Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1219 (starts 5/10/12)

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds
Source:    CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Marty Balin
Label:    RCA
Year:    1967
    When reviewing the blog for previous comments on the opening track of side two of Surrealistic Pillow I discovered that every time I've played 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era it's been part of a Jefferson Airplane artist's set. This time is no exception, as the tune is indeed starting an Airplane set (as well as this week's show). Marty Balin says he came up with the song title by combining a couple of random phrases from the sports section of a newspaper. 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds works out to 216 MPH, by the way.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    The War Is Over
Source:    LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s):    Paul Kantner
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1967
    The songs on the third Jefferson Airplane album, After Bathing At Baxter's, are grouped into suites of two or three songs apiece. Most of the suites mix songs by different songwriters; the sole exception is The War Is Over, which is made up of two Paul Kantner tunes, Martha and Wild Thyme. The War Is Over is also the shortest of the five suites on After Bathing At Baxter's, clocking in at about six and a half minutes.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    D.C.B.A.-25
Source:    CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Paul Kantner
Label:    RCA
Year:    1967
    D.C.B.A.-25 was named for the chords used in the song. As for the "25" part...it was early 1967. In San Francisco. Paul Kantner wrote it. Figure it out.

Artist:    Jesse Lee Kincaid
Title:    She Sang Hymns Out Of Tune
Source:    CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jesse Lee Kincaid
Label:    Rhino (original label: Kelly/Capitol)
Year:    1966
    Jesse Lee Kincaid was the only songwriting member of the Rising Sons, a band that also included future stars Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder. At one point in 1966 they were the hottest band on the Sunset Strip and were soon signed to a contract with Columbia Records, at the time the second-largest record label in the world. While the band was working in the studio with staff producer Terry Melcher (Columbia's only rock producer at the time), Kincaid got the attention of another local record producer, Dan Dalton. When it became clear that Columbia was not going to release the Rising Son's recordings anytime soon, Dalton booked studio time for a couple of Kincaid solo sides, including She Sang Hymns Out Of Tune, which Kincaid says was inspired by his ex-wife.

Artist:    Teddy And His Patches
Title:    Suzy Creamcheese
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Dave Conway
Label:    Rhino (original label: Chance)
Year:    1967
    Teddy And His Patches were a group of high school students who heard the phrase "Suzy Creamcheese, what's got into you" from a fellow San Jose, California resident and decided to make a song out of it. Reportedly none of the band members had ever heard the Mothers Of Invention album Freak Out, where the phrase had originated. Nonetheless, they managed to turn out a piece of inspired madness worthy of Frank Zappa himself.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Street Fighting Man
Source:    LP: Beggar's Banquet
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1968
    The Rolling Stones were at a low point in their career following their most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which came out in late 1967. As a response to charges in the rock press that they were no longer relevant the Stones released Jumpin' Jack Flash as a single in early 1968, following it up with the Beggar's Banquet album later in the year. The new album included the band's follow-up single, Street Fighting Man, a song that was almost as anthemic as Jumpin' Jack Flash itself and went a long ways toward insuring that the Rolling Stones would be making music on their own terms for as long as they chose to.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Doing That Scrapyard Thing
Source:    LP: Goodbye Cream
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Atco
Year:    1969
    In its original form, the album Goodbye Cream had three new studio tracks on it, one for each member of the band. Jack Bruce's contribution was this tune, co-written (as were the majority of Bruce's compositions) by Pete Brown. Lyrics don't get much more psychedelic than this.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Don't You Fret
Source:    LP: Kinkdom (originally released in UK on EP: Kwyet Kinks)
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise (original UK label: Pye)
Year:    1965
    The British record market was considerably different than its American counterpart in the mid-1966s. Unlike in the US, where artists were expected to prove themselves with at least two hit singles before being allowed to record an LP, British acts often found themselves recording four or five song EPs as a transition between single and album. Furthermore, British singles were generally not included on British albums. When those albums were released in the US, the American labels often deleted songs from the original LP in favor of hit singles, which were considered necessary to generate album sales. This led to a surplus of songs that would appear on US-only LPs made up of material that had been previously released only in the UK. Such is the case with Kinkdom, a collection of singles, B sides, album tracks and the entire Kwyet Kinks EP from 1965. Kwyet Kinks itself was a significant release in that it was the first indication of a change in direction from the early hard-rocking Kinks hits such as You Really Got Me toward a more mellow style that the group would come to favor toward the end of the decade. Songs such as Don't You Fret can be considered a direct precursor to later songs such as A Well Respected Man and Sunny Afternoon.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Act Naturally
Source:    LP: Yesterday…And Today
Writer(s):    Russell/Morrison
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1965
     Act Naturally, featuring Ringo Starr on lead vocals, was a country hit for Buck Owens. It is also one of the songs left off the US version of the Help! album and included on Yesterday and Today instead.

Artist:    Wayne Fontana And The Mindbenders
Title:    Game Of Love
Source:    CD: Reelin' And Rockin' (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Clint Ballard, Jr.
Label:    Happy Days (original label: Fontana)
Year:    1965
    The Mindbenders were formed in 1963 to backup British pop singer Wayne Fontana. The group scored their biggest hit in 1965 with Game Of Love, a song that went to the top of the US charts. Later that year Fontana parted company with the band, which continued on without him for several years, scoring another major hit, Groovy Kind Of Love, in 1966.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Castles Made Of Sand
Source:    CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA
Year:    1967
    When I was a junior in high school I used to fall asleep on the living room couch with the headphones on, usually listening to pre-recorded tapes of either the Beatles' Revolver album or one of the first two albums by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. One song in particular from the second Hendrix album, Axis: Bold As Love, always gave me a chill when I heard it: Castles Made Of Sand. The song serves as a warning not to put too much faith in your dreams, and stands in direct contrast to the usual goal-oriented American attitude.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Goin' Down (alternate mix)
Source:    CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD. (original version released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Hilderbrand/Tork/Nesmith/Dolenz/Jones
Label:    Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year:    1967
    The Monkees released two singles in 1967 that were not included on any albums released that year. The second of these, Daydream Believer, became one of the biggest hits of the year. The B side of that song was a mostly improvisational number called Goin' Down, with Mickey Dolenz providing the vocals. A longer, alternate mix was later issued as a bonus track on the CD version of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
Artist:    Love
Title:    And More
Source:    CD: Comes In Colours (originally released on LP: Love)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Raven (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1966
Artist:    Love
    Although the Paul Butterfield Blues Band was already recording for Elektra, the first genuine rock band to be signed to the label was L.A.'s Love. The band had originally planned to call itself the Grass Roots, but soon discovered that the songwriting team of Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan had already locked up the name. Jan Holzman, owner of Elektra, was so high on Love that he created a whole new numbering series for their first album (the same series that later included the first few Doors LPs). Most of Love's songs were written by multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Arthur Lee, with a handful of tunes provided by rhythm guitarist/vocalist Bryan MacLean. The two seldom collaborated, despite sharing a house in the Hollywood hills that had once belonged to Bela Lugosi. One of the few songs they did work together on was And More, a tune from the first album that shows the two songwriters' interest in folk-rock as popularized by fellow L.A. band the Byrds.

Title:    7&7 Is
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single. Stereo version released on LP: Da Capo)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Rhino (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1967
Artist:    Love
    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.

Title:    A House Is Not A Motel
Source:    Comes In Colours (originally released on LP: Forever Changes)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Raven (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1967
    Arthur Lee was a bit of a recluse, despite leading the most popular band on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. When the band was not playing at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go Lee was most likely to be found at his home up in the Hollywood Hills, often in the company of fellow band member Bryan McLean. The other members of the band, however, were known to hang out in the most popular clubs, chasing women and doing all kinds of substances. Sometimes they would show up at Lee's house unbidden. Sometimes they would crash there. Sometimes Lee would get annoyed, and probably used the phrase which became the title of the second track on Love's classic Forever Changes album, A House Is Not A Motel.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better (originally released on LP: Mr. Tambourine Man and as 45 RPM single B side)
Source:    LP: Greatest Hits
Writer(s):    Gene Clark
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    Even though the title of the B side of the Byrds' second single is I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better, the actual sung line is "I'll *probably* feel a whole lot better when you're gone." The addition of that one extra word adds a whole new dimension to what is already a good song, turning it into a great one. Despite being a B side, the song received heavy promotion from the people at Columbia Records, and almost outperformed the A side, It Won't Be Wrong.   

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Source:    LP: Procol Harum (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Brooker/Reid
Label:    Deram
Year:    1967
    The US version of the first Procol Harum included one song, A Whiter Shade Of Pale, that was recorded by a different lineup than the rest of the album. In July of 1967, about three months after the single was released, guitarist Ray Royer and Bobby Harrison left the band, to be replaced by Robin Trower and Barrie Wilson respectively. It was the new lineup that went to work on the album, which was released in August in the US and January in the UK. The song itself has been covered numerous times, and holds the record for being played on the British airwaves more than any other song in history.    

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in early 1967. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation.

Artist:    Beacon Street Union
Title:    Mystic Mourning
Source:    LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s):    Ulaky/Weisberg/Rhodes
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1967
    If I had to choose one single recording that captures the essence of the psychedelic era, my choice would be Mystic Mourning, from the album The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union. Everything about the tune screams psychedelic, starting with a short spacy intro of electric piano over cymbals, leading into a raga beat with a solo bass line that builds up to a repeating riff that ends up getting played at various times by guitar, bass, and/or piano. The lyrics are appropriately existential, and both guitar and piano get a chance to show their stuff over the course of the nearly six-minute track.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Take It As It Comes
Source:    CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Rhino (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1967
    L.A.'s Whisky-A-Go-Go was the place to be in 1966. Not only were some of the city's most popular bands playing there, but for a while the house band was none other than the Doors, playing songs like Take It As It Comes. One evening Jac Holtzman of Elektra Records was among those attending the club, having been invited there to hear the Doors by Arthur Lee (who with his band Love was already recording for Elektra). After hearing two sets Holtzman signed the group to a contract with the label, making the Doors only the second rock band to record for Elektra (after Love itself).

Artist:    Vanilla Fudge
Title:    Where Is My Mind
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Mark Stein
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    Following the belated success of their cover of the Supremes' 1967 hit You Keep Me Hangin' On, Vanilla Fudge was primed to release a follow-up single. The group had already released a second LP, a concept album based around the Sonny & Cher song The Beat Goes On, but none of the tracks on that LP were considered single material. The first LP had been around for over a year at that point, and the band felt it would be better to record something new rather than release another of that album's cover tunes. The result was Where Is My Mind, one of the first original tunes to be recorded by the band. The song was not a major hit, but it was a preview of what their next LP, Renaissance (their first to be made up primarily of original material) would sound like.

Artist:    B. B. King
Title:    Having My Say
Source:    CD: Blues On Top Of Blues
Writer(s):    B.B. King
Label:    BGO (original label: Bluesway)
Year:    1968
    Although not the best-known of B.B. King's many albums, 1968's Blues On Top Of Blues is one of the most polished, featuring, in addition to the traditional guitar, bass and drums, a horn section and an organist. The result is a surprisingly fresh sounding album, even well over forty years later. All the songs on the album, including Having My Say were written by King.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    Eighteen Is Over The Hill
Source:    CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer(s):    Markley/Morgan
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    The contributions of guitarist Ron Morgan to the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band are often overlooked, possibly due to the fact that Morgan himself often tried to distance himself from the band. Nonetheless, he did write some of the group's most memorable tunes, including their best-known song, Smell Of Incense (covered by the Texas band Southwest F.O.B.) and the opening track of what is generally considered their best album, A Child's Guide To Good And Evil. Unfortunately, the somewhat senseless lyrics added by Bob Markley detract from what is actually a very tasty piece of music.

Artist:    Yardbirds
Title:    I'm A Man
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Elias McDaniel
Label:    Epic
Year:    1965
    For many, the Yardbirds version of I'm a Man is the definitive version of this Bo Diddley classic. Oddly enough, the song was released as a single only in the US, where it made it into the top 10 in 1965.

Artist:    Mamas And The Papas
Title:    Dancing Bear
Source:    CD: The Mamas And The Papas
Writer(s):    John Phillips
Label:    MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1966
    The second Mamas And The Papas album was marked by internal strife that came about when it was discovered that mama Michelle and papa Denny were having an affair, despite Michelle's being married to papa John. Mama Michelle was fired shortly before work on the album commenced and a new mama, Jill, was brought in to replace her. Midway through the album the group realized the inherent unfairness of firing Michelle but not Denny and invited her back to the band, letting Jill go in the process. As a result, nobody is sure just which vocals on the album are Michelle's and which are Jill's. One thing that is not in question is that Dancing Bear (which predates Simon & Garfunkel's similarly-themed El Condor Pasa by several years) is one of the most memorable songs on the album.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    I Just Wasn't Made For These Times
Source:    CD: Good Vibrations-Twenty Years Of The Beach Boys (originally released on LP: Pet Sounds)
Writer(s):    Wilson/Asher
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1966
    Early on Brian Wilson recognized that his greatest strength was in writing music, as opposed to performing or even writing lyrics. Being the leader and producer of the most successful recording artists in southern California, Wilson was able to take his pick of the best lyricists available, including Mike Love, Van Dyke Parks, and, on the Pet Sounds album, Tony Asher, whose introspective lyrics complemented Wilson's maturing musical themes perfectly. I Just Wasn't Made For These Times is an excellent example of how well the two worked together to capture a specific mood and theme.

Artist:    Hollies
Title:    I Can't Let Go
Source:    CD: The Best Of The Hollies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Taylor/Gorgoni
Label:    Cema (original label: Imperial)
Year:    1966
    Of all the early Hollies hits, it is the 1966 hit I Can't Let Go that most showcases the voice of Graham Nash, singing a high counterpoint that Paul McCartney reportedly mistook for a trumpet part the first time he heard the song.

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband (recording as The Hogs)
Title:    Blues Theme
Source:    CD: One Step Beyond (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Curb/Allen
Label:    Sundazed (original label: HBR)
Year:    1966
    The Chocolate Watchband's first experience in a recording studio came in October of 1966. The band had set up and was getting their sound levels checked when a friend of the producer burst into the studio with the news that the latest "hot thing" was a new movie called the Wild Ones. Davie Allen and the Arrows had cut something called Blues Theme for the soundtrack, and the word was that there were no plans to release the song as a single. Sensing an opportunity, the producer asked the band if they could record their own version of Blues Theme. The Watchband, even at that early point, had a knack for doing convincing covers on a moment's notice, and by the time the session was over they had cut a credible version of Blues Theme. The record was quickly released on the Hanna Barbera (yes, the cartoon people) label, but as by the Hogs rather than the Chocolate Watchband. Although I don't know why this was done, I do have a couple theories. It's entirely possible that the band signed their contract with Tower Records before Blues Theme was released, in which case Tower would naturally forbid the use of the name Chocolate Watchband by another label. Or it could simply be that the unknown producers at HBR felt that a name like the Hogs was more appropriate for a song used in a biker flick. We may never know for sure.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    Some of the best rock and roll songs of 1966 were banned on a number of stations for being about either sex or drugs. Most artists that recorded those songs claimed they were about something else altogether. In the case of Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35, "stoned" refers to a rather unpleasant form of execution (at least according to Dylan). On the other hand, Dylan himself was reportedly quite stoned while recording the song, having passed a few doobies around before starting the tape rolling. Sometimes I think ambiguities like this are why English has become the dominant language of commerce on the planet.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    Rainbow Demon
Source:    LP: Demons And Wizards
Writer(s):    Ken Hensley
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1972
    The last time I played something from Uriah Heep's Demons And Wizards album it was All Hallow's Eve and I naturally chose The Wizard. This time around I figured it was time to give the devil his due and play Rainbow Demon. The album itself was a major turning point for Uriah Heep, who up to that point had been considered a second-tier British metal band. With Demons And Wizards, however, the band took on an identity of its own, with fantasy imagery becoming the focus of the music. Demons And Wizards also saw keyboardist Ken Hensley take a more dominant role in the songwriting, having a hand in every track on the album.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    17
Source:    CD: Stand Up (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol
Year:    1969
    Jethro Tull was one of the last groups to continue to British practice of not including songs that had been released on 45 RPM vinyl on their albums. As a result, songs such as 17, which were not released in any form in the US, were generally not heard by American audiences. Even when many of the band's UK-only singles were included on the 1973 LP Living In The Past, 17 was not part of the package. As a result, this may well be the first time you've heard this 1969 B side.

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