Sunday, December 15, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2001 (starts 12/16/19 or 12/30/19, depending on local station schedule)
OK, full disclosure time. This week's show is a "contingency" show, recorded in May of 2018 to be used whenever it might be needed. And this week, due to various holiday programming, it's needed. As is the case with our companion show, Rockin' in the Days of Confusion, this show will be airing sometime between mid-December and early January, depending on when local stations need to run it. That said, there's some pretty good stuff in here, so enjoy!
Title: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends
Source: CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
One of the first tracks recorded for the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was the title track itself, which opens up side one of the LP. The following song, With A Little Help From My Friends (tentatively titled Bad Finger Boogie at the time), was recorded nearly two months later, yet the two sound like one continuous performance. In fact, it was this painstaking attention to every facet of the recording and production process that made Sgt. Pepper's such a landmark album. Whereas the first Beatle album, Please Please Me, took 585 minutes to record in 1963, Sgt. Pepper's, recorded four years later, took over 700 hours to complete. By this point in the band's career, drummer Ringo Starr was generally given one song to sing (usually written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney) on each of the group's albums. Originally, these were throwaway songs such as I Wanna Be Your Man (which was actually written for the Rolling Stones), but on the previous album, Revolver, the biggest hit on the album ended up being the "Ringo song", Yellow Submarine. Although no singles were released from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, With A Little Help From My Friends received considerable airplay on top 40 radio and is one of the most popular Beatle songs ever recorded.
Title: Lazy Old Sun
Source: CD: Something Else By The Kinks
Writer: Ray Davies
Although the Kinks had major hits on both sides of the ocean from 1964-66, by 1967 their success was limited to the UK, despite fine singles such as Dead End Street and Waterloo Sunset, thanks to a performance ban imposed by the American Federation of Musicians in 1965 that lasted for four years . Their 1967 LP, Something Else By The Kinks, continued the band's expansion into slightly satirical explorations of sociopolitical issues. At the same time, the album also shows a more experimental side musically, as Lazy Old Sun, with its staggered tempo and unusual chord progression, demonstrates. The song also shows a willingness to experiment with studio effects, as Something Else was the first Kinks album to be mixed in stereo.
Title: Riot On Sunset Strip
Source: CD: The Best Of The Standells (originally released on LP: Riot On Sunset Strip soundtrack)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
Anyone who doubts just how much influence bands like the Standells had on the punk-rock movement of the late 1970s need only listen to the 1967 title track from the movie Riot On Sunset Strip. The track sounds like it could have been an early Ramones recording. The song itself (and the movie) were based on a real life event. Local L.A. business owners had been complaining about the unruliness and rampant drug usage among the teens hanging out in front of the various underage clubs that had been springing up on Sunset Strip in the wake of the success of the Whisky-A-Go-Go, and in late 1966 the Los Angeles Police Department was called in to do something about the problem. What followed was a full-blown riot which ultimately led to local laws being passed that put many of the clubs out of business and severely curtailed the ability of the rest to make a profit. By 1968 the entire scene was a thing of the past, with the few remaining clubs converting to a more traditional over-21 approach.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Come Up The Years
Source: Mono LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
One of the most overused motifs in pop music is the "You're too young for me" song. This probably reflects, to a certain degree, a lifestyle that goes back to the beginnings of rock and roll (Chuck Berry did jail time for transporting a minor across state lines, Jerry Lee Lewis saw his career get derailed by his marraige to his 13-year-old cousin, etc.). Generally, the song's protagonist comes to a decision to put a stop to the relationship before it gets too serious. The Marty Balin/Paul Kantner tune Come Up The Years takes a more sophisticated look at the subject, although it still comes to the same conclusion (I can't do this because you're jailbait). In fact, the only rock songwriter I know of that came to any other conclusion on the matter was Bob Markley of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and that's what ultimately got him in trouble with the law.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Nashville Cats
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful)
Writer(s): John B. Sebastian
Label: Cotillion (original label: Kama Sutra)
After the success of their debut LP, Do You Believe In Magic, and its followup, Daydream, The Lovin' Spoonful deliberately set out to make an album that sounded like it was recorded by several different bands, as a way of showcasing their versatility. With Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful, released in 1966, they did just that. Songs on the album ranged from the folky Darlin' Be Home Soon to the rockin' psychedelic classic Summer In The City, with a liberal dose of what would come to be called country rock a few years later. The best example of the latter was Nashville Cats, a song that surprisingly went into the mainstream top 10, but did not receive any airplay at all from country stations, and became a staple of progressive FM rock radio in the early 1970s.
Title: Boys Are Boys And Girls Are Choice
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 Boys Are Boys And Girls Are Choice, 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.
Source: British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released on LP: Koobas)
Label: EMI (original UK label: Columbia)
The Koobas were a Merseybeat band that never managed to achieve the level of success enjoyed by fellow Liverpudians Gerry and the Pacemakers or the Beatles, despite having the patronage of Beatles manager Brian Epstein and even appearing in the film Ferry Across The Mersey. They did, however, record several singles for both the Pye and Columbia labels, but with little to show for it. Nonetheless, EMI, the parent company of Columbia, commissioned an entire album from the band in 1969. Among the standout tracks from that self-titled LP was the five-minute long Barricades, a track that starts with a Motown beat, but before long morphs into a chaotic portrait of riot and revolution, complete with anarchic sound effects.
Artist: Bob Seger System
Title: Death Row
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Bob Seger
I like to play Bob Seger's Death Row, written from the perspective of a convicted murderer waiting to be executed, for fans of the Silver Bullet Band who think that Turn the Page is about as intense as it gets. I count myself lucky to have stumbled across this rare single at a radio station I used to work for. I didn't even have to steal it, as the station had no desire to keep the record, since the A side (the equally intense anti-war song 2+2=?) never charted.
Artist: Moby Grape
Source: LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s): Skip Spence
As an ill-advised promotional gimmick, Columbia Records released five separate singles concurrently with the first Moby Grape album. Of the five singles, only one, Omaha, actually charted, and it only got to the #86 spot. Meanwhile, the heavy promotion by the label led to Moby Grape getting the reputation of being over-hyped, much to the detriment of the band's career.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original labels: USA/Uni)
Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was originally released to Los Angeles area radio stations on the local USA label it was intended to be the B side of a song called The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side.
Title: Giving To You
Source: Mono CD: Mr. Fantasy (originally released as LP: Heaven Is In Your Mind)
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
Traffic's first LP, Mr. Fantasy, was released in late 1967 under the name Heaven Is In Your Mind by United Artists Records in the US. The reason for this is not entirely clear, although the label may have been expecting the song Heaven Is In Your Mind to be a hit and wanted to capitalize on the title. As it turns out the song didn't do much on the US charts, despite the lead vocals of Steve Winwood, whose voice had already graced two top 10 singles by the Spencer Davis Group (Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man) earlier that year. More recently Island Records, which always had the UK rights to Traffic's material and has had US rights since the early 70s, decided to release CDs under both titles. Mr. Fantasy contains the mono mixes of the songs (plus mono bonus tracks), while Heaven Is In Your Mind has the stereo mixes of the same songs (with some slight differences in bonus tracks). One of the tracks with more noticable differences is Giving To You, which includes a short lounge-lizard style vocal intro on the mono version that is missing entirely from the stereo mix. The mono track also leaves off the scat vocals heard at the end of the stereo version of the tune.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: She's A Rainbow
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
The Rolling Stones had their own unique brand of psychedelia, which was showcased on their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request. The album itself, after zooming to the top of the charts, lost its momentum quickly, despite the fact that She's A Rainbow, which was released as a single, was a solid top 40 hit.
Title: Tales Of Brave Ulysses
Source: LP: Disraeli Gears
Cream was one of the first bands to break British tradition and release singles that were also available as album cuts. This tradition likely came about because 45 RPM records (both singles and extended play 45s) tended to stay in print indefinitely in the UK, unlike in the US, where a hit single usually had a shelf life of around 2-3 months then disappeared forever. When the Disraeli Gears album was released, however, the song Strange Brew, which leads off the LP, was released as a single worldwide. The B side of that single was Tales Of Brave Ulysses, which opens side two of the album.
Title: Que Vida!
Source: CD: Da Capo
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
The first Love album was pretty much garage folk-rock. Their second effort, however, showed off the rapidly maturing songwriting skills of both Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean. Que Vida! (yes, I know that technically there should be an upside down exclamation point at the beginning of the song title, but my keyboard doesn't speak Spanish) is a good example of Lee moving into territory usually associated with middle-of-the-road singers such as Johnny Mathis. Lee would continue to defy convention throughout his career, leading to a noticable lack of commercial success even as he won the respect of his musical peers.
Artist: Tommy James And The Shondells
Source: LP: Cellophane Symphony
By 1968 Tommy James And The Shondells were firmly established as a hit singles band, with songs like Hanky Panky, I Think We're Alone Now and Mony Mony being major successes. James himself, however, hated the group's image as a "bubblegum" band, and, starting with Crimson And Clover, deliberately set out to redefine the Shondells as a psychedelic band. Unfortunately, psychedelia itself had already peaked by then (no pun intended) and, despite some fine tunes like Evergreen, from the 1969 LP Cellophane Symphony, the band's fortunes declined toward the end of the decade and the Shondells disbanded in 1970.
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Dime-A-Dance Romance
Source: CD: Sailor
Writer(s): Boz Scaggs
Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs met each other when they were twelve years old, and by the time they both attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the early 1960s they had already played in several bands together. After graduation Scaggs moved to Sweden, releasing his solo debut LP, Boz, in 1965. In 1967 he returned to the states, reuniting with Miller in San Francisco and appearing on the first two Steve Miller Band albums in 1968 before resuming his solo career. Scaggs wrote and sang lead vocals on two songs on each of the two LPs, including Dime-A-Dance Romance, the final track on the second Miller album, Sailor. Scaggs went on to have major success in the 1970s, culminating with his 5X platinum album Silk Degrees in 1976.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Rock And Roll Woman
Source: LP: Buffalo Springfield Again
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth). Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Richie Furay, Jim Messina, Stephen Stills and Neil Young. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock and Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 40 years after it was recorded.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Source: LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Sometime in late 1966 Jimi Hendrix was visiting his girlfriend's mother's house in London for the first time. It was a cold rainy night and Jimi immediately noticed that there was a dog curled up in front of the fireplace. Jimi's first action was to scoot the dog out of the way so he himself could benefit from the fire's warmth, using the phrase "Move over Rover and let Jimi take over." The phrase got stuck in his head and eventually became the basis for one of his most popular songs. Although never released as a single, Fire was a highlight of the Jimi Hendrix Experience's live performances, often serving as a set opener.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Flying High
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Any guesses to what a song called Flying High from an album called Electric Music For The Mind And Body by Country Joe And The Fish released in 1967 might be about? I thought not.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Source: CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Country Joe McDonald liked to write songs that were inspired by women he knew. Being Country Joe McDonald these included some women who would end up becoming quite famous as part of the San Francisco scene. One of the most famous of those was Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane, who inspired the final track on the first Country Joe And The Fish LP, Electric Music For The Mind And Body. Who would have guessed?
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Porpoise Mouth
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
The songs on the first Country Joe And The Fish album ranged from silly satire (Super Bird) to downright spacey. One of the spaciest tracks on the album is Porpoise Mouth, both lyrically and musically.
Title: Happy Together
Source: CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1967 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: White Whale)
The Turtles got off to a strong start with their cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, which hit the top 20 in 1965. By early 1967, however, the band had fallen on hard times and was looking for a way to return to the charts. They found that way with Happy Together, a song written by Gary Bonner and Mark Gordon, both members of an east coast band called the Magicians. Happy Together was the Turtles' first international hit, going all the way to the top of the charts in several countries and becoming one of the most recognizable songs in popular music history.
Title: She'd Rather Be With Me
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: White Whale
The Turtles knew a good thing when they found it, and in 1967 that good thing was Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon, a pair of New York songwriters who had been members of a band called the Magicians. The first Bonner/Gordon song to be recorded by the Turtles was Happy Together, a huge hit that knocked the Beatles' Penny Lane off the top of the charts. The next Turtles single was another Bonner/Gordon composition called She'd Rather Be With Me. That one peaked at #3. Before the year was over the Turtles would take two more Bonner/Gordon tunes into the top 20.
Title: Can't You Hear The Cows
Source: CD: The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): The Turtles
Label: White Whale
By late 1968 the Turtles already had their best times behind them. After a failed attempt at self-production (the record company refused to release all but one of the tracks they had recorded), the band went back into the studio to cut a Harry Nilsson tune, The Story of Rock and Roll. Can't You Hear the Cows, sort of a twisted throwback to their days as the surf music band known as the Crossfires and sounding oddly like the mid-80s Beach Boys, appeared on the B side of that single.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: As The World Rises And Falls
Source: CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Label: Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's third album for Reprise, Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil, is generally considered their best, and for good reason. The album includes some of guitarist Ron Morgan's finest contributions, including the gently flowing As The World Rises And Falls. Even Bob Markley's lyrics, which could run the range from inane to somewhat disturbing, here come across as poetic and original. Unfortunately for the band, Morgan was by this time quite disenchanted with the whole thing, and would often not even show up to record. Nonetheless, the band continued on for a couple more years (and two more albums) before finally calling it quits in 1970.
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 labeled 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.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Morning Dew
Source: LP: The Grateful Dead
Label: Warner Brothers
One of the most identifiable songs in the Grateful Dead repertoire, Morning Dew was the first song ever written by Canadian folk singer Bonnie Dobson, who came up with the song in 1961 the morning after having a long discussion with friends about what life might be like following a nuclear holocaust. She began performing the song that year, with the first recorded version appearing on her 1962 live album At Folk City. The song was not published, however, until 1964, when Fred Neil decided to record his own version of the song for his album Tear Down The Walls. The first time the song appeared on a major label was 1966, when Tim Rose recorded it for his self-titled Columbia Records debut album. Rose had secured permission to revise the song and take credit as a co-writer, but his version was virtually identical to the Fred Neil version of the song. Nonetheless, Rose's name has been included on all subsequent recordings (though Dobson gets 75% of the royalties), including the Grateful Dead version heard on their 1967 debut LP.
Artist: Big Brother and the Holding Company
Title: Piece Of My Heart
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
By 1968 Big Brother and the Holding Company, with their charismatic vocalist from Texas, Janis Joplin, had become as popular as fellow San Francisco bands Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. Somehow, though, they were still without a major label record deal. That all changed with the release of Cheap Thrills, with cover art by the legendary underground comix artist R. Crumb. The album itself was a curious mixture of live performances and studio tracks, the latter being led by the band's powerful cover of the 1966 Barbara Lynn tune Piece Of My Heart. The song propelled the band, and Joplin, to stardom. That stardom would be short-lived for most of the band members, however, as well-meaning but ultimately wrong-headed advice-givers convinced Joplin that Big Brother was holding her back. The reality was that the band was uniquely suited to support her better than anyone she would ever work with again.
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Source: Mono LP: Chronicle (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: Green River )
Writer(s): John Fogerty
By 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival had gone from being a minor attraction appearing at county fairs to being one of the most popular bands in the US. One indicator of the band's popularity is the fact that a song like Lodi, originally relegated to the B side of a 45 RPM single, is still instantly recognizable to a sizable number of people nearly 50 years after its initial release. The song's lyrics, describing a down on his luck musician stuck in a small town without the means of moving on, strikes a chord with anyone who has ever played in a bar band, making Lodi a truly timeless classic.
Title: Love In A Summer Basket
Source: British import CD: Singles As & Bs (originally released in US as 45 RPM single)
Label: Big Beat (original label: M-G-M)
The final Seeds release was a single called Love In A Summer Basket, credited to the entire band. However, it was an entirely different sounding band than the Seeds of old, with only Sky Saxon and keyboardist Daryl Hooper left from the group's original lineup. The band had not had a hit record since 1967, and had finally parted company with their original label, GNP Crescendo, in 1969. In 1970 they managed to sign a new contract with M-G-M, still considered a major force in the music industry at the time, but found themselves once again without a label following the release of Love In A Summer Basket at the end of the year. Mike Curb had just been made vice president of M-G-M's music division and immediately set out to clean up the label's image by purging both M-G-M and Verve Records of all drug-related artists and material, including the Velvet Underground and the Mothers. It is likely that even if the new Seeds recordings had found an audience, the group's past history as the poster child for L.A.'s drug-fueled underground music scene would have doomed them with Curb anyway.
Title: Sunshine Superman
Source: British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Up until the early 1970s there was an unwritten rule that stated that in order to get played on top 40 radio a song could be no more than three and a half minutes long. There were exceptions, of course, such as Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone, but as a general rule the policy was strictly adhered to. Sometimes an artist would record a song that exceeded the limit but nonetheless was considered to have commercial potential. In cases like these the usual practice was for the record company (or sometimes the producer of the record) to create an edited version of the master recording for release as a single. Usually in these cases the original unedited version of the song would appear on an album. In the case of Donovan's Sunshine Superman, however, the mono single version was used for the album as well, possibly because the album itself was never issued in stereo. In fact, it wasn't until 1969 that the full-length original recording of Sunshine Superman was made available as a track on Donovan's first Greatest Hits collection. This was also the first time the song had appeared in stereo, having been newly mixed for that album. An even newer mix was made in 1998 and is included on a British anthology album called Psychedelia At Abbey Road. This version takes advantage of digital technology and has a slightly different sound than previous releases of the song.
Title: West Indian Lady
Source: British import CD: The Hurdy Gurdy Man (originally released in US)
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original US label: Epic)
Released in October of 1968, The Hurdy Gurdy Man is generally considered the most musically diverse of all of Donovan's albums. West Indian Lady, for example, incorporates a calypso beat, similar to the one used on his 1967 single There Is A Mountain.