Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1242 (starts 10/18/12)

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Love Me Two Times
Source:    LP: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    Although the second Doors album is sometimes dismissed as being full of tracks that didn't make the cut on the band's debut LP, the fact is that Strange Days contains some of the Doors' best-known tunes. One of those is Love Me Two Times, which was the second single released from the album. The song continues to get heavy airplay on classic rock stations.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Swlabr
Source:    LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    I distinctly remember this song getting played on the local jukebox just as much as the single's A side, Sunshine Of Your Love (maybe even more). Like most of Cream's more psychedelic material, Swlabr was written by the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. Brown had originally been brought in as a co-writer for Ginger Baker, but soon realized that he and Bruce had better songwriting chemistry.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
Source:    CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    While not as commercially successful as the Jefferson Airplane or as long-lived as the Grateful Dead (there's an oxymoron for ya), Country Joe and the Fish may well be the most accurate musical representation of what the whole Haight-Ashbury scene was about, despite the fact that they were actually across the bay in Berkeley. Of all the tracks on their first album, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine probably got the most airplay.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Are You Experienced
Source:    CD: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Until the release of Are You Experienced by the Jimi Hendrix Experience the emphasis in rock music (then called pop) was on the 45 RPM single, with albums seen as a luxury item that supplemented an artist's career rather than define it. Are You Experience changed all that, though. The album was not only highly influential, it was a major seller, despite getting virtually no airplay on top 40 radio. The grand finale of the LP was the title track, which features an array of studio effects, including backwards masking and tape loops. Interestingly enough, the album was originally issued only in a mono version in the UK, with European pressings using a simulated stereo mix. After Reprise bought the rights to release the LP in the US it hired its own engineers to create stereo mixes of the songs from the four-track master tapes.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Purple Haze
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    Purple Haze has one of the most convoluted release histories of any song ever recorded. Originally issued in the UK as a single, it scored high on the British charts. When Reprise got the rights to release the first Hendrix album, Are You Experienced?, they chose to replace the first track on the album with Purple Haze, moving the original opening track, Foxy Lady, to side two of the LP. The song next appeared on the Smash Hits album, which in Europe was on the Polydor label. This was the way things stayed until the early 1990s, when MCA acquired the rights to the Hendrix catalog and re-issued Are You Experienced? with the tracks restored to the UK ordering, but preceded by the six non-album sides (including Purple Haze) that had originally been released prior to the album. Most recently, the Hendrix Family Trust has again changed labels and the US version of Are You Experienced? is once again in print, this time on Sony's Legacy label. This means that Purple Haze (heard here in its original mono mix) has now been released by three of the four currently existing major record companies (the exception being the fourth-ranked EMI group).

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Remember
Source:    CD: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Track)
Year:    1967
    It was common in the 1960s for artists to include "filler" material on their albums, with their best stuff being saved for single releases. Although the Jimi Hendrix Experience made making the best albums a priority, there was still material on their first LP that Hendrix himself considered filler. One of these was Remember, which was also one of three tracks deleted from the US version of the LP to make room for three UK singles that were not on the UK version of Are You Experienced. Still, filler for Jimi Hendrix is as good as or better than 99% of many other artists' best material, as can be heard here.

Artist:    Chymes
Title:    He's Not There Anymore
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Garfield/Kaylan
Label:    Rhino (original label: Chattahoochie)
Year:    1966
    The Turtles started off strong with their 1965 cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, but by mid-1966 it was starting to look like hit records for the band were strictly a thing of the past. Lead vocalist Howard Kaylan decided to hedge his bets by producing a group of "three high school girls wanting to break into show business" that had been recommended to him by his then-girlfriend Nita Garfield. The two of them wrote He's Not There Anymore and the Turtles themselves played the backing instruments for the group, which called itself the Chymes. The record did not go anywhere, and the group soon broke up (as did Kaylan and Garfield). Meanwhile, the Turtles themselves recorded a song called Happy Together and the rest is history.

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband
Title:    Psychedelic Trip
Source:    Mono CD: No Way Out (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Loomis/Flores/Tolby/Aguilar/Andrijasevich
Label:    Sundazed
Year:    Recorded 1967, released 1994
    Psychedelic Trip is essentially an early instrumental version of what would eventually become the title track for the No Way Out album. Although Psychedelic Trip is credited to the entire band, producer/manager Ed Cobb (the Ed Wood of psychedelic music) took sole credit for the song No Way Out.

Artist:    Sagittarius
Title:    The Truth Is Not Real
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Present Tense)
Writer:    Gary Usher
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1968
    After the success of the first Sagittarius single, My World Fell Down, Gary Usher enlisted the aid of Curt Boettcher, who had been working on a studio project of his own called the Ballroom for another production company. Using many of the same studio musicians they created a follow-up single, The Truth Is Not Real. It's interesting to compare Usher's lyrics with those of In My Room, a Brian Wilson tune that Usher had provided lyrics for in 1965.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Why
Source:    CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    McGuinn/Crosby
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1967
    The closing track for the Byrds' fourth LP, Younger Than Yesterday, was originally recorded in late 1965 at RCA studios and was released as the B side of Eight Miles High in 1966. The Younger Than Yesterday version of Why is actually a re-recording of the song.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Goin' Back (version one)
Source:    CD: The Notorious Byrd Brothers
Writer(s):    Goffin/King
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1967
    The Notorius Byrd Brothers, released in 1968, is considered by some to be the finest album in the group's catalog, despite the firing of core member David Crosby midway through the album. In fact, it was in part a disagreement between Crosby, Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman over whether to include Crosby's Triad or the Gerry Goffin/ Carole King song Goin' Back on the album that led to Crosby's departure. With Crosby gone, Goin' Back ended up making the cut, but to me it sounds like it's missing something...).

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Thoughts And Words
Source:    CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    Chris Hillman
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
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, including Thoughts And Words, 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:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Sitting On Top Of The World
Source:    CD: The Grateful Dead
Writer(s):    Jacobs/Carter
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1967
    Most versions of Sitting On Top Of The World (such as the one by Cream) have a slow, melancholy tempo that emphasizes the irony of the lyrics. The Grateful Dead version, on the other hand, goes at about twice the speed and has lyrics I have never heard on any other version. I suspect this is because, like most of the songs on the first Dead album, the tune was part of their early live repertoire; a repertoire that called for a lot of upbeat songs to keep the crowd on their feet. Is this Rob "Pig Pen" McKernon on the vocals? I think so, but am open to any corrections you might want to send along (just use the contact button on the www.hermitradio.com website).

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source:    CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night))
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    BMG/RCA/Buddah (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:    E-Types
Title:    Put The Clock Back On The Wall
Source:    CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bonner/Gordon
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    The E-Types were originally from Salinas, California, which at the time was known for it's sulfiric smell by travelers along US 101. As many people from Salinas apparently went to "nearby" San Jose (about 60 miles to the north) as often as possible, the E-Types became regulars on the local scene, eventually landing a contract with Tower Records and Ed Cobb, who also produced the Standells and the Chocolate Watch Band. The Bonner/Gordon songwriting team were just a couple months away from getting huge royalty checks from the Turtles' Happy Together when Put The Clock Back On The Wall was released in early 1967. The song takes its title from a popular phrase of the time. After a day or two of losing all awareness of time (and sometimes space) it was time to put the clock back on the wall, or get back to reality if you prefer.

Artist:    Generation
Title:    I'm A Good Woman
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on CD: Golden State Soul)
Writer(s):    Barbara Ozen
Label:    Rhino (original label: Ace/Kent)
Year:    Recorded 1967, released 2000
    Even as the original wave of San Francisco psychedelic bands were at their peak, a new, more dance-oriented group of bands were starting to fill the various ballrooms in the bay area. These new groups were built on a solid R&B base and included Tower of Power and Sly and the Family Stone, as well as a lesser-known band called The Generation. The Generation's main attraction was vocalist Lydia Pense, who, despite a petit frame, had one of the most powerful voices on the scene. The Generation managed to get into a recording studio to cut I'm A Good Woman and a few other tracks in 1967 before changing their name to Cold Blood the following year. Cold Blood continues to perform with Pense as the only original member still with the group. Their most recent album was a live CD released in 2008.

Artist:    Al Kooper/Michael Bloomfield/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title:    Fat Grey Cloud
Source:    CD: Super Session (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Bloomfield/Kooper
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1968
    The same lineup that had recorded side one of the historic and influential Super Session album in 1968 made an appearance at the Fillmore, recording live versions of several songs from the album, as well as tracks such as Fat Grey Cloud, essentially a jam session in front of an audience. The recording remained unreleased until the recent remastering of Super Session, when it was included as a bonus track.

Artist:    Leaves
Title:    Back On The Avenue
Source:    CD: Hey Joe
Writer(s):    The Leaves
Label:    One Way (original label: Mira)
Year:    1966
    The Leaves were a group of college fraternity brothers from Los Angeles who decided to form their own band in the mid-1960s. As folk-rock was currently in vogue, this became the music they were most identified with, although their biggest hit, the fast version of Hey Joe, has long been considered a classic example of garage-rock. The group showed on their 1966 debut LP that they were also able to channel the Rolling Stones reasonably well, as Back On The Avenue, an "answer song" to the Stones' 2120 Michigan Avenue, aptly demonstrates.

Artist:    Blue Cheer
Title:    Doctor Please
Source:    LP: Vincebus Eruptum
Writer(s):    Dick Peterson
Label:    Philips
Year:    1968
    With it's raw feedback-drenched guitar and bass and heavily distorted drums, Blue Cheer is often cited as the first heavy metal band. If any one song most demonstrates their right to the title it's Doctor Please from the Vincebus Eruptum album. Written by bassist Dick Peterson, the song is exactly what your parents meant by "that noise". Contrary to the rumor going around in 1970, guitarist Leigh Stephens did not go deaf after recording two albums with Blue Cheer. In fact, he went to England and recorded the critically-acclaimed (but seldom heard) Red Weather album with some of the UK's top studio musicians.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    The Lemon Song
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin II
Writer(s):    Page/Plant/Bonham/Jones
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    If I had to choose just one Led Zeppelin song as representative of the band's early work it would have to be The Lemon Song, from their second album. The track has all the elements that made the Zep's reputation: Jimmy Page's distinctive guitar work, John Bonham's stuttered (but always timely) drum fills, John Paul Jones's funky bass line and Robert Plant's gutsy vocals (with lyrics famously derived from classic blues tunes). Squeeze my lemon, baby indeed!

Artist:    Focus
Title:    House Of The King
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Jan Akkerman
Label:    Sire
Year:    1970
    Dutch band Focus released House of the King as a single in 1970, between their first and second albums. After getting considerable airplay in Europe and the UK, the song was added to later pressings of their debut LP, Focus Plays Focus (alternatively known as In And Out Of Focus). The song finally appeared on a US LP when Focus 3 was released three years later. Contrary to popular belief, the song was not re-recorded for the 1973 album.

Artist:    Beau Brummels
Title:    Just A Little
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Elliott/Durand
Label:    Rhino (original label: Autumn)
Year:    1965
    Often dismissed as an American imitation of British Invasion bands such as the Beatles, the Beau Brummels actually played a pivotal role in rock music history. Formed in San Francisco in 1964, the Brummels were led by Ron Elliott, who co-wrote most of the band's material, including their two top 10 singles in 1965. The second of these, Just A Little, is often cited as the first folk-rock hit, as it was released a week before the Byrds' recording of Mr. Tambourine Man. According to Elliott, the band was not trying to invent folk-rock, however. Rather, it was their own limitations as musicians that forced them to work with what they had: solid vocal harmonies and a mixture of electric and acoustic guitars. Elliott also credits the contributions of producer Sylvester Stewart for the song's success. Conversely, Just A Little was Stewart's greatest success as a producer prior to forming his own band, Sly and the Family Stone, in 1967.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    Tobacco Road
Source:    LP: Psychedelic Lollipop
Writer(s):    John D. Loudermilk
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1966
    For years I've been trying to find a DVD copy of a video I saw on YouTube. It was the Blues Magoos, complete with electric suits and smoke generators, performing Tobacco Road on a Bob Hope TV special. The performance itself was a vintage piece of psychedelia, but the true appeal of the video is in Hope's reaction to the band immediately following the song. You can practically hear him thinking "Well, that's one act I'm not taking with me on my next trip to Viet Nam."

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Feelin' Alright
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Traffic)
Writer(s):    Dave Mason
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1968
    Although Traffic is generally known as an early staple of progressive FM radio, the band had its share of hit singles in its native England as well. Many of these early hits were written by guitarist/vocalist Dave Mason, who would leave the band in 1968, only to return for the live Welcome To The Canteen album before leaving again, this time for good. One of Mason's most memorable songs was Feelin' Alright, from Traffic's self-titled second LP. The song very quickly became a rock standard when Joe Cocker sped it up and made it his own signature song. Grand Funk Railroad slowed it back down and scored a hit with their version in 1971, and Mason himself got some airplay with a new solo recording of the song later in the decade. Even comedian John Belushi got into the act with his dead-on cover of Cocker's version of the song on the Saturday Night Live TV show.

Artist:    Lollipop Shoppe
Title:    Mr. Madison Avenue
Source:    CD: The Weeds aka The Lollipop Shoppe (originally released on LP: Angels From Hell soundtrack)
Writer(s):    Stu Phillips
Label:    Way Back (original label: Tower)
Year:    1968
    When it comes to long strange trips, the Grateful Dead have nothing on Fred Cole, the legendary indy rock pioneer. Like many baby boomers, he got into his first band at age 14. From there the story gets a bit more unique. At age 15 he played bass in a band called the Lords that became the backup band for Frank Sinatra, Jr. That may have been success enough for an average 15-year-old, but for Cole it was only the beginning. After one unsuccessful single the Lords split up and Cole found himself being groomed as the "white Stevie Wonder" by Mike Tell, the owner of the record label that had issued the Lords' single, working with a group of studio musicians led by Larry Williams (of Dizzy Miss Lizzy fame). The group cut a pair of songs using the name Deep Soul Cole (with Cole on lead vocals and bass) and a few copies were made of a possible single, but the record failed to get the attention of top 40 radio and Cole found himself forming a new band, the Weeds, in early 1966. After recording a single for Teenbeat Records, the group got what it thought was its big break when their manager told them they were booked as an opening act for the Yardbirds at the Fillmore in San Francisco. On arrival, however, they soon discovered that nobody, from Bill Graham on down, had any idea who they were. Thus, nearly broke and without a gig, the Weeds decided to do what any band with members of draftable age in 1966 would do: move to Canada. Unfortunately for the band, they only had enough gas to get to Portland, Oregon. Still, being young and resilient, they soon got a steady gig as the house band at a local coffeehouse, with Cole meeting his soon-to-be wife Toody in the process. The Weeds soon became an important part of the Portland music scene, with a series of appearances at the Crystal Ballroom supplementing their regular gig at The Folk Singer throughout 1967. Late in the year the band decided to move on, first to Sausalito, California (for about six months, playing all over the Bay area), then to Los Angeles, where they brazenly showed up unannounced at Lord Tim Productions with a demo tape. Lord Tim, then the manager of the Seeds and claiming to be the guy who coined the term "flower power", signed them on the spot. Soon, a new 45 RPM record appeared on MCA's Uni label: You Must Be A Witch. It came as a shock to the band, however, to see the name Lollipop Shoppe on the label rather than The Weeds. Apparently Lord Tim wanted to avoid any name confusion between the Seeds and the Weeds and arbitrarily decided to rename the band without consulting them first. Before long an entire album by the Lollipop Shoppe hit the shelves. Later in 1968 the band was invited to appear in the cheapie biker film Angels From Hell, although to avoid having to pay Cole for having a speaking (singing) role they only filmed him from the neck down. Two songs from the band, including Mr. Madison Avenue, appeared on the soundtrack album, released on the Tower label (big surprise there). After severing ties with Uni (and Lord Tim) in 1969, the band continued under various names for a few more years before finally giving way to one of the first, and most long-lived indy rock bands, Dead Moon, which was co-led by Fred and Toody Cole for over 20 years.

Artist:    Lemon Tree
Title:    William Chalker's Time Machine
Source:    Mono CD: Insane Times (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Chris Kefford
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Parlophone)
Year:    1968
    One of the most successful British bands to never have a hit in the US was the Move. Led by Roy Wood, the band also featured Jeff Lynne, and would eventually morph into two seperate bands: Roy Wood's Wizzard and the Electric Light Orchestra. Before that happened, however, guitarist Chris "Ace" Kefford branched out on his own side project called the Lemon Tree. Featuring members from other popular local bands, the group cut a pair of singles (produced by Move bassist Trevor Burton) for the Parlophone label in 1968. The first of these was a Kefford composition called William Chalker's Time Machine. Neither single was released in the US.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Someone's Coming
Source:    Simulated stereo CD: Magic Bus-The Who On Tour
Writer(s):    John Entwhistle
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1968
    Some songs just get no respect. First released in 1967 in the UK as the B side of I Can See For Miles, John Alec Entwistle's Someone's Coming got left off the US release entirely. It wasn't until the release of the Magic Bus single (and subsequent LP) in 1968 that the tune appeared on US vinyl, and then, once again as a B side. The Magic Bus album, however, was never issued on CD in the US, although it has been available as a Canadian import (heard here in glorious fake stereo) for several years. Finally, in 1995 the song found a home on a US CD as a bonus track on The Who Sell Out.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Straight Arrow
Source:    CD: Spirit
Writer(s):    Jay Ferguson
Label:    Ode/Epic/Legacy
Year:    1968
    Spirit was born when high school students and garage rockers Randy California, Jay Ferguson, Mark Andes and John Locke started jamming with California's stepfather, jazz drummer Ed Cassidy. The result was one of the earliest examples of jazz-rock, although the jazz element would be toned down for later albums. Unlike the later fusion bands, Spirit's early songs tended to be sectional, with a main section that was straight rock often leading into a more late bop styled instrumental section reminiscent of Wes Montgomery's recordings. Vocalist Jay Ferguson wrote most of the band's early material, such as Straight Arrow from their 1968 debut album.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Oh, Sweet Mary
Source:    LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Albin/Andrew/Getz/Gurley/Joplin
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    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 Coo Coo, a non-album  single the band released on the Mainstream label before signing to Columbia. Oh, Sweet Mary, however, has new lyrics and a "dreamy" bridge section played at a slower tempo than the rest of the tune.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    I Don't Have To Sing The Blues
Source:    CD: Closer To Home
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    Capitol Records may not have had the most artists on their roster in the 60s and early 70s, but they did have the biggest names. In the early 60s the Beach Boys were undisputably the most successful surf group in the world. Then came the Beatles. In the early 1970s it was Flint, Michigan's Grand Funk Railroad, who, despite being universally panned by the rock press, consistently sold out the largest venues in the history of rock music, pretty much single-handedly creating arena rock in the process (they were too loud to play anyplace smaller than sports arenas). The power trio of Mark Farner (guitar), Mel Schacher (bass) and Don Brewer (drums) hit their commercial stride in 1970, when all three of their studio albums (the first two of which were released the previous year), as well as their first live album, went gold in the same year. The last of these was Closer To Home, which included their first bonafide radio hit, I'm Your Captain. Among the other notable tracks on Closer To Home is I Don't Want To Sing The Blues, a song whose lyrics incurred the ire of feminists everywhere. The band, of course, took the criticism in stride, having learned early on that bad press is better than no press at all.

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