Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1401 (starts 1/1/14)

   To start the new year we have artist sets from the Standells and the Blues Magoos, making them (so far) the two most-played artists on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era in 2014. Let's see how they rank 50 weeks from now :)

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    Albert Common Is Dead
Source:    Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
Writer(s):    Gilbert/Scala
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1967
    The second Blues Magoos LP, Electric Comic Book, was much in the same vein as their 1966 debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, with a mix of fast and slow originals and a couple of cover songs, one of which was done in an extended rave-up style. The second side opener, Albert Common Is Dead, is a fast rocker (with a slowed down final chorus) about an average guy's decision to take to the road, leaving his former life behind. As many young people were doing exactly that during the summer of 1967, you might expect such a song to become somewhat of a soundtrack of its times, but with so many other songs filling that role, Albert Common Is Dead was largely overlooked by the listening public.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: Electric Comic Book and as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Gilbert/Scala/Esposito/Thielhelm
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mercury)
Year:    1966
    The Blues Magoos (original spelling: Bloos) were either the first or second band to use the word psychedelic in an album title. Both they and the 13th Floor Elevators released their debut albums in 1966 and it is unclear which one actually came out first. What's not in dispute is the fact that Psychedelic Lollipop far outsold The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. One major reason for this was the fact that (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet was a huge national hit in early 1967, which helped album sales considerably (of course the fact that they were on Mercury Records, one of the "big six" labels of the time, didn't hurt). Despite having a unique sound and a look to match (including electric suits), the Magoos were unable to duplicate the success of Nothin' Yet on subsequent releases, partially due to Mercury's pairing of two equally marketable songs on the band's next single without indicating to stations which one they were supposed to be playing.

Artist:     Blues Magoos
Title:     Gloria
Source:     Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
Writer:     Van Morrison
Label:     Mercury
Year:     1967
     Although the Blues Magoos are best known for their hit (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet, the band got a lot of airplay on underground FM stations for their extended psychedelic rave up on John D. Loudermilk's Tobacco Road, which had been a hit a couple of years before for the Nashville Teens. Both songs were featured on the band's debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop. For their second album, Electric Comic Book, the Magoos decided to do a similar treatment on Van Morrison's Gloria, which had been a hit for the Shadows of Knight in 1966. The result was six minutes of pure madness.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Mr. Soul
Source:    CD: Retrospective (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    Executives at Atco Records originally considered Neil Young's voice "too weird" to be recorded. As a result many of Young's early tunes (including the band's debut single Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing), were sung by Richie Furay. By the time the band's second album, Buffalo Springfield Again, was released, the band had enough clout to make sure Young was allowed to sing his own songs. In fact, the album starts with a Young vocal on the classic Mr. Soul.

Artist:    Diana Ross And The Supremes
Title:    Love Child
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Taylor/Wilson/Sawyer/Richards
Label:    Motown
Year:    1968
    Although Motown's primary focus was on making successful pop records, they did manage to occassionally put out songs that had a deeper message. Such is the case with Love Child, a song by Diana Ross And The Supremes that addressed the issue of teen pregnancy, which was reaching epidemic proportions in some segments of society, including a good chunk of Motown's target audience. Of course, it was also a major hit, in fact displacing the Beatles' Hey Jude at the top of the charts.

Artist:    Common People
Title:    Soon There'll Be Thunder
Source:    British import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released on LP: Of The People, By The People, For The People, From The Common People)
Writer(s):    Robinett/Robinett
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1969
    After the surprise success of the single I Love You by the San Jose, California band People, Capitol Records decided to sign another California band with a similar name, the Common People. The result was the hard to find 1969 LP Of The People, By The People, For The People, From The Common People. Although there were no hit singles on the album, it did contain some decent tracks such as Soon There'll Be Thunder.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Dr. Jeckyl And Mr. Hyde
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Magic Bus-The Who On Tour (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    John Entwhistle
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1968
    The Who were blessed with not one, but two top-notch songwriters: Pete Townshend and John Entwhistle. Whereas Townsend's songs ranged from tight pop songs to more serious works such as Tommy, Entwistle's tunes had a slightly twisted outlook, dealing with such topics as crawly critters (Boris the Spider), imaginary friends (Whiskey Man) and even outright perversion (Fiddle About). Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde was originally released in the US as the B side to Call Me Lightning. Both songs were included on the Magic Bus album.

Artist:    Bee Gees
Title:    To Love Somebody
Source:    CD: Bee Gees 1st
Writer(s):    Barry and Robin Gibb
Label:    Reprise (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Although the Bee Gees had already established themselves in their native Australia (and recorded a pair of LPs for local labels), they decided to make a fresh start in 1967 by moving to England and issuing an album called Bee Gees 1st. The album was an immediate success, containing no less than three major hits. Of these, the biggest by far was To Love Somebody, which made the charts all over the world, including the all important US market. It was the beginning of one of the most successful runs in rock history.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Taxman
Source:    CD: Revolver
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1966
    The Beatles' 1966 LP Revolver was a major step forward, particularly for guitarist George Harrison, who for the first time had three of his own compositions on an album. Making it even sweeter was the fact that one of these, Taxman, was chosen to lead off the album itself. Although Harrison is usually considered the band's lead guitarist, the solo in Taxman is actually performed by Paul McCartney, whose own style had a harder edge than Harrison's. Harrison, on the other hand, reportedly played bass (McCartney's usual instrument) on the track. This made the song difficult to perform live, but, as the world would soon know, the group had already decided to retire from live performing altogether in order to concentrate on perfecting their studio work.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Why Pick On Me
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released on LP: Why Pick On Me/Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
    Ed Cobb was, in many ways, the Ed Wood of the late 60s record industry. Many of the bands who recorded under his guidance, such as LA.'s Standells, have become legends of garage rock. Wood wrote the first three singles released by the Standells, including their biggest hit, Dirty Water, and its follow-up, Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White. Why Pick On Me, the title track of the band's second LP, was the third single released by the band, although it did not chart as well as its predecessors.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
     If ever a song could be considered a garage-punk anthem, it's Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, the 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.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Dirty Water
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
    The Standells were not from Boston (they were a Los Angeles club band). Ed Cobb, who wrote and produced Dirty Water, was. The rest is history.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Patterns
Source:    LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Sundazed/Columbia
Year:    1966
    Although it was the third Simon And Garfunkel album, 1966s' Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme was actually the first to contain songs written following the duo's shift from pure folk music to a more electric sound. The album was more adventurous overall, containing such sonic experiments as Silent Night juxtaposed with the 7 O'Clock News and Patterns, which opens with a guitar string being detuned (or maybe tuned) and features an African beat throughout. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme is now generally regarded as Simon's first true classic album.

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:    Cream
Title:    Tales Of Brave Ulysses
Source:    LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer:    Clapton/Sharp
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    Cream was one of the first bands to break British tradition and release singles that were also available as album cuts. This tradition likely came about because 45 RPM records (both singles and extended play 45s) tended to stay in print indefinitely in the UK, unlike in the US, where a hit single usually had a shelf life of around 2-3 months then disappeared forever. When the Disraeli Gears album was released, however, the song Strange Brew, which leads off the LP, was released in Europe as a single. The B side of that single was Tales Of Brave Ulysses, which opens side two of the album.

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:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Desperation
Source:    CD: Steppenwolf
Writer(s):    John Kay
Label:    MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1968
    A close listen to the first Steppenwolf album reveals a band still looking for its signature sound. As a result, the album includes songs from a greater variety of genres than on later efforts. Among those is the slow love ballad, as represented by John Kay's Desperation.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    Grim Reaper Of Love
Source:    French import CD: Happy Together (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Portz/Nichol
Label:    Magic (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:    Blood, Sweat And Tears
Title:    God Bless The Child
Source:    LP: Heavy Sounds
Writer(s):    Holiday/Herzog
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    Although it was never released as a single, Blood, Sweat And Tears' version of the Billy Holiday classic God Bless The Child has become one of their most popular recordings over time, even to the point of being included on the group's Greatest Hits collection. The track was also chosen as the band's contribution to Columbia's Heavy Sounds collection that was released around 1969.

Artist:    First Edition
Title:    Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: The First Edition and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Mickey Newbury
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    In 1968, former New Christy Mistrels members Kenny Rogers and Mike Settle decided to form a psychedelic rock band, the First Edition. Although Settle was the official leader on the first album, it was Rogers who would emerge as the star of the band, even to the point of eventually changing the band's name to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. That change reflected a shift from psychedelic to country flavored pop that would eventually propel Rogers to superstar status.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Willow Willow
Source:    CD: Love Story (originally released on LP: Out Here)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra/Rhino (original label: Blue Thumb)
Year:    1969
    Following the disintegration of the original Love, bandleader Arthur Lee decided to keep the name alive with a whole new lineup of musicians, including lead guitarist Jay Donnelan, bassist Frank Fayad and drummer George Suranovich. One reason for this may be the fact that Love was still contractually obligated to provide Elektra Records with one more album. The new lineup recorded about three LP's worth of material, with Elektra getting first pick of the tracks. The tracks chosen by Elektra were released as the album Love Four Sail; the remaining material ended up on an album called Out Here, which was released on the new Blue Thumb label out of L.A. Among the better tracks on Out Here was Willow Willow, a song that is vaguely reminiscent of the first Love album. The band would record one more album for Blue Thumb before disbanding, with Lee continuing on as a solo artist with the album Vindicator for A&M.

Artist:    Parking Lot
Title:    World Spinning Sadly
Source:    Mono British import CD: Insane Times (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Paul Samwell-Smith
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Parlophone)
Year:    1969
    Virtually nothing is known about the band called the Parking Lot. In fact, it is not even known whether there actually was a band called the Parking Lot, as it could just as easily have been a group of studio musicians hired by the producer/songwriter of World Spinning Sadly, a one-off single from 1969. The producer himself, on the other hand, was definitely a real person. Paul Samwell-Smith was, in fact, the original bass player for the Yardbirds, who had left the group in 1966 (after playing on all of their major hits through Over Under Sideways Down) to pursue a career as a record producer. Although he was never a major figure in the music industry in that capacity, he did manage to remain active well past the demise of the Yardbirds themselves, which was probably his goal all along.

Artist:    Fever Tree
Title:    San Francisco Girls (Return Of The Native) (originally released on LP: Fever Tree)
Source:    CD: Psychedelic Pop
Writer(s):    Scott and Vivian Holtzman
Label:    BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Uni)
Year:    1968
    A minor trend in 1968 was for producer/songwriters to find a band to record their material exclusively. A prime example is Houston's Fever Tree, which featured the music of husband and wife team Scott and Vivian Holtzman. San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native) was the single from that album, peaking in the lower reaches of the Hot 100 charts.

Artist:    Butterfield Blues Band
Title:    East-West
Source:    CD: East-West
Writer:    Bloomfield/Gravenites
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1966
    Along with the Blues Project, the Butterfield Blues Band (and guitarist Michael Bloomfield in particular) are credited with starting the movement toward improvisation in rock music. Both are cited as influences on the new bands that were cropping up in San Francisco in late 1966m including Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead. The first Butterfield album did not have much in the way of improvisation, however, as Butterfield himself was a Chicago blues traditionalist who, like many of his idols, held the reins of the band tightly and did not tolerate deviation. By the time of the band's second LP, however, the group was becoming more of a democracy, especially after their successful live shows brought rave reviews for the musicianship of the individual members, especially Bloomfield (who in some polls was rated the number one guitarist in the country). Bloomfield used this new clout to push for more improvisation, and the result was the classic album East-West. The title track itself is a modal piece; that is, it (in jazz terms) stays on the One rather than following a traditional blues progression. Within that framework Bloomfield's solo uses scales found in eastern music (Indian in particular); hence the title of the piece: East-West. Another difference between East-West and the first Butterfield album was that second guitarist Elvin Bishop, who had played strictly rhythm guitar on the debut, got a chance to do some solo work of his own on East-West. Bishop would soon find himself the band's lead guitarist when Bloomfield left to form the Electric Flag in 1967.

Artist:    Lovin' Spoonful
Title:    Do You Believe In Magic
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer:    John Sebastian
Label:    Buddah (original label: Kama Sutra)
Year:    1965
    Do You Believe In Magic, the debut single by the Lovin' Spoonful, was instrumental in establishing not only the band itself, but the Kama Sutra label as well. Within the next five years, the Spoonful (and later John Sebastian as a solo artist) would crank out a string of hits. Not to be outdone, Kama Sutra would itself morph into a company called Buddah Records and come to dominate the "bubble gum" genre of top 40 music throughout 1968 and well into 1969.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Most Exclusive Residence For Sale
Source:    Mono British import CD: Face To Face
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Sanctuary (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    By 1966, Ray Davies' songwriting had matured considerably from his power chord driven love songs You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night. Like many of the songs on the Kinks' 1966 and 1967 LPs, Most Exclusive Residence For Sale tells a story; in this case the story of a man who achieved great success, bought an expensive house and then found himself forced to sell it when his fortunes took a downward turn.

Artist:    Thorinshield
Title:    Daydreaming
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Thorinshield)
Writer(s):    Ray/Smith
Label:    Rhino (original label: Philips)
Year:    1967
    Before 1966 it was virtually unheard of for a newly-signed band to record an album without first putting out a single to get an idea of their sales potential. By 1967, however, due to a variety of reasons, including the rise of album-oriented FM rock stations and the interest being shown in album tracks by groups like the Blues Project and the Butterfield Blues Band, as well as more established groups like the Beatles and the Beach Boys, some labels, particularly those not having a lot of top 40 hits anyway such as Philips (yes, the same company that invented CD technology and makes light bulbs), started taking chances with new acts such as L.A.'s Thorinshield. Sounding like a slightly more commercial version of the San Francisco bands making headlines that year on songs like Daydreaming, Thorinshield released one self-titled album before its members moved on to other things.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Prodigal Son
Source:    CD: Beggar's Banquet
Writer(s):    Robert Wilkins
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1968
    The Rolling Stones always had a fondness for American Roots music, but by 1967 had largely abandoned the genre in favor of more modern sounds such as pychedelia. The 1968 album Beggar's Banquet, however, marked a return to the band's own roots and included such tunes as Prodigal Son, which at first was credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. In reality the song was written by the Reverend Robert Wilkins, and has since been acknowledged as such.

Artist:    Angel Angel Down We Go
Title:    Angel Angel Down We Go
Source:    CD: A Deadly Dose Of Wylde Psych (originally released as stereo 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Mann/Weil
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Tower)
Year:    1969
    I don't have the slightest clue who plays on this record. What I do know is that is was the title track of an American International Pictures film called Angel Angel Down We Go. Unfortunately I had never seen or even heard of a movie called Angel Angel Down We Go before hearing this track, so I have no idea what is was about. But that's OK, because I strongly suspect I wouldn't be interested in watching a 1969 film from American International Pictures anyway. Then again, if it's cheesy enough, I just might. I actually did like Wild In The Streets the first time I saw it, after all (I was fifteen). Speaking of which, the theme from both that movie and Angel Angel Down We Go were written by Barry Mann and his wife Cynthia Weil, who also wrote (among other things) Kicks and Hungry for Paul Revere and the Raiders.

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