Monday, June 18, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1825 (starts 6/20/18)
This week's show is made up entirely of sets from a specific year. One from 1965, one from 1969 and two each from the peak years of the psychedelic era, 1966-68. Since there are no artists' sets, we have 30 songs by 30 artists this time around. Enjoy!
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Source: LP: Paul Revere And The Raiders' Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Midnight Ride)
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 their version of John D. Loudermilk's Indian Reservation (Lament of the Cherokee Nation) topped the charts five years later.
Title: I Want To Tell You
Source: Mono CD: Revolver
Writer(s): George Harrison
The first pre-recorded reel-to-reel tape I ever bought was the Capitol version of the Beatles' Revolver album, which I picked up about a year after the LP was released. Although my Dad's tape recorder had small built-in speakers, his Koss headphones had far superior sound, which led to me sleeping on the couch in the living room with the headphones on. Hearing songs like I Want To Tell You on factory-recorded reel-to-reel tape through a decent pair of headphones gave me an appreciation for just how well-engineered Revolver was, and also inspired me to (eventually) learn my own way around a recording studio. The song itself, by the way, is one of three George Harrison songs on Revolver; the most on any Beatle album up to that point, and a major reason that, when pressed, I almost always end up citing Revolver as my favorite Beatles LP.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Cheryl's Going Home
Source: Mono CD: Projections
Writer: Bob Lind
Label: Sundazed/Verve Folkways
One of the more unlikely songs to appear on an album by one of rock's first jam bands, Cheryl's Going Home was originally a B side, released by Bob Lind in 1965. It's possible that the Blues Project recorded it as a possible single of their own but for some reason decided against it. Only the band members and producer Tom Wilson know for sure.
Artist: Fleur De Lys
Source: CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: Rhino (original label: Immediate)
Circles was a song by the Who that was originally slated to be released in the UK on the Brunswick label as a follow-up to the highly successful My Generation. A dispute between the band and the label and their producer, Shel Talmy, led to the Who switching labels and releasing another song, Substitute, in its place, with Circles (retitled Instant Party) on the B side of the record. When Talmy slapped the band with a legal injunction, the single was withdrawn, and another band, the Fleur De Lys, took advantage of the situation, recording their own version of Circles and releasing it on the Immediate label. Just to make things more confusing Brunswick issued the Who's version of Circles as the B side of A Legal Matter later the same month.
Title: No Good Without You Baby
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): William Stevenson
Label: Rhino (original label: Decca)
Although they only released four singles from 1964-66 (the third of which being No Good Without You), the Birds were among the better UK bands not to get attention outside of their native land. Formed in 1963, the band was first known as the R&B Bohemians and then the Thunderbirds before shortening their name to the Birds. When the US Byrds came along, the Birds actually tried to sue them for using their name. What the group is probably best known for, however, is launching the career of guitarist Ron Wood, who would later join the Faces and is currently a member of some obscure British rock and roll band called the Rolling Stones.
Title: I'm Not Talking
Source: British simulated stereo CD: Before The Dream Faded
Label: Cherry Red
Year: Recorded 1965, released 1982
The story of the legendary band the Misunderstood actually started in 1963 when three teenagers from Riverside, California decided to form a band called the Blue Notes. Like most of the bands at the time, the group played a mixture of surf and 50s rock and roll cover songs, slowly developing a sound of their own as they went through a series of personnel changes. In 1965 the band changed their name to the Misunderstood and recorded six songs at a local recording studio. Among those was I'm Not Talking, a blues tune in much the same style as the early Yardbirds recordings. Although the recordings were not released, the band caught the attention of a San Bernardino disc jockey named John Ravencroft, and Englishman with an extensive knowledge of the British music scene. In June of 1966 the band, with Ravencroft's help, relocated to London, where they were eventually joined by Ravencroft himself, who changed his name to John Peel and became perhaps the most well-known, and certainly the most influential, DJ in British radio history. The Misunderstood recorded six more songs in the UK, releasing their one and only single in late 1966 before being deported back to the US (where one of the members was immediately drafted into military service).
Artist: Mamas And The Papas
Title: California Dreamin'
Source: LP: If You Believe Your Eyes And Ears (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): John Phillips
California Dreamin' was written in 1963 by John Phillips, who along with his wife Michelle was living in New York City at the time. The two of them were members of a folk group called the New Journeymen that would eventually become The Mamas And The Papas. Phillips initially gave the song to his friend Barry McGuire to record, but McGuire's version failed to chart. Not long after that McGuire introduced Philips to Lou Adler, president of Dunhill Records who quickly signed The Mamas And The Papas to a recording contract. Using the same instrumental backing track (provided by various Los Angeles studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew), The Mamas And The Papas recorded new vocals for California Dreamin', releasing it as a single in late 1965. The song took a while to catch on, but eventually peaked in the top five nationally.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Stray Cat Blues
Source: LP: Beggar's Banquet
As a military dependent overseas I had access to the local Base Exchange. The downside of buying albums there was that they were always a month or two behind the official stateside release dates getting albums in stock. The upside is that the BX had a special of the month that was always a new release for sale at something like 40% off the regular album price. The December 1968 special was the newest release from the Rolling Stones, the soon-ro-be-classic Beggar's Banquet, that I picked up for a whopping $1.50. Full-priced albums on the racks that month included the latest releases by the Beatles (white album), Hendrix (Electric Ladyland) and Cream (Wheels of Fire). I bought the Beatles and Stones albums and made copies of the Hendrix and Cream albums lent to me by friends who were impressed by the fact that I had access to a reel to reel tape recorder in the first place.
Title: I'm Your Witch Doctor
Source: British import CD: Now and Them
Writer(s): John Mayall
Label: Rev-Ola (original label: Tower)
Them's version of I'm Your Witch Doctor is an oddity: a pyschedelicized version of a John Mayall song by Van Morrison's old band with a new vocalist (Kenny McDowell). Just to make it even odder we have sound effects at the beginning of the song that were obviously added after the fact by the producer (and not done particularly well at that). But then, what else would you expect from the label that put out an LP by a band that didn't even participate in the recording of half the tracks on the album (Chocolate Watchband's No Way Out), a song about a city that none of the band members had even been to (the Standells' Dirty Water), and soundtrack albums to films like Wild In the Streets, Riot On Sunset Strip and The Love In? Let's hear it for Tower, the American International of the record industry!
Title: Never Like This
Source: British import CD: Music In A Doll's House
Label: See For Miles (original label: Reprise)
One of the most original and musically accomplished bands to appear on the late 60s British music scene, Family got its name from the Zelig-like Kim Fowley, who spent much of the decade flittering back and forth between London and Los Angeles. Fowley saw the band performing in their stage attire of matching double-breasted suits and remarked how they resembled a Mafia crime family. Musically, Family was unique in several ways, including the fact that their bass player, Rick Grech, also played violin. Lead vocalist Roger Chapman had one of the most unusual voices on the scene as well. Finally, the band's material was far more sophisticated than that of most of their contemporaries (Pink Floyd being a notable exception), predating the progressive rock movement by at least a year. Some of the tracks on their first album, Music In A Doll's House, drew comparisons to Traffic. This was probably inevitable, since Traffic's Dave Mason produced Music In A Doll's House (with the help of Jimmy Miller on a couple of tracks), as well as writing Never Like This for the album. Family's fortunes took a downward turn in 1969, however, when Grech left the group to become a member of Blind Faith.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: You Keep Me Hangin' On
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
You Keep Me Hangin' On, a hit for the Supremes in 1967, was the first song recorded by Vanilla Fudge, who laid down the seven-minute plus track in a single take. Producer Shadow Morton then used that recording to secure the band a contract with Atco Records (an Atlantic subsidiary) that same year. Rather than to re-record the song for their debut LP, Morton and the band chose to use the original tape, despite the fact that it was never mixed in stereo. For single release the song was cut down considerably, clocking in at around three minutes.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Two Heads
Source: CD: After Bathing At Baxters
Writer: Grace Slick
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
The third Jefferson Airplane album, After Bathing At Baxter's, saw the group moving in increasingly experimental directions, as Grace Slick's two contributions to the LP attest. The more accessible of the two was Two Heads, which was the first part of Schizoforest Love Suite, the fifth and final "suite" on the album.
Title: People Are Strange
Source: LP: Strange Days (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: The Doors
The first single from the second Doors album was People Are Strange. The song quickly dispelled any notion that the Doors might be one-hit wonders and helped establish the band as an international act as opposed to just another band from L.A. The album itself, Strange Days, was a turning point for Elektra Records as well, as it shifted the label's promotional efforts away from their original rock band, Love, to the Doors, who ironically had been recommended to the label by the members of Love.
Title: Someone's Coming
Source: Mono LP: Magic Bus-The Who On Tour (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer: John Entwhistle
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Some songs just get no respect. First released in 1967 in the UK as the B side of I Can See For Miles, John Alec Entwistle's Someone's Coming got left off the US release entirely. It wasn't until the release of the Magic Bus single (and subsequent LP) in 1968 that the tune appeared on US vinyl, and then, once again as a B side. The Magic Bus album, however, was never issued on CD in the US, although it has been available as a Canadian import for several years. Finally, in 1995 the song found a home on a US CD as a bonus track on The Who Sell Out.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: No Way Out
Source: CD: No Way Out
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Sundazed (original label: Tower)
The Chocolate Watchband, from the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area (specifically Foothills Junior College in Los Altos Hills), were fairly typical of the South Bay music scene, centered in San Jose. Although they were generally known for lead vocalist Dave Aguilar's ability to channel Mick Jagger with uncanny accuracy, producer Ed Cobb gave them a more psychedelic sound in the studio with the use of studio effects and other enhancements (including adding tracks to their albums that were performed entire by studio musicians). The title track of No Way Out, released as the band's debut LP in 1967, is credited to Cobb, but in reality is a fleshing out of a jam the band had previously recorded, but had not released. That original jam, known as Psychedelic Trip, is now available as a mono bonus track on the No Way Out CD.
Title: Outside Woman Blues
Source: Mono European import LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s): Arthur Reynolds
Label: Lilith (original label: Atco)
Although Cream's second album, Disraeli Gears, is best known for its psychedelic cover art and original songs such as Strange Brew, Sunshine Of Your Love and Tales of Brave Ulysses, the LP did have one notable blues cover on it. Outside Woman Blues was originally recorded by Blind Joe Reynolds in 1929 and has since been covered by a variety of artists including Van Halen, Johnny Winters, Jimi Hendrix and even the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Scarborough Fair/Canticle
Source: LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Writer(s): Paul Simon
After the reunion of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel following the surprise success of an electrified remix of The Sound Of Silence, the duo quickly recorded an album to support the hit single. Sounds Of Silence was, for the most part, a reworking of material that Simon had recorded for 1965 UK LP the Paul Simon Songbook. The pressure for a new album thus (temporarily) relieved, the duo got to work on their first album of truly new material since their unsuccessful 1964 effort Wednesday Morning 3AM (which had in fact been re-released and was now doing well on the charts). In October the new album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, hit the stands. The title track was a new arrangement of an old English folk ballad, Scarborough Fair, combined with a reworking of a song from the Paul Simon Songbook, The Side Of A Hill, retitled Canticle. The two melodies and sets of lyrics are set in counterpoint to each other, creating one of the most sophisticated folk song arrangements ever recorded. After being featured in the film The Graduate, Scarborough Fair/Canticle was released as a single in early 1968, going on to become one of the duo's most instantly recognizable songs.
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: Romancers (aka the Smoke Rings)
Title: Love's The Thing
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Max and Bob Uballez
Label: Rhino (original label: Linda)
Love's The Thing, a favorite on local Los Angeles radio stations in 1965, was actually released three times on three labels under two different band names. Such was the studio scene in East L.A. in the mid-60s. Max Uballez, leader of the Romancers, was the driving force behind this and many other tunes appearing on the Linda and Faro labels, among others. The prolific Uballez was considered by many to be East L.A.'s answer to Phil Spector (or maybe Brian Wilson). Originally released as a B side on the Linda label in 1965, the exact same recording of Love's The Thing appeared as an A side by the Smoke Rings on the Prospect label in early 1966, and was picked up for national distribution on the Dot label later that same year.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: I Can't Quit You/How Many More Times
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin has come under fire for occassionally "borrowing" lyrics and even guitar riffs from old blues songs (never mind the fact that such "borrowing" was a common practice among the old bluesmen themselves) but, at least in the case of the first Zeppelin album, full songwriting credit was given to Willie Dixon for a pair of songs, one of which was I Can't Quit You. Still, it can't be denied that messrs. Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones completely revamped the blues classic into something uniquely their own. Like many early Led Zeppelin songs, How Many More Times was originally credited to the band members (except,for contractual reasons, singer Robert Plant). More recent releases of the song, however, list Chester Burnett (Howlin' Wolf) as a co-writer, despite the fact that he and the members of Led Zeppelin had never met. This is because of the similarity, especially in the lyrics, to a 1951 Howlin' Wolf record called How Many More Years. The band tried to trick radio programmers into playing the eight and a half minute song by listing it on the album cover as being three minutes and thirty seconds long. I doubt anyone was fooled.
Title: Questions 67 & 68
Source: CD: The Chicago Transit Authority
Writer(s): Robert Lamm
Originally calling themselves The Big Thing, The Chicago Transit Authority moved to Los Angeles in 1968, changing their name in the process. After a year of touring the band headed to New York to record their first album in early 1969. The first single released from that album was Questions 67 & 68, which was released as a nearly five-minute long single in July. The song stalled out at the #71 spot, but two years later an edited version of the song made it to #24. By then the group had shortened its name to Chicago. The rest, as they say, is history.
Artist: Scarlet Letter
Source: Mono British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
One of the Detroit music scene's most overlooked bands, the Scarlet Letter released three singles for Bob Shad's Mainstream label. The best of these was a tune called Mary Maiden, with the equally strong Timekeeper on the flip side. The group also released a single on the Time label (a subsidiary of Mainstream) using the name Paraphernalia in 1968.
Artist: Otis Redding
Title: I Love You More Than Words Can Say
Source: Mono LP: The Dock Of The Bay
Following the death of Otis Redding on December 10, 1967, the crew at Stax Records quickly put together a collection of singles, B sides and previously unreleased tracks for the singer's first posthumous album, The Dock Of The Bay. Among those tracks was I Love You More Than Words Can Say, a tune written by fellow Stax artist Eddie Floyd that Redding had released as a single in early 1967. Not long after the album's release Stax's distributor, Atlantic Records, was sold to Warner Brothers, and the Stax people learned that Atlantic had actually owned the rights to all Redding's Stax releases, as well as all his unreleased studio master tapes. As a result, the next three Redding albums were released on the Atco label, with Stax finding itself completely out of the picture.
Title: Mind Gardens (alternate take)
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday (bonus track)
Writer(s): David Crosby
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1996
David Crosby once referred to one of his tunes as "another weird David Crosby song". Although not the song he was referring to at the time, Mind Gardens may actually the first "weird David Crosby song". For one thing, it has no rhythm; furthermore the words don't rhyme, although Crosby has said that Mind Gardens was all about the words. The rest of the Byrds, in fact, did not want to include Mind Gardens on the Younger Than Yesterday album at all, but Crosby fought hard for the song, eventually winning it a spot on the LP. Until 1996 nobody knew that there was an alternate take of the track, with Crosby's vocals a little clearer in the mix, although as far as I can tell both takes use the same music background featuring backward-masked 12-string guitar work from Roger McGuinn.
Artist: The Mickey Finn
Title: Garden Of My Mind
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: Direction)
Not every band in the world makes a living performing their own original material. In fact, the majority of working musicians are members of cover bands, playing a variety of venues all over the world. Most of these bands will never see the inside of a recording studio. There have been times and places, however, when even cover bands could get recording contracts, especially if they had a sizable local following. One such time and place was London in the mid-1960s, where bands like Mickey Finn And The Blue Men found steady work playing ska and R&B covers for the Mod crowd. They recorded a series of singles for several different local labels, one of which was Garden Of My Mind, a freakbeat tune written by guitarist Mickey Waller and vocalist Alan Marks and released on the Direction label. As the decade wore on and the Mod fad began to die out, the Mickey Finn (as they were then known) found itself playing more and more on the European continent, eventually calling it a day (or night) in 1971.
Artist: Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters
Title: Mr. Middle
Source: LP: Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters
Label: Verve Forecast
Probably the closest that the legendary Dave Van Ronk ever got to psychedelia was an album called Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters, released on the Verve Forecast label in 1967. The Hudson Dusters themselves have been described as an eclectic combination of electric jugband, folk orchestra and bubblegum band. All these elements can be heard on Mr. Middle, a song that really can't be described any other way.
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Prelude: Happiness/I'm So Glad
Source: LP: Shades Of Deep Purple
Deep Purple was originally the brainchild of vocalist Chris Curtis, whose idea was to have a band called Roundabout that utilized a rotating cast of musicians onstage, with only Curtis himself being up there for the entire gig. The first two musicians recruited were organist Jon Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, both of whom came aboard in late 1967. Curtis soon lost interest in the project, and Lord and Blackmore decided to stay together and form what would become Deep Purple. After a few false starts the lineup stabilized with the addition of bassist Nicky Simper, drummer Ian Paice and vocalist Rod Evans. The group worked up a songlist and used their various connections to get a record deal with a new American record label, Tetragrammaton, which was partially owned by actor/comedian Bill Cosby. This in turn led to a deal to release the band's recordings in England on EMI's Parlophone label as well, although Tetragrammaton had first rights to all the band's material, including the classically-influenced Prelude: Happiness, which leads directly into a cover of the Skip James classic I'm So Glad. The band's first LP, Shades Of Deep Purple, was released in the US in July of 1968 and in the UK in September of the same year. The album was a major success in the US, where the single Hush made it into the top five. In the UK, however, it was panned by the rock press and failed to make the charts. This would prove to be the pattern the band would follow throughout its early years; it was only after Evans and Simper were replaced by Ian Gillan and Roger Glover that the band would find success in their native land. Both editions of Deep Purple can be heard regularly on our sister show, Rockin' in the Days of Confusion.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens
Source: Mono British import CD: The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens
Label: See For Miles (original label: M-G-M)
While the first Beacon Street Union album is considered a psychedelic masterpiece, the followup LP, The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens, has a decidedly different feel to it. Some of this is attributable to a change in producer from Tom Wilson, whose work with Bob Dylan, the Mothers of Invention and others is legendary, to Wes Farrell, whose greatest success would come producing the Partridge Family in the early 1970s. Farrell used strings extensively to create a noticably more middle-of-the-road sound, as can be heard on the album's title track.
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.