Sunday, December 9, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1850 (starts 12/10/18)
This week we feature the entire first side of the landmark 1968 Moody Blues album In Search Of The Lost Chord, as well as a set of tunes from Love. We also have sets from 1967, 1968 and a couple progressions through the years. Busy week.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing
Source: CD: Buffalo Springfield
Writer: Neil Young
One of the most influential folk-rock bands to come out of the L.A. scene was the Buffalo Springfield. The Springfield had several quality songwriters, including Neil Young, whose voice was deemed "too weird" by certain record company people. Thus we have Richie Furay handling the lead vocals on Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing, the group's debut single. The track was just one of several Young songs sung by Furay on the band's first album. By the time the second Buffalo Springfield album was released things had changed somewhat, and Young got to do his own lead vocals on songs like Mr. Soul and Broken Arrow.
Title: Two Rooms
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: (Marty Fried)
The Cyrkle were just a bit too clean-cut for their time. Looking like early 60s college fraternity guys, they had a great 1966, scoring back-to-back top 10 singles with Red Rubber Ball and Turn Down Day, hiring Brian Epstein as their manager and getting signed to be the opening act for Epstein's other band, the Beatles, on their final US tour. Despite having more than their share of talent, creatively, vocally and instrumentally, they found themselves unable to keep up with rapidly changing public tastes, and soon faded off into obscurity. Two Rooms, a hard to find 1967 B side written by drummer Marty Fried, hints at what could have been.
Title: West Indian Lady
Source: British import CD: The Hurdy Gurdy Man (originally released in US)
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original US label: Epic)
Released in October of 1968, The Hurdy Gurdy Man is generally considered the most musically diverse of all of Donovan's albums. West Indian Lady, for example, incorporates a calypso beat, similar to the one used on his 1967 single There Is A Mountain.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix/Band Of Gypsys
Title: Villanova Junction Blues
Source: Mono LP: People, Hell And Angels
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2013
Usually known as the untitled instrumental that finishes out the Woodstock movie, Villanova Junction Blues was first performed in the studio by Band Of Gypsys (Hendrix, Billy Cox and Buddy Miles) prior to their live performances at Madison Square Garden at the end of 1969. The studio version remained unreleased until 2013, when it was included on the album People, Hell And Angels.
Title: My Little Red Book
Source: Mono CD: Love Story (originally released as 45 RPM single)
My Little Red Book was a song originally composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the soundtrack of the movie What's New Pussycat and performed by Manfred Mann. It didn't sound anything like Love's version (the first rock single issued on the Elektra label), which is acknowledged as one of the first true punk classics.
Title: She Comes In Colors
Source: CD: Da Capo (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Arthur Lee's transition from angry punk (on songs like 7&7 Is and My Little Red Book) to a softer, more introspective kind of singer/songwriter was evident on Love's second LP, Da Capo. Although there were still some hard rockers, such as Stephanie Knows Who, the album also includes songs like She Comes In Colors, which was released ahead of the album as the band's third single in late 1966. The song was one of Lee's first to inspire critics to draw comparisons between Lee's vocal style and that of Johnny Mathis.
Source: CD: Love Story
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
If there is any one song that validates comparisons of Johnny Mathis and Love's Arthur Lee, it's Andmoreagain, from the third Love album, Forever Changes. Oddly enough, the song has also drawn comparisons to the music of Burt Bacharach, particularly for its soft melody and use of major 7th chords. This is somewhat ironic, given that Bacharach reportedly hated Love's version of My Little Red Book, a song he wrote for the soundtrack of the film What's New, Pussycat.
Title: Magic Carpet Ride
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf The Second)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Steppenwolf's second top 10 single was Magic Carpet Ride, a song that combines feedback, prominent organ work by Goldy McJohn and an updated Bo Diddly beat with psychedelic lyrics. Along with Born To Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride (co-written by vocalist John Kay and bassist Rushton Moreve) has become one of the defining songs of both Steppenwolf and the psychedelic era itself.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Parachute Woman
Source: CD: Beggar's Banquet
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The last Rolling Stones album with the original lineup was Beggar's Banquet, released in 1968. The album itself was a conscious effort on the part of the band to get back to their roots after the psychedelic excesses of Their Satanic Majesties Request. Sadly, Brian Jones was fast deteriorating at the time and his contributions to the album are minimal compared to the band's earlier efforts. As a result, Keith Richards was responsible for most of the guitar work on Beggar's Banquet, including both lead and rhythm parts on Parachute Woman.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Boogie Music
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Living The Blues and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): L.T.Tatman III
Label: United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Canned Heat was formed in 1966 by a group of San Francisco Bay Area blues purists. Although a favorite on the rock scene, the band continued to remain true to the blues throughout their existence, even after relocating to the Laurel Canyon area near Los Angeles in 1968. The band's most popular single was Going Up the Country from the album Living the Blues. The B side of that single was another track from Living The Blues that actually had a longer running time on the single than on the album version. Although the single uses the same basic recording of Boogie Music as the album, it includes a short low-fidelity instrumental tacked onto the end of the song that sounds suspiciously like a 1920s recording of someone playing a melody similar to Going Up The Country on a fiddle. The only time this unique version of the song appeared in stereo was on a 1969 United Artists compilation called Progressive Heavies that also featured tracks from Johnny Winter, Traffic, the Spencer Davis Group and others.
Title: People Are Strange
Source: LP: Strange Days (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: The Doors
The first single from the second Doors album was People Are Strange. The song quickly dispelled any notion that the Doors might be one-hit wonders and helped establish the band as an international act as opposed to just another band from L.A. The album itself, Strange Days, was a turning point for Elektra Records as well, as it shifted the label's promotional efforts away from their original rock band, Love, to the Doors, who ironically had been recommended to the label by the members of Love.
Artist: Janis Ian
Title: Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking)
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Janis Ian
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
Janis Ian began writing Society's Child, using the title Baby I've Been Thinking, when she was 13 years old, finishing it shortly after her 14th birthday. She shopped it around to several record labels before finally finding one (Now Sounds) willing to take a chance on the controversial song about interracial dating. The record got picked up and re-issued in 1966 by M-G-M's experimental label Verve Forecast, a label whose roster included Dave Van Ronk, Laura Nyro and the Blues Project, among others. Despite being banned on several radio stations the song became a major hit when re-released yet another time in early 1967. Ian had problems maintaining a balance between her performing career and being a student which ultimately led to her dropping out of high school. She would eventually get her career back on track in the mid-70s, scoring another major hit with At Seventeen, and becoming somewhat of a heroine to the feminist movement.
Title: Heaven And Hell
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
Throughout the mid-60s Australia's most popular band was the Easybeats, often called the Australian Beatles. Although their early material sounded like slightly dated British Invasion music (Australia had a reputation for cultural lag, and besides, half the members were British immigrants), by late 1966 guitarist Harry Vanda (one of the two Dutch immigrant members of the group) had learned enough English to be able to replace vocalist Stevie Wright as George Young's writing partner. The new team was much more adventurous in their compositions than the Wright/Young team had been, and were responsible for the band's first international hit, Friday On My Mind. By then the Easybeats had relocated to England, and continued to produce fine singles such as Heaven And Hell.
Title: I Feel Fine
Source: CD: Past masters-volume one (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
The Beatles capped off their most successful year, 1964, with a double-sided hit single, released just in time for the Christmas season on November 27th. The "official" A side was I Feel Fine, a John Lennon song that is considered the first pop song to use deliberate feedback (on the song's intro). The tune continued a streak of consecutive number one songs for the Fab Four that would continue well into the next year.
Title: Little Girl
Source: Mono LP: Them
Writer(s): Van Morrison
If punk rock is defined by attitude, then Them, from Belfast, Northern Ireland, could well be the world's first punk rock band. Led by Van Morrison, they were known as much for their rudeness to the British music press as they were for their music, which helped inspire countless American garage-rock bands in the mid-1960s. Their debut LP, released under the title The Angry Young Them in the UK and simply as Them in the US (with the song title Gloria featured prominently on the album cover) in 1965, contained half a dozen Morrison originals. Among those originals was a tune called Little Girl, about a young man's obsession with a fourteen-year-old girl. It would not be the last rock song of its type.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Blues From An Airplane
Source: CD: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off)
Blues From An Airplane was the opening song on the first Jefferson Airplane album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Although never released as a single, it was picked by the group to open their first anthology album, The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane, as well.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: A Christmas Camel
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Procol Harum
In 1966 Gary Brooker, former member of British cover band the Paramounts, formed a songwriting partnership with lyricist Keith Reid. By spring of 1967 the two had at least an album's worth of songs written but no band to play them. They solved the dilemma by placing an ad in Melody Maker and soon formed a group called the Pinewoods. Their very first record was A Whiter Shade Of Pale, which soon became the number one song on the British charts (after the Pinewoods changed their name to Procol Harum). The problem was that the group didn't know any other songs, a problem that was solved by firing the drummer and guitarist and replacing them with two of Brooker's former bandmates, B.J. Wilson and Robin Trower. This second version of the group soon recorded an LP, which included several strong tracks such as A Christmas Camel.
Artist: Status Quo
Title: Pictures Of Matchstick Men
Source: Simulated stereo CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Francis Rossi
Label: K-Tel (original label: Cadet Concept)
The band with the most charted singles in the UK is not the Beatles or even the Rolling Stones. It is, in fact, Status Quo, quite possibly the nearest thing to a real life version of Spinal Tap. Except for Pictures of Matchstick Men, the group has never had a hit in the US. On the other hand, they remain popular in Scandanavia, playing to sellout crowds on a regular basis (yes, they are still together).
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Gimme Shelter
Source: Canadian import CD: Heavy Hitters! (edited version originally released as 45 RPM single)
It takes cojones to record a cover version of one of the Rolling Stones' most popular (and critically acclaimed) songs. It takes even more to do it just two years after the Stones version came out. But then, we are talking about Grand Funk Railroad, who have to be considered one of the most ballsy bands in rock history. The single version of Grand Funk's version of Gimme Shelter runs almost two minutes shorter than the version heard on the Survival album, and if you listen closely you can hear a particularly sloppy edit in the middle of Mark Farner's last guitar solo toward the end of the song.
Artist: Moody Blues
Title: In Search Of The Lost Chord (side one)
Source: CD: In Search Of The Lost Chord
The Moody Blues followed up their groundbreaking album Days Of Future Past with another concept album, this time tackling the subjects of search and discovery from various perspectives. In Search Of The Lost Chord opens with Departure, a poem by percussionist Graeme Edge. Normally Edge's poems were recited by Mike Pinder on the band's albums, but here Edge recites his own work, ending in maniacal laughter as the next track, Ride My See-Saw, fades in. Ride My See-Saw, written by bassist John Lodge, is one of the Moody Blues' most popular songs, and is often used as an encore when the band performs in concert. Dr. Livingstone I Presume is a bit of a change in pace from flautist Ray Thomas, about the famous African explorer. Oddly enough, there is no flute on the track. From there the album proceeds to Lodge's House Of Four Doors, one of the most complex pieces ever recorded by the group. Each verse of the song ends with the opening of a door (the sound effect having been created on a cello), followed by an interlude from a different era of Western music, including Minstrel, Baroque and Classical. The fourth door opens into an entirely different song altogether, Legend Of A Mind, with its signature lines: "Timothy Leary's dead. No, no, he's outside looking in." Although never released as a single, the track got a fair amount of airplay on college and progressive FM radio stations, and has long been considered a cult hit. The album's first side concludes with the final section of House Of Four Doors.
Title: You Baby
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: White Whale
After first hitting the charts with their version of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, the Turtles released yet another "angry young rebel" song, P.F. Sloan's Let Me Be. Realizing that they needed to vary their subject matter somewhat if they planned on having a career last longer than six months, the band formerly known as the Crossfires went with another Sloan tune, You Baby, for their first single of 1966. Although the music was in a similar style to Let Me Be, the lyrics, written by Steve Barri, were fairly typical of teen-oriented love songs of the era. The Turtles would continue to record songs from professional songwriters for single release for the remainder of their existence, with their original compositions showing up mostly as album tracks and B sides.
Title: My White Bicycle
Source: Mono British CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road-1965-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: EMI (original label: Parlophone)
Along with Pink Floyd and the Soft Machine, Tomorrow was among the most influential of the British psychedelic bands that popped up in the wake of the Beatles' Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's albums. Evolving out of the In Crowd, a popular British R&B group in the mold of the Spencer Davis Group and the early Who, Tomorrow featured a young Steve Howe (who go on to stardom as a founding member of Yes) on lead guitar and Keith West on vocals. The group was slated to appear in the film Blow-Up, but ultimately lost out to the Yardbirds, who had just recruited Jimmy Page as a second lead guitarist. Unfazed, Tomorrow went into Abbey Road studios and cut My White Bicycle, a song inspired by the practice in Amsterdam of providing free bicycles to anyone who wanted to use one as long as they turned it back in when they were done with it.
Artist: Deep Purple
Source: LP: Tales Of Deep Purple
Writer: Joe South
Deep Purple scored a huge US hit in 1968 with their rocked out cover of Hush, a tune written by Joe South that had been an international hit for Billy Joe Royal the previous year. Oddly enough, the song was virtually ignored in their native England. The song was included on the album Tales Of Deep Purple, the first of three LPs to be released in the US on Tetragrammaton Records, a label partially owned by actor/comedian Bill Cosby. When Tetragrammaton folded shortly after the release of the third Deep Purple album, The Book Of Taleisyn, the band was left without a US label, and went through some personnel changes, including adding new lead vocalist Ian Gilliam (who had sung the part of Jesus on the original Jesus Christ Superstar album) before signing to Warner Brothers and becoming a major force in 70s rock. Meanwhile, original vocalist Rod Evans hooked up with drummer Bobby Caldwell and two former members of Iron Butterfly to form Captain Beyond before fading from public view.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Sitting On Top Of The World
Source: CD: The Grateful Dead
Label: Warner Brothers
Most versions of Sitting On Top Of The World (such as the one by Cream) have a slow, melancholy tempo that emphasizes the irony of the lyrics. The Grateful Dead version, on the other hand, goes at about twice the speed and has lyrics I have never heard on any other version. I suspect this is because, like most of the songs on the first Dead album, the tune was part of their early live repertoire; a repertoire that called for a lot of upbeat songs to keep the crowd on their feet. Is this Rob "Pig Pen" McKernon on the vocals? I think so, but am open to any corrections you might want to send along (just use the contact button on the www.hermitradio.com website).
Source: CD: Disraeli Gears (also released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
I distinctly remember this song getting played on the local jukebox just as much as the single's A side, Sunshine Of Your Love (maybe even more). Like most of Cream's more psychedelic material, SWLABR (an anagram for She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow) was written by the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. Brown had originally been brought in as a co-writer for Ginger Baker, but soon realized that he and Bruce had better songwriting chemistry.
Source: 45 RPM single B side
The Monkees made a video of the Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart song Words that shows each member in the role that they were best at as musicians: Mickey Dolenz on lead vocals, Peter Tork on guitar, Michael Nesmith on bass and Davy Jones on drums. This was not the way they were usually portrayed on their TV show, however. Neither was it the configuration on the recording itself, which had Nesmith on guitar, Tork on Hammond organ, producer Chip Douglas on bass and studio ace Eddie Hoh on drums. The song appeared on the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD as well as being released as the B side of Pleasant Valley Sunday. Even as a B side, the song was a legitimate hit, peaking at #11 in 1967.
Artist: Guess Who
Title: It's My Pride
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Canada as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Randy Bachman
Label: Rhino (original label: Quality)
The Guess Who were formed in 1962 in Winnipeg, Manitoba as Chad Allen and the Reflections, changing their name to Chad Allen and the Expression in 1964. The group recorded a cover of a Johnny Kidd song, Shakin' All Over, in 1965. The record was not released under the band's actual name, however; in a bid to get more airplay for the song, the record was credited to "Guess Who?". This was during the peak of the British Invasion, and the producers hoped that DJs might assume it was some well-known British band and give the record a shot. Of course, such a thing could never happen these days, as commercial radio DJs are not allowed to choose what music to play. The ploy worked so well (the song was a hit in both the US and Canada) that the band decided to keep the name Guess Who, and continued to crank out hit after hit in their native Canada, although they would not hit the US charts again until 1969. In 1966 the group picked up a second vocalist, Burton Cummings, and within a few months founder Allen left the band, leaving Cummings as the group's front man. One of their better songs was It's My Pride, a B side written by guitarist Randy Bachman and released as a single in 1967. Bachman would soon team up with Cummings to write a string of hits, including These Eyes and American Woman, before leaving the Guess Who in the early 70s to form his own band, Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
Source: LP: 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: George harrison
Title: What Is Life
Source: LP: All Things Must Pass
Writer(s): George Harrison
Label: Capitol (original label: apple)
Following the official announcement in early 1970 that the Beatles had broken up the rock press eagerly awaited the first solo albums from John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They were not quite prepared, however, for All Things Must Pass, the three-LP box set from the "quiet Beatle", George Harrison, to outperform both of the albums from Harrison's former bandmates. Yet that's exactly what happened, with All Things Must Pass topping the charts in several countries. The first single from the album, My Sweet Lord, did even better, becoming the UK's #1 song of the entire year. The second single from the album, What Is Life, was released in early 1971, when My Sweet Lord was finally showing signs of having run its course, and immediately shot into the top 10 as well. The song remained a concert favorite for the rest of Harrison's life, and has made several "best of" lists over the years.