This week we feature a set of obscure Kinks tracks, a long set of tracks from Jimi Hendrix and a set of cover songs from Jefferson Airplane. Plus, of course, the usual mix of hit singles, B sides and album tracks from over a dozen other artists of the psychedelic era, including tracks from Family, Gypsy and Cat Stevens that have never been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era before.
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 (Back In The High Life, Roll With It...that kinda thing) in the mid-to-late 1980s. Other than that, nothing.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: Chess Game
Source: LP: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
New York's Greenwich Village based Circus Maximus was driven by the dual creative talents of guitarist/keyboardist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker. Although Walker went on to have the greatest success, it was Bruno's more jazz-influenced songwriting on songs like Chess Game that defined the band's sound. Bruno is now a successful visual artist, still living in the New York area.
Title: Try It
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
After a series of singles written by producer Ed Cobb had resulted in diminishing returns, the Standells recorded Try It, a tune co-written by Joey Levine, who would rise to semi-anonymous notoriety as lead vocalist for the Ohio Express, a group that was essentially a vehicle for the Kazenetz/Katz production team, purveyors of what came to be called "bubble gum" music. The song itself was quickly banned on most radio stations under the assumption that the phrase "try it" was a call for teenage girls to abandon their virginity. The fact is that nowhere in the song does the word "teenage" appear, but nonetheless the song failed to make a dent in the charts, despite its catchy melody and danceable beat, which should have garnered it at least a 65 rating on American Bandstand.
Source: British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released in UK on LP: Butterfly and in US on LP: Dear Eloise/King Midas In Reverse)
Label: EMI (original UK label: Parlophone, original US label: Epic)
Graham Nash was the one of the three core members of the Hollies who pushed the other two (the other two being Tony Hicks and Allan Clarke) into the band's most psychedelic phase in 1967, first with the single King Midas In Reverse and then with the album Butterfly (which was issued in substantially altered form as Dear Eloise/King Midas In Reverse in the US). Nash's influence can be heard throughout the album, especially on Maker, which meshes Nash's penchant for experimentation with the group's trademark harmonies. This change in musical direction did not sit well with the rest of the band, however, and ultimately led to Nash's departure from the Hollies in 1968.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: We've Got A Groovey 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 Groovey 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 Groovey 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 and reunited with Art Garfunkel. The rest is history.
Title: You I'll Be Following
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Love)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
When the Byrds decided to tour heavily to support their early hits Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn!, Arthur Lee's band Love was more than happy to fill the void left on the L.A. club scene. The group quickly established itself as the top band on the strip and caught the attention of Elektra Records, an album-oriented label that had previously specialized in blues and folk music but was looking to move into rock. Love was soon signed to a contract with Elektra and released their self-titled debut LP in 1966. That album featured songs that were primarily in a folk-rock vein, such as You I'll Be Following, although even then there were signs that bandleader Arthur Lee was capable of writing quality tunes that defied easy classification. Love would remain the top band on the strip for the next year and a half, releasing two more albums before the original group dissolved. To maintain their status as local heroes, Love chose to stay close to home. The lack of time spent promoting their records ultimately led to them being supplanted as the star group for Elektra by the Doors, a band that had been recommended to the label by Lee himself.
Title: Our Love Was, Is
Source: LP: Magic Bus (originally released on LP: The Who Sell Out)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
The Who's late-1967 album, The Who Sell Out, is best known for its faux commercials and actual jingles lifted from the British pirate station Radio London. Hidden among the commercial hype, however, are some of the band's best tunes, including Our Love Was, a song that was one of the few LP tracks to be included on the Who's Magic Bus compilation album.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: It's Breaking Me Up
Source: CD: This Was
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Jethro Tull originally was part of the British blues scene, but even in the early days the band's principal songwriter Ian Anderson wanted to expand beyond the confines of that particular genre. Ironically It's Breaking Me Up, from Jethro Tull's first LP, is an Anderson composition that is rooted solidly in the British blues style.
Title: From Past Archives
Source: British import CD: Music In A Doll's House/Family Entertainment (originally released on LP: Family Entertainment)
Label: See For Miles (original label: Reprise)
Family was in the middle of a US tour in March of 1969 when their manager, John Gilbert, mixed and released an album's worth of material without the band's knowledge or permission. Before going on tour, the band had added several of the songs that would appear on Family Entertainment, such as From Past Archives, to their live repertoire, and the album was an instant success in their native UK, going into the top 20 on the British charts before the group headed across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, just as the band's US tour was getting underway, bassist Ric Grech announced that he would be leaving the group to join Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Steve Winwood in a supergroup to be called Blind Faith, which destabilized the band somewhat. They eventually recovered from the loss, however, and went on to record a total of seven albums before disbanding in 1973.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix/Band Of Gypsys
Title: Lover Man
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2018
When the Jimi Hendrix Experience made their US debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967 they opened with a high-energy workup of the Muddy Waters classic Killing Floor. Hendrix' arrangement of the song was so radically different from the original that Hendrix eventually decided to write new lyrics for the song, calling it Lover Man. Several attempts were made to get the song recorded in the studio, including this one recorded on December 15, 1969 with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles. Two weeks later they recorded a series of performances at New York's Madison Square Garden that were used for the 1970 album Band Of Gypsys, although Lover Man was not among the songs selected for the LP.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away)
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away) from the Electric Ladyland album is the longest work created purely in the studio by Jimi Hendrix, with a running time of over 16 minutes. The piece starts with tape effects that lead into the song's main guitar rift. The vocals and drums join in to tell a science fiction story set in a future world where the human race has had to move underwater in order to survive some unspecified catastrophe. After a couple verses, the piece goes into a long unstructured section made up mostly of guitar effects before returning to the main theme and closing out with more effects that combine volume control and stereo panning to create a circular effect. As is the case with several tracks on Electric Ladyland, 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away) features Hendrix on both guitar and bass, with Mitch Mitchell on drums and special guest Chris Wood (from Traffic) on flute.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix/Band Of Gypsys
Title: We Gotta Live Together
Source: LP: Band Of Gypsys
Writer(s): Buddy Miles
In October of 1969, guitarist Jimi Hendrix and bassist Billy Cox (who had been performing with Hendrix since the original Experience disbanded in June of 1969) began working with drummer Buddy Miles in a group that would come to be known as Band Of Gypsys. For various reasons, Hendrix had not come up with any marketable studio recordings that year, and, thanks to a lawsuit, was under pressure to record an album for the Capitol label, even though he was still under contract to Reprise. The solution was for the trio to record a series of concerts at Madison Square Gardens over the New Year's holiday, compiling the best of these into a live album called Band Of Gypsys. Not all of the material came from Hendrix, however. The final track on the album, We Gotta Live Together, is credited to Miles, although Hendrix does quite a bit of improvisation throughout the piece.
Title: Pushin' Too Hard
Source: Simulated stereo LP: KRLA 42 Solid Rock (originally released on LP: The Seeds and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: Take 6 (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Pushin' Too Hard was originally released as a single in 1965 (under the title You're Pushin' Too Hard), but did not make an immediate impression. The following year, however, the tune started getting some local airplay on Los Angeles area stations. This in turn led to the band recording their first album, The Seeds, which was released in spring of 1966. A second Seeds LP, A Web Of Sound, hit L.A. record stores in the fall of the same year. Meanwhile, Pushin' Too Hard, which had been reissued with a different B side in mid-1966, started to get national airplay, hitting its peak position on the Billboard charts in February of 1967.
Title: Gypsy Queen
Source: LP: Gypsy
Writer(s): Enrico Rosenbaum
In the mid-1960s it was common, especially in the larger cities in the US, for a local band to go into a local recording studio and make a record that would be released on a local label and get played on a local radio station or two. Sometimes these songs would become local, or even regional hits. In a few cases these songs even became national hits, and in rare cases would lead to an entire run of hits. By 1970, however, this path to success had all but disappeared, due to a number of factors. Most local radio stations were tightening their playlists to include only nationally charted hits. Locally-owned record labels had all but disappeared, with the more successful ones being bought out by their larger competitors. Bands looking for national success were forced to relocate, usually to New York or Los Angeles. One such band was Gypsy. Formed in Minnesota as the Underbeats, the band moved to L.A. in 1969, renaming themselves Gypsy and becoming the house band at the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood. It was during their tenure at the Whisky that they released their self-titled double LP debut album containing their biggest hit, Gypsy Queen-Part 1. The band released several more albums over a period of over 40 years, both as Gypsy and as the James Walsh Gypsy Band. They played their final show on November 4, 2017 in St. Louis.
Title: Wait Till The Summer Comes Along
Source: Mono 45 RPM EP: Kwyet Kinks
Writer(s): Dave Davies
Label: Sanctuary/BMG (original UK label: Pye)
Kinks Kinkdom was an LP that was only released in the US. Most of the songs had been previously released in the UK, but not in the US. Among the songs on Kinks Kinkdom are four tracks that had appeared in the UK on an Extended Play 45 RPM record called Kwyet Kinks. The EP was a deliberate attempt on the part of the band to distance themselves from their early image as one of the hardest rocking bands of the British Invasion. The opening track of Kwyet Kinks was Wait Till The Summer Comes Along, a Dave Davies composition that has a decidedly country feel to it.
Source: CD: The Kink Kronikles (originally released on LP: Arthur or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Polygram/PolyTel (original label: Reprise)
The Kinks were at their commercial low point in 1969 when they released their third single from their controversial concept album Arthur or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire. Their previous two singles had failed to chart, even in their native England, and the band had not had a top 20 hit in the US since Sunny Afternoon in 1966. Victoria was a comeback of sorts, as it did manage to reach the #62 spot in the US and the #33 spot in the UK.
Title: Don't You Fret
Source: Mono British import EP: Kwyet Kinks
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Sanctuary (original label: Pye)
The British record market was considerably different than its American counterpart in the mid-1966s. Unlike in the US, where artists were expected to prove themselves with at least two hit singles before being allowed to record an LP, British acts often found themselves recording four or five song EPs as a transition between single and album. Furthermore, British singles were generally not included on British albums. When those albums were released in the US, the American labels often deleted songs that they considered filler from the original LP in favor of hit singles, which were felt to be necessary to generate album sales. This led to a surplus of songs that would appear on US-only LPs made up of material that had been previously released only in the UK. Such is the case with Kinkdom, a collection of singles, B sides, album tracks and the entire Kwyet Kinks EP from 1965. Kwyet Kinks itself was a significant release in that it was the first indication of a change in direction from the early hard-rocking Kinks hits such as You Really Got Me toward a more mellow style that the group would come to favor toward the end of the decade. Songs such as Don't You Fret can be considered a direct precursor to later songs such as Sunny Afternoon and Dedicated Follower Of Fashion.
Artist: Butterfield Blues Band
Title: Work Song
Source: CD: East-West
Although technically not a rock album, the Butterfield Blues Band's East-West was nonetheless a major influence on many up and coming rock musicians that desired to transcend the boundaries of top 40 radio. Both the title track and the band's reworking of Nat Adderly's Work Song feature extended solos from all the band members, with Work Song in particular showing Butterfield's prowess on harmonica, as well as helping cement Michael Bloomfield's reputation as the nation's number one electric guitarist (before the emergence of Jimi Hendrix, at any rate). Elvin Bishop's guitar work on the song is not too shabby either.
Artist: The Raik's Progress
Title: Sewer Rat Love Chant
Source: Mono LP: Sewer Rat Love Chant (originally released in US as 45 RPM single)
Label: Sundazed (original label: Liberty)
Fresno, California, was home to the Raik's Progress, once described as "a bunch of 17-year-old quasi-intellectual proto-punks" by frontman Steve Krikorian, who later became known as Tonio K. The Raik's progress only released one single, Sewer Rat Love Chant, which appeared on the Liberty label in 1966.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound)
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
By mid-1966 Hollywood's Sunset Strip was being taken over every night by local teenagers, with several underage clubs featuring live music being a major attraction. Many of the businesses in the area, citing traffic problems and rampant drug and alcohol abuse, began to put pressure on city officials to do something about the situation. The city responded by passing new loitering ordinances and imposing a 10PM curfew on the Strip. They also began putting pressure on the clubs, including condemning the popular Pandora's Box for demolition. On November 12, 1966 fliers appeared on the streets inviting people to a demonstration that evening to protest the closing of the club. The demostration continued over a period of days, exascerbated by the city's decision to revoke the permits of a dozen other clubs on the Strip, forcing them to bar anyone under the age of 21 from entering. Stephen Stills, a member of Buffalo Springfield, one of the many bands appearing regularly in these clubs, wrote a new song in response to the situation, and the band quickly booked studio time, recording the still-unnamed track on December 5th. The band had recently released their debut LP, but sales of the album were lackluster due to the lack of a hit single. Stills reportedly presented the new recording to label head Ahmet Ertegun with the words "I have this song here, for what it's worth, if you want it." Ertegun, sensing that he had a hit on his hands, got the song rush-released two days before Christmas, 1966, using For What It's Worth as the official song title, but sub-titling it Stop, Hey What's That Sound on the label as well. As predicted, For What It's Worth was an instant hit in the L.A. market, and soon went national, where it was taken by most record buyers to be about the general sense of unrest being felt across the nation over issues like racial equality and the Vietnam War (and oddly enough, by some people as being about the Kent State massacre, even though that happened nearly three years after the song was released). As the single moved up the charts, eventually peaking at #7, Atco recalled the Buffalo Springfield LP, reissuing it with a modified song selection that included For What It's Worth as the album's openng track. Needless to say, album sales picked up after that. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever even seen a copy of the Buffalo Springfield album without For What It's Worth on it, although I'm sure some of those early pressings must still exist.
Title: Lawdy Mama
Source: LP: Live Cream
Writer(s): Trad., arr. Eric Clapton
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1970
Lawdy Mama (sometimes known as Hey Lawdy Mama) is a blues song that goes back at least as far as the 1920s. In 1965 Junior Wells and Buddy Guy recorded a Chicago blues version of the song for the Hoodoo Man Blues album. It was this version that Cream performed on a December 1966 BBC broadcast, recording a similar version in the studio in early 1967. They then reworked the instrumental tracks but kept Wells's lyrics for a second version of Lawdy Mama, which they also recorded in early 1967. Still not satisfied with the way the song was going, producer Felix Pappalardi and his wife Janet Collins came up with a whole new melody line and lyrics to go with the newer instrumental tracks; Eric Clapton then added his vocals and a new lead guitar track to the recording, which was released under the title Strange Brew on the Disraeli Gears album. Meanwhile, a mix of the second version of Lawdy Mama was set aside, and eventually got released as the only studio track on the 1970 album Live Cream. Luckily, the then-common practice of superimposing fake crowd sounds to make a studio recording sound like a live track was not followed by the producers of Live Cream.
Title: Cottage Cheese
Source: 45 RPM single
In late 1970 I found myself living in Alamogordo, NM, which was at the time one of those places that still didn't have an FM station (in fact, the only FM station we could receive was a classical station in Las Cruces, 70 miles away). To make it worse, there were only two AM stations in town, and the only one that played current songs went off the air at sunset. As a result the only way to hear current music at night (besides buying albums without hearing them first) was to "DX" distant AM radio stations. Of these, the one that came in most clearly and consistently was KOMA in Oklahoma City. My friends and I spent many a night driving around with KOMA cranked up, fading in and out as long-distance AM stations always do. One of those nights in 1970 we were all blown away by Cottage Cheese, Crow's follow-up to their 1969 hit Evil Woman, Don't Play Your Games With Me, which, due to the conservative nature of the local daytime-only station, was not getting any local airplay. Years later I was lucky enough to find a copy in a thrift store in Albuquerque. Here it is.
Artist: Cat Stevens
Title: Wild World
Source: CD: The Very Best Of Cat Stevens (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Cat Stevens
For most Americans, Cat Stevens appeared suddenly on the scene in late 1970 with the song Wild World. Like Donovan before him, however, Stevens had already enjoyed several years of success on the British charts before making it big in the US, including no less than three top 10 singles. Ironically, Wild World itself was not released as a single in the UK.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Let's Get Together
Source: Mono LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s): Dino Valenti
Label: RCA Victor
Although Dino Valenti recorded a demo version of his song Let's Get Together in 1964, it wasn't until two years later that the song made its first appearance on vinyl as a track on Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. The Airplane version of the song is unique in that the lead vocals alternate between Paul Kantner, Signe Anderson and Marty Balin, with each one taking a verse and all of them singing on the chorus.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Wooden Ships
Source: CD: Volunteers
By 1969 it was becoming more common for rock music to take on more serious themes, both musically and lyrically. The Byrds, in particular, had used science fiction themes on songs like Mr. Spaceman and CTA-102. One of the best science fiction themed song was Wooden Ships, which tells the tale of survivors of a nuclear apocalypse, who are escaping the radiation. The song appeared on two different LPs in 1969: Jefferson Airplane's Volunteers album and the self-titled debut by Crosby, Stills and Nash. The song was co-written by Crosby, Stills and the Airplane's Paul Kantner. Kantner's name was deliberately left off the credits on the Crosby, Stills and Nash version due to issues between Kantner and the Airplane's manager, whom Kantner feared would file an injunction against the release of the CSN album if Kantner's name appeared anywhere on it.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Tobacco Road
Source: Mono LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s): John D. Loudermilk
Label: RCA Victor
In their early days Jefferson Airplane, like most of their contemporaries, included several cover tunes in their repertoire. Unlike many other bands, however, the Airplane managed to stamp all of their covers with their own unmistakable sound. One excellent example of this is the Airplane's version of Tobacco Road, a song by John D. Loudermilk that had been a hit for the British invasion band Nashville Teens in 1964. The Airplane version, which appears on their debut LP, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, takes an entirely different approach than the Teens' rendition (or the similarly styled Blues Magoos version recorded around the same time as the Airplane's), laying off the power chords in favor of a jazzier approach more in tune with guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's style of playing.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: From A Buick 6
Source: CD: Highway 61 Revisited
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Although Bob Dylan had experimented with using electric instruments on some of the tracks of his 1965 album, Bringing It All Back Home, he went all out with his next LP, Highway 61 Revisited. Many of the songs had a whole new sound to them, while others, such as From A Buick 6, were more or less in the same style as Dylan's earlier songs, but electrified.