Thursday, October 14, 2010

Playlist 10/15-17/10

This week we pay tribute to the golden age of album rock, with only a handful of tunes that were released as singles. And what better place to start than the year 1970?

Artist: Sugarloaf
Song Title: I Don't Need You Baby
Source: LP: Spaceship Earth
Release Year: 1970
The trend in recent years is for one member of a band to become the front man. Usually this is the lead singer, and for the most part this person is unencumbered by a musical instrument and able to strut around the stage throughout the performance. In the sixties such as setup was far less common. Often bands even had more than one member capable of providing lead vocals. Such was the case with Sugarloaf from Denver, Colorado. Guitarist Robert Yeazel and keyboardist Jerry Corbetta trade off lead vocals on I Don't Need You Baby, with Yeazel starting off each verse and Corbetta finishing.

Artist: Three Dog Night
Song Title: Rock and Roll Widow
Source: 45 RPM vinyl
Release Year: 1970
Three Dog Night are generally not remembered for their songwriting abilities. Almost all of their hits were covers of songs that had been previously recorded by the songwriters themselves, such as Randy Newman's Mama Told Me (Not To Come). This song, appearing on the B side of that record, is a rare exception, credited to all seven band members.

Artist: Mountain
Song Title: For Yasgur's Farm
Source: LP: Climbing
Release Year: 1970
Leslie West's first solo album was titled Mountain, and featured several prominent studio musicians, including Felix Pappalardi, who had played keyboards on Cream's Wheels of Fire, among other things. After the album was released, West, Pappaliardi and drummer Corky Laing decided to start a band. Naturally, they decided to call the band Mountain, and after a successful appearance at the Woodstock festival, a second album was released. All three band members share writing credit on this song about the Woodstock experience.

Artist: Steve Miller Band
Song Title: Your Saving Grace
Source: LP: Anthology
Release Year: 1969
One of the most highly regarded of the Steve Miller Band's early albums was 1969's Your Saving Grace. A listen to the title track of the album shows why.

Artist: Traffic
Song Title: Dear Mr. Fantasy
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies
Release Year: 1967
Steve Winwood is one of those artists that has multiple signature songs, having a career that has spanned decades (so far). Still, if there is any one song that is most closely associated with the guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist, it's this one from the Mr. Fantasy album.

Artist: Shadows of Knight
Song Title: I'm Gonna Make You Mine
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era
Release Year: 1966
After scoring a huge national hit with their version of Van Morrison's Gloria, the Shadows of Knight were unable to come up with a successful follow-up. I'm Gonna Make You Mine, in retrospect, was probably just a bit too loud and brash for its time. Only in recent years has it gotten recognition as a forerunner to the harder rock that would dominate the early 70s.

Artist: Blues Magoos
Song Title: That's All Folks
Source: LP: Electric Comic Book
Release Year: 1967
The Blues Magoos showed their sense of humor by including this nine seconds worth of looniness as the final track on Electric Comic Book, their follow-up to the successful Psychedelic Lollipop album.

Following up on the album rock we have a set of tunes from artists with a more acoustic orientation.

Artist: McKendree Spring
Song Title: What Will We Do With the Child
Source: LP: McKendree Spring
Release Year: 1969
From Glens Falls, NY, McKendree Spring was one of the last folk-rock groups to begin their recording career, and (to my knowledge) the only one to use synthesizers. The band kept recording steadily through 1976, and reunited for an album of new material in 2007. This track is from their somewhat rare first album.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Song Title: Triad
Source: LP: Crown of Creation
Release Year: 1968
After David Crosby got fired from the Byrds in mid-1967, he took this tune, which the Byrds had recorded but not released, to his friends in the Jefferson Airplane. The song ended up being one of the most played tracks on the Crown of Creation album.

Artist: Joan Baez
Song Title: Joe Hill
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Release Year: 1969
This song, written as a poem in the early part of the 20th century and set to music a few years later, was a highlight of Joan Baez's Woodstock performance.

Hour #1 ends with a progression through the years 1965-68.

Artist: Kinks
Song Title: Ev'rybody's Gonna Be Happy
Source: LP: Kinda Kinks
Release Year: 1965
This song is perhaps recognizable from a relatively recent TV commercial. It was originally the opening track from the 1965 album Kinda Kinks, which, like most British albums of the time, had a different song lineup on its US release than the original UK version. In this case, it also had an entirely different cover, for reasons that are not clear.

Artist: Charlatans
Song Title: Codine
Source: CD: The Amazing Charlatans
Release Year: 1966
The Charlatans did not have much luck in the studio. Getting signed by Kama Sutra Records seemed like a good idea at the time (as the Lovin' Spoonful was the label's only nationally-known act). When it came time to actually release the recordings they had made for the label, however, the problems began. The band wanted to release Buffy Saint-Marie's anti-drug song Codine as their first single, but Kama Sutra refused to issue it, instead choosing the Charlatan's cover of an obscure Coaster tune, The Shadow Knows. The single tanked, and the rest of the recordings remained unissued until Sundazed put them on a CD in the 1990s (erroneously listing this song as being Codine Blues in the process).

Artist: Love
Song Title: She Comes In Colors
Source: CD: De Capo
Release Year: 1967
Arthur Lee was a bit of an enigma. His band, Love, was generally accepted as the top band on the Strip in L.A., yet Lee himself was a bit of a recluse living up on the hill overlooking the scene. With one notable exception, his songs were not hits, yet he was critically acknowledged as a musical genius on a par with his friend Jimi Hendrix. Stylistically, his songs varied from intensely hard rock (Stephanie Knows Who, 7&7 Is), to softer, almost jazzy tunes such as this one from the same album.

Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Song Title: Mind Flowers
Source: LP: Behold and See
Release Year: 1968
Along with Orpheus and the Beacon Street Union, Ultimate Spinach was part of what M-G-M Records promoted as the "boss-town sound". Unlike Orpheus and the Beacon Street Union, whose music was more of a group effort, Ultimate Spinach was very much the artistic vision of one man: Ian Bruce-Douglas. Mind Flowers, from the second album, certainly qualifies as one of the most psychedelic compositions ever recorded.

Artist: Supremes
Song Title: Reflections
Source: 45 RPM vinyl (Motown Yesteryear re-issue)
Release Year: 1967
The Supremes weren't exactly known as a psychedelic group, nor were their primary songwriters, the Holland/
Dozier/Holland team. Nonetheless, together they produced one of the most psychedelic tunes ever to come out of Motown. Well, it was 1967, after all.

Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Song Title: Sky Pilot
Source: CD: Best of Eric Burdon and the Animals
Release Year: 1968
After the original Animals lineup disbanded in late 1966, lead vocalist Eric Burdon quickly set out to form a "New Animals" group that would come to be called Eric Burdon and the Animals. Thier biggest hit was 1968's Sky Pilot, that was so long it had to be split across two sides of a 45 RPM record. The full-length version of the song was included on the group's second album, The Twain Shall Meet.

Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Song Title: Winds of Change
Source: CD: Winds of Change
Release Year: 1967
The new Animals first album was Winds of Change, an ambitious album that gave writing credit to all five band members for all the tracks on the album (with the exception of a cover of Paint It Black). The opening track is basically Eric Burdon paying tribute to all his musical heroes, and it's quite an impressive list, including jazz and blues greats as well as some of the most important names in the annals of rock and roll.

Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Song Title: Monterey
Source: CD: Best of Eric Burdon and the Animals
Release Year: 1967
The new Animals made their live debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. By the end of the year they had issued this single celebrating the festival itself.

Artist: Them
Song Title: Truth Machine
Source: LP: Now and Them
Release Year: 1968
A track from the second post-Van Morrison Them album featuring Kenny McDowell on lead vocals.

Artist: Flock
Song Title: Crabfoot
Source: CD: Dinosaur Swamps
Release Year: 1970
Chicago is a town known for its horn players, and the Flock had one of the best horn sections ever to come out of the windy city. On top of that they had Jerry Goodman playing a mean electric violin. Nonetheless, they never seemed to be able to connect up with a large audience, and after a couple critically well-received but poor selling albums, the members moved on, with Goodman in particular gaining fame as a founding member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Artist: Great Society
Song Title: Where
Source: CD: Born To Be Burned
Release Year: 1965
Our second and longest progression through the years starts with one of the unreleased tracks recorded in late 1965 by the Great Society, led by the Slick brothers and featuring Darby Slick's wife Grace on vocals.

Artist: Standells
Song Title: Dirty Water
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits
Release Year: 1966
The Standells' biggest hit.

Artist: Beatles
Song Title: The Fool On the Hill
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Release Year: 1967
1967 was a schizophrenic year for the fab four, starting off the with immensly successful double A sided single Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, continuing with the landmark album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and finishing with their first major flop, the Magical Mystery Tour telefilm. The soundtrack album from that film came out in very different forms in the UK and the US. The British version was a double EP set featuring the six songs from the film, while the US version was a full-length LP that added the band's five singles from 1967 as the second side of the album. The songs themselves were far better received than the telefilm.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Song Title: Gypsy Eyes
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Release Year: 1968
The last album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was a double LP mixture of studio recordings and live jams in the studio with an array of guest musicians. Gypsy Eyes is a good example of Hendrix's prowess at the mixing board as well as on guitar.

Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Song Title: Sea of Madness
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Release Year: 1969
Neil Young joined Crosby, Stills and Nash for this performance at Woodstock, and would be a full member of the group when their next album, Deja Vu, came out.

Artist: Turtles
Song Title: You Know What I Mean
Source: CD: Happy Together
Release Year: 1967
This 1967 single is included on the French import version of the Happy Together CD. To my knowledge, this is the only copy of the album currently in print.

Artist: Turtles
Song Title: She's My Girl
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock
Release Year: 1967
Another 1967 single from the future Flo and Eddie, this tune is also included on the above-mentioned French import (in fact there are as many bonus tracks as original album cuts on said CD).

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