Title: I'm A Man
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Elias McDaniel
For many, the Yardbirds version of I'm a Man is the definitive version of the Bo Diddley classic. Oddly enough, the song was released as a single only in the US, where it made it into the top 10 in 1965.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Two Trains Running
Source: LP: Special Disc Jockey Record (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer(s): McKinley Morganfield
Label: Verve Forecast
Possibly the most influential (yet least known outside of musicians' circles) band of the Psychedelic Era was the Blues Project. Formed in 1965 in Greenwich Village, the band worked its way from coast to coast playing mostly college campuses, in the process blazing a path that continues to be followed by underground/progressive/alternative artists. As if founding the whole college circuit wasn't enough, they were arguably the very first jam band, as their version of the Muddy Waters classic Two Trains Running demonstrates. Among those drawing their inspiration from the Blues Project were the Warlocks, a group of young musicians who were traveling with Ken Kesey on the Electric Cool-Aid Acid Test tour bus. The Warlocks would soon change their name to the Grateful Dead and take the jam band concept to a whole new level.
Title: Peter Gunn's Gun
Source: CD: Headquarters (bonus track)
Writer(s): Henry Mancini
Sometimes you just gotta cut loose and do something silly. Sometimes you even do something silly in a situation where someone can see or hear you. And if you happen to be in a recording studio, sometimes you do something silly with the tape rolling. Such is the case with the Monkees goofing on Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn theme. I can remember doing the same kind of thing with my first band, except three of us had to share an amplifier and the drummer was using a set of toy drums. And we didn't tape it.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Suppose They Give A War And No One Comes
Source: LP: Volume II
One of the more popular posters of the pyschedelic era took the phrase Suppose They Give A War And No One Comes and highlighted the letters P,E,A,C and E with colors that, when viewed under a black light, stood out from the rest of the text. At around the same time a movie came out with a similar title. Quite possibly both were inspired by a track from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's late 1967 LP Volume II. The song itself is either really cool or really pretentious. I've had a copy of it for over 30 years and still haven't figured out which.
Artist: Velvet Illusions
Title: Acid Head
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Metromedia, also released on Tell Records)
Showing an obvious influence by the Electric Prunes (a suburban L.A. band that was embraced by the Seattle scene as one of their own) the Illusions backtracked the Prunes steps, leaving their native Yakima and steady gigging for the supposedly greener pastures of the City of Angels. After a few months of frustration in which the band seldom found places to practice, let alone perform, they headed back to Seattle to cut this lone single before calling it quits.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Foxy Lady
Source: Mono LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
The first track on the original UK release of Are You Experienced was Foxy Lady. The British custom of the time was to not include any songs on albums that had been previously released as singles. When Reprise Records got the rights to release the album in the US, it was decided to include three songs that had all been top 40 hits in the UK. One of those songs, Purple Haze, took over the opening spot on the album, and Foxy Lady was moved to the middle of side 2.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: I Don't Live Today
Source: LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
I remember a black light poster that choked me up the first time I saw it. It was a shot of Jimi Hendrix playing his guitar with the caption I Don't Live Today. I don't believe Hendrix was being deliberately prophetic when he wrote and recorded this classic track for the Are You Experienced album, but it still spooks me a bit to hear it, even now.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Are You Experienced?
Source: Mono LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Until the release of Are You Experienced by the Jimi Hendrix Experience the emphasis in rock music (then called pop) was on the 45 RPM single, with albums seen as a luxury item that supplemented an artist's career rather than defined it. Are You Experience helped change all that. The album was not only highly influential, it was a major seller, despite getting virtually no airplay on top 40 radio. The grand finale of the LP was the title track, which features an array of studio effects, including backwards masking and tape loops. Interestingly enough, the album was originally issued only in a mono version in the UK, with European pressings using a simulated stereo mix. After Reprise bought the rights to release the LP in the US it hired its own engineers to create stereo mixes of the songs from the four-track master tapes.
Title: I'm Gonna Dress In Black
Source: Mono LP: Them
Although Van Morrison is now known as one of rock's greatest songwriters, at the beginning of his career he was known as much for his ability to create soulful interpretations of classic blues and early rock and roll songs as for his own compositions. This is evident on Them's first LP (titled The Angry Young Them in the UK and Them in the US), especially on standout tracks such as I'm Gonna Dress In Black.
Artist: Palace Guard
Title: Falling Sugar
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets Vol. 4-Pop part two (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Orange-Empire, also released on Verve)
Whereas most garage bands favored a Rolling Stones approach to rock 'n' roll, the Palace Guard, like their fellow LA band the Knickerbockers, tried hard to emulate the Beatles. Unfortunately, they didn't have the talent to really pull it off, despite the presence of drummer Emmet Rhodes, who would soon leave the Guard to front his own band, the Merry-Go-Round, then embark on a moderately successful solo career. The Guard's best known track is Falling Sugar (sometimes listed as Like Falling Sugar), which was a big enough regional hit for the band on the Orange-Empire label in early 1966 to be picked up and reissued nationally by M-G-M's Verve label. The song went nowhere nationally, however, and after the departure of the band's most talented member, drummer Emmit Rhodes, the group quietly disbanded in 1967.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Embryonic Journey
Source: LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Jorma Kaukonen
Label: RCA Victor
Jorma Kaukonen originally considered Embryonic Journey to be little more than a practice exercise. Other members of Jefferson Airplane insisted he record it, however, and it has since come to be identified as a kind of signature song for the guitarist, who played the tune live when the band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Mystic Mourning
Source: LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
If I had to choose one single recording that encapsulates 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.
Title: Mississippi Queen
Source: CD: Electric 70s (originally released on LP: Mountain Climbing)
Label: Warner Special Products/JCI (original label: Windfall)
One of the most overlooked bands of the mid-1960s was the Vagrants. Based on Long Island, the group made a specialty of covering popular R&B and rock songs, often slowing them down and featuring extended solos by guitarist Leslie Weinstein, inspiring fellow Long Islanders Vanilla Fudge to do the same. Although the Vagrants themselves never were able to gain much national attention, Weinstein himself had established quite a reputation by the time the group disbanded. Meanwhile, keyboardist/producer/songwriter Felix Pappalardi had been working with the members of Cream as a producer, but with the demise of that band was looking for a new project to sink his teeth into. That new project turned out to be a solo album by Weinstein, who by then had shortened his last name to West. The album was called Mountain, and soon after its release West and Pappalardi decided to form a band of the same name. The group first got national attention performing at Woodstock, and in 1970 released the album Mountain Climbing, featuring the hit single Mississippi Queen.
Title: Waiting For The Sun
Source: CD: Morrison Hotel
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
The third Doors album, Waiting For The Sun, released in 1968, is notable for at least two things that were not on the album itself. The first, and most well-known, was the epic piece Celebration Of The Lizard, which was abandoned when the group couldn't get it to sound the way they wanted it to in the studio (although one section of the piece was included under the title Not To Touch The Earth). The second, and perhaps more obvious omission was the title track of the album itself. The unfinished tapes sat on the shelf until 1970, when the band finally completed the version of Waiting For The Sun that appears on the Morrison Hotel album.
Title: The Crystal Ship
Source: CD: The Doors
Writer: The Doors
Ever feel like you've discovered something really special that nobody else (among your circle of friends at any rate) knows about? At first you kind of want to keep it to yourself, but soon you find yourself compelled to share it with everyone you know. Such was the case when, in the early summer of 1967, I used my weekly allowance to buy copies of a couple of songs I had heard on the American Forces Network (AFN). As usual, it wasn't long before I was flipping the records over to hear what was on the B sides. I liked the first one well enough (a song by Buffalo Springfield called Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It, the B side of For What It's Worth), but it was the second one, the B side of the Doors' Light My Fire, that really got to me. To this day I consider The Crystal Ship to be one of the finest slow rock songs ever recorded.
Title: Ship Of Fools
Source: CD: Morrison Hotel
1969 was, if nothing else, a turbulent year for the Doors. The band had made headlines for a March 1st performance in Miami that resulted in lead vocalist Jim Morrison's arrest for indecent exposure. In July, the group released their fourth album, The Soft Parade, which was heavily criticized for its use of strings and horns and an overall more commercial sound that the band had previously exhibited. That same month Morrison gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine in which he stressed the importance of country and blues to American culture. It was not a big surprise then, that the band's next album, Morrison Hotel, featured a more stripped down sound, perhaps even more so than their first LP. Side one of the album, subtitled Hard Rock Cafe, starts off strong with one of the band's most iconic songs, Roadhouse Blues, and ends on a similar note with Ship Of Fools. The group would continue in this direction and even improve on it on their next LP, L.A. Woman. Sadly, it would be the last Doors studio album before Morrison's death.
Artist: Country Weather
Title: Fly To New York
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released only to radio stations, later included on Swiss CD: Country Weather)
Label: Rhino (original label: RD)
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2005
Country Weather started off as a popular dance band in Contra Costa County, California. In 1968 they took the name Country Weather and began gigging on the San Francisco side of the bay. In 1969, still without a record contract, they recorded an album side's worth of material, made a few one-sided test copies and circulated them to local radio stations. Those tracks, including Fly To New York, were eventually released on CD in 2005 by the Swedish label RD Records.
Title: Don't Say No
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single).
Writer(s): Ruthann Friedmann
Before the days of arena rock, with two or three bands touring together and putting on virtually the same show night after night, headliner bands often looked to local talent for their opening act, making each stop on the tour a unique event. Sometimes the local opening band made enough of an impression to create a path to stardom for themselves as well, or at least to get a record contract. Take the case of a Lake Charles, Lousiana band known locally as the Great Society. Although they had not made any records, they had developed enough of a reputation to be able to score gigs across the state line in East Texas. One of those gigs was opening for the Music Machine in mid 1967. The Music Machine, at this point, was experiencing the frustration of being unable to score a successful follow up to their 1966 hit Talk Talk and was on the verge of dissolving, with the various individual members starting to explore other options. Among those members was bassist Keith Olsen, who liked Great Society enough to convince them to come out to Los Angeles and let Olsen produce them. Things did not go exactly as planned, however, as a bad acid trip left the band in no shape to cut a record. Olsen, however, working with co-producer Curt Boettcher, did get the group to provide vocals for a studio project the two of them were working on, a Ruthann Friedmann song called Don't Say No. As there had already been a band in California called Great! Society as recently as 1966, it was decided to rename the group the Oracle for the release of Don't Say No on the Verve Forecast label in 1968. Although the record was not a hit, it did help open doors for Olsen, who would go on to discover and produce the duo known as Buckingham Nicks, along with their breakthrough album as members of Fleetwood Mac. Since then Olsen has become one of the top producers in the history of rock music, working with such well known artists as the Grateful Dead, Bob Weir, Eddie Money, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Rick Springfield, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Heart, Joe Walsh, Starship, Santana, Kim Carnes, Jethro Tull, The Babys, Ozzy Osbourne, the Scorpions, .38 Special, Bad Company, Sammy Hagar, Russ Ballard, Whitesnake, Foreigner, Sheena Easton, Journey, Loverboy, and Lou Gramm. Not bad for a bass player.
Title: Thoughts And Words
Source: Mono LP: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): Chris Hillman
In addition to recording the most commercially successful Dylan cover songs, the Byrds had a wealth of original material over the course of several albums. On their first album, these came primarily from guitarists Gene Clark and Jim (now Roger) McGuinn, with David Crosby emerging as the group's third songwriter on the band's second album. After Clark's departure, bassist Chris Hillman began writing as well, and had three credits as solo songwriter, including Thoughts And Words, on the group's fourth LP, Younger Than Yesterday. Hillman credits McGuinn, however, for coming up with the distinctive reverse-guitar break midway through the song.
Title: Time Won't Let Me
Source: Mono CD: Battle Of The Bands Vol. 2 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Era (original label: Capitol)
From Cleveland we have another local band signed to a major label, in this case Capitol Records, which at the time was having great success with both the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Lead vocalist Sonny Gerachi would reappear a few years later with the band Climax, singing a song called "Precious and Few", which is one of the greatest juxtapositions of artist names and song titles ever.
Title: Crawdaddy Simone
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
The Syndicats were formed in Tottenham in 1963 by bassist Kevin Driscoll and guitarist Steve Howe. The band's original manager was Driscoll's mother, who got them an audition with producer Joe Meek, who had made history in 1962 as the producer of the first British single to ever top the US charts, the Tornado's Telstar. Meek, who built his own studio in North London, had proved that Telstar was no fluke when he produced the Honeycombs' Have I The Right in 1964. Meek took an immediate liking to the Syndicats as well and produced three singles for the band, the last of which was a song called On The Horizon. For the B side of that single he told the band to "just go wild" on a tune written by keyboardist Jeff Williams and guitarist Ray Fenwick, who had replaced Howe (who would go on to greater fame as a member of Yes) prior to the recording sessions that resulted in Crawdaddy Simone. Like all of Meek's productions, the song starts off in your face and pretty much stays there for the next three minutes and fourteen seconds.
Title: Mellow Yellow
Source: Mono British import CD: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original US label: Epic)
Although the Mellow Yellow album came out in early 1967, the title track had been released several months earlier as a followup to Donovan's breakthrough US hit Sunshine Superman. Ironically, during Donovan's period of greatest US success none of his recordings were being released in his native UK, due to his ongoing contract dispute with Pye Records.
Title: Let's Get Together
Source: CD: All The Good That's Happening
Writer: Jimmy Reed
Label: One Way (original label: Capitol)
Despite never having been a major hit, Jimmy Reed's Let's Get Together (not to be confused with the Youngbloods song) was covered by several garage/psychedelic bands, including the Blue Magoos, the Shadows of Knight, and L.A. band the Leaves, appearing on their second LP (their only one for major label Capitol Records).
Title: Pressed Rat And Warthog
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Tonight's artist spotlight is on Cream, one of the most important bands in rock history. Formed in 1966 by guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker, Cream was one of the first supergroups, made up of former members of the Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and the Graham Bond Organisation (yeah I know, the Brits spell things weird).
Our opening track, Pressed Rat And Warthog, is one of those songs you either love or hate. I loved it the first time I heard it but had several friends that absolutely detested it. As near as I can tell, Ginger Baker actually talks that way. Come to think of it, all the members of Cream have pretty heavy accents.
Artist: Bubble Puppy
Source: British import CD: A Gathering Of Promises
Label: Charly (original label: International Artists)
The Bubble Puppy came into existence in 1967, when two former members of the legendary Corpus Christie,Texas garage band the Bad Seeds, guitarist Rod Prince and keyboardist/bassist Roy Cox, relocated to San Antonio, recruiting guitarist Todd Potter and drummer Craig Root to form the new band. Success came quickly in the form of the band's very first gig, opening for the Who at the San Antonio Colosseum. After David Fore replaced Root in the band, the group relocated to Austin, where they got a steady gig at the Vulcan Gas Company. By 1968 the Bubble Puppy was traveling all over Texas for gigs, and late in the year got a contract with Houston-based International Artists, a label that had already gained notoriety by signing the 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola. After releasing a surprise top 40 hit, Hot Smoke And Sassafras in December of 1968, the band got to work on a full album, A Gathering Of Promises. International Artists failed to get the album, which was full of fine tunes like Lonely, out quickly enough to capitilize of the popularity of Hot Smoke And Sassafras, and further hurt the band's chance of success by refusing to grant licensing rights on the single to Apple Records for European release. By 1970 the band and the label had parted company, with the Bubble Puppy relocating to Los Angeles and changing their name to Demian.
Title: 7&7 Is
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single. Stereo version released on LP: Da Capo)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
The word "seven" does not appear anywhere in the song 7&7 Is. In fact, I have no idea where Arthur Lee got that title from. Nonetheless, the song is among the most intense tracks to ever make the top 40. 7&7 Is starts off with power chords played over a constant drum roll (possibly played by Lee himself), with cymbals crashing over equally manic semi-spoken lyrics. The song builds up to an explosive climax: an atomic bomb blast followed by a slow post-apocalyptic instrumental that quickly fades away.
Title: Lost Girl
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): Reg Presley
Label: Rhino (original label: CBS)
Wild Thing was not the first single released by the Troggs (although it was certainly the biggest). That honor goest to Lost Girl, a song written by the band's lead vocalist, Reg Presley, and released in February of 1966. One listen to the track with its primitive energy and it's easy to see why the band named themselves after a race of cavemen.
Title: Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
If ever a song could be considered a garage-punk anthem, it's Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, the Standells' follow-up single to the classic Dirty Water. Both songs were written by Standells' manager/producer Ed Cobb, the record industry's answer to Ed Wood.