Thursday, November 4, 2010

Playlist 11/5-7/10

For years I've had this recurring nightmare of being in a radio station where the last song has just run out and I don't have another one ready yet. This week's first segment comes about as close to that happening as I ever want to get. I mean, nine songs in under 27 minutes; Holy Top 40 Radio, Batman!.

Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Song Title: Incense and Peppermints
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop
Release Year: 1967
The first track of the segment is also the longest, clocking in at two minutes and 46 seconds. Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was released it was intended to be the B side of The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a radio DJ flipped the record over and the rest is history.

Artist: Cream
Song Title: Anyone For Tennis
Source: CD: Goodbye Cream (Bonus track not on original LP. Originally released in UK on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1968
Although credited to the entire band, this song is actually Eric Clapton's first release as a solo artist.

Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Song Title: Full Measure
Source: LP: Best of the Lovin' Spoonful-Vol. 2 (originally charted as a B side)
Release Year: 1966
1966 was a fairly solid year for the Spoonful. In addition to Summer in the City, their only song to make it to the # 1 spot on the charts, they also had one of their most enduring hits, Nashville Cats. The B side of that record, Full Measure, managed to chart briefly as well, peaking in the lower 90s.

Artist: Hollies
Song Title: Don't Run and Hide
Source: single B side
Release Year: 1966
The Hollies were already established in the UK with a series of hit records by the time they scored their breakthrough US hit, Bus Stop, in 1966. Don't Run and Hide is the B side of that US single.

Artist: Standells
Song Title: Dirty Water
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era
Release Year: 1966
This song has long since been adopted by the city of Boston, yet the band that originally recorded this Ed Cobb tune was purely an L.A. band, having started off playing cover tunes in the early 60s. Lead vocalist Dickie Dodd, incidently, was the little blond kid in the front row on the original Micky Mouse Club TV show.

Artist: Richard and the Young Lions
Song Title: Open Up Your Door
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era
Release Year: 1966
Continuing out 1966 set we have this tune originally released on the Philips label, best known at the time as the home of the Four Seasons. Richard and the Young Lions, hailing from New Jersey, rocked out a whole lot harder on one record than Frankie Valli and the boys did in their entire career.

Artist: Rare Breed
Song Title: Beg, Borrow and Steal
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era
Release Year: 1966
Our final 1966 track is from one of the first bands signed to the Kasenatz-Katz stable of artists and one of the first to leave that organization as well, citing a stifling of creativity. Kasenatz-Katz would become quite successful the following year with a new style of top 40 song known as "bubble gum", so it's not difficult to see why a legitimate band would have problems with them.

Artist: Country Joe and the Fish
Song Title: Love
Source: LP: Electric Music For the Mind and Body
Release Year: 1967
In the mid 60s the primary performance venues for rock bands were dances, and the audiences (mostly middle-class baby boomers) demanded a healthy dose of both rock and soul. Rather than to record covers of Wilson Pickett or Otis Redding songs, Country Joe McDonald chose to write his own brand of rock and soul music. Love, from the Fish's first album, is a good example of this.

Artist: Syndicate of Sound
Song Title: Little Girl
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era
Release Year: 1966
San Jose California was home to a thriving music scene in the mid 60s that produced an extraordinarily high number of national successes. Among those successes was this hit from the Syndicate of Sound, considered a punk classic for its abundance of attitude.

For this week's second segment I made a conscious attempt to play some longer tracks by focusing on the year 1969. As you will see, that lasted for all of three songs before the shorter tunes once again hijacked the show.

Artist: Pentangle
Song Title: House Carpenter
Source: LP: Basket of Light
Release Year: 1969
Pentangle, Britains first folk supergroup, lasted longer than most supergroups do, keeping their original lineup intact from 1967 until their breakup in 1973. This track, taken from their third album, features the group's two guitarists branching out a bit, with John Renbourne on banjo and Bert Jansch on sitar.

Artist: David Bowie
Song Title: Space Oddity
Source: CD: Sound and Vision Sampler (originally released on LP: Space Oddity)
Release Year: 1969
When David Jones first started his recording career he was a fairly conventional folk singer. With Space Oddity he became David Bowie (or maybe Ziggy Stardust) and the rock world was never quite the same.

Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Song Title: I Put a Spell On You
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Release Year: 1969
Even a casual Creedence fan knows that the band started their chart success in 1968 with a cover of Dale Hawkins' hit Suzy Q. What most are not aware of, however, is that CCR also released a single covering a different Hawkins in 1968, in this case Screaming Jay Hawkins. The band's performance of the song at Woodstock shows a side of John Fogerty not often heard: the hard rockin' lead guitarist.

Artist: Seeds
Song Title: Tripmaker
Source: CD: Where the Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: A Web of Sound)
Release Year: 1966
We only have one progression through the years this week, and it starts in 1966 with this Seeds album track. Any resemblance to a tune on Smash Mouth's Astral Lounge album from the late 1990s is probably intentional.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Song Title: Somebody To Love
Source: single
Release Year: 1967
One of the most important singles ever released, heard here in its original mono mix.

Artist: Doors
Song Title: Touch Me
Source: single
Release Year: 1968
The Doors took an unusual turn by adding a horn section for this December 1968 single. It was a major hit.

Artist: Black Sabbath
Song Title: Electric Funeral
Source: CD: Paranoid
Release Year: 1970
When Black Sabbath first appeared on vinyl they were perceived as the next step in the evolution of rock, building on the acid rock of the late sixties and laying the groundwork for what would become heavy metal. This song shows that evolution in progress.

Artist: Sonics
Song Title: Strychnine
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released on LP: Here Are the Sonics)
Release Year: 1965
Starting off hour # 2 we have a band that maintains a cult following to this day: the legendary Sonics, generally considered the foundation stone of the Seattle music scene. Although the majority of songs on their albums were cover tunes, virtually all of their originals are now considered punk classics; indeed, the Sonics are often cited as the first true punk rock band.

Artist: Big Brother and the Holding Company
Song Title: Turtle Blues
Source: CD: Cheap Thrills
Release Year: 1968
Only one artist set this week, and technically it actually features two entirely different bands. The connecting factor is, of course, Janis Joplin, considered by many to be the greatest rock vocalist of the psychedelic era. The first track in the set is a Joplin original that features producer John Simon on piano.

Artist: Janis Joplin and the Kozmic Blues Band
Song Title: Ball and Chain
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Release Year: 1969
From Woodstock we have Janis performing her show stopper, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton's Ball and Chain. The Kozmic Blues Band was Joplin's only group to feature a horn section, and, despite its members having a higher degree of technical proficiency than Big Brother, is generally considered to be lacking in the type of raw energy that helped propel Joplin to stardom.

Artist: Big Brother and the Holding Company
Song Title: I Need a Man To Love
Source: CD:Cheap Thrills
Release Year: 1968
To prove the point made in the previous song's commentary we have a live performance of a tune co-written by Joplin and bandmate Sam Houston Andrew III. Now this is the context in which Janis truly shines.

Artist: Moby Grape
Song Title: Fall On You
Source: LP: Moby Grape
Release Year: 1967
Once again the short songs hijack the show to finish out the third segment. This track from the first Moby Grape album clocks in at under two minutes.

Artist: Knickerbockers
Song Title: Lies
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From the Psychedelic 60s
Release Year: 1965
A lot of people thought this was the Beatles recording under a pseudonym when it came out. It wasn't, and I can't help but wonder why anyone would have thought the Beatles had any need to record under a different name in the first place. Is it a Richard Bachman kind of thing?

Artist: New Breed
Song Title: Want Ad Reader
Source: CD: Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Release Year: 1966
An energetic 1966 track from a Sacramento band that was never heard from again. Well, not as the New Breed anyway. A couple years later they resurfaced in L.A. using the name Glad and cut a couple albums for Dunhill. After that, most of the members went on to form Redbone, known for their recording of Witch Queen of New Orleans. The bass-playing lead vocalist, on the other hand, went on to replace Randy Meisner in Poco when he left that band to help form the Eagles. That same bass-playing lead vocalist would eventually replace Meisner in the Eagles as well. His name: Timothy B. Schmidt.

Artist: Bob Seger System
Song Title: Death Row
Source: single B side
Release Year: 1968
I like to play this song for fans of the Silver Bullet Band who think that Turn the Page is about as intense as it gets. I consider myself lucky to have stumbled across this record.

Artist: Monkees
Song Title: Gravy
Source: LP: Head
Release Year: 1968
With this track the short cuts declare total victory. It's five seconds long.

Artist: James Brown
Song Title: Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose
Source: CD: 20 All-Time Greatest Hits
Release Year: 1968
James Brown earned his myriad of titles (Godfather of Soul, King of Funk, Soul Brother # 1, etc.) with tracks like this one, written by his personal manager Charles Bobbit.

Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Song Title: The Windmills of Your Mind
Source: LP: Rock and Roll
Release Year: 1969
Vanilla Fudge all but abandoned their early practice of slowing down and psychedelicizing pop tunes with their third LP Renaissance, but by their fifth album Rock and Roll were at it again, as this revisioning of this Dusty Springfield tune shows.

Artist: Flock
Song Title: Tired of Waiting
Source: LP: The Flock
Release Year: 1969
In 1969, while living in Germany, I ran across a sampler album from CBS records called Underground in a local department store. This collection of tracks from US albums that had not been released in Europe was priced considerably lower than most other LPs so I decided to give it a shot. I was immediately struck by two things: the guy playing electric violin on the cover and the fact that the record itself was pressed on purple vinyl (which I later discovered glowed under a black light). I soon discovered that the guy on the cover was Jerry Goodman, whose solo opens one of the best Kinks covers ever recorded. Some of the other artists on the album included Chicago, the Chambers Brothers, NRBQ and Pacific Gas and Electric, by the way. Too bad my copy mysteriously disappeared many years ago.

Artist: Blues Image
Song Title: Pay My Dues
Source: LP: Open
Release Year: 1970
When I first heard Ride Captain Ride on the radio I wasn't all that impressed with it. Then the local club I hung out at got it on the jukebox and people started playing the B side, a song called Pay My Dues. Then I went out and bought the album. Yes, Pay My Dues is that good. As it turns out, so is the rest of the album. Even Ride Captain Ride sounds better now.

Artist: Electric Prunes
Song Title: The Great Banana Hoax
Source: CD: Underground
Release Year: 1967
Following the success of I Had Too Much To Dream, the Electric Prunes were given a bit more artistic freedom for their second album, Underground (no relation to the Europe-only-issue sampler album referred to a couple songs ago). The opening track, The Great Banana Hoax, is notable for two reasons: first, it was composed by band members and second, it has nothing to do with bananas.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Song Title: Little Wing
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Release Year: 1967
Just when I thought I had re-established control of the show with a set of longer tracks, along comes Jimi Hendrix (who I would expect a lengthy jam from) with Little Wing. All two minutes and twenty-nine seconds worth. I give up.

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