Monday, May 28, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1222 (starts 5/31/12)

Artist:    Who
Title:    Happy Jack (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Source:    LP: Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1967
    Happy Jack was originally released as a single in the UK in late 1966. It did not hit the US airwaves, however, until the early months of 1967. (I heard it for the first time on KLZ-FM, a Denver station whose format was a forerunner of progressive rock. KLZ-FM didn't call themselves a rock station. They instead marketed themselves as playing the top 100, as opposed to the top 60 played on KIMN, the dominant AM station in the city.) Although the song was not intended to be on an album, Decca Records quickly rearranged the track order of the Who's second album, A Quick One, to make room for the song, changing the name of the album itself to Happy Jack in the process. This rechanneled stereo mix of the song (using a much more realistic process than Capitol used with the Beach Boys' records) came out on the LP Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy in the early 1970s, but when the album was reissued on CD the original mono master was used instead.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits
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 on Reprise Records, 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:    CD: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s):    Ulaky/Weisberg/Rhodes
Label:    See For Miles (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1967
    If I had to choose one single recording that represents 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:    Donovan
Title:    CD: Epistle To Dippy (alt. arrangement)
Source:    CD: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    EMI (original label: Epic)
Year:    1967
    Following up on his successful Mellow Yellow album, Donovan released Epistle To Dippy in the spring of 1967. The song, utilizing the same kind of instrumentation as Mellow Yellow, was further proof that the Scottish singer was continuing to move beyond the restrictions of the "folk singer" label and was quickly becoming the model for what would come to be called "singer/songwriters" in the following decade. Due to an ongoing contractual dispute between the artist and his UK record label (Pye), Epistle To Dippy was only released in the US. This alternate arrangement of the song was recorded about 10 months after the single version and features a violin prominently, replacing the electric guitar used on the original.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Cool, Calm And Collected
Source:    LP: Between The Buttons
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    The Rolling Stones were beginning to experiment with psychedelia on their first album of 1967, Between The Buttons. Cool, Calm and Collected, which closes side one of the LP, features pianist Nicky Hopkins prominently. Hopkins, one of the most respected British session players (and the inspiration for the Kinks song Session Man) would soon start showing up on albums by American artists, and even became a member of one of them (Quicksilver Messenger Service) for a time.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Blues From An Airplane
Source:    LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s):    Balin/Spence
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1966
    Blues From An Airplane was the opening song on the first Jefferson Airplane album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Although never released as a single, it was picked by the group to open their first anthology album, The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane, as well.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Comin' Back To Me
Source:    CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Marty Balin
Label:    RCA/BMG Heritage
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:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Come Up The Years
Source:    LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s):    Balin/Kantner
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1966
    One of the most overused motifs in pop music is the "You're too young for me" song. This probably reflects, to a certain degree, a lifestyle that goes back to the beginnings of rock and roll (Chuck Berry did jail time for transporting a minor across state lines, Jerry Lee Lewis saw his career get derailed by his marraige to his 13-year-old cousin, etc.). The Marty Balin/Paul Kantner tune Come Up The Years takes a more sophisticated look at the subject, although it still comes to the same conclusion (I can't do this because you're jailbait). In fact, the only rock songwriter I know of that came to any other conclusion on the matter was Bob Markley, and that's what ultimately got him in trouble with the law.

Artist:    Astronauts
Title:    Razzamatazz
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Venet/Boyce/Allison
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1965
    Landlocked Boulder, Colorado would seem an unlikely place for a surf music band. Nonetheless, the Astonauts were just that, and a pretty successful one at that. That success, however, came from an equally unlikely place. After being together for about three years and having only one charted single in the US (Baja, which spent one week on the chart in 1963, peaking in the #94 spot), the band discovered that their records were doing quite well in Japan, where the mostly-instrumental Astronauts were actually outselling the Beach Boys. The group soon began touring extensively in the Far East and when all was said and done had released nine albums and a dozen singles over a period of less than 10 years. Razzamatazz is the instrumental B side to the Astronauts' 1965 recording of Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day, a tune that would appear the next year on the first Monkees album (and on their TV show). Razzamatazz itself is basically the instrumental track for Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day with some harmonica added.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Dandy
Source:    CD: Face To Face
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Sanctuary (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    Ray Davies was well into his satirical phase when he wrote and recorded Dandy for the Kinks' 1966 album Face To Face. Later that year the song was covered by Herman's Hermits, becoming a hit on the US top 40 charts.

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    I'm A Man
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Miller/Winwood
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1967
    The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve and Muff Winwood, was one of the UK's most successful white R&B bands of the sixties, cranking out a steady stream of hit singles. Two of them, the iconic Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man, were also major hits in the US, the latter being the last song to feature the Winwood brothers. Muff Winwood became a successful record producer. The group itself continued on for several years, but were never able to duplicate their earlier successes. As for Steve Winwood, he quickly faded off into obscurity, never to be heard from again. Except as the leader of Traffic. And a member of Blind Faith. And Traffic again. And some critically-acclaimed collaborations in the early 1980s with various Asian musicians. Oh yeah, and a few obscure solo hits (While You See A Chance, Roll With It, Higher Love, etc.) in the late 80s. Other than that, nothing.

Artist:     Blues Project
Title:     Love Will Endure
Source:     CD: Anthology (originally released on LP: Live At Town Hall with ambient live audience overdubs)
Writer:     Patrick Sky
Label:     Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
Year:     recorded: 1966; released: 1967
     Steve Katz had more of a folk background than the other members of the Blues Project, as evidenced by this cover of Patrick Sky's Love Will Endure. The song was actually recorded between the first and second Blues Project albums, but was not released until the third album, Live At Town Hall, which was a mixture of actual live recordings and studio tracks with the sounds of a live audience overdubbed onto them to make them sound like live recordings. Why anyone would want to do that is beyond me, but it probably has something to do with the fact that by the time the album was released Al Kooper was no longer a member and the label wanted the album to include as much Kooper as possible.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Rock And Roll Woman
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth). Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina and Stephen Stills. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock and Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 40 years after it was recorded.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Getting Better
Source:    CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    Following their 1966 North American tour, the Beatles announced that they were giving up touring to concentrate on their songwriting and studio work. Freed of the responsibilities of the road (and under the influence of mind-expanding substances), the band members found themselves discovering new sonic possibilities as never before (or since), hitting a creative peak with their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, often cited as the greatest album ever recorded. The individual Beatles were about to move in separate musical directions, but as of Sgt. Pepper's were still functioning mostly as a single unit, as is heard on the chorus of Getting Better, in which Paul McCartney's opening line, "I have to admit it's getting better", is immediately answered by John Lennon's playfully cynical "can't get no worse". The members continued to experiment with new instrumental styles as well, such as George Harrison's use of sitar on the song's bridge, accompanied by Ringo Starr's bongos.

Artist:    Leaves
Title:    With None Shoes
Source:    CD: All The Good That's Happening
Writer(s):    unknown
Label:    One Way (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    Following the national success of Hey Joe in 1966, popular L.A. club band the Leaves signed a deal with Capitol Records that resulted in the album All The Good That's Happening. Unfortunately, by 1967 the group was already beginning to fall apart and the album lacked a consistent sound, despite having some decent tunes such as With None Shoes, which opens the second side of the LP.

Artist:    Blood, Sweat And Tears
Title:    The Modern Adventures Of Diogenes And Freud
Source:    LP: Child Is Father To The Man
Writer(s):    Al Kooper
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    In the liner notes for the debut Blood, Sweat And Tears album, Child Is Father To The Man, bandleader Al Kooper describes The Modern Adventures Of Diogenes And Freud as being about "the professions of psychiatry and messiahtry." The song is somewhat unusual in that it features none of the standard rock instruments. The recording instead consists entirely of Kooper's vocals and strings arranged by producer John Simon.

Artist:    The Band
Title:    The Shape I'm In
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Robbie Robertson
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    The Band's third LP, stage fright, is probably their best-known studio effort (The Last Waltz being a live album). The only single from the album was The Shape I'm In. The tune, written by Robbie Robertson, was a not-entirely-flattering portrayel of fellow band member Richard Manuel, whose voice is ironically the most prominent on the recording.

Artist:    Simon and Garfunkel
Title:    Bookends (side one)
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Bookends)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    After going through the entire year 1967 without releasing an official album (the Graduate being a movie soundtrack), Simon And Garfunkel returned to the studio to record 1968's Bookends. Side two of the album was made up of songs that had been released as singles and/or recorded for the Graduate soundtrack, but that had not actually appeared on any albums yet. Side one, on the other hand, was all new material, and is an early example of a concept album. The sequence of songs is meant to cover a lifetime, starting with a short Bookends theme that leads into Save The Life Of My Child, one of the first pop songs to feature a Moog synthesizer. This segues directly into America, a song that would be released as a single after the duo had split up. America is followed by Overs, a breakup song. Voices Of Old People features actual recordings of residents of a New York rest home (put together by Simon and Garfunkel in the studio), and leads into Old Friends, a piece that features strings arranged by producer John Simon. The side wraps up with an expanded version of the Bookends theme, this time with vocals.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Gypsy Eyes
Source:    CD: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    Electric Ladyland, the last album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was a double LP mixture of studio recordings and live jams in the studio with an array of guest musicians. Gypsy Eyes is a good example of Hendrix's prowess at the mixing board as well as on guitar.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Crosstown Traffic
Source:    LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    By 1968 it didn't matter one bit whether the Jimi Hendrix Experience had any hit singles; their albums were guaranteed to be successful. Nonetheless the Electric Ladyland album had no less that three singles on it (although one was a new stereo mix of a 1967 single). The first single to be released concurrently with Electric Ladyland was Crosstown Traffic, a song that has been included on several anthologies over the years.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Little Miss Strange
Source:    CD: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s):    Noel Redding
Label:    Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    When Chas Chandler brought Jimi Hendrix to England in 1966 he introduced him to several local musicians, including drummer Mitch Mitchell and guitarist Noel Redding. Hendrix talked Redding into switching to bass, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience was born. Redding, however, still had aspirations of being a front man and wrote this tune in 1968. As it turned out, Little Miss Strange would be the second (and last) Redding tune the band would record (She's So Fine on Axis: Bold As Love being the first). After the Experience split up Redding formed Fat Mattress, but that band had little success.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Light My Fire
Source:    LP: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    The first Doors album was the only one to be released in both mono and stereo versions. Due to an error in the mastering process the stereo version was slowed down by about 3.5%, or about half a step in musical terms. As the mono version was deleted from the Elektra catalog soon after the album's release, the error went unnoticed for many years until a college professor contacted engineer Bruce Botnick and told him of the discrepancy. Recently I came into possession of a (admittedly somewhat worn) copy of the original mono pressing and this week we get to hear, in their entirety, the full versions of both Light My Fire and The End at the speed and key in which they were originally recorded. 

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Peace Frog
Source:    CD: Morrison Hotel
Writer(s):    Morrison/Kreiger
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1970
    After being slammed by critics and suffering a noticable drop in sales with their fourth album, the Soft Parade, the Doors shifted gears for Morrison Hotel (sometimes known as Hard Rock Cafe), dispensing with the horns and strings and concentrating on getting back to their roots. The band had a problem, though. Extensive touring had left them little time to write new songs, although Morrison had continued to write poetry whenever he had the chance. The solution was for the other members, such as guitarist Robbie Kreiger, to compose music specifically to accompany Morrison's poetry. The result was songs like Peace Frog, which serves as a buffer this week between our two mono recordings from the first Doors album.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    The End
Source:    LP: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    Prior to recording their first album the Doors' honed their craft at various Sunset Strip clubs, working up live versions of the songs they would soon record, including their show-stopper, The End. Originally written as a breakup song by singer/lyricist Jim Morrison, The End runs nearly twelve minutes and includes a controversial spoken "Oedipus section". My own take on the famous "blue bus" line is that Morrison, being a military brat, was probably familiar with the blue shuttle buses used on military bases for a variety of purposes, including taking kids to school, and simply incorporated his experiences with them into his lyrics.  The End got its greatest exposure in 1979, when Oliver Stone used it in his film Apocalypse Now. The version heard on this week's show is from the original mono pressing of the LP, and is actually about 20 seconds shorter and about a half-step higher than the remixed stereo version used in the movie. The vocals on this version are noticably less prominent than in the movie as well.

Artist:    Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title:    Ups And Downs
Source:    CD: Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lindsay/Melcher
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1967
    At the beginning of 1967 Paul Revere and the Raiders were still flying high, with singles that consistently hit the upper reaches of the charts and a solid promotional platform in the daily afternoon TV show Action. Their first hit of the year was Ups And Downs, a collaboration between lead vocalist Mark Lindsay and producer Terry Melcher. Things would soon turn sour for the band, however, as a volatile market soon turned against the group. In part it was because their revolutionary war costumes were becoming a bit camp. Also, Action left the airwaves in 1967, and its Saturday Morning replacement, Happening, was seen as more of a kid's show than a legitimate rock and roll venue. Most importantly, however, Melcher and the Raiders parted company, and the band realized too late just how important a role Melcher had played in the group's success.

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