Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1319 (starts 5/9/13)

    We start off the week with a regression through the years that covers a lot of ground musically as well.

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

Artist:    Plastic Ono Band
Title:    Give Peace A Chance
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1969
    The future of the Beatles was very much in doubt in 1969. Lennon and McCartney were feuding, Ringo had briefly quit the band during the making of the White Album and George Harrison was spending more time with friends like Eric Clapton than his own bandmates. One notable event that year was the marraige of John Lennon to performance artist Yoko Ono. The two of them did some world traveling that eventually led them to Toronto, where they staged a giant slumber party to promote world peace (don't ask). While in bed they recorded Give Peace A Chance, accompanied by as many people as they could fit in their hotel suite. The record was the first single released under the name Plastic Ono Band, a name that Lennon would continue to use after the Beatles disbanded in 1970.

Artist:    Fairport Convention
Title:    Fotheringay
Source:    LP: Fairport Chronicles (originally released in UK on LP: What We Did On Our Holidays, retitled Fairport Convention for US release)
Writer(s):    Sandy Denny
Label:    A&M
Year:    1969 (US 1970)
    The early history of Fairport Convention can be a bit confusing. The original lineup released their first LP in 1968, entitled simply Fairport Convention. The following year the group released an album called What We Did On Our Holidays, featuring new vocalist Sandy Denny. Neither of these albums were released in the US. After the band began to catch on in the States, What We Did On Our Holidays was repackaged and released (in the US only) under the name Fairport Convention. Among the songs on that album was Fotheringay, a name that would be used for Denny's own band a couple of years later. Just to add even more to the confusion, when A&M released a late 70s retrospective called Fairport Chronicles they listed all the songs from What We Did On Our Holidays as being from an album called Fairport Convention (which was technically true in the US), but then showed the release year for the songs as 1968, the year the British album of the same name came out, rather than 1969, the actual release year of What We Did On Our Holidays or 1970, the year the US version was released.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Citadel
Source:    LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    One of the most underrated songs in the Rolling Stones catalog, Citadel is the second track on Their Satanic Majesties Request, an album often dismissed as being an ill-fated attempt to keep up with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. As the song is preceeded on the album by the overture-like Sing This All Together with no break between the two, Citadel was almost impossible to play as a separate track from the original vinyl. It's a little easier to play from the CD, but due to sloppiness on the part of whoever mastered the 80s Abkco discs, the start of the song does not quite match up with the start of the CD track. Maybe one of these days I'll get a copy of the remastered version that came out more recently and see if they did a better job with it. In the meantime sit back and enjoy this hard-rockin' piece of psychedelia.

Artist:    Otis Redding
Title:    Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)
Source:    Mono CD: The Very Best Of Otis Redding (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Complete And Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary Of Soul)
Writer(s):    Redding/Cropper
Label:    Rhino (original label: Volt)
Year:    1966
    1966 was a good year for Otis Redding. His Otis Blue album and a subsequent appearance at the Whisky-A-Go-Go had substantially increased his fan base, especially in the influential Los Angeles market. He capped off the year with a new hit single, Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song), which was co-written by MGs guitarist Steve Cropper, who said the song was inspired by Redding's habit of singing or humming along with the horn parts of his own songs. The song became the opening track of Redding's fifth LP, Complete And Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary Of Soul, released in October of 1966. It would be Redding's last solo album before a plane crash took the life of not only Redding, but most of his Bar-Kays horn section as well.

    Next up, a set of 1967 tunes from bands that (with the possible exception of the Troggs) made a better living from performing at various clubs than they ever did from their records.

Artist:    Sound Barrier
Title:    (My) Baby's Gone
Source:    Mono LP: Pebbles Vol. 8 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Paul Hess
Label:    BFD (original label: Zounds)
Year:    1967
    A couple weeks after the first time I played (My) Baby's Gone (in 2012), I got an e-mail from Paul Hess, leader and lead vocalist of Salem, Ohio's Sound Barrier. Hess confirmed that he indeed was the writer of the song in question, as well as the record's B side (which I'm still waiting for him to send me a copy of).

Artist:     Music Machine
Title:     Talk Me Down
Source:     CD: Beyond The Garage (originally released on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer:     Sean Bonniwell
Label:     Sundazed (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:     1967
     Talk Me Down was, according to composer Sean Bonniwell, quite possibly the first punk rock song ever conceived. The tune was one of four songs recorded on a demo at Original Sound when the Music Machine still called itself the Ragamuffins. This recording was cut in 1967 by the band's original lineup, but not released until Warner Brothers released an album called Bonniwell Music Machine later that year. By the time of the album's release, all the members of the original band except Bonniwell had moved on to other things, and a new lineup was featured on several tracks on the album.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in early 1967. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on both the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation and Rhino's first Nuggets LP.

Artist:    Troggs
Title:    Night Of The Long Grass
Source:    Dutch simulated stereo CD: Golden Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    The Troggs
Label:    Masters (original label: Fontana)
Year:    1967
    After scoring a huge international hit in 1966 with Wild Thing, the Troggs (originally known as the Troglodytes) cranked out a series of singles that did well in the UK but for the most part were never heard by US listeners. One of the best of those British hits was Night Of The Long Grass, which got airplay across Europe in the summer of '67. Like many of the Troggs' hits, Night Of The Long Grass has somewhat suggestive lyrics that probably hurt its chances for airplay on US top 40 radio stations.

    Here we have a Beatles set from three different sources. The first is from a CD copy of Rubber Soul, which follows the original UK configuration of the album. Next we have an import copy of Revolver released on 180 gram vinyl in late 2012. The final track is from the US 2012 180g vinyl release of the Magical Mystery Tour LP. It's interesting to listen closely and compare the sound quality of these three sources.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    If I Needed Someone
Source:    CD: Rubber Soul (held back in US for release on LP: Yesterday...And Today)
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1965 (US 1966)
    Generally considered to be George Harrison's best song up to that point, If I Needed Someone is the earliest song to be included on the former Beatle's own Greatest Hits album. The song was covered by the Hollies, whose single version was actually released in the UK before Rubber Soul came out, leading some to believe that the Beatles were covering the Hollies. In the US the song was held back for release the following June on the Yesterday...And Today album, an LP that only appeared in North America.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    She Said She Said
Source:    EU Import LP: Revolver
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1966
    The last song to be recorded for the Beatles' Revolver album was She Said She Said, a John Lennon song inspired by an acid trip taken by members of the band (with the exception of Paul McCartney) during a break from touring in August of 1965. The band's manager, Brian Epstein, had rented a large house in Beverly Hills, but word had gotten out and the Beatles found it difficult to come and go at will. Instead, they invited several people, including the original Byrds and actor Peter Fonda, to come over and hang out with them. At some point, Fonda brought up the fact that he had nearly died as a child from an accidental gunshot wound, and used the phrase "I know what it's like to be dead." Lennon was creeped out by the things Fonda was saying and told him to "shut up about that stuff. You're making me feel like I've never been born." The song itself took nine hours to record and mix, and is one of the few Beatle tracks that does not have Paul McCartney on it (George Harrison played bass). Ironically, Fonda himself would star in a Roger Corman film called The Trip (written by Jack Nicholson and co-starring Dennis Hopper) the following year.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Strawberry Fields Forever
Source:    LP: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1967
    The first song recorded for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Strawberry Fields Forever was instead issued as a single (along with Penny Lane) a few months before the album came out. The song went into the top 10, but was not released on an album until December of 1967, when it was included on the US version of Magical Mystery Tour.

    I was taught that it was a cardinal sin to play back-to-back instrumentals on rock radio, so of course I have to do it.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Embryonic Journey
Source:    LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Jorma Kaukonen
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1967
    Jorma Kaukonen originally considered Embryonic Journey to be little more than a practice exercise. Other members of Jefferson Airplane insisted he record it, however, and it has since come to be identified as a kind of signature song for the guitarist, who played the tune live when the band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Artist:     Yardbirds
Title:     Jeff's Boogie
Source:     45 RPM single B side
Writer:     Dreja/Relf/Samwell-Smith/McCarty/Beck
Label:     Epic
Year:     1966
     The second half of our instrumental set is one of the hottest rock B sides ever issued: the Yardbirds' Jeff's Boogie, which appeared as the flip side of Over, Under, Sideways Down in 1966 and was included on an LP with the same name (that LP, with a different track lineup and cover, was issued in the UK under the name Yardbirds, although it has since come to be known as Roger The Engineer due to its cover art). Although credited to the entire band, the song is actually based on Chuck Berry's guitar boogie, and features some outstanding guitar work by Jeff Beck.

    Next up, a set of tracks from 1968.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    House Burning Down
Source:    LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    The third Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Electric Ladyland, was the first to be produced entirely by Hendrix himself, rather than with Chas Chandler (with more than a little help from engineer Eddie Kramer). It was also the first to use state-of-the-art eight-track recording technology (not to be confused with the later 8-track tape cartridge), as well as several new tech toys developed specifically for Hendrix to play with. The result was an album with production standards far beyond anything else being attempted at the time. One song that showcases Hendrix's prowess as a producer is House Burning Down. Using effects such as phasing, double-tracking and stereo panning, Hendrix manages to create music that sounds like it's actually swirling around the listener rather than coming from a specific location. It's also the only rock song I can think of that uses a genuine tango beat (in the verses).

Artist:        Randy Newman
Title:        Last Night I Had A Dream
Source:      Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:        Randy Newman
Label:        Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:        1968
        Randy Newman has, over the course of the past forty-plus years, established himself as a Great American Writer of Songs. His work includes dozens of hit singles (over half of which were performed by other artists), nearly two dozen movie scores and eleven albums as a solo artist. Newman has won five Grammys, as well as two Oscars and Three Emmys. To my knowledge, Last Night I Had A Dream could quite possibly be his first recorded work as a solo artist, as it came out the same year as his first album, which does not include the song.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Grammophone Man
Source:    CD: Spirit
Writer(s):    Ferguson/Locke/California/Andes/Cassidy
Label:    Ode/Epic/Legacy
Year:    1968
    Like most of the tracks on Spirit's 1968 debut LP, Grammophone Man combines rock and jazz in a way that has yet to be duplicated. Rather than create a jazz/rock fusion the group chose to switch gears mid-song. After a couple of minutes of a section that can best described as light rock, the song suddenly shifts into a fast-paced bop instrumental featuring Wes Montgomery style guitar work by Randy California and a short Ed Cassidy drum solo that eventually drops the tempo for a short reprise of the piece's main section.
Artist:    Guess Who
Title:    969 (The Oldest Man)
Source:    American Woman
Writer(s):    Randy Bachman
Label:    Buddha (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1970
    Although Burton Cummings was known primarily for his role as the Guess Who's lead vocalist, he got a chance to strut his stuff instrumentally as a flautist on 969 (The Oldest Man), an instrumental by Randy Bachman. Bachman himself showed a glimpse of the guitar prowess that he would become known for with his next band, Bachman Turner Overdrive, in the mid-1970s on the track.

    Following our hour 2 opener from the Guess Who we move to L.A. for three tracks from 1967.

Artist:    Pasternak Progress
Title:    Flower Eyes
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Pasternak/Branca
Label:    Rhino (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1967
    In 1967 Jeff Pasternak became one of thousands of young people to catch the Doors at L.A.'s famous Whisky-A-Go-Go club on the Sunset Strip. Like many others, Pasternak was inspired to make music himself. Unlike most, Pasternak was son of a famous Hollywood movie producer/director (Joe Pasternak, whose credits included Please Don't Eat The Daisies and Where The Boys Are), and was able to take advantage of his father's connections to get a record made. That record was Flower Eyes, released later the same year on the Original Sound label. Keyboardist John Branca, who co-wrote Flower Eyes, went on to become the world's top entertainment lawyer. His clients over the years have included Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Dick Clark, The Doors, and Berry Gordy, among others.

Artist:    The Light
Title:    Back Up
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Anglin/Samson
Label:    Rhino (original label: A&M)
Year:    1967
    The San Bernadino/Riverside area of southern California is probably better known to racing fans than to music afficionados, yet the area did have its share of local bands filling up various venues in the area in the late 60s. Among those bands was the Light, who released one single, Back Up, on the A&M label in 1967.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Everybody's Been Burned
Source:    CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    There is a common misconception that David Crosby's songwriting skills didn't fully develop until he began working with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. A listen to Everybody's Been Burned from the Byrds' 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday, however, puts the lie to that theory in a hurry. The track has all the hallmarks of a classic Crosby song: a strong melody, intelligent lyrics and an innovative chord structure. It's also my personal favorite tune from what is arguably the Byrds' best LP.

    As long as we're in L.A., here's a set from the prefab four. What makes this set notable is that all three songs were written by male-female songwriting teams associated with New York's Brill building, which was sort of a 60s version of Tin Pan Alley. In addition to Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, the building was home to Carole Bayer Sager, Neil Sedaka and others.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Love Is Only Sleeping
Source:    LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD.
Writer(s):    Mann/Weil
Label:    Colgems
Year:    1967
    The songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil was part of the first tier of Brill building songwriters brought in by Don Kirschner to provide material for the Monkees in late 1966. But when the Monkees rebelled against Kirschner's control over their recorded output in early 1967 it looked as though the band was through with Mann/Weil compositions altogether. Later that year, however, the Monkees themselves, now firmly in control of their own musical direction, chose to record a new Mann/Weil tune, Love Is Only Sleeping, for their fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD. As it turns out, the tune, with lead vocals by Michael Nesmith, was one of the more inspired choices on the album.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Porpoise Song
Source:    CD: Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Head soundtrack)
Writer(s):    Goffin/King
Label:    Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year:    1968
    In 1968 the Monkees, trying desperately to shed a teeny-bopper image, enlisted Jack Nicholson to co-write a feature film that was a 180-degree departure from their recently-cancelled TV show. This made sense, since the original fans of the show were by then already outgrowing the group. Unfortunately, by 1968 the Monkees brand was irrevocably tainted by the fact that the Monkees had not been allowed to play their own instruments on their first two albums. The movie Head itself was the type of film that was best suited to being shown in theaters that specialized in "art" films, but that audience was among the most hostile to the Monkees and the movie bombed. It is now considered a cult classic. Porpoise Song, a Gerry Goffin/Carole King composition used as the theme for Head, was also a departure in style for the Monkees, yet managed to retain a decidedly Monkees sound due to the distinctive lead vocals of Mickey Dolenz.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Pleasant Valley Sunday
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Classics From the Psychedelic 60s (originally released on LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.)
Writer:    Goffin/King
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1967
    After making it a point to play their own instruments on their third LP, Headquarters, the Monkees decided to once again use studio musicians for their next album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD. The difference was that this time the studio musicians would be recording under the supervision of the Monkees themselves rather than Don Kirschner and the array of producers he had lined up for the first two Monkees LPs. The result was an album that many critics consider the group's best effort. The only single released from the album was Pleasant Valley Sunday, a song penned by the husband and wife team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and backed by the band's remake of the Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart song Words, which had been recorded the previous year by the Leaves. Although both songs ended up making the charts, it was Pleasant Valley Sunday that got the most airplay and is considered by many to be Monkees' greatest achievement.

    Our final half hour this week is down and dirty with a five song progression through the years 1964-68 followed by a pair of blues-rock tracks from 1966.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    Boom Boom
Source:    LP: The Animals On Tour
Writer(s):    John Lee Hooker
Label:    Abkco
Year:    1964
    One of the highlights of the Animals' first UK album was their energetic rendition of John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom. The performance was so strong, in fact, that M-G-M chose to release the song as a single in early 1965. This was followed by a US-only album called The Animals On Tour that featured the tune as its opening track. Despite the title, The Animals On Tour was not a live album. Rather, it was a collection of blues and R&B cover songs, many of which were learned from records acquired by the band members at local record stores during their 1964 US tour (thus the album title).

Artist:     Sir Douglas Quintet
Title:     She's About A Mover
Source:     Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Doug Sahm
Label:     Rhino (original label: Tribe)
Year:     1965
     Doug Sahm, of The Sir Douglas Quintet, is considered one of the founders of what come to be called Tex-Mex music. Coming from the San Antonio area, Doug Sahm's outfit scored two big hits in the mid to late 1960s: She's About A Mover and (after relocating to San Francisco) Mendocino.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    Tobacco Road
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Writer(s):    J.D.Loudermilk
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mercury)
Year:    1966
    For years I've been trying to find a DVD copy of a video I saw on YouTube. It was the Blues Magoos, complete with electric suits and smoke generators, performing Tobacco Road on a Bob Hope TV special. The performance itself was a vintage piece of psychedelia, but the true appeal of the video is in Hope's reaction to the band immediately following the song. You can practically hear him thinking "Well, that's one act I'm not taking with me on my next trip to Viet Nam."

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    I'm A Man
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer:    Winwood/Miller
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1967
    The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve and Muff Winwood, was one of the UK's most successful white R&B bands of the sixties, cranking out a steady stream of hit singles. Two of them, the iconic Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man, were also major hits in the US, the latter being the last song to feature the Winwood brothers. Muff Winwood became a successful record producer. The group itself continued on for several years, but were never able to duplicate their earlier successes. As for Steve Winwood, he quickly faded off into obscurity, never to be heard from again. Except as the leader of Traffic. And a member of Blind Faith. And Traffic again. And some critically-acclaimed collaborations in the early 1980s with Asian musicians. Oh yeah, and a few major solo hits like Higher Love and Roll With It in the late 80s. Other than that, nothing.

Artist:    Second Helping
Title:    Hard Times
Source:    Mono LP: Ain't It Hard (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Kenny Loggins
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Viva)
Year:    1968
    Second Helping was a local L.A. band led by a 19-year-old Kenny Loggins that was signed to Snuff Garrett's Viva Records in 1968. Hard Times is a strong rocker that has little in common with the 70s folk-rock that Loggins would become known for.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    Two Trains Running
Source:    LP: Projections
Writer(s):    McKinley Morganfield
Label:    Verve Forecast
Year:    1966
     Possibly the most influential (yet least known outside of musicians' circles) band of the Psychedelic Era was the Blues Project. Formed in 1965 in Greenwich Village, the band worked its way from coast to coast playing mostly college campuses, in the process blazing a path that continues to be followed by underground/progressive/alternative artists. As if founding the whole college circuit wasn't enough, they were arguably the very first jam band, as their version of the Muddy Waters classic Two Trains Running shows. Among those drawing their inspiration from the Blues Project were the Warlocks, a group of young musicians who were traveling with Ken Kesey on the Electric Cool-Aid Acid Test tour bus. The Warlocks would soon change their name to the Grateful Dead and take the jam band concept to a whole new level. Still, they may never have moved in that direction at all if it weren't for the Blues Project.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Sweet Wine
Source:    LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Godfrey/Baker
Label:    Atco
Year:    1966
    When Cream was formed, both bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker had new music for the band to record (guitarist Eric Clapton having chosen to shut up and play his guitar for the most part). Most of these new songs, however, did not yet have words to go with the music. To remedy the situation, both musicians brought in outside lyricists. Baker chose poet Pete Brown, while Bruce chose to bring in his wife, Janet Godfrey. After a short time it became apparent that Bruce and Brown had a natural affinity for each other's material, and formed a partnership that would last years. Baker, meanwhile, tried working with Godfrey, but the two only came up with one song together, Sweet Wine, which was included on the band's debut LP, Fresh Cream.

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