Sunday, December 8, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1950 (starts 12/9/19)
This week's show has artists' sets, sets from individual years and a set of obscurities from 1965 to 1969. What more can you ask for? How about five songs making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut, including one from a band never heard on the show before?
Title: Old John Robertson (single version)
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
In late 1967 the Byrds released a non-album single of a new David Crosby song, Lady Friend. The B side of that single was a song written by Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman called Old John Robertson. The tune, about a man that Hillman knew growing up, was a strong indication of the band's ongoing transition from folk-rock to what would come to be known as country-rock. A newer mix of the song was included on the 1968 Byrds album, The Notorious Byrd Brothers.
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Mr. Blues
Source: LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s): Bob Mosley
Bassist Bob Mosley wrote and sang on Mr. Blues, one of ten songs released simultaneously on 45 RPM vinyl from the first Moby Grape album. It was a marketing disaster that forever tarnished a talented band.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: The War Is Over
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s): Paul Kantner
Label: RCA Victor
The songs on the third Jefferson Airplane album, After Bathing At Baxter's, are grouped into suites of two or three songs apiece. Most of the suites mix songs by different songwriters; the sole exception is The War Is Over, which is made up of two Paul Kantner tunes, Martha and Wild Thyme. The War Is Over is also the shortest of the five suites on After Bathing At Baxter's, clocking in at about six and a half minutes.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)
Source: Mono LP: Blonde On Blonde
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
The recording of the first song that would appear on Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde album was not an easy process. Dylan had been spending time at Columbia's Studio A in New York with his stage band, the Hawks (later to be known as The Band) since October of 1965, but was not satisfied with any of the recordings. On January 25, 1966, he showed up at Studio A with an unfinished (and untitled) song that he actually finished during the session, which would last nine hours. By take five, the song had a title: One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later), but it took until take 15 to get a full version of the song on tape. Dylan, backed by backed by drummer Bobby Gregg, bassist Rick Danko (or possibly Bill Lee), guitarist Robbie Robertson, pianist Paul Griffin, and organist Al Kooper, continued to fine tune the track through anther nine takes before calling it a wrap on the morning of January 26th. The song, about a relationship in its death throes, was released as a single on Valentine's Day, 1966, but failed to break the top 100 in the US. It did slightly better in the UK, peaking at #33. By this time the sessions had shifted to Columbia's Studio B in Nashville, and when Blonde On Blonde was released four months later, One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later) was the only song recorded in New York to make it onto the album.
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Magic Bus (originally released in UK on EP: Ready Steady Who)
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Reaction)
After a successful appearance on the British TV show Ready Steady Go (the UK's answer to American Bandstand), the Who released an EP featuring mostly cover songs such as Bucket T and the Batman theme. Two tracks on the record, however, were Who originals: a new version of Circles (a song that originally appeared on the My Generation album) and Disguises, which made its debut as the lead track of the EP. The song did not appear in the US until the Magic Bus album, released in 1968. When MCA issued a remastered version of A Quick One in the 1990s, the entire contents of the EP (except Circles) were included as bonus tracks on the CD.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Little Olive
Source: Mono CD: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): James Lowe
Label: Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Allowing a band to compose its own B side was a fairly common practice in the mid-1960s, as it saved the producer from having to pay for the rights to a composition by professional songwriters and funneled some of the royalty money to the band members. As a result, many B sides were actually a better indication of what a band was really about, since most A sides were picked by the record's producer, rather than the band. Such is the case with Little Olive, a song written by the Electric Prunes' lead vocalist James Lowe and released as the B side of the band's debut single in 1966.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: No Expectations
Source: LP: More Hot Rocks (Big Hits And Fazed Cookies) (originally released on LP: Beggar's Banquet)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The first single to be released in the US from Beggar's Banquet was Street Fighting Man, which was also the first Rolling Stones track to be produced by Jimmy Miller, who had already established a reputation working with Steve Winwood, both with the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic. Brian Jones's slide guitar work on The B side of the single, No Expectations, is sometimes considered his last important contribution to the band.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: I Need A Man To Love
Source: CD: Cheap Thrills
Big Brother and the Holding Company recorded their first album at the Chicago studios of Mainstream records in 1967. Mainstream, however, was a jazz label and their engineers had no idea how to make a band like Big Brother sound good. When the band signed to Columbia the following year it was decided that the best way to record the band was onstage at the Fillmore West. As a result, when Cheap Thrills was released, four of the seven tracks were live recordings, including the Janis Joplin/Peter Albin collaboration I Need A Man To Love.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Out Of Focus
Source: Dutch import LP: Vincebus Eruptum
Writer: Dickie Peterson
With the possible exception of the Grateful Dead (when they were using the Owsley-designed sound system), the loudest band to come out of San Francisco was Blue Cheer. The album Vincebus Eruptum, highlighted by the band's feedback-drenched version of Eddie Cochrane's Summertime Blues, is considered by some to be the first heavy metal album ever recorded. Out Of Focus, which opens side 2 of the LP, was issued as the B side of Summertime Blues and got some airplay on college radio at the time.
Title: As You Said
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Cream started off as a British blues supergroup, but soon found themselves putting out some of the finest psychedelic tunes east of the Atlantic. Much of the credit for this goes to the songwriting team of bassist Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. Brown was originally brought in as a songwriting partner for Ginger Baker, but soon found a better synergy with Bruce. The two went on to write some of Cream's most memorable songs, including Tales of Brave Ulysses, Deserted Cities of the Heart and White Room. As You Said, from Cream's third LP, Wheel's Of Fire, is somewhat unusual in that it features acoustical instruments exclusively (including Ginger Baker setting aside his drumsticks in favor of brushes).
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: At The Zoo
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Simon and Garfunkel did not release any new albums in 1967, instead concentrating on their live performances. They did, however, issue several singles over the course of the year, most of which ended up being included on 1968's Bookends LP. At The Zoo was one of the first of those 1967 singles. It's B side ended up being a hit as well, but by Harper's Bizarre, which took The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) to the top 10 early in the year.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: A Most Peculiar Man
Source: LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer: Paul Simon
You would think that a high school on a US military facility would be inclined to use the most staunchly traditional teaching methods known to man. Surprisingly, though, this was not the case at General H. H. Arnold High School in Weisbaden, Germany. In fact, the English department was teaching some sort of new system that dispensed with terms such as verb and noun and replaced them with a more conceptual approach to language. What I best remember about my Freshman English class is the day that my rather Bohemian teacher (he wore sandals to class!), actually brought in a copy of the Sounds Of Silence and had us dissect two songs from the album, Richard Cory and A Most Peculiar Man. We spent several classes discussing the similarities (they both deal with a suicide by someone representing a particular archetype) and differences (the methods used and the archetypes themselves) between the songs. I have forgotten everything else about that class and its so-called revolutionary approach, but those two songs have stayed with me my entire life. I guess that teacher (whose name I have forgotten) was on to something.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Richard Cory
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Sounds Of Silence)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
My ultra-cool 9th-grade English teacher brought in a copy of Simon And Garfunkel's Sounds Of Silence album one day. As a class, we deconstructed the lyrics of two of the songs on that album: A Most Peculiar Man and Richard Cory. Both songs deal with suicide, but under vastly different circumstances. Whereas A Most Peculiar Man is about a lonely man who lives an isolated existence as an anonymous resident of a boarding house, Richard Cory deals with a character who is at the center of society, known and envied by many. Too bad most high school English classes weren't that interesting.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Suppose They Give A War And No One Comes
Source: LP: Volume II
One of the more popular posters of the pyschedelic era took the phrase Suppose They Give A War And No One Comes and highlighted the letters P,E,A,C and E with colors that, when viewed under a black light, stood out from the rest of the text. At around the same time a movie came out with a similar title. Quite possibly both were inspired by a track from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's late 1967 LP Volume II. The song itself is either really cool or really pretentious. I've had a copy of it for over 30 years and still haven't figured out which.
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.
Title: It Just Won't Be That Way
Source: Mono CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lyte Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): J. Ryan
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: United Artists)
As near as I can tell, the Gurus were kind of a New York City supergroup made up of music majors who got together as a "musical experiment". They got a contract with United Artists and released two singles for the label. The second one, released in early 1967, was It Just Won't Be That Way, a song that features a sitar played like a lead guitar in its instrumental break. Neither record sold well, and the group soon disbanded.
Title: Poor Cow
Source: Mono British import CD: The Hurdy Gurdy Man (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original US label: Epic)
In September of 1967 Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan Leitch recorded a pair of songs for a film called Poor Cow. One of these songs, Poor Girl, was retitled and re-recorded in early 1968 and released as the B side of Jennifer Juniper. The single did well enough in the UK, but stiffed stateside. Donovan's next single, The Hurdy Gurdy Man, was a worldwide hit, however.
Title: Sunshine Superman
Source: CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released in edited form on 45 RPM vinyl and on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Sony Music Special Products (original label: Epic)
Donovan's hugely successful Sunshine Superman is sometimes credited as being the tsunami that launched the wave of psychedelic music that washed over the shores of pop musicland in 1967. OK, I made that up, but the song really did change the direction of American pop as well as Donovan's own career. Originally released as a three and a quarter minute long single, the full unedited four and a half minute long stereo mix of the song heard here did not appear on vinyl until Donovan's 1969 Greatest Hits album.
Source: British import CD: The Hurdy Gurdy Man
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original US label: Epic)
Although officially credite to Donovan Leitch, Tangier, from the 1968 LP The Hurdy Gurdy Man, was actually written by Donovan's close friend Gyp Mills (also known as Gypsy Dave). The song's original title was In Tangier Down A Windy Street. The piece is one of three songs on The Hurdy Gurdy Man that are built around a single note (known in Eastern music as a drone). Due to an ongoing contractual dispute between Donovan and Pye Records, The Hurdy Gurdy Man was originally released only in the US.
Title: You Said
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Geoff Tindall
Label: Rhino (original label: Pye)
The Corn Flakes were formed in Oxford, England, but did not get much attention until they changed their name to the highly appropriate Primitives in 1964. Following the name change, the Primitives were able to garner several TV and magazine appearances based on their image alone. As can be heard on their second single, You Said, the band sounded a bit like a cross between the Who and the Rolling Stones. The guitar break on the track, incidentally, was played by a studio musician by the name of Jimmy Page. In 1966 the Primitives relocated to Italy, enjoying a much greater degree of chart success than they had been able to drum up in their own country.
Source: LP: And Then...Along Comes The Association
Writer(s): Billy Edd Wheeler
In the early 1960s American pop albums (they didn't use the word "rock" back then) were, by and large, a ripoff, containing one or two hit singles and a whole lot of filler. Most of that filler was made up of cover versions of hit singles by other artists that were generally lacking in whatever spark that made the original versions hits in the first place. This began to change at the very end of 1965, when the Beatles released Rubber Soul, but even then, their US label insisted on leaving out several songs from the original British version of the album, replacing them with leftover tracks from previous albums. The real sea change in the US came in May of 1966, with the release of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album. The 13-song LP had absolutely no filler on it, with only one non-original tune in the bunch (that being the group's hit version of the traditional Sloop John B). Pet Sounds sent shockwaves throughout the entire music industry, especially on the West Coast, inspiring other producers and artists to take a similar approach to album making. One of the first efforts in the direction came only two months later, with the release of the album And Then...Along Comes The Association. Produced by 22-year-old Curt Boettcher, the album had only two cover songs on it, one of them being the band's first hit single, Along Comes Mary. The other cover was Blistered, a Billy Edd Wheeler song that approaches garage-rock in its intensity (ironic, considering that Wheeler is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame). Boettcher continued to develop as a producer, culminating in his 1968 project The Millennium, a critically-acclaimed album that nevertheless was a commercial failure. The Association, meanwhile, became one of the most successful soft-pop groups of the late 1960s.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Summer Is The Man
Source: Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
Following up on their successful debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop, the Blues Magoos released Electric Comic Book in March of 1967. Unfortunately the first single from the album had two equally strong songs, one of which was favored by the producers and the other by the band. Radio stations were unsure which song to push, and as a result, neither made the top 40, which in turn had a negative effect on album sales. Most of the remaining tracks on the album were written by the band members, including Summer Is The Man, a song with an interesting chord structure, a catchy melody and somewhat existential lyrics.
Artist: Neil Young
Title: The Loner
Source: LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: Neil Young)
Writer(s): Neil Young
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
The Loner could easily have been passed off as a Buffalo Springfield song. In addition to singer/songwriter/guitarist Neil Young, the tune features Springfield members Jim Messina on bass and George Grantham on drums. Since Buffalo Springfield was functionally defunct by the time the song was ready for release, however, it instead became Young's first single as a solo artist. The song first appeared, in a longer form, on Young's first solo album in late 1968, with the single being released three months later. The subject of The Loner has long been rumored to be Young's bandmate Stephen Stills, or possibly Young himself. As usual, Neil Young ain't sayin'.
Artist: Scarlet Letter
Source: Mono British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
One of the Detroit music scene's most overlooked bands, the Scarlet Letter released three singles for Bob Shad's Mainstream label. The best of these was a tune called Mary Maiden, with the equally strong Timekeeper on the flip side. The group also released a single on the Time label (a subsidiary of Mainstream) using the name Paraphernalia in 1968.
Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Source: CD: déjà vu
Writer(s): Joni Mitchell
It's somewhat ironic that the most famous song about the Woodstock Music and Art Festival was written by someone who was not even at the event. Joni Mitchell had been advised by her manager that she would be better off appearing on the Dick Cavett show that weekend, so she stayed in her New York City hotel room and watched televised reports of what was going on up at Max Yasgur's farm. Further inspiration came from her then-boyfried Graham Nash, who shared his firsthand experiences of the festival with Mitchell. The song was first released on the 1970 album Ladies Of The Canyon, and was made famous the same year when it was chosen to be the first single released from the Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young album déjà vu. The CSNY version peaked just outside of the Billboard top 10.
Artist: Frijid Pink
Title: Boozin' Blues
Source: German import CD: Frijid Pink
Label: Repertoire (original label: Parrot)
Although never considered a first-tier band, Frijid Pink was a solid component in Detroit's "second-wave" of rock bands in the late 1960s. Formed in 1967, when fellow Detroiters Mitch Ryder and ? And The Mysterians were already riding high, Frijid Pink came up around the same time as the Amboy Dukes and The Stooges, among others. Despite releasing some of the hardest rocking singles of the time, they experience limited commercial success until their cover of House Of The Rising Sun became an international smash hit in 1970. A self-titled album soon followed which included several of their earlier singles, as well as originals like the sultry Boozin' Blues. Subsequent efforts by the band failed to equal the success of House Of The Rising Sun, however, and within a couple of years Frijid Pink had melted back into the shadows.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Hear My Train A-Comin'
Source: CD: Blues
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/MCA
Year: Recorded 1970, released 1994
Structured similarly to the better-known Voodoo Child, Hear My Train A-Comin' is actually the earlier of the two compositions, having been recorded as early as 1967, when Jimi Hendrix was experimenting with a 12-string acoustic guitar in the studio. I say experimenting, as playing an acoustic 12-string guitar when you are used to a fast-necked electric model such as a Fender Stratocaster is akin to learning an entirely new instrument. This particular version of Hear My Train A-Comin' was recorded live at Berkeley Community Theater on May 30, 1970 (which happens to be 40 years to the day before Stuck in the Psychedelic Era aired its first syndicated episode).
Title: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor
Source: 45 RPM single B side
By 1967 the Yardbirds had moved far away from their blues roots and were on their fourth lead guitarist, studio whiz Jimmy Page. The band had recently picked up a new producer, Mickey Most, known mostly for his work with Herman's Hermits and the original Animals. Most had a tendency to concentrate solely on the band's single A sides, leaving Page an opportunity to develop his own songwriting and production skills on songs such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, a track that also shows signs of Page's innovative guitar style (including an instrumental break played with a violin bow) that would help define 70s rock.