Sunday, August 30, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2036 (starts 8/31/20)
You'd think with four artists' sets there wouldn't be room for much else in a two-hour show, but the truth is that all four of the aforementioned artists' sets are in the second hour. That leaves plenty of room for 15 different artists in the first hour.
Source: CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
Writer(s): Craig Smith
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
The first song on the Monkees' fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD. was also the most controversial. Michael Nesmith, as a side project, had been producing songs for a group led by Craig Vincent Smith called the Penny Arkade. One song in particular, Salesman, impressed Nesmith so much that he decided to produce a Monkees version of the song as well. The track was then used in a Monkees TV episode called The Devil And Peter Tork. NBC-TV at first refused to air the episode, claiming that the line "Salesman with your secret goods that you push while you talk" was a veiled drug reference (although producer Bert Schnieder was convinced the real reason was the liberal use of the word "hell" in the show's script).
Title: (Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Roy Wood
The most successful British band of the psychedelic era not to have a US hit was the Move, a band that featured Roy Wood and (later) Jeff Lynne, among other notables. The band was already well established in the UK by 1967, when their single Flowers In The Rain was picked to be the first record played on the new BBC Radio One. The B side of that record was the equally-catchy (Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree. Both songs were written by Wood, although he only sang lead vocals on the B side.
Title: Have You Seen Her Face
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): Chris Hillman
Perhaps the greatest surprise on the fourth Byrds album, Younger Than Yesterday, was the emergence of bassist Chris Hillman as a top-tier songwriter, already on a par with David Crosby and the recently departed Gene Clark, and even exceeding Roger McGuinn as a solo writer (most of McGuinn's contributions being as a collaborator rather than a solo songwriter). Although Hillman would eventually find his greatest success as a country artist (with the Desert Rose Band) it was the hard-rocking Have You Seen Her Face that was chosen to become his first track to be released as a single.
Title: Don't Step On The Grass, Sam
Source: CD: Steppenwolf the Second
Writer: John Kay
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Never afraid to make his social and political views known, Steppenwolf's John Kay wrote Don't Step On The Grass, Sam for the band's second LP, released in 1968. It's taken over 50 years, but it looks like Kay's finally starting to get his wish in some states, although Uncle Sam still considers it illegal.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Mystic Mourning
Source: LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
If I had to choose one single recording that encapsulates the psychedelic era, my choice would be Mystic Mourning, from the album The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union. Everything about the tune screams psychedelic, starting with a short spacy intro of electric piano over cymbals, leading into a raga beat with a solo bass line that builds up to a repeating riff that ends up getting played at various times by guitar, bass, and/or piano. The lyrics are appropriately existential, and both guitar and piano get a chance to show their stuff over the course of the nearly six-minute track.
Artist: Hearts And Flowers
Title: Tin Angel (Will You Ever Come Down)
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Larry Murray
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Hearts and Flowers (featuring a pre-Eagles Bernie Leadon on lead guitar) is known as one of the pioneering country-rock bands, but in 1968 they recorded what could well be regarded as a lost psychedelic masterpiece. Producer Steve Venet reportedly had Sgt. Pepper in mind as he crafted out Larry Murray's Tin Angel over a period of weeks, paying attention to the minutest details of the recording process. The result speaks for itself.
Title: (Roamin' Thro' The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM B side and on LP: Traffic)
Label: United Artists
The second Traffic album saw the band taking in a broader set of influences, including traditional English folk music. (Roamin' Through The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen, originally released as the B side to the Dave Mason tune No Face, No Name, No Number, combines those influences with the Steve Winwood brand of British R&B to create a timeless classic.
Title: For Your Love
Source: Mono CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Graham Gouldman
The last Yardbirds song to feature guitarist Eric Clapton, For Your Love was the group's first US hit, peaking in the # 6 slot. The song did even better in the UK, peaking at # 3. Following its release, Clapton left the Yardbirds, citing the band's move toward a more commercial sound and this song in particular as reasons for his departure (ironic when you consider songs like his mid-90s hit Change the World or his slowed down lounge lizard version of Layla). For Your Love was written by Graham Gouldman, who would end up as a member of Wayne Fontana's Mindbenders and later 10cc with Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: Get It On
Source: LP: Midnight Ride
The first four LPs by Paul Revere and the Raiders were, like most albums in the early 1960s, made up primarily of cover songs. 1965's Just Like Us, for instance, had only one song written by band members (Steppin' Out, by Revere and vocalist Mark Lindsay). That all changed with the release of Midnight Ride in 1966. Of the album's nine songs, all but two were written by band members; in fact, it is the only Raiders album to include compositions from every member of the group. Three of the songs were written or co-written by lead guitarist Drake Levin, the band's youngest member. Those three songs included Get It On, which features lead vocals by co-writer and bassist Phil "Fang" Volk.
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.
Title: The Sun Is A Very Magic Fellow
Source: British import CD: The Hurdy Gurdy Man
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original US label: Epic)
In December of 1967 Donovan released an ambitious double-LP box set called A Gift From A Flower To A Garden. Each of the two LPs had its own subtitle; in fact, the two were also released as separate albums in the US. While the first disc, Wear Your Love Like Heaven, continued the general direction toward psychedelic pop that Donovan's music had been taking that year, the second disc, For Little Ones, was acoustic in nature, and had a more childlike quality. His next studio album, The Hurdy Gurdy Man, contained elements of both discs, with songs like The Sun Is A Very Magic Fellow being an example of the latter.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Some of the best rock and roll songs of 1966 were banned on a number of stations for being about either sex or drugs. Most artists that recorded those songs claimed they were about something else altogether. In the case of Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35, "stoned" refers to a rather unpleasant form of execution (at least according to Dylan). On the other hand, Dylan himself was reportedly quite stoned while recording the song, having passed a few doobies around before starting the tape rolling. Sometimes I think ambiguities like this are why English has become the dominant language of commerce on the planet.
Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title: Yes, I'm Experienced
Source: British import CD: Winds Of Change/The Twain Shall Meet (originally released on LP: Winds Of Change)
Label: BGO (originally released in US on M-G-M)
A grand tradition dating back to the early Rhythm and Blues recordings was something called the "answer song". Someone would record a song (Hound Dog, for example), that would become popular. In turn, another artist (often a friend of the original one), would then come up with a song that answered the original tune (Bear Cat, in our example earlier). This idea was picked up on by white artists in the late 50s (Hey Paula answered by Hey Paul). True to the tradition, Eric Burdon answered his friend Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced with this song, done in a style similar to another Hendrix tune, Manic Depression.
Source: LP: Autumn To Spring (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Charisma (original label: Immediate)
Sometime in 1969 I went to see a band called Marshall Hammond (named for their amps and organ, apparently) at the roller rink on Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany. None of us caught the name of the opening act, but I remember this version of this song in particular being performed by them. Were they the Nice? I kind of doubt it, but there's always the possibility, I suppose.
Title: Everybody's Everything
Source: 45 RPM single
Santana's third album, released in 1971, was called simply Santana. The problem is, their first album was also called Santana. The guitar solo on Everybody's Everything, by the way, is not by Carlos Santana. Rather it was performed by the then 17-year-old Neal Schon, who, along with keyboardist Greg Rolie would leave the band the following year to form Journey.
Artist: Great! Society
Title: Somebody To Love
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Conspicuous Only In Its Absence)
Writer(s): Darby Slick
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1968
One of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era (and of the so-called San Francisco sound) is Somebody To Love, released by Jefferson Airplane in 1967 on their Surrealistic Pillow album. Somebody To Love was written by Darby Slick, guitarist for another San Francisco band, Great! Society. The Society had released the song, featuring Slick's sister-in-law Grace on lead vocals, as a single in early 1966 but was unable to get any local airplay for the record. In June the group played the Matrix, a club managed by Marty Balin, the founder of Jefferson Airplane. The entire gig was recorded (probably by legendary Grateful Dead soundman Owsley Stanley, whose board recordings usually isolated the vocals in one channel and the instruments in the other to provide the band with a tape they could use to critique their own performance) and eventually released on an album called Conspicuous Only In Its Absence two years after Great! Society disbanded. Within a few weeks of this performance Grace Slick would leave the group to join Jefferson Airplane, taking the song with her. This whole set of circumstances can't help but raise the question of whether Balin was using the Society's gig at the Matrix as a kind of sideways audition for Slick.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Go To Her
Source: CD: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (bonus track originally released on LP: Early Flight)
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage (original label: Grunt)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1974
Nearly every major artist acquires a backlog of unreleased songs over a period of time, usually due to lack of space on their official albums. Eventually many of these tracks get released on compilation albums or (more recently) as bonus tracks on CD versions of the original albums. One of the first of these compilation albums was Jefferson Airplane's Early Flight LP, released in 1974. Of the nine tracks on Early Flight, five were recorded during sessions for the band's first two LPs, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off and Surrealistic Pillow. One song originally intended for Surrealistic Pillow was Go To Her, an early Paul Kantner collaboration. At four minutes, the recording was longer than any of the songs that actually appeared on the album, which is probably the reason it didn't make the final cut, as it would have meant that two other songs would have to have been deleted instead.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Greasy Heart
Source: LP: Crown Of Creation
Writer(s): Grace Slick
Label: RCA Victor
The Jefferson Airplane released their fourth LP, Crown of Creation, in the summer of '68. Greasy Heart, a Grace Slick composition, was chosen for single release to AM top 40 radio, but by then the group was getting far more airplay on album-oriented FM stations with tunes like Lather and Triad and the mysteriously named House at Pooniel Corners. As a result, Greasy Heart, despite being a more commercial tune, is far less familiar to most people than any of those other songs.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Run Around
Source: CD: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
The first Jefferson Airplane album was dominated by the songwriting of the band's founder, Marty Balin, both as a solo writer and as a collaborator with other band members. Run Around, from Balin and rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner, is fairly typical of the early Jefferson Airplane sound.
Title: Hello, Goodbye
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour (orginally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
1967 was unquestionably a good year for the Beatles. Their first release was a double A sided single, Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, both sides of which were major hits. They followed that up with the #1 album of the year, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and another hit single, All You Need Is Love. To finish out the year they released yet another major hit single, Hello Goodbye. The only downside to the year was the cool reception that was afforded their December telefilm, Magical Mystery Tour, although the songs themselves were well-received when released in the UK as a double-EP set (complete with full color booklet containing stills from the film, as well as lyric sheets). As EPs were not considered a viable format in the US, Capitol Records put together an LP that included all six tracks from the telefilm on one side of the album and the five single sides (Hello Goodbye had used I Am The Walrus from Magical Mystery Tour as a B side) on the other. That album has since become the official version of Magical Mystery Tour, although the EP continued to be available in the UK for several years following its initial release.
Title: Hey Bulldog
Source: CD: Yellow Submarine Songtrack
The original 1969 Yellow Submarine soundtrack album has always been considered a "non-essential" part of the Beatles catalog, despite containing four songs that were unavailable from any other source. Part of the reason for this is because it was, by all accounts, a "contractual obligation" album, and only two of the four new songs were actually recorded specifically for use in the film. The newest of the four was Hey Bulldog, later described by composer/lead vocalist John Lennon as "a good-sounding record that means nothing". Meaningless or not, Hey Bulldog is indeed a good sounding record, especially after being remixed in 1999 for the Yellow Submarine Songtrack CD, a much more "essential" album than the original movie soundtrack LP.
Source: European import LP: Revolver
Writer(s): George Harrison
The Beatles' 1966 LP Revolver was a major step forward, particularly for guitarist George Harrison, who for the first time had three of his own compositions on an album. Making it even sweeter was the fact that one of these, Taxman, was chosen to lead off the album itself. Although Harrison is usually considered the band's lead guitarist, the solo in Taxman is actually performed by Paul McCartney, whose own style had a harder edge (and considerably less finesse) than Harrison's.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Source: LP: Outsideinside
Writer(s): Dickie Peterson
By the time Blue Cheer began recording their second LP they had established themselves as the loudest band in the San Francisco Bay area, if not the entire world. Their decibel level was so high that midway through the album they were kicked out of the studio and had to finish recording outdoors on San Francisco's Pier 57. To immortalize the experience they decided to call the album Outsideinside, although it's not known which tracks were recorded where. My guess is that at least some songs, such as Babylon, which closes out the album, are actually a combination of both, as there is a sudden change in the tonality of the recording toward the end of the track.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Richard Cory
Source: LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer(s): Paul Simon
My ultra-cool 9th-grade English teacher brought in a copy of Simon And Garfunkel's Sounds Of Silence album one day. As a class, we deconstructed the lyrics of two of the songs on that album: A Most Peculiar Man and Richard Cory. Both songs deal with suicide, but under vastly different circumstances. Whereas A Most Peculiar Man is about a lonely man who lives an isolated existence as an anonymous resident of a boarding house, Richard Cory deals with a character who is a pillar of society, known and envied by many. Too bad most high school English classes weren't that interesting.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission)
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Paul Simon's sense of humor is on full display on A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission). The song first appeared, with slightly different lyrics on Simon's 1965 LP The Paul Simon Songbook, which was released only in the UK after Simon and Garfunkel had split following the disappointing sales of their first Columbia LP, Wednesday Morning 3AM. When the duo got back together following the surprise success of an electrified version of The Sound Of Silence, the re-recorded the tune, releasing it on their third Columbia LP, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. The song is a deliberate parody/tribute to Bob Dylan, written in a style similar to It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), and is full of sly references to various well-known personages of the time as well as lesser-known acquaintances of Simon himself.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: We've Got A Groovy Thing Going
Source: LP: Sounds Of Silence (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
In late 1965, producer Tom Wilson decided to perform an experiment. He took the original recording of a song from Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel's 1964 album, Wednesday Morning 6AM, and added electric instruments to it (using some of the same musicians that had played on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited album), essentially creating a whole new version of the song and, for that matter, a whole new genre: folk-rock. The Sound of Silence, backed by We've Got a Groovy Thing Going, became a huge national hit, going all the way to #1 on the top 40 charts. The only problem was that by the time all this happened, Simon and Garfunkel had gone their separate ways, briefly reuniting to record We've Got a Groovy Thing Going in 1965, but not releasing it at the time. Paul Simon, who was by then living in England, returned to the states in early 1966, got back together with Art Garfunkel and the rest is history.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Source: LP: Through The Past, Darkly (originally released as 45 RPM single)
If there was a British equivalent to the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations in terms of time and money spent on a single song, it might be We Love You, a 1967 single released by the Rolling Stones. To go along with the single (with its state-of-the-art production) the band spent a considerable sum making a full-color promotional video, a practice that would not become commonplace until the advent of MTV in the 1980s. Despite all this, US radio stations virtually ignored We Love You, choosing to instead flip the record over and play the B side, a tune called Dandelion. As to why this came about, I suspect that Bill Drake, the man behind the nation's most influential top 40 stations, simply decided that the less elaborately produced Dandelion was better suited to the US market than We Love You and instructed his hand-picked program directors at such stations as WABC, KHJ and WLS to play Dandelion. The copycat nature of top 40 radio being what it is, Dandelion ended up being a moderate hit in the US in the summer of '67.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Mother's Little Helper
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
By 1966 the Rolling Stones had already had a few brushes with the law over their use of illegal drugs. Mother's Little Helper, released in Spring of '66, is a scathing criticism of the abuse of prescription drugs by the parents of the Stones' fans. Perhaps more than any other song of the time, Mother's Little Helper illustrates the increasingly hostile generation gap that had sprung up between the young baby boomers and the previous generation.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Street Fighting Man
Source: LP: Through The Past, Darkly (originally released on LP: Beggar's Banquet)
The Rolling Stones were at a low point in their career following their most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which came out in late 1967. As a response to charges in the rock press that they were no longer relevant the Stones released Jumpin' Jack Flash as a single in early 1968, following it up with the Beggar's Banquet album later in the year. The new album included the band's follow-up single, Street Fighting Man, a song that was almost as anthemic as Jumpin' Jack Flash itself and went a long ways toward insuring that the Rolling Stones would be making music on their own terms for as long as they chose to.
Title: A Faded Picture
Source: LP: A Web Of Sound
Label: GNP Crescendo
The Seeds second LP showed a much greater range than the first. A Faded Picture, perhaps the nearest thing to a ballad the Seeds ever recorded, has a slower tempo than most of the other songs in the Seeds repertoire and, at over five minutes in length, a longer running time as well.
Title: Dirty Water (live version)
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2014
In October of 1966 the Standells were riding high on the strength of their hit single, Dirty Water, when they opened for the Beach Boys at the University of Michigan. Unbeknownst to the band at the time, the entire performance was being professionally recorded by people from Capitol Records, the parent company of Tower Records, whom the Standells recorded for. The recordings remained unreleased for many years; in fact, even the band members themselves were unaware of their existence until around 2000. Finally, in 2014, Sundazed released the live recording of Dirty Water on clear 45 RPM vinyl as part of their Record Store Day promotion. Enjoy!