Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1336 (starts 9/5/13)

       This week it's the First Great Stuck in the Psychedelic Era T-Shirt Giveaway! The catch is, you'll have to actually listen to the show itself to find out how to win one.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man
Source:    Mono CD: Out Of Our Heads
Writer(s):    Nanker Phelge
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1965
    The Rolling Stones embraced the Los Angeles music scene probably more than any other British invasion band. They attended the clubs on Sunset Strip when they were in town, recorded a lot of their classic recordings at RCA's Burbank studios, and generally did a lot of schmoozing with people in the record industry. This latter was the inspiration for their 1965 track The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man. The song is credited to the entire band, using the pseudonym Nanker Phelge.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Cry To Me
Source:    Mono LP: Out Of Our Heads
Writer(s):    Bert Berns
Label:    London
Year:    1965
    The Rolling Stones included several cover songs on their first few albums, most of which were from either early rock & roll artists or more contemporary rhythm and blues artists such as Solomon Burke. One Burke song, Cry To Me, was written by Bert Burns, using the name Bert Russell (Russell being his middle name). Berns himself was, in the words of Burke, a "roly-poly white guy" who he didn't particularly trust at first. Over time, however, as the two of them worked together on several recordings Burke became one of Bern's most ardent supporters. Berns, who died in his 30s, also co-wrote Twist and Shout, Hang On Sloopy, and Piece Of My Heart, among others.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    The Spider And The Fly
Source:    Mono CD: Out Of Our Heads
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco
Year:    1965
    There were often differences in the track lineup between the US and UK versions of albums in the 1960s. There were two main reasons for this difference. The first was that British albums generally had a longer running time than their American counterparts. The second was that the British tradititionally did not include songs on albums that had been already issued on singles. Such was the case with The Spider And The Fly, which was first released as the B side of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. Both songs were included on the US version of Out Of Our Heads in July of 1965, but when the British version of the album was released two months later neither song was included.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Blues From An Airplane
Source:    LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s):    Balin/Spence
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1966
    Blues From An Airplane was the opening song on the first Jefferson Airplane album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Although never released as a single, it was picked by the group to open their first anthology album, The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane, as well.

Artist:    Chimps
Title:    Fifth Class Mail
Source:    CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lite Psych (originally released on LP: Monkey A-Go-Go)
Writer(s):    unknown
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Wyncote)
Year:    1967
    In the 1960s there were literally hundreds of record labels, many of which served targeted audiences to the exclusion of all else. Among these were labels that specialized in exploiting current trends with cheap knockoffs, usually played by studio musicians using made up band names. Once in a while, a real band would record for these labels, but not under their actual name. One such case is the Chimps, who were in reality the Thomas A. Edison Electric Band, a Philadelphia band formed in 1966 that released one album (as the Edison Electric Band) on the Cotillion label in 1970, as well as a single for Cameo Records in 1967 shortly before that label's demise. As the Chimps, they released two albums for the Philadelphia based Wyncote label that were meant to capitalize on the popularity of the Monkees. The albums, Monkey Business and Monkey A-Go-Go, both included a mix of Monkees cover songs and originals such as Fifth Class Mail, possibly the most psychedelic track the group ever recorded.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Beggar's Farm
Source:    CD: This Was
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    Parallels can be drawn between the early recordings of Jethro Tull and the American band Spirit. Both showed jazz influences that would for the most part disappear from later albums, but that helped both bands stand out from the pack on their respective debut albums. An example of this can be heard on the track Beggar's Farm, an Ian Anderson tune from the first Jethro Tull album This Was.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    I Want You (She's So Heavy)
Source:    LP: Abbey Road
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1969
    With the exception of John Lennon's 1968 audio collage Revolution 9, the longest Beatle track ever recorded was I Want You (She's So Heavy), from the Abbey Road album. The track alternates between two distinct sections: the jazz-like I Want You, which contains most of the song's lyrical content, and the primal-scream based She's So Heavy, which repeats the same phrase endlessly in 6/8 time while an increasingly loud wall of white noise eventually leads to an abrupt cut-off at 7:47.

Artist:    Janis Joplin
Title:    Mercedes Benz
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Pearl)
Writer(s):    Janis Joplin
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1971
    To put it bluntly, Janis recorded Mercedes Benz then went home and ODed on herion. End of story (and of Janis).

Artist:    Joni Mitchell
Title:    The Last Time I Saw Richard
Source:    LP: Blue
Writer(s):    Joni Mitchell
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1971
    The last track on Joni Mitchell's 1971 LP Blue, The Last Time I Saw Richard, was rumored to be about her first husband, whose name was not Richard. Figure that one out.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Hey Mr. President
Source:    CD: Mass In F Minor (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Barkan/Adams
Label:    Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1969
    The CD reissue of the third Electric Prunes album, includes two sides of a 1969 single credited to the band. As the original group has disbanded in 1968, I'm not sure who actually played on the record (although I have a CD on order that may provide an answer). What I do know is that, due to the band members not reading the fine print before signing their contract, producer Dave Hassinger actually owned the name Electric Prunes, and continued to release albums under that name using a continuously changing lineup until 1970.

Artist:    Gun
Title:    Race With The Devil
Source:    British import CD: Gun
Writer(s):    Adrian Gurvitz
Label:    Repertoire
Year:    1968
    One of the most popular songs on the jukebox at the teen club on Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany in 1969 was a song called Race With The Devil by a band called Gun. The song was so popular, in fact, that at least two local bands covered it (including the one I was in at the time). Nobody seemed to know much about the band at the time, but it turns out that the group was fronted by the Gurvitz brothers, Adrian and Paul (who at the time used the last name Curtis); the two would later be members of the Baker-Gurvitz Army with drummer Ginger Baker. I've also learned recently that Gun spent much of its time touring in Europe, particularly in Germany, where Race With The Devil hit its peak in January of 1969 (it had made the top 10 in the UK in 1968, the year it was released).

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Take It Back
Source:    LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    The very first album I recorded on my dad's new Akai X-355 reel-to-reel tape recorder was Cream's 1967 LP Disraeli Gears. It was also the very first CD I ever bought (along with Axis: Bold As Love). I currently own three copies of the LP in addition to the CD. Does that tell you anything about my opinion of this album?

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    Gimme Some Lovin'
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Winwood/Davis
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1966
    The movie The Big Chill used Gimme Some Lovin' by the Spencer Davis Group as the backdrop for a touch football game at an informal reunion of former college students from the 60s. From that point on, movie soundtracks became much more than just background music and soundtrack albums started becoming best-sellers. Not entirely coincidentally, 60s-oriented oldies radio stations began to appear in major markets as well. Ironically, most of those stations are now playing 80s oldies.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Lazy Poker Blues
Source:    LP: Vintage Years (originally released in UK on LP: Mr. Wonderful)
Writer(s):    Green/Adams
Label:    Sire (original label: Blue Horizon)
Year:    1968
    The only thing the original Fleetwood Mac and the superstar band of the 80s had in common was the presence of Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass. Stylistically, the two were world's apart. Instead of the slick pop-rock of the later version of the band, the original lineup featured British blues-rock tunes such as Lazy Poker Blues written and sung by guitarist Peter Green. The original lineup recorded two LPs for Blue Horizon that were never issued in the US. Once Fleetwood Mac became a household name, Sire Records issued a double-LP compilation album called Vintage Years that included cuts from both albums as well as several UK-only single tracks.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    The Dangling Conversation
Source:    LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia/Sundazed
Year:    1966
    The first Simon and Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning 3AM, originally tanked on the charts, causing Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel to temporarily pursue solo careers. Simon went to England, where he wrote and recorded an album's worth of material. Meanwhile, producer Tom Wilson, fresh from producing Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone, went into the studio with the original recording of the song Sound of Silence and added electric instruments to it. The result was a surprise hit that led Paul Simon to return to the US, reuniting with Art Garfunkel and re-recording several of the tunes he had recorded as a solo artist for a new album, Sounds of Silence. The success of that album prompted Columbia to re-release Wednesday Morning, 3AM, which in turn became a bestseller. Meanwhile, Simon and Garfunkel returned to the studio to record an album of all new material. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was yet another success that spawned several hit songs, including The Dangling Conversation, a song Simon described as similar to The Sound Of Silence, but more personal. The song was originally released as a single in fall of 1966, before the album itself came out.

Artist:    Ballroom
Title:    Love's Fatal Way
Source:    CD: Present Tense (Sagittarius) (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Boettcher/Naylor
Label:    Sundazed
Year:    1966
    In 1966, having successfully worked with the Association on their debut hit, Along Comes Mary (which he co-wrote), Our Productions staff producer Curt Boettcher started work on his own project, a studio group known as the Ballroom. While working on the Ballroom project, Boettcher reconnected with producer Peter Asher (whom he had met early in 1966), who was starting work on his own studio project, Sagittarius. Asher, a veteran producer and songwriter who had worked with Brian Wilson, Terry Melcher and others and had access to the top studio musicians in Los Angeles (collectively known as the Wrecking Crew), was impressed with Boettcher's talent and enthusiasm. For his part, Boettcher had idolized Asher for years, and the two soon began working together on the Sagittarius project, after Asher negotiated a buyout of Boettcher's contract with Our Productions by Asher's own employer, CBS. Only one single was ever issued by the Ballroom, with several of the remaining Ballroom tracks being reworked and/or included on the Sagittarius album, Present Tense. One Ballroom track that did not make the album was Love's Fatal Way, a ethereal pop number that is now available as a bonus track on the Present Tense CD.

Artist:    Nancy Sinatra
Title:    These Boots Are Made For Walkin'
Source:    CD: Billboard Top Rock & Roll Hits-1966 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Lee Hazlewood
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    Nancy Sinatra may not have had a great voice, but it was the right voice with the right song at the right time. To this day These Boots Are Made For Walkin', written by Lee Hazlewood, is one of the most recognizable songs ever recorded. Of course it didn't hurt that Nancy was the daughter of Frank Sinatra, or for that matter that she looked good in a miniskirt and boots.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Like A Rolling Stone
Source:    CD: Highway 61 Revisited
Writer:    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    Bob Dylan incurred the wrath of folk purists when he decided to use electric instruments for his 1965 LP Highway 61 Revisited. The opening track on the album is the six-minute Like A Rolling Stone, a song that was also selected to be the first single released from the new album. After the single was pressed, the shirts at Columbia Records decided to cancel the release due to its length. An acetate copy of the record, however, made it to a local New York club, where, by audience request, the record was played over and over until it was worn out (acetate copies not being as durable as their vinyl counterparts). When Columbia started getting calls from local radio stations demanding copies of the song the next morning they decided to release the single after all. Like A Rolling Stone ended up going all the way to the number two spot on the US charts, doing quite well in several other countries as well. Personnel on this historic recording included guitarist Michael Bloomfield, pianist Paul Griffin, drummer Bobby Gregg, bassist Joe Madho, guitarist Charlie McCoy and tambourinist Bruce Langhorne. In addition, guitarist Al Kooper, who was on the scene as a guest of producer Tom Wilson, sat in on organ, ad-libbing a part that so impressed Dylan that he insisted it be given a prominent place in the final mixdown. This in turn led to Kooper permanently switching over to keyboards for the remainder of his career.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Dirty Water
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
    Dirty Water has long since been adopted by the city of Boston (and especially its sports teams), yet the band that originally recorded this Ed Cobb tune was purely an L.A. band, having started off playing cover tunes in the early 60s. Lead vocalist/drummer Dickie Dodd, incidently, was a former Mouseketeer who had played on the surf-rock hit Mr. Moto as a member of the Bel-Airs.

Artist:    E-Types
Title:    Put The Clock Back On The Wall
Source:    CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bonner/Gordon
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    The E-Types were originally from Salinas, California, which at the time was known for it's sulfiric smell by travelers along US 101. As many people from Salinas apparently went to "nearby" San Jose (about 60 miles to the north) as often as possible, the E-Types became regulars on the local scene, eventually landing a contract with Tower Records and Ed Cobb, who also produced the Standells and the Chocolate Watch Band. The Bonner/Gordon songwriting team were just a couple months away from getting huge royalty checks from the Turtles' Happy Together when Put The Clock Back On The Wall was released in early 1967. The song takes its title from a popular phrase of the time. After a day or two of losing all awareness of time (and sometimes space) it was time to put the clock back on the wall, or get back to reality if you prefer.

Artist:    Second Helping
Title:    Let Me In
Source:    Mono LP: Ain't It Hard (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Kenny Loggins
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Viva)
Year:    1968
    Before making it big as a member of Loggins And Messina (and later as a solo artist), Kenny Loggins fronted his own band, Second Helping, recording for the Viva label in 1968. Although the single, Hard Times, did not crack the charts, it did feature the punkish Let Me In on the B side. Loggins would serve briefly as a member of the Electric Prunes before hooking up with former Buffalo Springfield member Jim Messina in the early 1970s.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Death Sound Blues
Source:    LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    I generally use the term "psychedelic" to describe a musical attitude that existed during a particular period of time rather than a specific style of music. On the other hand, the term "acid rock" is better suited for describing music that was composed and/or performed under the influence of certain mind-expanding substances. That said, the first album by Country Joe and the Fish is a classic example of acid rock. I mean, really, is there any other way to describe Death Sound Blues than "the blues on acid"?

Artist:    Velvet Underground
Title:    I'm Waiting For The Man
Source:    CD: The Velvet Underground And Nico
Writer(s):    Lou Reed
Label:    Polydor (original label: Verve)
Year:    1967
    The most celebrated of the avant-garde psychedelic bands from New York City, the Velvet Underground, did not sell a lot of records during their existence, despite being closely affiliated with Andy Warhol, at the time the hottest name in the art world. This is probably because their music was not (and still isn't) easily accessible for the masses. In fact, the VU may well be that band that your parents were talking about when they were yelling at you to "turn down that noise"! A listen to Lou Reed's I'm Waiting For The Man from the group's debut LP provides a basis for that particular theory.

Artist:    Left Banke
Title:    She May Call You Up Tonight
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Brown/Martin
Label:    Smash
Year:    1967
    Unlike their first two singles, Walk Away Renee and Pretty Ballerina, this song failed to chart, possibly due to the release two months earlier of a song called Ivy Ivy, written by keyboardist Michael Brown and shown on the label as being by the Left Banke. The song was in reality performed entirely by session musicians, including lead vocals by Bert Sommer, who would be one of the acoustic acts on the opening afternoon of the Woodstock festival a couple years later. The resulting fued between Brown and the rest of the band left a large number of radio stations gun shy when came to any record with the name Left Banke on the label, and She May Call You Up Tonight tanked.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Incident At Neshabur
Source:    CD: Abraxas
Writer(s):    Gianquito/Santana
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    Incident At Neshabur is one of many instrumental tracks on the second Santana album, Abraxas. In fact, among rock's elite, Carlos Santana is unique in that nearly half of his entire recorded output is instrumentals. This is in large part because, with the exception of an occassional backup vocal, Santana never sings on his records. Then again, with as much talent as he has as a guitarist, he really doesn't need to.

Artist:    Allman Brothers Band
Title:    Hoochie Coochie Man
Source:    CD: Beginnings (originally released on LP: Idlewild South)
Writer(s):    Willie Dixon
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    The second Allman Brothers Band, Idlewild South, generally got better reviews than the group's debut LP, mostly because of shorter tracks and tighter arrangements, both of which appealed to the rock press. Their version of Willie Dixon's Hoochie Coochie Man, for instance, actually comes in at less than five minutes. The band's next album, Live At The Fillmore East, proved to be the Allman's commercial breakthrough, however; the fact that the album is made up almost entirely of extended versions of the same songs that were on their first two studio LPs only goes to show that sometimes what the public wants is not the same thing as what the critics think they should.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Turn! Turn! Turn!
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!)
Writer(s):    Pete Seeger
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1965
    After their success covering Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man, the band turned to an even more revered songwriter: the legendary Pete Seeger. Turn! Turn! Turn!, with lyrics taken directly from the book of Ecclesiastes, was first recorded by Seeger in the early 60s, nearly three years after he wrote the song.

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