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.


  1. This show is outstanding. You have great taste in music, Hermit!! Keep up the great work.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately, it took me a year to figure out how to search for comments on my blog posts. Hopefully next time I'll be a bit quicker to respond.