Artist: Family Tree
Title: Live Your Own Life
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mira)
This week, to make up for a lack of San Francisco bands on recent shows we start with an entire set of tunes from the Bay Area. The Family Tree was actually one of the first rock bands to play the Fillmore, but even then were seen as interlopers due to their propensity for dressing and sounding like the Beatles and other Mercybeat bands. Live Your Own Life was intended for release on San Francisco's premier local label, Autumn Records, but for some unknown reason ended up on Mira (the same label that released L.A. band the Leaves' first records). Live Your Own Life is sometimes known as The Airplane Song due to its perceived similarity to some early Jefferson Airplane recordings.
Artist: Immediate Family
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on CD: What A Way To Come Down)
Label: Rhino (original label: Big Beat)
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1997
The members of the Immediate Family hailed from the city of Concord, a conservative suburb east of San Francisco bay. They didn't actually make music in their hometown, however. Instead they practiced at the home of organist Kriss Kovacs's mother Judy Davis (the vocal coach to the stars who numbered such diverse talents as Grace Slick, Barbra Streisand and even Frank Sinatra among her pupils). The band was able to get the backing to lay down some tracks at Golden State Recorders (the top studio in the area at the time), but reportedly lost their record deal due to emotional instability on the part of Kovacs. The song Rubiyat is an adaptation of the Rubiyat Of Omar Khayyam. Ambitious to be sure, but done well enough to make one wonder what it could have led to.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: I Don't Want To Spoil Your Party (alternate version of Dino's Song)
Source: CD: Quicksilver Messenger Service (originally released on CD: Unreleased Quicksilver)
Writer(s): Dino Valenti
Label: RockBeat (original label: Capitol)
Year: Recorded 1968, alternate version released 2000)
A few years back I picked up the DVD collector's edition of the telefilm that DA Pennebacker made of the Monterey International Pop Festival. In addition to the film itself there were two discs of bonus material, including a song by Quicksilver Messenger Service that was listed under the title All I Ever Wanted To Do (Was Love You). I spent some time trying to figure out which album the song had originally appeared on, but came up empty until I got a copy of the first Quicksilver album and discovered it was actually called Dino's song. The album version has a definite garage sound to it, similar to the classic Van Morrison song Gloria. In 2000 Collector's Choice released a compilation of previously unheard Quicksilver tracks, including this alternate version of Dino's Song that uses yet another title: I Don't Want To Spoil Your Party. This version has a more country-rock sound to it than the original LP version. I suspect the confusion in song titles is connected to the origins of the band itself, which was the brainchild of Dino Valenti and John Cipollina (and possibly Gary Duncan). The day after their first practice session Valenti got busted and spent the next few years in jail. My theory is that this was an untitled song that Valenti showed Cippolina at that first practice.. Since it probably still didn't have a title when the group performed the song at Monterey, the filmmakers used the most repeated line from the song itself, All I Ever Wanted To Do (Was Love You). When the band recorded their first LP in 1968 they just called it Dino's Song. Presumably by the time this alternate version was released in 2000 Valenti had come up with an official title, I Don't Want To Spoil Your Party. If anyone knows of another explanation, please pass it along.
Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: Time Has Come Today
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: The Time Has Come)
Writer(s): Joe and Willie Chambers
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Time Has Come Today has one of the most complex histories of any song of the psychedelic era. First recorded in 1966 and released as a two-and-a-half minute single the song flopped. The following year an entirely new eleven minute version of the song was recorded for the album The Time Has Come, featuring an extended pyschedelic section filled with various studio effects. In late 1967 a three minute edited version of the song was released that left out virtually the entire psychedelic section of the recording. Soon after that, the single was pulled from the shelf and replaced by a longer edited version that included part of the psychedelic section. That version became a hit record in 1968, peaking just outside the top 10. This is actually a stereo recreation of that mono second edited version.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Spanish Castle Magic
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
When the second Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Axis: Bold As Love came out it was hailed as a masterpiece of four-track engineering. Working closely with producer Chas Chandler and engineer Eddie Kramer, Hendrix used the recording studio itself as an instrument, making an art form out of the stereo mixing process. The unfortunate by-product of this is that most of the songs on the album could not be played live and still sound anything like the studio version. One notable exception is Spanish Castle Magic, which became a more or less permanent part of the band's performing repertoire.
Artist: Tim Hardin
Title: Red Balloon
Source: Mono LP: Tim Hardin II
Writer(s): Tim Hardin
Label: Verve Forecast
There have always been singer/songwriters whose songs are usually associated by the artists who recorded hit cover versions of those songs. Such is the case with Tim Hardin, who wrote If I Were A Carpenter and recorded it for his 1967 LP Tim Hardin II. Bobby Darin covered the song a couple years later, charting one of his biggest hits in the process. A later version by Johnny Cash and June Carter topped the country charts. Another, lesser-known track from Hardin's second LP is Red Balloon, which is written in a similar vein.
Artist: Firesign Theatre
Title: The T.B. Guide
Source: LP: Dear Friends
The Firesign Theatre were a radio comedy troupe consisting of Phil Proctor, Peter Bergman, Phil Austin and David Ossman. In addition to a series of LPs such as Don't Touch That Dwarf Hand Me The Pliers, How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All and Everything You Know Is Wrong, the group released a double LP that gathered the group's favorite bits from their Pacifica Radio show, Dear Friends. The T.B. Guide is one of the more memorable bits, and was a direct influence on an entire generation of improvisational comedy performers.
Title: Still, I'm Sad
Source: Rechannelled stereo LP: Great Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
The most influential Yardbirds song on US garage bands, as well as their biggest US hit, was their grunged out version of Bo Diddley's I'm A Man, which hit the top 10 in 1965. The B side of that record was Still I'm Sad, possibly the first rock song to incorporate Gregorian chant. Interestingly enough, Still I'm Sad was released in the UK on the exact same day as in the US, but as the B side to an entirely different tune, Evil Hearted You.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Priority (original label: Double Shot)
In late 1966 five guys from San Jose California managed to sound more like the Yardbirds that the Yardbirds themselves, especially considering that Jeff Beck was no longer a Yardbird in late 1966. One interesting note about this record is that as late as the mid-1980s the 45 RPM single on the original label was still available in record stores, complete with the original B side. Normally songs more than a year or two old were only available on anthology LPs or on reissue singles with "back-to-back hits" on them. The complete takeover of the record racks by CDs in the late 1980s changed all that.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: Just Like Me
Source: Mono LP: Greatest Hits
Just Like Me was the first top 10 single from Paul Revere And The Raiders, a band that deserves much more credit than they are generally given. The group started in the early part of the decade in Boise, Idaho, when Revere (his real name) hooked up with saxophonist Mark Lindsay. Like most bands at the time, the Raiders' repertoire consisted mostly of instrumentals, as PA systems were a luxury that required more space than was generally allotted to a small town band. It wasn't long before the Raiders relocated to Portland, Oregon, where they became a popular attraction at various clubs. After a hiatus caused by Revere's stint in the military, the band resumed its place as one of the founding bands of the Portland music scene. They soon made their first visit to a recording studio, recording Richard Berry's Louie Louie at around the same time as another popular Portland band, the Kingsmen. Due as much to superior promotion efforts from Wand Records as anything else, the Kingsmen's version ended up being a huge hit while the Raiders' version was virtually ignored. Undeterred, the band continued to grow in popularity, recording another single in 1964 (Like Long Hair) and going on tour. It was while playing in Hawaii that the band was noticed by none other than Dick Clark, who hired them to be the house band on his new afternoon TV show, Where The Action Is. He also got them a contract with Columbia Records, at the time the second-largest record company in the world. The Raiders were Columbia's first rock band, and they paired the band up with their hippest young producer, Terry Melcher. It was a partnership that would lead to a string of hits, starting with Steppin' Out in 1965. The next record, Just Like Me, was the first of a string of top 10 singles that would last until early 1967, when rapidly changing public tastes made the band seem antiquated compared to up and coming groups like Jefferson Airplane. Just Like Me, despite some rather cheesy lyrics, still holds up well after all these years. Much of the credit for that has to go to Drake Levin, whose innovative double-tracked guitar solo rocked out harder than anything else on top 40 radio at the time (with the possible exception of a couple of well-known Kinks songs).
Title: She Done Moved
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Dick And Bud Johnson
Label: Rhino (original label: ABC Paramount)
ABC Paramount was a record label specifically formed to release records by artists who appeared on the ABC TV network (which was owned by the Paramount theater chain, which in turn had originally been owned by Paramount Pictures, who had divested themselves of the theater chain as a result of an anti-trust action). By the 60s the label had expanded into a major player in the industry with artists ranging from teen-idol Steve Alaimo to R&B favorites like the Impressions and the Tams. In 1966 they dropped the Paramount from their name and became simply ABC records (using the TV network logo). One of the last singles released before the change was She Done Moved, a middle-class teenager's lament from the Spats, an Orange County, California band led by brothers Dick and Bud Johnson. The song describes the heartbreak of having one's girlfriend suddenly relocate to another town, in this case Kansas City. As a military brat myself, I can relate somewhat.
Title: The Trip
Source: Mono LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Donovan had already established a reputation in his native Scotland as the UK's answer to Bob Dylan, but had not had much success in the US, where his records were being released on the low-distribution Hickory label. That all changed in 1966, however, when he began to move beyond his folk roots and embrace a more electric sound. Unlike Dylan, who basically kept the same style as his acoustic songs, simply adding electic instruments, Donovan took a more holistic approach. The result was a body of music with a much broader range of sounds. The first of these new electric tunes was Sunshine Superman, sometimes cited as the first top 10 psychedelic hit. The B side of Sunshine Superman was a song called The Trip, which managed to be even more psychedelic than it's A side. Both songs soon appeared on Donovan's major US label debut, an album that was not even released in the UK due to a contractual dispute between the singer/songwriter and Pye Records.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: The Behemoth
Source: Mono CD: Dark Sides (originally released on LP: Back Door Men)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
When it comes to garage punk bands of the sixties there are two that are generally considered to be at the top of the heap. Unlike the Standells, who started off as a bar band and only embraced the punk ethic when they hooked up with writer/producer Ed Cobb, the Shadows of Knight were the real deal. Coming from the Chicago suburbs, they literally got their start practicing in the garage, slowly graduating to parties and high school dances, getting banned from at least one high school campus in the process (something having to do with a student getting knocked up by lead vocalist Jim Sohns, rumor has it). The Shadows (as they were originally known) cited the British blues bands as their main influence, with a dose of Chicago blues thrown in for good measure. The Behemoth, a track from their second album, Back Door Men, was chosen for a 1967 B side as well.
Title: My Little Red Book
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released on LP: Love)
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
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: Rolling Stones
Title: Good Times, Bad Times
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
It may be hard to imagine, but the first Rolling Stones US tour was less than a complete success. In order to salvage something positive about the trip abroad, producer Andrew Loog Oldham arranged for the band to book time at Chicago's Chess Records studio, where many of the band's idols had recorded for the past decade. One of the songs from those sessions was Good Times, Bad Times. The song was only the second Jagger/Richards composition to be recorded by the Stones, and the first to be released on 45 RPM vinyl. Since 45s outsold LPs by a factor of at least five to one in 1964, this was an important distinction.
Title: All Right Now
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Led by Andy Fraser and Paul Rodgers, Free was one of the first "70s" rock bands. They made their biggest splash with All Right Now, a huge hit in 1970.
Title: I Need You
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Ray Davies
After a series of hard-rocking hits in 1964 such as You Really Got Me, the Kinks mellowed out a bit with songs like Set Me Free the following year. Lurking on the other side of the single, though, was a song that showed that the band still knew how to rock out: I Need You.
Artist: We The People
Title: You Burn Me Up And Down
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Thomas Talton
Label: Rhino (original label: Challenge)
We The People was kind of a regional supergroup in the Orlando, Florida area, as it was made up of musicians from various local garage bands. The departure of lead guitarist Wayne Proctor in early 1967 and the band's other main songwriter Tommy Talton a year later led to the group's demise, despite having landed a contract with RCA Victor, at the time the world's largest record label. Before splitting up, however, they recorded a handful of garage-rock classics such as You Burn Me Up And Down, which was released as a B side in 1966.
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Fleetwood Mac
Source: Mono LP: The Original Fleetwood Mac
Writer(s): Peter Green
Fleetwood Mac was formed in 1967 as an outgrowth of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Mayall had gifted guitarist Peter Green with studio time, and Green promptly enlisted the aid of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Jeremy Spencer to record some of Green's own compositions. Most of that early studio work remained unreleased until a later version of the band hit it big, at which point Sire records compiled an album's worth of early tracks such as this one, itself titled Fleetwood Mac.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Cat's Squirrel
Source: CD: This Was
Writer(s): Trad., arr. Abrahams
Label: Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Probably the Jethro Tull recording with the least Ian Anderson influence, Cat's Squirrel was recorded at the insistence of record company people, who felt the song was most representative of the band's live sound. The traditional tune was arranged by guitarist Mick Abrahams, who left the band due to creative differences with Anderson shortly thereafter. Cat's Squirrel became a live staple of Abrahams's next band, Blodwyn Pig.
Title: Lemonade Kid
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Kak)
Writer(s): Gary Lee Yoder
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
Kak was a group from Davis, California that was only around long enough to record one LP for Epic. That self-titled album did not make much of an impression commercially, and was soon out of print. Long after the band had split up, critics began to notice the album, and copies of the original LP are now highly-prized by collectors. Songs like the Lemonade Kid show that Kak had a sound that holds up better today than many of the other artists of the time. In fact, after listening to this track a couple times I went out and ordered a copy of the import CD reissue of the Kak album.
Title: Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
According to principal songwriter John Lennon, Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite was inspired by a turn of the century circus poster that the Beatles ran across while working on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Most of the lyrics refer to items on the poster itself, such as Henry the Horse and the Hendersons.
Artist: Balloon Farm
Title: A Question Of Temperature
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Laurie)
Few, if any, bands managed to successfully cross bubble gum and punk like the Balloon Farm with A Question Of Temperature, originally released on the Laurie label in 1967. Band member Mike Appel went on to have great success as Bruce Springsteen's first manager.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly
Source: CD: Beyond The Garage (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Sundazed (original labels: Original Sound/Warner Brothers)
The Music Machine was by far the most sophisticated of all the bands playing on L.A.'s Sunset Strip in 1966. Not only did they feature tight sets (so that audience members wouldn't get the chance to call out requests between songs), they also had their own visual look that set them apart from other bands. Dressed entirely in black (including dyed hair), and with leader Sean Bonniwell wearing one black glove, the Machine projected an image that would influence such diverse artists as the Ramones and Michael Jackson in later years. Musically, Bonniwell's songwriting showed a sophistication that was on a par with the best L.A. had to offer, demonstrated by a series of fine singles such as The Eagle Never Hunts the Fly. Unfortunately, problems on the business end prevented the Music Machine from achieving the success it deserved and Bonniwell eventually quit the music business altogether in disgust.
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Fall On You
Source: LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s): Peter Lewis
In a band overloaded with talent like Moby Grape was it's easy to overlook the contributions of the band's third guitarist, Peter Lewis. That would be a mistake, however. Although not as flashy as some of the other members, Lewis, the son of actress Loretta Young, showed his songwriting talents on tunes such as Fall On You from the first Moby Grape LP.
Artist: Soft Machine
Title: Feelin', Reelin', Squealin'
Source: Mono CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
The Soft Machine is best known for being at the forefront of the jazz-rock fusion movement of the 1970s. In their early years, however, they were a pioneer, along with Pink Floyd, of the British brand of psychedelic rock, playing in places like London's legendary UFO club. Their first single, released on the Polydor label, included a bit of madness called Feelin', Reelin', Squealin' as a B side.
Title: Feelin' Alright
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Traffic)
Writer(s): Dave Mason
Label: United Artists
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: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Run Around
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
The first Jefferson Airplane album was dominated by the songwriting of the band's founder, Marty Balin, both as a solo writer and as a collaborator with other band members. Run Around, from Balin and rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner is fairly typical of the early Jefferson Airplane sound.
Artist: Third Barto
Title: I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time
Source: Mono CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Zonophone (original label: Roulette)
The Third Barto (the name coming from the Tibetan Book of the Dead) only released one single, but I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time has become, over a period of time, one of the most sought-after records of the psychedelic era. Not much is known of this New York band made up of Jeffrey Moon (vocals), Bruce Ginsberg (drums), Ricky Goldclang (lead guitar), Damian Kelly (bass) and Richy Seslowe (guitar).
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Journey To The Center Of The Mind)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
Detroit was one of the major centers of pop music in the late 60s. In addition to the myriad Motown acts, the area boasted the popular retro-rock&roll band Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the harder rocking Bob Seger System, the non-Motown R&B band the Capitols, and Ted Nugent's outfit, the Amboy Dukes, who scored big in 1968 with Journey To The Center Of The Mind.
Title: I'm Free
Source: CD: Tommy
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
1969 was a banner year for the Who. Not only did they gather high praise from the rock press for their rock-opera Tommy, they scored big commercially with the first single from the album, Pinball Wizard. The follow-up single, I'm Free, did not do quite as well on the charts but is perhaps a better indicator of what was to come from the band in the 70s.