon, a name that actually fits the record's B side, a psychedelic masterpiece called The Sun Lights Up The Shadows Of Your Mind, quite well. As it turned out, none of this really mattered, as the band soon disbanded following the death of lead guitarist Alan Avick of leukemia. Perhaps the group's greatest legacy, however, was to serve as inspiration to their friend Chris Stein, who several years later would team up with Deborah Harry to form a group called Blondie.
Title: I'll Be Back
Source: LP: Time And Charges
I have a confession to make: I've had a copy of the Buckinghams' 1967 Columbia debut LP since the late 1970s, when I found it at a thrift store near the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. All this time I thought the name of the album was Time And Changes. I recently (early 2018) realized that the actual title of the album is Time And Charges. It says so right on the label. And the front cover. And the spine of the album cover, for that matter. No idea how I missed that. Anyway, the album, despite being fairly light pop for the most part, does have some interesting tracks, such as a cover of the Beatles' I'll Be Back which was arranged for the band by producer James William Guercio, whose interest in rock bands with a horn section would lead him to produce the second (and most successful) Blood, Sweat & Tears album, as well as all the early Chicago LPs.
Artist: Savoy Brown
Title: Poor Girl
Source: CD: Looking In
Writer(s): Kim Simmonds
Label: Deram (original label: Parrot)
Poor Girl, from the 1970 album Looking In, is probably Savoy Brown's best known recording. Shortly after Looking In was released, the entire band except for leader Kim Simmonds left Savoy Brown to form a new band: Foghat.
Title: Mr. Armageddon
Source: British import CD: Psychedelic At Abbey Road (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: We Are Everything You See)
Writer(s): Norman Haines
Label: EMI (original label: Parlophone)
It's probably more than appropriate that a band from Birmingham, England, home of the industrial revolution, would have a name like Locomotive. Led by vocalist/guitarist Norman Haines, the group also included Mick Taylor (trumpet), Will Madge (keyboards), Mick Hincks (bass), and Bob Lamb (drums). After making their vinyl debut on the Direction label, the band moved to the larger Parlophone, recording their only album in 1968. The album, including the single Mr. Armageddon, was released in January of 1969. Not long after the album appeared on the racks Haines disbanded Locomotive and formed the Norman Haines group.
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: Baroque # 1
Source: LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
Of the six major US record labels of the time, only two, Decca and M-G-M, failed to sign any San Francisco bands in the late 1960s. Decca, which had been bought by MCA in the early 60s, was fast fading as a major force in the industry (ironic considering that Universal, the direct descendant of MCA, is now the world's largest record company). M-G-M, on the other hand, had a strong presence on the Greenwich Village scene thanks to Jerry Schoenbaum at the Verve Forecast label, who had signed such critically-acclaimed artists as Dave Van Ronk, Tim Hardin and the Blues Project. Taking this as an inspiration, the parent label decided to create interest in the Boston music scene, aggressively promoting (some would say hyping) the "Boss-Town Sound". One of the bands signed was Ultimate Spinach, which was led by keyboardist Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote all the band's material, including the instrumental Baroque # 1.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Uni)
Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was originally released to Los Angeles area radio stations it was intended to be the B side of The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side.