Thursday, August 25, 2011

SITPE # 1134 Playlist

This week we have a rather large number of songs that have never been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era. Appropriately, we start off with a song that hasn't been played since the 2010 End Of Year special counting down the most played songs of the year. Porpoise Song came in 16th. Somehow I don't think it will make this year's list (unless I play it a LOT of times over the next three months).

Artist: Monkees
Title: Porpoise Song
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on the soundtrack album to the movie Head)
Year: 1968
In 1968 the Monkees, trying desperately to shed a teeny-bopper image, enlisted Jack Nicholson to co-write a feature film that was a 180-degree departure from their recently-cancelled TV show. This made sense, since the original fans of the show were by then already outgrowing the group. Unfortunately, by 1968 the Monkees brand was irrevocably tainted by the fact that the Monkees had not been allowed to play their own instruments on their first two albums. The movie Head itself was the type of film that was best suited to being shown in theaters that specialized in "art" films, but that audience was among the most hostile to the Monkees and the movie bombed. It is now considered a cult classic.

Artist: Neil Young/Graham Nash
Title: War Song
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Neil Young
Label: Reprise
Year: 1972
Around the same time that Neil Young was working on his Harvest LP he recorded this track with Graham Nash and the Stray Gators. It was never released on an LP, although it did appear on CD many years later on one of the various anthologies that have been issued over the years.

To round out the first set we have a track that made its Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut just a few weeks ago.

Artist: P.F. Sloan
Title: Halloween Mary
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: P.F. Sloan
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Year: 1965
If there is any one songwriter associated specifically with folk-rock (as opposed to folk music), it would be the LA-based P.F. Sloan, writer of Barry McGuire's signature song, Eve Of Destruction. Sloan also penned hits for the Turtles in their early days as one of the harder-edged folk-rock bands, including their second hit, Let Me Be. In fact, Sloan had almost 400 songs to his credit by the time he and Steve Barri teamed up to write and produce a series of major hits released by various bands under the name Grass Roots. Sloan himself, however, only released two singles as a singer, although (as can be heard on the second of them, the slightly off-kilter Halloween Mary) he had a voice as good as many of the recording stars of the time.

As I write these notes I find myself somewhat shocked to discover that two of the next three songs (an all-British set from 1967) have never been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era. And they are all three outstanding tracks, too. Just goes to show how much great music was recorded over such a short time.

Artist: Beatles
Title: Strawberry Fields Forever
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Label: Parlophone
Year: 1967
The only reason I can think of for never having played Strawberry Fields Forever on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era is that there are just so many quality Beatles recordings that it's easy to overlook a few. A poor excuse for not playing one of the greatest psychedelic songs ever recorded, I know.

Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: I'm A Man
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Miller/Winwood
Label: United Artists
Year: 1967
The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve and Muff Winwood, was one of the UK's most successful white R&B bands of the sixties, cranking out a steady stream of hit singles. Two of them, the iconic Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man, were also major hits in the US, the latter being the last song to feature the Winwood brothers. Muff Winwood became a successful record producer. The group itself continued on for several years, but were never able to duplicate their earlier successes. As for Steve Winwood, he quickly faded off into obscurity, never to be heard from again. Except as the leader of Traffic. And a member of Blind Faith. And Traffic again. And some critically-acclaimed collaborations in the early 1980s with various Asian musicians. Oh yeah, and a few obscure solo hits (While You See A Chance, Roll With It, Higher Love, etc.) in the late 80s. Other than that, nothing.

Artist: Cream
Title: We're Going Wrong
Source: LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer: Jack Bruce
Label: RSO (original label: Atco)
Year: 1967
On Fresh Cream the slowest-paced tracks were bluesy numbers like Sleepy Time Time. For the group's second LP, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce came up with We're Going Wrong, a song with a haunting melody supplemented by some of Eric Clapton's best guitar fills. Ginger Baker put away his drumsticks in favor of mallets, giving the song an otherworldly feel.

Artist: Otherside
Title: Streetcar
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Battey/Graham
Label: Rhino (original label: Brent)
Year: 1966
Although not as popular as the Chocolate Watchband or Count Five, the Otherside had its share of fans in the San Jose, California area. Enough, in fact, to land a deal with Brent Records. Their single, Streetcar, got some airplay on local radio stations, but failed to match the success of other area bands.

Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: Hungry
Source: LP: Spirit of '67
Writer: Mann/Weil
Label: Columbia
Year: 1966
1966 was an incredibly successful year for Paul Revere and the Raiders. In addition to starting a gig as the host band for Dick Clark's new afternoon TV show, Where The Action Is, the band managed to crank out three consecutive top 10 singles. The second of these was Hungry, written by Brill building regulars Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: Short-Haired Fathers
Source: LP: Circus Maximus
Writer: Bob Bruno
Label: Vanguard
Year: 1967
Circus Maximus was formed in Greenwich Village by guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker in 1967. The group originally wanted to call itself the Lost Sea Dreamers, but changed it after the Vanguard Records expressed reservations about signing a group with the initials LSD. Of the eleven tracks on the band's debut LP, only four were written by Walker, and those were in more of a folk-rock vein. Bruno's seven tracks, on the other hand, are true gems of psychedelia, ranging from the jazz-influenced Wind to the proto-punk rocker Short-Haired Fathers. The group fell apart after only two albums, mostly due to the growing musical differences between Walker and Bruno. Walker, of course, went on to become one of the most successful songwriters of the country-rock genre. As for Bruno, not much is known of his life after Circus Maximus, although as far as I can tell he still lives in New York City.

Artist: Doors
Title: When The Music's Over
Source: CD: Strange Days
Writer: The Doors
Label: Elektra
Year: 1967
I remember the first time I heard this track. My girlfriend's older brother had it on the stereo in his room and told us to get real close to the speakers so we could hear the sound of a butterfly while he turned the volume way up. What we got, of course, was a blast of "...we want the world and we want it now." Good times.

Our first artist set of the night (there are three of 'em) is from a group that has been called the greatest rock and roll band ever: The Rolling Stones.

Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Yesterday's Papers
Source: LP: Between The Buttons
Writer: Jagger/Richards
Label: London
Year: 1967
Between The Buttons was the Rolling Stones first album of 1967 and included their first forays into psychedelic music, a trend that would dominate their next LP, Their Satanic Majesties Request. The opening track of Between The Buttons was Yesterday's Papers, a song written in the wake of Mick Jagger's breakup with his girlfriend Chrissie Shrimpton (who, after the album was released, tried to commit suicide). The impact of the somewhat cynical song was considerably less in the US, where it was moved to the # 2 slot on side one to make room for Let's Spend The Night Together, a song that had only been released as a single in their native UK.

Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Mother's Little Helper
Source: CD: Flowers
Writer: Jagger/Richards
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Year: 1966
By 1966 the Rolling Stones had already had a few brushes with the law over their use of illegal drugs. Mother's Little Helper, released in Spring of '66, is a scathing criticism of the abuse of legal prescription drugs by the parents of the Stones' fans. Perhaps more than any other song of the time, Mother's Little Helper illustrates the increasingly hostile generation gap that had sprung up between the young baby boomers and the previous generation.

Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Cool, Calm and Collected
Source: LP: Between The Buttons
Writer: Jagger/Richards
Label: London
Year: 1967
Closing out the Rolling Stones set we have Cool, Calm and Collected. An appropriate choice, since the song also closes out side one of Between The Buttons.

Artist: Mad River
Title: Amphetamine Gazelle
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Mad River)
Writer: Lawrence Hammond
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Year: 1968
By 1968 acid was no longer the drug of choice on the streets of San Francisco. In its place, crystal meth was beginning to dominate the scene, with a corresponding increase in ripoffs and burns. The local musicians often reflected this change, with some, such as Canned Heat, declaring that Speed Kills and moving south to Laurel Canyon. Others, such as Mad River (originally from Yellow Springs, Ohio, but Bay Area residents since early 1967), attempted to use ridicule to combat the problem, but with no appreciable success (speed freaks not being known for their sense of humor, or any other kind of sense for that matter).

Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)
Source: CD: The Grateful Dead
Writer: McGannahan Skjellyfetti
Label: Warner Brothers
Year: 1967
The Grateful Dead's debut single actually sold pretty well in the bay area, where it got airplay on top 40 stations from San Francisco to San Jose. Around the rest of the country, not so much, but the Dead would soon prove that there was more to survival than having a hit record. Writing credits on The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion) were given to McGannahan Skjellyfetti, which like the Rolling Stones' Nanker Phelge was a name used for songs written by the entire band (it took up less space on the label).

The Chocolate Watchband are unique in that they managed to attain legendary status in spite of their record label or even their own management. The band started off well enough; a group of guys enrolled at Foothills Junior College in what would become Silicon Valley forming a band to play mostly covers by such hard-edged British bands as the Kinks and the Rolling Stones. The problems started when they signed a management contract with Ed Cobb, who also managed and produced the Standells and other garage-punk bands. Cobb, at that point, was looking to make inroads with the crowd that was buying records by the Seeds and other flower power groups, and tried his best to reshape the Watchband into a more psychedelic sound. Unfortunately, the band was really not suited to what Cobb wanted, so Cobb brought in studio musicians to present his musical vision. The result was a pair of albums that both sounded like they had been recorded by two entirely different groups...because they had (some tracks even had a studio lead vocalist on them).

This week's set, though, features songs that were performed by the actual Chocolate Watchband, and are among the best examples of the group's true sound.

Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: I Ain't No Miracle Worker
Source: CD: The Inner Mystique
Writer: Tucker/Mantz
Label: Sundazed (original label: Tower)
Year: 1968
Originally recorded by the Merced California band the Brogues, I Ain't No Miracle Worker was penned by the same songwriting team of Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz that had written the Electric Prunes' biggest hit, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night). The Watchband version is actually a touch slower and (unexpectedly) more melodic than the 1965 Brogues original.

Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: The Love-In soundtrack)
Writer: McElroy/Bennett
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year: 1967
The Love-In was a cheapo teensploitation flick from American International that included a clip of the Chocolate Watchband performing this tune. As both the Watchband and AIP's soundtracks were on Tower Records it was a perfect fit.

Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: I'm Not Like Everybody Else
Source: CD: The Inner Mystique
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Sundazed (original label: Tower)
Year: 1968
The first Chocolate Watchband album, No Way Out, sold well enough to warrant a follow-up LP, The Inner Mystique. The only problem was that by the end of 1967 there was no Chocolate Watchband left to record it, although there were a few unreleased recordings in the vaults. Unfazed, producer Ed Cobb once again turned to studio musicians to fill out the album. One of the few actual Watchband recordings on The Inner Mystique was this cover of the Kinks' I'm Not Like Everybody Else, which had appeared as a B side a couple years earlier. This song, along with their cover of I Ain't No Miracle Worker, almost made the album worth buying. In fact, enough people did indeed buy The Inner Mystique to warrant a third and final Watchband album, but by then the group had reformed with almost entirely different personnel and the resulting album, One Step Beyond, actually sounds less like the original group than all those studio musicians did.

Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Quite Rightly So
Source: CD: Shine On Brightly
Writer: Brooker/Reid
Label: A&M
Year: 1968
In 1969, while living on Ramstein AFB in Germany, my dad managed to get use of one of the basement storage rooms in building 913, the 18-unit apartment building we resided in. For a few months (until getting in trouble for having overnight guests and making too much noise...hey I was 16, whaddaya expect?) I got to use that room as a bedroom. I had a small record player that shut itself off when it got to the end of the record, which meant I got to go to sleep every night to the album of my choice. As often as not that album was Shine On Brightly, a copy of which I had gotten in trade for another album (the Best of the Beach Boys I think) from a guy who was expecting A Whiter Shade of Pale and was disappointed to discover it was not on this album. I always thought I got the better end of that deal, despite the fact that there was a skip during the fade of Quite Rightly So, causing the words "one was me" to repeat over and over until I scooted the needle over a bit. Luckily Quite Rightly So is the first song on the album, so I was usually still awake to do that.

Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Teacher
Source: LP: Benefit
Writer: Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1970
LPs released by British Groups often had different song lineups in the US and the UK. One of the reasons for this is that British labels generally did not include songs that had been released as singles on LPs. In the US, however, running times were 5-10 minutes shorter per LP, and songs that had been included on British LPs would end up being dropped in favor of the latest hit single by the same artist. Jethro Tull, however, was generally an exception to this practice. Both of their first two LPs had exactly the same song lineup on both sides of the Atlantic. In fact, the only notable exception was the song Teacher, which was released as a single before the UK version of the group's third LP, Benefit. The US version of Benefit has Teacher on it, replacing Just Trying To Be, which would not be issued in the US until the Living In The Past album.

Artist: Nashville Teens
Title: Tobacco Road
Source: CD: British Beat
Writer: John D. Loudermilk
Label: KTel
Year: 1964
The Nashville Teens were neither teens nor from Nashville. In fact, they were one of the original British Invasion bands. Their version of John D. Loudermilk's Tobacco Road was a huge international hit in the summer of 1964. The lead guitar parts on the recording are the work of studio musician Jimmy Page.

Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Younger Girl
Source: LP: Do You Believe In Magic
Writer: John Sebastian
Label: Kama Sutra
Year: 1965
The Critters followed up their hit song Mr. Dieingly Sad with a cover of John Sebastian's Younger Girl in the fall of 1966. The original version heard here was recorded for the Lovin' Spoonful's debut album, Do You Believe In Magic in 1965.

Artist: Janis Ian
Title: I'll Give You A Stone If You Throw It (Changing Tymes)
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue) (originally released on LP: Janis Ian)
Writer: Janis Ian
Label: Polydor (original label: Now Sounds)
Year: 1967
Janis Ian got her first poem published in a national magazine at age 12. Not content with mere literary pursuits, the talented Ms. Ian turned to music. After being turned down by several major labels, Ian finally got a contract with the tiny New Sounds label and scored her first major hit with Society's Child, a song about interracial dating that was banned on several stations in the southern US. This led to her self-titled debut album at age 15, and a contract with M-G-M subsidiary Verve Forecast. I'll Give You A Stone If You Throw It (Changing Tymes) is taken from that first LP.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Comin' Back To Me
Source: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer: Marty Balin
Label: RCA Victor
Year: 1967
Uncredited guest guitarist Jerry Garcia adds a simple, but memorable recurring fill riff to this Marty Balin tune. Balin, in his 2003 liner notes to the remastered release of Surrealistic Pillow, claims that Comin' Back To Me was written in one sitting under the influence of some primo stuff given to him by Paul Butterfield. Other players on the recording include Paul Kantner and Balin himself on guitars, Jack Casady on bass and Grace Slick on recorder.

Artist: Love
Title: She Comes In Colors
Source: Da Capo
Writer: Arthur Lee
Label: Elektra
Year: 1967
Arthur Lee was a bit of an enigma. His band, Love, was generally accepted as the top band on the Strip in L.A., yet Lee himself was a bit of a recluse living up on the hill overlooking the scene. With one notable exception, his songs were not hits, yet he was critically acknowledged as a musical genius on a par with his friend Jimi Hendrix. Stylistically, his songs varied from intensely hard rock (Stephanie Knows Who, 7&7 Is), to softer, almost jazzy tunes such as this one from the same album.

And now for a bit of a turnaround. A few months ago I played a set of tracks from the Jimi Hendrix Experience album Electric Ladyland, all taken from CD reissues. This time around we have the same three tracks in reverse order, using vinyl for the first and last ones.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Burning of the Midnight Lamp
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Reprise
Year: 1968
Burning of the Midnight Lamp was the fourth, and at the time most sophisticated single released by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, coming out in mid-1967 between Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold As Love. By this time, Reprise had changed its policy and ended up releasing the Axis album with the same song lineup as the UK original, which left Midnight Lamp a kind of orphan. Hendrix, though, having put a lot of work into the song, was not content to let the mono single release be the last word on the cut, and created a new stereo mix from the original tapes for inclusion on Electric Ladyland the following year.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Come On (Part 1)
Source: CD: Electric Ladyland
Writer: Earl King
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1968
Despite being rated by many as the number one rock guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix's roots were in the blues. One of his most performed songs was Red House (a track that was left off the US release of Are You Experienced?), and the Experience's debut US performance at Monterey featured a amped-up version of the B.B. King classic Rock Me Baby. For the Electric Ladyland album Hendrix chose a relatively obscure tune from Earl King, originally recorded in 1960. Come On (Pt. 1) was one of only two cover songs on Electric Ladyland (the other being Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower).

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: …And The Gods Made Love/Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Reprise
Year: 1968
Although listed as separate tracks on the album cover, And The Gods Made Love and Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) actually ran together as a continuing track on the album itself. In fact, the entire first and third sides of Electric Ladyland were pressed without the traditional spaces between songs on the vinyl (which is the source used here).

Artist: Seeds
Title: Pushin' Too Hard
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: The Seeds)
Writer: Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year: 1966
Pushin' Too Hard is generally included on every collection of psychedelic hits ever compiled. And for good reason. The song is an undisputed classic.

Artist: Kinks
Title: You Really Got Me
Source: CD: 25 Years-The Ultimate Collection
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: PolyTel (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1964
You Really Got Me has been described as the first hard rock song and the track that invented heavy metal. You'll get no argument from me on either of those.

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