Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1407 (starts 2/12/14)

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    The Times They Are A-Changin'
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings (originally released on LP: The Times They Are A-Changin')
Writer:    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1964
    I vaguely remember seeing a movie back in the 80s (I think it may have been called The Wanderers) about a late-50s gang from an Italian-American neighborhood somewhere in New York City. I really don't remember much about the plot of the film, but I do remember the film's end, where the main character walks down a street in Greenwich Village and hears the sound of Bob Dylan coming from a coffee house singing The Times They Are A-Changin'. I've often thought of that scene and how it symbolized the shift from the conformist culture of the late 50s (represented by the peer pressure-driven gang life) giving way to the turbulence that would characterize the 1960s.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    From A Buick 6
Source:    Mono 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    Although there were several unissued recordings made during the Highway 61 Revisited sessions, Dylan and his producer, Tom Wilson, chose to instead use one of the already released album tracks as the B side for Positively 4th Street in September of 1965. The chosen track was From A Buick 6, a song that is vintage Dylan through and through.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Like A Rolling Stone
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Highway 61 Revisited)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
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:    Circus Maximus
Title:    Rest Of My Life To Go
Source:    LP: Circus Maximus
Writer(s):    Bob Bruno
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Circus Maximus was led by Bob Bruno and Jerry Jeff Walker, who had met in New York's Greenwich Village in 1967. As a general rule Bruno's contributions to the band's first album were more jazz-oriented, with a tinge of Country Joe-style psychedelia, while Walker's material fits somewhere between folk-rock and country-rock. Rest Of My Life To Go, however, is a Bruno composition that in places sounds more like a Walker tune. Interesting stuff.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in early 1967. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on both the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation and Rhino's first Nuggets LP.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly
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
     The Music Machine was by far the most advanced of all the bands playing on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. Not only did they feature tight sets (so that audience members wouldn't get the chance to call out requests between songs), they also had their own visual look that set them apart from other bands. With all the band members dressed entirely in black (including dyed hair) and wearing one black glove, the Machine projected an image that would influence such diverse artists as the Ramones and Michael Jackson in later years. Musically, Bonniwell's songwriting showed a sophistication that was on a par with the best L.A. had to offer, demonstrated by a series of fine singles such as The Eagle Never Hunts the Fly. Unfortunately, problems on the business end prevented the Music Machine from achieving the success it deserved and Bonniwell eventually quit the music business altogether in disgust.

Artist:    ? And The Mysterians
Title:    Can't Get Enough Of You Baby
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer:    Randle/Linzer
Label:    Abkco (original label: Cameo)
Year:    1967
    ? And The Mysterians' 1966 hit 96 Tears was the last song on the legendary Cameo label to hit the top 10 before the label went bankrupt in 1967 (and was bought by Allan Klein, who still reissues old Cameo-Parkway recordings on his Abkco label). Shortly before that bankruptcy was declared, however, the group released Can't Get Enough Of You Baby, which stalled out in the lower reaches of the charts. The song itself, however, finally achieved massive popularity at the end of the century, when a new version of the tune by Smash Mouth went to the top of the charts.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Twentieth Century Fox
Source:    Mono LP: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    There's no getting around it: there are no bad songs on the first two Doors albums. Pick one at random, say Twentieth Century Fox. Great song. They all are.

Artist:    Wimple Winch
Title:    Save My Soul
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):    Christopholus/Kelman
Label:    Rhino (original label: Fontana)
Year:    1966
    Dee Fenton and the Silhouettes were a fairly typical merseybeat band formed in 1961 by Dee Christopholus, a Greek immigrant whose parents had moved to Liverpool in the 1950s. In 1963 they changed their name to the Four Just Men, which became the Just Four Men when they were signed to Parlophone the following year. After a pair of singles failed to make a dent in the British charts EMI (Parlophone's parent company) cut the band from its roster. Rather than disband, the group decided to reinvent themselves as a British counterpart to the many garage bands popping up in the US. Changing their name to Wimple Winch, the group released three singles on the Fontana label, the second of which was Save My Soul, released in June of 1966. All three singles did well in Liverpool but failed to make an impression elsewhere. The band finally decided to call it quits when Fontana dropped them in early 1967.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Berkshire Poppies
Source:    Mono CD: Mr. Fantasy
Writer:    Winwood/Capaldi/Wood
Label:    Island
Year:    1967
    Mr. Fantasy was far more psychedelic than any subsequent Traffic album, and in a way is also the most experimental. It's certainly hard to imagine a song as novel as Berkshire Poppies showing up on an album like Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory.

Artist:     Paupers
Title:     Another Man's Hair On My Razor
Source:     Mono LP: Ellis Island
Writer:     Adam Mitchell
Label:     Verve Forecast
Year:     1968
     Originally from Toronto, Canada, the Paupers migrated to New York City in time to open for groups such as Jefferson Airplane, reportedly blowing them off the stage in the process. The band itself was firmly rooted in folk-rock, although they had a whimsical side as well, as heard on the track Another Man's Hair On My Razor, which closes out side one of their second LP, Ellis Island. For some mysterious reason the band was unable to duplicate their stage success on vinyl and after two albums quietly disbanded. Drummer Skip Prokop, however, stayed in New York, become one of the city's most sought-after studio musicians before moving back to Toronto to co-found Lighthouse.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    Two Trains Running
Source:    Mono CD: Projections
Writer(s):    McKinley Morganfield
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Verve Forecast)
Year:    1966
    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 shows. 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. Still, they may never have moved in that direction at all if it weren't for the Blues Project.

Artist:    Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
Title:    Yellow Brick Road
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Van Vliet/Bermann
Label:    Buddah/Sundazed
Year:    1967
    Following a pair of singles for Herb Alpert's A&M that garnered modest airplay on a handful of Los Angeles area radio stations, Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band set out to record a set of heavily R&B flavored demos. The label, however, didn't like what they heard and soon dropped the band from their lineup. Undeterred, the group soon signed with Kama Sutra's brand new subsidiary label, Buddah. The resulting album, Safe As Milk, was the first LP to be released on the new label. Among the more experimental tracks on the album was Yellow Brick Road, a mono mix of which has recently been reissued as the B side of a single. Also of note is the presence of 20-year-old Ry Cooder on slide guitar.

Artist:    Action
Title:    A Saying For Today
Source:    German import CD: Mighty Baby
Writer(s):    Ian Whiteman
Label:    Big Beat
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 1993
    Formed in 1965, the Action was a North London band best known for their dead-on covers of then-current US R&B crossover hits. Producer George Martin signed the band to his own Air Productions, and the band issued five singles on the Parlophone label from 1965-67. The band, which by late 1966 was starting to sound more like a California band, was dropped by the label before releasing a sixth single, and went into hibernation for several months, adding a new member, keyboardist/flautist Ian Whiteman, and developing a more jazz-influenced improvisational style. The group, which at that point also included guitarists Bam King and Martin Stone, bassist Michael Evans and drummer Roger Powell, eventually resurfaced under a new name, Mighty Baby, releasing their first LP in 1969. The band had not been completely inactive in the intervening years, however. Shortly after Whiteman joined, the Action made several studio recordings that acquired legendary status over the years before finally being released on a mini-LP in 1985 with no documentation whatsoever. The recordings were finally reissued in the EU in 1993 as bonus tracks on the CD version of the Mighty Baby album.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Source:    Dutch import LP: The Singles Album (originally released on LP: Electric Ladyland)    `
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Polydor (UK)
Year:    1968
    Although never released as a single in the US, Voodoo Child (Slight Return), has become a staple of classic rock radio over the years and is often cited as one of the greatest guitar songs ever recorded. The song was originally an outgrowth of a jam session (spelled Voodoo Chile) at New York's Record Plant, which itself takes up most of side one of the Electric Ladyland LP. A more refined studio version of the song was created when the band had to do multiple takes for a film crew and Hendrix decided to make something more productive out of the sessions. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) closes side four of the LP, and was released on a three-song EP in Europe shortly after Hendrix's death in 1970.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Bold As Love
Source:    CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    When working on the song Bold As Love for the second Jimi Hendrix Experience album in 1967, Jimi reportedly asked engineer Eddie Kramer if he could make a guitar sound like it was under water. Kramer's answer was to use a techique called phasing, which is what happens when two identical sound sources are played simultaneously, but slightly (as in microseconds) out of synch with each other. The technique, first used in 1958 but seldom tried in stereo, somewhat resembles the sound of a jet plane flying by. This is not to be confused with chorusing (sometimes called reverse phasing), a technique used often by the Beatles which splits a single signal into two identical signals then delays one to create the illusion of being seperate tracks.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    3rd Stone From The Sun
Source:    Dutch import LP: The Singles Album (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Polydor (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Jimi Hendrix once stated that he was far more comfortable as a guitarist than as a vocalist, at least in the early days of the Experience. In that case, he was certainly in his element for this classic instrumental from the Are You Experienced album. Many of the sounds heard on 3rd Stone From The Sun were made by superimposing a slowed down recording of the following conversation between Hendrix and producer Chas Chandler over the music:
    Hendrix :   Star fleet to scout ship, please give your position. Over.
    Chandler : I am in orbit around the third planet of star known as sun. Over.
    Hendrix :   May this be Earth? Over.
    Chandler : Positive. It is known to have some form of intelligent species. Over.
    Hendrix :   I think we should take a look (Jimi then makes vocal spaceship noises).
    One of the more notable spoken lines that plays at normal speed on the recording, "To you I shall put an end, then you'll never hear surf music again", was Hendrix's reaction to the news that famed surf guitarist Dick Dale had been diagnosed with a possible terminal case of colon cancer and was meant to encourage his friend's recovery. As heard on the 2007 album The Jimi Hendrix Experience: 1966–1967, Hendrix's original overdub included two more sentences "That sounds like a lie to me. Come on, man; let's go home." that were not used on the final recording. The train sequence at the end of the track, incidentally, was done entirely on guitar.

Artist:     Johnny Winter
Title:     Bad Luck And Trouble
Source:     LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: The Progressive Blues Experiment)
Writer:     Johnny Winter
Label:     United Artists (original labels: Sonobeat/Imperial)
Year:     1968
     Johnny Winter first started getting attention while playing the Texas blues circuit. His first album, The Progressive Blues Experiment, originally appeared on the regional Sonobeat label and was subsequently reissued nationally on Imperial. Unlike his brother Edgar, who gravitated to rock music, Johnny Winter has remained primarily a blues musician throughout his career.

Artist:    World Column
Title:    Lantern Gospel
Source:    Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Kaplan/Meyer
Label:    Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    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 in the UK through Warner Strategic Marketing.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Source:    CD: The Beatles
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Apple)
Year:    1968
    George Harrison had already written several songs that had appeared on various Beatle albums (and an occasional B side) through 1968, but his first acknowledged classic was While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which appeared on The Beatles (aka the White Album). The recording features Harrison's close friend, guitarist Eric Clapton, who at that time was enjoying superstar status as a member of Cream.

Artist:    Ultimate Spinach
Title:    Ego Trip
Source:    LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer(s):    Ian Bruce-Douglas
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1968
    1967 was also the year of the "Boss-Town Sound", a gimmick used to promote several Boston-based bands signed to the M-G-M label (M-G-M having been asleep at the wheel during the recent band-signing frenzy in San Francisco). Derided in the music press as a crass attempt to manipulate record buyers, the ultimate victims of this fraud were the bands themselves, many of which were actually quite talented. Ultimate Spinach was the brainchild of keyboardist Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote all the material for the group's first two LPs. When the stigma of being part of the whole boss-town thing became too much to deal with, Bruce-Douglas left the group. Although the Ultimate Spinach name continued to be used, subsequent albums had little in common musically with the two Bruce-Douglas LPs.

Artist:    Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity
Title:    This Wheel's On Fire
Source:    Mono CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Dylan/Danko
Label:    Polydor (original label: Marmalade)
Year:    1968
    Julie Driscoll got her start as secretary of the Yardbirds' fan club while still in her late teens. The band's manager, Giorgio Gomelsky, was so impressed with her voice that he himself got her first single released in late 1963. From there she joined a band called Steampacket, working with two other vocalists, Long John Baldry and Rod Stewart. Another member of Steampacket was organist Brian Auger, who, after the demise of Steampacket, formed his own band, the Trinity, in 1967. Working with Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity recorded an LP, Open, for Gomelsky's new Marmalade label in 1968. The featured single from Open was This Wheel's On Fire, a song written by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko of The Band. Driscoll, over a period of time, gravitated toward jazz, eventually moving to the US where she continues to perform.

Artist:    Jo Ann Kelly/Tony McPhee
Title:    Rollin' And Tumblin'
Source:    LP: Underground Gold (originally released in UK on LP: Me And The Devil)
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Kelly/McPhee
Label:    Liberty
Year:    1968
    I am not absolutely sure as to the origin of this recording, or even if the track is correctly titled. It comes from an obscure Liberty sampler LP that includes several tracks that were released only in the UK. Although both the label and album cover indicate that this track is called Rollin' And Tumblin', it bears little resemblance to the Muddy Waters song of the same name. Furthermore, it is credited as a traditional tune rather than to McKinley Morganfield (Waters' birth name). Also, there is no information on either the cover or label pertaining to the track's original release. As near as I can tell, it came from an album by Tony McPhee called Me And The Devil, which was released in 1968. Jo Ann Kelly was a British blues vocalist who recorded only sporadically in the 60s, despite being considered the top female blues singer in the entire UK. She was known to record with McPhee, and both of them are given arranging credit on the record label. Kelly had opportunities to reach a larger audience: she was, at various times, asked to become a member of both Johnny Winter's band and Canned Heat, but in both cases turned down the offer, preferring to remain in her native land. McPhee, of course, went on to greater fame in the early 1970s as the founder of the Groundhogs.

Artist:    John Lee Hooker/Canned Heat
Title:    Whiskey And Wimmin'
Source:    CD: The Very Best Of Canned Heat (originally released on LP: Hooker And Heat)
Writer(s):    John Lee Hooker
Label:    Capitol (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1971
    Canned Heat was, at its core, a group of blues record collectors who had enough talent to make their own classic blues recordings. In 1970 the members of the band got the chance to fulfill a dream. They spent the entire summer recording tracks with one of their heroes, the legendary John Lee Hooker. Unfortunately, the experience was marred by the death of co-founder Alan Wilson on September 3rd. Contractual problems with Hooker's label delayed the release of the recordings until January of 1971, when the project was released as a double LP called Hooker And Heat. The most popular track on the album, Whiskey And Wimmin', was also released as a single in April of that year.

Artist:    King Crimson
Title:    Pictures Of A City
Source:    LP: In The Wake Of Poseidon
Writer(s):    Fripp/Sinfield
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    The second King Crimson album, In The Wake Of Poseidon, was very much in the mold of the band's popular debut LP, In The Court Of The Crimson King. If anything, the album was musically tighter than its predecessor, but did not receive as much airplay. There are similarities between individual tracks on the albums as well, with Pictures Of A City, which opens the LP, bearing some resemblance to 21st Century Schizoid Man. The next LP would see the first of several personnel changes in the band, with Robert Fripp being the only member to remain with King Crimson over its entire existence.

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