Title: Eight Miles High
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released on LP: Fifth Dimension)
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Columbia)
By all rights, the Byrds' Eight Miles High should have been a huge hit. Unfortunately, Bill Drake, the most influential man in the history of Top 40 radio, got it into his head that this was a drug song, despite the band's insistence that it was about a transatlantic plane trip. The band's version actually makes sense, as Gene Clark had just quit the group due to his fear of flying (he is listed as a co-writer of the song), and the subject was probably a hot topic of discussion among the remaining members.
Source: Mono LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Although most major labels were issuing LPs in both mono and stereo versions in the mid-1960s, a handful of artists were still only doing monoraul mixes of their recordings as late as 1967. One of the most prominent of these "mono only" artists was the Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan, whose material appeared in the US on the Epic label, the largest subsidiary of the second largest label in the world (CBS/Columbia). In fact, only a handful of songs from Donovan's two most successful albums, Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow, have ever been mixed in stereo. Among those still only available in mono is Celeste, the last track on Sunshine Superman.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Somewhere They Can't Find Me
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Sounds of Silence)
Writer: Paul Simon
Simon and Garfunkel's success as a folk-rock duo was actually due to the unauthorized actions of producer John Simon, who, after working on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited album, got Dylan's band to add new tracks to the song Sound of Silence. The song had been recorded as an acoustic number for the album Wednesday Morning 3AM, which had, by 1966, been deleted from the Columbia catalog. The new version of the song was sent out to select radio stations, and got such positive response that it was released as a single, eventually making the top 10. Meanwhile, Paul Simon, who had since moved to London and recorded an album called the Paul Simon Songbook, found himself returning to the US and reuniting with Art Garfunkel. Armed with an array of quality studio musicians they set about making their first electric album, Sounds of Silence. The song Somewhere They Can't Find Me was one of the new songs recorded for that album. The song shows a strong influence from British folk guitarist Bert Jansch, whom Simon greatly admired.
Artist: Magic Mushrooms
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: A&M)
It's not known whether or not the Magic Mushrooms heard any of the tracks from the Mothers Of Invention album Freak Out when they recorded It's-A-Happening. Still, it's hard to imagine this bit of inspired weirdness being created in a vacuum. Besides this one single, nobody seems to have any knowledge whatsoever of the group known as the Magic Mushrooms, other than the fact that they hailed from Philadelphia, Pa.
Title: We're Going Wrong
Source: LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer: Jack Bruce
Label: RSO (original label: Atco)
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. Ginger Baker put away his drumsticks in favor of mallets, giving the song an otherworldly feel.
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: Where You're At
Source: Mono LP: Behold And See
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
Although by 1968 almost all albums released in the US were only issued in stereo (often with the words "also playable mono" on the album cover somewhere), a few labels sent special mono pressings to radio stations that were still using older mono turntables that were prone to damage stereo records. M-G-M Records, in particular, sent out mono pressings of just about everything they released, including the second Ultimate Spinach album, Behold And See. At the time, WEOS-FM in Geneva, NY, still years away from broadcasting in stereo, received a mono copy of Behold And See that is still usable nearly 45 years later. This version of Where You're At, the opening track of side two of the album, is from that copy.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Just Trying To Be
Source: CD: Benefit (bonus track originally released on LP: Living In The Past)
Writer: Ian Anderson
By 1970 Jethro Tull was firmly in the control of flautist/acoustic guitarist/vocalist Ian Anderson, who wrote all the band's material. During sessions for the Benefit album Anderson recorded a short piece called Just Trying To Be that stylistically presaged the Aqualung album. That piece remained unreleased until 1973's Living In The Past compilation, although it is now available as a bonus track on the Benefit CD.
Source: LP: Abbey Road
Take Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Turn a few notes around, add some variations and write some lyrics. Add the Beatles' trademark multi-part harmonies and you have John Lennon's Because, from the Abbey Road album. A simply beautiful recording.
Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: CD: Time Has Come Today
Source: The Time Has Come
Writer(s): Joe and Willie Chambers
The Chambers Brothers were an eclectic band with a gospel music background that dated back to the mid-50s, when oldest brother George finished his tour of duty with the US Army and settled down in the L.A. area. His three brothers soon followed him out to the coast from their native Mississippi, and began playing the Southern California gospel circuit before going after a more secular audience in the early 60s. Their best-known recording was Time Has Come Today, considered to be one of the defining tracks of the psychedelic era. The song, written by brothers Joe and Willie Chambers, was originally recorded in 1966 and released as a single, but went largely unnoticed by radio and the record-buying public. In 1967 the band recorded a new, eleven-minute version of Time Has Come Today for their album The Time Has Come. This version got considerable airplay on the handful of so-called "underground" FM stations that were starting to pop up across the US in college towns and major metropolitan areas, but was considered too long for most commercial stations. The following year an edited version of the track was released, getting enough airplay to make the top 40; as a result the full-length version has become somewhat of a rarity on the radio since the shorter version was made available in stereo. This week Stuck in the Psychedelic Era presents the full-length version of Time Has Come Today. Enjoy!
Artist: Moby Grape
Source: LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s): Skip Spence
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: Grateful Dead
Title: Don't Ease Me In
Source: Mono CD: Birth Of The Dead (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Trad. Arr. Grateful Dead
Label: Rhino (original label: Scorpio)
The Grateful Dead entered the studio for the first time in late 1965, when they were still calling themselves the Warlocks. One of the band members had heard that there was another band already recording as the Warlocks, so the group hastily rechristened themselves The Emergency Crew for the sessions. None of those recordings were released, and the band soon changed its name to the Grateful Dead. The following summer, the Dead made their second foray into recording, this time at studios owned by Scorpio Records, a small San Francisco label. Only one record was released from those sessions, a single which included the band's cover of Don't Ease Me In, a song originally recorded by Henry Thomas in the late 1920s, on the B side.
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: Shapes Of Things
Source: Mono CD: Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame-Volume VII (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Legacy (original label: Epic)
Unlike earlier Yardbirds hits, 1966's Shapes Of Things was written by members of the band. The song, featuring one of guitarist Jeff Beck's most distinctive solos, just barely missed the top 10 in the US, although it was a top 5 single in the UK.
Title: Hang On Sloopy
Source: 45 RPM single
The McCoys were a fairly typical Eastern Ohio band of the mid-60s, playing parties, teen clubs, high school dances and occassionally opening for out of town acts. In 1965 the McCoys opened for the Strangeloves, who were on the road promoting their hit single I Want Candy (of course, the Strangeloves were in reality a trio of professional songwriters who had come up with a rather unusual gimmick: they passed themselves off as sons of an Australian sheepherder). The members of the Strangeloves were so impressed with the McCoys, particularly vocalist/guitarist Rick Derringer, that they offered them the song that was slated to be the follow-up to I Want Candy: a song called Hang On Sloopy. The instrumental tracks for the song had already been recorded, so the only member of the McCoys to actually appear on the record is Derringer. Hang On Sloopy went all the way to the top of the charts, becoming one of the top 10 singles of the year and providing a stellar debut for Derringer, who went on to hook up with the Edgar Winter Group before embarking on a successful solo career.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Nashville Cats
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful)
Writer(s): John B. Sebastian
Label: Cotillion (original label: Kama Sutra)
After the success of their debut LP, Do You Believe In Magic, The Lovin' Spoonful deliberately set out to make a followup album that sounded like it was recorded by several different bands, as a way of showcasing their versatility. With Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful, released in 1966, they did just that. Songs on the album ranged from the folky Darlin' Be Home Soon to the rockin' psychedelic classic Summer In The City, with a liberal dose of what would come to be called country rock a few years later. The best example of the latter was Nashville Cats, a song that surprisingly went into the top 40 and became a staple of progressive FM radio in the early 70s.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: The Great Banana Hoax
Source: Mono CD: The Complete Reprise Singles (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Real Gone Music/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
After three consecutive singles written by professional songwriters Annette Tucker, Nancie Mantz and Jill Jones, the Electric Prunes were finally given a chance to test the top 40 waters with their own material in late 1967 with the release of The Great Banana Hoax. The song, which had already appeared as the opening track from the band's second LP, Underground, failed to make a dent in the charts and, after one more unsuccessful single, the band's autonomy was usurped by producer Dave Hassinger, to whom the band had signed away the rights to their own name as part of their original contract.
Artist: Moody Blues
Title: The Afternoon/Evening/The Night
Source: LP: Days Of Future Passed
In 1967 the Moody Blues went out on a limb and recorded an entire album using a symphony orchestra, creating an entire genre (classical rock) in the process. The album, Days Of Future Passed, is essentially a song cycle that covers a typical day, with side one covering the morning through lunchtime. The second side, which starts with the afternoon and continues into the night, includes two of the band's best known songs: Tuesday Afternoon and Nights In White Satin. Although Tuesday Afternoon charted in early 1968, Nights In White Satin did not hit the top 40 until an edited version was released in 1972.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Doctor Please
Source: LP: Vincebus Eruptum
Writer(s): Dick Peterson
With it's raw feedback-drenched guitar and bass and heavily distorted drums, Blue Cheer is often cited as the first heavy metal band. If any one song most demonstrates their right to the title it's Doctor Please from the Vincebus Eruptum album. Written by bassist Dick Peterson, the song is exactly what your parents meant by "that noise". Contrary to the rumor going around in 1970, guitarist Leigh Stephens did not go deaf after recording two albums with Blue Cheer. In fact, he went to England and recorded the critically-acclaimed (but seldom heard) Red Weather album with some of the UK's top studio musicians.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Rambling On
Source: CD: Shine On Brightly
Procol Harum is generally considered to be one of the first progressive rock bands, thanks in part to their second LP, Shine On Brightly. In addition to the album's showpiece, the seventeen minute In Held Twas I, the album has several memorable tracks, including Rambling On, which closes out side one of the original LP. The song's rambling first-person lyrics (none of which actually rhyme) tell the story of a guy who, inspired by a Batman movie, decides to jump off a roof and fly. Oddly enough, he succeeds.
Artist: World Column
Title: Lantern Gospel
Source: Mono CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Atco)
World Column was actually an R&B band from the midwest that, for some unknown reason, decided to change styles and record a song which has since become a psychedelic classic. Lantern Gospel, released in the summer of 1968, appeared on a dozen bootleg compilation albums before finally being officially released on the Rhino Handmade CD My Mind Goes High, which is now available through Warner Strategic Marketing.
Title: Don't Bring Me Down
Source: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals-Vol. II (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Animalization)
I originally bought the Animals Animalization album in early 1967 and immediately fell in love with the first song, Don't Bring Me Down. Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Don't Bring Me Down is one of the few songs written for the Animals by professional songwriters that lead vocalist Eric Burdon actually liked.
Title: Going All The Way
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Michael Bouyea
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Originally known as the Rogues, this Bristol, Conn. group changed their name to the Squires for this 1966 recording. Apparently someone at Atco figured that a name like the Rogues was so good that somebody else must already be using it.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Ain't No Tellin'
Source: LP: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Possibly the closest thing to a traditional R&B style song in JImi Hendrix's repertoire, Ain't No Tellin' was also, at one minute and 47 seconds, one of the shortest tracks ever recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The tune appeared on the Axis: Bold As Love album in 1967.
Title: Daily Nightly
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.)
Writer(s): Michael Nesmith
One of the first rock songs to feature a Moog synthesizer was the Monkees' Daily Nightly from the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD. Micky Dolenz, who had a reputation for nailing it on the first take but being unable to duplicate his success in subsequent attempts, was at the controls of the new technology for this recording of Michael Nesmith's most psychedelic song (he also sang lead on it). The Moog itself had been programmed by electronic music pioneer Paul Beaver especially for this recording.