Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1221 (starts 5/24/12)

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Help!
Source:    CD: Help!
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1965
    One of the best-known songs of all time, Help! was the theme of the second Beatles movie. The soundtrack album featured a combination of songs that were used in the film and new material, most of which was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The album cover itself shows the four Beatles holding their arms out in positions resembling those used by flagmen using semaphore. Supposedly they were spelling out the word "help", but those knowledgeable in semaphore say that the four letters they are signaling are entirely different, and actually make no sense. Regardless, the album represents the zenith of the early Beatles sound, with a few hints of the direction they would begin to take with their next LP, Rubber Soul.

Artist:    Woolies
Title:    Who Do You Love
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Elias McDaniel
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1966
    Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love had become somewhat of a rock and roll dance standard by the mid-1960s, with several bands recording the tune. Probably the most overtly psychedelic version came from East Lansing, Michigan's Woolies. The group was discovered by Dunhill Records' Lou Adler and were flown out to L.A. to record the song, which was originally considered the B side of their debut single. When some radio stations started flipping the record over to play Who Do You Love, Dunhill was slow to promote the song, and it stalled out in the lower reaches of the charts. Disillusioned by the whole experience, all but one member of the Woolies returned to Michigan, recording a handful of regionally-distributed records on small local labels before finally disbanding.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    Queen Noimphet
Source:    LP: Volume II
Writer(s):    Markley/Harris
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    To say the motives of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's Bob Markley were questionable was an understatement. The man, by all accounts, was lacking in any kind of musical talent. What he did have, however, was a huge trust fund that he would get a quarterly check from. He used the money to set himself up in a big house in the Hollywood hills, throwing parties for all the local hipsters to attend. It was at one of these parties in 1966 that he was introduced to the Harris brothers, sons of a classical composer who had recently formed their own band but were in need of decent equipment. Markley's friend Kim Fowley (singer of the original Alley Oop and all-around Hollywood hustler) had booked the Yardbirds to play at the party, and Markley was so impressed by the band's ability to attract young ladies that he decided then and there to be a rock star. Fowley introduced the 30-year-old Markley to the teenaged Harris brothers and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was formed. As time went on it became apparent that the older Markley got, the younger his taste in women was becoming. Markley's lyrics for the song Queen Noimphet, from the album Volume II, are an indication of where his obsession with attracting young girls was taking him. Indeed, he was reportedly arrested in the 70s on sex charges, but was able to use his considerable financial resources to buy his way out of trouble.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Tales Of Brave Ulysses
Source:    LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Clapton/Sharp
Label:    RSO (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Cream was one of the first bands to break British tradition and release singles that were also available as album cuts. This tradition likely came about because 45 RPM records (both singles and extended play 45s) tended to stay in print indefinitely in the UK, unlike in the US, where a hit single usually had a shelf life of around 2-3 months then disappeared forever. When the Disraeli Gears album was released, however, the song Strange Brew, which leads off the LP, was released in Europe as a single. The B side of that single was Tales Of Brave Ulysses, which opens side two of the album.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    A Whiter Shade Of Pale (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Source:    LP: The Best Of Procol Harum
Writer(s):    Brooker/Reid
Label:    A&M (original label: Deram)
Year:    1967
    Often credited as the first progressive rock band, Procol Harum drew heavily from classical music sources, such as the Bach inspired theme used by organist Matthew Fisher as the signature rift for A Whiter Shade of Pale. The tracd itself hold the distinction of being the most-played recording on the British airwaves of the past 70 years.

Artist:    Mike Proctor
Title:    Mr. Commuter
Source:    CD: Insane Times (originally released as 45 PM single)
Writer(s):    Roker/Littlewood
Label:    EMI (original UK label: Columbia)
Year:    1967
    In the US, the psychedelic era is generally considered to cover the years 1965 through 1969, more or less, and includes the garage/punk movement as well as early forms of hard rock, heavy metal and progressive rock. In the UK, on the other hand, the psychedelic era covers a much shorter time period, 1966-68, and is defined by two Beatle albums: Revolver at the beginning and the White album at the end. In between there were a variety of artists, many of whom made only one album (or even one single). Among these is classically-trained pianist Mike Proctor, whose Mr. Commuter was released in mid 1967 on EMI's Columbia label. Proctor hooked up with a couple bands after releasing the single, but never again recorded for a major label.

Artist:    Love
Title:    You I'll Be Following
Source:    CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Love)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Rhino (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1966
    When the Byrds decided to tour heavily to support their early hits Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn!, Arthur Lee's band Love was more than happy to fill the void left on the L.A. club scene. The group quickly established itself as the top band on the strip and caught the attention of Elektra Records, an album-oriented label that had previously specialized in blues and folk music but was looking to move into rock. Love was soon signed to a contract with Elektra and released their self-titled debut LP in 1966. That album featured songs that were primarily in a folk-rock vein, such as You I'll Be Following, although even then there were signs that bandleader Arthur Lee was capable of writing quality tunes that defied easy classification. Love would remain the top band on the strip for the next year and a half, recording two more albums in 1967. To maintain their status as local heroes, Love chose to stay close to home. The lack of time spent promoting their records ultimately led to them being supplanted as the star group for Elektra by the Doors, a band that had been recommended to the label by Lee himself.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    End Of The Night
Source:    CD: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    The Doors first big break came when they opened for Love at L.A.'s most famous club, the Whisky-A-Go-Go, and became friends with the members of the more established popular local band. Love was already recording for Elektra Records, and enthusiastically recommended that the label sign the Doors as well. Elektra did, and the Doors went on to become one of the most successful and influential bands in rock history. Although not as well-known as Light My Fire or The End, the dark and moody End Of The Night is a classic early Doors tune, from the opening bent chords from guitarist Robby Krieger to the spooky keyboard work of Ray Manzarek and of course Jim Morrison's distinctive vocals.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    Two Trains Running
Source:    LP: Special Disc Jockey Record (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer(s):    McKinley Morganfield
Label:    Verve Forecast
Year:    1966
    My first two years as a student at the University of New Mexico were spent living off-campus in a large house shared by five other people (a varying number of which were also students). One day while rummaging through the basement I ran across a couple boxes full of reel-to-reel tapes. As I was the only person living there with a reel-to-reel machine and nobody seemed to know where the tapes had come from, I appropriated them for my own use. Unfortunately, many of the tapes were unlabeled, so all I could do was make a guess as to artists and titles of the music on them. One of those unknown tracks was this 1966 slowed way down version of Muddy Waters's Two Trains Running by the Blues Project. A few years later I ran across a nearly pristine cut-out copy of the album Projections at a thrift shop. As I had remembered being intrigued by the cover back when I couldn't afford albums I immediately snapped it up and took it home for a listen. I still have that copy of Projections, as well as a promo sampler I got from the WEOS archives in 2009 that I used for tonight's show.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Renaissance Fair
Source:    CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    Crosby/McGuinn
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    Younger Than Yesterday was David Crosby's last official album with the Byrds (he was fired midway through the recording of The Notorious Byrd Brothers) and the last one containing any collaborations between Crosby and Jim (now Roger) McGuinn. Renaissance Fair is one of those collaborations.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    The Masked Marauder
Source:    LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Perhaps more than any other band, Country Joe and the Fish capture the essence of the San Francisco scene in the late 60s. Their first two releases were floppy inserts included in Joe McDonald's self-published Rag Baby underground newspaper. In 1967 the band was signed to Vanguard Records, a primarily folk-oriented prestige label that also had Joan Baez on its roster. Their first LP, Electric Music For the Mind and Body had such classic cuts as Section 43, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, and the political parody Superbird on it, as well as the mostly-instrumental tune The Masked Marauder. Not for the unenlightened.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    2000 Light Years From Home
Source:    CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    Nowhere was the ripple effect of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band more noticeable than on the Rolling Stones fall 1967 release Their Satanic Majesties Request. The cover featured the band members in various sorcerous regalia in a seven-inch picture on the kind of holographic paper used for "magic rings" found in bubble-gum machines and pasted over regular album-cover stock, which was a simple pattern of faded white circles on a blue background (it kind of looked like dark wallpaper). Musically it was the most psychedelic Stones album ever released. Interesting enough, different songs were released as singles in different countries. In the US the single was She's A Rainbow, while in Germany 2,000 Light Years From Home (the US B side of She's A Rainbow) got significant airplay.

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband
Title:    Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In) (originally released on LP: No Way Out and as 45 RPM single)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk
Writer(s):    McElroy/Bennett
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    It took me several years to sort out the convoluted truth behind the recorded works of San Jose, California's most popular local band, the Chocolate Watchband. While it's true that much of what was released under their name was in truth the work of studio musicians, there are a few tracks that are indeed the product of Dave Aguilar and company. Are You Gonna Be There, a song used in the cheapie teenspliotation flick the Love-In and included on the Watchband's first album, No Way Out, is one of those few. Even more ironic is the fact that the song was co-written by Don Bennett, the studio vocalist whose voice was substituted for Aguilar's on a couple of other songs from the same album.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil
Source:    CD: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: After Bathing At Baxter's)
Writer(s):    Paul Kantner
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1967
    The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil (the title being a reference to Fred Neil) was never issued as a single. Nonetheless, the band decided to include it on their first anthology album, The Worst of Jefferson Airplane. This, in fact, was typical of the collection, which favored the songs the band considered their best over those that were considered the most commercial. Interestingly enough, the original plan for After Bathing At Baxter's (the album the song first appeared on) was to use a nine minute live version of Ballad, but that idea was scrapped in favor of dividing the album into five suites, the first of which opened with the studio version of the tune.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Get Me To The World On Time
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) and as 45 RPM single).
Writer(s):    Tucker/Jones
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    With I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) climbing the charts in early 1967, the Electric Prunes' producer Dave Hassinger turned to songwriter Annette Tucker for two more tracks to include on the band's debut LP. One of those, Get Me To The World On Time (co-written by lyricist Jill Jones) was selected to be the follow up single to Dream. Although not as big a hit, the song still did respectably on the charts (and was actually the first Electric Prunes song I ever heard on FM radio).

Artist:    Joe Cocker
Title:    With A Little Help From My Friends
Source:    CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm (originally released on Woodstock soundtrack album)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Rhino (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1969
    One of the most famous performances at Woodstock was instrumental in converting Joe Cocker from second tier British singer/bandleader to international superstar. This 2009 release of the live recording of With A Little Help From My Friends is virtually identical to what was originally included on the movie soundtrack album in the early 70s, the primary difference being that the background vocals (that had been re-recorded for the soundtrack album) are here restored to what the audience actually heard.

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    Beginnings
Source:    LP: Chicago Transit Authority
Writer(s):    Robert Lamm
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1969
    The first album by Chicago shows a band that had spent several months on the road honing its craft. Many of the tracks on the double album were recorded in one take, with a minimum of overdubs. Beginnings, which finishes out side one of the album, was released as a single in 1969 but failed to chart. After the band became more well-known, Beginnings was re-released, this time becoming a moderate hit. The single version ran less than three minutes, essentially cutting out the entire second half of the song, but a later album edit running about six minutes has been used on most compilation albums. The original version heard here runs nearly eight minutes, including over two minutes of percussion and vocals at the end of the song.

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
Source:    LP: Gimme Some Lovin'
Writer(s):    Jimmy Cox
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1966
    The Spencer Davis Group, featuring a teenage Steve Winwood on lead vocals and organ, came seemingly out of nowhere with their early 1967 hit, Gimme Some Lovin'. The reality was that the band had already racked up an impressive number of hits in their native England by the time Gimme Some Lovin' was released in late 1966. The band had also released several notable album tracks, including this 1966 cover of Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out, a song originally written and recorded by Jimmy Cox in the 1920s. Many of these tracks were collected for the band's first US album, Gimme Some Lovin', released in 1967.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Dirty Water
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
    Dirty Water has long since been adopted by the city of Boston, yet the band that originally recorded this Ed Cobb tune was purely an L.A. band, having started off playing cover tunes in the early 60s. Lead vocalist/drummer Dickie Dodd, incidentally, was a former Mouseketeer who had played on the surf-rock hit Mr. Moto as a member of the Bel-Airs.

Artist:    Limey And The Yanks
Title:    Guaranteed Love
Source:    Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Reed/Paxton
Label:    Rhino (original label: Star-Burst)
Year:    1966
    Limey and the Yanks were an Orange County, California band that boasted an honest-to-dog British lead vocalist. Despite being kind of Zelig-like on the L.A. scene, they only recorded two singles. The first one, Guaranteed Love, was co-written by Gary Paxton, best known for his involvement in various novelty records, including the Hollywood Argyles' Alley Oop, which he co-wrote with Kim Fowley, and Bobby "Boris" Pickett's Monster Mash, which was released on Paxton's own Garpax label.

Artist:    Shadows Of Knight
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    LP: Back Door Men
Writer(s):    Billy Roberts
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    Possibly the greatest garage-rock album of all is the second Shadows Of Knight LP, Back Door Men. Released in 1966, the album features virtually the same lineup as their debut LP, Gloria. Unlike many of their contemporaries, the Shadows were capable of varying their style somewhat, going from their trademark Chicago blues-influenced punk to what can only be described as early hard rock with ease. Like many bands of the time, they recorded a fast version of Billy Roberts' Hey Joe (although they credited it to Chet Powers on the label). The Shadows version, however, is a bit longer than the rest, featuring an extended guitar break by Joe Kelley, who had switched from bass to lead guitar midway through the recording of the Gloria album, replacing Warren Rogers, when it was discovered that Kelley was by far the more talented guitarist (Rogers was moved over to bass). Incidentally, despite the album's title and the Shadows' penchant for recording classic blues tunes, the band did not record a version of Howlin' Wolf's Back Door Man. The Blues Project and the Doors, however, did.

Artist:    Count Five
Title:    Psychotic Reaction
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ellner/Chaney/Atkinson/Byrne/Michaelski
Label:    Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
Year:    1966
    Although San Jose, Ca. is a rather large city in its own right (the 10th-largest city in the US in fact), it has always had a kind of suburban status, thanks to being within the same media market as San Francisco. Nonetheless, San Jose had its own very active music scene in the mid-60s, and Count Five was, for a time in late 1966, at the top of the heap, thanks in large part to Psychotic Reaction tearing up the national charts.

Artist:    Beacon Street Union
Title:    King Of The Jungle
Source:    LP: The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens
Writer(s):    Wright/Tarachney/Weisberg
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1968
    The Beacon Street Union's second album was quite a bit different from their first one, The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union. Whereas Eyes consisted of all-original material, The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens included a pair of cover tunes (Blue Suede Shoes and a 17-minute version of Baby, Please Don't Go), an orchestral piece (The Clown's Overture), and this bit of strangeness called King Of The Jungle. All this leads me to believe that the band itself gave up on the project halfway through, leaving producer Wes Farrell (he of Partridge Family fame) to scrounge through the outtakes and rejected tracks to fill out the album. Just my opinion, of course.

Artist:    Bubble Puppy
Title:    Hot Smoke And Sassafras
Source:    The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bubble Puppy
Label:    Priority (original label: International Artists)
Year:    1969
    From Houston we have an oft-requested song from a band that was a couple years ahead of its time, displaying musical dexterity on a par with later groups such as Flash and Yes. Soon after recording Hot Smoke and Sassafras the Bubble Puppy would relocate to California and change their name to Demian, at least in part to disassociate themselves with the then-popular "bubble gum" style (but also because of problems with the International Artists label).

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Screaming Night Hog
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    John Kay
Label:    Dunhill
Year:    1970
    By 1970 Steppenwolf had settled in to a fairly consistent groove, cranking out solid, if unspectacular hits on a regular basis. One such hit was Screaming Night Hog, which hit the top 40 that year. By this point John Kay had cemented his role as dominant figure in Steppenwolf, with the rest of the group pretty much serving as his backup band.

Artist:    Neil Young
Title:    Old Man
Source:    CD: Harvest
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1972
    Neil Young's most successful solo album was Harvest. The 1972 album featured two major hits, Heart Of Gold (which hit the #1 spot) and Old Man, which until this week has never been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, even during the nearly 10 years it ran as a local non-syndicated show.

Artist:    First Edition
Title:    Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Source:    Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Mickey Newbury
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    In 1968, former New Christy Mistrels members Kenny Rogers and Mike Settle decided to form a psychedelic rock band, the First Edition. Although Settle wrote most of the songs on the first album, it was Rogers who would emerge as the star of the band, even to the point of eventually changing the band's name to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. That change reflected a shift from psychedelic to country flavored pop that would eventually propel Rogers to superstar status.

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