Sunday, July 4, 2010

Playlist 7/3-4/10

Song Title: "Incense and Peppermints"
Source: CD: The Best of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
Starting off this week's show is one of the iconic songs of the summer of love. Interestingly enough, this was supposed to be the B side of "The Birdman of Alkatrash," but somehow ended up getting all the airplay. I haven't bothered to actually count, but I wouldn't be surprised to find I have more copies of this particular song than any other. It appears on just about every collection of psychedelic music ever assembled, it seems. I do have a copy of the original 45, but when I bring that in I generally guessed it, "The Birdman of Alkatrash."

Artist: DOORS
Song Title: "Alabama Song"
Source: CD: BEST OF THE DOORS (originally released on LP: THE DOORS)
Release Year: 1967
Also known as "Whiskey Bar," this track was a favorite among hip underground DJs who needed a fairly short song that could be easily faded out to lead up to news time without offending anybody.

Song Title: "Can't You Hear the Cows"
Source: 45 RPM vinyl (B side)
Release Year: 1968
By late 1968 the Turtles already had their best times behind them. After a failed attempt at self-production (the record company refused to release all but one of the tracks they had recorded), the band went back into the studio to cut a Harry Nilsson tune, "The Story of Rock and Roll." "Can't You Hear the Cows", sort of a twisted throwback to their days as the surf music band known as the Crossfires and sounding oddly like the mid-80s Beach Boys, appeared on the B side of that single.

Song Title: "Friends of Mine"
Source: CD: WHEATFIELD SOUL (originally released on LP vinyl)
Release Year: 1969
On first listen, this track may appear to be a Doors ripoff, but the band members themselves claim it was inspired more by the Who's first mini-opera, "A Quick One While He's Away." Regardless of the source of inspiration, this was certainly the most pyschedelic track ever released by a band known more for catchy pop ballads like "These Eyes" and "No Sugar Tonight." Interestingly enough, RCA released a 45 RPM stereo promo of the song to radio stations, with the 10+ minute track split across the two sides of the record. I first heard this cut on the American Forces Network (AFN) in Germany on a weekly show called Underground that ran at midnight on Saturday nights. I doubt any Generals were listening.

Song Title: "Matthew And Son"
Source: CD: THE VERY BEST OF CAT STEVENS (originally appeared on LP: MATTHEW AND SON; also released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
The second single released from Cat's 1967 debut album, this song tore up the UK charts, peaking at #2. In the US, the song bubbled under the hot 100 but never caught on. It would be several years before Stevens would score a string of US hits including "Wild World" "Moonshadow," and "Morning Has Broken."

Song Title: "It's Wonderful"
Source: LP: NUGGETS, VOL 9: ACID ROCK (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1968
The Rascals are generally acknowledged as the top blue-eyed soul band of the era, if not of all time. What prompted them to release this single, which is a major departure from their usual style, is anyone's guess. Then again, one of their biggest hits, "How Can I Be Sure," was an even bigger departure, so who knows?

Song Title: "When I'm Sixty-Four"
Source: CD: SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND (originally released on LP vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
For some reason I was thinking Paul had not turned 64 yet. Turns out he's actually 68. How did he get that old without me noticing?

Song Title: "The Rapper"
Source: CD: BILLBOARD TOP ROCK & ROLL HITS: 1970 (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1970
This band from Pittsburgh was one of the few acts signed to the Kama Sutra label after the original Kama Sutra had morphed into Buddah Records. Despite the band's name, they sounded nothing like the Rolling Stones.

Song Title: "Time Has Come Today"
Source: CD: THE TIME HAS COME (Originally released on LP vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
The second of this week's trio of 10+ minute songs is the album version of this psychedelic classic. The Chambers Brothers were an eclectic band with a gospel music background that dated back to the mid-50s, when oldest brother George finished his tour of duty with the US Army and settled down in the L.A. area. His three brothers soon followed him out to the coast from their native Mississippi, and began playing the Southern California gospel circuit before going after a more secular audience in the early 60s.

Song Title: "Chaffeur Blues"
Source: LP: JEFFERSON AIRPLANE TAKES OFF (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1966
The only Jefferson Airplane recording to feature founding member Signey Anderson as solo lead vocalist. Shortly after Jefferson Airplane Takes Off was recorded, Anderson left the band to pursue a career in motherhood, and Grace Slick stepped in as a replacement. Incidentally, I have never seen any kind of proof to the rumour that Anderson's departure was drug-related, so let's not even go there.

Song Title: "I've Got a Mind To Give Up Living"
Source: CD: EAST-WEST (originally released on LP vinyl)
Release Year: 1966
The Butterfield Blues band in 1966 had a lot in common with British blues-rock group the Yardbirds. Both bands were led by harmonica-playing vocalists (Butterfield and Keith Relf), and featured two top-quality lead guitarists (Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page for the Yardbirds, Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop for the Butterfields). Whereas the Yardbirds only managed to record three songs with both Beck and Page, the Butterfield outfit recorded an entire album: the classic East-West.

Song Title: "96 Tears"
Source: 45 RPM vinyl (re-issue)
Release Year: 1966
Although his birth certificate gives the name Rudy Martinez, the leader of the Mysterians had his name legally changed to "?" several years ago. He asserts that he is actually from the planet Mars and his lived among dinosaurs in a past life. Sometimes I feel like I'm living among dinosaurs in this life, so I guess I can relate a little.

Song Title: "Shape of Things To Come"
Source: CD: NUGGETS (box set) (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl and included on the soundtrack LP: WILD IN THE STREETS credited to The 13th Power)
Release Year: 1968
Max Frost was a politically savvy rock star who rode the youth movement all the way to the White House, first through getting the support of a hip young Senator, then getting the age requirements for holding high political office lowered to 21,and finally lowering the voting age to 14. Everyone over 30 was locked away in internment camps, similar to those used during WWII by various governments to hold those of questionable loyalty to the current regime. What? You don't remember any of that? You say it sounds like the plot of a cheapie late 60s teen exploitation flick? Right on all counts. "Wild in the Streets" starred Christopher Jones as the rock start, Hal Holbrook as the hip young senator, and a Poseidon Adventure-sized Shelly Winter as the rock star's interred mom. Richard Pryor, in his film debut, played the band's drummer/political activist Stanley X. Imagine that.

Song Title: "Cocaine"
Release Year: 1967
I had a feminist friend that said she found the line "you take Mary, I'll take Sue, ain't much difference between the two" offensive when she heard a more popular version of this song recorded in the 70s. Van Ronk, on the other hand, manages to sound merely eccentric (or maybe just stoned) in his 1967 version.

Song Title: "Stray Cat Blues"
Source: CD: BEGGARS' BANQUET (originally released on LP vinyl)
Release Year: 1968
As military dependent overseas I had access to the local Base Exchange. The downside of buying albums there was that they were always a month or two behind the official stateside release dates getting albums in stock. The upside is that the BX had a special of the month that was always a new release for sale at something like 40% off the regular album price. The December 1968 special was this classic-to-be from the Stones. Full-priced albums that month included new releases by the Beatles (white album), Hendrix (Electric Ladyland) and Cream (Wheels of Fire). By the end of the month I was broke.

Song Title: "Let's Talk About Girls"
Source: CD: NUGGETS (box set) (originally released on LP: NO WAY OUT and featured on the original early 1970s NUGGETS double LP set)
Release Year: 1967
I find it extremely appropriate that the first cut on the first album released by this San Jose, California band had a vocal track by Don Bennett, a studio vocalist under contract to Tower Records, replacing the original track by Watchband vocalist Dave Aguilar. Aguilar's vocals were also replaced by Bennett's on their cover of Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour" on the same album. In addition, there are four instrumental tracks on the album that are played entirely by studio musicians. Worse yet, the entire first side of the Watchband's second LP was done by studio musicians and the third Watchband LP featured an entirely different lineup. The final insult was when Lenny Kaye, who assembled the original Nuggets collection in the early 1970s, elected to include this recording, rather than one of the several fine tracks that actually did feature Aguilar on vocals.

Song Title: "The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)"
Source: CD: SKELETONS FROM THE CLOSET (originally released on LP: GRATEFUL DEAD and on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
I once knew someone from San Jose who had an original copy of the single version of this, the opening track from the first Dead album. It was totally worn out from being played a few hundred times, though.

Song Title: "Come By Day, Come By Night"
Source: 45 RPM vinyl (B side)
Release Year: 1968
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" was first released as a single in 1967, but tanked before it could hit the top 60. In 1968 the song was re-released with a different B side and made the top 20. This is that B side.

Song Title: "Special Care"
Source: LP: LAST TIME AROUND (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1968
Released after the Springfield had already split up, Last Time Around is an uneven album that nonetheless includes some tasty tracks that have been largely overlooked. A prime example is this Stephen Stills tune, sounding as much like early Crosby, Stills & Nash as it does Buffalo Springfield.

Song Title: "Codine"
Release Year: 1968
This Buffy St. Marie tune was a popular favorite among the club crowd in mid-60s California. In 1967, L.A. band The Leaves included it on their second LP. Around the same time, up the coast in San Francisco, the Charlatans selected it to be their debut single. The suits at Kama-Sutra Records, however, balked at the choice, and instead released a cover of the Coasters' "The Shadow Knows." The novelty-flavored record bombed so bad that the label decided not to release any more Charlatans tracks, thus leaving their version of "Codine" gathering dust in the vaults until the mid 1990s, when the entire Kama-Sutra sessions were released on CD. Meanwhile, back in 1968, Quicksilver Messenger Service were still without a record contract, despite pulling decent crowds at various Bay Area venues, including a credible appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. Despite this, the producers of the quasi-documentary film "Revolution" decided to include footage of the band playing "Codine," and commissioned this studio recording of the song for the soundtrack album.

Artist: JACKIE DeSHANNON, with the Byrds
Song Title: "Splendor in the Grass"
Source: CD: WHERE THE ACTION IS: L.A. NUGGETS 1965-68 (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1966 (recorded in 1965)
Jackie DeShannon was, by mid-1965, regarded as one of the top singer-songwriters on the L.A. scene. She had just scored a huge hit with her version of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David tune "What the World Needs Now (Is Love Sweet Love), and decided to show her support of her favorite local club band, the Byrds, by recording one of her own compositions with them backing her up. Imperial Records chose not to release the single at first, but finally relented in 1966 following the Byrds back-to-back hits "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" To be completely honest, this track doesn't do anything for me personally, but I decided to include it on this week's show as a historical curiousity. I do that sometimes.

Song Title: "Gimme Some Lovin'"
Source: LP: PROGRESSIVE HEAVIES (orginally released on 45 RPM vinyl).
Release Year: 1967
Speaking of things I do sometimes, here is the first of a pair of songs I played on recent shows. In this case it was last week's show. Some things just bear repeating.

Song Title: "I'm a Man"
Source: 45 RPM vinyl (reissue)
Release Year: 1965
For many, the Yardbirds version of "I'm a Man" is the definitive version of this Bo Diddley classic. The version I played of this recording four weeks ago as part of a Yardbirds set was actually the "electronically reprocessed for stereo" version used on the Yardbirds' Great Hits LP. This, on the other hand, is the original mono release.

Song Title: "Play In Time"
Source: CD: BENEFIT (originally released on LP vinyl)
Release Year: 1970
In the first few years of Jethro Tull's existence, there was one personnel change per album. The third album, Benefit, however, is almost an exception, as keyboardist John Locke, who plays on most of the tracks, would not become an official member of the band until after the album's release. "Play In Time" is one of those songs that was a staple of early album rock playlists, but didn't make the transition to the current Classic Rock format.

Song Title: "Sad and Deep As You"
Source: LP: WELCOME TO THE CANTEEN (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1971
In more than one sense this is really not a Traffic cut at all. The album itself is credited to the individual band members, without the word Traffic appearing anywhere on the cover or label. Also, only Chris Wood (flute) and Reebop Kwaku Bah (percussion) accompany Mason on this tune, which originally appeared on a Dave Mason solo LP. Ironic how this week's most recent recording is also the scratchiest.

Song Title: "(Electric) Flute Thing"
Source: LP: LIVE AT TOWN HALL (original vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
The third and final 10+ minute track of the week is a live version of the tune that originally appeared on the Blues Project's critically-acclaimed LP Projections. The expanded flute solo is close to what the audience at the Monterey International Pop Festival saw performed a few months later. Al Kooper, who plays keyboards on this track, left the band shortly after this album was released, and was part of the stage crew at Monterey, performing some of the songs he had written for the Blues Project with a pick up band of his own.

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