Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1247 (starts 11/22/12)

    This week we start with an hour made up of somewhat longer than usual sets, followed by an hour with a higher than usual number of long songs. Thanksgiving is, after all, the time of year to get a long, right?

Artist:    Romancers
Title:    Love's The Thing
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Max and Bob Uballez
Label:    Rhino (original label: Linda)
Year:    1965
    Released three times on three labels under two different band names. Such was the studio scene in East L.A. in the mid-60s. Max Uballez, leader of the Romancers and East L.A.'s answer to Phil Spector (or maybe Brian Wilson), was the driving force behind Love's The Thing, a favorite on local radio in 1965.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    Pushin' Too Hard
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: The Seeds and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Sky Saxon
Label:    Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year:    1966
    Pushin' Too Hard was originally released in spring of 1966 as the closing track on side one of the first Seeds album. After being released to the L.A. market as a single the song did well enough to go national in early 1967, hitting its peak in February of that year.

Artist:    Circus Maximus
Title:    Bright Light Lovers
Source:    LP: Circus Maximus
Writer(s):    Bob Bruno
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Although keyboardist Bob Bruno's contributions as a songwriter to Circus Maximus tended to favor jazz arrangements, he shows here that he could rock out with the best of the garage bands when the mood hit.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Passing The Time
Source:    LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer(s):    Baker/Taylor
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    Although Jack Bruce is generally acknowledged as the member of Cream that provided the most psychedelic material that the band recorded, drummer Ginger Baker gave him a run for his money on the studio half of their third LP, Wheels Of Fire. Perhaps the best of these was Passing The Time, which alternates between a slow, dreamlike section notable for its use of a calliope and a fast section that rocks out as hard as anything the band performed live in concert.

Artist:    Pentangle
Title:    Mirage
Source:    LP: Pentangle
Writer(s):    Bert Jansch
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    Pentangle could best be described as the first British folk/jazz/rock supergroup. Each of the five members was already well established, with two of them, guitarists John Renbourne and Bert Jansch, having previously released solo albums. Thus it is no surprise that every track on their debut album is outstanding. The tough part is choosing just one song to play on any particular show. This time around it's Mirage, a Jansch composition with lead vocals by Jacqui McShea that opens side two of the LP. Next time who knows?

Artist:    Ace Of Cups
Title:    Glue
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on CD: It's Bad For You But Buy It)
Writer(s):    Denise Kaufman
Label:    Rhino (original label: Ace/Big Beat)
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 2003
    The Ace Of Cups were a pioneering female rock band from San Francisco led by Denise Kaufman, immortalized by Ken Kesey as Mary Microgram in the book Electric Koolaid Acid Test. As one of the major Merry Pranksters, Kaufman's irreverent attitude is in full evidence on the track Glue, which features a bit of guerilla theater parodying the standard TV commercials of the time. Lead vocals are by Mary Gannon.

Artist:    Canned Heat
Title:    Evil Woman
Source:    LP: Boogie With Canned Heat
Writer(s):    Barry Weiss
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1968
    After a 1967 debut album that was made up entirely of faithful renditions of vintage blues tunes, Canned Heat found their own sound on the follow-up. The opening track on Boogie With Canned Heat, Evil Woman, sounds like it may have been included as a possible single. Instead, the band and their label went with On The Road Again, a song that is much more representative of the band's sound.

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Magic Carpet Ride
Source:    CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf The Second)
Writer(s):    Moreve/Kay
Label:    Priority (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1968
    Steppenwolf's second top 10 single was Magic Carpet Ride, a song that combines feedback, prominent organ work by Goldy McJohn and an updated Bo Diddly beat with psychedelic lyrics. Along with Born To Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride (co-written by vocalist John Kay and bassist Rushton Moreve) has become one of the defining songs of both Steppenwolf and the late 60s.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Colored Balls Falling
Source:    Mono LP: Love
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1966
    The first Love album is rooted solidly in the garage rock genre. A solid example of this is Colored Balls Falling, written by Arthur Lee. To my knowledge, Colored Balls Falling has never been included on any anthology albums, making this mono mix of the song somewhat of a rarity.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Fancy
Source:    Mono LP: Face To Face
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1966
    One of the best albums in the Kinks library is Face To Face. Released in 1966, the album features such classics and Sunny Afternoon and Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, as well as some lesser-known (yet excellent) tracks such as Fancy.

Artist:    Remains
Title:    Don't Look Back
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Billy Vera
Label:    Rhino (original label: Epic)
Year:    1966
    The Remains were a Boston area band that seemingly had everything going for them in 1966. They had just finished opening for the Beatles on their last US tour and had procured the rights to record a song written by Billy Vera, who would score a huge hit of his own 20 years later with At This Moment. Somehow, though, Don't Look Back didn't make the charts, despite its obvious potential. It was the last of a series of disappointments for a group that had been cutting records since 1964, and they soon packed up their instruments for the last time.

Artist:    We The People
Title:    Mirror Of Your Mind
Source:    Mono CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    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:    Standells
Title:    Why Pick On Me
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (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 late 60s 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:    Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title:    Incense And Peppermints
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Carter/Gilbert/Weitz/King
Label:    Rhino (original label: Uni)
Year:    1967
    Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was originally released to Los Angeles area radio stations it was intended to be the B side of The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
Source:    CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    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:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    In The Arena
Source:    LP: Volume II
Writer(s):    Markley/Harris
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    In The Arena is the quintessential West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band song: an ambitious piece that uses spoken word sections and opposing Apollonian and Dionysian musical themes (the latter featuring some of Ron Morgan's best guitar work) to imply that the things we watch on the nightly television newscast serve the same function in our culture that gladiator fights and the like served in ancient Roman times. The track opens side one of the second West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album, appropriately called Volume II.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Hideaway
Source:    CD: Underground
Writer(s):    Lowe/Tulin
Label:    Collector's Choice (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    After the moderately successful first Electric Prunes album, producer David Hassinger loosened the reigns a bit for the followup, Underground. Among the original tunes on Underground was Hideaway, a song that probably would have been a better choice as a single than what actually got released: a novelty tune called Dr. Feelgood written by Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz, who had also written the band's first hit, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)

Artist:    Dino, Desi And Billy
Title:    The Rebel Kind
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lee Hazlewood
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1965
    Dino Martin, Desi Arnaz, Jr. and Billy Hinsche were high school classmates at Hollywood High. Dino's father Dean was one of the most successful artists on Reprise Records, owned by his friend (and fellow rat-packer) Frank Sinatra, making it a snap for the boys to get a contract with the label. The fact that Desi Arnaz, Jr. (the famous "little Ricky" of "I Love Lucy" fame) was already a household name didn't hurt either. The three of them scored big with I'm A Fool in 1965. Subsequent singles such as The Rebel Kind did not do so well, despite the fact that the song was written by Lee Hazlewood, himself a successful country artist. The group finally split up in 1970 when Desi joined the cast of his mother's TV show. Dino went on to have a successful career as an actor and professional tennis player, while Billy Hinsche stayed in the music business, providing backing vocals for such diverse artists as Joan Jett and Elton John and doing session work and touring with the Beach Boys.

Artist:    Beacon Street Union
Title:    May I Light Your Cigarette
Source:    Mono CD: The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens
Writer(s):    Ulaky/Wright
Label:    See For Miles (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1968
    Consisting of nothing but spoken words over a background of single guitar notes played through an amplifier with built-in tremelo, May I Light Your Cigarette has to be one of the most unique recordings of any era. The writing credits went to vocalist John Lincoln Wright (who went on to become a country singer) and bassist Wayne Ulaky. Presumably Ulaky played the guitar on the track.

Artist:    Beacon Street Union
Title:    Mystic Mourning
Source:    LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s):    Ulaky/Weisberg/Rhodes
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1968
    If I had to choose one single recording that encapsulates the psychedelic era, my choice would be Mystic Mourning, from the album The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union. Everything about the tune screams psychedelic, starting with a short spacy intro of electric piano over cymbals, leading into a raga beat with a solo bass line that builds up to a repeating riff that ends up getting played at various times by guitar, bass, and/or piano. The lyrics are appropriately existential, and both guitar and piano get a chance to show their stuff over the course of the nearly six-minute track.

Artist:    Beacon Street Union
Title:    Now I Taste The Tears
Source:    Mono CD: The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens
Writer(s):    Clifford
Label:    See For Miles (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1968
    The second LP from the Beacon Street Union, The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens, was a departure from the sound of the band's first album. If anything, it featured an even more eclectic mix of songs than The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union, including the humorous King of the Jungle and a nearly 17 minute version of Baby, Please Don't Go. The band took an R&B turn with the closing track on side one of the LP, Now I Taste The Tears, which features a horn section led by band member Robert Rhodes.

Artist:    Tommy Boyce And Bobby Hart
Title:    Words
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s):    Boyce/Hart
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1965
    Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were really hoping to be selected for the new band that Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures was putting together to star in a new weekly TV series. To that effect they produced and recorded several of their own songs, using some of L.A's top studio musicians. Most of those recordings ended up on the first two Monkees albums, with re-recorded vocals by the four young men that were officially in the band. This early demo of Words (a song that the Monkees re-recorded in 1967 and took into the top 40 as a B side), shows what the band may have sounded like if Boyce and Hart themselves had made the cut.

Artist:    Shadows Of Knight
Title:    Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day
Source:    LP: Back Door Men
Writer(s):    Tommy Boyce
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    Tommy Boyce actually had a songwriting career seperate from his many collaborations with Bobby Hart. One of his early songs was Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day, which was first recorded as a single by the Colorado-based Astronauts (which gave producer Steve Venet co-writing credit) before getting included on the first Monkees album. Along the way the song got recorded by a handful of garage bands, including Chicago's Shadows Of Knight, whose version closely parallels the Astronauts' original.

Artist:    Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title:    Action
Source:    CD: The Legend Of Paul Revere (originally released on LP: Just Like Us)
Writer(s):    Boyce/Venet
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    It was a common practice for record producers to add their name to the writing credits of a song for purely financial reasons. Such was probably the case with the theme from the hit TV show Where The Action Is, which featured Paul Revere And The Raiders as the house band. Freddy Cannon recorded a hit version of the song in 1965. This 1966 version by the Raiders was heard at the beginning of the show itself five days a week for a couple of years. Cha-ching.

Artist:    Mothers Of Invention
Title:    Who Are The Brain Police?
Source:    LP: Freak Out!
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:    Verve
Year:    1966
    In 1966, Los Angeles, with its variety of all-ages clubs along Sunset Strip, had one of the most active underground music scenes in rock history. One of the most underground of these bands was the Mothers of Invention, led by musical genius Frank Zappa. In 1966 Tom Wilson, who was already well known for producing Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Blues Project, brought the Mothers into the studio to record the landmark Freak Out album. To his credit he allowed the band total artistic freedom, jeopardizing his own job in the process (the album cost somewhere between $20,000-30,000 to produce). The second song the band recorded was Who Are The Brain Police, which reportedly prompted Wilson to get on the phone to M-G-M headquarters in New York, presumably to ask for more money.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    How Suite It Is
Source:    CD: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s):    Kantner/Casady/Dryden/Kaukonen
Label:    RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:    1967
    The second side of After Bathing At Baxters starts off fairly conventionally (for the Airplane), with Paul Kantner's Watch Her Ride, the first third or so of something called How Suite It Is. This leads (without a break in the audio) into Spare Chaynge, one of the coolest studio jams ever recorded, featuring intricate interplay between Jack Casady's bass and Jorma Kaukonen's guitar, with Spencer Dryden using his drum kit as enhancement rather than as a beat-setter. In particular, Cassidy's virtuoso performance helped redefine what could be done with an electric bass.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Stray Cat Blues
Source:    CD: Beggar's Banquet
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    ABKCO (original label: London)
Year:    1968
    As a military dependent overseas I had access to the local Base Exchange. The downside of buying albums there was that they were always a month or two behind the official stateside release dates getting albums in stock. The upside is that the BX had a special of the month that was always a new release for sale at something like 40% off the regular album price. The December 1968 special was this classic-to-be from the Stones. Full-priced albums that month included new releases by the Beatles (white album), Hendrix (Electric Ladyland) and Cream (Wheels of Fire). By the end of the month I was broke.

Artist:    Tim Rose
Title:    Long Time Man
Source:    LP: Tim Rose
Writer(s):    Tim Rose
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    Tim Rose undoubtably will always be best known as the guy who inspired Jimi Hendrix's slowed-down version of Hey Joe, after Hendrix reportedly saw Rose performing the song in a club in Greenwich Village sometime in 1966. A listen to some of the other tracks on Rose's 1967 debut LP shows that much of his material was just as dark as his most famous recording. One such song is Long Time Man, sung from the point of view of a man doing a life sentence for murdering his wife. No wimpy folk songs from this guy!

Artist:    Wildflower
Title:    Coffee Cup
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: A Pot Of Flowers)
Writer(s):    Ehret/Ellis
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
Year:    1967
    The Wildflower was somewhat typical of the San Francisco brand of folk-rock; less political in the lyrics and less jangly on the instrumental side. Although Coffee Cup was recorded in 1965, it did not get released until the summer of love two years later.

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