Sunday, July 15, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1829 (starts 7/18/18)
This week we have running hot and cool tunes to beat the heat, including sets from Cream and the Rolling Stones. First up: the Seeds.
Title: Can't Seem To Make You Mine
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: The Seeds)
Writer: Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
One of the first psychedelic singles to hit the L.A. market in 1965 was Can't Seem To Make You Mine. The song was also chosen to lead off the first Seeds album. Indeed, it could be argued that this was the song that first defined the "flower power" sound, its local success predating that of the Seeds' biggest hit, Pushin' Too Hard, by several months.
Title: For No One
Source: CD: Revolver
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
With the predominance of the keyboards and french horn in the mix, For No One (essentially a Paul McCartney solo number) shows just how far the Beatles had moved away from their original image as a "guitar band" by the time they recorded the Revolver album in 1966.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: She May Call You Up Tonight
Source: 45 RPM single
Unlike their first two singles, Walk Away Renee and Pretty Ballerina, the Left Banke's third single, She May Call You Up Tonight, failed to chart, possibly due to the release two months earlier of a song called Ivy Ivy, written by keyboardist Michael Brown and shown on the label as being by the Left Banke. Ivy Ivy was in reality performed entirely by session musicians, including lead vocals by Bert Sommer, who would be one of the acoustic acts on the opening afternoon of the Woodstock festival a couple years later. The resulting fued between Brown and the rest of the band left a large number of radio stations gun shy when came to any record with the name Left Banke on the label, and She May Call You Up Tonight tanked.
Artist: Fever Tree
Title: San Francisco Girls (Return Of The Native) (originally released on LP: Fever Tree)
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop
Writer(s): Scott and Vivian Holtzman
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Uni)
A minor, but notable trend in 1968 was for producer/songwriters to find a band to record their material exclusively. A prime example is Houston's Fever Tree, which featured the music of husband and wife team Scott and Vivian Holtzman. San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native) was the single from that album, peaking in the lower reaches of the Hot 100 charts.
Artist: Manfred Mann Chapter Three
Source: LP: Manfred Mann Chapter Three
Writer(s): Manfred Mann
In 1969, following a series of highly successful singles in the UK (including the international smashes Do Wah Diddy Diddy and The Mighty Quinn), keyboardist Manfred Mann decided to disband the group that shared his name and move in a new, more progressive musical direction. The new group, called Manfred Mann Chapter Three showed strong jazz influences, especially on the freeflowing,yet low key Konekuf, one of the few instrumentals on the LP. Although Manfred Mann Chapter Three was not a major commercial success, it did set the stage for Mann's next group, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, which had a major hit in 1975 with Blinded By The Light.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Sin's A Good Man's Brother
Source: CD: Closer To Home
Writer: Mark Farner
Flint, Michigan, in the mid-1960s was home to a popular local band called Terry Knight and the Pack. In 1969 pack guitarist Mark Farner and drummer Don Brewer hooked up with Mel Schacher, former bassist for ? and the Mysterians to form Grand Funk Railroad, with Terry Knight himself managing and producing the new band. With a raw, garage-like sound played at record high volume, Grand Funk immediately earned the condemnation of virtually every rock critic in existence. Undeterred by bad reviews, the band took their act to the road, foregoing the older venues such as ballrooms and concert halls and booking entire sports arenas for their concerts. In the process they almost single-handedly created a business model that continues to be the industry standard. Grand Funk Railroad consistently sold out all of their performances for the next two years, earning no less than three gold records in 1970 alone. The third of these was Closer To Home, which opens with Sin's A Good Man's Brother, a Farner composition.
Artist: Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title: Round And Round (It Won't Be Long)
Source: CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s): Neil Young
Round And Round, from Neil Young's 1969 album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, was actually written while Young was still a member of Buffalo Springfield. The song features guest vocalist Robin Lane, as well as the members of Crazy Horse.
Title: Outside Woman Blues
Source: CD: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s): Arthur Reynolds
Label: Polydor (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.
Source: CD: Best of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Wheels Of Fire)
Writer: Robert Johnson
Label: Priority (original label: Atco)
Robert Johnson's Crossroads has come to be regarded as a signature song for Eric Clapton, who's live version (recorded at the Fillmore East) was first released on the Cream album Wheels Of Fire.
Title: Dance The Night Away
Source: CD: Disraeli Gears
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
The album Fresh Cream was perhaps the first LP from a rock supergroup, although at the time a more accurate description would have been British blues supergroup. Much of the album was reworking of blues standards by the trio of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, all of whom had established their credentials with various British blues bands. With Disraeli Gears, however, Cream showed a psychedelic side as well as their original blues orientation. Most of the more psychedelic material, such as Dance the Night Away, was from the songwriting team of Bruce and lyricist Pete Brown.
Title: No. Fourteen
Source: Mono CD: Love Story (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Raven (original label: Elektra)
With a title that is an obvious joke, No. 14 is among the most obscure of the original Love's recordings, having appeared on vinyl only as a B side to the 1966 single 7&7 Is and on a 1973 compilation album that was only released in Europe. At less than two minutes long, it would seem that the track's main objective was to make sure that disc jockeys didn't accidentally play the wrong side of the record.
Title: The Door Into Summer
Source: LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
After playing nearly all the instrumental tracks on their third album themselves, the Monkees came to the painful conclusion that they would not be able to repeat the effort and still have time to tape a weekly TV show. As a result, the fourth Monkees LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD., used studio musicians extensively, albeit under the creative supervision of the Monkees themselves. The group also had the final say over what songs ended up on the album, including The Door Into Summer. The tune was written by Bill Martin, a friend of band leader Michael Nesmith. For reasons that are too complicated to get into here (and probably wouldn't make much sense anyway), co-credit was given to the band's producer, Chip Douglas.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Blue Avenue
Source: LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s): Wayne Ulaky
One of Boston's most popular bands, the Beacon Street Union, had already migrated to New York City by the time their first album, The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union (produced by the legendary Tom Wilson), made its debut in February of 1968. The band itself was made up of Boston University dropouts John Lincoln Wright (lead vocals), Paul Tartachny (guitar, vocals), Robert Rhodes (keyboards, brass), Richard Weisberg (drums), and Wayne Ulaky (bass). Ulaky wrote what was probably the band's best-known song, Blue Avenue. The tune was particular popular in the UK, where it was often heard on John Peel's Top Gear program. The Beacon Street Union, however, fell victim to hype; in this case the ill-advised attempt on the part of M-G-M records to market several disparate bands as being part of the "boss-town sound". After a second LP, The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens (produced by future Partridge Family impressario Wes Farrell) failed to equal the somewhat limited success of their debut LP, the Beacon Street Union decided to call it quits.
Artist: Janis Joplin
Title: Kozmic Blues
Source: LP: I Got Dem 'Ol Kozmic Blues Again Mama
After she parted company with Big Brother and the Holding Company following the Cheap Thrills album, Janis Joplin got to work forming a new band that would come to be known as the Kozmic Blues Band. Unlike Big Brother, this new band included a horn section, and leaned more toward R&B than the earlier band's hard rocking sound. Joplin released only one studio album with the Kozmic Blues Band, 1969's I Got Dem 'Ol Kozmic Blues Again Mama. Although the album sold well, it was savaged by the rock press. Still, there were some standout tracks on the album, including the title tune (of sorts), Kozmic Blues. Joplin made several live appearances with this group, including the Woodstock performing arts festival, before disbanding the unit in favor of a smaller group, the Full-Tilt Boogie Band.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
Following the departure of Randy Holden, who had himself replaced founding member Leigh Stephens, Blue Cheer decided to forego the power trio configuration of their first two and a half albums and instead go with a more melodic sound and shorter songs. To accomplish this, Bruce Stephens (no relation to Leigh) was brought in for one side of the third Blue Cheer album, The New Improved Blue Cheer. Stephens stayed with the band long enough to record the group's self-titled fourth LP, but even on that album his replacement, former Oxford Circle guitarist/vocalist Gary Lee Yoder, whose own band Kak was already disintegrating, made a guest appearance as a songwriter on two of the album's tracks. Cementing his relationship with the band even further, Yoder added a new lead vocal track to the single version of the album's opening track, Fool (which, being co-written by his Kak cohort Gary Grelecki, was probably intended to be recorded by Kak, had that band stayed together long enough to issue a second LP), making it considerably different (and much harder to find) than the original LP track. Yoder would officially replace Stephens as Blue Cheer's guitarist by the time sessions began for the band's fifth album.
Artist: Alice Cooper
Source: LP: Killer
Label: Warner Brothers
Alice Cooper (the singer, not the band) has made conflicting statements concerning the inspiration/subject matter of Desperado, from the Killer album. In the liner notes of Fistful Of Alice (and elsewhere) the flamboyant vocalist said the song was written about his friend Jim Morrison, who died in 1971, the same year Killer was released. However, he has also said (in a radio interview) that the song was inspired by Robert Vaughn's character in the film The Magnificent Seven. Whatever the song's origins, Desperado has proved to be one of the band's most popular numbers, appearing on various greatest hits compilations over the years.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Masculine Intuition
Source: CD: Turn On The Music Machine
Writer: Sean Bonniwell
Label: Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
If you take out the cover songs that Original Sound Records added to the album without the band's knowledge or approval, Turn On The Music Machine has to be considered one of the best LPs of 1966. Not that the covers were badly done, but they were intended to be used for lip synching on a local TV show and were included without the knowledge or approval of the band, and that's never a good thing. Every one of the Sean Bonniwell originals on the other hand, combines strong musical structure and intelligent lyrics with musicianship far surpassing the average garage band. This is especially true in the case of Masculine Intuition, which was also issued as the B side of the band's second single.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Jigsaw Puzzle
Source: CD: Beggar's Banquet
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Jigsaw Puzzle, the longest track on the Beggar's Banquet album, comes across as a wry look at the inner workings of a rock and roll band like, say, the Rolling Stones. Founder Brian Jones's only contribution to the recording is some soaring mellotron work toward the end of the song. Not long after the track was recorded, Jones was fired from the band.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Source: LP: Between The Buttons
Often dismissed as the beginning of a departure from their blues roots, the Rolling Stones first LP of 1967, Between The Buttons, actually has a lot of good tunes on it, such as Connection, a song with multiple meanings. Most studios at that time only had four tracks available and would use two tape machines to mix the first tracks recorded on one machine (usually the instrumental tracks) down to a single track on the other machine, freeing up the remaining tracks for overdubs. This process, known as "bouncing", sometimes happened two or three times on a single recording if extra overdubs were needed. Unfortunately each pass resulted in a loss of quality on the bounced tracks, especially if the equipment was not properly maintained. This is particularly noticeable on Connection, as the final mix seems to have lost most of its high and low frequencies, resulting in an unintentionally "lo-fi" recording.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Salt of the Earth
Source: CD: Beggar's Banquet
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
After scathing critical reviews and disappointing sales for their most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, the Stones took a few months off to regroup. They returned to the studio with a new producer (Jimmy Miller, who had previously worked with Steve Winwood) and a back-to-basics approach that resulted in a new single, Jumpin' Jack Flash, followed by the release of the Beggar's Banquet album. The closing track of that album was Salt of the Earth, a song that started off sounding like a drinking song, gradually building up to a gospel-inflected fadeout.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: All Along The Watchtower
Source: Dutch import LP: The Singles (originally released on LP: Electric Ladyland)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Polydor (original US 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, who now uses Hendrix's arrangement exclusively when he performs the song.
Artist: Idle Race
Title: Hurry Up John
Source: British import CD: Insane times (originally released on LP: Idle Race)
Writer(s): Jeff Lynne
Label: Zonophone (original label: Liberty)
Virtually unknown in the US, the Idle Race released three LPs in the UK before frontman Jeff Lynne departed the group to join up with Roy Wood's band, the Move. Hurry Up John, a 1969 album track from the second Idle Race LP, is a classic sample of Britain's underground music scene.
Title: Bustbin Full Of Rubbish
Source: British import CD: Mighty Baby (bonus track)
Writer(s): Ian Whiteman
Label: Big Beat
Year: Recorded 1968, released 1993
Although popular with the Mod crowd, the Action was never able to convert that popularity into chart success, despite releasing a series of singles on the Parlophone label from 1965-67. The band began going through changes in 1967, including the loss of lead vocalist Reg King and the addition of keyboardist/composer Ian Whiteman in 1967. After being dropped by Parlophone, the Action recorded a series of demos for Georgio Gomelski, who was in the process of setting up his new Marmalade label in 1968, but were unable to find any takers among the labels that existed at the time, and the recordings remained unreleased until the 1990s. Meanwhile, the Action finally changed its name to Mighty Baby in 1969, signing with the new Head label. Unfortunately, Head Records went belly up in 1970, and after releasing a second LP on the Blue Horizon label in 1971, the Action/Mighty Baby finally called it a day.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Carte Blanche
Source: LP: Volume II
The liner notes on the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's second album for Reprise included a line from band leader Bob Markley stating that the album was done exactly the way the band wanted it to be done, with no interference from the label. This is not difficult to believe when listening to Carte Blanche.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: You Know I've Got The Rest Of My Life To Go
Source: CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
Circus Maximus was formed in 1967 by guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Bob Bruno and guitarist/vocalist Jerry Jeff Walker in New York's Greenwich Village. The group, originally called the Lost Sea Dreamers, combined elements of folk, rock, jazz and country to create their own unique brand of psychedelic music. Their self-title debut album contained rock songs from both songwriters, with Walker's tunes leaning more toward folk and country while Bruno's contained elements of jazz, as can be heard on You Know I've Got The Rest Of My Life To Go. The band released a second album in early 1968 before splitting up, with Walker becoming a successful songwriter and Bruno hooking up with various jazz musicians over the next few years. Bassist Gary White also had some success as a songwriter, penning Linda Ronstadt's first solo hit, Long, Long Time.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: How Suite It Is
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxters
Label: RCA Victor
The second side of After Bathing At Baxters starts off fairly conventionally (for the Airplane), with Paul Kantner's Watch Her Ride, the first third or so of something called How Suite It Is. This leads (without a break in the audio) into Spare Chaynge, one of the coolest studio jams ever recorded, featuring intricate interplay between Jack Casady's bass and Jorma Kaukonen's guitar, with Spencer Dryden using his drum kit as enhancement rather than as a beat-setter. In particular, Casady's virtuoso performance helped redefine what could be done with an electric bass.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Expecting To Fly
Source: CD: Retrospective-The Best Of Buffalo Springfield (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s): Neil Young
The second Buffalo Springfield album saw the individual members of the band moving in different directions, sometimes even recording without their bandmates. This was particularly true for Neil Young, whose Expecting To Fly is essentially an orchestral piece arranged and co-produced by Jack Nitzsche that was originally intended for release as a Young single.
Title: Summertime Blues/Shakin' All Over
Source: LP: Live At Leeds
The Who's 1970 LP Live At Leeds has been called the greatest rock concert album ever released. Although I'm not a great fan of live albums from the 1970s (due to poor recording quality), I have to admit that Live At Leeds certainly lives up to its hype. Maybe it's because most of the songs are unique to the album itself, such as Summertime Blues and Shakin' All Over, which close out the LP's first side. Both are cover songs that are transformed by the Who into something truly their own (in fact Summertime Blues was even released as a single).