Friday, October 29, 2010

Playlist 10/29-31/10

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Song Title: Streetmasse
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Release Year: 1967
After Bathing At Baxter's is generally considered the most pyschedelic of all the Jefferson Airplane albums. For one thing, the members were reportedly all on LSD through most of the creative process and were involved in entire package, right down to the decision to divide the album up into five suites and press the vinyl in such a way that the spaces in the vinyl normally found between songs were only present between the suites themselves, making it almost impossible to set the needle down at the beginning of the second or third song of a suite (there is a slight overlap between songs as well). I tell you this because my copy of the album is the original pressing and thus each suite counts as a single track, keeping me within the three track per artist limit imposed by Congress for stations that carry the show over the internet. The first suite on After Bathing At Baxter's is called Streetmasse. It consists of three compositions: Paul Kantner's The Ballad of You and Me and Pooniel; A Small Package of Value Will Come To You Shortly (a free-form jazz piece led by drummer Spencer Dryden); and the Paul Kantner/Marty Balin composition Young Girl Sunday Blues.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Song Title: It's No Secret (mono single version)
Source: CD: Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1966
Released in March of 1966, It's No Secret was an instant hit on San Francisco Bay area radio stations. This version differs from the album version released six months later in that it has a fade out ending and is thus a few seconds shorter.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Song Title: Hymn To An Older Generation
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Release Year: 1967
The first side of After Bathing At Baxter's wraps up with a two-song suite: The Last Wall of the Castle is lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's contribution to the album as a songwriter and lead vocalist, while Grace Slick's Rejoyce is an avant-garde adaptation of the James Joyce poem Ulysses.

Artist: Ten Years After
Song Title: A Sad Song
Source: CD: Stonedhenge
Release Year: 1971
TYA's third album, Stonedhenge, is a departure from the straight-ahead blues of the band's first two efforts. Instead, Stonedhenge consists of six songs in a variety of styles, alternating with short individual pieces from each member of the band. A Sad Song is a slow moody piece that shows the influence of the dean of British blues, John Mayall.

Artist: Canned Heat
Song Title: Catfish Blues
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Canned Heat)
Release Year: 1967
In contrast to the Ten Years After track we have a song with a more traditional blues structure. Catfish Blues was first recorded by Robert Petway in 1941, one of only a dozen or so recordings by the legendary delta blues master. Muddy Waters lifted the song almost word for word (and note for note) for his very first recording, Rolling Stone. Canned Heat themselves were blues purists whose first album consisted entirely of cover tunes such as this one.

Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Song Title: Bald Headed Lena
Source: LP: Daydream
Release Year: 1966
Drummer Zal Yanovsky took his turn on vocals for this not-entirely-serious rendition of the old Piano Red tune Bald Headed Lena. Then again, some songs are meant to be taken lightly anyway. Piano Red, by the way, was the original stage name of William Perryman, who would later be known as Doctor Feelgood.

Artist: Dick Dale and His Del-Tones
Song Title: The Wedge
Source: CD: Best of Dick Dale and His Del-Tones (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1963
It may seem odd hearing surf music on a show called Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, but (as described in more detail elsewhere on this web site) the genre was an important foundation stone to what would become psychedelic rock. And when it comes to surf music, none did it better than the king of the surf guitar, Dick Dale. Dale's stature as a guitarist was such that when Fender Musical Instruments first developed the reverb unit they turned to Dick Dale to field test it.

Artist: Seeds
Song Title: Rollin' Machine
Source: LP: A Web of Sound
Release Year: 1966
I probably should have saved this song to play back to back with Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35 later in the show. Is there anyone out there that really thinks this is a song about a car? I thought not.

Artist: Byrds
Song Title: I Knew I'd Want You
Source: LP: Mr. Tambourine Man
Release Year: 1965
The Byrds did not have many original tunes on their first album, and most of those came from Gene Clark, who would be the first member to leave the band (due to his fear of flying). I Knew I'd Want You is among the most upbeat of Clark's songs.

Artist: Byrds
Song Title: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Source: CD: Billboard Top Rock and Roll Hits-1965 (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl and included on LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!)
Release Year: 1965
After their success covering Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man, the band turned to an even more revered songwriter: the legendary Pete Seeger. Turn! Turn! Turn!, with lyrics taken directly from the book of Ecclesiastes, was first recorded by Seeger in the early 60s, nearly three years after he wrote the song.

Artist: Byrds
Song Title: Chimes of Freedom
Source: Mr. Tambourine Man
Release Year: 1965
Although not released as a single, the Byrds cover of Dylan's Chimes of Freedom was a staple of the band's stage repertoire and was one of three songs captured on film by D.R. Pennebacker for his Monterrey Pop Festival TV special. None of the tracks were actually used on the show, but all have been issued on an outtake disc that comes as part of the expanded DVD edition of Pennebacker's film.

Artist: Jethro Tull
Song Title: Hymn 43
Source: CD: Aqualung
Release Year: 1971
Just for something completely different we have Ian Anderson taking on the religious establishment. He had already fired the first shot a couple years before with Christmas Song, but this time he had an entire album side to work with, and he did not pull any punches with his scathing criticism of what he perceived as rampant hypocrisy within the Anglican church.

Artist: Sly and the Family Stone
Song Title: I Want To Take You Higher
Source: CD: Best of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Stand!)
Release Year: 1969
Sylvester Stone was a major presence on the San Francisco music scene for several years, both as a producer for Autumn Records and as a popular local disc jockey. In 1968 he decided to take it to the next level, using his studio connections to put together a solid lineup of musicians, including bassist Larry Graham. The result was a band that layed the groundwork for 70s funk bands such as Parlaiment-Funkadelic and Graham's own band, Graham Central Station.

Artist: Velvet Illusions
Song Title: Acid Head
Source: CD: Where the Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1967
Showing an obvious influence by the Electric Prunes (an L.A. band that was embraced by the Seattle scene as one of their own) the Illusions backtracked the Prunes steps, leaving their native Yakima and steady gigging for the supposedly greener pastures of the City of Angels. After a few months of frustration in which the band seldom found places to practice, let alone perform, they headed back to Seattle to cut this lone single before calling it quits.

Artist: Doors
Song Title: When the Music's Over
Source: CD: Strange Days
Release Year: 1967
In the final analysis, the most successful band to come out of the late 60s L.A. club scene was undoubtably the Doors. Their second album, Strange Days, followed the pattern of the first one, including an extended cut with a Jim Morrison monologue to close out the second side.

Artist: Country Joe and the Fish
Song Title: Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
Source: CD: Electric Music For the Mind and Body
Release Year: 1967
While not as commercially successful as the Airplane or as long-lived as the Dead (there's an oxymoron for ya), Country Joe and the Fish may well be the most accurate musical representation of what the whole Haight-Ashbury scene was about. Of all the tracks on their first album, this one probably got the most airplay.

Artist: Monkees
Song Title: Porpoise Song
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released in altered form on LP: Head)
Release Year: 1968
The entire existence of the Monkees was a struggle for legitimacy amid massive commercial success. In 1968, with their TV show cancelled and each successive album selling fewer copies than the previous one, the band decided to go the experimental route with the movie Head. With a script by Jack Nicholson and an appearance by Frank Zappa, the movie was designed for the underground crowd, who naturally avoided anything associated with the Monkees like the plague. Meanwhile, what was left of the Monkees fan base found Head to be not at all what they expected, and not at all to their tastes. In the long run Michael Nesmith would find success with many of the visual approaches used in the film years later when he pioneered what would come to be known as the music video (subsequently selling the idea, which he called Music Television, or MTV for short, to Warner Communications).

Artist: Who
Song Title: Amazing Journey
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Release Year: 1969
I realized fairly early on that this week's show seemed to be featuring a lot of bands that appeared at Woodstock and/or Monterey. I figured it was somehow appropriate then to start the last segment with an unreleased track from a band that appeared at both festivals. Amazing Journey was part of the Who's performance of the rock opera Tommy at Woodstock and did not get released until 2009.

Artist: Joe Cocker and the Grease Band
Song Title: Feelin' Alright
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Release Year: 1969
It seems a bit odd that, even at the peak of (Joe Cocker's version of) this song's popularity in the late 70s, when John Belushi joined Cocker onstage for a performance of it on Saturday Night Live, this particular recording of the song didn't get released until 2009. I guess it's an indication of just how much music there was at Woodstock that most of us never got to hear.

Artist: Bob Dylan
Song Title: Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35
Source: CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Blonde On Blonde)
Release Year: 1966
Some of the best rock and roll songs of 1966 were banned on a number of stations for being about either sex or drugs. Most artists that recorded those songs claimed they were about something else altogether. In the case of Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35's lyrics "stoned" refers to a rather unpleasant form of execution. On the other hand, Dylan himself was reportedly quite stoned while recording the song, having passed a few doobies around before starting the tape rolling. Sometimes I think ambiguities like this are why English has become the dominant language of commerce on the planet.

Artist: Beatles
Song Title: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Final Sequence)
Source: CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Release Year: 1967
The original UK pressing of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was not banded. This means that instead of having blank spaces in the vinyl for easy location of songs, the album was one continuous track. This was reportedly done to encourage buyers of the album to listen to it as a complete work as opposed to a collection of unrelated songs. The Beatles took it a step further with the final three tracks on the album, which flow seamlessly from song to song without a break. One result of this was the famous "chicken turning into a guitar" sequence when the sounds of farm animals at the end of Good Morning Good Morning segue into the opening beats of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise). The final track, A Day In the Life, features the seemingly endless final chord that fades slowly away (and I even cut it off with 30 seconds left on the disc!).

1 comment:

  1. The Velvet Illusions did not head back to Seattle and record a lone single, Acid Head, after living in Hollywood. We recorded a total of 10 sides, 6 of which were recorded before we ever saw Hollywood, including Acid Head. We released our own cd in 2011 entitled Acid Head, containing all of our songs. We were not influenced by the Electric Prunes. We were probably more influenced by Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Ventures, and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. We just happened to write and/or record a few psych tunes. For the Velvet Illusions' story straight from the horse's mouth, visit the FB Page, Velvet Illusions Fans. Thank you. Randy "Jimmie James" Bowles, co-founder