This week we start off with a set of songs released as singles. It's also a progression through the years that starts with the number one song of the year 1965.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Source: CD: Out Of Our Heads (US version)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Singles released in the UK in the 60s tended to stay on the racks much longer than their US counterparts. This is because singles were generally not duplicated on LPs like they were in the US. Satisfaction was a good example. In the US, the song was added to the Out Of Our Heads album, which had a considerably different song lineup than the original UK version. In the UK the song was unavailable as an LP track until Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass) was released.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Walk Away Renee
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
The Left Banke's Walk Away Renee is one of the most covered songs in rock history, starting with a version by the Four Tops less than two years after the original recording had graced the top 5. The Left Banke version kicked off what was thought at the time to be the latest trend: baroque rock. The trend died an early death when the band members themselves made some tactical errors resulting in radio stations being hesitant to play their records.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: You Keep Me Hangin' On
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single. Unedited version originally released on LP: Vanilla Fudge)
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
The Vanilla Fudge version of You Keep Me Hangin' On was originally recorded and released in 1967, not too long after the Supremes version of the song finished its own run on the charts. It wasn't until the following year, however, the the Vanilla Fudge recording caught on with radio listeners, turning it into the band's only top 40 hit.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Summertime Blues
Source: CD: Best of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Vincebus Eruptum)
Label: Priority (original label: Philips)
European electronics giant Philips had its own record label in the 1960s. In the US, the label was distributed by Mercury Records, and was known primarily for a long string of hits by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. In 1968 the label surprised everyone by signing the loudest band in San Francisco, Blue Cheer. Their cover of the 50s Eddie Cochrane hit Summertime Blues was all over both the AM and FM airwaves that summer.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: CD: Volunteers
By 1969 Jefferson Airplane's music was a staple of progressive FM stations but had all but disappeared from the top 40 charts. Still, the band continued to release singles from their albums, including the title track to their fifth (and final with the classic JA lineup) LP, Volunteers.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: White Rabbit
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop
Writer: Grace Slick
The first time I heard White Rabbit was on Denver's first FM rock station, KLZ-FM. The station branded itself as having a top 100 (as opposed to local ratings leader KIMN's top 60), and prided itself on being the first station in town to play new releases and album tracks. It wasn't long before White Rabbit was officially released as a single, and went on to become a top 10 hit, the last for the Airplane. I decided to toss this one in at the last minute as a sort of bonus track. Enjoy!
Artist: Country Joe and the Fish
Title: Bass Strings
Source: CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer: Joe McDonald
A lot of songs released in 1966 and 1967 got labeled as drug songs by influential people in the music industry. In many cases, those labels were inaccurate, at least according to the artists who recorded those songs. On the other hand, you have songs like Bass Strings by Country Joe and the Fish that really can't be about anything else.
Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title: The Twain Shall Meet-Part Two
Source: LP: The Twain Shall Meet
The Twain Shall Meet was the second album from Eric Burdon and the Animals, the new group formed in early 1967 after Eric Burdon changed his mind about embarking on a solo career. Produced by Tom Wilson (who had also produced Bob Dylan's first electric recordings and the Blues Project's Projections album), The Twain Shall Meet was an ambitious work that shows a band often reaching beyond its grasp, despite having its heart in the right place. For the most part, though, side two of the album works fairly well, starting with the anti-war classic Sky Pilot and continuing into the instrumental We Love You Lil. The final section, All Is One, is a unique blend of rock instrumemtation combined with sitar, bagpipes, studio effects, and drone vocals that builds to a frenetic climax, followed by a spoken line by Burdon to end the album.
Title: Sunshine Superman
Source: CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl and on LP: SUNSHINE SUPERMAN in edited form)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Sony (original label: Epic)
This hugely successful single is sometimes credited as being the tsunami that launched the wave of psychedelic music that washed over the shores of pop musicland in 1967. OK, I made that up, but the song really did change the direction of American pop as well as Donovan's own career. Originally released as a 3:15 single, the full unedited 4:31 stereo mix of the song heard here did not appear on vinyl until Donovan's 1969 Greatest Hits album.
Title: I See You
Source: CD: 5D
The Byrd's third LP, 5D, saw Jim (Roger) McGuinn and David Crosby come into their own as songwriters, as this collaboration between the two clearly illustrates.
Title: All Day And All Of The Night
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Eric (original label: Reprise)
Following up on their worldwide hit You Really Got Me, the Kinks proved that lightning could indeed strike twice with All Day And All Of The Night. Although there have been rumours over the years that the guitar solo on the track may have been played by studio guitarist Jimmy Page, reliable sources insist that it was solely the work of Dave Davies, who reportedly slashed his speakers to achieve the desired sound.
Artist: Harbinger Complex
Title: I Think I'm Down
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Label: Rhino (original label: Brent)
Most garage/club bands never made it beyond a single or two for a relatively small independent label. The Harbinger Complex, from Freemont, California, is a good example, recording for local L.A. label Brent Records.
Artist: Young Rascals
Title: What Is The Reason
Source: LP: Collections
Label: Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
My first high school dance was a Sadie Hawkins Day dance held at the General H. H. Arnold High School gym in Weisbaden, Germany. Onstage was a band of military brats calling themselves the Collections, so called because they covered every tune on the second Young Rascals album. That night (probably the best night of my entire freshman year, thanks to a sophomore whose name I've long since forgotten but who looked a lot like Cindy Williams in American Graffiti) inspired me to A): talk my parents into buying a cheap guitar and amp so I could join up with other guys who lived in our housing area to form "The Abundance Of Love", aka "The Haze And Shades Of Yesterday", aka "The Shades", and B) find and buy a copy of the Collections album (which ended up taking over 40 years to do).
Artist: Frumious Bandersnatch
Title: Hearts To Cry
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on self-titled EP)
Writer: Jack King
Label: Rhino (original label: Muggles Grammophone)
Rock music and the real estate business have something in common: location can make all the difference. Take the San Francisco Bay Area. You have one of the world's great Cosmopolitan cities at the north end of a peninsula. South of the city, along the peninsula itself you have mostly redwood forest land interspersed with fairly affluent communities along the way to Silicon Valley and the city of San Jose at the south end of the bay. The eastern side of the bay, on the other hand, spans a socio-economic range from blue collar to ghetto and is politically conservative; not exactly the most receptive environment for a hippy band calling itself Frumious Bandersnatch, which is a shame, since they had at least as much talent as any other band in the area. Unable to develop much of a following, they are one of the great "should have beens" of the psychedelic era.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: In The Time Of Our Lives
One of the most eagerly-awaited albums of 1969 was Iron Butterfly's followup to In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Although Ball was a strong seller, it overall left the listener feeling vaguely disappointed, and was the last album to feature Eric Brann on lead guitar. Subsequent albums did even worse, and Iron Butterfly is now mostly remembered as progressive FM radio's first one-hit wonder.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From the Psychedelic 60s
Label: Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
Although San Jose, Ca. is a rather large city in its own right (the 10th-largest city in the US in fact), it has always had a kind of suburban status, thanks to being within the same media market as San Francisco. Nonetheless, San Jose had its own very active music scene, and Count Five was, for a time, at the top of the heap.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Talk Me Down
Source: CD: Beyond The Garage (originally released on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer: Sean Bonniwell
Label: Sundazed (original label: Warner Brothers)
Talk Me Down was, according to composer Sean Bonniwell, quite possibly the first punk rock song ever conceived. The tune was one of four songs recorded on a demo at Original Sound when the Music Machine still called itself the Ragamuffins. This recording was cut in 1967 by the band's original lineup, but not released until Warner Brothers released an album called Bonniwell Music Machine later that year. By the time of the album's release, all the members of the original band except Bonniwell had moved on to other things, and a new lineup was featured on several tracks on the album.
Title: Time Out For Time In
Source: Time Out! Time In! For Them
After Van Morrison left Them to embark on a successful solo career, the rest of the band continued to make records. The first effort was an offshoot group calling themselves the Belfast Gypsys, which released one LP in 1967. The actual band, meanwhile, had returned to their native Ireland and recruited Kenny McDowell as their new lead vocalist. They soon relocated to California, recording two LPs for Tower Records in 1968. The second of these was a collaborative effort between Them and the songwriting team of Tom Pulley and Vivian Lane. The opening track of the LP, Time Out For Time In, was an early example of the progressive rock that was developing on underground rock radio stations at the time.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Time Was
Source: CD: Very Best Of Canned Heat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Al "Blind Owl" Wilson
Label: Capitol (original label: Liberty)
Although not known for their single releases, Canned Heat actually had a reasonable amount of chart success, especially considering that they were essentially a blues band in a rock world. Time Was, written by co-founder and guitarist Al "Blind Owl" Wilson, was one of the last of these charted singles.
Artist: Guess Who
Title: Friends Of Mine
Source: CD: Wheatfield Soul
Label: Iconoclassic (original US label: RCA Victor; original Canadian label: Nimbus 9)
On first listen, Friends Of Mine may appear to be a Doors ripoff, but the band members themselves claim it was inspired more by the Who's first mini-opera, "A Quick One While He's Away." Regardless of the source of inspiration, this was certainly the most pyschedelic track ever released by a band known more for catchy pop ballads like "These Eyes" and "No Sugar Tonight." Interestingly enough, RCA released a 45 RPM stereo promo of the song to radio stations, with the 10+ minute track split across the two sides of the record. I first heard this cut on the American Forces Network (AFN) in Germany on a weekly show called Underground that ran at midnight on Saturday nights. I doubt any Generals were listening.
Artist: Big Brother and the Holding Company
Title: I Need A Man To Love
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
Big Brother and the Holding Company recorded their first album at the Chicago studios of Mainstream records in 1967. Mainstream, however, was a jazz label and their engineers had no idea how to make a band like Big Brother sound good. When the band signed to Columbia the following year it was decided that the best way to record the band was onstage at the Fillmore West. As a result, when Cheap Thrills was released, four of the seven tracks were live recordings, including the Janis Joplin/Peter Albin collaboration I Need A Man To Love.
Artist: Diana Ross and the Supremes
Title: Love Child
Source: CD: Billboard Top Rock & Roll Hits-1968
Label: Rhino (original label: Motown)
After Flo got kicked out of the Supremes and replaced by Cindy Birdsong, Motown began marketing the group as Diana Ross and the Supremes. At first, the group continued to chart hits, but after a pair of stiffs in late 1967 a meeting of Motown's top people was called to see what could be done to get their top group back on track. The solution was to give a new songwriting and production team a shot, and to come up with something a bit more relevant than the love songs the Supremes had come to be known for. As Motown was billing itself as "the sound of young America", it was decided that the way to put Diana Ross and the Supremes back on top would be to release a song addressing the issue of teenage pregnancy, which was a problem of epidemic proportions at the time, especially in the inner cities. The result was Love Child, which has the distinction of being the song that finally knocked the Beatles' Hey Jude out of the number one spot in December of 1968.
Artist: Frijid Pink
Title: House Of The Rising Sun
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Alan Price
Frijid Pink was a hard rocking blue collar band out of Detroit, Michigan. After releasing two singles on the Parrot label that went nowhere, they band scored big with their feedback-drenched version of House Of The Rising Sun, the song that had made the Animals famous six years earlier. The follow-up single, Sing A Song Of Freedom, barely dented the charts, however, and the group never made any inroads with the new progressive rock stations springing up on the FM dial. As a result, Frijid Pink has been known ever since as one-hit wonders.