Sunday, July 22, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1830 (starts 7/25/18)
Although this week's show starts off pretty mainstream, with one of the Who's more popular early tracks, it soon becomes evident that we are going pretty deep this time around. Any doubt about that is dashed in the second hour, when we present the twenty-three and a half minute long Break Song from Vanilla Fudge's Near The Beginning LP. Take a look...
Title: The Kids Are Alright
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy (originally released on LP: The Who Sings My Generation)
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
In 1966, after releasing one album on the British Brunswick label, the Who's manager, Kit Lambert, had a falling out with their producer Shel Talby, which resulted in the Who switching to the new Reaction label. Talby retaliated by releasing A Legal Matter, taken from the 1965 album My Generation, as a single within a week of the debut of the Who's first Reaction single, Subsitute. Substitute, being a brand new song, did considerably better than A Legal Matter, but that did not stop Talmy from trying again a few months later by releasing another My Generation track, The Kids Are Alright, two weeks before Reaction released I'm A Boy. The legals battles between Talmy and the band continued for several years, preventing the CD release of the My Generation album until 2002, when the matter was finally settled. All of the songs referred to so far, however, appeared on the 1968 collection Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy, which is where most Americans heard them for the first time.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Go To Her
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow (bonus track originally released on LP: Early Flight)
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage (original label: Grunt)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1974
Nearly every major artist acquires a backlog of unreleased songs over a period of time, usually due to lack of space on their official albums. Eventually many of these tracks get released on compilation albums or (more recently) as bonus tracks on CD versions of the original albums. One of the first of these compilation albums was Jefferson Airplane's Early Flight LP, released in 1974. Of the nine tracks on Early Flight, five were recorded during sessions for the band's first two LPs, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off and Surrealistic Pillow. One song originally intended for Surrealistic Pillow was Go To Her, an early Paul Kantner collaboration. At four minutes, the recording was longer than any of the songs that actually appeared on the album, which is probably the reason it didn't make the final cut, as it would have meant that two other songs would have to have been deleted instead.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Love Or Confusion
Source: CD: Are You Experienced?
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
A little-known fact is that the original European version of Are You Experienced, in addition to having a different song lineup, consisted entirely of mono recordings. When Reprise got the rights to release the album in North America, its own engineers created new stereo mixes from the 4-track master tapes. As most of the instrumental tracks had already been mixed down to single tracks, the engineers found themselves doing things like putting the vocals all the way on one side of the mix, with reverb effects and guitar solos occupying the other side and all the instruments dead center. Such is the case with Love Or Confusion, with some really bizarre stereo panning thrown in at the end of the track. It's actually kind of fun to listen to with headphones on, as I did when I bought my first copy of the album on reel-to-reel tape.
Title: Psychedelic Senate
Source: LP: Wild In The Streets soundtrack
Writer(s): Les Baxter
If I had to pick the most unlikely person to record something psychedelic that actually did record something psychedelic, that person would have to be Les Baxter. Born in 1922, Baxter became well-known in the 1940s as a composer and arranger for various swing bands. By the 50s he was leading his own orchestra, recording his own brand of what came to be known as "exotica", easy-listening music flavored with elements taken from non-Western musical traditions. In the 1960s he scored dozens of movie soundtracks, including many for the relatively low-budget American International Pictures, working with people like Roger Corman on films like The Raven, The Pit And The Pendulum and House Of Usher, as well as teen exploitation films like Beach Blanket Bingo. It was through this association that he got involved with a film called Wild In The Streets in 1968. Although much of the film's soundtrack was made up of songs by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and performed by the fictional Max Frost And The Troopers, there were a few Baxter pieces included as well, including Psychedelic Senate, a bit of incidental music written to underscore a scene wherein the entire US Senate gets dosed on LSD.
Artist: Acid Gallery
Title: Dance Around The Maypole
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): Roy Wood
Label: Rhino (original label: CBS)
Possibly the top British band to not have a hit in the US was the Move. The band was so popular that when BBC One signed on for the first time in 1967, the Move's current hit, Flowers In The Rain, was chosen to be the first song played on the station. The band, led by Roy Wood, produced many spinoff projects as well. One of these was called the Acid Gallery, which released a song called Dance Around The Maypole in 1969. Although Wood himself wrote the song and his voice is featured prominently in the mix, the rest of the Move was not included on the record. It is believed that the actual group was a band called the Epics, who would soon change their name to Christie and have a minor hit with Yellow River, a tune known more for its ability to make adolescent boys giggle when they see the song title than anything else.
Title: People Are Strange
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: The Doors
People Are Strange, the first single from the Doors' second LP, Strange Days, was also the shortest song on the album, barely breaking the two minute mark at a time when songs were getting longer and longer.
Title: The Unknown Soldier
Source: CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: Waiting For The Sun and as 45 RPM single)
Writer: The Doors
One of the oddest recordings to get played on top 40 radio was the Door's 1968 release, The Unknown Soldier. The song is notable for having it's own promotional film made by keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who had been a film major at UCLA when the Doors were formed. It's not known whether the song was written with the film in mind (or vice versa), but the two have a much greater synergy than your average music video. As for the question of whether the Doors themselves were anti-war, let's just say that vocalist Jim Morrison, who wrote the lyrics to The Unknown Soldier, was pretty much anti-everything.
Title: Unhappy Girl
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: The Doors
After the success of their first album and the single Light My Fire in early 1967, the Doors quickly returned to the studio, releasing a second LP, Strange Days, later the same year. The first single released from the new album was People Are Strange. The B side of that single was Unhappy Girl, from the same album. Both sides got played on the jukebox at a place called the Woog in the village of Meisenbach near Ramstein Air Force Base (which is where I was spending most of my evenings that autumn).
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Alley Oop
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Dallas Frazier
Label: Sundazed/Kama Sutra
The Lovin' Spoonful didn't actually release their version of the old Hollywood Argyles song Alley Oop as a single in 1965. In fact, they didn't release the song at all, even though it was recorded during the same sessions that became their debut LP that year. In 2011 the people at Sundazed decided to create a "single that never was", pairing Alley Oop with the full-length version of Night Owl Blues, a song that had been included on the 1965 debut in edited form. The Spoonful version of Alley Oop has an almost garage-band feel about it, and is perhaps the best indication on vinyl of what the band actually sounded like in their early days as a local fixture on the Greenwich Village scene.
Title: I Want Candy
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Bang)
In the wake of the British Invasion, some American artists tried to sound as British as possible, often deliberately letting radio listeners think that they themselves might be a British band. A trio of New York songwriters, Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer, took such deceptions to a whole new level. Rather than try to pass themselves off as a British band, the three invented an elaborate backstory that saw them as sons of an Australian sheepherder who had invented a new shearing process and had used the profits from the venture to form a band called the Strangeloves, who were about to become the Next Big Thing. Although the story never really caught on, the group managed to record two of the all-time great party songs, I Want Candy and Night Time, as well as producing a single called Hang On Sloopy for a band they discovered on the road called the McCoys (although the instrumental tracks were actually from the Strangeloves' own first LP). According to press releases the pounding drum beat on I Want Candy was made by Masai drums that the band members had found while on safari in Africa, which just goes to show you can find just about anything in the New York City area if you know where to look.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: Blue Fox (remix)
Source: CD: The Legend Of paul Revere
Paul Revere And The Raiders, after releasing a handful of records on minor labels, signed with Columbia in 1965, the first true rock band to do so. Their first hit on the label was the song Steppin' Out, a song about a guy coming back from an overseas stint in the military, only to find out his girlfriend has not been celibate while he was gone. Pretty cutting edge stuff for 1965. The B side, Blue Fox, was a short instrumental piece written by Revere and vocalist/saxophonist Mark Lindsay. Thanks to the inclusion of what was obviously an inside joke for the band, the track is probably too politically incorrect to play, so of course I had to play it anyway.
Title: Orange Skies
Source: Australian Import CD: Comes In Colours (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: Da Capo)
Writer(s): Bryan MacLean
Label: Raven (original label: Elektra)
Love, the most popular band on the Sunset Strip, was also among the most eclectic. Nowhere is this more evident than on their second LP, Da Capo. After starting off with the punkish Stephanie Knows Who, the tone abruptly shifts with Orange Skies, a soft almost lounge lizard-like tune written by Bryan MacLean (who later claimed it was the first song he ever wrote), but sung by Arthur Lee in a style that was at the time compared to Johnny Mathis. The song was released ahead of the album in late 1966 as a B side.
Title: Strawberry Fields Forever
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
The first song recorded for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, John Lennon's Strawberry Fields Forever was instead issued as a single (along with Paul McCartney's Penny Lane) a few months before the album came out. The song went into the top 10, but was not released on an album until December of 1967, when it was included on the US version of Magical Mystery Tour.
Source: British import CD: The Hurdy Gurdy Man
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original US label: Epic)
Although officially credite to Donovan Leitch, Tangier, from the 1968 LP The Hurdy Gurdy Man, was actually written by Donovan's close friend Gyp Mills (also known as Gypsy Dave). The song's original title was In Tangier Down A Windy Street. The piece is one of three songs on The Hurdy Gurdy Man that are built around a single note (known in Eastern music as a drone). Due to an ongoing contractual dispute between Donovan and Pye Records, The Hurdy Gurdy Man was originally released only in the US.
Artist: Rabbit Habit
Title: Angel Angel Down We Go
Source: CD: A Deadly Dose Of Wylde Psych (originally released as stereo 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Tower)
I don't have the slightest clue who plays on this record (although the band that performs it on film is called Rabbit Habit). What I do know is that is was the title track of an American International Pictures film called Angel Angel Down We Go. Unfortunately I had never seen or even heard of a movie called Angel Angel Down We Go before hearing this track, so I have no idea what is was about (other than a band called Rabbit Habit). But that's OK, because I strongly suspect I wouldn't be interested in watching a 1969 film from American International Pictures anyway. Then again, if it's cheesy enough, I just might. I actually did like Wild In The Streets the first time I saw it, after all (I was fifteen). Speaking of which, the theme from both that movie and Angel Angel Down We Go were written by Barry Mann and his wife Cynthia Weil, who also wrote (among other things) Kicks and Hungry for Paul Revere and the Raiders.
Title: Gone Is The Sadman
Source: CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: Deram)
Timebox is one of those bands that by all rights should have had much more success than they were able to achieve. Why this should be is a mystery. They had plenty of talent, good press and were signed to a major label (Deram). Yet none of their singles were able to make a connection with the record buying public. Originally formed in Southport in 1965 as Take Five, the band relocated to London the following year, changing their name to Timebox at the same time. After releasing a pair of singles on the small Picadilly label, the band added a couple of new members, including future Rutles drummer John Halsey. Within a few months they were signed to the Deram label, and released several singles over the next few years. One of their best tunes, Gone Is The Sandman, was actually released as a B side in late 1968.
Artist: Jelly Bean Bandits
Title: Neon River
Source: British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released on LP: Jelly Bean Bandits)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
Some bands focus on their live performances, while others tend to put more energy into their studio work. The Jelly Bean Bandits, from Newburgh, NY, were definitely in the second category. According to organist Mike Rabb, the band did most of its gigging at two clubs, one in Newburgh and one in nearby Poughkeepsie, with regular bookings in Vermont and a couple of gigs in New Jersey. They were able to put together a fairly decent demo tape, which they presented to Bob Shad, president of Mainstream Records. Shad immediately signed up the Bandits for three albums, although only one actually got released. The band itself, however, had a clear vision of what they wanted to record, as can be heard on Neon River.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Take My Love
Source: Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
The Blues Magoos were one of the most visible bands to wear the label "psychedelic". In fact, much of what they are remembered for was what they wore onstage: electric suits. They were also one of the first bands to use the term "psychedelic" on a record, (their 1966 debut album was called Psychedelic Lollipop). Unlike some of their wilder jams such as Tobacco Road and a six-minute version of Gloria, Take My Love, from the band's sophomore effort Electric Comic Book, is essentially garage rock done in the Blues Magoos style. That style was defined by the combination of Farfisa organ and electric guitar, the latter depending heavily on reverb and vibrato bar to create an effect of notes soaring off into space.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Break Song
Source: LP: Near The Beginning
Vanilla Fudge's Break Song, from their fourth LP, Near The Beginning, is essentially one long (twenty-three and a half minutes) jam session with solos from each band member. Released nearly a year before Led Zeppelin's Moby Dick, Break Song includes what may well be the first heavy metal drum solo on vinyl. (Carmine Appice literally wrote the book on rock drumming. As far as I know that book is still in print.)
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Source: LP: Cosmo's Factory
Creedence Clearwater Revival were known for their tight arrangements of relatively short songs at a time when album tracks, as a general rule, were getting longer and longer. Still, there are exceptions; the most obvious of these was their cover of Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through The Grapevine on their 1970 LP Cosmo's Factory. At slightly over eleven minutes, Grapevine is CCR's longest studio recording. Despite this, according to bassist Stu Cook, the song was performed in the studio exactly as planned, with "no room for noodling". Although not a major top 40 hit, I Heard It Through The Grapevine has proved to be one of CCR's most enduring tracks, still getting occasional airplay on classic rock radio.
Artist: Johnny Winter
Title: I Hate Everybody/Fast Life Rider
Source: LP: Second Winter
Writer(s): Johnny Winter
The shortest track on Johnny Winter's Second Winter album, I Hate Everybody is a 50s-styled blues boogie that features Johnny's younger brother Edgar prominently on both organ and saxophone, supported by the rhythm section of Tommy Shannon on bass and Uncle John Turner on drums. To better achieve the desired effect, production on the song was done 50s style, including a monoraul mix. I Hate Everybody is followed immediately by the longest track on the album, the seven-minute Fast Life Rider, which features a long middle section of Winter jamming away against a military-type beat provided by Turner. The other band members provide hoots, hums and hollers, making the whole thing feel a bit like a chain gang recording from the 1930s.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Boogie Music
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Living The Blues and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): L.T.Tatman III
Label: United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Canned Heat was formed in 1966 by a group of San Francisco Bay Area blues purists. Although a favorite on the rock scene, the band continued to remain true to the blues throughout their existence, even after relocating to the Laurel Canyon area near Los Angeles in 1968. The band's most popular single was Going Up the Country from the album Living the Blues. The B side of that single was another track from Living The Blues that actually had a longer running time on the single than on the album version. Although the single uses the same basic recording of Boogie Music as the album, it includes a short low-fidelity instrumental tacked onto the end of the song that sounds suspiciously like a 1920s recording of someone playing a melody similar to Going Up The Country on a fiddle. The only time this unique version of the song appeared in stereo was on a 1969 United Artists compilation called Progressive Heavies that also featured tracks from Johnny Winter, Traffic, the Spencer Davis Group and others.
Title: Keep Your Mind Open
Source: CD: Side Trips
Writer(s): Chris Darrow
Formed in 1966 by David Lindley (b. March 21, 1944, Los Angeles, California), Solomon Feldthouse (b. January 20, 1940, Pingree, Idaho), Chris Darrow (b. July 30, 1944, Sioux Falls, South Dakota), Chester Crill (a.k.a. Max Budda, Max Buda, Fenrus Epp, Templeton Parcely) (b. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) and John Vidican (b. Los Angeles, California), Kaleidoscope grew out of the jug band revival movement of the early 60s that also brought us such diverse talents as John Sebastian, Joe McDonald and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The group was deliberately leaderless, and rose quickly in popularity playing various clubs in the Los Angeles area, signing a contract with Epic within a year of the band's inception. Their first single was released in December of 1966, with an album, Side Trips, following in June of 1967. By then the group had taken on a decidedly psychedelic flavor, as can be heard on tracks like Keep Your Mind Open.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Who's Driving Your Plane
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
By 1966 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were writing everything the Rolling Stones recorded. As their songwriting skills became more sophisticated the band began to lose touch with its R&B roots. To counteract this, Jagger and Richards would occasionally come up with tunes like Who's Driving Your Plane, a bluesy number that nonetheless is consistent with the band's cultivated image as the bad boys of rock. The song appeared as the B side of their loudest single to date, the feedback-drenched Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow.