We start this week's show with a pair of tracks that came from opposite ends of the pop music spectrum in early 1967. On the one hand we have the Cowsills, presenting about as wholesome an All-American family image as could be found that year. On the other we have a band that took its name from "Country Joe" Stalin and the writings of Mao Tse Tung.
Title: The Rain, The Park And Other Things
Source: LP: The Cowsills
The Cowsills started off as a trio of singing brothers who accompanied themselves on guitar, bass and drums. As they got older they began to add their younger siblings and eventually their mother to the band. Unusual among "family" bands in that in addition to singing they played all their own instruments, the Cowsills were the direct inspiration for TV's Partridge Family in the early 1970s. The Cowsills' first major hit was The Rain, The Park And Other Things, the opening track from their 1967 debut album.
Artist: Country Joe and the Fish
Title: Bass Strings
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer: Joe McDonald
One of the bands that defined psychedelic music was Country Joe and the Fish. Originally coming from a jug band tradition, the Fish were, by 1967, putting out some of the trippiest tracks ever recorded. A good example is Bass Strings from their debut album, which literally defines "acid rock".
Following up on that rather bizarre opening set we have three Beatle songs released on December 3rd 1965 in the UK and December 6th in the US.
Title: Think For Yourself
Source: CD: Rubber Soul
Writer: George Harrison
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
By the end of 1965 George Harrison was writing two songs per Beatle album. On Rubber Soul, however, one of his two songs was deleted from the US version of the album and appeared on 1966's Yesterday...And Today LP instead. The remaining Harrison song on Rubber Soul was Think For Yourself. Harrison later said that he was still developing his songwriting at this point and that bandmate John Lennon had helped write Think For Yourself.
Title: We Can Work It Out
Source: LP: Yesterday...And Today (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Year: 1966 (single released 1965)
Such was the stature of the Beatles in December of 1965 that they were able to simultaneously release a 14-track (12 in the US) LP (Rubber Soul) and a double-A sided single (We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper, neither song being on the LP) on the same day and take them all to the top of the charts worldwide by Christmas. That feat has never been duplicated.
Title: Run For Your Life
Source: CD: Rubber Soul
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Compared to some of John Lennon's later songs, Run For Your Life comes across as a sexist, even violent expression of jealous posessiveness. However, in 1965 such a viewpoint was quite common; in fact it was pretty much the acceptable norm for the times. Scary, huh?
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Try A Little Harder
Source: CD: Singles Collection-The London Years
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
By the mid-1970s Rolling Stones records had been around close to five years, and all the new Stones recordings were being released on that label, which was distributed by Atlantic Records. There were still a few unreleased tracks in the vaults at London Records (which had carried the Stones throughout the 60s) however, including Try A Little Harder, which finally saw the light of day as a B side and on the LP Metamorphosis in 1975 after having been kept in a box since 1964.
Artist: Johnny Winter
Title: Mean Town Blues
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer: Johnny Winter
Year: Recorded: 1969; released: 2009
1969 was a breakthrough year for Texas blues guitarist Johnny Winter, driven primarily by live performances at large venues such as the Dallas International Pop Festival and of course the Woodstock Performing Arts Festival, where this ten-plus minute track was recorded.
This week's second segment gets underway with three tracks released in 1967 from bands based in the the Los Angeles, California area.
Artist: Human Expression
Title: Optical Sound
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Accent)
One thing Los Angeles had become known for by the mid-1960s was its urban sprawl. Made possible by one of the world's most extensive regional freeway systems, the city had become surrounded by suburbs on all sides (except for the oceanfront). Many of these suburbs were (and are) in Orange County, home to Anaheim stadium, Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm. The O.C. was also home to the Human Expression, a band that recorded a trio of well-regarded singles for the Accent label. The second of these was Optical Sound. True to its name, the song utilized the latest technology available to achieve a decidedly psychedelic sound.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released regionally as 45 RPM B side, reissued nationally as A side)
Year: 1967 (original label: All-American; reissued nationally on Uni Records)
Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was originally released to Los Angeles area radio stations it was intended to be the B side of The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense An Peppermints as the A side.
Title: Change Is Now
Source: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
1967 saw the departure of two of the Byrds' founders and most prolific songwriters: Gene Clark and David Crosby. The loss of Clark coincided with the emergence of Chris Hillman as a first-rate songwriter in his own right; the loss of Crosby later in the year, however, created an extra burden for Hillman and Roger McGuinn, who from that point on were the band's primary composers. "Change Is Now" was the band's first post-Crosby single, released in late 1967 and later included (in a stereo version) on their 1968 LP The Notorious Byrd Brothers.
Leaving L.A. for a moment, we have a pair of tracks from 1971.
Artist: Blues Image
Title: Visions Of Flowers (originally released on LP: Lazarus)
Source: CD: Anthology
Writer: Danny Kalb
Label: Polydor (original label: Capitol)
The Blues Project was originally the name of an anthology album by various artists that included a solo piece by guitarist Danny Kalb. Kalb later appropriated the name Blues Project for his new band. Bringing it all full circle is Visions Of Flowers, a Kalb solo piece released on the Blues Project LP Lazarus in 1971.
Artist: Janis Joplin
Title: Me And Bobby McGee
Source: LP: Pearl
Janis Joplin's most successful single was the Kris Kristofferson-penned Me and Bobby McGee. Joplin died before the single was released, leading to a rather unusual situation: Me and Bobby McGee ended up being Kristofferson's signature song, both as a songwriter and a performer, despite his own recorded version never having charted.
To finish out the first hour we return once again to the L.A. club scene, circa 1966.
Artist: Other Half
Title: Mr. Pharmacist
Source: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single
Writer: Jeff Nowlen
I really should be ashamed of myself, following up a song by an artist who died of a drug overdose with a song like Mr. Pharmacist. But I'm not. The Other Half was one of the many bands that could be found playing the local L.A. clubs when the infamous Riot On Sunset Strip happened in 1966. They are also the only other band I know of besides the Seeds that recorded for the GNP Crescendo label.
Title: 7&7 Is
Source: CD: Comes In Colours (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Da Capo)
Writer: Arthur Lee
Label: Raven (original label: Elektra)
Year: 1966 (stereo version: 1967)
The first rock band signed to Elektra Records was Love, a popular L.A. club band that boasted two talented songwriters, Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean. On the heels of their first album, which included the single "My Little Red Book" and one of the first recordings of the fast version of "Hey Joe", came their most successful single, released in July of 1966. This stereo mix is taken from the album Da Capo.
We get this week's second hour underway with a set of tracks from 1967.
Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title: Ain't That So
Source: CD: Winds Of Change (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM B side)
Label: Repertoire (original label: M-G-M)
After recording this week's show I made an interesting discovery about Ain't That So. I knew the song had been released in the UK as the B side to Good Times (which was itself a B side in the US), but I was under the impression that it had not been released at all in the US. Well, it turns out I was wrong, as I discovered when I ran across a photo of the original label of the B side of the Animals 1968 single Monterey on the internet (yes, there are people who take pictures of stuff like that and post them on the internet). As I once spent seven years living with someone who had a copy of that single, I really should have remembered that.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Schizoforest Love Suite
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxters
Label: RCA Victor
Jefferson Airplane's Schizoforest Love Suite, from the album After Bathing At Baxter's, actually consists of two songs: Grace Slick's Two Heads and Paul Kantner's Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon. Both are among the strongest tunes on what is generally considered to be the Airplane's most psychedelic album.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Spanish Castle Magic
Source: LP: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
As part of my ongoing 2011 New Year's Resolution to play more Hendrix, I recently splurged on the new 180 gram vinyl reissue of Axis: Bold As Love (yes, I know I already had a copy on CD, but I figure the more copies I have, the more likely I am to run across one and decide to play something from it. Sort of an negative corrolary to "out of sight, out of mind"). Of course I had to listen to Spanish Castle Magic on headphones, as that was the way I used to listen to the album when my only copy was on pre-recorded reel-to-reel tape. I'm happy to say the new copy sounds just as good as I remember the tape sounding back then. Even better, I finally am able to enjoy one of the coolest album covers ever issued in its full 12" wide by 24" tall glory.
We return to the year 1966, this time for a proper three-song set starting in (once again) L.A.
Artist: Sons Of Adam
Title: Saturday's Son
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Lou T. Josie
Label: Rhino (original label: Decca)
I got to thinking I was about due to play something from a band I had never played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era before, so I pulled out this track by the L.A. club band Sons Of Adam. Then I realized I had already done that with the first song on the night from the Cowsills (and that one was by request, even). But I decided to play Saturday's Son anyway, just on general principles. Hope you like it.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Talk Talk
Source: CD: Turn On The Music Machine
Writer: Sean Bonniwell
Label: Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
When it came time for Sean Bonniwell's band, the Music Machine, to go into the studio, the group decided to go for the best sound possible. This meant signing with tiny Original Sound Records, despite having offers from bigger labels, due to Original Sound having their own state-of-the-art eight-track studios. Unfortunately for the band, they soon discovered that having great equipment did not mean Original Sound made great decisions. One of the first, in fact, was to include a handful of cover songs on the Music Machine's first LP that were recorded for use on a local TV show. Bonniwell was livid when he found out, as he had envisioned an album made up entirely of his own compositions (although he reportedly did plan to use a slowed-down version of Hey Joe that he and Tim Rose had worked up together). From that point on it was only a matter of time until the Music Machine and Original Sound parted company, but not until after they scored a big national hit with Talk Talk in 1966.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mercury)
The Blues Magoos (original spelling: Bloos) were either the first or second band to use the word psychedelic in an album title. Both they and the 13th Floor Elevators released their debut albums in 1966 and it is unclear which one actually came out first. What's not in dispute is the fact that Psychedelic Lollipop far outsold The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. One major reason for this was the fact that (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet was a huge national hit in early 1967, which helped album sales considerably. Despite having a unique sound and a look to match (including electric suits), the Magoos were unable to duplicate the success of Nothin' Yet on subsequent releases, partially due to Mercury's pairing of two equally marketable songs on the band's next single without indicating to stations which one they were supposed to be playing.
In 1969, while living on Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, I co-founded a band called Sunn with guitarist David Mason and drummer Mike Carter, which was primarily a jam band with a serious lack of equipment. The band split up in the summer of 1970 when both Dave's father and my own dad got transferred back to the states, but was reformed by Dave briefly (with new members) later that year in Mangum Oklahoma. In early 1971 Dave moved out to Alamogordo, New Mexico, where I had ended up, and with me, guitarist Doug Phillips and drummer Bobby Martin, started a third incarnation of Sunn. After Dave decided to return to Oklahoma, Doug and I headed up there ourselves to form the fourth and final version of the band with guitarist DeWayne Davis and drummer Michael Higgins. It is this version of Sunn that has a connection in my mind to the next two songs.
Artist: Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title: Cinnamon Girl
Source: LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer: Neil Young
My favorite Neil Young song has always been Cinnamon Girl. I suspect this is because the band I was in the summer after I graduated from high school used a re-arranged version of the song as our show opener (imagine Cinnamon Girl played like I Can See For Miles and you get a general idea of how it sounded). If we had ever recorded an album, we probably would have used that arrangement as our first single. I finally got to see Neil Young perform the song live (from the 16th row even) with Booker T. and the MGs as his stage band in the mid-1990s. It was worth the wait.
Artist: Rare Earth
Title: I Just Want To Celebrate
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: Rare Earth
So it's mid-September of 1971 and Sunn has just regrouped after losing our lead guitarist/backup drummer (and primary chick magnet) Dave to the US Air Force (he wanted to get married and needed the money). Luckily, we had three guitarists in the band, which had come in handy when Mike the drummer went to Nebraska to make some college start up money working the harvest and Dave had taken over on the drums (he was no Mike but at least he could keep a beat). But now Mike was back, Dave was gone, and after a month hiatus we had just scored our first gig: a one-shot at a little club in Weatherford, Oklahoma, where DeWayne (the rhythm guitarist) and Mike were enrolled as freshmen at a small liberal-arts college (Southwestern State). We had not practiced at all since losing Dave (and Mike hadn't played with us in almost two months) and were a bit rusty for the first set, but by the end of the third set we were cookin'. During the break the club manager asks us if we would be interested in becoming the house band, to play every Friday night. About that time, the jukebox plays the current Rare Earth hit, I Just Want To Celebrate, and we take to the stage and begin jamming along to the song. The jukebox gets unplugged and we just keep on jamming, a rather impromptu way to start the final set of the night. It was a seminal moment in the history of rock and roll.
Well, it could have been, if not for one small detail. A few days earlier, broke and seemingly out of options, I had made arrangements for my dad to drive up to Weatherford from Alamogordo, NM, and transport me and Doug (the other lead guitarist) back to the Land of Enchantment (a drive of several hundred miles that took about 10 hours each way). So we knew, even before we hit the stage that night, that it would be Sunn's final performance. Someday I'll write a novel based on what would have happened if I hadn't made that phone call. It'll become a bestseller and get picked up by a major Hollywood studio and become the definitive rock and roll movie. I'll use the money to locate and reunite the members of Sunn and we'll cut a million-selling album (available only on vinyl) and make history as the founders of the geezer-rock movement. We might even release an amped-up version of Cinnamon Girl as a single.
This week's final segment starts with one of the most influential pieces in rock history (despite the fact that the Butterfield Blues Band was not even considered a rock group when East-West was recorded in 1966).
Artist: Butterfield Blues Band
Source: CD: East-West
Along with the Blues Project, the Butterfield Blues Band (and guitarist Michael Bloomfield in particular) are credited with starting the movement toward improvisation in rock music. Both are cited as influences on the new bands that were cropping up in San Francisco in late 1966m including Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead. The first Butterfield album did not have much in the way of improvisation, however, as Butterfield himself was a Chicago blues traditionalist who, like many of his idols, held the reins of the band tightly and did not tolerate deviation. By the time of the band's second LP, however, the group was becoming more of a democracy, especially after their successful live shows brought rave reviews for the musicianship of the individual members, especially Bloomfield (who in some polls was rated the number one guitarist in the country). Bloomfield used this new clout to push for more improvisation, and the result was the classic album East-West. The title track itself is a modal piece; that is, it (in jazz terms) stays on the One rather than following a traditional blues progression. Within that framework Bloomfield's solo uses scales found in eastern music (Indian in particular); hence the title of the piece: East-West. Another difference between East-West and the first Butterfield album was that second guitarist Elvin Bishop, who had played strictly rhythm guitar on the debut, got a chance to do some solo work of his own on East-West. Bishop would soon find himself the band's lead guitarist when Bloomfield left to form the Electric Flag in 1967.
This week's show finishes up with the week's only progression through the years, starting with a pair of B sides.
Title: Why Did You Hurt Me
Source: 45 RPM single B side
This Standells B side is a bit of a musical oddity. It starts off as a growling three-chord bit of classic garage rock, but then goes into a bridge that sounds more like flower pop, with flowing melodic harmonies. This leads into a short transitional section that has little in common with what had come before and finally (somewhat awkwardly) segues back into the three chord main section to finish the song. The important thing, however, is that the piece was written by band members Dick Dodd and Tony Valentine, and as such stands as a fairly typical example of a garage-rock B side.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less)
Source: CD: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Label: Collector's Choice (original label: Reprise)
For a follow-up to the hit single I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), producer Dave Hassinger chose another Annette Tucker song (co-written by Jill Jones) called Get Me To The World On Time. This was probably the best choice from the album tracks available, but Hassinger may have made a mistake by choosing Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less) as the B side. That song, written by the same Tucker/Mantz team that wrote I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) could quite possibly been a hit single in its own right if it had been issued as an A side. I guess we'll never know for sure.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: A Child Of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death
Source: LP: Volume 3-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Bob Markley was a somewhat unique character on the LA scene. An heir from the Midwest and a moderately successful TV personality in Oklahoma, Markley had not been able to make a dent in tinsel town until he offered to finance the Harris brothers and become their tambourine player and (eventually) lead singer and lyricist. Although he is often accused of buying his way into rock and roll, he did have a certain gift for irony in his lyrics, as evidenced by A Child Of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death. The song itself (lyrics aside), was the work of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's most underrated member, guitarist Ron Morgan. By the time Volume 3 was being recorded, Morgan's enthusiam for the band was almost non-existent (apparently working with a guy like Markley could have that effect on some people). Nonetheless, he managed to write some of the group's most memorable tunes, including this one.
Title: Something's Got Hold of My Toe
Source: LP: Last Exit
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
Traffic only made two albums before splitting up in 1968 (they reformed in 1970). After the breakup, Island Records assembled a collection of singles, B sides, live recordings and one unreleased track for a third album, titled Last Exit. The unreleased track is called Something's Got Hold of My Toe, an instrumental that sounds like it was a warm-up jam that just happened to get recorded. Somehow producer Jimmy Miller is listed as a co-writer. Generally, Miller's contributions were on the lyrical side, making this particular credit a bit puzzling.