Sunday, September 15, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1938 (starts 9/16/19)
For this year's autumnal equinox we have 30 songs, by 30 different artists, just to keep things, um, equal. That includes our Advanced Psych segment, which pretty much stays in the garage this time around.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Me, Myself And I
Source: CD: Beyond The Garage (originally released as 45 RPM single A side and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer: Sean Bonniwell
Label: Sundazed (original label: Warner Brothers)
With the members of the original Music Machine gone their separate ways, Sean Bonniwell recruited a whole new lineup to record and perform as the Bonniwell Music Machine. The new lineup included Guile Wisdom on lead guitar, Jerry Harris on drums, Harry Garfield on organ and Eddie Jones on bass. The new lineup provided a handful of tracks for the LP Bonniwell Music Machine in early 1968 and released three singles on Warner Brothers, none of which made any headway on the charts, despite being among Bonniwell's best songs. The first of the singles was Me, Myself And I, a song that Bonniwell himself described as "punk pop" and one that presaged the "me first" attitude that would characterize the disco era in the late 70s.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Child Of The Moon (rmk)
Source: CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Child Of The Moon was originally released as the B side to the Stones' 1968 comeback single, Jumpin' Jack Flash. The song is now available as part of a box set called Singles Collection-The London Years. This track, which is in stereo, has the letters rmk (lower case) following the song title, which leads me to wonder if maybe it is a remake rather than the original recording. I do have a copy of the original 45, but its condition is such that I would rather not use it if I don't have to. As was the case with many of the Stones' 60s recordings, the band is joined by keyboardist Nicky Hopkins on this one.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: The Sky Cried/When I Was A Boy
Source: LP: Renaissance
The first Vanilla Fudge LP, released in 1967, was filled with psychedelicized versions of established hits such as Cher's Bang Bang, the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby and of course, the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On. For their second LP the group went with a concept album built around Sonny and Cher's The Beat Goes On. The group's third LP, Renaissance, finally revealed the band members' abilities as songwriters (although there were still a pair of cover songs on the album). The opening track on the album, The Sky Cried/When I Was A Boy, was written by bassist Tim Bogert and organist/vocalist Mark Stein.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Let Go Of You Girl
Source: LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
Following a practice that was all too common in 1966-1967, the producers of the Left Banke LP Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina chose to use studio musicians rather than the band itself to record the album's instrumental backing tracks. There were, however, two songs on the LP that featured the band members playing their own instruments. One of those tracks, Lazy Day, was also issued as the B side of the group's second single, Pretty Ballerina. The other was Let Go Of You Girl, a tune that is only available as an album cut.
Title: You Set The Scene
Source: Mono CD: Forever Changes
Writer: Arthur Lee
During the production of Forever Changes, vocalist/guitarist Arthur Lee became convinced that he was destined to die soon after the release of the album. Accordingly, he crafted lyrics that were meant to be his final words to the world. As the final track on the LP, You Set The Scene in particular reflected this viewpoint. As it turned out, Forever Changes was not Lee's swan song. It was, however, the last album to feature the lineup that had been the most popular band on Sunset Strip for the past two years. Subsequent Love albums would feature a whole new lineup backing Lee, and would have an entirely different sound as well. Ironically, Lee was still around at the dawn of the 21st century over 30 years later (dying of acute myeloid leukemia in 2006), outliving several of his old bandmates.
Title: Unhappy Girl
Source: CD: Strange Days
Writer(s): The Doors
After the success of their first album and the single Light My Fire in early 1967, the Doors quickly returned to the studio, releasing a second LP, Strange Days, later the same year. The first single released from the new album was People Are Strange. The B side of that single was Unhappy Girl, from the same album. Both sides got played on the jukebox at a neighborhood gasthaus known as the Woog in the village of Meisenbach near Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
Title: Come On
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Australia as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Peter Hood
Label: Rhino (original label: Sunshine)
One of Australia's most popular and prolific bands, the Atlantics were formed in 1961 as a surf band. By 1964 they were also recording songs with vocals, usually backing up singer Johnny Rebb. Additionally, they released a handful of records with their own vocals provided by guitarist Jim Addams and/or drummer Peter Hood. Among those singles was Come On, a 1967 track written by Hood.
Title: For Pete's Sake
Source: CD: Headquarters
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
It didn't come as a surprise to anyone who knew him that first member of the Monkees to depart the band was Peter Tork. Of all the members of the "pre-fab four" Tork was the most serious about making the group into a real band, and was the most frustrated when things didn't work out that way. A talented multi-instrumentalist, Tork had been a part of the Greenwich Village scene since the early 60s, where he became close friends with Stephen Stills. Both Tork and Stills had relocated to the west coast when Stills auditioned for the Monkees and was asked if he had a "better looking" musician friend that might be interested in the part. Although Tork was, by all accounts, the best guitarist in the Monkees, he found himself cast as the "lovable dummy" bass player on the TV show and had a difficult time being taken seriously as a musician because of that. During the brief period in 1967 when the members of the band did play their own instruments on their recordings, Tork could be heard on guitar, bass, banjo, harpsichord and other keyboard instruments. He also co-wrote For Pete's Sake, a song on the Headquarters album that became the closing theme for the TV show during its second and final season. Until his passing in February of 2019 Tork was involved with a variety of projects, including an occasional Monkees reunion.
Title: (Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Roy Wood
The most successful British band of the psychedelic era not to have a US hit was the Move, a band that featured Roy Wood and (later) Jeff Lynne, among other notables. The band was already well established in the UK by 1967, when their single Flowers In The Rain was picked to be the first record played on the new BBC Radio One. The B side of that record was the equally-catchy (Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree. Both songs were written by Wood, although he only sang lead vocals on the B side.
Title: I Am The Walrus
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
I once ranked over 5000 recordings from the 1920s through the 1990s based on how many times I could listen to each track without getting sick of hearing it. My original intention was to continue the project until I had ranked every recording in my collection, but after about ten years of near-continuous listening to 90-minute cassette tapes that I would update weekly I finally decided that I needed a break, and never went back to it. As a result, many of my favorite recordings (especially album tracks) never got ranked. Of those that did, every song on the top 10 was from the years 1966-69, with the top five all being from 1967. Although I never returned to the project itself, the results I did get convinced me that I was indeed stuck in the psychedelic era, and within five years I had created a radio show inspired by the project. Not surprisingly, the number one recording on my list was I Am The Walrus, a track from the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour that is often considered the apex of British psychedelia.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Rock Me, Baby
Source: LP: Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival
Despite having recorded and released over a dozen original songs in Europe and the UK prior to their US debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival, the Jimi Hendrix Experience chose to fill their set with more cover songs than originals at the festival itself. Of the five cover songs, two were high-energy reworkings of blues classics such as B.B. King's Rock Me, Baby. Hendrix would eventually rework this arrangement into an entirely original song with new lyrics.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Get Me To The World On Time
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: The Electric Prunes and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
With I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) climbing the charts in early 1967, the Electric Prunes turned to songwriter Annette Tucker for several more tracks to include on their debut LP. One of those, Get Me To The World On Time (co-written by lyricist Jill Jones) was selected to be the follow up single to Dream. Although not as big a hit, the song still did respectably on the charts (and was actually the first Electric Prunes song I ever heard on FM radio).
Title: Why Did You Hurt Me
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Why Did You Hurt Me is a bit of a musical oddity. The song, which was released B side of their second single, Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, starts off as a growling three-chord bit of classic garage rock, but then goes into a bridge that sounds more like flower pop, with flowing melodic harmonies. This leads into a short transitional section that has little in common with what had come before and finally (somewhat awkwardly) segues back into the three chord main section to finish the song. The important thing, however, is that the piece was written by band members Dick Dodd and Tony Valentine, thus generating royalties for the two.
Title: Over Under Sideways Down
Source: Simulated stereo Australian import CD: Over, Under, Sideways, Down (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Raven (original US label: Epic)
The only Yardbirds album to feature primarily original material was released under different titles in different parts of the world. The original UK version was called simply The Yardbirds, while the US album bore the title Over, Under, Sideways, Down. In addition, the UK album was unofficially known as Roger the Engineer because of band member Chris Dreja's drawing of the band's recording engineer on the cover. The title cut was the last single to feature Jeff Beck as the band's sole lead guitarist (the follow-up single, Happenings Ten Years Time Ago, featured both Beck and Jimmy Page).
Title: Friday On My Mind
Source: Mono CD: Battle Of The Bands-Vol. Two (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Era (original label: United Artists)
Considered by many to be the "greatest Australian song" ever recorded, the Easybeats' Friday On My Mind, released in late 1966, certainly was the first (and for many years only) major international hit by a band from the island continent. Technically, however, Friday On My Mind is not an Australian song at all, since it was recorded after the band had relocated to London. The group continued to release records for the next year or two, but were never able to duplicate the success of Friday On My Mind. Ultimately vocalist Stevie Wright returned to Australia, where he had a successful solo career. Guitarists Harry Vanda and George Young, who had written Friday On My Mind, also returned home to form a band called Flash And The Pan in the early 1970s. Later in the decade Young would help launch the careers of his two younger brothers, Angus and Malcolm, in their own band, AC/DC.
Artist: Kaleidoscope (UK band)
Source: British import CD: Further Reflection (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Grapefruit (original label: Fontana)
Although generally thought of as a psychedelic band, Kaleidoscope was, according to its own members, a British pop band that happened to do all of its studio work during Britain's relatively short-lived psychedelic era. A listen to the group's final single for the Fontana label, 1969's Balloon, makes this obvious. Formed in 1964 as the Sidekicks, the group was originally a beat band that supplemented the usual R&B covers with originals from Peter Daltry and Eddie Pumer. As the beat fad waned, they changed their name first to the Key, and then Kaleidoscope when they signed to Fontana in 1967. Following the release of Balloon they became Fairfield Parlour and took on a more progressive sound.
Artist: Strawberry Zots
Title: Keep Me Hangin'
Source: LP: Cars, Flowers, Telephones
Writer(s): Mark Andrews
Albuquerque's Strawberry Zots were led by Mark Andrews, who either wrote or co-wrote all of the band's original material. Their only LP, Cars, Flowers, Telephones, was released locally on the StreetSound label and reissued on CD the following year by RCA records.
Artist: Chesterfield Kings
Title: Selfish Little Girl
Source: LP: Don't Open Til Doomsday
Formed in the late 1970s in Rochester, NY, the Chesterfield Kings (named for an old brand of unfiltered cigarettes that my grandfather used to smoke) were instrumental in setting off the garage band revival of the 1980s. Their earliest records were basically a recreation of the mid-60s garage sound, although by the time their 1987 album, Don't Open Til Doomsday, was released they had gone through some personnel changes that resulted in more commercial-sounding tunes such as Selfish Little Girl, which opens the LP.
Artist: Ace Of Cups
Source: LP: Ace Of Cups
Writer(s): Denise Kaufman
Label: High Moon
Ace Of Cups drummer Diane Vitalich was the only member of the band not to sing any lead vocals during the band's original late-1960s run. On their 2018 debut album, however, Vitalich finally got her turn on Circles, a song that had written by fellow band member Denise Kaufman when she was 19 and had been part of the band's 60s repertoire. The track also features guest Barry Melton (Country Joe & The Fish) on lead guitar.
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.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: She's Coming Home
Source: CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Generally speaking, cheatin' songs in 1966 were considered the province of country music. The few exceptions, such as Paul Revere and the Raiders' Steppin' Out, were all told from the victim's point of view. The Blues Magoos, however, turned the entire thing upside down with She's Coming Home, a song about having to break up with one's new girlfriend in the face of the old one returning from...(prison, military duty? The lyrics never make that clear). The unusual nature of the song is in keeping with the cutting edge image of a band that was among the first to use the word psychedelic in an album title and almost certainly was the first to wear electric suits onstage.
Title: Guide For The Married Man
Source: Mono CD: All The Singles (originally released on LP: Happy Together and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Manifesto (original label: White Whale)
For a short time in the spring of 1967 the Turtles were the hottest band in the country. Happy Together had just pushed the Beatles' Penny Lane off the top of the charts and they were busy recording songs for their third LP, also titled Happy Together. They were so popular, in fact, that they were asked to perform the title track for Walter Matthau's latest film, A Guide For The Married Man. The song was recorded in time to be included on the Happy Together LP and ended up being the third single released from the album. The song, however, stiffed and was quickly withdrawn from circulation. Luckily the next Turtles single, She's My Girl, did much better.
Artist: Moby Grape
Source: LP: Grape Jam
Writer(s): Bob Mosley
For their second album, Moby Grape decided to do something different. In addition to the LP Wow, there was a second disc called Grape Jam included at no extra charge. For the most part Grape Jam is exactly what you'd expect: a collection of after-hours jam sessions with guest guitarist/keyboardist Michael Bloomfield. The opening track of Grape Jam, however, is actually a composition by Bob Mosley. The song features Mosley on bass and vocals, Jerry Miller and Skip Spence and guitars and Don Stevenson on drums, all of whom were actual members of Moby Grape.
Title: Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)
Source: European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Candles In The Rain)
Writer(s): Melanie Safka
Label: Sony Music (original label Buddah)
When it comes to songs inspired by the Woodstock festival, the most famous is, by far, Joni Mitchell's Woodstock, which became a huge hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 1970. The thing about that song, however, is that Mitchell herself was not actually at the festival, having famously been advised by her manager to appear on the Dick Cavett show instead. The most famous Woodstock song written (and sung) by someone who was actually there, was Melanie's Lay Down (Candles In The Rain), which was also a huge hit in 1970. New York born Melanie Safka was still virtually unknown in the US when she became one of three female solo artists to appear at Woodstock, although she did have a strong following in Europe thanks to the success of Bobo's Party and Beautiful People, the latter of which she performed on the Woodstock stage. Whereas Mitchell's Woodstock was a description of the festival itself, Lay Down (Candles In The Wind) is more about the spirit of both the crowd and many of the performers, focusing particularly on Melanie's own performance and the crowd reaction to it. The recorded song, from the album Candles In The Rain, was a collaboration between Melanie and the Edwin Hawkins Singers, who's Oh, Happy Day was a top five single in the months leading up to the Woodstock festival.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: Song For The Asking
Source: LP: Bridge Over Troubled Water
Writer(s): Paul Simon
As the final track on the last Simon And Garfunkel album, Song For The Asking serves as a kind of coda for the duo's career together, coupled with a promise to keep the door open for future collaborations. It was deliberately sequenced to follow their energetic live rendition of the Everly Brothers' Bye Bye Love to close out the 1970 LP Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Title: Empty Pages
Source: CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: John Barleycorn Must Die)
Traffic was formed in 1967 by Steve Winwood, after ending his association with the Spencer Davis Group. The original group, also featuring Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, put out two and a half albums' worth of studio material before disbanding in early 1969. A successful live album, Welcome to the Canteen, prompted the band to reform (without Mason), releasing the album John Barleycorn Must Die in 1970. Although Empty Pages was released as a single, it got most of its airplay on progressive FM rock stations, and as those stations were replaced by (or became) album-oriented rock (AOR) stations, the song continued to get extensive airplay for many years.
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 labels: Autumn/Reprise)
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. The original single, released in 1965 on the Autumn label, had different vocals than the 1966 Reprise reissue heard here, although both use the same instrumental backing track.
Title: Why (RCA Studios version)
Source: CD: Fifth Dimension (bonus track)
Year: Recorded 1965, released 1996
One of the highlights of the Byrds' Younger Than Yesterday album, released in early 1967, was a song co-written by David Crosby and Jim (Roger) McGuinn called Why. Many of the band's fans already knew that a different version of the song had already been released as the B side of Eight Miles High the previous year. What was not as well-known, however, was that both songs had been first recorded at the RCA Studios in Burbank in December of 1965, but rejected by Columbia due to their being produced at studios owned by a hated competitor. Crosby has since said that he prefers the RCA recordings to the later ones made at Columbia's own studios, calling it "stronger...with a lot more flow to it".
Title: A Well Respected Man
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Eric (original label: Reprise)
Year: Released 1965, charted 1966
The Kinks were one of the original British Invasion bands, scoring huge R&B-influenced hits with You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night in 1964. The hits continued in 1965 with more melodic songs like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You. 1966 saw Ray Davies's songwriting take a satiric turn, as A Well Respected Man (actually released in late 1965) amply illustrates. Over the next few years the Kinks would continue to evolve, generally getting decent critical reviews and moderate record sales for their albums. The title of one of those later albums, Muswell Hillbillies, refers to the Davies brothers hometown of Muswell Hill, North London.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: White Rabbit
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s): Grace Slick
For many the definitive song of the psychedelic era, White Rabbit, released as a single after getting extensive airplay on "underground" FM stations, was the second (and final) top 10 hit for the Airplane in the summer of '67. In 1987 RCA released a special stereo reissue of the single on white vinyl to accompany the 2400 Fulton Street box set.