Sunday, April 21, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1917 (starts 4/22/19)
We haven't had all that many artists' sets lately, so this week we have three of 'em. We also have sets from 1965, 1967 and 1968 (the last of which takes up the entire final segment of the show), and, to start things off, a set that starts in 1964 with the Kinks.
Title: All Day And All Of The Night
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Eric (original label: Reprise)
Following up on their worldwide hit You Really Got Me, the Kinks proved that lightning could indeed strike twice with All Day And All Of The Night. Although there have been rumors over the years that the guitar solo on the track may have been played by studio guitarist Jimmy Page, reliable sources insist that it was solely the work of Dave Davies, who reportedly slashed his speakers to achieve the desired sound.
Title: Look Through Any Window
Source: 45 RPM single
Although the Hollies were far more popular in their native England than in the US, they did have their fair share of North American hits. The first Hollies tune to crack the US top 40 was Look Through Any Window, released in December of 1965 and peaking at #33 in early 1966. The song did even better in Canada, going all the way to the #3 spot.
Artist: Opus 1
Title: Back Seat '38 Dodge
Source: Mono CD: Where the Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mustang)
Long Beach, California was home to Opus 1, who released the high-powered surf-tinged Back Seat '38 Dodge on L.A.'s Mustang label in 1966. The title refers to a controversial sculpture that suburbanites were talking about at the time.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Source: LP: Buffalo Springfield Again
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Everydays has the distinction of being both the first song recorded for the album Buffalo Springfield Again and the last one to be released as a single, albeit a B side. Such was the quality of Stephen Stills's songwriting at this point in his career that a strong song like Everydays has gone completely overlooked in the years since it was released.
Artist: George Harrison
Source: CD: Wonderwall Music
Writer(s): George Harrison
Starting in 1966 George Harrison showed an intense interest in the music of sitarist Ravi Shankar, and in Indian classical music in general, even to the point of learning to play the sitar himself. His first composition along those lines was Love You To, from the Revolver album, followed in 1967 by Within You Without You from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In 1968 Harrison took it a step further by composing and performing music for the soundtrack of a film by director Joe Massot called called Wonderwall. The film itself dealt with a wall separating two apartments occupied by individuals from extremely different backgrounds (a lonely college professor and a Vogue model), and a small gap in the wall itself creating a bridge between the two. Harrison used the film as a springboard to fuse music from Eastern (Indian classical) and Western (rock) traditions, introducing Western audiences to various Indian instruments in the process. The album, Wonderwall Music, was Harrison's first solo project as well as the first album released on the Apple label (predating the White album by several weeks). The album featured several guest musicians, including Eric Clapton, who is probably the lead guitarist on Ski-ing, the shortest track on the album. Although Wonderwall Music was not a commercial success at the time of its release, it has since come to be highly regarded as a forerunner of both electronica and world music.
Source: LP: Monster
Writer(s): Byron/St. Nicholas/Edmonton
Fag, from the album Monster is, to my knowledge, the only blues instrumental Steppenwolf ever recorded. Thanks to Associate Producer Greg Cotterill for the donation of this LP to the show from his personal collection.
Title: Snowblind Friend
Source: LP: Abc Collection (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf 7)
Writer(s): Hoyt Axton
Label: ABC (original label: Dunhill)
One of the most popular tracks from the first Steppenwolf album was a Hoyt Axton tune called The Pusher. For their next few albums the group wrote most of their own material, but included another Axton tune, Snowblind Friend, on their seventh LP. Although not released as a single, the tune did well on progressive rock radio stations, and is generally considered one of their better tunes from 1970. The band had gone through a few personnel changes by that point, and the song features new members Larry Byrom (guitar) and George Biondo (bass), both of which had been members of a band called T.I.M.E. before replacing Michael Monarch and Nick St. Nicholas in Steppenwolf.
Title: From Here To There Eventually
Source: LP: Monster
The final track of Steppenwolf's fourth LP, Monster, is a perfect example of the band's typical hard-driving beat and John Kay's distinctive vocal style. The album itself is generally considered to be Steppenwolf's most blatantly political.
Artist: Human Beinz
Title: Nobody But Me
Source: Mono CD: Battle Of The Bands-Vol. Two (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ron, Rudy and O'Kelley Isley
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
The Human Beinz were a band that had been around since 1964 doing mostly club gigs in the Youngstown, Ohio area as the Premiers. In the late 60s they decided to update their image with a name more in tune with the times and came up with the Human Beingz. Unfortunately someone at Capitol misspelled their name on the label of Nobody But Me, and after the song became a national hit the band was stuck with the new spelling. The band split up in 1969, but after Nobody But Me was featured in the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill: Vol.1, original leader Ting Markulin reformed the band with a new lineup that has appeared in the Northeastern US in recent years.
Title: I Can Hear The Grass Grow
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969
Writer(s): Roy Wood
Label: Rhino (original label: Deram)
One of the most popular British bands from 1966-1969 was the Move. Formed by members of various beat bands, the Move consisted of Carl Wayne (vocals), Trevor Burton (guitar, vocals), Roy Wood (guitar, vocals), "Ace" Kefford (bass, vocals) and Bev Bevan, the group scored hit after hit on the British charts, yet never broke the US top 40. Why this should be is a mystery, considering the sheer quality of tunes like I Can Hear The Grass Grow. Written, as were most of the Move's hits, by Roy Wood, I Can Hear The Grass Grow was the band's second single, and ended up in the #5 spot on the British charts. Eventually the Move would add Jeff Lynne to the lineup and form, as a side project, a new band called the Electric Light Orchestra, which became an internationally successful band in the 1970s.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
While not as commercially successful as the Jefferson Airplane or as long-lived as the Grateful Dead (there's an oxymoron for ya), Country Joe and the Fish may well be the most accurate musical representation of what the whole Haight-Ashbury scene was about, which is itself ironic, since the band operated out of Berkeley on the other side of the bay. Of all the tracks on their first album, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine probably got the most airplay on various underground radio stations that were popping up on the FM dial at the time (some of them even legally).
Title: Much Too Much
Source: Mono CD: The Who Sings My Generation
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
The Who's "maximum R&B" period is on full display on Much Too Much, from the band's 1965 debut LP, My Generation. Although the band later said that they felt rushed in the studio while making the album, it is now considered one of the essential albums of British rock.
Title: Excuse, Excuse
Source: Mono British import CD: Singles As & Bs (originally released on LP: The Seeds and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: GNP Crescendo/Big Beat
Although their management branded them as the original flower power band, the Seeds have a legitimate claim to being one of the first punk-rock bands as well. A prime example is Excuse, Excuse, from their 1966 debut LP, The Seeds. Whereas a more conventional song of the time might have been an angst-ridden tale of worry that perhaps the girl in question did not return the singer's feelings, Sky Saxon's lyrics (delivered with a sneer that would do Johnny Rotten proud) are instead a scathing condemnation of said girl for not being straight up honest about the whole thing.
Title: Worried Life Blues
Source: Mono LP: The Animals On Tour
Writer(s): Maceo Merriweather
With House Of The Rising Sun riding high on the US charts, the Animals made their first visit to the US in late 1964, taking every opportunity to visit local record shops in search of vintage R&B records that were virtually impossible to find in their native England. They then returned home and recorded their 1965 LP The Animals On Tour, doing cover versions of many of the records they had scored on their tour. Among those tunes was Worried Life Blues, originally recorded by Big Maceo Merriweather in 1941.
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released in UK on LP: Fresh Cream)
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Label: Cotillion (original label: Reaction)
When the album Fresh Cream was released by Atco in the US it was missing one track that was on the original UK version of the album: the band's original studio version of Willie Dixon's Spoonful. A live version of Spoonful was included on the LP Wheels of Fire, but it wasn't until the 1970 soundtrack album for the movie Homer that the studio version was finally released in the US. Unfortunately the compilers of that album left out the last 25 seconds or so from the original recording.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Love Until I Die
Source: CD: Ten Years After
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Alvin Lee takes the classic Crossroads riff and runs with it in an entirely unexpected direction on Love Until I Die, from the first Ten Years After album. The song also features Lee on harmonica, an instrument he seldom returned to after 1967.
Title: Tropical Fish: Selene
Source: European import CD: Camembert Electrique (originally released on LP in France)
Writer(s): Daevid Allen
Label: Charly/Snapper (original label: BYG Actuel)
It's almost impossible to describe Gong. They had their roots in British psychedelia, founder Daevid Allen having been a member of Soft Machine, but are also known as pioneers of space-rock. The Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, from 1973-74, is considered a landmark of the genre, telling the story of such characters as Zero the Hero and the Pot Head Pixies from Planet Gong. The groundwork for the trilogy was actually laid in 1971, when the album Camembert Electrique was recorded (and released) in France on the BYG Actuel label. The final full-length track on that album, Tropical Fish: Selene, is fairly indicative of the state of Gong at that time.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Paul Kantner
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
One of the first songs written by Paul Kantner without a collaborator was the highly listenable D.C.B.A.-25 from Surrealistic Pillow. Kantner said later that the title simply referred to the basic chord structure of the song, which is built on a two chord verse (D and C) and a two chord bridge (B and A). That actually fits, but what about the 25 part? [insert enigmatic smile here].
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Run Around
Source: Mono LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
The first Jefferson Airplane album was dominated by the songwriting of the band's founder, Marty Balin, both as a solo writer and as a collaborator with other band members. Run Around, from Balin and rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner, is fairly typical of the early Jefferson Airplane sound.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Somebody To Love
Source: Mono CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer: Darby Slick
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
Jefferson Airplane's version of Somebody To Love (a song that had been previously recorded by Grace Slick's former band, the Great! Society) put the San Francisco Bay area on the musical map in early 1967. Somebody To Love was actually the second single released from Surrealistic Pillow, the first being My Best Friend, a song written by the Airplane's original drummer, Skip Spence.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Love Will Endure
Source: CD: Anthology (originally released on LP: Live At Town Hall with ambient live audience overdubs)
Writer: Patrick Sky
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
Year: Recorded 1966; released 1967
Steve Katz had more of a folk background than the other members of the Blues Project, as evidenced by this cover of the Patrick Sky tune Love Will Endure. The song was actually recorded between the first and second Blues Project albums, but was not released until the third album, Live At Town Hall, which was a mixture of actual live recordings and studio tracks with the sounds of a live audience overdubbed onto them to make them sound like live recordings. Why anyone would want to do that is beyond me, but it probably has something to do with the fact that by the time the album was released Al Kooper was no longer a member and the label wanted the album to include as much Kooper as possible.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: No Time Like The Right Time
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Al Kooper
Label: Rhino (original label: Verve Forecast)
The Blues Project were ahead of their time. They were the first jam band. They virtually created the college circuit for touring rock bands. Unfortunately, they also existed at a time when having a hit single was the considered a necessity. The closest the Blues Project ever got to a hit single was No Time Like The Right Time, which peaked at # 97 and stayed on the charts for all of two weeks. Personally, I rate it among the top 5 best songs of the psychedelic era.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Two Trains Running
Source: CD: The Blues Project Anthology (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer: McKinley Morganfield
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Folkways)
My first two years as a student at the University of New Mexico were spent living off-campus in a large house shared by five other people (a varying number of which were also students). One day while rummaging through the basement I ran across a couple boxes full of reel-to-reel tapes. As I was the only person living there with a reel-to-reel machine and nobody seemed to know where the tapes had come from, I appropriated them for my own use. Unfortunately, many of the tapes were unlabeled, so all I could do was make a guess as to artists and titles of the music on them. One of those tapes was labelled simply "Love Sculpture". It wasn't until a fortuitous trip to a local thrift store a couple of years later that I realized that the slow version of Two Trains Running on the tape was not Love Sculpture at all, but was in fact the Blues Project, from their Projections album. This slowed down version of the Muddy Waters classic has what is considered to be one of the great accidental moments in recording history. About 2/3 of the way through Two Trains Running, Danny Kalb realized that one of the strings on his guitar had gone out of tune, and managed to retune it on the fly in such a way that it sounded like he had planned the whole thing.
Title: Time Out For Time In
Source: LP: Time Out! Time In! For Them
After Van Morrison left Them to embark on a successful solo career, the rest of the band continued to make records. The first effort was an offshoot group made up of former members of the band (who had left while Morrison was still fronting the group) calling themselves the Belfast Gypsys, who released one LP in 1967. The current band, meanwhile, had returned to their native Ireland and recruited Kenny McDowell as their new lead vocalist. They soon relocated to California, recording two LPs for Tower Records in 1968. The second of these was a collaborative effort between Them and the songwriting team of Tom Pulley and Vivian Lane. The opening track of the LP, Time Out For Time In, is a good example of the direction the band was moving in at that time.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: As The World Rises And Falls
Source: CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Label: Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's third album for Reprise, Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil, is generally considered their best, and for good reason. The album includes some of guitarist Ron Morgan's finest contributions, including the gently flowing As The World Rises And Falls. Even Bob Markley's lyrics, which could run the range from inane to somewhat disturbing, here come across as poetic and original. Unfortunately for the band, Morgan was by this time quite disenchanted with the whole thing, and would often not even show up to record. Nonetheless, the band continued on for a couple more years (and two more albums) before finally calling it quits in 1970.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Jigsaw Puzzle
Source: CD: Beggar's Banquet
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Jigsaw Puzzle, the longest track on the Beggar's Banquet album, comes across as a wry look at the inner workings of a rock and roll band like, say, the Rolling Stones. Founder Brian Jones's only contribution to the recording is some soaring mellotron work toward the end of the song. Not long after the track was recorded, Jones was fired from the band.
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Fanny Mae
Source: Czech Republic import LP: Children Of The Future
Writer(s): Buster Brown
The 1968 album Children Of The Future, by the Steve Miller Band, contains a much more eclectic mix of songs than the debut albums of other San Francisco bands of the same era. Perhaps it was because of Miller's own background, which included influences from Texas and Chicago. Or it could have been the influence of producer Glyn Johns, and the fact that the album was recorded in London rather than at a California studio. Whatever the reason, the more psychedelic first side of the LP is balanced out by songs like Fanny Mae, a #1 R&B hit for Buster Brown in 1960.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Gypsy Eyes
Source: CD: The Ultimate Experience (originally released on LP: Electric Ladyland)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Electric Ladyland, the last album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was a double LP mixture of studio recordings and live jams in the studio with an array of guest musicians. Gypsy Eyes is a good example of Hendrix's prowess at the mixing board as well as on guitar.