Artist: Stephen Stills and Richie Furay
Title: Sit Down I Think I Love You
Source: CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2009
Stephen Stills and Richie Furay were still in the process of forming their new band when they cut this demo of Sit Down I Think I Love You, a song that would appear later in the year on the first Buffalo Springfield album and be covered the following year by the San Francisco flower pop band the Mojo Men. This version is basically just the two of them singing harmony with Stills on acoustic guitar.
Artist: Los Bravos
Title: Black Is Black
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
The first band from Spain to have a major pop hit was Los Bravos, who took Black Is Black to the top 10 in several countries, including the US, in late 1966. Interestingly, the band's lead vocalist, Michael Kogel, was actually a German national.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: I'll Go Crazy
Source: LP: Psychedelic Lollipop
Writer(s): James Brown
You don't often hear the name James Brown and the word psychedelic in the same sentence, but sure enough, there is a Brown cover on the first (or maybe second) album to use the word psychedelic in its title. The album in question is the Blues Magoos' Psychedelic Lollipop. The song I'll Go Crazy finishes out the first side of the album. Although it is a credible rendition of the tune, the recording does not fit comfortably with the likes of (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet and the psychedelicized Tobacco Road. Apparently the band agreed, as they never recorded another James Brown cover song.
Artist: Butterfield Blues Band
Title: Work Song
Source: CD: East-West
Although technically not a rock album, the Butterfield Blues Band's East-West was nonetheless a major influence on many up and coming rock musicians that desired to transcend the boundaries of top 40 radio. Both the title track and the band's reworking of Nat Adderly's Work Song feature extended solos from all the band members, with Work Song in particular showing Butterfield's prowess on harmonica, as well as helping cement Michael Bloomfield's reputation as the nation's number one electric guitarist (before the emergence of Jimi Hendrix, at any rate). Elvin Bishop's guitar work on the song is not too shabby either.
Title: Eight Miles High
Source: CD: Fifth Dimension
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. Despite all this Eight Miles High still managed to crack the top 20 in late 1966.
Title: Dialogue (part 1&2)
Source: 45 RPM single edit (original version on LP: Chicago V)
Writer(s): Robert Lamm
In their early days Chicago was one of the more politically-oriented rock bands around. One of the more notable tracks on their first album (Someday) was built around the crowds in Lincoln Park chanting outside the 1968 Democratic convention. The group continued to make political statements for the next few years, although by the time they released their landmark four-disc live album they were firmly in the camp of advocating working within the system as opposed to overthrowing everything and starting over (sort of an evolution over revolution approach). One of the more interesting songs of this type is Dialogue, a condemnation of socio-political apathy from the album Chicago V. The structure of the first half of the record is based on Plato's philosophical dialogues, with one vocalist, Robert Lamm, asking disturbing questions and the other, Peter Cetera, giving answers that are on the surface reassuring but in reality bespeak an attitude of burying one's head in the sand and hoping everything will turn out OK. This shifts into a call for everyone to work together to effect needed changes in the world, with the repeated line "We can make it happen" dominating the second half of the record.
Title: Outside Woman Blues
Source: CD: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s): Arthur Reynolds
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Although Cream's second album, Disraeli Gears, is best known for its psychedelic cover art and original songs such as Strange Brew, Sunshine Of Your Love and Tales of Brave Ulysses, the LP did have one notable blues cover on it. Outside Woman Blues was originally recorded by Blind Joe Reynolds in 1929 and has since been covered by a variety of artists including Van Halen, Johnny Winters, Jimi Hendrix and even the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
Artist: Moby Grape
Source: LP: Grape Jam
Writer(s): Bob Mosley
For their second album, Moby Grape decided to do something different. In addition to the LP Wow, there was a second disc called Grape Jam included at no extra charge. For the most part Grape Jam is exactly what you'd expect: a collection of after-hours jam sessions with guest guitarist/keyboardist Michael Bloomfield. The opening track of Grape Jam, however, is actually a composition by Bob Mosley. The song features Mosley on bass and vocals, Jerry Miller and Skip Spence and guitars and Don Stevenson on drums, all of whom were actual members of Moby Grape.
Artist: Albert King/Steve Cropper/Pop Staples
Title: Baby, What You Trying To Do
Source: LP: Jammed Together
Writer(s): Jimmy Reed
Although Stax records was best known for its Memphis soul recordings by such artists as Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and Booker T. and the MGs, the label also was home to one of the most popular blues guitarists of the late 60s: Albert King. Among King's many recordings for the label is this collection of studio jams with MG guitarist Steve Cropper and the legendary Pop Staples. The closing track of side one is a rather tasty version of Jimmy Reed's Baby, What You Trying To Do.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Summertime Blues
Source: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock
If 1967 was the summer of love, then 1968 was the summer of violence. Framed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, both major anti-establishment movements of the time (civil rights and anti-war) became increasing radicalized and more violent. The hippies gave way to the Yippies, LSD gave way to crystal meth, and there were riots in the streets of several US cities, culminating with the massive protest in Chicago's Lincoln Park outside the Democratic National Convention in August and the brutal response by Mayor John Daley's Chicago Police Department. Against this backdrop Blue Cheer released one of the loudest and angriest recordings ever to grace the top 40: the proto-metal arrangement of Eddie Cochrane's 1958 classic Summertime Blues. It was the perfect soundtrack of its time.
Source: CD: Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: The Birds, The Bees And The Monkees and as 45 RPM single)
The last Monkees top 10 single was also Michael Nesmith's least favorite Monkees song. Valleri was a Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart composition that the group had first recorded for the first season of their TV show in 1966. Apparently nobody was happy with the recording, however, and the song was never issued on vinyl. Two years later the song was re-recorded for the album The Birds, The Bees And The Monkees and subsequently released as a single. The flamenco-style guitar on the intro (and repeated throughout the song) was played by studio guitarist Louie Shelton, after Nesmith refused to participate in the recording.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: Oh, Sweet Mary
Source: CD: Cheap Thrills
The only song credited to the entire membership of Big Brother And The Holding Company on their Cheap Thrills album was Oh, Sweet Mary. The tune bears a strong resemblance to a song on their first album called The Cuckoo, an adaptation of a traditional ballad. Oh, Sweet Mary, however, has new lyrics and an entirely new bridge section played at a slower tempo than the rest of the tune.
Artist: Graham Nash
Title: Prison Song
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Graham Nash
Graham Nash's Prison Song is one of those songs that by all rights should have been a huge hit. It was by a name artist. It had a catchy opening harmonica riff and a haunting melody. I can only surmise that once again Bill Drake (the man who controlled top 40 radio in the 60s and early 70s) decided that the lyrics were too controversial for AM radio and had the song blacklisted, much as he had done with the Byrds Eight Miles High a few years earlier. Those lyrics center on a subject that is unfortunately still relevant today: the utter absurdity of drug laws and the unequal sentences for violation of those laws in the US and its various states.
Title: Liar Liar
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Soma)
The Castaways were a popular local band in the Minneapolis area led by keyboardist James Donna, who, for less than two minutes at a time, dominated the national airwaves with their song Liar Liar for a couple months before fading off into obscurity.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: The Wind Cries Mary
Source: The Ultimate Experience (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original labels: Track (UK), Reprise (US))
The US version of the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, was significantly different than its UK counterpart. For one thing, the original UK album was only available in mono. For the US version, engineers at Reprise Records, working from the original multi-track masters, created all new stereo mixes of about two-thirds of the album, along with all three of the singles that the Jimi Hendrix Experience had released in the UK. The third of these singles was The Wind Cries Mary, which had hit the British charts in February of 1967.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Foxy Lady
Source: LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
The first track on the original UK release of Are You Experienced was Foxy Lady. The British custom of the time was to not include any songs on albums that had been previously released as singles. When Reprise Records got the rights to release the album in the US, it was decided to include three songs that had all been top 40 hits in the UK. One of those songs, Purple Haze, took over the opening spot on the album, and Foxy Lady was moved to the middle of side 2.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Manic Depression
Source: CD: The Ultimate Experience (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
My dad bought an Akai X-355D reel to reel tape deck when we moved to Ramstein, Germany in early 1968. It was pretty much the state of the art in home audio technology at the time. The problem was that we did not have a stereo system to hook it into, so he bought a set of Koss headphones to go with it. One of my first purchases was a pre-recorded reel to reel tape of Are You Experienced. The Akai had an auto-reverse system and I would lie on the couch with the headphones on to go to sleep every night listening to songs like Manic Depression. Is it any wonder I turned out like I did?
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Go To Her
Source: LP: Early Flight
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1974
Nearly every major artist acquires a backlog of unreleased songs over a period of time, usually due to lack of space on their official albums. Eventually many of these tracks get released on compilation albums or (more recently) as bonus tracks on CD versions of the original albums. One of the first of these compilation albums was Jefferson Airplane's Early Flight LP, released in 1974. Of the nine tracks on Early Flight, five were recorded during sessions for the band's first two LPs, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off and Surrealistic Pillow. One song originally intended for Surrealistic Pillow was Go To Her, an early Paul Kantner collaboration. At four minutes, the recording was longer than any of the songs that actually appeared on the album, which is probably the reason it didn't make the final cut, as it would have meant that two other songs would have to have been deleted instead.
Title: My Eyes Have Seen You
Source: CD: Strange Days
Writer(s): The Doors
It's strange. Some reviewers seem to think that the album Strange Days is inferior to the first Doors album. They justify this view by citing the fact that almost all the songs on both albums were already in the band's repertoire when they signed their record contract with Elektra. The implication is that the band naturally selected the best material for the first album, making Strange Days a collection of sloppy seconds. There is one small problem with this theory however. Pick a song at random from Strange Days and listen to it and in all likelihood it will sound every bit as good as a song randomly picked from the first album (and probably better than one picked from either of the Doors' next two LPs). In fact, I'll pick one for you: My Eyes Have Seen You. See what I mean?
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Boogie Music
Source: CD: Living The Blues
Writer(s): L T Tatman III
Label: BGO (original label: Liberty)
Canned Heat was formed in 1966 by a group of Bay Area blues purists. Although a favorite on the rock scene, the band continued to remain true to the blues throughout their existence. The band's most popular single was Going Up the Country from the album Living the Blues. The B side of Going Up The Country was a tune called Boogie Music. The song is credited to L T Tatman III, which may be a pseudonym for the entire band, much as Nanker Phelge was for the Rolling Stones. Unusually, the single version of the song is actually longer than the album version heard here, thanks to a short coda made to sound like an archive recording from the 1920s.
Title: Come Together
Source: CD: Abbey Road
Do I really need to say anything about this song?
Title: You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell Right Here On Earth
Source: LP: Psychedelic Shack
The company culture at Motown in the late 60s was such that each production unit had considerable autonomy, and often a sound all its own, such as the catchy Holland-Dozier-Holland sound of the Supremes and the Four Tops or the softer, sexier sound of a Smokey Robinson production. The most psychedelic team was that of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, who took over producing the Temptations after the departure of original lead vocalist David Ruffin. The Whitfield-Strong sound was characterized by fuzz tones, wah-wahs and quick tradeoffs between vocalists, all of which are evident on You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell Right Here On Earth, a track from the Temptations' Psychedelic Soul album. The song was re-recorded a couple of years later, with a greater emphasis on strings, by another Whitfield-Strong group, the Undisputed Truth, as a follow-up to their big hit Smiling Faces Sometimes.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: I Just Wan't To Make Love To You
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Like most British bands in the early 60s, the Rolling Stones recorded a lot of blues cover songs, including most of their early UK singles. The first original tune from the band to chart was Tell Me (Your Coming Back Again), which was also their first release to crack the US top 40. The Stones weren't quite done with blues covers however. The flip side of Tell Me was an old Willie Dixon classic, I Just Want To Make Love To You.
Artist: Mouse And The Traps
Title: A Public Execution
Source: CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Fraternity)
It's easy to imagine some kid somewhere in Texas inviting his friends over to hear the new Dylan record, only to reveal afterwards that it wasn't Dylan at all, but this band he heard while visiting his cousins down in Tyler. Mouse and the Traps, in fact, got quite a bit of airplay in that part of the state with a series of singles issued in the mid-60s. A Public Execution is unique among those singles in that the artist on the label was listed simply as Mouse.
Title: My Little Red Book
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Love)
The first rock record ever released by Elektra Records was a single by Love called My Little Red Book. The track itself (which also opens Love's debut LP), is a punked out version of tune originally recorded by Manfred Mann for the What's New Pussycat movie soundtrack. Needless to say, Love's version was not exactly what Burt Bacharach and Hal David had in mind.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: I Won't Hurt You
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Part One)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Unlike more famous L.A. groups like Love and the Doors, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was not a Sunset Strip club band. In fact, the WCPAEB really didn't play that many live performances in their career, although those they did play tended to be at high profile venues such as the Hollywood Bowl. The band was formed when the Harris brothers, sons of an accomplished classical musician, decided to record their own album and release it on a small local label. Only a few copies of that album, Volume One, were made and finding one now is next to impossible. That might have been the end of the story except for the fact that they were acquaintances of Kim Fowley, record producer and all-around Hollywood hustler. Fowley invited them to a party where the Yardbirds were playing; a party also attended by one Bob Markley. Markley, who was nearly ten years older than the Harris brothers, was a former TV show host from the midwest who had moved out to the coast to try his luck. Impressed by the flock of young girls surrounding the Yardbirds, Markley expressed to Fowley his desire to be a rock and roll star and have the girls flock around him, too. Fowley, ever the deal-maker, responded by introducing Markley to the Harris Brothers and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was born. With the addition of guitarist Michael Lloyd and the influence of Markley's not-inconsiderable family money, the group soon landed a contract with Reprise Records, where they proceeded to record the album Part One, which includes the turn I Won't Hurt You, which uses a simulated heartbeat to keep the...umm, beat.
Artist: October Country
Title: My Girlfriend Is A Witch
Source: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Michael Lloyd
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
By 1968 the L.A. under-age club scene was winding down, and several now out of work bands were making last (and sometimes only) attempts at garnering hits in the studio. One such band was October Country, whose first release had gotten a fair amount of local airplay, but who had become bogged down trying to come up with lyrics for a follow-up single. Enter Michael Lloyd, recently split from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and looking to become a record producer. Lloyd not only produced and wrote the lyrics for My Girlfriend Is a Witch, he also ended up playing drums on the record as well.
Artist: Earth Disciples
Title: Native Planet
Source: LP: Getaway Train
Writer(s): Reggie Harris
Label: Solid State
One great thing about the year 1969 was that there was a lot of room for originality in music. Take the Earth Disciples. Were they jazz? Rock? Soul? Native Planet, from their only LP, Getaway Train, certainly has elements of all three. One person who perhaps can shed some light on this Chicago by way of L.A band is drummer Reggie Harris. Here's a short quote from Reggie, courtesy of soundsfromthefunkygoat.blogspot.com: “The story of The Earth Disciples is a long one, starting in Chicago, Illinois. The bass player (Reggie Austin), guitar player (Jimmy Holloway), and myself, met in high school, and played in Reggie Austin's brother's band (Johnny Robinson, piano). We played high school dances and local events. Oscar Brown Jr., a well-known jazz artist from Chicago, came to our school to do a show, including local talent from school and [the] surrounding area. The show was called Opportunity Knocks. At the end of the show Oscar took us on the road to New York, and on to Los Angeles. After the tour, some band members returned home. I stayed in Los Angeles. Oscar was looking for a pianist, and that’s when I met Rudy Reid. I moved in with Rudy and called Jimmy to come and play. After Jimmy moved in, we wanted to be reunited with Reggie Austin. We sent for him in Chicago; The Earth Disciples were formed."
Artist: Orange Bicycle
Title: Last Cloud Home (originally released as 45 RPM B side)
Source: CD: Insane Times
Label: Zonophone (original label: Parlophone)
The Orange Bicycle were a somewhat obscure British group led by drummer/vocalist Will Malone. The band had one successful single, Hyacinth Threads, which topped the French charts in the summer of 1967. The group continued to record without any great success for the next couple of years. One of their last and best recordings was Last Cloud Home, a B side from 1969.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Going To Try
Source: CD: Stonedhenge
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Although Ten Years After is known mostly for straight ahead blues rock and roll numbers like I'm Going Home, Alvin Lee and company did have a more experimental side, as evidenced by their third LP, Stonedhenge. The album consists of a half dozen tracks written by Lee and performed by the entire band interspersed with solo tracks from each of the four band members. The opening track, Going To Try, is possibly the most psychedelic song in the TYA catalog, being basically a series of variations on a common theme in different time and key signatures.