Sunday, September 23, 2018

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1839 (starts 9/24/18)

    This time around we have artists' sets from the Byrds, the Rolling Stones and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, a singles-oriented 1967 set, a deep 1969 set and finally a progression through the years that emphasizes lesser-known tracks from well-known artists, topped off with a classic Santana instrumental track from the Abraxas album.

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     White Rabbit
Source:     CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released on LP: Surrealistic Pillow)
Writer:     Grace Slick
Label:     BMG/RCA/Buddah
Year:     1967
     The first time I heard White Rabbit was on Denver's first FM rock station, KLZ-FM. The station branded itself as having a top 100 (as opposed to local ratings leader KIMN's top 60), and prided itself on being the first station in town to play new releases and album tracks. It wasn't long before White Rabbit was officially released as a single, and went on to become a top 10 hit, the last for the Airplane.

Artist:    Lemon Pipers
Title:    Green Tambourine
Source:    CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Green Tambourine)
Writer(s):    Leka/Pinz
Label:    Priority (original label: Buddah)
Year:    1967
    Oxford, Ohio's Lemon Pipers have the distinction of being the first band to score a number one hit for the Buddah label. Unfortunately for the band, it was their only hit. Making it even worse is the fact that, although the Lemon Pipers themselves were a real band, they ended up being grouped in with several "bands" who were in fact studio creations by the Kazenetz/Katz production team that supplied Buddah with a steady stream of bubble-gum hits throughout 1968.

Artist:    Mystery Trend
Title:    Johnny Was A Good Boy
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Nagle/Cuff
Label:    Rhino (original label: Verve)
Year:    1967
    The Mystery Trend was a bit of an anomaly on the San Francisco music scene of the late 1960s. Contemporaries of bands such as the Great! Society and the Charlatans, the Trend always stood a bit apart from the rest of the crowd, playing to an audience that was both a bit more affluent and a bit more "adult" (they were reportedly the house band at a Sausalito strip club). Stylistically they preferred short, tightly arranged songs to the long spacey jams that bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead were known for. Perhaps they were simply ahead of their time, as that exact same approach was taken just a couple years later by another local band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, to great success. Although the Mystery Trend (their name taken from misheard Bob Dylan lyrics) played in the city itself as early as 1965, they did not release their first and only record until early 1967. The song, Johnny Was A Good Boy, tells the story of a seemingly normal middle-class kid who turns out to be a monster, surprising friends, family and neighbors. The Mystery Trend, unable to find enough gigs to stay afloat financially, called it quits in 1968.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Mr. Spaceman
Source:    LP: Fifth Dimension
Writer(s):    Jim McGuinn
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    Both Jim (now Roger) McGuinn and David Crosby were science fiction fans, which became evident with the release of the Byrds' third album, Fifth Dimension. The third single released from that album, Mr. Spaceman, was in fact, a deliberate attempt to contact extra-terrestrials through the medium of AM radio. It was McGuinn's hope that ETs monitoring Earth's airwaves would hear the song and in some way respond to it, perhaps even contacting the band members themselves. Of course McGuinn didn't realize at the time that AM radio waves tend to disperse as they travel away from the Earth, making it unlikely that the signals would be picked up at all. Now if someone wants to upload this week's edition of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era to a satellite...

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Turn! Turn! Turn!
Source:    Mono CD: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Writer(s):    Pete Seeger
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1965
    After their success covering Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man, the band turned to an even more revered songwriter: the legendary Pete Seeger. Turn! Turn! Turn!, with lyrics adapted from the book of Ecclesiastes, was written by Seeger in the late 1950s and originally appeared on an LP by the Limelighters in 1962, with Seeger's own version coming out a few months later. The Byrds' version was by far the most successful, spending three weeks in the #1 spot in December of 1965.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Captain Soul
Source:    LP: Fifth Dimension
Writer(s):    Hillman/Clarke/McGuinn/Crosby
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    During recording sessions for their Fifth Dimension album, the Byrds decided to take a break and loosen up by jamming instrumentally on Lee Dorsey's Get Out Of My Life Woman (which had just been released by the Butterfield Blues Band on their East-West album as well). Bassist Chris Hillman suggested the title Captain Soul for the resulting recording, which won the approval of drummer Michael Clarke, who had been pushing the idea of recording something soul-oriented.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    From A Buick 6
Source:    45 RPM single B side (promo copy)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    Although there were several unissued recordings made during the Highway 61 Revisited sessions, Bob Dylan and his producer, Tom Wilson, chose to instead use one of the already released album tracks as the B side for Positively 4th Street in September of 1965. The chosen track was From A Buick 6, a song that is vintage Dylan through and through.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Spoonful
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released in UK on LP: Fresh Cream)
Writer(s):    Willie Dixon
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Reaction)
Year:    1966
    When the album Fresh Cream was released by Atco in the US it was missing one track that was on the original UK version of the album: the band's original studio version of Willie Dixon's Spoonful. A live version of Spoonful was included on the LP Wheels of Fire, but it wasn't until the 1970 soundtrack album for the movie Homer that the studio version was finally released in the US. Unfortunately the compilers of that album left out the last 25 seconds or so from the original recording.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    We're A Fade, You Missed This
Source:    Mono CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
    Record companies sometimes do strange, unfathomable things. Take the first Traffic album, for example. The original UK version of the album, Mr. Fantasy, included several songs by group member Dave Mason, but did not include the British hit singles Paper Sun or Hole In My Shoe. The American version of the LP, however, did include both those songs, replacing three of Mason's tunes. But that was not the only change that United Artists made. The album itself was retitled Heaven Is In Your Mind and had different cover art, featuring Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, but not Mason, who had quit the group by the time the US version of the album was released. The final change was the oddest of all. The US album opened with a stereo version of Paper Sun that faded out almost a minute earlier than its British counterpart; that final minute appeared as We're A Fade, You Missed This, the final track on the album itself, but mixed monoraully.
Why this was done is anyone's guess, but I have a theory. I think that, when United Artists was compiling the record, they had a copy of the stereo mix of the British single and used that, but later realized that the British LP version was longer. They quickly decided to tack that extra minute on to the album itself, but for some reason did not have access to the stereo master tape. Rather than splice a minute of mono onto the end of a stereo recording they chose to put that last 50 seconds at the end of side two, creating a sort of bookend effect for the album itself. Hey, it's just a theory, OK?

Artist:    David Bowie
Title:    Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed
Source:    CD: David Bowie (originally US title: Man Of Words/Man Of Music)
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Mercury)
Year:    1969
    Written in response to the death of his father, David Bowie's Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed, from his self-titled 1969 LP, may have gone overlooked indefinitely if it were not for the fact that someone noticed that the song was Bowie's first collaboration with producer Tony Visconti, who would continue to work with Bowie for the remainder of his career. The song itself is classic early Bowie and, to my ears, is one of the best tracks on the album.

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    Beginnings
Source:    CD: Chicago Transit Authority
Writer(s):    Robert Lamm
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    The first album by Chicago shows a band that had spent several months on the road honing its craft. Many of the tracks on the double album were recorded in one take, with a minimum of overdubs. Beginnings, which finishes out side one of the album, was released as a single in 1969 but failed to chart. After the band became more well-known, Beginnings was re-released, this time becoming a moderate hit. The single version ran less than three minutes, essentially cutting out the entire second half of the song, but a later album edit running about six minutes has been used on most compilation albums. The original version heard here runs nearly eight minutes, including over two minutes of percussion and vocals at the end of the song.

Artist:    Bob Seger System
Title:    Black Eyed Girl
Source:    LP: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Writer(s):    Bob Seger
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    The Bob Seger System was one of the top local bands on the Detroit rock scene in the late 60s. As was typical of that scene, the System played a hard-edged brand of rock that played well with the sons and daughters of the city's mostly blue-collar workforce. Following a series of regional hit singles, the System hit the big time after signing with Capitol Records in 1968. After releasing one of the most intense antiwar songs ever recorded (2+2=?), the band began work on their debut LP, tentatively entitled Tales Of Lucy Blue. Before the album was finished Capitol released a second single by the band, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, which was such a huge hit they decided to rename the album after the song (although the original Lucy Blue cover art remained). The LP itself had some fine rockers, such as Black Eyed Girl, which at six and a half minutes was the longest cut on the album. The LP was not a major success, however, and for years it looked like Bob Seger would be remembered only as a one-hit wonder. Seger resurfaced in the late 1970s with a new group, the Silver Bullet Band, and went on to become a major rock star.

Artist:    Circus Maximus
Title:    Chess Game
Source:    LP: Circus Maximus
Writer(s):    Bob Bruno
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    New York's Greenwich Village based Circus Maximus was driven by the dual creative talents of guitarist/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. Bruno is now a successful visual artist, still living in the New York area.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Unhappy Girl
Source:    CD: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    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 neighborhood gasthaus known as the Woog in the village of Meisenbach near Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.

Artist:    Twilights
Title:    Cathy, Come Home
Source:    Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Australia as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Terry Britten
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1967
    The Twilights were originally formed as a vocal trio in 1964, performing with various backup musicians in the suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia. By the end of the year they had joined forces with a local band called the Hurricanes. The now six-piece band soon signed with EMI's Columbia label and released several singles of the next two years, including the chart-topping Needle In A Haystack in September of 1966. At that time they won a national battle of the bands competition that offered a trip to England as first prize. Upon their return to Australia in early 1967 the Twilights recorded several new songs that showed the influence of their British trip, including Cathy, Come Home, which appeared as a B side that spring.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    You Can't Always Get What You Want
Source:    LP: Let It Bleed
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1969
    When the Rolling Stones called for singers to back them up on their recording of You Can't Always Get What You Want, they expected maybe 30 to show up. Instead they got twice that many, and ended up using them all on the recording, which closes out the Let It Bleed album. An edited version of the song, which also features Al Kooper on organ, was orginally released as the B side of Honky Tonk Women in 1969. In the mid-1970s, after the Stones had established their own record label, Allen Klein, who had bought the rights to the band's pre-1970 recordings, reissued the single, this time promoting You Can't Always Get What You Want as the A side. Klein's strategy worked and the song ended up making the top 40.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    No Expectations
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released on LP: Beggar's Banquet and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1968
    The first single to be released from Beggar's Banquet was Street Fighting Man, which was also the first Rolling Stones track to be produced by Jimmy Miller, who had already established a reputation working with Steve Winwood, both with the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic. Brian Jones's slide guitar work on The B side of the single, No Expectations, is sometimes considered his last important contribution to the band.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Midnight Rambler
Source:    LP: Let It Bleed
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1969
    1969 was, with one huge exception, a good year for the Rolling Stones. Their Beggar's Banquet album, released late in 1968, had reestablished them as one of the world's premier rock bands, and their first single of 1969, Honky Tonk Women, was nothing short of a masterpiece. The song had introduced Stones fans to the band's newest member, Mick Taylor, who had replaced Brian Jones, who had left the band he founded just a few weeks before he was found dead in his swimming pool on the very night that Honky Tonk Women was recorded. The timing of it all gave fuel to all kinds of conspiracy theories, of course, but the band itself was already hard at work on what would be their final album for the British Decca label (and it's US counterpart, London) before starting their own label, Let It Bleed. One of the most enduring tracks on that album was Midnight Rambler, which would become a staple of the band's live performances for years to come.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    The Wind Cries Mary
Source:    The Ultimate Experience (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original labels: Track (UK), Reprise (US))
Year:    1967
     The US version of the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, was significantly different than its UK counterpart. For one thing, the original UK album was originally 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.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Red House
Source:    Mono LP: Are You Experienced (UK version)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Legacy (original UK label: Track)
Year:    1967
    One of the first songs recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Red House was omitted from the US version of Are You Experienced because, in the words of one record company executive: "America does not like blues". At the time the song was recorded, Noel Redding was not yet comfortable using a bass guitar, and would work out his bass parts on a slightly-detuned hollow body six-string guitar with the tone controls on their muddiest setting (I learned to play bass the same way myself). The original recording of Red House that was included on the UK version of Are You Experienced features Redding doing exactly that. A second take of the song, with overdubs, was included on the North American version of the 1969 Smash Hits album, but the original mono version heard here was not available in the US until the release of the Blues CD in 1994.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Highway Chile
Source:    Mono CD: The Ultimate Experience (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Track)
Year:    1967
    The Jimi Hendrix Experience already had three hit singles in the UK before releasing their first LP, Are You Experienced, in May of 1967. The following month the band made its US debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival. The gig went over so well that Reprise Records soon made arrangements to release Are You Experienced in the US. To maximize the commercial potential of the LP, Reprise decided to include the A sides of all three singles on the album, even though those songs had not been on the British version. The B sides of all three singles, however, were not included on the album. Among those missing tracks was Highway Chile, a somewhat autobiographical song that was originally paired with The Wind Cries Mary.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Celeste
Source:    Mono LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Sundazed/Epic
Year:    1966
    Although most major labels were issuing LPs in both mono and stereo versions in the mid-1960s, a handful of artists were still only doing monoraul mixes of their recordings as late as 1967. One of the most prominent of these "mono only" artists was the Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan, whose material appeared in the US on the Epic label, the largest subsidiary of the second largest label in the world (CBS/Columbia). In fact, only a handful of songs from Donovan's two most successful albums, Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow, have ever been mixed in stereo. Among those still only available in mono is Celeste, the last track on Sunshine Superman.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    I'd Love Just Once To See You
Source:    LP: Wild Honey
Writer(s):    Wilson/Love
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1967
    It's easy to forget sometimes that, despite the musical sophistication of songs like Good Vibrations, the Beach Boys were still quite young when they were making their best records. This youthful outlook can be heard on the song I'd Love Just Once To See You, from their 1967 album Wild Honey. If you've never heard the song before pay close attention to the lyrics on the final chorus. You'll see what I mean.

Artist:    Iron Butterfly
Title:    Gentle As It May Seem
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Heavy)
Writer(s):    DeLoach/Weis
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    Personnel changes were pretty much a regular occurrence with Iron Butterfly. After the first album, Heavy, everyone except keyboardist Doug Ingle and drummer Ron Bushy left the band. This was accompanied by a drastic change in style as well, as Ingle, who had already been carrying the lion's share of lead vocals, became the group's primary songwriter as well. Gentle As It Seems, written by Daryl DeLoach and lead guitarist Danny Weis, is a good example of the band's original sound, back when they were scrounging for gigs in a rapidly shrinking L.A. all-ages club scene.

Artist:    Vanilla Fudge
Title:    Some Velvet Morning
Source:    Mono CD: The Complete Atco Singles (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lee Hazlewood
Label:    Real Gone/Rhino (original label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    Most American listeners are probably unaware of Vanilla Fudge's 1969 cover of Lee Hazlewood's Some Velvet Morning, but the song actually made quite a big splash in the rest of the world, thanks to the band's live performance of the song at the International Music Festival in Venice that year. The performance, which led to the band becoming the first Americans to win the Golden Gondola award, was see by 40 million television viewers worldwide. In the US, the song was released as a mono single at a time when FM stereo was becoming the medium of choice for serious rock fans. That, taken with the fact that AM radio was not about to play a song that ran nearly eight minutes in length, pretty much doomed Some Velvet Morning from the start.

Artist:     Kinks
Title:     Rats
Source:     45 RPM single B side
Writer:     Dave Davies
Label:     Reprise
Year:     1971
     After several years of being banned from performing in the US (due to some sort of dispute involving the musician's union), the Kinks finally got the ban lifted in time to promote their 1971, LP Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneyground Part One with a US tour. As a result, the band managed to get two consecutive singles onto the US charts: the smash hit Lola and its follow-up, Apeman. The B side of Apeman was Rats, a tune written by Dave Davies, who by then had fallen into a George Harrison type role of being the lead guitarist who got to write one or two songs for each album.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Samba Pa Ti
Source:    CD: Abraxas
Writer(s):    Carlos Santana
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    One of the most enduring tracks from Santana's second LP, Abraxas, Samba Pa Ti starts off as a slow instrumental, slowly picking up the pace and adding percussion to give it a decidedly latin flavor. As far as I know, Carlos Santana still includes Samba Pa Ti in his concert repertoire.

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