Sunday, September 22, 2019

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1939 (starts 9/23/19)

    This week we bring back an old rivalry between fans of the Beatles and fans of the Rolling Stones in a six-song set that alternates between the two bands. Also on tap: a Jefferson Airplane set, Procol Harum's longest track, and lots of cool tunes from 1966-68.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission)
Source:    LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Sundazed/Columbia
Year:    1966
    Paul Simon's sense of humor is on full display on A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission). The song first appeared, with slightly different lyrics on Simon's 1965 LP The Paul Simon Songbook, which was released only in the UK after Simon and Garfunkel had split following the disappointing sales of their first Columbia LP, Wednesday Morning 3AM. When the duo got back together following the surprise success of an electrified version of The Sound Of Silence, the re-recorded the tune, releasing it on their third Columbia LP, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. The song is a deliberate parody/tribute to Bob Dylan, written in a style similar to It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), and is full of sly references to various well-known personages of the time as well as lesser-known acquaintances of Simon himself.

Artist:    Harbinger Complex
Title:    I Think I'm Down
Source:    British import CD: With Love-A Pot Of Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Hockstaff/Hoyle
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Brent)
Year:    1966
    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:    Animals
Title:    She'll Return It
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Animalization
Writer(s):    Jenkins/Rowberry/Burdon/Chandler/Valentine
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1966
    As a general rule the Animals, in their original incarnation, recorded two kinds of songs: hit singles from professional songwriters such as Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and covers of blues and R&B tunes, the more obscure the better. What they did not record a lot of was original tunes from the band members themselves. This began to change in 1966 when the band began to experience a series of personnel changes that would ultimately lead to what amounted to an entirely new group, Eric Burdon And The Animals, in 1967. One of the earliest songs to be credited to the entire band was She'll Return It, released as the B side of See See Rider in August of 1966 and included on the Animalization album. In retrospect, it is one of the strongest tracks on one of their strongest LPs.
Artist:    Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Title:    Prelude-Nightmare/Fire Poem/Fire
Source:    British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown)
Writer(s):    Brown/Crane/Finesilver/Ker
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1968
    The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was unusual for their time in that they were much more theatrical than most of their contemporaries, who were generally more into audio experimentation than visual. I have a video of Fire being performed (or maybe just lip-synched). In it, all the members are wearing some sort of mask, and Brown himself is wearing special headgear that was literally on fire. There is no doubt that The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown sowed the seeds of what was to become the glitter-rock movement in the early to mid 70s. This week we have the uncut stereo version of Fire along with Prelude-Nightmare and Fire Poem that precede it on the original album.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Laughing Stock
Source:    CD: Forever Changes (bonus track) (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1968
    The last record by the classic Love lineup was a single released in June of 1968. While Your Mind And We Belong Together is one of the band's most overlooked and underrated tracks, the B side of that single comes across as a sardonic epitaph for the group, with it's intro reminiscent of one of their best tunes, Alone Again Or and sly references to their first hit, My Little Red Book. Lee would soon fire the entire band, reemerging with an entirely new lineup the following year, but he was never able to duplicate the magic of the original Love.
Artist:    Max Frost And The Troopers (aka the 13th Power)
Title:    Shine It On
Source:    CD: Shape Of Things To Come
Writer(s):    Paul Wibier
Label:    Captain High (original label: Tower)
Year:    1968
    Say what you will about Paul Wibier, he did know how to write a decent tune. Unfortunately, nobody knew who Paul Wibier was when he was actually writing and performing those songs. That's because he worked mostly with Mike Curb, who provided soundtracks for B movies performed by mostly anonymous musicians, Wibier being among the most anonymous. The best example of this is Max Frost And The Troopers, a name attached to a fictional band from a film called Wild In The Streets. Behind the scenes, Wibier provided the vocals for the soundtrack's songs, and when one of them, Shape Of Things To Come, became a legitimate hit record in 1968, Wibier ended up writing and singing on a whole album's worth of tunes by Max Frost And The Troopers, including Shine It One. The album, like the hit single, was called Shape Of Things To Come, which is not to be confused with the Wild In The Streets soundtrack LP, which contained some of the same songs, as well as several other tunes performed by various other artists. As to who the 13th Power actually was, the answer is...complicated. Some sources cite them as a real band, while others think that 13th Power was just a name used by Wibier when the actual backing band was Davie Allan And The Arrows, an instrumental group that Curb often used on soundtracks for teensploitation flicks.

Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    Key To The Highway
Source:    Czech Republic import LP: Children Of The Future
Writer(s):    Bronsky/Segar
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1968
    Key To The Highway is one of those blues standards that seems to have been performed and/or recorded by just about everybody and his brother at some time or another. One version that is not as well known as, say, Eric Clapton's various versions is the extremely slowed-down take on the tune by the Steve Miller Band on their first LP, Children Of The Future. Miller's approach turns the song into a mood piece in the vein of Gershwin's Summertime while retaining a definite blues flavor throughout.

Artist:    Johnny Winter
Title:    I'm Not Sure
Source:    LP: Second Winter
Writer(s):    Johnny Winter
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1969
    Johnny Winter had been performing for several years throughout the state of Texas before releasing his first full-length LP on the regional Sonobeat label in 1968. The album, which featured the trio of Winter on guitar, Tommy Shannon on bass and Uncle John Turner on drums, was strong enough for Imperial to pick up for national distribution, and soon led to Winter signing with Columbia records in 1969. After a strong debut album for the label, the group, which by then had added Johnny's brother Edgar on keyboards, went to work on a second album for the label. The band soon found itself with an unusual dilemma, however. They had recorded too much material for one LP, but not enough for a double album. Rather than sacrifice sound quality by making the grooves narrower, the band decided to issue a special "three-sided" LP, with the fourth side being nothing but shiny black vinyl with no grooves cut into it. The album, which is considered by many to be Winter's finest studio work, includes several original tunes such as I'm Not Sure, which features Johnny Winter on electric mandolin and Edgar on harpsichord; an unusual combination for a blues recording to be sure, but it works.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    In Held Twas In I
Source:    CD: Shine On Brightly
Writer:    Brooker/Fisher/Reid
Label:    A&M/Rebound
Year:    1968
    Although the idea of grouping songs together as "suites" was first tried by Jefferson Airplane on their 1967 album After Bathing At Baxter's, Procol Harum's 17-minute long In Held Twas In I, from their 1968 album Shine On Brightly, is usually cited as the first progressive rock suite. The title comes from the first word of each section of the piece that contains vocals (several sections are purely instrumental). The work contains some of the best early work from guitarist Robin Trower, who would leave the group a few years later for a solo career. Shine On Brightly was the last Procol Harum album to include organist Matthew Fisher, who came up with the famous opening riff for the group's first hit, A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

Artist:    Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title:    Incense And Peppermints
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer:    Carter/Gilbert/Weitz/King
Label:    Uni
Year:    1967
    Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was originally released to Los Angeles area radio stations it was intended to be the B side of The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side.

Artist:     Ringo Starr
Title:     Early 1970
Source:     Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Richard Starkey
Label:    Apple
Year:     1971
     The first gold record by an ex-Beatle did not come from John Lennon or Paul McCartney, as one would expect. Rather it was drummer Ringo Starr, who topped the charts in 1971 with It Don't Come Easy (co-written by an uncredited George Harrison). The B side of that single, Early 1970, is a thinly disguised message to Ringo's former bandmates describing where things stood just after the breakup of the Beatles became public knowledge and expressing the hope that they could still play together from time to time.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    We Love You
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    The last Rolling Stones record to be produced by their longtime manager Andrew Loog Oldham, We Love You, released in August of 1967, was also the most elaborate and expensive single the band had ever recorded. Although some critics dismissed the song as an attempt to outdo the Beatles' All You Need Is Love, this view is inconsistent with the fact that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who wrote We Love You, were part of the background crowd appearing with the Beatles on the worldwide premier of All You Need Is Love; furthermore, John Lennon and Paul McCartney sing background vocals on We Love You, which the Stones maintain was meant as more of a sequel to the Beatles tune rather than a competitor. The recording itself opens with the sound of a jail cell door slamming shut, a reference to the recent drug bust that had earned Jagger and Richards disproportionate sentences in an attempt to "make an example" of the pair. This is followed by an ominous sounding piano riff from famed session man Nicky Hopkins that is quickly enhanced by a cacaphony of sound, including some of the creepiest sounding mellotron (played by Brian Jones) ever recorded. Of course, being a Rolling Stones record, the lyrics take a somewhat more cynical tone than the Beatles song, but against the chaotic music track those lyrics work perfectly. We Love You was a top 10 single in the UK, but only made it to the #50 spot in the US as the B side of the song Dandelion.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Strawberry Fields Forever
Source:    LP: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1967
    The first song recorded for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Strawberry Fields Forever was instead issued as a single (along with Penny Lane) a few months before the album came out. The song went into the top 10, but was not released on an album until December of 1967, when it was included on the US version of Magical Mystery Tour.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    She's A Rainbow
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    The Stones had their own brand of psychedelia, which was showcased on their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request. The album itself, after zooming to the top of the charts, lost its momentum quickly, despite the fact that She's A Rainbow, which was released as a single, was a solid top 40 hit.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Think For Yourself
Source:    CD: Rubber Soul
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Capitol/EMI
Year:    1965
    By the end of 1965 George Harrison was writing an average of two songs per Beatles album. On Rubber Soul, however, one of his two songs was deleted from the US version of the album and appeared on 1966's Yesterday...And Today LP instead. The remaining Harrison song on Rubber Soul was Think For Yourself. Harrison later said that he was still developing his songwriting at this point and that bandmate John Lennon had helped write Think For Yourself.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Street Fighting Man
Source:    CD: Beggar's Banquet
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1968
    The Rolling Stones were at a low point in their career following their most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which came out in late 1967. As a response to charges in the rock press that they were no longer relevant the Stones, working with producer Jimmy Miller, released Jumpin' Jack Flash as a single in early 1968, following it up with the Beggar's Banquet album later in the year. The new album included the band's first recording with Miller producing, Street Fighting Man, which as a followup single to Jumpin' Jack Flash went a long ways toward insuring that the Rolling Stones would be making music on their own terms for as long as they chose to.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    I Am The Walrus
Source:    LP: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1967
    The Beatles' psychedelic period hit its peak with the BBC-TV premier of the surrealistic telefilm Magical Mystery Tour and its subsequent release on vinyl in December of 1967. Musically speaking, the centerpiece of Magical Mystery Tour was John Lennon's I Am The Walrus, which was the final track on both the British EP and side one of the US LP. The second half (more or less) of the piece contains audio from a live BBC radio broadcast that was added during the mono mixing process. At that time, the Beatles were still doing their original mixes in monoraul (single-channel) sound, then doing a stereo mix almost as an afterthought. The addition of live audio into the original mono mix meant that they would be unable to reproduce the process in stereo. So, at the point the BBC audio comes in, the true stereo version of I Am The Walrus suddenly becomes a "fake stereo" recording using techniques such as phasing and panning to create a stereo effect out of the mono mix. It also sounds really strange on headphones, like your sinuses all of a sudden got clogged up.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Embryonic Journey
Source:    LP: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Surrealistic Pillow)
Writer(s):    Jorma Kaukonen
Label:    Victor
Year:    1967
    Jorma Kaukonen originally considered Embryonic Journey to be little more than a practice exercise. Other members of Jefferson Airplane insisted he record it, however, and it has since come to be identified as a kind of signature song for the guitarist, who played the tune live when the band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    White Rabbit
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Surrealistic Pillow)
Writer(s):    Grace Slick
Label:    Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1967
    The first time I heard White Rabbit was on Denver's first FM rock station, KLZ-FM. The station branded itself as having a top 100 (as opposed to local ratings leader KIMN's top 60), and prided itself on being the first station in town to play new releases and album tracks. It wasn't long before White Rabbit was officially released as a single, and went on to become a top 10 hit, the last for the Airplane.

Artist:      Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Good Shepherd
Source:      LP: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Volunteers)
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Kaukonen
Label:    Victor
Year:     1969
     Jorma Kaukonen is given credit for arranging the traditional tune Good Shepherd for the fifth Jefferson Airplane album, Volunteers. The song is a good example of how much the group's sound had changed over a three year period, moving in several different directions at once.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Love Me Two Times
Source:    CD: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1967
    Although the second Doors album is sometimes dismissed as being full of tracks that didn't make the cut on the band's debut LP, the fact is that Strange Days contains some of the Doors' best-known tunes. One of those is Love Me Two Times, which was the second single released from the album. The song continues to get heavy airplay on classic rock stations.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    House For Everyone
Source:    CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind (aka Mr. Fantasy)
Writer(s):    Dave Mason
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
    Although Traffic is now known mostly as a Steve Winwood band, many of their earliest songs were the creation of guitarist Dave Mason, whose songs tended to be a bit more psychedelic than Winwood's. One example is House For Everyone from the band's 1967 debut LP, which creatively uses tape edits to simulate a music box being wound up with short snippets of song sneaking through between turns of the key at the beginning of the track.

Artist:    H.P. Lovecraft
Title:    I've Been Wrong Before
Source:    CD: H.P. Lovecraft
Writer(s):    Randy Newman
Label:    Collector's Choice/Universal Music Special Markets
Year:    1967
    Formed in Chicago in 1967 by former folk singer George Edwards and classically trained multi-instrumentalist Dave Michaels, H.P. Lovecraft specialized in a brand of psychedelia inspired by the works of the author whose name they bore. The band's greatest strength was their ability to create a mood through their music, regardless of whether it was on their original material or on the cover songs that made up the majority of their debut LP, released late in the year. One such cover song was I've Been Wrong Before, a Randy Newman tune that had been a British hit for singer Cilia Black the previous year. The song had also been covered by Dusty Springfield and the California garage band New Breed, but the Lovecraft version has a mystical quality that sets it apart from the other versions of the tune.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Arnold Layne
Source:    CD: Works (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Syd Barrett
Label:    Capitol (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    Like most bands in the 60s, Pink Floyd made their vinyl debut with a 45 RPM single: in this case the song Arnold Layne. As was the case with all the band's 1967 singles, the song was written by original bandleader Syd Barrett. Arnold Layne went quickly into the UK top 20 but then hit a roadblock when it was banned by the BBC due to its subject matter (it's about a guy who steals women's garments off of clotheslines and then wears them himself). The song was eventually included on the album Relics and has been included on several other compilations over the years.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Cuddly Toy/Words
Source:    CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
Writer(s):    Nilsson/Boyce/Hart
Label:    Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year:    1967
    Although the Monkees had returned to allowing studio musicians to provide the bulk of the instrumental tracks for the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD., those tracks were now being recorded under the direct supervision of the Monkees themselves. Additionally, the Monkees were only recording songs that the Monkees themselves picked out. One of those songs was a tune written by Harry Nilsson (who had not yet achieved fame as a singer, songwriter and John Lennon's drinking partner) called Cuddly Toy. Reportedly Mike Nesmith heard a demo of the song and immediately wanted to record it. The group did, and on the LP let it overlap the next track, A Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart tune called Words that the Leaves had recorded for their Hey Joe album the previous year. It was only after the album was on the charts that the shirts at Colgems Records, Columbia Pictures and RCA Victor realized that the subject matter of Cuddly Toy was a gang bang, having been based on a real life incident at a Hell's Angels party that Nilsson had attended.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
     If ever a song could be considered a garage-punk anthem, it's Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, the follow-up single to the classic Dirty Water. Both songs were written by Standells' manager/producer Ed Cobb, the record industry's answer to Ed Wood.

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