Sunday, July 26, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2031 (starts 7/27/20)
This week's show, like last week's, features mostly sets of songs from specific years. There is also a new Advanced Psych segment featuring tracks that have never been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era and a set of tunes from the Jimi Hendrix Experience. We finish out the week with a set of tunes from groups that, after a short period of initial popularity, faded from the public eye, only to come back in a big way a few years later.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: Good Thing
Source: Mono CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1967 (originally released on LP: The Spirit Of '67 and as as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
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.
Source: CD: The Kink Kronikles (originally released on LP: Face To Face)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
One of the best albums in the Kinks library is Face To Face. Released in 1966, the album features such classics and Sunny Afternoon and Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, as well as some lesser-known (yet excellent) tracks such as Fancy, a personal favorite of songwriter Ray Davies, who recalls coming with the song late one night on his old Framus guitar. My first guitar was a Framus, but I sure didn't come up with anything remotely as cool as Fancy on it.
Title: I Can Take You To The Sun
Source: British import CD: Before The Dream Faded (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Cherry Red (original label: Fontana)
The story of the legendary band the Misunderstood actually started in 1963 when three teenagers from Riverside, California decided to form a band called the Blue Notes. Like most of the bands at the time, the group played a mixture of surf and 50s rock and roll cover songs, slowly developing a sound of their own as they went through a series of personnel changes. In 1965 the band changed their name to the Misunderstood and recorded six songs at a local recording studio. Although the recordings were not released, the band caught the attention of a San Bernardino disc jockey named John Ravencroft, an Englishman with an extensive knowledge of the British music scene. In June of 1966 the band, with Ravencroft's help, relocated to London, where they were eventually joined by Ravencroft himself, who changed his name to John Peel and became arguably the most famous DJ in the history of British rock radio. Ravencroft's brother Alan got the band a deal with Fontana Records, resulting in a single in late 1966, I Can Take You To The Sun, that took the British pop scene by storm. Problems having nothing to do with music soon derailed the Misunderstood, who found themselves being deported back to the US, and in one case, drafted into the US Army.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: Tried To Hide
Source: CD: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
Label: Collectables (original label: International Artists)
The first known use of the word "psychedelic" in an album title was The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators, released on the Houston-based International Artists label in August of 1966. The album itself is notable for its inclusion of electric jug (played by Tommy Hall), and for the band's only charted single, You're Gonna Miss Me. The B side of that single was Tried To Hide, written by Hall and guitarist Stacy Sutherland.
Title: White Room
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Wheels Of Fire)
Label: United Artists (original label: Atco)
In order to get songs played on top 40 radio, record companies made it a practice to shorten album cuts by cutting out extended instrumental breaks and extra verses. This version of the Cream classic White Room, clocking in at just over three minutes, is a typical example.
Title: Love Street
Source: CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: Waiting For The Sun)
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
Like many of Jim Morrison's songs, Love Street started off as a poem. "Love Street" was actually the nickname given to Rothdale Trail, the street he and Pamela Courson lived on in L.A.'s Laurel Canyon. Morrison and Courson spent a lot of time sitting on their balcony, watching the local hippies going to and from the Canyon Country Store, which was across the street from their house. Morrison turned the poem into a song in time to get it recorded for the third Doors album, Waiting For The Sun. The track was also released as the B side of the Doors' second #1 single, Hello I Love You, Won't You Tell Me Your Name.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Portable People
Source: CD: Ten Years After (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Following the release of the 1967 debut LP, Ten Years After got to work on what was to be a followup album. These plans got sidetracked, however, when it was decided that their second LP would be made up of live performances taped at a London club near a recording studio. This left the band with several finished studio recordings, many of which were the same songs that would appear on the live Undead album. Two of the other unused studio tracks became the band's first US single, the A side of which was a tune called Portable People. This song remained unavailable in any other form for several years, finally appearing as a bonus track on the CD version of their first album.
Artist: Al Kooper/Stephen Stills/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title: Harvey's Tune
Source: CD: Super Session
Writer(s): Harvey Brooks
Probably the most overlooked track on the classic Super Session LP is the album's closer, a two-minute instrumental called Harvey's Tune. The piece was written by bassist Harvey Brooks, who, along with Mike Bloomfield, had been a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and later, the Electric Flag.
Artist: United States Of America
Title: The American Way Of Love
Source: CD: The United States Of America
Label: Sundazed (original label: Columbia)
Joseph Byrd was a member of New York's early 1960s avant-garde scene, and was already a respected and innovative experimental music composer when he and Dorothy Moskowitz relocated to Los Angeles in late 1963. Once in L.A. he co-founded the New Music Workshop with jazz trumpeter Don Ellis, and soon began incorporating elements of performance art into the events the workshop sponsored. In 1965 Byrd formed a blues band, fronted by his friend Linda Ronstadt, to play during a local "happening". Byrd later said that "the realization that rock was an access to a larger public came out of that concert, and the idea of forming a band began taking shape." That band came to be called the United States Of America. According to Byrd "Using the full name of the country for something so common as a rock group was a way of expressing disdain for governmental policy. It was like hanging the flag upside down." The thing is, neither Byrd, Moskowitz, or any of the other band members (who were all from the west coast experimental music community) had any experience with rock music itself. This left them in a position to literally start from scratch, as can be heard on the final, and longest, track of their self-titled LP, released in 1968. The American Way Of Life is actually a medley of three pieces; the first two, Metaphor For An Older Man and California Good-time Music, were composed solely by Byrd. The final section of the work, Love Is All (which includes a collage of earlier tracks from the album), was credited to the entire band, which at that point included Rand Forbes, Craig Woodson, Gordon Marron and (on some tracks) Ed Bogas, in addition to Byrd and Moskowitz. Internal differences, both personal and musical, caused the United States Of America to break up shortly after the release of their only LP, with Byrd going on to create a second LP for Columbia called The American Metaphysical Circus, which came out on Columbia's Masterworks classic label and stayed in print for decades. Moskowitz eventually became a member of Country Joe McDonald's All-Star band, while other band members went on to various musical and/or electronics projects.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
While not as commercially successful as the Jefferson Airplane or as long-lived as the Grateful Dead (there's an oxymoron for ya), Country Joe and the Fish may well be the most accurate musical representation of what the whole Haight-Ashbury scene was about, which is itself ironic, since the band operated out of Berkeley on the other side of the bay. Of all the tracks on their first album, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine probably got the most airplay on various underground radio stations that were popping up on the FM dial at the time (some of them even legally).
Title: Everybody's Been Burned
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): David Crosby
There is a common misconception that David Crosby's songwriting skills didn't fully develop until he began working with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. A listen to Everybody's Been Burned from the Byrds' 1967 LP Younger Than Yesterday, however, puts the lie to that theory in a hurry. The track has all the hallmarks of a classic Crosby song: a strong melody, intelligent lyrics and an innovative chord structure. It's also my personal favorite tune from what is arguably the Byrds' best album.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Rock And Roll Woman
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth) while they were together. Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina and Stephen Stills. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock And Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 50 years after it was recorded.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original labels: USA/Uni)
Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was originally released to Los Angeles area radio stations it was intended to be the B side of The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side.
Source: CD: Abbey Road
Take Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Turn a few notes around, add some variations and write some lyrics. Add the Beatles' unmistakeable multi-part harmonies and you have John Lennon's Because, from the Abbey Road album. A simply beautiful recording.
Artist: Scarlet Letter
Source: Mono British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
One of the Detroit music scene's most overlooked bands, the Scarlet Letter released three singles for Bob Shad's Mainstream label. The best of these was a tune called Mary Maiden, with the equally strong Timekeeper on the flip side. The group also released a single on the Time label (a subsidiary of Mainstream) using the name Paraphernalia in 1968.
Source: British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released on LP: Koobas)
Label: EMI (original UK label: Columbia)
The Koobas were a Merseybeat band that never managed to achieve the level of success enjoyed by bands such as the Beatles or Gerry and the Pacemakers, despite having the patronage of Beatles manager Brian Epstein and even appearing in the film Ferry Across The Mersey. They did record several singles for both Pye and Columbia, but with little to show for it. Nonetheless, EMI, the parent company of Columbia, commissioned an entire album from the band in 1969. Among the standout tracks from that self-titled LP was the five-minute long Barricades, a track that starts with a Motown beat, but before long morphs into a chaotic portrait of riot and revolution, complete with anarchic sound effects.
Artist: Young Rascals
Title: (I've Been) Lonely Too Long
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released on LP: Collections and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Felix Cavalier
Label: Priority (original label: Atlantic)
The Young Rascals got off to a great start with Good Lovin' in 1966, but their next two singles were unable to crack the tp 20, and for a while it looked like the Rascals might end up being one-hit wonders. Then, in 1967, the Collections album was released, and the group's fortunes took a turn for the better. The first hit of the year was (I've Been) Lonely Too Long, a tune that went a long way toward establishing the Young Rascals as the premier "blue-eyed soul" band in the nation. Several more hits followed over the next two years, including People Got To Be Free, one of the most iconic songs of 1968.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Don't Sneeze On Me
Source: CD: WaS
Writer(s): Steve Kara
Following the death of bassst Mark Tulin in 2011, the remaining members of the Electric Prunes took a hiatus, returning to the stage in 2013 and releasing a final album, WaS, in May of 2014. Most of the original tunes on WaS are collaborations between Tulin and lead vocalist James Lowe, but other band members such as Steve Kara also contributed songs. Kara's Don't Sneeze On Me is probably the closest the Prunes ever came to recording a pure punk-rock song.
Artist: Vertacyn Arc Materializer
Title: Low Interest
Source: LP: Tasting The Sea
Writer(s): Vertacyn Arc Materializer
Label: 10 GeV
The city of San Francisco seems to produce more than its share of bands that go out of their way to maintain their anonymity. In the early 1970s the Residents even recorded an album called Not Available, intending to not release it until all of the band members had forgotten about its existence (it eventually got released in 1978 during a creative dry spell). These days the San Francisco anonymous band torch is carried by Vertacyn Arc Materializer, a band that is just as hard to describe as the Residents themselves. Their second LP, Tasting The Sea, is only available on Vinyl, and it's packaging is nothing less than spectacular. The front cover is the famous Rolling Stones "mouth" logo dissected by an actual zipper, mimicking the Stones' own Sticky Fingers cover, against a stark white background. Opening the zipper reveals a "circle c" copyright symbol. The back cover featuring "portraits" of each of the four band members: the Starbucks logo (bass, guitar), the US $20 bill version of President Andrew Jackson (drums, trumpet), Marilyn (guitar, bass, keyboards) and Homeland Security, represented by a snarling wolf (vocals, keyboards, guitar). There's even more fun stuff on the inside of the gatefold cover, but I'll let you find your own copy to check it out yourself (if you can find one; apparently there were only 500 pressed). Musically, Vertacyn Arc Materializer is harder to describe; I'd put them with bands like Killing Joke and Nine Inch Nails, with a little Pere Ubu thrown in, but even that comparison falls short of the reality of Low Interest, one of the grungier tracks from Tasting The Sea.
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. One of the more overlooked songs on the first Psychedelic Furs LP is Wedding Song, with its repeated use of the phrase "we're useless". Make of that what you will.
Artist: Peanut Butter Conspiracy
Title: Lonely Leaf
Source: CD: The Peanut Butter Conspiracy Is Spreading/The Great Conspiracy (original LP: The Great Conspiracy)
Writer(s): John Merrill
Label: Collectables (original label: Columbia)
For their second Columbia LP, The Great Conspiracy, the members of L.A.'s Peanut Butter Conspiracy were given greater artistic freedom by producer Gary Usher, who was already working on his own Millennium project at this point. The biggest change was the fact that there were no studio musicians used on the album, which resulted in a record much more in sync with the band's live sound. The album is full of strong tracks such as Lonely Leaf, which, like about half the songs on the LP, was written by lead guitarist John Merrill.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Ruby Tuesday
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
One of the most durable songs in the Rolling Stones catalog, Ruby Tuesday was originally intended to be the B side of their 1967 single Let's Spend The Night Together. Many stations, however, balked at the subject matter of the A side and began playing Ruby Tuesday instead, which is somewhat ironic considering speculations as to the subject matter of the song (usually considered to be about a groupie of the band's acquaintance, although Mick Jagger has said it was about Keith Richards' ex-girlfriend).
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: Down On Me
Source: CD: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Writer: Trad. Arr. Joplin
Label: Columbia/Legacy (original label: Mainstream)
Big Brother And The Holding Company's first album, featuring the single Down On Me, was recorded in 1967 at the studios of Mainstream Records, a medium-sized Chicago label known for its jazz recordings. At the time, Mainstream's engineers had no experience with a rock band, particularly a loud one like Big Brother, and vainly attempted to clean up the band's sound as best they could. The result was an album full of relatively sterile recordings sucked dry of the energy that made Big Brother and the Holding Company one of the top live attractions of its time. Probably the stongest track on the album was lead vocalist Janis Joplin's arrangement of Down On Me, a "freedom song" dating back at least to the 1920s that Mainstream issued as a single during the Summer of Love. The song almost made the top 40 charts, peaking at #42.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Hey Joe
Source: LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer(s): Billy Roberts
The first track recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was Hey Joe, a song that Hendrix had seen Tim Rose perform in Greenwich Village before relocating to London to form his new band. Hendrix's version is a bit heavier than Rose's and leaves off the first verse ("where you going with that money in your hand") entirely. The song itself was copyrighted in 1962 by California folk singer Billy Roberts and a much faster version by the Leaves had hit the US charts in early 1966.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Spanish Castle Magic
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original label: Reprise)
When the second Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Axis: Bold As Love, came out it was hailed as a masterpiece of four-track engineering. Working closely with producer Chas Chandler and engineer Eddie Kramer, Hendrix used the recording studio itself as an instrument, making an art form out of the stereo mixing process. The unfortunate by-product of this is that most of the songs on the album could not be played live and still sound anything like the studio version. One notable exception is Spanish Castle Magic, which became a more or less permanent part of the band's performing repertoire.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: I Don't Live Today
Source: LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
I remember a black light poster that choked me up the first time I saw it in early 1971. It was a shot of Jimi Hendrix playing his guitar with the caption I Don't Live Today. I don't believe Hendrix was being deliberately prophetic when he wrote and recorded this classic track for the Are You Experienced album, but it occasionally gives me chills to hear it, even now.
Title: Signed D.C.
Source: German import CD: Love
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Elektra/Warner Strategic Marketing
The only acoustic track on the first Love album was Signed D.C., a slow ballad in the tradition of House of the Rising Sun. The song takes the form of a letter penned by a heroin addict, and the imagery is both stark and disturbing. Although Lee was known to occasionally say otherwise, the song title probably refers to Love's original drummer Don Conka, who left the band before their first recording sessions due to (you guessed it) heroin addiction.
Artist: Moody Blues
Title: The Night
Source: LP: Days Of Future Passed
When the year 1967 started, the Moody Blues were still considered a one-hit wonder for their song Go Now, which had topped the British charts in 1965 and gone into the top 10 in the US as well. None of their follow-up singles had charted in the US, although they did manage to hit the #22 spot in the UK with From the Bottom of My Heart (I Love You). Despite still being a solid live draw, the group had pretty much dissolved by autumn of 1966. In November of that year the band reformed, with two new members, John Lodge and Justin Hayward, Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge. At this point they were in debt to their record company (British Decca), and agreed to make a rock and roll version of Antonín Dvořák's New World Symphony for the company's new Deram label, working with Peter Knight and various Decca studio musicians known informally as the London Festival Orchestra. The project was soon abandoned, but the Moodys convinced Knight to collaborate with the band to record an album of the own original material. That album was Days Of Future Passed, which rose to the #27 spot on the British charts (and five years later made the top 5 on the US album charts). The album was divided into several suites, each representing a particular time of day, with Knight's orchestral compositions linking the various songs together. Although initially only one song (Tuesday Afternoon) was issued as a single, eventually Nights In White Satin, in edited form, became an international hit. The song is part of the album's final suite, The Night, that consists of Hayward's Nights In White Satin, Late Lament (a poem written by Edge and spoken by Pinder) and Knight's closing orchestral passage, Resolvement. By 1972 the original master tape of Days Of Future Passed had deteriorated to the point that a new mix was made from the original multi-track tape. This mix was used for all subsequent pressings of Days Of Future Passed, including this 1981 Mobile Fidelity pressing of the LP. In 2017 a pristine copy of the original LP was found, and a new master tape was created from that copy, although I have not yet heard it. Apparently there are some differences between the two, including extra measures of music here and there that were left out of the newer mix.
Source: CD: Odessey And Oracle
Writer(s): Chris White
Label: Varese Sarabande (original label: Date)
Like the Moody Blues, the Zombies were a band that enjoyed early success with an international hit single (She's Not There), but were unable to place any of their follow-up singles on the top 40 charts. A change of labels in 1967, however, gave them the opportunity to record an album made up entirely of original material. The result was the 1968 LP Odessey And Oracle. Although it was largely overlooked at the time of its release, it has since become one of the most acclaimed albums of all time, ranking at #100 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time List. Because of a tight budget, the LP was made over a period of months beginning in June of 1967, with the final song, Changes, recorded on November 7th. A little more than a month later, with morale at a low point, the Zombies officially disbanded, four months before the LP was released in the UK. Columbia Records initially chose not to release the album in the US at all, but after Al Kooper, who was a staff producer for the label at the time, heard the album on a trip to London, he convinced his bosses to release Odessey And Oracle on Columbia's little-known Date subsidiary.
Artist: Guess Who
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Randy Bachman
Label: RCA Victor
Following the release of the Wheatfield Soul album (and the hit single These Eyes), RCA tied the Guess Who down to a long-term contract. One of the stipulations of that contract was that the band would make subsequent recordings at RCA's own studios. After recording the tracks for their follow-up album, Canned Wheat, the band members felt that the sound at RCA was inferior to that of A&R studios, where they had recorded Wheatfield Soul, and secretly re-recorded a pair of tunes at A&R and submitted dubs of the tapes to RCA. The tunes, Laughing and Undun, were issued as a double-sided single in 1969, with both sides getting a decent amount of airplay. Once word got out that the songs had been recorded in a non-RCA studio, the label realized the error of their ways and relaxed the exclusivity policy, although not in time for the band to re-record the rest of the album.