Sunday, January 20, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1904 (starts 1/21/19)
Once again, Stuck in the Psychedelic Era is featuring a brand new song from the newly released Ace Of Cups album, this time featuring some guest guitar work from Jorma Kaukonen, who has a special connection with Ace Of Cups guitarist Mary Simpson Mercy (you'll have to scroll down to see just what that connection is). We also have a Jimi Hendrix set that includes a track not played on the show before, one of only two Kenny Rogers lead vocals on the First Edition's debut LP, and one of the recordings that may have been an early inspiration for what would eventually come to be called Kraut-rock, from the 1966 album Black Monk Time. It all starts with a repeat appearance of a song that was played on last week's show: the classic California Dreamin' from The Mamas And The Papas.
Artist: Mamas And The Papas
Title: California Dreamin'
Source: LP: If You Believe Your Eyes And Ears (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): John and Michelle Phillips
California Dreamin' was written in 1963 by John and Michelle Phillips, who were living in New York City at the time. The two of them were members of a folk group called the New Journeymen that would eventually become The Mamas And The Papas. Phillips initially gave the song to his friend Barry McGuire to record, but McGuire's version failed to chart. Not long after that McGuire introduced Philips to Lou Adler, president of Dunhill Records who quickly signed The Mamas And The Papas to a recording contract. Using the same instrumental backing track (provided by various Los Angeles studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew), The Mamas And The Papas recorded new vocals for California Dreamin', releasing it as a single in late 1965. The song took a while to catch on, but eventually peaked in the top five nationally, beginning a string of hits for the quartet.
Title: Bert's Blues
Source: Mono LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
In 1966 Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan Leitch got into a contractual dispute with his record label, Pye Records UK. Up to that point his records had appeared in the US on the independent Hickory label. Now, however, he was about to make his US major label debut (on Epic), and the dispute with Pye led to his newest album, Sunshine Superman, being released only in North America. Like Bob Dylan, Donovan was beginning to expand beyond his folk roots, but in addition to the usual rock instruments (guitar, bass, drums, organ) Donovan used older acoustic instruments such as strings and harpsichord as well as experimenting with modern jazz arrangements and instrumentation. Somehow he managed to combine all of these elements in one track, Bert's Blues. Surprisingly, it worked.
Title: Penny Lane
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Here's a little known fact: the true stereo recording of the Beatles' Penny Lane was not released in the US until 1980, when the song appeared on an album called Rarities. The original 1967 single was mono only, while the version used on the US Magical Mystery Tour LP was created using Capitol's infamous Duophonic process. A true stereo mix that had previously been available only in Germany was used on Rarities, but modified to include a series of trumpet notes at the end of the song that had previously only appeared on promo copies of the single sent to radio stations in the US and Canada. The "official" stereo version of the song heard here was not released until the late 1980s, when the US version of Magical Mystery Tour, featuring true stereo mixes of all of the band's 1967 singles, was issued on CD.
Artist: Hearts And Flowers
Title: Rock And Roll Gypsies
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Of Houses, Kids And Forgotten Women)
Writer(s): Roger Tillison
Label: Cotillion (original label: Capitol)
Led by singer/songwriters Larry Murray and Dave Dawson, Hearts And Flowers is best known for launching the career of guitarist/vocalist Bernie Leadon, who joined the group for their second LP and would later go on to co-found the Eagles (he is now a producer in Nashville). That second album, Of Houses, Kids And Forgotten Women, is generally considered the most accessible of the group's three albums, and included the song Rock And Roll Gypsies, which was included on the Homer movie soundtrack album in 1970.
Title: Strange Days
Source: CD: Strange Days
Writer(s): The Doors
One of the first rock albums to not picture the band members on the front cover was the Doors' second LP, Strange Days. Instead, the cover featured several circus performers doing various tricks on a city street, with the band's logo appearing on a poster on the wall of a building. The album itself contains some of the Doors' most memorable tracks, including the title song, which also appears on their greatest hits album despite never being released as a single.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Two Heads
Source: CD: After Bathing At Baxters
Writer: Grace Slick
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
The third Jefferson Airplane album, After Bathing At Baxter's, saw the group moving in increasingly experimental directions, as Grace Slick's two contributions to the LP attest. The more accessible of the two was Two Heads, which was the first part of Schizoforest Love Suite, the fifth and final "suite" on the album.
Artist: Dream On
Title: First Edition
Source: LP: The First Edition
It may come as a surprise to some, but Kenny Rogers only sang lead vocal on two songs on the debut album by the First Edition. One of them was the hit single Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In). The other tune, Dream On, is far less known. The song was co-written by the album's producer, Mike Curb, who, at that point, was still establishing himself in the music industry. Curb would eventually become head honcho at M-G-M (becoming forever known as the guy who cut Frank Zappa from the roster) and, much later, head of his own sub-label, Curb Records, which supplied many hit singles to country stations in the 1980s.
Title: Heaven Is In Your Mind
Source: Mono CD: Mr. Fantasy
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 the first track on the album, 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 stereo one.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Can You See Me
Source: Mono LP: Are You Experienced (UK version) (original US release: LP: Smash Hits)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original US label: Reprise)
Year: 1967 (US 1969)
Before releasing the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, in the US, Reprise Records decided to make some changes to the track lineup, adding three songs that had been released as non-album singles in the UK. To make room for these, three songs were cut from the original UK version of the LP. The most popular of these three tracks was Can You See Me, a song that was included in the band's US debut set at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. Despite the audience's positive response to the song, the band apparently dropped Can You See Me from their live set shortly after Monterey. The song was originally slated to be released as the B side of The Wind Cries Mary, but instead was used as an album track.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Here He Comes (Lover Man)
Source: CD: South Saturn Delta
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/MCA
Year: Recorded 1968, released 1997
When the Jimi Experience made its US debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967, the band's set list included a revved up version of B.B. King's Rock Me Baby, played at about twice the speed of King's original. As Hendrix's songwriting output increased over the next few months, the song was dropped from the band's repertoire, but not entirely forgotten. In October of 1968, two months after the third Experience album, Electric Ladyland, was released, the band was back in the studio to record a new song based on Hendrix's arrangement of Rock Me Baby, but with entirely new lyrics. At the beginning of the recording you can hear engineer Eddie Kramer ask Hendrix what the name of the piece he was about to play was, along with Hendrix replying "Here He Comes". Not long after making this particular recording the band moved on to other things, and would not make another attempt at recording the song until early 1969, at which time Hendrix had come up with the title Lover Man.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Source: Mono LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Sometime in late 1966 Jimi Hendrix was visiting his girlfriend's mother's house in London for the first time. It was a cold rainy night and Jimi immediately noticed that there was a dog curled up in front of the fireplace. Jimi's first action was to scoot the dog out of the way so he himself could benefit from the fire's warmth, using the phrase "Move over Rover and let Jimi take over." The phrase got stuck in his head and eventually became the basis for one of his most popular songs. Although never released as a single, Fire was a highlight of the Jimi Hendrix Experience's live performances, often serving as a set opener.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Gimme Some Lovin'
Source: Mono CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1967 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: United Artists)
One of many British bands to have far more success at home than abroad, the Spencer Davis Group nonetheless scored big in the US in early 1967 with two songs co-written and sung by 17-year-old Steve Winwood, who would soon leave the band to form Traffic. The first of these, Gimme Some Lovin' would gain renewed popularity in the 80s when it was prominently featured in The Big Chill, one of the first films to use a 60s nostalgia soundtrack.
Title: Oh, How To Do Now
Source: German import CD: Black Monk Time
Label: Repertoire (original label: Polydor International)
The Monks were ahead of their time. In fact they were so far ahead of their time that only in the next century did people start to realize just how powerful the music on their first and only LP actually was. Released in West Germany in 1966, Black Monk Time somehow managed to presage both the British punk-rock movement of the late 1970s and (as is particularly noticable on Oh, How To Do Now) the hypnotic rhythmic patterns that would become the basis of kraut-rock as well. Not bad for a group of five American GIs (probably draftees) who, while stationed at Frankfurt, managed to come up with the idea of a rock band that looked and dressed like Monks (including the shaved patch on the top of each member's head) and sounded like nothing else in the world at that time. Of course, such a phenomenon can't sustain itself indefinitely, and the group disappeared in early 1967, never to be seen or heard from again.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Who's Driving Your Plane
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
By 1966 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were writing everything the Rolling Stones recorded. As their songwriting skills became more sophisticated the band began to lose touch with its R&B roots. To counteract this, Jagger and Richards would occasionally come up with tunes like Who's Driving Your Plane, a bluesy number that nonetheless is consistent with the band's cultivated image as the bad boys of rock. The song appeared as the B side of their loudest single to date, the feedback-drenched Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow.
Artist: Ugly Ducklings
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Canada as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Yorktown)
Coming from the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, the Ugly Ducklings made their first appearance in March of 1965 as the Strolling Bones, sounding a lot like their British idols, the...well, you can figure it out. By summer of that year they had changed their name and relocated to Yorkville, the epicenter of Toronto nightlife. In July of 1966 the Ducklings released their first single, Nothin', on the local Yorktown label. Thanks to an appearance at around the same time as the opening act for the Rolling Stones themselves, the Ugly Ducklings found themselves with a huge local hit record. A series of mildly successful singles and one album followed before the band underwent several personnel changes, as well as another name change (to Gnu) before finally disbanding in the early 1970s.
Artist: Notes From The Underground
Title: Where I'm At Today
Source: Mono British import CD: The Berkeley Years
Writer(s): Mike O'Connor
Label: Big Beat
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1995
Prior to signing with Vanguard in late 1967, Berkeley, California's Notes From The Underground tried to follow in the footsteps of fellow Berkeleyites Country Joe And The Fish by recording and releasing a four-song EP of their own. They ended up recording seven songs in April of 1967. Among the three unused songs was Where I'm At Today, a song that would be re-recorded for their debut LP the following year.
Artist: Ace Of Cups
Source: CD: Ace Of Cups
Writer(s): Denise Kaufman
Label: High Moon
Simplicity started off as a slow ballad when it was first performed by Ace Of Cups around 1967. At the suggestion of bassist Harvey Brooks (Butterfield Blues Band, Electric Flag, Super Session) the group tried a new arrangement of the song that kept the slow into section then went into double-time for the main part of the song itself. The 2018 recording of the song features guitar work from Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane, who had been Mary Simpson's guitar teacher before either Ace Of Cups or Jefferson Airplane even existed. The two of them play off each other during the song's instrumental break, with Simpson in the left channel and Kaukonen in the right, bringing their unique relationship full circle.
Artist: Liquid Scene
Title: Which Side Of Time Are You On
Source: CD: Revolutions
Writer(s): Becki diGregorio
My favorite new band (by a long shot), Liquid Scene was formed by a group of San Francisco Bay area musicians that shared a love of 60s psychedelic music. Led by multi-instrumentalist becki diGregorio, the band also includes guitarist Tom Ayers, bassist Endre Tarczy (who also provides some keyboard parts) and drummer Trey Sabatelli. Liquid Scene's first album, Revolutions, was released in late 2014. All nine tracks, including Which Side Of Time Are You On, are worth repeated listenings. I'm looking forward to their next effort.
Artist: Country Joe McDonald
Title: Black Fish
Source: CD: 50
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rag Baby
The first track that really jumped out at me on Country Joe McDonald's 2017 album 50 was a tune called Black Fish. As is characteristic of McDonald's work, the song is both musically interesting and lyrically savvy. Good stuff!
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: Good Thing
Source: Mono CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1967 (originally released on LP: The Spirit Of '67 and as as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
From 1965 to 1967 Paul Revere And The Raiders were on a roll, with a string of six consecutive top 20 singles, four of which made the top 5. Among these was Good Thing, a tune written by lead vocalist Mark Lindsay and producer Terry Melcher (sometimes referred to as the "fifth Raider"). The song first appeared on the Spirit Of '67 LP in 1966, and was released as a single late that year. The song ended up being the Raiders' second biggest hit, peaking at # 4 in early 1967.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Baby Please Don't Go (7" single version)
Source: Mono British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released on LP: The Amboy Dukes and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Joe Williams
Label: Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
The Amboy Dukes were a garage supergroup formed by guitarist Ted Nugent, a Chicago native who had heard that Bob Shad, head of jazz-oriented Mainstream Records, was looking for rock bands to sign to the label. Nugent relocated to Detroit in 1967, where he recruited vocalist John Drake, guitarist Steve Farmer, organist Rick Lober, bassist Bill White and drummer Dave Palmer, all of whom had been members of various local bands. The Dukes' self-titled debut LP was released in November of 1967. In addition to seven original pieces, the album included a handful of cover songs, the best of which was their rocked out version of the old Joe Williams tune Baby Please Don't Go. The song was released as a single in January of 1968, where it got a decent amount of airplay in the Detroit area, and was ultimately chosen by Lenny Kaye for inclusion on the original Nuggets compilation album. Unlike the other tracks on Nuggets, Kaye used the stereo album version of Baby Please Don't Go rather than the edited mono single version heard here.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: The Prophet
Source: British import CD: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Label: See For Miles (original US label: M-G-M)
The Beacon Street Union had already relocated to New York from their native Boston by the time their first LP, The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union, appeared in early 1968. Unfortunately, they were grouped together with other Boston bands such as Ultimate Spinach by M-G-M Records as part of a fictional "Boss-Town Sound", which ultimately hurt the band's chances far more than it helped them. The album itself is actually one of the better psychedelic albums of the time, with tracks like The Prophet, which closes out side two of the original LP, combining somewhat esoteric music and lyrics effectively.
Artist: Blind Faith
Title: Do What You Like
Source: LP: Blind Faith
Writer: Ginger Baker
Ginger Baker basically invented the rock drum solo, or at least was the first to record one in the studio, with the track Toad from the Fresh Cream album, released in 1966. A live version of the song was featured on the Wheels Of Fire album in 1968. The following year, recording technology had progressed to the point of allowing a true stereo mix of Baker's massive double bass drum setup for the track Do What You Like, a much more sophisticated composition than Toad. Featuring a vocal track as well as solos by all four band members, Do What You Like runs over 15 minutes in length.
Artist: Edwin Starr
Source: CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1970 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Gordy)
Edwin Starr's War is the highest charting antiwar song in history, as well as Starr's biggest hit, going all the way to the top of both the top 40 and R&B charts in 1970. It is also a solid example of Norman Whitfield/Barrett Strong productions, which, although part of Motown, was a semi-autonomous entity (as was Holland-Dozier-Holland productions, which had brought Motown its greatest commercial success in the 60s, cranking out hit after hit by the Supremes and other acts). In fact, when Motown first signed the Jackson 5ive, the label took steps to avoid yet another independent company-within-a-company by forming a collective called The Corporation to write and produce all the new group's records.
Title: Sparkle Eyes
Source: LP: For Ladies Only
By 1971 a series of personnel changes were taking their toll on Steppenwolf, and it was becoming obvious that bandleader John Kay was gearing up for a solo career. The band's sixth and (until a reformation in 1974) last album was the ill-conceived For Ladies Only album. The LP was ostensibly pro-feminist, yet included a centerfold of a car shaped like a giant dildo and a photograph on the back cover of band members reading such "feminist" classics as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Musically the album was one of the band's most sophisticated, yet the songs, for the most part, seem to be devoid of hooks, meandering along for four or five minutes at a time. Three of the tracks do not feature John Kay on vocals, which did not help matters, as his voice was an essential component in the band's success. There were a few bright spots, however. Sparkle Eyes, co-written by Kay and new bassist George Biondo, is one of Kay's stronger efforts.
Artist: Emitt Rhodes
Title: In Days Of Old
Source: LP: The American Dream
Writer(s): Emitt Rhodes
Emitt Rhodes had already found success on a regional basis in Los Angeles as the drummer for the Palace Guard and later as the front man for the Merry-Go-Round. When the Merry-Go-Round disbanded in 1969 they still owed A&M Records an album, which Rhodes completed with songs like In Days Of Old without input from the rest of the band. A&M, however, declined to release the album, and Rhodes borrowed money to build his own home studio, self-producing an album's worth of new material. This new material was released on the Dunhill label in 1970 and was a critical and commercial success, prompting A&M to release their own Emitt Rhodes material under the title The American Dream. A second pressing of the album in 1971 saw the addition of the last Merry-GoRound single, You're A Very Lovely Woman, to the song lineup.