Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1212 (starts 3/22/12)

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Stone Free
Source: CD: Are You Experienced? (bonus track originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Track)
Year: 1966
Whether or not Stone Free was the first song ever written by Jimi Hendrix, there is no doubt it was the first original composition to be recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In fact, it is the only song written by Hendrix to be released in 1966 (as the B side to Hey Joe). The song was later included on the Smash Hits anthology album. A newer version was recorded in 1969 under the title Stone Free Again.

Artist: Cream
Title: I Feel Free
Source: LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s): Bruce/Brown
Label: Atco
Year: 1966
The first single released by Cream was I Feel Free. As was the case with nearly every British single at the time, the song was not included on Fresh Cream, the band's debut LP. In the US, however, singles were commonly given a prominent place on albums, and the US version of Fresh Cream actually opens with I Feel Free. To my knowledge the song, being basically a studio creation, was never performed live.

Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Richard Cory
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Sounds Of Silence)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Label: Columbia
Year: 1966
My ultra-cool 9th-grade English teacher brought in a copy of Simon And Garfunkel's Sounds Of Silence album one day. As a class, we deconstructed the lyrics of two of the songs on that album: A Most Peculiar Man and Richard Cory. Both songs deal with suicide, but under vastly different circumstances. Whereas A Most Peculiar Man is about a lonely man who lives an isolated existence as an anonymouse resident of a boarding house, Richard Cory deals with a character who is at the center of society, known and envied by many. Too bad most high school English classes weren't that interesting.

Artist: Five Americans
Title: I See The Light
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): 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: Bob Dylan
Title: I Want You
Source: CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Blonde On Blonde)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Label: Columbia
Year: 1966
Bob Dylan's first single of 1966 was released in advance of his Blonde On Blonde album and was immediately picked by the rock press to be a hit. It was.

Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: In Another Land
Source: LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer(s): Bill Wyman
Label: London
Year: 1967
In Another Land was the first Rolling Stones song written and sung by bassist Bill Wyman, and was even released in the UK as a Wyman single. The song originally appeared on the Stones' most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, in late 1967.

Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: Gentle As It May Seem
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Heavy)
Writer(s): DeLoach/Weis
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Year: 1968
Personnel changes were pretty much a regular occurrence with Iron Butterfly. After the first album, Heavy, everyone except keyboardist Doug Ingle and drummer Ron Bushy left the band. This was accompanied by a drastic change in style as well, as Ingle took over lead vocals from Darryl DeLoach and became the group's primary songwriter. Gentle As It Seems, written by DeLoach and lead guitarist Danny Weis, is a good example of the band's original sound, back when they were scrounging for gigs in a rapidly shrinking L.A. all-ages club scene.

Artist: Traffic
Title: Empty Pages
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Winwood/Capaldi
Label: Silver Spotlight
Year: 1970
Traffic was formed in 1967 by Steve Winwood, after ending his association with the Spencer Davis Group. The original group, also featuring Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, put out two and a half albums before disbanding in early 1969. A successful live album, Welcome to the Canteen, prompted the band to reform (without Mason), releasing the album John Barleycorn Must Die in 1970. Although Empty Pages was released as a single (with a mono mix heard here), it got most of its airplay on progressive FM stations, and as those stations were replaced by (or became) album rock stations, the song continued to get extensive airplay for many years.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Come Back Baby
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow (bonus track)
Writer(s): Lightnin' Hopkins
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
Year: 1967
Many artists end up recording more material than they can fit on an album and end up holding back songs for later release. Sometimes those songs end up on subsequent albums. Sometimes they stay on the shelf indefinitely. Such is the case with Come Back Baby, a rocked-out version of an old Lightnin' Hopkins tune arranged by lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Chaffeur Blues
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s): Lester Melrose
Label: RCA Victor
Year: 1966
The Jefferson Airplane's original female vocalist was Signe Toly Anderson. Unlike Grace Slick, who basically shared lead vocals with founder Marty Balin, Anderson mostly functioned as a backup singer. The only Airplane recording to feature Anderson as a lead vocal was Chaffeur Blues, a cover of an old Lester Melrose tune. The song was featured on the band's first LP, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off.

Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: J.P.P. McStep B. Blues
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow (bonus track originally released on LP: Early Flight)
Writer(s): Skip Spence
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1974
One of the first songs recorded for the Surrealistic Pillow album, J.P.P. McStep B. Blues ended up being shelved, possibly because drummer Skip Spence, who wrote the song, had left the band by the time the album came out.

Artist: Music Machine
Title: Talk Talk
Source: CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino
Year: 1966
The Music Machine was one of the most sophisticated bands to appear on the L.A. club scene in 1966, yet their only major hit, Talk Talk, was deceptively simple and straightforward punk-rock, and still holds up as two of the most intense minutes of rock music ever to crack the top 40 charts.

Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: For What It's Worth (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Source: CD: Retrospective
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Atco
Year: 1967
Most people associate the name Buffalo Springfield with the song For What It's Worth. And for good reason. The song is one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded, and to this day is in regular rotation on both oldies and classic rock radio stations. The song was written and recorded in November of 1966 and released in January of 1967. By then the first Buffalo Springfield LP was already on the racks, but until that point had not sold particularly well. When it became clear that For What It's Worth was turning into a major hit, Atco Records quickly recalled the album and added the song to it (as the opening track). All subsequent pressings of the LP (and later the CD) contain For What It's Worth, making earlier copies of the album somewhat of a rarity and quite collectable.

Artist: Turtles
Title: Can You Hear The Cows
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): The Turtles
Label: White Whale
Year: 1968
By late 1968 the Turtles already had their best times behind them. After a failed attempt at self-production (the record company refused to release all but one of the tracks they had recorded), the band went back into the studio to cut a Harry Nilsson tune, The Story of Rock and Roll. Can You Hear the Cows, sort of a twisted throwback to their days as the surf music band known as the Crossfires and sounding oddly like the mid-80s Beach Boys, appeared on the B side of that single.

Artist: John Mayall
Title: Brand New Start
Source: LP: Blues Alone
Writer(s): John Mayall
Label: London
Year: 1967
In between all the comings and goings among personnel in the Bluesbreakers, bandleader John Mayall found time to record a solo album. Unlike most "solo" albums of the time, which tended to use studio musicians to back the soloist, Blues Alone features Mayall playing every non-percussion instrument on the album (Keef Hartley played drums). The opening track, Brand New Start, is a classic example of Mayall's style of blues.

Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Death Sound Blues
Source: CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Vanguard
Year: 1967
I generally use the term "psychedelic" to describe a musical attitude that existed during a particular period of time rather than a specific style of music. On the other hand, the term "acid rock" is better suited for describing music that was composed and/or performed under the influence of certain mind-expanding substances. That said, the first album by Country Joe and the Fish is a classic example of acid rock. I mean, really, is there any other way to describe Death Sound Blues than "the blues on acid"?

Artist: Otis Redding
Title: Satisfaction
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Jagger/Richards
Label: Volt
Year: 1966
Some may have questioned the appearance of a "soul" band like Sly and the Family Stone at what was essentially a rock festival at Woodstock, but there was precedent: Otis Redding had stolen the show at the first of the great rock festivals at Monterey two years earlier. One of the songs he electrified the crowd with was a hard-driving version of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction", heard here in its 1966 studio version, featuring the MGs and the Bar-Kays backing up the "big O".

Artist: Tikis
Title: Bye Bye Bye
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Templeman/Scoppetone
Label: Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year: 1966
The Tikis were another one of those early San Francisco bands that drew their inspiration more from the Beatles than from the emerging counter-culture. Led by Ted Templeton and Dick Scoppetone (both of whom would end up with careers in the music business), the group featured tight harmonies and catchy melodies. They found greater success in 1967 as Harper's Bizarre with their cover of Simon And Garfunkel's 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy).

Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Life Is Just A Cher O' Bowlies
Source: LP: Electric Comic Book
Writer(s): Gilbert/Scala/Theilhelm
Label: Mercury
Year: 1967
Around 1968 or so, LPs starting carrying the words "Stereo-also playable mono" on the cover. This was one of the last LPs to actually be issued in both stereo and mono versions. This is the mono version that I've somehow managed to hang onto since I bought it new in 1967.

Artist: Fifty Foot Hose
Title: Red The Sign Post
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer(s): Roswicki/Blossom
Label: Rhino (original label: Limelight)
Year: 1968
Although most of the more avant-garde bands of the psychedelic era were headquarted in New York, there were some exceptions, such as San Francisco's Fifty Foot Hose. The core members of the band were founder and bassist Louis "Cork" Marcheschi, guitarist David Blossom, and his wife, vocalist Nancy Blossom. The group used a lot of unusual instruments, such as theramin, Moog synthesizer and prepared guitar and piano. Probably their most commercial song was Red The Sign Post from the LP Cauldron. After that album the group called it quits, with most of the members joining the cast of Hair. In fact, Nancy Blossom played lead character Sheila in the San Francisco production of the musical.

Artist: Who
Title: Amazing Journey
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: Rhino
Year: 1969
The Who's performance at Woodstock was famously sabotaged by persistent equipment problems. As a result, most of their performance was deemed unusable for either the film or soundtrack album of the festival. In 2009 Rhino decided to issue a five-CD 40th Anniversary edition of Woodstock. Unlike previous releases, the Rhino collection chose to present the performances as near to the way the audience heard them as possible, defects and all. Under these circumstances it was decided that the technically marred Who recordings such as Amazing Journey (from Tommy) should be included in the new edition.

Artist: Syd Barrett
Title: Love You
Source: CD: An Introduction To Syd Barrett (originally released on LP: The Madcap Laughs)
Writer(s): Syd Barrett
Label: Capitol
Year: 1970
In 2010, following the death of Pink Floyd co-founder (and original leader) Syd Barrett, David Gilmour collected some of Barrett's best recordings on a CD called An Introduction To Syd Barrett. Included on the CD are songs that were released as singles in Pink Floyd's early days as well as a good number of tunes from Barrett's two solo LPs. Love You is a track from the first Barrett solo LP, The Madcap Laughs, released in 1970. Other members of Pink Floyd tried to help Barrett out with the making of the album, but by all accounts Barrett had become difficult to work with due to his deteriorating mental health.

Artist: Gypsy
Title: Time Will Make It Better
Source: LP: In The Garden
Writer(s): James Walsh
Label: Metromedia
Year: 1971
Minneapolis at first seems like an unlikely place for a thriving music scene. Nonetheless, the city has been home to a number of successful artists from the Castaways (Liar Liar) to Prince. One of the lesser-known bands to come out of the twin cities was Gypsy, led by Enrico Rosenbaum and James Walsh. After being moderately successful with a self-titled double LP (priced as if it were a single LP), the group decided to go with a standard-length album as a follow-up. In The Garden had no hit singles and was soon relegated to the budget bin, despite having some listenable tunes, most of which were written by Rosenbaum. The final track on the album, Time Will Make It Better, is the only song on In The Garden credited to Walsh.

Artist: Graham Nash and David Crosby
Title: The Wall Song
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): David Crosby
Label: Atlantic
Year: 1972
Such was the popularity of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in the early 70s that each of the members, both as solo artists and as duos, released albums in addition to official group recordings, all of which sold well. One such effort was the 1972 album by Graham Nash and David Crosby. One of the more notable tracks on the album is The Wall Song, featuring (in addition to Crosby and Nash) Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann on guitar, bass and drums. The version heard here is the rare mono mix of The Wall Song, issued as a B side in 1972.

Artist: Kinks
Title: Set Me Free
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Reprise
Year: 1965
After scoring international success with a series of R&B influenced rockers in 1964, the Kinks started to mellow a bit in 1965, releasing more melodic songs such as Set Me Free. The band would continue to evolve throughout the decade, eventually becoming one of the first groups to release a concept album, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), in 1969.

Artist: Charlatans
Title: Codine
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on CD: The Amazing Charlatans)
Writer(s): Buffy Sainte-Marie
Label: Rhino (original label: Sundazed)
Year: Recorded 1966; released 1996
The Charlatans did not have much luck in the studio. Getting signed by Kama Sutra Records seemed like a good idea at the time (as the Lovin' Spoonful was the label's only nationally-known act). When it came time to actually release the recordings they had made for the label, however, the problems began. The band wanted to release Buffy Saint-Marie's anti-drug song Codine as their first single, but Kama Sutra refused to issue it, instead choosing the Charlatan's cover of an obscure Coaster tune, The Shadow Knows. The single tanked, and the rest of the recordings remained unissued until Sundazed put them on a CD in 1996 (erroneously listing this song as being Codine Blues in the process).

Artist: Penny Arkade
Title: Swim
Source: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s): 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: Sly And The Family Stone
Title: Sing A Simple Song
Source: CD: Greatest Hits
Writer(s): Sylvester Stewart
Label: Epic
Year: 1968
Featuring vocals by almost every member of the band, Sing A Simple Song is a joyous celebration of life and music that became a hit for Sly and the Family Stone in 1968.

Artist: Swingin' Medallions
Title: Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Vetter/Smith
Label: Rhino (original label: 4-Sale)
Year: 1965
This band from tiny Greenwood, South Carolina, scored a hit that was almost as popular in frat houses as Louie Louie. The song, Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love), was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and was released locally on the 4-Sale label. The song was re-released nationally in 1966 on Mercury's subsidiary label, Smash Records.

Artist: Love
Title: My Little Red Book
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Love)
Writer(s): Bacharach/David
Label: Rhino
Year: 1966
The first rock record ever released by Elektra Records was a single by Love called My Little Red Book. The track itself (which also opens Love's debut LP), is a punked out version of tune originally recorded by Manfred Mann for the What's New Pussycat movie soundtrack. Needless to say, Love's version was not exactly what Burt Bacharach and Hal David had in mind.

Artist: Lamp Of Childhood
Title: No More Running Around
Source: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s): Meckler/Hendricks/Tani
Label: Rhino
Year: 1967
I've often wondered how it was that a somewhat raunchy rock band like Steppenwolf ended up on the same pop-oriented record label as the Mamas and the Papas, the Grass Roots and 3 Dog Night. It turns out the Dunhill connection was from the man who produced Steppenwolf, Gabriel Mekler. Mekler was a member of the Lamp Of Childhood, a group that also included Cass Elliot's husband (and Mugwumps bandmate) Michael Hendricks. Although the Lamp had a solid pop sound, they never really caught on and by the time their third and most successful single, No More Running Around, was released, the members had already moved on to other things (like, for instance, producing Steppenwolf records).

Artist: Guess Who
Title: 8:15
Source: LP: American Woman
Writer(s): Bachman/Cummings
Label: RCA Victor
Year: 1970
The most successful album for the Guess Who was American Woman, released in 1970. In additional to the three top 10 singles on the album (No Time, No Sugar Tonight and the title track), the album featured many strong tracks, including 8:15.

Artist: Mouse And The Traps
Title: A Public Execution
Source: CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Henderson/Weiss
Label: Rhino (original label: Fraternity)
Year: 1965
It's easy to imagine some kid somewhere in Texas inviting his friends over to hear the new Dylan record, only to reveal afterwards that it wasn't Dylan at all, but this band he heard while visiting his cousins down in Tyler. Mouse and the Traps, in fact, got quite a bit of airplay in that part of the state with a series of singles issued in the mid-60s. A Public Execution is unique among those singles in that the artist on the label was listed simply as Mouse.

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