Sunday, July 5, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2028 (starts 7/6/20)
This week's show literally features A Cast Of Thousands. In this case, that's the name of a band from Syracuse, NY, that is featured as part of an expanded Advanced Psych segment that runs a full thirty minutes in our second hour. As for the other 90 minutes or so, we have progressions through the years, a Rolling Stones set, and some rather long extended pieces toward the end of the show. We start off in Los Angeles, where the action is.
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Source: LP: Just Like Us
Paul Revere and the Raiders were formed in the early 60s in Boise, Idaho. After temporarily disbanding due to Revere's stint in the Army, the group reformed in time to be the first band to record Richard Berry's Louie Louie in 1963. After establishing a reputation as one of the most polished bands on the Pacific Northwest scene, the group caught the eye (and ear) of Dick Clark, who signed them up to be the host band for his new daytime music show, Where The Action Is. The group relocated to Los Angeles, becoming the first rock band signed to Columbia Records in the process. One of their early recordings for the label was the theme song used on the TV show itself, which appeared as the last track on the 1966 LP Just Like Us. A longer version of Action was released as a single by Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon and got considerably more airplay than the Raiders' version.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
When it comes right down to it Buffalo Springfield has one of the highest ratios of songs recorded to songs played on the radio of any band in history, especially if you only count the two albums worth of material that was released while the band was still active. This is probably because Buffalo Springfield had more raw songwriting talent than just about any two other bands. Although Neil Young was just starting to hit his stride as a songwriter, bandmate Stephen Stills was already at an early peak, as songs like Bluebird clearly demonstrate.
Title: Think Twice
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Salvation)
Writer(s): Joe Tate
Label: Rhino (original label: ABC)
If there is any one band that typifies the San Francisco music scene of 1968 it would have to be Salvation. Originally known as the Salvation Army Banned, the group came to the attention of ABC Records after a series of successful gigs at Golden Gate Park. The band was often seen cruising the streets of San Francisco in a converted bus and often found themselves sharing the playbill with acts like Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane and the Doors. After recording their debut LP, Salvation, the group did a coast to coast promotional tour "from the Golden Gate to the Village Gate", only to find themselves stranded on the east coast when their management team absconded with the band's advance money. The band's fate was sealed when they, to quote keyboardist Art Resnick, "acted so incredibly wild at the main offices of ABC In in NYC when going there to meet all the top execs. It was totally insane! Wilder than any rock movie I've ever seen."
Artist: Open Mind
Title: Magic Potion
Source: CD Nuggets II (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
Originally known as the Drag Set, the Open Mind adopted their new name in late 1967. Not long after the change they signed a deal with Philips Records and recorded an album with producer Johnny Franz in 1968. Their greatest achievement, however, came the following year, when they released Magic Potion as a single. By that time, unfortunately, British psychedelia had run its course, and Open Mind soon closed up shop.
Title: Wish Me Up
Source: 45 RPM single B side (reissue)
By the time the 60s had come to an end, the Seeds, who had spearheaded the flower power movement in the middle of the decade, were on their last legs. Only Sky Saxon and Daryl Hooper were left from the original group, and they had lost their contract with GNP Crescendo. Their manager was able to secure a contract to record a pair of singles for M-G-M, but, as can be heard on the B side of the first single, Wish Me Up, the old energy just wasn't there anymore.
Title: One Voice Many
Source: LP: One Voice Many
I don't know what the issues were between electronic music producer Rachel Elking and Columbia Records president Clive Davis were in the early 1970s, nor do I particularly care. As with nearly all conflicts in the world of Big Business, however, there were innocent victims of this clash. In this case those victims were Angel Petersen, Steve Bohn, Robert Gorman and Michael John Hackett of the band Michaelangelo. The group was built around the virtuoso electric autoharp playing of Angel (some consider her to be the finest autoharp player ever) who had already named her instrument Michaelangelo before forming the band (hey, it was the psychedelic era, after all). In addition to playing autoharp, Angel wrote all of the band's material and shared lead vocals with lead guitarist Bohn, whose clean style managed to complement Angel's playing rather than compete with it. Gorman on bass and Hackett on drums were equally proficient on their instruments, giving the group a highly professional sound. Michaelangelo was signed to Columbia in 1971 by Elking and her partner, Walter (later Wendy) Carlos, who co-produced the album One Voice Many. Davis, however, for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with the band, made sure Columbia did not support or promote the album, and it was soon deleted from the label's catalog. Since the group's disbandment not long after, the album has become a highly sought after collector's item, and was finally issued on CD (in the UK) in 2009.
Title: A Well Respected Man
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Ray Davies
The Kinks were one of the original British Invasion bands, scoring huge R&B-influenced hits with You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night in 1964. The hits continued in 1965 with more melodic songs like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You. 1966 saw Ray Davies's songwriting take a satiric turn, as A Well Respected Man amply illustrates. Over the next few years the Kinks would continue to evolve, generally getting decent critical reviews and moderate record sales for their albums. The title of one of those later albums, Muswell Hillbillies, refers to the Davies brothers hometown of Muswell Hill, North London.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Coconut Grove
Source: LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful
Label: Sundazed/Kama Sutra
The 1966 album Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful was an attempt by the band to play in a variety of styles, as if it were being recorded by several different bands. By most accounts they succeeded, as can be heard by comparing the two biggest hits from the LP, Summer In The City and Nashville Cats. One of the quieter, acoustic numbers is a song called Coconut Grove, that manages to evoke images of the South Pacific without devolving into Rogers and Hart territory.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Paint Box
Source: CD: Relics (originally released in UK and Europe as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Rick Wright
Label: Capitol (original label: Columbia)
On Pink Floyd's earliest records, the songwriter of record was usually Syd Barrett. After Barrett's mental issues forced him out of the band the other members stepped up to fill the gap. But even before Barrett left, drummer Rick Wright's name began to show up on songwriting credits, such as on Paintbox, a 1967 B side that came out between the band's first two LPs. Wright also provided lead vocals for the tune.
Title: Withering Tree
Source: CD: Smiling Phases (originally released as 45 RPM B side and included on LP: Last Exit)
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
One of Traffic's best-known songs is Feelin' Alright from their eponymous second LP. When the song was issued as a single in 1968, a brand-new song, Withering Tree, was included as a B side. The stereo version of Withering Tree would not be heard until 1969, when it was included on the post-breakup Traffic LP Last Exit.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: The Lantern
Source: CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The Rolling Stones hit a bit of a commercial slump in 1967. It seemed at the time that the old Beatles vs. Stones rivalry (a rivalry mostly created by US fans of the bands rather than the bands themselves) had been finally decided in favor of the Beatles with the chart dominance of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band that summer. The Stones' answer to Sgt. Pepper's came late in the year, and was, by all accounts, their most psychedelic album ever. Sporting a cover that included a 5X5" hologram of the band dressed in wizard's robes, the album was percieved as a bit of a Sgt. Pepper's ripoff, possibly due to the similarity of the band members' poses in the holo. Musically Majesties was the most adventurous album the group ever made in their long history, amply demonstrated by songs like The Lantern. The Stones' next LP, Beggar's Banquet, was celebrated as a return to the band's roots.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Ruby Tuesday
Source: CD: Between The Buttons
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Although credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Ruby Tuesday was actually written without any input from Jagger. In fact, according to Marianne Faithful, it was Brian Jones who came up with the song's original melody, which was then modified by Richards, who also wrote the song's lyrics. According to Richards, those lyrics were inspired by Linda Keith, who dated Richards in the mid-60s and is rumored to be the inspiration for Jimi Hendrix's Red House as well.
Artist: Rolling Stones (also released as Bill Wyman)
Title: In Another Land
Source: CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer(s): Bill Wyman
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
In Another Land was the first Rolling Stones song written and sung by bassist Bill Wyman, and was even released in the US as a Wyman single. The song originally appeared on the Stones' most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, in late 1967.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Source: 45 RPM single B side (song originally released on LP: Bookends)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Four years after the release of the album Bookends (and two years after the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel), Columbia decided to release the song For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her, from their final album Bridge Over Troubled Water, as a single, to coincide with the release of their Greatest Hits album. For the B side, they went even further back, pulling out the original tapes for the song America. The tracks on the Bookends album were deliberately overlapped to form a continuous audio montage, making this the first standalone version of America to be released by the duo.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Source: CD: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Although most Iron Butterfly songs were written by keyboardist/vocalist Doug Ingle, there were a few exceptions. One of those is Termination, from the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album, which was written by guitarist Erik Brann and bassist Lee Dorman. From a 21st century perspective Termination sounds less dated than most of Ingle's material.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Need Love
Source: Mono CD: The Complete Atco Singles (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Real Gone/Rhino (original label: Atco
Possibly the hardest rocking original ever recorded by Vanilla Fudge, Need Love was the lead single from Rock & Roll, the final album released prior to the band's initial breakup in 1970. Guitarist Vinnie Martell provided the lead vocals on the song.
Artist: A Cast Of Thousands
Source: CD: The Fifth
Writer(s): Beth Beer
Despite the implications of their name, A Cast Of Thousands is actually three people: Terry Cuddy (guitar), Beth Beer (bass) and Jim Andrews (drums). All are from Auburn, NY, where the band was formed in 2010. A Cast Of Thousands is truly an alternative band, with a surprisingly eclectic mix of songs on the 2017 album The Fifth, such as Roundabout, which manages to project a definite punk aesthetic without devolving into snarling rage.
Artist: Chesterfield Kings
Title: Time Will Tell
Source: LP: Don't Open Till Doomsday
Writer(s): Ray Davies
By the time their 1987 LP, Don't Open Till Doomsday, was released, Rochester, NY's Chesterfield Kings had largely abandoned the 60s garage-rock covers that characterized their early recordings in favor of original material. There were a few exceptions, however. One of the more interesting ones is Time Will Tell, based on an unfinished Kinks recording from 1966 that was briefly available on a bonus disc accompanying a 1983 Kinks compilation album.
Title: Behind The Wall Of Sleep
Source: CD: Blown To Smithereens (originally released on LP: Especially For You)
Writer(s): Pat DiNizio
Label: Capitol (original label: Enigma)
In 1986 I was the host of a show called Rock Nouveaux on KUNM in Albuquerque, NM. Once a month we would feature an entire album from up and coming bands such as R.E.M., Killing Joke, Skinny Puppy and other groups that would come to be labeled "alternative rock", but at that time were part of a new musical underground. Among the albums that most impressed me was an LP called Especially For You from a band from New Jersey calling themselves the Smithereens. The album, produced by Don Dixon, had a decidedly 60s retro feel to it, especially on side two, which started off with Behind The Wall Of Sleep. The song eventually was released as the album's third single, doing particularly well in the UK.
Title: Dream States
The Pheremones were formed in late 1986 by vocalist Cole Mitchell and guitarist Duane Muncy, and included lead guitarist Ed Carlberg, drummer John Henry Smith and bassist Stephen R Webb. Although Mitchell and Muncy wrote most of the band's material, both Carlberg and Webb made contributions to the repertoire as well. The band members, in an interview for a local music scene paper, described their sound, which combined influences from early rock and roll, southern rock and country, as "Trailer Park Rock and Roll". Their most psychedelic tune, however, was a Carlberg composition with lyrics by Mitchell called Dream States. This recording, from February of 1987, is of the band performing live at Bottom Line Studios in Albuquerque, New Mexico directly onto 8-track tape with no overdubs, although various studio enhancements such as reverb and compression were added during the stereo mixdown.
Artist: Beyond From Within
Title: Soul Traveler
Source: CD: Beyond From Within
Writer(s): Steve Andrews
Beyond From Within is the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Steve Andrews. Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the band also includes producer Dino Pandolfo, who also provides bass, keyboards and backup vocals, and drummer Nick Spagnolo. Their self-titled (and self-released) album is full of quality original garage/psych tracks such as Soul Traveler, which closes out the 14-song CD.
Artist: Stephen R Webb
Title: Jeremy Johnson
Source: CD: The Electric Dream Project
Writer(s): Stephen R Webb
Ever lay awake at night, trying not to think of things that scare the crap out of you, but of course thinking of nothing else? When that happens to a songwriter it can result in something like Jeremy Johnson. The scary thought in this instance was actually a question: what if some Jimmy Jones type got hold of a thermonuclear device and decided that if mass suicide was good enough for his own followers it would be even better for massive numbers of people, like the population of a large American city? I then started thinking about the followers of Charles Manson and came up with the idea of Sarah Lee Winston, a girl from a moderately wealthy, but emotionally lacking, family that is so devoted to Jeremy Johnson that she will commit any act, no matter how horrific, to please him. The ominous, slightly discordant music flowed naturally from the concept of the lyrics, and the song was first performed by the band Civilian Joe in 1986. The studio version of Jeremy Johnson, featuring Civilian Joe's Suzan Hagler on rhythm guitar and me on everything else, was recorded at Bottom Line as part of the Electric Dream Project in 1987. I hope it scares the crap out of you, too.
Artist: Crawling Walls
Title: She's So Wild
Source: LP: Inner Limits
Writer(s): Bob Fountain
The first band to record at Albuquerque's Bottom Line Studios was the Crawling Walls, led by vocalist/keyboardist Bob Fountain (using a vintage Vox organ) and featuring guitarist Larry Otis, formerly of the Philisteens, along with bassist Nancy Martinez and drummer Richard Perez. One of the first 80s bands to truly emulate the classic 60s West Coast psychedelic sound (as defined by bands like the Seeds), the Crawling Walls released one LP, Inner Limits, in 1985 on the local Voxx label. The album was also reissued in France on the Lolita label, where it became a cult favorite. She's So Wild is kind of like a mini acid trip, starting off kinda quiet and moody then turning frantic on you when you least expect it.
Artist: James Gang
Title: Walk Away
Source: LP: Thirds
Writer: Joe Walsh
The third James Gang album was the last for Joe Walsh, who left the band to pursue a solo career for a few years before hooking up with the Eagles. One of his best known songs, Walk Away, leads off the album. The recording uses multi-tracking extensively toward the end of the song, with multiple guitar parts cascading into what Walsh himself described as a "train wreck".
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Source: LP: Marraige On The Rocks/Rock Bottom
Writer(s): Ted Nugent
Whatever you may think of Ted Nugent as a person, there is no denying his talent as a guitarist. He first came to national attention with a blistering cover of the Joe Williams classic Baby, Please Don't Go, which appeared on the Amboy Dukes' 1967 debut LP (and was later included on Lenny Kaye's first Nuggets anthology album). The Dukes had an even bigger hit single the following year with Journey To The Center Of The Mind, which Nugent co-wrote with fellow guitarist Steve Farmer. By 1970 Nugent was in firm control of the band, and was the sole songwriter on all but one of the tracks on the LP Marraige On The Rocks/Rock Bottom. The opening track, Marraige, consists of three parts that play as one continuous piece: Man, Woman and Music.
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Oh Well
Source: Mono CD: Then Play On
Writer(s): Peter Green
Fleetwood Mac had already established themselves as one of Britain's top up-and-coming blues bands by the time Then Play On was released in 1969. The band had just landed a deal in the US with Reprise, and Then Play On was their American debut LP. At the same time the album was released in the UK, a new non-LP single, Oh Well, appeared as well. The song was a top pick on Radio Luxembourg, the only non-BBC English language top 40 station still operating in 1969, and Oh Well (part one) soon shot all the way to the # 2 spot on the British charts. Meanwhile the US version of Then Play On (which had originally been issued with pretty much the same song lineup as the British version) was recalled, and a new version with Oh Well added to it was issued in its place. The song itself has two distinct parts: a fast blues-rocker sung by lead guitarist Peter Green lasting about two minutes, and a slow moody instrumental that runs about seven minutes. The original UK single featured about a minute's worth of part two tacked on to the end of the A side (with a fadeout ending), while the B side had the entire part two on it. Both sides of the single were added to the US version of the LP, which resulted in the first minute of part two repeating itself on the album. The editing job was done so well that it has been left that way ever since.
Artist: Big Brother and the Holding Company
Title: Piece Of My Heart
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
By 1968 Big Brother and the Holding Company, with their charismatic vocalist from Texas, Janis Joplin, had become as popular as fellow San Francisco bands Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. Somehow, though, they were still without a major label record deal. That all changed with the release of Cheap Thrills, with cover art by the legendary underground comix artist R. Crumb. The album itself was a curious mixture of live performances and studio tracks, the latter being led by the band's powerful cover of the 1966 Barbara Lynn tune Piece Of My Heart. The song propelled the band, and Joplin, to stardom. That stardom would be short-lived for most of the band members, however, as well-meaning but ultimately wrong-headed advice-givers convinced Joplin that Big Brother was holding her back. The reality was that the band was uniquely suited to support her better than anyone she would ever work with again.