Sunday, October 7, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1841 (starts 10/8/18)
This is another week in which the show seemed to take on a life of its own, with very little input from me. Fine. Less work on my part.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Stone Free
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Smash Hits
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Whether or not Stone Free was the first song ever written by Jimi Hendrix, there is no doubt it was his first original composition to be recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In fact, it is the only song written by Hendrix to be released in 1966, albeit only in Europe and the UK as the B side to Hey Joe. The first time the song was released in the US was on the Smash Hits anthology album that was put out by Reprise Records in 1969. A newer version was recorded, but not released, that same year under the title Stone Free Again.
Title: I Am The Walrus
Source: LP: Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles' psychedelic period hit its peak with the BBC-TV premier of the surrealistic telefilm Magical Mystery Tour and its subsequent release on vinyl in December of 1967. Musically speaking, the centerpiece of Magical Mystery Tour was John Lennon's I Am The Walrus, which was the final track on both the British EP and side one of the US LP. The second half (more or less) of the piece contains audio from a live BBC radio broadcast that was added during the mono mixing process. At that time, the Beatles were still doing their original mixes in monoraul (single-channel) sound, then doing a stereo mix almost as an afterthought. The addition of live audio into the original mono mix meant that they would be unable to reproduce the process in stereo. So, at the point the BBC audio comes in, the true stereo version of I Am The Walrus suddenly becomes a "fake stereo" recording using techniques such as phasing and panning to create a stereo effect out of the mono mix. It also sounds really strange on headphones, like your sinuses all of a sudden got clogged up.
Artist: Canned heat
Title: Whiskey Headed Woman No. 2
Source: LP: Boogie With Canned Heat
Writer(s): Canned Heat
Label: United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Whiskey Headed Woman No. 2, from the 1968 LP Boogie With Canned Heat, literally needs no introduction.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Mother Nature,-Father Earth
Source: Mono CD: Ignition (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Sundazed (original label: Bell)
Even without a record contract (and with a whole different band than his original Music Machine) Sean Bonniwell continued to hit the recording studio (actual several recording studios) whenever he got the chance, recording songs that would remained unreleased for many years. An exception to that last part was a tune called Mother Nature,-Father Earth, which appeared as the B side of a one-off single for Bell Records in 1969, a year after the song was recorded. It would be the last record released by the Music Machine before they were officially disbanded. The song itself was a warning about man's treatment of the environment. Like most of Bonniwell's material, it was way ahead of its time.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: Gallows Pole
Source: German import LP: Led Zeppelin III
Writer(s): Traditional, arr. Page/Plant
Following a year of intensive touring to promote their first two albums, Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant and Jimmy Page decided to take some time off, cloistering themselves in a small Welsh cottage known as Bron-Yr-Aur for several weeks. The place had no electricity, and the pair used the time to write and/or adapt acoustic material for the band to record for their third LP. One of the best of these "new" songs was Gallows Pole, which Page adapted from a 1962 recording by Fred Gerlach, although the song's roots go back several centuries.
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released on LP: Here Are The Sonics)
Writer: Gerry Roslie
Label: Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
From 1965 we have a band that maintains a cult following to this day: the legendary Sonics, generally considered one of the foundation stones of the Seattle music scene. Although the majority of the songs on their albums were cover tunes, virtually all of their originals are now considered punk classics; indeed, the Sonics are often cited as the first true punk rock band.
Title: Shut Up
Source: German import CD: Black Monk time
Label: Repertoire (original label: Polydor International)
There are a lot of contenders for the title of "first punk rock band". Detroit's MC5 get mentioned often, as do Chicago's Shadows Of Knight. Some give credit to L.A.'s Standells, while others cite Pacific Northwest bands such as the Wailers and the Sonics as being the first true punks. Serious consideration has to be given, however, to a group of five members of the US Army stationed in Frankfurt Germany, who decided to augment their GI haircuts by shaving the centers of their heads and calling themselves the Monks. Vocalist/guitarist Gary Burger, organist Larry Clarke, drummer Roger Johnston, bassist Eddie Shaw and banjoist Dave Day began hitting the trinkhauses (combination bars and dance halls) around the area in 1965, moving up to more visible venues the following year after their Army stint was over (apparently they had all been drafted at around the same time). Their style, unlike other bands of the time, was loud, harsh and direct, with lyrics about death, war and hate rather than the usual love ballads made popular by British bands like the Beatles and Herman's Hermits. This, combined with surprisingly strong musicianship, got them a contract with the German branch of Polydor Records. They released their first single, Complication, early in the year, following it up with an LP, Black Monk Time, that summer. In retrospect, the Monks were too far ahead of their time to be a commercial success, but have come to be highly regarded as forerunners of British punk bands such as the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Shut Up, from Black Monk Time, is just a small sample of what the Monks were all about.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
Source: CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
While not as commercially successful as the Jefferson Airplane or as long-lived as the Grateful Dead (there's an oxymoron for ya), Country Joe and the Fish may well be the most accurate musical representation of what the whole Haight-Ashbury scene was about, which is itself ironic, since the band operated out of Berkeley on the other side of the bay. Of all the tracks on their first album, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine probably got the most airplay on various underground radio stations that were popping up on the FM dial at the time (some of them even legally).
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Absolutely Sweet Marie
Source: Mono LP: Blonde On Blonde
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan's Absolutely Sweet Marie, from his 1966 album Blonde On Blonde is best known for the line "To live outside the law you must be honest". The line was entirely without precedent. Woody Guthrie, in his notes about the song Pretty Boy Floyd, said "I love a good man outside the law, just as I hate a bad man inside the law". And then there is the line "When you live outside the law, you have to eliminate dishonesty', from the 1958 film The Lineup, which Dylan may or may not have seen (I know I haven't). Rgardless, it's Dylan's line that has had the greatest cultural impact.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: Dark Side
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Dark Side, written by guitarist Warren Rogers and singer Jim Sohns, is probably the quintessential Shadows of Knight song. It has all the classic elements of a garage rock song: three chords, a blues beat and lots of attitude. Oh, and the lyrics "I love you baby more than birds love the sky". What more can you ask for?
Artist: Blues Project
Title: I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): Blind Willie Johnson
Label: Verve Forecast
One lasting legacy of the British Invasion was the re-introduction to the US record-buying public to the songs of early Rhythm and Blues artists such as Blind Willie Johnson. This emphasis on classic blues in particular would lead to the formation of electric blues-based US bands such as the Butterfield Blues Band and the Blues Project. Unlike the Butterfields, who made a conscious effort to remain true to their Chicago-style blues roots, the Blues Project was always looking for new ground to cover, which ultimately led to them developing an improvisational style that would be emulated by west coast bands such as the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service, and by Project member Al Kooper, who conceived and produced the first rock jam LP ever, Super Session, in 1968. As the opening track to their second (and generally considered best) LP Projections, I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes served notice that this was a new kind of blues, louder and brasher than what had come before, yet tempered with Kooper's melodic vocal style. An added twist was the use during the song's instrumental bridge of an experimental synthesizer known among band members as the "Kooperphone", probably the first use of any type of synthesizer in a blues record.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: No Way Out
Source: CD: No Way Out
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Sundazed (original label: Tower)
The Chocolate Watchband, from the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area (specifically Foothills Junior College in Los Altos Hills), were fairly typical of the South Bay music scene, centered in San Jose. Although they were generally known for lead vocalist Dave Aguilar's ability to channel Mick Jagger with uncanny accuracy, producer Ed Cobb gave them a more psychedelic sound in the studio with the use of studio effects and other enhancements (including adding tracks to their albums that were performed entire by studio musicians). The title track of No Way Out, released as the band's debut LP in 1967, is credited to Cobb, but in reality is a fleshing out of a jam the band had previously recorded, but had not released. That original jam, known as Psychedelic Trip, is now available as a mono bonus track on the No Way Out CD.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Don't Need Your Lovin'
Source: Mono British import CD: Melts In Your Brain, Not On Your Wrist (originally released on LP: Riot On Sunset Strip soundtrack)
Writer(s): Dave Aguilar
Label: Big Beat (original label: Tower)
The Chocolate Watchband was famously unprepared virtually every time they entered a recording studio (although it might be more accurate to say they just didn't give a damn). Their appearance on the set of the film Riot On Sunset Strip was no exception. The band actually did have one song prepared for the film, a Dave Aguilar original called Don't Need Your Lovin'. The track was recorded live on the Paramount soundstage and is a better representation of what the band was all about than any of their studio tracks.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Expo 2000
Source: CD: No Way Out
Writer(s): Richie Podolor
Label: Sundazed (original label: Tower)
If you ignore the fact that Expo 2000, from the first Chocolate Watchband album, No Way Out, is performed by uncredited studio musicians and thus is a complete misrepresentation, it's really a pretty decent instrumental. Too bad we'll never know who actually performed it. We do know, however, that it was written by Richard Podolor, who owned the studio where the recording was made.
Title: Look For Me Baby
Source: LP: Kinda Kinks
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Forget all the hits recorded and/or released by the Kinks in 1965 for a moment. Look For Me Baby, the leadoff track from the LP Kinda Kinks, is the defining Kinks song from the year, even though it was never released as a single. It has the melodic elements of tracks like Set Me Free, combined with the edginess of Til The End Of The Day.
Artist: Pretty Things
Title: Midnight To Six Man
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Fontana)
Once upon a time in London there was a band called Little Boy Blue And The Blue Boys. Well, it wasn't really so much a band as a bunch of schoolkids jamming in guitarist Dick Taylor's parents' garage on a semi-regular basis. In addition to Taylor, the group included classmate Mick Jagger and eventually another guitarist by the name of Keith Richards. When yet another guitarist, Brian Jones, entered the picture, the band, which was still an amateur outfit, began calling itself the Rollin' Stones. Taylor switched from guitar to bass to accomodate Jones, but when the Stones decided to go pro in late 1962, Taylor opted to stay in school. It wasn't long, however, before Taylor, now back on guitar, showed up on the scene with a new band called the Pretty Things. Fronted by vocalist Phil May, the Things were rock and roll bad boys like the Stones, except more so. Their fifth single, Midnight To Six Man, sums up the band's attitude and habits. Unfortunately, the song barely made the British top 50 and was totally ignored by US radio stations.
Title: You Make Me Real
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
Although generally considered at the time to be a return to form for the Doors, the album Morrison Hotel only provided one single for the band, and that one stalled out halfway up the top 100. You Make Me Real was a Jim Morrison composition that has the feel of early rock 'n' roll hits, thanks in large part to Ray Manzarek's use of Jerry Lee Lewis style tack piano. For reasons that are not really clear, Elektra Records, which had been releasing all their singles in stereo since 1968, decided to return to mono pressings for a short period in 1970. According to people who have better ears for this sort of thing than I do, You Make Me Real was even given a separate mono mix for its single release, although the record's B side, the original studio version of Roadhouse Blues, used what is known as a "fold down" mix, which simply combined the left and right channels of the stereo mix rather than create a new one. Morrison Hotel was the last Doors album to credit the individual members as songwriters. The 1971 followup, L.A. Woman, would mark a return to the band's earlier practice of crediting all songs to "the Doors".
Artist: Mad River
Title: Wind Chimes
Source: Mono British import CD: The Berkeley EPs (originally released as 7" 33 1/3 RPM Extended Play mini-album)
Writer(s): Mad River
Label: Big Beat (original label: Wee)
Unlike most San Francisco Bay Area bands of the mid to late 1960s, Mad River was already a functioning band when they arrived on the scene from their native Ohio in 1967. The group, consisting of Lawrence Hammond (vocals, bass), David Robinson (guitar), Rick Bockner (guitar) and Greg Dewey (drums, vocals), had been formed in 1965 as the Mad River Blues Band in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where all of the members were attending college. By the time they relocated to Berkeley in early 1967 they had developed a unique style of their own. Once in Berkeley, the band quickly established themselves as one of the most "underground" bands in the area, often appearing on the bill with Country Joe And The Fish. In fact, it was the latter band that inspired Mad River to record an EP later that year. Following an unsuccessful audition for Fantasy Records, Mad River cut a three-song EP for the small Wee label. The entire second side of the disc was a six and a half minute long piece called Wind Chimes. The band later recut the track for their first full-length album the following year.
Artist: Procol Harum
Source: British import CD: Procol Harum (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Procol Harum's followup single to A Whiter Shade Of Pale was a now nearly forgotten song called Homburg. Although the song's lyrics were praised by critics and by fellow songwriters such as Elton John, the music itself was perceived as being too similar to the previous single to stand on its own. You can decide for yourself on that one.
Title: Why Can't You Give Me What I Want
Source: LP: Red Rubber Ball
The Cyrkle was originally a frat-rock band from Easton, Pennsylvania called the Rhondells consisting of Don Danneman on guitar, Tom Dawes on bass, Marty Freid on drums and Earl Pickens on keyboards. In 1965, while playing gigs in Atlantic City they hooked up with a new manager, Brian Epstein, who promptly renamed them the Cyrkle (the odd spelling provided by John Lennon, a member of another band managed by Epstein). Under the new name and management, the band soon found themselves opening for the Beatles (on their last North American tour) and scoring a top 5 hit with Red Rubber Ball in the summer of 1966. The hit single was soon followed by an album of the same name that included a mix of cover tunes and Cyrkle originals such as Why Can't You Give Me What I Want. It was a volatile time in the pop music world, however, and the Cyrkle soon found themselves sounding a bit dated, and by 1968, after one more LP and a series of singles, each of which did successively worse than the previous one, the band decided to throw in the towel and become commercial jinlge writers. Well, a couple of them (Danneman and Dawes) did, at any rate. Remember "pop pop fizz fizz"? How about the 7-Up theme? Both came from former members of the Cyrkle.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Miss Amanda Jones
Source: CD: Between The Buttons
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The only thing I have to say about Miss Amanda Jones is that it is one of my favorite tracks on the 1967 Rolling Stones album Between The Buttons. Come to think of it, that kind of says it all anyway.
Artist: Mother Earth
Title: Living With The Animals
Source: LP: Living With The Animals
Writer(s): Powell St. John
The name Powell St. John is an unfamiliar one to most people, which is a shame, as he played an important role in the development of psychedelic rock and was later a founding member of Mother Earth. St. John, who grew up in Laredo, Texas, moved to Austin in the early 60s and was one of the city's more prominent beatniks, performing with a young Janis Joplin as a member of the Waller Brothers Band. In 1966 he was asked by Tommy Hall to come up with songs for Hall's band, the 13th Floor Elevators, to record, providing them with tunes that appeared on their first two LPs. Not long after that St. John relocated to San Francisco, where he formed Mother Earth with another newcomer to the area, Tracy Nelson. The two shared lead vocal duties on the first two Mother Earth albums, with St. John taking center stage for the title track of the band's first LP, Living With The Animals. When Nelson decided to move the band's base of operations to a farm outside of Nashville, Tennessee, St. John elected to stay in the San Francisco area, where he has maintained a relatively low profile ever since.
Title: Animal Zoo
Source: CD: Best Of Spirit
Writer: Jay Ferguson
The last album by the original lineup of Spirit was The Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus, released in 1970. The album was originally going to be produced by Neil Young, but due to other commitments Young had to bow out, recommending David Briggs, who had already produced Young's first album with Crazy Horse, as a replacement. The first song to be released as a single was Animal Zoo, but the tune barely cracked the top 100 charts. The album itself did better on progressive FM stations and has since come to be regarded as a classic. Shortly after the release of Twelve Dreams, Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes left Spirit to form Jo Jo Gunne.
Artist: Bubble Puppy
Title: Hot Smoke And Sassafras
Source: European import CD: A Gathering Of Promises
Label: Charly (original US label: International Artists)
Bubble Puppy was a band from San Antonio, Texas that relocated to nearby Austin and signed a contract with International Artists, a label already known as the home of legendary Texas psychedelic bands 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola. The group hit the national top 20 with Hot Smoke and Sassafras, a song that was originally intended to be a B side, in 1969. Not long after the release of their first LP, A Gathering Or Promises, the band relocated to California and changed their name to Demian, at least in part to disassociate themselves with the then-popular "bubble gum" style (but also because of problems with International Artists).
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Parchman Farm
Source: Dutch import LP: Vincebus Eruptum
Writer(s): Mose Allison
If the release of the first Black Sabbath album in early 1970 marks the birth of heavy metal, then the release of the first Blue Cheer album in 1968 may be considered the point of conception for the form. Certainly, in terms of pure volume, Cheer was unequalled in their live performances (although the Grateful Dead's sound system had more wattage, Owsley Stanley used it judiciously to get the best sound quality as opposed to the sheer quantity of decibels favored by Blue Cheer), and managed to preserve that sense of loudness in the studio. Like Black Sabbath, the members of Blue Cheer had more than a passing familiarity with the blues as well, as evidenced by their inclusion of an old Mose Allison tune, Parchman Farm, on their debut LP, Vincebus Eruptum (the album included a cover of B.B. King's Rock Me, Baby as well). Contrary to rumors, guitarist Leigh Stephens did not go deaf and kill himself (although he did leave Blue Cheer after the band's second LP, moving to England and releasing a somewhat distortion-free solo album in 1969).
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: A Not Very August Afternoon
Source: Mono British import CD: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union/The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens (originally released on LP: The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens)
Label: See For Miles (original label: M-G-M)
Although Ultimate Spinach is the usually the band most cited as being part of the infamous "Boss-Town Sound" promoted heavily by M-G-M Records, the Beacon Street Union were the original architects of the style itself. Already well-established in Boston, the band had actually relocated to New York when they became the first psychedelic band to sign with M-G-M. It was their signing which led to Ultimate Spinach, Orpheus and Earth Opera also getting contracts with one of the stodgiest of the major labels of the era. A Not Very August Afternoon, a lounge-lizard jazz kind of tune, from the band's second LP, The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens, shows the Beacon Street Union already starting to move away from the pure psychedelia of the debut LP into other genres. Vocalist John Lincoln Wright would eventually transition himself right out of rock music altogether, becoming the leader of a country band in the 1970s.
Title: I Feel Free
Source: LP: Fresh Cream
After an unsuccessful debut single (Wrapping Paper), Cream scored a bona-fide hit in the UK with their follow-up, I Feel Free. As was the case with nearly every British single at the time, the song was not included on Fresh Cream, the band's debut LP. In the US, however, hit singles were commonly given a prominent place on albums, and the US version of Fresh Cream actually opens with I Feel Free. To my knowledge the song, being basically a studio creation, was never performed live by the band.
Artist: Family Tree
Title: Live Your Own Life
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mira)
The Family Tree was actually one of the first rock bands to play the Fillmore, but even then were seen as interlopers due to their propensity for dressing and sounding like the Beatles and other Mercybeat bands. Live Your Own Life was intended for release on San Francisco's premier local label, Autumn Records, but for some unknown reason ended up on Mira (the same label that released L.A. band the Leaves' first records). Live Your Own Life is sometimes known as The Airplane Song due to its perceived similarity to some early Jefferson Airplane recordings.
Artist: Great! Society
Title: Daydream Nightmare
Source: European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: How It Was)
Writer(s): David Miner
Label: Sony Music (original label: Columbia)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1968
Before joining Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick was already making a name for herself in the San Francisco area as a member of the Great! Society. She was not the only talented member of the band, however, as this recording of Daydream Nightmare, recorded in 1966 (probably at Marty Balin's Matrix club) demonstrates.