Monday, May 28, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1822 (starts 5/30/18)
This week we have some fairly long sets with no talking. Trust me, that's a good thing. The last half hour is a bit different, though, as we have a pair of three-song artists' sets, one from the Beatles and one from the Shadows Of Knight, followed by a bit of strangeness to finish out the show.
Title: House Of The Rising Sun
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): trad., arr. Price
Label: Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Sometimes, to use a baseball analogy, you hit a home run in your first time out fo the box. Such was the case with the Animals recording of the traditional folk song House Of The Rising Sun. The record, released in 1964, went to the top of the charts virtually all over the planet and the song itself has long since come to be identified specifically with the Animals, despite its 19th century (some say even earlier) origins. In fact, Bob Dylan, who recorded the song years before the Animals, removed the song from his own repertoire when he was accused of stealing it from the latter band. Dave Van Ronk, who taught the song to Dylan in the first place, has claimed that the Animals were actually using his arrangement of the song. Regardless, the fact remains that if you were going to play guitar in a rock and roll band in the mid-60s you had to know how to play the Animals version of House Of The Rising Sun. It helped if you had the stamina in your chord hand to still be playing it six verses later.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Queen Jane Approximately
Source: CD: Highway 61 Revisited
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
The thing that stands out to me about Bob Dylan's Queen Jane Approximately from his Highway 61 Revisited album is the fact that Michael Bloomfield's guitar is badly out of tune throughout the song. Yes, the song has sufficiently deep, meaningful lyrics (it is Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan, after all), and the rhyming structure is unique, but all I can hear is that out of tune guitar.
Title: Sunny South Kensington
Source: Mono LP: Mellow Yellow (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Donovan followed up his 1966 hit single Sunshine Superman with an album of the same name. He then repeated himself with the song and album Mellow Yellow. The B side of the Mellow Yellow single was Sunny South Kensington, a tune done in much the same style as Superman. The song was also included on the Mellow Yellow album.
Title: Star Collector
Source: LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
The Monkees were one of the first bands to utilize the Moog synthesizer on a rock record. One of the two tracks that uses the device extensively is Star Collector, a song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and sung by the late Davy Jones. Usually Jones was picked to sing the band's love ballads. Star Collector, on the other hand, is a wild, almost humorous look at rock groupies; the type of song that on earlier Monkees albums would have been given to Peter Tork to sing. The synthesizer in Star Collector was programmed and played by Paul Beaver (of Beaver and Krause). Tork later said that he didn't think much of Beaver's performance, saying "he played it like a flute or something" rather than exploit the unique sounds the Moog was capable of producing.
Source: Mono CD: A Deadly Dose Of Wild Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Big Sound)
Starting around 1965, high school students all across middle America began forming garage bands, most of which emulated British Invasion bands such as the Kinks and the Rolling Stones. It's no surprise then, that by 1968 some of these same high schoolers were now enrolled in colleges such as the University of Northern Iowa and forming bands with names like the Pawnbrokers. The group, whose members came from Iowa, North Dakota and Minnesota, released three singles on at least two different labels before graduation brought an end to the whole thing. The second of these was Realize, which was issued on the Big Sound label out of Davenport (one of the Quad Cities).
Artist: Country Weather
Title: Fly To New York
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released only to radio stations, later included on Swiss CD: Country Weather)
Label: Rhino (original label: RD)
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2005
Country Weather started off as a popular dance band in Contra Costa County, California. In 1968 they took the name Country Weather and began gigging on the San Francisco side of the bay. In 1969, still without a record contract, they recorded an album side's worth of material, made a few one-sided test copies and circulated them to local radio stations. Those tracks, including Fly To New York, were eventually released on CD in 2005 by the Swedish label RD Records.
Artist: Young Rascals
Title: What Is The Reason
Source: LP: Collections
Label: Warner Special Products/Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
My first high school dance was a Sadie Hawkins Day dance held at the General H. H. Arnold High School gym in Weisbaden, Germany. Onstage was a band of military brats calling themselves the Collections, so called because they covered every tune on the second Young Rascals album. That night (probably the best night of my entire freshman year, thanks to a sophomore whose name I've long since forgotten but who looked a lot like Cindy Williams in American Graffiti) inspired me to A): talk my parents into buying a cheap guitar and amp so I could join up with other guys who lived in our housing area to form "The Abundance Of Love", aka "The Haze And Shades Of Yesterday", aka "The Shades", and B) find and buy a copy of the Collections album (which ended up taking over 40 years to do).
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mercury)
The Blues Magoos (original spelling: Bloos, not surprising for a bunch of guys from the Bronx) were either the first or second band to use the word psychedelic in an album title. Both they and the 13th Floor Elevators released their debut albums in 1966 and it is unclear which one actually came out first. What's not in dispute is the fact that Psychedelic Lollipop far outsold The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. One major reason for this was the fact that (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet was a huge national hit in early 1967, which helped album sales considerably. Despite having a unique sound and a look to match (including electric suits), the Magoos were unable to duplicate the success of Nothin' Yet on subsequent releases, partially due to Mercury's pairing of two equally marketable songs on the band's next single without indicating to stations which one they were supposed to be playing.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Source: CD: Buffalo Springfield
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Although Buffalo Springfield are generally acknowldeged to among the pioneers of a softer rock sound that would gain popularity in the 70s with bands like the Eagles, Poco and Crosby, Stills and Nash, they did occasionally rock out a bit harder on tracks like Leave. Of particular note is lead guitarist Neil Young doing blues licks on Leave, a Stephen Stills tune from the first Buffalo Springfield album, released in 1966.
Title: Eight Miles High (RCA Studios version)
Source: CD: Fifth Dimension (bonus track) (originally released on LP: Never Before)
Label: Columbia/Legacy (original label: Re-Flyte)
Year: Recorded 1965, released 1987
In December of 1965, while Turn! Turn! Turn! was the number one song in the nation, the Byrds booked time at RCA Studios in Los Angeles to record a pair of songs, Eight Miles High and Why, which were intended to the be the band's next single. Columbia Records, however, had a policy prohibiting the use of a rival's studios (especially RCA's) and insisted that the Byrds re-record both songs, which were then issued as a single and included on the album Fifth Dimension. Meanwhile, the original recorded version of Eight Miles High remained unreleased until 1987, when it was included on an album of early unreleased Byrds recordings on the Re-Flyte label called Never Before. Both David Crosby and Roger McGuinn have said that they actually prefer the earlier version to the well-known Columbia recording.
Title: Don't Run And Hide
Source: 45 RPM single B side
The Hollies were already established in the UK with a series of hit records by the time they scored their breakthrough US hit, Bus Stop, in 1966. Don't Run and Hide is the B side of that US single. Like many early Hollies tunes, Don't Run And Hide was credited to the fictional L. Ransford, rather than band members Allan Clark, Terry Hicks and Graham Nash, who actually wrote the song.
Artist: Red Squares
Title: You Can Be My Baby
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Sweden as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Originally formed in Boston, England, in 1964, the Red Squares relocated to Denmark in 1966 and soon became massively popular. For the most part the band's sound was similar to the Hollies, as can be heard on the original 1966 LP version of You Can Be My Baby. The re-recorded single version of the song however, released in 1967 in Sweden as a B side, cranks up the energy levels to something approaching the early Who records.
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Motorcycle Irene
Source: LP: Wow
Writer: Skip Spence
Usually a band's second album is pretty much an extension of their first effort in terms of style and overall quality. Not so in the case of San Francisco's Moby Grape. Their 1967 debut LP was a critical success, with the general consensus being that Moby Grape was making, at that point in time, the best music the city by the bay had to offer. Their sophomore effort, Wow, on the other hand, was considered by the same critics to be inconsistent and overproduced. Still, there were some high points on the album, such as Skip Spence's Motorcycle Irene. Even that track suffers from too much studio tweaking, however. Nonetheless, when it came time for a Moby Grape anthology, Motorcycle Irene was included.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: The Nile Song
Source: Simulated stereo CD: Relics (originally released on LP: Soundtrack From The Film More)
Writer(s): Roger Waters
Label: Capitol (original label: Tower)
After the replacement of Syd Barrett by his childhood friend David Gilmore midway through the making of the second Pink Floyd album, the new lineup got to work on a new project: a soundtrack for a film by Luxembourg director Barbet Schroeder called More. The soundtrack album contains more acoustic numbers than any other Pink Floyd LP, but is better known for a pair of tunes that are among the hardest rocking tracks the band ever recorded. One of those, the Nile Song, was released as a single, but only in France, Japan and New Zealand. The Roger Waters tune is probably as close to heavy metal that Pink Floyd ever got.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: I'm A Man
Source: Mono LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: United Artists
The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve and Muff Winwood, was one of the UK's most successful white R&B bands of the sixties, cranking out a steady stream of hit singles. Two of them, the iconic Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man, were also major hits in the US, the latter being the last song to feature the Winwood brothers. Muff Winwood became a successful record producer. The group itself continued on for several years, but were never able to duplicate their earlier successes. As for Steve Winwood, he quickly faded off into obscurity, never to be heard from again. Except as the leader of Traffic. And a member of Blind Faith. And Traffic again. And some critically-acclaimed collaborations in the early 1980s with Asian musicians. Oh yeah, and a few major solo hits (Higher Love, Roll With It...that kinda thing) in the mid-to-late 1980s. Other than that, nothing.
Artist: Pretty Things
Title: Midnight To Six Man
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
Once upon a time in London there was a band called Little Boy Blue And The Blue Boys. Well, it wasn't really so much a band as a bunch of schoolkids jamming in guitarist Dick Taylor's parents' garage on a semi-regular basis. In addition to Taylor, the group included classmate Mick Jagger and eventually another guitarist by the name of Keith Richards. When yet another guitarist, Brian Jones, entered the picture, the band, which was still an amateur outfit, began calling itself the Rollin' Stones. Taylor switched from guitar to bass to accomodate Jones, but when the Stones decided to go pro in late 1962, Taylor opted to stay in school. It wasn't long, however, before Taylor, now back on guitar, showed up on the scene with a new band called the Pretty Things. Fronted by vocalist Phil May, the Things were rock and roll bad boys like the Stones, except more so. Their fifth single, Midnight To Six Man, sums up the band's attitude and habits. Unfortunately, the song barely made the British top 50 and was totally unheard in the US.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Birds In My Tree
Source: LP: The Best Of The Strawberry Alarm Clock (originally released on LP: Incense And Peppermints)
The Strawberry Alarm Clock had a history of not acknowledging everyone involved in making their records, especially near the beginning of their career. For instance, the lead vocalist on Incense And Peppermints itself, Greg Munford, was not even a member of the band. Furthermore, four of the ten songs on the album, including Birds In My Tree, we co-written (with bassist George Bunnell) by Steve Bartok, who also provided flute parts for several songs, but received no credit for his work. Birds In My Tree, incidentally, was chosen as the B side for the band's second single, Tomorrow.
Title: The Daily Planet
Source: CD: Comes In Colours (originally released on LP: Forever Changes)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Raven (original label: Elektra)
The closest Love ever got to a stable lineup was in early 1967, when the group consisted of multi-instrumentalist and band leader Arthur Lee, lead guitarist Johnny Echols, rhythm guitarist Bryan MacLean, bassist Ken Forssi and drummer Michael Stuart. This group, along with "Snoopy" Pfisterer on keyboards and Tjay Cantrelli on flute and saxophone, had completed the De Capo album in late 1966 and were firmly entrenched as the top-drawing band on the Sunset Strip. There were drawbacks, however. Then, as now, Los Angeles was the party capitol of the world, and the members of Love, as Kings of the Strip, had easy access to every vice they could imagine. This became a serious problem when it was time to begin working on the band's third LP, Forever Changes. Both Lee and MacLean had new material ready to be recorded, but getting the other members into the studio was proving to be impossible, so the two songwriters, along with producer Bruce Botnick, decided to take matters into their own hands and brought in some of L.A.'s top studio musicians to begin work on the album. The move turned out to be a wake up call for the rest of the band, who were able to get their act together in time to finish the album themselves. Lee and MacLean, however, chose to keep the two tracks that they had completed using studio musicians. One of those was a Lee composition, The Daily Planet. Ken Forssi later claimed that bassist Carol Kaye was having problems with the song and Forssi himself ended up playing on the track, but there is no way now to verify Forssi's claim. At one time, Neil Young, who was originally slated to co-produce the album, was rumored to have arranged The Daily Planet, but has since denied any involvement with the song.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Six O'Clock
Source: LP: Everything's Playing
Writer(s): John Sebastian
Label: Kama Sutra
The last top 20 hit for the Lovin' Spoonful was Six O'Clock, from the album Everything's Playing, released in 1967. Shortly after the record came out John Sebastian left the group. The remaining members tried to carry on without him for a while, but were never able to duplicate the success of the Sebastian years.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds
Source: Mono LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Label: Sundazed/BMG (original label: RCA Victor)
Marty Balin says he came up with the title of the opening track of side two of Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow album by combining a couple of random phrases from the sports section of a newspaper. 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds works out to 216 MPH, by the way.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source: LP: Live At Town Hall
Writer(s): Blind Willie Johnson
Label: Verve Forecast
Sometime in mid-1967 a new Blues Project LP was released. The album was titled Live At Town Hall, despite the fact that only half of the tracks on the album were in fact recorded live, and only one of those was actually recorded at Howard K. Solomon's Town Hall. To add insult to injury, the liner notes heavily emphasized the talents of keyboardist/vocalist Al Kooper, who had in fact quit the group shortly before the album was released, reportedly over musical differences with guitarist Danny Kalb over whether or not the band should add a horn section. Although I have not been able to determine exactly which track was recorded where, it seems likely that the album's opening recording, an energetic performance of I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes featuring some of Kalb's best guitar work, is the Town Hall performance, as it is a notably higher fidelity recording than the album's other live tracks.
Title: When The Music's Over
Source: LP: Strange Days
Writer(s): The Doors
I remember the first time I heard When The Music's Over. My girlfriend's older brother had a copy of the Strange Days album on the stereo in his room and told us to get real close to the speakers so we could hear the sound of a butterfly while he turned the volume way up. What we got, of course, was a blast of "...we want the world and we want it now." Good times.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: I'm Gonna Make You Mine
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Possibly the loudest rockin' recordings of 1966 came from the Shadows of Knight. A product of the Chicago suburbs, the Shadows (as they were originally known) quickly established a reputation as the region's resident bad boy rockers (lead vocalist Jim Sohns was reportedly banned from more than one high school campus for his attempts at increasing the local teen pregnancy rate). After signing a record deal with the local Dunwich label, the band learned that there was already a band called the Shadows and added the Knight part (after their own high school sports teams' name). Their first single was a cover of Van Morrison's Gloria that changed one line ("around here" in place of "up to my room") and thus avoided the mass radio bannings that had derailed the original Them version. I'm Gonna Make You Mine was the second follow up to Gloria, but its lack of commercial success consigned the Shadows to one-hit wonder status until years after the band's breakup, when they finally got the recognition they deserved as one of the founding bands of garage/punk, and perhaps its greatest practicioner.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: Peepin' And Hidin'
Source: CD: Dark Sides-The Best Of The Shadows Of Knight (originally released on LP: Back Door Men)
Writer(s): Jimmy Reed
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
When the Shadows Of Knight first entered the recording studio to work on their first LP, Gloria, the band featured Warren Rogers on lead guitar and Joe Kelley on bass. It soon became evident, however, the Kelley had a lot more talent as an instrumentalist than anyone had realized, and by the time the album was completed Kelley and Rogers had traded instruments. The band's second LP, Back Door Men, saw Kelley taking even a bigger role on tracks like Jimmy Reed's Peepin' And Hidin', which features Kelley on lead vocals, as well as his usual lead guitar and blues harp.
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: Baby It's You
Source: Mono CD: Please Please Me (original US release: LP: Introducing...The Beatles)
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original US label: Vee Jay)
The Beatles, in their early days, performed a lot of cover tunes, such as Baby Its You, which had been a top 10 hit for the Shirelles' in 1961. When it came time for the fab four to record their first LP, producer George Martin simply had the band run through their usual live set in the studio with the tape machine running. Since that live set included Baby It's You, the song made it onto the album. In the US, the song first appeared on the VeeJay label on the LP Introducing...The Beatles and was later included on the Capitol LP The Early Beatles. Interestingly, although the Beatles arrangement of Baby Its You is, from a musical standpoint, a straight cover of the Shirelles version, there is a significant difference in the lyrics in that the Beatles chose to repeat the second verse rather than the first, giving the song a more upbeat ending.
Title: Oh! Darling
Source: LP: Abbey Road
Paul McCartney reportedly recorded vocals for the Abbey Road track Oh! Darling on several consecutive days (always using the first take) in an effort to make it sound like he had been performing it night after night in a club. In an interview shortly before his death, former bandmate John Lennon had this to say about the song: "Oh! Darling was a great one of Paul's that he didn't sing too well. I always thought I could have done it better—it was more my style than his. He wrote it, so what the hell, he's going to sing it."
Title: P.S. I Love You
Source: CD: Please Please Me (original US release: LP: Introducing...The Beatles)
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original label: Vee Jay)
As the B side of the very first Beatles single, P.S. I Love You was, along with Love Me Do, one of the first songs that people outside of Liverpool or Hamburg ever heard by the fab four. The single itself sold moderately well in the UK, but was only the first hint of what Beatlemania would soon become. Released in 1962, the two songs originally appeared in the US on the first pressing of the album Introducing The Beatles, which was released in January of 1964 on the Vee Jay label after sitting on the shelf for several months. Within a week, however, Vee Jay withdrew the album from circulation due to litigation from Capitol Records. Apparently, by not releasing the single in the US the previous year, Vee Jay had allowed Capitol's publishing arm to secure the rights to the two songs. Vee Jay quickly released a modified version of Introducing...The Beatles that did not include the two songs, replacing them with Please Please Me and Ask Me Why, which Vee Jay had released as a single in 1963. P.S. I Love You, a mainly Paul McCartney composition, would later appear on the Capitol LP The Early Beatles. When CDs were introduced in the mid 1980s it was decided to use the original British versions of all the Beatles' albums, which meant that P.S. I Love You was now on the Please Please Me album in the US.
Artist: Mothers Of Invention
Title: Help, I'm A Rock, 3rd Movement: It Can't Happen Here
Source: 45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Writer(s): Frank Zappa
Label: Barking Pumpkin (original label: Verve)
Help, I'm A Rock and its follow up track It Can't Happen Here are among the best-known Frank Zappa compositions on the first Mothers Of Invention album, Freak Out! What is not so well known is that the band's label, Verve, issued a single version of the track under the title Help, I'm A Rock, 3rd Movement: It Can't Happen Here, as the B side of the band's first single. This mono single version removes the avant-garde jazz piano and drum section from the piece, making the track slightly over three minutes in length. The result is one of the strangest a cappella performances ever committed to vinyl.
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Laurie)
The Barbarians were originally formed in Cape Cod in 1963, and were known as much for their noncomformity as for their music. They were the first Boston area band to grow out their hair and wear leather sandals; To top it off their drummer, Vic "Moulty" Moulton, had lost his left hand in an accident when he was younger and wore a prosthetic hook. In 1966, after the band had moderate national success with a semi-novelty song called Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl, the band's producer, Doug Morris, talked Moulton into recording a faux-autobiographical song called Moulty, using New York studio musicians from a group called Levon and the Hawks (who had backed up such notables as Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan on tour and would, in a few years, become superstars in the own right after changing their name to The Band). Moulton, upon finding out that the recording had been released, was incensed, and went to the New York offices of Laurie Records, chasing the label's president around the office and breaking copies of the record over his head. Moulty was the last Barbarians record to appear on the Laurie label.