Sunday, July 12, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2029 (starts 7/13/20)
This week we have the third Beatles vs. Stones episode of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era. I have no idea who won the first two, but it really doesn't matter, since in any competition between the Bad Boys and the Fab Four, it's the listener who comes out the real winner. Other than that, it's nothing but sets dedicated to a particular year, including a 1970 Grateful Dead set to finish out the show.
Title: Eight Miles High
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Fifth Dimension)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Gene Clark's final contribution to the Byrds was his collaboration with David Crosby and Roger McGuinn, Eight Miles High. Despite a newsletter from the influential Gavin Report advising stations not to play this "drug song", Eight Miles High managed to hit the top 20 in 1966. The band members themselves claimed that Eight Miles High was not a drug song at all, but was instead referring to the experience of travelling by air. In fact, it was Gene Clark's fear of flying, especially long intercontinental trips, that in part led to his leaving the Byrds.
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of The Standells (originally released on LP: Dirty Water)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
Medication is one of those songs that shows up on more than one album by more than one band, but never seems to have achieved hit or even cult favorite status. The song, written by Minette Alton, Ben DiTosti, first appeared as the opening track of the Standells' first studio LP, Dirty Water. Not much is known about the two songwriters other than they both had a jazz background, but Medication itself is one of the Standells' most psychedelic tracks.
Title: I'm Not Like Everybody Else
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Ray Davies
One of the most popular songs in the Kinks' catalog, I'm Not Like Everybody Else was originally written for another British band, the Animals. When that group decided not to record the tune, the Kinks did their own version of the song, issuing it as the B side of the 1966 hit Sunny Afternoon. Although written by Ray Davies, it was sung by his brother Dave, who usually handled the lead vocals on only the songs he himself composed. Initially not available on any LPs, the song has in recent years shown up on various collections and as a bonus track on CD reissues of both the Kink Kontroversy and Face To Face albums. Both Davies brothers continue to perform the song in their live appearances.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Sounds Of Silence)
Writer(s): Davey Graham
Paul Simon wrote nearly all the material that he and Art Garfunkel recorded. One notable exception is Davey Graham's instrumental Anji, which Simon played as a solo acoustic piece on the Sounds Of Silence. The song immediately follows a Simon composition, Somewhere They Can't Find Me, that is built around a similar-sounding guitar riff, making Anji sound somewhat like an instrumental reprise of the first tune.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: The World's On Fire
Source: LP: Incense And Peppermints
So you think because you've heard Incense And Peppermints (the song, not the album) about a million times, you have a pretty good grip on what the Strawberry Alarm Clock was all about? Well, a listen to the opening track of their first LP (also titled Incense And Peppermints) will disabuse you of that notion in a hurry. Running well over eight minutes in length, The World's On Fire is essentially an extended jam showcasing the talents of the band itself, including guitarist Ed King, who would later become a member of Lynyrd Skynryd . The piece was also included in the 1968 film Psych-Out.
Title: People Are Strange
Source: LP: Strange Days (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: The Doors
The first single from the second Doors album was People Are Strange. The song quickly dispelled any notion that the Doors might be one-hit wonders and helped establish the band as an international act as opposed to just another band from L.A. The album itself, Strange Days, was a turning point for Elektra Records as well, as it shifted the label's promotional efforts away from their original rock band, Love, to the Doors, who ironically had been recommended to the label by the members of Love.
Artist: Red Crayola
Title: War Sucks
Source: Mono LP: The Parable Of Arable Lands
Label: International Artists
New York had the Velvet Underground. L.A. had the United States of America. San Francisco had 50 Foot Hose. And Texas had the Red Crayola. Formed by art students at the University of St. Thomas (Texas) in 1966, the band was led by singer/guitarist and visual artist Mayo Thompson, along with drummer Frederick Barthelme (brother of novelist Donald Barthelme) and Steve Cunningham. The band was almost universally panned by the rock press but has since achieved cult status as a pioneer of avant-garde psychedelic punk and is considered a forerunner of "lo-fi" rock. The band's debut album, The Parable Of Arable Land, released in 1967, was reportedly recorded in one continuous session and utilizes the services of "The Familiar Ugly", a group of about 50 friends of the band, each of which was invited to play whatever they pleased on whatever sound-producing device they chose to (such as blowing into a soda bottle), filling time between the actual songs on the album. Roky Erickson, leader of the Red Crayola's International Artists labelmates 13th Floor Elevators, can be heard playing organ as part of the cacaphony.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Embryonic Journey
Source: Mono LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Jorma Kaukonen
Label: Sundazed (original label: RCA Victor)
Jorma Kaukonen originally considered Embryonic Journey to be little more than a practice exercise. Other members of Jefferson Airplane insisted he record it, however, and it has since come to be identified as a kind of signature song for the guitarist, who played the tune live when the band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: The Electric Prunes)
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Reprise)
The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in late 1966 and hitting the charts in early 1967. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on both the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation and Rhino's first Nuggets LP.
Title: Last Time Around
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Dennis Dahlquist
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
The Del-Vetts were from Chicago's affluent North Shore. Their gimmick was to show up at a high school dance by driving their matching corvettes onto the gymnasium dance floor. Musically, like most garage/punk bands, they were heavily influenced by the British invasion bands. Unlike most garage/punk bands, who favored the Rolling Stones, the Del-Vetts were more into the Jeff Beck incarnation of the Yardbirds. The 'Vetts had a few regional hits from 1965-67, the biggest being this single issued on the Dunwich label, home of fellow Chicago suburbanites the Shadows of Knight. In retrospect, considering the song's subject matter (and overall loudness), Last Time Around may well be the very first death metal rock song ever recorded.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Talk Talk
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound)
The Music Machine was one of the most sophisticated bands to appear on the L.A. club scene in 1966, yet their only major hit, Talk Talk, was deceptively simple and straightforward punk-rock, and still holds up as two of the most intense minutes of rock music ever to crack the top 40 charts.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
San Jose, California, had a vibrant teen music scene in the late 60s, despite the fact that the relatively small city was overshadowed by San Francisco at the other end of the bay (both cities are considered part of the same metropolitan market). One of the more popular bands in town was Count Five, a group of five individuals who chose to dress up like Bela Lugosi's Dracula, capes and all. Musically, they idolized the Yardbirds (Jeff Beck era), and for slightly more than three minutes managed to sound more like their idols than the Yardbirds themselves (who by then had replaced Beck with Jimmy Page).
Artist: Fairport Convention
Title: Reno, Nevada
Source: Mono British import CD: Fairport Convention
Writer(s): Richard Farina
Year: Recorded 1968, released 2003
Most Americans who are familiar with Fairport Convention only know of the Sandy Denny version of the group that came into existence when Denny replaced Judy Dyble as the band's female vocalist. This change coincided with a shift from the San Francisco style improvisational folk-rock of the band's early days to a style more rooted in traditional English folk music. The original group only recorded one self-titled LP, released in the UK in 1968. As was often the case with debut albums, the group's improvisational skills were played down in favor of shorter, potentially more commercial, songs. This live recording of Richard Farina's Reno, Nevada, made on an April 27, 1968 appearance on a French TV show is a much better example of how Fairport Convention actually sounded in their early days.
Artist: Electric Flag
Title: Groovin' Is Easy
Source: LP: A Long Time Comin'
Writer(s): Nick Gravenites
After leaving the Butterfield Blues Band, guitarist Michael Bloomfield hooked up with keyboardist Barry Goldberg and drummer Buddy Miles to form the Electric Flag in 1967, a band that also included vocalist/songwriter Nick Gravenites and Butterfield alumni Harvey Brooks on bass. After a soundtrack album written entirely by Bloomfield for a Peter Fonda movie called the Trip and released in 1967, the group set about recording their "official" debut LP, A Long Time Comin'. The album featured tracks from a variety of sources, including Gravenites' Groovin' Is Easy.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Priority (original label: Mainstream)
Detroit was one of the major centers of pop music in the late 60s. In addition to the myriad Motown acts, the area boasted the popular retro-rock&roll band Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the harder rocking Heard (later known as the Bob Seger System), the anarchistic MC5, and Ted Nugent's outfit, the Amboy Dukes, who scored big in 1968 with Journey To The Center Of The Mind.
Artist: Great! Society
Title: Born To Be Burned
Source: CD: Born To Be Burned
Writer(s): Darby & Jerry Slick
Year: Recorded 1965, released 1995
The Slick brothers were from Silicon Valley before it was Silicon Valley. Raised in Palo Alto, both attended the private Menlo school in Atherton, where Darby played drums in the school marching band while simultaneously taking an interest in folk, jazz and instrumental surf music as a guitarist. When the British Invasion swept the nation in 1964, the Slick brothers decided to form their own band with former model Grace Wing (whom Jerry soon married) and Jean Piersall on vocals, later adding vocalist David Miner and bassist Bard DuPont after Piersall left town. The group made its debut as the Great! Society on October 15, 1965 at the coffee gallery in North Beach. This quickly led to a gig as house band at Mother's, the club owned by Bobby Mitchell and Tom "Big Daddy" Donohue, who also owned Autumn Records. This in turn led to a recording session at Autumn working with producer Sly Stone. Among the songs recorded at Autumn was Born To Be Burned, a Slick brothers composition chosen 30 years later to be the title track of the group's only CD compilation.
Next, we have our third Beatles vs. Stones competition. To make it more of a contrast, this time out we have three Rolling Stones hits and three Beatles LP tracks. We start with a song that was issued as half of a double A-sided single in the UK eight years after its original release as an album track.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Sympathy For The Devil
Source: CD: Beggars Banquet
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Beggar's Banquet was a turning point for the Rolling Stones. They had just ended their association with Andrew Loog Oldham, who had produced all of their mid-60s records, and instead were working with Jimmy Miller, who was known for his association with Steve Winwood, both in his current band Traffic and the earlier Spencer Davis Group. Right from the opening bongo beats of Sympathy For The Devil, it was evident that this was the beginning of a new era for the bad boys of rock and roll. The song itself has gone on to be one of the defining tunes of album rock radio, and occupies the #32 spot on Rolling Stone magazine's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list.
Title: Lovely Rita
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
By 1967 John Lennon and Paul McCartney were a songwriting team in name only, with nearly all their compositions being the work of one or the other, but not both. Lovely Rita, from the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, was pure McCartney. The song features McCartney on both piano and overdubbed bass, with Lennon and George Harrison on guitars and Ringo Starr on drums. Pink Floyd, who were recording their debut LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn at the same Abbey Road studios the Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper's at, ended up borrowing some of the effects heard toward the end of Lovely Rita for their own Pow R Toc H.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Jumpin' Jack Flash
Source: CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
After the late 1967 LP Their Satanic Majesties Request was savaged by the critics, the Rolling Stones decided to make a big change, severing ties with their longtime producer Andrew Loog Oldham and replacing him with Jimmy Miller, who had made a name for himself working with Steve Winwood on recordings by both the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic. The collaboration resulted in a back-to-basics approach that produced the classic single Jumpin' Jack Flash. The song was actually the second Stones tune produced by MIller, although it was the first to be released. The song revitalized the band's commercial fortunes, and was soon followed by what is generally considered to be one of the Stones' greatest albums, the classic Beggar's Banquet (which included the first Miller-produced song, Street Fighting Man).
Title: Think For Yourself
Source: Mono CD: Rubber Soul
Writer(s): George Harrison
By the end of 1965 George Harrison was writing an average of two songs per Beatles album. On Rubber Soul, however, one of his two songs was deleted from the US version of the album and appeared on 1966's Yesterday...And Today LP instead. The remaining Harrison song on Rubber Soul was Think For Yourself. Harrison later said that he was still developing his songwriting at this point and that bandmate John Lennon had helped write Think For Yourself.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Honky Tonk Women
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
After revitalizing their career with Jumpin' Jack Flash and Street Fighting Man in 1968, the Rolling Stones delivered the coup-de-grace the following year with a true monster of a hit: the classic Honky Tonk Women. The song was the first single without Brian Jones, who had been found dead in his swimming pool not long after being kicked out of the band. Jones's replacement, Mick Taylor (fresh from a stint with blues legend John Mayall), plays slide guitar on the track.
Title: I Want You (She's So Heavy)
Source: LP: Abbey Road
With the exception of John Lennon's 1968 audio collage Revolution 9, the longest Beatle song ever recorded was I Want You (She's So Heavy), from the Abbey Road album. The track alternates between two distinct sections: the jazz-like I Want You, which contains most of the song's lyrical content, and the primal-scream based She's So Heavy, which repeats the same phrase endlessly in 6/8 time while an increasingly loud wall of white noise eventually leads to an abrupt cut-off at 7:47.
Artist: Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title: Help Me Girl
Source: LP: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals-Vol. II (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Eric Is Here)
Consider the following paradox: Animals vocalist Eric Burdon made no secret of his disdain for the songs provided to the Animals by producer Mickey Most, which by and large came from professional songwriters based in New York's Brill Building. Nonetheless, when the original Animals split up, the first new song to come from Eric Burdon was not only a product of professional songwriters, it was even lighter in tone than the songs that he had complained about. Even stranger, Help Me Girl was fully orchestrated and, with the exception of drummer Barry Jenkins, was performed entirely by studio musicians.
Artist: Family Tree
Title: Live Your Own Life
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mira)
The Family Tree was actually one of the first rock bands to play the Fillmore, but even then were seen as interlopers due to their propensity for dressing and sounding like the Beatles and other Mercybeat bands. Live Your Own Life was intended for release on San Francisco's premier local label, Autumn Records, but for some unknown reason ended up on Mira (the same label that released L.A. band the Leaves' first records). Live Your Own Life is sometimes known as The Airplane Song due to its perceived similarity to some early Jefferson Airplane recordings.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: You Didn't Have To Be So Nice
Source: LP: The Best Of The Lovin' Spoonful (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: John Sebastian
Label: Kama Sutra
People who advocate for monoraul versions of recordings from the 1960s often cite the unnatural sounding separation between vocals and instruments on stereo recordings. Generally, I don't mind such separation myself, as I am usually sitting equally distant from the speakers and kind of like the illusion of things coming from different points in the stereo field. In the case of the Lovin' Spoonful's second single, You Didn't Have To Be So Nice, I have to side with the mono guys. The main reason is that the mix itself puts more emphasis on the backup vocals than it does on the lead vocals. In fact, the lead vocals are at times barely audible at all.
Artist: Butterfield Blues Band
Title: Mary Mary
Source: CD: East-West
Writer(s): Michael Nesmith
Poor Mike Nesmith. One of his first compositions to get recorded was Mary Mary, which appeared on the classic 1966 Butterfield Blues Band album East-West. Unfortunately for Mr. Nesmith, his name was inadvertently left out of the credits, leading Butterfield fans to assume it was a band original. Not long after East-West was released Nesmith successfully auditioned for a new TV show about the adventures of an up-and-coming band called the Monkees. The TV show was an instant success, spawning a hit single and album in late 1966, making Nesmith quite famous. When a second Monkees album appeared in January of 1967 with their own version of Mary Mary on it, a lot of people assumed that Nesmith had ripped off the Butterfield Blues Band. In reality, it was the Monkees themselves that were getting screwed, as the album, featuring studio musicians playing on all the tracks, was released without the knowledge or consent of the band itself.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Uncle John's Band
Source: LP: Workingman's Dead
Label: Warner Brothers
For many people who only got their music from commercial radio, Uncle John's Band was the first Grateful Dead song they ever heard. The tune, from the 1970 LP Workingman's Dead, was the first Dead song to crack the top 100, peaking at #69, and got significant airplay on FM rock radio stations as well. The close harmonies on the track were reportedly inspired by Crosby, Stills and Nash, whose debut album had come out the previous year.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Source: LP: American Beauty
Label: Warner Brothers
Following up on the success of the 1970 LP Workingman's Dead, the Grateful Dead released their fifth studio LP, American Beauty, on November 1st of the same year. Whereas nearly all the songs on Workingman's Dead were written by lead guitarist Jerry Garcia and poet Robert Hunter, American Beauty featured tunes from several different band members, although stylistically the two albums were quite similar, with strong emphasis on vocal harmonies. The single from the album was Truckin', written by Garcia, Hunter, bassist Phil Lesh and rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, based on the true story of their 1970 drug bust in New Orleans, with lead vocals provided by Weir. Although not a major hit, the song did peak at #64 on December 25, 1971, over a year after it was released.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Casey Jones
Source: LP: Workingman's Dead
Label: Warner Brothers
After three albums' worth of studio material that the band was not entirely happy with, the Grateful Dead finally achieved their goal with the 1969 release of the double-LP Live Dead. So where do you go when you've finally accomplished your original mission? For the Dead the answer was to concentrate on their songwriting skills. The results of this new direction were heard on their next two studio LP's, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, both released in 1970. One of the highlights of Workingman's Dead was Casey Jones, a song based on an old folk tale (albeit updated a bit for a 1970 audience). Casey Jones was just one of many classic songs written by the team of guitarist Jerry Garcia and poet/lyricist Robert Hunter.