Monday, June 4, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1823 (starts 6/6/18)
This week's show is full of all kinds of interesting possibilities. Really.
Title: You Really Got Me
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Eric (original label: Reprise)
You Really Got Me has been described as the first hard rock song and the track that invented heavy metal. You'll get no argument from me on either of those assessments.
Title: I Ain't No Miracle Worker
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Challenge)
Over a year before the Electric Prunes recorded I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), the songwriting team of Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz came up with a song that has come to be regarded as a garage-punk classic. I Ain't No Miracle Worker, recorded by the Merced, California band the Brogues, was a modest regional hit in 1965. Brogues vocalist/guitarist Gary Cole (using the name Gary Duncan) and drummer Greg Elmore would resurface a few months later in San Francisco as founding members of Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Title: Try To Understand
Source: LP: The Seeds
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: GNP Crescendo
The Seeds' first recording session of 1966 resulted in the band's third single, Try To Understand. By this point in the band's career lead vocalist Sky Saxon was no longer playing bass in the studio, although he continued to play the instrument onstage. At Saxon's request, Harvey Sharpe of the Beau-Jives, a popular Los Angeles band that occasionally appeared at Gene Norman's Crescendo Club (Norman also being the owner of the GNP Crescendo record label that the Seeds recorded for) joined the group in the studio, along with guitarist Vinnie Fanelli. The song was not able to get much airplay when released as an A side in February of 1966, and subsequently was chosen as the B side of the re-released version of Pushin' Too Hard later the same year, which ended up being the group's biggest hit. The song also appeared as the opening track of side two of the Seeds' debut LP.
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 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.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Take Me For A Little While/Eleanor Rigby
Source: LP: Vanilla Fudge
Vanilla Fudge made their mark by doing slowed down rocked out versions of popular songs such as the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On. In fact, all of the tracks on their debut LP were songs of this nature, including two Beatles tunes. Side two of the original LP featured three tracks tied together by short psychedelic instrumental pieces knowns collectively as Illusions Of My Childhood. In addition to the aforementioned Supremes cover, the side features a Trade Martin composition called Take Me For A Little While that takes a diametrically opposed viewpoint to the first song, which leads directly into Eleanor Rigby, which sort of sums up both of the previous tracks lyrically. Although the Vanilla Fudge would stick around for a couple more years (and four more albums), they were never again able to match the commercial success of their 1967 debut LP.
Artist: John's Children
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Marc Bolan
Label: Rhino (original label: Track)
After a pair of failed singles, the Ashtead, Surrey band known as John's Children brought in a new lead guitarist, Marc Bolan, who wrote their third release, Desdemona. Although Desdemona was indeed a much stronger song than the band's earlier efforts, it found itself banned by the BBC for the line "lift up your skirt and fly". Since by the BBC-1 was the only legal top 40 station left operating in the UK (Radio Luxembourg being on the continent), the song did not get heard by most British listeners. Bolan soon left the group to form his own psychedelic folk band, Tyrannosaurus Rex, with percussionist Steve Peregrine Took.
Title: I'm Mad Again
Source: LP: The Best Of The Animals (originally released on LP: The Animals)
Writer(s): John Lee Hooker
It's no secret that many of the British Invasion bands were fans of American rhythm and blues artists such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and John Lee Hooker. The Animals, in particular, preferred playing blues cover tunes to the hit songs being given to them by producer Mickey Most, both on vinyl and in concert. Their 1964 debut LP included tunes originally recorded by such notables as Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Nappy Brown, among others. One of the best of these was their version of a 1961 John Lee Hooker tune called I'm Mad Again. The song was not a huge hit for Hooker, yet the Animals version was deemed good enough for inclusion on their first greatest hits collection, released in 1965 on the M-G-M label.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Subterranean Homesick Blues
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
1965 was the year Bob Dylan went electric, and got his first top 40 hit, Subterranean Homesick Blues, in the process. Although the song, which also led off his Bringing It All Back Home album, stalled out in the lower 30s, it did pave the way for electrified cover versions of Dylan songs by the Byrds and Turtles and Dylan's own Like A Rolling Stone, which would revolutionize top 40 radio. A line from the song itself, "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows", became the inspiration for a radical offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) that called itself the Weathermen (later the Weather Underground).
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Midnight Ride (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Kicks was not 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.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: White Rabbit
Source: European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Surrealistic Pillow)
Writer: Grace Slick
Label: Sony Music (original label: RCA Victor)
The first time I heard Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit was on Denver's first FM rock station, KLZ-FM. The station branded itself as having a top 100 (as opposed to local ratings leader KIMN's top 60), and prided itself on being the first station in town to play new releases and album tracks. It wasn't long before White Rabbit was officially released as a single, and went on to become a top 10 hit, the last for the Airplane. Not that the Airplane ever suffered from lack of exposure...
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Summertime Blues
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Vincebus Eruptum)
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
If 1967 was the summer of love, then 1968 was the summer of violence. Framed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, both major anti-establishment movements of the time (civil rights and anti-war) became increasing radicalized and more violent. The hippies gave way to the Yippies, LSD gave way to crystal meth, and there were riots in the streets of several US cities. Against this backdrop Blue Cheer released one of the loudest and angriest recordings ever to grace the top 40: the proto-metal arrangement of Eddie Cochrane's 1958 classic Summertime Blues. It was the perfect soundtrack song of its time.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Death Don't Have No Mercy
Source: LP: Live Dead
Writer(s): Rev. Gary Davis
Label: Warner Brothers
Prior to 1969, the recording quality of live albums was noticably inferior to that of studio recordings by the same artist, particularly among rock bands. The Grateful Dead, however, set out to change all that with their 1969 double LP Live Dead. The band's previous album, had gone way over budget, and the band's label, Warner Brothers, wanted the band itself to help pay for it. By providing a double-LP live album at virtually no additional cost, the Dead would be able to give Warner three discs for the price of onegetting themselves out of debt in the process. The fact that the album itself sold quite well certainly didn't hurt the band's relationship with the label, either. Much of the credit for the album's success was due to the efforts of the band's legendary soundman, Owsley "Bear" Stanley. Bear began by asking electronics designer Ron Wickersham to come up with a microphone splitter that could feed signals to the PA system and the recording console simultaneously without any loss in sound quality. Just as important was the availability of a new state-of-the art Ampex 16-track recorder. Live Dead would be the first live performance ever recorded using 16-track equipment.The album was recorded over a period of about a week at two locations: the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore West. The fourth side of the album, which includes the Dead's version of Rev. Gary Davis's Death Don't Have No Mercy, was recorded on March 2, 1969 at the Fillmore West, the final recording date.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Sounds Of Silence)
Writer(s): Davey Graham
Paul Simon wrote nearly all the material that he and Art Garfunkel recorded. One notable exception is Davey Graham's instrumental Anji, which Simon played as a solo acoustic piece on the Sounds Of Silence. The song immediately follows a Simon composition, Somewhere They Can't Find Me, that is built around a similar-sounding guitar riff, making Anji sound somewhat like an instrumental reprise of the first tune.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Source: CD: The Ultimate Experience (originally released on LP: The Cry Of Love)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Shortly after the untimely death of Jimi Hendrix in September of 1970, Reprise released the first of many posthumous Hendrix albums, The Cry Of Love. Like millions of other Hendrix fans, I immediately went out and bought a copy. I have to say that there are very few songs that have ever brought tears to my eyes, and even fewer that did so on my very first time hearing them. Of these, Angel tops the list.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice
Source: Simulated stereo Dutch import LP: The Singles (originally released in Europe and the UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
The fourth single released in Europe and the UK by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was 1967's Burning Of The Midnight Lamp, which appeared in stereo the following year on the album Electric Ladyland. The B side of that single was a strange bit of psychedelia called The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice, which is also known in some circles as STP With LSD. The piece features Hendrix on guitar and vocals, with background sounds provided by a cast of at least dozens. Hendrix's vocals are spoken rather than sung, and resemble nothing more than a cosmic travelogue with Hendrix himself as the tour guide. Unfortunately the only US release of the song is a remix in which the vocal track tends to get buried under everything else. Still, it's a (dare I say it) trippy little number that's fun to listen to.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: All Along The Watchtower
Source: CD: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Although there have been countless covers of Bob Dylan songs recorded by a variety of artists, very few of them have become better known than the original Dylan versions. Probably the most notable of these is the Jimi Hendrix Experience version of All Along The Watchtower on the Electric Ladyland album. Hendrix's arrangement of the song has been adopted by several other musicians over the years, including Neil Young (at the massive Bob Dylan tribute concert) and even Dylan himself.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Rock And Roll Woman
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth). Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina and Stephen Stills. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock and Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 40 years after it was recorded.
Title: Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush
Source: CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush soundtrack)
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
For many years I was completely oblivious to the existence of a movie called Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush. The Traffic song of the same name, however, has been a favorite of mine for quite some time (I have black and white video footage of the band performing the song on some old British TV show). The song was released as a single in 1967 and was not included on either the US or UK version of the Mr. Fantasy album (originally known in the US as Heaven Is In Your Mind). It is now available, however, as a bonus track on both the mono (Mr. Fantasy) and stereo (Heaven Is In Your Mind) versions of the CD.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Pretty Ballerina
Source: LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
The Left Banke, taking advantage of bandleader Michael Brown's industry connections (his father owned a New York recording studio), ushered in what was considered to be the "next big thing" in popular music in early 1967: baroque pop. After their debut single, Walk Away Renee, became a huge bestseller, the band followed it up with Pretty Ballerina, which easily made the top 20 as well. Subsequent releases were sabotaged by a series of bad decisions by Brown and the other band members that left radio stations leery of playing any record with the words "Left Banke" on the label.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Miss Amanda Jones
Source: CD: Between The Buttons
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The only thing I have to say about Miss Amanda Jones is that it is one of my favorite tracks on the 1967 Rolling Stones album Between The Buttons. Come to think of it, that kind of says it all, anyway.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day
Source: LP: Back Door Men
Writer(s): Tommy Boyce
Label: Sundazed (original label: Dunwich)
Tommy Boyce actually had a songwriting career separate from his many collaborations with Bobby Hart. One of his early songs was Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day, which was first recorded as a single by the Colorado-based Astronauts (which gave producer Steve Venet co-writing credit) before getting included on the first Monkees album. Along the way the song got recorded by a handful of garage bands, including Chicago's Shadows Of Knight, whose version closely parallels the Astronauts' original.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Get Me To The World On Time
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
With I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) climbing the charts in early 1967, the Electric Prunes turned to songwriter Annette Tucker for two more tracks to include on their debut LP. One of those, Get Me To The World On Time (co-written by lyricist Jill Jones) was selected to be the follow up single to Dream. Although not as big a hit, the song still did respectably on the charts (and was actually the first Electric Prunes song I ever heard on FM radio).
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Hey Joe
Source: LP: Shades Of Deep Purple
Writer(s): Billy Roberts
My first impression of Deep Purple was that they were Britain's answer to the Vanilla Fudge. After all, both bands had a big hit in 1968 with a rearranged version of someone else's song from 1967 (Vanilla Fudge with the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On and Deep Purple with Billy Joe Royal's Hush). Additionally, both groups included a Beatles cover on their debut LP (Fudge: Ticket To Ride, Purple: Help). Finally, both albums included a depressing Cher cover song. In the Vanilla Fudge case it was one of her biggest hits, Bang Bang. Deep Purple, on the other hand, went with a song that was actually more closely associated with the Jimi Hendrix Experience (although Cher did record it as well): Hey Joe. The Deep Purple version of the Billy Roberts classic (originally credited to the band on the label itself), is probably the most elaborate of the dozens of recorded versions of the song (which is up there with Louie Louie in terms of quantity), incorporating sections of the Miller's Dance (by Italian classical composer Manuel de Falla), as well as an extended instrumental section, making the finished track over seven and a half minutes long.
Title: Down By The River
Source: LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s): Neil Young
Down By The River is one of four songs on the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere that Neil Young wrote while running a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (that's 39.5 degrees for people in civilized nations that use the Celsius, aka centrigrade, scale). By some strange coincidence, they are the four best songs on the album. I wish I could have been that sick in my days as a wannabe rock star.
Artist: American Dream
Source: LP: The American Dream
Writer(s): Van Winkle/Jameson
OK, I have to admit that I know very little about the album and band called The American Dream, which was included as an unexpected free gift that came along with a vintage vinyl copy of an album I bought online. Here's what I do know. The American Dream was from Philadelphia. The album was produced by Todd Rundgren. In fact, it was his first time producing a group that he himself was not a member of. Finally, these guys were actually pretty good. How good? Well, take a listen to the album's final (and longest) track, Raspberries, and decide for yourself.