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.

No comments:

Post a Comment