In the early 1960s LPs by American pop artists (the term rock 'n' roll having temporarily fallen out of favor) were collections of unrelated songs, featuring or two hit singles by the artist supplemented by their corresponding B sides. The rest of the songs on the album were usually covers of tunes made famous by other artists who may not have been popular enough to warrant an entire album of their own. With the advent of the British Invasion, that began to change, but it was a slow transition even for bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Still, by the late 1960s LPs had taken on a new role as an opportunity for artists to go beyond the three-minute limit imposed on them by the requirements of top 40 radio. By 1966 longer tracks had begun to appear on albums; in a few cases those tracks could take up an entire side of an LP. This week we present not one, but two of these album sides; one was recorded in a single take, while the other was painstakingly assembled from hours of live and studio recordings over a period of about 8 months. Also on this week's show: a set of cover songs performed by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, including two tunes recorded live before the band even made their first visit to a recording studio. And, as always, an assortment of singles, B sides and album tracks from the psychedelic era.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Summer In The City
Source: LP: Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful
Label: Sundazed/Kama Sutra
The Lovin' Spoonful changed gears completely for what would become their biggest hit of 1966: Summer In The City. Inspired by a poem by John Sebastian's brother, the song was recorded for the album Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful. That album was an attempt by the band to deliberately record in a variety of styles; in the case of Summer In The City, it was a rare foray into psychedelic rock for the band. Not coincidentally, Summer In The City is also my favorite Lovin' Spoonful song.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Pow R. Toc H.
Source: CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Label: Capitol (original label: Tower)
British psychedelic music was always more avant-garde than its US counterpart, and Pink Floyd was at the forefront of the British psychedelic scene. Pow R. Toc H., one of the few tracks on their first LP that was written by the entire group (most of The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was written by Syd Barrett), was a hint of things to come. Some of the effects heard at the beginning or Pow R. Toc H. were "borrowed" from the Beatles, who were using them in the song Lovely Rita on the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was being recorded at EMI Studios (now known as Abbey Road Studios) at the same time as The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.
Title: Think Twice
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Salvation)
Writer(s): Joe Tate
Label: Rhino (original label: ABC)
If there is any one band that typifies the San Francisco music scene of 1968 it would have to be Salvation. Originally known as the Salvation Army Banned, the group came to the attention of ABC Records after a series of successful gigs at Golden Gate Park. The band was often seen cruising the streets of San Francisco in a converted bus and often found themselves sharing the playbill with acts like Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane and the Doors. After recording their debut LP, Salvation, the group did a coast to coast promotional tour "from the Golden Gate to the Village Gate", only to find themselves stranded on the east coast when their management team absconded with the band's advance money. The band's fate was sealed when they, to quote keyboardist Art Resnick, "acted so incredibly wild at the main offices of ABC In in NYC when going there to meet all the top execs. It was totally insane! Wilder than any rock movie I've ever seen."
Title: I Unseen
Source: British import CD: Before The Dream Faded (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Nazim Hikmet
Label: Cherry Red (original label: Fontana)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1969
The Misunderstood were quite possibly Southern California's first true psychedelic band, having been formed in 1963 as a garage band in Riverside. Their move into psychedelia came with the addition of Glenn Ross Campbell on steel guitar in 1965. They soon came to the attention of local DJ John Ravenscroft, an expatriot Britisher who would eventually return to London and become a legend of British radio using the name John Peel. Ravenscroft became a kind of mentor to the band, helping them to get gigs and time at Hollywood's Gold Star studios, where they cut an acetate that remained unreleased for many years. In June of 1966 Ravenscroft suggested the band relocate to London, where their unique sound stood a greater chance of being accepted than in the relatively conservative Riverside area. Not long after their arrival co-founder Greg Treadway was forced to return to the US to serve in the military; his replacement was Britisher Tony Shields. They soon got a deal with Fontana Records and recorded half a dozen songs that summer, releasing their debut single for the label in December of 1966. Shortly after the release of that record lead vocalist Rick Brown became the band's second victim of the Draft, while the remaining members experienced problems with their work visas, and the Misunderstood were no more. In 1969 Fontana released a second single by the band, taken from the summer 1966 sessions; I Unseen was the B side of that single.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Killing Floor
Source: CD: The Jimi Hendrix Experience (box set)
Writer(s): Chester Burnett
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2000
The Jimi Hendrix Experience had only been together a few weeks when they were invited to be the opening act for singer Johnny Halliday for a four-day tour of France. On October 18, 1966, the fourth and final show, the band was recorded live for the first time, performing a setlist that was made up mostly of cover songs that the trio had worked up over the past three weeks. The opening number was Howlin' Wolf's Killing Floor, which the band performed at a frantic pace. The group used the same song as an opener for their US debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival a few months later.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Hey Joe
Source: CD: The Jimi Hendrix Experience (box set)
Writer(s): Billy Roberets
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2000
Although they had not yet set foot in a recording studio, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and their manager, Chas Chandler, had already decided to issue the song Hey Joe (using an arrangement based on that of Tim Rose, whom Hendrix had seen performing the song in New York's Greenwich Village) as the band's first single. As such it was given a prominent place in the band's fourth-ever public performance, a fifteen minute long set at Paris's L'Olympia (Olympia Hall) on October 18, 1966.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Come On (part one)
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s): Earl King
Despite being rated by many as the greatest rock guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix's roots were in the blues. One of his most performed songs was Red House (a track that was left off the US release of Are You Experienced), and the Experience's debut US performance at Monterey featured amped-up versions of B.B. King's Rock Me Baby and Howlin' Wolf's Killing Floor. For his 1968 Electric Ladyland album Hendrix chose a relatively obscure tune from Earl King, originally recorded in 1962. Come On (Pt. 1) was one of only two cover songs on Electric Ladyland (the other being Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower).
Title: Come Together
Source: LP: Abbey Road
After the Beatles released their 1968 double LP (the so-called White Album), they went to work on their final film project, a documentary about the band making an album. Unfortunately, what the cameras captured was a group on the verge of disintegration, and both the album and the film itself were shelved indefinitely. Instead, the band went to work recording an entirely new group of compositions. Somehow, despite the internal difficulties the band was going through, they managed to turn out a masterpiece: Abbey Road. Before the album itself came out, a single was released. The official A side was George Harrison's Something, the first Harrison song ever to be released as a Beatles A side. The other side was the song that opened the album itself, John Lennon's Come Together. In later years Come Together came to be Lennon's signature song and was a staple of his live performances.
Source: German import CD: The Corporation
Writer: John Coltrane
Label: Repertoire (original US label: Capitol)
Several years back I received an e-mail from a listener who works at WITT-FM near Indianapolis, which has been broadcasting Stuck In The Psychedelic Era since 2010. He mentioned a band he had heard in Chicago in the late 60s called the Corporation, adding that he had recently found a copy of their only album for Capitol on CD. He offered to make me a copy, but, as I am somewhat of a stickler for using legitimate sources for everything I play (i.e. no MP3s or burned copies), I decided to head over to my local music store (the now-defunct Area Records in Geneva, NY) to order my own copy of the CD instead. The track he mentioned in particular was called India, notable for taking up an entire side of the album. I've since learned that they track was also quite popular in discoteques, particularly those in Germany. The song itself was written by jazz legend John Coltrane, and as far as I know has never been attempted by any other rock band.
Artist: Johnny Winter
Title: The Good Love
Source: LP: Second Winter
Writer(s): Dennis Collins
The first thing you should know about Johnny Winter's 1969 album Second Winter is the fact that it was actually his THIRD album. It was, however, his second one recorded for a major label, as his debut LP, The Progressive Blues Experiment, had originally appeared on the local Texas label Sonobeat (although it was picked up for national release by Imperial a few months after its initial late 1968 appearance). The second notable thing about Second Winter is that the album only had three LP sides, with the fourth side being a blank disc with no grooves. The reason the band did this was that they had recorded more material for the album than they could fit on a standard LP without sacrificing sound quality, but did not want to leave any of the material unreleased. As was the case with both Winter's earlier albums, most of the material on the first two sides of Second Winter were cover songs, including The Good Love, written by Dennis "Crash" Collins.
Artist: Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Title: Prelude-Nightmare/Fire Poem/Fire
Source: British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown)
Label: Polydor (original US label: Atlantic)
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was unusual for their time in that they were much more theatrical than most of their contemporaries, who were generally more into audio experimentation than visual. I have a video of Fire being performed (or maybe just lip-synched). In it, all the members are wearing some sort of mask, and Brown himself is wearing special headgear that was literally on fire. There is no doubt that The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown sowed the seeds of what was to become the glitter-rock movement in the early to mid 70s. This week we have the uncut stereo version of Fire along with Prelude-Nightmare and Fire Poem that precede it on the original album.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Alligator/Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)
Source: LP: Anthem Of The Sun
Label: Warner Brothers/Rhino
After a debut album that took about a week to record (and that the band was unhappy with) the Grateful Dead took their time on their second effort, Anthem Of The Sun. After spending a considerable amount of time in three different studios on two coasts and not getting the sound they wanted (and shedding their original producer along the way) the Dead came to the conclusion that the only way to make an album that sounded anywhere near what the band sounded like onstage was to use actual recordings of their performances and combine them with the studio tracks they had been working on. Side two of the album, which includes the classic Alligator and the more experimental Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks), is basically an enhanced live performance, with new vocal tracks added in the studio. Alligator itself is notable as the first Grateful Dead composition to feature the lyrics of Robert Hunter, who would become Jerry Garcia's main collaborator for many many years. Anthem Of The Sun was remixed by Phil Lesh in 1972, and the new mix was used on all subsequent pressings of the LP until 2011, when a limited edition 180g pressing of the album used the original mix.
Artist: Great!! Society!!
Title: Free Advice
Source: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Darby Slick
Label: Rhino (original label: North Beach)
One of the most legendary of San Francisco bands was the Great!! Society!!, which featured a young model named Grace Slick on backup vocals. The group was never really much more than a garage band, and after recording an album's worth of material disbanded when Grace Slick left to replace Signe Anderson in Jefferson Airplane. Although the album was not issued until long after the band had split up (and even then was regarded more for its historical significance than for any musical value it might have), a pair of the recordings were issued as a single in 1966. Free Advice, a song written by Grace Slick's brother-in-law Darby and featuring guitarist David Miner on lead vocals, was the B side of that single.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: Roller Coaster
Source: CD:The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators
Label: Collectables (original label: International Artists)
A favorite trick of dance club bands in the late 60s was to start a song off slow, then slowly build up to a frenzy, all the while sneaking looks at the teenage girls gyrating on the dance floor. As most of the band members were still in their teens themselves, this isn't as creepy as it sounds. A good example of this type of song is Roller Coaster, a tune that Austin's 13th Floor Elevators included on their first LP.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Pledging My Time
Source: Mono LP: Blonde On Blonde
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
The second track from Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde album was Pledging My Time, a blues tune that features Robbie Robertson (who had been touring with Dylan) on guitar. The song was one of three tracks recorded in four takes in Nashville on March 8th of 1966. The song was also used as the B side of the album's first single, but was faded out about two-thirds of the way through.
Artist: Little Boy Blues
Title: The Great Train Robbery
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of Dunwich Records (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Jordan Miller
Label: Sundazed (original label: Ronko)
When Bob Dylan went electric in 1965 it not only shocked the folk music community, it transformed the world of rock music as well. Suddenly it was OK to write a rock song about something other than relationships with the other sex, and the Little Boy Blues, from Skokie, Illinois, rose to the occasion with The Great Train Robbery. Released in late 1966, the song describes an event from recent history (an actual train robbery near London in 1963), as told by one of the ringleaders of the gang that perpetrated the robbery itself. The last verse of the song, which was issued on the tiny Ronko label, expresses the regret of the narrator, who is now doing 30 years in prison. The Little Boy Blues, consisting of Ray Levin (bass), Paul Ostroff (lead guitar), Jim Boyce (drums), and a series of rhythm guitarists, released half a dozen records on three different labels from 1965 to 1968.
Title: Alone Again Or
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s): Bryan MacLean
The only song Love ever released as a single that was not written by Arthur Lee was Alone Again Or, issued in 1970. The song had originally appeared as the opening track from the Forever Changes album three years earlier. Bryan McLean would later say that he was not happy with the recording due to his own vocal being buried beneath that of Lee, since Lee's part was meant to be a harmony line to McLean's melody. McLean would later re-record the song for a solo album, but reportedly was not satisfied with that version either.
Title: The Girl With No Name
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): Chris Hillman
A failed relationship was the inspiration for The Girl With No Name, one of five songs written or co-written by Byrds bassist Chris Hillman for the group's fourth LP, Younger Than Yesterday. The tune has a strong country feel to it, presaging Hillman's future career as a member of the Desert Rose Band in the 1980s. Guitarist Clarence White, who would soon become a member of the band, makes an early appearance on the track.
Title: The Girl I Knew Somewhere (single version)
Source: Mono Australian import 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Michael Nesmith
Although both Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork had participated in a few of the studio sessions for what became the first two Monkees albums (with Nesmith producing), the Monkees did not record as an actual band until January 16, 1967, when they taped the first version of Nesmith's The Girl I Knew Somewhere. Nesmith himself handled the lead vocals and guitar work, while Tork, the most accomplished musician in the group, played harpsichord. Mickey Dolenz played drums and Davy Jones added the tambourine part. The song was released less than two weeks after the same lineup re-recorded the song with Dolenz on lead vocals as the B side to A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You. Both sides made the top 40 in the spring of 1967.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Please Go Home
Source: CD: Flowers
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
It was common practice in the 1960s for American record labels to change the track lineup on British albums before releasing them in the US. There were several reasons for this, including the fact that British albums generally had longer running times than American ones, and seldom included tracks that had been issued as singles. Since albums in the US almost always did include hit singles (to help spur album sales), this meant that several songs from the original UK versions of LPs did not appear on the US version. In many cases those tracks, combined with other unreleased songs such as those that had appeared on EPs (a format not supported by American record buyers) would eventually appear on albums that were only released in the US. One such album was the Rolling Stones' Flowers LP, which appeared in 1967 a few months after the release of Between The Buttons. One of the tracks on Flowers that had appeared on the British version of Between The Buttons was Please Go Home, a Bo Diddly styled rocker with a few psychedelic touches added. The track also features an oscillator, played (operated?) by Brian Jones.