Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1312 (starts 3/21/13)

Artist:    Soft Machine
Title:    Feelin', Reelin', Squealin'
Source:    Mono import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Kevin Ayers
Label:    Polydor UK
Year:    1967
    The Soft Machine is best known for being at the forefront of the jazz-rock fusion movement of the 1970s. The bands roots were in the city of Canterbury, a sort of British equivalent of New York's Greenwich Village. Led by drummer Robert Wyatt, the band was first formed as the Wilde Flowers in 1963 with Kevin Ayers as lead vocalist. Heavily influenced by modern jazz, beat poetry and dadaist art, the Wilde Flowers were less a band than a group of friends getting together to make music from time to time. Things got more serious when Ayers and his Australian beatnik friend Daevid Allen made a trip to Ibiza, where they met  Wes Brunson, an American who was heir to a fortune. Brunson provided financial backing for a new band called Mister Head, which included Ayers, Wyatt, Allen and Larry Nolan. By late 1966 the group had added Mike Rutledge and changed its name to Soft Machine (after Allen had secured permission to use the name from author William Burroughs), performing regularly at London's legendary UFO club. After the departure of Nolan, the band recorded its first single for Polydor in early 1967. Both sides were written by Ayers, who by then was playing bass and sharing the vocals with Wright. The B side of that single was Feelin', Reelin', Sqealin', a track that helped define British psychedelic music.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Session Man
Source:    Mono import CD: Face To Face
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Sanctuary UK (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    Nicky Hopkins was one of only a handful of studio musicians who managed to acquire some fame beyond the musicians' community itself. The keyboardist had actually been a member of a band at age 16, but was forced to quit when health issues made it impossible for him to perform live on a regular basis. Such was his level of talent, however, that he soon found work in various London studios, playing on dozens of albums by such well-known groups as the Who, the Rolling Stones and the Kinks.
The latter band, in particular, was so impressed with his work that their leader, Ray Davies, wrote a song about him, Session Man, and recorded it on their 1966 Face To Face album. Hopkins would eventually get even more exposure, performing with Jefferson Airplane at Woodstock and becoming, for a time, a member of Quicksilver Messenger Service. 

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Sunny South Kensington
Source:    Mono import CD: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    EMI (original label: Epic)
Year:    1967
    Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan Leitch followed up his 1966 hit single Sunshine Superman with an album of the same name. He then repeated himself with the song and album Mellow Yellow. Although there were no other singles released from either album, the song Sunny South Kensington, which was done in much the same style as Superman, was a highlight of the Mellow Yellow album. Due to a contractual dispute in the UK between Donovan and Pye Records, neither LP was issued in its original form in Britain.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    All My Life
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single B side (originally released on LP: Demons And Wizards)
Writer(s):    Byron/Box/Kerslake
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1972
    Uriah Heep is a hard band to define. Their roots were firmly in the psychedelic era, yet they are often identified with both progressive rock bands like Yes and early heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath. The band's best-known tune was Easy Livin', a single taken from their 1972 Demons And Wizards LP. Perhaps even more typical of the group's sound at that time was the song chosen for the single's B side, All My Life (also from Demons And Wizards).

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Section 43
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on EP: Rag Baby #2)
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1966
    Rag Baby was an underground journal published by Country Joe McDonald in mid-60s Berkeley, California. In 1965 McDonald decided to do a "talking issue" of the paper with an extended play (EP) record containing two songs by McDonald's band, Country Joe and the Fish and two by singer Peter Krug. In 1966 McDonald published a second Rag Baby EP, this time featuring four songs by Country Joe and the Fish. Among those was the original version of Section 43, a psychedelic instrumental that would appear in a re-recorded (and slightly changed) stereo form on the band's first LP, Electric Music For The Mind And Body, in early 1967.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Soul Sacrifice
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Santana)
Writer(s):    Brown/Malone/Rolie/Santana
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Of all the bands formed in the late 1960s, very few achieved any degree of popularity outside of their local community. Fewer still could be considered an influence on future stars. Most rare of all are those who managed to be both popular and influential while maintaining a degree of artistic integrity. One name that comes immediately to mind is Santana (both the band and the man). It might be surprising, then, to hear that the first Santana album, released in 1969, was savaged by the rock press, particularly the San Francisco based Rolling Stone magazine, who called it boring and repetitious. It wasn't until the band performed Soul Sacrifice (heard here in its original studio version) at Woodstock that Santana became major players on the rock scene.

Artist:    Dave Clark Five
Title:    Inside And Out
Source:    LP: The Dave Clark Five (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Clark/Smith
Label:    Epic
Year:    1967 (stereo mix released 1971)
    The Dave Clark Five aren't exactly known for their psychedelic tunes. Still, in 1967 it seemed like everyone was trying to hop on the psychedelic bandwagon, and the DC5 were no exception, as this 1971 stereo remix of Inside And Out, a 1967 B side demonstrates.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Paper Sun
Source:    CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
    There were several notable differences between the US and UK versions of the first Traffic album. For one thing they had different titles. In the US the album was called Heaven Is In Your Mind when it was released in early 1968 in the hope that the single of the same name would be a hit. When it became evident that the song wasn't going anywhere on the US top 40 charts the album was quickly retitled Mr. Fantasy, matching the original 1967 UK album. There were differences in the tracks on the album as well. One of the most notable changes was the inclusion of Paper Sun, a non-LP single that had been a British hit in late 1967. The version on the US album, however, was slightly different from its UK counterpart in that the song fades out quite a bit earlier than on the original version, with the deleted portion showing up at the end of the album.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    May This Be Love
Source:    LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    The original UK version of Are You Experienced? featured May This Be Love as the opening track of side two of the album. In the US, the UK single The Wind Cries Mary was substituted for it, with May This Be Love buried deep on side one.
It's obvious that Hendrix thought more highly of the song than the people at Reprise who picked the track order for the US album.

Artist:    Tim Buckley
Title:    Once Upon A Time
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s):    Buckley/Beckett
Label:    Rhino
Year:    recorded 1967, released 2009
    Tim Buckley was one of those people whose style it is almost impossible to define. His first album, consisting of songs he and his friend Bob Beckett had written while still attending high school, was released in 1966 on Elektra Records, and was considered folk music. Before recording a follow-up, Buckley switched gears, recording Once Upon A Time in a deliberate effort to achieve commercial success. Elektra Records chose not to release the song, however, and Buckley soon eased into a more eclectic vein, writing songs that incorporated elements of several genres, including folk, rock and even jazz.

Artist:    Beacon Street Union
Title:    My Love Is
Source:    LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s):    Wayne Ulaky
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1968
    For a time in early 1968 my favorite album was The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union, which is in a sense kind of strange, since I didn't own a copy of the LP. I did, however, have access to my dad's Dual turntable and Akai reel-to-reel tape recorder, and used to fall asleep on the couch with the headphones on nearly every night (hey, it beat sharing a room with my 8-year-old brother). So when one of my bandmates invited the rest of us over to hear his new album by this new band from Boston I naturally asked to borrow it long enough to tape a copy for myself.  As it turned out, The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union is one of those albums best listened to with headphones on, with all kinds of cool (dare I say groovy?) stereo effects, like the organ and cymbals going back and forth from side to side following the spoken intro (by producer Tom Wilson, it turns out) on the album's first track, My Love Is. Years later I acquired a mono copy of the LP, but it just wasn't the same.

Artist:    Ultimate Spinach
Title:    Fragmentary March Of Green
Source:    LP: Behold And See
Writer(s):    Ian Bruce-Douglas
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1968
    In early 1968 M-G-M Records, a major label that had failed to sign any San Francisco bands, attempted to make up for this oversight by hiring a bunch of bands from Boston and promoting them as part of the "boss-town sound", despite there being no one particular sound peculiar to the bean city (except the obvious). Then again, there really was no such thing as a San Francisco sound either, but that didn't stop Matthew Katz from marketing the bands he managed (Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape and others) as such. Anyway, the one thing all these bands on M-G-M had in common is that their debut albums did better in the charts than their follow-up efforts. This could well be due to the fact that by the time those follow-ups hit the racks, the public was onto the phoniness of the whole promotion, but I think it might also be because the albums themselves didn't measure up to the earlier recordings. A prime example is Behold And See by Ultimate Spinach. The album itself is hard to review, since by the time you've finished listening to side two you've probably forgotten entirely what side one sounded like. In this case you would, however, have fresh in your mind the closing track of side two, the nearly seven-minute long Fragmentary March Of Green.

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 separate 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:    Lyrics
Title:    So What!!
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Chris Gaylord
Label:    Rhino (original label: Era)
Year:    1965
    In some ways the story of the Lyrics is fairly typical for the mid-1960s. The Carlsbad, California group had already established itself as a competent if somewhat bland cover band when in 1964 they recruited the local cool kid, Chris Gaylord (who was so cool that he had his own beat up old limo, plastered on the inside with Rolling Stones memorabilia, of course), to be their frontman. Gaylord provided the band with a healthy dose of attitude, as demonstrated by their 1965 single So What!! The song was written by Gaylord after he had a brief fling with a local rich girl. Gaylord's tenure lasted until mid-1966. Although the band continued without him, they never again saw the inside of a recording studio.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Emotions
Source:    Mono LP: Love
Writer(s):    Lee/Echols
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1966
    Emotions, from the first Love album, is a bit of an anomaly. For one thing, it's an instrumental, something Love is not known for. Secondly, it carries the only known co-writing credit for guitarist Johnny Echols (aside from the 17-minute jam Revelation from their second LP, De Capo, which is credited to the entire band). It's no great leap to assume the two are related.

Artist:    Velvet Illusions
Title:    Acid Head
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Weed/Radford
Label:    Rhino (original label: Metromedia, also released on Tell Records)
Year:    1967
    Showing an obvious influence by the Electric Prunes (a surbaban L.A. band that was embraced by the Seattle scene as one of their own) the Illusions backtracked the Prunes steps, leaving their native Yakima and steady gigging for the supposedly greener pastures of the City of Angels. After a few months of frustration in which the band seldom found places to practice, let alone perform, they headed back to Seattle to cut this lone single before calling it quits.

Artist:    Lollipop Shoppe (aka The Weeds)
Title:    You Must Be A Witch
Source:    Mono LP: Pebbles Vol. 8 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Fred Cole
Label:    BFD (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 his wife Toody) from 1987-2006.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Politician
Source:    LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    Although the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and Pete Brown are best known for providing Cream with its more psychedelic songs such as White Room and Swlabr, they did occasionally come up with bluesier numbers such as Politician from the Wheels Of Fire album. The song quickly became a staple of Cream's live performances.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Five To One
Source:    CD: Waiting For The Sun
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1968
    Despite the fact that it was the Doors' only album to hit the top of the charts, Waiting For The Sun was actually a disappointment for many of the band's fans, who felt that the material lacked the edginess of the first two Doors LPs. One notable exception was the album's closing track, Five To One, which features one of Jim Morrison's most famous lines: "No one here gets out alive".

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Julia
Source:    CD: The Beatles
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Apple)
Year:    1968
    John Lennon's songwriting continued to take a more personal turn with the 1968 release of The Beatles, also known as the White Album. Perhaps the best example of this is the song Julia. The song was written for Lennon's mother, who had been killed by a drunk driver in 1958, although it also has references to Lennon's future wife Yoko Ono (Yoko translates into English as Ocean Child). Julia is the only 100% solo John Lennon recording to appear on a Beatle album.

Artist:    Leaves
Title:    Too Many People
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Pons/Rinehart
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mira)
Year:    1965
    The Leaves are a bit unusual in that in a city known for drawing wannabes from across the world, this local band's members were all native L.A.ins. Formed by members of a fraternity at Cal State Northridge, the Leaves had their greatest success when they took over as house band at Ciro's after the Byrds vacated the slot to go on tour. Like many bands of the time, they were given a song to record as a single by their producer (Love Minus Zero) and allowed to write their own B side. In this case that B side was Too Many People, written by bassist Jim Pons and  guitarist Bill Rhinehart. The song ended up getting more airplay on local radio stations than Love Minus Zero, making it their first regional hit. The Leaves had their only national hit the following year with their third attempt at recording the fast version of Hey Joe, the success of which led to their first LP, which included a watered down version of Too Many People. The version heard here is the 1965 original. Eventually Pons would leave the Leaves, hooking up first with the Turtles, then Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention.

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:    Penny Peeps
Title:    Model Village
Source:    Mono import CD: Insane Times (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Alexander
Label:    Zonophone (UK) (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1967
    Although the British psychedelic era was considerably shorter (only about two years long) than its American counterpart, there are a surprisingly large number of British psych-pop singles that were never issued in the US. Among those was a somewhat forgettable song called Little Man With A Stick, released in 1967 by a band called the Penny Peeps. The band took its name from the risque coin-fed viewers at Brighton Beach (apparently London's version of Coney Island). Emulating his American counterparts, producer Les Reed (who wrote Little Man), allowed the band itself to come up with its own B side. The result was Model Village, a track that manages to convey a classic garage-rock energy while remaining uniquely British.

Artist:    Shocking Blue
Title:    Venus
Source:    Simulated stereo 45 RPM single (1986 reissue)
Writer(s):    Robbie Van Leeuwin
Label:    21 (original label: Colossus)
Year:    1969
    One of only a handful of songs to top the charts by different artists in different decades, Venus was originally released in 1969 by Dutch group Shocking Blue and went to the #1 spot in several countries, including the US, in early 1970. In the mid-1980s the song was re-recorded by Bananarama and once again hit the top spot. By then Atlantic Records had acquired the rights to the original Shocking Blue recording (the Colossus label having gone out of business in 1971) and reissued it on its 21 Records subsidiary.

Artist:     Turtles
Title:     Is It Any Wonder
Source:     Import CD: Happy Together
Writer:     Sloan/Barri
Label:     Magic (France)
Year:     1967
     The Turtles started off as an L.A.-based surf band called the Crossfires. After signing to White Whale Records in 1965 the group jumped on the folk-rock bandwagon, scoring a national hit with their cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe. After a less than stellar 1966 the group regained their momentum with the release of Happy Together in 1967. At the same time they began to develop the skewed viewpoint that would characterize the work of the band's two co-leaders, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, in the 1970s when they became known as Flo and Eddie. Is It Any Wonder, the song heard here, is a bit of a mystery to me. It was included on the European release of the Happy Together CD as a bonus track (with liner notes in French), but I have not been able to find out where it first appeared (or indeed, whether or not it had ever been released at all). If you have any more information about the song, feel free to drop me a line through the contact button at www.hermitradio.com.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Mexico
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Early Flight)
Writer(s):    Grace Slick
Label:    Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1970
    The last Jefferson Airplane single to include founding member (and original leader) Marty Balin was Mexico, a scathing response by Grace Slick to President Richard Nixon's attempts to eradicate the marijuana trade between the US and Mexico. The song was slated to be included on the next Airplane album, Long John Silver, but Balin's departure necessitated a change in plans, and Mexico did not appear on an LP until Early Flight was released in 1974.

Artist:    John Fred And His Playboy Band
Title:    Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)
Source:    Mono LP: Agnes English
Writer(s):    Fred/Bernard/Wessler
Label:    Paula
Year:    1967
    John Fred was 15 when he formed his first incarnation of the Playboys in 1956. The group would go through several personnel changes over the years, occasionally disbanding and reforming. They hit the charts in 1959 with a song called Shirley, which led to an appearance on Alan Freed's show. The band was invited to appear on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, but had to decline due to Fred's prior commitment to play in a college basketball game (he played both basketball and baseball for Southeastern Louisiana University and LSU). When Jewel Records was founded in 1963, the Playboys were among the first acts signed to the Shreveport label, recording as both the Playboys and as John Fred in order to increase their chance of getting played on the radio. When Jewel owner Stan Lewis started a second label, Paula (named for his wife), John Fred and the Playboys moved over to the new label, remaining there for the rest of their recording career. The band itself has been described as blue-eyed soul, swamp rock, and even old-time rock 'n' roll, all of which were accurate at one time or another. In 1967 the group, now called John Fred And His Playboy Band, released an album called Agnes English that included a throwaway novelty song called Judy In Disguise (With Glasses). The song was inspired by a trip to the beach in the summer of '67, where Fred noted how many young women were wearing huge sunglasses that made it impossible to tell what they really looked like. The title itself was a play on the Beatles' Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, which was getting lots of airplay at the time. Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) was released as a single in late 1967 and went to the top of the charts in January of 1968, ironically knocking another Beatle tune, Hello Goodbye, out of the #1 spot. John Fred And His Playboy Band continued to be a hot attraction in Louisiana clubs for many years, but were inaccurately typecast as a novelty act outside of their home state. Fred eventually became a popular local disc jockey until his death from cancer in 2005.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Honky Tonk Women
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1969
    After revitalizing their career with Jumpin' Jack Flash and Street Fighting Man in 1968, the Stones delivered the coup-de-grace with one of the biggest hits by anyone ever: the classic Honky Tonk Women. The song was the first single without Brian Jones, who had been found dead in his swimming pool shortly after being kicked out of the band. Jones's replacement, Mick Taylor (fresh from a stint with blues legend John Mayall), plays slide guitar on the track.

Artist:     Troggs
Title:     Wild Thing
Source:     Mono CD: Nuggets-Classics From the Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Chip Taylor
Label:     Rhino (original label: Fontana)
Year:     1966
    I have a DVD copy of a music video (although back then they were called promotional films) for the Troggs' Wild Thing in which the members of the band are walking through what looks like a train station while being mobbed by girls at every turn. Every time I watch it I imagine singer Reg Presley saying giggity-giggity as he bobs his head.

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