Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1206 (starts 2/9/12)

This week we have a lot of recordings making their Stuck In The Psychedelic Era debut. Many of these are album tracks, although some also were released as singles. We also have a set of bluesy numbers from Cream, and, just to contrast with all the album tracks, the number one song of the year 1965. First, though, a set from 1971.

Artist: Traffic
Title: Dear Mr. Fantasy
Source: LP: Welcome To The Canteen
Writer: Winwood/Capaldi/Wood
Label: United Artists
Year: 1971
After disbanding in early 1969, three of the original members of Traffic, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, reunited in 1970 to work on what was meant to be a Winwood solo album. That album, John Barleycorn Must Die, ended up being the first in a series of new Traffic albums. Later that year bassist Rick Grech (who had been in Blind Faith with Winwood) joined the band, followed a few months later by drummer Jim Gordon (of Derek and the Dominos), percussionist Reebop Kwaku Baah and, for the third time, Dave Mason. The new lineup released a live album in 1971 called Welcome To The Canteen. Most of the songs on the album were live versions of earlier Traffic tunes such as Dear Mr. Fantasy, which at over ten minutes long runs about twice the length of the original studio version.

Artist: Sugarloaf
Title: Mother Nature's Wine
Source: LP: Spaceship Earth
Writer: Corbetta/Phillips/Reardon
Label: Liberty
Year: 1971
Despite being a better album overall than Sugarloaf's first LP, Spaceship Earth did not sell particularly well, only making it to the #111 spot on the Billboard albums chart. This is probably due to the lack of a hit single on a par with Green-Eyed Lady. Of the two singles that were released from Spaceship Earth, the one more similar in style to Green-Eyed Lady was Mother Nature's Wine. The song stalled out in the # 88 spot however, and Sugarloaf did not have another charted single until 1974, when Don't Call Us, We'll Call You made the top 10.

Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Long Way From L.A.
Source: CD: The Very Best Of Canned Heat (Originally released on LP: Historical Figures And Ancient Heads)
Writer: Jud Baker
Label: Capitol (original label: United Artists)
Year: 1971
By 1971 Canned Heat had already hit its commercial peak and was on a long downhill slope saleswise. Their label, Liberty, had been folded into United Artist Records (which had bought Liberty a couple years earlier), and did not seem in the least bit interested in promoting the Heat's latest album, Historical Figures And Ancient Heads. To make things worse, founding member and guitarist Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson had passed away the previous year, forcing the band to make its first lineup changes since bringing drummer Fito De La Parra into the group in 1968. On the other hand, the band, which had initially been perceived as a bunch of blues-loving hippies trying to emulate their idols, was now fully accepted by the blues community, and had even recorded an album with blues legend John Lee Hooker (Hooker 'n' Heat) that is considered among the best blues albums ever recorded. Long Way From L.A., an odd choice for a single with its blatant cocaine references, is one of the highlights of their 1971 LP Historical Figures And Ancient Heads .

Our second set of the week is a progression of LP tracks from 1965-68. As was the case with the previous set, none of these songs have been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era before this week's show.

Artist: Kinks
Title: When I See That Girl Of Mine
Source: LP: The Kink Kontroversy
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Reprise
Year: 1965
Although the Rolling Stones had the reputation as the bad boys of rock, it was the Kinks that stirred up the most controversy with their rowdy behavior (and that of their fans) while touring in Europe. The situation got so bad that for several years, starting in 1965, the Kinks were actually banned from touring in the US. This led to the group's third studio LP being named The Kink Kontroversy. Up until that point record sales for the band had been good on both sides of the Atlantic. As was the case with many British bands, the Kinks had actually released more LPs in the US than in their native UK, due to US LPs having shorter running times and the UK policy of not including songs that had been released on 45 RPM vinyl (singles and EPs) on LPs. In fact, the two US-only LPs had actually outsold the two official studio albums in the US. The Kink Kontroversy, unlike the group's previous studio albums, was released in the US with the same track lineup as its UK counterpart. With the ban on touring in the US, however, the group was unable to fully promote the new LP and US sales suffered, despite the presence of some fine tunes like When I See That Girl Of Mine.

Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: You Don't Know
Source: CD: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
Writer: Powell St. John
Label: Collectables (original label: International Artists)
Year: 1966
One of the most legendary psychedelic rock bands was the 13th Floor Elevators, based in Austin, Texas. Led by guitarist/vocalist Roky Erickson and featuring Tommy Hall on electric jug, the Elevators were among the first bands to use the word psychedelic in the title of their debut LP The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators. Most of the songs on the album were originals written by Hall and Erickson, but Hall asked the legendary Austin songwriter Powell St. John (the former Beatnik who would soon move to San Francisco and co-found Mother Earth with Tracy Nelson) to write a few songs, such as You Don't Know, for the band as well.

Artist: Buckinghams
Title: Why Don't You Love Me
Source: LP: Time And Changes
Writer: Biebier/Holvay
Label: Columbia
Year: 1967
Before achieving huge success with the band Chicago, producer James William Guercio worked with the Buckinghams, the first rock band from the windy city to feature a horn section. The group burst upon the national scene in late 1966 with the hit Kind Of A Drag on USA records, which became the first #1 song of 1967 and led to a contract with major label Columbia. The debut Columbia album Time And Changes included two more hit singles, Don't You Care and Mercy Mercy Mercy. Why Don't You Love Me, also from Time And Changes, was written by the same local songwriters who had penned Kind Of A Drag, Don't You Care and two of the Buckinghams' later hits, Susan and Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song).

Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: In The Arena
Source: LP: Volume II
Writer: Markley/Harris
Label: Reprise
Year: 1968
In The Arena is the quintessential West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band song: an ambitious piece that uses spoken word sections and opposing Apollonian and Dionysian musical themes (the latter featuring some of Ron Morgan's best guitar work) to imply that the things we watch on the nightly television newscast serve the same function in our culture that gladiator fights and the like served in ancient Roman times. The track opens side one of the second West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album, appropriately called Volume II.

Show segment # 2 this week starts with a progression through the first three Cream albums, starting with their 1966 debut LP Fresh Cream.

Artist: Cream
Title: Sleepy Time Time
Source: CD: Fresh Cream
Writer: Bruce/Godfrey
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year: 1966
When Cream was first formed, both Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker worked with co-writers on original material for the band. Baker's partner was Pete Brown, while Bruce worked with his wife, Janet Godfrey. Eventually Bruce and Brown began collaborating, creating some of Cream's most memorable songs, but not before Bruce and Godfrey wrote Sleepy Time Time, one of the high points of the Fresh Cream album.

Artist: Cream
Title: Strange Brew
Source: CD: Disraeli Gears
Writer: Clapton/Collins/Pappalardi
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year: 1967
Strange Brew, the opening track from Cream's Disraeli Gears album, was also released as a single in Europe and the UK (but not in the US) in early 1967. The song has proven popular enough over the years to be included on pretty much every Cream anthology album ever compiled, and even inspired a Hollywood Movie of the same name.

Artist: Cream
Title: Born Under A Bad Sign
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer: Jones/Bell
Label: Atco
Year: 1968
Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were pretty much considered the cream of the crop of the British blues scene in the mid 1960s, so it came as no surprise when they decided to call their new band Cream. Although the trio would go on to record several memorable non-blues tunes such as I Feel Free and White Room, they never completely abandoned the blues. Born Under A Bad Sign, co-written by Stax artists William Bell and Booker T. Jones, is one of the better known tracks from Cream's double-LP Wheels Of Fire, the last album released while the band was still together.

Although the next two tracks have been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era in the past, each of them (as well as Cream's Sweet Wine in the last set) has only been played once since the show went into syndication in 2010, making this the show's most groundbreaking hour in several months.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: The Last Wall Of The Castle
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer: Jorma Kaukonen
Label: RCA Victor
Year: 1967
Following the massive success of the Surrealistic Pillow album with its two top 10 singles (Somebody To Love and White Rabbit) the members of Jefferson Airplane made a conscious choice to put artistic goals above commercial ones for their next LP, After Bathing At Baxter's. The result was an album that defines the term "acid rock" in more ways than one. One of the few songs on the album that does not cross-fade into or out of another song is this tune from Jorma Kaukonen, his first non-acoustic song to be recorded by the band.

Artist: Guess Who
Title: Friends Of Mine
Source: Wheatfield Soul
Writer: Bachman/Cummings
Label: Iconoclassic (original label: RCA Victor)
Year: 1968
On first listen, Friends Of Mine may appear to be a Doors ripoff, but the band members themselves claim it was inspired more by the Who's first mini-opera, A Quick One While He's Away. Regardless of the source of inspiration, this was certainly the most pyschedelic track ever released by a band known more for catchy pop ballads like These Eyes and No Sugar Tonight. Interestingly enough, RCA released a 45 RPM stereo promo of the song to radio stations, with the 10+ minute track split across the two sides of the record. I first heard this cut on the American Forces Network (AFN) in Germany on a weekly show called Underground that ran at midnight on Saturday nights. I doubt any Generals were listening.

Our second hour starts off with one of the most familiar songs of the psychedelic era, and is followed by a couple tracks taken directly from their original vinyl sources.

Artist: Sly And The Family Stone
Title: I Want To Take You Higher
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Stand!)
Writer: Sylvester Stewart
Label: Priority (original label: Epic)
Year: 1969
Sylvester Stone was already a fixture in the San Francisco Bay area by the time the rest of the nation began to notice what was going on in Haight-Ashbury. A popular local DJ and producer for Autumn Records, the region's top label, he was responsible for producing the first recordings by the Warlocks (who would soon be known as the Grateful Dead) among others. He was thus in a position to recruit the best musicians around for his new band, which he called the Family Stone. Interestingly enough, the generational anthem I Want To Take You Higher was relegated to being the B side of the song Stand when first released in 1969, but following the band's successful set at Woodstock the single was reissued with the sides reversed.

Artist: Steppenwolf
Title: From Here To There Eventually
Source: LP: Monster
Writer: Kay/McJohn/Edmonton
Label: Dunhill
Year: 1969
The final track of Steppenwolf's fourth LP, Monster, is a perfect example of the band's typical hard-driving beat and John Kay's distinctive vocal style. The album itself is generally considered to be Steppenwolf's most political work.

Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Seamus
Source: LP: Meddle
Writer: Waters/Wright/Mason/Gilmour
Label: Harvest
Year: 1971
After spending several months on the concept album Atom Heart Mother, Pink Floyd decided to lighten things up a bit for their next album, Meddle. Stylistically, Meddle probably has the most variety of any Pink Floyd album, ranging from the driving rocker One Of These Days, to the acoustic blues tune Seamus. This song is best played loud, preferably with at least one dog in the room with you.

Next up, an all-British progression through the years 1965-67.

Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Satisfaction
Source: CD: Out Of Our Heads
Writer: Jagger/Richards
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Year: 1965
The number one song of the year 1965 needs no other introduction. I mean, seriously, is there anyone who hasn't heard (and probably sung along with) Satisfaction?

Artist: Who
Title: Instant Party
Source: The Who Sings My Generation
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: MCA
Year: 1966
As was the case with many British bands, the song lineups on the early Who albums were not exactly the same in the US and the UK. In the case of the My Generation album, the only difference was actually due to censorship by Decca Records, who felt that the band's version of Bo Diddley's I'm A Man was too risque for American teenagers. To replace it, Decca chose a song that had not yet been released in either the US or UK called Instant Party (Circles). The song was released in the UK as Instant Party a few months later when the band's original British label, Brunswick, issued it as the B side to A Legal Matter without the band's permission (the Who had changed labels to Reaction/Polydor after the My Generation LP was released). Making it even more confusing was the fact that the Who had released their latest single, Substitute, three days before the Brunswick single, with the song Circles (Instant Party) as the B side.

Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Kaleidoscope/Salad Days (Are Here Again)
Source: LP: Procol Harum
Writer: Brooker/Reid
Label: Deram
Year: 1967
The longest track from Procol Harum's debut LP is actually two songs that run together on the album. Kaleidoscope (an almost R&B sounding tune) and Salad Days (Are Here Again) run about six and a half minutes between them.

And here we have yet another progression through the years, this time featuring bands from Southern California from 1965-67.

Artist: Seeds
Title: Can't Seem To Make You Mine
Source: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: The Seeds)
Writer: Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino
Year: 1965
One of the first psychedelic singles to hit the L.A. market in 1965 was Can't Seem To Make You Mine. The song was also chosen to lead off the first Seeds album. Indeed, it could be argued that this was the song that first defined the "flower power" sound, predating the Seeds' biggest hit, Pushin' Too Hard, by several months.

Artist: Ken And The Fourth Dimension
Title: See If I Care
Source: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer: Ken Johnson
Label: Rhino
Year: 1966
There was never a band called Ken And The Fourth Dimension in Nashville West, aka Bakersfield, California, aka Buck Owens territory. What Bakersfield did have, however, was the Johnson brothers, whose father was involved with the record business in Los Angeles, about two hours south of Bakersfield. Don Johnson was the bass player for a popular Bakersfield band known as the Trippers. When brother Ken talked Dad into getting his friend Gary Paxton to produce a record for him, he used most of brother Don's band, re-naming them the Fourth Dimension for just this one project. See If I Care was released in 1966 on the Star-Burst label, one of many small labels operating out of L.A. at the time.

Artist: Humane Society
Title: Knock Knock
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer: Minnick/Wheetman
Label: Rhino (original label: Liberty)
Year: 1967
The Humane Society, from Simi Valley, California, formed in 1965 as the Innocents. The band featured singer/guitarist Danny Wheetman, lead guitarist Jim Pettit, rhythm guitarist Woody Minnick, bassist Richard Majewski, and drummer Bill Schnetzler. As was often the case, The A side of the group's first single was chosen by the band's producers, while the band itself provided the B side. In this case that B side was Knock Knock, a classic piece of garage-punk that far outshines the original A side of the record.

Who says rock can't be art? Not the next two bands...

Artist: Alice Cooper
Title: Halo Of Flies
Source: LP: Killer
Writer: Cooper/Smith/Dunaway/Bruce/Buxton
Label: Warner Brothers
Year: 1971
According to Alice Cooper, Halo Of Flies was written to prove the band could do progressive rock in the vein of King Crimson. It ended up being a concert favorite and holds up as well if not better than any of Cooper's recordings.

Artist: Left Banke
Title: Desiree
Source: CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Brown/Feher
Label: Rhino (original label: Smash)
Year: 1967
For a while it looked as if the Left Banke would emerge as one of the most important bands of the late 60s. They certainly got off to a good start, with back-to-back top 10 singles Walk Away Renee and Pretty Ballerina. But then bandleader Michael Brown and Smash Records made a serious misstep, issuing a Brown solo effort utilizing studio musicians and trying to pass it off as a Left Banke record. The other band members refused to go along with the charade and sent out letters to their fan club membership denouncing the single. The outraged fans, in turn, threatened to boycott any radio stations that played the single. Brown and the rest of the band, meanwhile, managed to patch things up enough to record a new single, Desiree, and released the song in late 1967. By then, however, radio stations were leery of playing anything with the words Left Banke on the label, and the single failed to chart, despite Desiree being an outstanding piece of baroque-rock. Brown left the Left Banke soon after.

...and to finish out the week we have a track from a recently-acquired LP. Both song and album are making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut.

Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Colors For Susan
Source: LP: I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die
Writer: Joe McDonald
Label: Vanguard
Year: 1967
The second Country Joe And The Fish album, I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die, was, like the band's debut LP, made up of equal parts acid-rock, jug band and what would come to be known as "rock and soul" music. The most acid-rock sounding track on the album is the instrumental Colors For Susan, which is in kind of like Bass Strings minus the lyrics.


  1. Thanks for remembering Canned Heat as part of your blog post. Sadly, the band was not the same without Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson, though they continued to boogie nobly with Bob Hite throughout the 1970s and rock on today under the leadership of drummer Fito de la Parra.

    If you'd like to learn more about Wilson and his music, both as part of classic-era Canned Heat and as an important figure in the folk-bues revival, I hope you'll check out my biographical website at

    Thanks again and keep on boogeyin!!

  2. Thanks. I'll check out that site right now.