Sunday, October 13, 2019
This week's show features an entire hour's worth of tunes from 1966 through 1968, with each set dedicated to a particular year. For our second hour we have a bunch of tunes you've probably never heard before followed by some really long tracks from 1968, including an entire Grateful Dead album side.
Artist: Five Americans
Title: Western Union
Source: Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Abnak)
One of the biggest hits of 1967 came from a band formed at Southeastern State College in Durant Oklahoma, although they had their greatest success working out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Having already scored a minor hit with I See The Light the previous year, the Five Americans hit the #5 spot on the national charts with Western Union, featuring a distinctive opening organ riff designed to evoke the sound of a telegraph receiver picking up Morse code.
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: John's Children
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): Marc Bolan
Label: Rhino (original label: Track)
After a pair of failed singles, the Ashtead, Surrey band known as John's Children brought in a new lead guitarist, Marc Bolan, who wrote their third release, Desdemona. Although Desdemona was indeed a much stronger song than the band's earlier efforts, it found itself banned by the BBC for the line "lift up your skirt and fly". Since by the BBC-1 was the only legal top 40 station left operating in the UK (Radio Luxembourg being on the continent), the song did not get heard by most British listeners. Bolan soon left the group to form his own psychedelic folk band, Tyrannosaurus Rex, with percussionist Steve Peregrine Took.
Title: The Wind Blows Your Hair
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
The Wind Blows Your Hair is actually one of the Seeds' better tracks. Unfortunately, by the time it was released the whole idea of Flower Power (which the Seeds were intimately tied to) had become yesterday's news (at least in ultra-hip L.A.) and the single went nowhere.
Artist: Procol Harum
Source: British import CD: Procol Harum
Label: Salvo/Fly (original label: Deram)
Mabel (Please Get Off The Kitchen Table) is one of the shortest tracks on Procol Harum's 1967 debut LP. The song shows the influence of American songwriter John Sebastian, whose band, the Lovin' Spoonful, was quite popular in the UK when Gary Brooker and Keith Reid began writing songs together in 1966.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: 45 RPM single (simulated stereo reissue)
Label: Double Shot
In late 1966 five guys from San Jose California managed to sound more like the Jeff Beck-era Yardbirds that the Yardbirds themselves (a task probably made easier by the fact that by late 1966 Jeff Beck was no longer a member of the Yardbirds). One interesting note about this record is that as late as the mid-1980s the 45 RPM single on the original label was still available in record stores, complete with the original B side. Normally (in the US at least) songs more than a year or two old were only available on anthology LPs or on reissue singles with "back-to-back hits" on them. The complete takeover of the record racks by CDs in the late 1980s changed all that, as all 45s (except for indy releases) soon went the way of the 78 RPM record. The resurgence of vinyl in the 2010s has been almost exclusively limited to LP releases, making it look increasingly unlikely that we'll ever see (with the exception of Record Store Day special releases) 45 RPM singles on the racks ever again.
Title: Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of The Standells (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
If ever a song could be considered a garage-punk anthem, it's Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, the follow-up single to the classic Dirty Water. Both songs were written by Standells' manager/producer Ed Cobb, the record industry's answer to Ed Wood.
Title: Here, There And Everywhere
Source: CD: Revolver
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
In the early days the Beatles did a lot of doubling up of vocals to achieve a fuller sound. This meant that the lead vocalist (usually John Lennon or Paul McCartney) would have to record a vocal track and then go back and sing in unison with his own recorded voice. The process, which Lennon in particular found tedious, often took several attempts to get right, making for long and exhausting recording sessions. In the spring of 1966 engineer Ken Townsend invented a process he called automatic double tracking that applied a tape delay to a single vocal to create the same effect as manual double tracking. The Beatles used the process for the first time on the Revolver album, on tracks like I'm Only Sleeping and Doctor Robert. Oddly enough, the song that sounds most like it used the ADT system, McCartney's Here, There And Everywhere, was actually two separate vocal tracks, which becomes obvious toward the end of the last verse when one of the vocals drops down to harmonize a few notes.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Journey To The Center Of The Mind)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
The title track of the second Amboy Dukes album, Journey To The Center Of The Mind, is by far their best known recording, going all the way to the #16 spot on the top 40 in 1968. The song features the lead guitar work of Ted Nugent, who co-wrote the song with guitarist/vocalist Steve Farmer. Journey To The Center Of The Mind would be the last album to feature lead vocalist John Drake, who left the band for creative reasons shortly after the album's release.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Blue Avenue
Source: British import CD: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s): Wayne Ulaky
Label: See For Miles (original US label: M-G-M)
Although never issued as a single in the US, Blue Avenue, from The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union, was the band's most popular song among UK radio listeners. This is due to the fact that the song was played by England's most influential DJ, John Peel, on his "Top Gear" show. One of the many garage bands I was in learned the song and played it at a failed audition for the Ramstein AFB Airman's club, although all five guys in the audience seemed to get a kick out of seeing and hearing me strum my guitar's strings on the wrong side of the bridge.
Title: My White Bicycle
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
One of the most popular bands with the mid-60s London Mods was a group called the In Crowd. In 1967 the band abandoned its R&B/Soul sound for a more psychedelic approach, changing its name to Tomorrow in the process. Their debut single, My White Bicycle, was inspired by the practice in Amsterdam of leaving white bicycles at various stategic points throughout the city for anyone to use. The song sold well and got a lot of play at local discoteques, but did not chart. Soon after the record was released, however, lead vocalist Keith West had a hit of his own, Excerpt From A Teenage Opera, which did not sound at all like the music Tomorrow was making. After a second Tomorrow single failed to chart, the individual members drifted off in different directions, with West concentrating on his solo career, guitarist Steve Howe joining Bodast, and bassist Junior Wood and drummer Twink Alder forming a short-lived group called Aquarian Age. Twink would go on to greater fame as a member of the Pretty Things and a founder of the Pink Fairies, but it was Howe that became an international star in the 70s after replacing Peter Banks in Yes.
Title: Mellow Yellow
Source: Mono British import CD: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original US label: Epic)
Although the Mellow Yellow album came out in early 1967, the title track had been released several months earlier as a followup to Donovan's breakthrough US hit Sunshine Superman. Ironically, during Donovan's period of greatest US success none of his recordings were being released in his native UK, due to his ongoing contract dispute with Pye Records.
Title: Love Came Tumblin' Down
Source: German import CD: Black Monk Time
Label: Repertoire (original label: International Polydor Production)
By the mid-1960s, the US military draft was in full swing, introducing young men from all over the nation to army life across the globe. Five of these young men ended up stationed in Frankfurt, Germany and discovered that they had a common musical vision and enough talent to make a little side cash playing at the local beer halls. At the time, virtually every band playing those local beer halls sported Beatles haircuts and played covers of Beatles and other popular bands. Being in the US Army, the five young men obviously couldn't wear Beatles haircuts. Instead, they each shaved a square patch at the top of their heads and called themselves the Monks. Their music was equally radical. Rather than top 40 covers they wrote and played their own original compositions, with the emphasis on original. Despite what would appear on the surface to be drawbacks, the Monks soon had a loyal enough following to allow the five young men, Minnesota-born guitarist Gary Burger, drummer Roger Johnston (a Texan), Chicagoan Larry Clark (the organ playing son of a preacher, man), electric banjoist Dave Day (who hailed from Washington) and Californian bassist Eddie Shaw, to remain in Germany following their respective discharges from the Army. In early 1966 they signed with Polydor's German division and recorded their one and only LP, Black Monk Time. Thanks to songs like Love Came Tumblin' Down, the Monks were eventually recognized as the precursor to such bands as AC/DC, the Ramones and the Clash ten years before any of those bands came into existence. Strangely enough, nobody seems to know where any of these five men ended up after the Monks disbanded in 1967. If anyone reading this has any knowledge of the whereabouts of any of them, drop me a line.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source: Mono CD: Projections
Writer(s): Blind Willie Johnson
Label: Sundazed (original label: Verve Folkways)
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 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.
Title: My Little Red Book
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released on LP: Love)
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
The first rock record ever released by Elektra Records was a single by Love called My Little Red Book. The track itself (which also opens Love's debut LP), is a punked out version of a tune originally recorded by Manfred Mann for the What's New Pussycat movie soundtrack. Needless to say, Love's version was not exactly what Burt Bacharach and Hal David had in mind.
Title: Long Way Around
Source: Mono CD: The Huns Conquer Ithaca, NY 1966
Writer(s): Buz Warmkessel
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2017
In 1965, most bands in the upstate New York area were inspired mainly by the Beatles, and made their living doing cover songs of various British Invasion bands, particularly those with hits on the charts. And then along came the Huns, a group formed in Ithaca, NY by longtime schoolmates Frank Van Nostrand (bass) and John Sweeney (organ). The first member recruited for the new band was vocalist Rich La Bonte, who brought a Mick Jagger like swagger to his role as frontman for the group. Filling out the band were Buz Warmkessel (whose Long Way Around is featured on this week's show) and drummer Dick Headley. The Huns, who by then had replaced Headley with Steve Dworetz and added rhythm guitarist Keith Ginsberg, made their only studio recordings on March 10, 1966 at Ithaca College's experimental TV studios in downtown Ithaca. Less than three months later the Huns were history, thanks in large part to Van Nostrand and Sweeney being asked by the college dean to pursue their academic careers elsewhere.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Mr. Soul
Source: CD: Retrospective (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s): Neil Young
Executives at Atco Records originally considered Neil Young's voice "too weird" to be recorded. As a result many of Young's early tunes (including the band's debut single Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing), were sung by Richie Furay. By the time the band's second album, Buffalo Springfield Again, was released, the band had enough clout to make sure Young was allowed to sing his own songs. In fact, the album starts with a Young vocal on the classic Mr. Soul.
Artist: Immediate Family
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on CD: What A Way To Come Down)
Label: Rhino (original label: Big Beat)
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1997
The members of the Immediate Family hailed from the city of Concord, a conservative suburb east of San Francisco bay. They didn't actually make music in their hometown, however. Instead they practiced at the home of organist Kriss Kovacs's mother Judy Davis (the vocal coach to the stars who numbered such diverse talents as Grace Slick, Barbra Streisand and even Frank Sinatra among her pupils). The band was able to get the backing to lay down some tracks at Golden State Recorders (the top studio in the area at the time), but reportedly lost their record deal due to emotional instability on the part of Kovacs. The song Rubiyat is an adaptation of the Rubiyat Of Omar Khayyam. Ambitious to be sure, but done well enough to make one wonder what it could have led to.
Artist: Everpresent Fullness
Title: Darlin' You Can Count On Me
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: White Whale)
The Everpresent Fullness was a band that appeared alongside such notables as Buffalo Springfield, Love and the Turtles at various Los Angeles venues. It was through their association with the latter that they landed a contract with White Whale Records. However, creative problems between the band and the label led to financial backing being pulled by White Whale before they could complete their first album. A single, Darlin' You Can Count On Me, was released in 1967, but the rest of the tracks remained in the vaults until 1970, when, in a reverse of the usual situation, White Whale released the LP under contractual obligation to the band.
Artist: Lord Sutch And Heavy Friends
Title: Thumping Beat
Source: CD: Lord Sutch And Heavy Friends
Label: Wounded Bird
Generally acknowledged to be the worst album ever made, Lord Sutch And His Heavy Friends was produced by none other than Jimmy Page. So how did Jimmy Page, at the time the leader of the hottest band on the planet, get involved with such a project? Well, in Page's own words: "I just went down to have a laugh, playing some old rock 'n' roll, a bit of a send-up. The whole joke sort of reversed itself and became ugly." The ugliness itself mostly came from the rock press, whose reaction to the album was universally negative, with Rolling Stone saying that the musicians involved (which on Thumping Beat included Page, along Led Zeppelin bandmate John Bonham and Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding) were made to sound "like a fouled parody of themselves." The problem, of course, was with Sutch's vocals, which were demo quality at best. In fact, most of the musicians involved were under the impression that the recordings were only demos not intended for commercial release. The appearance of Lord Sutch And Heavy Friends on the record racks was accompanied by press releases from most of the musicians on the album disowning the project. Lord Sutch, who is also known for holding the all-time British record for losing the most Parliamentary elections, continued to record and release new albums for the rest of the century, with his final EP, Midnight Man, appearing in 2000.
Artist: Chesterfield Kings
Title: I'll Be Back
Source: LP: Don't Open Til Doomsday
Formed in the late 1970s in Rochester, NY, the Chesterfield Kings (named for an old brand of unfiltered cigarettes that my grandfather used to smoke) were instrumental in setting off the garage band revival of the 1980s. Their earliest records were basically a recreation of the mid-60s garage sound, although by the time their 1987 album, Don't Open Til Doomsday, was released they had gone through some personnel changes that resulted in a harder-edged sound, although there were exceptions like I'll Be Back, which sounds more like 60s light pop than either garage or punk.
Artist: Squires Of The Subterrain
Title: There You Are
Source: CD: Strawberries On Sunday
Writer(s): Chris Zajkowski
Label: Rocket Racket
A few years back I acquired four CDs from Squires Of The Subterrain, also known as Chris Earl of Rochester, NY. I didn't choose to check them out in any particular order, yet have found that I like each one I've heard even more than the one before it, even when they are not chronologically sequential. I'm just lucky that way, I guess. This time around we have There You Are, a track from the 2003 release Strawberries On Sunday. Like the rest of Strawberries On Sunday, There You Are shows a stronger Beatles influence than the tunes on other Squires albums.
Artist: Steve Piper
Title: Used Cadillac
Source: CD: Mirror
Writer(s): Steve Piper
Label: Barking Dog
Not every talented musician signs a contract with a major record label. Many, for a variety of reasons, choose to remain local, appearing at a variety of venues and often building up a following that is every bit as loyal as the largest international audience. One such local artist is Steve Piper of Rochester, NY. He has been performing, both as a solo artist and as a member of various groups, for several years now, occasionally recording an album's worth of material in his home studio. His third CD includes a short instrumental called Used Cadillac that evokes images of another short instrumental piece: Jorma Kaukonen's Embryonic Journey, from the second Jefferson Airplane album, Surrealistic Pillow.
Artist: Eric Burdon And War
Title: Magic Mountain
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
The 1970 LP Eric Burdon Declares "War" was accompanied by the band's first single from the album, Spill The Wine. The B side of Spill The Wine was a non-album track called Magic Mountain. Written by the band, along with producer Jerry Goldstein, the song remained unavailable in any other form until 1976, when it appeared on a collection of unreleased tracks and B sides called Love Is All Around, creditited to War featuring Eric Burdon. The following year Magic Mountain was released as an A side itself, but did not chart.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Citizen Fear
Source: Mono CD: Ignition
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2000
Citizen Fear was one of the final, if not the very last, recording made by Sean Bonniwell's Music Machine. A collaboration between Bonniwell and engineer Paul Buff, the piece utilizes Buff's 10-track recording process to its fullest potential. Before the song could be released, however, the Music Machine had disbanded and Bonniwell had quit the music business in disillusionment, disappointment and/or disgust.
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: (Ballad Of The) Hip Death Goddess
Source: LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
Ultimate Spinach was the brainchild of Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote and arranged all the band's material. Although the group had no hit singles, some tracks, such as (Ballad of the) Hip Death Goddess received a significant amount of airplay on progressive "underground" FM stations. The recording has in more recent years been used by movie producers looking to invoke a late 60s atmosphere.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Alligator/Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)
Source: LP: Anthem Of The Sun
Label: Warner Brothers/Rhino
After a debut album that took about a week to record (and that the band was unhappy with) the Grateful Dead took their time on their second effort, Anthem Of The Sun. After spending a considerable amount of time in three different studios on two coasts and not getting the sound they wanted (and shedding their original producer along the way) the Dead came to the conclusion that the only way to make an album that sounded anywhere near what the band sounded like onstage was to use actual recordings of their performances and combine them with the studio tracks they had been working on. Side two of the album, which includes the classic Alligator and the more experimental Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks), is basically an enhanced live performance, with new vocal tracks added in the studio. Alligator itself is notable as the first Grateful Dead composition to feature the lyrics of Robert Hunter, who would become Jerry Garcia's main collaborator for many many years. Anthem Of The Sun was remixed by Phil Lesh in 1972, and the new mix was used on all subsequent pressings of the LP until 2011, when a limited edition 180g pressing of the album used the original mix.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: …And The Gods Made Love/Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Like its predecessor, the third Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Electric Ladyland, starts off with a track that is pure special effects. Unlike EXP (from Axis: Bold As Love), which was essentially made up of controlled guitar feedback, …And The Gods Made Love is a more subtle piece employing tape and echo effects to simulate, well, the title says it all. This leads directly in to what was for many Experience fans was new territory, but for Hendrix himself a hearkening back to his days as a backup musician for various soul artists. Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) is, in fact, a tribute to guitarist/vocalist Curtis Mayfield, leader of the Impressions, whom Hendrix had cited as an influence on his own guitar style.
Title: Sunny Days (And Good, Good Living)
Source: Mono British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Greg Praeg
Label: Big Beat (original label: Time)
The Group was formed in Detroit in 1967 by guitarists Ron Koss and Greg Praeg, formerly of the Pacesetters, along with bassist Dennis Kovareck and drummer Larry Zack. When they added keyboardist John Seanor in 1968 they started using the name Scarlet Letter, soon signing with Bob Shad's Mainstream label and releasing a pair of singles. In between the two Mainstream records they released Sunny Days (And Good, Good Living) on Mainstream's reactivated Time subsidiary under the name Paraphernalia. Time only released two other singles at that time (no pun intended), both by New Zealand's Human Instinct, leading me to believe that the band (or possibly Shad himself) deliberately used the Paraphernalia pseudonym to give the impression that Sunny Days (And Good, Good Living) was recorded by a band from Down Under, especially given the song's obvious Bee Gees influence.
I was really planning on doing two sets this week, but each song seemed to flow so naturally out of the one before it that I just couldn't bring myself to dam up the stream of tunes. So prepare yourself for an amazing musical journey, starting, appropriately enough, with the Who.
Title: Amazing Journey
Source: British Import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Tommy)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: Polydor UK (original US label: Decca)
After achieving major success in their native England with a series of hit singles in 1965-67, the Who began to concentrate more on their albums from 1968 on. The first of these concept albums was The Who Sell Out, released in December of 1967. The Who Sell Out was a collection of songs connected by faux radio spots and actual jingles from England's last remaining pirate radio station, Radio London. After releasing a few more singles in 1968, the Who began work on their most ambitious project yet: the world's first rock opera. Tommy, released in 1969, was a double LP telling the story of a boy who, after being tramautized into becoming a blind deaf-mute, eventually emerges as a kind of messiah, only to have his followers ultimately abandon him. One of the early tracks on the album is Amazing Journey, describing Tommy's voyage into the recesses of his own mind in response to the traumatic event that results in his "deaf, dumb and blind" condition.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Gonna Run
Source: CD: Watt
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Label: Chrysalis (original label: Deram)
The fifth Ten Years After album, Watt, was somewhat unfairly criticized by the rock press for being "more of the same" from the British blues-rock band. When "the same" refers to an album of the calibur of Cricklewood Green, however, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, some tracks, such as Gonna Run, are at least the equal of any song on the previous album, and show a growing awareness on the part of the band of how to use the recording studio itself to its fullest advantage.
Title: Street Worm
Source: CD: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
Spirit guitarist Randy California got an opportunity to channel one of his personal heroes, saxophonist John Coltrane, on Jay Ferguson's Street Worm on the 1970 album Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus. It is particularly noticable on the arpeggios at the end of the track.
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: River Deep, Mountain High
Source: CD: The Book Of Taleisyn
Label: Eagle (original label: Tetragrammaton)
The big, spectacular production piece on Deep Purple's second LP, The Book Of Taleisyn, was a ten minute long cover of Tina Turner's 1966 single (credited to Ike And Tina Turner, though it was actually produced by Phil Spector) River Deep, Mountain High. The original Turner version had mysteriously stalled out in the #88 spot in the US, although it was a #3 hit single in the UK. For Deep Purple, the reverse held true, as the album, released in late 1968, was a success in the US (#54 on the Billboard LP chart) but did not chart at all in the UK, where it was not released until mid-1969. The song itself would be covered by several notable artists over the subsequent years, including Eric Burdon And The Animals and a collaboration between the Supremes and the Four Tops that would become the highest-charting US version of the song in 1970.
Title: The Return Of The Giant Hogweed
Source: CD: Nursery Crymes
Label: Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
The Return Of The Giant Hogweed, from the 1971 Genesis album Nursery Cryme, is actually based on a true story about an invasive organism brought to England from Russia in the 1800s. Genesis, thanks in large part to the sense of whimsy brought to the band by their new drummer, Phil Collins, deliberately exaggerated the story, making the Giant Hogweed a threat to civilization as we know it. Nursery Crymes itself, although officially the third Genesis album, was in fact the debut of the band's classic lineup of Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford and new guitarist Steve Hackett, who joined a few months after founding member Anthony Phillips left the group following the release of the Trespass album. This lineup would remain intact until the departure of Gabriel in 1975.
Artist: Blood, Sweat and Tears
Title: Sometimes In Winter
Source: CD: Blood, Sweat and Tears
Writer: Stee Katz
Steve Katz was never a superstar. As the rhythm guitarist in Blues Project he was always overshadowed by lead guitarist Danny Kalb and keyboardist Al Kooper. When Kooper formed Blood, Sweat and Tears, nobody seemed to notice that Katz was the only other member of Blues Project in the band. As Sometimes In Winter shows, though, he was a decent singer-songwriter in his own right.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: I Need A Man To Love
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
Big Brother and the Holding Company recorded their first album at the Chicago studios of Mainstream records in 1967. Mainstream, however, was a jazz label and their engineers had no idea how to make an anarchic band like Big Brother sound good. When the band signed to Columbia the following year it was decided that the best way to record the band was onstage at the Fillmore West. This didn't work out as planned, however, and only the album's final track, Ball And Chain, is actually a live recording. Other songs, such as I Need A Man To Love, were recorded in the studio, but were made to sound live in post-production.
Artist: Derek And The Dominos
Source: CD: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Derek And The Dominos was originally an attempt by Eric Clapton to remove himself from the solo spotlight and work in a larger group setting than he had with his previous bands, Cream and Blind Faith. Such was Clapton's stature, however, that even among talents like Jim Gordon, Carl Radle and Bobby Whitlock, Clapton was still the star. However, there was one unofficial member of the group whose own star was in ascendancy. Duane Allman, who had chosen to stick with his own group the Allman Brothers Band, nonetheless played on eleven of the fourteen tracks on Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs. His slide guitar work is especially noticeable on the title track and on the song Anyday, which remains one of the most popular songs on the album.
Artist: Doobie Brothers
Title: Tell Me What You Want (And I'll Give You What You Need)
Source: CD: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits
Writer(s): Patrick Simmons
Label: Warner Brothers
The fourth Doobie Brothers album, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, is one those albums that benefits from the inherit limitations of vinyl, specifically the fact that a vinyl LP is divided into two (or more) sides. The first side of the album is just OK, despite the fact that it contains two of the album's three singles, including the band's first #1 hit, Black Water. The second side, however, is where the album really shines, with one strong song after another from start to finish. In the middle of this is Tell Me What You Want (And I'll Give You What You Need), one of the most underrated songs in entire Doobie Brothers catalog. Written by Patrick Simmons, the song shows just how easily the Doobies were able to ease into the 70s California groove usually associated with bands like Poco and the Eagles without losing the edge that made them one of the most popular bands of their time.
Artist: Stevie Wonder
Source: LP: Songs In The Key Of Life
Writer(s): Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder's 1976 double-LP Songs In The Key Of Life is considered by many musicians to be the greatest album of all time. It was the third consecutive Stevie Wonder album to win the Grammy award for Album Of The Year and spent 14 weeks at the top of the Billboard album chart, including the week was released, making it only the third album in history to make its debut at #1. It also provided the artist with two #1 hit singles, as well as a pair of lesser hits in late 1977. Among the many outstanding tracks on Songs In The Key Of Life is the mostly-instrumental Contusion, a fusion jazz piece that features the talents of Mike Sembello on lead guitar, Nathan Watts on bass guitar, Ben Bridges on rhythm guitar, Raymond Pounds on drums and Greg Phillinganes on keyboards, with Wonder himself playing all the other instruments. Contusion also features wordless vocals from Michael Gray, Josie James, Shirley Brewer and Artece May.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Source: CD: The Ultimate Experience (originally released on LP: The Cry Of Love)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Shortly after the untimely death of Jimi Hendrix in September of 1970, Reprise released the first of many posthumous Hendrix albums, The Cry Of Love. Like millions of other Hendrix fans, I immediately went out and bought a copy. I have to say that there are very few songs that have ever brought tears to my eyes, and even fewer that did so on my very first time hearing them. Of these, Angel tops the list.
Sunday, October 6, 2019
Each segment of this week's show has its own unique characteristics. Our first half hour starts off by going down and ends up with our only single-year set of the week: 1969. Next we have the world according to Bob Dylan, David Peel and the Beatles. Our second hour starts with an Advanced Psych segment which leads into three "other" sides of Vanilla Fudge, setting things up for our final segment that takes a long journey through the years 1966 to 1970 and back. Speaking of 1970, we start with Santana...
Title: Hope You're Feeling Better
Source: CD: Abraxas
Writer(s): Gregg Rolie
Hope You're Feeling Better was the third single to be taken from Santana's Abraxas album. Although not as successful as either Black Magic Woman or Oye Como Va, the song nonetheless received considerable airplay on progressive FM rock stations and has appeared on several anthology anthems since its initial release.
Title: Questions 67 & 68
Source: CD: The Chicago Transit Authority
Writer(s): Robert Lamm
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Originally calling themselves The Big Thing, The Chicago Transit Authority moved to Los Angeles in 1968, changing their name in the process. After a year of touring the band headed to New York to record their first album in early 1969. The first single released from that album was Questions 67 & 68, which was released as a nearly five-minute long single in July. The song stalled out at the #71 spot, but two years later an edited version of the song made it to #24. By then the group had shortened its name to Chicago. The rest, as they say, is history.
Title: The Unknown Soldier
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: The Doors
One of the oddest recordings to get played on top 40 radio was the Door's 1968 release, The Unknown Soldier. The song is notable for having it's own promotional film made by keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who had been a film major at UCLA when the Doors were formed. It's not known whether the song was written with the film in mind (or vice versa), but the two have a much greater synergy than your average music video. As for the question of whether the Doors themselves were anti-war, let's just say that vocalist Jim Morrison, who wrote the lyrics to The Unknown Soldier, was pretty much anti-everything.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Help, I'm A Rock
Source: CD: Part One
Writer(s): Frank Zappa
Label: Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Say what you will about the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, it takes cojones to record a cover of a Frank Zappa tune, especially within a year of the original Mothers of Invention version coming out. To top it off, the W.C.P.A.E.B. even released Help, I'm A Rock as a single, although the longer LP version is far superior.
Artist: Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys
Title: Good Old Rock and Roll
Source: CD: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-Vol. 1 (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
By 1969, folk-rock had morphed into what would come to be called country-rock. One of the early country-rock bands that is usually overlooked is Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys. This is probably because their only hit, the '50s tribute song Good Old Rock and Roll, was not at all typical of the band's sound.
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Brave New World
Source: LP: Homer soundtrack (originally released on LP: Brave New World)
Writer(s): Steve Miller
Label: Cotillion (original label: Capitol)
It took the Steve Miller Band half a dozen albums (plus appearances on a couple of movie soundtracks) to achieve star status in the early 1970s. Along the way they developed a cult following that added new members with each successive album. The fourth Miller album was Brave New World, the title track of which was used in the film Homer, a 1970 film that is better remembered for its soundtrack than for the film itself.
Artist: Janis Joplin
Title: Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)
Source: LP: I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama
A glance through the various playlists on this blog makes one thing abundantly clear: the psychedelic era was a time for bands, as opposed to individual stars. The music industry itself, however, tends to favor the single artist. Perhaps this is because it is easier to market (cynics would say exploit) an individual artist than a collective of musicians. In the case of Janis Joplin, people in the industry managed to convince her that her fellow members of Big Brother and the Holding Company were holding her back due to their lack of musicianship. A listen to her first album without her old bandmates puts the lie to that argument. Although the Kozmic Blues Band may indeed have had greater expertise as individual musicians than Big Brother, the energy that had electrified audiences at the Monterey Pop Festival and at various San Francisco ballrooms was just not there, and the album is generally considered somewhat limp in comparison to Cheap Thrills. The opening (and some would say best) track on the album is Try (Just A Little Bit Harder). While not a bad song, the recording just doesn't have the magic of a Piece of My Heart or Ball and Chain, despite a strong vocal performance by Joplin herself.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Watching The River Flow
Source: LP: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume II (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
In July of 1966, Bob Dylan was involved in a serious motorcyle accident that kept him out of a recording studio for nearly 18 months, but it really took about five years for him to fully recover from it. During those five years he recorded a series of albums in Nashville with producer Bob Johnston, all of which had a strong country flavor to them. While putting the finishing touches on his 1970 album, New Morning, Dylan made it clear that he was ready to move on and no longer wanted to work with Johnston. As to where or what he wanted to move on to, it was unclear until he began working with Leon Russell, who helped him shape his 1971 single Watching The River Flow. Recorded in New York, the recording featured Carl Radle (Derek and the Dominos) on bass, Jesse Ed Davis (Taj Mahal's band) on guitar and Jim Keltner (who along with Russell had participated in Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs And Englishmen project) on drums. The song showed a strong blues influence, and featured Dylan's return to the singing style that he had become famous for (as opposed to his "Nashville crooning" style heard on songs like Lay Lady Lay). The lyrics of Watching The River Flow made it clear that Dylan was done playing the role of "spokesman for a generation" and was content to stay on the sidelines and stay focused on his personal life. The song barely missed the US top 40, peaking at #41 in the summer of 1971, but charted higher in Canada and the UK, as well as other places, and was featured as the opening track of his second Greatest Hits album, released the same year.
Artist: David Peel and the Lower East Side
Title: The American Revolution-Part 2
Source: LP: The American Revolution
Writer: Peel/DeLory/Darian/Van Winkle
If there was any one band that could be called a Yippie band, it was David Peel and the Lower East Side. As much street theater as rock and roll, the group consisted of three core members: David Peel (guitar, vocals), Billy Joe White (guitar, vocals), and Harold C. Black (tambourine, vocals), plus just about anyone who wanted to play and/or sing along. The group's first album was Have A Marijuana, recorded live at New York's Washington Square at a cost of around $4,000. The album was a surprise cult hit, netting Elektra nearly a million dollars. The band's priorities, however, were more about social issues than musical ones, and the group did not get around to recording another album until 1970. By then the Yippie movement had run its course, and the decision was made to abandon the street theater aspect of the group and concentrate instead on making a studio album. To do this, they enlisted several new semi-official members to record The American Revolution, arguably the first true punk-rock LP ever recorded. The songs covered a variety of topical issues, including sex (Girls, Girls, Girls), religion (God), and the still-raging Vietnam War (I Want To Kill You and Hey, Mr. Draft Board, a parody of Larry Verne's Mr. Custer). The songs themselves segue into each other on the LP, resulting in two suites running about 15 minutes each (one per side). This week we are presenting the second suite/side of The American Revolution, which includes the four songs mentioned above. Clash fans, enjoy!
Title: Wild Honey Pie/The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill/While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Source: LP: The Beatles
By early 1968 the Beatles were beginning to show signs that they would not be together as a band much longer. The group had just experienced their first commercial & critical failure, the Magical Mystery Tour telefilm (although the soundtrack did quite well). Additionally, each member (except maybe Ringo) was starting to move off in his own direction as a songwriter. Nonetheless they went ahead with plans to form Apple, a company designed to market not only their music, but other products as well. The first album released on the new label was titled simply The Beatles and had a plain white cover, resulting in it soon becoming known as the White Album. It was the Beatles' first double-LP set, and the only one to feature all-new material. The music covered a wide variety of styles, some of which are even now hard to describe. As an example we have Paul McCartney's Wild Honey Pie, which segues into John Lennon's The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill. I defy anyone to define exactly what genre these two tracks are representative of. George Harrison had already written several songs that had appeared on various Beatles albums (and an occasional B side) through 1968, but his first acknowledged classic was While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which immediately follows Bungalow Bill on the album. The recording features Harrison's close friend, guitarist Eric Clapton, who at that time was enjoying superstar status as a member of Cream.
Title: She's Not There
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer: Rod Argent
Label: London (original label: Parrot)
Most of the original British invasion bands were guitar-oriented, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. One notable exception was the Zombies, whose leader, Rod Argent, built the group around his electric piano. Their first single, She's Not There, was a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic and is ranked among the top British rock songs of all time.
Artist: Ace Of Cups
Title: Interlude: Transistor/Stones
Source: CD: Ace Of Cups
Writer(s): Mary Gannon
Label: High Moon
Stones is one of the oldest songs in the Ace Of Cups repertoire, dating back to 1967. What makes the 2018 version of the track truly unique, however, is the fact that drummer Diane Vitalich puts some of the band's shared experience into her lead vocals on the tune, which was written, and originally sung, by the group's founder, Mary Gannon. It turns out that bandmate Denise Kaufman was present (and five months pregnant) at the infamous 1969 Rolling Stones concert at Altamont that erupted into violence, and was in fact seriously injured when her skull was fractured by a thrown beer bottle. To make things worse, the Stones themselves refused to let their helicopter be used to transport her to a hospital, endangering both her and the baby. Although things turned out OK in the long run, Vitalich, for the studio version of Stones, replaced a line in the song's bridge about how the Ace Of Cups loved the Rolling Stones with the following: "You can rock like a Rolling Stone, but baby I ain't buyin' it."
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: African Bees
Source: CD: Feedback
The 3006 Electric Prunes album Feedback sounds like a group of talented musicians with nothing to prove having the time of their lives. Which, of course, is exactly what it is. Their always present sense of whimsy is well-represented by African Bees, a tune that somehow manages to make me think of Frank Zappa, Mitch Mitchell and John Belushi all at the same time. Even better, Mark Tulin's bass line on the song is nothing short of phenomenal (he also plays keyboards).
Artist: Strawberry Zots
Title: Pretty Flowers
Source: LP: Cars, Flowers, Telephones
Writer(s): Mark Andrews
Albuquerque's Strawberry Zots were led by Mark Andrews, who either wrote or co-wrote all of the band's original material. Their only LP, Cars, Flowers, Telephones, was released locally on the StreetSound label and reissued on CD the following year by RCA records. My personal favorite track on the album is Pretty Flowers, which starts off the LP's second side. Unfortunately the song is handicapped by its low-fidelity production, which may have been a deliberate attempt to emulate the sound of 60s psychedelia, but ends up sounding, like much of the music of the 1980s, over-compressed.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Come By Day, Come By Night
Source: Mono CD: The Complete Atco Singles (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Mark Stein
The Vanilla Fudge version of the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On was first released as a single in 1967, but tanked before it could hit the top 60. In 1968 the song was re-released with a different B side and made the top 20. That secondB side, Come By Day, Come By Night, was written by keyboardist Mark Stein, and was never released on a Vanilla Fudge album. The song is now available on a CD called The Complete Atco Singles.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Take Me For A Little While
Source: LP: Vanilla Fudge
Writer(s): Trade Martin
The original single version of Vanilla Fudge's cover of the Holland-Dozier-Holland penned Supremes hit You Keep Me Hangin' On was yet another cover of a tune written by a man but originally sung by female artists. Take Me For A Little While, written by Trade Martin, was first released in 1965, with two versions, one by Evie Sands and the other by Jackie Ross, coming out at about the same time.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Where Is My Mind
Source: Mono CD: The Complete Atco Singles (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Mark Stein
When Vanilla Fudge first released You Keep Me Hangin' On as a single in June of 1967, the record stiffed. Undaunted, the band continued to work on their debut LP, which included both sides of the single and was a major success when it was released in August of 1967, going all the way to the #6 spot on the Billboard album chart. Still, the band wanted a hit single, so they returned to the studio to cut two new tracks. One of these was an original composition by keyboardist Mark Stein called Where Is My Mind, which was chosen to be the A side of the new single, released in January of 1968. Unfortunately for the band, that record got such a cold reception from radio stations that their label quickly issued a special copy of the single featuring only the record's B side, a cover of Dusty Springfield's The Look Of Love (which also stiffed). It was not until June of 1968, when You Keep Me Hangin' On was reissued as a single, that Vanilla Fudge got their first (and only) top 40 hit.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: Let's Go Away For Awhile
Source: Mono CD: Pet Sounds
Writer(s): Brian Wilson
After spending six months and a record amount of money making Good Vibrations, Brian Wilson and Capitol Records decided to use an existing track for the B side of the single rather than take the time to record something new. The chosen track was Let's Go Away For Awhile, a tune from the Pet Sounds album that Wilson described as the most satisfying instrumental piece he had ever written.
Artist: Spanky And Our Gang
Title: Sunday Will Never Be The Same
Source: LP: Spanky And Our Gang
The terms "rock star" and, for that matter "rock music", did not come into common usage until the late 1960s. Prior to that we had "pop stars" singing "pop songs", which included virtually everything that made it into the top 40, from Dean Martin ballads like Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes to funky James Brown tunes like Papa's Got A Brand New Bag. One of the last of the true pop groups was Spanky And Our Gang. Actually more artistically oriented than they are generally given credit for, Spanky And Our Gang were saddled with a producer who was more concerned with getting an album out quickly to cash in on a hit single than making a quality record. The hit single in question was Sunday Will Never Be The Same, which, despite the band achieving success with other tunes as well, came to define the band in the minds of record buyers, and actually hobbled their efforts to be seen as more than just a Mamas and Papas clone. Not long after the death of multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Hale (from either bronchial pneumonia or carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty heating system, depending on whose account you read), who had been the group's primary arranger and de facto leader, Spanky And Our Gang disbanded, with lead vocalist Spanky McFarlane going on to a solo career and eventual membership in the Mamas And The Papas as Cass Elliot's replacement.
Title: Carpet Man
Source: Mono British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Jimmy Webb
Label: EMI (original label: Columbia)
Not every artist who recorded at London's famed Abbey Road Studios became famous. Like all studios, Abbey Road had its share of artists who cut maybe one single and then faded off into obscurity. Among the most obscure bands to record at Abbey Road was the Nocturnes, whose sole shot at fame was a cover of the Fifth Dimension's Carpet Man, recorded and released in 1968.
Artist: Bubble Puppy
Title: Beginning (remix)
Source: Mono British import CD: A Gathering Of Promises
Label: Charly (original label: International Artists)
The Bubble Puppy came into existence in 1967, when two former members of the legendary Corpus Christie,Texas garage band the Bad Seeds, guitarist Rod Prince and keyboardist/bassist Roy Cox, relocated to San Antonio, recruiting guitarist Todd Potter and drummer Craig Root to form the new band. Success came quickly in the form of the band's very first gig, opening for the Who at the San Antonio Colosseum. After David Fore replaced Root in the band, the group relocated to Austin, where they got a steady gig at the Vulcan Gas Company. By 1968 the Bubble Puppy was traveling all over Texas for gigs, and late in the year got a contract with Houston-based International Artists, a label that had already gained notoriety by signing the 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola. After releasing a surprise top 40 hit, Hot Smoke And Sassafras in December of 1968, the band got to work on a full album, A Gathering Of Promises. International Artists failed to get the album, which was full of fine tunes like Beginning (which became the band's second single), out quickly enough to capitilize of the popularity of Hot Smoke And Sassafras, and further hurt the band's chance of success by refusing to grant licensing rights for Hot Smoke And Sassafras to Apple Records for European release. By 1970 the band and the label had parted company, with the Bubble Puppy relocating to Los Angeles and changing their name to Demian.
Title: Empty Pages
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Silver Spotlight (original label: United Artists)
Traffic was formed in 1967 by Steve Winwood, after ending his association with the Spencer Davis Group. The original group, also featuring Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, put out two and a half albums before disbanding in early 1969. Shortly thereafter, following a successful live reunion album, Welcome to the Canteen, Winwood got to work on what was intended to be his first solo LP. For support Winwood called in Capaldi and Wood to back him up on the project. It soon became apparent, however, that what they were working on was actually a new Traffic album, John Barleycorn Must Die. Although Empty Pages was released as a single (with a mono mix heard here), it got most of its airplay on progressive FM stations, and as those stations were replaced by (or became) AOR (album oriented rock) stations, the song continued to get extensive airplay for many years.
Title: Nature's Way
Source: CD: The Best Of Spirit (originally released on LP: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus)
Writer: Randy California
Nature's Way is one of the best-known and best-loved songs in the Spirit catalog. Originally released on the 1970 LP Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus, the song was finally issued as a single in 1973, long after lead vocalist Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes had left the band. The single mix is a bit different from the album version, particularly at the end of the song, which originally ended with a tympani roll by drummer Ed Cassidy that led into the next track on the album. The single version omits that drum roll entirely.
Artist: Tyrannosaurus Rex
Title: The Sea Beasts
Source: CD: Unicorn
Writer(s): Marc Bolan
Label: A&M (original label: Blue Thumb)
Nearly everyone is familiar with a song called Get It On (aka Bang A Gong), a huge hit in the early 70s by a group known as T-Rex. Not all that many people, however, are aware that the band was originally called Tyrannosaurus Rex, and consisted of only two members, Marc Bolan and Steve Peregrin Took. Tyrannosaurus Rex, in its original incarnation, was best described as a psychedelic folk duo with a stong emphasis on fantasy themes on songs like The Sea Beasts, which appeared on the group's third LP, Unicorn. Took split with Bolan following the release of Unicorn after Bolan refused to use any of Took's compositions on the next Tyrannosaurus Rex album, A Beard Of Stars. Bolan replaced Took with Mickey Finn, who would remain a member after T-Rex expanded to become an electric rock band.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Blue Avenue
Source: LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s): Wayne Ulaky
One of Boston's most popular bands, the Beacon Street Union, had already migrated to New York City by the time their first album, The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union (produced by the legendary Tom Wilson), made its debut in February of 1968. The band itself was made up of Boston University dropouts John Lincoln Wright (lead vocals), Paul Tartachny (guitar, vocals), Robert Rhodes (keyboards, brass), Richard Weisberg (drums), and Wayne Ulaky (bass). Ulaky wrote what was probably the band's best-known song, Blue Avenue. The tune was particular popular in the UK, where it was often heard on John Peel's Top Gear program. The Beacon Street Union, however, fell victim to hype; in this case the ill-advised attempt on the part of M-G-M records to market several disparate bands as being part of the "boss-town sound". After a second LP, The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens (produced by future Partridge Family impressario Wes Farrell) failed to equal the somewhat limited success of their debut LP, the Beacon Street Union decided to call it quits.
Artist: Fantastic Zoo
Title: Light Show
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: Double Shot
The Fantastic Zoo had its origins in Denver, Colorado, with a band called the Fogcutters. When the group disbanded in 1966, main members Don Cameron and Erik Karl relocated to Los Angeles and reformed the group with new members. After signing a deal with local label Double Shot (which had a major hit on the charts at the time with Count Five's Psychotic Reaction), the group rechristened itself Fantastic Zoo, releasing their first single that fall. Early in 1967 the band released their second and final single, Light Show. The song did not get much airplay at the time, but has since become somewhat of a cult favorite.
Title: Dirty Water
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ed Cobb
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
Dirty Water has long since been adopted by the city of Boston (and especially its sports teams), yet the band that originally recorded this Ed Cobb tune was purely an L.A. band, having started off playing cover tunes for frat parties in the early 60s. Lead vocalist/drummer Dickie Dodd, incidently, was a former Mouseketeer who had played on the surf-rock hit Mr. Moto as a member of the Bel-Airs.
This week's show is pure free-form, careening from art-rock to folk-rock to blues-rock and beyond. It starts with a Randy Newman classic and ends with an instrumental piece that can only be described as jazz-rock-soul from a group you've probably never heard of called Earth Disciples. Read on...
Artist: Randy Newman
Title: Mama Told Me (Not To Come)
Source: LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: 12 Songs)
Writer(s): Randy Newman
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Although it is best known as a Three Dog Night song, Randy Newman's Mama Told Me (Not To Come) was actually written for Eric Burdon, whose version appeared on the album Eric Is Here in early 1967. Newman's own version of the tune, written from the perspective of a strait-laced young man experiencing his first Los Angeles style party, was included on his 1970 LP 12 Songs, which came out at around the same time as Three Dog Night's cover of the tune. Newman's version features slide guitar work from Ry Cooder, supplementing Newman's own piano playing.
Title: Back In NYC/Hairless Heart/Counting Out Time
Source: CD: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
Label: Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Atco)
The 1974 album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway marked the beginning of the many changes Genesis would undergo as the band evolved from an art-rock band with a loyal cult following to one of the most popular mainstream bands of the 1980s. It was the band's first double-LP studio album and the first to appear on the Atco label in the US, becoming the band's highest charting album up to that point in time, both in the US and Britain. There were two singles released from the album, the second of which was actually the final part of a three song sequence that begins with one of the group's hardest rocking pieces to date, Back In NYC, proceeds to a quiet instrumental featuring acoustic guitar from Steve Hackett intertwined with Tony Banks's keyboards and concludes with Counting Out Time, the aforementioned single. Not long after the release of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, lead vocalist Peter Gabriel announced his departure from the group, a move that eventually resulted in drummer Phil Collins becoming the band's front man. The rest is history.
Artist: Stealer's Wheel
Title: Next To Me
Source: Mono 45 RPM single B side
Stealer's Wheel was a Scottish folk-rock band co-led by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan. They had one huge hit with Stuck In The Middle With You, from their 1972 debut LP. Also from that LP was a song called Next To Me, which was also released as a B side in 1973. Although Egan was the more prolific songwriter of the group, it was Rafferty that went on the greater fame as a solo artist with his late-70s hit Baker Street.
Artist: Savoy Brown
Title: Money Can't Save Your Soul
Source: CD: Looking In
Writer(s): Simmonds/ Peverett
Label: Deram (original label: Parrott)
Looking In was the sixth album by British blues-rockers Savoy Brown, and the first without original lead vocalist Chris Youlden. It was also the final outing for guitarist Dave Peverett, bassist Tone Stevens and drummer Roger Earl, who would go on to form Foghat after being dismissed by bandleader Kim Simmonds. The album was made up entirely of original compositions such as the low-key Money Can't Save Your Soul, which was written by Simmonds and Peverett, who had taken over lead vocals upon Youlden's departure. Both Foghat and a new Savoy Brown lineup would continue to have success, especially in the US, where both bands toured extensively throughout the 1970s.
Artist: Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Title: Still...You Turn Me On
Source: CD: Brain Salad Surgery
Writer(s): Greg Lake
Label: Rhino (original label: Manticore)
By 1973, Emerson, Lake & Palmer had established somewhat of a pattern with the albums. Most of each LP was dominated by the bombastic stylings of Keith Emerson's keyboards, supplemented by Greg Lake's bass and vocals (and occasional guitar) and Carl Palmer's percussion work. There was almost always one ballad on the LP, however, that was penned by Lake, and often became the only single released from the album. On the album Brain Salad Surgery that ballad was Still...You Turn Me On. By this time, however, ELP was not even bothering to release singles from their albums, although Still...You Turn Me On did show up as a promo B side in 1974 that was never released commercially.
Artist: Roy Buchanan
Title: Wayfaring Pilgrim
Source: CD: The Best Of Roy Buchanan (originally released on LP: In The Beginning)
When it comes to pure technique, very few guitarists can claim to be in the same class as Roy Buchanan. Born in Ozark, Arkansas, in 1939, Buchanan made his recording debut as a sideman for Dale Hawkins in 1958, releasing his first single as a solo artist in 1961. Throughout his career he was known for being a master of the Fender Telecaster guitar, and was considered a major influence by many younger guitarists over the years, including Robbie Robertson (whom he tutored when they were both members of Ronnie Hawkins's Hawks) Jeff Beck and Jerry Garcia. Buchanan's greatest commercial success, however, came in the 1970s after signing the the Polydor label, which was looking for talent to fill out the roster of its newly-formed US division. Buchanan recorded five albums for Polydor, including In The Beginning, which was released in the UK as Rescue Me. Buchanan's arrangement of Wayfaring Pilgrim from that album also features the talented Neil Larsen on piano.
Title: God's Children
Source: British import 7" 33 1/3 RPM EP: From the soundtrack of the film "Percy"
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Sanctuary (original label: Pye)
The final Kinks album released on the Pye label in the UK was the soundtrack album for a film called Percy. In addition to the LP, Pye issued a four-song EP from the album as well, promoted as a "maxi-single", perhaps the first ever use of the term. The opening track from both the album and the EP was God's Children; the song was also released as a single in the UK but did not chart. None of these records, by the way, were ever given a North American release, resulting in the Percy soundtrack being the best selling Kinks import album in the US for several years.
Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Source: CD: déjà vu
Writer(s): Neil Young
Many of the songs on the second Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album, Deja Vu, sound as if they could have been on solo albums by the various band members, particularly Neil Young, whose style really didn't mesh well with the others. A prime example of this is Helpless. Despite this (or maybe because of it) Helpless got more radio airplay than most of the other songs on the album.
Artist: Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title: Cowgirl In The Sand
Source: LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer: Neil Young
It has been said that adverse conditions are conducive to good art. Certainly that truism applies to Neil Young's Cowgirl In The Sand, written while Young was running a 102 degree fever. Almost makes you wish you could be that sick sometime.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Sugar The Road
Source: CD: Cricklewood Green
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Label: Chrysalis (original label: Deram)
Ten Years After's fourth LP, Cricklewood Green, was the band's first release following their appearance at Woodstock, and by all accounts they made the best of the situation with what is generally considered to be their best studio album. In addition to progressive FM radio favorites Love Like A Man and 50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain, the album contains several tunes that show the group's diversity, such as Sugar The Road, which opens side one of the LP.
Artist: Earth Disciples
Title: Life Cycle
Source: LP: Getaway Train
Label: Solid State
There is no question that 1970 was a year of experimentation in music. The surface implication of such a statement might lead you to think of bands like Tangerine Dream, who were trying out all kinds of new electronic effects, or Renaissance, who were taking a classical approach to rock. But there were other types of experiments going on as well. New radio formats were developing. Artists were looking at new hybrid genres to explore, such as jazz-rock and soul-funk. One band that went that route was Earth Disciples from the Chicago area. Co-led by guitarist Jimmy Holloway (who also did some keyboard work), Earth Disciples were fond of jazz experimentation, yet included elements of rock and soul that sometimes actually overpowered the band's jazz elements on instrumental tracks like Life Cycle. As to what happened to the band, your guess is as good as mine.
Sunday, September 29, 2019
This week we have an early Byrds set, an "odd" progression through the years and an Advanced Psych set that spans over 30 years; and that's not even the half of it! Read on...
Title: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
Source: CD: Turn! Turn! Turn! (bonus track)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
In late June of 1965 the Byrds began work on their second album's worth of material. Having already had success with covers of Bob Dylan songs, they naturally decided to record a couple more in the hopes of getting a third single out that summer. Those two songs were The Times They Are A-Changin' (which would get re-recorded a couple months later) and It's All Over Now, Baby Blue, which remained unreleased for many years. Baby Blue, which features Roger McGuinn on lead vocals, is now available as a bonus track on the Turn! Turn! Turn! remastered CD.
Title: Eight Miles High
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released on LP: Fifth Dimension)
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Columbia)
By all rights, the Byrds' Eight Miles High should have been a huge hit. Unfortunately, the highly influential Gavin Report labelled the tune as a drug song and recommended that stations avoid playing it, despite band's insistence that it was about a transatlantic plane trip. The band's version actually makes sense, as Gene Clark had just quit the group due to his fear of flying (he is listed as a co-writer of the song), and the subject was probably a hot topic of discussion among the remaining members.
Title: Wait And See
Source: CD: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Considering how prolific a songwriter David Crosby has been over the past five decades, it might be had to believe that he did not have a single writing credit on the Byrds' debut LP, Mr. Tambourine Man. In fact, Crosby's first official writing credit was on a song he co-wrote with Roger McGuinn called Wait And See, which was buried toward the end of side two of the second Byrds album, Turn! Turn! Turn! It was not as if Crosby wasn't writing songs at that point; he had brought two of his own tunes (Stranger In A Strange Land and the Flower Bomb Song) to the recording sessions, only to have them rejected by McGuinn and the band's manager, Jim Dickson, as well as by producer Terry Melcher. This was the beginning of tensions between Crosby and McGuinn that eventually led to Crosby's being fired from the band in 1967.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Source: LP: Back Door Men
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Label: Sundazed (original label: Dunwich)
The Shadows Of Knight are generally acknowledged as one of the best proto-punk bands to emerge in the mid-1960s. Being from the Chicago area, the Shadows also had a stronger connection to the blues than other bands of their type, resulting in them recording songs like Willie Dixon's Spoonful at almost exactly the same time as Cream was. More importantly, Cream's version was left off the US edition of the album Fresh Cream, making the Shadows' recording the first rock version of Spoonful released in the States.
Title: Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)
Source: CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: The Doors)
1967 was a breakthrough year for Elektra Records, which had only signed its first full-fledged rock band (Love) the previous year. Between Love's second and third albums and the first two Doors LPs, Elektra had by the end of the year established itself as a player. Although never released as a single, Alabama Song (one of two cover songs on the LP) managed to make it onto the Best of the Doors album and has been a classic rock staple for years.
Artist: Fraternity Of Man
Title: Field Day
Source: LP: Fraternity Of Man
Writer(s): Fraternity Of Man
There have always been artists that used music as a way to express socio-political views. With some bands, it seemed that expressing such views was the entire reason for the group's existence. On the East Coast, for instance, there were the Fugs, and later, David Peel And The Lower East Side. In California, the role was filled by Fraternity Of Man, a group best known for the song Don't Bogart Me, which was featured in the film Easy Rider. Unlike their New York counterparts, the Fraternity Of Man members were accomplished musicians in their own right. Elliot Ingber, for instance, had been a member of Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention and would later join Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band, while Warren Klein and Richard Hayward had both worked with Lowell George as members of the Factory (and Hayward would go on to be a founding member of Little Feat). Still, their radical side was more than evident on their 1968 debut album, especially on tracks like Field Day, which takes a snarky view of the tactics used by LAPD against protest demonstrators in the late 1960s.
Artist: Joan Baez
Title: Rock Salt And Nails
Source: 45 RPM promo single B side (originally released on LP: David's Album)
Writer(s): Bruce Phillips
One of the defining characteristics of the late 1960s was the resistance, especially among young people to US involvement in the Vietnamese Civil War. Much of this resistance was because the so-called Baby Boomers were at an age where they were eligible to be drafted into military service and many of them did not relish the idea of dying in a jungle halfway around the world for someone else's political beliefs. Of course much of this resistance was to the draft itself, and it was not limited just to young men of draftable age. Among the most prominent figures in the draft resistance movement was folk singer Joan Baez, who made the issue a focal point of her performance at the Woodstock Performing Arts Festival in the summer of 1969. Earlier that year she had released an LP called David's Album as a gift to her husband, who was about to go to prison for resisting the draft. Among the songs on that album was Rock Salt And Nails, written by Bruce "Utah" Phillips, himself a labor organizer, folk singer, storyteller, poet and self-described anarchist who was sometimes known as the "Golden Voice of the Great Southwest". A promo single pairing Rock Salt And Nails with the album's opening track, If I Knew, was pressed by Baez's label, Vanguard, but it is not known whether the record was ever released commercially.
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Going To Mexico
Source: CD: Number 5
Although Boz Scaggs had left the Steve Miller Band following their second album, Sailor, the song Going To Mexico, co-written by Miller and Scaggs, did not appear on an album until Number 5 was released in 1970. Miller himself referred to the song as a 1969 track on his Anthology album, however, leading me to believe the song may have been among the last tracks recorded while Scaggs was still with the band. The recording also features future star Lee Michaels on organ.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Hitch Hike
Source: Mono made in England for US distribution LP: Out of Our Heads
The Rolling Stones' early albums consisted of about a 50/50 mix of cover tunes and original tunes from the band members, primarily Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Marvin Gaye's Hitch Hike was one of the cover songs on the album Out of Our Heads, the same album that featured the #1 hit of 1965, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Lime Street Blues
Source: 45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Label: A&M (original label: Deram)
Anyone expecting more of the same when flipping over their new copy of A Whiter Shade Of Pale in 1967 got a big surprise when they heard Lime Street Blues. The song, reminiscent of an early Ray Charles track, was strong enough to be included on their first greatest hits collection, no mean feat for a B side.
Artist: Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title: Cowgirl In The Sand
Source: CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer: Neil Young
It has been said that adverse conditions are conducive to good art. Certainly that truism applies to Neil Young's Cowgirl In The Sand, written while Young was running a 102 degree fever. Almost makes you want to get sick yourself, doesn't it?
Artist: Doctor Hook And The Medicine Show
Title: Hey, Lady Godiva
Source: LP: Doctor Hook
Writer(s): Shel Silversteen
One of the most unusual bands in rock history was a group originally known as Doctor Hook And The Medicine Show. With a sound that owed as much to the vaudeville tradition as it did to rock and roll, the group was seen as the perfect vehicle for songs written by Shel Silversteen for the film Who Is Harry Kellerman And Why Is He Saying All Those Terrible Things About Me. Following work on the film's soundtrack, the group signed with Columbia Records, where they continued to record Silversteen's tunes. Among those tunes was the band's first hit, Sylvia's Mother, as well as Hey, Lady Godiva, a humorous take on history's most famous equestrian nudist. Both songs appear on the band's first album, entitled Doctor Hook. As time went on, the group turned to more serious pop songs like When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman, shortening their name to Doctor Hook in the process.
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Electric Funeral
Source: CD: Paranoid
Label: Warner Brothers
When Black Sabbath first appeared on vinyl they were perceived as the next step in the evolution of rock, building on the acid rock of the late sixties and laying the groundwork for what would become heavy metal. Electric Funeral, from the band's second album, Paranoid, shows that evolution in progress.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: The Boxer
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bridge Over Troubled Water)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
The only Simon And Garfunkel record released in 1969, The Boxer was one of the duo's most successful singles, making the top 10 in nine countries, including the US, where it made it to the #7 spot. The track, which runs more than five minutes, was later included on the 1970 LP Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Title: A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
Source: Australian import 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Neil Diamond
The members of the Monkees were already royally pissed off at Don Kirschner in early 1967 for releasing the album More Of The Monkees without the knowledge or input of the band itself (other than vocal tracks that had been recorded the previous year for use on The Monkees TV show). Things only got worse two months later when, after flying Davy Jones out to New York to record vocal tracks for a pair of new tunes with producer Jeff Barry, Kirschner released promo copies of the recordings to select radio stations as the third Monkees single, along with a promo package referring to Jones as "my favorite Monkee". This time, however, it was not only the band that was kept in the dark; apparently nobody associated with the Monkees knew anything about the release, which was intended to strengthen Kirschner's position as the Monkees' musical director. As a result Kirschner found himself fired for taking the unauthorized action, the single was cancelled, and the band members were given control over their own musical destiny. The Monkees immediately went to work on what would become their third consecutive #1 LP, Headquarters, but agreed to release one of the new songs, a Neil Diamond number called A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, with a different B side as their next single.
Artist: Dukes Of Stratosphear
Title: 25 O'Clock
Source: CD: Chips From The Chocolate Factory (originally released on EP: 25 O'Clock)
Writer(s): Andy Partridge
Label: Caroline (original label: Virgin)
In 1985, XTC decided to take a break and record an EP, 25 O'Clock, anonymously as the Dukes of Stratosphear. They circulated rumours that this was some previously undiscovered psych band from the late 1960s. Of course, everyone should have suspected that something was not quite as it seemed with the Dukes, as the EP (or "mini-album") was released on April Fool's Day of 1985. Still, the authentic recreation of mid to late 60s production techniques, as well as its Disraeli Gears-inspired album cover, were enough to keep people guessing, at least for a while. Ironically, 25 O'Clock actually outsold the then-current XTC album.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I'll Give You Feedback
Source: CD: Feedback
The 2006 album Feedback is probably the most adventurous of the new Electric Prunes albums released in the 21st century. Three of the original members, James Lowe (vocals, harmonica), Mark Tulin (bass, keyboards, guitar, vocals) and Ken Williams (lead guitar) were joined by a variety of drummers, including Dan Gerass, who plays on the track I'll Give You Feedback. The song itself manages to infuse the band's classic 1966-68 sound with a modern sensibility that works incredibly well.
Artist: Claypool/Lennon Delirium
Title: Breath Of A Salesman
Source: LP: Monolith Of Phobos
Fans of alternative rock are no doubt familiar with a band called Primus, led by bassist Les Claypool. One of the more colorful characters on the modern music scene, Claypool was once rejected by Metallica as being "too good" for them. Claypool himself has said that he thought James Hetfield was just being nice when he told him that, but the fact is that Claypool is indeed one of the most talented bass players (if not the best) in rock history. Sean Lennon is, of course, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Unlike his half-borther Julian, Sean has never had to prove anything to anyone, and, thanks in large part to his mother's influence (and let's be honest here, money), has always felt free to pursue his own artistic path without having to bow to commercial pressures. The two of them met when their respective bands were on tour and they immediately recognized that they had a musical connection. That connection manifested itself in the album Monolith Of Phobos (a title inspired by Arthur Clarke's works), released in 2016. This week we check out Breath Of A Salesman, a song about people you really have no desire to hang out with showing up at your door anyway.
Title: The Years/Everything's Alright/The Children
Source: British import CD: Resurrection
Writer(s): Tom Hartman
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2003
It's probably safe to say that at least some of the members of the St. Louis band, the Aerovons, loved the Beatles. After all, when pianist/guitarist Tom Hartman, guitarist Bob "Ferd" Frank, drummer Mike Lombardo and bassist Bill Lombardo received an offer from Capitol Records to record for the label in 1967, their response was to inform the label they wanted to do it at London's EMI Studios on Abbey Road. After a pair of trips to the UK in 1968, they got their wish (although Frank left the group prior to recording) and, utilizing the same production facilities and personnel as their idols, the Aerovons set about recording over an album's worth of material. As was the common practice at the time in the UK, the Aerovons released a non-album single ahead of the album in July of 1969. But before the album itself could be released, personal problems involving the family of one of the band members resulted in the dissolution of the Aerovons and only two of the songs on the projected LP ended up being released, as a single in September of 1969. The rest of the album, including the three-song sequence of The Years, Everything's Alright and The Children that was to finish out the LP's second side, remained unreleased until 2003, when the British RPM label released all of the band's material (including the non-album single) on CD under the title Resurrection.
Title: Revolution 1
Source: CD: The Beatles
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Apple)
The Beatles' Revolution has a somewhat convoluted history. The song, as originally recorded, was over eight minutes long and included what eventually became Revolution 1 and part of Revolution 9. The song's writer, John Lennon, at some point decided to separate the sections into two distinct tracks, both of which ended up on the Beatles self-titled double LP (aka the White Album). Lennon wanted to release Revolution 1 as a single, but was voted down by both George Harrison and Paul McCartney on the grounds that the song's tempo was too slow. Lennon then came up with a faster version of the song, which ended up being released a few weeks before the album came out as the B side to the band's 1968 single Hey Jude. As a result, many of the band's fans erroneously assumed that Revolution 1 was the newer version of the song.
Artist: Fifty Foot Hose
Source: LP: Cauldron
Writer(s): David Blossom
Although Fifty Foot Hose was not a commercial success in 1968, they are now highly regarded as pioneers of electronic music. The group's core members were the husband and wife team of David and Nancy Blossom (on guitar and vocals respectively) and Cork Marcheschi, who provided various electronic effects. Marcheschi actually created the devices he used with the group, being as much an inventor/engineer as a musician (perhaps even more). David Blossom, on the other hand, was the band's primary songwriter, creating pieces such as Fantasy, which at over ten minutes was the longest track on the group's only album, Cauldron.
Title: Fresh Garbage
Source: CD: Spirit
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
Much of the material on the first Spirit album was composed by vocalist Jay Ferguson while the band was living in a big house in California's Topanga Canyon outside of Los Angeles. During their stay there was a garbage strike, which became the inspiration for the album's opening track, Fresh Garbage. The song starts off as a fairly hard rocker and suddenly breaks into a section that is pure jazz, showcasing the group's instrumental talents, before returning to the main theme to finish out the track.The group used a similar formula on about half the tracks on the LP, giving the album and the band a distinctive sound right out of the box.
Title: I'm So Glad (live version)
Source: CD: Goodbye Cream
Writer(s): Skip James
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Just before the third Cream album, Wheels Of Fire, was released, word got out that Cream would be disbanding following a 1968 tour to promote the album. Before embarking on that tour, however, the band made three studio recordings, each written by a different member of the band. The following year it was decided to put those three songs on a final Cream LP, but there was the obvious problem that three songs are hardly an album's worth of material. The solution was to follow the pattern set by Wheels Of Fire by making the album half studio and half live. The thing is, three songs not only do not make an entire album (unless they are Grateful Dead length songs), they don't even make one full side of an album. Thus, the album ended up being made up primarily of live versions of songs from their earlier albums. The opening track of Goodbye Cream was their longtime opening number, a cover of Skip James' blues classic I'm So Glad, which has, over the years, become thoroughly identified as a Cream song, despite its origins.