Sunday, May 12, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1920 (starts 5/13/19)
This week the emphasis is on the odd-numbered years of the psychedelic era, with lots of tunes from 1965, 1967 and 1969. We also have a handful of tunes from the even-numbered years, including a pair on 1968 tracks that are part of a Fairport Convention artists' set. It all starts and ends in 1969...
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Chasing Shadows
Source: LP: Purple Passages (originally released on LP: Deep Purple)
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Tetragrammaton)
As a general rule, recording artists tend to do better on their home ground than anywhere else. Even the Beatles already had a pair of chart-topping British singles (Please Please Me and She Loves You) under their collective belts by the time they touched off the British Invasion of the US with I Want To Hold Your Hand in 1964. There are exceptions, however. One British band that had huge success in the US, yet was unable to buy a hit in its native England, was the original incarnation of a band called Deep Purple. The group had a major US hit right out of the box with their 1968 cover of Joe South's Hush, but the song did not chart at all in the UK. The band's US label, Tetragrammaton, promoted the band heavily and the group's debut LP, Shades Of Deep Purple, was the all-time best selling album in that label's short history. The band followed Shades up with a second LP, The Book Of Taleisyn, that included another hit cover song, this time of Neil Diamond's Kentucky Woman. Still, the British record-buying public was unimpressed, and it was estimated that the group on the average made fifteen to twenty times as much money per gig in the US than they did at home. Unfortunately for the band, Tetragrammaton was badly managed and went belly up just days after the release of the band's self-titled third album. This left the band without a US label and still unsuccessful at home. This, combined with internal conflicts about what direction the band should take musically, led to major personnel changes. Ultimately those changes, particularly the addition of lead vocalist Ian Gilliam, proved beneficial, as Deep Purple became one of the top rock bands in the world in the early 1970s. This in turn led to Warner Brothers, the band's new US label, releasing a compilation album of the group's early material called Purple Passages, which included almost the entire third album. Among the outstanding tracks from that album is Chasing Shadows, which utilizes African rhythms from drummer Ian Paice, as well as a strong performance by the band's original vocalist, Rod Evans, who would go on to become the front man for a band called Captain Beyond in the early 1970s.
Title: Abbey Road Medley #2
Source: Abbey Road
The Beatles had been experimenting with songs leading into other songs since the Sgt. Pepper's album. With Abbey Road they took it a step further, with side two of the album containing two such medleys (although some rock historians treat it as one long medley). The second one consists of three songs credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney: Golden Slumbers is vintage McCartney, while Carry That Weight has more of a Lennon feel to it. The final section,The End, probably should have been credited to the entire band, as it contains the only Ringo Starr drum solo on (a Beatle) record as well as three sets of alternating lead guitar solos (eight beats each) from Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon (in that order).
Artist: John D. Loudermilk
Title: Goin' To Hell On A Sled
Source: LP: The Open Mind Of John D. Loudermilk
Writer(s): John D. Loudermilk
Label: RCA Victor
John D. Loudermilk was one of the most respected songwriters of the 1960s, best known for Tobacco Road, a hit for the Nashville Teens in 1964. In 1969 Loudermilk recorded an album for RCA Victor entitled The Open Mind Of John D. Loudermilk. The album featured songs in a variety of styles. Goin' To Hell On A Sled is a kind of ironic country song that paved the way for later artists such as Jerry Reed and David Allen Coe.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: Slip Inside This House
Source: Mono CD: Easter Everywhere
Label: Charly (original US label: International Artists)
The 13th Floor Elevators returned from their only California tour in time to celebrate Christmas of 1966 in their native Texas. Not long after that things began to fall apart for the band. Much of this can be attributed to bad management, but at least some of the problems were internal in nature. Lead guitarist Stacy Southerland was caught with marijuana in the trunk of his car, thus causing his probation to be revoked, which in turn meant he was not allowed to leave the Lone Star state. This in turn caused the entire rhythm section to head off for San Francisco, leaving Southerland, along with Tommy Hall and Roky Erickson, to find replacement members in time to start work on the band's second album, Easter Everywhere. Despite this, the album itself came out remarkably well, and is now considered a high point of the psychedelic era. Unlike the first 13th Floor Elevators album, Easter Everywhere was designed to be a primarily spiritual work. Nowhere is this more evident than on the album's opening track, the eight-minute epic Slip Inside This House. Written primarily by Hall, Slip Inside This House was intended to "establish the syncretic concepts behind Western and Eastern religions, science and mysticism, and consolidate them into one body of work that would help redefine the divine essence". Whether he succeeded or not is a matter of opinion; the track itself is certainly worth hearing for yourself. Enjoy.
Title: You're Lost Little Girl
Source: LP: Strange Days
Writer: The Doors
The Doors second LP, Strange Days, was stylistically similar to the first, and served notice to the world that this band was going to be around for awhile. Songwriting credit for You're Lost Little Girl (a haunting number that's always been a personal favorite of mine) was given to the entire band, a practice that would continue until the release of The Soft Parade in 1969.
Title: Our Love Was, Is
Source: Canadian import CD: Magic Bus (originally released on LP: The Who Sell Out)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
The Who's late-1967 album, The Who Sell Out, is best known for its faux commercials and actual jingles lifted from the British pirate station Radio London. Hidden among the commercial hype, however, are some of the band's best tunes, including Our Love Was, a song that was one of the few LP tracks to be included on the Who's Magic Bus compilation album.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound)
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released as 45 RPM single and added to LP: Buffalo Springfield)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Most people associate the name Buffalo Springfield with the song For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound). And for good reason. The song is one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded, and to this day is in regular rotation on both oldies and classic rock radio stations. The song was written and recorded in November of 1966 and released in December. By then the first Buffalo Springfield LP was already on the racks, but until that point had not sold particularly well. When it became clear that For What It's Worth was becoming a breakout hit, Atco Records quickly recalled the album and added the song to it (as the opening track). All subsequent pressings of the LP (and later the CD) contain For What It's Worth, making earlier copies of the album somewhat of a rarity and quite collectable.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Barterers And Their Wives
Source: LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
The Left Banke made a huge impact with their debut single, Walk Away Renee, in late 1966. All of a sudden the rock press (such as it was in 1966) was all abuzz with talk of "baroque pop" and how it was the latest, greatest thing. The band soon released a follow-up single, Pretty Ballerina, which made the top 10 as well, which led to an album entitled (naturally enough) Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina. The album featured several more songs in the same vein, such as Barterers And Their Wives, which was also released as a B side later that year. An unfortunate misstep by keyboardist Michael Brown, however, led to the Left Banke's early demise, and baroque pop soon went the way of other sixties fads.
Artist: Jeff Beck
Title: Love Is Blue (L'Amout Est Bleu)
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Sundazed/Epic (original UK label: Columbia)
In early 1968 guitarist Jeff Beck, having parted company with the Yardbirds, found himself with all kinds of freedom, but few ideas about what to do with it. One of his earliest solo recordings was a cover of Paul Mauriat's L'Amour Est Bleu (Love Is Blue). Beck's arrangement of the piece, which made the British top 40, was actually quite similar to Mauriat's original, the main difference being Beck's guitar taking the part that had been played by a string section on the original. Beck soon found himself with a new band, the Jeff Beck Group, that featured a young Rod Stewart as lead vocalist. The rest is history.
Artist: Pleasure (featuring Billy Elder)
Title: Poor Old Organ Grinder
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Tandyn Almer
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
Tandyn Almer had one of the most innovative minds in late 60s L.A., both in and out of the recording studio (he was the inventor of the dual-chamber bong, for instance). Poor Old Organ Grinder was a song originally intended for Tommy Flanders, the original lead vocalist for the Blues Project. Flanders, however, was not able to hit the high notes. As Almers was about to cancel the entire project one of the recording engineers, Billy Elder, convinced Almer to let him take a shot at the song, and the result is the recording heard here.
Artist: Mother Earth
Title: Get Out Of Here
Source: LP: Satisfied
Writer(s): B. Charles
Although formed in San Francisco and originally known for its live performances in the Bay Area, Mother Earth relocated to the countryside outside of Nashville, Tennessee soon after the release of their first LP, Living With The Animals. Not all of the original band members made the move, however, and by the time the group's 1970 LP Satisfied was released, only bandleader Tracy Nelson remained from the original lineup. The album itself is made up mainly of cover songs such as Get Out Of Here. I have not been able to find any information on the credited songwriter, B. Charles, however. I suppose it could be a misprint substituting a B for an R, but it doesn't sound much like a Ray Charles song to me, either.
Title: I Put A Spell On You
Source: CD: The House On The Hill
Writer(s): Jay Hawkins
Label: Caroline Blue Plate (original label: Elektra)
Audience was formed in 1969 from the remains of a semi-professional British soul band called Lloyd Alexander Real Estate that had issued one single in 1967 for the tiny President label. The band's original lineup, consisting of Howard Werth (nylon-strung electric acoustic guitar and vocals), Keith Gemmell (alto and tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet), Trevor Williams (bass guitar and vocals) and Tony Connor (drums and vocals) released three albums before exhaustion forced Gemmell to leave the group in 1972. The first two of these were not released in the US, making The House On The Hill their American debut album. Audience did have a successful US tour in support of the 1971 LP, appearing on the same bill as Rod Stewart And Faces and the original Cactus. One of the highlights from The House On The Hill is a mostly acoustic cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins classic I Put A Spell On You. Compared to most versions of the song, which tend to be over the top, the Audience version of I Put A Spell On You is understated, yet soulful, thanks to a strong vocal performance.
Artist: Tangerine Zoo
Title: Nature's Children
Source: CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released on LP: Tangerine Zoo)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
Many of the acts signed to Bob Shad's Mainstream label are considered by rock historians to be somewhat lacking in one or another categories, such as songwriting, virtuosity or just plain commercial viability. This has resulted in the reputations of the few quality bands appearing on the label to be somewhat unfairly tarnished by association. One of those bands that really deserves a second look is the Tangerine Zoo, from Swansea, Mass., a few miles south of Boston. The band, made up of Tony Taviera (bass), Wayne Gagnon (guitar), Ron Medieros(organ), Bob Benevides (lead vocals) and Donald Smith (drums), recorded two albums for the label, both of which were released in 1968. Tangerine Zoo had actually been approached by no less than two major labels (RCA Victor and Mercury) before deciding to go with Mainstream, the only label to offer them an album contract from the start. Unfortunately internal issues caused the Zoo to close down before they could record a third LP.
Artist: Frijid Pink
Title: House Of The Rising Sun
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Trad., arr. Alan Price
Frijid Pink was a hard rocking blue collar band out of Detroit, Michigan. After releasing two singles on the Parrot label that went nowhere, they band scored big with their feedback-drenched version of House Of The Rising Sun, the song that had made the Animals famous six years earlier. The follow-up single, Sing A Song Of Freedom, barely dented the charts, however, and the group never made any inroads with the new progressive rock stations springing up on the FM dial. As a result, Frijid Pink has been known ever since as a one-hit wonder.
Title: Oh Those Eyes
Source: LP: I Can't Get A Friend 1965-1968 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Gerald Storch
Label: Light In The Attic (original label: Southern Sound)
The first Vagrants single, Oh Those Eyes, was released on the semi-professional Southern Sound label in 1965. The single came to the attention of Vince Scarza and Douglas Hickox, who were directing a teensploitation flick called Disk-o-Tek Holiday (hey I don't make these things up, really). The movie featured several bands performing a song or two apiece, and the Vagrants performance of Oh Those Eyes is considered a highlight of the film. The band then released a single on the Vanguard label before being discovered by Cream producer Felix Pappalardi, who got them a contract with Atco Records. Throughout their existence the Vagrants remained a popular club band, appearing alonside the likes of the Young Rascals and Vanilla Fudge (who "borrowed" many elements of the Vagrants' style when developing their own sound). Lead guitarist Leslie Weinstein would later shorten his last name to West and form Mountain with Pappalardi.
Artist: Mojo Men
Title: She's My Baby
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Autumn)
Although generally considered to be one of the early San Francisco bands, the Mojo Men actually originated in Rochester, NY. After spending most of the early 60s in Florida playing to fraternities, the band moved out the West Coast in 1965, soon falling in with Autumn Records producer Sylvester Stewart (Sly Stone), for a time becoming his backup band. Stewart produced several singles for the Mojo Men, including She's My Baby, a song that had originally been recorded in 1962 as a song to do the mashed potato (an early 60s dance) to by Steve Alaimo, brother of Mojo Men bassist/lead vocalist Jim Alaimo and co-host (with Paul Revere and the Raiders) of the nationally distributed dance show Where The Action Is. The Mojo Men version of She's My Baby has more of a blues/garage-rock sound than the Steve Alaimo original, prompting its inclusion on several compilation albums over the past forty years.
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: Here Are The Sonics)
Writer(s): Gerald Roslie
Label: Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
From 1965 we have a band that maintains a cult following to this day: the legendary Sonics, generally considered one of the foundation stones of the Seattle music scene. Although the majority of songs on their albums were cover tunes, virtually all of their originals, such as Strychnine from their debut LP, are now considered punk classics; indeed, the Sonics, along with their labelmates the Wailers, are often cited as the first true punk rock bands.
Artist: Grass Roots
Title: Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man)
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
In late 1965 songwriters/producers P.F. Sloan (Eve of Destruction) and Steve Barri decided to create a series of records by a band called the Grass Roots. The problem was that there was no band called the Grass Roots (at least not that they knew of), so Sloan and Barri decided to recruit an existing band and talk them into changing their name. The band they found was the Bedouins, one of the early San Francisco bands. As the rush to sign SF bands was still months away, the Bedouins were more than happy to record the songs Sloan and Barri picked out for them. The first single by the newly-named Grass Roots was a cover of Bob Dylan's Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man). The band soon got to work promoting the single to Southern California radio stations, but with both the Byrds and the Turtles already on the charts with Dylan covers it soon became obvious that the market was becoming saturated with folk-rock. After a period of months the band, who wanted more freedom to write and record their own material, had a falling out with Sloan and Barri and it wasn't long before they moved back to San Francisco, leaving drummer Joel Larson in L.A. The group, with another drummer, continued to perform as the Grass Roots until Dunhill Records ordered them to stop. Eventually Dunhill would hire a local L.A. band called the 13th Floor (not to be confused with Austin, Texas's 13th Floor Elevators) to be the final incarnation of the Grass Roots; that group would crank out a series of top 40 hits in the early 70s. Meanwhile the original lineup changed their name but never had the opportunity to make records again.
Title: Inside Looking Out
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Animalization)
Label: Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
One of the last songs recorded by the Animals before their first breakup, Inside Looking Out (a powerful song about life in prison) was covered a few years later by Grand Funk Railroad, who made it one of their concert staples. This has always been one of my all-time favorite rock songs.
Artist: Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
Title: Trust Us (take 9)
Source: British import CD: Safe As Milk (bonus track)
Writer(s): Don Van Vliet
Year: Recorded 1967, released 2009
When it comes to long strange trips, Captain Beefheart takes a back seat to no one. Don Vliet was born in Glendale, California in 1941, but soon moved to Lancaster, a bedroom community on the edge of the Mojave desert. It was there, attending Antelope Valley High School, that he met fellow blues enthusiast Frank Zappa, striking up what would be a lifelong friendship. When plans to form a band and make a film called Captain Beefheart Meets The Grunt People fell though, the two went their separate ways, with Zappa eventually forming the Mothers while Vliet (now known as Don Van Vliet) took Captain Beefheart as a stage name, hooking up with the Magic Band in the early 1960s. The group signed with A&M Records in 1965, releasing a pair of blues-oriented singles the following year. The singles failed to sell well, however, and subsequent recordings made for inclusion on a possible album were rejected by A&M outright. Undeterred, the Magic Band signed with the brand new Buddah label in early 1967, releasing their (and Buddah's) debut LP, Safe As Milk, that September. Less than two months later the Magic Band began work on a second, even more experimental, LP, to be called It Comes To You In A Plain Brown Wrapper, but the project got cut short when Buddah informed them they weren't interested in releasing any more Captain Beefheart material.
Among the nearly finished tracks from those sessions was Trust Us, a piece that would be re-recorded the following year and released on the album Strictly Personal on the Blue Thumb label. Not long after the release of Strictly Personal, Don Van Vliet would reconnect with Frank Zappa and issue the first of his classic albums, Trout Mask Replica, on Zappa's Straight label, in 1969.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: If You Feel
Source: CD: Crown Of Creation
Although Marty Balin's contributions as a songwriter to Jefferson Airplane's third album, After Bathing At Baxter's, were minimal (he co-wrote one song), he was back in full force on the band's next LP, Crown Of Creation. One of his lesser-known songs on the album is If You Feel, co-written with non-member Gary Blackman, which opened side two of the LP.
Artist: Fairport Convention
Title: Jack O' Diamonds
Source: British import CD: Fairport Convention
The recording history of the premier English folk-rock band, Fairport Convention, can be more than a little confusing. A large part of the problem was caused by A&M Records, who had the rights to release the band's material in the US, starting with the band's second LP. Rather than go with the original album title, What We Did On Our Holidays, A&M retitled the album Fairport Convention, releasing it in 1970. The problem is that the band's first album, released in the UK on Polydor in 1968, was also titled Fairport Convention. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the lineup on the 1968 Polydor LP differs from that of every other Fairport album, most notably in the absence of the band's most visible member, vocalist Sandy Denny. Fairport Convention (the band) was formed in 1967, and was consciously following in the footsteps of Jefferson Airplane, albeit from a British perspective. Like the Airplane, the original Fairport lineup had a wealth of talent, including Martin Lamble on drums and violin, Simon Nicol on guitars, Judy Dibble on autoharp, recorder and piano, Richard Thompson on guitar and mandolin, Ashley Hutchings (then known as Tyger Hutchings) on bass and Ian MacDonald (who later became known as Ian Matthews), who shared lead vocals with Dyble. Musically the band was far more rock-oriented than on later LPs, as can be heard on tracks like Jack Of Diamonds, a song that the band credited to Bob Dylan and Ben Carruthers. This can be attributed, at least in part, to a general disdain among the youth of Britain for the traditional English folk music that was taught to every schoolchild in the country (whether they wanted it or not). Later albums would find Fairport Convention doing more and more traditional folk, eventually becoming the world's most popular practicioners of the art, although they never entirely abandoned their rock roots.
Artist: Fairport Convention
Title: Tam Lin
Source: LP: Leige and Leaf
Writer(s): Trad. arr. Swarbuck
Fairport Convention was hailed as England's answer to Jefferson Airplane when they first appeared. As Tam Lin, from their 1969 album Leige And Lief shows, they soon established a sound all their own. Sandy Denny, heard here on lead vocals, is probably best known to US audiences for her backup vocals on Led Zeppelin's The Battle of Evermore from their fourth LP.
Artist: Fairport Convention
Title: One Sure Thing
Source: British import CD: Fairport Convention
The original Fairport Convention in many ways resembles the early Jefferson Airplane; the group, which featured Judy Dyble and Ian MacDonald (later known as Ian Matthews) on vocals, Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol on guitars, Ashley “Tyger” Hutchings on bass and Martin Lamble on drums, blended folk music with rock elements and included several songs in their repertoire that had originally been performed by other artists. One of these cover songs featuring Dyble on vocals is One Sure Thing, which was written by Jim Glover and Harvey Brooks and made famous by the folk duo Jim And Jean in the early 1960s. The Fairport version of One Sure Thing, like most of the band's early material, is far more psychedelic than the Jim And Jean rendition of the song.
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?