Sunday, October 13, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1942 (starts 10/14/19)
This week's show features an entire hour's worth of tunes from 1966 through 1968, with each set dedicated to a particular year. For our second hour we have a bunch of tunes you've probably never heard before followed by some really long tracks from 1968, including an entire Grateful Dead album side.
Artist: Five Americans
Title: Western Union
Source: Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Abnak)
One of the biggest hits of 1967 came from a band formed at Southeastern State College in Durant Oklahoma, although they had their greatest success working out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Having already scored a minor hit with I See The Light the previous year, the Five Americans hit the #5 spot on the national charts with Western Union, featuring a distinctive opening organ riff designed to evoke the sound of a telegraph receiver picking up Morse code.
Source: 45 RPM single B side
The Monkees made a video of the Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart song Words that shows each member in the role that they were best at as musicians: Mickey Dolenz on lead vocals, Peter Tork on guitar, Michael Nesmith on bass and Davy Jones on drums. This was not the way they were usually portrayed on their TV show, however. Neither was it the configuration on the recording itself, which had Nesmith on guitar, Tork on Hammond organ, producer Chip Douglas on bass and studio ace Eddie Hoh on drums. The song appeared on the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD as well as being released as the B side of Pleasant Valley Sunday. Even as a B side, the song was a legitimate hit, peaking at #11 in 1967.
Artist: John's Children
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Marc Bolan
Label: Rhino (original label: Track)
After a pair of failed singles, the Ashtead, Surrey band known as John's Children brought in a new lead guitarist, Marc Bolan, who wrote their third release, Desdemona. Although Desdemona was indeed a much stronger song than the band's earlier efforts, it found itself banned by the BBC for the line "lift up your skirt and fly". Since by the BBC-1 was the only legal top 40 station left operating in the UK (Radio Luxembourg being on the continent), the song did not get heard by most British listeners. Bolan soon left the group to form his own psychedelic folk band, Tyrannosaurus Rex, with percussionist Steve Peregrine Took.
Title: The Wind Blows Your Hair
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
The Wind Blows Your Hair is actually one of the Seeds' better tracks. Unfortunately, by the time it was released the whole idea of Flower Power (which the Seeds were intimately tied to) had become yesterday's news (at least in ultra-hip L.A.) and the single went nowhere.
Artist: Procol Harum
Source: British import CD: Procol Harum
Label: Salvo/Fly (original label: Deram)
Mabel (Please Get Off The Kitchen Table) is one of the shortest tracks on Procol Harum's 1967 debut LP. The song shows the influence of American songwriter John Sebastian, whose band, the Lovin' Spoonful, was quite popular in the UK when Gary Brooker and Keith Reid began writing songs together in 1966.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: 45 RPM single (simulated stereo reissue)
Label: Double Shot
In late 1966 five guys from San Jose California managed to sound more like the Jeff Beck-era Yardbirds that the Yardbirds themselves (a task probably made easier by the fact that by late 1966 Jeff Beck was no longer a member of the Yardbirds). One interesting note about this record is that as late as the mid-1980s the 45 RPM single on the original label was still available in record stores, complete with the original B side. Normally (in the US at least) songs more than a year or two old were only available on anthology LPs or on reissue singles with "back-to-back hits" on them. The complete takeover of the record racks by CDs in the late 1980s changed all that, as all 45s (except for indy releases) soon went the way of the 78 RPM record. The resurgence of vinyl in the 2010s has been almost exclusively limited to LP releases, making it look increasingly unlikely that we'll ever see (with the exception of Record Store Day special releases) 45 RPM singles on the racks ever again.
Title: Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of The Standells (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
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.
Title: Here, There And Everywhere
Source: CD: Revolver
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
In the early days the Beatles did a lot of doubling up of vocals to achieve a fuller sound. This meant that the lead vocalist (usually John Lennon or Paul McCartney) would have to record a vocal track and then go back and sing in unison with his own recorded voice. The process, which Lennon in particular found tedious, often took several attempts to get right, making for long and exhausting recording sessions. In the spring of 1966 engineer Ken Townsend invented a process he called automatic double tracking that applied a tape delay to a single vocal to create the same effect as manual double tracking. The Beatles used the process for the first time on the Revolver album, on tracks like I'm Only Sleeping and Doctor Robert. Oddly enough, the song that sounds most like it used the ADT system, McCartney's Here, There And Everywhere, was actually two separate vocal tracks, which becomes obvious toward the end of the last verse when one of the vocals drops down to harmonize a few notes.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Journey To The Center Of The Mind)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
The title track of the second Amboy Dukes album, Journey To The Center Of The Mind, is by far their best known recording, going all the way to the #16 spot on the top 40 in 1968. The song features the lead guitar work of Ted Nugent, who co-wrote the song with guitarist/vocalist Steve Farmer. Journey To The Center Of The Mind would be the last album to feature lead vocalist John Drake, who left the band for creative reasons shortly after the album's release.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Blue Avenue
Source: British import CD: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s): Wayne Ulaky
Label: See For Miles (original US label: M-G-M)
Although never issued as a single in the US, Blue Avenue, from The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union, was the band's most popular song among UK radio listeners. This is due to the fact that the song was played by England's most influential DJ, John Peel, on his "Top Gear" show. One of the many garage bands I was in learned the song and played it at a failed audition for the Ramstein AFB Airman's club, although all five guys in the audience seemed to get a kick out of seeing and hearing me strum my guitar's strings on the wrong side of the bridge.
Title: My White Bicycle
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
One of the most popular bands with the mid-60s London Mods was a group called the In Crowd. In 1967 the band abandoned its R&B/Soul sound for a more psychedelic approach, changing its name to Tomorrow in the process. Their debut single, My White Bicycle, was inspired by the practice in Amsterdam of leaving white bicycles at various stategic points throughout the city for anyone to use. The song sold well and got a lot of play at local discoteques, but did not chart. Soon after the record was released, however, lead vocalist Keith West had a hit of his own, Excerpt From A Teenage Opera, which did not sound at all like the music Tomorrow was making. After a second Tomorrow single failed to chart, the individual members drifted off in different directions, with West concentrating on his solo career, guitarist Steve Howe joining Bodast, and bassist Junior Wood and drummer Twink Alder forming a short-lived group called Aquarian Age. Twink would go on to greater fame as a member of the Pretty Things and a founder of the Pink Fairies, but it was Howe that became an international star in the 70s after replacing Peter Banks in Yes.
Title: Mellow Yellow
Source: Mono British import CD: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original US label: Epic)
Although the Mellow Yellow album came out in early 1967, the title track had been released several months earlier as a followup to Donovan's breakthrough US hit Sunshine Superman. Ironically, during Donovan's period of greatest US success none of his recordings were being released in his native UK, due to his ongoing contract dispute with Pye Records.
Title: Love Came Tumblin' Down
Source: German import CD: Black Monk Time
Label: Repertoire (original label: International Polydor Production)
By the mid-1960s, the US military draft was in full swing, introducing young men from all over the nation to army life across the globe. Five of these young men ended up stationed in Frankfurt, Germany and discovered that they had a common musical vision and enough talent to make a little side cash playing at the local beer halls. At the time, virtually every band playing those local beer halls sported Beatles haircuts and played covers of Beatles and other popular bands. Being in the US Army, the five young men obviously couldn't wear Beatles haircuts. Instead, they each shaved a square patch at the top of their heads and called themselves the Monks. Their music was equally radical. Rather than top 40 covers they wrote and played their own original compositions, with the emphasis on original. Despite what would appear on the surface to be drawbacks, the Monks soon had a loyal enough following to allow the five young men, Minnesota-born guitarist Gary Burger, drummer Roger Johnston (a Texan), Chicagoan Larry Clark (the organ playing son of a preacher, man), electric banjoist Dave Day (who hailed from Washington) and Californian bassist Eddie Shaw, to remain in Germany following their respective discharges from the Army. In early 1966 they signed with Polydor's German division and recorded their one and only LP, Black Monk Time. Thanks to songs like Love Came Tumblin' Down, the Monks were eventually recognized as the precursor to such bands as AC/DC, the Ramones and the Clash ten years before any of those bands came into existence. Strangely enough, nobody seems to know where any of these five men ended up after the Monks disbanded in 1967. If anyone reading this has any knowledge of the whereabouts of any of them, drop me a line.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source: Mono CD: Projections
Writer(s): Blind Willie Johnson
Label: Sundazed (original label: Verve Folkways)
One lasting legacy of the British Invasion was the re-introduction to the US record-buying public to the songs of early Rhythm and Blues artists such as Blind Willie Johnson. This emphasis on classic blues in particular would lead to the formation of electric blues-based US bands such as the Butterfield Blues Band and the Blues Project. Unlike the Butterfields, who made a conscious effort to remain true to their Chicago-style blues roots, the Blues Project was always looking for new ground to cover, which ultimately led to them developing an improvisational style that would be emulated by west coast bands such as the Grateful Dead, and by Project member Al Kooper, who conceived and produced the first rock jam LP ever, Super Session, in 1968. As the opening track to their second (and generally considered best) LP Projections, I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes served notice that this was a new kind of blues, louder and brasher than what had come before, yet tempered with Kooper's melodic vocal style. An added twist was the use during the song's instrumental bridge of an experimental synthesizer known among band members as the "Kooperphone", probably the first use of any type of synthesizer in a blues record.
Title: My Little Red Book
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released on LP: Love)
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
The first rock record ever released by Elektra Records was a single by Love called My Little Red Book. The track itself (which also opens Love's debut LP), is a punked out version of a tune originally recorded by Manfred Mann for the What's New Pussycat movie soundtrack. Needless to say, Love's version was not exactly what Burt Bacharach and Hal David had in mind.
Title: Long Way Around
Source: Mono CD: The Huns Conquer Ithaca, NY 1966
Writer(s): Buz Warmkessel
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2017
In 1965, most bands in the upstate New York area were inspired mainly by the Beatles, and made their living doing cover songs of various British Invasion bands, particularly those with hits on the charts. And then along came the Huns, a group formed in Ithaca, NY by longtime schoolmates Frank Van Nostrand (bass) and John Sweeney (organ). The first member recruited for the new band was vocalist Rich La Bonte, who brought a Mick Jagger like swagger to his role as frontman for the group. Filling out the band were Buz Warmkessel (whose Long Way Around is featured on this week's show) and drummer Dick Headley. The Huns, who by then had replaced Headley with Steve Dworetz and added rhythm guitarist Keith Ginsberg, made their only studio recordings on March 10, 1966 at Ithaca College's experimental TV studios in downtown Ithaca. Less than three months later the Huns were history, thanks in large part to Van Nostrand and Sweeney being asked by the college dean to pursue their academic careers elsewhere.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Mr. Soul
Source: CD: Retrospective (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s): Neil Young
Executives at Atco Records originally considered Neil Young's voice "too weird" to be recorded. As a result many of Young's early tunes (including the band's debut single Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing), were sung by Richie Furay. By the time the band's second album, Buffalo Springfield Again, was released, the band had enough clout to make sure Young was allowed to sing his own songs. In fact, the album starts with a Young vocal on the classic Mr. Soul.
Artist: Immediate Family
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on CD: What A Way To Come Down)
Label: Rhino (original label: Big Beat)
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1997
The members of the Immediate Family hailed from the city of Concord, a conservative suburb east of San Francisco bay. They didn't actually make music in their hometown, however. Instead they practiced at the home of organist Kriss Kovacs's mother Judy Davis (the vocal coach to the stars who numbered such diverse talents as Grace Slick, Barbra Streisand and even Frank Sinatra among her pupils). The band was able to get the backing to lay down some tracks at Golden State Recorders (the top studio in the area at the time), but reportedly lost their record deal due to emotional instability on the part of Kovacs. The song Rubiyat is an adaptation of the Rubiyat Of Omar Khayyam. Ambitious to be sure, but done well enough to make one wonder what it could have led to.
Artist: Everpresent Fullness
Title: Darlin' You Can Count On Me
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: White Whale)
The Everpresent Fullness was a band that appeared alongside such notables as Buffalo Springfield, Love and the Turtles at various Los Angeles venues. It was through their association with the latter that they landed a contract with White Whale Records. However, creative problems between the band and the label led to financial backing being pulled by White Whale before they could complete their first album. A single, Darlin' You Can Count On Me, was released in 1967, but the rest of the tracks remained in the vaults until 1970, when, in a reverse of the usual situation, White Whale released the LP under contractual obligation to the band.
Artist: Lord Sutch And Heavy Friends
Title: Thumping Beat
Source: CD: Lord Sutch And Heavy Friends
Label: Wounded Bird
Generally acknowledged to be the worst album ever made, Lord Sutch And His Heavy Friends was produced by none other than Jimmy Page. So how did Jimmy Page, at the time the leader of the hottest band on the planet, get involved with such a project? Well, in Page's own words: "I just went down to have a laugh, playing some old rock 'n' roll, a bit of a send-up. The whole joke sort of reversed itself and became ugly." The ugliness itself mostly came from the rock press, whose reaction to the album was universally negative, with Rolling Stone saying that the musicians involved (which on Thumping Beat included Page, along Led Zeppelin bandmate John Bonham and Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding) were made to sound "like a fouled parody of themselves." The problem, of course, was with Sutch's vocals, which were demo quality at best. In fact, most of the musicians involved were under the impression that the recordings were only demos not intended for commercial release. The appearance of Lord Sutch And Heavy Friends on the record racks was accompanied by press releases from most of the musicians on the album disowning the project. Lord Sutch, who is also known for holding the all-time British record for losing the most Parliamentary elections, continued to record and release new albums for the rest of the century, with his final EP, Midnight Man, appearing in 2000.
Artist: Chesterfield Kings
Title: I'll Be Back
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 a harder-edged sound, although there were exceptions like I'll Be Back, which sounds more like 60s light pop than either garage or punk.
Artist: Squires Of The Subterrain
Title: There You Are
Source: CD: Strawberries On Sunday
Writer(s): Chris Zajkowski
Label: Rocket Racket
A few years back I acquired four CDs from Squires Of The Subterrain, also known as Chris Earl of Rochester, NY. I didn't choose to check them out in any particular order, yet have found that I like each one I've heard even more than the one before it, even when they are not chronologically sequential. I'm just lucky that way, I guess. This time around we have There You Are, a track from the 2003 release Strawberries On Sunday. Like the rest of Strawberries On Sunday, There You Are shows a stronger Beatles influence than the tunes on other Squires albums.
Artist: Steve Piper
Title: Used Cadillac
Source: CD: Mirror
Writer(s): Steve Piper
Label: Barking Dog
Not every talented musician signs a contract with a major record label. Many, for a variety of reasons, choose to remain local, appearing at a variety of venues and often building up a following that is every bit as loyal as the largest international audience. One such local artist is Steve Piper of Rochester, NY. He has been performing, both as a solo artist and as a member of various groups, for several years now, occasionally recording an album's worth of material in his home studio. His third CD includes a short instrumental called Used Cadillac that evokes images of another short instrumental piece: Jorma Kaukonen's Embryonic Journey, from the second Jefferson Airplane album, Surrealistic Pillow.
Artist: Eric Burdon And War
Title: Magic Mountain
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
The 1970 LP Eric Burdon Declares "War" was accompanied by the band's first single from the album, Spill The Wine. The B side of Spill The Wine was a non-album track called Magic Mountain. Written by the band, along with producer Jerry Goldstein, the song remained unavailable in any other form until 1976, when it appeared on a collection of unreleased tracks and B sides called Love Is All Around, creditited to War featuring Eric Burdon. The following year Magic Mountain was released as an A side itself, but did not chart.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Citizen Fear
Source: Mono CD: Ignition
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2000
Citizen Fear was one of the final, if not the very last, recording made by Sean Bonniwell's Music Machine. A collaboration between Bonniwell and engineer Paul Buff, the piece utilizes Buff's 10-track recording process to its fullest potential. Before the song could be released, however, the Music Machine had disbanded and Bonniwell had quit the music business in disillusionment, disappointment and/or disgust.
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: (Ballad Of The) Hip Death Goddess
Source: LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
Ultimate Spinach was the brainchild of Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote and arranged all the band's material. Although the group had no hit singles, some tracks, such as (Ballad of the) Hip Death Goddess received a significant amount of airplay on progressive "underground" FM stations. The recording has in more recent years been used by movie producers looking to invoke a late 60s atmosphere.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Alligator/Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)
Source: LP: Anthem Of The Sun
Label: Warner Brothers/Rhino
After a debut album that took about a week to record (and that the band was unhappy with) the Grateful Dead took their time on their second effort, Anthem Of The Sun. After spending a considerable amount of time in three different studios on two coasts and not getting the sound they wanted (and shedding their original producer along the way) the Dead came to the conclusion that the only way to make an album that sounded anywhere near what the band sounded like onstage was to use actual recordings of their performances and combine them with the studio tracks they had been working on. Side two of the album, which includes the classic Alligator and the more experimental Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks), is basically an enhanced live performance, with new vocal tracks added in the studio. Alligator itself is notable as the first Grateful Dead composition to feature the lyrics of Robert Hunter, who would become Jerry Garcia's main collaborator for many many years. Anthem Of The Sun was remixed by Phil Lesh in 1972, and the new mix was used on all subsequent pressings of the LP until 2011, when a limited edition 180g pressing of the album used the original mix.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: …And The Gods Made Love/Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Like its predecessor, the third Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Electric Ladyland, starts off with a track that is pure special effects. Unlike EXP (from Axis: Bold As Love), which was essentially made up of controlled guitar feedback, …And The Gods Made Love is a more subtle piece employing tape and echo effects to simulate, well, the title says it all. This leads directly in to what was for many Experience fans was new territory, but for Hendrix himself a hearkening back to his days as a backup musician for various soul artists. Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) is, in fact, a tribute to guitarist/vocalist Curtis Mayfield, leader of the Impressions, whom Hendrix had cited as an influence on his own guitar style.
Title: Sunny Days (And Good, Good Living)
Source: Mono British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Greg Praeg
Label: Big Beat (original label: Time)
The Group was formed in Detroit in 1967 by guitarists Ron Koss and Greg Praeg, formerly of the Pacesetters, along with bassist Dennis Kovareck and drummer Larry Zack. When they added keyboardist John Seanor in 1968 they started using the name Scarlet Letter, soon signing with Bob Shad's Mainstream label and releasing a pair of singles. In between the two Mainstream records they released Sunny Days (And Good, Good Living) on Mainstream's reactivated Time subsidiary under the name Paraphernalia. Time only released two other singles at that time (no pun intended), both by New Zealand's Human Instinct, leading me to believe that the band (or possibly Shad himself) deliberately used the Paraphernalia pseudonym to give the impression that Sunny Days (And Good, Good Living) was recorded by a band from Down Under, especially given the song's obvious Bee Gees influence.