Wednesday, September 7, 2011

SITPE # 1136 Playlist

This week we needed to use the garage for parking the car. The garage bands will be back next week, however.

Artist: Big Brother and the Holding Company
Title: Combination Of The 2
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer: Sam Andrew
Label: Columbia
Year: 1968
Everything about Big Brother And The Holding Company can be summed up by the title of the opening track for their Cheap Thrills album (and their usual show opener as well): Combination Of The 2. A classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, Big Brother, with Janis Joplin on lead vocals, had an energy that neither Joplin or the band itself was able to duplicate once they parted company. On the song itself, the actual lead vocals for the verses are the work of Combination Of The 2's writer, bassist Sam Houston Andrew III, but those vocals are eclipsed by the layered non-verbal chorus that starts with Joplin then repeats itself with Houston providing a harmony line which leads to Joplin's promise to "knock ya, rock ya, gonna sock it to you now". It was a promise that the group seldom failed to deliver on.

Artist: Easybeats
Title: Gonna Have A Good Time
Source: CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Vanda/Young
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
Year 1968
The Easybeats were Australia's most popular band in the sixties. Formed in 1964 at a migrant hostel in Sidney (all the members came from immigrant families), the band's earliest hits were written by rhythm guitarist George Young (older brother of AC/DC's Angus and Malcolm Young) and lead vocalist "Little" Stevie Wright. By 1966, however, lead guitarist Harry Vanda (originally from the Netherlands) had become fluent in English and with the song Friday On My Mind replaced Wright as Young's writing partner (although Wright stayed on as the band's frontman). One of the Easybeats' biggest hits in Australia was Good Times from the album Vigil. I can't verify whether Gonna Have A Good Time is actually Good Times or not, but what little information I have (such as the fact that Good Times was covered by INXS for the film The Lost Boys and my own memory of hearing a remake of this song sometime in the late 80s) leads me to believe that the two are one and the same. Young and Vanda later recorded a series of records under the name Flash and the Pan that were very successful in Australia and Europe. Stevie Wright went on to become Australia's first international pop star.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Lather
Source: CD: Crown of Creation
Writer: Grace Slick
Label: RCA
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 Spencer Dryden, the band's oldest member, who had just turned 30. A popular phrase of the time was "don't trust anyone over 30", making it a particularly bad time to have that particular birthday.

Artist: Yardbirds
Title: Steeled Blues
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Jeff Beck
Label: Epic
Year: 1965
The Yardbirds were not known for their original material. They did, however, come up with a few tunes of their own, such as Steeled Blues, an instrumental penned by guitarist Jeff Beck. The title pretty much describes the song itself, as it is essentially a blues jam with Beck playing slide guitar with steel strings.

Artist: Seeds
Title: Pushin' Too Hard
Source: CD: Best of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: The Seeds)
Writer: Sky Saxon
Label: Priority (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year: 1966
Pushin' Too Hard was originally released in spring of 1966 as the closing track on side one of the first Seeds album. After being released to the L.A. market as a single the song did well enough to go national in early 1967, hitting its peak in February of that year.

Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: For What It's Worth
Source: CD: Retrospective (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on second edition of LP: Buffalo Springfield)
Writer: Stephen Stills
Label: Atco
Year: 1967
Most people associate the name Buffalo Springfield with the song For What It's Worth. And for good reason. The song is one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded, and to this day is in regular rotation on both oldies and classic rock radio stations (which partially explains why I haven't played it on Stuck In The Psychedelic Era before now). The song was written and recorded in November of 1966 and released in January of 1967. By then the first Buffalo Springfield LP was on the racks, but, until that point had not sold particularly well. When it became clear that For What It's Worth was turning into a major hit, Atco Records quickly recalled the album and added the song to it (as the opening track). All subsequent pressings of the LP (and later the CD) contain For What It's Worth, making earlier copies of the album somewhat of a rarity and quite collectable.

Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Mr. Soul
Source: LP: Again
Writer: Neil Young
Label: Atco
Year: 1967
Executives at Atco Records originally considered Neil Young's voice "too weird" to be recorded. As a result many of Young's early tunes (including the band's debut single Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing), were sung by Richie Furay. By the time the band's second album, Buffalo Springfield Again, was released, the band had enough clout to make sure Young was allowed to sing his own songs. In fact, the album starts with a Young vocal on the classic Mr. Soul.

Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Bluebird
Source: CD: Retrospective (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer: Stephen Stills
Label: Atco
Year: 1967
When it comes right down to it Buffalo Springfield has one of the highest ratios of songs recorded to songs played on the radio of any band in history, especially if you only count the two albums worth of material that was released while the band was still active. This is probably because Buffalo Springfield had more raw songwriting talent than just about any two other bands. Although Neil Young was just starting to hit his stride as a songwriter, bandmate Stephen Stills was already at an early peak, as songs like Bluebird clearly demonstrate.

Artist: Miles Davis
Title: Pharaoh's Dance
Source: LP: Bitches Brew
Writer: Joe Zawinul
Label: Columbia
Year: 1970
This week we venture into territory seldom covered on Stuck In The Psychedelic Era. By 1970 Miles Davis had already virtually invented at least one jazz subgenre (cool jazz), and with the Bitches Brew album he did it again, this time inventing both jazz-rock fusion and acid jazz at the same time. Bitches Brew is also notable as the first jazz album to use recording technology extensively, to the point of actually altering the performances. This followed in the footsteps of Jimi Hendrix, who was also known for using the studio as a creative tool. Side one of Bitches Brew, the twenty-minute Pharaoh's Dance, contains nineteen separate edits, some of them only a second long. The instrumentation on Bitches Brew was a departure from traditional jazz as well, with electric instruments being used extensively. The list of musicians who played on the album read like a who's who of fusion, including John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, and Joe Zawinul (who wrote Pharaoh's Dance), among others.

Artist: First Edition
Title: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Mickey Newbury
Label: Reprise
Year: 1968
Kenny Rogers has, on more than one occassion, tried to put as much distance between himself and the 1968 First Edition hit Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) as possible. I feel it's my civic duty to remind everyone that he was the lead vocalist on the recording, and that this song was the one that launched his career. So there.

Artist: Sly and the Family Stone
Title: Dance To The Music
Source: CD: Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Dance To The Music)
Writer: Sylvester Stewart
Label: Epic
Year: 1968
After Sly and the Family Stone's 1967 debut album failed to make a major showing on the charts, the executives at Epic Records asked Sylvester "Sly" Stewart if he could come up something a bit more commercial for his second album. No stranger to the record business (Stewart had successfully produced many early San Francisco bands for Autumn Records, including the Beau Brummels), Stewart responded with the smash hit Dance To The Music. The group went on to record a series of successful singles and was one of the best-received acts at the Woodstock Performing Arts festival in 1969.

Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Someday
Source: LP: Great Grape
Writer: Miller/Stevenson/Spence
Label: Columbia
Year: 1967
Moby Grape was a talented band that unfortunately was the victim of their own hype (or more accurately, that of Columbia Records, who issued five singles from their first album simultaneously). They were never able, however, to live up to that hype, despite some fine tunes like Someday, which was included on their first LP.

Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Summertime Blues
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Vincebus Eruptum)
Writer: Cochrane/Capehart
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
Year: 1968
If 1967 was the summer of love, then 1968 was the summer of violence. Framed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, both major anti-establishment movements of the time (civil rights and anti-war) became increasing radicalized and more violent. The hippies gave way to the Yippies, LSD gave way to crystal meth, and there were riots in the streets of several US cities. Against this backdrop Blue Cheer released one of the loudest and angriest recordings ever to grace the top 40: the proto-metal arrangement of Eddie Cochrane's 1958 classic Summertime Blues. It was the perfect soundtrack of its time.

Artist: Bob Seger System
Title: Tales Of Lucy Blue (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Source: LP: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Writer: Bob Seger
Label: Capitol
Year: 1969
For many years the only Bob Seger record I owned was the single Ramblin' Gamblin' Man that I bought new in 1969 at the Base Exchange at Ramstein Air Force Base Germany for about 50 cents. The B side was the song Tales of Lucy Blue. After that single disappeared from my collection I never bought another Bob Seger record (although I did score a promo copy of Turn The Page from a radio station I was working at in the mid 90s). More recently I was allowed to pillage the WEOS vinyl archives (found on the Hobart and William Smith campus in a storage area in one of the dorms) and found this copy of the Ramblin' Gamblin' Man album. The cover features a young blond woman dressed in blue satin against a blue background. It turns out that the album (Seger's first) was originally going to be titled Tales of Lucy Blue but was changed at the last minute by the shirts at Capitol in order to capitalize on the popularity of the single that I had bought a copy of. Luckily they didn't change the cover art as well.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Stepping Stone
Source: CD: First Rays of the New Rising Sun (originally released on LP: War Heroes)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1970
The last single released by Jimi Hendrix (as Hendrix Band Of Gypsys) during his lifetime was Stepping Stone, recorded in February of 1970 and released two months later. In June, Hendrix and drummer Mitch Mitchell re-recorded their instrumental parts for inclusion on Hendrix's new double LP, tentatively titled First Rays Of The New Rising Sun. Hendrix's death on Sept 16, 1970 sidetracked the double LP until it was finally finished by Mitchell and engineer Eddie Kramer in 1997 and released on CD. Meanwhile the re-recorded song was included on 1972's War Heroes LP, as well as other collections.

Artist: John Mayall
Title: Man Of Stone
Source: LP: Crusade
Writer: Eddie Kirkland
Label: London
Year: 1967
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers had a fluid lineup of some of the best musicians the British blues scene had to offer. The 1967 album Crusade (so named because Mayall considered his work to be a crusade of sorts, dedicated to preserving and popularizing the blues) features future Rolling Stone Mick Taylor and future Fleetwood Mac founder John McVie, among others.

Artist: Ten Years After
Title: I Woke Up This Morning
Source: LP: Ssssh
Writer: Alvin Lee
Label: Deram
Year: 1969
Latecomers to the British blues scene, Ten Years After were in fact the original retro-rockers, taking their cues from the classic rock and roll artists of the 50s as much as from the rhythm and blues artists of the era. Alvin Lee's songwriting, especially in the band's early days, reflected both these influences, with slow bluesy numbers like I Woke Up This Morning co-existing with high-energy rockers like I'm Going Home.

Artist: Doors
Title: Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)
Source: CD: The Doors
Writer: The Doors
Label: Elektra
Year: 1967
Also known as Whiskey Bar, this track was a favorite among hip underground DJs who needed a fairly short song that could be easily faded out to lead up to news time without offending anybody.

Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Cat's Squirrel
Source: LP: This Was
Writer: trad. Arr. Abrahams
Label: Chrysalis
Year: 1968
Probably the Jethro Tull recording with the least Ian Anderson influence, Cat's Squirrel was recorded at the insistence of record company people, who felt the song was most representative of the band's live sound. The traditional tune was arranged by guitarist Mick Abrahams, who left the band due to creative differences with Anderson shortly thereafter. Cat's Squirrel became a live staple of Abrahams's next band, Blodwyn Pig.

Artist: Janis Joplin with the Kozmic Blues Band
Title: Ball And Chain
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer: Willie Mae Thornton
Label: Rhino
Year: 1969
From Woodstock we have Janis Joplin performing her show stopper, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton's Ball and Chain. The Kozmic Blues Band was Joplin's only group to feature a horn section, and, despite its members having a higher degree of technical proficiency than Big Brother, is generally considered to be lacking in the type of raw energy that helped propel Joplin to stardom.

Artist: Allman Brothers Band
Title: In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
Source: CD: Beginnings (originally released on LP: Idlewild South)
Writer: Dicky Betts
Label: Polydor (original label: Capricorn)
Year: 1970
The second Allman Brothers Band LP, Idlewild South, was notable for the emergence of guitarist Dicky Betts as the band's second songwriter (joining Gregg Allman, who wrote all of the band's original material on their debut album). One of Betts's most enduring compositions is the instrumental In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed, which soon became a concert staple for the group, and is one of two tracks on their Live At The Fillmore East album to get extensive airplay (the other being Whipping Post).

Artist: Who
Title: Behind Blue Eyes
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: Decca
Year: 1971
One of the most iconic Who songs ever, Behind Blue Eyes continues to get played on commercial FM stations, both in its original form and the more recent cover version by Limp Bizkit.

Artist: Who
Title: Pictures Of Lily
Source: CD: Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Year: 1967
Pictures of Lily was the first single released by the Who in 1967. It hit the #4 spot on the British charts, but only made it to #51 in the US. This was nothing new for the Who, as several of their early singles, including Substitute, I Can't Explain and even My Generation hit the British top 10 without getting any US airplay (or chart action) at all.

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