Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1243 (starts 10/25/12)

    Once again it's All Hallow's Eve weekend and Stuck in the Psychedelic Era has some appropriate songs for least in the first set. After that, it's on with the show!

Artist:    Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Title:    Fire Poem/Fire
Source:    CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown)
Writer(s):    Brown/Crane/Finesilver/Ker
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1968
    The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was unusual for their time in that they were much more theatrical than most of their contemporaries, who were generally more into audio experimentation than visual. I have a video of Fire being performed (or maybe just lip-synched). In it, all the members are wearing some sort of mask, and Brown himself is wearing special headgear that was literally on fire. There is no doubt that The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown sowed the seeds of what was to become the glitter-rock movement in the early to mid 70s. This week we have the uncut stereo version of Fire along with the Fire Poem that precedes it on the original album. I figured it would be a good way to start a Halloween set, especially since there are no stations in the Detroit area currently running Stuck in the Psychedelic Era.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Strange Days
Source:    CD: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    In our first year of syndication I made sure the title cut from the second Doors album, Strange Days, made the 20 most played songs list for the year by playing it fairly often. This is actually the first time I've played the song since then, an oversight I'll have to make sure doesn't happen again. It also makes a pretty decent Halloween song.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Season Of The Witch
Source:    CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Sony Music Special Products (original label: Epic)
Year:    1966
    No Halloween show would be complete without some version of Season Of The Witch. This year it's the original Donovan version of the song, originally heard on his 1966 LP Sunshine Superman. The stereo version, however, did not make an appearance until the Scottish singer/songwriter's first greatest hits compilation, released in 1969.

Artist:    Fairport Convention
Title:    It's Alright, It's Only Witchcraft
Source:    CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Fairport Convention)
Writer(s):    Hutchings/Thompson
Label:    Polydor (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1967
    Fairport Convention has long been known for being an important part of the British folk music revival that came to prominence in the early 70s. Originally, however, the band was modeled after the folk-rock bands that had risen to prominence on the US West Coast from 1965-66. Their first LP was released in the fall of 1967, and drew favorable reviews from the UK rock press, which saw them at Britain's answer to Jefferson Airplane. One of the LP's highlights is It's Alright, It's Only Witchcraft, which features electric guitar work by Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol that rivals that of Jorma Kaukonen. It also fits the Halloween theme of tonight's first set.

Artist:    Lollipop Shoppe (actual name: The Weeds)
Title:    You Must Be A Witch
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Fred Cole
Label:    Rhino (original label: Uni)
Year:    1968
    The Weeds were formed in Las Vegas in 1965 by vocalist Fred Cole, who at age 16 was already a recording studio veteran. They showed up at the Fillmore to open for the Yardbirds in 1966 only to find out that their manager had lied to them about being on the playbill (in fact Bill Graham had never even heard of them). Disenchanted with their management and fearing the Draft, the entire band decided to head for Canada, but ran out of gas in Portland, Oregon. They soon landed a regular gig at a club called the Folk Singer (where Cole met his future wife Toody) and after relocating to Southern California in 1968 attracted the attention of Seeds' manager Lord Tim, who got them a contract with MCA Records (now Universal). They recorded one album for MCA's Uni label, (discovering after the fact that Lord Tim had changed their name to the Lollipop Shoppe), which included the single You Must Be A Witch. Fred Cole has since become an icon of indy rock, co-leading the band Dead Moon (with wife Toody) from 1987-2006.

Artist:    October Country
Title:    My Girlfriend Is A Witch
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Michael Lloyd
Label:    Rhino (original label: Epic)
Year:    1968
    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:    Bobby Hebb
Title:    Sunny
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Bobby Hebb
Label:    Philips
Year:    1966
    Bobby Hebb, whose parents were both blind musicians, made his performing debut in 1941 at the age of 3, performing with his brother Harold as a song-and-dance team. In the 1950s a TV appearance led to him becoming a member of Roy Acuff's band, playing spoons and other instruments. Over a period of years he covered considerable musical ground, inlcuding playing trumpet in a US Navy jazz band, singing backup on a Bo Diddley record and taking over Mickey Baker's spot as half of Mickey And Sylvia, performing Love Is Strange many times and places. Finally, in 1966 he hit it big with Sunny, a song that made the top five on both pop and R&B charts.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Let's Spend The Night Together
Source:    LP: Between The Buttons
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    I seem to recall some TV show (Ed Sullivan, maybe?) making Mick Jagger change the words to "Let's Spend Some Time Together". I can't imagine anyone doing that to the Stones now. Nor can I imagine the band agreeing to it.

Artist:    Yardbirds
Title:    For Your Love
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Graham Gouldman
Label:    Epic
Year:    1965
    The last Yardbirds song to feature guitarist Eric Clapton, For Your Love was the group's fist US hit, peaking at the # 6 slot. The song did even better in the UK, peaking at # 3. Following its release, Clapton left the Yardbirds, citing the band's move toward a more commercial sound and this song in particular as reasons for his departure (ironic when you consider songs like his mid-90s hit Change the World or his slowed down lounge lizard version of Layla). For Your Love was written by Graham Gouldman, who would end up as a member of Wayne Fontana's Mindbenders and later 10cc with Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.

Artist:    Janis Ian
Title:    Society's Child
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Janis Ian
Label:    Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
Year:    1966
    Janis Ian began writing Society's Child, using the title Baby I've Been Thinking, when she was 13 years old, finishing it shortly after her 14th birthday. She shopped it around to several record labels before finally finding one (Now Sounds) to take a chance on the controversial song about interracial dating. The record got picked up and re-issued in 1966 by M-G-M's experimental label Verve Forecast, a label whose roster included Dave Van Ronk, Laura Nyro and the Blues Project, among others. Despite being banned on several radio stations the song became a major hit when re-released yet another time in early 1967. Ian had problems maintaining a balance between her performing career and being a student which ultimately led to her dropping out of high school. She would eventually get her career back on track in the mid-70s, scoring another major hit with At Seventeen, and becoming somewhat of a heroine to the feminist movement.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hillsdale
Source:    CD: Forever Changes
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    When Forever Changes was recorded, the band took some flack for the use of horns and strings. What the critics of the time failed to take into account was that the added instruments were not, as was usually the case, added by the producer as a way to cover up weak musicianship. In fact the band members themselves (particularly leader Arthur Lee) were responsible for the addition and worked closely with arranger David Angel to come up with the sound they wanted. The result was a seamless integration of instruments that works particularly well on track such as Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hillsdale, a song about life on L.A.'s Sunset Strip, particularly at the Whisky-A-Go-Go, where Love was the house band.

Artist:    Rationals
Title:    I Need You
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Rhino (original label: A Squared)
Year:    1968
    The Rationals were formed in 1965 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They soon got the attention of local label A2 (A Squared), and had a series of regional hits in the same Detroit soul-rock style favored by such notables as Mitch Ryder and Bob Seger. One of the best of these was a cover of a Kinks B side, I Need You, which the Rationals released in 1968.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    What A Bringdown
Source:    CD: Goodbye Cream
Writer(s):    Ginger Baker
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    Right around the time that Cream's third LP, Wheels Of Fire, was released, the band announced that it would be splitting up following its upcoming tour. Before starting the tour the band recorded three tracks, each one written by one of the three band members. Both Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce worked with collaborators on their songs, while drummer Ginger Baker was given full credit for his tune, What A Bringdown. As it turned out those would be the only studio recordings on the final Cream album, Goodbye Cream, released in 1969, which in addition to the three new songs had several live tracks as well.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Black Magic Woman
Source:    CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Abraxas and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Peter Green
Label:    Priority (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1970
    A common practice among San Francisco bands was to record their first album in a matter of days then spend months on the follow up. Such was the case with Carlos Santana's band, who resisted pressure from their label to crank out a new album following their successful appearance at Woodstock. The result was Abraxas, released in spring of 1970, still considered to be one of the best rock albums ever made. The album opened with a medley that included their own version of the 1968 Fleetwood Mac song Black Magic Woman. An edited version of the song was released as a single and became the group's biggest hit.

Artist:    Guilloteens
Title:    For My Own
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bruell/Paul/Hutcherson/Davis
Label:    Rhino (original label: Hanna-Barbera)
Year:    1965
    Sometimes you don't quite end up where you expected to. The Guilloteens were a band from Memphis, Tennessee, who relocated to Los Angeles in the hopes of hitting the big time. At first it looked like things might just work out for the group, especially when Phil Spector himself took an interest in their music. Then their path took a strange turn when their manager instead got them a contract with the new Hanna-Barbera label being started by the successful animation team. As one of the band members put it: "We went from the wall of sound to Huckleberry Hound." The result was the single For My Own, released in 1965.

Artist:    Freddie And The Dreamers
Title:    Yes I Do
Source:    Mono LP: Freddie And The Dreamers
Writer(s):    McLaine/Bocking/Wheaton
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1965
    Even the British invasion had its silly aspects, and there were none quite as silly as Freddie and the Dreamers. They didn't really set out to be that way, but Freddie's antics were just too hard to take seriously. Their first album was probably their sanest, as it's likely they were still trying to maintain some semblance of sanity when they recorded songs like their first hit, I'm Telling You Now, and album tracks like Yes I Do (heard here). By the time they recorded Do The Freddie, however, they were too far gone to ever come back.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix
Title:    Stone Free
Source:    CD: Valleys Of Neptune
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Legacy
Year:    Recorded 1969, released 2010
    The 1969 version of Stone Free actually exists in many forms. The song was originally recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966 and issued as the B side of Hey Joe in Europe and the UK, but not in the Western hemisphere. As Hendrix always felt that this original version was rushed, due to financial restraints, he resolved to record a new version following the release of Electric Ladyland. The band went into the studio in April of 1969 and recorded a new, much cleaner sounding stereo version of Stone Free, which eventually appeared on the Jimi Hendrix box set. This was not the last version of the song to be recorded, however. In May of 1969 Hendrix, working with drummer Mitch Mitchell and his old friend Billy Cox on bass, created an entirely new arrangement of the song. These new tracks were then juxtaposed with the lead guitar and vocal tracks from the April recording to make the version heard on the 2010 CD Valleys Of Neptune.

Artist:    Association
Title:    Standing Still
Source:    LP: And Now…Along Comes The Association
Writer(s):    Ted Bluechel
Label:    Valiant
Year:    1966
    The Association was unique among L.A. area club bands in that they favored a softer, more pop-oriented style than their contemporaries, who by and large had a sound that was only a step away from garage rock. The band had several quality vocalists that combined to create harmonies that were not often heard in the clubs on Sunset Strip. They also had more than their share of songwriting talent, as songs such as Cherish (a top 5 international hit) and Standing Still, which follows Cherish on their debut LP, demonstrate.

Artist:    Simon and Garfunkel
Title:    The Sound Of Silence
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Sounds Of Silence)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    The Sound Of Silence was originally an acoustic piece that was included on Simon and Garfunkel's 1964 debut album, Wednesday Morning 3AM. The album went nowhere and was soon deleted from the Columbia Records catalog. Simon and Garfunkel themselves went their separate ways, with Simon moving to London and recording a solo LP, the Paul Simon Songbook. While Simon was in the UK, producer John Simon, who had been working with Bob Dylan on Highway 61 Revisited, pulled out the master tape of The Sound Of Silence and got Dylan's band to add electric instruments to the existing recording. The song was released to local radio stations, where it garnered enough interest to get the modified recording released as a single. It turned out to be a huge hit and prompted Paul Simon to move back to the US and reunite with Art Garfunkel.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Why Pick On Me
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
    Ed Cobb was, in many ways, the Ed Wood of the record industry. The bands who recorded under his guidance, such as LA.'s Standells, have become legends of garage rock. Wood wrote the first three singles released by the Standells, including their biggest hit, Dirty Water, and its follow-up, Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White. Why Pick On Me, the title track of the band's second LP, was the third single released by the band, although it did not chart as well as its predecessors.

Artist:    Thunderclap Newman
Title:    Something In The Air
Source:    CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    John Keen
Label:    Polydor (original label: Marmalade)
Year:    1969
    Thunderclap Newman was actually the creation of the Who's Pete Townshend, who assembled a bunch of studio musicians to work with drummer (and former Who roadie) John "Speedy" Keen. Keen had written Armenia City In The Sky, the opening track on The Who Sell Out, and Townshend set up the studio project to return the favor. Joining Keen were 15-year-old guitarist Jimmy McCulloch (who would eventually join Paul McCartney's Wings before dying of a heroin overdose in 1979), studio engineer Andy "Thunderclap" Newman (who had worked with Pink Floyd, among others) on piano, and Townshend himself on bass. Following the success of Something In The Air, the group recorded an album, but sales were disappointing and the group soon disbanded.

Artist:    Zager And Evans
Title:    In The Year 2525
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Rick Evans
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1969
    Since the advent of rock and roll in the 1950s there have been literally hundreds of one-hit wonders, artists who had one fairly big hit and then faded off into the background. Usually these artists recorded one or more a follow-up records that got minor airplay (and sometimes even major airplay in a limited number of markets), but were not successful enough to make a long-term career of it. A few of them get cited as the "ultimate" one-hit wonder, but for my money the title undisputedly belongs to folk-rockers Zager And Evans. The reason I say this is because they were more extreme than any other one-hit wonders, both in their success and their subsequent failures. The success part is impressive: In The Year 2525 spent six weeks in the number one spot on the US charts and finished second only to the 5th Dimension's Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In for the entire year 1969. Their subsequent failures were equally impressive: not only did they fail to crack the top 40 charts again, they couldn't even make the Billboard Hot 100 chart! Even Tiny Tim did that.

Artist:    Neil Young
Title:    Old Man
Source:    CD: Decade (originally released on LP: Harvest)
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1972
    Neil Young had his greatest success as a solo artist with the album Harvest, released in 1972. In fact, the song Heart Of Gold was so successful that Young deliberately set out to make less commercial sounding records from then on. Less successful on the charts was a second single, Old Man, that nonetheless got tons of exposure on FM rock stations that were just beginning to realize that they could be economically viable alternatives to top 40 AM stations.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    CD: Turn On The Music Machine
Writer(s):    Billy Roberts
Label:    Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1966
    There were actually three slow versions of Hey Joe released in 1966. The first was a single by folk singer Tim Rose, who reportedly brainstormed the idea of slowing down the popular garage-rock tune with his friend Sean Bonniwell, leader of the Music Machine. Although Rose's version was the first released, it did not appear on an LP until 1967. The first stereo version of the song was on the Music Machine's first LP. In December a third slow version of Hey Joe was released, but only in the UK and Europe. That version was by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Like Rose's single, the Hendrix version of Hey Joe was originally released only in a mono version, which was remixed in stereo by engineers at Reprise Records for inclusion on the US version of the debut Hendrix LP in 1967.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
Source:    LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    While not as commercially successful as the Airplane or as long-lived as the 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, which is itself ironic, since the band operated out of Berkeley on the other side of the bay. Of all the tracks on their first album, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine probably got the most airplay on various underground radio stations that were popping up on the FM dial at the time (some of them even legally).

Artist:    Them
Title:    Square Room
Source:    Mono LP: Now And Them
Writer(s):    Them
Label:    Tower
Year:    1968
     After Van Morrison left Them to try his luck as a solo artist, the rest of the band went back to Ireland, recording an album as the Belfast Gypsys before recruiting new vocalist Kenny McDowell and relocating to California. After securing a record deal with Tower Records they went to work on the Now and Them album in late 1967, releasing the LP in January of '68. The standout track of the album is the nearly ten minute Square Room, an acid rock piece that showcases the work of guitarist Jim Armstrong.

Artist:    We The People
Title:    Mirror Of Your Mind
Source:    Mono CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Thomas Talton
Label:    Rhino (original label: Challenge)
Year:    1966
    We The People were formed when an Orlando, Florida newspaper reporter talked members of two local bands to combine into a garage/punk supergroup. The result was one of the most successful regional bands in Florida history. After their first recording got airplay on a local station, they were signed to record in Nashville for Challenge Records (a label actually based in Los Angeles) and cranked out several regional hits over the next few years. The first of these was Mirror Of Your Mind. Written by lead vocalist Tom Talton, the song is an in-your-face rocker that got played on a number of local stations and has been covered by several bands since.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    You Really Got Me
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Eric (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1964
    You Really Got Me has been described as the first hard rock song and the track that invented heavy metal. You'll get no argument from me on either of those.

Artist:    Castaways
Title:    Liar Liar
Source:    CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Donna/Craswell
Label:    Rhino (original label: Soma)
Year:    1965
    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:    Tommy James And The Shondells
Title:    Mony Mony
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    James/Cordell/Gentry/Bloom
Label:    Roulette
Year:    1968
    Sometime around 1964, a kid named Tommy James took his band, the Shondells, into a recording studio to record a simple song called Hanky Panky. The song was released on the Roulette label and went absolutely nowhere. Two years later a Pittsburgh DJ, looking for something different to make his show stand out from the crowd, decided to dig out a copy of the record and play it as a sort of on-air audition. The audience loved it, and the DJ soon contacted James, inviting him and the Shondells to make a personal appearance. Unfortunately by this time there were no Shondells, so James hastily put together a new band to promote the record. It wasn't long before the word spread and Hanky Panky was a national hit. James and his new Shondells then commenced to pretty much single-handedly keep Roulette Records afloat for the next three or four years with songs like their 1968 jukebox favorite Mony Mony, one of many top 10 singles for the band.

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