Monday, March 11, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1911 (starts 3/11/19)
This is another week of ups and downs and we progress and regress through the years at an alarming rate. We also have artists' sets from Cream, The Beatles and The Jimi Hendrix Experience in the mix, with an odd little progression to finish things out.
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: Steppin' Out
Source: Mono LP: All-Time Greatest Hits
1965 was the year that Paul Revere and the Raiders hit the big time. The Portland, Oregon band had already been performing together for several years, and had been the first rock band to record Louie Louie in the spring of 1963, getting airplay on the West Coast and Hawaii but losing out nationally to another Portland band, the Kingsmen, whose version was recorded the same month as the Raiders'. While playing in Hawaii the band came to the attention of Dick Clark, who was looking for a band to appear on his new afternoon TV program, Where The Action Is. Clark introduced the band to Terry Melcher, a successful producer at Columbia Records, which led to the Raiders being the first true rock band signed by the label. Appearing on Action turned out to be a major turning point for the band, who soon became the show's defacto hosts as well as house band. The Raiders' first national hit in their new role was Steppin' Out, a song written by Revere and vocalist Mark Lindsay about a guy returning from military service (as Revere himself had done in the early 60s, reforming the band upon his return) and finding out his girl had been unfaithful. Working with Melcher, the Raiders enjoyed a run of hits from 1965-67 unequalled by any other Amercian rock band of the time.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: A Hazy Shade Of Winter
Source: LP: Bookends
Writer: Paul Simon
Originally released as a single in 1966, A Hazy Shade Of Winter was one of several songs intended for the film The Graduate. The only one of these actually used in the film was Mrs. Robinson. The remaining songs eventually made up side two of the 1968 album Bookends, although several of them were also released as singles throughout 1967. A Hazy Shade Of Winter, being the first of these singles (and the only one released in 1966), was also the highest charting, peaking at # 13 just as the weather was turning cold.
Artist: Moby Grape
Source: LP: Moby Grape
Moby Grape was formed out of the ashes of a band called the Frantics, which featured the songwriting team of guitarist Jerry Miller and drummer Don Stevenson. The two continued to write songs together in the new band. One of those was 8:05, one of five songs on the first Moby Grape album to be released simultaneously as singles.
Artist: Flamin' Groovies
Title: I'm Drowning
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Sneakers)
Writer(s): Roy Loney
Label: Rhino (original label: Snazz)
An anomaly among San Francisco bands, the Flamin' Groovies were in a sense a throwback to the early days of the local SF music scene, with an emphasis on basic rock and roll rather than extended jamming or psychedelic experimentation. Although they eventually ended up signing a contract with a major label, it was their self-issued 10" mono LP (or maybe EP) Sneakers that captured the essence of the band. I'm Drowning was written by original lead vocalist Roy Loney, who would be gone by the time the band made their major label debut.
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Oh Well
Source: Mono LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: Then Play On)
Writer(s): Peter Green
Fleetwood Mac had already established themselves as one of Britain's top up-and-coming blues bands by the time Then Play On was released in 1969. The band had just landed a deal in the US with Reprise, and Then Play On was their American debut LP. At the same time the album was released in the UK, a new non-LP single, Oh Well, appeared as well. The song was a top pick on Radio Luxembourg, the only non-BBC English language top 40 station still operating in 1969, and Oh Well soon shot all the way to the # 2 spot on the British charts. Meanwhile the US version of Then Play On (which had originally been issued with pretty much the same song lineup as the British version) was recalled, and a new version with Oh Well added to it was issued in its place. The song itself has two distinct parts: a fast blues-rocker sung by lead guitarist Peter Green lasting about two minutes, and a slow moody instrumental that runs about seven minutes. The original UK single featured about a minute's worth of part two tacked on to the end of the A side (with a fadeout ending), while the B side had the entire part two on it. Both sides of the single were added to the US version of the LP, which resulted in the first minute of part two repeating itself on the album.
Artist: American Dream
Source: LP: The American Dream
Writer(s): Van Winkle/Jameson
OK, I have to admit that I know very little about the album and band called The American Dream, which was included as an unexpected free gift that came along with a vintage vinyl copy of an album I bought online. Here's what I do know. The American Dream was from Philadelphia. The album was produced by Todd Rundgren. In fact, it was his first time producing a group that he himself was not a member of. Finally, these guys were actually pretty good. How good? Well, take a listen to the album's final (and longest) track, Raspberries, and decide for yourself.
Title: L.A. Woman
Source: CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: L.A. Woman)
Writer(s): The Doors
Ray Manzarek became justifiably famous as the keyboard player for the Doors. Before joining up with Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger and John Densmore, however, Manzarek was already making a name for himself as an up-and-coming student filmmaker at UCLA. Although he didn't have much of a need to pursue a career in films once the Doors hit it big, he did end up producing and directing an outstanding video for the title track of the 1971 album L.A. Woman years after the band had split up. I only mention this because, really, what else can I say about a song that you've probably heard a million times or so?
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: You Shook Me/Dazed And Confused
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin
I've heard it said that Willie Dixon sued Zeppelin over the use of You Shook Me, which is puzzling to me since Dixon is clearly credited as the songwriter on the label. Still, I don't know enough about copyright laws to say for sure whether this could have happened or not. Dazed & Confused, on the other hand, is a Jimmy Page composition that was performed by the Yardbirds (with different lyrics) as early as 1966.
Artist: Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Source: LP: Super Session
Al Kooper and Michael Bloomfield first met when they were both members of Bob Dylan's band in 1965, playing on the classic Highway 61 Revisited album and famously performing at the Newport Folk Festival, where Kooper's organ was physically assaulted by angry folk purists. After a stint with seminal jam band The Blues Project, Kooper became a staff producer for Columbia Records in New York, where he came up with the idea of an album made up entirely of studio jams. He recruited Bloomfield, who had in the intervening years played with the Butterfield Blues Band and the Electric Flag, along with bassist Harvey Brooks (also from Butterfield's band) and studio drummer Eddie Hoh and came up with the surprise hit album of 1968, Super Session. Although Bloomfield bowed out of the project halfway through, he plays on all the tracks on side one of the album, including Really, which utilizes a classic blues progression.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Unwind With The Clock
Source: LP: Incense And Peppermints
After Incense And Peppermints became a huge international hit, the band was given the opportunity to record a full album, also titled Incense And Peppermints. The final track on the album, Unwind With The Clock, is a mostly instrumental piece with a jazzy feel to it that sounds like it was written specifically to be a set closer. The vocals that come in toward the end of the piece only reinforce that idea.
Artist: Janis Joplin/Kozmic Blues Band
Title: Piece Of My Heart (live)
Source: 45 RPM box set: Move Over
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2011
Janis Joplin's biggest misstep in her short career was leaving Big Brother and the Holding Company and forming the Kozmic Blues Band. The new group was even more chaotic than Big Brother, as can be heard on this 1969 live recording of Piece Of My Heart, but was never able to make a connection with its audience the way Big Brother did.
Title: Passing The Time
Source: CD: Wheels Of Fire
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Although Jack Bruce is generally acknowledged as the member of Cream that provided the most psychedelic material that the band recorded, drummer Ginger Baker gave him a run for his money on the studio half of their third LP, Wheels Of Fire. Perhaps the best of these was Passing The Time, which alternates between a slow, dreamlike section notable for its use of a calliope and a fast section that rocks out as hard as anything the band performed live in concert.
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Although the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and Pete Brown are best known for providing Cream with its more psychedelic songs such as White Room and Swlabr, they did occasionally come up with bluesier numbers such as Politician from the Wheels Of Fire album. The song quickly became a staple of Cream's live performances.
Title: Those Were The Days
Source: CD: Wheels Of Fire
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Drummer Ginger Baker only contributed a handful of songs to the Cream repertoire, but each was, in its own way, quite memorable. Those Are The Days, with its sudden changes of time and key, presages the progressive rock that would flourish in the mid-1970s. As was often the case with Baker-penned songs, bassist Jack Bruce provides the vocals from this Wheels Of Fire track.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Little Miss Lover
Source: LP: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/MCA (original label: Reprise)
The second of two songs to use the wah-wah effect extensively on the album Axis: Bold As Love, Little Miss Lover is an example of Jimi Hendrix's funky side, a side not often heard on the three Jimi Hendrix Experience albums.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Little Miss Strange
Source: CD: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s): Noel Redding
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
When Chas Chandler brought Jimi Hendrix to England in 1966 he introduced him to several local musicians, including drummer Mitch Mitchell and guitarist Noel Redding. Hendrix talked Redding into switching to bass, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience was born. Redding, however, still had aspirations of being a front man and wrote this tune in 1968. As it turned out, Little Miss Strange would be the second (and last) Redding tune the band would record (She's So Fine on Axis: Bold As Love being the first). After the Experience split up Redding formed Fat Mattress, but that band had little success.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: You Got Me Floatin'
Source: LP: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA/Experience Hendrix (original label: Reprise)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience took four-track recording technology to new levels with their second LP, Axis: Bold As Love on songs like You Got Me Floatin'. The track opens with backwards guitar followed by a memorable riff that continues throughout the song. The entire instrumental break also uses backward-masked guitar, making a somewhat simplistic song into a track that bears further listens.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Source: LP: Buffalo Springfield
Writer: Neil Young
About half of Neil Young's songs on the first Springfield album were sung by Richie Furay, due to somebody in a suit deciding that Young's voice was "too weird" to be featured prominently on the album. Luckily for posterity, he did get to sing on a couple of them, including this one. Burned was the first song on Young's triple-LP Decade anthology album a few years later.
Title: I Can't Reach You
Source: CD: The Who Sell Out
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
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: Grass Roots
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Feelings and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
In 1968 the Grass Roots decided to assert themselves and take artistic control of their newest album, Feelings, writing most of the material for the album themselves. Unfortunately for the band, the album, as well as its title track single, fared poorly on the charts. From that point on the Grass Roots were firmly under the control of producers/songwriters Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan, cranking out a series of best-selling hits such as I'd Wait A Million Years and Midnight Confessions (neither of which get played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, incidentally).
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Speed Kills
Source: CD: Stonedhenge
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Although they were generally considered part of the British blues scene of the late 1960s, Ten Years After traced their own roots as much to late 50s rock and roll artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard as to the traditional blues figures such as Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. As such, many of their songs had a touch of rockabilly that was absent from most of their contemporaries. A strong example of this rockabilly streak can be found in Speed Kills, the closing track of their 1969 LP Stonedhenge.
Title: There's A Place
Source: LP: Rarities (originally released in US on LP: Introducing...The Beatles and as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Capitol/EMI (original labels: VeeJay and Tollie)
After Please Please Me became a hit single in England, producer George Martin rushed the group back into the Abbey Road studios to record an entire album. Since the band hadn't really had the time to plan out an entire album it was decided to simply run through their usual set at the Cavern Club, recording most of the new album in one take. This resulted in an album that was made up of an even mix of cover songs and originals by John Lennon and Paul McCartney such as There's A Place and Misery. The album itself was called Please Please Me to take advantage of the popularity of the single. In the US, however, EMI's Capitol subsidiary chose not to release the album at all. This led to all kinds of weirdness that resulted in the album being issued (with a couple songs missing) on the VeeJay label as Introducing...The Beatles just one week before Capitol's Meet The Beatles came out in January of 1964. Legal battles ensued, eventually leading to most of the songs being released on Capitol's 1965 LP The Early Beatles. One of the songs that was not included on The Early Beatles was There's A Place, which had also been issued on VeeJay's Tollie subsidiary as the B side of Twist And Shout in 1964. That song did not get released on the Capitol label until 1980, when it, along with Misery, was included on the Rarities album.
Title: The Word
Source: CD: Rubber Soul
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
The original concept for the album Rubber Soul was to show the group stretching out into 60s Rhythm and Blues (known at the time as "soul" music) territory. The US version of the album, however, deleted several of the more soulful numbers in favor of more folk-rock sounding songs (including a pair held over from the band's previous British LP, Help). This was done by Capitol records mainly to cash in on the sudden popularity of the genre in 1965. Not all of the more R&B flavored songs were deleted, however. John Lennon's The Word appeared on both US and UK versions of Rubber Soul.
Title: I Am The Walrus
Source: LP: Rarities (composite made from UK EP and US single version)
There were actually three different versions of the Beatles' I Am The Walrus released in late 1967, all of which were made from the same basic tracks. The first was a mono single version that was issued as the B side of the Hello Goodbye single in late November. This version features a four-beat intro and has an extra bar of music immediately preceding the words "yellow matter custard" in the middle of the song. The second version was the stereo version featured on the US-only Magical Mystery Tour album. This version is basically the same as the mono version, but does not contain the extra bar in the middle. The third version appeared in early December in Europe and the UK on the stereo version of the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack EP. This version features a six beat intro, but is otherwise identical to the US stereo version. In the early 1980s engineers at Capitol Records created a fourth version of I Am The Walrus that uses the six beat intro from the UK stereo version and includes the extra bar in the middle of the song from the US single version. This fourth version was included on the Beatles' Rarities album, and has, to my knowledge, never been issued on CD.
Artist: Great! Society
Title: Heads Up
Source: CD: Born To Be Burned
Writer(s): Grace Slick
Year: Recorded 1965, released 1995
Not long after their first public performance in October of 1965, San Francisco's Great Society auditioned for and won a regular gig at a club called Mothers. The club was owned by legendary local disc jockey Tom "Big Daddy" Donahue, who was also co-owner of Autumn Records. The band cut an album's worth of demos at Autumn, none of which were released at the time (although a second trip in December did yield the band's only single, an early version of Someone To Love). Among the tracks recorded that October was a Grace Slick original called Heads Up. At less than a minute and a half in length, Head's Up was the shortest song recorded at those sessions.
Artist: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Title: I'll Search The Sky
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Ricochet)
Writer(s): David Hanna
Label: Rhino (original label: Liberty)
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band released two albums in 1967, about four to five months apart. Part of the reason for this may have been that their label, Liberty Records, was finding it difficult to get any of their releases to show up on the Billboard album charts; in fact, the first Dirt Band album was one of only two LPs on the label to accomplish that feat that year. The second LP by the group, Ricochet, was not able to duplicate the success of the first one, however, despite fine tracks like I'll Search The Sky and the band was in danger of fading off into obscurity by the end of the year. The group persisted, however, switching over to the United Artists label when it bought Liberty in the early 1970s, and eventually hit it big with their version of Jerry Jeff Walker's Mr. Bojangles. The band continued to gravitate toward country music over the next decade, eventually emerging as one of the top country acts of the 1980s.