Monday, July 9, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1828 (starts 7/11/18)
A whole lotta tunes ranging from 1963 to 1970 from a whole lotta artists this week, including sets from the Beatles, Stones and Hendrix.
Title: Little Child
Source: Mono CD: With The Beatles (released in US on LP: Meet The Beatles)
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
The Beatles second album, With The Beatles, followed pretty much the same formula as their debut album, with a mixture of cover tunes and Lennon/McCartney originals. One of those original songs was Little Child, which also was included on the US version of the album (Meet The Beatles, their first LP on the Capitol label).
Title: Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Source: CD: The Beatles
When Paul McCartney wrote the self-referential Silly Love Songs in the mid-1970s, he must have been thinking of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da from the White Album. It really doesn't get much sillier than this.
Title: All My Loving
Source: CD: With The Beatles (released in US on LP: Meet The Beatles)
For some, the Beatles' making an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show was proof enough that the Fab 4 had made it in the US. Still, it could be argued that Ed regularly featured second and even third tier acts on his show, so maybe that claim isn't quite strong enough. However, playing All My Loving, an album track, on the Ed Sullivan show in a time when singles ruled the airwaves, should convince even the most jaded skeptic that the Beatles had indeed "made it".
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Homeward Bound
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Following the success of Sounds Of Silence, Paul Simon And Art Garfunkel set about making an album of all new material (Sounds Of Silence had featured several re-recorded versions of tunes from the 1965 British album The Paul Simon Songbook). The result was Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, one of the finest folk-rock albums ever recorded. The album contained several successful singles, including Homeward Bound.
Title: The Trip
Source: Mono LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Donovan had already established a reputation in his native Scotland as the UK's answer to Bob Dylan, but had not had much success in the US, where his records were being released on the low-distribution Hickory label. That all changed in 1966, however, when he began to move beyond his folk roots and embrace a more electric sound. Unlike Dylan, who basically kept the same style as his acoustic songs, simply adding electic instruments, Donovan took a more holistic approach. The result was a body of music with a much broader range of sounds. The first of these new electric tunes was Sunshine Superman, sometimes cited as the first top 10 psychedelic hit. The B side of Sunshine Superman was a song called The Trip, which managed to be even more psychedelic than its A side. Both songs soon appeared on Donovan's major US label debut, an album that was not even released in the UK due to a contractual dispute between the singer/songwriter and Pye Records.
Artist: Blues Proect
Title: Alberta (alternate take)
Source: CD: The Blues Project Anthology
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1997
Alberta is an old song, even by blues standards. In 1944 Mary Wheeler recorded the song, which she said was collected by Gabriel "Uncle Gabe" Hester as part of a group of songs dating back to the steamboat era. The Blues Project recorded their own version of the song on two different nights for their 1966 album Live At Cafe Au Go Go. The version heard here, featuring guitarist Danny Kalb on vocals, is the one not used on the original LP.
Title: Mr. Webster
Source: CD: Headquarters
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
After scathing criticism from the rock press for not playing their own instruments, the Monkees were determined to show that they could do it themselves with their third LP, Headquarters. One of the better, yet often overlooked tracks is Mr. Webster, a folk-rock song about an underappreciated bank security guard who decides to determine his own retirement bonus. Although their musicianship was nowhere near being on a level with the studio musicians who had played on their first two albums, the Monkees, in the words of Peter Tork, finally felt like a "real band". Unfortunately the damage to their reputations was already past the point of redemption, and subsequent LPs all used studio musicians, albeit under the direct supervision of the Monkees themselves.
Artist: Young Rascals
Title: A Girl Like You
Source: CD: Groovin'
Year: Warner Special Products (original label: Atlantic)
A Girl Like You is the second of three songs on the Young Rascals' 1967 album Groovin' to make the top 10. Released on July 3, 1967, nearly a month ahead of the album itself, A Girl Like You peaked at #10 later that summer.
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: 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.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: Chess Game
Source: LP: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
Circus Maximus was driven by the dual creative talents of keyboardist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker. Although Walker went on to have the greatest success, it was Bruno's more jazz-influenced songwriting on songs like Chess Game that defined the band's sound.
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Hey Grandma
Source: LP: Moby Grape
One of the most talked-about albums to come from the San Francisco music scene in 1967 was Moby Grape's debut album. Unfortunately a lot of that talk was from Columbia Records itself, which resulted in the band getting a reputation for being overly hyped, much to the detriment of the band's future efforts. Still, that first album did have some outstanding tracks, including Hey Grandma, which opens side one of the LP.
Artist: Grass Roots
Title: Who Will You Be Tomorrow
Source: LP: Feelings
In the mid-1960s an entire generation rebelled against the strict conformity that had characterized the previous decade. In fact, for a while there the only way to be considered cool was to be a non-conformist. I of course, as a high school underclassman, didn't see the irony in this until years later, being too busy trying to conform to the non-conformist image at the time. Two members of the Grass Roots however, guitarist Warren Entner and vocalist/bassist Rob Grill, did see the irony and in fact wrote a song about it. Who Will You Be Tomorrow appeared on the band's third LP, Feelings, and was chosen as the B side for their biggest hit, Midnight Confessions. Despite this, the song remains among the least known tracks recorded by the Grass Roots, possibly because Feelings did not yield any hit singles for the band and the album itself did not do well on the charts (in fact, it prompted their producer to wrest creative control from the band permanently and turn them into a light pop hit machine).
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: Procol Harum
Title: Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone)
Source: CD: Shine On Brightly
The last 16 months (more or less) I lived in Germany my family was given use of a basement room in the apartment building we lived in on Ramstein Air force Base. Such rooms were known as "maid's rooms," and ours became my bedroom, giving me a degree of privacy and freedom unknown to most 16-year-olds. I had one of those record players that would shut itself off when it got to the end of the record and I would always put an album on, turn off the light and let the music lull me into dreamland. My favorite album at that time was Procol Harum's Shine On Brightly, and I would usually put on side two of the LP, which opens with Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone). At the time I didn't realize that the song title was a reference to the British record label Procol Harum recorded for, Regal Zonophone, since my copy was released in Germany on the Polydor label. I still have that copy, although it is far too thrashed to play over the radio.
Title: Straight Arrow
Source: LP: Spirit
Writer: Jay Ferguson
Label: Epic (original label: Ode)
Spirit was born when high school students and garage rockers Randy California, Jay Ferguson, Mark Andes and John Locke started jamming with California's stepfather, jazz drummer Ed Cassidy. The result was one of the earliest examples of jazz-rock, although the jazz element would be toned down for later albums. Unlike the later fusion bands, Spirit's early songs tended to be sectional, with a main section that was straight rock often leading into a more late bop styled instrumental section reminiscent of Wes Montgomery's recordings. Vocalist Jay Ferguson wrote most of the band's early material, such as Straight Arrow from their 1968 debut album.
Artist: Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
Title: Ah Feel Like Ahcid
Source: British import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released on LP: Strictly Personal)
Writer(s): Don Van Vliet
Label: Zonophone (original label: Blue Thumb)
Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band did a bit of label hopping before finally settling down with Frank Zappa's Straight Records in 1969. After cutting a few tracks for A&M in 1966 (only two of which were released), the band recorded Safe As Milk, the first LP to be issued on the new Buddah label in 1967. After Buddah passed on the band's next recordings, another new label, Blue Thumb, signed the group, issuing the album Strictly Personal in 1968. The band was still transitioning from its early slightly twisted take on the blues to its later avant-garde phase that the Captain and company would become famous for. Ah Feel Like Ahcid is a solid example of that transitional sound.
Artist: Savoy Brown
Title: Big City Lights
Source: LP: Getting To The Point
Savoy Brown's second LP, Getting To The Point, was a major departure from the band's 1967 debut album. Much of the credit for this change goes to new vocalist Chris Youlden, who co-wrote half of the songs on Getting To The Point, including Big City Lights, on which he collaborated with Bob Hall, the legendary boogie-woogie pianist that had also recently joined Savoy Brown as a full-time member(he had played on only three tracks on the band's first LP). Youlden would remain a member of Savoy Brown until 1970.
Artist: Dave Clark Five
Title: I Need Love
Source: LP: The Dave Clark Five (originally released on LP: I Like It Like That)
Writer(s): Dave Clark
I have to admit that I was never a big Dave Clark Five fan. That said, there are a handful of DC5 tunes that really grab me. Among the best of those is I Need Love, a track from the 1966 album I Like It Like That. The song has more of a garage feel than the average DC5 song, which is probably why I like it so much.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Ruby Tuesday
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
One of the most durable songs in the Rolling Stones catalog, Ruby Tuesday was originally intended to be the B side of their 1967 single Let's Spend The Night Together. Many stations, however, balked at the subject matter of the A side and began playing Ruby Tuesday instead, which is somewhat ironic considering speculations as to the subject matter of the song (usually considered to be about a groupie of the band's acquaintance, although Mick Jagger has said it was about Keith Richards' ex-girlfriend).
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: 19th Nervous Breakdown
Source: Mono CD: Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass) (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
19th Nervous Breakdown is one of the Rolling Stones' best known songs from their first decade. Recorded in 1965 and released in early 1966, it was their first single of what would be one of their best years. The song starts with a signature guitar riff from Keith Richards and is known for Billy Wyman's repeated descending bass line near the end of the song. At nearly four minutes in length, 19th Nervous Breakdown brazenly exceeded the three and a half minute limit that was unofficially in effect for top 40 radio of the time. Stephen King made the song part of his "19" mystique in the last few books in his Dark Tower series, as one major character hears the song played on a transistor radio on the streets of New York City in the moments leading up to his "death".
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Let's Spend The Night Together
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
I seem to recall some TV show (Ed Sullivan, maybe?) making Mick Jagger change the words of Let's Spend The Night Together to "Let's Spend Some Time Together". I can't imagine anyone doing that to the Stones now.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Talk Me Down
Source: CD: Beyond The Garage (originally released on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer: Sean Bonniwell
Label: Sundazed (original label: Warner Brothers)
Talk Me Down was, according to composer Sean Bonniwell, quite possibly the first punk rock song ever conceived. The tune was one of four songs recorded on a demo at Original Sound when the Music Machine still called itself the Ragamuffins. This re-recording of the tune was cut in 1967 by the band's original lineup, but not released until Warner Brothers issued an album called Bonniwell Music Machine in early 1968. By the time of the album's release, all the members of the original band except Bonniwell had moved on to other things. Bassist Keith Olsen went on to produce over 100 albums over the next 30 years for literally dozens of major rock artists, including Ozzy Osborne, the Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, Pat Benatar and Fleetwood Mac (he was instrumental in launching the careers of Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks).
Title: Passing The Time
Source: CD: Wheels Of Fire
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Although Jack Bruce is generally acknowledged as the member of Cream that provided the most psychedelic material that the band recorded, drummer Ginger Baker gave him a run for his money on the studio half of their third LP, Wheels Of Fire. Perhaps the best of these was Passing The Time, which alternates between a slow, dreamlike section notable for its use of a calliope and a fast section that rocks out as hard as anything the band performed live in concert.
Title: Magic Bus (alternate version)
Source: CD: Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Magic Bus was originally released as a single in 1968 and ran about three and a half minutes. At the time it was recorded an alternate take was also made that ran almost four and a half minutes. This alternate version was electronically rechanneled for stereo and included on the 1971 album Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy. When the album was reissued on CD in the 1980s it was discovered that there were no unaltered copies left of the longer version, so rather than to put a "fake stereo" version on the CD, a true stereo mix of the shorter single version was used.
Title: Lonely Lady
Source: LP: Fat
Writer(s): Peter Newland
Label: RCA Victor
Many American cities are home to bands that, although never big on the national stage, have managed to become local legends over the years. In Springfield, Massachusetts, that band is Fat. Led by Peter Newland, Fat only recorded one album for a major label, a self-titled LP for RCA Victor in 1970. Newland's Lonely Lady is a fair representation of Fat's sound, and is still being performed by the group, last I heard.
Title: It's Never Too Late
Source: CD: Born To Be Wild-A Retrospective (originally released on LP: At Your Birthday Party)
Writer(s): Kay/St. Nicholas
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Although not generally known for their slow ballads, Steppenwolf did, on occasion, quiet things down on tracks like It's Never Too Late, from their third LP, At Your Birthday Party. The song was released as a single in 1969, but only reached the #51 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
Artist: Denis Couldry And The Next Collection
Title: I Am Nearly There
Source: Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Grapefruit (original label: Decca)
Denis Couldry was a keyboardist and vocalist who joined up with a band called Felius Andromedus to record their only single, Meditations, in late 1967. Although the record (essential a Procol Harum knockoff) was not successful, its producer, Vic Keary, was impressed enough with Couldry to team him up with another band, the Next Collection, for a February 1968 single called James In The Basement. Couldry himself co-wrote the record's B side, a tune called I Am Nearly There. Couldry released one more single with an entirely different band, while the Next Collection ended up changing their name, first to Moving Finger, then to Second Hand, when it was discovered that there was already a band called Moving Finger.
Title: So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
By early 1967 there was a building resentment among musicians and rock press alike concerning the instant (and in many eyes unearned) success of the Monkees. One notable expression of this resentment was the Byrds' So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star, which takes a somewhat sarcastic look at what it takes to succeed in the music business. Unfortunately, much of what they talk about in the song continues to apply today (although the guitar has been somewhat supplanted by the computer as the instrument of choice).
Title: Spread It On Thick
Source: Mono CD: Battle Of The Bands-Vol. Two (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Era (original label: M-G-M)
Known by most people as one-hit wonders, the Gentrys, formed in Memphis in 1963, were actually the most popular teen band in the mid-south during the 1960s. After winning the Memphis Battle of the Bands in 1964 the Gentrys were signed to the local Youngstown label. Their second single for Youngstown, Keep On Dancing, released in 1965, was soon picked up for national distribution by M-G-M, eventually reaching the #4 spot on the Billboard charts. This led to several movie and TV appearances, along with touring with the likes of the Beach Boys and Sonny And Cher. Despite all this, their next single, Spread It On Thick, failed to make the top 40. After four more singles (and two LPs) suffered similar fates the group disbanded, only to be reformed several times over the years. One unique feature of the Gentrys' 7-man lineup was the fact that there were two vocalists who did not play any instruments in the band. One of them, Jimmy Hart, went on to become involved in professional wrestling as a manager known as "the Mouth of the South".
Title: Tell Her No
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s): Rod Argent
Label: London (original label: Parrot)
Rod Argent was responsible for writing four well-known hit songs, which were spread out over a period of eight years (and two bands). The second of these was the Zombies' Tell Her No, released in 1965. The song got mixed reviews from critics, all of which measured the tune against Beatle songs of the same period.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Manic Depression
Source: LP: Smash Hits (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
After miraculously surviving being shot point blank in the head (and then bayoneted in the back for good measure) in the Korean War (and receiving a Silver Star), my dad became somewhat of a minor celebrity in the early 50s, appearing on a handful of TV and radio game shows as a kind of poster boy for the Air Force. One result of this series of events was that he was able to indulge his fascination with a new technology that had been developed by the Germans during WWII: magnetic recording tape. He used his prize winnings to buy a Webcor tape recorder, which in turn led to me becoming interested in recording technology at an early age (I distinctly remember being punished for playing with "Daddy's tape recorder" without permission on more than one occasion). He did not receive another overseas assignment until 1967, when he was transferred to Weisbaden, Germany. As was the usual practice at the time, he went there a month or so before the rest of the family, and during his alone time he (on a whim, apparently) went in on a Lotto ticket with a co-worker and won enough to buy an Akai X-355 stereo tape recorder from a fellow serviceman who was being transferred out and did not want to (or couldn't afford to) pay the shipping costs of the rather heavy machine.The Akai was pretty much the state of the art in home audio technology at the time. The problem was that we did not have a stereo system to hook it into, so he bought a set of Koss headphones to go with it. Of course all of his old tapes were in storage (along with the old Webcor) back in Denver, so I decided that this would be a good time to start spending my allowance money on pre-recorded reel-to-reel tapes, the first of which was Are You Experienced by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The Akai had an auto-reverse system and I would lie on the couch with the headphones on to go to sleep every night listening to songs like Manic Depression. Is it any wonder I turned out like I did?
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: May This Be Love
Source: Mono LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
The original UK version of Are You Experienced featured May This Be Love as the opening track of side two of the album. In the US, the UK single The Wind Cries Mary was substituted for it, with May This Be Love buried deep on side one. It's obvious that Hendrix thought more highly of the song than the people at Reprise who picked the track order for the US album.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: The Wind Cries Mary
Source: LP: Smash Hits (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
The US version of Are You Experienced, released in May of 1967, was significantly different than its UK counterpart, which had come out earlier in the year. For one thing, the original UK album was only available in mono. For the US version, engineers at Reprise Records, working from the original multi-track masters, created all new stereo mixes of about two-thirds of the album, along with all three of the singles that the Jimi Hendrix Experience had released in the UK. The third of these singles was The Wind Cries Mary, which had hit the British charts in February of 1967. The song was then used to open side two of the US version of Are You Experienced.