Sunday, November 17, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1947 (starts 11/18/19)
This week our Advanced Psych segment features the entire first movement of Brian Wilson Presents Smile, the legendary Beach Boys album that was shelved in early 1967 and finally completed with different musicians as an all-new 2004 recording. We also have artists' sets from Cream and the Rolling Stones, as well as half a dozen tunes making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut, including two from artists that have never been heard on the show before now.
Title: Wild Thing
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Classics From the Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Chip Taylor
Label: Rhino (original label: Fontana)
I have a DVD copy of a music video (although back then they were called promotional films) for the Troggs' Wild Thing in which the members of the band are walking through what looks like a train station while being mobbed by girls at every turn. Every time I watch it I imagine singer Reg Presley saying giggity-giggity as he bobs his head.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Come On In
Source: British import CD: The Ultimate Turn On (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Big Beat (original label: Original Sound)
It only cost a total of $150 for the Music Machine to record both sides of their debut single at RCA Studios in Los Angeles, thanks to the band having been performing the songs live for several months. The band then took the tapes to Original Sound, who issued Talk Talk and Come On In on their own label. It may seem odd now, but original promo copies of the record show Come On In, a song that in many ways anticipated bands like the Doors and Iron Butterfly, as the "plug side" of the record, rather than Talk Talk, which of course went on to become the Music Machine's only major hit.
Title: What Do You Want
Source: Canadian import LP: Shapes Of Things (originally released on LP: The Yardbirds and in US on LP: Over Under Sideways Down)
Label: Bomb (original US label: Epic)
In 1966 the Yardbirds went into the studio to record their first (and only) full-length album of original material. The album was titled simply The Yardbirds, although in North America it was issued as Over Under Sideways Down with an altered song lineup. The original UK cover featured a caricature of studio engineer Roger Cameron drawn by the band's rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja, and eventually the album itself came to be known unofficially as Roger The Engineer. The most recent CD issue of the album has made that the official title. All the tracks on the album are credited to the entire band, including What Do You Want, which was included on all versions of the original LP.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Street Fighting Man
Source: LP: Beggar's Banquet
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 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 follow-up single, Street Fighting Man, a song that was almost as anthemic as Jumpin' Jack Flash itself and 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: Rolling Stones
Title: Surprise Surprise
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Abkco (original label: Decca)
Year: Recorded 1964, released1970
The Rolling Stones' Street Fighting Man, from their Beggar's Banquet album, was released in the US as a followup single to Jumpin' Jack Flash in August of 1968, depsite the fact that was actually recorded first. In the UK, however, the song was not released until July of 1970, a year after Honky Tonk Women. For the UK B side, Decca went back to the group's 1964 sessions at Chicago's Chess Studios for Surprise Surprise, a Mick Jagger/Keith Richards composition that had been sitting on the shelf for six years.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Factory Girl
Source: LP: Beggar's Banquet
One of the more overlooked tunes in the Rolling Stones catalog, Factory Girl features an odd assortment of instruments (including Tabla, Violin, Congo and Mellotron) on what is essentially an Appalachian kind of song. Guest musicians include Rick Grech on violin and Dave Mason on either guitar or mellotron (simulating a mandolin).
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Gypsy Eyes
Source: Dutch import LP: The Singles (originally released on LP: Electric Ladyland)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Polydor (original label: Reprise)
The last album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was a double LP mixture of studio recordings and live jams in the studio with an array of guest musicians. Gypsy Eyes is a good example of Hendrix's prowess at the mixing board as well as on guitar; listening to this song with headphones is highly recommended.
Title: Our Time To Cry
Source: Mono CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych
Writer(s): Santa and the Bondsmen
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: AMH)
The Bondsmen were one of Durham, North Carolina's most popular and talented bands, having won multiple battle of the bands competitions in the area that would come to be called the Research Triangle. It was after one of these competitions that they recorded Our Time To Cry for the Chapel Hill-based AMH label. The song was co-written by John Santa, who, although not a performing member of the Bondsmen, was close friends with all of the members. Santa later formed his own band, releasing the album Rainmaker in 1980.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: It's Been Too Long
Source: CD: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Writer(s): Nick Gravenites
Label: Rock Beat
One of the last of the Blues Project-inspired San Francisco jam bands to get a record contract was Quicksilver Messenger Service. Formed in 1966, the group was one of the top local attractions at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 and was featured (along with Mother Nature and the Steve Miller Band) in the 1968 film Revolution. Finally getting a contract with Capital in mid-1968, the group, led by Gary Duncan and John Cippolina, went to work on a self-titled LP. Although some of the tracks reflected the band's propensity for improvisation, others songs on the album, such as their cover of Nick Gravenites's It's Been Too Long, feature relatively tight arrangements.
Title: Sweet Wine
Source: LP: Fresh Cream
When Cream was formed, both bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker had new music for the band to record (guitarist Eric Clapton having chosen to shut up and play his guitar for the most part). Most of these new songs, however, did not yet have words to go with the music. To remedy the situation, both musicians brought in outside lyricists. Baker chose poet Pete Brown, while Bruce chose to bring in his wife, Janet Godfrey. After a short time it became apparent that Bruce and Brown had a natural affinity for each other's material, and formed a partnership that would last years. Baker, meanwhile, tried working with Godfrey, but the two only came up with one song together, Sweet Wine, which was included on the band's debut LP, Fresh Cream.
Title: Those Were The Days
Source: CD: Wheels Of Fire
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Drummer Ginger Baker only contributed a handful of songs to the Cream repertoire, but each was, in its own way, quite memorable. Those Are The Days, with its sudden changes of time and key, presages the progressive rock that would flourish in the mid-1970s. As was often the case with Baker-penned songs, bassist Jack Bruce provides the vocals from this Wheels Of Fire track.
Title: Rollin' And Tumblin'
Source: LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s): McKinley Morganfield
Right from the beginning Cream demonstrated two distinct sides: the psychedelic-tinged studio side and the blues-based live performance side. In the case of the US version of the band's first LP, Fresh Cream, that was literally true, as side one consisted entirely of original songs (mostly written by bassist Jack Bruce) and side two was nearly all covers of blues classics such as Muddy Waters's Rollin' And Tumblin'. What makes this particular recording interesting is the instrumentation used: guitar, vocals, harmonica and drums, with no bass whatsoever. This could be due to the limited number of tracks available for overdubs. Just as likely, though, is the possibility that the band chose to make a recording that duplicated their live performance of the song.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: Chess Game
Source: LP: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
New York's Greenwich Village based Circus Maximus was driven by the dual creative talents of guitarist/keyboardist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker. Although Walker went on to have the greatest success, it was Bruno's more jazz-influenced songwriting on songs like Chess Game that defined the band's sound. Bruno is now a successful visual artist, still living in the New York area.
Artist: Mystery Trend
Title: Johnny Was A Good Boy
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Verve)
The Mystery Trend was a bit of an anomaly on the San Francisco music scene of the late 1960s. Contemporaries of bands such as the Great! Society and the Charlatans, the Trend always stood a bit apart from the rest of the crowd, playing to an audience that was both a bit more affluent and a bit more "adult" (they were reportedly the house band at a Sausalito strip club). Stylistically they preferred short, tightly arranged songs to the long spacey jams that bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead were known for. Perhaps they were simply ahead of their time, as that exact same approach was taken just a couple years later by another local band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, to great success. Although the Mystery Trend (their name taken from misheard Bob Dylan lyrics) played in the city itself as early as 1965, they did not release their first and only record until early 1967. The song, Johnny Was A Good Boy, tells the story of a seemingly normal middle-class kid who turns out to be a monster, surprising friends, family and neighbors. The Mystery Trend, unable to find enough gigs to stay afloat financially, called it quits in 1968.
Artist: Merrell And The Exiles (later released as Fapardokly)
Title: Tomorrow's Girl
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl and included on LP: Fapardokly)
Writer(s): Merrell Fankhauser
Label: Rhino (original label: Glenn; LP issued on UIP)
Merrell Fankhauser was a fixture on the L.A. music scene, fronting several bands throughout the 60s ranging in styles from surf to psychedelic, depending on what was in vogue at the time. For most of 1966 and 67 he led a group called Merrell and the Exiles (or Xiles), while holding down a somewhat more mundane day job between gigs. The last single by the Exiles was Tomorrow's Girl, originally released in 1967 on the tiny Glenn label and included on Fankhauser's Fapardokly album on UIP records later that same year.
Title: Jump In
Source: British import CD: With Love-A Pot Of Flowers
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
In early 1966, independent producer and record label owner Bob Shad decided to travel across the US looking for acts to sign to his Mainstream and Brent labels. One of the first places he visited was San Francisco, where he held auditions at several locations, including Gene Estribou's loft studio in Haight-Ashbury. He signed two of the bands he heard at the small facility: Big Brother And The Holding Company and The Wildflower. Shad then instructed the various bands that he had signed (with the exception of Big Brother, who were about to hit the road to Chicago) to come down to Los Angeles and record a few tracks each at United Studios. The Wildflower recorded a total of four tracks, two of which were issued as a single in late 1966. The remaining two tracks, including Jump In, appeared the following year on an album called With Love-A Pot Of Flowers on Shad's Mainstream label.
Artist: Notes From The Underground
Title: Down In The Basement
Source: Mono British import CD: Notes From The Underground (originally released on EP: Notes From The Underground)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Changes)
Following in the footsteps of fellow Berkeleyites Country Joe And The Fish, Notes From The Underground a) became the unofficial house band at the Jabberwock in late 1966, b) released their own four song EP in 1967, c) released their debut LP on the Vanguard label in 1968, or d) all of the above. Formed by guitar and banjo player Fred Sokolow in 1965, the band also featured guitarist Mark Mandell, pianist Jim Work and drummer Peter Oswald (all but Oswald also provided vocals). The most popular song on their EP was Down In The Basement, a tune very much in the jug band tradition that was re-recorded in stereo for their debut LP and issued as the band's first and only single (also in stereo, which was somewhat unusual for 1968).
Artist: Sam And Dave
Title: I Thank You
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Atlantic (original label: Stax)
Although Sam Moore and Dave Prater had been recording together since 1961, their career as a duo didn't really take off until they signed with the Memphis-based Stax label in 1965 and began working with the songwriting/producing team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter. By the time Sam And Dave had left Stax in late 1968 they had racked up 10 consecutive top 20 singles on the R&B charts, including two songs that crossed over into the top 40. The second of these was I Thank You, their last single to be released on the Stax label itself. The following year they moved to New York and began working with producers Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd of Atlantic Records, but had little success there, and when their contract with the label expired in 1972 it was not renewed.
Artist: Brian Wilson
Title: Smile-Movement One "Americana"
Source: CD: Brian Wilson Presents Smile
In the early 1960s, Brian Wilson was a pretty happy guy. He had a gift for writing catchy melodies, which, more often than not, he would hand off to a songwriting partner to add lyrics to the tune. He was also proving to be adept at record production, producing not only all of the records (except for the very first one) released by his own band, the Beach Boys, but producing other groups as well, the most successful being Jan And Dean. Starting in 1965, his music began to take a more sophisticated turn, with more complex musical structures and instrumentation. The 1966 Beach Boys LP Pet Sounds is still considered one of the finest pop albums ever released, but even it pales in comparison to what came next. Before Pet Sounds was released, Wilson had begun work on a new song using a modular production technique, recording the song in segments and experimenting with various ways of tying those segments together. The result was the greatest Beach Boys song ever recorded: Good Vibrations. Wilson was not done, however. Even before Good Vibrations was released he had begun work on a new project that would apply the same modular technique used for Good Vibrations to an entire album's worth of material. However, there were problems. For one thing, Good Vibrations was, at that point in time, the most expensive single record ever produced, costing about $50,000 to make (about $386,000 in 2019 dollars). The cost of producing an entire album at that rate would be astronomical. And then there were the expectations. Pet Sounds was considered by many to be a masterpiece; Good Vibrations even more so. How was Wilson ever going to top either of these? There were also time considerations. The popular music world of 1966 was extremely volatile; a sound that was "hot" today might be considered obsolete six months later. The Beach Boys were scheduled to release their next LP in January of 1967. Could Wilson complete what was being called Smile by then? The answer was no. The release date was repeatedly pushed back. Finally, in May of 1967, to put it bluntly, Brian Wilson cracked under the pressure of it all and cancelled the entire Smile project. Four months later, the album Smiley Smile, considered a pale imitation of Smile itself, hit the record racks, along with a truncated single version of Smile's showpiece, a song called Heroes And Villains. It was thought at the time that Wilson had destroyed the original Smile tapes, but over the next couple of decades rumors persisted that those tapes did in fact still exist, backed up by bootleg tapes that purported to be from the Smile sessions. Finally, in 1993, the box set Good Vibrations: Thirty Years Of The Beach Boys was released with about 30 minutes' worth of material originally recorded for the Smile album. By then Wilson had overcome many of the problems that had plagued him since Smile was cancelled, and had begun to reestablish himself as a solo artist. In 2004, working closely with Darian Sahanaja (of Wondermints, a power pop trio that had backed Wilson on his solo albums) and lyricist Van Dyke Parks, Wilson reworked Smile as a live performace piece. The studio version of Brian Wilson Presents Smile came out that same year. The 21st century version of Smile is divided into three movements. The first movement is subtitled Americana, and includes a newly arranged version of Heroes And Villains, along with short sections of Gee (a 1953 hit for the Crows that is considered to be the first rock and roll hit by an actual rock and roll group), Old Master Painter and You Are My Sunshine, as well as Wilson/Parks originals Our Prayer, Roll Plymouth Rock, Barnyard and Cabin Essence. The movement runs a little over 16 minutes (the length of a typical mid-60s album side) without any breaks between songs.
Title: The Fool On The Hill
Source: British import stereo 45 RPM Extended Play album: Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles only came up with six new songs for their 1967 telefilm Magical Mystery Tour, enough to fill up only one side of an LP. Rather than use outtakes and B sides to complete the album (which they had done in 1965 for the Help album), the band chose to release the six songs on a two-record 45 RPM Extended Play set, complete with a booklet that included the storyline, lyric sheets and several still photographs from the film itself. Magical Mystery Tour appeared in this form in both the UK and in Europe, while in the US and Canada, Capitol Records instead issued the album in standard LP format, using the band's 1967 singles and B sides to fill up side two. None of the songs from the telefilm were issued as singles, although one, I Am The Walrus, was used as the B side to the Hello Goodbye single. Another song, Fool On The Hill, was covered by Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66, making the US charts in early 1968. By the 1980s, however, the only version of the song still played on the radio was the original Beatles version, with the footage from the Magical Mystery Tour telefilm used as a video on early music TV channels.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon
Source: CD: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s): Paul Kantner
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
The first Jefferson Airplane album (the 1966 release Jefferson Airplane Takes Off) was dominated by songs from the pen of founder Marty Balin, a few of which were collaborations with other band members such as Paul Kantner and Jorma Kaukonen. The songwriting on the group's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow, was fairly evenly balanced between the three above and new arrival Grace Slick. By the band's third album, After Bathing At Baxter's, released in the fall of 1967, Kantner had emerged as the group's main songwriter, having a hand in over half the tracks on the LP. One of the most durable of these was the album's closing track, a medley of two songs, Won't You Try and Saturday Afternoon, the latter being about a free concert that the band had participated in at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park earlier that year.
Artist: Tommy Flanders
Title: Angel Of Mercy
Source: LP: The Moonstone
Writer(s): Tommy Flanders
Label: Verve Forecast
In early 1966, Blues Project vocalist Tommy Flanders took the advice of his girlfriend and quit the band just before their debut LP was released. She had convinced him that he was the true star of the group and should be pursuing a solo career in both music and film. The band continued on without him and is now recognized as one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960s, particularly upon young San Francisco musicians in the process of forming their own bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead. Flanders, meanwhile signed with Verve Forecast as a solo artist, releasing a pair of singles that failed to chart and an LP, The Moonstone, that was by and large ignored by critics and the buying public alike. One of the few reviewers to mention the album characterized it as "a fairly forgettable record, and certainly a low-energy one, the mellowness threatening to dissolve into sleepiness." The second track on the album, Angel Of Mercy, certainly fits that description.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: How Ya Been
Source: British import CD: Melts In Your Brain...Not On Your Wrist (originally released on LP: One Step Beyond)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Tower)
San Jose, California's Chocolate Watchband has one of the most confusing stories in the history of rock. Part of this can be attributed to the actions of producer Ed Cobb, who used studio musicians extensively, often to the total exclusion of the band members themselves (even the vocals in some cases). Also adding to the confusion was the fact that one of the founding members, Gary Andrijasevich, had already left the band by the time they got their first recording contract, but returned as co-leader of an almost entirely new lineup for the band's third and final LP. Unlike the first two albums, there were no studio musicians used on One Step Beyond (although Moby Grape guitarist Jerry Miller reportedly played on several tracks). The new lineup, however, did not sound anything like the Chocolate Watchband of legend, and in fact had more in common musically with the folk-rock bands from San Francisco than the garage-rock the south end of the bay was known for. Case in point: the song How Ya Been, which was written by Andrijasevich and co-founder Mark Loomis, who himself had left the band in 1967 only to return two years later specifically to write and record songs for One Step Beyond before leaving again.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Back To The Family
Source: CD: Stand Up
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
The second Jethro Tull album, Stand Up, shows a band in transition from its roots in the British blues-rock scene to a group entirely dominated by the musical vision of vocalist/flautist/composer Ian Anderson. Back To The Family is sometimes cited as an early example of the style that the band would be come to known for on later albums such as Thick As A Brick.
Artist: Gerry And The Pacemakers
Title: It's Gonna Be Alright
Source: LP: Ferry Across The Mersey
Writer(s): Gerry Marsden
The Beatles are, of course, the most popular band to emerge from the Liverpool music scene. But who was second? The answer is Gerry And The Pacemakers, who became the first (and for 20 years only) artist to score consecutive #1 hits on the British charts with their first three releases. Formed in 1959 by Gerry Marsdon, his brother Fred, Les Chadwick, and Arthur McMahon, the band was originally known as Gerry Marsdon and the Mars Bars, but had to change their name when the candy company objected. They were the second band to sign with Brian Epstein, and released their first single, How Do You Do It, in 1963. In 1964, Marsden began writing most of the band's material, including It's Gonna Be Alright, which was released in September of 1964 in the UK as a single and then as the title track of an EP around Christmastime. The song was released in the US the following June, becoming their seventh US top 40 hit.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: Just Like Me
Source: Mono LP: Just Like Us
Just Like Me was the first top 10 single from Paul Revere And The Raiders, a band that deserves much more credit than they are generally given. The group started in the early part of the decade in Boise, Idaho, when Revere (his real name) hooked up with saxophonist Mark Lindsay. Like most bands at the time, the Raiders' repertoire consisted mostly of instrumentals, as PA systems were a luxury that required more space than was generally allotted to a small town band. It wasn't long before the Raiders relocated to Portland, Oregon, where they became a popular attraction at various clubs. After a hiatus caused by Revere's stint in the military, the band resumed its place as one of the founding bands of the Portland music scene. They soon made their first visit to a recording studio, recording Richard Berry's Louie Louie at around the same time as another popular Portland band, the Kingsmen. The Kingsmen's version ended up being a huge national hit while the popularity of the Raiders' version was mostly restricted to the West Coast, thanks in large part to the active lack of support from Columbia Records, whose head of Artists and Repertoire (A&R), Mitch Miller, was an outspoken critic of rock 'n' roll. Undeterred, the band continued to grow in popularity, recording another single in 1964 (Like Long Hair) and going on tour. It was while playing in Hawaii that the band was noticed by none other than Dick Clark, who hired them to be the house band on his new afternoon TV show, Where The Action Is. Under the leadership of Mitch Miller Columbia Records had done their best to ignore the existence of rock 'n' roll (an effort that was somewhat undermined by one of their most popular artists, Bob Dylan, in 1965, when he went electric). Columbia had, however, a more open-minded West Coast division that included producer Terry Melcher, son of singer Doris Day and co-producer of the Rip Chords' hot rod hit Hey Little Cobra. With the Raiders now being seen daily on a national TV show, the label assigned Melcher to produce the band's records. It was a partnership that would lead to a string of hits, starting with Steppin' Out in 1965. The next record, Just Like Me, was the first of a string of top 10 singles that would last until early 1967, when rapidly changing public tastes made the band seem antiquated compared to up and coming groups like Jefferson Airplane. Just Like Me, despite some rather cheesy lyrics, still holds up well after all these years. Much of the credit for that has to go to Drake Levin, whose innovative double-tracked guitar solo rocked out harder than anything else on top 40 radio at the time (with the possible exception of a couple of well-known Kinks songs).
Title: (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
Source: LP: Then And Now...The Best Of The Monkees (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
When Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures announced that they would be doing a new TV series about a rock band called the Monkees, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart had hopes of being chosen for the project, not only as songwriters, but as actual performing members of the group itself. That part didn't work out (although years later they would participate in a Monkees revival), but they did end up providing the bulk of the songs used for the show. The first of these songs was Last Train To Clarksville, which was released as a single just prior to the show's debut in the fall of 1966 and ended up being a huge hit for the group. For the November 1966 followup single a Neil Diamond song, I'm A Believer, was chosen for the A side of the record. The B side was another Boyce/Hart song, (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone, that had been previously released by Paul Revere and the Raiders on their Midnight Ride album earlier in the year. The Monkees version of the song ended up being a hit in its own right, going all the way to the #20 spot (I'm A Believer ended up being the #1 song of 1967). Although there were two different mono mixes of the song released, it is the stereo version from the album More Of The Monkees that is most often heard these days.
Title: Soul Kitchen
Source: CD: The Doors
Writer(s): The Doors
Every time I hear the opening notes of the Doors' Soul Kitchen, from their first album, I think it's When The Music's Over, from their second LP. I wonder if they did that on purpose?
Title: Born To Be Wild
Source: CD: Steppenwolf
Writer(s): Mars Bonfire
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Born To Be Wild's status as a counter-cultural anthem was cemented when it was chosen for the soundtrack of the movie Easy Rider. The popularity of both the song and the movie resulted in Steppenwolf becoming the all-time favorite band of bikers all over the world.