Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SITPE # 1146 (Starts 11/17/11)

Artist: Love
Title: Hey Joe
Source: CD: Comes In Colours
Writer: Billy Roberts
Label: Raven
Year: 1966
There are contradictory stories of the origins of the song Hey Joe. Some say it's a traditional folk song, while others have attributed it to various songwriters, including Tim Rose and Dino Valenti (under his birth name Chet Powers). As near as I've been able to determine the song was actually written by an obscure California folk singer named Billy Roberts, who reportedly was performing the song as early as 1958. The song circulated among West Coast musicians over the years and eventually caught the attention of the Byrds' David Crosby. Crosby was unable to convince his bandmates to record the song, although they did include it in their live sets at Ciro's on L.A.'s Sunset Strip. One of the Byrds' roadies, Bryan Maclean, joined up with Arthur Lee's new band, Love, and brought Crosby's version of the song (which had slightly different lyrics than other, more popular versions) with him. In 1966 Love included Hey Joe on their debut album, with Maclean doing the vocals. Meanwhile another L.A. band, the Leaves, recorded their own version of Hey Joe in 1965, but had little success with it. In 1966 they recorded a new version of the song, adding screaming fuzz-drenched lead guitar parts by Bobby Arlin, and Hey Joe finally became a national hit. With two other L.A. bands (and Chicago's Shadows Of Knight) having recorded a song that David Crosby had come to regard as his own, the Byrds finally committed their own version of Hey Joe to vinyl in late 1966 on the Fifth Dimension album, but even Crosby eventually admitted that recording the song was a mistake. Up to this point the song had always been recorded at a fast tempo, but two L.A. songwriters, Sean Bonniwell (of the Music Machine) and folk singer Tim Rose, came up with the idea of slowing the song down. Both the Music Machine and Tim Rose versions of the songs were released on albums in 1966. Jimi Hendrix heard the Rose recording and used it as the basis for his own embellished version of the song, which was released as a single in the UK in late 1966 (although it did not come out in the US until the release of the Are You Experienced album in 1967).

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: And I Like It
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer: Balin/Kantner
Label: RCA Victor
Year: 1966
Jorma Kaukonen was giving guitar lessons when he was approached by Marty Balin about joining a new band that Balin was forming. Kaukonen said yes and became a founding member of Jefferson Airplane. The two seldom collaborated on songwriting, though. One of the few examples of a Balin/Kaukonen composition is And I Like It from the band's first album. The song sounds to me like what Hot Tuna would sound like but with Balin's vocals instead of Kaukonen's.

Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: She's Coming Home
Source: CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Writer: Atkins/Miller
Label: Mercury
Year: 1966
Generally speaking, cheatin' songs in 1966 were considered the province of country music. The few exceptions, such as Paul Revere and the Raiders' Steppin' Out, were all told from the victim's point of view. The Blues Magoos, however, turned the entire thing upside down with She's Coming Home, a song about having to break up with one's new girlfriend in the face of the old one returning from...(prison, military duty? The lyrics never make that clear). The unusual nature of the song is in keeping with the cutting edge image of a band that was among the first to use the word psychedelic in an album title and had to have been the first to wear electric suits onstage.

Artist: Cream
Title: Dance The Night Away
Source: LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer: Bruce/Brown
Label: RSO (original label: Atco)
Year: 1967
The album Fresh Cream was perhaps the first LP from a rock supergroup, although at the time a more accurate description would have been British blues supergroup. Much of the album was reworking of blues standards by the trio of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, all of whom had established their credentials with various British blues bands. With Disraeli Gears, however, Cream showed a psychedelic side as well as their original blues orientation. Most of the more psychedelic material, such as Dance the Night Away, was from the songwriting team of Bruce and lyricist Pete Brown.

Artist: Doors
Title: End Of The Night
Source: LP: The Doors
Writer: The Doors
Label: Elektra
Year: 1967
Many professional-grade reel-to-reel tape decks featured a variable speed control. Most of these only varied the speed by a small percentage; for instance a tape normally running at 15 inches per second could be played back (or recorded) anywhere between 14.5 ips and 15.5 ips simply by twisting a knob. This feature was usually used to correct small variances that would creep up between equipment made by different manufacturers. Sometimes, though, a knob would get turned for some reason or another and then completely forgotten. This was likely what happened with the original stereo master tapes of the Doors first album. A comparison between the stereo and mono versions of the LP shows that the stereo version is pitched about 3.5% lower than the mono version; in musical terms about a half step. As the mono version of the LP was discontinued soon after release, the lower-pitched versions of the songs are all that the public has been hearing for the past 44 years (except for the edited mono version of Light My Fire used by most AM radio stations), despite the fact that the mono version is the actual speed at which the songs were recorded. Recently I came into possession of a slightly scratchy copy of the original mono LP, so we can finally hear End Of The Night as it was originally intended to sound.

Artist: Doors
Title: Horse Lattitudes/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, which leads into Moonlight Ride, 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: Doors
Title: Soul Kitchen
Source: LP: The Doors
Writer: The Doors
Label: Elektra
Year: 1967
Soul Kitchen was one of the more popular tracks from the Doors' first LP and has been included on at least one Greatest Hits collection. The Greatest Hits version, however, is the slightly slowed down stereo mix, which was the only version in print for nearly 40 years. This week we have the original mono mix, played at the actual speed at which it was recorded.

Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: Travelin' Around
Source: LP: Circus Maximus
Writer: Bob Bruno
Label: Vanguard
Year: 1967
Circus Maximus was formed in Greenwich Village in 1967 by lead guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Bob Bruno (who wrote most of the band's material) and guitarist/vocalist Jerry Jeff Walker, who went on to much greater success as a songwriter after he left the group for a solo career (he wrote the classic Mr. Bojangles, among other things). The lead vocals on the first Circus Maximus LP were split between the two, with one exception: guitarist Peter Troutner shares lead vocal duties with Bruno on the album's opening track, the high-energy Travelin' Around.

Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: We Love You
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer: Jagger/Richards
Label: London
Year: 1967
After the less than stellar chart performance of the LP Their Satanic Majesties Request, the Stones decided to pull out all the stops with a double 'A' sided single. We Love You was their most expensive production ever (as well as the last Rolling Stones record produced by Andrew Loog Oldham), and included a promotional film that is considered a forerunner of the modern music video. We Love You did well in the UK, reaching the # 8 spot on the charts, but it was the other side of the record, Dandelion, that ended up being a hit in the US.

Artist: Charlatans
Title: Alabama Bound
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer: trad., arr. The Charlatans
Label: Rhino (original label: Ace/Big Beat)
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1996
Despite being one of the most important bands on the San Francisco scene, the Charlatans did not have much luck in the recording studio. Their first sessions were aborted, the planned LP for Kama Sutra was shelved by the label itself, and the band was overruled in their choice of songs to be released on their first (and only) single issued from the Kama Sutra sessions. In 1967, however, they did manage to get some decent tracks recorded. Unfortunately, those tracks were not released until 1996, and then only in the UK. The centerpiece of the 1967 sessions was this six-and-a-half minute recording of a traditional tune that is considered by many to be the Charlatans' signature song: Alabama Bound.

Artist: Knickerbockers
Title: Lies
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From the Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Randall/Charles
Label: Rhino (original label: Challenge)
Year: 1965
A lot of people thought this was the Beatles recording under a pseudonym when it came out. It wasn't, and I can't help but wonder why anyone would have thought the Beatles had any need to record under a different name and release a song on a second-rate label in the first place. Is it a Richard Bachman kind of thing?

Artist: Music Machine
Title: Talk Talk
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound)
Year: 1966
The Music Machine was one of the most sophisticated bands to appear on the L.A. club scene in 1966, yet their only major hit, Talk Talk, was deceptively simple and straightforward punk-rock, and still holds up as two of the most intense minutes of rock music ever to crack the top 40 charts.

Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Luvin'
Source: CD: I Had Too Much Too Dream (Last Night)
Writer: Lowe/Tulin
Label: Collector's Choice (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1967
Perhaps as a bit of overcompensation for his lack of control over the Grateful Dead, producer David Hassinger kept a tight rein on L.A.'s Electric Prunes, providing them with most of the material they recorded (from professional songwriters). A rare exception is Luvin', from the first Prunes LP, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night).

Artist: October Country
Title: My Girlfriend Is A Witch
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: October Country)
Writer: Michael Lloyd
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
Year: 1968
By 1968 the L.A. under-age club scene was winding down, and several now out of work bands were making last (and sometimes only) attempts at garnering hits in the studio. One such band was October Country, whose first release had gotten a fair amount of local airplay, but who had become bogged down trying to come up with a follow-up single. Enter Michael Lloyd, recently split from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and looking to become a record producer. Lloyd not only produced and wrote My Girlfriend Is a Witch, he also ended up playing drums on the record when the band's regular drummer got a bad case of studio jitters.

Artist: Traffic
Title: Feelin' Alright
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Traffic)
Writer: Dave Mason
Label: United Artists
Year: 1968
Although Traffic is generally known as an early staple of progressive FM radio, the band had its share of hit singles in its native England as well. Many of these early hits were written by guitarist/vocalist Dave Mason, who would leave the band in 1968, only to return for the live Welcome To The Canteen album before leaving again, this time for good. One of Mason's most memorable songs was Feelin' Alright, from Traffic's self-titled second LP. The song very quickly became a rock standard when Joe Cocker sped it up and made it his own signature song. Grand Funk Railroad slowed it back down and scored a hit with their version in 1971, and Mason himself got some airplay with a new solo recording of the song later in the decade. Even comedian John Belushi got into the act with his dead-on cover of Cocker's version of the song on the Saturday Night Live TV show.

Artist: Otis Redding
Title: The Happy Song (Dum-Dum)
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Redding/Cropper
Label: Volt
Year: 1968
One of the great tragedies in the history of American music was the plane crash that took the lives of Otis Redding and most of the Bar-Kays in early 1968. In the months following the crash, several "new" Otis Redding singles were released, including The Happy Song (Dum-Dum), co-written by guitarist Steve Cropper.

Artist: Mouse and the Traps
Title: A Public Execution
Source: CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Henderson/Weiss
Label: Rhino (original label: Fraternity)
Year: 1965
It's easy to imagine some kid somewhere in Texas inviting his friends over to hear the new Dylan record, only to reveal afterwards that it wasn't Dylan at all, but this band he heard while visiting his cousins down in Tyler. Mouse and the Traps, in fact, got quite a bit of airplay in that part of the state with a series of singles issued in the mid-60s. A Public Execution is unique in that the artist on the label was listed simply as Mouse.

Artist: ? And The Mysterians
Title: Can't Get Enough Of You Baby
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer: Randle/Linzer
Label: Abkco (original label: Cameo)
Year: 1967
? And The Mysterians' 1966 hit 96 Tears was the last song on the legendary Cameo label to hit the top 10 before the label went bankrupt in 1967 (and was bought by Allan Klein, who still reissues old Cameo-Parkway recordings on his Abkco label). Shortly before that bankruptcy was declared, however, the group released Can't Get Enough Of You Baby, which stalled out in the lower reaches of the charts. The song itself, however, finally achieved massive popularity at the end of the century, when a new version of the tune by Smash Mouth went to the top of the charts.

Artist: Mystery Trend
Title: Johnny Was A Good Boy
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Nagle/Cuff
Label: Rhino (original label: Verve)
Year: 1967
The Mystery Trend was a bit of an anomaly. Contemporaries of bands such as the Great! Society and the Charlatans, the Trend always stood a bit apart from the rest of the crowd, playing to an audience that was both a bit more affluent and a bit more "adult" (they were reportedly the house band at a Sausalito strip club). Although they played in the city itself as early as 1965, they did not release their first record until early 1967. The song, Johnny Was A Good Boy, tells the story of a seemingly normal middle-class kid who turns out to be a monster, surprising friends, family and neighbors. The same theme would be used by XTC in the early 1980s in the song No Thugs In Our House, one of the standout tracks from their landmark English Settlement album.

Artist: Turtles
Title: She's My Girl
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Bonner/Gordon
Label: Rhino (original label: White Whale)
Year: 1967
A favorite among the Turtles' members themselves, She's My Girl is full of hidden studio tricks that are barely (if at all) audible on the final recording. Written by the same team as Happy Together, the song is a worthy follow up to that monster hit.

Artist: Beatles
Title: Fool On The Hill
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Label: Parlophone
Year: 1967
Once again we have a pretty well known Beatle song that has never been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era. I could probably do this every week for a year and still have songs left over. Fool On The Hill was never issued as a single, but a cover version by Sergio Mendez and Brasil '67 got airplay on what was then called "middle of the road" radio (e.g. the station your parents listened to in the car when you had to go along with them because you had done something that made them not want to leave you home alone and being in trouble already you knew you didn't have a chance of getting them to change stations).

Artist: Blues Project
Title: You Can't Catch Me
Source: LP: Special Disc Jockey Record
Writer: Chuck Berry
Label: Verve Forecast
Year: 1966
One of the reasons for Chuck Berry's enduring popularity throughout the 1960s (despite a lack of major hits during the decade) was the fact that so many bands covered his 50s hits, often updating them for a 60s audience. Although not as well-known as Roll Over Beethoven or Johnny B. Goode, You Can't Catch Me nonetheless got its fair share of coverage, including versions by the Rolling Stones and the Blues Project (as well as providing John Lennon an opening line for the song Come Together).

Artist: Deepest Blue
Title: Pretty Little Thing
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Shackelford/Johnson
Label: Rhino (original label: Blue Fin)
Year: 1966
Los Angeles, California has long been known for its urban sprawl, and in the mid-1960s it seemed like every one of its dozens of suburbs had at least one semi-professional garage band playing at various parties, bowling alleys, teen clubs and of course, high school gymnasiums. One such band was Deepest Blue, from Pomona, a suburb on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County best known for its race car track. Led by vocalist Earl Shackleford and guitarist Russell Johnson, the group performed locally as the Doves, but for reasons now forgotten recorded first under the name Egyptian Candy and then as Deepest Blue. Both records were released on labels that are considered obscure even by garage-rock standards, and by the end of the decade, the Doves/Egyptian Candy/Deepest Blue were naught but a footnote in L.A. music history.

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: No Way Out)
Writer: McElroy/Bennett
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year: 1967
It took me several years to sort out the convoluted truth behind the recorded works of San Jose, California's most popular local band, the Chocolate Watchband. While it's true that much of what was released under their name was in truth the work of studio musicians, there are a few tracks that are indeed the product of Dave Aguilar and company. Are You Gonna Be There, a song used in the cheapie teenspliotation flick the Love-In and included on the Watchband's first album, is one of those few. Even more ironic is the fact that the song was co-written by Don Bennett, the studio vocalist whose voice was substituted for Aguilar's on a couple of other songs from the same album.

This week we feature a set of early tracks from a Canadian band that got its fifteen minutes of fame in the early 70s with a pair of top 40 singles, One Fine Morning and Sunny Days. Lighthouse was formed in Toronto in 1968 by vocalist/drummer Skip Prokop (formerly of the Paupers) and keyboardist/arranger Paul Hoffert. The idea was to combine a rock rhythm section with R&B-style horns and classical-style strings. The first move they made was to recruit guitarist Ralph Cole, whom the Paupers had shared a bill with in New York. The three of them then went about recruiting an assortment of friends, studio musicians and members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, making a demo tape and submitting it to M-G-M records, who immediately offered Lighthouse a contract. The band's manager, however, was able to get a better contract from RCA, and the group set about recording their first album, making their stage debut in Toronto in May of 1969. Among the original 13 members of the band were lead vocalist Vic "Pinky" Davin and saxophonist Howard Shore (who would become the leader of the house band for NBC's Saturday Night Live when that TV show made its debut in 1975). The group managed to record two albums that year, their eponymous debut album and the follow-up Suite Feeling. Both albums were recorded at Toronto's Eastern Sound Studio and released on the RCA Victor label in 1969. Although the group scored a couple of minor hits in their native Canada, they were not able to achieve commercial success in the US, and, after a third LP for RCA, changed labels to GRT, where (after several personnel changes, including lead vocals) they managed to chart two top 40 singles in 1971 and 1972. Tonight we have a set of tunes from the two 1969 Lighthouse albums, featuring the group's original lineup.

Artist: Lighthouse
Title: Follow The Stars
Source: LP: Lighthouse
Writer: Skip Prokop
Label: RCA Victor
Year: 1969

Artist: Lighthouse
Title: Could You Be Concerned
Source: LP: Suite Feeling
Writer: Prokop/Hoffert
Label: RCA Victor
Year: 1969

Artist: Lighthouse
Title: Never Say Goodbye
Source: LP: Lighthouse
Writer: P. Hoffert/B. Hoffert
Label: RCA Victor
Year: 1969

Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Skoobly-Oobly-Doobob
Source: CD: Stonedhenge
Writer: Alvin Lee
Label: Deram
Year: 1969
The BX (base exchange) at Ramstein AFB in Germany used to feature an "album of the month." These were, by and large, LPs by top artists (usually rock bands), that were priced at $1.50, a dollar less than the normal $2.50 album price. As they were generally good albums by bands I had heard of (the Rolling Stones Beggar's Banquet and Through The Past Darkly, for instance), I bought a lot of albums that way. In late 1969 I decided to take a chance on one by a band I had never heard of. Maybe it was the cover art: England's mysterious Stonehenge monument done up in dark red hues. Whatever the reason, I took a chance and plunked down my buck and a half for my first taste of Ten Years After. It was an investment I never regretted. As it turns out, Stonedhenge (note the odd spelling) was actually the band's third LP for Deram, and was somewhat experimental in that it included four short solo tracks, one by each of the band members, placed between songs by the entire group. Guitarist/vocalist/bandleader Alvin Lee's contribution was a short bit of doo-wop played on the guitar with skat vocals in unison with the guitar part. It was appropriately titled Skoobly-Oobly-Doobob.

Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: You Shook Me/Dazed And Confused
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin
Writer: Dixon/Page
Label: Atlantic
Year: 1969
I've heard it said that Willie Dixon sued Zeppelin over the use of You Shook Me, which is puzzling to me since Dixon is clearly credited as the songwriter on the label. Still, I don't know enough about copyright laws to say for sure whether this could have happened or not. Dazed & Confused, on the other hand, is a Jimmy Page composition that was performed by the Yardbirds (with different lyrics) as early as 1966.

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