Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1230 (starts 7/26/12)

Artist:    Great! Society
Title:    Somebody To Love
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Conspicuous Only In Its Absence)
Writer(s):    Darby Slick
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    Recorded 1966, released 1968
    One of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era (and of the so-called San Francisco sound) is Somebody To Love, released by Jefferson Airplane in 1967 on their Surrealistic Pillow album. Somebody To Love was written by Darby Slick, guitarist for another San Francisco band, Great! Society. The Society had released the song, featuring Slick's sister-in-law Grace on lead vocals, as a single in early 1966 but was unable to get any local airplay for the record. In June the group played the Matrix, a club managed by Marty Balin, leader of Jefferson Airplane. The entire performance was recorded (possibly by legendary Grateful Dead soundman Owsley Stanley) and eventually released on an album called Conspicuous Only In Its Absence two years after Great! Society disbanded. Within a few weeks of this performance Grace Slick would leave the group to join Jefferson Airplane, taking the song with her. This whole set of circumstances can't help but raise the question of whether Balin was using the Society's gig at the Matrix as a kind of audition for Slick.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    I Tell Myself
Source:    LP: A Web Of Sound
Writer(s):    Marcus Tybalt
Label:    GNP Crescendo
Year:    1966
    Sky Saxon was unquestionably responsible for the success of the Seeds, who hit the national charts in early 1967 with the classic Pushin' Too Hard. The song had actually first appeared on the Seeds' debut LP in spring of 1966. By the time the song became a hit the band had already released a second album, A Web Of Sound. Nearly every Seeds song was either written or co-written by Saxon himself. The only exception I know of is I Tell Myself, a tune written by Hollywood songster Marcus Tybalt, which appears on the second LP, and the Seeds version almost sounds like a parody of a pop tune (which may well have been their intention for all I know).

Artist:    Who
Title:    Run Run Run
Source:    CD: Magic Bus-The Who On Tour (originally released on LP: A Quick One, re-titled Happy Jack in US)
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1966
    After the release of their first LP, My Generation, the Who terminated their contract with the UK Brunswick label and signed with a new company, Reaction. The first Reaction release was a single, Substitute, which made the British top 5. In late 1966 the band released their first album for Reaction, A Quick One. The album was markedly different from My Generation, as the group had moved beyond their so-called maximum R&B phase and were exploring new directions. A Quick One was also the first Who album to be mixed in stereo, as can be heard on the opening track of the LP, Run Run Run. Although not released as a single, the song proved popular enough to include on the 1968 LP Magic Bus, along with several of their singles and B sides (and a couple more album tracks).

Artist:    Mother Tucker's Yellow Duck
Title:    One Ring Jane
Source:    CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released on LP: Home Grown Stuff)
Writer(s):    McDougall/Ivanuck
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Capitol Canada)
Year:    1969
    Sometimes called Canada's most psychedelic band, Mother Tucker's Yellow Duck was formed in British Columbia in 1967. After recording one unsuccessful single for London, the Duck switched to Capitol Records Canada and scored nationally with the album Home Grown Stuff. After a couple more years spent opening for big name bands such as Alice Cooper and Deep Purple and a couple more albums (on the Capitol-owned Duck Records) the group disbanded, with vocalist/guitarist Donny McDougall joining the Guess Who in 1972.

Artist:    Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title:    Fresh Air
Source:    CD: Just For Love
Writer(s):    Dino Valenti
Label:    BGO (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1970
    Although Dino Valenti helped form Quicksilver Messenger Service, he found himself a guest of the California Criminal Justice System literally the day after the band was conceived. In fact, Valenti was not on the scene at all when the original lineup of the band made their official debut. It was only after the group had recorded three moderately successful LPs for Capitol that Valenti, now released from prison, rejoined the band he had never actually been a member of. His presence, however, was immediately felt. Quicksilver's fourth LP was a complete departure from the improvisational jams of the band's first three efforts. In fact, all but one of the songs on Just For Love were written by Valenti (although most were under the pseudonym Jesse Oris Farrow). Valenti also took over the lead vocals for the album on songs like Fresh Air, which was also released as a single and was the nearest thing to a top 40 hit (hitting the # 49 spot) that Quicksilver Messenger Service would ever have. Just For Love is also notable for the fact that the band included prolific session pianist Nicky Hopkins as a full member.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Dead Flowers
Source:    LP: Sticky Fingers
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Rolling Stones
Year:    1971
    One of the most popular albums of 1971 was the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers album. Featuring a cover with an actual pants zipper built into it, the LP immediately stood out from everything else on the record racks. The album was musically strong as well, with songs such as Dead Flowers, an example of the band's continuing flirtation with country music.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    She's Leaving Home
Source:    LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1967
    One of the striking things about the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the sheer variety of songs on the album. Never before had a rock band gone so far beyond its roots in so many directions at once. One of Paul McCartney's most poignant songs on the album was She's Leaving Home. The song tells the story of a young girl who has decided that her stable homelife is just too unfulling to bear and heads for the big city. Giving the song added depth is the somewhat clueless response of her parents, who can't seem to understand what went wrong.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Heaven Is In Your Mind
Source:    CD: Mr. Fantasy
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi/Wood
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
    For a time in the mid-1960s recording artists would actually make two mixes of each song on their albums, one in monoraul and one in stereo. Often the monoraul mix would have a brighter sound, as those mixes were usually made with AM radio's technical limitations in mind. In rare cases, the differences would be even more pronounced. Such is the case with Traffic's first LP, Mr. Fantasy. The two versions of the first track on the album, Heaven Is In Your Mind, differ not only in their mix but in the actual recording, as the mono mix features an entirely different guitar solo than the stereo one.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Intruder
Source:    CD: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Writer(s):    Janis Joplin
Label:    Columbia/Legacy (original label: Mainstream)
Year:    1967
    Although the 1967 debut album by Big Brother and the Holding Company is generally considered to be inferior to their 1968 Columbia LP Cheap Thrills, there are a few gems on the disc that can't be found anywhere else. One of these is a Janis Joplin composition, Intruder. The engineers at Mainstream Records were mostly used to recording jazz musicians and tended to give Big Brother a somewhat sterile sound, but on Intruder they managed to pretty much get it right.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Ferris Wheel
Source:    LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic/Sundazed
Year:    1966
    In the fall of 1966 the career of Scottish folk singer Donovan Leitch took an odd turn. Up until that point in time he had a run of successful records in the UK but got very little airplay in the US. Two events, however, combined to turn the entire situation around 180 degrees. First, Donovan had just signed a contract with Epic Records in the US, a major step up from the poorly distributed and even more poorly promoted Hickory label. At the same time contract negotiations between the singer/songwriter and his British label, Pye, had come to an impasse. As a result Donovan's next LP, Sunshine Superman, was released only in the US, making songs like Ferris Wheel unavailable to his oldest fans. His popularity in the UK suffered greatly from lack of any new recordings over the next year, while it exploded in the US with consecutive top 10 singles Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow in 1966. From that point on Donovan would have his greatest success in North America, even after securing a new record contract in the UK in late 1967.

Artist:    Them
Title:    I Happen To Love You
Source:    LP: Now And Them
Writer(s):    Goffin/King
Label:    Tower
Year:    1968
    I Happen To Love You was first recorded by the Electric Prunes for their 1967 album Underground. The band wanted to release the Gerry Goffin/Carole King tune as a single, but producer David Hassinger instead chose to issue a novelty track, To The Highest Bidder. Unlike the Prunes version, which emphasized the King melody line, Them's version of I Happen To Love You was done in much the same style as their earlier recordings with Van Morrison. Kenny McDowell provided the lead vocal.

Artist:     Merry-Go-Round
Title:     Listen
Source:     CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Emmitt Rhodes
Label:     Rhino (original label: A&M)
Year:     1968
     In 1968, drummer/vocalist Emmit Rhodes was on the verge of branching out on a solo career. One of the last songs released under the Merry-Go-Round banner was this Beatle-influenced song.

Artist:    Love
Title:    7&7 Is
Source:    LP: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
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, came their most successful single, released in July of 1966.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    May This Be Love
Source:    LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    The original UK version of Are You Experienced? featured May This Be Love as the opening track of side two of the album. In the US, the UK single The Wind Cries Mary was substituted for it, with May This Be Love buried deep on side one.
Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Highway 61 Revisited
Source:    CD: Highway 61 Revisited
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    US Highway 61 is part of the old Federal highway system that was developed in the 1920s and 30s and has since been largely supplanted by the Interstate highway system. It was at a crossroads along this route that legendary bluesman Robert Johnson is said to sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a successful career. In 1965 Bob Dylan decided to revisit the legend and add to it for his landmark album on which he invented an electrified version of the folk music he had become famous for. His backup musicians included some of the top talent in the New York area, including guitarist Michael Bloomfied of the Butterfield Blues Band and organist Al Kooper, who, incidentally, plays the police whistle heard throughout the title track of Highway 61 Revisited.

Artist:     Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Mrs. Robinson
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Bookends and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    A few weeks ago we featured the entire first side of Simon And Garfunkel's Bookends album. This time around we have a set of individual tunes from the same album. A shortened version of Mrs. Robinson first appeared on the soundtrack for the film The Graduate in 1967, but it wasn't until the Bookends album came out in 1968 that the full four minute version was released.

Artist:     Simon and Garfunkel
Title:     America
Source:     45 RPM single B side (song originally released on LP: Bookends)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Year:     1968/1972
     Four years after the release of Bookends (and two years after the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel), Columbia decided to release the song For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her, from their final album Bridge Over Troubled Water, as a single, to coincide with the release of their Greatest Hits album. For the B side, they went even further back, pulling out the original tapes for the song America. The tracks on the Bookends album were deliberately overlapped to form a continuous audio montage, making this the first standalone version of America to be released.

Artist:    Simon and Garfunkel
Title:    At The Zoo
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    Simon and Garfunkel did not release any new albums in 1967, instead concentrating on their live performances. They did, however, issue several singles over the course of the year, most of which ended up being included on 1968's Bookends LP. At The Zoo was one of the first of those 1967 singles. It's B side ended up being a hit as well, but by Harper's Bizarre, which took The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) to the top 10 early in the year.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    1906 (mono single mix)
Source:    CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Markley/Morgan
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    A while back I was in contact with Robert Morgan, brother of the late Ron Morgan, guitarist for the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. I asked him if his brother had ever received royalties from songs like 1906, which was essentially a Morgan composition with spoken lyrics tacked on by bandleader/vocalist Bob Markley. He replied that Ron had received a check for something like eight dollars shortly before his death, but that he had always felt that Markley had paid him fairly for his services. He then went on to say that Ron Morgan was more interested in making his mark than in getting any financial compensation. Attitudes like that are why I do this show. It's hard to imagine many of today's pop stars making a statement like that and meaning it.

Artist:    Vanilla Fudge
Title:    You Keep Me Hangin' On
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Holland/Dozier/Holland
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    The LP version of the Vanilla Fudge's cover of the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On ran something like 6-7 minutes. For single release the song was cut down considerably, clocking in at around three minutes. It was also available only in mono, which is how Rhino chose to present it when they released thier first Nuggets series (not to be confused with Lenny Kaye's original collection from 1972) in the early 1980s.

Artist:    Youngbloods
Title:    Get Together
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: The Youngbloods)
Writer(s):    Chet Powers
Label:    Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1967
    The Youngbloods were the second San Francisco band signed to industry leader RCA Victor Records. Their first album was released in 1967 but was overshadowed by the vinyl debuts of the Grateful Dead and Moby Grape, among others. In fact, the Youngbloods toiled in relative obscurity until 1969, when their own version of Dino Valenti's Let's Get Together (from the 1967 LP) was used in a TV ad promoting world peace. The song was subsequently released (with the title slightly shortened) as a single and ended up being the group's only hit record (as well as Valenti's most famous composition).

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    I'm A Man
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Miller/Winwood
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1967
    he 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 like Higher Love and Roll With It in the late 80s. Other than that, nothing.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Come On In
Source:    CD: Turn On (also released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer:    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1966
    The B side of the Music Machine's big hit record.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Talk Talk
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Rhino (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1966
    The A side of the Music Machine's big hit record.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Trouble
Source:    CD: Turn On The Music Machine
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1966
    Sean Bonniwell had definite plans for the Music Machine's first album. His primary goal was to have all original material, with the exception of a slowed-down version of Hey Joe that he and fellow songwriter Tim Rose had been working on (and before you ask, both Rose and the Music Machine recorded it before Jimi Hendrix did). Unfortunately, the shirts at Original Sound Records did not take their own company name seriously and inserted four cover songs that the band had recorded for a local TV show. This was just the first in a series of bad decisions by the aforementioned shirts that led to a great band not getting the success it deserved. To hear Turn On The Music Machine the way Bonniwell intended it to be heard program your CD player to skip all the extra cover songs. Listened to that way, Trouble is restored to its rightful place as the second song on the disc (following Talk Talk) and a fairly decent album is transformed into a work that is equal to the best albums of 1966.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
     If ever a song could be considered a garage-punk anthem, it's Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, the follow-up single to the classic Dirty Water. Both songs were written by Standells' manager/producer Ed Cobb, the record industry's answer to Ed Wood.

Artist:    Sound Barrier
Title:    (My) Baby's Gone
Source:    Pebbles Vol. 8 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Paul Hess (?)
Label:    BFD (original label: Zounds)
Year:    1967
    Not much is known about the Salem, Ohio band known as Sound Barrier other than the fact that they were led by guitarist/vocalist Paul Hess, who most likely is the writer of (My) Baby's Gone, a single that appeared on the Zounds label in 1967. The band resurfaced two years later with a somewhat inferior cover of the Who's I Can't Explain on a different label, and were never heard from again.

Artist:    Moby Grape
Title:    Hey Grandma
Source:    LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s):    Miller/Stevenson
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    One of the most talked-about albums to come from the San Francisco music scene in 1967 was Moby Grape's debut album. Unfortunately a lot of that talk was from Columbia Records itself, which resulted in the band getting a reputation for being overly hyped, much to the detriment of the band's future efforts. Still, that first album did have some outstanding tracks, including Hey Grandma, which opens the album.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Water Woman
Source:    CD: Spirit
Writer(s):    Jay Ferguson
Label:    Ode/Epic/Legacy
Year:    1968
    The first Spirit album was the most eclectic album the band ever recorded, featuring a healthy dose of jazz stylings (thanks to drummer Ed Cassidy) mixed with progressive rock and odd (but nice) tunes such Water Woman, written by lead vocalist Jay Ferguson.

Artist:    Joni Mitchell
Title:    Willie
Source:    LP: Ladies Of The Canyon
Writer(s):    Joni Mitchell
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1970
    Joni Mitchell's third album, Ladies Of The Canyon, was full of references to her friends David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young. One of the more obscure ones is Willy, which was reportedly written about Nash.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Witch's Promise
Source:    CD: Benefit
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1970
    The remastered version of Jethro Tull's third album, Benefit, includes several songs that were released as singles in the UK, but did not appear in the US until the 1973 anthology album Living In The Past. Among those is Witch's Promise, recorded just weeks before the sessions for Benefit began.

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    Wake Up Sunshine
Source:    CD: Chicago II
Writer(s):    Robert Lamm
Label:    Rhino (Columbia)
Year:    1970
    After the release of their first album the Chicago Transit Authority toured extensively, grabbing up studio time whenever and wherever they could. As a result, much of the material on their second LP was written on the road, such as Robert Lamm's Wake Up Sunshine, which finishes out side one of the double LP, entitled simply Chicago, after the band shortened its name in response to threatened lawsuits by the city of Chicago's local transit system.

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