Sunday, March 1, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2010 (starts 3/2/20)
Although the show begins and ends with British acts, it's a pair of California bands that draw the most attention this time around. As was the case last week as well, our second hour features an artists' set from the Doors, albeit a considerably shorter one this time out. Then, in our last half hour, it's once again time for the full version of Iron Butterfly's 1968 classic In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. As an added bonus we have a track from legendary Memphis guitarist Steve Cropper's first and only solo LP for Stax, the company he helped make famous in the late 1960s.
Title: I'm Looking Through You
Source: CD: Rubber Soul
If you were an American Beatles fan in the 1970s and early 1980s you probably had a copy of the 1965 album Rubber Soul in your collection, and whether it was on vinyl, cassette, 8-track cartridge or even reel-to-reel tape it was almost certainly a stereo copy. All of these US releases included a version of I'm Looking Through You that was not available anywhere else. In addition to the extreme separation between vocal and instrumental tracks (if your left speaker wasn't working, you wouldn't hear any vocals at all), this version of the song included a pair of short acoustic guitar chords there tacked onto the beginning of the track, probably by mistake. Many of us got so used to hearing the song that way that it still feels a bit unnatural to hear the song without them. So, for all you nostalgic ones, here is the version we all remember.
Artist: Count Five
Title: The Morning After
Source: Mono LP: Psychotic Reaction
Writer(s): John Byrne
Label: Bicycle/Concord (original label: Double Shot)
Following the success of the single Psychotic Reaction, San Jose, Calfornia's Count Five headed for Los Angeles to record an entire album's worth of material. With the exception of two Who covers, all the songs on the album (also called Psychotic Reaction) were written or co-written by John Byrne, the Irish-born rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist for the band. They were also quite short. The Morning After, for instance, runs less than two minutes total.
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: Come On Home
Source: CD: Soul Crusade
Writer(s): Dominic Troiano
Label: Wounded Bird (original label: Atlantic)
Mandala was formed in late 1966, when Toronto's Five Rogues decided to update their image, presenting themselves as a channel for audience members to release its emotions as part of the band's "Soul Crusade". They were an immediate success, and in early 1967 found themselves playing high-profile gigs in the US, including a four-night stand at L.A.'s Whisky-A-Go-Go and a month-long extended engagement at The Scene in New York City. They also participated in Murray the K's Easter Rock Extravaganza, sharing the bill with the Blues Project, Cream, the Who, Wilson Pickett and others. Internal conflicts, however, led to lineup changes later in the year, and a new lineup consisting of guitarist Dominic Troiano, bassist Don Elliot, keyboardist Hugh Sullivan, drummer Whitey Glan and new lead vocalist Roy Kenner made its debut in Ottawa on October 8, 1967. The earlier lineup had cut a couple singles for the Decca label, and in early 1968 Atlantic's Ahmet Ertegun bought out the band's contract. The band's only album, Soul Crusade, was released in June of 1968. Although the group was primarily a blue-eyed soul band, one of the songs on the LP, Dominic Troiano's Come On Home, was pure blues. Sales of the album and it's singles were a commercial disappointment, however, and Mandala disbanded a year later, with Troiano, Kenner, Glan, Sullivan and new bassist Prakish John continuing on under the name Bush. After one album Bush also fell apart, with Kenner and Troiano replacing Joe Walsh as a member of the James Gang in early 1972. Troiano eventually moved on to the Guess Who when Randy Bachman left that band to form Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Red House
Source: CD: Live At Woodstock
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Just about every time Jimi Hendrix made a live appearance he played his signature blues song, Red House. This is the version performed at Woodstock, using the band he was calling Gypsy, Sun And Rainbows at the time, although he also was heard to say "We're just a Band Of Gypsys" during his set. In addition to Hendrix himself, the band featured Mitch Mitchell on drums, Billy Cox on bass, Larry Lee on rhythm guitar and percussionists Jerry Velez and Juma Sultan, although only Hendrix, Cox and Mitchell are audible on the recording.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: That's The Way
Source: German import LP: Led Zeppelin III
I read somewhere that Jimmy Page came up with The Rain Song (from the album Houses Of The Holy) in response to someone asking him why Led Zeppelin hadn't recorded any ballads. Apparently that person had never heard That's The Way, from the album Led Zeppelin III. If this ain't a ballad, I don't know what is.
Title: Surfin' Bird
Source: Mono CD: Surfin' Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Garrett)
The Trashmen were a group from Minneapolis that came up with the idea of taking two Rivingtons hits from the 1950s, Papa Oom Mow Mow and Bird Is The Word, and combining them, speeding up the tempo to insane levels in the process. The result was a huge hit in 1963. The original label lists bandleader Steve Wahrer as the songwriter, but more recent releases credit the song to the members of the Rivingtons.
Title: Just A Little Bit
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Backtrackin' (originally released in UK on LP: The Angry Young Them)
Label: London (original label: Decca)
Like many mid-60s albums, the debut effort from Belfast's Them had a slightly different track lineup on either side of the Atlantic, with a few of the songs from the British version left off the American album. One of the songs from The Angry Young Them that was left off its US counterpart (titled simply Them) was a remake of a 1959 Roscoe Gordon tune called Just A Little Bit. The song finally appeared in the US on an album called Backtrackin' in 1974. By then, however, LPs were being pressed only in stereo, whereas the original recordings used were all mixed monoraully. Rather than use the mono mixes, London Records chose to create "fake stereo" mixes of the songs on the LP. Although there are no production credits given on the album cover or label, I suspect Allan Klein was somehow involved in putting this album together.
Artist: Oxford Circle
Title: Foolish Woman
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: World United)
The Oxford Circle was one of those bands that had a reputation for being the opening band that blew the headliners off the stage, yet never was able to make it big itself. Originally from Sacramento, California, the group appeared frequently in and around San Francisco in 1965 and 1966, but disbanded before the scene started getting national attention, with many of the members moving on to greater fame with other bands. Drummer Paul Whaley was the first to get national attention as a founding member of Blue Cheer. Oxford Circle leader Gary Lee Yoder would eventually join Blue Cheer as well, after a short stint with his own band, Kak. Also of note was bassist Jim Keylor, who was in an early incarnation of Roxy and went on to form BSU studios, where the Dead Kennedys recorded. For all that, the Oxford Circle made only one single, Foolish Woman, which was released on the independent World United label in 1966.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Lucifer Sam
Source: CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Writer(s): Syd Barrett
Label: Capitol (original label: Tower)
Beyond a shadow of a doubt the original driving force behind Pink Floyd was the legendary Syd Barrett. Not only did he front the band during their rise to fame, he also wrote their first two singles, Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, as well as most of their first LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. In fact it could be argued that one of the songs on that album, Lucifer Sam, could have just as easily been issued as a single, as it is stylistically similar to the first two songs. Sadly, Barrett's mental health deteriorated quickly over the next year and his participation in the making of the band's next LP, A Saucerful Of Secrets, was minimal. He soon left the group altogether, never to return (although several of his former bandmates did participate in the making of his 1970 solo album, The Madcap Laughs).
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: Baroque # 1
Source: Mono LP: Ultimate Spinach (promo copy)
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
Of the six major US record labels of the time, only two, Decca and M-G-M, failed to sign any San Francisco bands in the late 1960s. Decca, which had been bought by MCA in the early 60s, was fast fading as a major force in the industry (ironic considering that Universal, the direct descendant of MCA, is now the world's largest record company). M-G-M, on the other hand, had a strong presence on the Greenwich Village scene thanks to Jerry Schoenbaum at the Verve Forecast label, who had signed such critically-acclaimed artists as Dave Van Ronk, Tim Hardin and the Blues Project. Taking this as an inspiration, the parent label decided to create interest in the Boston music scene, aggressively promoting (some would say hyping) the "Boss-Town Sound". One of the bands signed was Ultimate Spinach, which was led by keyboardist Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote all the band's material, including the instrumental Baroque # 1.
Artist: Allman Brothers Band
Title: Trouble No More
Source: CD: Beginnings (originally released on LP: The Allman Brothers Band)
Writer(s): McKinley Morganfield
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
The Allman Brothers band grew out of massive jam sessions organized by Duane Allman and drummer Jai Johnny Johanson in early 1969. The two had recently relocated from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where Allman had been doing session work for artists such as Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett (it's Duane's guitar that can be heard on Pickett's version of Hey Jude). One of the musicians Allman invited to the sessions was bassist Berry Oakley, who in turn recruited Dickey Betts as the as-yet unnamed band's second guitarist. Duane Allman's concept of the new band was to have two guitarists and two drummers, and it wasn't long before Butch Trucks, whom Allman and his brother Gregg had cut a demo with the previous year, was added to the mix. The final piece came into play on March 26, 1969, when Gregg Allman accepted his brother's invitation to sit in with the group as lead vocalist. The band was rehearsing an old Muddy Waters tune, Trouble No More, which became the first song Gregg Allman ever performed with the group. The addition of Gregg as vocalist and keyboardist gave the band its name as well. It wasn't long before the Allman Brothers Band recorded their first album for Phil Walden's new Capricorn label (since Capricorn at that point did not yet have its own logo, the LP was actually released on the Atco label, thanks to a deal between Walden, Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records and the band itself). Although not a huge commercial success when first released, the album's sales picked up considerably after the band released a live album recorded at the Fillmore East in 1971.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: It's No Secret
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer: Marty Balin
Label: RCA Victor
The first Jefferson Airplane song to get played on the radio was not Somebody To Love. Rather, it was It's No Secret, from the album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, that got extensive airplay, albeit only in the San Francisco Bay area. Still, the song was featured on a 1966 Bell Telephone Hour special on Haight Ashbury that introduced a national TV audience to what was happening out on the coast and may have just touched off the exodus to San Francisco the following year.
Artist: Chocolate Watch Band
Title: Psychedelic Trip
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2012
Psychedelic Trip is essentially an early instrumental version of what would eventually become the title track for the Chocolate Watch Band's debut album, No Way Out. Although Psychedelic Trip was a creation of the entire band, producer/manager Ed Cobb (the Ed Wood of psychedelic music) took sole writing credit for the song No Way Out.
Title: Mr. Nobody
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of The Standells (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Larry Tamblyn
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
The third Standells single of 1966, Why Pick On Me, was probably also their weakest, but it did sport a decent B side. Mr. Nobody, written by Larry Tamblyn (brother of Russ, I believe), is yet another example of why the Standells are sometimes considered the first punk rock band (though not by those with any real knowledge of the band's history).
Artist: ? And The Mysterians
Title: 96 Tears
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): The Mysterians
Label: Abkco (original label: Cameo)
Although his birth certificate gives the name Rudy Martinez, the leader of the Mysterians had his name legally changed to "?" several years ago. He asserts that he is actually from the planet Mars and has lived among dinosaurs in a past life. Sometimes I feel like I'm living among dinosaurs in this life, so I guess I can relate a little. The band's only major hit, 96 Tears, has the distinction of being the last top 10 single on the Cameo label before Cameo-Parkway got into trouble with the SEC and went bankrupt. The label's assets were bought by Allen Klein, who now operates the company as Abkco.
Artist: Steve Cropper
Title: Land Of 1000 Dances
Source: LP: With A Little Help From My Friends
Despite being one of the most respected (and imitated) guitarists in the world as well as one of the principal architects (as a member of the MGs) of what came to be known as "Memphis Soul", Steve Cropper only released one solo album for Stax, the label he helped make famous. That album, With A Little Help From My Friends, released in 1969, featured instrumental versions of some of the most popular R&B songs of the decade, including a few, such as Land Of 1000 Dances, that he had never before recorded. Within a year of the album's release, Cropper would leave Stax to form his own production company.
Title: The WASP (Texas Radio And The Big Beat)
Source: CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: L.A. Woman)
Writer(s): The Doors
Following a downward slide starting in 1968, the Doors ended their original run on a high note in 1971 with the L.A. Woman album. Among the strong blues-based tracks on the album is The WASP (Texas Radio And The Big Beat), an anthemic number that ranks up with other Doors album classics such as Five To One, When The Music's Over and The End. Big Beat indeed.
Title: Love Her Madly
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): The Doors
Released as a single in advance of the 1971 Doors album L.A. Woman, Love Her Madly was a major success, peaking just outside the top 10 in the US, and going all the way to the #3 spot in Canada. The album itself was a return to a more blues-based sound by the Doors, a change that did not sit well with producer Paul Rothchild, who left the project early on, leaving engineer Bruce Botnik to assume production duties. Rothchild's opinion aside, it was exactly what the Doors needed to end their run (in their original four man incarnation) on a positive note.
Title: End Of The Night
Source: CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine (originally released on LP: The Doors)
Writer: The Doors
Sometimes you run across a song that seems to encapsulate what a band is all about. End Of The Night, from the first Doors album, is one of those songs. Apparently the band members felt the same way, as it was included on the anthology album Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine, despite never being released as a single.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Caress Me Baby
Source: Mono CD: Projections
Writer: Jimmy Reed
Label: Sundazed/Verve Folkways
After deliberately truncating their extended jams for their first LP, Live At The Cafe Au-Go-Go, the Blues Project recorded a second album that was a much more accurate representation of what the band was all about. Mixed in with the group's original material was this outstanding cover of an old Jimmy Reed tune, sung by lead guitarist and Blues Project founder Danny Kalb, running over seven minutes long. Andy Kuhlberg's memorable walking bass line would be lifted a few year later by Blood, Sweat and Tears bassist Jim Fielder for the track Blues, Part II.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound)
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released as 45 RPM single and added to LP: Buffalo Springfield)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Most people associate the name Buffalo Springfield with the song For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound). And for good reason. The song is one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded, and to this day is in regular rotation on both oldies and classic rock radio stations. The song was written and recorded in November of 1966 and released in December. By then the first Buffalo Springfield LP was already on the racks, but until that point had not sold particularly well. When it became clear that For What It's Worth was becoming a breakout hit, Atco Records quickly recalled the album and added the song to it (as the opening track). All subsequent pressings of the LP (and later the CD) contain For What It's Worth, making earlier copies of the album somewhat of a rarity and quite collectable. According to the song's composer, Stephen Stills, the piece got its rather unusual title when he told Atlantic/Atco chief Ahmet Ertegun "I have this song here, for what it's worth, if you want it."
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: Eight Miles High
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Fifth Dimension)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Gene Clark's final contribution to the Byrds was his collaboration with David Crosby and Roger McGuinn, Eight Miles High. Despite a newsletter from the influential Gavin Report advising stations not to play this "drug song", Eight Miles High managed to hit the top 20 in 1966. The band members themselves claimed that Eight Miles High was not a drug song at all, but was instead referring to the experience of travelling by air. In fact, it was Gene Clark's fear of flying, especially long intercontinental trips, that in part led to his leaving the Byrds.
Title: The Door Into Summer
Source: LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
After playing nearly all the instrumental tracks on their third album themselves, the Monkees came to the painful conclusion that they would not be able to repeat the effort and still have time to tape a weekly TV show. As a result, the fourth Monkees LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD., used studio musicians extensively, albeit under the creative supervision of the Monkees themselves. The group also had the final say over what songs ended up on the album, including The Door Into Summer, a tune by Bill Martin, a friend of band leader Michael Nesmith. For reasons that are too complicated to get into here (and probably wouldn't make much sense anyway), co-credit was given to the band's producer, Chip Douglas.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Source: LP: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Writer(s): Doug Ingle
One of the ironies of 1969 is that the top selling album of the year was actually released in June of 1968. The full version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, clocking in at slightly over seventeen minutes, was long the go-to record for DJs needing to take a nature break and for many people is the embodiment of the psychedelic era itself. According to legend, the song's unusual title came from mispronouncing "In The Garden Of Eden" while extremely drunk.
Title: Oh Strange Man
Source: British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Grapefruit (original label: Beacon)
One of the most obscure recordings of 1969 was Oh Strange Man, released as a B side by a band calling itself Information. The group, led by vocalist David Moir and guitarist Albie Harrup only released two singles (on two different labels) before changing their name to Scarecrow and releasing an equally obscure album in 1978.