Sunday, May 10, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2020 (starts 5/11/20)
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.