Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1209 (starts 3/1/12)

Artist: Kinks
Title: A Well Respected Man
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Eric
Year: 1966
The Kinks were one of the original British Invasion bands, scoring huge R&B-influenced hits with You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night in 1964. The hits continued in 1965 with more melodic songs like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You. 1966 saw Ray Davies's songwriting take a satiric turn, as A Well Respected Man amply illustrates. Over the next few years the Kinks would continue to evolve, generally getting decent critical reviews and moderate record sales for their albums. The title of one of those later albums, Muswell Hillbillies, refers to the Davies brothers hometown of Muswell Hill, North London.

Artist: Beatles
Title: Fixing A Hole
Source: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year: 1967
Until 1967 every Beatle album released in the US had at least one hit single included that was not on the British version of the album (or was never released as a single in the UK). With the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, however, the track lineup became universal, making it the first Beatle album released in the US to not have a hit single on it. Nonetheless, the importance (and popularity) of the album was such that virtually every song on it got top 40 airplay at one time or another, although some tracks got more exposure than others. One of the many tracks that falls in between these extremes is Fixing A Hole, a tune by Paul McCartney that features the harpsichord prominently.

Title: Boogie Music
Source: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Living The Blues)
Writer: L.T.Tatman III
Label: United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Year: 1968
Canned Heat was formed in 1966 by a group of Bay Area blues purists. Although a favorite on the rock scene, the band continued to remain true to their blues roots throughout their existence. The band's most popular single was Going Up the Country from the album Living the Blues. An edited version of Boogie Music, also from Living the Blues, was issued as the B side of that single. This is the full-length version.

Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Rock And Soul Music
Source: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer: Joe McDonald
Label: Rhino
Country Joe and the Fish actually performed Rock and Soul Music twice at Woodstock. The first instance was a short intro that led directly into the next song. The second one, however, was the real deal: a twelve-minute jam that includes a section where the music comes to a complete stop while Joe explains, with tongue firmly in cheek, each instrument's role in creating rock and soul music. This recording was not released until Rhino's 40th anniversary edition of the concert came out in 2009.

Year: 1969
Artist: Dillards
Title: Lemon Chimes
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Bill Martin
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Year: 1965
The Dillards are best known as the Darlings, the fictional bluegrass band that occassionally showed up on TV's Andry Griffith show. They moved a bit away from their traditional sound for a pair of singles for Capitol in 1965. The song Lemon Chimes, written by roommate Bill Martin, was the more successful of those singles, although, like Bob Dylan, the Dillards came under fire from bluegrass purists for using electric instruments on the record.

Artist: Yardbirds
Title: Over Under Sideways Down
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Dreja/Relf/Samwell-Smith/McCarty/Beck
Label: Epic
Year: 1966
The only Yardbirds album to feature primarily original material was released under different titles in different parts of the world. The original UK version was called simply The Yardbirds, while the US album bore the Over Under Sideways Down title. In addition, the UK album was unofficially known as Roger the Engineer because of band member Chris Dreja's drawing of the band's recording engineer on the cover. The title cut was the last single to feature Jeff Beck as the band's sole lead guitarist (the follow-up single, Happenings Ten Years Time Ago, featured both Beck and Jimmy Page).

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: rejoyce
Source: CD: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer: Grace Slick
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
Year: 1967
Grace Slick was never shy about indulging her experimental side, as this adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses demonstrates. Slick said at the time that she assumed the Airplane's listeners had at least some college education and would recognize the source material. She later lamented the fact that the larger record buying public just didn't get it. Sadly, they still don't. Personally I'd take four minutes of Grace Slick being experimental over four minutes of Lady Ga-Ga being commercial anyday.

Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: Mind Flowers
Source: LP: Behold And See
Writer: Ian Bruce-Douglas
Label: M-G-M
Year: 1968
Along with Orpheus and the Beacon Street Union, Ultimate Spinach was part of what M-G-M Records promoted as the "boss-town sound". Unlike Orpheus and the Beacon Street Union, whose music was more of a group effort, Ultimate Spinach was very much the artistic vision of one man: Ian Bruce-Douglas. Mind Flowers, from the band's second album, Behold And See, certainly qualifies as one of the most psychedelic compositions ever recorded.

Artist: Cream
Title: What A Bringdown
Source: CD: Goodbye Cream
Writer: Ginger Baker
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year: 1969
Right around the time that Cream's third LP, Wheels Of Fire, was released, the band announced that it would be splitting up following its upcoming tour. Before starting the tour the band recorded three tracks, each one written by one of the three band members. Both Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce worked with colloborators on their songs, while drummer Ginger Baker was given full credit for his tune, What A Bringdown. As it turned out those would be the only studio recordings on the final Cream album, Goodbye Cream, released in 1969, which in addition to the three new songs had several live tracks as well.

Artist: Joan Baez
Title: There But For Fortune
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Phil Ochs
Label: Vanguard
Year: 1965
When I was a kid I used to occasionally pick up something called a grab bag. It was literally a sealed brown paper bag with anywhere from four to six 45 rpm records in it. Usually these were "cut-outs", unsold copies of records that hadn't sold as well as expected. Often they were five or six years old (albeit unplayed). Once in a while, though, there would be a real gem among them. My original copy of this record was one such gem. I later found a promo copy while working at KUNM in Albuquerque, which is the one I use now, since my original is long since worn out. Not only was this record my first introduction to Joan Baez, it was also the first record I had ever seen on the Vanguard label and the first song written by Phil Ochs I had ever heard. Not bad for twelve and a half cents.

Artist: Blues Project
Title: Where There's Smoke, There's Fire
Source: LP: Live At Town Hall
Writer: Kooper/Levine/Brass
Label: Verve Forecast
Year: 1966
Al Kooper left the Blues Project in early 1967. That probably should have been the end of the story, but the record company instead decided to patch together some recordings made while Kooper was still with the band to create a new album. They called the album Live At Town Hall, despite the fact that several tracks were not recorded live, instead being studio tracks with audience sounds overdubbed onto the beginning and end of each track, and most of the live tracks were not actually recorded at Town Hall. One of these studio tracks was Where There's Smoke, There's Fire, which actually predates the Projections album and was released as a single (without the fake audience sounds) in June of 1966.

Artist: Buckinghams
Title: Kind Of A Drag
Source: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1967 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Holvay
Label: Rhino (original label: USA)
Year: 1967
The Buckinghams were one of the first rock bands with a horn section to come out of the Chicago area in the late 1960s. The song Kind Of A Drag, released in late 1966 on the local USA label, went national in early 1967, hitting the number one spot in February and finishing among the year's top 10 songs. The Buckinghams soon came to the attention of producer James William Guercio, who got them a contract with Columbia that resulted in several more hit singles, although no more number ones. Guercio's interest in Chicago bands with horn sections would eventually lead him to produce a band called the Chicago Transit Authority, who became one of the most successful groups in rock history after shortening their name to Chicago.

Artist: Mothers Of Invention
Title: You Didn't Try To Call Me
Source: LP: Freak Out!
Writer: Frank Zappa
Label: Verve
Year: 1966
The double-LP debut Mothers Of Invention album, Freak Out!, featured a variety of tunes ranging from almost straight pop songs like Wowie Zowie, to the wildly experimental Return of the Son of Monster Magnet that took up an entire album side. You Didn't Try To Call Me, from side two, is one of the former, describing (with roles obviously reversed) a situation that a female acquaintance of the band had found herself in recently.

Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Arnold Layne
Source: CD: Works (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Syd Barrett
Label: Capitol (original label: Tower)
Year: 1967
Like most bands in the 60s, Pink Floyd made their vinyl debut with a 45 RPM single: in this case the song Arnold Layne. As was the case with all the band's 1967 singles, the song was written by original bandleader Syd Barrett. Arnold Layne went quickly into the UK top 20 but then hit a roadblock when it was banned by the BBC due to its subject matter (transvestitism). The song was eventually included on the album Relics and has been included on several other compilations over the years.

Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Baby, I Want You
Source: CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Electric Comic Book)
Writer: Gilbert/Theilhelm
Label: Mercury
Year: 1967
Although not as well-known as their debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop, the Blues Magoos' Electric Comic Book is a worthy successor to that early psychedelic masterpiece. Handicapped by a lack of hit singles, the album floundered on the charts, despite the presence of songs like Baby, I Want You, one of many original tunes on the LP.

Artist: Merry-Go-Round
Title: You're A Very Lovely Woman (originally released on LP: The Merry-Go-Round)
Source: CD: More Nuggets
Writer: Emitt Rhodes
Label: Rhino (original label: A&M)
Year: 1967
Emitt Rhodes first got noticed in his mid-teens as the drummer for the Palace Guard, a beatle-influenced L.A. band that had a minor hit with the song Like Falling Sugar in 1966. Rhodes would soon leave the guard to front his own band, the Merry-Go-Round, scoring one of the most popular regional hits in L.A. history with the song Live. In 1969 Rhodes decided to try his hand as a solo artist. The problem was that he was, as a member of the Merry-Go-Round, contractually obligated to record one more album for A&M. The album itself, featuring a mixture of Rhodes solo tunes and leftover Merry-Go-Round tracks, sat on the shelf for two years until Rhodes had released a pair of well-received LPs for his new label, at which time A&M finally issued The American Dream as an Emitt Rhodes album. One of the best tracks on The American Dream was You're A Very Lovely Woman, a Merry-Go-Round recording from 1967 that had originally been released on that band's only LP.

Artist: Donovan
Title: The Observation
Source: LP: Mellow Yellow
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Epic
Year: 1967
Donovan was at first hailed as Britain's answer to Bob Dylan, but by 1967 he was proving that he was much more than that. The Observation, with its distinctive use of an acoustic double-bass, is one of many innovative tunes that helped redefine Donovan from folk singer to singer/songwriter, transforming the entire genre in the process.

Artist: Monkees
Title: Pleasant Valley Sunday
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From the Psychedelic 60s (originally released on LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.)
Writer: Goffin/King
Label: Rhino
Year: 1967
After making it a point to play their own instruments on their third LP, Headquarters, the Monkees decided to once again use studio musicians for their next album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD. The difference was that this time the studio musicians would be recording under the supervision of the Monkees themselves rather than Don Kirschner and the array of producers he had lined up for the first two Monkees LPs. The result was an album that many critics consider the group's best effort. The only single released from the album was Pleasant Valley Sunday, a song penned by the husband and wife team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and backed by the band's remake of the Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart song Words, which had been recorded the previous year by the Leaves. Although both songs ended up making the charts, it was Pleasant Valley Sunday that got the most airplay and is considered by many to be Monkees' greatest achievement.

Artist: Doors
Title: When The Music's Over
Source: LP: Strange Days
Writer: The Doors
Label: Elektra
Year: 1967
In the final analysis, the most successful band to come out of the late 60s L.A. club scene was undoubtably the Doors. Their second album, Strange Days, followed the pattern of the first one, including an extended cut with a Jim Morrison monologue to close out the second side.

Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Everybody's Wrong
Source: LP: Buffalo Springfield
Writer: Stephen Stills
Label: Atco
Year: 1966
Buffalo Springfield is one of those rare cases of a band that actually sold more records after disbanding than while they were still an active group. This is due mostly to the fact that several members, including Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay and Jim Messina, went on to greater success in the 1970s, either with new bands or as solo artists. In the early days of Buffalo Springfield Stephen Stills was the group's most successful songwriter. The band's only major hit, For What It's Worth, was a Stills composition that was originally released shortly after the group's debut LP, and was subsequently added to later pressings of the album. Another, earlier, Stills composition from that first album was Everybody's Wrong, a somewhat heavy piece of folk-rock.

Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: People Get Ready
Source: LP: Vanilla Fudge
Writer: Curtis Mayfield
Label: Atco
Year: 1967
The first Vanilla Fudge LP was all cover songs, done in the slowed-down Vanilla Fudge style. This Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions tune was one of the better ones.

Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Hush
Source: CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Tales Of Deep Purple)
Writer: Joe South
Label: K-Tel (original label: Tetragrammaton)
Year: 1968
British rockers Deep Purple scored a huge US hit in 1968 with their rocked out cover of Hush, a tune written by Joe South that had been an international hit for Billy Joe Royal the previous year. Oddly enough, the song was virtually ignored in their native England. The song was included on the album Tales Of Deep Purple, the first of three LPs to be released in the US on Tetragrammaton Records, a label partially owned by actor/comedian Bill Cosby. When Tetragrammaton folded shortly after the release of the third Deep Purple album, The Book Of Taleisyn, the band was left without a US label, and went through some personnel changes, including adding new lead vocalist Ian Gilliam (who had sung the part of Jesus on the original Jesus Christ Superstar album) before signing to Warner Brothers and becoming a major force in 70s rock. Meanwhile, original vocalist Rod Evans hooked up with drummer Bobby Caldwell and two former members of Iron Butterfly to form Captain Beyond before fading from public view.

Artist: Sandy Hurvitz
Title: Tree Of Trees
Source: LP: Sandy's Album Is Here At Last
Writer: Sandy Hurvitz
Label: Verve
Year: 1969
Sandy Hurvitz had been associated with Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention for a couple of years when she got the chance to record her debut LP on Verve. The album, produced by Mothers member Ian Underwood, went largely unnoticed at the time. After the album was released Hurvitz took a new stage name, Essra Mohawk, and established herself as a highly-respected, if not particularly well-known, singer-songwriter in the early 1970s. Probably her best-known song is Change Of Heart, which was a hit for Cyndi Lauper in the 1980s. Essra Mohawk moved to Nashville in the 1990s and continues to write songs, both for herself and other artists.

Artist: Them
Title: Baby, Please Don't Go
Source: 12" single (reissue)
Writer: Joe Williams
Label: A&M
Year: 1964
Belfast, Northern Ireland was home to one of the first bands that could be legitimately described as punk rock. Led by Van Morrison, the band quickly got a reputation for being rude and obnoxious, particularly to members of the English press (although it was actually a fellow Irishman who labeled them as "boorish"). Their first single was what has come to be considered the definitive rock and roll version of the 1923 Joe Williams tune Baby, Please Don't Go. Despite its UK success, the single was never issued in the US. Oddly enough, the song's B side ended up being the song most people associate with Them: the classic Gloria, which was released as Them's US debut single in 1965 but promptly found itself banned on most US radio stations due to suggestive lyrics.

Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)
Source: CD: The Grateful Dead
Writer: McGannahan Skjellyfetti
Label: Warner Brothers
Year: 1967
I once knew someone from San Jose who had an original copy of the single version of The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion), the opening track from the first Grateful Dead album. It was totally worn out from being played a few hundred times, though.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Let's Get Together
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer: Chet Powers
Label: RCA Victor
Year: 1966
To finish out this half hour of firsts we have a track from Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, their first LP. This is also the first time I've played a track from a band that was heard from earlier in the show. The vocalists on this version of Dino Valenti's signature song Let's Get Together are Marty Balin, Paul Kantner and Signe Anderson, who would leave the Airplane after this album. The track heard earlier in the show was practically a solo piece by Anderson's replacement, Grace Slick, so in a sense the two tracks are by different artists anyway.

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