Sunday, June 20, 2010

Playlist 6/19-20/10

Song Title:: "The Brain That Wouldn't Fry"
Source info: LP: CRAWLING WALLS (original vinyl)
Release Year:: 1985
We start this week off with a ringer, of sorts. This band from Albuquerque was one of the first "Neo-Psychedelic" bands of the 80s. Led by Bob Fountain, this band featured guitarist Larry Otis, whom I've known since we were in high school on a military base in Germany. How this LP, which I found in the WEOS vinyl archives last year, came to upstate New York from New Mexico is beyond me. Oddly enough, both an LP and an EP by one of Larry's earlier Albuquerque bands, the Philisteens, was also in the archives. If anyone has any info on how these rare pressings found their way up here, I'd love to hear it, as I lost contact with Larry back in the mid-1980s when he left Albuquerque to move to....umm, somewhere in New York.

Song Title: "I Wanna Be Your Man"
Source: LP: WITH THE BEATLES (US CD reissue of British LP)
Release Year: 1963
This song was written for the Rolling Stones. John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who considered the song a "throwaway," nonetheless decided to record a Beatles version (with Ringo on vocals) a couple weeks after the Stones version was released.

Song Title: "Born To Be Wild"
Source: LP: STEPPENWOLF (CD reissue)
Release Year: 1968
Few songs achieve anthem status. This is one of them.

Song Title: "For a Thousand Mothers"
Source: LP: STAND UP (CD reissue)
Release Year: 1969
For years, the only copy I had of this track was a homemade cassette tape. As a result I was under the impression that this was actually two separate songs. Long silences will do that. Long silences will also trip automatic sensors on automated radio station equipment, which partially explains why such a great track has always gotten far less airplay than it deserves.

Artist: CREAM
Song Title: "Tales of Brave Ulysses
Source: LP: DISRAELI GEARS (CD reissue)
Release Year: 1967
In Europe this song was released as the B side of "Strange Brew," also from Disraeli Gears. Cream was one of the first bands to break tradition and release singles that were also available as album cuts. This tradition likely came about because hit singles tended to stay in print indefinitely overseas, unlike in the US, where a 45 RPM single usually had a shelf life of around 4-6 months then disappeared forever.

Song Title: "Mean Town Blues"
Source: CD: RETURN TO YASGUR'S FARM: (Woodstock 40th anniversary collection)
Release Year: 2009 (recorded 1969)
1969 was a breakthrough year for Texas blues guitarist Johnny Winter, driven primarily by live performances at large venues such as the Dallas International Pop Festival and of course the Woodstock Performing Arts Festival, where this ten-plus minute track was recorded.

Song Title: "Ego Trip"
Source: LP: ULTIMATE SPINACH (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
In late 1967 MGM records responded to their failure to cash in the San Francisco scene by attempting to create the "Bosstown Sound" on the east coast, signing three Boston-area bands (the others being Orpheus and the Beacon Street Union) and promoting the hell out of them. It didn't work at the time, however all three are now considered classic psychedelic bands. "Ego Trip", featuring a spoken vocal introduction, opened the first Ultimate Spinach album.

Song Title: "Wrong"
Source: LP: TURN ON (CD reissue)
Release Year: 1966
Sean Bonniwell was a member of the mainstream (i.e. lots of appearances on TV variety shows hosted by people like Perry Como and Bob Hope) folk group New Christy Minstrels in the early 60s. By 1966 he had morphed into one of the more mysterious figures on the LA music scene, leading a proto-punk band dressed entirely in black. Bonniwell himself wore a single black glove (Michael Jackson was about seven years old at the time), and was one of the most prolific songwriters of the time. His recordings, often featuring the distinctive Farfisa organ sound, were a primary influence on later LA bands such as Iron Butterfly and the Doors.

Song Title: "Journey to the Center of the Mind"
Source: CD: NUGGETS box set.
Release Year: 1968
From Detroit, the one and only Ted Nugent! Originally released as a single on Mainstream Records, the same label that released the first Big Brother & the Holding Company album. After butchering Big Brother's debut, Mainstream's engineers must have taken a crash course in rock engineering as they did a much better job on this one just a few months later.

Artist: THEM
Song Title: "Here Comes the Night"
Source: LP: THEM (original US vinyl)
Release Year: 1965
Them's first album was originally released in the UK as THE ANGRY YOUNG THEM, and did not include this single. Originally recorded by Lulu (of "To Sir With Love" fame) and the Luvvers, this track is a true rarity: a song sung by Van Morrison that he did not write himself.

Song Title: "Tell Me"
Release Year: 1964
The first single written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, "Tell Me" was only available as an LP cut in the UK. The first Jagger/Richards penned British single would be "The Last Time" six months later.

Artist: RUTLES
Song Title: "Hold My Hand'
Release Year: 1963
OK, so this really came out of a mockumentary called "All You Need Is Cash" from Eric Idle of Monty Python and Neil Innes of the Bonzo Dog Band in 1978 (actually, the concept itself first appeared as a short film on a 1977 episode of Saturday Night Live that featured Idle as guest host). We can still pretend that they performed this song on the Ed Sullivan Show, right?

Song Title: "Opening Ceremony/Porpoise Song"
Source: LP: HEAD (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1968
Resembling Michael Nesmith's 1980 "Elephant Parts" far more than the Monkees own TV series, Head was a major flop at the time of its release, but now has attained cult classic status, due in part to a cameos by Frank Zappa, Jack Nicholson and Teri Garr among others and the fact that the film was co-written by Nicholson. Monkees fans of the time were completely confused by the surreal psychedelic imagery of the film, while the art crowd, who might have liked Head if they had given it a chance, tended to avoid anything associated with the Monkees.

Song Title: "Naked If I Want To"
Source: LP: MOBY GRAPE (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
This is the really short (less than one minute) version of the tune that also appeared, in expanded form, on the second Moby Grape album WOW.

Song Title: "Sit Down I Think I Love You"
Release Year: 1966
This Stephen Stills tune originally released on the first Buffalo Springfield album was a minor hit for the Mojo Men in 1967. I prefer the Springfield version myself.

Song Title: "You Shook Me / Dazed and Confused"
Source: LP: LED ZEPPELIN (CD reissue)
Release Year: 1969
I've heard it said that Willie Dixon sued Zeppelin over the use of You Shook Me, which is puzzling to me since Dixon is clearly credited as the songwriter on the label. Still, I don't know enough about copyright laws to say for sure whether this could have happened or not. Dazed & Confused, on the other hand, is a Jimmy Page composition that was performed by the Yardbirds (with different lyrics) as early as 1966.

Song Title: "Woodchopper's Ball"
Source: LP: UNDEAD (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1968
Live albums were still somewhat of a rarity in the 60s, and generally featured material that had not been previously released in the studio. Such was the case with the second Ten Years After album, Undead. Guitarist Alvin Lee flat out smokes on this one.

Song Title: "Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun"
Release Year: 1968
With mental illness pretty much taking Sid Barrett out of the Floyd equation, other members stepped up their own songwriting. This Roger Waters composition is the only Pink Floyd recording to have both Barrett and his replacement, David Gilmour, playing guitar parts and was considered strong enough to be included on the Works compilation album in the early 80s.

Song Title: "Tracy Had a Hard Day Sunday"
Source: LP: VOLUME 2 (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
Once upon a time record producer Kim Fowley hired the Yardbirds to play a private Hollywood party. The Harris brothers, a pair of local art school students who had sent their homemade tapes to Fowley were impressed by the band's musical abilities. Bob Markley, an almost-30-year-old hipster with a law degree and an inheritance was impressed with the band's ability to attract teenage girls. Fowley introduced the Harris brothers to Markley, who expressed a willingness to finance them in return for letting him be their new lead vocalist, and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was formed. And speaking of record producer Kim Fowley...

Song Title: "The Trip"
Source: single (CD: NUGGETS box set)
Release Year: 1966
The best description I have heard of this is "psychedelic novelty record." Lyrically speaking, I suppose it is, but the instrumental track is an excellent representation of the Southern California brand of garage rock as well.

Song Title: "It Must Be Love"
Source: single B side
Release Year: 1969
From the album Ball, this is the "CSG processed mono" B side of "In the Time of Our Lives." Whatever that means.

Artist: SPIRIT
Song Title: "Prelude-Nothing To Hide"
Source: LP: THE 12 DREAMS OF DR. SARDONICUS (CD reissue)
Release Year: 1970
Spirit's previous efforts had generated good reviews but poor sales. 12 Dreams was considered at the time to be their last chance to reach a larger audience. It worked. The pseudo-polygamous lyrics are actually about the band members' commitment to their music, a commitment that is apparent throughout this classic album.

Song Title: "Life Is Just a Cher-O'-Bowlies"
Source: LP: ELECTRIC COMIC BOOK (original vinyl mono pressing)
Release Year: 1967
Although not as big a seller as their first LP (probably due to a lack of a major hit single), Electric Comic Book was nonetheless one of the great psychedelic albums. "Life Is Just a Cher-O'-Bowlies," with its tongue in cheek approach, is about as typical a Blues Magoos song as anything this New York band ever recorded.

Song Title: "Heaven and Hell"
Source: single (CD: Nuggets, vol. 2 released in early 90s and replaced by box set)
Release Year: 1967
Throughout the mid-60s Australia's most popular band was the Easybeats, often called the Australian Beatles. Heaven and Hell was written by band members Harry Vanda and George Young, who would eventually go on to produce Australia's most popular band of the late 70s, AC/DC, which featured Young's younger brothers Angus and Malcolm.

Artist: THE WHO
Song Title: "Pictures of Lily"
Source: British single (CD: Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy)
Release Year: 1967
Now considered one of the great bands of British Rock, the Who was primarily a singles band in their early years and had a regular gig on a popular TV dance program (sort of a British Paul Revere and the Raiders without the silly suits). "Pictures of Lily", with its unconventional subject matter (adolescent masturbation), was the last real single released before the classic WHO SELLS OUT started their transition to album-oriented rock that would lead them to produce the first-ever rock-opera: TOMMY. Both US albums that featured this song (MEATY, BEATY, BIG AND BOUNCY and MAGIC BUS: THE WHO ON TOUR) were actually compilation albums consisting primarily of previous British single releases.

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