Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1333 (starts 8/15/13)

Artist:    Leaves
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Billy Roberts
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mira)
Year:    1966
    In 1966 there were certain songs you had to know how to play if you had any aspirations of being in a band. Among those were Louie Louie, Gloria and Hey Joe. The Byrds' David Crosby claims to have discovered Hey Joe, but was not able to convince his bandmates to record it before their third album. In the meantime, several other bands had recorded the song, including Love (on their first album) and the Leaves. The version of Hey Joe heard here is actually the third recording the Leaves made of the tune. After the first two versions tanked, guitarist Bobby Arlin, who had recently replaced founding member Bill Rinehart on lead guitar, came up with the idea of adding fuzz guitar to the song. It was the missing element that transformed a rather bland song into a hit record (the only national hit the Leaves would have). As a side note, the Leaves credited Chet Powers (aka Dino Valenti) as the writer of Hey Joe, but California-based folk singer Billy Roberts had copyrighted the song in 1962 and had reportedly been heard playing the tune as early as 1958.

Artist:    Lemon Drops
Title:    I Live In The Springtime
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era
Writer(s):    Roger Weiss
Label:    Rhino (original label: Rembrandt)
Year:    1967
    Sometimes it's all about being in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately for the Lemon Drops, that place and time was not the Chicago suburbs in early 1967. Otherwise they might have had a hit record with I Live In The Springtime, a rather nice piece of psychedelia. It probably didn't help that their label, Rembrandt, was not able to put together the same kind of national distribution deal that another Chicago label, Dunwich, had been able to the previous year with the Shadows Of Knight's version of Gloria. Another, somewhat unique, problem was that there were two different pressings of the single, one with no drums and the other with the guitar almost lost in the mix. It is thought that the original mix was in stereo (with the drums on one side and the guitar on the other) and the two pressings each used only one channel from that mix. The version heard here is the one without drums.

Artist:    Blue Cheer
Title:    Summertime Blues
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Vincebus Eruptum)
Writer:    Cochrane/Capehart
Label:    Rhino (original label: Philips)
Year:    1968
    If 1967 was the summer of love, then 1968 was the summer of violence. Framed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, both major anti-establishment movements of the time (civil rights and anti-war) became increasing radicalized and more violent. The hippies gave way to the Yippies, LSD gave way to crystal meth, and there were riots in the streets of several US cities. Against this backdrop Blue Cheer released one of the loudest and angriest recordings ever to grace the top 40: the proto-metal arrangement of Eddie Cochrane's 1958 classic Summertime Blues. It was the perfect soundtrack of its time.

Artist:    13th Power
Title:    Fifty-Two Percent
Source:    LP: Wild In The Streets soundtrack
Writer(s):    Mann/Weil
Label:    Tower
Year:    1968
    Critics and audiences alike were divided on how to interpret the movie Wild In The Streets. Was it speculative fiction about a distopian future or simply a teen exploitation flick? The film certainly had enough big Hollywood names in it (Christopher Jones, Hal Holbrook and Shelley Winters, among others) to be taken seriously, yet the basic premise, that teens, led by a popular rock band, would rise up and take power, putting anyone over 30 into concentration camps, was a bit over-the-top. Regardless of the creators' intentions, Wild In The Streets is now viewed as a cult film that helped launch the career of Richard Pryor (who played bassist Stanley X), and had some decent tunes written by the songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (writers of the Paul Revere and the Raiders hit Hungry). The hit single from the movie, Shape Of Things To Come, was attributed on the label to Max Frost and the Troopers, the fictional band that led the revolution, but on the soundtrack album the song was credited to the 13th Power. The reality was that all the songs on the album were the work of studio musicians, although they were credited to a variety of groups such as the Gurus and the Senators. The songs credited to the 13th Power, such as Fifty-Two Percent (the percentage of US citizens under the age of 30 at the time), were possibly the work of Davie Allen and the Arrows, with lead vocals by Paul Wibier, although that has never been substantiated. It is even possible that Jones himself sang on the soundtrack album.

Artist:    Beacon Street Union
Title:    Mystic Mourning
Source:    CD: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s):    Ulaky/Weisberg/Rhodes
Label:    See For Miles (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1967
    If I had to choose one single recording that represents the psychedelic era, my choice would be Mystic Mourning, from the album The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union. Everything about the tune screams psychedelic, starting with a short spacy intro of electric piano over cymbals, leading into a raga beat with a solo bass line that builds up to a repeating riff that ends up getting played at various times by guitar, bass, and/or piano. The lyrics are appropriately existential, and both guitar and piano get a chance to show their stuff over the course of the nearly six-minute track.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Helter Skelter
Source:    Mono LP: Rarities (originally released in UK on LP: The Beatles)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol (original label: Apple)
Year:    1968
    By 1968 most rock songs released in the US were being mixed in stereo only, since all the major US labels were only selling stereo copies in the stores. A few promotional mono pressings were made, mostly for non-stereo radio stations, but those simply "folded down" the stereo mix to one channel. In the UK, however, the conversion to stereo took a bit longer, and the 1968 double-LP The Beatles (aka the White Album) was released in both stereo and mono versions, with the mono version using entirely different mixes that were unavailable in the US. In some cases the differences were more noticable than on others, such as the mono mix for Helter Skelter, which has an entirely different drum part at the end of the song than the stereo version and is missing the famous line "I've got blisters on my fingers".

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Let's Get Together
Source:    Mono LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s):    Dino Valenti
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1966
    Although Dino Valenti recorded a demo version of his song Let's Get Together in 1964, it wasn't until two years later that the song made its first appearance on vinyl as a track on Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. The Airplane version of the song is unique in that the lead vocals alternate between Paul Kantner, Signe Anderson and Marty Balin, with each one taking a verse and all of them singing on the chorus.

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 the next USO tour."

Artist:    Bluestars
Title:    Social End Product
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in New Zealand as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    John Harris
Label:    Rhino (original label: Allied Int'l)
Year:    1966
    The Bluestars were formed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1964. Led by John Harris, a reporter for the Auckland Star, the band was known for its anti-establishment stance, with lines such as "I don't stand for the Queen" (which refers to the usual practice of standing up any time God Save The Queen was played, even in a movie theater) being somewhat the norm for them. Despite their rebel cred, the group signed a deal with the British Decca label, releasing their first single in December of 1965 in the UK, but not until several months later in their own country. After a falling out with Decca, the Bluestars went with locally-based Allied International Records, releasing Social End Product in September of 1966. The band even opened their own teen club, the Gallows, shortly after the record's release, but were forced to shut down following complaints from the neighbors. After one more single the group disbanded in early 1967.

Artist:    Ipsissimus
Title:    Hold On
Source:    Mono import CD: Insane Times (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Haskell/Condor/Lynton
Label:    Zonophone UK (original label: Parlophone)
Year:    1969
    The song Hold On was originally recorded as a B side in 1967 by a band called Les Fleur De Lys, although the label credited the track to Rupert's People, who recorded the A side of the record. Le Fleur De Lys later recorded another version of Hold On with South African-born singer Sharon Tandy. Finally, the heaviest version of the song was cut by an obscure band from Barnet called Ipsissimus. To my knowledge it was their only record.

Artist:    Ultimate Spinach
Title:    Your Head Is Reeling
Source:    LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer:    Ian Bruce-Douglas
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1967
    Ultimate Spinach was one of a group of bands signed by M-G-M in 1967 and marketed as being representative of the "Boss-town sound". Unfortunately for all involved, there really was no such thing as a "Boss-town sound" (for that matter there was no such thing as a "San Francisco sound" either, but that's another story). All the hype aside, Ultimate Spinach itself was the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Ian Bruce-Palmer, who wrote and arranged all the band's material. The opening track of side two of the band's debut album is a piece called Your Head Is Reeling, which is as good or better than any other raga styled song of the time.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Renaissance Fair
Source:    CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    Crosby/McGuinn
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1967
    Younger Than Yesterday was David Crosby's last official album with the Byrds (he was fired midway through the recording of The Notorious Byrd Brothers) and the last one containing any collaborations between Crosby and Jim (now Roger) McGuinn. Renaissance Fair, a song that Crosby was inspired to write after attending the Renaissance Pleasure Faire Of Southern California, is one of those collaborations, although the actual extent of McGuinn's participation is debatable.

Artist:    Shadows Of Knight
Title:    I'm Gonna Make You Mine
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Carr/Derrico/Sager
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    Possibly the loudest rockin' recordings of 1966 came from the Shadows of Knight. A product of the Chicago suburbs, the Shadows (as they were originally known) quickly established a reputation as the region's resident bad boy rockers (lead vocalist Jim Sohns was reportedly banned from more than one high school campus for his attempts at increasing the local teen pregnancy rate). After signing a record deal with the local Dunwich label, the band learned that there was already a band called the Shadows and added the Knight part (after their own high school sports teams' name). Their first single was a cover of Van Morrison's Gloria that changed one line ("around here" in place of "up to my room") and thus avoided the mass radio bannings that had derailed the original Them version. I'm Gonna Make You Mine was the follow up to Gloria, but its lack of commercial success consigned the Shadows to one-hit wonder status until years after the band's breakup, when they finally got the recognition they deserved as one of the founding bands of garage/punk, and perhaps its greatest practicioner.

Artist:    Warlocks
Title:    Can't Come Down
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer:    Garcia/Kreutzmann/Lesh/McKernan/Weir
Label:    Rhino
Year:    Recorded 1965
    In 1965 Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters were travelling around conducting the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests, basically an excuse to turn on people to LSD. Part of Kesey's entourage was a group of young musicians calling themselves the Warlocks, who had formed earlier that year. Around the time of the first acid test in November of 1965 group made their first visit to a recording studio, cutting a set of demos for Autumn Records. After hearing that there was already a band named the Warlocks making records, they booked studio time under the name Emergency Crew. The songs themselves, which were produced by Autumn Records' owners Tom "Big Daddy" Donahue and Bobby Mitchell, did not get released until 1999, when the Warlocks (who began calling themselves the Grateful Dead just days after the recording sessions) decided to include them on an anthology album. The lead vocals on Can't Come Down are by guitarist Jerry Garcia, although they don't sound much like his later Grateful Dead recordings.

Artist:     Rolling Stones
Title:     Time Is On My Side
Source:     45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer:     Jerry Ragovoy
Label:     London
Year:     1964
     I got word a while back of the passing of songwriter Jerry Ragovoy, who died on July 13, 2011 at the age of 83. Ragovoy's writing career extended back to the 1940s and included classics by artists such as Kai Winding. In later years he wrote several tunes that were recorded by Janis Joplin, including Try (Just A Little Bit Harder), My Baby, Cry Baby and the classic Piece Of My Heart. He occassionally used a pseudonym as well, and it was as Norman Meade he published his best-known song: Time Is On My Side, an R&B hit for Irma Thomas that became one of the first US hits for the Rolling Stones.

Artist:    Left Banke
Title:    Walk Away Renee
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Brown/Calilli/Sansune
Label:    Smash
Year:    1966
    The Left Banke's Walk Away Renee is one of the most covered songs in rock history, starting with a version by the Four Tops less than two years after the original recording had graced the top 5. The Left Banke version kicked off what was thought at the time to be the latest trend: baroque rock. The trend died an early death when the band members themselves made some tactical errors resulting in radio stations being hesitant to play their records.

Artist:    Rutles
Title:    Let's Be Natural
Source:    CD: The Rutles
Writer(s):    Neil Innes
Label:    Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1978
    The Rutles released their last LP, Shabby Road, in September of 1969, following a contentious series of recording sessions that would later be documented in the film Let It Rot. Although the band was on the verge of dissolving, they managed to pull things together one last time for the album, which included the prefab four's final hit, Let's Be Natural. OK, none of that actually happened. The Rutles were in reality a clever Beatle parody conceived by Monty Python's Eric Idle and the Bonzo Dog Band's Neil Innes in 1976, with songs written by Innes. The centerpiece of the project was a 1978 mock documentary entitled All You Need Is Cash, which included all the songs heard on the Rutles LP, as well as several that were released years later as bonus tracks on the CD reissue of the album. In addition, the group released two singles in the UK, the second of which was Let's Be Natural.

Artist:    Bob Seger System
Title:    Gone
Source:    LP: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Writer(s):    Dan Honaker
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    Most of Bob Seger's original compositions in the early days were hard rockers such as Ramblin' Gamblin' Man and 2+2=? For the slower material on his first LP he went with outside songwriters such as Dan Honaker, who wrote the song Gone. Elements of Gone can be heard in Seger's own later compositions such as Turn The Page.

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    South California Purples
Source:    CD: Chicago Transit Authority
Writer(s):    Robert Lamm
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Chicago never considered themselves a jazz-rock band, despite all the hype from the rock press and the publicity people at Columbia Records. Rather, the defined themselves as a rock band with a horn section. Songs like Robert Lamm's South California Purples, which is basically a blues progression, lend creedence to this view. The track, which showcases the guitar work of Terry Kath, was one of the most popular songs on the band's debut album and continued to be a concert staple until Kath's death in 1978.

Artist:    Zombies
Title:    She's Not There
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer:    Rod Argent
Label:    London (original label: Parrot)
Year:    1964
    Most of the original British invasion bands were guitar-oriented, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. One notable exception was the Zombies, whose leader, Rod Argent, built the group around his electric piano. Their first single, She's Not There, was a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic and is ranked among the top British rock songs of all time.

Artist:    Misunderstood
Title:    I'm Not Talking
Source:    British simulated stereo CD: Before The Dream Faded
Writer(s):    Traditional
Label:    Cherry Red
Year:    Recorded 1965, released 1982
    The story of the legendary band the Misunderstood actually started in 1963 when three teenagers from Riverside, California decided to form a band called the Blue Notes. Like most of the bands at the time, the group played a mixture of surf and 50s rock and roll cover songs, slowly developing a sound of their own as they went through a series of personnel changes. In 1965 the band changed their name to the Misunderstood and recorded six songs at a local recording studio. Among those was I'm Not Talking, a blues tune in much the same style as the early Yardbirds recordings. Although the recordings were not released, the band caught the attention of a San Bernardino disc jockey named John Ravencroft, and Englishman with an extensive knowledge of the British music scene. In June of 1966 the band, with Ravencroft's help, relocated to London, where they were eventually joined by Ravencroft himself, who changed his name to John Peel and became one of the most popular DJs in the country. The Misunderstood recorded six more songs in the UK, releasing their one and only single in late 1966 before being deported back to the US (where one of the members was immediately drafted into military service).

Artist:     Cream
Title:     N.S.U.
Source:     LP: Fresh Cream
Writer:     Jack Bruce
Label:     Atco
Year:     1966
     The first Cream album starts off the with powerful one-two punch of I Feel Free and N.S.U. Although I Feel Free was a purely studio creation that never got performed live, N.S.U. became a staple of the band's concert performances, and was even performed by various other bands that bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce was a member of over the years.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Break On Through (To The Other Side)
Source:    LP: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    The first Doors song to be released as a single was not, as usually assumed, Light My Fire. Rather, it was Break On Through (To The Other Side), the opening track from the band's debut LP, that was chosen to do introduce the band to top 40 radio. Although the single was not an immediate hit, it did eventually catch on with progressive FM radio listeners and still is heard on classic rock stations from time to time.

Artist:    Sonics
Title:    Strychnine
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: Here Are The Sonics)
Writer(s):    Gerald Roslie
Label:    Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
Year:    1965
    From 1965 we have a band that maintains a cult following to this day: the legendary Sonics, generally considered one of the foundation stones of the Seattle music scene. Although the majority of songs on their albums were cover tunes, virtually all of their originals, such as Strychnine from their debut LP, are now considered punk classics; indeed, the Sonics, along with their labelmates the Wailers, are often cited as the first true punk rock bands.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    Grim Reaper Of Love
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Portz/Nichol
Label:    Rhino (original label: White Whale)
Year:    1966
    The Turtles had some early success in 1965 as a folk-rock band, recording the hit version of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe and PF Sloan's Let Me Be. By 1966, however, it was getting harder and harder for the group to get a hit record. One attempt was Grim Reaper Of Love, co-written by Turtles lead guitarist Al Nichol. Personally I think it's a pretty cool tune, but was probably a bit too weird to appeal to the average top 40 radio listener in 1966. Grim Reaper Of Love did manage to make it to the # 81 spot on the charts, unlike the band's next two singles that failed to chart at all. It wasn't until the following year, when the Turtles recorded Happy Together, that the band would make it back onto the charts.

Artist:    Creedence Clearwater Revival (originally released as by the Golliwogs)
Title:    Porterville
Source:    LP: More Creedence Gold (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    John Fogerty
Label:    Fantasy (original label: Scorpio)
Year:    1967
    The last single recorded by San Francisco's Golliwogs was a song called Porterville, released on the Scorpio label in late 1967. Not long after that, the same recording was issued on Fantasy Records using the Golliwogs' new name: Creedence Clearwater Revival. The rest is history.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Girl In Your Eye
Source:    CD: Spirit
Writer(s):    Jay Ferguson
Label:    Ode/Epic/Legacy
Year:    1968
    Spirit was born in 1965 when drummer Ed Cassidy left the Rising Sons after breaking his arm and settled down with his new wife, who had a teenaged son named Randy. It wasn't long before Ed and Randy (who played guitar) formed a new band called the Red Roosters. The group lasted until the spring of 1966, when the family moved to New York for a few months. After returning to California, Randy ran into two of his Red Roosters bandmates, singer Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes, and decided to form a new band with Cassidy and keyboardist John Locke. Both Cassidy and Locke had played in jazz bands, and the new band, Spirit, incorporated both rock and jazz elements into their sound. Most of the songs of the band's 1968 debut album were written by Ferguson, who tended to favor a softer sound on tracks like Girl In Your Eye. On later albums Randy California would take a greater share in the songwriting, eventually becoming the only original member to stay with the band throughout its history.

Artist:    Pentangle
Title:    Cruel Sister
Source:    British Import CD: Cruel Sister
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Pentangle
Label:    Sanctuary (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1970
    Nearly four years after their self-titled debut LP was released, Pentangle was one of the most (if not the most) popular British folk music based bands in the world. The members of Pentangle, however, were beginning to feel constricted by the expectations that came with their own success and were determined to remain true to their musical roots, regardless of the commercial consequences. With this in mind they set about to record their fourth LP, Cruel Sister. The title track of the album demonstrates the band's willingness to try out new ideas such as extended jazz-style improvisations on a traditional folk tune. Cruel Sister also marked guitarist John Renbourne's first use of an electric guitar on an album, an ironic move considering the entire album was made up of traditional songs.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Faultline/The Painter
Source:    LP: Deep Purple
Writer(s):    Lord/Blackmore/Evans/Paice/Simper
Label:    Tetragrammaton
Year:    1969
    The third and final album by the original Deep Purple lineup was plagued with bad luck, the worst being that the band's US label, Tetragrammaton Records, ran into financial trouble right after the album was released and was unable to promote either the album or the band itself. The music was also a departure from the band's previous style, which could be described as England's answer to Vanilla Fudge. Deep Purple (the album) was entirely made up of original material, such as the track combining the instrumental Faultline with The Painter, a piece credited to the entire band. Following the release of the album singer Rod Evans left the band to form Captain Beyond, and Deep Purple (the band) would move in a harder rock direction with new lead vocalist Ian Gillan.

No comments:

Post a Comment