Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1345 (starts 11/06/13)

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Streetmasse
Source:    LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s):    Kantner/Dryden/Blackman/Thompson/Balin
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1967
     After Bathing At Baxter's is generally considered the most pyschedelic of all the Jefferson Airplane albums. For one thing, the members were reportedly all on LSD through most of the creative process and were involved in entire package, right down to the decision to divide the album up into five suites and press the vinyl in such a way that the spaces in the vinyl normally found between songs were only present between the suites themselves, making it almost impossible to set the needle down at the beginning of the second or third song of a suite (there is a slight overlap between songs as well). The first suite on After Bathing At Baxter's is called Streetmasse. It consists of three compositions: Paul Kantner's The Ballad of You and Me and Pooniel; A Small Package of Value Will Come To You Shortly (a free-form jazz piece led by drummer Spencer Dryden); and the Paul Kantner/Marty Balin composition Young Girl Sunday Blues.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Get Me To The World On Time
Source:    CD: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Writer(s):    Tucker/Jones
Label:    Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    With I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) climbing the charts in early 1967, the Electric Prunes turned to songwriter Annette Tucker for two more tracks to include on their debut LP. One of those, Get Me To The World On Time (co-written by lyricist Jill Jones) was selected to be the follow up single to Dream. Although not as big a hit, the song still did respectably on the charts (and was actually the first Electric Prunes song I ever heard on FM radio).

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Riot On Sunset Strip
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Riot On Sunset Strip soundtrack)
Writer(s):    Fleck/Valentino
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    Anyone who doubts just how much influence bands like the Standells had on the punk-rock movement of the late 1970s need only listen to this 1967 track from the movie Riot On Sunset Strip. The song, written by bandmembers Tony Valentino and John Fleck, sounds like it could have been an early Ramones recording. The song itself (and the movie) were based on a real life event. Local L.A. business owners had been complaining about the unruliness and rampant drug usage among the teens hanging out in front of the various underage clubs that had been springing up on Sunset Strip in the wake of the success of the Whisky a Go Go, and in late 1966 the Los Angeles Police Department was called in to do something about the problem. What followed was a full-blown riot which ultimately led to local laws being passed that put many of the clubs out of business and severely curtailed the ability of the rest to make a profit. By 1968 the entire scene was a thing of the past, with the few remaining clubs converting to a more traditional over-21 approach. The unruliness and rampant drug usage, meanwhile, seems to have migrated up the coast to San Francisco, where it managed to undo everything positive that had been previously accomplished in the Haight-Ashbury district.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Funny Face
Source:    CD: Something Else
Writer(s):    Dave Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    Kinks lead guitarist Dave Davies has always been overshadowed by his brother, bandmate Ray Davies. Nonetheless, Dave has the second most writing credits among the band members, and nearly every Kinks album had at least one of his own compositions. The younger Davies actually flirted with a solo career in 1967 when his song Death Of A Clown was released under his own name. The song was included on the next Kinks album, Something Else, along with two more of Dave's compositions. One of those, Funny Face, is notable for its unusual time and tempo changes.

Artist:    Iron Butterfly
Title:    It Must Be Love
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Doug Ingle
Label:    Atco
Year:    1969
    Although it did not contain anything like the monster hit In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, the third Iron Butterfly LP, Ball, was probably a better album overall. The first single released from the album was In The Time Of Our Lives, backed with It Must Be Love, a tune that features some nice guitar work from Eric Brann, who would soon be leaving the band for an unsuccessful solo career.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Your Mind And We Belong Together
Source:    CD: Love Story (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1968
    The last record to be released by the classic Love lineup of Arthur Lee, Ken Forssi, Johnny Echols, Bryan MacLean and Michael Stuart was a single, Your Mind And We Belong Together. Although released in 1968, the song is very much the same style as the 1967 album Forever Changes. A bonus track on the Forever Changes CD shows Lee very much in command of the recording sessions, calling for over two dozen takes before getting an acceptable version of the song. The song serves as a fitting close to the story of one of the most influential, yet overlooked, bands in rock history...or would, if Lee had not tried unsuccessfully to duplicate the band's success with new members several times in the ensuing years.

Artist:    Charlatans
Title:    Easy When I'm Dead
Source:    CD: The Charlatans
Writer(s):    Darrell DeVore
Label:    One Way (original label: Philips)
Year:    1969
    1969 was not a great year for the Charlatans, a legendary San Francisco band that had been formed in 1964 and is often credited with creating the so-called San Francisco sound (and being the first band to take LSD prior to a performance). Only two of the original members, guitarist Mike Wilhelm and bassist Richard Olson, were still in the group at this point, and the band's sound was no longer considered anywhere near the cutting edge. Nonetheless, 1969 was the year the group finally got to record their only LP, entitled simply The Charlatans, for Mercury's subsidiary label Philips, which was also home to one of San Francisco's hardest rocking bands, Blue Cheer. Arguably the strongest material on the album was provided by one of the band's new members, keyboardist Darrell DeVore, who wrote Easy When I'm Dead. Predictably, the record was not a commercial success, and after a brief reunion of the original members later in the year, the Charlatans finally called it quits shortly before the beginning of the new decade.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    How Many More Times
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Led Zeppelin)
Writer(s):    Page/Jones/Bonham
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1969
    Like many early Led Zeppelin songs, How Many More Times was originally credited to the band members (except, for contractual reasons, singer Robert Plant). More recent releases of the song, however, list Chester Burnett (Howlin' Wolf) as a co-writer, despite the fact that he and the members of Led Zeppelin had never met. This is because of the similarity, especially in the lyrics, to a 1951 Howlin' Wolf record called How Many More Years. The band reportedly tried to trick radio programmers into playing the eight and a half minute song by listing it on the album cover as being three minutes and thirty seconds long. I doubt anyone was fooled.

Artist:     Pink Floyd
Title:     Bike
Source:     CD: The Piper At the Gates of Dawn
Writer:     Syd Barrett
Label:     Capitol (originally released on EMI/Columbia in UK)
Year: 1967
     Due to an inherent cheapness in Tower Records' approach to pretty much everything, four songs were left off the US version of the first Pink Floyd album, The Piper At the Gates of Dawn, with the band's first UK single, Arnold Layne, being inserted in their stead (shortening the album's running time by nearly ten minutes). Among the missing songs was Syd Barrett's Bike, which did not appear in the US until the early 70s, when the Relics compilation was released. All CD releases of Piper in the US have restored the original song lineup and running order.

Artist:    Leathercoated Minds
Title:    Eight Miles High
Source:    Mono LP: Ain't It Hard (originally released on LP: A Trip Down The Sunset Strip)
Writer(s):    Clark/McGuinn/Crosby
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Viva)
Year:    1966
    In a sense, the Leathercoated Minds' 1967 album A Trip Down The Sunset Strip can be considered an early concept album. The LP, co-produced by Viva Records owner Snuff Garrett and a young J.J. Cale, was a studio project made up mostly of covers of the most popular songs on the late 1966 L.A. club scene, before the clubs were shut down by a combination of new city ordinances and target law enforcement. Among those covers was this interesting version of the Byrds' Eight Miles High, which features Cale following in Roger McGuinn's footsteps by emulating John Coltrane's saxophone style on the guitar. Cale, however, does it with six strings as opposed to McGuinn's twelve.

Artist:    Sagittarius
Title:    My World Fell Down
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Carter/Stephens
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1967
    The Beach Boys' 1966 masterpiece Good Vibrations sent shock waves reverberating throughout the L.A. studio scene. Among those inspired by Brian Wilson's achievement were Wilson's former collaborator Gary Usher, who formed the studio band Sagittarius to record My World Fell Down in 1967. Among those participating in the project were Glen Campbell, who was the first person to take Wilson's place onstage when Wilson retired from performing to concentrate on his songwriting and record producing; Bruce Johnston, who succeeded Campbell and remains the group's bassist to this day; and Terry Melcher, best known as the producer who helped make Paul Revere and the Raiders a household name in 1965 (he was sometimes referred to as the "fifth Raider"). The rhythm section consisted of two of the top studio musicians in pop music history: bassist Carol Kaye and drummer Hal Blaine. With Campbell on lead vocals, Sagittarius was a critical and commercial success that nonetheless did not last past their first LP (possibly due to the sheer amount of ego in the group).

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Like A Rolling Stone
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    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.
Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Mr. Skin
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Jay Ferguson
Label:    Epic
Year:    1970
    When Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus was released in late 1970, everyone knew it was a make or break effort for the band, which had seen each of its first three albums sell fewer copies than the previous one. Unfortunately, despite generally positive reviews from the rock press, the album charted even lower than the first three, although in the long run it became the band's only gold record and has remained in print since its release. This led to the departure of three-fifths of the band's membership following the release of the album, as vocalist Jay Ferguson (who wrote several of the songs on the LP, including Mr. Skin) and bassist Mark Andes would soon surface with a new band, Jo Jo Gunne, and guitarist Randy California would strike out as a solo artist before eventually rejoining Spirit in the mid-1970s. Ferguson is now writing soundtrack music for movies and TV shows (he wrote the theme for The Office, among other things). Andes went on to have a long career with bands such as Firefall and Heart. California, along with drummer Ed Cassidy, stuck with Spirit until the group finally disbanded in the late 1990s. Keyboardist John Locke became a member of Nazareth in the early 1980s before returning to Spirit.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    Can't Seem To Make You Mine
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Sky Saxon
Label:    Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year:    1965
    One of the first psychedelic singles to hit the L.A. airwaves was the Seeds' debut single, Can't Seem To Make You Mine, released in 1965. The song was also chosen to lead off the first Seeds album the following year. Indeed, it could be argued that this was the song that first defined the "flower power" sound, predating the Seeds' biggest hit, Pushin' Too Hard, by almost a year.

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:    Music Machine
Title:    Double Yellow Line
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Rhino (original label: Original Sound, stereo LP version released on Warner Brothers)
Year:    1967
    One of the Original Sound singles that also appeared on the Warner Brothers LP Bonniwell Music Machine, Double Yellow Line features lyrics that were literally written by Bonniwell on the way to the recording studio. In fact, his inability to stay in his lane while driving with one hand and writing with the other resulted in a traffic ticket. The ever resourceful Bonniwell wrote the rest of the lyrics on the back of the ticket and even invited the officer in to watch the recording session. He declined.

Artist:    Gene Clark
Title:    Los Angeles
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on CD: Flying High)
Writer(s):    Smith/Clark
Label:    Rhino (original label: A&M)
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 1998
    When the Byrds first started out in 1965 the member drawing the most attention was Gene Clark. In addition to being a defacto front man (he also played tambourine and harmonica), Clark was the band's original songwriter, penning such favorites as I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better, She Don't Care About Time and Set You Free This Time for their first two LPs. Problems started cropping up, however, when the band's management insisted that Roger McGuinn, rather than Clark, should sing lead on the band's singles, such as Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn!. There was also tension in the band due to Clark's being paid more than the other members (due to songwriting royalties). Finally, Clark had anxiety issues concerning travel (especially by air) at a time when there was increasing demand for the band to go on tour to promote their records nationally and even internationally. This led to Clark leaving the group in 1966, his last major song for the band being a collaboration with McGuinn and David Crosby, Eight Miles High. After a critically-acclaimed but commercially disapointing album with the Gosdin Brothers, Clark briefly rejoined the Byrds (replacing the fired Crosby) just in time to make a TV appearance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, lip-synching to a pair of songs he didn't record. In 1968 Clark signed to A&M Records and began working with banjo player Doug Dillard as Dillard And Clark. Around this time, Clark recorded the song Los Angeles, but the track was not released until 30 years later.

Artist:    Grass Roots
Title:    Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man)
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1965
    In late 1965 songwriters/producers P.F. Sloan (Eve of Destruction) and Steve Barri decided to create a series of records by a band called the Grass Roots. The problem was that there was no band called the Grass Roots (at least not that they knew of), so Sloan and Barri decided to recruit an existing band and talk them into changing their name. The band they found was the Bedouins, one of the early San Francisco bands. As the rush to sign SF bands was still months away, the Bedouins were more than happy to record the songs Sloan and Barri picked out for them. The first single by the newly-named Grass Roots was a cover of Bob Dylan's Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man). The band soon got to work promoting the single to Southern California radio stations, but with both the Byrds and the Turtles already on the charts with Dylan covers it soon became obvious that the market was becoming saturated with folk-rock. After a period of months the band, who wanted more freedom to write and record their own material, had a falling out with Sloan and Barri and it wasn't long before they moved back to San Francisco, leaving drummer Joel Larson in L.A. The group, with another drummer, continued to perform as the Grass Roots until Dunhill Records ordered them to stop. Eventually Dunhill would hire a local L.A. band called the 13th Floor (not to be confused with Austin, Texas's 13th Floor Elevators) to be the final incarnation of the Grass Roots; that group would crank out a series of top 40 hits in the early 70s. Meanwhile the original lineup changed their name but never had the opportunity to make records again.

Artist:    Jose Feliciano
Title:    Spoonful
Source:    LP: A Bag Full Of Soul
Writer(s):    Willie Dixon
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1966
    One of the most interesting surprises I got when I purchased a cousin's record collection a couple years ago was a Jose Feliciano album called A Bag Full Of Soul. The 1966 LP was Feliciano's second album, and still showed traces of his time he spent performing in Greenwich Village as a contemporary of Joan Baez, Dave Van Ronk and others. His version of Willie Dixon's Spoonful is one of the most unique. Unlike most covers of the song, which emphasize its two-note hook, Feliciano's Spoonful takes a basic three-chord garage rock approach similar to Van Morrison's Gloria. The more I hear this one, the more I like it.

Artist:    Ballroom
Title:    Baby Please Don't Go
Source:    Mono CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lite Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Joe Williams
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1967
    This rather unusual arrangement of Joe Williams classic Baby, Please Don't Go was the creation of producer/vocalist Curt Boettcher. Boettcher had previously worked with the Association, co-writing their first hit Along Comes Mary. While working on the Ballroom project for Our Productions in 1966 he came to the attention of Brian Wilson and Gary Usher. Usher was so impressed with Boettcher's creativity in the studio that he convinced his own bosses at Columbia Records to buy out Boettcher's contract from Our Productions. As a result, much of Boettcher's Ballroom project became part of Usher's own Sagittarius project, with only Baby, Please Don't Go released under the Ballroom name. Boettcher turned out to be so prolific that it was sometimes said that the giant CBS on the side of the building stood for Curt Boettcher's Studios.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Punky's Dilemma
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Bookends)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    Originally written specifically for the 1967 soundtrack of the movie The Graduate but rejected by the producers, Punky's Dilemma sat on the shelf until the following year, when it became the only track on side two of Simon And Garfunkel's Bookends LP that had not been previously released. The lyrics are about as psychedelic as Simon And Garfunkel ever got.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    Two People
Source:    LP: Where's My Daddy
Writer(s):    Markley/Harris
Label:    Amos
Year:    1969
    After being cut from the Reprise roster following the disappointing sales of their third LP for the label, it looked like members of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band would be going their separate ways. Yet, amazingly enough, the following year the band released a new album on the Amos label called Where's My Daddy?. Even more amazing is the fact that nearly all the members of the band participated in the making of the album, despite most members' publicly expressed disdain for the band's unofficial leader, Bob Markely. I have to be honest here. I just listened to the track Two People before sitting down to write this, and I really have no idea what this song is supposed to be about. The lyrics sort of remind me of Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues in their delivery, but they aren't nearly as interesting as Dylan's. Musically, the song sounds like early country rock, a style that really doesn't mesh well with the melody or the lyrics. Oddly enough, though, it's actually listenable in a weird sort of way.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Alligator/Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)
Source:    LP: Anthem Of The Sun
Writer(s):    Lesh/McKernan/Hunter/Garcia/Kreutzmann/Weir
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1968
    After a debut album that took about a week to record (and that the band was unanimously unhappy with) the Grateful Dead took their time on their second effort, Anthem Of The Sun. After spending a considerable amount of time in three different studios on two coasts and not getting the sound they wanted (and shedding their original producer along the way) the Dead came to the conclusion that the only way to make an album that sounded anywhere near what the band sounded like onstage was to use actual recordings of their performances and combine them with the studio tracks they had been working on. Side two of the album, which includes the classic Alligator and the more experimental Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks), is basically an enhanced live performance, with new vocal tracks added in the studio. Alligator itself is notable as the first Grateful Dead composition to feature the lyrics of Robert Hunter, who would become Jerry Garcia's main collaborator for many many years. Anthem Of The Sun, along with other early Dead albums, was remixed by Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh in 1973, and the new mix was used on all subsequent pressings of the LP (and later CD). Recently, Rhino records has pressed a new vinyl copy of Anthem Of The Sun using the original 1968 mix of the album, which is what I've used on this week's show. Enjoy!

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