Sunday, June 21, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2026 (starts 6/22/20)
The calendar says it's summer, and that means baseball season. But of course, it's 2020 and there IS no baseball. So, to start things off, we have the original 1966 version of a song that has been, for several years now, associated with a certain movie about a baseball team. From there we have 22 more tasty tracks, including a set from Cream and one from the Kinks, the latter of which features a couple of truly obscure songs that have never been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era before. Our last half hour consists of two really long tracks from 1969, one from the James Gang and the other from Blind Faith. Enjoy!
Title: Wild Thing
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Classics From the Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Chip Taylor
Label: Rhino (original label: Fontana)
I have a DVD copy of a music video (although back then they were called promotional films) for the Troggs' Wild Thing in which the members of the band are walking through what looks like a train station while being mobbed by girls at every turn. Every time I watch it I imagine singer Reg Presley saying giggity-giggity as he bobs his head.
Title: Don't Look Back
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Billy Vera
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
The Remains were a Boston area band that were seemingly on the verge of finally hitting the big time in 1966. They had just finished opening for the Beatles on their last US tour and had procured the rights to record a song written by Billy Vera, who would score a huge hit of his own 20 years later with At This Moment. Somehow, though, Don't Look Back didn't make the charts, despite its obvious potential. It was the last of a series of disappointments for a group that had been cutting records since 1964, and they soon packed up their instruments for the last time.
Artist: Mothers Of Invention
Title: Help, I'm A Rock, 3rd Movement: It Can't Happen Here
Source: 45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Writer(s): Frank Zappa
Label: Barking Pumpkin (original label: Verve)
Help, I'm A Rock and its follow up track It Can't Happen Here are among the best-known Frank Zappa compositions on the first Mothers Of Invention album, Freak Out! What is not so well known is that the band's label, Verve, issued a single version of the track under the title Help, I'm A Rock, 3rd Movement: It Can't Happen Here, as the B side of the band's first single. This mono single version removes the avant-garde jazz piano and drum section from the piece, making the track slightly over three minutes in length. The result is one of the strangest a cappella performances ever committed to vinyl.
Title: Sleepy Time Time
Source: CD: Fresh Cream
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
When Cream was first formed, both Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker worked with co-writers on original material for the band. Bruce worked with his wife, Janet Godfrey, while Baker's partner was poet Pete Brown. Eventually Bruce and Brown began collaborating, creating some of Cream's most memorable songs, but not before Bruce and Godfrey wrote Sleepy Time Time, one of the high points of the Fresh Cream album.
Title: We're Going Wrong
Source: CD: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s): Jack Bruce
Label: Polydor/Polygram (original label: Atco)
On Fresh Cream the slowest-paced tracks were bluesy numbers like Sleepy Time Time. For the group's second LP, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce came up with We're Going Wrong, a song with a haunting melody supplemented by some of Eric Clapton's best guitar fills. Even Ginger Baker set aside his drumsticks in favor of mallets, giving the song an otherworldly feel.
Source: CD: Fresh Cream (released in US as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
When the album Fresh Cream was released by Atco in the US it was missing one track that was on the original UK version of the album: the original studio version of Willie Dixon's Spoonful. Instead the song was released on two sides of a single in 1967, with 90 seconds removed from the song between parts one and two. The single never charted and now is somewhat difficult to find a copy of (not that anybody would want to). A live version of Spoonful was included on the LP Wheels of Fire, but it wasn't until the 1969 compilation album Best Of Cream that the uncut studio version was finally released in the US.
Artist: American Dream
Source: LP: The American Dream
Writer(s): Nick Jameson
In 1970 Albert Grossman, best known for being the manager of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and others, decided to form his own record label, Bearsville Records. One of his first acts was to sign Todd Rundgren, who had just left his own band, Nazz, as a producer and engineer for the new label. The first album produced by Rundgren for Bearsville, released as the inaugural LP of the new Ampex label (owned by the magnetic tape giant) was a Philadelphia band called The American Dream. The band's lead guitarist, Nick Jameson, wrote several of the songs on the album, including Storm. Jameson became Foghat's bassist in the mid-1970s and more recently has turned to acting, appearing, among other places, in several episodes of the TV series 24 as Russian president Yuri Suvanov. Rundgren, meanwhile, went on to become one of the most influential figures in rock music, both as artist and producer.
Title: I Can Hear The Grass Grow
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969
Writer(s): Roy Wood
Label: Rhino (original label: Deram)
One of the most popular British bands from 1966-1969 was the Move. Formed by members of various beat bands, the Move consisted of Carl Wayne (vocals), Trevor Burton (guitar, vocals), Roy Wood (guitar, vocals), "Ace" Kefford (bass, vocals) and Bev Bevan, the group scored hit after hit on the British charts, yet never broke the US top 40. Why this should be is a mystery, considering the sheer quality of tunes like I Can Hear The Grass Grow. Written, as were most of the Move's hits, by Roy Wood, I Can Hear The Grass Grow was the band's second single, and ended up in the #5 spot on the British charts. Eventually the Move would add Jeff Lynne to the lineup and form, as a side project, a new band called the Electric Light Orchestra, which became an internationally successful band in the 1970s.
Title: Hampstead Incident
Source: Mono LP: Mellow Yellow
Writer: Donovan Leitch
The Beatles started a trend (one of many) when they used a harpsichord on the Rubber Soul album, released in December of 1965. By early 1967 it seemed that just about everyone had a song or two with the antique instrument featured on it. Unlike many of the recordings of the time, Hampstead Incident manages to use the harpsichord, as well as several other instruments not normally associated with folk-rock, effectively without overdoing it.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Shifting Sands
Source: CD: Part One
Writer(s): Baker Knight
Label: Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Despite releasing six albums over a five-year period, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band never had a hit record. One attempt was Shifting Sands, one of two Baker Knight compositions the band released on Part One, their first LP for Reprise Records.
Title: Mr. Webster
Source: CD: Headquarters
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
After scathing criticism from the rock press for not playing their own instruments, the Monkees were determined to show that they could do it themselves with their third LP, Headquarters. One of the better, yet often overlooked tracks is Mr. Webster, a folk-rock song about an underappreciated bank security guard who decides to determine his own retirement bonus. Although their musicianship was nowhere near being on a level with the studio musicians who had played on their first two albums, the Monkees, in the words of Peter Tork, finally felt like a "real band". Unfortunately the damage to their reputations was already past the point of redemption, and subsequent LPs all used studio musicians, albeit under the direct supervision of the Monkees themselves.
Source: Mono CD: A Deadly Dose Of Wild Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Big Sound)
Starting around 1965, high school students all across middle America began forming garage bands, most of which emulated British Invasion bands such as the Kinks and the Rolling Stones. It's no surprise then, that by 1968 some of these same high schoolers were now enrolled in colleges such as the University of Northern Iowa and forming bands with names like the Pawnbrokers. The group, whose members came from Iowa, North Dakota and Minnesota, released three singles on at least two different labels before graduation brought an end to the whole thing. The second of these was Realize, which was issued on the Big Sound label out of Davenport (one of the Quad Cities).
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: Iron Butterfly Theme
Source: LP: Evolution-The Best Of Iron Butterfly (originally released on LP: Heavy)
Writer(s): Doug Ingle
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Although much of the material on the first Iron Butterfly album, Heavy, has a somewhat generic L.A. club sound to it, the final track, the Iron Butterfly Theme, sounds more in line with the style the band would become known for on their In-A-Gadda-Vida album a few months later.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Cat's Squirrel
Source: LP: This Was
Writer: Trad. Arr. Abrahams
Probably the Jethro Tull recording with the least Ian Anderson influence, Cat's Squirrel was recorded at the insistence of record company people, who felt the song was most representative of the band's live sound. The traditional tune was arranged by guitarist Mick Abrahams, who left the band due to creative differences with Anderson shortly thereafter. Cat's Squirrel became a live staple of Abrahams's next band, Blodwyn Pig.
Title: L.A. Woman
Source: LP: L.A. Woman
Writer(s): The Doors
Ray Manzarek became justifiably famous as the keyboard player for the Doors. Before joining up with Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger and John Densmore, however, Manzarek was already making a name for himself as an up-and-coming student filmmaker at UCLA. Although he didn't have much of a need to pursue a career in films once the Doors hit it big, he did end up producing and directing an outstanding video for the title track of the 1971 album L.A. Woman years after the band had split up. I only mention this because, really, what else can I say about a song that you've probably heard a million times or so?
Title: This Is Where I Belong
Source: Mono French import 45 RPM EP: The Kinks (originally released internationally as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: BMG (original label: Pye)
Long considered the most obscure Kinks song ever recorded, This Is Where I Belong was originally slated to be the non-album B side of a song called Mr. Pleasant. The record was prepared for release in the UK, Europe and Asia in April of 1967, but withdrawn in the UK in favor of Waterloo Sunset. The single did get released in nine countries, however, including France, Germany, Australia and the Netherlands. Mr. Pleasant was also released in the US, but with a different B side. This Is Where I Belong is now a bit more accessible, appearing as a bonus track on the British CD reissue of the Face To Face album and on a 4-song EP issued in France in 2016.
Title: Waterloo Sunset
Source: CD: 25 Years-The Ultimate Collection (originally released on LP: Something Else)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Polygram (original US label: Reprise)
One of the most beautiful tunes ever recorded by the Kinks is Waterloo Sunset, a song that was a hit single in the UK, but was totally ignored by US radio stations. The reason for this neglect of such a stong song is a mystery, however it may have been due to the fear that American audiences would not be able to relate to all the references to places in and around London in the song's lyrics. Then again, it could have been because the Kinks were banned (by the American Federation of Television and Recording Artists) from performing in the US at the time, and so could not effectively promote the song. We'll never know for sure.
Title: People Take Pictures Of Each Other
Source: Mono French import 45 RPM EP: The Kinks (originally released on LP: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: BMG (original US label: Reprise)
People Take Pictures Of Each Other is the final track on the 1968 LP The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. Of course, nowadays people take pictures of themselves. How times have changed.
Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title: San Franciscan Nights
Source: British import CD: Winds Of Change
Label: Repertoire (original label: M-G-M)
In late 1966, after losing several original members over a period of about a year, the original Animals disbanded. Eric Burdon, after releasing one single as a solo artist (but using the Animals name), decided to form a "new" Animals. After releasing a moderately successful single, When I Was Young, the new band appeared at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. While in the area, the band fell in love with the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, during what came to be called the Summer Of Love. The first single to be released from their debut album, Winds Of Change, was a tribute to the city by the bay called San Franciscan Nights. Because of the topicality of the song's subject matter, San Franciscan Nights was not released in the UK as a single. Instead, the song Good Times (which was the US B side of the record), became the new group's biggest UK hit to date (and one of the Animals' biggest UK hits overall). Eventually San Franciscan Nights was released as a single in the UK as well (with a different B side) and ended up doing quite well.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Death Sound Blues
Source: CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
I generally use the term "psychedelic" to describe a musical attitude that existed during a particular period of time rather than a specific style of music. On the other hand, the term "acid rock" is better suited for describing music that was composed and/or performed under the influence of certain mind-expanding substances. That said, the first album by Country Joe and the Fish is a classic example of acid rock. I mean, really, is there any other way to describe Death Sound Blues than "the blues on acid"?
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: The Wind Cries Mary
Source: CD: Are You Experienced?
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
The US version of Are You Experienced was significantly different than its UK counterpart. For one thing, the original UK album was only available in mono. For the US version, engineers at Reprise Records, working from the original multi-track masters, created all new stereo mixes of about two-thirds of the album, along with all three of the singles that the Jimi Hendrix Experience had released in the UK. The third of these singles was The Wind Cries Mary, which had hit the British charts in February of 1967.
Artist: Blind Faith
Title: Do What You Like
Source: LP: Blind Faith
Writer: Ginger Baker
Ginger Baker basically invented the rock drum solo, or at least was the first to record one in the studio, with the track Toad from the Fresh Cream album, released in 1966. A live version of the song was featured on the Wheels Of Fire album in 1968. The following year, recording technology had progressed to the point of allowing a true stereo mix of Baker's massive double bass drum setup for the track Do What You Like, a much more sophisticated composition than Toad. Featuring a vocal track as well as solos by all four band members, Do What You Like runs over 15 minutes in length.
Artist: James Gang
Source: LP: The Best Of The James Gang (originally released on LP: Yer' Album)
Label: ABC (original label: Bluesway)
Stop! is the final and longest track on the Yer' Album, the first LP by the James Gang. Released in 1969, the album is remembered best for being the recording debut of guitarist/vocalist Joe Walsh, who would go on to have a highly successful career, both as a solo artist and later as a member of the Eagles, replacing founder Bernie Leadon. Although Stop! has a tendency to drag a bit (and to my ears sounds like it suffers from bad mastering), the track does showcase Walsh's improvisational ability.