Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1226 (starts 6/28/12)

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Rollin' And Tumblin'
Source:    LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    McKinley Morganfield
Label:    Atco
Year:    1966
    Right from the beginning Cream demonstrated two distinct sides: the psychedelic-tinged studio side and the blues-based live performance side. In the case of the US version of the band's first LP, Fresh Cream, that was literally true, as side one consisted entirely of original songs (mostly written by bassist Jack Bruce) and side two was nearly all covers of blues classics such as Muddy Waters's Rollin' And Tumblin'. What makes this particular recording interesting is the instrumentation used: guitar (Eric Clapton), vocals, harmonica (Bruce) and drums (Ginger Baker), with no bass whatsoever. This could be due to the limited number of tracks available for overdubs. Just as likely, though, is the possibility that the band chose to make a recording that duplicated their live performance of the song.

Artist:    Del-Vetts
Title:    Last Time Around
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Dennis Dahlquist
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    The Del-Vetts, from Chicago's affluent North Shore (they once showed up for a high school dance by driving their matching white Corvettes into the gym) started off in 1963 covering surf hits. When the British Invasion hit in 1964 the Vetts became enamoured of the Jeff Beck-era Yardbirds. Their best-known song is Last Time Around, one of the earliest known examples of death-rock.

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:    Blues Magoos
Title:    Life Is Just A Cher O' Bowlies
Source:    LP: Electric Comic Book
Writer(s):    Gilbert/Scala/Theilhelm
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1967
    Although not as big a success as their debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, the Blues Magoos' second LP, Electric Comic Book, is nonetheless one of the best albums of the psychedelic era. One of the better known tunes from that album is Life Is Just A Cher O' Bowlies, a song that in many ways captures the essence of the times.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Connection
Source:    LP: Between The Buttons
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    Often dismissed as the beginning of a departure from their blues roots, the Rolling Stones first LP of 1967, Between The Buttons, actually has a lot of good tunes on it, such as Connection, a song with multiple meanings. Most studios at that time only had four tracks available and would use two tape machines to mix the first tracks recorded on one machine (usually the instrumental tracks) down to a single track on the other machine, freeing up the remaining tracks for overdubs. This process, known as "bouncing", sometimes happened two or three times on a single recording if extra overdubs were needed. Unfortunately each pass resulted in a loss of quality on the bounced tracks, especially if the equipment was not properly maintained. This is particularly noticeable on Connection, as the final mix seems to have lost most of its high and low frequencies, resulting in an unintentionally "lo-fi" recording.

Artist:    Chambers Brothers
Title:    Time Has Come Today
Source:    CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released on LP: The Time Has Come. Edited version released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Joe and Willie Chambers
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1967 (single edit released 1968)
    One of the quintessential songs of the psychedelic era is the Chambers Brothers' classic Time Has Come Today. The song was originally recorded and issued as a single in 1966. The more familiar version heard here, however, was recorded in 1967 for the album The Time Has Come. The LP version of the song runs about eleven minutes, way too long for a 45 RPM record, so before releasing the song as a single for the second time, engineers at Columbia cut the song down to around 3 minutes. The edits proved so jarring that the record was recalled and a re-edited version, clocking in at 4:55 became the third and final single version of the song, hitting the charts in 1968.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Nothin' In The World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl
Source:    LP: Kinda Kinks
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1965
    The Kinks can never be accused of resting on their laurels. Despite virtually inventing hard rock with their 1964 singles You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night, the band, led by Ray Davies, abandoned their own style the following year, moving into more melodic territory with singles like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You, as well as even mellower album tracks such as the acoustic piece Nothin' In The World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Run For Your Life
Source:    CD: Rubber Soul
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1965
    Compared to some of John Lennon's later songs, Run For Your Life comes across as a sexist, even violent expression of jealous posessiveness. However, in 1965 such a viewpoint was quite common; in fact it was pretty much the acceptable norm for the times. Scary, huh?

Artist:    Iron Butterfly
Title:    Iron Butterfly Theme
Source:    CD: Heavy
Writer(s):    Doug Ingle
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    Although much of the material on the first Iron Butterfly album, Heavy, has a somewhat generic L.A. club sound to it, the final track, the Iron Butterfly Theme, sounds more in line with the style the band would become known for on their In-A-Gadda-Vida album a few months later.

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Chicken Wolf
Source:    LP: At Your Birthday Party
Writer(s):    Monarch/Kay
Label:    Dunhill
Year:    1969
    Steppenwolf's third LP, At Your Birthday Party, saw the band moving away from the overt psychedelia of their second album and toward the hard rock sound that would characterize the band in the early 1970s. Chicken Wolf, like many of Steppenwolf's songs, is highly critical of the status quo. This viewpoint was generally shared by Steppenwolf's core fans, many of whom were members of outlaw motorcycle clubs.

Artist:    Derek And The Dominos
Title:    Anyday
Source:    CD: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs
Writer(s):    Clapton/Whitlock
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    Derek And The Dominos was originally an attempt by Eric Clapton to remove himself from the solo spotlight and work in a larger group setting than he had with his previous bands, Cream and Blind Faith. Such was Clapton's stature, however, that even among talents like Jim Gordon, Carl Radle and Bobby Whitlock, Clapton was still the star. However, there was one unofficial member of the group whose own star was in ascendancy. Duane Allman, who had chosen to stick with his own group the Allman Brothers Band, nonetheless played on eleven of the fourteen tracks on Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs. His slide work is especially noticeable on the title track and on the song Anyday, which remains one of the most popular songs on the album.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Wind Up
Source:    CD: Aqualung
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1971
    The first three Jethro Tull albums saw the group transition from a blues base to a more eclectic sound, defined by the songwriting of vocalist/flautist/acoustic guitarist Ian Anderson. The real breakthrough for the band, however, was their fourth LP, Aqualung, which for a while was the most-played album on progressive rock radio in the US. The second side of the album is a scathing condemnation of the hypocrisy of modern organized religion. The final track, Wind Up, takes its title from the closing line of the album: "I don't believe you, you've got the whole damn thing all wrong. He's not the kind you have to wind up on Sunday."

Artist:    Animals
Title:    Dimples
Source:    The Best Of The Animals (originally released on LP: The Animals On Tour)
Writer(s):    Hooker/Bracken
Label:    Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1965
    Of all the bands to come out of England as part of the British invasion of the mid-1960s, none were bigger fans of US blues and R&B artists than the Animals, from Newcastle. The group reportedly spent all of their spare time checking out independent record stores looking for obscure old records while on their first US tour, and upon returning to the UK set about recording their own versions of several of these songs. Among the tracks recorded was Dimples, a John Lee Hooker tune that was included on the Animals second US LP, On Tour. A different version of Dimples was included on the band's first UK album.

Artist:    Joy Of Cooking
Title:    Don't The Sun Look Fat And Lonesome
Source:    CD: Castles
Writer(s):    Toni Brown
Label:    Acadia (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1972
    Joy of Cooking was unique among folk-rock groups in that it was co-led by two female artists: Multi-instrumentalist Toni Brown and guitarist Terry Garthwaite, who sang lead vocals as well. Between the two of them, they wrote all the band's original tunes. The rest of the lineup was Fritz Kasten on drums, Jeff Neighbor on bass and Ron Wilson on harp, tambourine and congas. After recording their second album in Los Angeles, the group opted to return to their native Berkeley for their third and final LP, Castles. The opening track, Don't The Sun Look Fat And Lonesome, was written and sung by Brown.
Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    Fifth Dimension
Writer(s):    Billy Roberts
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    David Crosby always claimed that he was the one who first discovered and popularized this tune on the LA club scene, but that resistance from other band members kept the Byrds from recording the song until after versions by the Leaves, Love, Tim Rose and the Music Machine, among others, had already been released. Crosby would later say that recording the song with the Byrds was probably a mistake, but at the time he was quite incensed that other groups had beaten him to the punch with a song he had come to regard as his own, being under the assumption that it was a traditional folk song. As it turns out the song had been copyrighted in 1962 by California folk singler Billy Roberts, although at least half the recorded versions had credited the song to other writers.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    Steve's Song
Source:    LP: Projections
Writer(s):    Steve Katz
Label:    Verve Forecast
Year:    1966
    The members of the Blues Project came from a variety of backgrounds, including jazz, rock, classical and of course, blues. Guitarist Steve Katz had the strongest connection to the Greenwich Village folk scene and was the lead vocalist on the Project's recording of Donovan's Catch The Wind on their first LP. For their second album Katz wrote his own song, entitled simply Steve's Song. The tune starts with a very old-English style repeated motif that gets increasing complicated as it repeats itself before segueing into a more conventional mode with Katz on the lead vocal. Katz would write and sing simlarly-styled tunes, such as Sometimes In Winter, as a member of Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Artist:     Love
Title:     You Set The Scene
Source:     CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Forever Changes)
Writer:     Arthur Lee
Label:     Rhino (original label: Elektra)
Year:     1967
    During the production of Forever Changes, vocalist/guitarist Arthur Lee became convinced that he was destined to die soon after the release of the album. Accordingly, he crafted lyrics that were meant to be his final words to the world. As the final track on the LP, You Set The Scene in particular reflected this viewpoint. As it turned out, Forever Changes was not Lee's swan song. It was, however, the last album to feature the lineup that had been the most popular band on Sunset Strip for the past two years. Subsequent Love albums would feature a whole new lineup backing Lee, and would have an entirely different sound as well. Ironically, Lee was still around at the dawn of the 21st century over 30 years later (dying of acute myeloid leukemia in 2006), outliving several of his old bandmates.

Artist:    Blood, Sweat And Tears
Title:    More And More (live version)
Source:    CD: Blood, Sweat And Tears (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Vee/Juan
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1968
    Blood, Sweat and Tears founder Al Kooper left the band after their first album, Child Is Father To The Man. Several people at Columbia Records were keen to see the band continue and a new vocalist, David Clayton Thomas, was recruited to front the band. The group then proceeded to record a self-titled second LP that yielded no less than three top 5 singles, as well as some strong album tracks such as More And More. The recording heard here was taken from their summer 1968 live debut at the Cafe Au-Go-Go, ironically the same place Kooper's (and BS&T guitarist Steve Katz's) former band the Blues Project had recorded their debut LP over two years before.

Artist:    Yardbirds
Title:    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Page/McCarty
Label:    Epic
Year:    1967
    By 1967 the Yardbirds had moved far away from their blues roots and were on their fourth lead guitarist, studio whiz Jimmy Page. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor shows signs of Page's innovative guitar style that would help define 70s rock.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    House For Everyone
Source:    CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind (aka Mr. Fantasy)
Writer(s):    Dave Mason
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
    Although Traffic is now known mostly as a Steve Winwood band, many of their earliest songs were the creation of guitarist Dave Mason. Mason's songs tended more to the psychedelic than Winwood's. One example is House For Everyone from the band's 1967 debut LP.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Colours
Source:    CD: Hurdy Gurdy Man (originally released on LP: Donovan's Greatest Hits)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    EMI (original label: Epic)
Year:    1969
    In September of 1968 Donovan re-recorded his first two hits (which had been released on Hickory Records in the US) for a new Greatest Hits compilation to appear on the Epic label. Although the performances are not really an improvement over the originals, it is interesting to hear the songs (Colours and Catch The Wind) performed with a band, as opposed to one acoustic guitar.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Train For Tomorrow
Source:    CD: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Writer(s):    Lowe/Tulin/Williams/Spagnola/Ritter
Label:    Collector's Choice (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Although the bulk of material on the Electric Prunes first LP was from outside sources, there were a few exceptions. One of the more notable ones was Train For Tomorrow, an innovative piece credited to the entire band that shows what this group could have done if allowed more artistic freedom.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source:    Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and 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:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less)
Source:    CD: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    Collector's Choice (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    For a follow-up to the hit single I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), producer Dave Hassinger chose another Annette Tucker song (co-written by Jill Jones) called Get Me To The World On Time. This was probably the best choice from the album tracks available, but Hassinger may have made a mistake by choosing Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less) as the B side. That song, written by the same Tucker/Mantz team that wrote I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) could quite possibly been a hit single in its own right if it had been issued as an A side. I guess we'll never know for sure.

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband
Title:    Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In) (originally released on LP: No Way Out)
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, 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:    Them
Title:    Young Woman
Source:    LP: Time Out! Time In! For Them
Writer(s):    Lane/Pulley
Label:    Tower
Year:    1968
    Time Out! Time In! For Them is an overlooked classic of the psychedelic era. Featuring compositions by the husband and wife team of Tom Pulley and Vivian Lane (such as Young Woman, a song that touches on a somewhat familiar theme of the time), the album showcases the vocal talents of Kenny McDowell, who had the unenviable task of replacing Van Morrison in Ireland's premier rock band.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Oh Well
Source:    CD: Then Play On
Writer(s):    Peter Green
Label:    Reprise
Year:     1969
    Fleetwood Mac had already established themselves as one of Britain's top up-and-coming blues bands by the time Then Play On was released in 1969. The band had just landed a deal in the US with Reprise, and Then Play On was their American debut LP. At the same time the album was released in the UK, a new non-LP single, Oh Well, appeared as well. The song was a top pick on Radio Luxembourg, the only non-BBC English language top 40 station still operating in 1969, and Oh Well soon shot all the way to the # 2 spot on the British charts. Meanwhile the US version of Then Play On (which had originally been issued with pretty much the same song lineup as the British version) was recalled, and a new version with Oh Well added to it was issued in its place. The song itself has two distinct parts: a fast blues-rocker sung by lead guitarist Peter Green lasting about two minutes, and a slow moody instrumental that runs about seven minutes. The original UK single featured about a minute's worth of part two tacked on to the end of the A side (with a fadeout ending), while the B side had the entire part two on it. Both sides of the single were added to the US version of the LP, which resulted in the first minute of part two repeating itself on the album. I've listened to this CD version a couple of times now and I can't hear any obvious repetition, so maybe they fixed it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1225 (starts 6/21/12)

 Artist:    Yardbirds
Title:    Heart Full Of Soul
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Graham Gouldman
Label:    Epic
Year:    1965
    The Yardbirds' follow-up single to For Your Love was a huge hit, making the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic in 1965. The song, the first to feature guitarist Jeff Beck prominently, was written by Graham Gouldman, who was then a member of Wayne Fontana's Mindbenders and would later be a founding member of 10cc.

Artist:    Count Five
Title:    Psychotic Reaction
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ellner/Chaney/Atkinson/Byrne/Michaelski
Label:    Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
Year:    1966
    San Jose, California, had a vibrant teen music scene in the late 60s, despite the fact that the relatively small (at the time) city was overshadowed by San Francisco at the other end of the bay (both cities were considered part of the same metropolitan market). One of the more popular bands in town was this group of five individuals who chose to dress up like Bela Lugosi's Dracula, capes and all. Musically, they idolized the Yardbirds (Jeff Beck era), and for slightly more than three minutes managed to sound more like their idols than the Yardbirds themselves (who by then had replaced Beck with Jimmy Page).

Artist:    Charlatans
Title:    Alabama Bound
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer:    trad., arr. The Charlatans
Label:    Rhino (original label: Ace/Big Beat)
Year:    Recorded 1967, released 1996
    Despite being one of the most important bands on the San Francisco scene, the Charlatans did not have much luck in the recording studio. Their first sessions were aborted, the planned LP for Kama Sutra was shelved by the label itself, and the band was overruled in their choice of songs to be released on their first (and only) single issued from the Kama Sutra sessions. In 1967, however, they did manage to get some decent tracks recorded. Unfortunately, those tracks were not released until 1996, and then only in the UK. The centerpiece of the 1967 sessions was this six-and-a-half minute recording of a traditional tune that is considered by many to be the Charlatans' signature song: Alabama Bound.

Artist:    Cat Stevens
Title:    Lovely City
Source:    LP: Very Early And Young Songs
Writer(s):    Cat Stevens
Label:    Deram
Year:    1968
    Years before Cat Stevens became a household name in the United States, the artist that would score big with songs like Peace Train and Morning Has Broken had a string of British hits, starting with I Love My Dog in 1967. In the mid-1970s Deram Records, which had the rights to Steven's early material, released an album called Very Early And Young Songs. Luckily, the label of the LP itself gives the release year of the individual songs; otherwise I would have no idea when they hit the British charts.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
Source:    CD: Pet Sounds
Writer(s):    Wilson/Asher
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1966
    Brian Wilson's songwriting reached its full maturity with the Pet Sounds album, released in 1966. In addition to the hits Wouldn't It Be Nice, Sloop John B and God Only Knows, the album featured several album tracks that redefined where a pop song could go. One such tune is Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder), a slow, moody song with a chord structure that goes in unexpected directions. Like most of the songs on Pet Sounds, it was co-written by Tony Asher, who would later say the ideas were all Wilson's, with Asher just helping put them into words.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    Heroes And Villains (alternate take)
Source:    CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on CD: Smiley Smile/Wild Honey)
Writer(s):    Wilson/Parks
Label:    Rhino
Year:    Recorded 1967, released 1995
    The last major Beach Boys hit of the 1960s was Heroes And Villains, released as a follow-up to Good Vibrations in early 1967. The song was intended to be part of the Smile album, but ended up being released as a single in an entirely different form than Brian Wilson originally intended. Eventually the entire Smile project was cancelled, and a considerably less sophisticated album called Smiley Smile was released in its place. Nearly 30 years later Smiley Smile and its follow-up album, Wild Honey, were released on compact disc as a set. One of the bonus tracks in that set was this alternate version of Heroes And Villains, which is now believed to be the version that would have been included on Smile had it been completed.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    I Know There's An Answer
Source:    CD: Pet Sounds
Writer(s):    Wilson/Sachen
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1966
    One of the first songs recorded for the Pet Sounds album was Hang On To Your Ego, allegedly written by Brian Wilson on his second acid trip. Mike Love objected to some of the lyrics, particularly those of the chorus, and Wilson eventually decided to scrap them and write new ones, this time with the help of the group's road manager, Terry Sachen. The result was I Know There's An Answer.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Orange Skies
Source:    CD: Da Capo
Writer(s):    Bryan MacLean
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967  
    Love, the most popular band on the Sunset Strip, was also among the most eclectic. Nowhere is this more evident than on their second LP, Da Capo. After starting off with the punkish Stephanie Knows Who, the tone abruptly shifts with Orange Skies, a soft almost lounge lizard-like tune written by Bryan MacLean (who later claimed it was the first song he ever wrote), but sung by Arthur Lee in a style that was at the time compared to Johnny Mathis.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    The Wind Blows Her Hair
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Saxon/Bigelow
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 and the single went nowhere.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    If 6 Was 9
Source:    LP: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Before 1967 stereo was little more than an excuse to charge a dollar more for an LP. That all changed in a hurry, as artists such as Jimi Hendrix began to explore the possibilities of the technology, in essence treating stereophonic sound as a multi-dimensional sonic palette. The result can be heard on songs such as If 6 Were 9 from the Axis: Bold As Love album, which is best listened to at high volume, preferably with headphones on.

Artist:    Trade Winds
Title:    Mind Excursion
Source:    CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Excursions)
Writer(s):    Anders/Poncia
Label:    BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Kama Sutra)
Year:    1966
    The Trade Winds were a semi-studio band from New York that first scored in 1965 with the song New York Is A Lonely Town (When You're the Only Surfer Boy Around). A year later, they had their second and last hit, Mind Excursion, which holds up as one of the best examples of "flower power" pop ever recorded.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Tobacco Road
Source:    LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s):    John D. Loudermilk
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1966
    In their early days Jefferson Airplane, like most of their contemporaries, included several cover tunes in their repertoire. Unlike many other bands, however, the Airplane managed to stamp all of their covers with their own unmistakeable sound. One solid example is Tobacco Road, a song by John D. Loudermilk that had been a hit for the British invasion band Nashville Teens in 1964. The Airplane version, which appears on their debut LP, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, takes an entirely different approach than the Teens version (or the similarly styled Blues Magoos version recorded around the same time as the Airplane's), laying off the power chords in favor of a jazzier approach more in tune with guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's style.

Artist:    Brigands
Title:    (Would I Still Be) Her Big Man
Source:    CD: 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:    Beatles
Title:    Dr. Robert
Source:    CD: Revolver (originally released in US on LP: Yesterday...And Today)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1966
    Dr. Robert is one of the few Beatles songs that was released in the US before it was released in the UK. The song was included on the US-only LP Yesterday...And Today, which came out in June of 1966. Most of the tunes on that album were tracks that had either been issued as singles or had appeared on the British versions of the band's two previous albums (Help! and Rubber Soul) but had been left off the US versions of those LPs. Dr. Robert, however, would not be released in the UK until the Revolver album came out in the fall. Concerning the subject matter of the song, John Lennon later claimed that he himself was Dr. Robert, as he was the one who carried the pills for the band in their early days. A likely story.

Artist:    Blues Image
Title:    Fugue U/Parchman Farm/Wrath Of Daisey
Source:    CD: Open
Writer(s):    Blues Image/Allison
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    Despite drawing crowds in south Florida and getting rave reviews from the rock press, Blues Image was never able to sell a lot of albums. This is a shame, as almost all of their material was as good or better than anything else being recorded in 1969-70. A classic example is the medley of Fugue U (emulating J.S. Bach), a jazz-rock arrangement of Mose Allison's Parchman Farm and the latin-rock instrumental Wrath Of Daisey). Guitarist Mike Pinera went on to replace Eric Brann in Iron Butterfly the following year.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    All I Really Want To Do
Source:    LP: Mr. Tambourine Man
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    The Byrds scored a huge international hit with their interpretation of Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man, which made it to the top of the charts in 1965. The group's next single was another Dylan cover, All I Really Want To Do. Although it did well in the UK, making it all the way to the # 4 spot, the song was not a major hit in the US, where it stalled out in the # 40 spot. Ironically, the Byrds' next single, Pete Seeger's Turn Turn Turn, bombed in the UK while hitting # 1 in the US.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    We'll Meet Again
Source:    CD: Happy Together (originally released outside North America as 45 RPM B side)
Writer(s):    Parker/Charles
Label:    Magic (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    In the US, the Turtles' biggest hit, Happy Together, was backed by a Warren Zevon song, Like The Seasons. Everywhere else in the world the B side was a pop-rock version of an old World War II song, We'll Meet Again, originally recorded in 1938 by Vera Lynn. The Lynn version was included in a packet of 20 "essential" songs held by the BBC international service in the 1950s for use in case of a nuclear disaster. Hey, I'm not making this up, really.

Artist:    Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title:    Anything
Source:    CD: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals (originally released on LP: Winds Of Change)
Writer(s):    Burdon/Briggs/Weider/Jenkins/McCulloch
Label:    Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1967
    The first album by the "new" Eric Burdon And The Animals, Winds Of Change, included three songs that were released as singles, however only one of the three got airplay in both the US and the UK. The US-only single was a song that Eric Burdon has since said was the one he was most proud of writing, a love generation song called Anything. In fact Burdon liked the song well enough to re-record it for a solo album in 1995.

Artist:    Moby Grape
Title:    Omaha
Source:    Moby Grape
Writer(s):    Skip Spence
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    As an ill-advised promotional gimmick, Columbia Records released five separate singles concurrently with the first Moby Grape album. Of the five singles, only one, Omaha, actually charted, and it only got to the #86 spot. Meanwhile, the heavy promotion by the label led to Moby Grape getting the reputation of being over-hyped, much to the detriment of the band's career.

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    I'm A Man
Source:    Progressive Heavies
Writer(s):    Winwood/Miller
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 Asian musicians. Oh yeah, and a few major solo hits in the late 80s. Other than that, nothing.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    No Time Like The Right Time
Source:    Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era
Writer(s):    Al Kooper
Label:    Rhino
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 10 best songs ever.

Artist:    Sam And Dave
Title:    Soul Man
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Hayes/Porter
Label:    Stax
Year:    1967
    There were a lot of talented people involved with the making of Sam And Dave's Soul Man, including guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn, and songwriters Isaac Hayes and Darrell Porter, not to mention the Bar-Kays on horns. Although not considered "psychedelic" itself, it was still one of the anthems of the Summer of Love.

Artist:    Status Quo
Title:    Pictures Of Matchstick Men
Source:    The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock
Writer(s):    Francis Rossi
Label:    Priority
Year:    1967
    The band with the most charted singles in the UK is not the Beatles or even the Rolling Stones. It is, in fact, Status Quo, quite possibly the nearest thing to a real life version of Spinal Tap. Except for Pictures of Matchstick Men, the group has never had a hit in the US. On the other hand, they remain popular in Scandanavia, playing to sellout crowds on a regular basis (yes, they are still together).

Artist:    Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title:    The Birdman Of Alkatrash
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    M. Weitz
Label:    Uni
Year:    1967
    The Birdman of Alkatrash was originally intended to be an A side. For some reason stations instead began playing the other side of the record and it became one of the biggest hits of 1967. That song? Incense and Peppermints.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    The End
Source:    LP: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
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. A couple of weeks ago we heard the mono mix of The End. This time around it's the more familiar stereo mix, taken from a recent 180g pressing of the original LP.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    She's A Rainbow
Source:    Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    The only song from Their Satanic Majesties Request to get significant airplay in the US was She's A Rainbow, released as a single in the fall of '67. Another song from the album, In Another Land, was released only in the UK and touted as the first Bill Wyman solo song (although still a Rolling Stones record).  2,000 Light Years From Home, the B side to She's A Rainbow, did get some international airplay as well.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Ashes The Rain And I
Source:    CD: James Gang Rides Again
Writer(s):    Joe Walsh
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1970
    For their second LP, James Gang Rides Again, the band decided to devote the entire second of the LP to some new acoustic tunes that guitarist Joe Walsh had been working on. The grand finale of the album was Ashes The Rain And I, a tune that embellishes Walsh's guitar and vocals with strings tastefully arranged by Jack Nitzsche.

Artist:    Zephyr
Title:    Sun's A-Risin'
Source:    CD: Zephyr
Writer(s):    Givens/Bolin
Label:    One Way (original label: Probe)
Year:    1969
    Boulder, Colorado, was the home of one the hardest hitting blues-rock bands to emerge in 1969. Zephyr was originally centered around the talents of Candy Givens, a multi-octave vocalist who also blew a mean blues harp. When the band's debut LP was released the rock press immediately took note of the talents of guitarist Tommy Bolin as well. The talents of both Givens and Bolin, along with keyboardist John Faris, bassist David Givens and drummer Robbie Chamberlin, are evident on Suns A-Risin' from the 1969 album Zephyr

Artist:    Otis Redding
Title:    (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Redding/Cropper
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1968
    We end this week's show with an undisputed classic: Otis Redding's (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay. The song, co-written by legendary MGs guitarist Steve Cropper, was released shortly after the plane crash that took the lives of not only Redding, but several members of the Bar-Kays as well. Shortly after recording the song Redding played it for his wife, who reacted by saying "Otis, you're changing." Redding's reply was "maybe I need to."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1224 (starts 6/14/12)

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    CD: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Billy Roberts
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    The first track recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was Hey Joe, a song that Hendrix had seen Tim Rose perform in Greenwich Village before relocating to London to form his new band. It was released as a single in the UK in late 1966 and went all the way to the # 3 spot on the British top 40. Hendrix's version is a bit heavier than Rose's and leaves off the first verse ("where you going with that money in your hand") entirely. Although Rose always claimed that Hey Joe was a traditional folk song, the song was actually copyrighted in 1962 by California folk singer Billy Roberts. By the time Hendrix recorded Hey Joe several American bands had recorded a fast version of the song, with the Leaves hitting the US top 40 with it in early 1966.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Anji
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Sounds Of Silence)
Writer(s):    Davey Graham
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    Paul Simon wrote nearly all the material that he and Art Garfunkel recorded. One notable exception is Davey Graham's instrumental Anji, which Simon played as a solo acoustic piece on the Sounds Of Silence. The song immediately follows a Simon composition, Somewhere They Can't Find Me, that is built around a similar-sounding guitar riff, making Anji sound somewhat like an instrumental reprise of the first tune.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    Pushin' Too Hard
Source:    LP: The Seeds
Writer(s):    Sky Saxon
Label:    GNP Crescendo
Year:    1966
    Although originally released in 1966 on the first Seeds LP, it wasn't until spring of 1967 that the Seeds' best-known song, Pushin' Too Hard, took off nationally. The timing was perfect for me, as the new FM station I was listening to at the time jumped right on it. Pushin' Too Hard is included on practically every collection of psychedelic hits ever compiled. And for good reason. The song is an undisputed classic.

Artist:    Moby Grape
Title:    Motorcycle Irene
Source:    LP: Great Grape (originally released on LP: Wow)
Writer(s):    Skip Spence
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    Usually a band's second album is pretty much an extension of their first effort in terms of style and overall quality. Not so in the case of San Francisco's Moby Grape. Their 1967 debut LP was a critical success, with the general consensus being that Moby Grape was making, at that point in time, the best music the city by the bay had to offer. Their sophomore effort, Wow, on the other hand, was considered by the same critics to be inconsistent and overproduced. Still, there were some high points on the album, such as Skip Spence's Motorcycle Irene. Even that track suffers from too much studio tweaking, however. Nonetheless, when it came time for a Moby Grape anthology, Motorcycle Irene was included.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    Shine On Brightly
Source:    CD: Shine On Brightly
Writer(s):    Brooker/Reid
Label:    A&M
Year:    1968
    The original Procol Harum lineup hit their artistic peak with the Shine On Brightly album, considered one of the first progressive rock albums. The title track was released as a single, but only charted in their native UK.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    You Never Had It Better
Source:    CD: Underground (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Snagster/Schwartz/Poncher
Label:    Collector's Choice (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    Following the lack of a hit single from their second album, Underground, the Electric Prunes took one last shot at top 40 airplay with a song called Everybody Knows Your Not In Love. The band might have had better luck if they had pushed the flip side of the record, You Never Had It Better, which is a much stronger song. As it is, the record stiffed, and producer David Hassinger reacted by stripping the band of any creative freedom they might have had and made an album called Mass in F Minor using mostly studio musicians. The band, having signed away the rights to the name Electric Prunes to Hassinger when they first started working with him, could do nothing but watch helplessly as Hassinger created an album that had little in common with the original band other than their name. Because of this, the original members soon left, and Hassinger brought in a whole new group for two more albums before retiring the Prunes name for good. In recent years several members of the original band have reformed the Electric Prunes. Whether they had to get permission to use the name is unknown.

Artist:    Mothers Of Invention
Title:    Igor's Boogie (incorporating Overture to A Holiday In Berlin and the Theme from Burnt Weenie Sandwich)
Source:    LP: Burnt Weenie Sandwich
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1970
    After being dumped by Verve Records as part of a company-wide purge of all but the most "wholesome" of artists (i.e. the Cowsills and the Osmonds), Frank Zappa and his Mothers Of Invention signed with Reprise Records, where they were given a much greater degree of freedom (and ownership of their own recordings as per Reprise's policy at the time). This gave Zappa an opportunity to delve even deeper into neo-classical and modern-jazz, incorporating them into rock in a way that was innovative and sometimes bizarre. A good example of this is the sequence that finishes side one of Burnt Weenie Sandwich. The sequence opens with Igor's Boogie, part one, which might be described as discordant chamber music. This is followed by the Overture to A Holiday In Berlin, sort of a bizarre waltz. This leads into the Theme From Burnt Weenie Sandwich (basically a jam featuring Zappa on lead guitar) and a reprise of Igor's Boogie to wrap up the sequence.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Summertime Blues
Source:    LP: Live At Leeds
Writer(s):    Cochrane/Capehart
Label:    Decca
Year:    1970
    As it's getting pretty close to the Summer Solstice I thought it might be a good time to play the Who's version of Eddie Cochrane's Summertime Blues, from the 1970 album Live At Leeds. Later this summer you can be sure you'll hear Blue Cheer's version of the tune.

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Power Play
Source:    CD: Monster
Writer(s):    John Kay
Label:    MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1969
    1969's Monster album is generally considered the most political of Steppenwolf's albums. A listen to Power Play certainly lends credence to that viewpoint.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Ball And Chain
Source:    LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Willie Mae Thornton
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    Big Brother And The Holding Company electrified the crowd at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 with their performance of Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton's Ball And Chain. The rest of the world, however, would have to wait until the following year to hear Janis Joplin's version of the old blues tune, when a live performance recorded at Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditorium was included on the LP Cheap Thrills.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Thoughts And Words
Source:    LP: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    Chris Hillman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    In addition to recording the most commercially successful Dylan cover songs, the Byrds had a wealth of original material over the course of several albums. On their first album, these came primarily from guitarists Gene Clark and Jim (now Roger) McGuinn, with David Crosby emerging as the group's third songwriter on the band's second album. After Clark's departure, bassist Chris Hillman began writing as well, and had three credits as solo songwriter on the group's fourth LP, Younger Than Yesterday. Hillman credits McGuinn, however, for coming up with the distinctive reverse-guitar break midway through the song.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Bass Strings
Source:    LP: The Life And Times Of Country Joe And The Fish (originally released as EP included in Rag Baby newspaper # 2)
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1966
    One of the more original ways to get ones music heard is to publish an underground arts-oriented newspaper and include a pullout flexi-disc in it. Country Joe and the Fish did just that; not once, but twice. The first one was split with another band and featured the original recording of the I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag. The second Rag Baby EP, released in 1966, was all Fish, and featured two tracks that would be re-recorded for their debut LP the following year. In addition to the instrumental Section 43, the EP included a four-minute version of Bass Strings, a track with decidedly psychedelic lyrics.

Artist:    Association
Title:    One Too Many Mornings
Source:    CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Rhino (original label: Valiant)
Year:    1965
    The Association is a name that will always be associated (sorry) with soft-pop hits like Cherish, Never My Love and Windy. Originally, though, they had a hard time getting a record deal, due to their somewhat experimental approach to pop music (co-founder Terry Kirkman had played in a band with Frank Zappa prior to forming the Association, for instance). Eventually they got a deal with Jubilee Records but were unable to get decent promotion from the label. Finally producer Curt Boettcher took an interest in the group, convincing Valiant Records (which had a distribution deal with Warner Brothers) to buy out the Association's contract. The first record the group recorded for Valiant was a single version of Bob Dylan's One Too Many Mornings. Unlike many of their later records, which used studio musicians extensively, One Too Many Mornings featured the band members playing all their own instruments. Boettcher would go on to produce the Association's debut LP in 1966, which included the hits Along Comes Mary and Cherish, before moving on to other projects.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Lucifer Sam
Source:    CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Writer(s):    Syd Barrett
Label:    Capitol (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    Beyond a shadow of a doubt the original driving force behind Pink Floyd was the legendary Syd Barrett. Not only did he front the band during their rise to fame, he also wrote their first two singles, Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, as well as most of their first LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. In fact it could be argued that one of the songs on that album, Lucifer Sam, could have just as easily been issued as a single, as it is stylistically similar to the first two songs. Sadly, Barrett's mental health deteriorated quickly over the next year and his participation in the making of the band's next LP, A Saucerful Of Secrets, was minimal. He soon left the group altogether, never to return (although several of his former bandmates did participate in the making of his 1970 solo album, The Madcap Laughs).

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    If You Be My Baby
Source:    Vintage Years (originally released on LP: Mr. Wonderful)
Writer(s):    Green/Adams
Label:    Sire (original label: Blue Horizon)
Year:    1968
    The origins of Fleetwood Mac go back to 1966, when Eric Clapton left John Mayall's Bluesbreakers to form Cream with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. Brought in to replace Clapton in the Bluesbreakers was Peter Green, a young guitarist who more than adequately filled the void. After a year or so, Green convinced Mayall to hire Green's friend Mick Fleetwood as a drummer. In late 1967 Mayall presented Green with a gift of studio time. Green then borrowed Fleetwood and bassist John McVie from the Bluesbreakers and, along with slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer, recorded several tracks. Although McVie had lent a hand in the studio, he did not want to give up the steady paycheck that came with working for Mayall, and bassist Bob Brunner was brought in to do a couple live performances with the other three musicians. For those performances that band used the name Fleetwood Mac for the first time, a name chosen by Green as a tactic to get McVie to join up full-time. The new group went over well enough to warrant the release of an album on the small Blue Horizon label, and once the album starting climbing the British charts (peaking at # 4), McVie did indeed become a full-time member of Fleetwood Mac. The group recorded a second LP for Blue Horizon in 1968. Like it's predecessor, the album Mr. Wonderful was a collection of blues tunes written by Green such as If You Be My Baby.

Artist:    B. B. King
Title:    My Mood
Source:    LP: Live And Well
Writer(s):    B.B. King
Label:    Bluesway
Year:    1969
    In 1969 blues legend B.B. King put out an album that consisted of live tracks on one side and studio tracks on the other, an idea that had been pioneered by Cream the previous year with their Wheels Of Fire album (although in that case it was two sides of each). The only instrumental piece on the live side of the album is My Mood, a slow, um, moody piece, that showcases the master blues guitarist at his creative peak.

Artist:    Temptations
Title:    Ball Of Confusion
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Whitfield/Strong
Label:    Motown Yesteryear (original label: Gordy)
Year:    1970
    By 1970 an interesting situation had developed at Motown Records. Various production teams had achieved a degree of autonomy not usually seen in the record industry, resulting in a variety of styles coming from the label, each of which was identified with a particular team. The psychedelic branch of the label was run by Norm Whitfield and Barrett Strong, whose work mostly appeared on the Gordy label. Their stable of artists included Edwin Starr, the Undisputed Truth and the Temptations, the latter of which had gone through several lineup changes that left them without original lead vocalist David Ruffin. Whitfield and Strong used this situation to their best advantage by splitting the lead vocals among several group members within each song. One of the first songs to take this approach was Ball Of Confusion, released in 1970. A longer version of the song, using a less edited version of the same Funk Brothers instrumental track, was released by the Undisputed Truth as a B side.

Artist:    Leaves
Title:    Too Many People
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Pons/Rinehart
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mira)
Year:    1965
    The Leaves are a bit unusual in that in a city known for drawing wannabes from across the world, this local band's members were all native L.A.ins. Formed by members of a fraternity at Cal State Northridge, the Leaves had their greatest success when they took over as house band at Ciro's after the Byrds vacated the slot to go on tour. Like many bands of the time, they were given a song to record as a single by their producer (Love Minus Zero) and allowed to write their own B side. In this case that B side was Too Many People, written by bassist Jim Pons and guitarist Bill Rhinehart. The song ended up getting more airplay on local radio stations than Love Minus Zero, making it their first regional hit. The Leaves had their only national hit the following year with their third attempt at recording the fast version of Hey Joe, the success of which led to their first LP, which included a watered down version of Too Many People. The version heard here is the 1965 original. Eventually Pons would leave the Leaves, hooking up first with the Turtles, then Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Don't Ever Change
Source:    LP: Kinda Kinks
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1965
    Some songs hold up pretty well over the years. Others, not so much. The basic concept of this song (you were perfect last night, so Don't Ever Change) may have been acceptable in 1965, but by today's standards sounds just a touch creepy.

Artist:    Scott McKenzie
Title:    It's Not Time Now
Source:    LP: The Voice Of Scott McKenzie
Writer(s):    Scott McKenzie
Label:    Ode
Year:    1967
    Scott McKenzie is really known for only one thing: recording the song San Francisco (Wear Flowers In Your Hair). As a result he has been (perhaps a bit unfairly) blamed for ruining the Haight-Ashbury scene by causing a massive influx of teeny-boppers from all over the US to invade the Haight in the summer of 1967. McKenzie did record an album to support the song, but it was not a major seller and was soon relegated to the bargain bins of record stores across the country. I thought it might be interesting to pull out a copy of the album and play a track. I may even play another one in two or three years.

Artist:    Circus Maximus
Title:    Chess Game
Source:    CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s):    Bob Bruno
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Circus Maximus was driven by the dual creative talents of keyboardist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker. Although Walker went on to have the greatest success, it was Bruno's more jazz-influenced songwriting on songs like Chess Game that defined the band's sound.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Unhappy Girl
Source:    LP: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    After the success of their first album and the single Light My Fire in early 1967, the Doors quickly returned to the studio, releasing a second LP, Strange Days, later the same year. The first single released from the new album was People Are Strange. The B side of that single was Unhappy Girl, from the same album. Both sides got played on the jukebox at a place called the Woog in the village of Meisenbach near Ramstein Air Force Base (which is where I was spending most of my evenings that autumn).

Artist:    Velvet Illusions
Title:    Acid Head
Source:    Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Weed/Radford
Label:    Rhino (original label: Metromedia)
Year:    1967
    Showing an obvious influence by the Electric Prunes (an L.A. band that was embraced by the Seattle scene as one of their own) the Illusions backtracked the Prunes steps, leaving their native Yakima and steady gigging for the supposedly greener pastures of the City of Angels. After a few months of frustration in which the band seldom found places to practice, let alone perform, they headed back to Seattle to cut this lone single before calling it quits.

Artist:    Mother Earth
Title:    Mother Earth
Source:    LP: Living With The Animals
Writer(s):    Memphis Slim
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1968
    Tracy Nelson had moved out to the San Francisco Bay area in the early 60s from her native Wisconson, and had had moderate success as a solo artist. It wasn't until she formed Mother Earth, though, that she got her first record contract. This track from the first album, a cover of the blues classic written by Memphis Slim, was probably the inspiration for the band's name. Michael Bloomfield, credited on the album cover as "Mikal Blumfield" due to him being under contract to Columbia Records (Mother Earth recorded for Mercury), is the guest lead guitarist on this track.

Artist:    It's A Beautiful Day
Title:    Wasted Union Blues
Source:    CD: It's A Beautiful Day
Writer(s):    David LaFlamme
Label:    San Francisco Sound (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    It's A Beautiful Day was founded in the mid-60s by classical violinist David LaFlamme. The group had a hard time lining up gigs at first and eventually hooked up with local impresario Matthew Katz, who had similar deals with Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape. What the members of IABD did not know at the time was that those other bands were desperately trying to sever all ties with Katz due to his heavy-handed management style. LaFlamme and company would soon find out just how bad a deal they had gotten into when Katz shipped them off to Seattle to be the resident band at his own "San Francisco Sound" club from late 1967 through most of 1968. The group was put up in the attic of a house that Katz owned and given a small allowance that barely put food on the table. To make matters worse, attendance at the club was dismal. Still, the adversity did inspire some of LaFlamme's best songwriting, such as Wasted Union Blues from the group's debut LP, released in 1969.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Animal Zoo (mono single version)
Source:    CD: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus
Writer(s):    Jay Ferguson
Label:    Epic/Legacy
Year:    1970
    The last album by the original lineup of Spirit was The Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus, released in 1970. The album was originally going to be produced by Neil Young, but due to other commitments Young had to bow out, recommending David Briggs, who had already produced Young's first album with Crazy Horse, as a replacement. The first song to be released as a single was Animal Zoo, but the tune barely cracked the top 100 charts. The album itself did better on progressive FM stations and has since come to be regarded as a classic. Shortly after the release of Twelve Dreams, Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes left Spirit to form Jo Jo Gunne.

Artist:    Savoy Brown
Title:    Waiting In The Bamboo Grove
Source:    CD: A Step Further
Writer(s):    Kim Simmonds
Label:    Deram (original label: Parrot)
Year:    1969
    The history of Savoy Brown is marked by frequent personnel changes. In fact it wasn't until their third and fourth albums (Blue Matter and A Step Further), that the band used the same lineup for more than one consecutive record. Even then, the albums were supplemented by an unusually large number of studio musicians, especially on A Step Further, which included brass, winds and strings in addition to the usual guitar, bass, drums and keyboards played by the various band members. A Step Further would be the last Savoy Brown album to feature the charismatic front man Chris Youldman; their next LP would see guitarist Dave Peverett taking on the lead vocals, as he would in his next band, Foghat, as well. Perhaps as a hint of things to come, A Step Further included one instrumental track, the jazz-inflected Waiting In The Bamboo Grove, written by guitarist/bandleader Kim Simmonds.

Artist:    Paul Jones
Title:    The Dog Presides
Source:    CD: Insane Times (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Paul Jones
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Columbia UK)
Year:    1968
    Like many front men in the mid-60s Manfred Mann's Paul Jones decided to quit the group at the height of their success in 1966. Also like many former front men, Jones's solo career was less than stellar. Most of Jones's records were done in an almost lounge lizard style. One notable exception is The Dog Presides, a bit of psychedelic insanity that Jones wrote himself. The recording appeared as a B side in 1968.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1223 (starts 6/7/12)

    This week we have a fairly high percentage of tracks that are making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut, including our opening 1967 set (the 1965 Rolling Stones tune being a standalone) and most of the second hour. In between there are plenty of favorites, including the # 1 most-played song of 2011.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    The Last Time
Source:    LP: Out Of Our Heads
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1965
    Released in late winter of 1965, The Last Time was the first single to hit the top 10 in both the US and the UK (being their third consecutive #1 hit in England) and the first one written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Despite that, it would be overshadowed by their next release: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, which went to the top of the charts everywhere and ended up being the #1 song of 1965.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Museum
Source:    LP: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic
Year:    1967   
    Museum is a song from one of Donovan's early albums that he re-recorded for his Mellow Yellow LP in 1967. The new arrangement, like many of the tracks on Mellow Yellow, uses electric guitar, violin and hand percussion (bongos, etc.) to supplement Donovan's acoustic guitar.

Artist:    Dave Davies
Title:    Suzannah's Still Alive
Source:    CD: Kinks-25 Years-The Ultimate Collection (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Dave Davies
Label:    Polytel (original UK label: Pye)
Year:    1967
    In July of 1967 Dave Davies of the Kinks released his first solo track, Death Of A Clown. The song was a huge hit in the UK, going all the way to the # 3 spot on the British charts. In November he released a follow-up, Suzannah's Still Alive. Although not as big a hit as Death Of A Clown, the song still spent seven weeks on the UK charts, peaking in the # 20 spot. To my knowledge neither record was released in the US.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    Summer Is The Man
Source:    CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Electric Comic Book)
Writer(s):    Gilbert/Esposito
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1967
    Following up on their successful debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop, the Blues Magoos released Electric Comic Book in March of 1967. Unfortunately the first single from the album had two equally strong songs, one of which was favored by the producers and the other by the band. Radio stations were unsure which song to push, and as a result, neither made the top 40, which in turn hurt album sales. It's a shame, too, since by and large the album was one of the best of the psychedelic era, with most of the songs written by the band members, including Summer Is The Man, a tune with an interesting chord structure, a catchy melody and somewhat existential lyrics.

Artist:    Left Banke
Title:    Barterers And Their Wives
Source:    LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
Writer(s):    Brown/Feher
Label:    Smash/Sundazed
Year:    1967
    The Left Banke made a huge impact with their debut single, Walk Away Renee, in late 1966. All of a sudden the rock press (such as it was in 1966) was all abuzz with talk of "baroque rock" and how it was the latest, greatest thing. The band soon released a follow-up single, Pretty Ballerina, which made the top 10 as well, which led to an album entitled (naturally enough) Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina. The album featured several more songs in the same vein, such as Barterers And Their Wives, which was also released as a B side later that year. An unfortunate misstep by keyboardist Michael Brown, however, killed the band's momentum, and baroque rock soon went the way of other sixties fads.

Artist:    Tim Buckley
Title:    Once Upon A Time
Source:    CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s):    Buckley/Beckett
Label:    Rhino
Year:    recorded 1967, released 2009
    Tim Buckley was one of those people whose style it is almost impossible to define. His first album, consisting of songs he and his friend Larry Beckett had written while still attending high school, was released in 1966 on Elektra Records, and was considered folk music. Before recording a follow-up, Buckley switched gears, recording Once Upon A Time in an effort to achieve commercial success. Elektra Records declined to released the song, however, and Buckley soon eased into a more psychedelic vein, writing songs that incorporated elements of several genres, including folk, rock and even jazz.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Eight Miles High
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Fifth Dimension and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Clark/McGuinn/Crosby
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1966
    By all rights, the Byrds' Eight Miles High should have been a huge hit. Unfortunately, Bill Drake, the most influential man in the history of Top 40 radio, got it into his head that this was a drug song, despite the band's insistence that it was about a transatlantic plane trip. The band's version actually makes sense, as Gene Clark had just quit the group due to his fear of flying (he is listed as a co-writer of the song), and the subject was probably a hot topic of discussion among the remaining members.

Artist:    Trade Winds
Title:    Mind Excursion
Source:    CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Excursions)
Writer(s):    Anders/Poncia
Label:    BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Kama Sutra)
Year:    1966
    The Trade Winds were a semi-studio band from New York that first scored in 1965 with the song New York is a Lonely Town (When You're the Only Surfer Boy Around). A year later, they had their second and last hit, Mind Excursion, which holds up as one of the best examples of "flower power" pop ever recorded.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Tower
Year:    1966
    The Standells were probably the most successful band to record for the Tower label (not counting Pink Floyd, whose first LP was issued, in modified form, on the label after being recorded in England). Besides their big hit Dirty Water, they hit the charts with other tunes such as Why Pick On Me, Try It, and the punk classic Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White. Both Good Guys and Dirty Water were written by producer Ed Cobb, who has to be considered the most prolific punk-rock songwriter of the 60s, having also written songs for the "E" Types and Chocolate Watchband (both of which he also produced).

Artist:    Limey And The Yanks
Title:    Guaranteed Love
Source:    CD: 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:    Doors
Title:    People Are Strange
Source:    CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: Strange Days and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    The first single from the second Doors album was People Are Strange. The song quickly dispelled any notion that the Doors might be one-hit wonders and helped establish the band as an international act as opposed to just another band from L.A. The album itself, Strange Days, was a turning point for Elektra Records as well, as it shifted the label's promotional efforts away from their original rock band, Love, to the Doors, who ironically had been recommended to the label by Love's leader, Arthur Lee.

Artist:    13th Power
Title:    Fifty-Two Percent
Source:    LP: Wild In The Streets soundtrack
Writer(s):    Mann/Weil
Label:    Tower
Year:    1968
    Critics and audiences alike were divided on how to interpret the movie Wild In The Streets. Was it speculative fiction about a distopian future or simply a teen exploitation flick? The film certainly had enough big Hollywood names in it (Christopher Jones, Hal Holbrook and Shelley Winters, among others) to be taken seriously, yet the basic premise, that teens, led by a popular rock band, would rise up and take power, putting anyone over 30 into concentration camps, was a bit over-the-top. Regardless of the creators' intentions, Wild In The Streets is now viewed as a cult film that helped launch the career of Richard Pryor (who played bassist Stanley X), and had some decent tunes written by the songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (writers of the Paul Revere and the Raiders hit Hungry). The hit single from the movie, Shape Of Things To Come, was attributed on the label to Max Frost and the Troopers, the fictional band that led the revolution, but on the soundtrack album the song was credited to the 13th Power. The reality was that all the songs on the album were the work of studio musicians, although they were credited to a variety of groups such as the Gurus and the Senators. The songs credited to the 13th Power, such as Fifty-Two Percent (the percentage of US citizens under the age of 30 at the time), were possibly the work of Davie Allen and the Arrows, with lead vocals by Paul Wibier, although that has never been substantiated. It is even possible that Jones himself sang on the soundtrack album.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Someday The Sun Won't Shine For You
Source:    LP: This Was
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    Ian Anderson has often said that he disagreed with record company executives who characterized Jethro Tull as a blues band when the band's first LP, This Was, was released. Yet one of the most traditional sounding blues tunes on that LP was written by Anderson himself. Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You sounds like it could easily have come from the pen of Jimmy Reed. Speaking of record labels, This Was, like all the early Tull albums, was originally released in the US on the Reprise label. Reprise had a policy (instituted by its founder and original owner, Frank Sinatra) of allowing its artists to retain ownership of the recordings released on the label, which is why most of the material released on Reprise in the late 60s has been reissued on other labels.

Artist:    Notes From The Underground
Title:    Why Did You Put Me On
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Notes From The Underground)
Writer(s):    Mark Mandell
Label:    Rhino (original label: Vanguard)
Year:    1968
    Pinch-hitting for Country Joe and the Fish we have Notes From the Underground, fellow Berkleyites who played at the same club (the Jabberwock) when the Fish were busy elsewhere and even got a contract with the same record label (Vanguard). Unfortunately, like most pinch-hitters, the Notes were strictly second-string (as we are now well into baseball season I thought the analogy might work. So sue me).

Artist:    Nazz
Title:    Open My Eyes
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (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 solo version would become Rundgren's first major hit five years later).

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Subterranean Homesick Blues
Source:    CD: Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Bringing It All Back Home)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    1965 was the year Bob Dylan went electric, and got his first top 40 hit, Subterranean Homesick Blues, in the process. Although the song, which also led off his Bringing It All Back Home album, stalled out in the lower 30s, it did pave the way for electrified cover versions of Dylan songs by the Byrds and Turtles and Dylan's own Like A Rolling Stone, which would revolutionize top 40 radio itself. A line from the song itself, "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows", became the inspiration for a radical offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) that called itself the Weathermen (later the Weather Underground).

Artist:    Love
Title:    7&7 Is
Source:    LP: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: De Capo)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Rhino (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1966
    The first rock band signed to Elektra Records was Love, a popular L.A. club band that boasted two talented songwriters, Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean. On the heels of their first album, which included the single My Little Red Book and one of the first recordings of the fast version of Hey Joe (heard on last week's show), came Love's most successful single, 7&7 Is, released in July of 1966. This stereo mix is taken from Love's second album, Da Capo, released in 1967.

Artist:    Human Expression
Title:    Optical Sound
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Quarles/Foster
Label:    Rhino (original label: Accent)
Year:    1967
    One thing Los Angeles had become known for by the mid-1960s was its urban sprawl. Made possible by one of the world's most extensive regional freeway systems, the city had become surrounded by suburbs on all sides (except for the oceanfront). Many of these suburbs were (and are) in Orange County, home to Anaheim stadium, Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm. The O.C. was also home to the Human Expression, a band that recorded a trio of well-regarded singles for the Accent label. The last of these was Optical Sound. True to its name, the song utilized the latest technology available to achieve a decidedly psychedelic sound.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    Conquistador
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Brooker/Reid
Label:    A&M
Year:    1972
    Although Conquistador was originally recorded for the first Procol Harum album in 1967, it was the 1972 live version with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra that became one of the band's biggest hits, second only to A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Two Heads
Source:    CD: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s):    Grace Slick
Label:    RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:    1967
    The third Jefferson Airplane album, After Bathing At Baxter's, saw the group moving in increasingly experimental directions, as Grace Slick's two contributions to the LP attest. The more accessible of the two was Two Heads, which was the first part of the fifth and final "suite" on the album.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Section 43
Source:    CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    A few years back I picked up the DVD of the Ed Pennebacker telefilm documenting the Monterey International Pop Festival, held in June of 1967. One of the highlights of this early concert film was the Country Joe And The Fish performance of Section 43, an instrumental that they had originally recorded for a 1966 EP and had just re-recorded in stereo for their debut LP, Electric Music For The Mind And Body. The film (like Pennebacker's later film Woodstock), does not follow the actual performance sequence, instead using Section 43 as a backdrop for footage of various people who had slept on the festival grounds going about their morning business.

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband
Title:    Let's Talk About Girls
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: No Way Out)
Writer(s):    Manny Freiser
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    I find it sadly ironic that the first cut on the first album released by San Jose, California's Chocolate Watchband had a vocal track by Don Bennett, a studio vocalist under contract to Tower Records, replacing the original track by Watchband vocalist Dave Aguilar. Aguilar's vocals were also replaced by Bennett's on the Watchband's cover of Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour" on the same album. In addition, there are four instrumental tracks on the album that are played entirely by studio musicians. Worse yet, the entire first side of the Watchband's second LP was done by studio musicians and the third Watchband LP featured an entirely different lineup. The final insult was when Lenny Kaye, who assembled the original Nuggets collection in the early 1970s, elected to include this recording, rather than one of the several fine tracks that actually did feature Aguilar on vocals.

Artist:    Family Tree
Title:    Live Your Own Life
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Segarini/Dure
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mira)
Year:    1966
    The Family Tree, formed in 1965 by vocalist/guitarist Bob Segarini, spent time bouncing around from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe before finally invading the San Francisco scene in 1966. They recorded Live Your Own Life in Lake Tahoe, but did not release anything else until 1968, when the album Miss Butters appeared on the RCA label. Segarini eventually moved to Canada when his next band, Roxy and the Wackers, became popular there in the early 70s.

Artist:    Grass Roots
Title:    Let's Live For Today
Source:    CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Julian/Mogull/Shapiro
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1967
    This well-known 1967 hit by the Grass Roots started off as a song by the Italian band the Rokes, Piangi Con Mi, released in 1966. The Rokes themselves were originally from Manchester, England, but had relocated to Italy in 1963. Piangi Con Mi was their biggest hit to date, and it the band decided to re-record the tune in English for release in Britain (ironic, considering that the band originally specialized in translating popular US and UK hits into the Italian language). The original translation didn't sit right with the band's UK label, so a guy from the record company came up with new lyrics and the title Let's Live For Today. The song still didn't do much on the charts, but did get the attention of former Brill building songwriter Jeff Barri, whose current project was writing and producing a studio band known as the Grass Roots with his partner P.F. Sloan. The song became such a big hit that the Grass Roots became a real perfoming band and had several hits over the next couple of years.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Stoned Woman/Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Source:    LP: Ssssh!
Writer(s):    Lee/Williamson
Label:    Deram
Year:    1969
    Alvin Lee's band Ten Years After already had three albums out by the time they made a huge splash at Woodstock in 1969. Their fourth LP, Ssssh! was released that same year, and was soon climbing the album charts, despite getting little airplay on US radio stations. The best known track was a hard rocking version of the Sonny Boy Williamson (one of them, anyway) blues classic Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, which had already been covered by several rock bands, most notably the Grateful Dead on their debut LP. Unlike previous versions, the TYA Schoolgirl was built around a driving repeated bass line and featured an extended instrumental section that stayed on the main chord rather than following the song's regular progression. The track was preceeded on the LP by a Lee composition, Stoned Woman, which leads into Schoolgirl without a break between songs.

Artist:    Bob Seger System
Title:    Black Eyed Girl
Source:    LP: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Writer(s):    Bob Seger
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    The Bob Seger System was one of the top local bands on the Detroit rock scene in the late 60s. As was typical of that scene, the System played a hard-edged brand of rock that played well with the sons and daughters of the city's mostly blue-collar workforce. Following a series of regional hit singles, the System hit the big time after signing with Capitol Records in 1968. After releasing one of the most intense antiwar songs ever recorded (2+2=?), the band began work on their debut LP, tentatively entitled Tales Of Lucy Blue. Before the album was finished Capitol released a second single by the band, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, which was such a huge hit they decided to rename the album after the song (although the original Lucy Blue cover art remained). The LP itself had some fine rockers, such as Black Eyed Girl, which at six and a half minutes was the longest cut on the album. The LP was not a major success, however, and for years it looked like Bob Seger would be remembered only as a one-hit wonder. Instead Seger resurfaced in the late 1970s with a new group, the Silver Bullet Band, and went on to become a major rock star.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Communication Breakdown
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin
Writer(s):    Page/Jones/Bonham
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    By 1968 the Yardbirds were fast disintegrating, and guitarist Jimmy Page secured permission from the other remaining members (chiefly vocalist Keith Relf) to use the name for a new group he was touring with. It wasn't long before the New Yardbirds got a recording contract, changing their name to Led Zeppelin (a play on the idea that the band would probably go over like a lead balloon) in the process. The first single by the band was Good Times, Bad Times, backed with Communication Breakdown. I first heard both songs on a jukebox at the teen club I was hanging out at toward the end of 1969. One of my friends immediately went out and bought a copy of the Led Zeppelin LP and I borrowed and taped it at the first available opportunity (ah, the advantages of having a dad who was an audiophile and owned an Akai X-355 reel to reel tape recorder and a Dual turntable).

Artist:    Corporation
Title:    Highway
Source:    CD: The Corporation
Writer(s):    Kondos/Smith
Label:    Repertoire (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1969
    Although the Corporation is best known for their nineteen minute long adaptation of John Coltrane's India, they did have (literally) an entire other side on the debut LP. One of the tracks from that side is Highway, yet another example of the Detroit brand of rock in the late 60s.

Artist:    John Hammond
Title:    Travelling Riverside
Source:    LP: Mirrors
Writer(s):    Robert Johnson
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    John Hammond (sometimes known as John Hammond, Jr., despite having a different middle name) was the son of producer John Hammond, who was known for his recordings of what would these days be called "authentic Americana." Hammond the younger was one of the many white musicians involved in the blues revival centered in New York's Greenwich Village in the 60s; the same scene that included the Blues Project, Lovin' Spoonful and Dave Van Ronk, among others. Hammond recorded mostly acoustic blues, although one side of his Mirrors LP, including Travelling Riverside, was done with a backup band that included Charlie Musselwhite on blues harp and Mike Bloomfield on electric guitar.

Artist:    John Mayall
Title:    Me And My Woman
Source:    LP: Crusade
Writer(s):    Barge/Blue
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    The most respected bandleader on the British blues scene, John Mayall was instrumental in launching and/or furthering the careers of several future stars, including Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Mick Taylor. It was during McVie and Taylor's memberships in the Bluesbreakers that Mayall released his 1967 album Crusade, featuring an array of excellent tunes such as Me And My Woman. British blues doesn't get much better than this.