Friday, December 30, 2011

In case you're looking for a playlist for 12/29+, I'm holding it back so as not to spoil the top 25 songs of the year. Yeah, I know Stuck in the Psychedelic Era doesn't play new stuff, but we still have a top 25 list. I'll post it next week, after the show has run.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stuck With The Hermit At Yuletide (starts 12/22/11)

Just about every weekly radio show does a Christmas special this time of year, and for several years now Stuck In the Psychedelic Era has been no exception. There is a problem, though, and that is the unavoidable fact that for the most part the artists I generally feature on the show never got around to recording any Christmas songs. There are exceptions, of course, and this week you'll hear some of those by Jethro Tull, the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, and others. But, unless I wanted to spend over half the show on Beach Boys Christmas songs (and there are nearly enough of those for an entire show), I knew I would have to take an entirely different approach to selecting the songs. After a couple of years of experimenting around with various approaches I finally decided to just pick out the coolest holiday tracks I could find, regardless of genre or year they were recorded, and have been doing it that way ever since. As a result, on this year's show we'll be hearing tunes that span from 1948 through 1983. One unintended consequence of doing it this way is that nearly every track used on the show tonight is from a CD.
So prepare to be Stuck with the Hermit at Yuletide without any scratchy records this year.

Artist: Mannheim Steamroller
Song Title: Hark! The Herald Trumpets Sing
Source: CD: A Fresh Aire Christmas
Release Year: 1988
I was looking for something that was both pompous and cool at the same time to start the show. Mannheim Steamroller seemed to fit the bill. Besides, Chip Davis wrote it to be an introduction, so I figured why not?

Artist: George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Song Title: Rock and Roll Christmas
Source: CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas
Release Year: 1983
George Thorogood has always said that his group was at heart a bar band. As a bar band is just a step away from being a garage band, this seemed like as good a place as any to get into the actual meat of the show.

Artist: Beatles
Song Title: Christmas Time (Is Here Again)
Source: CD single: Free As a Bird
Release Year: 1967/1997
Every year the Beatles would record a special Christmas message to go out to members of their fan club, and mail it out on what was then known as a floppy disc. This was not the same as a computer floppy disc, however. In fact, the medium the Beatles used eventually came to be known as a flexi-disc, just to keep things from getting any more confusing. Regardless of what you called it, the things tended to wear out after just a few plays and I doubt there are many playable copies of these discs left in the universe. Luckily for us, George Martin had the foresight to hang on to everything the Beatles ever recorded, including this tune, which was chopped up and used for the 1967 Christmas Greeting. When the Beatles Anthology was released in 1997, the piece was included on the Free As a Bird CD single, and we got to hear the song in its uninterrupted entirety for the first time.

Artist: John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Song Title: Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Source: CD: New Gold on CD
Release Year: 1972
Largely overlooked when first released, this song has since acquired classic status.

Artist: Dennis Wilson
Song Title: Morning Christmas
Source: CD: Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas
Release Year: 1977
Dennis Wilson was not hanging around with the rest of the clan in 1977, but did want to make a contribution to their new Christmas album that year, so he sent in this recording. The album ended up not being released, but the track finally did see the light of day on the Ultimate Christmas collection issued four or five years ago.

Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Song Title: Silent Night/7 O'Clock News
Source: CD: Complete Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Release Year: 1966
This track is unique for several reasons. The most obvious is that it uses two unrelated recordings to make an ironically chilling point. The first is a rendition of Franz Gruber's Silent Night, with vocals in the center channel and piano only coming from one speaker. As the song progresses a newscast in the other channel slowly gets louder. Eventually the song ends and there is only the news. What's also unusual is that this well-known Christmas carol is not featured on a Christmas album at all; instead it appears as the final track on a side of a regular album.

Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Song Title: A Hazy Shade of Winter
Source: CD: Complete Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Release Year: 1966
I wish I could take credit for putting this and the previous track together. The truth is I don't know who came up with the idea; my best guess is someone from Westwood One radio, as I first heard it done on one of their syndicated programs. Still, it's not a bad idea, and I happened to have a copy of the Westwood One version of the tracks, so there it is.

Artist: Jethro Tull
Song Title: Ring Out Solstice Bells
Source: LP: Songs From the Wood
Release Year: 1976
Until the late 1940s the predominate form of recorded music was the 78 RPM (revolutions per minute) record, which was either 10 or 12 inches in diameter and made of a brittle material called shellac. The 10 inch version was the standard for popular music, with a running time of about 3 to 4 minutes. RCA Victor developed a direct replacement for the 78 that was 7 inches in diameter and ran at 45 RPM. Meanwhile, RCA's top rival, Columbia Records, developed a slower long-playing record that used something called microgroove technology that allowed up to half an hour's worth of recorded material per side. Somewhere along the way somebody decided to try the microgroove approach to the 45 and the Extended Play (EP) record was born. In the US, EPs were somewhat popular in the 1950s, but pretty much died out by the time of the Beatles, except for specialized formats such as children's records and low-budget cover labels that would hire anonymous studio musicians to re-create popular hits. In the UK, on the other hand, the format remained viable up through the mid-70s. Jethro Tull took advantage of the EP format to release a Christmas record in December of 1976. Ring Out Solstice Bells was the featured song on the EP, and would not be released in the US until the following spring, when it was included on the album Songs From the Wood.

Artist: Ed "Cookie" Byrnes
Song Title: Yulesville
Source: CD: Cool Yule
Release Year: 1959
The ABC TV network was a perennial also-ran that was just starting to find a winning formula in the late 50s with shows targeted toward a younger audience. The most popular of these was 77 Sunset Strip, starring Ed "Cookie" Byrnes. He and co-star Connie Stevens, staying in character, cut a hit novelty record called "Cookie, Cookie," which played on Cookie's propensity for combing his hair. Byrnes, again in character, followed it up with this hip retelling of the classic poem Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Artist: Bobby "Boris" Pickett
Song Title: Monster's Holiday
Source: CD: New Gold on CD
Release Year: 1962
Bobby Picket scored big with his Halloween hit Monster Mash in 1962, and quickly followed it up with this sequel set around the Christmas holidays. Legendary producer Gary Paxton was responsible for both recordings making it onto vinyl and on the air.

Artist: Johnny Preston
Song Title: (I Want a) Rock and Roll Guitar
Source: CD: Cool Yule
Release Year: 1960
Johnny Preston recorded his signature song in 1960, the classic Running Bear, penned by J.P. Richardson, the Big Bopper. The pair teamed up again for this Christmas song later the same year. Interesting enough, by the middle of the decade, a guitar was exactly what many kids were indeed asking for. I should know; I got my first guitar (and amp) as a Christmas present after badgering my parents mercilessly for months. I think between the two they might have run about $100, which made it the most expensive Christmas I ever had.

Artist: Foghat
Song Title: All I Want For Christmas Is You
Source: CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas
Release Year: 1981
Foghat was formed when all the members of Savoy Brown except leader Kim Edmunds decided to form their own band in the early 70s. After a moderately successful run, founding member "Lonesome" Dave Peverett was all set to call it quits in 1981, but not until after he wrote and recorded this holiday tune.

Artist: Kinks
Song Title: Father Christmas
Source: CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas
Release Year: 1977
There are not many socially-conscious Christmas songs, especially slightly twisted ones like this Kinks classic from 1977. I guess by then getting a guitar was kind of passe anyway.

Artist: Charles Brown
Song Title: Please Come Home For Christmas
Source: CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits (1955-Present)
Release Year: 1961
By now just about everyone is familiar with the Eagles version of this tune. Not everyone, however, knows the song was written by blues great Charles Brown. Even fewer have actually heard Brown's 1961 original, which is a shame, as it blows the Eagles version clean out of the water.

Artist: James Brown
Song Title: Santa Claus, Santa Claus
Source: CD: Cool Yule
Release Year: 1968
Few people would ever accuse James Brown of being a blues artist, but this recording from 1968 shows what it would have sounded like if he was.

Artist: Clarence Carter
Song Title: Back Door Santa
Source: CD: New Gold on CD
Release Year: 1969
Clarence Carter is an icon of the beach music (for you non-Carolinians, beach music has nothing to do with surf music) crowd. For everyone else, he is a moderately successful soul artist known mostly for his mid-70s hit Slip Away. Regardless of where you might know him from, this song will surprise you with its get down and get funky energy.

Artist: Jimmy McCracklin
Song Title: Christmas Time
Source: CD: New Gold on CD
Release Year: 1961 (?)
Jimmy McCracklin recorded one of the catchiest, yet underplayed, tunes of the 50s when he did The Walk. This song from a few years later actually sounds like beach music. Go figure.

Artist: Chuck Berry
Song Title: Run Rudolph Run
Source: CD: Chuck Berry Chess Box
Release Year: 1958
Chuck Berry established a reputation in the 60s for reworking his old songs from the 50s, giving them new lyrics and sometimes new guitar rifts. Probably the best-known example of this was No Particular Place To Go, which is a reworked version of School Day. His first reworking of a previously-recorded song was 1958's Run Rudoph Run, which was virtually identical to Little Queenie, released earlier the same year. To me it sounds like he actually used the Little Queenie instrumental tracks rather than to re-record the song. This kind of cost-cutting measure would be consistent with his later practice of using pick-up bands rather than incurring the travel expenses of having his own band on the road.

Artist: Jack Scott
Song Title: There's Trouble Brewin'
Source: CD: Cool Yule
Release Year: 1963
Canadian born Jack Scott was one of the great rockabilly performers of the late 50s, scoring several top 10 hits, including My True Love and Burning Bridges. This 1963 recording shows him at the peak of his vocal powers.

Artist: Cheech and Chong
Song Title: Santa Claus and His Old Lady
Source: CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas
Release Year: 1971
I heard this on the radio the year it was released and managed to find a copy of the 45 only to have it disappear on me a few years later. Luckily, the folks at Rhino somehow knew of my dilemma and included it on their Rock and Roll Christmas CD. Well, I can dream, can't I? Incidentally, the B side of that old 45 was Dave's Not Here from Cheech and Chong's first album.

Artist: Ray Stevens
Song Title: Santa Claus Is Watching You
Source: CD: New Gold on CD (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1962
I've mentioned something called the Grab Bag before. Basically, it was a sealed paper bag (sometimes with a clear plastic front) containing four 45 RPM records, generally "cut-outs" that were no longer in print. The one my family bought for Christmas of 1964 had a Sing Along With Mitch Christmas EP in the front. This song was on one of the other three records, although I seem to remember it being slightly different that the version heard here. One thing that both versions had in common was the presence of Clyde the Camel from Stevens's first hit Ahab the Arab.

Artist: Spike Jones and His City Slickers
Song Title: All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)
Source: CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1935-1954
Release Year: 1948
Spike Jones and His City Slickers were a highly talented bunch who made music out of sound effects, toy instruments, and whatever else it occurred to them to use. Their forte was the novelty record, and no one did it better. All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) was written by Middleton, NY schoolteacher Donald Yetter Gardner, who was inspired to write the song when he asked his second grade class what they wanted for Christmas and was struck by how many of them were lisping due to missing front teeth.

Artist: Chipmunks
Song Title: The Chipmunk Song
Source: CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1955-Present
Release Year: 1958
In 1958 pop-jazz composer/bandleader Ross Bagdasarian decided to play around with a variable-speed tape recorder and came up with the novelty hit Witch Doctor. He followed it up by using multiple tape machines to create a trio of sped up voices that he called the Chipmunks, and released this smash hit in time for the Christmas season. The success of this record led to a Saturday morning cartoon series and a series of albums for the Liberty label. His son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. has revived the concept in recent years, although not with the same level of success.

Artist: Beach Boys
Song Title: Little Saint Nick (stereo single version)
Source: CD: Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas
Release Year: 1963
When the Beach Boys first recorded Little Saint Nick they were the hottest surf music band in the country. A year later Beatlemania had set in, and a new version of Little Saint Nick was recorded for the Beach Boys Christmas Album. The new version put a greater emphasis on the vocals, and much of the original instrumentation was deleted from the arrangement. That is the version that usually gets heard on commercial radio every year. In the mid-70s, Carl Wilson, who by then had stepped into the leader's role formerly held by older brother Brian, pulled out the original 1963 tapes and created a new stereo mix of the song heard here. The instruments have greater prominence in this version and include the distinctive sound of sleighbells that were completely exorcised from the 1964 version.

Artist: Ventures
Song Title: Sleigh Ride
Source: CD: The Ventures Christmas Album
Release Year: 1965
The Ventures are by far the most successful instrumental rock group in history, with over 100 albums released over several decades. One of the most successful of these was their 1965 Christmas album, which featured this surfinated version of Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride, a piece usually associated with the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Artist: Sonics
Song Title: Santa Claus
Source: CD: Cool Yule (originally released on LP:
Release Year: 1966
The Pacific Northwest was home to several bands that can only be described as proto-punk (think Louie Louie). One of the top bands on the scene up there was the Sonics, who recorded raw hard-driving songs with titles like Psycho, the Witch and Strychnine. Santa Claus is very much in the same vein, making it the punkiest Christmas song of the sixties, if not all time.

Artist: Jethro Tull
Song Title: Christmas Song
Source: CD: This Was (bonus track originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1968
I wanted to play one set made up entirely of songs from the psychedelic era performed by artists that I feature on the show on a fairly regular basis. One of these artists is the band Jethro Tull, led by flautist/acoustic guitarist/vocalist Ian Anderson. This track, originally recorded in 1968, did not appear in the US until 1973's Living In the Past album.

Artist: Canned Heat
Song Title: Christmas Blues
Source: CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas
Release Year: 1968
Although Steve Miller originally hailed from Chicago, it was Canned Head that emerged as the San Francisco Bay area's electric blues band of choice. With Robert "Big Bear" Hite fronting the band on blues harp and vocals, they recorded this Christmas treat in time for the 1968 Yule season.

Artist: Chuck Berry
Song Title: Merry Christmas, Baby
Source: CD: Chuck Berry Chess Box
Release Year: 1958
Chuck Berry did not record too many cover tunes, as he was a prolific songwriter himself. However, for the B side to Run Rudolph Run, he cut this tasty version of Charles Brown's "other" Christmas song.

Artist: Solomon Burke
Song Title: Presents For Christmas
Source: CD: Cool Yule
Release Year: 1966
Solomon Burke was a staple artist for the Atlantic label at a time when Atlantic itself was being overshadowed by the Stax/Volt labels that it distributed. Nonetheless, Burke had several R&B hits throughout the sixties and was highly respected by his fellow artists. Presents For Christmas captures Burke at his peak in 1966.

Artist: Eartha Kitt
Song Title: Santa Baby
Source: CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1935-1954
Release Year: 1953
Eartha Kitt has one of the most unique voices in the history of jazz, and put it to good use on the original 1953 version of a tune that has in recent years become associated with Madonna. Nearly 60 years later, Kitt is still performing with nearly as much energy as she had in the 50s.

Artist: Rufus Thomas
Song Title: I'll Be Your Santa Baby
Source: CD: New Gold on CD (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: unknown
Rufus Thomas had a long and storied career, first with his "dog" hits in the early 60s (Walking the Dog being the most famous) and then later as a member of the Stax/Volt stable of artists. This song, recorded for Stax, was released sometimes in the late 60s around the same time that his daughter Carla was making a name for herself with hits like B-A-B-Y and (with Otis Redding) Tramp.

Artist: Cadillacs
Song Title: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Source: CD: New Gold on CD (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1956
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has been recorded by a lot of different artists over the years, but this version by the Cadillacs stands out for its pure sense of fun. Doo-wop was at its peak of popularity in 1956 and the Cadillacs were among the best of the doo-wop groups.

Artist: Drifters
Song Title: White Christmas
Source: CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits (1955-Present)
Release Year: 1955
The Drifters were a kind of early R&B doowop supergroup made up of ex-members of other R&B groups such as Billy Ward's Dominoes. The most distinctive voice of the original Drifters was high tenor Clyde McPhatter, for whom Ray Stevens's famous camel was named. Over the years the lineup changed many times and led to several former members forming competing groups, all using the Drifters name. Over time, members of these offshoots would in turn form their own Drifters, despite having virtually no connection to the original group. This is why it sometimes seems that half the doowop singers in the world claim to be former members of the Drifters.

Artist: Marquees
Song Title: Christmas In the Congo
Source: CD: Cool Yule
Release Year: 1958
You have to hear this one to believe it. 'Nuff said.

Artist: King Curtis
Song Title: The Christmas Song
Source: 45 RPM vinyl
Release Year: 1966
King Curtis was one of the most in-demand saxophone players of the first wave of rock and roll. His best known work was on the song Yakety Yak by the Coasters in 1958. In the sixties he became the music director for the Atlantic Records group, appearing on a variety of recordings by artists such as Solomon Burke and occassionally released material on the Atco label under his own name. Tragically, his life was cut short when he was the victim of a stabbing when he attempted to stop junkies from shooting up on his front steps in New York.

So there it is: the Hermit's own take on Yuletime. I hope you enjoy the show. Next week we take a look back at the songs and artists that got the most airtime on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era this past year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1150 (starts 12/15/11)

This week (after two weeks of mostly album tracks and B sides) we focus on songs that were originally released on 45 RPM vinyl. Most of these songs got heard on the radio when they were new, although in many cases that airplay was limited to a particular region of the country, such as the San Francisco Bay area. Others were heard all across the nation, but only in cities large enough to have a progressive FM radio station (or a student-run college station). Of course there are always exceptions, and we do have a few album tracks on the show this week, although not as many as on an average week.

Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Rock And Roll Woman
Source: CD: Retrospective (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again and as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Stephen Stills
Label: Atco
Year: 1967
Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth). Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina and Stephen Stills. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock and Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 40 years after it was recorded.

Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: So Tired
Source: CD: The Time Has Come
Writer: Chambers Brothers/Goodwin
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Year: 1967
The Chambers Brothers were an eclectic band with a gospel music background that dated back to the mid-50s, when oldest brother George finished his tour of duty with the US Army and settled down in the L.A. area. His three brothers soon followed him out to the coast from their native Mississippi, and began playing the Southern California gospel circuit before going after a more secular audience in the early 60s. So Tired, from the group's most successful album, The Time Has Come, demonstrates that despite their eclecticism the Chambers Brothers were very much in touch with their gospel roots.

Title: Goin' Down
Source: CD: Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer: Nesmith/Tork/Dolenz/Jones/Hilderbrandt
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year: 1967
The Monkees followed up on their fourth consecutive number one LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD with their biggest hit single, Daydream Believer, in late 1967. The song was recorded at the same time as the Pisces sessions, but was not included on the LP. The flip side of the single, Goin' Down, was essentially a studio jam on a theme provided by songwriter Diane Hilberbrandt, with Mickey Dolenz providing appropriately manic vocals.

Artist: Tim Rose
Title: Hey Joe
Source: LP: Tim Rose (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Billy Roberts
Label: Columbia
Year: 1966 (stereo version: 1967)
The folk music revival of the late 50s and early 60s is generally thought of as an East Coast phenomena, centered in the coffee houses of cities such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia. California, though, had its share of folk music artists, especially in the San Francisco area, where the beatniks espoused a Bohemian lifestyle that would pave the way for the Hippy movement centered in the city's Haight-Ashbury district. Among the California folkies were Billy Roberts, who copyrighted the song Hey Joe in 1962, and Tim Rose, who (along with the Music Machine's Sean Bonniwell) came up with a slower version of the song. Rose's version, released as a single in mid-1966, got considerable airplay on San Francisco radio stations and was the inspiration for the more famous Jimi Hendrix version of the song that made the British top 10 toward the end of the year. Rose's version was not widely available until 1967, when his debut LP for Columbia was released. By then, however, the Hendrix version was all over the progressive FM airwaves in the US, and the Rose version (now in stereo) remained largely unheard.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Purple Haze
Source: CD: The Ultimate Experience (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original US label: Reprise)
Year: 1967
Following up on the success of their first UK single, Hey Joe, the Jimi Hendrix Experience released Purple Haze in early 1967. The popularity of the two singles (released only in Europe) led to a deal with Reprise Records to start releasing the band's material in the US. By then, however, the Experience had already released Are You Experienced without either of the two hit singles on it. Reprise, hedging their bets, included both singles (but not their B sides), as well as a third UK single, The Wind Cries Mary, deleting several tracks from the original version of Are You Experienced to make room for them.

Artist: Steppenwolf
Title: Sookie Sookie
Source: Born To Be Wild-A Retrospective (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf and as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Covay/Cropper
Label: MCA
Year: 1968
For years I was under the impression that the follow-up single to Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild was Magic Carpet Ride, from the album Steppenwolf The Second. I was wrong. In fact, Born To Be Wild was not even the first single released from the band's first LP. That honor goes to A Girl I Knew, which was released in 1967, several months before the first Steppenwolf album hit the record racks. The third single from that debut LP was Sookie Sookie, the opening track of the album. The song, co-written by Steve Cropper, had been a minor R&B hit for Don Covay before coming to the attention of Steppenwolf, who cranked up the volume for their version of the tune.

Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: The Great Airplane Strike (originally released on LP: Midnight Ride and as 45 RPM single)
Source: LP: Greatest Hits
Writer: Revere/Melcher/Lindsay
Label: Columbia
Year: 1966
In 1966 Paul Revere and the Raiders were at the peak of their popularity, scoring major hits that year with Hungry and Kicks. The last single the band released that year was The Great Airplane Strike from the Midnight Ride album. Written by band members Revere and Mark Lindsay, along with producer Terry Melcher, The Great Airplane Strike stands out as a classic example of Pacific Northwest rock, a style which would eventually culminate in the grunge movement of the 1990s.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Bringing Me Down
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Balin/Kantner
Label: RCA Victor
Year: 1966
One of several singles released mainly to San Francisco Bay area radio stations and record stores, Bringing Me Down is an early collaboration between vocalist Marty Balin and guitarist/vocalist Paul Kantner. Balin had invited Kantner into the band without having heard him play a single note. It turned out to be one of many right-on-the-money decisions by the young bandleader.

Artist: Beatles
Title: I'm Only Sleeping
Source: CD: Revolver (original released in US on LP: Yesterday...And Today)
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year: 1966
US record buyers were able to hear I'm Only Sleeping several weeks before their British counterparts thanks to Capitol Records including the song on the US-only Yesterday...And Today LP. There was a catch, however. Producer George Martin had not yet made a stereo mix of the song, and Capitol used their "Duophonic" system to create a fake stereo mix for the album. That mix continued to be used on subsequent pressings of the LP (and various tape formats), even after a stereo mix was created and included on the UK version of the Revolver album. It wasn't until EMI released the entire run of UK albums on CD in both the US and UK markets that American record buyers had access to the true stereo version of the song heard here.

Artist: Kinks
Title: Sunny Afternoon
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Reprise
Year: 1966
My family got its first real stereo just in time for me to catch this song at the peak of its popularity. My school had just gone into split sessions and all my classes were over by one o'clock, which gave me the chance to explore the world of top 40 radio through decent speakers for a couple hours every day without the rest of the family telling me to turn it down (or off). Unfortunately, Denver's first FM rock station was still a few months off, so the decent speakers were handicapped by being fed an AM radio signal.

Artist: Cyrkle
Title: Red Rubber Ball (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Red Rubber Ball)
Source: CD: Even More Nuggets
Writer: Simon/Woodley
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year: 1966
Paul Simon moved to London in early 1965, after his latest album with Art Garfunkel, Wednesday Morning 3 AM, had been deleted from the Columbia Records catalog after just a few weeks due to poor sales. While in the UK Simon found himself performing on the same bill as the Seekers, an Australian band that had achieved some international success with folky pop songs like A World Of Our Own. Needing cash, Simon wrote (with Seekers guitarist/vocalist Bruce Woodley) Red Rubber Ball, selling the song to the group for about 100 pounds. After returning to the US and reuniting with Garfunkel, Simon offered the song to the Cyrkle, who took the song all the way to the #4 spot on the charts.

Artist: Love
Title: 7&7 Is
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: De Capo)
Writer: Arthur Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
Year: 1966
The word "seven" does not appear anywhere in the song 7&7 Is. In fact, I have no idea where Arthur Lee got that title from. Nonetheless, the song is among the most intense tracks to ever make the top 40. 7&7 Is starts off with power chords played over a constant drum roll (possibly played by Lee himself), with cymbals crashing over equally manic semi-spoken lyrics. The song builds up to an explosive climax: an atomic bomb blast followed by a slow post-apocalyptic instrumental that quickly fades away.
And it does it all in less than two and a half minutes.

Artist: Cream
Title: N.S.U.
Source: LP: Fresh Cream (also released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer: Bruce/Brown
Label: Atco
Year: 1966
Like most bands in the 60s, Cream released their first single, Wrapping Paper, before the LP Fresh Cream hit the racks. Unlike most bands in the 60s, however, the band sold more copies of the album than of the single (which was not on the album itself). For a follow up single, the band recorded a new tune, I Feel Free, using the LP's opening track, N.S.U., as a B side. The single did well enough to prompt Atco Records to add it to the US version of the album, deleting the studio version of Spoonful to make room for it.

Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In) (originally released on LP: No Way Out and as 45 RPM single)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk
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, Mark Loomis 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.

Artist: Donovan
Title: Young Girl Blues
Source: CD: Mellow Yellow
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original label: Epic)
Year: 1967
In 1966 Donovan got into a prolonged contract dispute with his British record label, Pye Records. As a result, his two most successful albums, Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow, were only released in the US. Eventually the dispute was settled and Pye released a British version of Mellow Yellow that was actually a pastiche of the two US releases. During the dispute, however, Donovan acquired a somewhat jaded view of not only the British music scene, but of British youth culture in general. Young Girl Blues reflects this sort of youthful cynicism.

Artist: Spooky Tooth
Title: Love Really Changed Me
Source: LP: Spooky Tooth
Writer: Miller/Grosvenor/Wright
Label: Bell
Year: 1968
When the name Spooky Tooth comes up, it is usually associated with 70s rock. However, the group's first LP actually came out in 1968. In the UK the album was titled It's All About Spooky Tooth, while in the US it was released as simply Spooky Tooth, at least when it originally came out on the Bell label. The album was re-released on a different label in 1971, at which time it was retitled Tobacco Road (thanks to the group's remake of the John D. Loudermilk classic getting airplay on US radio).

Artist: Temptations
Title: Papa Was A Rolling Stone
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Whitfield/Strong
Label: Motown
Year: 1972
One of the longest songs ever to get played on top 40 radio, Papa Was A Rolling Stone was in many ways a climactic recording. It was the last big Temptations hit, and one of the last songs produced by the team of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, the so-called "psychedelic soul" producers, before Whitfield left Motown to form his own production company. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it was the last major hit to feature the Funk Brothers, the (mostly uncredited) instrumentalists who had played on virtually every Motown record in the 60s but had been largely supplanted by studio musicians working out of Los Angeles, where the label had relocated its corporate headquarters to, in the early 70s. And on Papa Was A Rolling Stone the Funk Brothers finally got to shine as soloists, with an intro on the LP version that lasted more than four minutes and a long extended instrumental section in the middle of the piece as well. Papa Was A Rolling Stone has been called the last great Motown record. I tend to agree with that assessment.

This week we turn the spotlight on the first Traffic album, Mr. Fantasy, released in 1967. The album features several tunes by Dave Mason, who quit the band before the album was even released (he later rejoined). In the US the album was briefly known as Heaven Is In Your Mind, but soon changed to match the original UK title. The US cover art, however, was completely different than the UK album, even after the name change. These days both versions of the album are available on CD; the UK version carries the Mr. Fantasy name with the original artwork and uses all mono mixes. The US version is in stereo, and has been once again retitled Heaven Is In Your Mind (and uses the US track lineup).

Artist: Traffic
Title: Hole In My Shoe
Source: CD: Mr. Fantasy (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Dave Mason
Label: Island (original US label: United Artists)
Year: 1967
Since the 1970s Traffic has been known as Steve Winwood's (and to a lesser degree, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood's) band, but in the early days the group's most popular songs were written and sung by co-founder Dave Mason. Hole In My Shoe was a single that received considerable airplay in the UK. As was common practice in the UK at the time, the song was not included on the band's debut album. In the US, however, both Hole In My Shoe and the other then-current Traffic single, Paper Sun, were added to the album, replacing (ironically) a couple of Mason's other tunes.

Artist: Traffic
Title: Dear Mr. Fantasy
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Mr. Fantasy)
Writer: Winwood/Capaldi/Wood
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 the title track of the Mr. Fantasy album.

Artist: Traffic
Title: Berkshire Poppies
Source: CD: Mr. Fantasy
Writer: Winwood/Capaldi/Wood
Label: Island
Year: 1967
Mr. Fantasy was far more psychedelic than any subsequent Traffic album, and in a way is also the most experimental. It's certainly hard to imagine a song as novel as Berkshire Poppies showing up on an album like Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory.

Artist: Them
Title: Young Woman
Source: LP: Time Out! Time In! For Them
Writer: Lane/Pulley
Label: Tower
Year: 1968
Time Out! Time In! For Them is an overlooked classic of the psychedelic era. Featuring songs by the husband and wife team of Tom Pulley and Vivian Lane, the album showcases the vocal talents of Kenny McDowell, who had the unenviable task of replacing Van Morrison.

Artist: October Country
Title: My Girlfriend Is A Witch
Source: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
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 lyrics for 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 the lyrics for My Girlfriend Is a Witch, he also ended up playing drums on the record as well.

Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Kentucky Woman
Source: LP: Purple Passages (originally released on LP: The Book Of Taleisyn)
Writer: Neil Diamond
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Tetragramatton)
Year: 1968
The original Deep Purple hit the scene in 1968 with their monster hit version of Joe South's Hush, which had been an international hit for Billy Joe Royal the previous year. Later the same year they tried to make lightning strike twice with a similarly styled cover of Neil Diamond's Kentucky Woman. Although not as successful as Hush, the song still did reasonably well on the charts and showed that the band had staying power. After releasing a third LP that was handicapped by the band's US label folding within days of the record's release, the band lost its original lead vocalist Rod Evans, who would soon resurface with a new band called Captain Beyond. Meanwhile, Deep Purple achieved iconic status after recruiting vocalist Ian Gillam (the voice of Jesus on the original Jesus Christ Superstar album) to replace Evans.

Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Dark Star (single version)
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Garcia/Hunter
Label: Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year: 1968
Studio recording. Single version. Shortest Dark Star ever.

Artist: Fever Tree
Title: San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native)
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Fever Tree)
Writer: S. Holtzman/V. Holtzman
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Uni)
Year: 1968
A minor trend in 1968 was for producer/songwriters to find a band to record their material exclusively. A prime example is Houston's Fever Tree, which featured the music of husband and wife team Scott and Vivian Holtzman. San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native) was the single from that album, peaking in the lower reaches of the Hot 100 charts.

Artist: Doors
Title: The Unknown Soldier
Source: CD: Waiting For The Sun (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: The Doors
Label: Elektra
Year: 1968
One of the oddest recordings to get played on top 40 radio was the Door's 1968 release, The Unknown Soldier. The song is notable for having it's own promotional film made by keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who had been a film major at UCLA when the Doors were formed. It's not known whether the song was written with the film in mind (or vice versa), but the two have a much greater synergy than your average music video.

Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: You Never Had It Better
Source: CD: Underground (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer: Snagster/Schwartz/Poncher
Label: Collector's Choice (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1968
Following the lack of a hit single from their second album, Underground, the Electric Prunes took one last shot at top 40 airplay with a song called Everybody Knows Your Not In Love. The band might have had better luck if they had pushed the flip side of the record, You Never Had It Better, which is a much stronger song. As it is, the record stiffed, and producer David Hassinger reacted by stripping the band of any creative freedom they might have had and made an album called Mass in F Minor using mostly studio musicians. The band, having signed away the rights to the name Electric Prunes to Hassinger when they first started working with him, could do nothing but watch helplessly as Hassinger created an album that had little in common with the original band other than their name. Because of this, the original members soon left, and Hassinger brought in a whole new group for two more albums before retiring the Prunes name for good. In recent years several members of the original band have reformed the Electric Prunes. Whether they had to get permission to use the name is unknown.

Artist: Animals
Title: It's My Life
Source: CD: Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Atkins/D'Errico
Label: Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Year: 1965
The Animals had a string of solid hits throughout the mid-60s, many of which were written by professional songwriters working out of Don Kirschner's Brill Building. Although vocalist Eric Burdon expressed disdain for most of these songs at the time (preferring to perform the blues/R&B covers that the group had built up its following with), he now sings every one of them, including It's My Life, on the oldies circuit.

Artist: Blues Project
Title: You Can't Catch Me
Source: LP: Projections
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: Peter Fonda
Title: November Night
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Gram Parsons
Label: Rhino (original label: Chisa)
Year: 1967
Before Easy Rider, Peter Fonda tried to be a singer. November Night, a single released on the local L.A. label Chisa, is the result. Luckily they didn't use the song on the Easy Rider soundtrack.

And that wraps up another year of being Stuck in the Psychedelic Era. Next week it's your chance to check out some cool yule tunes as you get Stuck With the Hermit At Yuletide. The following week we take a look back at the songs and artists that got the most airplay on the show this year. At this writing there is a four-way tie for the top spot between the following songs:

7&7 Is, by Love
I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), by the Electric Prunes.
Psychotic Reaction, by Count Five
She's My Girl, by the Turtles.

I'm going to leave it up to you to decide which one of these gets the top spot. Just click the comments button and let me know which one you think deserves it the most.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1149 (starts 12/8/11)

This week we continue to go deep, with the emphasis on album tracks, especially in the first and last segments of the show.

Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: She Smiled Sweetly
Source: LP: Between The Buttons
Writer: Jagger/Richards
Label: London
Year: 1967
The first Rolling Stones album of 1967, Between The Buttons, found the group moving away from their Rhythm and Blues roots and into a more psychedelic vein. The band had always recorded its share of slower tunes, such as Play With Fire and As Tears Go By, and continued to do so with tunes like She Smiled Sweetly. Although the song did not receive a lot of airplay, it was an indication of the maturation of the songwriting skills of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Summertime/Shantung Cabbage
Source: LP: Undead
Writer: Gershwin/R. Lee
Label: Deram
Year: 1968
Although Ten Years After is not often compared to the Grateful Dead, the two groups actually have a lot in common. Both bands had a debut album that failed to capture the essence of their live performances, and both decided to try to rectify the situation with their sophomore effort. Whereas the Dead chose to create a hybrid album that integrated studio overdubs with live recordings (Anthem Of The Sun), Ten Years After took a more direct approach. The album Undead was made up of unedited live tracks recorded at a small London jazz club called Klooks Kleek. One of these tracks starts off as a Wes Montgomery styled approach to George Gershwin's Summertime, but quickly turns into a drum solo by Ric Lee called, for no obvious reason, Shantung Cabbage.

Artist: Blues Image
Title: Leaving My Troubles Behind
Source: LP: Blues Image
Writer: Blues Image
Label: Atco
Year: 1969
Miami's Blues Image was highly regarded by critics and musicians alike. Unfortunately, they were never able to translate that acclaim into album sales, despite recording a pair of fine albums for Atco. Following the release of the band's second LP guitarist Mike Pinera left Blues Image to replace Eric Brann in Iron Butterfly, and after one more unsuccessful album the group disbanded.

Artist: Seeds
Title: Fallin' In Love
Source: LP: The Seeds
Writer: Sky Saxon
Label: GNP Crescendo
Year: 1966
The first Seeds album is made up mostly of tracks that sound like variations on their biggest hit, Pushin' Too Hard. One notable exception is the bluesy Fallin' In Love, which actually sounds like an early Doors song. The Doors, however, were still in their embryonic stage when the debut Seeds LP hit the stands in the spring of 1966.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: How Suite It Is
Source: CD: After Bathing At Baxters
Writer: Kantner/Cassidy/Dryden/Kaukonen
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
Year: 1967
After the phenominal success of Jefferson Airplane's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow, the group went into the studio with a deliberate disregard for commercial concerns. The result was After Bathing At Baxter's, an album that left a lot of people scratching their heads when it was released, but has since come to be regarded as one of the creative high points of the psychedelic era. The album is divided into a group of five suites, each containing two or three songs. How Suite It Is, which opens side two of the LP, consists of two pieces. The first, Watch Her Ride, is a Paul Kantner song that was considered strong enough to be released as the second single from the album. Watch Her Ride segues into Spare Chaynge, a nine-minute studio jam by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, drummer Spencer Dryden and bassist Jack Cassidy. It's Cassidy's bass solo that is the real highlight of the piece, a testament to the then-21-year-old's prowess and creativity on an instrument that had previously been relegated to a purely support role.

Artist: Gants
Title: I Wonder
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Sid Herring
Label: Rhino (original label: Liberty)
Year: 1967
The Gants hailed from Greenwood, Mississippi, and had a string of regional hits that led to their signing with Liberty Records in 1965. The group, however, was handicapped by having half the members still in high school and the other half in college (and unwilling to drop out due to their being of draftable age during the height of the Viet Nam war). The band's most successful single for the label was I Wonder, which, like all of the Gants' recordings, shows a strong Beatle influence.

Artist: Things To Come
Title: Come Alive
Source: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Russ Ward
Label: Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year: 1968
Long Beach, California was home to a band known as Things To Come, which featured drummer Russ Ward, who, as Russ Kunkel, would go on to become one of L.A.'s hottest studio drummers. Come Alive is a solid piece of garage rock written by Ward/Kunkel.

Artist: Bubble Puppy
Title: Hot Smoke and Sassafras
Source: Best of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Bubble Puppy
Label: Priority (original label: International Artists
Year: 1969
Bubble Puppy was a band from San Antonio, Texas that relocated to nearby Austin and signed a contract with International Artists, a label already known as the home of legendary Texas psychedelic bands 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola. The group hit the national top 20 with Hot Smoke and Sassafras in 1969 but soon relocated to California and changed their name to Demian, at least in part to disassociate themselves with the then-popular "bubble gum" style (but also because of problems with International Artists).

Artist: Santana
Title: Waiting
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Santana
Label: Columbia
Year: 1970
Possibly the most successful (in the long term) of the musicians to emerge from late 60s San Francisco was Carlos Santana, a Mexican-born guitarist who still plays to sellout crowds worldwide. Santana's band originally got lukewarm reviews from the rock press, but after their legendary performance at Woodstock found themselves among rock's royalty. Waiting, from the group's first LP, is an instrumental that was also released as the B side of the band's first single, Evil Ways.

Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You
Source: LP: This Was
Writer: Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1968
Ian Anderson has often said that he disagreed with record company executives who characterized Jethro Tull as a blues band when the band's first LP, This Was, was released. Yet one of the most traditional sounding blues tunes on that LP was written by Anderson himself. Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You sounds like it could easily have come from the pen of Jimmy Reed. Speaking of record labels, This Was, like all the early Tull albums, was originally released in the US on the Reprise label. Reprise had a policy (instituted by its founder and original owner, Frank Sinatra) of allowing its artists to retain ownership of the recordings released on the label, which is why most of the material released on Reprise in the late 60s has been reissued on other labels.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Castles Made Of Sand
Source: LP: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1967
Although born in Seattle, Washington, James Marshall Hendrix was never associated with the local music scene that produced some of the loudest and raunchiest punk-rock of the mid 60s. Instead, he paid his professional dues backing R&B artists on the "chitlin circuit" of clubs playing to a mostly-black clientele, mainly in the south. After a short stint leading his own soul band Hendrix, at the behest of one Chas Chandler (more on him in a minute), moved to London, where he recuited a pair of local musicians, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, to form the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Although known for his innovative use of feedback, Hendrix was quite capable of knocking out some of the most complex "clean" riffs ever to be committed to vinyl. A prime example of this is Castles Made Of Sand. Hendrix's highly melodic guitar work combined with unusual tempo changes and haunting lyrics makes Castles Made Of Sand a classic that sounds as fresh today as it did when Axis: Bold As Love was released in 1967.

Artist: Cream
Title: White Room
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Wheels Of Fire; edited version originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Bruce/Brown
Label: United Artists (original label: Atco)
Year: 1968
In order to get songs played on top 40 radio, record companies made it a practice to shorten album cuts by cutting out extended instrumental breaks and extra verses. This version of White Room, clocking in at just over three minutes, is a typical example.

Artist: Beatles
Title: Octopus's Garden
Source: CD: Abbey Road
Writer: Richard Starkey
Label: Parlophone (original label: Apple)
Year: 1969
In the Beatles's early years, guitarist George Harrison was generally allotted one song per album as a songwriter. Around 1966 this began to change, as Harrison's songwriting began to be featured more prominently. In 1968 drummer Ringo Starr stepped into the role of one song per album songwriter, with his first recorded song, Don't Pass Me By, being included on the so-called White Album. The band's finally LP, Abbey Road, included another Starr song, Octopus's Garden, which, unlike the former tune, actually got occassional airplay on both AM and FM stations.

Artist: Impressions
Title: We're A Winner
Source: CD: Curtis Mayfield And The Impressions-The Anthology 1961-1977 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Curtis Mayfield
Label: MCA (original label: ABC)
Year: 1968
When Jerry Butler left the Impressions in the early 1960s, it would have been easy to assume that the group would not last very long without its dynamic lead vocalist. That is not what happened, however. Instead, guitarist Curtis Mayfield stepped up to the microphone, becoming the group's sole songwriter in the process. Although the Impressions had a few crossover hits on the mainstream charts, such as It's All Right and People Get Ready, their real stronghold was the R&B charts, where they scored hit after hit over a period of nearly ten years. Most of these hits were on the ABC Paramount label, which shortened its name to ABC Records in 1966. One of the last hits on ABC was We're A Winner, released in 1968. In 1969 Mayfield formed his own label, Curtom, and the Impressions were the first group to record for the new label. Mayfield would have his greatest success as a solo artist in the early 70s with a pair of singles from the soundtrack of the movie Superfly, including the title cut and the song Freddy's Dead.

Artist: Bob Seger System
Title: 2+2=?
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Bob Seger
Label: Capitol
Year: 1968
Bob Seger had a series of regional hits in his native Detroit in the mid-1960s, leading to a deal with Capitol Records in 1968. The first single for Capitol was 2+2=?, a powerful anti-Vietnam War tune that was later included on his first LP for the label. The mono single version of the song heard here has a guitar chord near the end of the track that was not on the original recording (on which the song simply stops cold for a second). It was inserted because, according to Seger, radio stations were "afraid of dead air".

Artist: Procol Harum
Title: In Held Twas I
Source: LP: Shine On Brightly
Writer: Brooker/Fisher/Reid
Label: A&M
Year: 1968
Although the idea of grouping songs together as "suites" was first tried by Jefferson Airplane on their 1967 album After Bathing At Baxter's, Procol Harum's 17-minute long In Held Twas I, from their 1968 album Shine On Brightly, is usually cited as the first progressive rock suite. The title comes from the first word of each section of the piece that contains vocals (several sections are purely instrumental). The work contains some of the best early work from guitarist Robin Trower, who would leave the group a few years later for a solo career. Shine On Brightly was the last Procol Harum album to include organist Matthew Fisher, who came up with the famous opening riff for the group's first hit, A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

Artist: Dino Valenti
Title: Let's Get Together
Source: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer: Chet Powers
Label: Rhino
Year: 1964
At first glance this may look like a cover tune. In reality, though, Dino Valenti was one of several aliases used by the guy who was born Chester Powers. Perhaps this was brought on by his several encounters with the law, most of which led to jail time. By all accounts, Valenti was one of the more bombastic characters on the San Francisco scene. The song was first commercially recorded by Jefferson Airplane in 1966, but it wasn't until 1969, when the Youngbloods shortened the title to Get Together, that the song became a major hit.

Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: The Times They Are A-Changin'
Source: CD: The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings (originally released on LP: The Times They Are A-Changin')
Writer: Bob Dylan
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Year: 1964
I vaguely remember seeing a movie back in the 80s (I think it may have been called The Wanderers) about a late-50s gang from an Italian-American neighborhood somewhere in New York City. I really don't remember much about the plot of the film, but I do remember a bit near the end, where the main character walks down a street in Greenwich Village and hears the sound of Bob Dylan coming from a coffee house singing The Times They Are A-Changin'. I've often thought of that scene and how it symbolized the shift from the conformist culture of the late 50s (represented by the peer pressure-driven gang life) giving way to the turbulence that would characterize the 1960s.

Artist: Five Americans
Title: I See The Light
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Durrill/Ezell/Rabon
Label: Rhino (original label: Abnak)
Year: 1965
For years I was under the impression that the Five Americans were a Texas band, mainly due to Abnak Records having a Texas address. It turns out, though, that the band was actually from Durant, Oklahoma, although by the time they had their biggest hit, Western Union, they were playing most of their gigs in the Lone Star state. I See The Light is an earlier single built around a repeating Farfisa organ riff that leads into a song that can only be described as in your face.

Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: A Hazy Shade Of Winter
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Writer: Paul Simon
Label: Columbia
Year: 1966
Originally released as a single in 1966, A Hazy Shade Of Winter was one of several songs written for the film The Graduate. The only one of these actually used in the film was Mrs. Robinson. The remaining songs eventually made up side two of the 1968 album Bookends, although several of them were also released as singles throughout 1967. A Hazy Shade Of Winter, being the first of these singles (and the only one released in 1966), was also the highest charting, peaking at # 13 just as the weather was turning cold. This is the only song this week that will also be included on our cool yule show, "Stuck With The Hermit At Yuletide", coming up in just a couple of weeks.

Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Time Machine
Source: CD: Heavy Hitters (originally released on LP: On Time)
Writer: Mark Farner
Label: Capitol
Year: 1969
Universally panned by the rock press, the first Grand Funk Railroad album, On Time, was at best a moderate success when it was first released. Thanks to the band's extensive touring, however, GFR had built up a sizable following by the time their self-titled follow up LP (aka the Red Album) was released in 1970. That year, Grand Funk Railroad became the first rock band to chalk up four gold albums in the same year, with Closer To Home and their double-LP live album joining the first two studio albums. One of the most popular tracks from On Time was Time Machine, which captures the essence of the band's early years.

Artist: James Gang
Title: Tend My Garden/Garden Gate
Source: James Gang Rides Again
Writer: Joe Walsh
Label: MCA (original label: ABC)
Year: 1970
Cleveland, Ohio's James Gang spent so much time on the road promoting their first album, Takes Off, that they didn't have much material ready when it came time to record a follow-up LP. The group found itself actually writing songs in the studio and recording them practically as they were being written. Guitarist/lead vocalist Joe Walsh, meanwhile, had some acoustic songs he had been working on, and it was decided that the new album would have one side of electric hard rock songs while the other would be an acoustic side. The opening tracks for the second side of the album were Tend My Garden, which features Walsh on both organ and guitar, followed by Garden Gate, a Walsh solo piece.

Artist: Mother Earth
Title: Tonight The Sky's About To Cry
Source: LP: Bring Me Home
Writer: Kaz/Andreolli
Label: Reprise
Year: 1971
Mother Earth was one of those bands that was highly respected among the musicians' community, but was never able to achieve major commercial success. The band was formed by Tracy Nelson, who had migrated to the San Francisco area from her native Wisconson in the early 1960s and had moderate success locally as an acoustic artist. Although Mother Earth disbanded in the early 70s, Nelson has continued to record over the years for various labels and has appeared on such TV shows as Austin City Limits. Although Nelson wrote the bulk of Mother Earth's material, the band occassionally recorded songs from outside songwriters such as Tonight The Sky's About To Cry from the album Bring Me Home, the band's only LP on the Reprise label.