Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1220 (starts 5/17/12)

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    No Time Like The Right Time
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Al Kooper
Label:    Rhino (original label: Verve Forecast)
Year:    1967
    The Blues Project were ahead of their time. They were the first jam band. They virtually created the college circuit for touring rock bands. Unfortunately, they also existed at a time when having a hit single was the considered a necessity. The closest the Blues Project ever got to a hit single was No Time Like The Right Time, which peaked at # 97 and stayed on the charts for all of two weeks. Personally, I rate it among the top 5 best songs ever.

Artist:    Electric Flag
Title:    Joint Passing
Source:    LP: The Trip (movie soundtrack)
Writer(s):    Michael Bloomfield
Label:    Sidewalk
Year:    1967
    The first Electric Flag LP was A Long Time Comin', released on Columbia Records in 1968. The group had actually made their recording debut the previous year on Mike Curb's Sidewalk label with the soundtrack for a Peter Fonda movie called The Trip. Unlike the Columbia releases, the movie soundtrack was essentially a Mike Bloomfield solo project, with the other members of the bad relegated to a purely supporting role. Most of the tracks on side one, in particular, are short instrumental pieces, such as Joint Passing, which runs almost exactly one minute.

Artist:    Circus Maximus
Title:    Oops I Can Dance
Source:    LP: Circus Maximus
Writer(s):    Jerry Jeff Walker
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Right from the start, the band Circus Maximus was being pulled in two musical directions by its co-founders, Bob Bruno and Jerry Jeff Walker. Although it was Bruno's song Wind that got the most airplay in 1967, it was Walker who went on to have a successful career as a singer/songwriter with songs like Mr. Bojangles. One of Walker's earliest songs was Oops I Can Dance from the first Circus Maximus album.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Tin Soldier Man
Source:    CD: Something Else
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    Ray Davies's songwriting continued to move in new and unexpected directions on the 1967 album Something Else By The Kinks. A good example is Tin Soldier Man, a tune that has an almost ragtime feel to it, yet is unmistakably a rock song. 

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    The Wind Blows Her Hair
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Sky Saxon
Label:    Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year:    1967
     The Wind Blows Her Hair is actually one of the Seeds' better tracks. Unfortunately, by the time it was released the whole concept of Flower Power (which the Seeds were intimately tied to) had become yesterday's news (at least in the L.A. area) and the single went nowhere.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    N.S.U.
Source:    CD: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Jack Bruce
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1966
    Although most of Jack Bruce's Cream songs were co-written with lyricist Pete Brown, there were some exceptions. One of the most notable of these is N.S.U. from Cream's debut LP. The song has proven popular enough to be included in the band's repertoire when they reunited for a three-day stint at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Hideaway
Source:    CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Underground)
Writer(s):    Lowe/Tulin
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    After the moderately successful first Electric Prunes album, producer David Hassinger loosened the reigns a bit for the followup, Underground. Among the original tunes on Underground was Hideaway, a song that probably would have been a better choice as a single than what actually got released: a novelty tune called Dr. Feelgood written by Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz, who had also written the band's first hit, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night).

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Pearly Queen
Source:    CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: Traffic)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1968
    The second Traffic LP was less overtly psychedelic than the Mr. Fantasy album, with songs like Pearly Queen taking the band in a more funky direction. When the band reformed in 1970 without Dave Mason (who had provided the most psychedelic elements) the songwriting team of Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, who had written Pearly Queen, continued the trend.

Artist:    Hollies
Title:    Here I Go Again
Source:    LP: The Very Best Of The Hollies
Writer(s):    Shuman/Westlake
Label:    United Artists (original label: Imperial)
Year:    1964
    Most US listeners first heard about the Hollies in 1966, when they took Bus Stop and Stop Stop Stop into the top 10. The group had actually been making hit records since 1963 in their native UK, where they were one of the most visible bands on TV dance programs. One of their earliest hits was 1964's Here I Go Again, a song that was co-written by Mort Shuman and Clive Westlake.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Alligator/Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)
Source:    CD: Anthem Of The Sun
Writer(s):    Lesh/McKernan/Hunter/Garcia/Kreutzmann/Weir
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1968
    After a debut album that took about a week to record (and that the band was unanimously unhappy with) the Grateful Dead took their time on their second effort, Anthem Of The Sun. After spending a considerable amount of time in three different studios on two coasts and not getting the sound they wanted (and shedding their original producer along the way) the Dead came to the conclusion that the only way to make an album that sounded anywhere near what the band sounded like onstage was to use actual recordings of their performances and combine them with the studio tracks they had been working on. Side two of the album, which includes the classic Alligator and the more experimental Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks), is basically an enhanced live performance, with new vocal tracks added in the studio. Alligator itself is notable as the first Grateful Dead composition to feature the lyrics of Robert Hunter, who would become Jerry Garcia's main collaborator for many many years.

Artist:    Billy Preston
Title:    I Wrote A Simple Song
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Preston/Greene
Label:    A&M
Year:    1972
    Journeyman R&B keyboardist Billy Preston first came to international prominence when he joined the Beatles for their famous rooftop performance of Get Back in 1969, a performance that was included in the Let It Be movie. Preston scored a solo hit a couple years later when he recorded a song of his own, That's The Way God Planned It, after performing the tune as part of George Harrison's Concert For Bangla Desh. Preston's biggest hit came in 1972, when Outa-Space became one of the top-selling instrumental singles of all time. The B side of Outa-Space was a song Preston wrote with Joe Greene called I Wrote A Simple Song.

Artist:    Janis Joplin
Title:    Half Moon (mono single mix)
Source:    CD: The Pearl Sessions (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Hall/Hall
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1971
    A few weeks ago I gave away copies of the new Pearl Sessions CD by Janis Joplin and the Full Tilt Boogie Band. One of the conditions for entry was to tell me your favorite song from the original Pearl album. One of the more popular choices was the original B side of Me And Bobby McGee, the high-energy Half Moon. I realized at the time that I had never actually played Half Moon on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era. I figured this was as good a time as any to change that.

Artist:    Lovin' Spoonful
Title:    Alley Oop
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Dallas Frazier
Label:    Sundazed/Kama Sutra
Year:    1965/2011
    The Lovin' Spoonful didn't actually release their version of the old Hollywood Argyles song Alley Oop as a single in 1965. In fact, they didn't release the song at all, even though it was recorded during the same sessions that became their debut LP that year. In 2011 the people at Sundazed decided to create a "single that never was", pairing Alley Oop with the full-length version of Night Owl Blues, a song that had been included on the 1965 debut in edited form. The Spoonful version of Alley Oop has an almost garage-band feel about it, and is perhaps the best indication on vinyl of what the band actually sounded like in their early days as a local fixture on the Greenwich Village scene.

Artist:    Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title:    The Black Plague
Source:    CD: Winds Of Change
Writer(s):    Burdon/Briggs/Weider/Jenkins/McCulloch
Label:    Repertoire (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1967
    One of the most interesting recordings of 1967 was Eric Burdon And The Animals' The Black Plague, which appeared on the Winds Of Change album. The Black Plague is a spoken word piece dealing with life and death in a medieval village during the time of the Black Plague (natch), set to a somewhat gothic piece of music that includes Gregorian style chanting and an occasional voice calling out the words "bring out your dead" in the background. The album itself had a rather distinctive cover, consisting of a stylized album title accompanied by a rather lengthy text piece on a black background, something that has never been done before or since on an album cover.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Rael 2/Top Gear Spot
Source:    CD: The Who Sell Out (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    MCA
Year:    1967
    This odd little piece was apparently intended as a coda to the final track of The Who Sell Out, but was not included on the album (although the label itself reads "Rael 1&2"). Rael 2, as well as the Top Gear commercial it segues into, is among the many bonus tracks added to the 1993 CD version of the album.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Jumpin' Jack Flash
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1968
    After the commercial disappointment of their most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request in late 1967, the Stones replaced longtime producer Andrew Loog Oldham with Jimmy Miller, who had made a name for himself working with Steve Winwood on recordings by both the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic. The collaboration resulted in a back-to-basics approach that produced the classic single Jumpin' Jack Flash, followed by the Beggar's Banquet album.

Artist:    Nazz
Title:    Open My Eyes
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: The Nazz)
Writer(s):    Todd Rundgren
Label:    Rhino (original label: SGC)
Year:    1968
    The Nazz was a band from Philadelphia who were basically the victims of their own bad timing. 1968 was the year that progressive FM radio began to get recognition as a viable format while top 40 radio was being dominated by bubble gum pop bands such as the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the Ohio Express. The Nazz, on the other hand, sounded more like British bands such as the Move and Brian Augur's Trinity that were performing well on the UK charts but were unable to buy a hit in the US. The band had plenty of talent, most notably guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Todd Rundgren, who would go on to establish a successful career, both as an artist (he played all the instruments on his Something/Anything LP and led the band Utopia) and a producer (Grand Funk's We're An American Band, among others). Open My Eyes was originally issued as the A side of a single, but ended up being eclipsed in popularity by its flip side, a song called Hello It's Me, that ended up getting airplay in Boston and other cities, eventually hitting the Canadian charts (a new version would become a solo hit for Rundgren five years later).

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    Gimme Some Lovin'
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Winwood/Davis
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1966
    The movie The Big Chill used Gimme Some Lovin' by the Spencer Davis Group as the backdrop for a touch football game at an informal reunion of former college students from the 60s. From that point on, movie soundtracks became much more than just background music and soundtrack albums started becomming best-sellers. Not entirely coincidentally, 60s-oriented oldies radio stations began to appear in major markets as well. Most of them are now playing 80s oldies, by the way.

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 (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1966
    When it came time for Sean Bonniwell's band, the Music Machine, to go into the studio, the group decided to go for the best sound possible. This meant signing with tiny Original Sound Records, despite having offers from bigger labels, due to Original Sound having their own state-of-the-art eight-track studios. Unfortunately for the band, they soon discovered that having great equipment did not mean Original Sound made great decisions. One of the first, in fact, was to include a handful of cover songs on the Music Machine's first LP that were recorded for use on a local TV show. Bonniwell was livid when he found out, as he had envisioned an album made up entirely of his own compositions (although he reportedly did plan to use a slowed-down version of Hey Joe that he and Tim Rose had worked up together). From that point on it was only a matter of time until the Music Machine and Original Sound parted company, but not until after they scored a big national hit with Talk Talk in 1966.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Gazing
Source:    LP: Love
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1966
    L.A's Sunset Strip blossomed as a hangout for teenaged baby boomers in the mid-1960s, with clubs like Ciro's and the Whisky-A-Go-Go pulling in capacity crowds on a regular basis. These clubs had learned early on that the best way to draw a crowd was to hire a live band, which gave rise to a thriving local music scene. Among the many bands playing the strip, perhaps the most popular was Love, the house band at the Whisky-A-Go-Go. Led by Arthur Lee and boasting not one, but two songwriters (Lee and guitarist Bryan MacLean), Love made history in 1966 by being the first rock band signed to Elektra Records. Lee, a recent convert to the then-popular folk-rock style popularized by the Byrds (for whom MacLean had been a roadie) had come from an R&B background and counted a then-unknown Jimi Hendrix among his musician friends. Songs like Gazing, from Love's debut LP, gave an early indication that Lee, even while writing in the folk-rock idiom, had a powerful musical vision that was all his own.

Artist:    Guess Who
Title:    No Time
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Bachman/Cummings
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1970
    The Guess Who hit their creative and commercial peak with their 1970 album American Woman. The first of three hit singles from the album was No Time, which was already climbing the charts when the LP was released. After American Woman the band's two main songwriters, guitarist Randy Bachman and vocalist Burton Cummings, would move in increasingly divergent directions, with Bachman eventually leaving the band to form the hard-rocking Bachman-Turner Overdrive, while Cummings continued to helm an increasingly light pop flavored Guess Who.

Artist:    Flock
Title:    Store Bought-Store Thought
Source:    CD: The Flock
Writer(s):    The Flock
Label:    BGO (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    The Flock's 1969 debut album featured liner notes by British blues guru John Mayall, who called them the best band in America. Despite this stellar recommendation, the Flock (one of two bands with horn sections from the city of Chicago making their recording debut on Columbia Records in 1969) was unable to attract a large audience and disbanded after only two LPs. Most of the tracks on the album, including the seven minute Store Bought-Store Thought, were  early examples of the progressive rock that was becoming popular on FM stations across the country at the time. Violinist Jerry Goodman would go on to be a founding member of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra in the early 1970s.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Love Story
Source:    CD: This Was (bonus track-originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: Living In The Past)
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol (original UK label: Island; original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    Love Story was the last studio recording by the original Jethro Tull lineup of Ian Anderson, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker and Glenn Cornish. The song was released as a single following the band's debut LP, This Was. Shortly after it's release Abrahams left the group, citing differences with Anderson over the band's musical direction. The song spent eight weeks on the UK singles chart, reaching the #29 spot. In the U.S., "Love Story" was released in March 1969, with A Song for Jeffrey (an album track from This Was) on the B-side, but did not chart. Like most Jethro Tull songs released as singles in the UK, Love Story did not appear on an album until several years later; in this case on the 1973 anthology album Living In The Past.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Comin' Back To Me
Source:    LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Marty Balin
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1967
    Uncredited guest guitarist Jerry Garcia adds a simple, but memorable recurring fill riff to this Marty Balin tune. Balin, in his 2003 liner notes to the remastered release of Surrealistic Pillow, claims that Comin' Back To Me was written in one sitting under the influence of some primo stuff given to him by Paul Butterfield. Other players on the recording include Paul Kantner and Balin himself on guitars, Jack Casady on bass and Grace Slick on recorder.

Artist:    Mothers Of Invention
Title:    Help, I'm A Rock/It Can't Happen Here
Source:    CD: Freak Out!
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:    Ryko (original label: Verve)
Year:    1966
    Help, I'm A Rock and its follow up track It Can't Happen Here are among the best-known Frank Zappa compositions on the first Mothers Of Invention album, Freak Out! The phrase Help I'm A Rock itself comes across as a kind of mantra, with various verbal bits (including Zappa's own take on the 1966 Sunset Strip riot) going on around a repeating bass/drum/guitar riff. The song eventually leads into It Can't Happen Here, an avant-garde piece composed almost entirely of vocal tracks. The title is a play on a popular misconception in many American cities that the various kinds of civil unrest (and occasional violence) going on could only happen in someone else's town.

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