Sunday, September 13, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2038 (starts 9/14/20)
This week we take a break from artists' sets and welcome back our Advanced Psych segment with tracks from Splinter Fish, the Psychedelic Furs and, making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut, Australia's Sand Pebbles. We also have some Live Dead and a George Harrison sound collage that predates John Lennon's Revolution 9 by several months.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: On The Road Again
Source: CD: The Very Best Of Canned Heat (originally released on LP: Boogie With Canned Heat)
Label: Capitol (original label: Liberty)
Canned Heat was formed by a group of blues record collectors in San Francisco. Although their first album consisted entirely of cover songs, by 1968 they were starting to compose their own material, albeit in a style that remained consistent with their blues roots. On The Road Again is built on the same repeating riff the band used for their extended onstage jams such as Refried Boogie and Woodstock Boogie; the same basic riff that ZZ Top would use (at double speed) for their hit LaGrange a few years later.
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): The Turtles
Label: White Whale
In 1968 White Whale Records was not particularly happy with the recent activities of their primary money makers, the Turtles. The band had been asserting its independence, even going so far as to self-produce a set of recordings that the label in turn rejected as having no commercial potential. The label wanted another Happy Together. The band responded by creating a facetious new song called Elenore. The song had deliberately silly lyrics such as "Elenore gee I think you're swell" and "you're my pride and joy etcetera" and gave production credit to former Turtles bassist Chip Douglas for the "Douglas F. Hatelid Foundation", which was in itself an in-joke referring to the pseudonym Douglas was forced to use as producer for the Monkees in 1967. Then a strange thing happened: the record became a hit. I suspect this was the event that began Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman's eventually metamorphosis into rock parody act Flo and Eddie.
Title: We Could Be So Good Together
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): The Doors
Released in advance of the third Doors album, We Could Be So Good Together was the B side of one of the most unusual songs to ever make the top 40 charts: The Unknown Soldier. Unconfirmed rumors about We Could Be So Good Together say that the song was actually written in the band's early days before their signing with Elektra Records, but was left off the first two Doors albums. Lyrically it does seem to share an optimism with earlier Jim Morrison lyrics that was largely replaced by cynicism in his later years. The single version contains a short Thelonius Monk riff about a minute and a half into the song that is missing from the LP version heard on Waiting For The Sun.
Title: Without Her
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 4-Pop part two (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Norm Prinsky
Label: Rhino (original label: Gemcor)
The story of Los Angeles's Rumors is typical of many bands of the time. The band played a variety of venues, slowly building up a small following playing covers of current hits mixed with one popular original tune, the Louie Louie-like Hold Me Now. After a successful showing at a local Battle of the Rock Bands at the Hollywood Palladium the band came to the attention of Bill Bell, owner of Gemcor Records, who quickly booked the band to record a single for the label. Drummer Norm Prinsky realized that the band only had one original song (Hold Me Now), and quickly composed and arranged Without Her, teaching it to the band in time to use it for the record's B side. Although Hold Me Now got some minor airplay on local stations (and was even used in a McDonald's commercial), it was the more melodic (and somewhat more psychedelic) Without Her that appealed to disc jockeys outside of the L.A. area.
Title: Tomorrow Never Knows
Source: CD: Revolver
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
A few years ago I started to compile an (admittedly subjective) list of the top psychedelic songs ever recorded. Although I never finished ranking the songs, one of the top contenders for the number one spot was Tomorrow Never Knows from the Beatles' 1966 LP Revolver. The song is one of the first to use studio techniques such as backwards masking and has been hailed as a masterpiece of 4-track studio production.
Title: Strange Brew
Source: British import LP Picture Disc: Disraeli Gears
Label: RSO (original US label: Atco)
Strange Brew, the opening track from Cream's Disraeli Gears album, was also released as a single in early 1967. The song, which was created by adding new lyrics and melody to an existing instrumental track, has proven popular enough over the years to be included on pretty much every Cream anthology album ever compiled, and even inspired a Hollywood movie of the same name.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: The Flute Thing
Source: Mono CD: Projections
Writer(s): Al Kooper
Label: Sundazed (original label: Verve Forecast)
The Blues Project was one of the most influential bands in rock history, yet one of the least known. Perhaps the first of the "underground" rock bands, the Project made their name by playing small colleges across the country (including Hobart College, where Stuck in the Psychedelic Era is produced). The Flute Thing, from the band's second album, Projections, features bassist Andy Kuhlberg on flute, with rhythm guitarist Steve Katz taking over the bass playing, joining lead guitarist Danny Kalb and keyboardist Al Kooper for a tune that owes more to jazz artists like Roland Kirk than to anything top 40 rock had to offer at the time.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: J.P.P. McStep B Blues
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow (bonus track originally released on LP: Early Flight)
Writer(s): Skip Spence
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1974
One of the first songs recorded for the Surrealistic Pillow album, J.P.P. McStep B. Blues ended up being shelved, possibly because drummer Skip Spence, who wrote the song, had left the band by the time the album came out.
Title: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (US version)
Source: Mono LP: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
In 1965 producer Mickey Most put out a call to Don Kirschner's Brill building songwriters for material that could be recorded by the Animals. He ended up selecting three songs, all of which are among the Animals' most popular singles. Possibly the best-known of the three is a song written by the husband and wife team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil called We Gotta Get Out Of This Place. The song (the first Animals recording to featuring Dave Rowberry, who had replaced founder Alan Price on organ) starts off with what is probably Chas Chandler's best known bass line, slowly adding drums, vocals, guitar and finally keyboards on its way to an explosive chorus. The song was not originally intended for the Animals, however; it was written for the Righteous Brothers as a follow up to (You've Got That) Lovin' Feelin', which Mann and Weil had also provided for the duo. Mann, however, decided to record the song himself, but the Animals managed to get their version out first, taking it to the top 20 in the US and the top 5 in the UK. As the Vietnam war escalated, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place became a sort of underground anthem for US servicemen stationed in South Vietnam, and has been associated with that war ever since. Incidentally, there were actually two versions of We Gotta Get Out Of This Place recorded during the same recording session, with an alternate take accidentally being sent to M-G-M and subsequently being released as the US version of the single. This version (which some collectors and fans maintain has a stronger vocal track) appeared on the US-only LP Animal Tracks in the fall of 1965 as well as the original M-G-M pressings of the 1966 album Best Of The Animals.
Title: Too Much On My Mind
Source: Mono LP: Face To Face
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Face To Face, released in 1966, was the first Kinks album to consist entirely of songs written by Ray Davies. The making of the album was not without difficulties; there were clashes between the band and Pye Records over the format of the album, with the band wanting to use sound effects to bridge the gaps between tracks and the label wanting a more standard banding of each track as a separate entity (the label won) and Davies himself suffered a nervous breakdown just as recording sessions for the album got under way. In addition, bassist Peter Quaife actually quit the band shortly before recording sessions for the album started, but returned in time to play on most of the tracks, including the gentle balled Too Much On My Mind.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: Willie Jean
Source: Mono CD: Dark Sides-The Best Of The Shadows Of Knight (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Hoyt Axton
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Paralleling the practice of early bluesmen, garage bands of the mid-1960s had a habit of "borrowing" songs, making a few minor changes and then claiming them for their own. Such was the case with the Blues Magoos tune Sometimes I Think About, from their 1966 LP Psychedelic Lollipop. In early 1967 the Shadows Of Knight released their own version of the song as a non-album single, using the title Willie Jean and crediting it to "Traditional, arr. Harry Pye". It turns out, however, that neither band was giving credit where credit was due, probably because they had no idea who actually wrote the song in the first place. The truth is that Willie Jean was actually written by none other than Hoyt Axton, who included it on his 1963 album Saturday's Child. In all liklihood, both the Blues Magoos and the Shadows Of Knight picked up the song by hearing it performed by other artists and assumed that it was a folk/blues standard.
Title: The Fat Angel
Source: Mono LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
There seems to be some confusion as to what Donovan's 1966 track The Fat Angel is about. Some critics assume it refers to Cass Elliott of the Mamas and the Papas, although that seems to be based entirely on the song title. Others take it as a tribute of some sort to Jefferson Airplane, whose name appears in the lyrics of the song. The problem with this theory is that The Fat Angel appeared on the Sunshine Superman album, which was released six months before Jefferson Airplane broke nationally with Somebody To Love in 1967. My own view is based on the lyrics themselves, which are about a pot dealer making his rounds. Fly Trans-Love Airlines indeed!
Artist: Lost Souls
Title: This Life Of Mine
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Australia as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Sunshine)
It was the American Dream made real. A bunch of school friends, inspired by the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds, form a band in 1965 and win a battle of the bands sponsored by a local radio station the following year. The prize: the opportunity to cut a record of their own. The catch: this wasn't America, it was Australia. The Lost Souls released This Life Of Mine in September of 1966, scoring a minor hit in their native Melbourne. Further success, however, eluded them, and the Lost Souls gave up the ghost in early 1968.
Title: Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
If ever a song could be considered a garage-punk anthem, it's Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, the Standells' follow-up single to the classic Dirty Water. Both songs were written by Standells' manager/producer Ed Cobb, the record industry's answer to Ed Wood.
Artist: Moody Blues
Title: Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon)
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released on LP: Days Of Future Passed and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Justin Hayward
Label: Priority (original label: Deram)
Tuesday Afternoon was the second single released from the Moody Blues' breakthrough 1967 LP Days Of Future Passed. At the insistence of producer Tony Clarke the album version of the song was retitled Forever Tuesday and was used as part one of a track called The Afternoon. When released as a single the following year, composer Justin Hayward's original title was restored to the piece, which was initially edited down to less than two and a half minutes for the 45 RPM pressing. The original album version of the song includes a separately recorded orchestral coda that segues directly into the next phase of the album, entitled The Evening. The version heard here includes the orchestral coda but does not segue into the next track.
Artist: Young Rascals
Title: Lonely Too Long
Source: LP: Collections
Label: Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
There seems to be a bit of confusion over the official title of the Young Rascals' first single from their 1967 album Collections. The album label and cover clearly show it as Lonely Too Long, but the single itself, released the same day as the album (January 9) just as clearly shows it as I've Been Lonely Too Long. Some sources, apparently trying to come up with a compromise, list it as (I've Been) Lonely Too Long. Since I'm playing this directly from a vinyl copy of Collections, I'm going with the title listed on the album itself.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders (originally released as Raiders)
Title: Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian)
Source: CD: The Legend Of Paul Revere (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): J. D. Loudermilk
For years I have been hearing about the controversy over whose version of Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian) is better: the hit single heard here by Paul Revere And The Raiders (who had shortened their name to the Raiders, temporarily as it turned out, at that point) or the "original" version by British vocalist Don Fardon. What people fail to take into account, however, is the fact that both of these are actually cover versions of a song originally released in 1959 by country singer Marvin Rainwater under the title The Pale Faced Indian. Rainwater, who claimed to be one quarter Cherokee, often performed wearing native American outfits. The song, however, contains several inaccuracies, the most glaring of which is the fact that Cherokee communities are not called "reservations" at all, nor do they live in teepees or call their young "papooses". J.D. Loudermilk, who wrote the song, once explained that it was written after he was picked up by a group of Cherokees when his car was stuck in a blizzard, who then asked him to write a song about the plight of the Cherokee people and even revealed that his great-great grandparents had been members of the tribe. Loudermilk, however, was a self-admitted spinner of tall tales, and the entire story was probably a fabrication.
Artist: Sand Pebbles
Title: Future Proofed
Source: Australian import CD: Ceduna
Writer(s): Sand Pebbles
Label: Sensory Projects
Neighbours is the longest-running drama series on Australian television, having aired its first episode in March of 1985. It is also the unlikely origin point for Sand Pebbles, a band formed in 2001 by three Neighbours screenwriters. Those three founding members, bassist Christopher Hollow, guitarist Ben Michael and drummer Piet Collins were soon joined by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Tanner. The band's fourth album, Ceduna, also featured guitarist/vocalist Tor Larsen. The longest track on Ceduna is Future Proofed, a long psychedelic jam that is just a touch on the spacey side.
Artist: Splinter Fish
Source: LP: Splinter Fish
Writer(s): Chuck Hawley
One of my favorite bands on the late 80s Albuquerque music scene was Splinter Fish, a group that didn't quite fall naturally into any specific musical genre. They certainly had things in common with many new wave bands, but also touched on world music and even hard rock. One of their most popular tracks was Mars, which itself is hard to define, thanks to many sudden tempo and even stylistic changes, even though the entire track runs less than three minutes in length. Guitarist/vocalist Chuck Hawley now leads his own band, while fem vocalist Deb-O performs with a variety of Albuquerque musicians in several different combos.
Artist: Psychedelic Furs
Source: LP: The Psychedelic Furs
Writer(s): Psychedelic Furs
The Psychedelic Furs have always been difficult to nail down. Despite the name, they are not really all that psychedelic. On the vocal side they owed a lot to the punk rock movement, but their music has always been too sophisticated to qualify as pure punk. They came along a bit too late to be considered prog rock, and they didn't have the heavy emphasis on electronics and dance beats that characterized the new wave bands of the early 1980s either. So what kind of band were the Psychedelic Furs? Take a listen to Pulse, from their 1980 debut LP, and decide for yourself.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: I'm A Man
Source: Mono LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: United Artists
The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve and Muff Winwood, was one of the UK's most successful white R&B bands of the sixties, cranking out a steady stream of hit singles. Two of them, the iconic Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man, were also major hits in the US, the latter being the last song to feature the Winwood brothers. Muff Winwood became a successful record producer. The group itself continued on for several years, but were never able to duplicate their earlier successes. As for Steve Winwood, he quickly faded off into obscurity, never to be heard from again. Except as the leader of Traffic. And a member of Blind Faith. And Traffic again. And some critically-acclaimed collaborations in the early 1980s with Asian musicians. Oh yeah, and a few major solo hits (Higher Love, Roll With It...that kinda thing) in the mid-to-late 1980s. Other than that, nothing.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Burning of the Midnight Lamp
Source: CD: Ultimate Experience (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: Electric Ladyland)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
The fourth non-album single released in the UK by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was Burning of the Midnight Lamp, which came out while the band was working on their second album, Axis: Bold As Love. The three previous singles (but not their B sides) had all been included on the US version of the band's first LP, Are You Experienced? By mid-1967, however, the practice of releasing US albums with a different song lineup than their British counterparts was on the way out, as the artists themselves were becoming more involved in the process. As a result, Axis: Bold As Love had exactly the same song lineup on both sides of the Atlantic, leaving Burning of the Midnight Lamp unreleased in the US until Hendrix decided to do a stereo remix and include it on Electric Ladyland.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: We Love You
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
We Love You was, upon its release in the summer of 1967, the most expensive Rolling Stones record ever produced (as well as the last Rolling Stones record to be produced by Andrew Loog Oldham), and included a promotional film that is considered a forerunner of the modern music video. We Love You did well in the UK, reaching the # 8 spot on the charts, but it was the other side of the record, Dandelion, that ended up being a hit in the US. The song was dismissed at the time by John Lennon, who referred to it as the Stones' answer to All We Need Is Love, but in retrospect the song is now seen as a tongue-in-cheek response to the ongoing harassment of the band by law enforcement authorities at the time.
Artist: Sons Of Champlain
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Loosen Up Naturally)
Writer(s): Steven Tollestrup
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Bill Champlin is probably best known as the lead guitarist for Chicago from 1981 to 2008 (more or less). Before and after that period, however, he fronted his own band, the Sons Of Champlin. Like Chicago, the Sons were distinguished by the presence of a horn section, a trend that was just getting underway in 1969. Unlike most other bands of their type, however, the Sons Of Champlin were a San Francisco band, and one of the more popular local acts of their time. They did not show much of an interest in touring outside the Bay Area, however, and as a result got limited national exposure. The first single from the first of two albums they recorded for the Capitol label was a tune called 1982-A. I really can't say what the title has to do with the lyrics of the song, but it is a catchy little number nonetheless that, oddly enough, sounds like the kind of song Chicago would be releasing as a single A side in 1982.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Turn On Your Love Light
Source: LP: Live Dead
Label: Warner Brothers
After two years' (and three albums) worth of trying to capture their live sound in the studio, the Grateful Dead decided just to cut to the chase and release a live album. The result was the double LP Live Dead, one of the most successful releases in Grateful Dead history. The album itself is one continuous concert, with each side fading out at the end, with a bit of overlap at the beginning of the next side. Most of the material on Live Dead was written by the band itself, the sole exception being a fifteen-minute long rendition of Bobby Bland's 1961 hit Turn On Your Love Light, featuring vocals by organist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.
Artist: George Harrison
Title: Dream Scene
Source: CD: Wonderwall Music
Writer(s): George Harrison
Here's one for trivia buffs: What was the first LP released on the Apple label? If you answered The Beatles (White Album) you'd be close, but not quite on the money. The actual first Apple album was something called Wonderwall Music from a film called (what else?) Wonderwall. The album itself was quite avant garde, with virtually no commercial potential. One of the most notable tracks on the album is Dream Scene, an audio collage that predates John Lennon's Revolution 9 by several months.
Title: Shelly In Camp
Source: LP: Wild In The Streets soundtrack
Writer: Les Baxter
Les Baxter is one of those names that sounds vaguely familiar to anyone who was alive in the 50s and 60s, but doesn't seem to be associated with anything in particular. That might be because Baxter was the guy that movie producers went to when they needed something done at the last minute. Such is the case with the short instrumental Shelly In Camp (referring the actress Shelly Winters, whose character ends up in an internment camp in the movie Wild In The Streets), a strange little piece with lots of sitar that closes out side one of the film's soundtrack LP. I seem to recall seeing some Les Baxter albums at a small town radio station I worked at in the early 70s that alternated between country, soft pop and lounge lizard records; Baxter's were in the third pile. "The Gurus", of course, was an entirely fictional name made up by the producers of the Wild In The Streets soundtrack album. I guess it was cheaper than hiring a real band.