Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1343 (starts 10/23/13)

Artist:    Gentrys
Title:    Keep On Dancing
Source:    LP: The Gentrys (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jones/Love/Shann
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1965
    It is a well known fact that in the mid-1960s, in order to have a decent chance to get played on the radio, a song had to have a running time of no longer than three and a half minutes. What is not as well known is the fact that there was also a minimum running time of about two minutes, with the average top 40 hit being somewhere between two and a half and three minutes long. This presented a problem for the Gentrys, whose Keep On Dancing, as originally recorded, ran a minute and a half. The solution was ingenious in its simplicity. Using two tape machines, the band simply added a repeat of the first minute to the end of the song, fading it out after about thirty seconds to make a final running time of slightly over two minutes. The song ended up being a huge hit for the band, and has appeared on several frat-rock and party-rock collections over the years.

Artist:     Byrds
Title:     Psychodrama City
Source:     CD: Fifth Dimension (bonus track)
Writer:     David Crosby
Label:     Columbia/Legacy
Year:     1966
     1966 was a pivotal year for the Byrds. Having lost their main songwriter, Gene Clark, both David Crosby and Jim McGuinn stepped up to provide original material for the band to record. Psychodrama City is really more of a studio jam with vocals added to it, but is interesting in that Crosby uses the opportunity to tell the story of why Clark had left the band (he had a fear of flying and had refused to board a plane to go on tour).

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    She's So Fine
Source:    CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s):    Noel Redding
Label:    Legacy
Year:    1967
    When Jimi Hendrix met Noel Redding at a jam session, the latter was playing guitar. Hendrix, however, convinced him to switch to bass when he invited him to become part of his new band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Although Redding thrived in his new role, he always retained ambitions of writing and playing his own songs, which he would eventually get the chance to do with a band called Fat Mattress. In the meantime, however, he did manage to get a pair of his own songs recorded by the Experience. The first of these was She's So Fine, which was included on the Axis: Bold As Love album. Hendrix of course provided the lead guitar parts on the song, which was sung by Redding. Hendrix also co-produced the song, giving him his first taste of producing a song not written by himself. Hendrix would eventually expand on this concept, producing or co-producing the debut albums of two bands that toured with the Experience in 1969, Eire Apparent and Cat Mother And The All Night Newsboys (and providing some guitar work for the former).

Artist:    Fifty Foot Hose
Title:    Fantasy
Source:    LP: Cauldron
Writer(s):    David Blossom
Label:    Limelight
Year:    1968
    Although Fifty Foot Hose was not a commercial success in 1968, they are now highly regarded as pioneers of electronic music. The group's core members were the husband and wife team of David and Nancy Blossom (on guitar and vocals respectively) and Cork Marcheschi, who provided various electronic effects. Marcheschi actually created the devices he used with the group, being as much an inventor/engineer as a musician (perhaps even more). David Blossom, on the other hand, was the band's primary songwriter, creating pieces such as Fantasy, which at over ten minutes was the longest track on the group's only album, Cauldron.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Funk #48
Source:    LP: The Best Of The James Gang (originally released on LP: Yer' Album)
Writer(s):    Walsh/Fox/Kriss
Label:    ABC (original label: Bluesway)
Year:    1969
    Cleveland's James Gang was one of the original power trios of the seventies. Although generally known as the starting place of Joe Walsh, the band was actually led by Jim Fox, one of the most underrated drummers in the history of rock. Fox, who was the only member to stay with the group through its many personnel changes over the years, sings lead on Funk # 48 from the band's debut album on ABC's Bluesway label. Yer Album, incidentally, was the only rock LP ever issued on Bluesway, a label better known for recordings by B.B. King such as Lucille and The Thrill Is Gone.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    Steve's Song
Source:    Mono CD: Projections
Writer(s):    Steve Katz
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Verve Forecast)
Year:    1966
    The members of the Blues Project came from a variety of backgrounds, including jazz, rock, classical and of course, blues. Guitarist Steve Katz had the strongest connection to the Greenwich Village folk scene and was the lead vocalist on the Project's recording of Donovan's Catch The Wind on their first LP. For their second album Katz wrote his own song, entitled simply Steve's Song. The tune starts with a very old-English style repeated motif that gets increasing complicated as it repeats itself before segueing into a more conventional mode with Katz on the lead vocal. Katz would write and sing simlarly-styled tunes, such as Sometimes In Winter, as a member of Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Artist:    Wilson Pickett
Title:    Stagger Lee
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Logan/Price
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1967
    In the early 1990s I spent a few months working at a small-town AM station in North Carolina that was owned by a guy who was into something called 'beach music". For those of you unfamiliar with Carolina culture, beach music has absolutely nothing to do with the Beach Boys or any other surf bands. Rather, beach music is a continuation of the kind of mainstream soul music that made Motown a hit factory in the mid-1960s. The station's owner had just put a new FM station on the air and had pretty much swiped the entire format of his AM station (including the emphasis on current light mainstream hits with a liberal dose of beach music) for his new venture. This left the older station in need of something to give it a sound of its own. My idea was to dispense with current music altogether and make it into an oldies station. I soon discovered, however, that the station's owner had some pretty strange ideas about certain musical genres. The one thing I remember in particular was his objection to Wilson Pickett, one of the icons of 60s southern soul music. As far as this guy was concerned, Pickett's music was not soul music at all; it was, rather, rock music, and he didn't want any hard rock played on his station. With that in mind we have Wilson Pickett's version of Stagger Lee, a song that had been originally recorded by Lloyd Price. Ironically, Price's original version is now considered a beach music classic by the Myrtle Beach crowd.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    There Is A Mountain
Source:    CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Sony Music Special Products (original label: Epic)
Year:    1967
    1967 was a year that saw Donovan continue to shed the "folk singer" image, forcing the media to look for a new term to describe someone like him. As you may have already guessed, that term was "singer-songwriter." On There Is A Mountain, a hit single from 1967, Donovan applies Eastern philosophy and tonality to pop music, with the result being one of those songs that sticks in your head for days.

Artist:    Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title:    It's All Meat
Source:    LP: Winds Of Change
Writer(s):    Burdon/Briggs/Weider/Jenkins/McCulloch
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1967
    More than just about any other British invasion band, the Animals identified strongly with US Rhythm and Blues artists like John Lee Hooker and Ray Charles; all of their albums were filled with R&B covers, even as late as 1966, when other British bands were recording almost nothing but songs they wrote themselves. After the original group disbanded in late 1966, lead vocalist Eric Burdon set about forming a new version of the Animals. This new band, which came to be known as Eric Burdon And The Animals, shifted the emphasis to original compositions. Much of their original material, however, still had a strong connection to black American culture, especially in Burdon's lyrics on songs such as It's All Meat from the 1967 Winds Of Change album. Burdon would continue to move in this direction, culminating in an album called The Black Man's Burdon with a band called War.

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Two Heads (alternate version)
Source:     CD: After Bathing At Baxters
Writer:     Grace Slick
Label:     RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:     1967
     The third Jefferson Airplane album, After Bathing At Baxter's, saw the group moving in increasingly experimental directions, as Grace Slick's two contributions to the LP attest. The more accessible of the two was Two Heads, which was the first part of the fifth "suite" on the album. This alternate version of Two Heads was recorded two days earlier than the take used on the album itself.

Artist:    Status Quo
Title:    Pictures Of Matchstick Men
Source:    CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Francis Rossi
Label:    Priority (original label: Pye)
Year:    1967
    The band with the most charted singles in the UK is not the Beatles or even the Rolling Stones. It is, in fact, Status Quo, quite possibly the nearest thing to a real life version of Spinal Tap. Except for Pictures of Matchstick Men, the group has never had a hit in the US. On the other hand, they remain popular in Scandanavia, playing to sellout crowds on a regular basis (yes, they are still together).

Artist:    Vanilla Fudge
Title:    You Keep Me Hangin' On
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Holland/Dozier/Holland
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    The LP version of the Vanilla Fudge's cover of the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On ran something like 6-7 minutes. For single release the song was cut down considerably, clocking in at around three minutes. It was also available only in mono, which is how Rhino chose to present it when they released thier first Nuggets series (not to be confused with Lenny Kaye's original collection from 1972) in the early 1980s.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Viola Lee Blues
Source:    CD: The Grateful Dead
Writer(s):    Noah Lewis
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1967
    The Grateful Dead established a reputation over the years for playing long extended jams. The first of these to be released on vinyl was "Viola Lee Blues", clocking in at about 10 minutes. Compared to some of the later performances of "Dark Star" or "St. Stephen", ten minutes does not seem very long, but the track does show flashes of the interplay between band members that would become the stuff of legends.
Artist:    Mountain
Title:    Blood Of The Sun
Source:    CD: Woodstock 2
Writer(s):    West/Pappalardi/Collins
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    There are conflicting stories concerning this recording of Mountain's Blood Of The Sun. The producers of the anniversary edition of the Woodstock 2 album insist that it was indeed recorded at the legendary rock festival in the summer of 1969. The four-disc Rhino Records collection Back To Yasgur's Farm, however, contains a noticably different recording that, according to that collection's compilers was the actual Woodstock performance of the song. The liner notes for that collection go on to say that the performance used on Woodstock 2 was actually recorded somewhere else and used at the band's insistence rather than the actual Woodstock performance. As this version, which has a slightly slower tempo, giving it a "heavier" feel, is technically a stronger performance of the song, this second story is probably closer to the truth.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    Let's Go Away For Awhile
Source:    Mono LP: Pet Sounds
Writer(s):    Brian Wilson
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1966
    After spending six months and a record amount of money making Good Vibrations, Brian Wilson and Capitol Records decided to use an existing track for the B side of the single rather than take the time to record something new. The chosen track was Let's Go Away For Awhile, a tune from the Pet Sounds album that Wilson described as the most satisfying instrumental piece he had ever written.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    We're Going Wrong
Source:    CD: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Jack Bruce
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    On Fresh Cream the slowest-paced tracks were bluesy numbers like Sleepy Time Time. For the group's second LP, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce came up with We're Going Wrong, a song with a haunting melody supplemented by some of Eric Clapton's best guitar fills. Even Ginger Baker set aside his drumsticks in favor of mallets, giving the song an otherworldly feel.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Sunshine Day
Source:    Mono British import CD: Spirit Of Joy
Writer(s):    Mick Abrahams
Label:    Polydor (original label: MGM)
Year:    1968
    Jethro Tull was formed when half the membership of a band called the John Evan Smash decided to call it quits, leaving vocalist Ian Anderson and bassist Glen Cornick looking for two new members. Since one of the departing members was John Evan himself, a new name was also called for. After recruiting guitarist Mick Abrahams and drummer Clive Bunker, the group played a series of gigs under the name Bag Of Blues. Somewhere along the way the band changed its name to Jethro Tull, releasing their first single on the British version of MGM records in early 1968. In addition to the fact that it was the only Tull record ever released on MGM, there are two other oddities about Sunshine Day. The first is that, unlike all future singles and nearly every album track everrecorded by the band, the song was not written by Ian Anderson; Abrahams was the songwriter of record for that first single. The second, and even odder oddity about that record is that the band name on the label was Jethro Toe. No wonder they changed labels.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Let It Bleed
Source:    LP: More Hot Rocks (Big Hits and Fazed Cookies) (originally released on LP: Let It Bleed)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1969
    Probably more than any other British Invasion band, the Rolling Stones incorporated elements of American country music into their sound, going all the way back to one of their first releases, a cover of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away. Although this country sound was for the most part abandoned during their psychedelic period, it returned with a vengeance with their 1968 album Beggar's Banquet with songs like Dear Doctor and No Expectations. Their next album, Let It Bleed, was even more country sounding, from a countrified version of Honky Tonk Women called Country Honk to the title track of the album itself. In most respects, however, the song Let It Bleed was pure Stones, right down to the suggestive lyrics.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    In Another Land
Source:    CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    In Another Land was the first Rolling Stones song written and sung by bassist Bill Wyman, and was even released in the UK as a Wyman single. The song originally appeared on the Stones' most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, in late 1967.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    The Last Time
Source:    LP: More Hot Rocks (Big Hits and Fazed Cookies) (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Out Of Our Heads)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1965
    Released in late winter of 1965, The Last Time was the first single to hit the top 10 in both the US and the UK (being their third consecutive #1 hit in England) and the first one written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Despite that, it would be overshadowed by their next release: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, which went to the top of the charts everywhere and ended up being the #1 song of 1965.

Artist:    Birds
Title:    No Good Without You
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    William Stevenson
Label:    Rhino (original label: Decca)
Year:    1965
    Although they only released four singles from 1964-66 (the third of which being No Good Without You), the Birds were among the better UK bands not to get attention outside of their native land. Formed in 1963, the band was first known as the R&B Bohemians and then the Thunderbirds before shortening their name to the Birds. When the US Byrds came along, the Birds actually tried to sue them for using their name. What the group is probably best known for, however, is launching the career of guitarist Ron Wood, who would later join the Faces and is currently a member of some obscure British rock and roll band.

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband
Title:    Psychedelic Trip
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Loomis/Flores/Tolby/Aguilar/Andrijasevich
Label:    Tower/Sundazed
Year:    Recorded 1966, released 2012
    Psychedelic Trip is essentially an early instrumental version of what would eventually become the title track for the Chocolate Watchband's debut album, No Way Out. Although Psychedelic Trip is credited to the entire band, producer/manager Ed Cobb (the Ed Wood of psychedelic music) took sole credit for the song No Way Out.

Artist:    Count Five
Title:    Psychotic Reaction
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ellner/Chaney/Atkinson/Byrne/Michaelski
Label:    Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
Year:    1966
    San Jose, California, had a vibrant teen music scene in the late 60s, despite the fact that the relatively small (at the time) city was overshadowed by San Francisco at the other end of the bay (both cities were considered part of the same metropolitan market). One of the more popular bands in town was this group of five individuals who chose to dress up like Bela Lugosi's Dracula, capes and all. Musically, they idolized the Yardbirds (Jeff Beck era), and for slightly more than three minutes managed to sound more like their idols than the Yardbirds themselves (who by then had replaced Beck with Jimmy Page).

Artist:    Who
Title:    Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
Source:    Mono CD: Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Townshend/Daltry
Label:    MCA (original label: Brunswick)
Year:    1965
    One of the earliest singles from the Who, Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere, [Wow! That's a lot of commas] is the only known songwriting collaboration between guitarist Pete Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey. According to Townshend, he wrote the first verse himself and Daltrey helped with the rest. The song was released on Britain's Brunswick label in 1965.

Artist:    Monks
Title:    Complication
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Burger/Spangler/Havlicek/Johnston/Shaw
Label:    Rhino (original label: Polydor)
Year:    1966
    In 1964 a group of American GIs stationed in Germany decided to get together and form a rock band. After their respective tours of duty ended they decided to stay in the country and in 1966 recorded this single for Polydor. Knowing that a large segment of their audience had a rudimentary grasp of English at best, they deliberately crafted a tune that would be easy to comprehend with clear, almost chanted lyrics. To take the chanting concept a step further they all had square patches shaved off the top of their heads and dressed in brown robes. After thinking about it for a couple days I think I've finally figured out who these guys remind me of: early AC/DC, especially Bon Scott's vocals. Compare this to Jailbreak. You'll hear what I mean.

Artist:    Moby Grape
Title:    Omaha
Source:    Mono LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s):    Skip Spence
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    As an ill-advised promotional gimmick, Columbia Records released five separate singles concurrently with the first Moby Grape album. Of the five singles, only one, Omaha, actually charted, and it only got to the #86 spot. Meanwhile, the heavy promotion by the label led to Moby Grape getting the reputation of being over-hyped, much to the detriment of the band's career.

Artist:    Beacon Street Union
Title:    South End Incident (I'm Afraid)
Source:    LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s):    Wayne Ulaky
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1968
    The Beacon Street Union's South End Incident (I'm Afraid) was reportedly based on a real incident. According to the story, bassist Wayne Ulaky witnessed a mugging in one of Boston's seedier neighborhoods and spent the rest of that evening looking over his shoulder, worried that the muggers might have seen him. He then wrote a song about it that got recorded by the band and released on their debut LP, The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Mrs. Robinson
Source:    LP: Bookends
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Sundazed/Columbia
Year:    1968
    A shortened version of Mrs. Robinson first appeared on the soundtrack for the film The Graduate in 1967, but it wasn't until the Bookends album came out in 1968 that the full four minute version was released.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Unhappy Girl
Source:    CD: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    After the success of their first album and the single Light My Fire in early 1967, the Doors quickly returned to the studio, releasing a second LP, Strange Days, later the same year. The first single released from the new album was People Are Strange. The B side of that single was Unhappy Girl, from the same album. Both sides got played on the jukebox at a neighborhood gasthaus known as the Woog in the village of Meisenbach near Ramstein Air Force Base (which is where I was spending most of my evenings that autumn).

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