Sunday, January 6, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1902 (starts 1/7/19)
This week we have only one new song, and it is literally a brand new studio track from Ace Of Cups, the legendary all-female band that never made any studio recordings during the psychedelic era, despite being an essential element of the San Francisco music scene. The song Feel Good kicks off an all-Bay Area Advanced Psych segment in our second hour. Among the 28 other tracks on the show we have a Traffic set and quite a few tunes from 1968 that got squeezed out of our 1968 special a couple of weeks ago. Enjoy!
Title: Back Door Man
Source: LP: The Doors
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
In their early days as an L.A. club band, the Doors supplemented their growing body of original material with covers of classic blues tunes (rather than covers of top 40 hits like many of their contemporaries). Perhaps best of these was Willie Dixon's Back Door Man, which had been a mid-50s R&B hit for Howlin' Wolf. The Doors themselves certainly thought so, as it was one of only two cover songs on their debut LP.
Title: Sunshine Of Your Love
Source: Mono European import LP: Disraeli Gears
Label: Lilith (original label: Atco)
Although by mid-1967 Cream had already released a handful of singles in the UK, Sunshine Of Your Love, featuring one of the most recognizable guitar rifts in the history of rock, was their first song to make a splash in the US. Although only moderately successful in edited form on AM Top-40 radio, the full-length LP version of the song received extensive airplay on the more progressive FM stations, and turned Disraeli Gears into a perennial best-seller. Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce constantly trade off lead vocal lines throughout the song. The basic compatibility of their voices is such that it is sometimes difficult to tell exactly who is singing what line. Clapton's guitar solo (which was almost entirely edited out of the single version of the song) set a standard for instrumental breaks in terms of length and style that became a hallmark for what is now known as "classic rock". Yeah, I write this stuff myself.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound, stereo LP version released on Warner Brothers)
The Music Machine was by far the most advanced of all the bands playing on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. Not only did they feature tight sets (so that audience members wouldn't get the chance to call out requests between songs), they also had their own visual look that set them apart from other bands. With all the band members dressed entirely in black (including dyed hair) and wearing one black glove, the Machine projected an image that would influence such diverse artists as the Ramones and Michael Jackson in later years. Musically, Bonniwell's songwriting showed a sophistication that was on a par with the best L.A. had to offer, demonstrated by a series of fine singles such as The Eagle Never Hunts the Fly. Unfortunately, problems on the business end prevented the Music Machine from achieving the success it deserved and Bonniwell, disheartened, dissillusioned and/or disgusted, eventually quit the music business altogether.
Title: Daily Nightly
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.)
Writer(s): Michael Nesmith
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
One of the first rock songs to feature a Moog synthesizer was the Monkees' Daily Nightly from the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD. Micky Dolenz, who had a reputation for nailing it on the first take but being unable to duplicate his success in subsequent attempts, was at the controls of the new technology for this recording of Michael Nesmith's most psychedelic song (he also sang lead on it). The Moog itself had been programmed by electronic music pioneer Paul Beaver especially for this recording.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Source: CD: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
Label: Collectables (original label: International Artists)
From the original liner notes of The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators: "Reverberation is the root of all inability to cope with environment. Doubt causes negative emotions which reverberate and hamper all constructive thought. If a person learns and organizes his knowledge in the right way---with perfect cross-reference---he need not experience doubt or hesitation." Pretty heady stuff for the year that brought us the Monkees.
Title: Bye Bye
Source: Mono British import CD: A Pot Of Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Tony McGuire
Label: Big Beat (original label: Brent)
One of the first garage bands signed to Bob Shad's Brent label was The Ban. Based in Lompoc, California, the Ban was led by guitarist/vocalist Tony McGuire, who also wrote the band's original material. The group released their first single, Bye Bye in late 1965, and for a while it looked like the Ban had a legitimate shot at fame. In early 1966, however, it all came crashing down when McGuire received his draft notice. The remainder of the band regrouped, first in Hollywood as the Now and later (after moving to San Francisco) the Tripsichord Music Box.
Title: Coloured Rain
Source: CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
Traffic, in its early days, was a band with an almost schizophrenic identity. On the one hand there was Steve Winwood, who was equally adept at guitar, keyboards and vocals and was generally seen as the band's leader, despite being its youngest member. His opposite number in the band was Dave Mason, an early example of the type of singer/songwriter that would be a major force in popular music in the mid-1970s. The remaining members of the band, drummer/vocalist Jim Capaldi and flautist/saxophonist Chris Wood, tended to fall somewhere between the two, although they more often sided with Winwood in his frequent creative disputes with Mason. One of these disputes involved the choice of the band's second single. Mason wanted to follow up the successful Paper Sun with his own composition, Hole In My Shoe, while the rest of the band preferred the group composition, Coloured Rain. Mason won that battle, but would end up leaving the band before the release on the group's first LP, Mr. Fantasy. This in turn led to the album being revised considerably for its US release, which was issued under a completely different title, Heaven Is In Your Mind, with most of Mason's contributions being excised from the album (although, oddly enough, Hole In My Shoe, which was not on the original LP, was included on the US album). One final example of the band's schizophrenic nature was in the way the group was marketed. In the US, Traffic was, from the beginning, perceived as a serious rock band along the lines of Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In their native land, however, they were, thanks in part to the top 40 success of both Paper Sun and Hole In My Shoe as well as Winwood's fame as lead vocalist for the Spencer Davis Group, dismissed as a mere pop group. Mason would rejoin and leave the group a couple more times before achieving solo success in the mid-70s with the hit We Just Disagree, while Traffic would go on to become a staple of progressive FM rock radio in the US.
Title: (Roamin' Through the Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen
Source: CD: Traffic
Label: Island (original US label: United Artists)
In its original run, Traffic only released two full albums (and a third that consisted of non-LP singles, studio outtakes and live tracks). The second of these, simply titled Traffic, featured several memorable tunes, including (Roamin' Through the Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen, a Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi collaboration.
Title: Heaven Is In Your Mind
Source: CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
For a time in the mid-1960s recording artists would actually make two mixes of each song on their albums, one in monoraul and one in stereo. Often the monoraul mix would have a brighter sound, as those mixes were usually made with AM radio's technical limitations in mind. In rare cases, the differences would be even more pronounced. Such is the case with Traffic's first LP, Mr. Fantasy. The two versions of Heaven Is In Your Mind differ not only in their mix but in the actual recording, as the mono mix features an entirely different guitar solo than the more familiar stereo mix heard here.
Artist: Al Kooper/Stephen Stills/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title: Season Of The Witch (2002 remix w/o horns)
Source: CD: Super Session
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
In 1968 Al Kooper, formerly of the Blues Project, formed a new group he called Blood, Sweat and Tears. Then, after recording one album with the new group, he promptly quit the band. He then booked studio time and called in his friend Michael Bloomfield (who had just left own his new band the Electric Flag) for a recorded jam session. Due to his chronic insomnia and inclination to use heroin to deal with said insomnia, Bloomfield was unable to record an entire album's worth of material, and Kooper called in another friend, Stephen Stills (who had recently left the Buffalo Springfield) to complete the project. The result was the Super Session album, which surprisingly (considering that it was the first album of its kind), made the top 10 album chart. One of the most popular tracks on Super Session was an extended version of Donovan's "Season of the Witch." Kooper initially felt that the basic tracks needed some sweetening, so he brought in a horn section to record additional overdubs. In 2003, Kooper revisited the original multi-track master tapes and created a new mix that restored the original performance. This is that mix.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Gypsy Eyes
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Among the many ways that Jimi Hendrix was an innovator was in his approach to studio recordings. Whereas previous artists had concentrated on their mono mixes, with the stereo versions often done almost as an afterthought, Hendrix instead saw stereo mixing as fertile ground for creative experimentation. By the time of Electric Ladyland he was doing only stereo mixes; the mono mix heard here is what is known as a "fold-down", a simple recombining of the two channels rather than a separate dedicated mix. It sounds kind of weird to me.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Beggar's Farm
Source: CD: This Was
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Parallels can be drawn between the early recordings of Jethro Tull and the American band Spirit. Both showed jazz influences that would for the most part disappear from later albums, but that helped both bands stand out from the pack on their respective debut albums. An example of this can be heard on the track Beggar's Farm, an Ian Anderson tune from the first Jethro Tull album This Was.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Source: CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Label: Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
If there was ever a band that illustrated just how bizarre the late 60s could be, it was the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. Formed at a party (hosted by the ubiquitous Kim Fowley) by the sons of a noted orchestra conductor and a borderline pedophile with lots of money to burn, the band also included a talented but troubled lead guitarist from Denver and a multi-instrumentalist who would go on to become a highly successful record producer. As would be expected with such a disparate group, several members ended up quitting during the band's run; strangely enough, they all ended up returning to the band at one time or another. Their music was just as strange as their story, as the title track of their fourth album, Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil, illustrates vividly. Musically the song is powerful, almost anthemic, creating a mood that is immediately destroyed by a spoken bit (I hesitate to use the term "poetry") by the aforementioned borderline pedophile, Bob Markley, against a backdrop of a more subdued musical bed with background vocals somewhat resembling Gregorian chant. And just what words of wisdom does Markley have to share with us? Let me give you a small sample: "a vampire bat will suck blood from our hands, a dog with rabies will bite us, rats will run up your legs, but nothing will matter." Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the whole thing is that the piece was created without benefit of drugs, as all the members of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band (except for lead guitarist Ron Morgan) were notoriously drug-free, itself the exception rather than the rule in late 60s Hollywood. Oddly enough, in spite of this (or maybe because of it), the track is actually quite fun to listen to. Besides, it only lasts two minutes and twenty seconds.
Title: Toward The Skies
Source: British import CD: Insane Times (originally released in UK on LP: Genesis)
Writer(s): Joe Konas
Label: Zonophone (original label: Columbia)
It was probably pretty pretentious for a band to call themselves the Gods, but when you consider that, at various times, the band's lineup included Greg Lake and Mick Taylor (both future rock gods), as well as two future members of Uriah Heep, the claim somehow doesn't seem quite so outrageous. By the time their first album, Genesis, came out in 1968 both Taylor and Lake had moved on, but between guitarist/keyboardist Ken Hensley, drummer Lee Kerslake (the two aforementioned Heepsters), bassist John Glascock (who would eventually serve as Jethro Tull's bassist until his untimely death in 1979) and guitarist Joe Konas, who wrote the album's opening track, Toward The Skies, the Gods had talent to spare.
Artist: Rockin' Ramrods
Title: She Lied
Source: Mono LP: Pebbles Vol. 8 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: BFD (original label: Bon Bon)
The Rockin' Ramrods were one of Boston most popular bands in the mid-1960s. They were also among the most prolific, cutting several singles for various labels over a period of years. One of their most memorable tracks was She Lied, released in 1964. Ronn Campisi, who co-wrote She Lied, went on to have a moderately successful career as a professional songwriter.
Artist: Ace Of Cups
Title: Feel Good
Source: LP: Ace Of Cups
Label: High Moon
Not every important band in late 60s San Francisco ended up being signed to a major record label. One of the most notable of these was Ace Of Cups, one of the first rock bands to have an all-female lineup. Like Quicksilver Messenger Service, whom they shared management with, Ace Of Cups had offers from labels as early as 1967, but wanted to hold out for the best deal. By 1968, however, they had decided that the touring schedule associated with a major record deal would be too disruptive of their personal lives, and one by one the original five members left the group to raise families. Now, over 50 years later, four of the members of Ace Of Cups have reunited to record their first studio album, a self-titled two disc set on the High Moon label. The opening track (and lead single) from the album is Feel Good, a song that had been in the band's repertoire as early as 1969, when the opened for Jefferson Airplane at the Seattle Civic Center. Written and sung by former Merry Prankster Denise Kaufman (known to the Pranksters as Mary Microgram), the tune also features lead guitar work from Mary Simpson, and drums by Diane Vitalich, with backup vocals by all the group members. Although Kaufman is the band's regular bassist, Feel Good features a guest appearance by the Airplane's Jack Casady, as well as organ work by Pete Sears.
Artist: Romeo Void
Title: I Mean It
Source: LP: itsacondition
Formed in 1979 at the San Francisco Art Institute by vocalist Deborah Iyall and bassist Frank Zincavage, Romeo Void also included saxophonist Benjamin Bossi, guitarist Peter Woods, and a (shades of Spinal Tap!) succession of drummers. Their first LP, Itsacondition (sometimes referred to as It's A Condition) was released in 1981. I first ran across this album while doing a contemporary alternative rock show called Rock Nouveaux on KUNM in Albuquerque in the early 1980s. Although most of the album was fast-paced and punkish in nature, it was I Mean It, the haunting closing track from side one, that stood out from just about everything else that was happening musically at the time.
Artist: Liquid Scene
Source: CD: Revolutions
Writer(s): Becki diGregorio
Letterbox comes from the San Francisco Bay area's Liquid Scene, led by multi-instrumentalist Bodhi (Becki diGregorio). What it comes down to is that their Revolutions CD is full of excellent tracks, so you can expect to hear more of this album on future editions of Advanced Psych on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era.
Title: Paperback Writer
Source: CD: Past Masters Volume Two (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Following a successful 1965 that culminated with their classic Rubber Soul album, the Beatles' first single release of 1966 was the equally classic Paperback Writer. The song was as influential as it was popular, to the point that the coda at the end of the song inspired Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to write what would become the Monkees' first number one hit: Last Train To Clarksville.
Title: I Can't Reach You
Source: LP: The Who Sell Out
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
One day during my freshman year of high school my friend Bill invited a bunch of us over to his place to listen to the new console stereo his family had bought recently. Like most console stereos, this one had a wooden top that could be lifted up to operate the turntable and radio, then closed to make it look more like a piece of furniture. When we arrived there was already music playing on the stereo, and Bill soon had us convinced that this new stereo was somehow picking up the British pirate radio station Radio London. This was pretty amazing since we were in Weisbaden, Germany, several hundred miles from England or its coastal waters that Radio London broadcast from. Even more amazing was the fact that the broadcast itself seemed to be in stereo, and Radio London was an AM station. Yet there it was, coming in more clearly than the much closer Radio Luxembourg, the powerhouse station that we listened to every evening, when they broadcast in a British top 40 format. Although a couple of us were a bit suspicious about what was going on, even we skeptics were convinced when we heard jingles, stingers, and even commercials for stuff like the Charles Atlas bodybuilding course interspersed with songs we had never heard, such as I Can't Reach You, that were every bit as good as any song being played on Radio Luxembourg. Well, as it turned out, we were indeed being hoaxed by Bill and his older brother, who had put on his brand new copy of The Who Sell Out when he saw us approaching the apartment building they lived in. I eventually picked up a copy of the album for myself, and still consider it one of the best Who albums ever made.
Artist: Box Tops
Title: Cry Like A Baby
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Priority (original label: Mala)
The Box Tops' second top 5 single, Cry Like A Baby, was the result of an all-night songwriting session. The band's producer, Dan Penn, was under pressure from the record company to come up with a follow up hit to The Letter, and asked his friend Spooner Oldham for help writing a song. The session, though long, was unproductive, and the two decided to call it a night and have breakfast at a cafe across the street. During the course of the conversation, Oldham expressed his frustration, saying "I could just cry like a baby." Penn decided then and there that Cry Like A Baby would be the title of the song and by the time the left the restaurant they had the first verse written. When Box Tops vocalist Alex Chilton showed up later that morning the two songwriters played him a demo of the new tune that they had made and the rest is history.
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: Fortunate Son
Source: CD: Chronicle (originally released on LP: Willy And The Poor Boys and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): John Fogerty
John Fogerty says it only took him 20 minutes to write what has become one of the iconic antiwar songs of the late 1960s. But Fortunate Son is not so much a condemnation of war as it is an indictment of the political elite who send the less fortunate off to die in wars without any risk to themselves. In addition to being a major hit single upon its release in late 1969 (peaking at #3 as half of a double-A sided single), Fortunate Son has made several "best of" lists over the years, including Rolling Stone magazine's all-time top 100. Additionally, in 2014 the song was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Not bad for a song that was initially neglected by many radio stations in favor of its flip side, Down On The Corner.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: Iron Butterfly Theme
Source: LP: Evolution-The Best Of Iron Butterfly (originally released on LP: Heavy)
Writer(s): Doug Ingle
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Although much of the material on the first Iron Butterfly album, Heavy, has a somewhat generic L.A. club sound to it, the final track, the Iron Butterfly Theme, sounds more in line with the style the band would become known for on their In-A-Gadda-Vida album a few months later.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Remember A Day
Source: CD: A Saucerful Of Secrets
Writer(s): Rick Wright
Label: EMI (original label: Tower)
Trivia question: Which Pink Floyd album never made the US album charts? The answer: A Saucerful Of Secrets, the band's second LP. Like the band's debut LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, A Saucerful Of Secrets was released on Capitol's tax-writeoff Tower subsidiary and received virtually no promotion from the label. By 1968 it was becoming increasingly clear that Syd Barrett was going off the deep end due to ongoing mental health issues exacerbated by heavy use of hallucinogenics and it's reasonable to assume the label expected to band to soon dissolve. After one performance where Barrett did nothing but stand and strum a single chord for the entire set the rest of the band made a decision to bring in Barrett's childhood friend David Gilmour as their new guitarist. In all likelihood this decision saved the band itself, as A Saucerful Of Secrets ended up being the only Pink Floyd album to include both Barrett and Gilmour. Meanwhile, other band members were stepping up their own contributions, Rick Wright's Remember A Day being a prime example.
Artist: Fairport Convention
Title: It's Alright Ma, It's Only Witchcraft
Source: CD: Fairport Convention
Label: Polydor (original US label: Cotillion)
Fairport Convention has long been known for being an important part of the British folk music revival that came to prominence in the early 70s. Originally, however, the band was modeled after the folk-rock bands that had risen to prominence on the US West Coast from 1965-66. Their first LP was released in June of 1968, and drew favorable reviews from the UK rock press, which saw them as Britain's answer to Jefferson Airplane. One of the LP's highlights is It's Alright, It's Only Witchcraft, which features electric guitar work by Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol that rivals that of Jorma Kaukonen. This album was not initially released in the US. Two years later, following the success of Fairport Convention's later albums with vocalist Sandy Denny on the A&M label, the band's first LP (with Judy Dyble, known as much for her habit of knitting sweaters onstage as for her vocals) was given a limited release on Atlantic's Cotillion subsidiary. This album should not be confused with the first Fairport Convention LP released in the US in 1969, which was actually a retitling of the band's second British album, What We Did On Our Holidays.
Title: Bruton Town
Source: LP: The Pentangle
Writer(s): trad., arr. Cox/Jansch/McShee/Renbourne/Thompson
Sometimes the same term can mean entirely different things, depending on where you are. For example, in the US folk music of the 1960s brings to mind images of beatniks in coffee houses or maybe a group of friends singing around a campfire. In the UK, however, the primary image associated with folk music was that of being forced to learn a bunch of songs in school that were old when your grandparents were born. As a result, there was a certain resistance to folk music in general among British youth that took a bit of doing to overcome. Scotland's Donovan Leitch managed to do it by following in the footsteps of Bob Dylan, ignoring traditional tunes in favor of writing his own more socially-conscious material. A few others performed a mix of traditional folk and modern jazz with rock overtones and were moderately successful at it. In 1968 five of these modern traditionalists got together to form a folk/jazz/rock supergroup. Somehow, despite the massive amount of talent that John Renbourne, Burt Jansch, Jacqui McShee, Terry Cox and Richard Thompson had between them, they managed to stay together for several years without letting their egos get in the way of the music. The result was a series of outstanding albums starting with their 1968 self-titled debut, which included their own arrangement of Bruton Town, a (you guessed it) traditional British folk tune.
Title: 7&7 Is
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single. Stereo version released on LP: Da Capo)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
The word "seven" does not appear anywhere in the song 7&7 Is. In fact, I have no idea where Arthur Lee got that title from. Nonetheless, the song is among the most intense tracks to ever make the top 40. 7&7 Is starts off with power chords played over a constant drum roll (possibly played by Lee himself), with cymbals crashing over equally manic semi-spoken lyrics. The song builds up to an explosive climax: an atomic bomb blast followed by a slow post-apocalyptic quasi-surf instrumental that fades out after just a few seconds.
Artist: Bobby Fuller Four
Title: Baby My Heart
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer: Sonny Curtis
Year: Recorded 1966; released 2009.
The Bobby Fuller Four perfected their blend of rock and roll and Tex-Mex in their native El Paso before migrating out to L.A. After scoring a huge hit with I Fought The Law, Fuller was found dead in his hotel room of unnatural causes. Baby My Heart, unreleased until 2009, is an indication of what might have been had Fuller lived long enough to establish himself further.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Cheryl's Going Home
Source: CD: The Blues Project Anthology (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer(s): Bob Lind
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
It's kind of odd to hear a cover of a Bob Lind B side on an album by a band known for its progressive approach to the blues, but that's exactly what Cheryl's Going Home is. They did a pretty nice job with it, too.