Sunday, September 29, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1940 (starts 9/30/19)
This week we have an early Byrds set, an "odd" progression through the years and an Advanced Psych set that spans over 30 years; and that's not even the half of it! Read on...
Title: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
Source: CD: Turn! Turn! Turn! (bonus track)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
In late June of 1965 the Byrds began work on their second album's worth of material. Having already had success with covers of Bob Dylan songs, they naturally decided to record a couple more in the hopes of getting a third single out that summer. Those two songs were The Times They Are A-Changin' (which would get re-recorded a couple months later) and It's All Over Now, Baby Blue, which remained unreleased for many years. Baby Blue, which features Roger McGuinn on lead vocals, is now available as a bonus track on the Turn! Turn! Turn! remastered CD.
Title: Eight Miles High
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released on LP: Fifth Dimension)
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Columbia)
By all rights, the Byrds' Eight Miles High should have been a huge hit. Unfortunately, the highly influential Gavin Report labelled the tune as a drug song and recommended that stations avoid playing it, despite band's insistence that it was about a transatlantic plane trip. The band's version actually makes sense, as Gene Clark had just quit the group due to his fear of flying (he is listed as a co-writer of the song), and the subject was probably a hot topic of discussion among the remaining members.
Title: Wait And See
Source: CD: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Considering how prolific a songwriter David Crosby has been over the past five decades, it might be had to believe that he did not have a single writing credit on the Byrds' debut LP, Mr. Tambourine Man. In fact, Crosby's first official writing credit was on a song he co-wrote with Roger McGuinn called Wait And See, which was buried toward the end of side two of the second Byrds album, Turn! Turn! Turn! It was not as if Crosby wasn't writing songs at that point; he had brought two of his own tunes (Stranger In A Strange Land and the Flower Bomb Song) to the recording sessions, only to have them rejected by McGuinn and the band's manager, Jim Dickson, as well as by producer Terry Melcher. This was the beginning of tensions between Crosby and McGuinn that eventually led to Crosby's being fired from the band in 1967.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Source: LP: Back Door Men
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Label: Sundazed (original label: Dunwich)
The Shadows Of Knight are generally acknowledged as one of the best proto-punk bands to emerge in the mid-1960s. Being from the Chicago area, the Shadows also had a stronger connection to the blues than other bands of their type, resulting in them recording songs like Willie Dixon's Spoonful at almost exactly the same time as Cream was. More importantly, Cream's version was left off the US edition of the album Fresh Cream, making the Shadows' recording the first rock version of Spoonful released in the States.
Title: Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)
Source: CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: The Doors)
1967 was a breakthrough year for Elektra Records, which had only signed its first full-fledged rock band (Love) the previous year. Between Love's second and third albums and the first two Doors LPs, Elektra had by the end of the year established itself as a player. Although never released as a single, Alabama Song (one of two cover songs on the LP) managed to make it onto the Best of the Doors album and has been a classic rock staple for years.
Artist: Fraternity Of Man
Title: Field Day
Source: LP: Fraternity Of Man
Writer(s): Fraternity Of Man
There have always been artists that used music as a way to express socio-political views. With some bands, it seemed that expressing such views was the entire reason for the group's existence. On the East Coast, for instance, there were the Fugs, and later, David Peel And The Lower East Side. In California, the role was filled by Fraternity Of Man, a group best known for the song Don't Bogart Me, which was featured in the film Easy Rider. Unlike their New York counterparts, the Fraternity Of Man members were accomplished musicians in their own right. Elliot Ingber, for instance, had been a member of Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention and would later join Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band, while Warren Klein and Richard Hayward had both worked with Lowell George as members of the Factory (and Hayward would go on to be a founding member of Little Feat). Still, their radical side was more than evident on their 1968 debut album, especially on tracks like Field Day, which takes a snarky view of the tactics used by LAPD against protest demonstrators in the late 1960s.
Artist: Joan Baez
Title: Rock Salt And Nails
Source: 45 RPM promo single B side (originally released on LP: David's Album)
Writer(s): Bruce Phillips
One of the defining characteristics of the late 1960s was the resistance, especially among young people to US involvement in the Vietnamese Civil War. Much of this resistance was because the so-called Baby Boomers were at an age where they were eligible to be drafted into military service and many of them did not relish the idea of dying in a jungle halfway around the world for someone else's political beliefs. Of course much of this resistance was to the draft itself, and it was not limited just to young men of draftable age. Among the most prominent figures in the draft resistance movement was folk singer Joan Baez, who made the issue a focal point of her performance at the Woodstock Performing Arts Festival in the summer of 1969. Earlier that year she had released an LP called David's Album as a gift to her husband, who was about to go to prison for resisting the draft. Among the songs on that album was Rock Salt And Nails, written by Bruce "Utah" Phillips, himself a labor organizer, folk singer, storyteller, poet and self-described anarchist who was sometimes known as the "Golden Voice of the Great Southwest". A promo single pairing Rock Salt And Nails with the album's opening track, If I Knew, was pressed by Baez's label, Vanguard, but it is not known whether the record was ever released commercially.
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Going To Mexico
Source: CD: Number 5
Although Boz Scaggs had left the Steve Miller Band following their second album, Sailor, the song Going To Mexico, co-written by Miller and Scaggs, did not appear on an album until Number 5 was released in 1970. Miller himself referred to the song as a 1969 track on his Anthology album, however, leading me to believe the song may have been among the last tracks recorded while Scaggs was still with the band. The recording also features future star Lee Michaels on organ.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Hitch Hike
Source: Mono made in England for US distribution LP: Out of Our Heads
The Rolling Stones' early albums consisted of about a 50/50 mix of cover tunes and original tunes from the band members, primarily Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Marvin Gaye's Hitch Hike was one of the cover songs on the album Out of Our Heads, the same album that featured the #1 hit of 1965, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Lime Street Blues
Source: 45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Label: A&M (original label: Deram)
Anyone expecting more of the same when flipping over their new copy of A Whiter Shade Of Pale in 1967 got a big surprise when they heard Lime Street Blues. The song, reminiscent of an early Ray Charles track, was strong enough to be included on their first greatest hits collection, no mean feat for a B side.
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?
Artist: Doctor Hook And The Medicine Show
Title: Hey, Lady Godiva
Source: LP: Doctor Hook
Writer(s): Shel Silversteen
One of the most unusual bands in rock history was a group originally known as Doctor Hook And The Medicine Show. With a sound that owed as much to the vaudeville tradition as it did to rock and roll, the group was seen as the perfect vehicle for songs written by Shel Silversteen for the film Who Is Harry Kellerman And Why Is He Saying All Those Terrible Things About Me. Following work on the film's soundtrack, the group signed with Columbia Records, where they continued to record Silversteen's tunes. Among those tunes was the band's first hit, Sylvia's Mother, as well as Hey, Lady Godiva, a humorous take on history's most famous equestrian nudist. Both songs appear on the band's first album, entitled Doctor Hook. As time went on, the group turned to more serious pop songs like When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman, shortening their name to Doctor Hook in the process.
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Electric Funeral
Source: CD: Paranoid
Label: Warner Brothers
When Black Sabbath first appeared on vinyl they were perceived as the next step in the evolution of rock, building on the acid rock of the late sixties and laying the groundwork for what would become heavy metal. Electric Funeral, from the band's second album, Paranoid, shows that evolution in progress.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: The Boxer
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bridge Over Troubled Water)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
The only Simon And Garfunkel record released in 1969, The Boxer was one of the duo's most successful singles, making the top 10 in nine countries, including the US, where it made it to the #7 spot. The track, which runs more than five minutes, was later included on the 1970 LP Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Title: A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
Source: Australian import 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Neil Diamond
The members of the Monkees were already royally pissed off at Don Kirschner in early 1967 for releasing the album More Of The Monkees without the knowledge or input of the band itself (other than vocal tracks that had been recorded the previous year for use on The Monkees TV show). Things only got worse two months later when, after flying Davy Jones out to New York to record vocal tracks for a pair of new tunes with producer Jeff Barry, Kirschner released promo copies of the recordings to select radio stations as the third Monkees single, along with a promo package referring to Jones as "my favorite Monkee". This time, however, it was not only the band that was kept in the dark; apparently nobody associated with the Monkees knew anything about the release, which was intended to strengthen Kirschner's position as the Monkees' musical director. As a result Kirschner found himself fired for taking the unauthorized action, the single was cancelled, and the band members were given control over their own musical destiny. The Monkees immediately went to work on what would become their third consecutive #1 LP, Headquarters, but agreed to release one of the new songs, a Neil Diamond number called A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, with a different B side as their next single.
Artist: Dukes Of Stratosphear
Title: 25 O'Clock
Source: CD: Chips From The Chocolate Factory (originally released on EP: 25 O'Clock)
Writer(s): Andy Partridge
Label: Caroline (original label: Virgin)
In 1985, XTC decided to take a break and record an EP, 25 O'Clock, anonymously as the Dukes of Stratosphear. They circulated rumours that this was some previously undiscovered psych band from the late 1960s. Of course, everyone should have suspected that something was not quite as it seemed with the Dukes, as the EP (or "mini-album") was released on April Fool's Day of 1985. Still, the authentic recreation of mid to late 60s production techniques, as well as its Disraeli Gears-inspired album cover, were enough to keep people guessing, at least for a while. Ironically, 25 O'Clock actually outsold the then-current XTC album.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I'll Give You Feedback
Source: CD: Feedback
The 2006 album Feedback is probably the most adventurous of the new Electric Prunes albums released in the 21st century. Three of the original members, James Lowe (vocals, harmonica), Mark Tulin (bass, keyboards, guitar, vocals) and Ken Williams (lead guitar) were joined by a variety of drummers, including Dan Gerass, who plays on the track I'll Give You Feedback. The song itself manages to infuse the band's classic 1966-68 sound with a modern sensibility that works incredibly well.
Artist: Claypool/Lennon Delirium
Title: Breath Of A Salesman
Source: LP: Monolith Of Phobos
Fans of alternative rock are no doubt familiar with a band called Primus, led by bassist Les Claypool. One of the more colorful characters on the modern music scene, Claypool was once rejected by Metallica as being "too good" for them. Claypool himself has said that he thought James Hetfield was just being nice when he told him that, but the fact is that Claypool is indeed one of the most talented bass players (if not the best) in rock history. Sean Lennon is, of course, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Unlike his half-borther Julian, Sean has never had to prove anything to anyone, and, thanks in large part to his mother's influence (and let's be honest here, money), has always felt free to pursue his own artistic path without having to bow to commercial pressures. The two of them met when their respective bands were on tour and they immediately recognized that they had a musical connection. That connection manifested itself in the album Monolith Of Phobos (a title inspired by Arthur Clarke's works), released in 2016. This week we check out Breath Of A Salesman, a song about people you really have no desire to hang out with showing up at your door anyway.
Title: The Years/Everything's Alright/The Children
Source: British import CD: Resurrection
Writer(s): Tom Hartman
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2003
It's probably safe to say that at least some of the members of the St. Louis band, the Aerovons, loved the Beatles. After all, when pianist/guitarist Tom Hartman, guitarist Bob "Ferd" Frank, drummer Mike Lombardo and bassist Bill Lombardo received an offer from Capitol Records to record for the label in 1967, their response was to inform the label they wanted to do it at London's EMI Studios on Abbey Road. After a pair of trips to the UK in 1968, they got their wish (although Frank left the group prior to recording) and, utilizing the same production facilities and personnel as their idols, the Aerovons set about recording over an album's worth of material. As was the common practice at the time in the UK, the Aerovons released a non-album single ahead of the album in July of 1969. But before the album itself could be released, personal problems involving the family of one of the band members resulted in the dissolution of the Aerovons and only two of the songs on the projected LP ended up being released, as a single in September of 1969. The rest of the album, including the three-song sequence of The Years, Everything's Alright and The Children that was to finish out the LP's second side, remained unreleased until 2003, when the British RPM label released all of the band's material (including the non-album single) on CD under the title Resurrection.
Title: Revolution 1
Source: CD: The Beatles
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Apple)
The Beatles' Revolution has a somewhat convoluted history. The song, as originally recorded, was over eight minutes long and included what eventually became Revolution 1 and part of Revolution 9. The song's writer, John Lennon, at some point decided to separate the sections into two distinct tracks, both of which ended up on the Beatles self-titled double LP (aka the White Album). Lennon wanted to release Revolution 1 as a single, but was voted down by both George Harrison and Paul McCartney on the grounds that the song's tempo was too slow. Lennon then came up with a faster version of the song, which ended up being released a few weeks before the album came out as the B side to the band's 1968 single Hey Jude. As a result, many of the band's fans erroneously assumed that Revolution 1 was the newer version of the song.
Artist: Fifty Foot Hose
Source: LP: Cauldron
Writer(s): David Blossom
Although Fifty Foot Hose was not a commercial success in 1968, they are now highly regarded as pioneers of electronic music. The group's core members were the husband and wife team of David and Nancy Blossom (on guitar and vocals respectively) and Cork Marcheschi, who provided various electronic effects. Marcheschi actually created the devices he used with the group, being as much an inventor/engineer as a musician (perhaps even more). David Blossom, on the other hand, was the band's primary songwriter, creating pieces such as Fantasy, which at over ten minutes was the longest track on the group's only album, Cauldron.
Title: Fresh Garbage
Source: CD: Spirit
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
Much of the material on the first Spirit album was composed by vocalist Jay Ferguson while the band was living in a big house in California's Topanga Canyon outside of Los Angeles. During their stay there was a garbage strike, which became the inspiration for the album's opening track, Fresh Garbage. The song starts off as a fairly hard rocker and suddenly breaks into a section that is pure jazz, showcasing the group's instrumental talents, before returning to the main theme to finish out the track.The group used a similar formula on about half the tracks on the LP, giving the album and the band a distinctive sound right out of the box.
Title: I'm So Glad (live version)
Source: CD: Goodbye Cream
Writer(s): Skip James
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Just before the third Cream album, Wheels Of Fire, was released, word got out that Cream would be disbanding following a 1968 tour to promote the album. Before embarking on that tour, however, the band made three studio recordings, each written by a different member of the band. The following year it was decided to put those three songs on a final Cream LP, but there was the obvious problem that three songs are hardly an album's worth of material. The solution was to follow the pattern set by Wheels Of Fire by making the album half studio and half live. The thing is, three songs not only do not make an entire album (unless they are Grateful Dead length songs), they don't even make one full side of an album. Thus, the album ended up being made up primarily of live versions of songs from their earlier albums. The opening track of Goodbye Cream was their longtime opening number, a cover of Skip James' blues classic I'm So Glad, which has, over the years, become thoroughly identified as a Cream song, despite its origins.