Sunday, October 21, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1843 (starts 10/22/18)
This week's show is backwards.The second hour was recorded first, and all but one of the segments start around the end of the psychedelic era and work their way back toward the beginning, one year at a time. The only exception is in the second hour, which starts with the Tim Rose version of Hey Joe, which was the direct inspiration for the more popular Jimi Hendrix version of the tune, and even that set is in a way backwards, as the last song of the segment is a cover of a song originally written and recorded in the 1950s by Tito Puente, making it the oldest song (but not the oldest recording) in the set.
Title: Lucky In the Morning
Source: CD: Bloodrock 2
Writer(s): John Nitzinger
Label: One Way/Cema Special Products (original label: Capitol)
In the early 1970s the Dallas-Fort Worth area was known mostly as the home of guys with names like Landry and Staubach. For a short time in 1971, however, even their fame was rivalled by a band called Bloodrock, whose D.O.A., a first-person account of the aftermath of a plane crash as seen by one of the victims, is considered one of the goriest songs in rock history. Bloodrock rise to fame began when they signed on as the second band to be produced and managed by Terry Knight, touring as Grand Funk Railroad's opening act in 1970. Their first two LPs both came out in 1970, with D.O.A. being released in edited form as a single in early 1971. The opening track of Bloodrock 2 was a tune called Lucky In The Morning, written for the band by a local guitarist named John Nitzenger. Nitzenger wrote several songs for Bloodrock over the course of four LPs and eventually released a couple albums of his own as well. As an aside, Lucky In The Morning is actually a bit of an oxymoron, due to a phenomena known as "morning breath".
Artist: Arlo Guthrie
Title: Coming Into Los Angeles
Source: LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: Running Down The Road)
Writer: Arlo Guthrie
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Rising Son)
Coming Into Los Angeles is one of Arlo Guthrie's most popular songs. It is also the song with the most confusing recording history. The song first came to prominence when Guthrie's live performance of the tune was included in the movie Woodstock. When the soundtrack of the film was released, however, a different recording was used. At first I figured they had simply used the studio version of the song, from the 1969 album Running Down The Road, but it turns out there are significant differences between that version (heard here) and the one included on Woodstock album. Complicating matters is the fact that the version included on The Best Of Arlo Guthrie later in the decade seems to be an altogether different recording than any of the previous releases. If anyone out there (Arlo, are you reading this?) can shed some light on this for me, it would be greatly appreciated.
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: Dove In Hawk's Clothing
Source: Mono LP: Ultimate Spinach (promo copy)
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
One of the criticisms of Ultimate Spinach (and the whole overly-hyped "Boss-Town Sound") was that the band tried too hard to sound like West Coast psychedelic bands such as Country Joe And The Fish. A listen to Dove In Hawk's Clothing, an anti-draft piece that played on the popular hawk and dove stereotypes of the time, shows that such criticism did indeed have some validity to it. Still, it is one of the few protest songs that takes the point of view of the unwilling draftee forced to fight in a war rather than that of someone protesting that war.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: On With the Show
Source: LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request
On With The Show, the final track on the last album from the Rolling Stones' psychedelic period, Their Satanic Majesties Request, makes you wonder if rock's Bad Boys were ever in the position of having to perform in a strip club. Then again, it could be about how some people go about getting their jollies, regardless of how the world is falling apart around them. Don't ask me, I suck at allegory.
Artist: Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
Source: LP: The Legendary A&M Sessions (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): David Gates
No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. That is indeed the name David Gates listed as the songwriter of Moonchild, the second single released by Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band in 1966. And yes, it is indeed the same David Gates that later wrote songs like Everything I Own, Baby I'm A Want You and If for his own band, Bread, in the 1970s. The irony is that neither Gates nor the good Captain got famous doing songs that were anything even remotely like Moonchild.
Title: All For Myself
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Backtrackin'
Writer(s): Van Morrison
Label: London (original label: Parrot)
Them was the first major rock band to come from Belfast, Ireland, bursting on the British music scene with their energetic cover of Big Joe Turner's Baby, Please Don't Go in 1964. Their follow-up single, Here Comes The Night, went to the # 2 spot in the UK and became their first international hit as well. Although Here Comes The Night was written by a professional songwriter, Bert Burns, the B side of the single, All For Myself, was written by lead vocalist Van Morrison, who would go on to become one of the most respected singer/songwriters in rock history. The song was not included on any albums at the time, and would only appear on LP vinyl after Allen Klein had purchased the rights to Them's early recordings in the 1970s and issued several of them, including All For Myself, on an album called Backtrackin'.
Title: Friday On My Mind
Source: Mono CD: Battle Of The Bands-Vol. Two (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Era (original label: United Artists)
Considered by many to be the "greatest Australian song" ever recorded, the Easybeats' Friday On My Mind, released in late 1966, certainly was the first (and for many years only) major international hit by a band from the island continent. Technically, however, Friday On My Mind is not an Australian song at all, since it was recorded after the band had relocated to London. The group continued to release records for the next year or two, but were never able to duplicate the success of Friday On My Mind. Ultimately vocalist Stevie Wright returned to Australia, where he had a successful solo career. Guitarists Harry Vanda and George Young, who had written Friday On My Mind, also returned home to form a band called Flash And The Pan in the early 1970s. Later in the decade Young would help launch the careers of his two younger brothers, Angus and Malcolm, in their own band, AC/DC.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Source: LP: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Writer(s): Doug Ingle
I think there is a law on the books somewhere that says I need to play the full version of Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida at least once a year to retain the show's psychedelic cred.
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Fall On You
Source: LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s): Peter Lewis
In a band overloaded with talent like Moby Grape was it's easy to overlook the contributions of the band's third guitarist, Peter Lewis. That would be a mistake, however. Although not as flashy as some of the other members, Lewis, the son of actress Loretta Young, showed his songwriting talents on tunes such as Fall On You from the first Moby Grape LP.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: You Can't Catch Me
Source: LP: Tommy Flanders, Danny Kalb, Steve Katz, Al Kooper, Andy Kuhlberg, Roy Blumenfeld Of The Blues Project (promo copy) (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer: Chuck Berry
Label: Verve Forecast
One of the reasons for Chuck Berry's enduring popularity throughout the 1960s (despite a lack of major hits during the decade) was the fact that so many bands covered his 50s hits, often updating them for a 60s audience. Although not as well-known as Roll Over Beethoven or Johnny B. Goode, You Can't Catch Me nonetheless got its fair share of coverage, including versions by the Rolling Stones and the Blues Project (as well as providing John Lennon an opening line for the song Come Together).
Title: Sunny South Kensington
Source: Mono British import CD: Mellow Yellow (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original label: Epic)
Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan Leitch followed up his 1966 hit single Sunshine Superman with an album of the same name. He then repeated himself with the song and album Mellow Yellow. The Mellow Yellow single, released in late 1966, included Sunny South Kensington, a song done in a similar style to Sunshine Superman, as its B side. The Mellow Yellow album itself appeared in the US in early 1967. Due to a contractual dispute in the UK between Donovan and Pye Records, neither Sunshine Superman or Mellow Yellow were issued in their original forms in Britain, although a hybrid album featuring tracks from both LPs did appear later.
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Label: RCA Victor
Landlocked Boulder, Colorado would seem an unlikely place for a surf music band. Nonetheless, the Astonauts were just that, and a pretty successful one at that. That success, however, came from an equally unlikely place. After being together for about three years and having only one charted single in the US (Baja, which spent one week on the chart in 1963, peaking in the #94 spot), the band discovered that their records were doing quite well in Japan, where the mostly-instrumental Astronauts were actually outselling the Beach Boys. The group soon began touring extensively in the Far East and when all was said and done had released nine albums and a dozen singles over a period of less than 10 years. Razzamatazz is the instrumental B side to the Astronauts' 1965 recording of Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day, a US-only single that sought to tie the Astronauts to the wave of self-contained American bands that were popping up in response to the previous year's British Invasion. Razzamatazz itself is basically the instrumental track for Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day with some harmonica added.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Birds In My Tree
Source: LP: Incense And Peppermints
The Strawberry Alarm Clock had a history of not acknowledging everyone involved in making their records, especially near the beginning of their career. For instance, the lead vocalist on Incense And Peppermints itself, Greg Munford, was not even a member of the band. Furthermore, four of the ten songs on the album, including Birds In My Tree, we co-written (with bassist George Bunnell) by Steve Bartok, who also provided flute parts for several songs, but received no credit for his work. Birds In My Tree, incidentally, was chosen as the B side for the band's second single, Tomorrow.
Artist: Tim Rose
Title: Hey Joe
Source: LP: Tim Rose (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Billy Roberts
Year: 1966 (stereo version: 1967)
The folk music revival of the late 50s and early 60s is generally thought of as an East Coast phenomena, centered in the coffee houses of cities such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia. California, though, had its share of folk music artists, especially in the San Francisco area, where the beatniks espoused a Bohemian lifestyle that would pave the way for the Hippy movement centered in the city's Haight-Ashbury district. Among the California folkies were Billy Roberts, who copyrighted the song Hey Joe in 1962, and Tim Rose, who (along with the Music Machine's Sean Bonniwell) came up with a slower version of the song. Rose's version, released as a single in mid-1966, got considerable airplay on San Francisco radio stations and was the inspiration for the more famous Jimi Hendrix version of the song that made the British top 10 toward the end of the year. Rose's version was not widely available until 1967, when his debut LP for Columbia was released. By then, however, the Hendrix version was all over the progressive FM airwaves in the US, and the Rose version (now in stereo) remained for the most part unheard.
Title: Fixing A Hole
Source: CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Until 1967 every Beatles album released in the US had at least one hit single included that was not on the British version of the album (or was never released as a single in the UK). With the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, however, the track lineup became universal, making it the first Beatle album released in the US to not have a hit single on it. Nonetheless, the importance (and popularity) of the album was such that virtually every song on it got top 40 airplay at one time or another, although some tracks got more exposure than others. One of the many tracks that falls in between these extremes is Fixing A Hole, a tune by Paul McCartney that features the harpsichord prominently.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: Mrs. Robinson
Source: LP: Bookends
Writer(s): Paul Simon
A shortened version of Mrs. Robinson first appeared on the soundtrack for the film The Graduate in 1967, but it wasn't until the Bookends album came out in 1968 that the full four minute version was released. Although the Graduate was one of the most successful films of the decade, I suspect that many more people have heard the song than have seen the film. Take that, movie lovers!
Artist: James Gang
Source: CD: Yer' Album
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: MCA (original label: Bluesway)
One of the highlights of the first James Gang album was a six-minute-long cover version of Bluebird, a Stephen Stills song that had originally appeared on the second Buffalo Springfield album. The James Gang version of the tune opens with a new instrumental intro written by drummer Jim Fox (playing piano), which leads into a short second intro featuring Joe Walsh on backwards-masked guitar. This in turn segues directly into the body of the song itself, which is played at a considerably slower tempo than the Springfield original (sort of a Vanilla Fudge approach, you might say). Yer' Album (so named in response to friends of the band always asking "when is yer album gonna come out?") was the only album by a rock band ever released on ABC's Bluesway subsidiary. The next four James Gang LPs would all appear on the ABC label itself.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Casey Jones
Source: CD: Skeletons From The Closet (originally released on LP: Workingman's Dead)
Label: Warner Brothers
After three albums worth of studio material that the band was not entirely happy with, the Grateful Dead finally achieved their goal with the 1969 release of the double-LP Live Dead. So where do you go when you've finally accomplished your original mission? For the Dead the answer was to concentrate on their songwriting skills. The results of this new direction were heard on their next two studio LP's, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, both released in 1970. One of the highlights of Workingman's Dead was Casey Jones, a song based on an old folk tale (albeit updated a bit for a 1970 audience). Casey Jones was just one of many classic songs written by the team of guitarist Jerry Garcia and poet/lyricist Robert Hunter.
Title: Para Los Rumberos
Source: LP: Santana (III)
Writer(s): Tito Puente
One of the highlights of Santana's second album, Abraxis, was a song called Oye Como Va. The song, sung entirely in Spanish, was a surprise hit and has been a part of Santana's stage repertoire ever since. The song was originally recorded in the 1950s by its songwriter, Tito Fuente, and his band, which he described as jazz with latin rhythms. Appropriately, Santana's music has often been described as rock with latin rhythms, so it was perhaps inevitable that Santana would record more of Puente's tunes. Indeed, the final track on the next Santana album was a Puente composition. Santana's version of Para Los Rumberos closely follows the original Puente arrangement, even to the presence of a horn section on the piece. I strongly recommend you use your search engine to find one of Puente's performances of the song, for comparison's sake. I did, and watching what turned out to be his final performance literally brought tears to my eyes.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Astro Man
Source: LP: The Cry Of Love
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
A little known fact about Jimi Hendrix is that he was a comic book fan. Astro Man, from the 1971 LP The Cry Of Love, reflects that aspect of the man. The track, recorded in 1970, features Billy Cox on bass, Mitch Mitchell on drums and Juma Sultan on additional percussion.
Artist: King Crimson
Title: In The Wake Of Poseidon
Source: LP: In The Wake Of Poseidon
Following King Crimson's tour to support their first LP, In The Court Of The Crimson King, most of the band members left to pursue other projects, leaving only bandleader Robert Fripp and lyricist to come up with enough material for a followup album. Vocalist Greg Lake, who was in the process of forming Emerson, Lake & Palmer, agreed to record vocals for the new album in return for possession of King Crimson's PA system, and ended up singing on all but one of the tracks on In The Wake Of Poseidon, including the eight-minute long title track itself. Michael Giles also returned long enough to provide drum tracks, while Fripp's longtime friend Gordon Haskell played bass. Fripp himself ended up playing the mellotron as well as all the guitar parts on the LP. King Crimson would continue to have a fluid lineup throughout its existence, with many of its members going on to become stars in their own right.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: Whole Lotta Love
Source: German import LP: Led Zeppelin II
If any one song can be considered the bridge between psychedelic rock and heavy metal, it would have to be Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love. Released in 1969 as the lead track to their second LP, the song became their biggest hit single. Whole Lotta Love was originally credited to the four band members. In recent years, however, co-credit has been given to Willie Dixon, whose lyrics to the 50s song You Need Love are almost identical to Robert Plant's.
Artist: Big Brother and the Holding Company
Title: Piece Of My Heart
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
By 1968 Big Brother and the Holding Company, with their charismatic vocalist from Texas, Janis Joplin, had become as popular as fellow San Francisco bands Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. Somehow, though, they were still without a major label record deal. That all changed with the release of Cheap Thrills, with cover art by the legendary underground comix artist R. Crumb. The album itself was a curious mixture of live performances and studio tracks, the latter being led by the band's powerful cover of the 1966 Barbara Lynn tune Piece Of My Heart. The song propelled the band, and Joplin, to stardom. That stardom would be short-lived for most of the band members, however, as well-meaning but ultimately wrong-headed advice-givers convinced Joplin that Big Brother was holding her back. The reality was that the band was uniquely suited to support her better than anyone she would ever work with again.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Double Yellow Line
Source: Mono British import CD: The Ultimate Turn On (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound)
The original Music Machine released a string of singles from late 1966 through early 1967, but due to a lack of competence on the part of both management and label, none of them were hits. Songs like Double Yellow Line were certainly as good if not better than most of what was hitting the charts at the time. It was not until the 21st century that Sean Bonniwell's music began to receive the recognition it deserved, a process that is still under way.
Artist: Early Rationals (circa 1966)
Title: I Need You
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Rhino (original label: A Squared)
The Rationals were formed in 1965 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They soon got the attention of local label A2 (A Squared), and had a series of regional hits in the same Detroit soul-rock style favored by such notables as Mitch Ryder and Bob Seger. One of the best of these was a cover of a Kinks B side, I Need You, which the Rationals recorded in 1966, but did not release until late 1967, when it appeared as a B side backing another artist entirely. To confuse the matter the record was credited to the Early Rationals (circa 1966). Even stranger was the fact that the Rationals released a Gerry Goffin/Carole King song called I Need You on the same label that same year. My money's on this one as the better of the two tracks.
Title: Too Many People
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mira)
The Leaves are a bit unusual in that in a city known for drawing wannabes from across the world, this local band's members were all native L.A.ins. Formed by members of a fraternity at Cal State Northridge, the Leaves had their greatest success when they took over as house band at Ciro's after the Byrds vacated the slot to go on tour. Like many bands of the time, they were given a song (Love Minus Zero) to record as a single by their producer and allowed to write their own B side. In this case that B side was Too Many People, written by bassist Jim Pons and guitarist Bill Rhinehart. The song ended up getting more airplay on local radio stations than Love Minus Zero, making it their first regional hit. The Leaves had their only national hit the following year with their third attempt at recording the fast version of Hey Joe, the success of which led to their first LP, which included a watered down version of Too Many People. The version heard here is the 1965 original. Eventually Pons would leave the Leaves, hooking up first with the Turtles, then Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention.