Monday, December 3, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1849 (starts 12/3/18)
This week's show is made up almost entirely of sets of three songs apiece. Three of these are artists' sets, from The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane and Simon & Garfunkel. Our final segment is the second side of the second Quicksilver Messenger Service album Happy Trails, a continuous live performance recorded at the Fillmore.
Title: I Love You
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Chris White
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
By 1968 the major labels had signed just about every San Francisco band with any perceived potential. Capitol, having had some success with the Chocolate Watchband from San Jose on its Tower subsidiary, decided to sign another south bay band, People, to the parent label. The most successful single for the band was a new recording of an obscure Zombies B side. I Love You ended up hitting the top 20 nationally, despite the active efforts of two of the most powerful men in the music industry, who set out to squash the song as a way of punishing the record's producer for something having nothing to do with the song or the band itself.
Title: Father's Name Was Dad
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Dave Lambert
Label: Rhino (original label: Decca)
As any fan of the Austin Powers movies can tell you, London in the mid-1960s was home to the Mods, a group (or movement) of young people distinguished by the colorful fashions they wore, most of which came from shops on Carnaby Street. The Mods had their own music as well, usually referred to as "freakbeat" or sometimes just "beat", although not all of the bands playing that kind of music identified with the Mods themselves. Most of the early beat bands were also in the first wave of the British invasion of the US; in fact the Beatles themselves (prior to the release of Rubber Soul) were usually considered the top beat band of all. By 1966, however, the US audience was already getting into other things (Motown, garage rock, Memphis soul and the beginnings of bubble gum). In Europe and the UK, however, beat bands were still on top, with newer groups like the Move, the Small Faces and the Who (in their pre-Tommy days) riding high on the charts. Among these newer beat groups was a trio called Friday's Chyld. After changing their name to the Fire, they got a contract with the British Decca label and a publishing deal with the Beatles' Apple organization. After hearing a demo of Father's Name Was Dad, Paul McCartney made a few production suggestions and the group added backing vocals and double-tracked guitar for the final released version of the song. Although Father's Name Was Dad was not a hit, it did serve as the recording debut of lead vocalist/guitarist Dave Lambert, who would go on to have some success in the 70s as a founding member of a band called Strawbs.
Artist: Max Frost And The Troopers
Title: Lonely Man
Source: CD: Shape Of Things To Come
Writer(s): Paul Wibier
Label: Captain High (original label: Tower)
The first thing you need to know about Max Frost And The Troopers is that they were a fictional rock band featured in the film Wild In The Streets. Sort of. You see, in the movie itself the band is never actually named, although Max (played by Christopher Jones) does refer to his followers as his "troops" throughout the film. The next thing you need to know is that Shape Of Things To Come was a song used in the film that became a hit record in 1968. The song itself was written by the Brill building songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (whose writing credits included We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, Kicks and many other hits) and was recorded by studio musicians, with vocals by Paul Wibier. The song, along with several other Barry/Weil tunes used in the film, was credited not to Max Frost and the Troopers, but to the 13th Power on the film's soundtrack LP, which was released on Capitol's Tower subsidiary label. After Shape Of Things To Come (the song) became a hit, producer Mike Curb commissioned an entire album by Max Frost And The Troopers called, naturally, Shape Of Things To Come. The band on this album was actually Davie Allan And The Arrows (who had for several years been recording mostly instrumental tunes for Curb for use on movie soundtracks) fronted by vocalist Paul Wibier (yeah, him again). This album was also released in 1968 on the Tower label, and featured mostly songs written (or co-written) by Wibier himself, such as Lonely Man. It seems obvious that Wibier had, at some point, heard a copy of an obscure British single called Father's Name Was Dad by a group called The Fire, as the opening riff of the two songs is virtually identical.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Bringing Me Down
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (also released as 45 RPM single)
Label: RCA Victor
One of several singles released mainly to San Francisco Bay area radio stations and record stores, Bringing Me Down is an early collaboration between vocalist Marty Balin and guitarist/vocalist Paul Kantner. Balin had invited Kantner into the band without having heard him play a single note. It turned out to be one of many right-on-the-money decisions by the young bandleader.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Plastic Fantastic Lover (live version)
Source: CD: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Bless Its Pointed Little Head)
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Marty Balin's Plastic Fantastic Lover first appeared on the 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow and was issued as the B side of White Rabbit. For Jefferson Airplane's 1969 live album, Bless Its Pointed Little Head, the band, including new drummer Joey Covington, upped the tempo considerably, transforming a good song for potheads to dance to into one more suited to an audience on speed, reflecting the changes on the streets of San Francisco itself.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Let Me In
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
Jefferson Airplane was the brainchild of vocalist and club manager Marty Balin, who hand-picked the band's original lineup. Among those charter members was Paul Kantner, who Balin had asked to join the band without ever having heard him sing or play. Balin said later that he just knew that Kantner was someone he wanted for his new band. Kantner very quickly developed into a strong singer/songwriter in his own right, starting with the song Let Me In (co-written by Balin), Kantner's first recorded lead vocal for the band.
Title: The Door Into Summer (early alternate mix)
Source: Mono CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
After playing nearly all the instrumental tracks on their third album themselves, the Monkees came to the painful conclusion that they would not be able to repeat the effort and still have time to tape a weekly TV show. As a result, the fourth Monkees LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD., used studio musicians extensively, albeit under the creative supervision of the Monkees themselves. The group also had the final say over what songs ended up on the album, including The Door Into Summer. The tune was written by Bill Martin, a friend of band leader Michael Nesmith. Producer Chip Douglas and engineer Hank Cicalo used the basic recorded tracks of The Door Into Summer as a kind of practice tape to experiment with, adding overdubs and making several different mixes of the tune over a period of weeks before coming up with the final version heard on the album itself. Douglas himself has voiced a preference for the particular mix heard here, saying that sometimes "you get to the final version, and it's not as good as the earlier one." Perhaps this experimentation explains how Douglas ended up with a songwriting credit on the tune. Then again, it could have had something to do with Colgems refusal to release the band's recording of Martin's All Of Your Toys earlier in the year due to Martin's not publishing through Screen Gems.
Title: She's My Girl
Source: Mono French import CD: Happy Together (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Magic (original US label: White Whale)
After a moderate amount of success in 1965 with a series of singles starting with a cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, the Turtles found themselves running out of steam by the end of 1966. Rather than throw in the towel, they enlisted the services of the Bonner/Gordon songwriting team (from an East Coast band called the Magicians) and recorded their most successful single, Happy Together, in 1967. They dipped into the same well for another major hit, She's My Girl, later the same year.
Title: Maybe After He's Gone
Source: CD: Odessey And Oracle (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Chris White
Label: Varese Sarabande (original label: Columbia)
Although most of the songs on the second (and final) Zombies album, Odessey & Oracle, were recorded at Abbey Road studios, three of the tracks were actually recorded at Olympic Studios, due to scheduling difficulties. The second of these was a Chris White composition, Maybe After He's Gone, that ended up being issued as the B side of Care of Cell 44 in November of 1967. The two songs appeared as the only Zombies single on the Columbia label in the US. When the single stiffed in the US, Columbia refused to release Odessey & Oracle. Disheartened by the lack of success, the Zombies officially disbanded in early 1968, shortly before Odessye & Oracle was finally released on Columbia's Date subsidiary label. Ironically, the band scored one of their biggest hits the following year, when the album's final track, Time Of The Season, became an international smash.
Title: Don't Send Me No Flowers
Source: Simulated stereo LP: The Gentrys (originally released on LP: Keep On Dancing)
Writer: Donna Weiss
The Gentrys were a Memphis band that are best known for their 1965 hit Keep On Dancin'. A pair of LPs followed, but the Gentrys were not able to duplicate the success of that first major hit (although a couple of singles did hit the lower regions of the charts). Don't Send Me No Flowers, like most album tracks of the time, was actually a cover song; in this case of a regional hit single by another Memphis band, the Breakers. One of these days I'll find a copy of the Breakers' original version of the tune.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Sittin' On A Fence
Source: CD: Flowers
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Not all the songs from the Rolling Stones' recording sessions for the album Aftermath were included on either the British or American version of the final LP. One of the songs that was left off the album was Sittin' On A Fence, a country flavored tune that finally surfaced in 1967 on the US-only LP Flowers.
Title: Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
Source: Mono CD: Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: MCA (original label: Brunswick)
One of the earliest singles from the Who, Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere, [Wow! That's a lot of commas] is the only known songwriting collaboration between guitarist Pete Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey. According to Townshend, he wrote the first verse himself and Daltrey helped with the rest. The song was released on Britain's Brunswick label in 1965.
Title: Strawberry Fields Forever
Source: LP: Magical Mystery Tour
The first song recorded for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Strawberry Fields Forever was instead issued as a single (along with 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: Dig A Pony
Source: CD: Let It Be...Naked
Let It Be evolved from a proposed television show that would have featured the Beatles playing songs from their self-titled 1968 double LP (commonly known as the White Album). This idea was soon abandoned in favor of the band working up an entirely new batch of songs for the project. The group decided it would be even cooler to film their rehearsals of the new songs, allowing the audience an inside look at the creative process. Finally, all the songs would be performed without any overdubs or other studio enhancements, making for a more intimate listening experience. Filming began on Jan 2, 1969, and almost immediately the project began to fall apart. First off, the location used for the shooting was a cavernous film studio that was not in the least bit suited to creating music in. The time of day was all wrong as well. The band had gotten into the habit of recording into the early morning hours; showing up at the studio at 10AM was not their cup of tea. Finally, there were tensions within the group which were only made worse by the uncomfortable working conditions. As a result, the film showed an extremely unhappy band seemingly on the verge of breaking up. Steps were taken to rectify the situation, including moving the entire project to Apple headquarters in West London and inviting Billy Preston to sit in with the group on keyboards. On January 30th the Beatles staged what was to be their final public performance on the rooftop of Apple, recording several tunes, including Dig A Pony. The Beatles then put the entire Let It Be project on the shelf and got to work on an entirely new album in conjunction with producer George Martin, who had been deliberately excluded from the Let It Be project. That album, Abbey Road, would be the final recording project for the Beatles. Meanwhile, legendary producer Phil Spector had been brought in to see what could be done with the Let It Be tapes. The resulting album, released in 1970, featured heavily orchestrated versions of what had been meant to be deliberately bare-bones recordings. Finally, in 2003, Paul McCartney went back to the original unenhanced tapes to assemble Let It Be...Naked.
Title: Blue Jay Way
Source: LP: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s): George Harrison
The Beatles' psychedelic period hit its peak with the late 1967 release of the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack. As originally conceived there were only six songs on the album, too few for a standard LP. The British solution was to present Magical Mystery Tour as two Extended Play (EP) 45 RPM records in a gatefold sleeve with a 23 page booklet featuring lyrics and scenes from the telefilm of the same name (as well as the general storyline in prose form). As EPs were out of vogue in the US, Capitol Records, against the band's wishes, added five songs that had been issued as single A or B sides in 1967 to create a standard LP. The actual Magical Mystery Tour material made up side one of the LP, while the single sides were on side two. The lone George Harrison contribution to the project was Blue Jay Way, named for a street in the Hollywood Hills that Harrison had rented that summer. As all five of the extra tracks were credited to the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team, this meant that each of the band's 1967 albums had only one Harrison composition on them. This became a point of contention within the band, and on the Beatles' next album (the white album), Harrison's share of the songwriting had doubled.
Title: Lord Franklin
Source: British import CD: Cruel Sister
Writer(s): Trad., arr. Pentangle
Label: Castle (original US label: Reprise)
One of the hardest to define bands of the late 1960s was a group of five British musicians calling themselves Pentangle. Two of the members, John Renbourne and Bert Jansch, were well-established and highly influential acoustic guitarists with several solo albums each to their credit. The rhythm section of Danny Thompson and Terry Cox, on the other hand, were from jazz backgrounds, while vocalist Jacqui McShee was a relatively new talent making a name for herself in coffee houses. Making their debut in 1967, the group was an overnight commercial success. By 1970, however, they were feeling a bit trapped by their own success and decided to record an album that was quite a departure from their previous efforts. Unlike their previous albums, Cruel Sister contained no original compositions. Instead, the group turned their talents to rearranging traditional English folk ballads such as Lord Franklin. Although the LP marked the beginning of the group's commercial decline, it is nonetheless an excellent album, well worth checking out.
Artist: Joni Mitchell
Title: A Case Of You
Source: LP: Blue
Writer(s): Joni Mitchell
Like a lot of people my age in the early 1970s, I occasionally enjoyed taping songs off the radio. Unlike most people my age in the early 1970s, I had access to a pair of reel-to-reel tape decks to make those tapes. At that time Alamogordo, New Mexico, did not have any local FM stations. In fact, the only FM station that you could even receive in the area was KRWG, the classical station out of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Sometime in 1971, however, the local cable company started making a handful of El Paso FM stations available to their local subscribers. Among those was KINT-FM, a station that ran Spanish language programs during the day and was experimenting with a progressive rock format at night. KINT-FM's experiment with progressive rock did not last all that long, as they soon adopted a more mainstream top 40 format, but before they made that change I made a tape of one of their broadcasts that included a song called A Case Of You, performed by a young Canadian singer/songwriter named Joni Mitchell. I don't know what happened to that tape, but the song itself, from the album Blue, has been stuck in my head ever since.
Title: She Put A Hex On You
Source: LP: Time Out! Time In! For Them
After recruiting new lead vocalist Kenny McDowell, Them moved their base of operations to California, where they recorded two LPs for Capitol's tax writeoff label, Tower. The second of these was titled Time Out! Time In! For Them. While the style of the Van Morrison version of the band was very much in the same vein as the early Rolling Stones albums, Time Out! Time In! For Them featured more psychedelic material written by the husband and wife team of Tom Lane and Sharon Pulley. The second track on the album, She Put A Hex On You, superimposes some rather spooky lyrics over an R&B beat, accented by fuzz guitar from Jim Armstrong.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: Homeward Bound
Source: LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Following the success of Sounds Of Silence, Paul Simon And Art Garfunkel set about making an album of all new material (Sounds Of Silence had featured several re-recorded versions of tunes from the 1965 British album The Paul Simon Songbook). The result was Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, one of the finest folk-rock albums ever recorded. The album contained several successful singles, including Homeward Bound.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Mrs. Robinson
Source: CD :Collected Works (originally released on LP: Bookends)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Possibly the most enduring song in the entire Simon And Garfunkel catalog, Mrs. Robinson (in an edited version) first appeared on the soundtrack for the film The Graduate in 1967. It wasn't until the Bookends album came out in 1968 that the full four minute version was released. Also released as a single, the song shot right to the top of the charts, staying there for several weeks.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Scarborough Fair/Canticle
Source: LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Writer(s): Paul Simon
After the reunion of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel following the surprise success of an electrified remix of The Sound Of Silence, the duo quickly recorded an album to support the hit single. Sounds Of Silence was, for the most part, a reworking of material that Simon had recorded for 1965 UK LP the Paul Simon Songbook. The pressure for a new album thus (temporarily) relieved, the duo got to work on their first album of truly new material since their unsuccessful 1964 effort Wednesday Morning 3AM (which had in fact been re-released and was now doing well on the charts). In October the new album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, hit the stands. The title track was a new arrangement of an old English folk ballad, Scarborough Fair, combined with a reworking of a song from the Paul Simon Songbook, The Side Of A Hill, retitled Canticle. The two melodies and sets of lyrics are set in counterpoint to each other, creating one of the most sophisticated folk song arrangements ever recorded. After being featured in the film The Graduate, Scarborough Fair/Canticle was released as a single in early 1968, going on to become one of the duo's most instantly recognizable songs.
Artist: Butterfield Blues Band
Title: Everything's Gonna Be Alright
Source: CD: Woodstock 2
Writer(s): Walter Jacobs
Label: Atlantic (original label: Cotillion)
The Butterfield Blues Band had already gone through several personnel changes by the time they played the Woodstock festival in August of 1969. They had also evolved stylistically, adding a horn section and, for the most part, moving away from the long improvisational jams that had characterized their landmark 1966 LP East-West. Those elements were not entirely gone, however, as their nearly nine minute long performance of Walter Jacobs' Everything's Gonna Be Alright amply demontrates. In addition to a Butterfield harmonica solo to start things off, the piece showcases the talents of new guitarist Buzzy Feiten.
Artist: Sly And The Family Stone
Title: I Want To Take You Higher
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Stand and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Sly Stone
Label: Priority (original label: Epic)
Sylvester Stewart was a major presence on the San Francisco music scene for several years, both as a producer for Autumn Records and as a popular local disc jockey. In 1967 he decided to take it to the next level, using his studio connections to put together Sly And The Family Stone. The band featured a solid lineup of musicians, including Larry Graham, whose growling bass line figures prominently in their 1969 recording of I Want To Take You Higher. The song was originally released as a B side, but after the group blew away the crowd at Woodstock the recording was re-released as a single the following year.
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: Penthouse Pauper
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Bayou Country
Writer(s): John Fogerty
Creedence Clearwater Revival's second album, Bayou Country, was the one that truly established the band as the music world's premier "swamp rockers". So strong was this impression of the band, in fact, that the few songs that didn't quite fit into that category were largely overlooked by rock critics and radio programmers alike. One of those tunes, Penthouse Pauper, is a Chicago-style blues number that showcases John Fogerty as both vocalist and guitarist in a classic "call and answer" type of song. Only in recent years has the song begun to be truly appreciated.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: Mona/Maiden Of The Cancer Moon/Calvary/Happy Trails
Source: LP: Happy Trails
Most everyone familiar with Quicksilver Messenger Service agrees that the band's real strength was its live performances. Apparently the folks at Capitol Records realized this as well, since the band's second LP was recorded (mostly) live at Bill Graham's two Fillmore Auditoriums. The second side of the Happy Trails album starts with a Bo Diddly cover, Mona, which segues directly into a Gary Duncan composition, Maiden Of The Cancer Moon. The original performance segued directly into the more avant-garde Calvary (also credited to Duncan), but for the album a studio recreation of that performance was used (although the album sleeve makes it clear that it was recorded "live" at Golden State Recorders, indicating that it was done in a single take without any overdubs). The album side finishes up with a deliberately off key take on the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans signature song Happy Trails, which Evans herself wrote.