Sunday, July 19, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2030 (starts 7/20/20)
This week we take a quick run through the years 1964-1969 one song at a time, getting more obscure as we go. From there, we have several year-specific sets leading up to a special presentation of a recording made in June of 1969 by a trio that were not yet calling themselves Hot Tuna, recorded live by the legendary Owsley Stanley. Our final segment includes some interesting cover songs, as well as an artists' set from Paul Revere And The Raiders.
Title: Things We Said Today
Source: Mono CD: A Hard Day's Night (originally released in US on LP: Something New)
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Although written by Paul McCartney for the soundtrack of the 1964 film A Hard Day's Night, Things We Said Today was not used in the movie itself. It did appear, along with five other songs cut from the film, on the original British version of the movie's soundtrack album. In the US, however, the soundtrack for the movie was issued on the United Artists label, and included (with one exception) only songs that were actually used in the film. The remaining five songs were released on a US-only LP called Something New.
Artist: Mouse And The Traps
Title: A Public Execution
Source: Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Fraternity)
It's easy to imagine some kid somewhere in Texas inviting his friends over to hear the new Bob Dylan record, only to reveal afterwards that it wasn't Dylan at all, but this band he heard while visiting his cousins down in Tyler. Speaking of cousins, A Public Execution was inspired by a misunderstanding concerning a cousin and a motorcycle ride. According to Ronnie "Mouse" Weiss, his fiancee actually broke up with him after getting word that Mouse had been seen giving an attractive girl a ride. It turned out the attractive girl in question was his cousin from across the state who had come for a visit, but by the time the truth came out Weiss and his band had their first of many regional hit records.
Artist: Bobby Fuller Four
Title: Baby My Heart
Source: Mono CD: I Fought The Law: The Best Of The Bobby Fuller Four (originally released in Germany on CD: The Best Of The Bobby Fuller Four)
Writer: Sonny Curtis
Label: Rhino (original label: Ace)
Year: Recorded 1966; released 1992.
The Bobby Fuller Four perfected their blend of rock and roll and Tex-Mex in their native El Paso before migrating out to L.A. After scoring a huge hit with I Fought The Law, Fuller was found dead in his hotel room of unnatural causes. Baby My Heart, recorded in 1966 but not released until 1992, when it appeared unheralded on a German compilation of Fuller's work, is an indication of what might have been had Fuller lived long enough to establish himself further.
Source: Mono LP: Younger Than Yesterday
Roger McGuinn of the Byrds always exhibited an interest in the subject of extraterrestrial life. C.T.A.-102, from the Younger Than Yesterday album, addresses this subject from the angle of aliens tuning in to earth broadcasts to learn our language and culture and finding themselves exposed to rock and roll (and apparently liking it). The song was co-written by McGuinn's like-minded friend, Bob Hippard.
Artist: Randy Newman
Title: Last Night I Had A Dream
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Randy Newman
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Randy Newman has, over the course of the past fifty-plus years, established himself as a Great American Writer of Songs. His work includes dozens of hit singles (over half of which were performed by other artists), nearly two dozen movie scores and eleven albums as a solo artist. Newman has won five Grammys, as well as two Oscars and Three Emmys. Last Night I Had A Dream was Newman's second single for the Reprise label (his third overall), coming out the same year as his first LP, which did not include the song.
Artist: Inner Light
Source: Mono CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Dick Steffes
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Century)
You probably wouldn't expect a recording by a band from a farming community named Page, North Dakota, to be very psychedelic, even if the band's name was the Inner Light. And indeed, if you only heard the A side of this band's only single, you'd be absolutely right. The B side, however, the fuzztone flavored Temptation, is another story altogether. The record was one of the few freestanding releases by the Century Custom Recording Service, which usually released made to order records by school orchestras, church groups and the US military.
Artist: Humane Society
Title: Knock Knock
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: Liberty)
The Humane Society, from Simi Valley, California, formed in 1965 as the Innocents. The band featured singer/guitarist Danny Wheetman, lead guitarist Jim Pettit, rhythm guitarist Woody Minnick, bassist Richard Majewski, and drummer Bill Schnetzler. As was often the case, The A side of the group's first single was chosen by the band's producers, while the band itself provided the B side. In this case that B side was Knock Knock, a classic piece of garage-punk that far outshines the now-forgottten A side of the record.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Source: LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Sometime in late 1966 Jimi Hendrix was visiting his girlfriend's mother's house in London for the first time. It was a cold rainy night and Jimi immediately noticed that there was a dog curled up in front of the fireplace. Jimi's first action was to scoot the dog out of the way so he himself could benefit from the fire's warmth, using the phrase "Move over Rover and let Jimi take over." The phrase got stuck in his head and eventually became the basis for one of his most popular songs. Fire was a highlight of the Jimi Hendrix Experience's live performances, often serving as a set opener. In 1969, two years after its original UK appearance on the mono LP Are You Experienced, the stereo remix of Fire from the US version of the album (which had never been released outside of the US and Canada) was issued in the UK, along with a handful of European countries and New Zealand, as a single called Let Me Light Your Fire.
Title: Heaven And Hell
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
Throughout the mid-60s Australia's most popular band was a group of immigrants calling themselves the Easybeats. Often referred to as the "Australian Beatles", their early material sounded like slightly dated British Beat music (Australia had a reputation for cultural lag, and besides, half the members were British). By late 1966 guitarist Harry Vanda (one of the two Dutch members of the group) had learned enough English to be able to replace vocalist Stevie Wright as George Young's writing partner. The new team was much more adventurous in their compositions than the Wright/Young team had been, and were responsible for the band's first international hit, Friday On My Mind. By then the Easybeats had relocated to England, and continued to produce fine singles such as Heaven And Hell.
Title: Autumn Almanac
Source: CD: The Kink Kronikles (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Due to being banned from performing in the US by the American Federation of Musicians from 1965-1969, none of the Kinks' 1967 singles charted in the US, despite being major hits in their native UK. One example is Autumn Almanac, a gentle yet provocative tune that peaked in the #3 spot on the British charts. The song, which came out as a non-album single following the release of the album Something Else, is seen as a stylistic precursor of the band's 1968 LP The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. After the Kinks switched US labels from Reprise to RCA Victor in 1971, the former label included the stereo mix of Autumn Almanac on the two-disc compilation LP The Kink Kronikles, released in 1972.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: I Don't Want To Spoil Your Party (alternate version of Dino's Song)
Source: CD: Quicksilver Messenger Service (originally released on CD: Unreleased Quicksilver)
Writer(s): Dino Valenti
Label: RockBeat (original label: Capitol)
Year: Recorded 1968, alternate version released 2000)
A few years back I picked up the DVD collector's edition of the telefilm that DA Pennebacker made of the Monterey International Pop Festival. In addition to the film itself there were two discs of bonus material, including a song by Quicksilver Messenger Service that was listed under the title All I Ever Wanted To Do (Was Love You). I spent some time trying to figure out which album the song had originally appeared on, but came up empty until I got a copy of the first Quicksilver album and discovered it was actually called Dino's song. The album version has a definite garage sound to it, similar to the classic Van Morrison song Gloria. In 2000 Collector's Choice released a compilation of previously unheard Quicksilver tracks, including this alternate version of Dino's Song that uses yet another title: I Don't Want To Spoil Your Party. This version has a more country-rock sound to it than the original LP version. I suspect the confusion in song titles is connected to the origins of the band itself, which was the brainchild of Dino Valenti and John Cipollina (and possibly Gary Duncan). The day after their first practice session Valenti got busted and spent the next few years in jail for marijuana possession. My theory is that this was an untitled song that Valenti showed Cippolina at that first practice. Since it probably still didn't have a title when the group performed the song at Monterey, the filmmakers used the most repeated line from the song itself, All I Ever Wanted To Do (Was Love You). When the band recorded their first LP in 1968 they just called it Dino's Song. Presumably by the time this alternate version was released in 2000 Valenti had come up with an official title, I Don't Want To Spoil Your Party. If anyone knows of another explanation, please pass it along.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Sadie Said No
Source: British import CD: The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union/The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens
Label: See For Miles (original label: M-G-M)
By the time The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union LP was released the band had already relocated to New York. That didn't stop executives from M-G-M from including the Union as part of its "Bosstown Sound" promotion. In the short term it may have generated some interest, but it was soon clear that the "Bosstown Sound" was empty hype, which in the long run hurt the band's credibility. This is a shame, since the music on The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union is actually quite listenable, as can be heard on the tongue-in-cheek Sadie Said No, which opens the LP's second side.
Artist: The Doors
Title: Wild Child
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
Although The Soft Parade is generally considered the weakest of all the Jim Morrison era Doors albums, it did have a couple of notable songs on it. Touch Me was a major hit for the band, and its B side, Wild Child, has long been a fan favorite. In fact, the band even made a video for Wild Child, something not commonly done for a B side.
Artist: Mad River
Title: Amphetamine Gazelle
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Mad River)
Writer: Lawrence Hammond
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
By 1968 acid was no longer the drug of choice on the streets of San Francisco. In its place, crystal meth was beginning to dominate the scene, with a corresponding increase in ripoffs and burns. The local musicians often reflected this change, with some, such as Canned Heat, declaring that Speed Kills and moving south to Laurel Canyon. Others, such as Mad River (originally from Yellow Springs, Ohio, but Bay Area residents since early 1967), attempted to use ridicule to combat the problem, but with no appreciable success (speed freaks not being known for their sense of humor, or any other kind of sense for that matter).
Title: Why Can't You Give Me What I Want
Source: LP: Red Rubber Ball
The Cyrkle was originally a frat-rock band from Easton, Pennsylvania called the Rhondells consisting of Don Danneman on guitar, Tom Dawes on bass, Marty Freid on drums and Earl Pickens on keyboards. In 1965, while playing gigs in Atlantic City they hooked up with a new manager, Brian Epstein, who promptly renamed them the Cyrkle (the odd spelling provided by John Lennon, a member of another band managed by Epstein). Under the new name and management, the band soon found themselves opening for the Beatles (on their last North American tour) and scoring a top 5 hit with Red Rubber Ball in the summer of 1966. The hit single was soon followed by an album of the same name that included a mix of cover tunes and Cyrkle originals such as Why Can't You Give Me What I Want. It was a volatile time in the pop music world, however, and the Cyrkle soon found themselves sounding a bit dated, and by 1968, after one more LP and a series of singles, each of which did successively worse on the charts than the previous one, the band decided to throw in the towel and become commercial jingle writers. Well, a couple of them (Danneman and Dawes) did, at any rate. Remember "pop pop fizz fizz"? How about the 7-Up theme? Both came from former members of the Cyrkle.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Source: British import LP: Aftermath
Label: Abkco (original US label: London)
The 1966 album Aftermath marked a turning point for the Rolling Stones, as it was the first Stones album to be entirely made up of songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Although, as with all the early Stones releases, there were differences between the US and UK versions of the album, both releases included Think, a song that is fairly representative of the mid-60s Rolling Stones sound.
Title: Sunshine Superman
Source: CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released in edited form on 45 RPM vinyl)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Sony Music Special Products (original label: Epic)
Donovan's hugely successful Sunshine Superman is sometimes credited as being the tsunami that launched the wave of psychedelic music that washed over the shores of pop musicland in 1967. OK, I made that up, but the song really did change the direction of American pop as well as Donovan's own career. Originally released as a three and a quarter minute long single, the full unedited four and a half minute long stereo mix of the song heard here did not appear on vinyl until Donovan's 1969 Greatest Hits album.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: That's Not Me
Source: Mono LP: Pet Sounds
The Beach Boys were about as mainstream as bands like Love and the Music Machine were underground, yet Brian Wilson was turning out music every bit as original as any of the club bands in town. The album Pet Sounds is considered one of the masterpieces of the era, with the majority of songs, including That's Not Me, written by Wilson with lyrics by Tony Asher.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Cold Rain And Snow (instrumental version)
Source: Mono CD: Birth Of The Dead (originally released on CD: The Golden Road (1965-1973) box set)
Writer(s): Trad., arr. Grateful Dead
Label: Warner Brothers
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2003
Although credited to the entire band on the first Grateful Dead album, Cold Rain And Snow is actually a traditional folk song that dates back at least 100 years. The song first appeared in print in a 1917 compilation called English Folk Song from the Southern Appalachians, with a note that it was collected from Mrs. Tom Rice from Big Laurel, NC in 1916. In 1965 Dillard Chandler recorded a version of the song which he claimed was based on events that happened in Madison County, NC in 1911. Chandler's version is notable in that it expanded on the song's basic theme of a man working himself to death to satisfy a greedy wife into a full-blown tale of murder, complete with trial. Several variations of the song have appeared over the years, including one by Obray Ramsey that was the inspiration for the Grateful Dead version. The Dead first recorded Cold Rain And Snow for Scorpio Records, a local San Francisco label that also had the Golliwogs (later Creedence Clearwater Revival) on its roster. Of six songs recorded in June of 1966, only two were issued. The remaining tracks, including Cold Rain And Snow, remained unreleased until 2001, when they were included in The Golden Road (1965-1973) box set. The version heard here is the instrumental backing track from that session.
Artist: Rare Earth
Title: What'd I Say
Source: European import CD: The Collection (originally released on LP: One World)
Writer(s): Ray Charles
Label: Spectrum/Motown/Universal (original label: Rare Earth)
Following the departure of guitarist Rod Richards and keyboardist Kenny James in 1971, Rare Earth recruited Ray Monette and Mark Olson, respectively, as their replacements, and got to work on an album called One World. The opening track is an extensively rearranged version of the Ray Charles classic What'd I Say. To be honest, without knowing that ahead of time I never would have guessed that they were the same song.
Artist: Jorma Kaukonen & Jack Casady with Joey Covington
Title: Through The Golden Gate
Source: CD: Before We Were Them: June 28,1969
Label: Bear's Sonic Journals
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2018
"We had it all going on, what musicians and artists throughout time have hoped to have-places to play and experiment and audiences that were with you as you explored and developed" These words by Jack Casady from the liner notes of the third release in the Bear's Sonic Journals series are perhaps the best description of the psychedelic era that I have ever run across. By mid-1969 Jefferson Airplane had already hit their creative peak as a band and the band members were starting to move in different musical directions. One of these directions, taken by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady, would result in the creation of a new band, Hot Tuna, that would make its official debut later in the year. In June, however, it was simply Jorma and Jack, along with Joey Covington, who would eventually become Jefferson Airplane's drummer. The trio did a series of gigs from June 27-29, including a show at the Vets Memorial Building in Santa Rosa, Ca. that was recorded by the legendary Owsley Stanley. In addition to blues standards like Rock Me Baby and Airplane songs like Star Track, the gig included several improvisational pieces that remained untitled until the release of a CD called Before We Were Them: June 28,1969. Through The Golden Gate is the longest of these improvisational instrumentals.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
Janis Joplin, on the 1968 Big Brother And The Holding Company album Cheap Thrills, sounds like she was born to sing Gershwin's Summertime. Maybe she was.
Title: I'll Be Back
Source: LP: Time And Charges
I have a confession to make: I've had a copy of the Buckinghams' 1967 Columbia debut LP since the late 1970s, when I found it at a thrift store near the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. All this time I thought the name of the album was Time And Changes. In early 2018 I realized that the actual title of the album is Time And Charges. It says so right on the label. And the front cover. And the spine of the album cover, for that matter. No idea how I missed that. Anyway, the album, despite being fairly light pop for the most part, does have some interesting tracks, such as a cover of the Beatles' I'll Be Back which was arranged for the band by producer James William Guercio, whose interest in rock bands with a horn section would lead him to produce the second (and most successful) Blood, Sweat & Tears album, as well as all the early Chicago LPs.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: She's Not There
Source: LP: Vanilla Fudge
Writer(s): Rod Argent
With the exception of three short audio bridges between songs on side two of the original LP (none of which exceed 23 seconds in length), the entire first Vanilla Fudge album was made up of heavily rearranged cover songs. Among them was a slowed down, psychedelic prog-rock version of She's Not There. Although it is one of the more overlooked songs from the Vanilla Fudge catalog, it is a unique take on the Zombies classic.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Life Is Just A Cher O'Bowlies
Source: CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Electric Comic Book)
Although not as big a seller as their first LP (probably due to a lack of a major hit single), Electric Comic Book is nonetheless one of the great psychedelic albums. Life Is Just a Cher-O'-Bowlies, with its tongue in cheek approach, is about as typical a Blues Magoos song as anything this New York band ever recorded.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: Good Thing
Source: Simulated stereo LP: The Spirit Of '67
From 1965 to 1967 Paul Revere And The Raiders were on a roll, with a string of six consecutive top 20 singles, four of which made the top 5. Among these was Good Thing, a tune written by lead vocalist Mark Lindsay and producer Terry Melcher (sometimes referred to as the "fifth Raider"). The song first appeared on the Spirit Of '67 LP in 1966, and was released as a single late that year. The song ended up being the Raiders' second biggest hit, peaking at # 4 in early 1967.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: Just Seventeen
Source: CD: The Legend Of Paul Revere (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Mark Lindsay
During the mid-1960s Paul Revere And The Raiders were quite possibly the most successful homegrown band in America. Hitting their stride at the height of the British Invasion, the band cranked out some of the most memorable hits of the decade, including Just Like Me, Good Thing and the iconic Kicks, as well as being the house band for one Dick Clark produced show (Where The Action Is) and starring in another (It's Happening). By 1970, however, the hits had become hard to come by and the TV shows were only a memory. The band, however, continued to soldier on, despite severing ties with their producer, Terry Melcher, in 1967 (a move that may well have hastened the decline of their fortunes). The Raiders (the band having shortened their name in an attempt to shed their campy image) continued to produce records, including Just Seventeen, one of the earliest songs to talk about the teenage rock groupies that were becoming a staple of the rock star lifestyle. The following year the Raiders would return one final time to the top 10 with their recording of Indian Reservation, hitting the number one spot in July of 1971.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Source: LP: Spirit Of '67
Writer(s): Jesse Lee Kincaid
One interesting by-product of the popular (but hard to define) Los Angeles club band The Rising Sons being signed to Columbia in 1966 was that, although their album was never released, singer/songwriter Jesse Lee Kincaid did get the opportunity for his songs to be heard by people at the label, including producer Terry Melcher. This led to one of his compositions being recorded by Columbia's most successful rock band at the time, Paul Revere and the Raiders (also produced by Melcher). Louise was included on the Raiders' third top 10 LP of 1966, ironically titled The Spirit of '67.
Artist: Blind Faith
Title: Can't Find My Way Home
Source: CD: Blind Faith
Writer: Steve Winwood
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Blind Faith was the result of some 1969 jam sessions in guitarist Eric Clapton's basement with keyboardist/guitarist Steve Winwood, whose own band, Traffic, had disbanded earlier in the year. Drummer Ginger Baker, who had been Clapton's bandmate in Cream for the previous three years, showed up one day, and Winwood eventually convinced Clapton to form a band with the three of them and bassist Rick Grech. Clapton, however, did not want another Cream, and even before Blind Faith's only album was released was ready to move on to something that felt less like a supergroup. As a result, Winwood took more of a dominant role in Blind Faith, even to the point of including one track, Can't Find My Way Home, that was practically a Winwood solo piece. Blind Faith disbanded shortly after the album was released, with the various band members moving on to other projects. Winwood, who soon reformed Traffic, is still active as one of rock's elder statesmen, and still performs Can't Find My Way Home in his concert appearances.
Title: White Room
Source: CD: Wheels Of Fire
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Musically almost a rewriting of Eric Clapton's Tales of Brave Ulysses (from Cream's Disraeli Gears album), White Room, a Jack Bruce/Pete Brown composition from the Wheels Of Fire album, is arguably the most popular song ever to feature the use of a wah-wah pedal prominently.