Sunday, March 22, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2013 (starts 3/23/20)
This one has it all: sets from particular years, artists' sets, and progressions through the years, including one particularly long set that stretches all the way from 1964 to 1970! That enough hype for you?
Title: While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Source: CD: The Beatles
Writer(s): George Harrison
Label: Parlophone (original label: Apple)
George Harrison had already written several songs that had appeared on various Beatles albums (and an occasional B side) through 1968, but his first acknowledged classic was While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which appeared on The Beatles (aka the White Album). The recording features Harrison's close friend, guitarist Eric Clapton, who at that time was enjoying superstar status as a member of Cream.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: All Along The Watchtower
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Although there have been countless covers of Bob Dylan songs recorded by a variety of artists, very few of them are considered improvements over Dylan's original versions. Probably the most celebrated of these is the Jimi Hendrix Experience version of All Along The Watchtower on the Electric Ladyland album. Hendrix's arrangement of the song has been adopted by several other musicians over the years, including Neil Young (at the massive Bob Dylan tribute concert) and even Dylan himself.
Artist: Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Source: LP: Super Session
Al Kooper and Michael Bloomfield first met in 1965, when Kooper sat in on sessions for the classic Highway 61 Revisited album and later performed as a member of Dylan's band at the Newport Folk Festival, where Kooper's organ was physically assaulted by angry folk purists. After a stint with seminal jam band The Blues Project, Kooper became a staff producer for Columbia Records in New York, where he came up with the idea of an album made up entirely of studio jams. He recruited Bloomfield, who had in the intervening years played with the Butterfield Blues Band and the Electric Flag, along with bassist Harvey Brooks (also from Butterfield's band) and studio drummer Eddie Hoh and came up with the surprise hit album of 1968, Super Session. Although Bloomfield bowed out of the project halfway through, he plays on all the tracks on side one of the album, including Really, which utilizes a classic blues progression.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Walking By Myself
Source: British import CD: Living The Blues
Writer(s): Jimmy Rogers
Label: BGO (original label: Liberty)
When the name Jimmy Rogers comes up, almost invariably confusion comes immediately after. This is because, in addition to the legendary bluesman Jimmy Rogers, there were also not one, but two other singers named Jimmie Rodgers. The Jimmy Rogers we're concerned with here was born Jay Arthur Lane in Ruleville, Mississippi on June 3, 1924, about three years before country legend Jimmie Rodgers began his recording career, and about nine years before 50s pop star Jimmie Rodgers was born. Rogers first started recording in the late 1940s as a sideman for Muddy Waters and Little Walter, staying with that band, sometimes known as the Headhunters, until 1954. In the mid-1950s Rogers had several successful singles released under his own name, the most notable being Walking By Myself. He left the music business altogether for nearly the entire 1960s, resurfacing after his Chicago clothing store burned down in the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the reasons for his successful comeback was Canned Heat recording's of Walking By Myself on their 1968 LP Living The Blues, which generated interest in Rogers the songwriter. By the early 1980s Rogers had reestablished himself as a solo act, and was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in 1995, two years before his death.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: The Electric Prunes and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in November of 1966. The record, initially released without much promotion from their record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation (and the second track on Rhino's first Nuggets LP).
Artist: Other Half
Title: Mr. Pharmacist
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Jeff Nowlen
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
The Other Half was one of the many bands that could be found playing the local L.A. clubs when the infamous Riot On Sunset Strip happened in 1966. They are also the only other band I know of besides the Seeds that recorded for the GNP Crescendo label. The guitar solo is provided by Randy Holden, who would end up briefly replacing Leigh Stephens in Blue Cheer a few years later.
Title: Last Time Around
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Dennis Dahlquist
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
The Del-Vetts were from Chicago's affluent North Shore. Their gimmick was to show up at a high school dance by driving their matching corvettes onto the gymnasium dance floor. Musically, like most garage/punk bands, they were heavily influenced by the British invasion bands. Unlike most garage/punk bands, who favored the Rolling Stones, the Del-Vetts were more into the Jeff Beck incarnation of the Yardbirds. The 'Vetts had a few regional hits from 1965-67, the biggest being this single issued on the Dunwich label, home of fellow Chicago suburbanites the Shadows of Knight. In retrospect, considering the song's subject matter (and overall loudness), Last Time Around may well be the very first death metal rock song ever recorded.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
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 Watchband'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.
Artist: Sonny & Cher
Title: You Don't Love Me
Source: LP: Look At Us
Writer(s): Willie Cobbs
When I Got You Babe became a surprise hit in the summer of 1965, Sonny Bono immediately booked studio time and got to work on producing the first full-length Sonny & Cher album, Look At Us. The album was rush-released less than a month after I Got You Babe first hit the charts; in fact the single was still climbing toward its eventual #1 spot when Look At Us came out. As a result the album was a huge hit as well, going all the way to the #2 spot on the Billboard album chart. As was the norm for 1965, the LP was made up mostly of cover songs, many of which were recent pop hits. One of the more unusual covers was a remake of You Don't Love Me, itself a reworking and retitling of a 1955 Bo Diddley B side, which had been a regional hit in Memphis for Willie Cobbs in 1960. Unlike later versions of the tune, such as the Allman Brothers Band's live performance at the Fillmore East, Sonny & Cher's rendition of You Don't Love Me follows Cobbs' original fairly closely.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: Dark Side
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Dark Side, written by guitarist Warren Rogers and singer Jim Sohns, is probably the quintessential Shadows of Knight song. It has all the classic elements of a garage rock song: three chords, a blues beat and lots of attitude. Oh, and the lyrics "I love you baby more than birds love the sky". What more can you ask for?
Artist: Teddy And His Patches
Source: Mono CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lyte Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Chance)
Following up on their local #1 hit Suzy Creamcheese, San Jose, California band Teddy And His Patches released another punk classic called Haight-Ashbury in June of 1967. Pure madness.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Hold Me Tight
Source: British import CD: Ten Years After (bonus track originally released on LP: Alvin Lee And Company)
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Year: Recorded 1968, released 1972
A couple months after releasing their debut LP in late October of 1967, Ten Years After returned to the studio to begin working on tracks for a second LP. Among the first songs recorded (on January 5, 1968) was an Alvin Lee original called Hold Me Tight. As the year went on, however, it was decided that the band would be better served by recording a live performance at a local London club, and the already finished studio tracks were shelved for the time being. After TYA signed a new contract with Columbia Records in the early 1970s, their original label, Deram, issued a compilation album called Alvin Lee And Company that included Hold Me Tight as well as other previously unreleased tracks, several of which are now available as bonus tracks on the British CD version of the first Ten Years After album.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: You Keep Me Hangin' On
Source: 45 RPM single
The Vanilla Fudge version of You Keep Me Hangin' On was originally recorded and released in 1967, not too long after the Supremes version of the song finished its own run on the charts. It wasn't until the following year, however, that the Vanilla Fudge recording caught on with radio listeners, turning it into the band's only top 40 hit. Although progressive FM stations often played the longer LP version, it was the mono single edit heard here that was most familiar to listeners of top 40 radio.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Bang Bang
Source: LP: Vanilla Fudge
Writer: Sonny Bono
Vanilla Fudge made their reputation by taking popular hit songs, such as the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On, and extensively re-arranging them, giving the songs an almost classical feel. In fact, some of their arrangements incorporated (uncredited) snippets of actual classical pieces. One glaring example is the Vanilla Fudge arrangement of Cher's biggest solo hit of the 60s, Bang Bang (written by her then-husband Sonny Bono). Unfortunately, although I recognize the classical piece the band uses for an intro to Bang Bang, I can't seem to remember what it's called or who wrote it. Anyone out there able to help? I think it may have been used in a 1950s movie like The King And I or Attack of the Killer Women from Planet X.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Come By Day, Come By Night
Source: 45 RPM B side
Writer(s): Mark Stein
The Vanilla Fudge version of the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On was first released as a single in 1967, but tanked before it could hit the top 60. In 1968 the song was re-released with a different B side and made the top 20. That B side, Come By Day, Come By Night, was written by keyboardist Mark Stein, and was never released on a Vanilla Fudge album. The song is now available on a CD called The Complete Atco Singles.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Paint It Black
Source: Mono CD: Aftermath
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
One of the truly great Rolling Stones songs, Paint It Black was not included on the original UK release of the 1966 Aftermath album. This was because of the British custom of not including songs on LPs that were also available as 45 RPM singles (which, unlike their American counterparts, remained available for sale indefinitely) or extended play 45s (which had no US counterpart). In the US, however, Paint It Black was used to open the album, giving the entire LP a different feel from the British version (it had a different cover as well). Paint It Black is also the only song on Aftermath that was mixed only in mono, although US stereo pressings used an electronic rechannelling process to create a fake stereo sound. Luckily for everyone's ears, modern CDs use the unenhanced mono mix of the tune.
Title: So Mystifying
Source: Mono LP: You Really Got Me
Writer(s): Ray Davies
So Mystifying is one of the earliest Ray Davies songs to be recorded by the Kinks. The song first appeared on their 1964 debut LP (entitled The Kinks in the UK and issued as You Really Got Me in the US). As such, it should be listened to for its historic value as much as for any aesthetic pleasure it might bring.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: LP: Crown Of Creation
Writer(s): Grace Slick
Label: RCA Victor
One of Grace Slick's most memorable tunes was Lather from Jefferson Airplane's fourth LP, Crown Of Creation. Featuring an eerie instrumental bridge played on a tissue-paper covered comb (at least that's what I think it was), the song was reportedly about drummer Spencer Dryden, the band's oldest member, who had turned 30 while the album was being recorded. A popular phrase of the time was "don't trust anyone over 30", making it an unfortunate time to have that particular birthday.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: Early Flight)
Writer(s): Grace Slick
Label: Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
The B side of the last Jefferson Airplane single to include founding member (and original leader) Marty Balin was Mexico, a scathing response by Grace Slick to President Richard Nixon's attempts to eradicate the marijuana trade between the US and Mexico. The song was slated to be included on the next Airplane album, Long John Silver, but Balin's departure necessitated a change in plans, and Mexico did not appear on an LP until Early Flight was released in 1974.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: The House At Pooniel Corners
Source: LP: Crown Of Creation
Label: RCA Victor
Jefferson Airplane was just starting to get political when they released their Crown Of Creation album in September of 1968. Two months later they, at the suggestion of Swiss-French filmmaker Jean-Luc Goddard, set up their equipment on a Manhattan rooftop without getting a permit and performed their most political song from the album, The House At Pooniel Corners. It should be noted that this guerilla performance happened two months before the more famous Beatles rooftop performance in London that was included in the Let It Be movie. The Airplane filmed the gig, but it was not released for several years. The full performance is now available on a DVD called Fly Jefferson Airplane.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Mr. Soul
Source: LP: Retrospective (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s): Neil Young
Executives at Atco Records originally considered Neil Young's voice "too weird" to be recorded. As a result many of Young's early tunes (including the band's debut single Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing), were sung by Richie Furay. By the time the band's second album, Buffalo Springfield Again, was released, the band had enough clout to make sure Young was allowed to sing his own songs. In fact, the album starts with a Young vocal on the classic Mr. Soul.
Artist: Velvet Illusions
Title: Acid Head
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tell, also released on Metromedia Records)
Showing an obvious influence by the Electric Prunes (a suburban L.A. band that was embraced by the Seattle crowd as one of their own) the Illusions backtracked the Prunes' steps, leaving their native Yakima and steady gigging for the supposedly greener pastures of the City of Angels. After a few months of frustration in which the band seldom found places to practice, let alone perform, they headed back to Seattle to cut this lone single, Acid Head, before calling it quits.
Artist: Spanky And Our Gang
Title: Sunday Mornin'
Source: "Cut down" from LP: Like To Get To Know You (edited to match single version)
Writer(s): Margo Guryan
Despite peaking no higher than the #30 spot on the Hot 100 chart, Margo Guryan's Sunday Mornin' was listed by BMI as one of the 102 most performed songs of 1968. In addition to the most successful version of the song by Spanky And Our Gang (released in December of 1967 and appearing, in extended form, on the 1968 LP Like To Get To Know You), Sunday Mornin' appeared on albums by Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell, the Baja Marimba Band, Julie London, Richard "Groove" Holmes, and others, as well as appearing as a 1969 single by Oliver. Guryan herself included a version of the tune on her critically acclaimed LP Take A Picture.
Title: Rael 1
Source: CD: The Who Sell Out
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
The Who Sell Out, released in December 1967, was the last album by the group before their 1969 rock-opera Tommy. The last track on the LP, Rael, is itself a mini-opera that tells the story of a wealthy man who has taken on the role of a crusader, out to free his ancestral homeland from its current occupiers. He tells the captain of his ship to come back for him on Christmas Day to see if he is ready to return. If not, he tells the captain, the boat is yours. Of course the captain has no intention of returning, as he declares soon after putting back out to sea. The piece then goes into an instrumental passage that would be copied pretty much note for note on the Tommy album as part of the Underture. The track ends with a repeat of the owner's instructions to the captain. The events surrounding the recording of Rael have become the stuff of legend. The band spent an entire day recording and mixing the song, and were apparently so exhausted at the end of the session that they left without securing the multi-track master in a safe place. The cleaning woman came in the next morning and tossed the tape into the waste basket. She then emptied the ashtrays and other trash into the same waste basket. When the band came in around noon the recording engineer who had found the tape had the unenviable task of telling them what had happened. Pete Townsend was in a rage, and the engineer tried to placate him by saying "these things happen". Townshend then proceeded to throw a chair through the glass wall separating the studio from the control room, informing the engineer that "these things happen".
Artist: Pretty Things
Source: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Fontana)
At a time when the length of one's hair was a defining characteristic of "hipness", London's Pretty Things were reputed to have the longest hair in the UK. Formed in 1962 by vocalist Phil May and original Rolling Stones bassist Dick Taylor on guitar, the Pretty Things were heavily influenced by American blues artists Bo Diddley and Jimmy Reed. In fact, their first single, Rosalyn, although written by their producers, Jimmy Duncan and Bill Farley, had a distinctive Bo Diddley sound to it, albeit even louder and more brash than any of Diddley's own records. The song was a modest hit in the UK, but did not chart at all in the States. Although the Pretty Things never caught on in the US, they had considerable success with their next two singles in their native Britain, as well as Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. Numerous personnel changes over the years, however, led to the group being perceived as not having a distinctive sound, and they were never able to duplicate the success of their early years.
Title: Wanderin' Kind
Source: Mono LP: It Ain't Me Babe
Writer(s): Howard Kaylan
Label: White Whale
White Whale Records, being a typical L.A. label, insisted on using professional songwriters for all the Turtles' A sides. The band was allowed to write its own material for the B sides, however. One of the earliest was Wanderin' Kind, which had already been released as the opening track on the Turtles' 1965 debut LP, It Ain't Me Babe. The song was written by lead vocalist Howard Kaylan, who was then still in his teens. Kaylan would end up co-writing many more Turtles tracks, as well as most of Flo & Eddie's material a few years later.
Artist: Music Machine
Source: CD: The Very Best Of The Music Machine-Turn On (originally released on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
Sean Bonniwell had definite plans for the Music Machine's first album. His primary goal was to have all original material, with the exception of a slow version of Hey Joe that he and fellow songwriter Tim Rose had been working on (and before you ask, both Rose and the Music Machine recorded it before Jimi Hendrix did). Unfortunately, the shirts at Original Sound Records did not take their own company name seriously and inserted four cover songs that the band had recorded for a local TV show. This was just the first in a series of bad decisions by the aforementioned shirts that led to a great band not getting the success it deserved. To hear Turn On The Music Machine the way Bonniwell intended it to be heard program your CD player to skip all the extra cover songs. Listened to that way, Trouble is restored to its rightful place as the second song on the disc (following Talk Talk) and a fairly decent album is transformed into a work that is equal to the best albums of 1966.
Title: Heaven And Hell
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
Throughout the mid-60s Australia's most popular band was the Easybeats, often called the Australian Beatles. Although their early material sounded like slightly dated British Invasion music (Australia had a reputation for cultural lag, and besides, half the members were British immigrants), by late 1966 guitarist Harry Vanda (one of the two Dutch immigrant members of the group) had learned enough English to be able to replace vocalist Stevie Wright as George Young's writing partner. The new team was much more adventurous in their compositions than the Wright/Young team had been, and were responsible for the band's first international hit, Friday On My Mind. By then the Easybeats had relocated to England, and continued to produce fine singles such as Heaven And Hell.
Title: Born Under A Bad Sign
Source: CD: Wheels Of Fire
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were pretty much considered the cream of the crop of the British blues scene in the mid 1960s, so it came as no surprise when they decided to call their new band Cream. Although the trio would go on to record several memorable non-blues tunes such as I Feel Free and White Room, they never completely abandoned the blues. Born Under A Bad Sign, originally recorded by Albert King for the Stax label and written by labelmates William Bell and Booker T. Jones, is one of the better known tracks from Cream's double-LP Wheels Of Fire, the last album released while the band was still together.
Title: Heart Attack
Source: German import LP: Underground '70 (originally released on LP: Aorta0
Label: CBS (original US label: Columbia)
Record companies are notorious for promoting bands they have signed as being "the next big thing." Sometimes they even sign multiple groups and promote them as "the next big sound". Such was the case in 1969 when Columbia's Clive Davis simultaneously released albums by four bands from the Chicago area (including one that, ironically, had actually started off calling itself The Big Thing). All four of these "Chicago sound" bands were included on a German LP called Underground '70, a sampler album pressed on purple vinyl that glowed under a black light (yeah, I had a black light back then). Unlike many sampler albums, Underground '70 actually used the strongest tracks from the various bands' respective albums, including Heart Attack from a band called Aorta. Although Aorta's actual album was a commercial flop, Heart Attack is actually a pretty decent tune.
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Wasp/Behind The Wall Of Sleep/Bassically/N.I.B.
Source: CD: Black Sabbath
Label: Warner Brothers/Rhino
While feedback-laden bands like Blue Cheer are often credited with laying the foundations of what would come to be called heavy metal, Black Sabbath is generally considered to be the first actual heavy metal band. Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward didn't set out to create a whole new genre. They simply wanted to be the heaviest blues-rock band around. After seeing a movie marquee for an old Boris Karloff film called Black Sabbath and deciding that would make a good name for a band, however, the group soon began modifying their sound to more closely match their new name. The result was a debut album that would change the face of rock music forever. Probably the best known track on the Black Sabbath album is N.I.B., which closes out the LP's first side. Contrary to popular belief, N.I.B. is not a set of initials at all, but just the word nib done in capital letters with periods after each letter. According to Geezer Butler, who wrote the lyrics for N.I.B. "Originally it was Nib, which was Bill's beard. When I wrote N.I.B., I couldn't think of a title for the song, so I just called it Nib, after Bill's beard. To make it more intriguing I put punctuation marks in there to make it N.I.B. By the time it got to America, they translated it to Nativity In Black." On the album the song is preceded by a short bass solo from Butler, which in turn segues directly out of the previous track, Behind The Wall Of Sleep. For some reason (possibly to garner the group more royalties) Warner Brothers Records added extra song titles to the two tracks on the album cover and label to make them look like four separate pieces. The original British release, however, lists them as Behind The Wall Of Sleep and N.I.B.
Artist: Dixie Cups
Title: Iko Iko
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: Red Bird
In the mid-1960s my dad would occasionally take me to the base exchange (BX) with him when he went to pick up various items. I would immediately head for the record section and pick up a "grab bag", a set of four 45 RPM singles in a plain brown paper bag. Of course there was no way of knowing what records I was getting at the time, but at a price of about 50 cents for four never before played records, it was worth taking a chance on. As it turned out, there was a ton of variety in those little bags. There were folk singles, country singles, jazz singles and occasionally, a genuine pop hit. The best of the latter category I ever got was a song that I immediately fell in love with called Iko Iko by a girl group called the Dixie Cups. I played that record until the grooves were worn out on my cheap little portable record player with a sapphire needle (notorious for wearing out quickly and ruining every record they played). As I got older I would hear the song from time to time, particularly on oldies stations, but it wasn't until 2019 that I finally bit the bullet and ordered a replacement copy of the original single. IMO Iko Iko is truly a song one never gets tired of hearing.