Thursday, May 3, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1218 (starts 5/3/12)

    This week each half hour has its own mini-theme (for the most part). For instance, the first segment is made up mostly of B sides (although the first couple of selections are exceptions), while the second half hour is made up entirely of tracks from 1967. The second hour starts off with a large number of tunes from 1966 (most of which are making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut) before going off on a tangent with Emerson, Lake and Palmer. This is immediately followed by one of the earliest known examples of Japanese Heavy Metal. From there we finish out with this week's only progression through the years and a pair of tunes from 1967.

Artist:    Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title:    Cinnamon Girl
Source:    LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    My favorite Neil Young song has always been Cinnamon Girl. I suspect this is because the band I was in the summer after I graduated from high school used a re-arranged version of the song as our show opener (imagine Cinnamon Girl played like I Can See For Miles and you get a general idea of how it sounded). If we had ever recorded an album, we probably would have used that arrangement as our first single. I finally got to see Neil Young perform the song live (from the 16th row even) with Booker T. and the MGs as his stage band in the mid-1990s. It was worth the wait.

Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    Quicksilver Girl
Source:    CD: Sailor
Writer(s):    Steve Miller
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1968
    Steve Miller moved to San Francisco from Chicago and was reportedly struck by what he saw as a much lower standard of musicianship in the bay area than in the windy city. Miller's response was to form a band that would conform to Chicago standards. The result was the Steve Miller Band, one of the most successful of the San Francisco bands, although much of that success would not come until the mid-1970s, after several personnel changes. One feature of the Miller band is that it featured multiple lead vocalists, depending on who wrote the song. Miller himself wrote and sings on Quicksilver Girl, from the band's second LP, Sailor.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Plastic Fantastic Lover
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Marty Balin
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1967
    Jefferson Airplane scored their first top 10 hit with Somebody To Love, the second single released from the Surrealistic Pillow album. Almost immediately, forward-thinking FM stations began playing other tracks from the album. One of those favored album tracks, Plastic Fantastic Lover, ended up being the B side of the band's follow-up single, White Rabbit. When the Airplane reunited in 1989 and issued their two-disc retrospective, 2400 Fulton Street, they issued a special stereo pressing of the single on white vinyl as a way of promoting the collection.

Artist:    Rising Sons
Title:    Sunny's Dream
Source:    CD: The Rising Sons
Writer(s):    Jesse Lee Kincaid
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1966
    Los Angeles was home to a thriving teen scene in the mid-60s. The epicenter of that scene was the legendary Sunset Strip, home to several clubs catering to the underage crowd. Most of these clubs featured live music, and the bands that provided that music often found themselves in the recording studio when not playing live. Among those is a band that has become legendary: The Rising Sons. Like the Buffalo Springfield, the Rising Sons included members who would go on to become widely respected among their fellow musicians, including guitarist Ry Cooder and vocalist Taj Mahal. Another member of the Sons, Jesse Lee Kincaid, would achieve more success as a songwriter than as an artist. The Rising Sons made it into the studio in 1966 and even scored a contract with major label, Columbia Records. The recordings, including the Kincaid song Sunny's Dream, remained unreleased for 25 years, due to the label not knowing how to market a multi-racial band whose music was not easily defined.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Lady Jane
Source:    CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and on LP: Aftermath)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1966
    One of the best early Rolling Stones albums is 1966's Aftermath, which included such classics as Under My Thumb, Stupid Girl and the eleven-minute Goin' Home. Both the US and UK versions of the LP included the song Lady Jane, which was also released as the B side to Mother's Little Helper (which had been left off the US version of Aftermath to make room for Paint It Black). The policy at the time was for B sides that got a significant amount of airplay to be rated separately from the A side of the single, and Lady Jane managed to climb to the # 24 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 (Mother's Little Helper peaked at # 8).

Artist:    Brigands
Title:    (Would I Still Be) Her Big Man
Source:    Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Kris/Arthur Resnick
Label:    Rhino (original label: Epic)
Year:    1966
    Virtually nothing is known about the Brigands, other than the fact that they recorded in New York City. Their only single was a forgettable piece of imitation British pop, but the B side, (Would I Still Be) Her Big Man, holds up surprising well. The song itself was written by the husband and wife team of Kris and Artie Resnick, who would end up writing a series of bubble gum hits issued under various band names on the Buddah label in 1968.

Artist:    First Edition
Title:    Shadow In The Corner Of Your Mind
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Mike Settle
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    The First Edition was formed by Mike Settle and Kenny Rogers, both members of the New Christy Minstrels, a group that made more appearances on TV variety shows than on the record charts (imagine a professional version of high school madrigal choir). The two wanted to get into something a little more hip than watered-down choral versions of Simon and Garfunkel songs and the like, and recorded an album that included folk-rock, country-rock and even the full-blown psychedelia of Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In), which ended up being their first single. For the B side of that single one of Settle's songs, Shadow In The Corner Of Your Mind, was selected. The song, a decent piece of folk-rock with reasonably intelligent lyrics, would have been hit record material itself if it weren't for the fact that by 1968 folk-rock had pretty much run its course.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Withering Tree
Source:    LP: Last Exit (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1968
    One of Traffic's best-known songs is Feelin' Alright from their eponymous second LP. When the song was issued as a single in 1968, a brand-new song, Withering Tree, was included as a B side. The stereo version of Withering Tree would not be heard until 1969, when it was included on the post-breakup Traffic LP Last Exit.

Artist:    Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters
Title:    Cocaine (aka Cocaine Blues)
Source:    LP: Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters
Writer(s):    Reverend Gary Davis
Label:    Verve Forecast
Year:    1967
    No single person, musician or otherwise, had a greater impact on the Greenwich Village music scene than Dave Van Ronk. Born in Brooklyn in 1936, Van Ronk was among the first white musicians to combine folk music and the blues, and was a fixture in Village coffeehouses from about 1958 on. Virtually every major artist to emerge from the area (including Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joni Mitchell and the Blues Project's Danny Kalb) considered Van Ronk to be a mentor and a friend. Van Ronk's own major influence was Reverend Gary Davis, who taught him to approach the guitar as if it were "a piano around his neck". David Van Ronk's recording of Davis' Cocaine Blues remains one of the definitive versions of that song. Van Ronk seldom left Greenwich Village and never learned to drive a car. In later years he was given the nickname "the Mayor of MacDougal Street." Van Ronk died of cardio-pulmonary failure while undergoing post-operative treatment for colon cancer in 2002. A section of Sheridan Square has been named Dave Van Ronk Street in his memory.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Love Me Two Times
Source:    CD: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    Although the second Doors album is sometimes dismissed as being full of tracks that didn't make the cut on the debut LP, the fact is that Strange Days contains some of the Doors best-known tunes. One of those is Love Me Two Times, which was the second single released from the album. The song continues to get heavy airplay on classic rock stations.

Artist:    Youngbloods
Title:    Get Together
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: The Youngbloods)
Writer(s):    Chet Powers
Label:    Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1967
    The Youngbloods were the second San Francisco band signed to industry leader RCA Victor Records. Their first album was released in 1967 but was overshadowed by the vinyl debuts of the Grateful Dead and Moby Grape, among others. In fact, the Youngbloods toiled in relative obscurity until 1969, when their own version of Dino Valenti's Let's Get Together (from the 1967 LP) was used in a TV ad promoting world peace. The song was subsequently released (with the title slightly shortened) as a single and became the group's only hit record.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source:    CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)).
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:    Vanilla Fudge
Title:    You Keep Me Hangin' On
Source:    Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Holland/Dozier/Holland
Label:    BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
     The Vanilla Fudge version of You Keep Me Hangin' On was originally recorded and released in 1967, not too long after the Supremes version of the song finished its own run on the charts. It wasn't until the following year, however, the the Vanilla Fudge recording caught on with radio listeners, turning it into the band's only top 40 hit.

Artist:    Thee Midnighters
Title:    Jump, Jive And Harmonize
Source:    CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Espinoza/Garcia/Marquez
Label:    Rhino (original label: Whittier)
Year:    1967
    Although Max Uballez was the top producer of rock records by Hispanic artists in the Los Angeles area, the region's top band, Thee Midnighters, did not use Uballez's studios. Instead they chose to record at their own practice hall, the Jewel Theater. The result was a raw, energetic sound that suited their particular brand of raunch and roll.

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband
Title:    Gone And Passes By
Source:    CD: No Way Out
Writer(s):    Dave Aguilar
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    Producer Ed Cobb, years after the fact, expressed regret that he didn't take the time to discover for himself what made the Chocolate Watchband such a popular band among San Jose, California's teenagers. Instead, he tried to present his own vision of what a psychedelic band should sound like on the group's debut LP, No Way Out. Many of the tracks on the album used studio musicians, and two of the tracks featuring the Watchband itself used studio vocalist Don Bennett instead of Dave Aguilar, including the single Let's Talk About Girls. The remaining tracks, altough featuring the full band, were somewhat obscured by additional instruments, particular the sitar, which was not normally used by the band when performing live. This synthesis of Cobb's vision and the actual Watchband is probably best illustrated by the song Gone And Passes By, an Aguilar composition that somewhat resembles a psychedelicized version of the Rolling Stones' cover of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Zilch/No Time
Source:    CD: Headquarters
Writer(s):    Jones/Nesmith/Tork/Dolenz/Cicalo
Label:    Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year:    1967
    From a creative standpoint, the highpoint of the Monkees' career as a band was the Headquarters album, which topped the album charts for one week in late spring of 1967 before being toppled by Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Unlike the previous and subsequent Monkees albums, Headquarters featured a minimum of outside musicians, and was under the total creative control of the Monkees themselves, even to the hiring of Chip Douglas as producer. Although most of the songs on Headquarters were from professional songwriters, a few were written by the band itself, including the back-to-back tracks Zilch (a strange spoken word piece that features each member repeating a different phrase), and No Time, a 50s-style rocker that the band credited to engineer Hank Cicalo as a "tip" (that enabled him to buy a house, as it turned out).
Artist:    Leaves
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Billy Roberts
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mira)
Year:    1966
    The origins of the song Hey Joe are surrounded in mystery. Various writers have been given credit for the tune, including Chet Powers, aka Dino Valenti, who wrote Get Together, but David Crosby claimed the song was actually an old folk tune dating back to the 19th century that he himself had popularized as a member of the Byrds before the Leaves got ahold of it. The most likely source is California folk singer Billy Roberts, who holds a 1962 copyright on the song. Regardless of where the song came from, the Leaves version was the first to be released as a single and is generally considered the definitive fast version of the song. In Britain it was the slower version favored by the Jimi Hendrix Experience that became a hit, using an arrangement pioneered by songwriter Tim Rose and the Music Machine's Sean Bonniwell.

Artist:    Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title:    Louise
Source:    LP: Spirit Of '67
Writer(s):    Jesse Lee Kincaid
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    One interesting by-product of the Rising Sons being signed to Columbia in 1966 was that, although their album was never released, singer/songwriter Jesse Lee Kincaid did get the opportunity for his songs to be heard by people at the label, including producer Terry Melcher. This led to one of his compositions being recorded by Columbia's only successful rock band at the time, Paul Revere and the Raiders (also produced by Melcher). Louise was included on the Raiders' third top 10 LP of 1966, ironically titled The Spirit of '67.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Wrong
Source:    CD: Turn On The Music Machine
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1966
    Sean Bonniwell was a member of the mainstream (i.e. lots of appearances on TV variety shows hosted by people like Perry Como and Bob Hope) folk group the Lamplighters in the early 60s. By 1966 he had morphed into one of the more mysterious figures on the LA music scene, leading a proto-punk band dressed entirely in black. Bonniwell himself wore a single black glove (Michael Jackson was about seven years old at the time), and was one of the most prolific songwriters of the time. His recordings, often featuring the distinctive Farfisa organ sound, were a primary influence on later LA bands such as Iron Butterfly and the Doors. A classic example of the Music Machine sound was the song Wrong, which was issued as the B side of the group's most successful single, Talk Talk.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Little Sally Tease
Source:    CD: Best Of The Standells (originally released on LP: Dirty Water)
Writer(s):    James Valley
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
    The Standells are often considered the quintessential 60s garage/punk band, thanks to songs like Dirty Water and Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White. Much of the credit for this image, however, must go to their producer, Ed Cobb, who wrote both of those songs and was directly responsible for converting the group from a covers-oriented band that had been playing in L.A. clubs since the surf era to a gritty no-holds-barred punk combo. The band's albums are generally considered to be somewhat inconsistent, although they include some quality tracks such as Little Sally Tease.

Artist:    Shadows Of Knight
Title:    I'm Gonna Make You Mine (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Back Door Men)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk
Writer(s):    Carr/Derrico/Sager
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    Possibly the loudest rockin' recordings of 1966 came from the Shadows of Knight. A product of the Chicago suburbs, the Shadows (as they were originally known) quickly established a reputation as the region's resident bad boy rockers (lead vocalist Jim Sohns was reportedly banned from more than one high school campus for his attempts at increasing the local teen pregnancy rate). After signing a record deal with the local Dunwich label, the band learned that there was already a band called the Shadows and added the Knight part (after their own high school sports teams' name). Their first single was a cover of Van Morrison's Gloria that changed one line ("around here" in place of "up to my room") and thus avoided the mass radio bannings that had derailed the original Them version. I'm Gonna Make You Mine was the follow up to Gloria, but its lack of commercial success consigned the Shadows to one-hit wonder status until years after the band's breakup, when they finally got the recognition they deserved as one of the founding bands of garage/punk, and perhaps its greatest practicioner.

Artist:    Emerson, Lake And Palmer
Title:    Take A Pebble
Source:    CD: Emerson, Lake And Palmer
Writer(s):    Greg Lake
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1970   
    From the flamboyant piano of Jerry Lee Lewis to the cheesy Farfisa sound of ? and the Mysterians, keyboards were an integral part of rock music right from the start. Nonetheless, the electric guitar was still the instrument of choice for most rock musicians. A new development in the late 1960s, however, would forever change the balance between guitar and keyboards: the invention of the Moog synthesizer (and subsequent electronic keyboard instruments). One of the first rock musicians to experiment with the new technology was Keith Emerson, keyboardist for the Nice. In 1970 Emerson teamed up with bassist Greg Lake and drummer Carl Palmer to form a new band that, shockingly, had no electric guitars at all (although Lake did occassionally play an acoustic guitar). The new band's self-titled debut album was a surprise hit, thanks in large part to the tune Lucky Man, which managed to get airplay on both AM and FM radio. The Lake composition Take A Pebble, at twelve and a half minutes, was way too long for AM airplay, but did get considerable exposure on the album-oriented rock stations that were starting to show up on the FM band. Emerson, Lake and Palmer would continue to have success throughout the 70s, particularly in Italy, where they were the number one band in the country for several years.

Artist:    Flower Travellin' Band
Title:    Satori-Part V
Source:    CD: Satori
Writer(s):    Satori
Label:    Phoenix
Year:    1971
    Possibly the first Japanese heavy metal band and almost certainly the first Japanese psychedelic group, the Flower Travelin' Band was created as a side project of Yuyu Yuchida, a friend of John Lennon's who, having heard Jimi Hendrix and Cream on a trip to England, wanted to introduce Japanese audiences to this new kind of music. After returning to Japan he gathered a group of musicians together and recorded the first Flowerin' Travellin' Band LP in 1969. The album was made up entirely of covers of bands like Cream and Led Zeppelin. It wasn't until 1971 (and several personnel changes) that the FTB recorded their first LP made up entirely of original material. The album was called Satori, as were all five tracks on the album. It was worth the wait.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    You Baby
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Sloan/Barri
Label:    White Whale
Year:    1966
    After first hitting the charts with their version of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, the Turtles released yet another "angry young rebel" song, P.F. Sloan's Let Me Be. Realizing that they needed to vary their subject matter somewhat if they planned on having a career last longer than six months, the band formerly known as the Crossfires went with another Sloan tune, You Baby, for their first single of 1966. Although the music was in a similar style to Let Me Be, the lyrics, written by Steve Barri, were fairly typical of teen-oriented love songs of the era. The Turtles would continue to record songs from professional songwriters for single release for the remainder of their existence, with their original compositions showing up mostly as album tracks and B sides.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Flying
Source:    CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starr
Label:    Apple/Parlophone
Year:    1967
    1967 was an odd year for the Beatles. They started it with one of their most successful double-sided singles, Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, and followed it up with the iconic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. From there, they embarked on a new film project. Unlike their previous movies, the Magical Mystery Tour was not made to be shown in theaters. Rather, the film was aired as a television special shown exclusively in the UK. The airing of the film coincided with the release (again only in the UK) of a two-disc extended play 45 RPM set featuring the six songs from the special. It was not until later in the year that the songs were released in the US, on an album that combined the songs from the film on one side and all the non-LP single sides they had released that year on the other. Among the songs from the film is Flying, a rare instrumental track that was credited to the entire band.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    As You Said
Source:    Wheels Of Fire
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
     Cream started off as a British blues supergroup, but soon found themselves putting out some of the finest psychedelic tunes east of the Atlantic. Much of the credit for this goes to the songwriting team of bassist Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. Brown was originally brought in as a songwriting partner for Ginger Baker, but soon found a better synergy with Bruce. The two went on to write some of Cream's most memorable songs, including Tales of Brave Ulysses, Deserted Cities of the Heart and White Room. As You Said, from Cream's third LP, Wheel's Of Fire, is somewhat unusual in that it features acoustical instruments exclusively (including Ginger Baker setting aside his drumsticks in favor of brushes).
Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    I Am A Child
Source:    LP: Last Time Around
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    The final Buffalo Springfield album, Last Time Around, was released after the members of the band had gone their separate ways. Not surprisingly, the album lacks cohesion, sounding more like an anthology of solo efforts (which for the most part is exactly what Last Time Around is). One notable Neil Young tune is I Am A Child, one of the few Buffalo Springfield songs that Young included on his Anthology 3-record set years later.

Artist:    Roger Nichols Trio
Title:    Montage Mirror
Source:    CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s):    Nichols/Roberds
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1967
    The Parade was an L.A. studio group made up of actors and studio musicians that had a top 20 hit with Sunshine Girl in early 1967. This track, recorded later the same year is pretty much the same group but credited to the Roger Nichols Trio instead. An attempt to subvert an unpleasant contract with another label perhaps? I guess we'll never know, as the song sat on the shelf for 41(!) years before being included on a Parade anthology.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    Conquistador (1971 stereo mix)
Source:    CD: Procol Harum
Writer(s):    Brooker/Reid
Label:    Salvo
Year:    1967
    For reasons that are lost to history, the first Procol Harum album was released five months earlier in the US than it was in the UK. It also was released with a slightly different song lineup, a practice that was fairly common earlier in the decade but that had been pretty much abandoned by mid-1967. One notable difference is the inclusion of A Whiter Shade Of Pale on the US version (the British practice being to not include songs on LPs that had been already issued on 45 RPM records). The opening track of the UK version was Conquistador, a song that would not become well-known until 1972, when a live version with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra backing up the band became a hit single. There was no stereo version of the album made, although in 1971 Malcolm Jones created new stereo mixes of three of the songs from the LP, including Conquistador.

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