Saturday, February 26, 2011

Show # 1008 playlist (2/25-2/27)

We start this week's show with a progression through the years 1966-68 that ends up taking up the entire first segment of the show.

Artist: Country Joe and the Fish
Title: Section 43
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM Extended Play)
Writer: Joe McDonald
Label: Rhino (original label: Rag Baby)
Year: 1966
The second Rag Baby EP by Country Joe and the Fish featured the original version of this psychedelic instrumental that would appear in a re-recorded (and slightly changed) stereo form on their first LP, Electric Music For The Mind And Body, in early 1967.

Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Vanilla Fudge-side one (You Keep Me Hangin' On, Take Me For a Little While and Eleanor Rigby interspersed with short instrumental segments known as Illusions of my Childhood)
Source: LP: Vanilla Fudge
Writer: Holland/Dozier/Holland/Martin/Lennon/McCartney
Label: Atco
Year: 1967
Although not exactly a concept album, the first Vanilla Fudge LP did attempt to tie the songs on side two of the album together through the use of something called Illusions of My Childhood, short instrumental versions of children's songs such as The Farmer In The Dell overlaid with sound effects that would fade in at the end of each track and fade out into the next one. The songs themselves make for an interesting lyrical collage, going from one that demands a commitment to a relationship into a song that says almost the exact opposite, followed by Paul McCartney's famous observations of people without relationships at all.

Artist: Lothar and the Hand People
Title: Paul, In Love
Source: CD: Presenting...Lothar and the Hand People
Writer: Paul Conly
Label: MicroWerks (original label: Capitol)
Year: 1968
Originally from Denver, Colorado, Lothar and the Hand People found themselves relocating to New York City in 1967, releasing a series of singles that ranged from blue-eyed soul to pop. By 1968, however, the band had fully incorporated the Moog synthesizer and the theramine into their sound. Lothar was, in fact, the name of the theramine itself, essentially a black box with an audio modulater that was activated by waving one's hands above it. Paul, In Love, is basically a solo piece featuring Paul Conly on the Moog.

Artist: Chocolate Watch Band
Title: Sweet Young Thing
Source: CD: The Inner Mystique (CD bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ed Cobb
Label: Sundazed (original label: Uptown)
Year: 1966
There is actually very little on vinyl that captures the actual live sound of the Chocolate Watchband, as most of their recorded work was heavily influenced by producer Ed Cobb. One of the few recordings that does accurately represent the Watchband sound is this single released in December of 1966.

Artist: Seeds
Title: The Wind Blows Her Hair
Source: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Saxon/Bigelow
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year: 1967
The Wind Blows Her Hair is actually one of the Seeds' better tracks. Unfortunately, by the time it was released the whole concept of Flower Power (which the Seeds were intimately tied to) had become yesterday's news and the single went nowhere.

Artist: Doors
Title: Twentieth Century Fox
Source: CD: The Doors
Writer: The Doors
Label: Elektra
Year: 1967
One of many solid tunes from the first Doors album. Songwriting credits for all songs on the first three Doors albums were given to the entire band.

Artist: It's A Beautiful Day
Title: A Hot Summer Day
Source: LP: It's A Beautiful Day
Writer: David and Linda LaFlamme
Label: Columbia
Year: 1969
Next to White Bird, the two most recognizable It's A Beautiful Day songs are Bombay Calling and A Hot Summer Day. All three songs are on the band's debut album. David and Linda LaFlamme split up after the first album, and naturally stopped writing songs together as well. Coincidence? I think not.

Artist: Neil Young
Title: Till The Morning Comes
Source: CD: After The Gold Rush
Writer: Neil Young
Label: Reprise
Year: 1970
I had a request for another Neil Young tune, but brought the wrong CD to the studios this week, so I played this song instead (the request will be played on next week's show).

Artist: Byrds
Title: Oh! Susannah
Source: LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Writer: Stephen Foster
Label: Columbia
Year: 1965
It seems like it's been a while since I did an artist set, so tonight we have one from the Byrds. Although they were known for covering Bob Dylan tunes, they did perform tunes written by other songwriters as well, such as....Stephen Foster? Well, I didn't specify contemporary songwriters.

Artist: Byrds
Title: Change Is Now
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: McGuinn/Hillman
Label: Rhino
Year: 1967
The first single to be released by the Byrds after the firing of David Crosby was Change Is Now, released in the fall of 1967. A stereo version of the song would be included on their next album, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, in 1968.

Artist: Byrds
Title: The Times They Are A-Changin'
Source: LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Writer: Bob Dylan
Label: Columbia
Year: 1965
Did I mention that the Byrds were known for covering Bob Dylan tunes, particularly on their early albums?

Artist: Kinks
Title: Set Me Free
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Reprise
Year: 1965
Our second hour gets underway with this classic single from the Kinks, circa 1965 (played from an original vinyl copy yet).

Artist: Third Rail
Title: Run Run Run
Source: CD: Even More Nuggets
Writer: Resnick/Resnick/Levine
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
Year: 1967
Run Run Run is actually a studio creation issied in 1967 from husband and wife team Artie and Kris Resnick collaborating with Joey Levine, who sings lead vocals on the track. They only performed the song live once (in Cincinatti, of all places) as the Third Rail. All three would find a home as part of the Kasenetz-Katz bubble gum machine that would make Buddah Records a major player in 1968, with Levine himself singing lead for one of the label's most successful groups, the Ohio Express.

Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: Flowers And Beads
Source: CD: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Writer: Doug Ingle
Label: Atco
Year: 1968
Sometimes it takes a while for a song (or album) to catch on. A good example is the second Iron Butterfly album, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, which was basically ignored for the better part of a year before the title track started getting airplay on some progressive FM radio stations. Once it did, however, the album became a best-seller, and In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida became a houshold word.

Artist: Billy Preston
Title: What About You?
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Billy Preston
Label: Apple
Year: 1969
One of the first acts signed to Apple was Billy Preston, the singer-keyboardist who had sat in with the Beatles during the Let It Be sessions, playing on both Get Back and Don't Let Me Down. Preston bridged the ever-widening gap between soul music and its musical parent, gospel. His first LP for Apple, That's The Way God Planned It, was a slow starter, with the title track being released as a single twice: originally in 1969 coinciding with the album's release, and again in 1972, when the song hit its peak chart position. What About You? was the B side of that single.

Artist: Seatrain
Title: Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Lady
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer: Gregory/Roberts
Label: Rhino (original label: Edsel)
Year: 1969
Following the breakup of the Blues Project, two of the members, bassist/flautist Andy Kuhlberg and drummer Roy Blumenthal, relocated to San Francisco. The hooked up with Richard Greene (violin, keyboards, viola, vocals), John Gregory (guitar, vocals), Don Kretmar (bass, saxophone) and vocalist Jim Roberts to form Seatrain. Their first album, Sea Train, appeared in 1969 on the obscure Edsel label.

Artist: The Band
Title: The Genetic Method/Chest Fever
Source: CD: Rock Of Ages
Writer: Hudson/Robertson
Label: Capitol
Year: 1972
I guess this is as good a place as any to mention that, given a choice between a live recording and a studio track I'll take the studio track almost every time. My reasoning is this: a live recording, no matter how well recorded, is still nothing more than a documentation of a performance that has already taken place. I believe that there is no possible way to duplicate the actual experience of hearing the song performed live. There are too aspects of the concert experience that simply can't be captured on an audio (or even visual) medium, such as the emotional and/or mental state of the performer (or the audience member for that matter) at the time of the performance. A studio recording, on the other hand, is a work of, if not art, at least craftmanship. The ability of the artist to go back and make changes to the work until that artist is satisfied with the final product is what makes the studio recording more than just a snapshot of a performance. Just like a sculpture or painting, a studio recording is a set piece, meant to be repeatedly experienced in its final form. That said, here we have a live track from The Band's most popular album, Rock of Ages. Why did I choose this over the studio performance of Chest Fever from Music From Big Pink? Well, the main reason is that this was actually a request for the first part of the recording, The Genetic Method, which is an improvisational piece from Garth Hudson on the organ. As the two tracks run continuously there was really no choice but to include Chest Fever as well. One small aside: the performances used for Rock of Ages all came from a set of concerts held over the New Year's holidays. The presence of Auld Lang Syne in the middle of The Genetic Method suggests that Hudson started his performance at just a few minutes before midnight and played the familiar strains as the clock struck twelve.

Artist: Flash
Title: Small Beginnings
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Peter Banks
Label: Capitol
Year: 1972
Before Steve Howe joined Yes, the group featured Peter Banks on lead guitar. After the first Yes album, Banks left the group to form a new band, Flash. Despite having a similar sound to Yes at a time when such bands were in vogue, Flash failed to achieve more than a small fraction of the original band's success.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Hear My Train A Comin'
Source: CD: Blues
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy
Year: 1967
Sometime in 1967 somebody gave Jimi Hendrix a 12-string guitar to play around with. As Hendrix generally had a tape recorder running when he was in the studio (just in case he came up with something on the spur of the moment he might want to return to later), he managed to capture this performance of a tune he was working on that wouldn't become an official song until a few years later. The presence of numerous tape dropouts suggests that this recording was simply a practice tape that luckily never got erased and reused.

Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Boogie Music
Source: Progressive Heavies
Writer: L.T. Tatman III
Label: United Artists
Year: 1968
The last couple times I played this I kept forgetting to let the track play out completely, thus depriving you of the short instrumental piece at the end that sounds like it was recorded in the 1920s yet strongly resembles the A side of the 45 RPM record it appeared on, Going Up The Country.

Artist: Joe Cocker
Title: Feelin' Alright
Source: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer: Dave Mason
Label: Rhino
Year: 1969
I went into some detail earlier about why I generally prefer to use studio tracks over live recordings. Sometimes, though, the studio track is really nothing more than an instance of a live performance. Such is the case with the Joe Cocker version of Feelin' Alright. Like Elvis Presley, Cocker was almost exclusively a performer, leaving such things as writing and producing (and playing an instrument, for that matter) to the professionals.

Artist: Squires
Title: Going All The Way
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Michael Bouyea
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Year: 1966
Originally known as the Rogues, this Bristol, Conn. group changed their name to the Squires for this 1966 recording. Apparently someone at Atco figured that a name like the Rogues was so good that somebody else must already be using it.

Artist: Love
Title: Alone Again Or (also included on LP: Forever Changes)
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Bryan McLean
Label: Elektra
Year: 1967
The only song Love ever released as a single that was not written by Arthur Lee was Alone Again Or, issued in 1970. The song had originally appeared as the opening track from the Forever Changes album three years earlier. Bryan McLean would later say that he was not happy with the recording due to his own vocal being buried beneath that of Lee, since Lee's part was meant to be a harmony line to McLean's melody. McLean would later re-record the song for a solo album, but reportedly was not satisfied with that version either.

Artist: Beatles
Title: Blackbird
Source: CD: The Beatles
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Label: Parlophone
Year: 1968
Blackbird is one of the many songs on the Beatles "White Album" that Charles Manson would interpret as having special meaning for his "family". In this case he saw it as a call for blacks to rise up and overthrow the whites that controlled the bulk of wealth in the US. I guess he forgot that the Beatles at the time were still based in the UK. Then again, he completely misread the tone of Revolution (also from the same album) as well.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Lather
Source: CD: Crown of Creation
Writer: Grace Slick
Label: RCA Victor
Year: 1968
One of Grace Slick's most memorable tunes was Lather, with its eerie instrumental bridge played on a tissue-paper covered comb (at least that's what I think it was). The song was reportedly about drummer Spence Dryden, the band's oldest member.

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