The third anniversary of syndication show
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Come Up The Years
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
One of the most overused motifs in pop music is the "You're too young for me" song. This probably reflects, to a certain degree, a lifestyle that goes back to the beginnings of rock and roll (Chuck Berry did jail time for transporting a minor across state lines, Jerry Lee Lewis saw his career get derailed by his marraige to his 13-year-old cousin, etc.). The Marty Balin/Paul Kantner tune Come Up The Years takes a more sophisticated look at the subject, although it still comes to the same conclusion (I can't do this because you're jailbait). In fact, the only rock songwriter I know of that came to any other conclusion on the matter was Bob Markley of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and that's what ultimately got him in trouble with the law.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Source: British import CD: Easter Everywhere
Label: Charly (original label: International Artists)
Although the second 13th Floor Elevators LP, Easter Everywhere, is generally a more quiet and contemplative album than their 1966 debut, it did have a few higher-energy rockers such as Earthquake on it to spice up the mix. The band attempted to use a huge sheet of steel to produce the sound of thunder for the recording, but ultimately had to abandon the idea as unworkable. The album itself was awarded a special "merit pick" by Billboard magazine, which described the effort as "intellectual rock". Easter Everywhere was not a major seller, but has since come to be regarded as one of the hidden gems of the psychedelic era.
Title: Call Me Lightning
Source: Mono Canadian import CD: Magic Bus-The Who On Tour (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original US label: Decca)
Although it sounds more like their earlier "maximum R&B" recordings, the Who's Call Me Lightning was actually recorded in 1968. The song was released only in the US (as a single), while the considerably less conventional Dogs was chosen for release in the UK. These days the US single is better remembered for its B side, John Entwistle's Dr. Jeckle And Mr. Hyde. Both songs ended up being included on the Magic Bus album, which was only available in North America and has never been issued on CD in the US (although it is available as a Canadian import).
Artist: John Mayall
Title: Cancelling Out
Source: LP: The Blues Alone
Writer(s): John Mayall
After three consecutive top 10 albums in the UK with his band the Bluesbreakers, John Mayall decided to experiment with multi-track technology for The Blues Alone, released in late 1967. Unlike the previous albums, which tended to put the emphasis on the outstanding guitarists (first Eric Clapton, then Peter Green) in the Bluesbreakers, The Blues Alone was (with the exception of Keef Hartley's drumming) a true solo effort, with Mayall playing all the instruments and providing all the vocals. Although there were a few cover songs on the album, the best tracks were Mayall originals such as Cancelling Out.
Title: When The Music's Over
Source: LP: Strange Days
Writer(s): The Doors
I remember the first time I heard When The Music's Over. My girlfriend's older brother had a copy of the Strange Days album on the stereo in his room and told us to get real close to the speakers so we could hear the sound of a butterfly while he turned the volume way up. What we got, of course, was a blast of "...we want the world and we want it now." Good times.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as EP)
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rhino (original label: Rag Baby)
A relatively new arrival on the highly politicized Berkeley folk music scene in 1965, Country Joe McDonald had already organized a loose group of musicians to play at "teach-ins" designed to educate the public about what was really going on in Vietnam. He was also attempting to put together a newspaper with a similar focus, but found himself short of usable copy. His solution was to create a "talking issue" by inserting a 7" 33 1/3 RPM record into the paper. His own contribution to the record was the first recorded version of a song that would later become one of the best-known antiwar tunes ever penned: the iconic I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag. The actual makeup of the band called Country Joe And The Fish on this recording is not quite clear, other than the fact that both McDonald and Barry Melton played on it. An early video made of the group performing the song shows several people I don't recognize alternating on the vocals.
Artist: Shadows of Knight
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Van Morrison
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
The original Them version of Van Morrison's Gloria found itself banned on the majority of US radio stations due to controversial lyrics. By changing one line (essentially substituting "around here" for "up to my room") the suburban Chicago punk-blues band Shadows of Knight turned it into a huge hit and a garage band standard.
Title: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The top album of 1967 was the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was also the first US Beatle album to have a song lineup that was identical to the original UK LP. As such, it was also the first Beatle album released in the US to not include any songs that were also released as singles. Nonetheless, several tracks from the LP found their way onto the playlists of both top 40 AM and "underground" FM stations from coast to coast. Among the most popular of these tracks was John Lennon's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, which shows up on just about everyone's list of classic psychedelic tunes.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: As The World Rises And Falls
Source: CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Label: Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's third album for Reprise, Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil, is generally considered their best, and for good reason. The album includes some of guitarist Ron Morgan's finest contributions, including the gently flowing As The World Rises And Falls. Even Bob Markley's lyrics, which could run the range from inane to somewhat disturbing, here come across as poetic and original. Unfortunately for the band, Morgan was by this time quite disenchanted with the whole thing, and would often not even show up to record. Nonetheless, the band continued on for a couple more years (and two more albums) before finally calling it quits in 1970.
Title: Dark Eyed Woman
Source: CD: The Best Of Spirit (originally released on LP: Clear)
Label: Epic (original label: Ode)
After a rather busy 1968 (two albums, a movie soundtrack and touring), the members of Spirit felt a bit rushed when working on their third LP, Clear. Nonetheless, the final product was one of their best, possibly because the lack of development time left them relying more on their considerable improvisational skills as musicians. Not all of the tracks were spontaneous creations, however. The opening track, Dark Eyed Woman, was a well-constructed piece that ended up being released as the first single from the album as well.
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)
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: Rolling Stones
Title: Ride On, Baby
Source: CD: Flowers
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Year: Recorded 1965, released 1967
Even though the Rolling Stones sold a respectable number of records throughout the sixties, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards weren't above hedging their bets by writing songs for other artists as well. Probably the best known of these was As Tears Go By, which, although written for Maryanne Faithful, has become known primarily for the Stones' own version of the song. Another one of these songs was Ride On, Baby, a minor hit for Chris Farlowe in 1966 that the Stones recorded around the time they were working on the Aftermath album. The Rolling Stones version sat on a shelf until 1967, when London put together a potpourri of songs left off the US versions of various LPs, stereo mixes of songs originally released in either mono or fake stereo versions previously and oddities such as Ride On, Baby. The resulting album was called Flowers, and was only released in the US. Brian Jones plays 12-string on the track, with Jack Nitzsche providing the harpshichord part.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Purple Haze
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Purple Haze has one of the most convoluted release histories of any song ever recorded. Originally issued in the UK as a single, it scored high on the British charts. When Reprise got the rights to release the first Hendrix album, Are You Experienced?, they chose to replace the first track on the album with Purple Haze, moving the original opening track, Foxy Lady, to side two of the LP. The song next appeared on the Smash Hits album, which in Europe was on the Polydor label. This was the way things stayed until the early 1990s, when MCA acquired the rights to the Hendrix catalog and re-issued Are You Experienced? with the tracks restored to the UK ordering, but preceded by the six non-album sides (including Purple Haze) that had originally been released prior to the album. Most recently, the Hendrix Family Trust has again changed labels and the US version of Are You Experienced? is once again in print, this time on Sony's Legacy label. This means that Purple Haze (heard here in its original mono mix) has now been released by three of the four currently existing major record companies (the exception being the fourth-ranked EMI group).
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Milk Cow Blues
Source: Mono CD: No Way Out (bonus track)
Writer(s): Kokomo Arnold
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1994
The members of the Chocolate Watchband had a clear set of priorities, and spending time in a recording studio was not at the top of the list. Nonetheless, once they were signed to Tower Records they were obligated to at least make an effort at recording an album, even though they would much rather have been upstaging the various big name acts that they opened for. The result was that their producer, Ed Cobb, found it easier just to hire studio musicians to record tracks that were then included on the first two Chocolate Watchband albums. Even when the band itself did record the songs, Cobb would, on occasion, bring in studio vocalist Don Bennett to record his own lead vocals, replacing those of Dave Aguilar, whom Cobb felt sounded like a Mick Jagger impersonator (he was right, but Aguilar was damn good at it). There are a few recordings, however, that capture the true sound of the Watchband. Among those is their cover of Kokomo Arnold's Milk Cow Blues, using an arrangement similar to that of the Kinks on their Kink Kontroversy album. The song remained unreleased until the 1994 CD reissue of the band's first album, No Way Out.
Artist: Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Source: CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s): Neil Young
After releasing a fairly well produced debut solo album utilizing the talents of several well-known studio musicians in late 1968, Neil Young surprised everyone by recruiting an unknown L.A. bar band and rechristening them Crazy Horse for his second effort, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The album was raw and unpolished, with Young's lead vocals recorded using a talkback microphone normally used by engineers to communicate with people in the studio from the control room. In spite of, or more likely because of, these limitations, the resulting album has come to be regarded as one of the greatest in the history of rock, with Young sounding far more comfortable, both as a vocalist and guitarist, than on the previous effort. Although the album is best known for three songs he wrote while running a fever (Cinnamon Girl, Cowgirl In The Sand, and Down By The River), there are plenty of good other songs on the LP, including the title track heard here.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: Turtle Blues
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s): Janis Joplin
Sometimes I do play favorites. Turtle Blues, from the Big Brother And The Holding Company album Cheap Thrills, is certainly one of them. Besides vocalist Janis Joplin, who wrote the tune, the only other band member heard on the track is guitarist Peter Albin. Legendary producer John Simon provides the piano playing.
Title: Death Of A Clown
Source: LP: Something Else
Writer(s): Ray and Dave Davies
The first Kinks album to be recorded and mixed in stereo, Something Else was virtually ignored in the US, where the band had been banned from performing since 1964. In the UK, however, the album was another in a series of successes for the band. One of the songs from that album, Death Of A Clown, featured lead guitarist and co-writer Dave Davies on lead vocals. Even though the entire band played on the track, the song was released as Dave Davies solo debut single, hitting the UK top 10 in the fall of 1967.
Title: Signed D.C.
Source: CD: Comes In Colours (originally released on LP: Love)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Raven (original label: Elektra)
One of the most striking tunes on the first Love album is Signed D.C., a slow ballad in the tradition of House of the Rising Sun. The song takes the form of a letter penned by a heroin addict, and the imagery is both stark and disturbing. Although Lee was known to occasionally say otherwise, the song title probably refers to Love's original drummer Don Conka, who left the band before their first recording sessions.
Title: She Don't Care About Time
Source: Mono CD: Turn! Turn! Turn! (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer: Gene Clark
The Byrds scored two # 1 hits in 1965, Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn!. Both songs came from outside sources (Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger), despite the fact that they Byrds had a wealth of songwriting talent of their own. Gene Clark in particular was writing quality originals such as She Don't Care About Time, which was issued as the B side to Turn! Turn! Turn! but was inexplicably left off the LP. More recently the song has been included as a bonus track on the remastered CD version of the album.
Title: Dirty Water
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
The Standells were not from Boston (they were a Los Angeles club band). Ed Cobb, who wrote and produced Dirty Water, was. The rest is history.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Take My Love
Source: Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
The Blues Magoos were one of the most visible bands to wear the label "psychedelic". In fact, much of what they are remembered for was what they wore onstage: electric suits. They were also one of the first bands to use the term "psychedelic" on a record, (their 1966 debut album was called Psychedelic Lollipop). Unlike some of their wilder jams such as Tobacco Road and a six-minute version of Gloria, Take My Love, from the band's sophomore effort Electric Comic Book, is essentially garage rock done in the Blues Magoos style. That style was defined by the combination of Farfisa organ and electric guitar, the latter depending heavily on reverb and vibrato bar to create an effect of notes soaring off into space.
Artist: Love Sculpture
Title: On The Road Again
Source: British import CD: Blues Helping
Label: EMI (original label: Parlophone)
In 1967-68, while the US top 40 was being taken over by a form of light pop known as bubble gum rock, the British music scene was being dominated by electric blues/rock bands such as Savoy Brown, Fleetwood Mac and Love Sculpture. The latter band was a showcase for guitarist/lead vocalist Dave Edmunds, who would have a huge US hit in the early 70s with a remake of I Hear You Knockin'. Love Sculpture's 1968 debut LP, Blues Helping, was made up mostly of cover songs, such as On The Road Again, which was a minor hit for Canned Heat in the US that same year.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Sit Down I Think I Love You
Source: LP: Buffalo Springfield
Writer: Stephen Stills
Although Buffalo Springfield never released Sit Down I Think I Love You as a single, Stephen Stills did manage to collect some royalties when it was covered by the Mojo Men and made the charts in 1968.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: For What It's Worth
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released as 45 RPM single and added to LP: Buffalo Springfield)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Most people associate the name Buffalo Springfield with the song For What It's Worth. And for good reason. The song is one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded, and to this day is in regular rotation on both oldies and classic rock radio stations. The song was written and recorded in November of 1966 and released in January of 1967. By then the first Buffalo Springfield LP was already on the racks, but until that point had not sold particularly well. When it became clear that For What It's Worth was becoming a breakout hit, Atco Records quickly recalled the album and added the song to it (as the opening track). All subsequent pressings of the LP (and later the CD) contain For What It's Worth, making earlier copies of the album somewhat of a rarity and quite collectable.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: On The Way Home
Source: CD: Retrospective (originally released on LP: Last Time Around)
Writer(s): Neil Young
Things fell apart for Buffalo Springfield following the drug bust and deportation of bassist Bruce Palmer in January of 1968. Neil Young stopped showing up for gigs, forcing Stephen Stills to carry all lead guitar duties for the band. By March, the band was defunct in everything but name. However, the group was still contractually obligated to provide Atco Records with one more album, so Richie Furay, along with replacement bassist Jim Messina, set about compiling a final Buffalo Springfield album from various studio tapes that the band members had made. None of these tapes featured the entire lineup of the band, although Neil Young's On The Way Home, which was chosen to open the album, came close, as it featured Furay on lead vocals, Stills on guitar and backup vocals, and Palmer on bass as well as Young himself on lead guitar and backup vocals.
Title: John Barleycorn
Source: CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: John Barleycorn Must Die)
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
Following the breakup of Blind Faith in late 1969, Steve Winwood began work on what was to be his first solo LP. After completing one track on which he played all the instruments himself, Winwood decided to ask former Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi to help him out with the project. After the second track was completed, Winwood invited yet another former Traffic member, Chris Wood, to add woodwinds. It soon became obvious that what they were working on was, in fact, a new Traffic album, which came to be called John Barleycorn must die. In addition to the blues/R&B tinged rock that the group was already well known for, the new album incorporated elements from traditional British folk music, which was enjoying a renaissance thanks to groups such as Fairport Convention and the Pentangle. The best example of this new direction was the title track of the album itself, which traces its origins back to the days when England was more agrarian in nature.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: All This And More
Source: LP: A Salty Dog
The third Procol Harum album, A Salty Dog, saw other members besides Gary Brooker, who with lyricist Keith Reid had written virtually all the songs on the band's first two LPs, providing material for the group to record. The Brooker/Reid team did provide some songs, however, such as All This And More, and would continue to dominate the group's sound for as long as the band existed.
Title: The Last Thing I Remember, The First Thing I Knew
Source: CD: Turtle Soup (originally released on EP: Turtles 1968)
Writer(s): The Turtles
Label: Repertoire (original label: Rhino)
Year: Recorded 1968, released 1978
In 1968 the Turtles rebelled against their record company. They did not attempt to break the contract or go on strike, though. Instead, they simply went into the studio and produced four songs that they themselves wrote and chose to record. The record company, however, chose not to issue any of the self-produced recordings (although one, Surfer Dan, did end up on their Battle of the Bands album a few months later). Finally, in the late 1970s a small independent label known for issuing oddball recordings by the likes of Barnes and Barnes (Fish Heads) and professional wrestler Fred Blassie (Pencil-Neck Geek) put out a 12-inch picture disc featuring the four tunes. That label also began reissuing old Turtles albums, starting it on a path that has since become the stock in trade for Rhino Records.
Title: Strange Brew
Source: LP: Disraeli Gears
During sessions for Cream's second album, Disraeli Gears, the trio recorded an instrumental track for an old blues tune, Lawdy Mama. Producer Felix Pappalardi and his wife Janet Collins reworked the melody and lyrics to create an entirely new song, Strange Brew, that Eric Clapton then recorded the vocals for. The experiment was so successful that the song was issued as a single in Europe and the UK, as well as being chosen as the lead track for the album itself.