Thursday, September 29, 2011

SITPE # 1139 Playlist (starts 9/29/11)

This week we have a lot of tracks from 1967 and a good number from 1968 as well, as proven by this first set. Yes, I know I started the show with the same track just three weeks ago, but some good things bear repeating. As I am running a bit late with these notes I'm doing a little copy/paste job for this track as well. Unfortunately (for these notes) there are a lot of tracks that I've never played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era before this week, which explains why the notes weren't finished until Saturday.

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 "rock you, sock you, gonna give it to you now". It was a promise that the group seldom failed to deliver on.

Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: Don't Take It So Hard
Source: CD: The Legend Of Paul Revere (originally released on LP: Something Happening)
Writer: Mark Lindsay
Label: Columbia
Year: 1968
Paul Revere and the Raiders had one of the most successful runs in rock history, starting with regional hit "Like Long Hair" in 1964 and a string of national top 40 hits from 1965-67. By 1968, however, the band's fortunes were changing. The revolutionary war outfits that had caught the public fancy on the Dick Clark-produced afternoon TV show Where The Action Is were now considered a bit childish, a perception that was not helped by the fact that the band was now appearing as the stars of a new Clark show called It's Happening, which ran on Saturday morning in a time slot traditionally considered kids territory. On the musical front there were problems as well. The band had ended its relationship with producer Terry Melcher, who had guided the group since they had signed with Columbia in 1964, co-writing much of the band's material. They found themselves in a position of being too old to jump on the bubble gum bandwagon that was dominating AM radio in 1968 and too pop-oriented for the new progressive rock radio stations popping up on the FM dial. Additionally, the band had come to rely more and more on studio musicians on their recordings, which did nothing to help their credibility with the rock press. A perfect example of what the band was sounding like in 1968 was Don't Take It So Hard, one of the first songs written by lead vocalist Mark Lindsay without input from Melcher. The song was released as a single and was the featured track on their Something Happening album.

Artist: Steppenwolf
Title: Born To Be Wild
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Mars Bonfire
Label: Dunhill
Year: 1968
Born To Be Wild's status as a counter-cultural anthem was cemented when it was chosen for the soundtrack of the movie Easy Rider. The popularity of both the song and the movie resulted in Steppenwolf becoming the all-time favorite band of bikers all over the world.

Artist: Spirit
Title: Straight Arrow
Source: CD: Spirit
Writer: Jay Ferguson
Label: Ode/Epic/Legacy
Year: 1968
Spirit was born when high school students and garage rockers Randy California, Jay Ferguson, Mark Andes and John Locke started jamming with California's stepfather, jazz drummer Ed Cassidy. The result was one of the earliest examples of jazz-rock, although the jazz element would be toned down for later albums. Unlike the later fusion bands, Spirit's early songs tended to be sectional, with a main section that was straight rock often leading into a more late bop styled instrumental section reminiscent of Wes Montgomery's recordings. Vocalist Jay Ferguson wrote most of the band's early material, such as Straight Arrow from their 1968 debut album.

Artist: McCoys
Title: I Can't Explain It
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Feldman/Goldstein/Gottherer
Label: Bang
Year: 1965
The McCoys, led by guitarist Rick Derringer, got their big break when they were booked as the opening act for the Strangeloves, a group of New York songwriters that were passing themselves off as sons of an Australian sheepherder. The Strangeloves had already cut instrumental tracks for a future single and B side, but had held off on finishing and releasing the record so as not to undermine the chart action of their current hit, I Want Candy. The Strangeloves were so impressed with the McCoys, and Derringer in particular, that they used their influence with Bang Records to get the new band a contract. Derringer was flown out to New York to add vocals and guitar tracks to the unfinished Strangeloves recordings and the single, featuring I Can't Explain It on the B side was released under the McCoys name. The A side of that record was a song called Hang On Sloopy. Derringer went on to have a career that outlasted not only his bandmates, but the Strangeloves as well.

Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Take My Love
Source: LP: Electric Comic Book
Writer: Gilbert/Scala
Label: Mercury
Year: 1967
The Blues Magoos were one of the most visible bands to wear the label "psychedelic". In fact, much of what they are remembered for was what they wore onstage: electric suits. They were also one of the first bands to use the term "psychedelic" on a record, (their 1966 debut album was called Psychedelic Lollipop). Unlike some of their wilder jams such as Tobacco Road and a six-minute version of Gloria, Take My Love, from the band's sophomore effort Electric Comic Book, is essentially garage rock done in the Blues Magoos style. That style was defined by the combination of Farfisa organ and electric guitar, the latter depending heavily on reverb and vibrato bar to create an effect of notes soaring off into space.

Artist: Kak
Title: Lemonade Kid
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Kak)
Writer: Gary Lee Yoder
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
Year: 1969
Kak was a group from Davis, California that was only around long enough to record one LP for Epic. That self-titled album did not make much of an impression commercially, and was soon out of print. Long after the band had split up, critics began to notice the album, and copies of the original LP are now highly-prized by collectors. Songs like the Lemonade Kid show that Kak had a sound that holds up better today than many of the other artists of the time. In fact, after listening to this track a couple times I went out and ordered a copy of the import CD reissue of the Kak album (which, being on back order, may take a while to come in).

Artist: Vagrants
Title: Respect
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Year: 1967
Writer: Otis Redding
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Sounding a lot like the Rascals, the Vagrants were a popular Long Island band best remembered for being the group that had guitarist Leslie Weinstein in it. Weinstein would change his last name to West and record a solo album called Mountain before forming the band of the same name. This version of Respect is fairly faithful to the original Otis Redding version. Unfortunately for the Vagrants, Aretha Franklin would release her rearranged version of the song just a few weeks after the Vagrants, relegating their version of the tune (and the Vagrants themselves) to footnote status.

Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Let's Spend The Night Together
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer: Jagger/Richards
Label: London
Year: 1967
I seem to recall some TV show (Ed Sullivan, maybe?) making Mick Jagger change the words to "Let's Spend Some Time Together". I can't imagine anyone doing that to the Stones now.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: One Rainy Wish
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA
Year: 1967
In the summer of 1967 my dad (who was a Sergeant in the Air Force), got transferred to Lindsay Air Station in Weisbaden, Germany. The housing situation there being what it was, it was several weeks before the rest of us could join him, and during that time he went out and bought an Akai X-355 reel to reel tape recorder that a fellow GI had picked up in Japan. The Akai had small speakers built into it, but the best way to listen to it was through headphones. It would be another year before he would pick up a turntable, so I started buying pre-recorded reel to reel tapes. Two of the first three tapes I bought were Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold As Love, both by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. As I was forced to share a bedroom with my little brother I made it a habit to sleep on the couch instead, usually with the headphones on listening to Axis: Bold As Love. I was blown away by the stereo effects on the album, which I attributed (somewhat correctly) to Hendrix, although I would find out years later that much of the credit belongs to engineer Eddie Kramer as well. One Rainy Wish, for example, starts off with all the instruments in the center channel (essentially a mono mix). After a few seconds of slow spacy intro the song gets into gear with vocals isolated all the way over to the left, with a guitar overdub on the opposite side to balance it out. As the song continues, things move back and forth from side to side, fading in and out at the same time. It was a hell of a way to drift off to sleep every night.

Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: Time Has Come Today
Source: CD: Best of 60s Psychedelic Rock (this version released as 45 RPM single in 1968)
Writer: Joe and Willie Chambers
Label: Priority (original label: Columbia)
Year: 1967
One of the quintessential songs of the psychedelic era is the Chambers Brothers' classic Time Has Come Today. The song was originally recorded and issued as a single in 1966. The more familiar version heard here, however, was recorded in 1967 for the album The Time Has Come. The LP version of the song runs about eleven minutes, way too long for a 45 RPM record, so before releasing the song as a single for the second time, engineers at Columbia cut the song down to around 3 minutes. The edits proved so jarring that the record was recalled and a re-edited version, clocking in at 4:55 became the third and final single version of the song, hitting the charts in 1968.

Artist: Doors
Title: Horse Latitudes/Moonlight Ride
Source: LP: Strange Days
Writer: The Doors
Label: Elektra
Year: 1967
Much of the second Doors album consisted of songs that were already in the band's repertoire when they signed with Elektra Records but for various reasons did not record for their debut LP. One of the earliest was Jim Morrison's Moonlight Ride. As was the case with all the Doors songs on their first three albums, the tune was credited to the entire band. Horse Latitudes was also an obvious Morrison composition, as it is essentially a piece of Morrison poetry with a soundtrack provided by the rest of the band.

Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Three-Four
Source: LP: Wow
Writer: Bob Mosley
Label: Columbia
Year: 1968
After a debut album that is usually ranked among the best records to come out of San Francisco during the psychedelic era, Moby Grape's second album, Wow, was generally considered a disappointment by the rock press. Part of the problem was that each member of the band was developing in a different direction, resulting in a less cohesive sound than the band's first album. Another problems was that at least in some cases it simply felt like the band was running out of ideas. Take the title of the Bob Mosely song on the album written in 3/4 time (generally known as waltz tempo). The rather unoriginal title of the song was three-four. This wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for the fact that other than it's time signature, (an unusual one for a rock song), there is really nothing memorable about the song itself.

Artist: Focus
Title: Hocus Pocus
Source: CD: Electric Seventies (originally released as 45 RPM single. Longer version on LP: Moving Waves)
Writer: Akkerman/Van Leer
Label: JCI/Warner Special Products (original label: Sire)
Year: 1973
The first hour finishes out with a track that is just pure fun. Hocus Pocus by Dutch band Focus is a couple years newer that most of the songs heard on Stuck In The Psychedelic Era, yet it has the type of simple structure coupled with high energy that was characteristic of many of the garage bands of the mid to late 60s. Both bandleader and keyboardist/vocalist/flautist Thijs Van Leer and guitarist Jan Akkerman have gone on to have successful careers, with Van Leer continuing to use to Focus name as late as 2006.

Artist: Johnny Rivers
Title: Secret Agent Man
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Sloan/Barri
Label: Imperial
Year: 1966
The sixties were a decade of fads and trends in the US, many of them imported from England. One of the most popular was the spy craze. Inspired by cold war politics and the first James Bond movie, Dr. No, TV producers began cranking out shows like I-Spy and the Man from U.N.C.L.E. One of the earliest of these shows was a British production called Danger Man, aired in the US under the name Secret Agent. The show starred Darrin McGavin as a (surprise) secret agent for a fictional version of MI6, the British intelligence agency, and enjoyed a successful run on both sides of the Atlantic. After a few seasons McGavin got tired of doing the show and Danger Man/Secret Agent was cancelled. Before that happened, however, Johnny Rivers scored a huge hit with the theme song written by Steve Barri and PF Sloan especially for the US airings of the show. McGavin would make another series called the Prisoner about a former secret agent that had been "retired" to a closed village in order to protect the secret knowledge he had accumulated over the years. Although it was never explicitly stated, it was assumed that his character was the same one he had played in the earlier show.

Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) and as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Tucker/Mantz
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1967
The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in early 1967. The record, initially released without much promotion on Reprise Records, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation.

Artist: Traffic
Title: Dear Mr. Fantasy
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Heaven Is In Your Mind)
Writer: Capaldi/Wood/Winwood
Label: United Artists
Year: 1967
Steve Winwood is one of those artists that has multiple signature songs, having a career that has spanned decades (so far). Still, if there is any one song that is most closely associated with the guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist, it's this one from the Mr. Fantasy album, which was originally released in the US as Heaven Is In Your Mind.

Artist: Music Machine
Title: Absolutely Positively
Source: CD: Beyond The Garage (originally released on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer: Sean Bonniwell
Label: Sundazed (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year: 1967
It's somewhat ironic that the song that best sums up what it means to be an American never made the US pop charts. Part of this may be that people are somewhat uncomfortable with the truth when it's in their faces; such was the case with the Music Machine's Absolutely Positively, with its refrain of "I want what I want when I want it." Of course the fact that the Music Machine's own manager made some bad promotional decisions that led to the band's songs being ignored on the most popular radio station in Los Angeles at a crucial time in their career probably had something to do with it as well.

Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: I Won't Hurt You
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Part One)
Writer: Markley/Harris/Lloyd
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1967
When Rhino decided to revive the Nuggets concept in the 80s with a series of LPs, they really didn't do much documentation on stuff like what album the song was from or what year the song came out. Normally that's not a problem. This song, however, was included on two consecutive albums, one on a small indy label in 1966 and the other on Reprise in 1967, with a slightly longer running time. Since the running time of this track seems closer to the Reprise version, I'm assuming that's what it's from.

Artist: Sagittarius
Title: Mass #586
Source: CD: Present Tense
Writer: Gary Usher
Label: Sundazed (original label: Columbia)
Year: 1967
In late 1966 Columbia Records staff producer Gary Usher started a project on his own time that would come to be known as Sagittarius. Usher had successfully made the transition from surf music to more progressive groups as the Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel and the Peanut Butter Conspiracy and was making a lot of money, but was feeling creatively stifled. During the surf era he had been as much a creator as producer, working with people like Terry Melcher on projects like the Hondells' recording of Little Honda. With the newer groups, however, he felt that the artists had plenty of creativity of their own, and that his function was to make sure the records got made on time and under budget. The final event that triggered the Sagittarius project was when he tried to get Chad And Jeremy to record a song called My World Fell Down. After the duo made it clear that they had no interesting in recording the tune, Usher brought in several friends to help him record the song himself. Those friends included vocalists Melcher, Bruce Johnston (who had just begun to perform with the Beach Boys as Brian Wilson's onstage replacement) and lead vocalist Glen Campbell, who had also performed with the Beach Boys. For the instrumental tracks Usher called in another group a friends, a group of studio musicians known collectively as the Wrecking Crew. Now there was never a band officially named the Wrecking Crew, yet it is estimated that they played on more hit records recorded in L.A. during the 60s than everyone else combined (bassist Carol Kaye, for instance, reportedly has over 10,000 recordings to her credit). Shortly after finishing My World Fell Down Usher began collaborating with Curt Boettcher, who had just finished producing his own band, the Ballroom. Working together, the two (along with arranger Keith Olsen, formerly of the Music Machine) turned what had been a spare time project into an eleven-song album. Present Tense, released in July of 1968, included several tracks that Boettcher had already been working on, in addition to an edited version of My World Fell Down. Additionally, several other tracks were recorded, but not released by the same lineup. One of these was Mass #586, recorded in November of 1967.

Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: (Ballad of the) Hip Death Goddess
Source: LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer: Ian Bruce-Douglas
Label: M-G-M
Year: 1967
Ultimate Spinach was the brainchild of Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote and arranged all the band's material. Although the group had no hit singles, some tracks, such as (Ballad of the) Hip Death Goddess received a significant amount of airplay on progressive "underground" FM stations. The recording has in more recent years been used by movie producers looking to invoke a late 60s atmosphere.

Artist: Loading Zone
Title: The Bells
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: The Loading Zone)
Writer: Marks/Ward
Label: Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year: 1968
By 1968, with many of the bands that had characterized the San Francisco scene the previous year now touring nationally, a new type of band was starting to pack the various ballrooms and auditoriums throughout the Bay Area. These new bands were multi-ethnic, and often featured horn sections. One of the first of these new bands was the Loading Zone, featuring vocalist Linda Tillery. Like her more psychedelic predecessors, Tillery was not content to just sing the songs; she embellished them with screams and cackles, making for a truly unique sound. One example of this is the Loading Zone's somewhat psychotic remake of the early fifties Billy Ward and the Dominoes' classic the Bells. The blues never sounded quite like this before or since.

Artist: Cream
Title: Sitting On Top Of The World
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer: Vinson/Chatmon (original) Chester Burnett (modern version)
Label: Atco
Year: 1968
Throughout their existence British blues supergroup Cream recorded covers of blues classics. One of the best of these is Sitting On Top Of The World from the album Wheels Of Fire, which in its earliest form was written by Walter Vinson and Lonnie Chatmon and recorded by the Mississippi Shieks in 1930. Cream's cover uses the lyrics from the 1957 rewrite of the song by Chester Burnett, better know as Howlin' Wolf.

Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: Since I've Been Loving You
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin III
Writer: Page/Plant/Jones
Label: Atlantic
Year: 1970
The Yardbirds were Britain's premier electric blues band, featuring the guitar work of first Eric Clapton, then Jeff Beck and finally Jimmy Page (who had already established himself as an in-demand studio guitarist by the time he joined the band). As the 60s came to a close, the band began shedding members until Page found himself the only member left. With new vocalist Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John-Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham, the group continued for a short while as the New Yardbirds before settling on a new name: Led Zeppelin. The group's repertoire was a mixture of original tunes and blues covers arranged to showcase the individual members' strengths as musicians. This mixture served as the template for the band's first two albums. By the third Led Zeppelin album the group was moving away from cover songs and from the blues in general. One notable exeception was Since I've Been Loving You, a slow original that is now considered one of the best electric blues songs ever written.

Artist: Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title: Really
Source: CD: Super Session
Writer: Bloomfield/Kooper
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Year: 1968
Shortly after landing a position as staff producer for Columbia Records in New York, Al Kooper contacted some of his old friends about making a record made up entirely of studio jams. Among those contacted were guitarist Michael Bloomfield, who had just left the Electric Flag, bassist Harvey Brooks, who had worked with Bloomfield in the Butterfield Blues Band, and ace studio drummer "fast" Eddie Hoh. The result was the classic Super Session album, released in 1968. Bloomfield was unable to finish the project (Stephen Stills was called in to record side two of the LP), but before he left he laid down some of his best licks ever, such as those heard on Really.

Artist: Bill Withers
Title: Harlem
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Bill Withers
Label: Sussex
Year: 1971
Sometimes you come across a really cool tune that doesn't really seem to fit in with the rest of the show. In such cases I try to put the song either at the beginning or end of the second hour of the show. One such song is Harlem, a 1971 B side by Bill Withers that does reflect a type of social consciousness that was a hallmark of the late 1960s. Enjoy!

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