Sunday, September 1, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1936 (starts 9/2/19)
This week we have an Advanced Psych segment built around cool bass lines, a Young Rascals set, a whole bunch of songs from 1966 and half a dozen tunes making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut (including one I'll probably be playing again in a couple months...you'll see why).
Artist: Shadows of Knight
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Van Morrison
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
The original Them version of Van Morrison's Gloria found itself banned on the majority of US radio stations due to controversial lyrics. By changing one line (essentially substituting "around here" for "up to my room") the suburban Chicago punk-blues band Shadows of Knight turned it into a huge hit and a garage band standard.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Don't Slip Away
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
Don't Slip Away, from the first Jefferson Airplane album, released in 1966, could probably have been a hit if it had been released as a single. It wasn't, however, and the band remained mostly unknown outside of the immediate San Francisco Bay area for several months after the release of Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. This gave the group the opportunity to make a pair of key personnel changes that resulted in Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden becoming Airplane members in time to record the group's breakthrough LP, Surrealistic Pillow. On the strength of Slick's vocals in particular, the Jefferson Airplane became a national phenomena in 1967.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Catch The Wind
Source: CD: The Blues Project Anthology (originally released on LP: Live At Cafe Au Go Go and as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Folkways)
One of the more underrated talents in US rock is guitarist Steve Katz. One of the original members of the Blues Project, Katz always comes across as a team player, subsuming his own ego to the good of the band. When it was time for Andy Kuhlberg to play a flute solo onstage at Monterey, Katz was the one who obligingly shifted over to bass guitar to cover for him. Steve Katz did occasionally get the chance to shine, though. As a singer/songwriter he provided Sometimes In Winter for the album Blood, Sweat and Tears and Steve's Song for the Blues Project's Projections album. He also was the lead vocalist on the second Blues Project single, a cover of Donovan's Catch The Wind taken from the album Live At Cafe Au Go Go.
Artist: Peter And The Silhouettes
Title: Claudette Jones/The Natural Man
Source: Mono Australian import CD: Tol-Puddle Martyrs (originally released on LP: The Scene From Northern Victoria)
Label: Secret Deals (original label: Pacific)
Peter and the Silhouettes only released two songs before renaming themselves Tol-Puddle Martyrs in 1967. The two tunes, Claudette Jones and The Natural Man, were included on an anthology album released only in Australia called The Scene From Northern Victoria. Both songs are now available on a CD called simply Tol-Puddle Martyrs that collects all the band's 60s releases.
Title: Ever Since The World Began
Source: Mono CD: Roger The Engineer (aka The Yardbirds) (original US title: Over Under Sideways Down)
Label: Great American Recordings (original label: Epic)
It may come as a surprise that the Yardbirds, one of the most celebrated bands of the British Invasion, only made one studio album in their entire existence (the other studio albums released in the US were actually compilation albums of material that had been previously released on 45 RPM vinyl in the UK). That album was The Yardbirds, which was released in the US in 1966 under the title Over Under Sideways Down. The original British cover used a drawing by guitarist Chris Dreja labelled Roger The Engineer, while the US version depicted the band members in a photo pastiche. In many ways the album represented a creative peak for the band, which at that time included Jeff Beck on lead guitar. Most of the material on the album was written in the studio and credited to the entire band, including Ever Since The World Began, which was the last track on side two of the original LP. The song itself is a protest against the rampant materialism that was beginning to dominate Western culture.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mercury)
The Blues Magoos (original spelling: Bloos, not surprising for a bunch of guys from the Bronx) were either the first or second band to use the word psychedelic in an album title. Both they and the 13th Floor Elevators released their debut albums in 1966 and it is unclear which one actually came out first. What's not in dispute is the fact that Psychedelic Lollipop far outsold The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. One major reason for this was the fact that (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet was a huge national hit in early 1967, which helped album sales considerably. Despite having a unique sound and a look to match (including electric suits), the Magoos were unable to duplicate the success of Nothin' Yet on subsequent releases, partially due to Mercury's pairing of two equally marketable songs on the band's next single without indicating to stations which one they were supposed to be playing.
Artist: Harbinger Complex
Title: I Think I'm Down
Source: Mono British import CD: With Love-A Pot Of Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Brent)
Most garage/club bands never made it beyond a single or two for a relatively small independent label. Freemont, California's Harbinger Complex is a good example. The group was one of many that were signed by Bob Shad, owner of Mainstream Records and its various subsidiaries such as Time and Brent. The band had already released one single on the independent Amber label and were recording at Golden State Recorders in San Francisco when they were discovered by Shad, who signed them to Brent. The band's first single for the label was the British-influenced I Think I'm Down, which came out in 1966 and was included on Mainstream's 1967 showcase album With Love-A Pot Of Flowers.
Artist: Derek and the Dominos
Source: CD: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
After the breakup of Blind Faith after one album, Eric Clapton set about forming a new band that would be more of a group effort than a collection of stars working together. To this end he found musicians that, although quite talented, were not particularly well-known outside of the British blues community. At first the group deliberately downplayed Clapton's presence in the band in order to stay focused on making music as a collective, although even in the beginning it was clear that Clapton would be the group's lead vocalist. The new group had trouble coming up with a name, however, and (half-jokingly) told one stage MC that their name was Del and the Dynamos. The MC misheard the name and introduced the new band as Derek and the Dominos. The name stuck. Meanwhile, Clapton had recently discovered a new band out of Atlanta, Georgia, calling itself the Allman Brothers band and was so impressed by guitarist Duane Allman that he asked him to join the Dominos. Allman, however, declined Clapton's offer, choosing to stick with the band he had co-founded with brother Gregg. Duane Allman did, however, sit in with Derek and the Dominos in the studio for several tracks on their upcoming double LP. One of the tracks where Allman's distinctive slide guitar stands out is the album's title song, Layla.
Artist: Count Five
Title: The Morning After
Source: Mono LP: Psychotic Reaction
Writer(s): John Byrne
Label: Bicycle/Concord (original label: Double Shot)
Following the success of the single Psychotic Reaction, San Jose, Calfornia's Count Five headed for Los Angeles to record an entire album's worth of material. With the exception of two Who covers, all the songs on the album (also called Psychotic Reaction) were written or co-written by John Byrne, the Irish-born rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist for the band. They were also quite short. The Morning After, for instance, runs less than two minutes total.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: It's Not Fair
Source: CD: Underground
Label: Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
There has always been a kind of odd relationship between rock and country music. After all, some of Rock 'n' Roll's biggest stars, such as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, were strongly influenced by Country & Western stars like Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. By the late 1960s, however, politics had gotten involved, with rock increasingly representing the youth-oriented antiwar movement and country becoming the music of choice for white rural conservatives (for example, as a military brat I couldn't help but notice that nearly every one of my friends' fathers were country fans). There were some rock musicians, however, that actually had an affinity for country music, which began to be noticable when bands like the Byrds and Poco began playing what came to be called country-rock. On the other hand, there are several examples of rock bands taking a, let us say, tongue-in-cheek approach to country music. It's Not Fair, a James Lowe/Mark Tulin composition from the second Electric Prunes LP, Underground, tends to favor this less-serious approach, especially toward the end of the track.
Title: Anthem (Begin)
Source: LP: Begin
The Millennium's 1968 album Begin can best be described as a cooperative effort by some of L.A.'s most talented studio musicians that was a victim of its own bad timing. Conceived by Curt Boettcher (Sagittarius, the Ballroom) and Keith Olsen (Music Machine), the Millennium also included guitarist Doug Rhodes and drummer (both from the Music Machine), as well as several other Ballroom and Sagittarius veterans, including Ron Edgar, Lee Mallory, Joey Stec, Mike Fennelly and Sandy Salisbury. The album itself, perhaps the best "sunshine pop" album ever produced, was widely praised by music critics, but by July of 1968, when the LP hit the stands, sunshine pop itself was considered hopelessly outdated, replaced by a harder rocking sound favored by the counter-culture and bubblegum pop played on top 40 radio. The final track on Begin shows both a musical sophistication and a touch of humor in the lyrics, which consist of the name of the record company (and its corporate parent) that released the album.
Artist: Hawkwind Zoo
Title: Hurry On Sundown (demo version)
Source: Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution
Writer(s): Dave Brock
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2013
The first single by Hawkwind was a tune called Hurry On Sundown, which was also included on their first LP in 1970. The previous year the band had recorded a demo of the song while they were still calling themselves Hawkwind Zoo. That recording remained unreleased until 2013, when it appeared on the British compilation box set Love, Poetry And Revolution.
Source: CD: The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack (bonus track) (alternate version?)
Label: Fuel 2000 (original label: Immediate)
There are several different running times listed for the 1968 Nice single version of Leonard Bernstein's America. The original European picture sleeve, adapted from an ad in a British music paper, clearly states that the running time is seven minutes and 20 seconds, which is reflected on the actual label of the record in most countries, and was issued only in monoraul form. A handful of releases, however, including those in the US and Germany, show the record's length to be between 6:17 and 6:20. The 1972 compilation album Autumn '67-Spring '68, however, includes the six minute long stereo mix heard here. I have no idea where that version originally came from.
Artist: Fifty Foot Hose
Title: Red The Sign Post
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Cauldron)
Label: Rhino (original label: Limelight)
Although most of the more avant-garde bands of the psychedelic era were headquarted in New York, there were some exceptions, such as San Francisco's Fifty Foot Hose. The core members of the band were founder and bassist Louis "Cork" Marcheschi, guitarist David Blossom, and his wife, vocalist Nancy Blossom. The group used a lot of unusual instruments, such as theramin, Moog synthesizer and prepared guitar and piano. Probably their most commercial song was Red The Sign Post from the LP Cauldron. After that album the group called it quits, with most of the members joining the cast of Hair. In fact, Nancy Blossom played lead character Sheila in the San Francisco production of the musical.
Artist: Kim Fowley
Source: Import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released on LP: Outrageous)
Label: Zonophone UK (original label: Imperial)
Like a hip Hollywood Forrest Gump, Kim Fowley kept popping up in various capacities throughout the 60s and 70s on records like Alley Oop (co-producer), Nut Rocker (writer, arranger) and the first three Runaways albums (producer and guy who introduced the band members to each other), working with such diverse talents as Gene Vincent, Helen Reddy and Kiss. He also managed to rack up an impressive catalog as a solo artist, with over two dozen albums to his credit. The most successful of these was his 1968 LP Outrageous, which includes the song Bubblegum (also called Bubble Gum). Despite the title, the track has nothing in common with bands like the 1910 Fruitgum Company. In fact, the song is sometimes cited as one of the first glam-rock recordings.
Title: Baby, Please Don't Go (with Robin Williams intro)
Source: Mono 12" single (reissue)
Writer: Joe Williams
Belfast, Northern Ireland was home to one of the first bands that could be legitimately described as punk rock. Led by Van Morrison, the band quickly got a reputation for being rude and obnoxious, particularly to members of the English press (although it was actually a fellow Irishman who labeled them as "boorish"). Their first single was what has come to be considered the definitive rock and roll version of the 1923 Joe Williams tune Baby, Please Don't Go. Despite its UK success, the single was never issued in the US. Oddly enough, the song's B side ended up being the song most people associate with Them: the classic Gloria, which was released as Them's US debut single in 1965 but promptly found itself banned on most US radio stations due to suggestive lyrics. Them's recording of Baby, Please Don't Go gained renewed popularity in the 1980s when it was used in the film Good Morning Vietnam.
Title: Blood And Roses
Source: CD: Blown To Smithereens (originally released on LP: Especially For You)
Writer(s): Pat DiNizio
Label: Capitol (original label: Enigma)
In 1986 I was the host of a show called Rock Nouveaux on KUNM in Albuquerque, NM. Once a month we would feature an entire album side from up and coming bands such as R.E.M., Killing Joke, Skinny Puppy and other groups that would come to be labeled "alternative rock", but at that time were part of a new musical underground. Among the albums that most impressed me was an LP called Especially For You from a band from New Jersey calling themselves the Smithereens. The album, produced by Don Dixon, had a decidedly 60s retro feel to it, especially on tracks like Blood And Roses, which has appeared in several movie and TV soundtracks in the years since its initial release.
Title: Bad Dream
Source: CD: Thank You, Bonzo
Writer(s): Stephen R Webb
One of the more unusual bands on the Albuquerque, NM scene in the late 1980s was a group called the Soft Corps. With a membership that varied depending on the needs of a particular song, the group's on-stage antics included a guitar being leaned on its amp, causing massive feedback while members traded instruments and the band's leader walked off the stage to watch the show. In mid-1988 the Soft Corps officially disbanded, with three of the members, guitarist/bassist/vocalist Quincy Adams, guitarist/keyboardist Suzan Hagler and guitarist/bassist/vocalist StephenR Webb joining up with drummer John Henry Smith to form The Mumphries. Bad Dream, recorded in 1989, features Webb on lead guitar and vocals, Hagler on keyboards, Adams on bass and Smith on drums.
Source: CD: Puzzle
In the early 1990s I found myself within listening range of a Virginia Beach radio station that called itself The Coast. Unlike other radio stations in the area, each of which had a tight playlist determined by extensive audience research, The Coast was a relatively free-form station that played an eclectic mix of classic, modern and alternative rock. Among the bands that got airplay on The Coast was a new three-piece band from California called Dada. Consisting of guitarist Michael Gurley and bassist Joie Calio (who shared lead vocals) along with drummer Phil Leavitt, Dada made their recording debut with the 1992 album Puzzle. The first single released from the album, Dizz-Knee Land, got a lot of airplay on more mainstream rock stations, but it was the album's opening track, Dorina, that really grabbed my attention when I heard it on The Coast.
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.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Purple Haze
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Purple Haze has one of the most convoluted release histories of any song ever recorded. Originally issued in the UK as a single, it scored high on the British charts. When Reprise got the rights to release the first Hendrix album, Are You Experienced?, they chose to replace the first track on the album with Purple Haze, moving the original opening track, Foxy Lady, to side two of the LP. The song next appeared on the Smash Hits album, which in Europe was on the Polydor label. This was the way things stayed until the early 1990s, when MCA acquired the rights to the Hendrix catalog and re-issued Are You Experienced? with the tracks restored to the UK ordering, but preceded by the six non-album sides (including Purple Haze) that had originally been released prior to the album. Most recently, the Hendrix Family Trust has again changed labels and the US version of Are You Experienced? is once again in print, this time on Sony's Legacy label. This means that Purple Haze (heard here in its original mono mix) has now been released by all three of the world's major record companies. That's right. There are only three major record companies left in the entire world, Sony (which owns Columbia and RCA, among others), Warner Brothers (which owns Elektra, Atlantic, Reprise and others) and Universal (which started off as MCA and now, as the world's largest record company, owns far too many current and former labels to list here). Don't you just love out of control corporate consolidation?
Artist: Pink Floyd
Source: CD: Cre/ation-The Early Years 1967-1972 (originally released in UK and Europe as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Rick Wright
On Pink Floyd's earliest records, the songwriter of record was usually Syd Barrett. After Barrett's mental issues forced him out of the band the other members stepped up to fill the gap. But even before Barrett left, drummer Rick Wright's name began to show up on songwriting credits, such as on Paintbox, a 1967 B side that came out between the band's first two LPs.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: The Dangling Conversation
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
The first Simon and Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning 3AM, originally tanked on the charts, causing Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel to temporarily pursue solo careers. Simon went to England, where he wrote and recorded an album's worth of material. Meanwhile, producer Tom Wilson, fresh from producing Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone, went into the studio with the original recording of the song Sound of Silence and added electric instruments to it. The result was a surprise hit that led Paul Simon to return to the US, reuniting with Art Garfunkel and re-recording several of the tunes he had recorded as a solo artist for a new album, Sounds of Silence. The success of that album prompted Columbia to re-release Wednesday Morning, 3AM, which in turn became a bestseller. Meanwhile, Simon and Garfunkel returned to the studio to record an album of all new material. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was yet another success that spawned several hit songs, including The Dangling Conversation, a song Simon described as similar to The Sound Of Silence, but more personal. The song was originally released as a single in fall of 1966, before the album itself came out.
Artist: Classics IV
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Silver Spotlight (original label: Imperial)
Most people don't know this (it was news to me too), but the Halloween classic Spooky, by the Classics IV, was orginally an instrumental. The tune was written by saxophonist Mike Sharpe, with Harry Middlebrooks, Jr. and released by Sharpe in 1967, making it to the #57 on the Billboard charts. Late in the year, Classics IV guitarist J. R. Cobb and producer Buddy Buie came up with lyrics for the song in time to get the song recorded and released by Halloween, and the band scored their first top 40 hit with the song, featuring drummer Dennis Yost on lead vocals. The Classics IV continued to hit the top 40 charts into the early 1970s, with Yost moving out from behind the drum kit and taking over top billing, while Cobb and Buie, as a side project, formed the Atlanta Rhythm Section in 1970. Finally, in 1975, Yost officially went solo, ending the story of the Classics IV.
Artist: Things To Come
Title: Come Alive
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Russ Ward
Label: Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Long Beach, California was home to a band known as Things To Come, which featured drummer Russ Ward, who, as Russ Kunkel, would go on to become one of L.A.'s hottest studio drummers. Come Alive is a solid piece of garage rock written by Ward/Kunkel.
Artist: Young Rascals
Title: Love Is A Beautiful Thing
Source: Mono LP: Collections
One of the strongest tracks on the 1967 Young Rascals album Collections was actually released as a B side in 1966, six months before the album actually came out. Love Is A Beautiful Thing, which was paired with the non-album track You Better Run, was written by organist Felix Cavaliere and drummer Eddie Brigati (although early pressings of the single credit bassist Gene Cornish as co-writer rather than Brigati). To this day I associate Love Is A Beautiful Thing with one of the most popular local cover bands in Weisbaden, Germany when I was a freshman in high school. The band, made up entirely of sons of American servicemen, called itself the Collections, and played virtually every song on the album, as well as tunes by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and other popular R&B artists.
Artist: Young Rascals
Title: It's Wonderful
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Once Upon A Dream)
Label: Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
Psychedelic rock is generally considered to have begun on the West Coast (although Austin, Texas has a legitimate claim as well). By the time of the Summer of Love, however, psychedelic rock was a national trend. New York had always been one of the major centers of the music industry, so it's not surprising that on the East Coast 1967 was the year of the psychedelic single. One of the most popular New York bands of the time was the Young Rascals, generally considered to be the greatest blue-eyed soul band of the era, if not of all time. Still, the times being what they were, the Rascals departed from their usual style more than once in '67, first with the smash hit How Can I Be Sure, and then with their own psychedelic single, It's Wonderful, released in November.
Artist: Young Rascals
Title: Lonely Too Long
Source: Mono LP: Collections
There seems to be a bit of confusion over the official title of the Young Rascals' first single from their 1967 album Collections. The album label and cover clearly show it as Lonely Too Long, but the single itself, released the same day as the album (January 9) just as clearly shows it as I've Been Lonely Too Long. Some sources, apparently trying to come up with a compromise, list it as (I've Been) Lonely Too Long. Since I'm playing this directly from an original mono vinyl copy of Collections, I'm going with the title listed on the album itself.
Title: Out Of The Question
Source: Mono British import CD: Singles A's and B's 1965-1970 (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Big Beat (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Until 2014, one's chances of hearing, let alone posessing, a copy of the B side of the original pressing of the Seeds' Your Pushing Too Hard was, for most of us, Out Of The Question. Thanks to Britain's Big Beat label, however, the song is now available on the CD Singles A's and B's 1965-1970.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: Thru The Rhythm
Source: CD: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
Label: Collectables (original label: International Artists)
The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators was reportedly recorded while the entire band was tripping on LSD, making it the first known example of acid rock to be released on vinyl. The album was also (arguably) the first rock album to include the word psychedelic in its title. The 13th Floor Elevators were formed by vocalist Roky Erickson, guitarist Stacy Sutherland and electric juggist Tommy Hall, who also provided lyrics for the group's original compositions such as Thru The Rhythm. Hearing is believing.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
When it comes right down to it Buffalo Springfield has one of the highest ratios of songs recorded to songs played on the radio of any band in history, especially if you only count the two albums worth of material that was released while the band was still active. This is probably because Buffalo Springfield had more raw songwriting talent than just about any two other bands. Although Neil Young was just starting to hit his stride as a songwriter, bandmate Stephen Stills was already at an early peak, as songs like Bluebird clearly demonstrate.