As many of you know, Stuck in the Psychedelic Era has been available, for the past ten years, as a syndicated show through PRX, the Public Radio Exchange. Every week the show segments get uploaded to PRX, along with a little background information, where they then remain available for any station that wants to air the show to download for broadcast. Once a show is uploaded to PRX, it remains there indefinitely.
Well, almost. You see, when I first started syndicating Stuck in the Psychedelic Era I didn't really understand how things worked. In fact, I didn't even start going through PRX until the fourth episode. Instead I had stations download from the hermitradio.com website, which was excruciatingly slow, even after the files had been converted to MP3. In fact, it was Mike Black at WXXI (the station that programs both WITH and WRUR) that suggested I look into PRX. Apparently he found the download process excruciating as well.
Anyway, I didn't realize at first that when I started running short of cloud space on the PRX server I could just ask for more space and they would happily provide it. Instead, I ended up deleting the first dozen shows I uploaded to make room for more shows. These, along with the first three episodes, are what I refer to as the Stuck in the Psychedelic Era "lost" episodes. Technically they are not truly lost, since I do have my own archived copies, but since they are not on PRX anymore, they are, for all intents and purposes, unavailable.
So why am I telling you about this? Well, as a little something extra for our ten years of syndication anniversary celebration, I dug out my archived copy of our second ever syndicated episode (#1002) and will be broadcasting it Thursday, May 28, from Noon to 2PM Eastern Daylight Time on WHWS, 105.7 in Geneva, NY. For those of you outside the WHWS broadcast area (which is essentially anywhere but Geneva itself), you can catch it at https://whws.fm/listen/ Thursday at Noon Eastern. See if you can tell how the show has changed over the years.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2022 (All-Time top 30 songs of the Psychedelic Era countdown) (starts 5/25/20)
For the past couple of years I have been thinking about how to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era's transition from live local show to its current status as a weekly syndicated program heard on stations from coast to coast (and in a few cases outside the lower 48). I knew I wanted to do some sort of countdown show, but was undecided between putting the emphasis on the artists or on the songs themselves, or maybe even some kind of hybrid of the two. I ultimately decided to do two shows, which resolved the problem completely. Or so I thought. As the concept for the "artists" show developed, I realized that, rather than do a strict top 20 countdown of artists, ranked by how many times they got played over the past ten years, I would rather put the emphasis on the artists that had the greatest impact on the psychedelic era itself. This meant including a a few (three) artists that were actually outside the top 20. These were the Blues Project (who were ranked 22nd in terms of most times played), Bob Dylan (23rd), and Pink Floyd (33rd). Of course this meant that three of the top 20 artists would not be featured on the show at all, those being Traffic (19), the Who (14) and Simon & Garfunkel (12). Dropping those three wasn't easy, but I reasoned that, despite the fact that they do get played a lot on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, none of them had the sheer impact of a Bob Dylan or a Pink Floyd. The most difficult choice was between Simon & Garfunkel and the Byrds, both of which were major players on the folk-rock scene. I ultimately went with the Byrds, whose choice to electrify a folk song (Mr. Tambourine Man) was a conscious decision on the part of the band itself, while the electric version of The Sound Of Silence was a studio creation made without the artists knowledge or participation. Besides, the Byrds came in at #9, and I really didn't feel I could justify leaving any of the top 10 out of the show. The structure of the show changed a bit, going from a strict countdown to a narrative, with all but the top five artists played out of order. So, since I had no intention of putting up a playlist for the second show (which is a strict countdown of the 30 most-played SONGS on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era over the past ten years and thus a closely guarded secret), I am now going to give you, in correct order, the 20 most-played ARTISTS. As my grandfather used to say after the cards had been dealt, read 'em and weep.
20>Janis Joplin/Big Brother and the Holding Company. This is actually a combined ranking that includes Joplin's solo releases as well as those as a member of one of San Francisco's most popular bands.
19>Buffalo Springfield. The band that launched the careers of Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay and (later) Jim Messina. Not bad for a group that only released two albums while they were together (and a third after they were effective split up).
18>Traffic. At first a British psychedelic band fronted by both Steve Winwood and Dave Mason, Traffic emerged as one of the first major acts of the classic rock era.
17>Country Joe and the Fish. Although they never considered themselves San Franciscans, Berkeley's most successful band had a huge impact on that city's Summer of Love.
16>Donovan. At first written off by the critics as a Bob Dylan knockoff, Donovan came into his own in 1966 with his Sunshine Superman album and subsequent releases. To many, Donovan was representative of the hippy ideal without all the negative baggage.
15>The Seeds. Some people in Los Angeles who heard the Seeds when they first hit the scene in 1965 were convinced that Sky Saxon and his band hailed from another planet, or at least another reality. They may have been right.
14>Music Machine. Fronted by unsung genius Sean Bonniwell and including some of L.A.'s most talented musicians (including future superstar producer Keith Olsen), the Music Machine was brutally sabotaged by bad decisions made by both their own management and their record label. One of the missions of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era is to keep the legacy of Bonniwell's songs alive.
13>The Who. The Who were, in their early days, one of the best singles bands in England, although they were virtually unknown in the US until Happy Jack hit the charts in 1967. From that point on, virtually every song they recorded was a classic, culminating with the release of Tommy, the world's first rock-opera, in 1969.
12>Electric Prunes. Although they were victims of the kind of behind-the-scenes shenanigans that were all too common throughout the 1960s, the Prunes ultimately had the last laugh when they reformed in 1999 and began releasing the kinds of albums they were never allowed to make in 1967.
11>Simon & Garfunkel. The most successful duo of the psychedelic era managed to remain true to their folk roots while constantly exploring new ground, thanks to the creativity of Paul Simon.
10>Animals (including Eric Burdon & The Animals). In their original incarnation, the Animals had a love of American blues unsurpassed by any other British Invasion act, yet managed to score hit after hit with songs from professional songwriters like Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. After the original band disbanded Eric Burdon formed a new Animals and turned out some of the most psychedelic tunes ever, including the classic Sky Pilot.
9>Byrds. Not content to be known as the band that created folk-rock, the Byrds embraced psychedelia with their Fifth Dimension and Younger Than Yesterday albums while even then developing a sound that would come to be called country-rock in the 1970s.
8>Love. Although Love was never a huge success in the US (outside of the L.A. strip, where they were gods), they grew constantly in popularity overseas, particularly in the UK, where their Forever Changes album peaked at #24 on the British album charts. Over the years Love has come to be recognized as one of the most influential (among musicians) rock bands of all time.
7>Kinks. Although the Rolling Stones are often cited as the inspiration for the American garage band movement of the mid-1960s, the Kinks deserve equal recognition, with songs like You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night being popular, yet easy to learn.
6>Doors. I think Oliver Stones' film about the Doors pretty much sums up why their music has endured for so long.
5>Cream. Although he had received recognition for his work with the Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, it was his role as guitarist for Cream that cemented his role as one of world's premier guitarists. If that wasn't enough, Cream also established Jack Bruce as both a bassist and vocalist and brought Ginger Baker recognition as (arguably) the best drummer in rock music at the time.
4>Rolling Stones. There is a reason they have been called the world's greatest rock band. Their 60s output alone is second only to the Beatles.
3>Jefferson Airplane. Although they were not known for the kind of long improvisational pieces that characterized San Francisco's brand of psychedelia (as exemplified by Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead) they were the first San Francisco band signed to a major label and the fist to score a national top 10 hit, and quite possibly were responsible for drawing the nation's attention to the City By the Bay in the first place, resulting in the Summer Of Love.
2>The Beatles. Yeah, there was someone that got played more than the Beatles on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era over the past 10 years. Hard to believe, I know, but here it is:
1>Jimi Hendrix (including both versions of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Band of Gypsys, and Gypsys Sun And Rainbows). As far as I'm concerned the psychedelic era truly came to an end with the death of Jimi Hendrix in late 1970. Every song (with the possible exception of Noel Redding's two compostions) on every Jimi Hendrix album is outstanding. Nobody (not even the Beatles) can match that record.
Next week maybe I'll reveal the top 30 songs. Then again, maybe not, so you'd best just listen to this week's show to be on the safe side. :)
This week we have yet another hour of free-form rock. You'd think we had an infinite supply of them or something. And maybe we do.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: Dancing Days
Source: CD: Houses Of The Holy
By 1973 Led Zeppelin was already established as the most influential band of the early 1970s. Their fourth album erased any doubts about their staying power, with Stairway To Heaven in particular dominating the FM airwaves. They followed that album up with Houses Of The Holy, releasing the opening track of side two, Dancing Days, as a single in the US. The song was performed often on the band's 1972 tour, but was dropped from their setlist at around the same time the album itself hit the racks.
Artist: Steely Dan
Title: Pearl Of The Quarter
Source: LP: Countdown To Ecstasy
While Steely Dan's second LP, Countdown To Ecstasy, is generally considered to be about the dark, yet glitzy side of West Coast culture, one song, Pearl Of The Quarter, focuses instead on a woman from New Orleans. Musically, the song has just a touch of country alongside of Steely Dan's trademark mixture of rock and jazz. It's one of those songs that grows on you over time.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Velvet Green
Source: LP: Songs From The Wood
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Ian Anderson set out to explore what it means to be British on Jethro Tull's tenth studio LP, Songs From The Wood. The album, released in 1977, came on the heels of the band's Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll, Too Young To Die tour. Anderson had just remarried and bought a home, and was looking to connect with his roots. As he put it: "It gave me an opportunity to evaluate and reflect upon the cultural and historical significance of making that commitment to English residency." Velvet Green, which opens the LP's second side, celebrates the simple pleasure of spending time away from city life and walking in the country. Musically, it reflects the classical influence of the band's new keyboardist, Dee Palmer, who had provided string, brass and woodwind arrangements for Jethro Tull since their first album, but had not officially been a member of the band until 1976.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience (MkII)
Source: LP: The Cry Of Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Recorded during July and August of 1970, Drifting was first released on the 1971 album The Cry Of Love six months after the death of Jimi Hendrix. The song features Hendrix on guitar and vocal, Mitch Mitchell on drums and Billy Cox on bass. Buzzy Linhart makes a guest appearance on the tune, playing vibraphone.
Artist: Allman Brothers Band
Source: CD: Beginnings (originally released on LP: The Allman Brothers Band)
Writer(s): Gregg Allman
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Although it had originally been one of the first tracks recorded by the Allman Brothers Band at Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia, the final take of Gregg Allman's Dreams was the last song on the band's debut LP to be committed to tape. The problem with the previous takes was that bandleader Duane Allman was unhappy with his own guitar solo on the song. Finally, after the band finished its regular session on August 12, 1969, he asked everyone to turn off all the lights in the studio. He then tried something he hadn't done on previous takes. Using his recently adopted slide guitar technique, Duane recorded a new overdubbed solo that literally brought the entire band to tears. "It was unbelievable," recalled drummer Butch Trucks. "It was just magic. It’s always been that the greatest music we played was from out of nowhere, that it wasn’t practiced, planned, or discussed."
Artist: Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Source: CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s): Neil Young
After releasing a fairly well produced debut solo album utilizing the talents of several well-known studio musicians in late 1968, Neil Young surprised everyone by recruiting an unknown L.A. bar band and rechristening them Crazy Horse for his second effort, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The album was raw and unpolished, with Young's lead vocals recorded using a talkback microphone normally used by engineers to communicate with people in the studio from the control room. In spite of, or more likely because of these limitations, the resulting album has come to be regarded as one of the greatest in the history of rock, with Young sounding far more comfortable, both as a vocalist and guitarist, than on the previous effort. Although the album is best known for three songs he wrote while running a fever (Cinnamon Girl, Cowgirl In The Sand, and Down By The River), there are plenty of good other songs on the LP, including the title track heard here.
Title: Cross The River
Source: CD: Zephyr
Writer: Candie and David Givens
Label: One Way (original label: ABC Probe)
The Boulder, Colorado band Zephyr featured the vocal talents of Candie Givens, who had a multi-octave range that would not be equalled until Mariah Carey hit the scene years later. Also in the band was lead guitarist Tommy Bolin, who would go on to take over lead guitar duties with first the James Gang and then Deep Purple before embarking on a solo career. Unfortunately that career (and Bolin's life) was permanently derailed by a heroin overdose at age 28. The rest of this talented band consisted of Robbie Chamerlin on drums, John Faris on keyboards and David Givens (who co-wrote Cross The River with his wife Candie) on bass.
Title: Ride With Me
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo promo copy)
Writer(s): Mars Bonfire
By 1971 Steppenwolf's best years were already behind them. Looking to rekindle the old magic, the band turned to songwriter (and former band member) Dennis Edmonton, who, under the pseudonym Mars Bonfire, had penned their biggest hit, Born To Be Wild. Although Ride With Me was a solid song, it stalled out in the lower reaches of the top 40 charts while being virtually ignored by more progressive album rock stations.
Title: You Can't Get Away
Source: LP: Nantucket Sleighride
Gail Collins, in addition to designing the album cover for Mountain's 1971 LP Nantucket Sleighride, wrote nearly all the album's lyrics as well, usually working with her husband, Felix Pappalardi. The single exception was You Can't Get Away, which she wrote with guitarist Leslie West and drummer Corky Laing. One line in particular, " It ain't no use tryin' to cheat on me 'cause everybody knows, where you got-ta' be", turned out to be somewhat ironic, as Collins ended up shooting Pappalardi in the neck on April 17, 1983, killing him when he came home early in the morning after spending the evening with another woman.
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Smooth Dancer
Source: Japanese import CD: Who Do We Think We Are
Label: Warner Brothers
Deep Purple's most iconic lineup (the so-called Mark II group consisting of Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice) only recorded four studio albums together before internal tensions and conflict with their own management led to the departure of Gillan and Glover. The last of these was Who Do We Think We Are, released in 1973. By this point some of the band members were not on speaking terms, and their individual parts had to be recorded at separate times. Nonetheless, the album is full of strong tracks such as Smooth Dancer, which closes out side one of the original LP. Despite all the problems getting Who Do We Think We Are recorded and the band's subsequent disintegration, Deep Purple sold more albums in the US than any other recording artist in the year 1973 (including continued strong sales of the 1972 album Machine Head and their live album Made In Japan).
Title: As Far As You Can See (As Much As You Can Feel)
Source: LP: In The Garden
Writer: Enrico Rosenbaum
From late 1969 to mid 1970 Gypsy was the house band at L.A's Whisky-A-Go-Go. During that period they released their first album, featuring the song Gypsy Queen. By the time the band's second LP, In The Garden, was released the group had gone through several personnel changes, with only keyboardist James Walsh, guitarist James Johnson and bandleader Enrico Rosenbaum, who played guitar and sang lead vocals, remaining from the lineup that had recorded the first LP. The new members included Bill Lordan (who would go on record several albums with Robin Trower) on drums and the legendary Willie Weeks on bass.
Sunday, May 17, 2020
It's been ten years since Stuck in the Psychedelic Era made the transition from a live local show on a relatively small public radio station in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York to a nationally syndicated weekly show heard (at first) on a total of four stations. Happily, although one of those stations has since gone dark, the rest are still with us, and still carrying Stuck in the Psychedelic Era every week. Even better, they have been joined by dozens more stations from coast to coast over the past ten years, along with a couple overseas outlets as well. This week and next we celebrate with a pair of special editions of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era. The first looks at 20 Artists who helped shape the psychedelic era itself. Of course it can be legitimately argued that every artist that has ever been played on the show helped shape the psychedelic era (and there are literally hundreds); that is, in fact, a large part of what makes the psychedelic era itself unique in the history of recorded music. Still, with only two hours to work with, I had to narrow it down somewhat, so I went (for the most part) with the artists whose songs have been played the most on the show itself over the years. In fact, the final half hour is a kind of countdown of the top five artists of the psychedelic era, using the same criteria. I'm looking forward to any and all feedback you might want to send my way at hermitradio.com or on the show's Facebook page. Next week we shift the emphasis from artists to specific songs with an old-fashioned all-time top 30 countdown of the most-played songs on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era over the past ten years. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy listening to 20 Artists Who Shaped the Psychedelic Era as much as I enjoyed making it.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: The Times They Are A-Changin'
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings (originally released on LP: The Times They Are A-Changin')
Writer: Bob Dylan
If there was any single song that presaged the entire psychedelic era, it would have to be Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin', from his 1964 album of the same name. Indeed, five days after it was released the Beatles made their debut on the US charts, signalling the biggest single sea change in the history of the music industry. Dylan's lyrics foretell the social changes that would come over the next several years that would come to be known, in more ways than one, as the psychedelic era.
Title: I Want To Hold Your Hand
Source: CD: 1 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Originally released in the UK in November of 1963, the Beatles' I Want To Hold Your Hand was originally slated for a January 1964 release, but when a Washington DC disc jockey started playing an imported copy of the British single in early December Capitol Records decided to move up the release of the song to December 26th. By the middle of January the song was in the US top 50 and on February 1st it took over the #1 spot, staying there for seven weeks and touching off what would come to be known as the British Invasion. Unlike many later Beatles songs that, despite being credited to the songwriting team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney were actually written by one or the other of the pair, I Want To Hold Your Hand was a true collaboration worked out in the basement of the house McCartney was living in. The group performed the song on the Ed Sullivan TV show in mid-January, setting all-time records for viewership. The tune was included on the band's first album for Capitol, Meet The Beatles, which actually ended up outselling the single, the first time in US history that had happened. It was not long before other British bands started hitting the US charts and American kids began growing their hair out in imitation of the Beatles, many of them even going so far as to form their own British-influenced garage bands.
Title: You Really Got Me
Source: Mono CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: K-Tel (original label: Reprise)
Although the Beatles touched off the British Invasion, it was the sheer in-your-face simplicity of You Really Got Me, recorded by an "upstart band of teenagers" from London's Muswell Hill district named the Kinks and released in August of 1964 that made the goal of forming your own band and recording a hit single seem to be a viable one. And sure enough, within a year garages and basements all across America were filled with guitars, amps, drums and aspiring high-school age musicians, some of whom would indeed get their own records played on the radio.
Title: Mr. Tambourine Man
Source: Mono CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1965 (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Mr. Tambourine Man)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
The term "folk-rock" was coined by the music press to describe the debut single by the Byrds. Mr. Tambourine Man had been written and originally recorded by Bob Dylan, but it was the Byrds version that went to the top of the charts in 1965. Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark and David Crosby had begun work on the song in 1964, when their manager got his hands on an acetate of Dylan performing the song with Ramblin' Jack Elliott. The trio, calling themselves the Jet Set, were trying to develop a sound that combined folk-based melodies and lyrics with arrangements inspired by the British Invasion, and felt that Mr. Tambourine Man might be a good candidate for that kind of treatment. Although the group soon added bassist Chris Hillman and drummer Michael Clarke, producer Terry Melcher opted to use the group of Los Angeles studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew for the instrumental track of the recording, along with McGuinn's 12-string guitar. Following the success of the single, the Byrds entered the studio to record their debut LP, this time playing their own instruments.
Title: Can't Seem To Make You Mine
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Classics From the Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
The first truly psychedelic record to hit the L.A. airwaves was the Seeds' March 1965 debut single, Can't Seem To Make You Mine. The song was also chosen to lead off the first Seeds album the following year. Indeed, it could be argued that this was the song that first defined the "flower power" sound, predating the Seeds' biggest hit, Pushin' Too Hard, by several months.
Title: For Your Love
Source: Mono CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Graham Gouldman
The last Yardbirds song to feature guitarist Eric Clapton, For Your Love was the group's first US hit, peaking in the # 6 slot. The song did even better in the UK, peaking at # 3. Following its release, Clapton left the Yardbirds, citing the band's move toward a more commercial sound and this song in particular as reasons for his departure (ironic when you consider songs like his mid-90s hit Change the World or his slowed down lounge lizard version of Layla). For Your Love was written by Graham Gouldman, who would end up as a member of Wayne Fontana's Mindbenders and later 10cc with Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.
Title: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (US version)
Source: Mono LP: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
In 1965 producer Mickey Most put out a call to Don Kirschner's Brill building songwriters for material that could be recorded by the Animals. He ended up selecting three songs, all of which are among the Animals' most popular singles. Possibly the best-known of the three is a song written by the husband and wife team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil called We Gotta Get Out Of This Place. The song (the first Animals recording to featuring Dave Rowberry, who had replaced founder Alan Price on organ) starts off with what is probably Chas Chandler's best known bass line, slowly adding drums, vocals, guitar and finally keyboards on its way to an explosive chorus. The song was not originally intended for the Animals, however; it was written for the Righteous Brothers as a follow up to (You've Got That) Lovin' Feelin', which Mann and Weil had also provided for the duo. Mann, however, decided to record the song himself, but the Animals managed to get their version out first, taking it to the top 20 in the US and the top 5 in the UK. As the Vietnam war escalated, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place became a sort of underground anthem for US servicemen stationed in South Vietnam, and has been associated with that war ever since. Incidentally, there were actually two versions of We Gotta Get Out Of This Place recorded during the same recording session, with an alternate take accidentally being sent to M-G-M and subsequently being released as the US version of the single. This version (which some collectors and fans maintain has a stronger vocal track) appeared on the US-only LP Animal Tracks in the fall of 1965 as well as the original M-G-M pressings of the 1966 album Best Of The Animals. The original UK version, on the other hand, did not appear on any albums, as was common for British singles in the 1960s. By the 1980s record mogul Allen Klein had control of the original Animals' entire catalog, and decreed that all CD reissues of the song would use the original British version of the song, including the updated (and expanded) CD version of The Best Of The Animals. This expanded version of the album had first appeared on the ABKCO label in 1973, but with the American, rather than the British, version of We Gotta Get Out Of This Place. Luckily I have a copy of that LP, which is where this track was taken from. It's not in the best of shape, but it's worth putting up with a few scratches to hear the song the way the troops heard it back in '65.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
Source: CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released on LP: Out Of Our Heads and as 45 RPM single )
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Singles released in the UK in the 60s tended to stay on the racks much longer than their US counterparts. This is because singles were generally not duplicated on LPs like they were in the US. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction was a good example. In the US, the song was added to the Out Of Our Heads album, which had a considerably different song lineup than the original UK version. In the UK and Europe the song was unavailable as an LP track until Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass) was released, yet the single remained available until at least late 1967, when I had the opportunity to listen to a copy of it in a German department store. All the store's singles were behind the counter, and you had to ask the store clerk to play the record for you, which you would then listen to on headphones.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Two Trains Running
Source: CD: The Blues Project Anthology (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer: McKinley Morganfield
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Folkways)
My first two years as a student at the University of New Mexico were spent living off-campus in a large house shared by five other people (a varying number of which were also students). One day while rummaging through the basement I ran across a couple boxes full of reel-to-reel tapes. As I was the only person living there with a reel-to-reel machine and nobody seemed to know where the tapes had come from, I appropriated them for my own use. Unfortunately, many of the tapes were unlabeled, so all I could do was make a guess as to artists and titles of the music on them. One of those tapes was labelled simply "Love Sculpture". It wasn't until a fortuitous trip to a local thrift store a couple of years later that I realized that the slow version of Two Trains Running on the tape was not Love Sculpture at all, but was in fact the Blues Project, from their Projections album. This slowed down version of the Muddy Waters classic has what is considered to be one of the great accidental moments in recording history. About 2/3 of the way through Two Trains Running, Danny Kalb realized that one of the strings on his guitar had gone out of tune, and managed to retune it on the fly in such a way that it sounded like he had planned the whole thing.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: You're Gonna Miss Me
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators)
Writer(s): Roky Erickson
Label: Rhino (original label: International Artists)
If anyplace outside of California has a legitimate claim to being the birthplace of the psychedelic era, it's Austin, Texas. That's mainly due to the presence of the 13th Floor Elevators, a local band led by Roky Erickson that had the audacity to use an electric jug (played by Tommy Hall) onstage. Their debut album was the first to use the word psychedelic in the title (predating the Blues Magoos' Psychedelic Lollipop by mere weeks). Musically, their leanings were more toward garage-rock than acid-rock, at least on their first album (they got rather metaphysical on their follow-up album, Easter Everywhere).
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Section 43 (EP version)
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on EP: Rag Baby #2)
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rhino (original label: Rag Baby)
Rag Baby was an underground journal published by Country Joe McDonald in mid-60s Berkeley, California. In 1965 McDonald decided to do a "talking issue" of the paper with an extended play (EP) record containing two songs by McDonald's band, Country Joe and the Fish and two by singer Peter Krug. In 1966 McDonald published a second Rag Baby EP, this time featuring four songs by Country Joe and the Fish. Among those was the original version of Section 43, a psychedelic instrumental that would appear in a re-recorded (and slightly changed) stereo form on the band's first LP, Electric Music For The Mind And Body, in early 1967.
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 record's own producer) 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.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Arnold Layne
Source: CD: Works (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Syd Barrett
Label: Capitol (original label: Tower)
Like most bands in the 60s, Pink Floyd made their vinyl debut with a 45 RPM single: in this case the song Arnold Layne. As was the case with all the band's 1967 singles, the song was written by original bandleader Syd Barrett. Arnold Layne went quickly into the UK top 20 but then hit a roadblock when it was banned by the BBC due to its subject matter (it's about a guy who steals women's garments off of clotheslines and then wears them himself). The song was eventually included on the album Relics and has been included on several other compilations over the years.
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 in Europe as a single. The B side of that single was Tales Of Brave Ulysses, which opens side two of the album.
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.
Title: Light My Fire
Source: CD: The Doors
Writer(s): The Doors
Once in a while a song comes along that totally blows you away the very first time you hear it. The Doors' Light My Fire was one of those songs. I liked it so much that I immediately went out and bought the 45 RPM single. Not long after that I heard the full-length version of the song from the first Doors album and was blown away all over again. To this day I have a tendency to crank up the volume whenever I hear it.
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: Down On Me
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Joplin In Concert)
Writer: Trad. Arr. Joplin
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year: Recorded 1968, released 1972
Big Brother And The Holding Company's first album, featuring the single Down On Me, was recorded in 1967 at the studios of Mainstream Records, a medium-sized Chicago label known for its jazz recordings. At the time, Mainstream's engineers had no experience with a rock band, particularly a loud one like Big Brother, and vainly attempted to clean up the band's sound as best they could. The result was an album full of bland recordings sucked dry of the energy that made Big Brother and the Holding Company one of the top live attractions of its time. Luckily we have this live version of the tune recorded in Detroit in early 1968 and released on the 1972 album Joplin In Concert that captures the band at their peak, before powerful people with questionable motives convinced singer Janis Joplin that the rest of the group was (ahem) holding her back.
Title: You Set The Scene
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Forever Changes)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
During the production of Forever Changes, vocalist/guitarist Arthur Lee became convinced that he was destined to die soon after the release of the album. Accordingly, he crafted lyrics that were meant to be his final words to the world. As the final track on the LP, You Set The Scene in particular reflected this viewpoint. As it turned out, Forever Changes was not Lee's swan song. It has, however, come to be seen by many as the final word on the Summer of Love. It was also the last album to feature the lineup that had been the most popular band on Sunset Strip for the past two years. Subsequent Love albums would feature a whole new group of musicians backing Lee, and would have an entirely different sound as well. Ironically, Lee was still around at the dawn of the 21st century over 30 years later (dying of acute myeloid leukemia in 2006), having outlived several of his former bandmates.
At this point we are switching to a countdown of the five most played artists on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era over the past ten years. And there is no way I'm gonna spoil the suspense by naming them here. You'll just have to listen to the show itself to find out who they are, but I will give you a hint: four of the five have already made an appearance on this week's show.
This week's show certainly has its ups and downs. It opens with Melissa Manchester singing the words "You are a fluke of the Universe" and ends with Flight of the Phoenix. In between we have songs about places, metaphorical animals and even a couple of food references.
Artist: National Lampoon
Source: CD: Greatest Hits Of The National Lampoon (originally released on LP: Radio Dinner)
Label: Uproar (original label: Blue Thumb)
National Lampoon was a product of its time. Originally a magazine, NatLamp (as it was often referred to) grew to include a weekly radio show, a series of albums, and eventually, a series of movies. Some of the best bits from the radio show were assembled in 1972 on an album called National Lampoon's Radio Dinner. The opening track of this album was a piece written by Tony Hendra (with music by Christopher Guest) that parodied a 1971 spoken word recording by Les Crane of an early 20th century poem by Max Ehrmann called Desirata. The Lampoon piece, Deteriorata, was narrated by Norman Rose, with Melissa Manchester singing.
Title: Fresh Garbage
Source: European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Spirit)
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
Label: Sony Music (original label: Ode)
Much of the material on the first Spirit album was composed by vocalist Jay Ferguson while the band was living in a big house in California's Topanga Canyon outside of Los Angeles. During their stay there was a garbage strike, which became the inspiration for the album's opening track, Fresh Garbage. The song starts off as a fairly hard rocker and suddenly breaks into a section that is pure jazz, showcasing the group's instrumental talents, before returning to the main theme to finish out the track.The group used a similar formula on about half the tracks on the LP, giving the album and the band a distinctive sound right out of the box.
Artist: Mighty Baby
Title: I've Been Down So Long
Source: British import CD: Mighty Baby
Label: Big Beat (original label: Head)
After the departure of frontman Reggie King, the Action, which had been in existence since 1965, decided to change not only its name, but its entire sound as well. Originally a Merseybeat band doing Motown covers, the band had slowly been incorporating elements of California bands such as the Byrds and the Association. With the addition of Ian Whiteman, they began to delve into improvisational rock as well, and by the time they officially became Mighty Baby in 1969 they were being hailed as England's answer to the Grateful Dead. As can be heard on tracks like I've Been Down So Long, they certainly had the talent to pull it off, but even the Dead themselves were generally received with indifference by the British, and Mighty Baby fared no better there than the band that inspired them.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience (MkII)
Source: CD: First Rays of the New Rising Sun (originally released on LP: Rainbow Bridge)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA/Experience Hendrix (original label: Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix was working on a new double album when he died, but nobody else seemed to be sure where he was going with it. As there were several tracks that were unfinished at the time, Reprise Records gathered what they could and put them together on an album called The Cry Of Love. Freedom, a nearly finished piece (the unfinished part being a short "placesetter" guitar solo that Hendrix never got around to replacing with a final take), is the opening track from the album. Soon after that, a new Hendrix concert film called Rainbow Bridge was released along with a soundtrack album containing most of the remaining tracks from the intended double album. Finally, under the auspices of the Hendrix family in 1997, MCA (with the help of original engineer Eddie Kramer and drummer Mitch Mitchell) pieced together what was essentially an educated guess about what would have been that album and released it under the name First Rays of the New Rising Sun.
Artist: Todd Rundgren's Utopia
Title: (Intro) Mister Triscuits/Something's Coming
Source: LP: Another Live
Although he is primarily known for his pop songs such as Hello It's Me and We Gotta Get You a Woman, Todd Rundgren did, for a time in the 1970s experiment with prog-rock, forming the band Utopia in 1973. The band released the album Todd Rundgren's Utopia in 1974, following it up with Another Live the following year. The opening track of side two begins with keyboardist Roger Powell's composition Mister Triscuits, which was originally titled The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus before his publisher mistranscribed it. The instrumental track flows directly into a cover version of Something's Coming from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's West Side Story. Utopia would continue as a band for several years, but steadily moving away from their prog-rock beginnings toward a more pop-oriented sound.
Title: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (opening sequence)
Source: CD: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
Label: Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was released in 1974, and features lyrics written exclusively by Peter Gabriel, who would leave Genesis, the band he co-founded, following the band's 1975 tour to promote the double LP. The album was originally met with mixed reviews, but has come to be considered by many the apex of the band's existence. More than on any other Genesis album, the songs tend to flow together without a break between them. For example, the album's opening sequence of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Fly On A Windshield, Broadway Melody Of 1974, Cuckoo Cocoon and In The Cage come across as one continuous piece that takes up nearly the entire first side of the original LP.
Artist: Steely Dan
Title: The Caves Of Altamira
Source: CD: The Royal Scam
Label: MCA (original label: ABC)
Steely Dan had a reputation for bringing in some of the finest guest musicians available to help them on their albums. The Caves Of Altamire, from their fifth LP, The Royal Scam, is a good example. The piece, based on a book by Hans Baumann, features a tenor saxophone solo from John Klemmer.
Artist: George Harrison
Title: Dark Horse
Source: LP: Dark Horse
Writer(s): George Harrison
Stung by the hostility of some reviewers to the spiritual quality of his 1973 LP Living In The Material World, as well as his deteriorating relationship with Patti Boyd, George Harrison stung back with the release of Dark Horse, the lead single from his 1974 album of the same name. While most American record buyers assumed the title referred to his status as the unexpected winner of the "which Beatle will have the most success as a solo artist" race (his My Sweet Lord was the first single by an ex-Beatle to top the charts), Harrison himself contradicted this interpretation, saying that he was actually unaware of that use of the term when he wrote the song. His intended meaning, he said, was actually Liverpudian slang for the kind of guy who was called a Back Door Man in an old Howlin' Wolf tune written by Willie Dixon.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Flight Of The Phoenix
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Mark Farner
After five successful albums produced by Terry Knight, the members of Grand Funk Railroad decided to go it alone for their 1972 LP Phoenix. The album was the first to include Craig Frost, who would eventually become a full member of the band, on keyboards, as can be heard on the LP's opening track, the instrumental Flight Of The Phoenix. Famed fiddler Doug Kershaw can also be heard on the track.
Sunday, May 10, 2020
This week's show is very much a typical edition of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, with a selection of album tracks, B sides and even hit singles, with a handful of obscurities and an Advanced Psych segment thrown in for good measure. This is intentional, as we are coming up on the 10th anniversary of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era's entry into the world of syndication. To celebrate that anniversary we'll have not one, but two special editions of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era over the next couple of weeks. The first will concentrate on the most influential artists of the psychedelic era, while the following week counts down the 30 most played songs over the past ten years. But in the meantime, here are 29 tasty tracks.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet
Source: CD: More Nuggets (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mercury)
The Blues Magoos (original spelling: Bloos) were either the first or second band to use the word psychedelic in an album title. Both they and the 13th Floor Elevators released their debut albums in 1966 and it is unclear which one actually came out first. What's not in dispute is the fact that Psychedelic Lollipop far outsold The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. One major reason for this was the fact that (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet was a huge national hit in early 1967, which helped album sales considerably. Despite having a unique sound and a look to match (including electric suits), the Magoos were unable to duplicate the success of Nothin' Yet on subsequent releases, partially due to Mercury's pairing of two equally marketable songs on the band's next single without indicating to stations which one they were supposed to be playing.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Lime Street Blues
Source: 45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Label: A&M (original label: Deram)
Anyone expecting more of the same when flipping over their new copy of A Whiter Shade Of Pale in 1967 got a big surprise when they heard Lime Street Blues. The song, reminiscent of an early Ray Charles track, was strong enough to be included on their first greatest hits collection, no mean feat for a B side.
Title: The Unknown Soldier
Source: CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: Waiting For The Sun and as 45 RPM single)
Writer: The Doors
One of the oddest recordings to get played on top 40 radio was the Door's 1968 release, The Unknown Soldier. The song is notable for having it's own promotional film made by keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who had been a film major at UCLA when the Doors were formed. It's not known whether the song was written with the film in mind (or vice versa), but the two have a much greater synergy than your average music video. As for the question of whether the Doors themselves were anti-war, let's just say that vocalist Jim Morrison, who wrote the lyrics to The Unknown Soldier, was known for being pretty much anti-everything.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Two People
Source: LP: Where's My Daddy
After being cut from the Reprise roster following the disappointing sales of their third LP for the label, it looked like members of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band would be going their separate ways. Yet, amazingly enough, the following year the band released a new album on the Amos label called Where's My Daddy?. Even more amazing is the fact that nearly all the members of the band participated in the making of the album, despite most members' publicly expressed disdain for the band's unofficial leader, Bob Markely. I have to be honest here. I just listened to the track Two People before sitting down to write this, and I really have no idea what this song is supposed to be about. The lyrics sort of remind me of Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues in their delivery, but they aren't nearly as interesting as Dylan's. Musically, the song sounds like early country rock, a style that really doesn't mesh well with the melody or the lyrics. Oddly enough, though, it's actually listenable in a weird sort of way.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Earth Blues
Source: CD: First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (originally released on LP: Rainbow Bridge)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Earth Blues was first recorded in December of 1969 by Band of Gypsys (Jimi Hendrix, Billy Cox and Buddy Miles), but Hendrix was not satisfied with the recording, and returned to it the following year, adding guitar and vocal overdubs and a new drum track from Mitch Mitchell. Hendrix was unable to complete a master mix of the song, however, and it remained unfinished upon his death. In early 1971 engineers Eddie Kramer and John Jansen would finally create a master mix of Earth Blues for inclusion on the Rainbow Bridge LP.
Artist: Mamas And The Papas
Title: California Dreamin'
Source: LP: If You Believe Your Eyes And Ears (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): John and Michelle Phillips
California Dreamin' was written in 1963 by John and Michelle Phillips, who were living in New York City at the time. The two of them were members of a folk group called the New Journeymen that would eventually become The Mamas And The Papas. Phillips initially gave the song to his friend Barry McGuire to record, but McGuire's version failed to chart. Not long after that McGuire introduced Philips to Lou Adler, president of Dunhill Records who quickly signed The Mamas And The Papas to a recording contract. Using the same instrumental backing track (provided by various Los Angeles studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew), The Mamas And The Papas recorded new vocals for California Dreamin', releasing it as a single in late 1965. The song took a while to catch on, but eventually peaked in the top five nationally.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: Do You Like Worms
Source: Mono CD: Good Vibrations-Thirty Years Of The Beach Boys
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1993
With the 1966 hit Good Vibrations, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys developed a "modular" approach to producing a recorded work. Rather than record a performance in one take, he would tape each segment separately, often in different studios, and later assemble the pieces in the order he wanted them. The problem with such an approach became evident, however, with his next project, an album to be called Smile. Wilson soon found that the vast number of ways that multiple segments could be put together was overwhelming him to the point where he couldn't make a final decision. As a result, Smile was shelved indefinitely in May of 1967. In 1993 several of the unfinished tracks, long thought to have been destroyed by Wilson himself, surfaced on a box set called Good Vibrations-Thirty Years Of The Beach Boys. One of these unfinished tracks was Do You Like Worms, a piece that years later showed up, in slightly modified form, as Roll Plymouth Rock, the second track on the reconstituted Smile album.
Artist: Kaleidoscope (UK band)
Title: A Lesson Perhaps
Source: British import CD: Further Reflections (originally released on LP: Tangerine Dream)
Label: Grapefruit (original label: Fontana)
The differences between American and British psychedelic rock are reflected in the music of two bands with the same name: Kaleidoscope. While the US band with that name was a combination of acid and folk rock with jug band roots and socially conscious lyrics, the London-based Kaleidoscope was much more whimsical, with roots in the folk music and fairy tales that are an integral part of growing up English. Led by vocalist/lyricist Peter Daltrey (cousin of the Who's Roger Daltrey) and guitarist Eddie Pumer, Kaleidoscope recorded five singles and two LPs for the Fontana label over a period of about two years (1967-69) before changing their name to Fairfield Parlour and switching to the more progressive Vertigo label in 1970. A Lesson Perhaps, from their 1967 album Tangerine Dream (no relation to the German electronic group), is primarily a spoken word piece. Oddly enough, it works.
Artist: Johnny Winter
Title: Mean Town Blues
Source: LP: The Progressive Blues Experiment
Writer: Johnny Winter
Label: Imperial (original label: Sonobeat)
Although he had been making records for a variety of local Texas labels for most of the 1960s, Johnny Winter did not get to record a full-length album until 1968, when The Progressive Blues Experiment was released on the Sonobeat label. The album quickly gained a following among blues enthusiasts, prompting the Imperial label to reissue the album nationally. Among the many outstanding tracks recorded by the trio consisting of Winter, drummer Uncle John Turner and bassist Tommy Shannon, was Mean Town Blues, a tune the band would perform at Woodstock. The response from the crowd was strong enough to prompt Columbia Records to offer Winter a $600,000 recording deal, a huge amount for a virtually unknown artist at that time.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Doctor Please
Source: Mono LP: Vincebus Eruptum
Writer(s): Dick Peterson
With it's raw feedback-drenched guitar and bass and heavily distorted drums, Blue Cheer is often cited as the first heavy metal band. If any one song most demonstrates their right to the title it's Doctor Please from the Vincebus Eruptum album. Written by bassist Dick Peterson, the song is exactly what your parents meant by "that noise". Contrary to the rumor going around in 1970, guitarist Leigh Stephens did not go deaf after recording two albums with Blue Cheer. In fact, he went to England and recorded the critically-acclaimed (but seldom heard) Red Weather album with some of the UK's top studio musicians.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Journey To The Center Of The Mind)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
The title track of the second Amboy Dukes album, Journey To The Center Of The Mind, is by far their best known recording, going all the way to the #16 spot on the top 40 in 1968. The song features the lead guitar work of Ted Nugent, who co-wrote the song with guitarist/vocalist Steve Farmer. Journey To The Center Of The Mind would be the last album to feature lead vocalist John Drake, who left the band for creative reasons shortly after the album's release.
Title: Paper Sun
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Silver Spotlight (original label: United Artists)
One of the first British acid-rock bands was a group called Deep Feeling, which included drummer Jim Capaldi and woodwind player Chris Wood. At the same time Deep Feeling was experimenting with psychedelia, another, more commercially oriented band, the Spencer Davis Group, was tearing up the British top 40 charts with hits like Keep On Running, Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man. The undisputed star of the Spencer Davis Group was a teenaged guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist named Steve Winwood, who was also beginning to make his mark as a songwriter. Along with guitarist/vocalist Dave Mason, who had worked with Capaldi in earlier bands, they formed Traffic in the spring of 1967, releasing their first single, Paper Sun, in May of that year. Capaldi and Winwood had actually written the tune while Winwood was still in the Spencer Davis Group, and the song was an immediate hit in the UK. This was followed quickly by an album, Mr. Fantasy, that, as was the common practice at the time in the UK, did not include Paper Sun. When the album was picked up by United Artists Records for US release in early 1968, however, Paper Sun was included as the LP's opening track. The US version of the album was originally titled Heaven Is In Your Mind, but was quickly retitled Mr. Fantasy to match the original British title (although the alterations in track listing stayed).
Title: Chicken Little Was Right (original version)
Source: CD: The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer: The Turtles
Label: Manifesto (original label: White Whale)
Year: 1967 (stereo version released 2016)
Like many of the bands of the time, the Turtles usually recorded songs from professional songwriters for their A sides and provided their own material for the B sides. In the Turtles' case, however, these B sides were often psychedelic masterpieces that contrasted strongly with their hits. Chicken Little Was Right, the B side of She's My Girl, at first sounds like something you'd hear at a hootenanny, but then switches keys for a chorus featuring the Turtles' trademark harmonies, with a little bit of Peter And The Wolf thrown in for good measure. This capacity for self-parody would come to serve band members Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan well a few years later, first as members of the Mothers (performing Happy Together live at the Fillmore East) and then as the Phorescent Leach and Eddie (later shortened to Flo And Eddie). For many years the original version of Chicken Little Was Right (a newly recorded version being used on the 1968 album The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands) was only available to collectors who had a copy of the single, but in 2016 Flo & Eddie included a previously unreleased stereo remix of the original recording as a bonus track on the CD re-release of The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands on the Manifesto label.
Artist: Uncalled For
Title: Do Like Me
Source: Mono LP: Pebbles Vol. 8 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: BFD (original labels Dollie, Laurie)
Virtually nothing is known about the Uncalled For other than that they came from Youngstown, Ohio (which was still a vital steel-making center with a thriving local music scene in the 1960s) and recorded one 1967 single, Do Like Me, for the local Dollie label. The song was apparently successful enough to be picked up by a national label, Laurie, and re-released later in the year. If anyone knows more about the Uncalled For, feel free to drop me a line.
Artist: H.P. Lovecraft
Title: The Drifter
Source: Two Classic Albums from H. P. Lovecraft: H. P. Lovecraft/H. P. Lovecraft II (originally released on LP: H.P. Lovecraft)
Writer(s): Travis Edmonson
Label: Collector's Choice/Universal Music Special Markets (original label: Philips)
Everyone acknowledges Chicago as the home of electric blues, but few realize that they also had an underground psychedelic scene in the late 1960s as well. Perhaps the most successful band to emerge from this scene was H.P. Lovecraft, named for the early 20th century author. The band itself was one of the most eclectic bands of the psychedelic era, a trait that probably prevented them from attaining any major commercial success. Still, their two albums, released in 1967 and 1968, are now considered classics. The first LP was made up mostly of cover versions of folk-rock songs like The Drifter, written by Travis Edmonson (half of the duo of Bud & Travis). The Lovecraft version of The Drifter features harmony vocals from guitarist George Edwards (himself a veteran solo artist, having recorded a cover of Norwegian Wood for the Dunwich label) and classically-trained keyboardist Dave Michaels. Another notable member of H.P. Lovecraft was rhythm guitarist Jerry McGeorge, who had been a member of the Shadows Of Knight.
Title: Psychedelic Shack
Source: 45 RPM single
Starting in 1969 the songwriting/production team of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong began to carve out their own company within a company at Motown, producing a series of recordings with a far more psychedelic feel than anything else coming out of the Motor City's biggest label. The most blatantly obvious example of this is the Temptations tune Psychedelic Shack, which graced the charts in 1970. Whitfield would eventually form his own company, taking another Motown act, the Undisputed Truth, with him, but would not be able to equal the success of the songs he and Strong produced for the Temptations.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Hideaway (Live Las Vegas)
Source: CD: California 66
Year: Recorded 2008, released 2009
Hideaway was originally released in June of 1967 as the B side of the far inferior Dr. Do-Good two months ahead of the second Electric Prunes album, Underground. Dr. Do-Good of course went nowhere, but Hideaway became a favorite of collectors, and was included on Rhino's 2009 box set Where The Action Is! (Los Angeles Nuggets: 1965-1968). By then, the Electric Prunes had reformed, and were planning a tour to include Sky Saxon (of the Seeds) and Arthur Lee's then-current edition of Love. To promote the tour, a special "tour edition" CD called California 66 featuring tracks from all three acts (and a fourth called Baby Lemonade) was prepared, but the unexpected death of Saxon caused the tour itself to be cancelled. James Lowe, the Prunes' vocalist, kindly sent me a copy of California 66, which includes this totally mind-blowing 2008 live performance of Hideaway. Enjoy!
Title: Wishing And Wondering
Source: CD: Thank You, Bonzo
Writer(s): Stephen R Webb
The last track to be completed by the Mumphries, an Albuquerque, NM band made up of Jeff "Quincy" Adams (bass, guitar and vocals), Suzan Hagler (guitar, keyboards), John Henry Smith (drums) and Stephen R Webb (guitar, bass, vocals) was Wishing And Wondering, a song decrying man's mistreatment of his home planet. The track was intended to be submitted to various environmentalist organizations, and is still available, if anyone wants to use it.
Artist: Psychedelic Furs
Title: Sister Europe
Source: LP: The Psychedelic Furs
Writer(s): Psychedelic Furs
Initially consisting of Richard Butler (vocals), Tim Butler (bass guitar), Duncan Kilburn (saxophone), Paul Wilson (drums) and Roger Morris (guitars), the Psychedelic Furs were formed in 1977 under the name RKO. They soon began calling themselves Radio, then did gigs under two different names, the Europeans and the Psychedelic Furs. By 1979 they had settled on the latter name and expanded to a sextet, adding guitarist John Ashton and replacing Wilson with Vince Ely on drums. The Furs' self-titled debut album, released in 1980, was an immediate hit in Europe and the UK, but airplay in the US was limited mostly to college radio and "alternative" rock stations. The second single released from the album was Sister Europe, a tune that was also the band's concert opener in the early days of their existence. The Psychedelic Furs' greatest claim to fame, however, is probably the song Pretty In Pink. Originally released on their second album, Talk Talk Talk, in 1981, the song was re-recorded for the John Hughes film of the same name in 1986.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Source: CD: One Step Beyond
Label: Sundazed (original label: Tower)
The Chocolate Watchband is one of those groups whose reputation was more important than their actual recorded output. Part of the reason is that they really didn't have much interest in making records, preferring to do live gigs opening for big name acts that they would then proceed to blow off the stage. Another problem is that their lineup was subject to change at a moment's notice, with some members leaving to join other bands only to return to the fold a year or two later. It didn't help that the band kept breaking up at inopportune times, only to reform with a completely different lineup and sound a few months later. All this is evident on their third LP for Tower, One Step Beyond. Released in 1969, the album features the return of the band's original lead vocalist and guitarist, Danny Phay and Ned Tormey, both of whom had left in early 1966 to join the Otherside, precipitating the first Watchband's disbandment. The lineup on One Step Beyond also included guitarist Mark Loomis and drummer Gary Adnrijasevich, who had been founding members of the band's second, and most popular, incarnation, but had left in 1967 to join a folk-rock band called the Tingle Guild that eventually included Phay as well. Completing the lineup were the two guys with the most total time as Watch Band members, guitarist Sean Tolby and bassist Bill Flores. One Step Beyond was the only album by the band to be credited to the Chocolate Watchband (two instead of three words), and was also the only one where band members had artistic control over the final product. This included several original compositions such as Flowers, which reflects the folk-rock leanings of Phay and sounds nothing like the Watchband of old.
Title: Same Old Story
Source: British import CD: Taste
Writer(s): Rory Gallagher
Label: Polydor (original US label: Atco)
Sometimes a band's frontman so dominates the band's sound that the band itself becomes little more than a footnote in the history of the frontman himself. Such was the case with Taste, a band formed in Cork, Ireland in 1966 by Rory Gallagher. By the time Taste cut its 1969 debut LP, Gallagher was the only original member of the trio, and the band's sole songwriter as well as vocalist and lead guitarist. The song Same Old Story is fairly typical of the group's sound. Taste disbanded in 1970, with Gallagher going on to have a successful solo career.
Title: I've Got You On My Mind
Source: Mono CD: The Huns Conquer Ithaca, NY 1966
Writer(s): Steven Dworetz
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2017
Ithaca, NY, is famous for being the home of Cornell University, one of the nation's top Ivy League schools. What a lot of people are unaware of, however, is that there is a second large institute of higher learning in the area. Ithaca College, like Cornell, has its own radio station, as well as television facilities that date back to the 1960s. It was at these facilities, in their original downtown location, that the Huns, a short-lived but phenomenally popular local band, made their only studio recordings in May of 1966. Those recordings, made on monoraul equipment, sat unreleased for over 50 years before finally being made public on a 2017 CD called The Huns Conquer Ithaca, NY 1966. The band was founded by bassist Frank Van Nostrand and organist John Sweeney in the fall of 1965. By the end of the year their lineup included vocalist Rich La Bonte, guitarists Carl "Buz" Warmkessel and Keith Ginsberg and drummer Steven Dworetz, who wrote I've Got You On My Mind. Despite being new on the scene, the Huns found plenty of places to play, racking up a total of 51 gigs over a nine month period, while the members themselves attended classes at Ithaca College during the daytime (when they weren't being harrassed by department heads over the length of their hair). Although popular with the student crowd the members of the Huns were not well-liked by officials at the college itself. In fact, the Huns' existence came to an end when the founding members were "encouraged to pursue their academic careers elsewhere". Shades of Animal House!
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Sitting By The Window
Source: Mono LP: Moby Grape
Writer: Peter Lewis
Moby Grape's powerful 1967 debut managed to achieve what few bands have been able to: a coherent sound despite having wildly different writing styles from the individual members. One of guitarist Peter Lewis's contributions to the album was Sitting By The Window, one of those rare songs that sounds better every time you hear it.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: On The Road Again
Source: 45 RPM single
Canned Heat was formed by a group of blues record collectors in San Francisco. Although their first album consisted entirely of cover songs, by their 1968 album Boogie With Canned Heat they were starting to compose their own material, albeit in a style that remained consistent with their blues roots. On The Road Again, the band's second and most successful single (peaking at # 16) from that album, is actually an updated version of a 1953 recording by Chicago bluesman Floyd Jones (which was in turn adapted from delta bluesman Tommy Johnson's 1928 recording of a song called Big Road Blues) that guitarist/vocalist Al "Blind Owl" Wilson reworked, adding a tambura drone to give the track a more psychedelic feel. Wilson actually had to retune the sixth hole of his harmonica for his solo on the track.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: In The Time Of Our Lives
Source: LP: Ball
One of the most eagerly-awaited albums of 1969 was Iron Butterfly's followup to In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Although Ball was a strong seller, it overall left the listener feeling vaguely disappointed, and was the last album to feature Eric Brann on lead guitar. Subsequent albums did even worse, and Iron Butterfly is now mostly remembered as classic rock's first one-hit wonder.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Live With Me (live version)
Source: LP: "Get Yer Ya-Yas Out!" The Rolling Stones In Concert
Quick quiz time: What was the first song Mick Taylor recorded as a member of the Rolling Stones? If you answered Honky Tonk Women you would be close, but not quite right. The actual answer is Live With Me, a track that appeared on the LP Let It Bleed seven months after it was recorded. The song's lyrics were cited as the reason that the London Bach Choir asked not to be credited for their vocals on You Can't Always Get What You Want from the same album. A live version of Live With Me featuring dueling guitar leads between Taylor and Keith Richards was included on 1970's "Get Yer Ya-Yas Out!" The Rolling Stones In Concert, the last Stones LP issued by the British Decca label.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s): Paul Kantner
Label: RCA Victor
The first Jefferson Airplane album (the 1966 release Jefferson Airplane Takes Off) was dominated by songs from the pen of founder Marty Balin, a few of which were collaborations with other band members such as Paul Kantner and Jorma Kaukonen. The songwriting on the group's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow, was fairly evenly balanced between the three above and new arrival Grace Slick. By the band's third album, After Bathing At Baxter's, released in the fall of 1967, Kantner had emerged as the group's main songwriter, having a hand in over half the tracks on the LP. One of the most durable of these was the album's closing track, a medley of two songs, Won't You Try and Saturday Afternoon, the latter being about a free concert that band had participated in in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park earlier that year.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Volunteers (live version)
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Label: Rhino (original label: Cotillion)
With five solid studio albums coming out from the years 1966-69, I don't often get the chance to play a live track from the Airplane. With just a few minutes left in the show it seemed like a good time to do so.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: The Last Wall Of The Castle
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer: Jorma Kaukonen
Label: RCA Victor
Following the massive success of the Surrealistic Pillow album with its two top 10 singles (Somebody To Love and White Rabbit) the members of Jefferson Airplane made a conscious choice to put artistic goals above commercial ones for their next LP, After Bathing At Baxter's. The result was an album that defines the term "acid rock" in more ways than one. One of the few songs on the album that does not cross-fade into or out of another track is The Last Wall Of The Castle from Jorma Kaukonen, his first non-acoustic song to be recorded by the band.
This week's show starts with a rather unusual countdown to a musical journey from 1968 to 1972. From there it's a wild mix of album tracks and B sides, but what else would you expect from a show called Rockin' in the Days of Confusion?
Title: Take Off
Source: British import CD: Gun
Writer(s): Adrian Gurvitz
Label: Repertoire (original label: CBS)
As was becoming more and more common in 1968, the final track of Gun's debut LP was an extended jam piece designed to showcase each of the band members' individual talents as well as their improvisational ability as a group. What makes Take Off a bit unusual is the addition of horns to the mix, something that Al Kooper was experimenting with in the US at around the same time, as can be heard on the Super Session album.
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Lucky Man/Gangster Of Love/ You're So Fine
Source: CD: Sailor
The Steve Miller Band's second album, Sailor, was the last to feature original members Jim Peterman and Boz Scaggs. The album is less overtly psychedelic than its predecessor, Children Of The Future, instead shifting the focus to more of a blues-rock sound. This can be heard on the medley of tunes heard on side two of the album. Lucky Man is a Peterman original, while Gangster Of Love came from Johnny "Guitar" Watson. The final part of the trilogy was Jimmy Reed's You're So Fine. Miller made an in-song reference to Gangster Of Love a few years later in his hit tune The Joker.
Title: Come Together
Source: LP: Abbey Road
After the Beatles released their 1968 double LP (the so-called White Album), they went to work on their final film project, a documentary about the band making an album. Unfortunately, what the cameras captured was a group on the verge of disintegration, and both the album and the film itself were shelved indefinitely. Instead, the band decided to record an entirely new group of compositions. Somehow, despite the internal difficulties the band was going through, they managed to turn out a masterpiece: Abbey Road. Before the album itself came out, a single was released. The official A side was George Harrison's Something, the first Harrison song ever to be released as a Beatle A side. The other side was the song that opened the album itself, John Lennon's Come Together. In later years Come Together came to be one of Lennon's signature songs and was a staple of his live performances.
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Electric Funeral
Source: CD: Paranoid
Label: Warner Brothers
When Black Sabbath first appeared on vinyl they were perceived as the next step in the evolution of rock, building on the acid rock of the late sixties and laying the groundwork for what would become heavy metal. Electric Funeral, from the band's second album, Paranoid, shows that evolution in progress.
Artist: J. Geils Band
Title: Whammer Jammer
Source: Mono 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Juke Box Jimmie
First they were a Boston bar band called Snoopy and the Sopwith Camel. Then they became the J. Geils Blues Band. Finally they dropped the "blues" from the name and became famous. Whammer Jammer, an early B side showcasing "Magic Dick" Salwitz on lead harmonica, shows why the "blues" part was there in the first place.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Free Four
Source: CD: Works (originally released on LP: Obscured By Clouds and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Roger Waters
Label: Capitol (original label: Harvest)
In addition to touring and making albums, the members of Pink Floyd got heavily into writing and performing film soundtracks, including Barbet Schroeder's directorial debut on More in 1970. In 1972, in the midst of recording Dark Side Of The Moon, the band took a couple of breaks to travel to France to write and record music for Schroeder's new film, La Vallée. A falling out between the band and the film production company led to the band releasing the music themselves as an album called Obscured By Clouds. Interestingly, the film itself was susequently retitled La Vallée (Obscured By Clouds) for its own release. The band released one single from the album, a Roger Waters composition called Free Four (so titled because the band playfully did its studio countdown as "one, two, free, four"). The song itself is one of those that has happy sounding music combined with rather negative lyrics, a sort of 70s trend.
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Robby Krieger
One of the most obscure Doors tracks in existence, Treetrunk was the non-LP B side of Get Up And Dance, a single released in 1972 that did not chart. The song was recorded during sessions for the album Full Circle, but left off the LP because the song's writer, Robby Krieger, felt it was "too commercial". Treetrunk is one of only three songs that were not included on Doors albums, and the only one released after the death of the band's original vocalist, Jim Morrison. Keyboardist Ray Manzarek provided the lead vocals for the track.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: Four Sticks
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin IV
One of the most difficult songs to record in the Led Zeppelin catalog, Four Sticks, from the fourth Zeppelin album, did not have a name until John Bonham's final drum track was recorded. He reportedly was having such a hard time with the song that he ended up using four drumsticks, rather than the usual two (don't ask me how he held the extra pair) and beat on his drums as hard as he could, recording what he considered the perfect take in the process.
Artist: David Bowie
Title: Andy Warhol
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side (reissue originally released on LP: Hunky Dory)
Writer: David Bowie
Although the song Changes appeared on Bowie's third LP for RCA, the label went back to Bowie's first RCA album, Hunky Dory, for the B side, Andy Warhol. The pairing makes for an interesting contrast between Bowie's pre and post Ziggy Stardust styles.
Artist: Steely Dan
Title: Any Major Dude Will Tell You
Source: LP: Pretzel Logic
Label: MCA (original label: ABC)
For a while it looked like Steely Dan would, like many other early 70s bands, start strong and then slowly fade away. Their debut single, Do It Again, got a lot of airplay on AM top 40 radio, which actually worked against them when it came to the more album-oriented FM stations that were starting to pop up all over the US. Despite the fact that their second LP, Countdown To Ecstacy, was much more suited to FM, it was pretty much ignored by FM rock stations at the time. However, it all came together for the group with the release of their third LP, Pretzel Logic, in 1974. In addition to a big hit single (Rikki Don't Lose That Number), Pretzel Logic included several FM-friendly tunes, such as Any Major Dude Will Tell You, and was a favorite of the rock press.
Artist: Blind Faith
Title: Sea Of Joy
Source: CD: Blind Faith
Writer(s): Steve Winwood
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
At the time Blind Faith was formed there is no question that the biggest names in the band were guitarist Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, having just come off a successful three-year run with Cream. Yet the true architect of the Blind Faith sound was actually Steve Winwood, formerly of the Spencer Davis Group and, more recently, Traffic. Not only did Winwood handle most of the lead vocals for the group, he also wrote more songs on the band's only album than any other member. Among the Winwood tunes on that album is Sea Of Joy, which opens side two of the LP.
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Black Night (1995 Roger Glover Mix)
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: Warner Brothers
Prior to 1970, Deep Purple had achieved a moderate amount of success, but were pretty much ignored in the native England. That all changed, however, with the addition of two new members, lead vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover. Following the experimental Concerto For Group and Orchestra, the band's new lineup released its first studio album, Deep Purple In Rock, on June 3, 1970. Two days later the released a non-album single called Black Night. The song was an instant hit, going all the way to the #2 spot on the British charts and quickly becoming part of the band's concert repertoire, usually as the first encore. A 1995 remix by Glover was released as a single on blue vinyl in 1995 for Record Store Day that runs nearly 30 seconds longer than the original 1970 US release.