Friday, July 23, 2010

Playlist 7/23-25/10

This week is sort of a reversed hours edition of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, in that we have some long jams right at the beginning of the show instead of in the second hour where they usually end up. No particular reason for it. Just thought I'd try something different. If you haven't read the previous post, I'd suggest scrolling down and doing it now, as it was written specifically to lead into this week's playlist.

Song Title: "Season of the Witch" (2002 remix without horns)
Source: CD: SUPER SESSION (reissue of original LP with bonus tracks)
Release Year: 1968/2002
In 1968 Al Kooper, former member of the Blues Project, formed a new group he called Blood, Sweat and Tears. Then, after recording one album with the new group, he promptly quit the band. He then booked studio time and called in his friend Michael Bloomfield (who had just left own his new band the Electric Flag) for a recorded jam session. Due to complications caused by a growing heroin addiction (or maybe he was hanging out in San Francisco with Mother Earth---see the last note in this post), Bloomfield was unable to record an entire album's worth of material, and Kooper called in another friend, Stephen Stills (who had recently left the Buffalo Springfield) to complete the project. The result was the Super Session album, which surprisingly (considering that it was the first album of its kind), made the top 10 album chart. One of the most popular tracks on Super Session was an extended version of Donovan's "Season of the Witch." Kooper initially felt that the basic tracks needed some sweetening, so he brought in a horn section to record additional overdubs. In 2003, Kooper revisited the original multi-track master tapes and created a new mix that restored the original performance. This is that mix.

Artist: LOVE
Song Title: "Revelation"
Source: CD: DA CAPO (reissue of original LP)
Release Year: 1967
The 19-minute long "Revelation" is an uneven track, with moments of brilliance interspersed with seemingly aimless musical ramblings and even occasional substandard playing. Nonetheless, Love's front man, Arthur Lee, maintained until his dying day that he originated the idea of an extended onstage jam featuring solos from each member. Of course jazz musicians had been doing the same thing for years, but it is entirely possible that Love was indeed the first rock band to make the plunge. If that is indeed true, then "Revelation," despite its many flaws, deserves a place in rock history as the inspiration for such classic tracks as "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," "Light My Fire" and countless others.

One of the bands I get the most requests for is Frank Zappa's original band, the Mothers of Invention (or simply the Mothers). This week I decided it was high time to give them a set of their own, as a highly-structured counterpoint to the extended jams of the first half hour of the show.

Song Title: "I Ain't Got No Heart"
Source: LP: FREAK OUT (original vinyl pressing)
Release Year: 1966
According to the Freak Out liner notes, "I Ain't Got No Heart" was a summation of Zappa's feelings about relationships in general. Maybe so, but I have to point out that Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa grew up in a two-parent household. So there!

Song Title: "Holiday In Berlin, Full Blown/Aybe Sea"
Source: LP: BURNT WEENY SANDWICH (original vinyl pressing)
Release Year: 1970
This pair of instrumentals is fairly typical of Zappa's work following his move from Verve to Reprise, where he was initially given the freedom to pretty much do whatever he wanted to. Sometimes called avant garde jazz, these compositions probably are more akin to 20th century classical music than anything else, reflecting the influence of Edgard Varese, Zappa's avowed musical hero.

Song Title: "Trouble Comin' Every Day"
Source: LP: FREAK OUT (original vinyl pressing)
Release Year: 1966
Zappa's early signature song was written during the Watts riots, and still resonates over 40 years later. A classic.

Song Title: "Turtle Blues"
Source: LP: CHEAP THRILLS (original vinyl pressing)
Release Year: 1968
Janis was at her best when singing the blues, as this cut shows.

Song Title: "Stagger Lee"
Source: 45 RPM VINYL (Atlantic Oldies Series reissue)
Release Year: 1967
This week's second hour starts off with a high energy remake of the Lloyd Price classic from one of the masters of Southern Soul.

Artist: SEEDS
Song Title: "A Faded Picture"
Source: LP: A WEB OF SOUND (original vinyl pressing)
Release Year: 1966 or 1967 (sources vary)
The Seeds second LP showed a much greater range than the first. "A Faded Picture" has a slower tempo than most of the other songs in the Seeds repertoire and, at over five minutes, a longer running time as well.

Song Title: "For Your Love"
Source: 45 RPM VINYL (Epic Gold reissue)
Release Year: 1965
The last Yardbirds song to feature guitarist Eric Clapton, "For Your Love" was the group's fist US hit, peaking at 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"). Incidentally, "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.

Song Title: "The Needle and the Damage Done"
Source: 45 RPM VINYL (promo copy) (stereo version appears on album Harvest)
Release Year: 1972
A rare mono release of one of Young's best-known songs. This was the B side of "War Song," a collaboration with Graham Nash that to my knowledge has never been released in stereo.

Artist: THEM
Song Title: "Market Place"
Source: LP: TIME OUT, TIME IN, FOR THEM (original vinyl pressing)
Release Year: 1968
Starting off a set of tunes from 1968, this track from the second LP following the departure of Van Morrison has the boys from Belfast sounding instrumentally a lot like San Francisco's top band of the time. Vocally, however, Kenny McDowell had a sound of his own. Sadly, this version of Them never really caught on, and soon disbanded. The Them name, however, continued to pop up every few years, generally with one or more of the original members in the band, sort of like an Irish version of the Drifters.

Song Title: "Greasy Heart"
Source: CD: CROWN OF CREATION (reissue of original album) (song also released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1968
Speaking of the Bay area's top band of the time, the 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."

Song Title: "I'm The Urban Spaceman"
Source: LP: PROGRESSIVE HEAVIES (United Artists compilation album) (song originally released in UK on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1968
Neil Innes is much better known in his native UK than in the US, thanks in large part to the Bonzo Dog Band. Writing all those Rutles songs didn't hurt either.

Song Title: "Suzannah's Still Alive"
Source: CD: KINKS 40 GREATEST (originally released in UK on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1968
Although Ray Davies was the leader and primary songwriter for the Kinks, it was brother Dave who first recorded as a solo artist, first with "Death of a Clown" (which received extensive airplay on the 100,000 watt English language semi-pirate station Radio Luxembourg in late 1967), then this follow-up single, released in early 1968. After the next two singles flopped, however, Dave returned to the fold and has been a Kink ever since.

Song Title: "It's Wonderful"
Source: LP: NUGGETS-VOL 9 (ACID ROCK) (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
Psychedelic rock is generally considered to have begun on the West Coast (although Austin, Texas has a legitimate claim as well). By the time of the Summer of Love, however, psychedelic rock was a national trend. New York had always been one of the major centers of the music industry, so it's not surprising that on the East Coast 1967 was the year of the psychedelic single. One of the most popular New York bands of the time was the Young Rascals, generally considered to be the greatest blue-eyed soul band of the era, if not of all time. Still, the times being what they were, the Rascals departed from their usual style more than once in '67, first with the smash hit "How Can I Be Sure," and then with this tune, released toward the end of that legendary summer.

Song Title: "Pretty Ballerina"
Source: 45 RPM VINYL (All-Time Smash Hits stereo reissue first appeared on LP: WALK AWAY RENEE/PRETTY BALLERINA)
Release Year: 1967
Vocalist/songwriter Michael Brown was in a unique position among aspiring young musicians when he formed the Left Banke in that his father was employed at one of New York's top recording studios. Michael used that access to great advantage, single-handedly creating the genre known as Baroque Pop with the release of "Walk Away Renee" in 1966. This 1967 follow-up was the group's second consecutive top 10 single. Unfortunately, Brown then made a tactical error by releasing a third single under the Left Banke name without the knowledge, consent or participation of the rest of the band, and the group's mojo was irreparably damaged.

Song Title: "Run Run Run"
Source: CD: NUGGETS BOX SET (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
The final part of our New York 1967 set is a tune from the husband and wife Brill Building songwriting team of Artie and Kris Resnik in collaboration with Joey Levine, who would soon gain notoriety as the vocalist for Ohio Express. A purely studio creation, "Run Run Run" shows that even the old guard that had dominated the music industry during the pre-Beatle years was willing to jump on the psychedelic bandwagon during the Summer of Love.

Song Title: "Walk, Don't Run-1964"
Source: 45 RPM VINYL (Silver Spotlight Series reissue)
Release Year: 1964
The Ventures were one of the first regional bands to score nationally with the original version of "Walk Don't Run," released at a time when the Brill Building machine dominated the music industry. In 1964 a major Hollywood movie came out with the same name, and the Ventures were asked to update their earlier hit. The resulting track, adding keyboards and enhancing the song's signature sliding bass line, made the top 10 the same year the Beatles and other British Invasion bands were tearing up the US charts. Quite an accomplishment, really.

Artist: SONICS
Song Title: "The Witch"
Source: CD: NUGGETS BOX SET (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1964
Another regional hit from the West Coast. Unlike the Ventures, though, the Sonics (named for the sonic booms from the nearby Boeing plant) never caught on nationally. In their native territory, though, "The Witch" was a smash, holding the record for top selling single in the state of Washington for several years (presumably until Heart's "Crazy On You" in the mid-70s).

Song Title: "Frankenstein"
Source: CD: ELECTRIC 70s (originally appeared on the LP: THEY ONLY COME OUT AT NIGHT)
Release Year: 1973
Between "The Witch" and this track you'd almost think it was Halloween. Although 1973 is generally considered to be a few years past the end of the psychedelic era, the instrumental break, especially heard late at night in an altered state, certainly sounds psychedelic enough to pass muster.

Song Title: "Purple Haze"
Source: CD: ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl in UK and on LP: ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? in US)
Release Year: 1967
Following up on the success of their first UK single "Hey Joe," the Jimi Hendrix Experience released "Purple Haze" in early 1967. The popularity of the two singles (released only in Europe) led to a deal with Reprise Records to start releasing the band's material in the US. By then, however, the Experience had already released Are You Experienced without either of the two hit singles on it. Reprise, hedging their bets, included both singles (but not their B sides), as well as a third UK single "The Wind Cries Mary," deleting several tracks from the original version of Are You Experienced to make room for them.

Song Title: "Mother Earth"
Source: LP: LIVING WITH THE ANIMALS (original vinyl pressing)
Release Year: 1968
Tracy Nelson had moved out to the San Francisco Bay area in the early 60s from her native Wisconson, and had had moderate success as a solo artist. It wasn't until she formed Mother Earth, though, that she got her first record contract. This track from the first album, a cover of the blues classic written by Memphis Slim, was probably the inspiration for the band's name. Michael Bloomfield, credited on the album cover as "Mikal Blumfield" due to him being under contract to Columbia Records (Mother Earth recorded for Mercury), is the guest lead guitarist on this track. Makes me wonder if maybe he was hanging out with Tracy when he was supposed to be jamming with Al (see the note on tonight's first track for more on that).

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