I was looking over this week's playlist and I have to say there are some outstanding tracks this week. Check it out:
Artist: Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title: Down By The River
Source: LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer: Neil Young
A couple weeks ago we started the show with McKendree Spring's version of this Neil Young classic. This time we start with the original, from the album that introduced the world to the band Crazy Horse.
Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Title: Everybody I Love You
Source: CD: déjà vu
Just a couple requests this week. The first one is a Stephen Stills/Neil Young collaboration that sets the stage for the Stills/Young band a couple of years later. Stylistically its pretty easy to figure out which part was written by Stills and which by Young. What's interesting is how well the two parts actually fit together.
Title: I Love You (mono mix)
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: People)
Writer: Chris White
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
By 1968 the major labels had signed just about every San Francisco band with any perceived potential. Capitol, having had some success with the Chocolate Watchband from San Jose on its Tower subsidiary, decided to sign another south bay band, People, to the parent label. The result was this one-hit wonder from the summer of '68.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Smell of Incense
Source: LP: Volume 2
One of the commercially strongest songs on the second West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album for Reprise was this tune. The length of the track, however, (over five minutes) meant it would never get airplay on AM radio, although England Dan Seals and John Ford Coley took it to the # 56 spot on the charts while still in high school in 1968 with their band Southwest F.O.B. .
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era
Writer: Buffy Sainte-Marie
The legendary San Francisco hippie band, the Charlatans, first entered the studio in 1966, intending to record an album for Kama Sutra. Kama Sutra at the time enjoyed a good counter-culture reputation, thanks to the presence of the Lovin' Spoonful on the label. As the Charlatans came from a similar jug band background as the Spoonful, it seemed only natural that the Charlatans would have the greatest chance of success there. As it turned out, however, the people running the west coast operations of the label were more interested in recording hit records than in preserving artistic integrity. The band wanted to issue Buffy Sainte-Marie's Codine as its first single, but the shirts decided that a throwaway novelty track, a cover of the Coasters' The Shadow Knows, had more commercial potential. The resulting single bombed so badly that the entire album was shelved until 1996, when it was released on Big Beat Records, a British label specializing in garage rock.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Mr. Bad Luck
Source: Valleys of Neptune
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
The original tracks for Mr. Bad Luck were recorded during the sessions for the Axis: Bold As Love album in 1967. Hendrix, however, was not satisfied with the way the recording was working out and the song was abandoned. Hendrix later reworked the song with entirely new tracks and it was released posthumously on the Rainbow Bridge soundtrack album under the title Look Over Yonder. It wasn't until 1987 that original producer Chas Chandler gave Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell the opportunity to record new bass and drum tracks to accompany the original Hendrix guitar tracks. The result is this version released almost a year ago on the Valleys of Neptune album.
Artist: Big Brother and the Holding Company
Title: Turtle Blues
Source: CD: Cheap Thrills
Writer: Janis Joplin
I thought I'd try out an unusual set idea. Janis Joplin singing Turtle Blues followed by a song called Janis and a song by the Turtles. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe if I had included one by the Blues Project, or the Blues Magoos, or Blues Image....
Source: LP: Moving Waves
Writer: Jan Akkerman
In a sense Jan Akkerman is the prototype for the Scandanavian heavy metal guitarist archetype: technically proficient and blisteringly fast. Akkerman, however, is generally better known as one of the early jazz-rock fusion players. Janis, from the second Focus album, is a good example of the latter, with a touch of the former almost incongruously thrown in as well.
Title: She's My Girl
Source: CD: The Turtles 20 Greatest Hits
Label: Rhino (original label: White Whale)
Is it my imagination or is this something like the third time this year I've played this song? Still, it did get positive feedback the last time I played it, so here it is again.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: How Suite It Is
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxters
Label: RCA Victor
The second side of After Bathing At Baxters starts off fairly conventionally (for the Airplane), with Paul Kantner's Watch Her Ride, the first third or so of something called How Suite It Is. This leads (without a break in the audio) into Spare Chaynge, one of the coolest studio jams ever recorded, featuring intricate interplay between Jack Cassidy's bass and Jorma Kaukonen's guitar, with Spencer Dryden using his drum kit as enhancement rather than as a beat-setter. In particular, Cassidy's virtuoso performance helped redefine what could be done with an electric bass.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Get Me To The World On Time
Source: CD: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Label: Collector's Choice (original label: Reprise)
With I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) climbing the charts in early 1967, the Electric Prunes turned to songwriter Annette Tucker for two more tracks to include on their debut LP. One of those, Get Me To The World On Time (co-written by lyricist Jill Jones) was selected to be the follow up single to Dream. Although not as big a hit, the song still did respectably on the charts (and was actually the first Electric Prunes song I ever heard on FM radio).
Artist: Bob Seger System
Title: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Source: LP: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Writer: Bob Seger
Before becoming one of the more successful rock stars of the 70s-80s, Bob Seger led a series of bands in and around Detroit, Michigan. The first one of these to chart nationally was the Bob Seger System with the 1969 hit Ramblin' Gamblin' Man. When the song took off the soon to be released LP Tales of Lucy Blue was hastily retitled to capitalize on the song's popularity. The cover art, however, still featured a blond model in a blue gown against a blue background, reflecting the original title.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Atom Heart Mother Suite
Source: LP: Atom Heart Mother
The longest continuous piece of music ever committed to vinyl by Pink Floyd was not something from the Wall or Dark Side of the Moon, but the 23 1/2 minute Atom Heart Mother Suite (Shine On You Crazy Diamond is actually longer, but was interrupted by being split across two sides of an LP). Atom was also the last Pink Floyd piece to credit anyone outside the band as a songwriter; in this case Scottish composer/arranger Ron Geesin, who was brought in to help orchestrate and tie together the various sections of the piece. Primarily and instrumental, the piece has several distinct sections, although on vinyl and most CDs it is treated as a single track. Indeed, the drum and bass parts were recorded as a continuous take, giving the entire piece a consistent tempo throughout. The title was taken from a newspaper headline about a pregnant woman who had been fitted with a pacemaker; the actual headline was "Atom Heart Mother Found". Pink Floyd never performed the piece live, although Neesin did stage an orchestral performance of the work a few years ago.
Title: People Are Strange
Source: Strange Days
Writer: LP: The Doors
Our 1967 set of the week starts off with the Doors follow-up single to Light My Fire. People Are Strange leads off the second side of the second Doors LP and was a top 20 hit in its own right.
Title: I Can See For Miles
Source: CD: The Who Sell Out
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
I Can See For Miles continued a string of top 10 singles in the UK and was their biggest US hit ever. Pete Townshend, however, was disappointed with the song's performance on the UK charts. He said that the song was the ultimate Who song and as such it should have charted even higher than it did. It certainly was one of the heaviest songs of its time and there is some evidence that it prompted Paul McCartney to come up with Helter Skelter in an effort to take the heaviest song ever title back for the Beatles. What makes the story even more bizarre is that at the time McCartney reportedly had never actually heard I Can See For Miles and was going purely by what he read in a record review.
Title: Lazy Old Sun
Source: LP: Something Else By The Kinks
Writer: Ray Davies
Although the Kinks had major hits on both sides of the ocean from 1964-66, by 1967 their success was limited to the UK, despite fine singles such as Dead End Street and Waterloo Sunset. Their 1967 LP, Something Else By The Kinks, continued the band's expansion into slightly satirical explorations of sociopolitical issues. At the same time, the album also shows a more experimental side musically, as Lazy Old Sun, with its staggered tempo and unusual chord progression, demonstrates.
Title: The Pusher
Source: CD: Steppenwolf
Writer: Hoyt Axton
Our second request of the night is a song that is not only one of Steppenwolf's best known tunes, but songwriter Hoyt Axton's most famous composition as well.
Artist: It's A Beautiful Day
Title: White Bird
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: It's A Beautiful Day)
Writer: David & Linda LaFlamme
Label: Rhino (original label: Rhino)
It's A Beautiful Day is a good illustration of how a band can be a part of a trend without intending to be or even realizing that they are. In their case, they were actually tied to two different trends. The first one was a positive thing: it was now possible for a band to be considered successful without a top 40 hit, as long as their album sales were healthy. The second trend was not such a good thing; as was true for way too many bands, It's A Beautiful Day was sorely mistreated by its own management, in this case one Matthew Katz. Katz already represented both Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape when he signed up It's A Beautiful Day in 1967. What the members of It's A Beautiful Day did not know at the time was that both of the aforementioned bands were trying to get out of their contracts with Katz. The first thing Katz did after signing It's A Beautiful Day was to ship the band off to Seattle to become house band at a club Katz owned called the San Francisco Sound. Unfortunately for the band, Seattle already had a sound of its own and attendance at their gigs was sparse. Feeling downtrodden and caged (and having no means of transportation to boot) classically-trained 5-string violinist and lead vocalist David LaFlamme and his keyboardist wife Linda LaFlamme translated those feelings into a song that is at once sad and beautiful: the classic White Bird. As an aside, Linda LaFlamme was not the female vocalist heard on White Bird. Credit for those goes to one Pattie Santos, the other female band member.
Title: Flowers In The Rain
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Roy Wood
The Move was one of Britain's most popular acts in the mid to late 1960s. That popularity, however, did not extend to North America, where the band failed to chart even a single hit. The closest they came was Flowers In The Rain, a song that made it to the # 2 spot in England and was the very first record played on the first legal top 40 station in the UK, BBC Radio One. Eventually Roy Wood would depart to form his own band, Roy Wood's Wizzard, and the remaining members would evolve into the Electric Light Orchestra.
Title: Don't Look Back
Source: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Billy Vera
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
Our last song of the night comes from the Remains, a Boston area band that seemingly had everything going for them in 1966. They had just finished opening for the Beatles on their last US tour and had procured the rights to record a song written by Billy Vera, who would score a huge hit of his own 20 years later with At This Moment. Somehow, though, Don't Look Back didn't make the charts, despite its obvious potential. It was the last of a series of disappointments for a group that had been cutting records since 1964, and they soon packed up their instruments for the last time.