Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1204 (starts 1/26/12)

Artist: Frantics
Title: Human Monkey
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Miller/Stevenson
Label: Rhino (original label: Action)
Year: 1966
The Frantics were a popular cover band in Tacoma, Washington in the early 60s. Guitarist Jerry Miller, however, had greater ambitions and eventually relocated to San Francisco, taking the band's name and two of its members, keyboardist Chuck "Steaks" Schoning and drummer Don Stevenson, with him. After recruiting bassist Bob Mosely the Frantics cut their only single, a Motown-style dance number called the Human Monkey, in 1966. The group would soon shed Schoning and pick up two new members, changing their name to Moby Grape in the process.

Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints (originally released as 45 RPM single B side; re-released as A side)
Source: CD: Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock
Writer: Carter/Gilbert/Weitz/King
Label: Priority (original label: All-American; reissued nationally on Uni Records)
Year: 1967
Incense and Peppermints started off as an instrumental, mostly because the band simply couldn't come up with any lyrics. Their producer decided to bring in professional songwriters to finish the song, and ended up giving them full credit for it. This did not sit well with the band members. In fact, they hated the lyrics so much that their regular vocalist refused to sing on the record. Undaunted, the producer brought in the lead vocalist from another local L.A. band to sing the song, which was then put on the B side of The Birdman Of Alcatrash. Somewhere along the line a local DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense An Peppermints as the A side.

Artist: Grass Roots
Title: Feelings
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock
Writer: Coonce/Entner/Fukomoto
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Year: 1968
The Grass Roots had their origins as the San Francisco band the Bedoins, but by 1968 had lost all but one of the original members and had become pretty much a vehicle for the songwriting team of Jeff Barri and P.F. Sloan. They released three singles in 1968, the third of which was Midnight Confessions, the group's only certified gold record. The song immediately preceeding it was Feelings which failed to chart (possibly because it was not written by Sloan and Barri). Of course that means I play Feelings fairly regularly. Midnight Confessions? Not at all.

Artist: Penny Arkade
Title: Swim
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer: Craig Vincent Smith
Label: Rhino
Year: recorded: 1967, released 2009
In 1967 Michael Nesmith, realizing that the Monkees had a limited shelf life, decided to produce a local L.A. band, Penny Arkade, led by singer/songwriter Craig Vincent Smith. Nesmith already had several production credits to his name with the Monkees, including a recording of Smith's Salesman on their 4th LP. Swim, like Salesman, has a touch of country about it; indeed, Nesmith himself was one of the earliest proponents of what would come to be called country-rock. In 1967, however, country-rock was still at least a year away and Nesmith was unable to find a label willing to release the record.

Artist: Beatles
Title: Run For Your Life
Source: LP: Rubber Soul
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Label: Capitol
Year: 1965
Compared to some of John Lennon's later songs, Run For Your Life comes across as a sexist, even violent expression of jealous posessiveness. However, in 1965 such a viewpoint was quite common; in fact it was pretty much the acceptable norm for the times. Scary, huh? Somehow I just can't imagine Yoko Ono approving of this song.

Artist: James Taylor
Title: Oh, Susanna
Source: LP: Sweet Baby James
Writer: Stephen Foster
Label: Warner Brothers
Year: 1970
The early 70s saw the rise of the singer/songwriter to prominence on the pop charts, and none was more successful than James Taylor. In addition to his own tunes like Fire And Rain, Taylor would have hits with songs written by his friend Carole King and even remakes of pre-Beatle era pop songs. The oldest song he ever recorded, however, has to be Oh, Susannah, written in the 1800s by the great American songwriter, Stephen Foster, and included on his second LP, Sweet Baby James.

Artist: Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Title: Child Of My Kingdom
Source: CD: The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Writer: Brown/Crane
Label: Polydor (original label: Atlantic)
Year: 1968
One of the most unique performers on the British rock scene was Arthur Brown, who was known for his theatrical stage show, including flashing lights, smoke bombs, and band members wearing outrageous costumes.The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, produced by Kit Lambert and the Who's Peter Townshend, was one of the most popular psychedelic albums ever released, hitting the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic. The longest track on that album was the seven-minute Child Of My Kingdom, which closes out side two.

Artist: Them
Title: Dirty Old Man (At The Age Of Sixteen)
Source: LP: Now And Them
Writer: Tom Lane
Label: Tower
Year: 1968
After Van Morrison left Them to pursue a solo career, the band returned to Belfast, where they recruited Kenny McDowell to be the group's new lead vocalist. They then relocated to California, where they cut two albums for Tower Records. The second of the two albums featured songs written by the husband and wife team of Sharon Pulley and Tom Lane. The first LP, entitled Now And Them, featured songs from a variety of sources, including one song, Dirty Old Man (At The Age Of Sixteen), written by Lane himself.

Artist: Moody Blues
Title: In Search Of The Lost Chord (part two)
Source: CD: In Search Of The Lost Chord
Writer: Hayward/Pinder/Thomas/Edge
Label: Deram
Year: 1968
After using the London Symphony Orchestra extensively on their second LP, Days Of Future Passed, the Moody Blues played every instrument themselves on the next album, In Search Of The Lost Chord. There were reportedly 33 (or possibly more) different instruments played on the album. Among those was something called a mellotron, which used tape loops of recorded instruments played on a keyboard. Each side was one continuous piece of music, making In Search Of The Lost Chord, released in 1968, one of the first rock concept albums.

Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Watch Yourself
Source: LP: Vol. III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer: Yeazel/Guy
Label: Reprise
Year: 1968
Although the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band usually wrote their own material, they occassionally drew from outside sources. One example is Watch Yourself, written by Robert Yeazel, who in turn based it on a song by blues legend Buddy Guy. Yeazel would go on to join Sugarloaf in time for their second LP, Spaceship Earth, writing much of the material on that album.

Artist: Rare Earth
Title: (I Know I'm) Losing You
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Grant/Holland/Whitfield
Label: Rare Earth
Year: 1970
Although Rare Earth was not the first white act signed to Motown, it was the first successful one. When the band was signed in 1969 it was decided to retool (and rename) one of Motown's existing labels and put Rare Earth on that label. During discussions about what to rename the label one of the band members joking suggested Rare Earth Records. Oddly enough, Motown went with that suggestion, and the band soon scored two consecutive top 10 singles with remakes of previous Motown hits. The first, Get Ready, used virtually the same arrangement as the Temptations original and actually did better on the charts. The follow-up, (I Know I'm) Losing You, was more adventurous, and showed that the group was more than just one hit wonders.

Artist: Shadows of Knight
Title: Dark Side
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Rogers/Sohns
Label: Dunwich
Year: 1966
Dark Side, written by guitarist Warren Rogers and singer Jim Sohns, is probably the quintessential Shadows of Knight song. It has all the classic elements of a garage rock song: three chords, a blues beat and lots of attitude. Oh, and the lyrics "I love you baby more than birds love the sky". What more can you ask for?

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

Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: Codine
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Revolution soundtrack)
Writer: Buffy Sainte-Marie
Label: Rhino
Year: 1968
Buffy St. Marie's Codine was a popular favorite among the club crowd in mid-60s California. In 1967, L.A. band The Leaves included it on their second LP. Around the same time, up the coast in San Francisco, the Charlatans selected it to be their debut single. The suits at Kama-Sutra Records, however, balked at the choice, and instead released a cover of the Coasters' The Shadow Knows. The novelty-flavored Shadow bombed so bad that the label decided not to release any more Charlatans tracks, thus leaving their version of Codine gathering dust in the vaults until the mid 1990s, when the entire Kama-Sutra sessions were released on CD. Meanwhile, back in 1968, Quicksilver Messenger Service were still without a record contract, despite pulling decent crowds at various Bay Area venues, including a credible appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. Despite this, the producers of the quasi-documentary film Revolution decided to include footage of the band playing Codine, and commissioned this studio recording of the song for the soundtrack album.

Artist: Great! Society
Title: Free Advice (alternate version 2)
Source: CD: Born To Be Burned
Writer: Darby Slick
Label: Sundazed
Year: 1966
This alternate take of Free Advice shows the Great! Society for what they were: a talented garage band with a lot of rough edges that they never got the opportunity to smooth things out.

Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title: Ain't That So
Source: CD: Winds Of Change (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM B side)
Writer: Burdon/Briggs/Weider/Jenkins/McCulloch
Label: Repertoire (original label: M-G-M)
Year: 1967
Originally released in the UK as the B side to the 1967 single Good Times (which was itself a B side in the US), Ain't That So made its US debut in 1968, as the B side to the song Monterey (which was a US-only single). Like all the originals released by Eric Burdon and the Animals, writing credits on Ain't That So were shared by the entire band.

Artist: Nazz
Title: Open Your Eyes
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits
Writer: Todd Rundgren
Label: Rhino (original label: SGC)
Year: 1968
The Nazz was a band from Philadelphia who were basically the victims of their own bad timing. 1968 was the year that progressive FM radio began to get recognition as a viable format while top 40 radio was being dominated by bubble gum pop bands such as the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the Ohio Express. The Nazz, on the other hand, sounded more like British bands such as the Move and Brian Augur's Trinity that were performing well on the UK charts but were unable to buy a hit in the US. The band had plenty of talent, most notably guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Todd Rundgren, who would go on to establish a successful career, both as an artist (he played all the instruments on his Something/Anything LP and led the band Utopia) and a producer (Grand Funk's We're An American Band, among others). Open My Eyes was originally issued as the A side of a single, but ended up being eclipsed in popularity by its flip side, a song called Hello It's Me, that ended up getting airplay in Boston and other cities, eventually hitting the Canadian charts (a new solo version would become Rundgren's first major hit five years later).

Artist: James Gang
Title: Fred
Source: CD: Yer' Album
Writer: Joe Walsh
Label: MCA (original label: Bluesway)
Year: 1969
The only rock record to ever be released on the Bluesway label was Yer' Album, the debut LP by Cleveland's James Gang. Featuring Joe Walsh on Guitar (and overdubbed keyboards), Tom Criss (who would leave the band after this album) on bass and Dale Peters on drums, the group was one of the first "power trios" of the 70s. Unlike the group's later efforts, Yer' Album included cover tunes written by such diverse composers as Stephen Stills, Jerry Ragavoy and Jeff Beck, as well as a smattering of original compositions. One of those originals was Fred, a Walsh song that was described in the liner notes as "and it's straaaaaaaange."

Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Teacher
Source: CD: Benefit
Writer: Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis/Capitol
Year: 1970
LPs released by British Groups often had different song lineups in the US and the UK. One of the reasons for this is that British labels generally did not include songs that had been released as singles on LPs. In the US, however, running times were 5-10 minutes shorter per LP, and songs that had been included on British LPs would end up being dropped in favor of the latest hit single by the same artist. Jethro Tull, however, was generally an exception to this practice. Both of their first two LPs had exactly the same song lineup on both sides of the Atlantic. In fact, the only notable exception was the song Teacher, which was released as a single before the UK version of the group's third LP, Benefit. The US version of Benefit has Teacher on it, replacing Just Trying To Be, which would not be issued in the US until the Living In The Past album.

Artist: Who
Title: A Legal Matter
Source: CD: Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original US label: Decca)
Year: 1965
In early 1966 the Who parted company with their original UK record label, Brunswick, to hook up with the newly formed Reaction Records. This did not sit well with the people at Brunswick, who did their best to sabotage the band's Reaction releases. They did this by releasing single versions of songs from the band's only Brunswick album, My Generation, within days of each new Who single on Reaction. The first of these was The Kids Are Alright/A Legal Matter, which was released right after the first Who single on Reaction, Substitute. The strategy was for the most part unsuccessful, and all these songs ended up on the Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy album, released a couple years later.

Artist: Who
Title: Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands
Source: LP: The Who Sell Out
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: Decca
Year: 1967
There are at least three versions of Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands. A faster, electric version of the song was released only in the US as the B side to I Can See For Miles, while this semi-latin flavored acoustic version was included on The Who Sell Out. Yet another version is featured as a bonus track on the 1993 CD release of Sell Out.

Artist: Who
Title: I Can See For Miles
Source: CD: Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: MCA
Year: 1967
I Can See For Miles continued a string of top 10 singles in the UK and was the Who's biggest US hit ever. Pete Townshend, however, was disappointed with the song's performance on the UK charts. He said that the song was the ultimate Who song and as such it should have charted even higher than it did. It certainly was one of the heaviest songs of its time and there is some evidence that it prompted Paul McCartney to come up with Helter Skelter in an effort to take the heaviest song ever title back for the Beatles. What makes the story even more bizarre is that at the time McCartney reportedly had never actually heard I Can See For Miles and was going purely by what he read in a record review. I Can See For Miles was also used as the closing track of side one of The Who Sell Out, released in December of 1967. Some of the commercials and jingles heard at the beginning of the track were recorded by the band itself. Others were lifted (without permission) from Radio London, a pirate radio station operating off the English coast.

Artist: Kinks
Title: Sunny Afternoon
Source: LP: Face To Face
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 for a couple hours every day without the rest of the family telling me to turn it down (or off).

Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme)
Writer: Paul Simon
Label: Columbia
Year: 1966
One of Simon And Garfunkel's most popular songs, The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) originally appeared on their 1966 LP Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme. The recording was never, however, released as a single by the duo (although it did appear as a 1967 B side). When Columbia released a greatest hits compilation album (after the duo had split up), a live acoustic version of the song was included on the album. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) did make the top 40 in 1967, when it was recorded by Harper's Bizarre, a group featuring future Doobie Brothers and Van Halen producer Ted Templeman on lead vocals.

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Love Or Confusion
Source: LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1967
A little-known fact is that the original European version of Are You Experienced, in addition to having a different song lineup, consisted entirely of mono recordings. When Reprise got the rights to release the album in North America, its own engineers created new stereo mixes from the 4-track master tapes. As most of the instrumental tracks had already been mixed down to single tracks, the engineers found themselves doing things like putting the vocals all the way on one side of the mix, with reverb effects and guitar solos occupying the other side and all the instruments dead center. Such is the case with Love Or Confusion, with some really bizarre stereo panning thrown in at the end of the track. It's actually kind of fun to listen to with headphones on, as I did when I bought my first copy of the album on reel-to-reel tape (the tape deck was in the same room as the TV). On the downside, the vocals on the stereo mix sound far away when played back through a single speaker.

Artist: Love
Title: Alone Again Or (alternate mix)
Source: CD: Forever Changes
Writer: Bryan MacLean
Label: Elektra
Year: 1967
Finishing out this week's show we have an alternate mix of the opening track for Love's Forever Changes album, generally considered to be their best studio work and a surprisingly popular album in England, despite Love never having played there. Bryan McLean once said that he was unhappy with the released mix of Alone Again Or, due to the producer's decision to give Arthur Lee's harmony line a greater prominence in the mix than McLean's lead vocal. This was probably done for consistency's sake, as Lee was the lead vocalist on an overwhelming majority of Love's recordings. This mono alternate mix uses a different balance of vocals, although McLean's part is still not as prominent as McLean would have preferred. McLean himself re-recorded the song on an early 70s solo album, but reportedly was still not satisfied with the way the song sounded.

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