Monday, September 17, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1838 (starts 9/17/18)
Not many "new" tracks this week. We do, however, have sets from 1966, 67, 68, and 70 (sorry, no 69 this time), plus a couple of artists' sets. Enjoy!
Title: Eight Miles High
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Fifth Dimension)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Gene Clark's final contribution to the Byrds was his collaboration with David Crosby and Roger McGuinn, Eight Miles High. Despite a newsletter from the most powerful man in top 40 radio, Bill Drake, advising stations not to play this "drug song", the song managed to hit the top 20 in 1966. The band members themselves claimed that Eight Miles High was not a drug song at all, but was instead referring to the experience of travelling by air. In fact, it was Gene Clark's fear of flying that in part led to his leaving the Byrds.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era
In the early 1960s the San Bernardino/Riverside area of Southern California (sometimes known as the Inland Empire), was home to a pair of rival top 40 stations, KFXM and KMEN. The newer of the two, KMEN, had a staff that included Ron Jacobs, who would go on to co-create the Boss Radio format (more music, less talk!), and Brian Lord, one of the first American DJs to champion British Rock (even going so far as to have copies of Beatle albums shipped from record shops in London before they were released in the US), and the man responsible for setting up the Rolling Stones' first US gig (in San Bernardino). From 1965-67 Lord took a break from KMEN, moving north to the San Jose area. While there, he heard a local band playing in a small teen club and invited them to use his garage as a practice space. The band was Count Five, and, with Lord's help, they got a contract with L.A.'s Double Shot label, recording and releasing the classic Psychotic Reaction in 1966. Lord later claimed that this was the origin of the term "garage rock".
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Parchman Farm
Source: CD: The Blues Project Anthology
Writer(s): Mose Allison
Year: Recorded 1965, released 1997
Autumn of 1965 was a busy, and quite productive, time for the Greenwich Village based Blues Project. The band had added keyboardist Al Kooper in mid-October. At around that same time they signed with MGM's Verve Forecast label and got a steady gig at Howard Solomon's Cafe Au Go Go, on Bleeker Street in the Village. By early November they were playing to a full house every night, prompting Solomon to organize a Thanksgiving weekend bash to be called the Blues Bag. In addition to the Blues Project, the playbill included John Lee Hooker, Son House, Bukka White, Geoff Muldaur, Eric Anderson and several electric bands, including Buzzy Linhart's Seventh Sons. Solomon managed to get Verve Folkways to not only record the Blues Project's portion of the show, but to finance the entire weekend gig. The tracks recorded at the Blues Bag were to be used for the Blues Project's debut LP, but in January a huge problem caused everyone involved to rethink their plans. Lead vocalist Tommy Flanders had a girlfriend who convinced him that he was the band's big star and as such, should get special treatment from pretty much everyone. When the rest of the band took exception to this idea Flanders walked out, never to return. For obvious reasons, nobody wanted to release an album featuring a lead vocalist who was no longer a member of the band; the solution was to set up another live recording session, again at the Cafe Au Go Go. Ultimately, some of the tracks with Flanders were used on the album, with the remaining tracks remaining unreleased until 1997, when the Blues Project Anthology was released. Among those unreleased tracks was the band's take on the old Mose Allison tune, Parchman Farm.
Artist: Velvet Underground
Title: Cool It Down
Source: LP: Loaded
Writer(s): Lou Reed
The final Velvet Underground album to feature Lou Reed, Loaded was a deliberate attempt by the band to move away from Andy Warhol's avant-garde leanings and become a commercial success. All 10 songs on the LP were edited down for their maximum commercial impact, including Cool It Down. VU drummer Maureen Tucker was pregnant at the time the album was recorded, and does not play on any of the tracks, although she does appear in the credits. Multi-instrumentalist Doug Yule was a major creative force on the album, singing lead on four tracks, as well as playing all the bass, piano and organ parts. Lou Reed, who sang lead on the remaining six tracks, including Cool It Down (which, incidentally features a guitar solo by Yule), wrote all the songs on the album, although originally the entire band was given songwriting credits. Reed was unhappy with the finished album, however, and left the band three months before it was released.
Artist: Eric Burdon And War
Title: Spill The Wine
Source: LP: Eric Burdon Declares War
After the second version of the Animals disbanded in late 1969, vocalist Eric Burdon, who was by then living in California, decided to pursue his interest in American soul music by hooking up with an L.A. band called War. He released his first album with the group, Eric Burdon Declares War, in 1970. The album included Spill The Wine, which would be the first of several hits for War in the 1970s. The song was inspired by keyboardist Lonnie Jordan's accidentally spilling wine on a mixing board, although the lyrics are far more fanciful, with Burdon referring to himself as an "overfed long-haired gnome" in the song's opening monologue. The song turned out to be a major hit, going into the top 5 in both the US and Canada.
Artist: Blues Image
Title: Pay My Dues
Source: CD: Open
Writer(s): Blues Image
Label: Sundazed (original label: Atco)
When I first heard Blues Image's Ride Captain Ride on the radio I wasn't all that impressed with it. Then the local club I hung out at got it on the jukebox and people started playing the B side, a song called Pay My Dues. Then I went out and bought the album, Open. Yes, Pay My Dues is that good. As it turns out, so is the rest of the album. Even Ride Captain Ride sounds better now. Shows the latent power of a B side, doesn't it?
Title: Sleepy Time Time
Source: LP: Fresh Cream
When Cream was first formed, both Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker worked with co-writers on original material for the band. Baker's partner was Pete Brown, while Bruce worked with his wife, Janet Godfrey. Eventually Bruce and Brown began collaborating, creating some of Cream's most memorable songs, but not before Bruce and Godfrey wrote Sleepy Time Time, one of the high points of the Fresh Cream album.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
Marty Balin says he came up with the title of the opening track of side two of Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow album by combining a couple of random phrases from the sports section of a newspaper. 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds works out to 216 MPH, by the way.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Manic Depression
Source: Mono British import 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: Moby Grape
Source: LP: Great Grape
Moby Grape was a talented band that unfortunately was the victim of their own hype (or more accurately, that of Columbia Records, who issued five singles from their first album simultaneously). They were never able, however, to live up to that hype, despite some fine tunes like Someday, which was included on their first LP.
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.
Title: Love Me Two Times
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): The Doors
Although the second Doors album is sometimes dismissed as being full of tracks that didn't make the cut on the debut LP, the fact is that Strange Days contains some of the Doors best-known tunes. One of those is Love Me Two Times, which was the second single released from the album. The song continues to get heavy airplay on classic rock stations.
Artist: H.P. Lovecraft
Title: It's About Time
Source: Two Classic Albums from H. P. Lovecraft (originally released on LP: H.P. Lovecraft II)
Writer(s): Terry Callier
Label: Collector's Choice/Universal Music Special Markets (original label: Philips)
The second H.P. Lovecraft album, coming after a series of gigs opening for such acts as Pink Floyd, Donovan and Jefferson Airplane, was even more psychedelic than their first effort. Like the early Airplane, Lovecraft were at their best doing psychedelic arrangements of folks tunes from lesser-known songwriters such as Terrier Callier, whose fan base, according to rock critic Richie Unterberger, was small enough to make Fred Neil's seem huge by comparison. Lovecraft's treatment of Callier's It's About Time certainly has the same sort of vocal harmonies that characterized the San Francisco take on folk-rock, despite the fact that H.P. Lovecraft was actually from Chicago, a city not particularly known for its psychedelic scene.
Title: (Roamin' Thro' The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM B side and on LP: Traffic)
Label: United Artists
The second Traffic album saw the band taking in a broader set of influences, including traditional English folk music. (Roamin' Through The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen, originally released as the B side to the Dave Mason tune No Face, No Name, No Number, combines those influences with the Steve Winwood brand of British R&B to create a timeless classic.
Title: Flight From Ashiya
Source: Mono British import CD: Further Reflections (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Grapefruit (original label: Fontana)
Although they did not have any hit singles, London's Kaleidoscope had enough staying power to record two album's worth of material for the Fontana label before disbanding. The group's first release was Flight From Ashiya, a single released in September of 1967. Describing a bad plane trip with a stoned pilot, the song is filled with chaotic images, making the song's story a bit hard to follow. Still, it's certainly worth a listen.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: We've Got A Groovy Thing Going
Source: LP: Sounds Of Silence (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
In late 1965, producer Tom Wilson decided to preform an experiment. He took the original recording of a song from Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel's 1964 album, Wednesday Morning 6AM, and added electric instruments to it (using the same musicians that had played on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited album), essentially creating a whole new version of the song and, for that matter, a whole new genre: folk-rock. The Sound of Silence, backed by We've Got a Groovy Thing Going, became a huge national hit, going all the way to #1 on the top 40 charts. The only problem was that by the time all this happened, Simon and Garfunkel had gone their separate ways, briefly reuniting to record We've Got a Groovy Thing Going in 1965, but not releasing it at the time. Paul Simon, who was by then living in England, returned to the states in early 1966, got back together with Art Garfunkel and the rest is history.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Fakin' It
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Writer: Paul Simon
Fakin' It, originally released as a single in 1967, was a bit of a departure for Simon And Garfunkel, sounding more like British psychedelic music than American folk-rock. The track starts with an intro that is similar to the false ending to the Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever; midway through the record the tempo changes drastically for a short spoken word section (name-dropping Mr. [Donovan] Leitch) that is reminiscent of the bridge in Traffic's Hole In My Shoe. The song was later included on the 1968 LP Bookends.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Source: LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer(s): Davey Graham
Paul Simon wrote nearly all the material that he and Art Garfunkel recorded. One notable exception is Davey Graham's instrumental Anji, which Simon played as a solo acoustic piece on the Sounds Of Silence. The song immediately follows a Simon composition, Somewhere They Can't Find Me, that is built around a similar-sounding guitar riff, making Anji sound somewhat like an instrumental reprise of the first tune.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Like A Rolling Stone
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan incurred the wrath of folk purists when he decided to use electric instruments for his 1965 LP Highway 61 Revisited. The opening track on the album is the six-minute Like A Rolling Stone, a song that was also selected to be the first single released from the new album. After the single was pressed, the shirts at Columbia Records decided to cancel the release due to its length. An acetate copy of the record, however, made it to a local New York club, where, by audience request, the record was played over and over until it was worn out (acetate copies not being as durable as their vinyl counterparts). When Columbia started getting calls from local radio stations demanding copies of the song the next morning they decided to release the single after all. Like A Rolling Stone ended up going all the way to the number two spot on the US charts, doing quite well in several other countries as well.
Title: I've Got You On My Mind
Source: Mono CD: The Huns Conquer Ithaca, NY 1966
Writer(s): Steven Dworetz
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2017
Ithaca, NY, is famous for being the home of Cornell University, one of the nation's top Ivy League schools. What a lot of people are unaware of, however, is that there is a second large institute of higher learning in the area. Ithaca College, like Cornell, has its own radio station, as well as television facilities that date back to the 1960s. It was at these facilities, in their original downtown location, that the Huns, a short-lived but phenomenally popular local band, made their only studio recordings in May of 1966. Those recordings, made on monoraul equipment, sat unreleased for over 50 years before finally being made public on a 2017 CD called The Huns Conquer Ithaca, NY 1966. The band was founded by bassist Frank Van Nostrand and organist John Sweeney in the fall of 1965. By the end of the year their lineup included vocalist Rich La Bonte, guitarists Carl "Buz" Warmkessel and Keith Ginsberg and drummer Steven Dworetz, who wrote I've Got You On My Mind. Despite being new on the scene, the Huns found plenty of places to play, racking up a total of 51 gigs over a nine month period, while the members themselves attended classes at Ithaca College during the daytime (when they weren't being harrassed by department heads over the length of their hair). Although popular with the student crowd the members of the Huns were not well-liked by officials at the college itself. In fact, the Huns' existence came to an end when the founding members were "encouraged to pursue their academic careers elsewhere". Shades of Animal House!
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Source: Mono British import CD: Easter Everywhere
Label: Charly (original label: International Artists)
Although the second 13th Floor Elevators LP, Easter Everywhere, is generally a more quietly intense album than their 1966 debut, it did have a few higher-energy rockers such as Earthquake on it to spice up the mix. The band attempted to use a huge sheet of steel to produce the sound of thunder for the recording, but ultimately had to abandon the idea as unworkable. The album itself was awarded a special "merit pick" by Billboard magazine, which described the effort as "intellectual rock". Easter Everywhere was not a major seller, but has since come to be regarded as one of the hidden gems of the psychedelic era.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Street Fighting Man
Source: LP: Through The Past, Darkly (originally released on LP: Beggar's Banquet)
The Rolling Stones were at a low point in their career following their most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which came out in late 1967. As a response to charges in the rock press that they were no longer relevant the Stones released Jumpin' Jack Flash as a single in early 1968, following it up with the Beggar's Banquet album later in the year. The new album included the band's follow-up single, Street Fighting Man, a song that was almost as anthemic as Jumpin' Jack Flash itself and went a long ways toward insuring that the Rolling Stones would be making music on their own terms for as long as they chose to.
Title: Hey Bulldog
Source: British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: EMI (original label: Columbia)
Fans of Uriah Heep may recognize the names Ken Hensley, Joe Konas, John Glascock and Lee Kerslake as members of the legendary British rock band at various phases of its existence. What they may not realize is that these four members had already been bandmates since early 1968 as members of the Gods. The band made it's recording debut with a song called Baby's Rich, which led to a concept album called Genesis. 1969 saw the release of a powerful cover of the Beatles' Hey Bulldog, along with a second album, before the group morphed into a band called Toe Fat, with Hensley soon departing to form Uriah Heep.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in November of 1966. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation (and the second track on Rhino's first Nuggets LP).
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Antique Doll
Source: Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released on LP: Underground)
Label: Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Reprise)
Sometimes there is no comprehending what goes on in the mind of record company people. Take the Electric Prunes, for example. Their second single, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), put them right at the front of the pack of the psychedelic rock movement in early 1967. Their follow up single, Get Me To The World On Time, was a solid hit as well, which should have guaranteed them a good run. But even with that second single, problems with management's decision making were becoming apparent. For one thing, the song chosen as the second single's B side, Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less), had the potential to be a hit in its own right, but being put on a B side killed that idea entirely. It only got worse from there. The next single chosen was a novelty number from the band's second LP, Underground, called Dr. Do-Good. The tune was written by the same team of Annette Tucker and Nanci Mantz that had come up with both Dream and Lovin' Me More, but was played for laughs by the band. The choice of such a weird track is a complete puzzle, as there were several more commercial tunes on the LP, including one written by Tucker and Mantz themselves called Antique Doll. Unfortunately, the song was not even picked to be a B side, and has remained virtually unknown ever since. Rather than own up to their own mistakes, however, the band's management blamed the musicians themselves for their lack of commercial success, and eventually replaced the entire lineup of the original group (who had signed away the rights to the name Electric Prunes early on). Of course, the new lineups were even less successful than the original crew, but really, what else would you expect?
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: You've Never Had It Better
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Following the lack of a hit single from their second album, Underground, the Electric Prunes took one last shot at top 40 airplay with a song called Everybody Knows Your Not In Love. The band might have had better luck if they had pushed the flip side of the record, You Never Had It Better, which is a much stronger song. As it is, the record stiffed, and producer David Hassinger reacted by stripping the band of any creative freedom they might have had and made an album called Mass in F Minor using mostly studio musicians. The band, having signed away the rights to the name Electric Prunes to their manager early on, could do nothing but watch helplessly as Hassinger created an album that had little in common with the original band other than their name. Because of this, the original members soon left, and Hassinger brought in a whole new group for two more albums (and several singles) before retiring the Prunes name for good. In recent years several members of the original band have reformed the Electric Prunes. Whether they had to get permission to use the name is unknown.
Artist: Grass Roots
Title: Hot Bright Lights
Source: LP: Feelings
The battle between the desires of recording artists for more creative freedom and record company people for more hit records is about as old as the music industry itself. As recorded music became more popular in the 1960s the battle intensified. Sometimes the artists won. More often it was the record companies. On occasion, the artist would have a brief window of opportunity to show they could succeed doing it their own way, only to have the door shut on them when things didn't work out as well as planned. So it was with the Grass Roots. The most famous incarnation of the band actually started off as a local L.A. band called the 13th Floor. When the first Grass Roots lineup balked at the demands made on them by their producers and left town, those producers, P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri, promptly went out and hired the 13th Floor to become the new Grass Roots. After some success in 1967 with the hit song Let's Live For Today and a couple of lesser hits, the band demanded, and got, the opportunity to do an album their own way. The result was Feelings, which featured several songs such as Hot Bright Lights that were written by the band member themselves. Unfortunately for the band, Feelings did not perform well commercially, and from that point on the Grass Roots did things the Sloan-Barri way. As it turns out, the Sloan-Barri way led to lots and lots of hit singles, but little respect within the rock community itself.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Shine On Brightly
Source: LP: Shine On Brightly
Although it was never released as a single, the title track of Procol Harum's second album, Shine On Brightly, is probably their most commercially viable song on the album. Opening with power chords from organist Matthew Fischer and augmented by guitarist Robin Trower, the song quickly moves into psychedelic territory with some of Keith Reid's trippiest lyrics ever, including the refrain "my befuddled brain shines on brightly, quite insane." One of their best tracks ever.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (originally released on LP: A Saucerful Of Secrets)
Source: CD: Works
Writer: Roger Waters
Label: Capitol (original label: Tower)
With mental illness pretty much taking Sid Barrett out of the Pink Floyd equation by 1968, other members stepped up their own songwriting game for the band's second LP, A Saucerful Of Secrets. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, a Roger Waters composition, is the only Pink Floyd recording to have both Barrett and his replacement, David Gilmour, playing guitar parts and was considered strong enough to be included on the Works compilation album in the early 80s. A Saucerful Of Secrets is the only Pink Floyd album that failed to chart in the US, due in part to it being released on Capitol's Tower subsidiary, which was generally regarded as a second-rate label.