Monday, May 14, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1820 (starts 5/16/18)
This week's first hour is mostly made up of sets from 1966 and 1968, with a handful of songs from other years thrown in. The second hour, on the other hand, shifts the emphasis to tracks never heard on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era before, including three Advanced Psych tunes from the Rochester, NY-based McFadden's Parachute.
Artist: Shadows of Knight
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Van Morrison
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
The original Them version of Van Morrison's Gloria found itself banned on the majority of US radio stations due to controversial lyrics. By changing one line (essentially substituting "around here" for "up to my room") the suburban Chicago punk-blues band Shadows of Knight turned it into a huge hit and a garage band standard.
Title: Time Won't Let Me
Source: Mono CD: Battle Of The Bands Vol. 2 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Era (original label: Capitol)
From Cleveland we have another local band signed to a major label, in this case Capitol Records, which at the time was having great success with both the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Lead vocalist Sonny Gerachi would reappear a few years later with the band Climax, singing a song called Precious and Few, which is one of the greatest juxtapositions of artist names and song titles ever.
Title: How Can I Leave Her
Source: Mono LP: Red Rubber Ball
Originally known as the Rhondells, the Cyrkle got a huge break when they came to the attention of Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles, in late 1965. Epstein had been looking for an American band to manage, and liked what he heard when he caught the band in Atlantic City on Labor Day weekend. By the following summer the group, whom Epstein had renamed the Cyrkle (with John Lennon credited for the unique spelling) found itself opening for the Beatles on their last North American tour, including their final live performance at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on August 29th. By then the Cyrkle had released a hit single, Red Rubber Ball, and soon would release an album with the same title. About half the tracks on the LP were written by band members, including the soft-pop How Can I Leave Her, which features the Cyrkle's Beach Boys-inspired harmonies.
Artist: The Underground
Source: Mono British import: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
The Underground was a Houston-based vocal group made up of four folk singers (two male, two female) looking to transition to pop music. If this sounds a bit familiar, it might be because the Mamas and the Papas were at the peak of their popularity when the Underground was formed. The quartet included Larry O'Keefe, Jerry Wright, Susan Giles and Kay Oslin, with O'Keefe and Wright writing all four of the band's sides recorded for Bob Shad's Mainstream label in 1966. Although there were no production credits listed on the label, the song Easy was produced by Walt Andrus and recorded at his facility in Houston. The record was released in November of 1966.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): Blind Willie Johnson
Label: Verve Forecast
One lasting legacy of the British Invasion was the re-introduction to the US record-buying public to the songs of early Rhythm and Blues artists such as Blind Willie Johnson. This emphasis on classic blues in particular would lead to the formation of electric blues-based US bands such as the Butterfield Blues Band and the Blues Project. Unlike the Butterfields, who made a conscious effort to remain true to their Chicago-style blues roots, the Blues Project was always looking for new ground to cover, which ultimately led to them developing an improvisational style that would be emulated by west coast bands such as the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service, and by Project member Al Kooper, who conceived and produced the first rock jam LP ever, Super Session, in 1968. As the opening track to their second (and generally considered best) LP Projections, I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes served notice that this was a new kind of blues, louder and brasher than what had come before, yet tempered with Kooper's melodic vocal style. An added twist was the use during the song's instrumental bridge of an experimental synthesizer known among band members as the "Kooperphone", probably the first use of any type of synthesizer in a blues record.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Source: Mono European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on 45 RPM single)
Label: Sony Music (original label: Columbia)
Kicks may not have been the first pop song with a strong anti-drug message, but it was the first one to be a certified hit, making it to the number four spot on the US charts and hitting number one in Canada. It was also the biggest hit for Paul Revere and the Raiders until Indian Reservation went all the way to the top five years later.
Source: CD: Revolver
Writer(s): George Harrison
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
The Beatles' 1966 LP Revolver was a major step forward, particularly for guitarist George Harrison, who for the first time had three of his own compositions on an album. Making it even sweeter was the fact that one of these, Taxman, was chosen to lead off the album itself. Although Harrison is usually considered the band's lead guitarist, the solo in Taxman is actually performed by Paul McCartney, whose own style had a harder edge than Harrison's. This made the song difficult to perform live, but, as the world would soon know, the group had already decided to retire from live performing altogether in order to concentrate on perfecting their studio work.
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Brave New World
Source: LP: Homer soundtrack (originally released on LP: Brave New World)
Writer(s): Steve Miller
Label: Cotillion (original label: Capitol)
It took the Steve Miller Band half a dozen albums (plus appearances on a couple of movie soundtracks) to achieve star status in the early 1970s. Along the way they developed a cult following that added new members with each successive album. The fourth Miller album was Brave New World, the title track of which was used in the film Homer, a 1970 film that is better remembered for its soundtrack than for the film itself.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: LP: Volunteers
Label: RCA Victor
By 1969 Jefferson Airplane's music was a staple of progressive FM stations but had all but disappeared from the top 40 charts. Still, the band continued to release singles from their albums, including the title track to their fifth (and final with the classic JA lineup) LP, Volunteers.
Title: Sunshine Superman
Source: CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released in edited form on 45 RPM vinyl and on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Sony Music Special Products (original label: Epic)
Donovan's hugely successful Sunshine Superman is sometimes credited as being the tsunami that launched the wave of psychedelic music that washed over the shores of pop musicland in 1967. OK, I made that up, but the song really did change the direction of American pop as well as Donovan's own career. Originally released as a three and a quarter minute long single, the full unedited four and a half minute long stereo mix of the song heard here did not appear on vinyl until Donovan's 1969 Greatest Hits album.
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.
Title: Your Wall's Too High
Source: CD: Born To Be Wild-A Retrospective (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf)
Writer(s): John Kay
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Most of the songs on Steppenwolf's first album had been in the group's stage repertoire for a year or more, giving the band plenty of opportunity to work the bugs out of their arrangements. As a result the band sounded tight and well-rehearsed on their debut LP, as is evident on Your Wall's Too High, a tune written by leader John Kay, who also played slide guitar on the tune.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Just A Little Bit
Source: LP: Insideoutside
Writer(s): Dick Peterson
The first Blue Cheer album, Vincebus Eruptum, was known for its loudness. In fact, the feedback-drenched rendition of Eddie Cochrane's Summertime Blues, which was a top 40 hit in 1968, was actually only the tip of the loudness iceberg for the San Francisco power trio. The second Blue Cheer album, Outsideinside, continued the loudness, but tried to give it a bit of structure to go with it. The result was tracks like Just A Little Bit, the band's second single. Just A Little Bit did not, however, repeat the chart success of Summertime Blues, barely scraping the bottom reaches of the Billboard Hot 100. As a result, the album itself did not do as well as its predecessor, and guitarist Leigh Stephens soon departed for a solo career.
Title: How Does It Feel To Feel
Source: Mono British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Creation was one of a handful of British bands that were highly successful in Germany, but were unable to buy a hit in their own country. Evolving out of a band known as the Mark Four, Creation was officially formed in 1966 by vocalist Kenny pickett, guitarist Eddie Phillips, bassist Bob Garner and drummer Jack Jones. Their first single stalled out at #49 on the British charts, but went to #5 in Germany. The gap was even wider for their second single, which topped the German charts but did not chart in Britain at all. Garner and Phillips both left the band just as How Does It Feel To Feel was issued in early 1968. The band, with a fluctuating lineup, continued on for a few months but finally threw in the towel in late 1968.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Revolution soundtrack)
Writer: Buffy Sainte-Marie
Label: Rhino (original label: United Artists)
Buffy St. Marie's Codine was a popular favorite among the club crowd in mid-60s California. In 1967, L.A. band The Leaves included it on their second LP. Around the same time, up the coast in San Francisco, the Charlatans selected it to be their debut single. The suits at Kama-Sutra Records, however, balked at the choice, and instead released a cover of the Coasters' The Shadow Knows. The novelty-flavored Shadow bombed so bad that the label decided not to release any more Charlatans tracks, thus leaving their version of Codine gathering dust in the vaults until the mid 1990s, when the entire Kama-Sutra sessions were released on CD. Meanwhile, back in 1968, Quicksilver Messenger Service were still without a record contract, despite pulling decent crowds at various Bay Area venues, including a credible appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. Not long after that the producers of the quasi-documentary film Revolution decided to include footage of three as-yet unsigned Bay Area bands, one of which was Quicksilver Messenger Service, who performed Codine in the film. Rather than use that performance for the soundtrack album, the producers chose to have the band re-record the song, making Codine the group's first officially released studio recording.
Title: Tripping Into Sunshine
Source: CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released on LP: T.I.M.E. and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Zonophone (original label: Liberty)
After the demise of the Canadian band Sparrow, bassist Nick St. Nicholas gravitated to San Francisco, where he met up with former members of the San Diego-based Hard Times to form T.I.M.E. (Trust In Men Everywhere). The band recorded two albums for Liberty, the first of which opens with the track Tripping Into Sunshine. After the group's demise St. Nicholas rejoined his former Sparrow bandmates in their new band Steppenwolf. He was eventually joined by guitarist Larry Byrom.
Artist: Limey And The Yanks
Title: Guaranteed Love
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Star-Burst)
Limey and the Yanks were an Orange County, California band that boasted an honest-to-dog British lead vocalist. Despite being kind of Zelig-like on the L.A. scene, they only recorded two singles. The first one, Guaranteed Love, was co-written by Gary Paxton, best known for his involvement in various novelty records, including the Hollywood Argyles' Alley Oop, which he co-wrote with Kim Fowley, and Bobby "Boris" Pickett's Monster Mash, which was released on Paxton's own Garpax label.
Although the psychedelic era itself officially covers only a few years in the late 1960s, for many the spirit of the era's music lives on. One such person is Darren Brennessel of Rochester, NY, who is the mastermind behind over two dozen McFadden's Parachute albums. Brennessel has been playing professionally since 1989, when he was the drummer for a band called the Purple Flashes, conceiving and recording the first McFadden's Parachute album as a side project. In the years since, in addition to playing multiple instruments on McFadden's Parachute albums then Brennessel has continued to play drums with a variety of bands, including Sky Saxon's Green Forests, which recorded an as-yet unreleased album in 2004. Brennessel has recently sent me a copy of his new CD, Fuzzy Organs, as well as a special sampler collection of McFadden's Parachute tracks recorded mostly in the 1990s. This week we present a special extended Advanced Psych segment made up entirely of McFadden's Parachute tunes. Enjoy.
Artist: McFadden's Parachute
Title: I Can't Get High
Source: CD: Fuzzy Organs
Writer(s): Darren Brennessel
Artist: McFadden's Parachute
Title: Uncle Thaddeus
Source: CD: Psolipsystic Psychedelic Pslyces Of McFadden's Parachute
Writer(s): Darren Brennessel
Artist: McFadden's Parachute
Title: Good Girls
Source: CD: Fuzzy Organs
Writer(s): Darren Brennessel
Title: The Way I Feel
Source: LP: Fairport Chronicles (originally released on LP: Fotheringay
Writer(s): Gordon Lightfoot
After leaving Fairport Convention in 1970, vocalist Sandy Denny formed a new band, Fotheringay. The group released one self-titled LP before Denny decided to go it solo. A highlight from that album is a strong version of Gordon Lightfoot's The Way I Feel.
Title: Once I Had A Sweetheart
Source: LP: Basket Of Light
Writer(s): Trad., arr. Cox/Jansch/McShea/Renbourne/Thompson
Label: Reprise (promo copy)
The folk-rock supergroup Pentangle continued to have major chart success in the UK in 1969 with their Basket Of Light LP, which peaked at the #5 spot on the British album charts. Two singles from the album also made the charts; the second of these, Once I Had A Sweetheart, reached a high of #46.
Artist: Fever Tree
Title: Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing
Source: LP: Fever Tree
Writer(s): Neil Young
Although not the best track on the 1968 Fever Tree debut LP by any means, Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing was nonetheless an interesting choice of cover songs for the Houston area band. The string and horn arrangements on the track were by David Angel, who had worked with Love the previous year on their Forever Changes album.
Title: The World Turns All Around Her
Source: LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Writer(s): Gene Clark
In their early days, the Byrds were known more for their reworking of other writers' material, such as Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man and Pete Seeger's Turn! Turn! Turn! than for the songs they wrote themselves. Eventually, Jim (Roger) McGuinn, David Crosby and Chris Hillman would all develop into outstanding songwriters, but before they did, Gene Clark was considered the band's top composer. The World Turns All Around Her, from their second album, Turn! Turn! Turn!, shows why.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Visions Of Johanna
Source: Mono LP: Blonde On Blonde
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
A favorite among hardcore Bob Dylan fans, Visions Of Johanna, from the Blonde On Blonde album, was one of the most difficult Dylan songs to get right in the studio. Dylan first attempted to record the song in New York in November of 1965, utilizing the talents of some of the same musicians he had worked with on his Highway 61 Revisited album as well as members of what would come to be called The Band. After something like 15 takes the song was put on the shelf and not revisited until sessions in Nashville for the Blonde On Blonde album had begun. Only two of the musicians that had worked on the earlier sessions were present in Nashville: guitarist Robbie Robertson and organist Al Kooper. Other musicians on the final recording include guitarists Charlie McCoy and Wayne Moss, bassist Joe South and drummer Kenneth Buttrey.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Manic Depression
Source: CD: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
On February 22, 1967 the Jimi Hendrix Experience played what was possibly their worst gig, which culminated in Hendrix's white Stratocaster being stolen before it was fully paid for. Later that night the band made an appearance at a press reception at which Hendrix, in the words of manager/producer Chas Chandler, sounded like a manic depressive. Inspired by Chandler's observation, Hendrix wrote a song on the subject, which he taught to the band and recorded the next day. Hendrix later referred to Manic Depression as "ugly times music", calling it a "today's type of blues."
Artist: Albert King
Title: Night Stomp
Source: LP: Live Wire-Blues Power
Two legends came together when guitarist Albert King played the Fillmore Auditorium in June of 1968, just one month before promoter Bill Graham closed the venue in favor of the larger Fillmore West. The performance was recorded and released later that same year as Live Wire-Blues Power on the Stax label. It was King's first live album.
Title: You Need Meat (Don't Go No Further)
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
The Doors only released three non-album tracks during their existence, one of which was recorded after the death of vocalist Jim Morrison. The newer of the two that did feature Morrison, You Need Meat (Don't Go No Further), was issued as the B side of Love Her Madly, and was released ahead of the L.A. Woman album in 1971. The tune, originally released by Muddy Waters in 1956, was one of several blues covers recorded during the L.A. Woman sessions. The song first appeared in album form on the LP Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine, but remained unavailable on CD until 2006, when it appeared on the Perception box set. Weird Scenes was finally reissued on CD in 2014.
Title: The Unknown Soldier
Source: CD: Waiting For The Sun (also released 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.