Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1415 (starts 4/9/14)

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Volunteers
Source:     CD: Volunteers
Writer:     Balin/Kantner
Label:     BMG/RCA
Year:     1969
     By 1969 Jefferson Airplane's music was a staple of progressive FM stations but had all but disappeared from the top 40 charts. Still, the band continued to release singles from their albums, including the title track to their fifth (and final with the classic JA lineup) LP, Volunteers.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Hey Frederick
Source:    LP: Volunteers
Writer(s):    Grace Slick
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1969
    Grace Slick's songwriting continued to move in an avant-garde direction with Hey Frederick, the longest track on the Volunteers album. The song opens with an ominous chord sequence and an exhortation to "either go away or go all the way". From there the lyrics are somewhat free-form, and soon give way to a long improvisational section that showcases the talents of guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady in particular, as well as guest pianist Nicky Hopkins, who would join the band on stage at the Woodstock festival that year.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Turn My Life Down
Source:    CD: Volunteers
Writer(s):    Jorma Kaukonen
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1969
    The fifth Jefferson Airplane studio album has a reputation of being their most political album. While that may be true, Volunteers is also the album that most showcases the growing diversity of writing styles among band members. In particular Jorma Kaukonen's contributions, such as Turn My Life Down, serve as a preview of the style that he and Jack Casady would adopt when they formed Hot Tuna the following year.

Artist:     Human Beinz
Title:     Nobody But Me
Source:     Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as a 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Ron Isley
Label:     LP: Rhino (originally released on Capitol)
Year:     1968
    The Human Beingz were a band that had been around since 1964 doing mostly club gigs in the Youngstown, Ohio area as the Premiers. In the late 60s they decided to update their image with a name more in tune with the times and came up with the Human Beingz. Unfortunately someone at Capitol misspelled their name (leaving out the "g") on the label of Nobody But Me, and after the song became a national hit the band was stuck with the new spelling. The band split up in 1969, but after Nobody But Me was featured in the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill: Vol.1, original leader Ting Markulin reformed the band with a new lineup that has appeared in the Northeastern US in recent years.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    Summer Is The Man
Source:    Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
Writer(s):    Gilbert/Esposito
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1967
    Following up on their successful debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop, the Blues Magoos released Electric Comic Book in March of 1967. Unfortunately the first single from the album had two equally strong songs, one of which was favored by the producers and the other by the band. Radio stations were unsure which song to push, and as a result, neither made the top 40, which in turn had a negative effect on album sales. Most of the remaining tracks on the album were written by the band members, including Summer Is The Man, a song with an interesting chord structure, a catchy melody and somewhat existential lyrics.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Julia
Source:    LP: The Beatles
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1968
    John Lennon's songwriting continued to take a more personal turn with the 1968 release of The Beatles, also known as the White Album. Perhaps the best example of this is the song Julia. The song was written for Lennon's mother, who had been killed by a drunk driver in 1958, although it also has references to Lennon's future wife Yoko Ono (Yoko translates into English as Ocean Child). Julia is the only 100% solo John Lennon recording to appear on a Beatle album.

Artist:    Kak
Title:    Lemonade Kid
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Kak)
Writer(s):    Gary Lee Yoder
Label:    Rhino (original label: Epic)
Year:    1969
    Kak was a group from Davis, California that was only around long enough to record one LP for Epic. That self-titled album did not make much of an impression commercially, and was soon out of print. Long after the band had split up, critics began to notice the album, and copies of the original LP are now highly-prized by collectors. Songs like the Lemonade Kid show that Kak had a sound that holds up better today than many of the other artists of the time. In fact, after listening to this track a couple times I went out and ordered a copy of the import CD reissue of the Kak album.

Artist:    Del-Vetts
Title:    Last Time Around
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Dennis Dahlquist
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    The Del-Vetts were from Chicago's affluent North Shore. Their gimmick was to show up at a high school dance by driving their matching corvettes onto the gymnasium dance floor. Musically, like most garage/punk bands, they were heavily influenced by the British invasion bands. Unlike most garage/punk bands, who favored the Rolling Stones, the Del-Vetts were more into the Jeff Beck incarnation of the Yardbirds. The 'Vetts had a few regional hits from 1965-67, the biggest being this single issued on the Dunwich label, home of fellow Chicago suburbanites the Shadows of Knight. In retrospect, Last Time Around may well be the very first metal death rock song ever recorded.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    You Go And I'll Go With You
Source:    CD: The Blues Project Anthology (originally released on LP: Live At The Cafe Au Go Go)
Writer(s):    Willie Dixon
Label:    Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
Year:    1966
    It was a common practice among bluesmen to "borrow" from earlier songs when writing their latest tune. Sometimes it was lyrics, sometimes a guitar or sax riff, and sometimes entire chord structures would be lifted from older songs. This was in part because of the perception of blues records as being "throwaway" items that only had value as long as they were available on the record racks (early rock and roll records would be percieved this way as well). As such, it was perfectly acceptable to reuse old ideas, since otherwise those ideas would be gone forever. Sometimes a writer would even plagiarize himself, as in the case of the Willie Dixon tune You Go And I'll Go With You. The song has the same melody and chord structure as My Babe, a 1955 hit for Little Walter that was the only Willie Dixon-penned song to top the R&B charts. My Babe itself was a secular adaptation of a gospel song, This Train (Is Bound For Glory), which was a 1939 hit for Sister Rosetta Tharp. Years later the Blues Project chose to cover the later tune on their debut album, Live At The Cafe Au Go Go.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Sleepy Time Time
Source:    LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Bruce/Godfrey
Label:    Atco
Year:    1966
    When Cream was first formed, both Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker worked with co-writers on original material for the band. Baker's partner was Pete Brown, while Bruce worked with his wife, Janet Godfrey. Eventually Bruce and Brown began collaborating, creating some of Cream's most memorable songs, but not before Bruce and Godfrey wrote Sleepy Time Time, one of the high points of the Fresh Cream album.

Artist:    Keith Relf
Title:    Shapes In My Mind
Source:    Mono CD: Roger The Engineer (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Simon Napier-Bell
Label:    Great American (original label: Epic)
Year:    1966
    In 1966, Yardbirds manager Simon Napier-Bell got it into his head to market vocalist Keith Relf as a pop star in addition to being a member of a band. Whether this was intended to lead to a full-blown solo career for Relf is unclear; the fact that neither of the two singles released under Relf's name in 1966 became a hit made the entire question academic. Regardless, it would seem that Relf himself was not heavily invested in the project; the second single, Shapes In My Mind, seems to be almost entirely a Napier-Bell project, with Relf providing vocals but no real creative input. There are two entirely different mixes of the song (including the second one heard here), and the record's B side is an instrumental that does not include Relf or any other Yardbirds member on it. Nonetheless, both versions have been included as bonus tracks on the recent Great American Recordings release of the Yardbirds' 1966 album Roger The Engineer.

Artist:    Kim Fowley
Title:    The Trip
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Hardesty/Fowley/Geddes
Label:    Rhino (original label: Corby)
Year:    1966
    Kim Fowley was well-known among the movers and shakers of the L.A. music scene as an important promoter and record producer, as well as the guy who threw some of the best parties in town. To the general public, however, he remained largely unknown except as the guy who recorded possibly the first, and probably the only, psychedelic novelty record, The Trip, in 1966.

Artist:    Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title:    Him Or Me-What's It Gonna Be
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: All-Time Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lindsay/Melcher
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    Paul Revere And The Raiders were the first rock band signed to Columbia Records. Only one staff producer, Terry Melcher, had any experience with rock, having worked with Bruce Johnston on the hit single Little Honda for the label in 1964, calling themselves the Hondells. Naturally, Columbia assigned Melcher to work with the label's newest signees. Melcher and the Raiders soon established a symbiotic relationship, with the band providing the raw energy, and Melcher the studio expertise needed to channel that energy into successful recordings. This relationship endured until early 1967, when band members Paul Revere and Mark Lindsay decided to take creative control of the band's recordings. The last collaboration with Melcher was the early 1967 single Him Or Me-What's It Gonna Be. It was also one of the band's last hits, a fact that has led Lindsay in recent years to admit that cutting Melcher loose was perhaps the group's biggest tactical error.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    My Eyes Have Seen You
Source:    LP: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    It's strange. Some reviewers seem to think that the album Strange Days is inferior to the first Doors album. They justify this view by citing the fact that almost all the songs on both albums were already in the band's repertoire when they signed their record contract with Elektra. The implication is that the band naturally selected the best material for the first album, making Strange Days a collection of sloppy seconds. There is one small problem with this theory however. Pick a song at random from Strange Days and listen to it and in all likelihood it will sound every bit as good as a song randomly picked from the first album (and probably better than one picked from either of the Doors' next two LPs). In fact, I'll pick one for you: My Eyes Have Seen You. See what I mean?

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Ride With Me
Source:    45 RPM stereo promo
Writer(s):    Mars Bonfire
Label:    Dunhill
Year:    1971
    By 1971 Steppenwolf's best years were already behind them. Looking to rekindle the old magic, the band turned to songwriter (and former band member) Dennis Edmonton, who, under the pseudonym Mars Bonfire, had penned their biggest hit, Born To Be Wild. Although Ride With Me was a solid song, it stalled out in the lower reaches of the top 40 charts while being virtually ignored by more progressive album rock stations.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Emotions
Source:    Mono LP: Love
Writer(s):    Lee/Echols
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1966
    Emotions, the last track on side one of the first Love album, sounds like it could have come directly from the soundtrack of one the spaghetti westerns that were popular with moviegoers in the mid-1960s. Probably not coincidentally, the instrumental is also the only Love recording to carry a writing credit for lead guitarist Johnny Echols (with the exception of the 17-minute jam Revelation on their second LP, which is credited to the entire band).

Artist:    Barnsley And Bradley
Title:    Sister Of Wisdom
Source:    Mono CD: Lost Souls Volume 4 (taken from an unreleased studio acetate)
Writer(s):    Barnsley/Bradley
Label:    Psych Of The South (acetate from Jaggars Recording Studio)
Year:    1967
    Barnsley And Bradley were a folk duo from Little Rock, Arkansas, who recorded Sister Of Wisdom and other songs in mid-1967. Although the recordings were not released, the duo went on to become the core of a group called Country Coalition, which recorded an LP for the Bluesway label in 1969 and made a 1970 appearance on American Bandstand.

Artist:     Blue Cheer
Title:     Out Of Focus
Source:     Mono LP: Vincebus Eruptum
Writer:     Dickie Peterson
Label:     Philips
Year:     1968
     With the possible exception of the Grateful Dead (when they were using the Owsley-designed sound system), the loudest band to come out of San Francisco was Blue Cheer. The album Vincebus Eruptum, highlighted by the band's feedback-drenched version of Eddie Cochrane's Summertime Blues, is considered by some to be the first heavy metal album ever recorded. Out Of Focus, which opens side 2 of the LP, was issued as the B side of Summertime Blues and got some airplay on progressive FM radio.

Artist:    Jack Bruce
Title:    Weird Of Hermiston
Source:    British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Songs For A Tailor)
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Polydor (original US label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    Bassist Jack Bruce became a rock superstar as a member of Cream from 1966-68. Following the breakup of that band, Bruce embarked upon a variety of projects, including a jazz album with guitarist John McLaughlin and an acclaimed solo LP, Songs For A Tailor. Weird Of Hermiston is just one of the many excellent tracks from that album.

Artist:     Jimi Hendrix
Title:     In From The Storm
Source:     CD: Voodoo Soup (originally released on LP: The Cry Of Love)
Writer:     Jimi Hendrix
Label:     MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:     1970
     Although nobody knows for sure what the final track lineup would have been for Jimi Hendrix's first studio album since 1968's Electric Ladyland, most everyone associated with him agrees that it would have been a double LP and that In From The Storm would have been included on it. The song was first released on The Cry Of Love, the first posthumus Hendrix album, and subsequently was included on Voodoo Soup, Alan Douglas's first attempt at recreating that legendary fourth album. The song also appears on First Rays Of The New Rising Sun, the CD that has replaced Voodoo Soup in the Hendrix catalog. The recording features Hendrix on guitar, Mitch Mitchell on drums and Hendrix's old army buddy Billy Cox on bass.

Artist:     Seeds
Title:     Pushin' Too Hard
Source:     Simulated stereo CD: Best of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: The Seeds)
Writer:     Sky Saxon
Label:     Priority (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year:     1965
     Pushin' Too Hard was originally released to the L.A. market as a single in 1965 and included on side one of the first Seeds album the following year. After being re-released as a single the song did well enough to go national in early 1967, hitting its peak in February of that year.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    Caroline No
Source:    Mono CD: Pet Sounds
Writer(s):    Wilson/Asher
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1966
    According to lyricist Peter Asher, Caroline No was written because Brian Wilson was "saddened to see how sweet little girls turned out to be kind of bitchy, hardened adults". Though the song was originally part of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album, it ended up being the only single ever released by Capitol credited to Brian Wilson as a solo artist.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Dandelion
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    If there was a British equivalent to the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations in terms of time and money spent on a single song, it might be We Love You, a 1967 single released by the Rolling Stones. To go along with the single (with its state-of-the-art production) the band spent a considerable sum making a full-color promotional video, a practice that would not become commonplace until the advent of MTV in the 1980s. Despite all this, US radio stations virtually ignored We Love You, choosing to instead flip the record over and play the B side, a tune called Dandelion. As to why this came about, I suspect that Bill Drake, the man behind the nation's most influential top 40 stations, simply decided that the less elaborately produced Dandelion was better suited to the US market than We Love You and instructed his hand-picked program directors at such stations as WABC (New York), KHJ (Los Angeles) and WLS (Chicago) to play Dandelion. The copycat nature of top 40 radio being what it is, Dandelion ended up being a moderate hit in the US in the summer of '67.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    Cheating
Source:    LP: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals Vol. II (originally released on LP: Animalization)
Writer(s):    Burdon/Chandler
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1966
    As a general rule, the original Animals wrote very little of their own material, preferring to record covers of their favorite blues songs to supplement the songs from professional songwriters that producer Mickie Most picked for single release. One notable exception is Cheating, a strong effort from vocalist Eric Burdon and bassist Chas Chandler that appeared on the Animalization album. The hard-driving song was also chosen for release as a B side in 1966.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Matilda Mother
Source:    CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Writer(s):    Syd Barrett
Label:    Capitol (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    Listening to tracks like Matilda Mother, I can't help but wonder where Pink Floyd might have gone if Syd Barrett had not succumbed to mental illness following the release of the band's first LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, in 1967. Unlike the rest of the band members, Barrett had the ability to write songs that were not only adventurous, but commercially viable as singles as well. After Barrett's departure, it took the group several years to become commercially successful on their own terms (although they obviously did). We'll never know what they may have done in the intervening years were Barrett still at the helm.

Artist:    Pentangle
Title:    Pentangling
Source:    LP: Pentangle
Writer(s):    Cox/Jansch/McShea/Renbourne/Thompson
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    Once in a while an album comes along that is so consistently good that it's impossible to single out one specific track for airplay. Such is the case with the debut Pentangle album from 1968. The group, consisting of guitarists John Renbourne and Bert Jansch, vocalist Jacqui McShea, bassist Terry Cox, and drummer Danny Thompson, had more talent than nearly any band in history from any genre, yet never succumbed to the clash of egos that characterize most supergroups. Enjoy all seven minutes of Pentangling.

Artist:    Orange Wedge
Title:    From The Womb To The Tomb
Source:    Mono CD: An Overdose Of Heavy Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    L.S.P.
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Blue Flat Ownsley Memorial)
Year:    1968
    Recorded in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1968, From The Womb To The Tomb was the only single from Orange Wedge, a forerunner of more famous Michigan bands such as the Stooges and the MC5.

Artist:    Who Planted Thorns In Miss Alice's Garden
Title:    Tom Northcott
Source:    Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Tom Northcott
Label:    Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1967
    Canadian folk singer Tom Northcott temporarily relocated to Los Angeles to record a handful of singles for Warner Brothers Records staff producer Lenny Waronker. Among those was his self-penned B side, Who Planted Thorns In Miss Alice's Garden, which appeared in 1967.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Some Other Drum
Source:    Mono British import CD: The Ultimate Turn On (originally released on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1966
    Unlike most of the L.A. bands playing the strip in the mid-60s, the Music Machine played an eclectic mix of original material, all composed by bandleader Sean Bonniwell. Whereas some songs, such as the energetic Talk Talk, were prototypical punk-rock, others, such as Some Other Drum, had a softer feel reminiscent of the Lovin' Spoonful without sounding at all derivative.

Artist:    Impressions
Title:    Grow Closer Together
Source:    CD: Curtis Mayfield And The Impressions-The Anthology 1961-1977 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Curtis Mayfield
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC Paramount)
Year:    1962
    The Impressions first hit the big time with the 1958 single For Your Precious Love, sung by the group's original lead vocalist Jerry Butler. The song was so successful, in fact, that Butler soon left the group for a solo career, leaving the Impressions floundering for the next few years. Although the Impressions were primarily a vocal group, they did have one member, 16-year-old Curtis Mayfield, who played guitar. It was Mayfield who eventually stepped up to fill Butler's shoes, getting the Impressions a contract with ABC Paramount Records and recording their first single, Gypsy Woman, in 1961. The follow-up single, Grow Closer Together, was done in a similar style, with Mayfield up front on lead vocals and the other four members acting as backup singers. As time went on, the Impressions would trim down to a trio, with all three members sharing both lead and harmony vocal parts, supplemented by Mayfield's guitar work.

Artist:    Creation
Title:    Biff! Bang! Pow!
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)
Writer(s):    Pickett/Phillips
Label:    Rhino (original label: Planet)
Year:    1966
    The Creation is generally acknowledged as the first major British psychedelic band, predating Pink Floyd by several months. Oddly enough, they are also considered a Mod band in the mold of the Who, thanks in large part to the B side of their second single, released in 1966. Biff! Bang! Pow! had the same sort of driving beat and power chords as many of the songs on the Who's My Generation album, and even included piano work by top session man Nicky Hopkins.

1 comment:

  1. Jack Bruce AND Cream. Excellent. Looks like a strong lineup.