Monday, May 7, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1819 [B19] (starts 5/9/18)
This week's first hour has a couple of long progressions through the years (with a short 1968 set thrown in), while the second hour is a series of sets from specific years, and includes half a dozen tunes that have never been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era before.
Title: Can't Seem To Make You Mine
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: The Seeds)
Writer: Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
One of the first psychedelic singles to hit the L.A. market in 1965 was Can't Seem To Make You Mine. The song was also chosen to lead off the first Seeds album. Indeed, it could be argued that this was the song that first defined the "flower power" sound, its local success predating that of the Seeds' biggest hit, Pushin' Too Hard, by several months.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Gotta Get Away
Source: CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop and as 45 RPM single B side)
As was common with most 1966 LPs, the Blues Magoos debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, included a handful of cover songs, not all of which had been hits for other groups. One of the non-hits was Gotta Get Away, a fairly typical piece of garage rock that opens side two of the LP. The song was also selected as the B side for the group's second (and by far most successful) single, (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet. As the usual practice was to bring in outside songwriters for a new band's early singles and let the band write their own B side, it is possible that Gotta Get Away may have been the intended A side of the single.
Title: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor
Source: 45 RPM single B side
By 1967 the Yardbirds had moved far away from their blues roots and were on their fourth lead guitarist, studio whiz Jimmy Page. The band had recently picked up a new producer, Mickey Most, known mostly for his work with Herman's Hermits and the original Animals. Most had a tendency to concentrate solely on the band's single A sides, leaving Page an opportunity to develop his own songwriting and production skills on songs such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, a track that also shows signs of Page's innovative guitar style (including an instrumental break played with a violin bow) that would help define 70s rock.
Title: The Unknown Soldier
Source: CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: Waiting For The Sun and as 45 RPM single)
Writer: The Doors
One of the oddest recordings to get played on top 40 radio was the Door's 1968 release, The Unknown Soldier. The song is notable for having it's own promotional film made by keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who had been a film major at UCLA when the Doors were formed. It's not known whether the song was written with the film in mind (or vice versa), but the two have a much greater synergy than your average music video.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Cosmic Charlie
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Label: Warner Brothers
After spending several months working on their 1969 album, Aoxomoxoa, experimenting with state-of-the-art 16-track equipment and coming in waaaaay over budget in the process, the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh returned to the studio in 1971 to remix the entire album. Garcia felt that the band had "tended to put too much on everything...A lot of the music was just lost in the mix, a lot of what was really there" when doing the original mix, and the newer mix has been the only one in print ever since. Because the remix was done relatively soon after the original release, copies of the earlier mix are now considered quite rare and have become collectors items. Rarer still are the mono mixes of two tracks from the album that were issued as a 45 RPM single in 1969. The B side of that single was Cosmic Charlie. Feel free to compare it to your newer copy of the album (you know you have one, admit it).
Artist: Savoy Brown
Title: Money Can't Save Your Soul
Source: CD: Looking In
Writer(s): Simmonds/ Peverett
Label: Deram (original label: Parrott)
Looking In was the sixth album by British blues-rockers Savoy Brown, and the first without lead vocalist Chris Youlden. It was also the final outing for guitarist Dave Peverett, bassist Tone Stevens and drummer Roger Earl, who would go on to form Foghat after being dismissed by bandleader Kim Simmonds. The album was made up entirely of original compositions such as the low-key Money Can't Save Your Soul, which was written by Simmonds and Peverett, had had taken over lead vocals upon Youlden's departure. Both Foghat and a new Savoy Brown lineup would continue to have success, especially in the US, where both bands toured extensively throughout the 1970s.
Title: Born To Be Wild
Source: CD: Steppenwolf
Writer(s): Mars Bonfire
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Born To Be Wild's status as a counter-cultural anthem was cemented when it was chosen for the soundtrack of the movie Easy Rider. The popularity of both the song and the movie resulted in Steppenwolf becoming the all-time favorite band of bikers all over the world.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: As Kind As Summer
Source: LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
The first time I heard As Kind As Summer from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil I jumped up to see what was wrong with my turntable. A real gotcha moment.
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: Rolling Stones
Title: Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
By mid-1966 there was a population explosion of teenage rock bands popping up in garages and basements all across the US, the majority of which were doing their best to emulate the grungy sound of their heroes, the Rolling Stones. The Stones themselves responded by ramping up the grunge factor to a previously unheard of degree with their last single of the year, Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow? It was the most feedback-laden record ever to make the top 40 at that point in time, and it inspired America's garage bands to buy even more powerful amps and crank up the volume (driving their parents to drink in the process).
Artist: First Edition
Title: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Source: CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Mickey Newbury
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
In 1968, former New Christy Mistrels members Kenny Rogers and Mike Settle decided to form a psychedelic rock band, the First Edition. Although Settle wrote most of the songs on the first album, it was Rogers who would emerge as the star of the group, even to the point of eventually changing the band's name to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. That change reflected a shift from psychedelic to country flavored pop that would eventually propel Rogers to superstar status.
Source: CD: The Beatles
Label: Parlophone (original label: Apple)
One of the great ironies of rock history was that the album entitled simply The Beatles was the one that had the fewest songs with all four of the band members playing on them. By 1968 the Beatles were experiencing internal conflicts, and nearly all of John Lennon and Paul McCartney's songs were played by just the two of them, while George Harrison's songs (and Ringo Starr's single contribution as a songwriter) featured an array of some of the UK's top musicians (including guitarist Eric Clapton). The opening track of side three of the album is typical of this approach, as Birthday is essentially a McCartney solo piece.
Artist: Bubble Puppy
Title: I've Got To Reach You
Source: British import CD: A Gathering Of Promises
Label: Charly (original label: International Artists)
The Bubble Puppy came into existence in 1967, when two former members of the legendary Corpus Christie,Texas garage band the Bad Seeds, guitarist Rod Prince and keyboardist/bassist Roy Cox, relocated to San Antonio, recruiting guitarist Todd Potter and drummer Craig Root to form the new band. Success came quickly in the form of the band's very first gig, opening for the Who at the San Antonio Colosseum. After David Fore replaced Root in the band, the group relocated to Austin, where they got a steady gig at the Vulcan Gas Company. By 1968 the Bubble Puppy was traveling all over Texas for gigs, and late in the year got a contract with Houston-based International Artists, a label that had already gained notoriety by signing the 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola. After releasing a surprise top 40 hit, Hot Smoke And Sassafras, in December of 1968, the band got to work on a full album, A Gathering Of Promises. International Artists failed to get the album, which was full of fine tunes like I've Got To Reach You, out quickly enough to capitilize of the popularity of Hot Smoke And Sassafras, and further hurt the band's chance of success by refusing to grant licensing rights on the single to Apple Records for European release. By 1970 the band and the label had parted company, with the Bubble Puppy relocating to Los Angeles and changing their name to Demian, in part to disassociate themselves from a genre (bubble gum) that they were actually never a part of to begin with.
Artist: Tommy James And The Shondells
Title: Talkin' And Signifyin'
Source: LP: Travelin' (promo copy)
Tommy James And The Shondells were one of the most popular acts of the late 1960s, with several top 40 hits, including Hanky Panky, Mony Mony, and Crimson And Clover, to their credit. By 1970, however, public tastes were changing, and the Shondells, who had, perhaps unfairly, become associated with the "bubble-gum" trend that dominated the airwaves in 1968, found themselves faced with poor record sales and shrinking audiences for their live performances. Their seventh album, Cellophane Symphony, peaked at a disappointing #141 spot on the Billbard album charts, a severe drop from the #8 performance of their previous LP, Crimson And Clover. The band's final LP, Travelin', was an attempt to be taken more seriously, as can be heard on songs like Talkin' And Signifyin' (lots of apostrophes on that album), but managed to achieve a peak chart position of only #91. James soon departed the band for a solo career.
Artist: Van Der Graff Generator
Source: British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Peter Hammill
One of the rarest records ever released was Van Der Graff's debut single, People You Were Going To, with a tune called Firebrand appearing on the B side. The record was released on the UK Polydor label in January of 1969, but was almost immediately withdrawn due to the fact that the band's leader, Peter Hammill, had signed a contract with Mercury Records the previous year. The Mercury contract was so bad, however, that the rest of the band members refused to sign it, and for a while it looked like Van Der Graaf Generator would be little more than a footnote in the history of British Rock. Later that year, however, Hammill began work on a solo album that appeared under the name Van Der Graaf Generator, but only in the US. Nonetheless, it was enough to fulfill the terms of his Mercury contract, freeing Hammill up to reform the band and sign with the Charisma label, where they established themselves as one of the most influential progressive rock bands of the 1970s.
Title: Friday On My Mind
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: United Artists)
Considered by many to be the "greatest Australian song" ever (despite the fact that it was actually recorded in London), the Easybeats' Friday On My Mind, released in late 1966, certainly was the first major international hit to emerge from the island continent. Rhythm guitarist George Young, who co-wrote Friday On My Mind, would go on to produce another Australian band featuring his two younger brothers, Angus and Malcolm.
Title: Deadend Street
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Ray Davies
The last major Kinks hit in the US was Sunny Afternoon in the summer of 1966. The November follow-up, Deadend Street, was in much the same style, but did not achieve the same kind of success in the US (although it was a top five hit in the UK). The Kinks would not have another major US hit until Lola was released in 1970.
Title: Help Me Girl
Source: 45 RPM single
Although it doesn't happen very often these days, throughout pop music history there have been, on occasions, competing versions of the same song released by two or more artists. Sometimes one version would become the "standard" version soon enough for a record to be a genuine hit (for instance the Kingsmen's version of Louie Louie as opposed to the Paul Revere and the Raiders version recorded at around the same time and place), but as often as not the competing versions would actually end up hurting each other's chart action. Such was the case with Help Me Girl, a song released simultaneously by the Outsiders and Eric Burdon (as Eric Burdon And The Animals, despite actually being Burdon's vocals backed up by studio musicans). In Denver, where I was living at the time, there were two competing top 40 stations, ratings leader KIMN and ABC network affiliate KBTR, which still carried some network programming such as Don McNeill's Breakfast Club in the morning. Both stations published weekly charts, which were available in record stores and other locations. Although I listened to both stations, I was a bigger fan of KBTR, whose top 40 charts were included in a four page mini-newspaper, as opposed to KIMN's single page top 60 listing. When Help Me Girl came out, KIMN played the Eric Burdon version exclusively, while KBTR did the same for the Outsiders version. As a KBTR listener I was more into the Outsiders version of the song, so much so that I bought a copy of the 45. To me, Sonny Gerachi's yearning vocals seem to fit the song better than Burdon's swaggering style. Nationally, the Burdon version made it to the #29 spot, while the Outiders version stalled out at #37, reflecting, perhaps, the fact that by 1966 the Animals, with Burdon as frontman, already had a string of top 20 hits, while the Outsiders were known for just one song, Time Won't Let Me. Sonny Gerachi would have one more hit single a few years later as the lead vocalist of a group called Climax with a song called Precious And Few, while Outsiders drummer Jim Fox would go on to found the James Gang.
Artist: The Id
Title: The Rake
Source: Mono CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lyte Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Paul Arnold
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: RCA Victor)
Not much is known about the Id other than the fact that they were from San Diego and released an album called The Inner Sounds Of The Id. The entire LP was written, produced and arranged by Paul Arnold, and was released on the RCA Victor label (at the time the world's #1 record label) in 1967. The opening track from that album, The Rake, was released as a single as well.
Title: She's My Girl
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: White Whale)
A favorite among the Turtles' members themselves, She's My Girl is full of hidden studio tricks that are barely (if at all) audible on the final recording. Written by the same team as Happy Together, the song is a worthy follow up to that monster hit.
Artist: Garden Club
Title: Little Girl Lost-And-Found
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: A&M)
Garden Club was in reality Ruthann Friedman (who wrote the Association hit Windy) on vocals with a bunch of studio musicians performing a song co-written by Tandyn Almer (co-writer of the Association hit Along Comes Mary and inventor of the dual-chamber bong). Oddly enough, the track reminds me somehow of Suzanne Vega.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: If 6 Was 9
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Before 1967 stereo was little more than an excuse to charge a dollar more for an LP. That all changed in a hurry, as artists such as Jimi Hendrix began to explore the possibilities of the technology, in essence treating stereophonic sound as a multi-dimensional sonic palette. The result can be heard on songs such as If 6 Were 9 from the Axis: Bold As Love album, which is best listened to at high volume, preferably with headphones on. Especially the spoken part in the middle, when Jimi says the words "I'm the one who's got to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want." It sounds like he's inside your head with you.
Artist: Bonzo Dog Band
Title: I'm The Urban Spaceman
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Neil Innes
Label: United Artists
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (as they were originally called) was as much theatre (note the British spelling) as music, and were known for such antics as starting out their performances by doing calisthentics (after being introduced as the warm-up band) and having one of the members, "Legs" Larry Smith tapdance on stage (he was actually quite good). In 1967 they became the resident band on Do Not Adjust Your Set, a children's TV show that also featured sketch comedy by future Monty Python members Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin along with David Jason, the future voice of Mr. Toad and Danger Mouse. In 1968 the Bonzos released their only hit single, I'm The Urban Spaceman, co-produced by Paul McCartney. Frontman Neil Innes would go on to hook up with Eric Idle for the Rutles project, among other things, and is often referred to as the Seventh Python.
Title: White Room
Source: CD: Wheels Of Fire
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Musically almost a rewriting of Eric Clapton's Tales of Brave Ulysses (from Cream's Disraeli Gears album), White Room, a Jack Bruce/Pete Brown composition from the Wheels Of Fire album, is arguably the most popular song ever to feature the use of a wah-wah pedal prominently.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Second Time Around
Source: LP: Vincebus Eruptum
Writer(s): Dick Peterson
Blue Cheer was the loudest, heaviest band on the San Francisco scene (and maybe the whole world) in 1968, and Second Time Around was the most feedback-drenched track on their debut album, Vincebus Eruptum. Appropriately, it was also the closing track on the LP.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Good Time Music
Source: Mono LP: What's Shakin'
Writer(s): John Sebastian
Label: Sundazed (original label: Elektra)
Elektra Records almost signed its first rock band in 1965. The label, formed in New York in 1950 by Jac Holzman and Paul Rickolt, had built up a following for its folk music records in the 1950s and 60s, including recent releases by Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton, and was looking to broaden its scope with the locally popular Lovin' Spoonful. The Spoonful, however, despite their friendship with Holzman, decided that signing with Elektra was too risky. According to bassist Steve Boone, they "wanted to be clearly identified as a rock band" including appearances on Dick Clark's shows American Bandstand and Action, something the owners of Kama Sutra Records were able to provide, due to their connections. The fact that Kama Sutra had a national distribution deal with M-G-M Records, then one of the six major labels, probably factored into their decision as well. Still, the band felt that they owed Holzman something for his support, and gave him four recorded songs to use as he saw fit. Those four tracks ended up on an Elektra anthology album called What's Shakin' that was released in 1966. By that time, the Lovin' Spoonful was one of the hottest acts in the country, and the presence of songs like John Sebastian's Good Time Music helped make the album a success (as did the presence of recordings by the Butterfield Blues Band and a trio of songs credited to Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse). Many years later Sebastian would express his regret in not signing with Elektra, as the band got ripped off financially by Kama Sutra.
Title: Don't Look Away
Source: CD: A Quick One (original US title: Happy Jack)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Don't Look Away may well be the least documented Who song ever. Even the expanded liner notes for the 1966 album A quick One are limited to a single line describing where and when the song was recorded (IBC Studios, London, November 1966 for those who care). The song was never issued as a B side or EP track. In fact, it seems to only exist as the opening track of side two of A Quick One. So there.
Artist: Mamas And The Papas
Title: Strange Young Girls
Source: CD: The Mamas And The Papas
Writer(s): John Phillips
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
The Mamas And The Papas had their own little soap opera going in 1966 when it was discovered that Mama Michelle (who was married to Papa John) and Papa Denny were having an affair. Being the 60s Michelle, but not Denny, soon found herself kicked out of the group, to be replaced by Mama Jill, who was actually Producer Lou's girlfriend. Michelle had already recorded several tracks for the group's second album, and some of those got recorded over by Jill. A couple of months later, however, Michelle rejoined the band and ended up recording over some (but not all) of Jill's vocal tracks. At this late date, nobody seems to know for sure just whose vocals ended up on which tracks by the time the LP hit the racks, and it is even possible that all five singers can be heard on songs such as Strange Young Girls, which has some of the most complex harmonies ever recorded by the group.
Title: Let's Play Make Believe
Source: Feelin' Glad
The band Glad is significant not for anything they released on their two albums (for example, a song called Let's Play Make Believe), but for what happened to the band afterwards. One member, Timothy B. Schmidt, went on to replace bassist Randy Meisner in Poco the following year (and the Eagles a few years after that), while the rest of the band eventually changed their name to Redbone and had a hit with Witch Queen of New Orleans.