Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1311 (starts 3/14/13)

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:    Short-Haired Fathers
Source:    CD: Circus Maximus
Writer:    Bob Bruno
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Circus Maximus was formed in Greenwich Village by guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker in 1967. The group originally wanted to call itself the Lost Sea Dreamers, but changed it after Vanguard Records expressed reservations about signing a group with the initials LSD. Of the eleven tracks on the band's debut LP, only four were written by Walker, and those were in more of a folk-rock vein. Bruno's seven tracks, on the other hand, are true gems of psychedelia, ranging from the jazz-influenced Wind to the proto-punk rocker Short-Haired Fathers. The group fell apart after only two albums, mostly due to the growing musical differences between Walker and Bruno. Walker, of course, went on to become one of the most successful songwriters of the country-rock genre. As for Bruno, he's still in New York City, concentrating more on the visual arts in recent years.

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Born To Be Wild
Source:    CD: Easy Rider Soundtrack (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf)
Writer(s):    Mars Bonfire
Label:    MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1968
    Born To Be Wild's status as a counter-cultural anthem was cemented when it was chosen for the soundtrack of the movie Easy Rider. The popularity of both the song and the movie resulted in Steppenwolf becoming the all-time favorite band of bikers all over the world.

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Volunteers
Source:     LP: Volunteers
Writer:     Balin/Kantner
Label:     RCA Victor
Year:     1969
     By 1969 Jefferson Airplane's music was a staple of progressive FM stations but had all but disappeared from the top 40 charts. Still, the band continued to release singles from their albums, including the title track to their fifth (and final with the classic JA lineup) LP, Volunteers.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    I Don't Live Today
Source:    LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer:    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    I remember a black light poster that choked me up the first time I saw it. It was a shot of Jimi Hendrix playing his guitar with the caption I Don't Live Today. I don't believe Hendrix was being deliberately prophetic when he wrote and recorded this classic track for the Are You Experienced album, but it still spooks me a bit to hear it, even now.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Stone Free
Source:    CD: Are You Experienced? (bonus track originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Track)
Year:    1966
    Whether or not Stone Free was the first song ever written by Jimi Hendrix, there is no doubt it was the first original composition to be recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In fact, it is the only song written by Hendrix to be released in 1966 (as the B side to Hey Joe). The song was later included on the Smash Hits anthology album. A newer version was recorded in 1969 under the title Stone Free Again.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    The Wind Cries Mary
Source:    LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    The US version of Are You Experienced was significantly different than its UK counterpart. For one thing, the original UK album was only available in mono. For the US version, engineers at Reprise Records, working from the original multi-track masters, created all new stereo mixes of about two-thirds of the album, along with all three of the singles that the Jimi Hendrix Experience had released in the UK. The third of these singles was The Wind Cries Mary, which had hit the British charts in February of 1967.

Artist:    Chambers Brothers
Title:    Time Has Come Today (single version one)
Source:    Mono CD: The Time Has Come (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Joe and Willie Chambers
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1966
    Sometimes called the soundtrack song for the summer of love, the Chambers Brothers' Time Has Come Today was eleven minutes of pure psychedelia, closing out their 1967 LP The Time Has Come. The track was edited down twice for single release in 1968, with the later five-minute edit eventually becoming the most played version of the tune. What many people are not aware of, however, is the fact that there was an even earlier version of the song recorded in 1966 and released as a single in the fall of that year. At less than three minutes in length, this early version only hints at the extended space jam that propelled the Chambers Brothers into cult hero status the following year.

Artist:     Beatles
Title:     Here Comes The Sun
Source:     CD: Abbey Road
Writer:     George Harrison
Label:     Parlophone (original label: Apple)
Year:     1969
     In a way, George Harrison's career as a songwriter parallels the Beatles' recording career as a band. His first song to get any attention was If I Needed Someone on the Rubber Soul album, the LP that marked the beginning of the group's transition from performers to studio artists. As the Beatles' skills in the studio increased, so did Harrison's writing skills, reaching a peak with the Abbey Road album. As usual, Harrison wrote two songs for the LP, but this time one of them (Something) became the first single released from the album and the first Harrison song to hit the #1 spot on the charts. The other Harrison composition on Abbey Road was Here Comes The Sun. Although never released as a single, the song has gone on to become Harrison's most enduring masterpiece.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Speed Kills
Source:    CD: Stonedhenge
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Deram
Year:    1969
    Although they were generally considered part of the British blues scene of the late 1960s, Ten Years After traced their own roots as much to late 50s rock and roll artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard as to the traditional blues figures such as Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. As such, many of their songs had a touch of rockabilly that was absent from most of their contemporaries. A strong example of this rockabilly streak can be found in Speed Kills, the closing track of their 1969 Stonedhenge album.

Artist:    Leigh Stephens
Title:    Red Weather
Source:    LP: Red Weather
Writer(s):    Leigh Stephens
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1969
    After two moderately successful albums with perhaps the loudest band in the world at that time, Blue Cheer. guitarist Leigh Stephens decided to leave the heavy feedback in San Francisco and relocate to the UK, where he recorded his solo LP, Red Weather, with a group of London studio musicians. The result was a collection of somewhat meandering jams that nonetheless showcase Stephens's skills far beyond what was heard on either of his Blue Cheer LPs. Stephens also sang on some tracks, including the title track Red Weather, although those vocals were somewhat buried in the final mix.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    House Of The Rising Sun
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    trad., arr. Price
Label:    Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1964
    Sometimes, to use a baseball analogy, you hit a home run your first time out of the box. Such was the case with the Animals recording of the traditional folk song House Of The Rising Sun. The record, released in 1964, went to the top of the charts virtually all over the planet and the song itself has long since come to be identified specifically with the Animals, despite its 19th century (some say even earlier) origins. In fact, Bob Dylan, who recorded the song years before the Animals, removed the song from his own repertoire when he was accused of stealing it from the latter band. Dave Van Ronk, who taught the song to Dylan in the first place, has claimed that the Animals were actually using his arrangement of the song. Regardless, the fact remains that if you were going to play guitar in a rock and roll band in the mid-60s you had to know how to play the Animals version of House Of The Rising Sun. It helped if you had the stamina in your chord hand to still be playing it six verses later.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Milk Cow Blues
Source:    Mono LP: The Kink Kontroversy
Writer(s):    Kokomo Arnold
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1965
    The strength of Ray Davies's songwriting skills was such that the Kink Kontroversy album, released in 1965, contained only two cover songs at a time when even the Beatles were including three or four covers per LP (and the Rolling Stones' albums of the time actually had more covers than Jagger/Richards compositions on them). Nonetheless, one of those two covers, Kokomo Arnold's Milk Cow Blues, was chosen to open the album. As it turns out, Milk Cow Blues is one of the more outstanding tracks on the LP.

Artist:    Kenny And The Kasuals
Title:    Journey To Tyme
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Smith/Lee
Label:    Rhino (original labels: Mark Ltd. and United Artists)
Year:    1966
    One of the most popular Dallas area bands in the mid-1960s was Kenny and the Kasuals. Formed in 1962, the band was best known for playing high school dances and such. They got their shot at stardom in 1966 when they recorded Journey To Tyme for Mark Ltd. Productions. The song was picked up later in the year for national distribution by United Artists and made it all the way to the # 1 spot in Buffalo, NY and Pittsburgh, Pa. Despite this success the band was unable to get a long-term contract with United Artists (thanks in part to problems with their own manager) and soon disbanded.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Strange Days
Source:    LP: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    One of the first rock albums to not picture the band members on the front cover was the Doors' second LP, Strange Days. Instead, the cover featured several circus performers doing various tricks on a city street, with the band's logo appearing on a poster on the wall of a building. The album itself contains some of the Doors' most memorable tracks, including the title song, which also appears on their greatest hits album despite never being released as a single.

Artist:    Donovan/Lulu
Title:    What A Beautiful Creature You Are
Source:    CD: The Hurdy Gurdy Man (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    EMI
Year:    1968
    While working on his 1968 album The Hurdy Gurdy Man, Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan Leitch took time out to record What A Beautiful Creature You Are with one of Britain's most popular singers, Lulu, who had scored a huge hit that year with the song To Sir With Love (from the film of the same name). Although the recording was not released (until being included as a bonus track on the 2005 CD reissue of The Hurdy Gurdy Man), Lulu did perform the Donovan-penned song as a duet with Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees on a British television show.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
Source:    LP: Through The Past, Darkly (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Flowers)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1966
    By mid-1966 there was a population explosion of teenage rock bands popping up in garages and basements all across the US, the majority of which were doing their best to emulate the grungy sound of their heroes, the Rolling Stones. The Stones themselves responded by ramping up the grunge factor to a previously unheard of degree with their last single of the year, Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow? It was the most feedback-laden record ever to make the top 40 at that point in time, and it inspired America's garage bands to buy even more powerful amps and crank up the volume (driving their parents to drink in the process).

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    The Warmth Of The Sun
Source:    Mono CD: Good Vibrations-Thirty Years Of The Beach Boys (originally released on LP: Shut Down, Volume 2)
Writer(s):    Wilson/Love
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1964
    Along with Don't Worry Baby, The Warmth Of The Sun represents the beginning of the evolution of Brian Wilson's music away from the relatively lightweight surf and hot rod songs of the Beach Boys' early years toward the more sophisticated sounds that would characterize the Pet Sounds album (and subsequent Smile sessions) a couple of years later. The Warmth Of The Sun was written the night that JFK died and the melody and chord structure reflect the melancholy everyone was feeling at the time. Mike Love had recently gone through a personal disappointment with a girl and channeled his feelings into what became one of the best post-breakup songs ever written. The song first appeared on the Shut Down, Volume 2 album (Volume 1 was a multi-artist hot rod collection put out by Capitol Records) and was also issued as a 1964 B side.

Artist:    Astronauts
Title:    Razzamatazz
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Venet/Boyce/Allison
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1965
    Landlocked Boulder, Colorado would seem an unlikely place for a surf music band. Nonetheless, the Astonauts were just that, and a pretty successful one at that. That success, however, came from an equally unlikely place. After being together for about three years and having only one charted single in the US (Baja, which spent one week on the chart in 1963, peaking in the #94 spot), the band discovered that their records were doing quite well in Japan, where the mostly-instrumental Astronauts were actually outselling the Beach Boys. The group soon began touring extensively in the Far East and when all was said and done had released nine albums and a dozen singles over a period of less than 10 years. Razzamatazz is the instrumental B side to the Astronauts' 1965 recording of Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day, a tune that would appear the next year on the first Monkees album (and on their TV show). Razzamatazz itself is basically the instrumental track for Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day with some harmonica added.

Artist:     Young Rascals
Title:     Good Lovin'
Source:     45 RPM single
Writer:     Resnick/Clark
Label:     Atlantic
Year:     1966
     Garfield, New Jersey was the point of origin for the band that came to define the term "blue-eyed soul". Led by Eddie Brigati and Felix Cavaliere, the Rascals (adding the name Young to avert a lawsuit from a group called the Harmonica Rascals) racked up an impressive number of top 40 hits over a period of about three years. After scoring a pair of relatively minor hits with You Better Run and I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore, the group hit the big time with Good Lovin', taking the tune into the top 5 in 1966.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Love Story
Source:    LP: Living In The Past (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1968 (UK), 1969 (US)
    Love Story was the last studio recording by the original Jethro Tull lineup of Ian Anderson, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker and Glenn Cornish. The song was released as a single in December of 1968, following the band's debut LP, This Was. Shortly after its release Abrahams left the group, citing differences with Anderson over the band's musical direction. The song spent eight weeks on the UK singles chart, reaching the #29 spot. In the U.S., Love Story was released in March 1969, with A Song for Jeffrey (an album track from This Was) on the B-side, but did not chart. Like most songs released as singles in the UK, Love Story did not appear on an album until several years later; in this case on the 1973 anthology album Living In The Past. It has most recently been included as a bonus track on the expanded CD version of This Was.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    White Room
Source:    LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    Although Cream was conceived as a British blues super-group (as in cream of the crop), it was psychedelic rock tunes like White Room, written by bassist Jack Bruce and his frequent collaborator Pete Brown, that gave them their greatest commercial successes.

Artist:    Peter, Paul And Mary
Title:    Puff
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Yarrow/Lipton
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1963
    If Peter, Paul and Mary's Puff doesn't put you in touch with your inner child, chances are nothing will. The 1963 classic about a childhood friend (who happens to be a magic dragon) has long been considered one of the most memorable tunes to come out the folk music movement of the late 50s-early 60s and helped to cement the trio of Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers' reputation as one of those rare acts whose appeal transcends the generational gap.

Artist:    Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title:    Steppin' Out
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Greatest Hits
Writer(s):    Revere/Lindsay
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    1965 was the year that Paul Revere and the Raiders hit the big time. The Portland, Oregon band had already been performing together for several years, and had been the first rock band to record Louie Louie in the spring of 1963, getting airplay on the West Coast and Hawaii but losing out nationally to another Portland band, the Kingsmen, whose version was recorded the same month as the Raiders'. While playing in Hawaii the band came to the attention of Dick Clark, who was looking for a band to appear on his new afternoon TV program, Where The Action Is. Clark introduced the band to Terry Melcher, a successful producer at Columbia Records, which led to the Raiders being the first true rock band signed by the label. Appearing on Action turned out to be a major turning point for the band, who soon became the show's defacto hosts as well as house band. The Raiders' first national hit in their new role was Steppin' Out, a song written by Revere and vocalist Mark Lindsay about a guy returning from military service (as Revere himself had done in the early 60s, reforming the band upon his return) and finding out his girl had been unfaithful. Working with Melcher, the Raiders enjoyed a run of hits from 1965-67 unequalled by any other Amercian rock band of the time.

Artist:     Jo Jo Gunne
Title:     Run Run Run
Source:     Stereo 45 RPM single (promo copy)
Writer:     Ferguson/Andes
Label:     Asylum
Year:     1972
     After Spirit called it quits following the disappointing sales of the Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, lead vocalist Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes hooked up with Andes's brother Matt and William "Curly" Smith to form Jo Jo Gunne. Their best known song was Run Run Run, which hit the British top 10 and the US top 30 in 1972, receiving considerable amount of airplay on progressive rock stations as well.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Cosmic Charlie
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Hunter/Garcia/Lesh
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1969
    After spending several months working on their 1969 album, Aoxomoxoa, experimenting with state-of-the-art 16-track equipment and coming in waaaaay over budget in the process, the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh returned to the studio in 1971 to remix the entire album. Garcia felt that the band had "tended to put too much on everything...A lot of the music was just lost in the mix, a lot of what was really there" when doing the original mix, and the newer mix has been the only one in print ever since. Because the remix was done relatively soon after the original release, copies of the earlier mix are now considered quite rare and have become collectors items. Rarer still are the mono mixes of two tracks from the album that were issued as a 45 RPM single in 1969. The B side of that single was Cosmic Charlie. Feel free to compare it to your newer copy of the album (you know you have one, admit it).

Artist:    Canned Heat
Title:    Boogie Music
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Living The Blues and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    L.T.Tatman III
Label:    United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1968
    Canned Heat was formed in 1966 by a group of Bay Area blues purists. Although a favorite on the rock scene, the band continued to remain true to the blues throughout their existence. The band's most popular single was Going Up the Country from the album Living the Blues. An edited version of Boogie Music, also from Living the Blues, was issued as the B side of that single. This is a stereo mix of that version, featured on a United Artists anthology album released in 1969.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Prelude-Nothing To Hide
Source:    LP: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus
Writer(s):    Randy California
Label:    Epic
Year:    1970
    Spirit's first few albums had generated good reviews but poor sales. Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus was considered at the time to be their last chance to reach a larger audience. The pseudo-polygamous lyrics of the album's opening track, Prelude-Nothing To Hide, are actually about the band members' commitment to their music, a commitment that is apparent throughout this classic album. Unfortunately even that level of commitment did not translate to commercial success, leading vocalist Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes to split from Spirit to form Jo Jo Gunne soon thereafter.

Artist:    Them
Title:    Bent Over You
Source:    LP: Time Out! Time In! For Them
Writer(s):    Them/Lane/Pulley
Label:    Tower
Year:    1968
    While not an unlistenable track by any means, the most curious aspect of Bent Over You from Them's 1968 Time Out! Time In! For Them album is probably the fact that the entire band (but not the individual members) shares songwriting credit with Thomas Lane and Sharon Pulley, who in fact wrote most of the songs on the album itself. I have to wonder just how the royalties situation would have worked if the album had actually made any money.

Artist:    Little Richard
Title:    Dew Drop Inn
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Penniman/Esqrita/Winslow
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1970
    It can't be called psychedelic by any stretch of the imagination, I admit, but it's still a kick to pull out a Little Richard B side from 1970 and notice how similar it sounds to Creedence Clearwater Revival, at the time one of the hottest bands in the nation (if not the hottest). Besides, it keeps the all-vinyl streak going.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Eight Miles High
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Fifth Dimension)
Writer(s):    Clark/McGuinn/Crosby
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1966
    Gene Clark's final contribution to the Byrds was his collaboration with David Crosby and Roger McGuinn, Eight Miles High. Despite a newsletter from the most powerful man in top 40 radio, Bill Drake, advising stations not to play this "drug song", the song managed to hit the top 20 in 1966. The band members themselves claimed that Eight Miles High was not a drug song at all, but was instead referring to the experience of travelling by air. In fact, it was Gene Clark's fear of flying that led to his leaving the Byrds.

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