Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Stuck in the psychedelic Era # 1418 (starts 4/30/14)

Artist:    Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Title:    Country Girl
Source:    CD: déjà vu
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    The second Crosby, Stills and Nash album, déjà vu, was enhanced by the addition of singer/songwriter/guitarist Neil Young, along with bassist Dallas Taylor and drummer Greg Reeves. The LP itself was printed on textured cardboard with gold offset lettering, giving the package a unique look. But it was the music itself that made the album one of the top sellers of 1970, with three singles going into the top 40. One of the non-single tracks was Country Girl, a medley of three uncompleted Neil Young songs that would not have been out of place on a Young solo album.

Artist:    Iron Butterfly
Title:    Her Favorite Style
Source:    LP: Ball
Writer(s):    Doug Ingle
Label:    Atco
Year:    1969
    Despite a lack of hit singles, the third Iron Butterfly LP, Ball, was also the group's highest charting album. Part of this is attributable to the fact that, unlike In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, which took over a year to catch on, Ball had strong sales right from the start. The music on Ball was more varied as well, reflecting a maturing of the songwriting skills of organist/vocalist Doug Ingle, who wrote the bulk of the band's material, including Her Favorite Style. Ball was the last album to feature guitarist Erik Brann, however, and subsequent releases did not fare as well.

Artist:    Vanilla Fudge
Title:    The Beat Goes On
Source:    LP: The Beat Goes On
Writer(s):    Sonny Bono
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    The second Vanilla Fudge LP was an ambitious concept album based on the title of the Sonny & Cher hit The Beat Goes On. The album features, among other things, no less than six variations of the song itself, most of which are fairly short in duration. One of the longest iterations of the song is the opening track for side two of the album, which, using tape effects, starts off infinitely speeded up and then slows down to a normal speed. The arrangement on this particular track is set to a bossa nova beat that was still popular in hotel lounges in 1968.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Children Of Rain
Source:    CD: Underground
Writer(s):    Williams/Williams
Label:    Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    After the success of the first Electric Prunes album, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), producer Dave Hassinger allowed the band a bit more freedom to choose what material to record on their next LP, the majority of which was written by the band members themselves. As a result, Underground is probably more representative of the group's actual musical vision than anything else ever released by the band. Still, there were several songs from outside sources, including Children Of Rain, which is the first of three consecutive tracks on side one that, in one way or another, use imagery associated with childhood against a psychedelic backdrop. Unfortunately for the band, the album was not a commercial success, and, perhaps spurred by the difficulties he was having with another band he was producing, the Grateful Dead, Hassinger (who legally owned the name "Electric Prunes") asserted total control over the group's subsequent albums.

Artist:    Humans
Title:    Warning
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Bill Kuhns
Label:    Audition
Year:    1966
    Throughout the history of rock and roll there have been bands named after various species of fauna, such as crickets, beetles, hawks, and eagles. In seems inevitable, then, that someone would decide to name themselves after the dominant species on the planet. The Humans were formed in Albion, NY in 1964 by six members of the local high school marching band during summer break. In 1966 they went into Riposo Studios in Syracuse, NY to record their only single, a folk-rocker called Take A Taxi. The B side of that single was Warning, a song that has come to be considered a garage-rock classic. The record was released on the Audition label and was successful enough to get the band gigs in Miami and New York City, opening for such name acts as the Animals and the Hollies. Animals bassist Chas Chandler even invited the band members to go with him to the Cafe Wha in the summer of '66 to see a band called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames that featured a hot new guitarist that everyone was talking about. That guitarist was Jimi Hendrix, and Chandler was able to talk him into going back to London with him, an event of major significance for the future of rock music. Meanwhile, the Humans were struck by tragedy that September when lead vocalist Danny Long was killed in a car accident, and other band members began receiving draft notices. Finally, in November, the remaining members of the band decided to call it quits, and the Humans were history. Special thanks to Bill Vosteen for sending me a copy of that Humans single.

Artist:    Manfred Mann Chapter Three
Title:    A Study In Inaccuracy
Source:    LP: Manfred Mann Chapter Three
Writer(s):    Manfred Mann
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1969
    In 1969, following a series of highly successful singles in the UK (including the international smashes Do Wah Diddy Diddy and The Mighty Quinn), keyboardist Manfred Mann decided to disband the group that shared his name and move in a new, more progressive musical direction. The new group, called Manfred Mann Chapter Three showed strong jazz influences, especially on the free-form track A Study In Inaccuracy, which sounds more like early King Crimson than anything the original Manfred Mann had recorded. Although Manfred Mann Chapter Three was not a major commercial success, it did set the stage for Mann's next group, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, which had a major hit in 1975 with Blinded By The Light. A big thank you to Dave Oswald to sending me a copy of the first Manfred Mann Chapter Three album (there were two in all). I'll be playing other tracks from the album in the future.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    Wish Me Well
Source:    CD: Shine On Brightly
Writer(s):    Brooker/Reid
Label:    A&M
Year:    1968
    The second Procol Harum album, Shine On Brightly, saw the group moving in an increasingly progressive direction, incorporating elements of a variety of styles, including Indian, classical and even gospel music. An example of the latter is Wish Me Well, which finishes out side one of the LP. Gary Brooker's bluesy piano work is enhanced by some tasty fills from guitarist Robin Trower.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    House For Everyone
Source:    CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind (aka Mr. Fantasy)
Writer(s):    Dave Mason
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
    Although Traffic is now known mostly as a Steve Winwood band, many of their earliest songs were the creation of guitarist Dave Mason, whose songs tended to be a bit more psychedelic than Winwood's. One example is House For Everyone from the band's 1967 debut LP, which creatively uses tape edits to simulate a music box being wound up with short snippets of song sneaking through between turns of the key at the beginning of the track.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Mr. Tambourine Man
Source:    CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Bringing It All Back Home)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1964
    As hard as it may be to believe now, Mr. Tambourine Man, as recorded by Bob Dylan in 1964, was not a hit record. It took the Byrds electrifying of the song in 1965 to take it to the top of the charts. By then, Dylan himself was using electric instruments on his records, although not to update his older material. Nonetheless, the original five and a half minute version of the song from the album Bringing It All Back Home is considered one of Dylan's most iconic recordings.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It
Source:    LP: Buffalo Springfield
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Atco
Year:    1966
    The first Neil Young song I ever heard was Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It, which was issued as the B side of For What It's Worth in 1967. I had bought the single and, as always, after my first listen flipped the record over to hear what was on the other side. (Years later I was shocked to learn that there were actually people who never listened to the B side of records they bought. I've never been able to understand that.) Anyway, at the time I didn't know who Neil Young was, or the fact that although Young was a member of Buffalo Springfield it was actually Richie Furay singing the song on the record. Now I realize that may seem a bit naive on my part, but I was 14 at the time, so what do you expect? At least I had the good taste to buy a copy of For What It's Worth in the first place (along with the Doors' Light My Fire and the Spencer Davis Group's I'm A Man if I remember correctly). Where I got the money to buy three current records at the same time is beyond me, though.

Artist:    Liberation News Service
Title:    Mid-Winter's Afternoon
Source:    Mono CD: A Deadly Dose Of Wild Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Esko
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Esko)
Year:    1967
    Liberation News Service was a Philadelphia band founded in 1965 by the Esko brothers, Ed and Jeff. Their first release was Mid-Winter's Afternoon, released on the band's own Esko label in 1967. Not long after its release the band added a new lead vocalist and changed their name to the Esko Affair, eventually getting a contract with Mercury Records and releasing singles in 1968 and 1969.

Artist:    Them
Title:    Market Place
Source:    LP: Time Out! Time In! For Them
Writer(s):    Lane/Pulley
Label:    Tower
Year:    1968
    I've often mentioned the lost WEOS vinyl archives that were found in a storage room on the Hobart & William Smith Colleges campus a few years ago. Of the thousands of albums we found I ended up keeping about 200. Of those nearly half were unusable, mostly due to their condition. The remainder I divided into three piles. The largest of these piles were the marginal albums that may have one or two songs that might be worked into the show once in a while. The next pile was mostly duplicates of albums I already had on CD, although there were a few cases of stereo albums I had mono copies of, or vice versa. Only a handful of albums made the third pile, but these were the real gems of the bunch: genuine relics of the psychedelic era in playable condition that I didn't already have. Of these, two of the most valuable finds (for my purposes at any rate) were the two post-Van Morrison Them albums released by Tower Records in 1968 that feature new vocalist Kenny McDowell. Market Place is from the second of these, Time Out! Time In! For Them.

Artist:    Left Banke
Title:    Lazy Day
Source:    LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
Writer(s):    Brown/Martin
Label:    Smash/Sundazed
Year:    1967
    Although known mostly for being pioneers of baroque-rock, the Left Banke showed that they could, on occassion, rock out with the best of them on tracks like Lazy Day, which closed out their debut LP. The song was also issued as the B side of their second hit, Pretty Ballerina. Incidentally, after the success of their first single, Walk Away Renee, the band formed their own publishing company for their original material, a practice that was fairly common then and now. Interestingly enough, they called that company Lazy Day Music.

Artist:    Circus Maximus
Title:    Short-Haired Fathers
Source:    CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s):    Bob Bruno
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Circus Maximus was formed in Greenwich Village by guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker in 1967. The group originally wanted to call itself the Lost Sea Dreamers, but changed it after the Vanguard Records expressed reservations about signing a group with the initials LSD. Of the eleven tracks on the band's debut LP, only four were written by Walker, and those were in more of a folk-rock vein. Bruno's seven tracks, on the other hand, are true gems of psychedelia, ranging from the jazz-influenced Wind to the proto-punk rocker Short-Haired Fathers. The group fell apart after only two albums, mostly due to the growing musical differences between Walker and Bruno. Walker, of course, went on to become one of the most successful songwriters of the country-rock genre. As for Bruno, he's still in New York City, concentrating more on the visual arts in recent years.

Artist:    Third Bardo
Title:    I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Evans/Pike
Label:    Rhino (original label: Roulette)
Year:    1967
    The Third Bardo (the name coming from the Tibetan Book of the Dead) only released one single, but I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time has become, over a period of time, one of the most sought-after records of the psychedelic era. Not much is known of this New York band made up of Jeffrey Moon (vocals), Bruce Ginsberg (drums), Ricky Goldclang (lead guitar), Damian Kelly (bass) and Richy Seslowe (guitar).

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Martha (mono single version)
Source:    Mono CD: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s):    Paul Kantner
Label:    RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:    1967
    Jefferson Airplane made no secret of their residence at 2400 Fulton Street in San Francisco. In fact, the place was a known hangout for various freaks, acid-heads and hippy types. One the hangers-on, a young heiress, was the inspiration for Martha, a song from the band's third LP, After Bathing At Baxter's. The song was also released as the B side to Watch Her Ride and used in a promotional film shown on a Perry Como special in 1967. The film, showing the band members cavorting  in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, uses various editing techniques to make the individual members appear, disappear and jump from place to place as well as speed up and slow down, making it one of the first true rock videos.

Artist:    Shadows Of Knight
Title:    I'll Make You Sorry
Source:    CD: Dark Sides (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: Back Door Men)
Writer(s):    Joe Kelley
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    Following the success of the Shadows Of Knight's debut single and LP (both titled Gloria), the band went back into the studio with a bit more experience under their belt and came up with their finest album, Back Door Men. Like Gloria, Back Door Men contained a mixture of Chicago blues and garage/punk, but overall had a greater diversity of style than its predecessor. Surprisingly, every song on the album worked, including the vindictive punk rocker I'll Make You Sorry, which was also released as a B side.

Artist:    Fever Tree
Title:    Unlock My Door
Source:    LP: Fever Tree
Writer(s):    Holtzman/Holtzman/Landes
Label:    Uni
Year:    1968
    Unlike the first side of Fever Tree's 1968 debut LP, which showcased the band's higher energy rockers, side two of the album is very low key, perhaps reflecting the tastes of producers Scott and Vivian Holtzman, who wrote all of the material. A fairly representative example is Unlock My Door, which is tucked away toward the end of the side.

Artist:    Moody Blues
Title:    Legend Of A Mind
Source:    CD: In Search Of The Lost Chord
Writer(s):    Ray Thomas
Label:    Deram
Year:    1968
    The Moody Blues started off as a fairly typical British beat band, scoring one major inteernational hit, Go Now, in 1965, as well as several minor British hit singles. By 1967 lead vocalist Denny Laine was no longer with the group (he would later surface as a member of Paul McCartney's Wings), and the remaining members were not entirely sure of where to go next. At around that time their record label, Deram, was looking to make a rock version of a well-known classical piece (The Nine Planets), and the Moody Blues were tapped for the project. Somewhere along the way, however, the group decided to instead write their own music for rock band and symphony orchestra, and Days Of Future Passed was the result. The album, describing a somewhat typical day in the life of a somewhat typical Britisher, was successful enough to revitalize the band's career, and a follow-up LP, In Search Of The Lost Chord, was released in 1968. Instead of a full orchestra, however, the band members themselves provided all the instrumentation on the new album, using a relatively new keyboard instrument called the mellotron (a complicated contraption that utilized tape loops) to simulate orchestral sounds. Like its predecessor, In Search Of The Lost Chord was a concept album, this time dealing with the universal search for the meaning of life through music. One of the standout tracks on the album is Legend Of A Mind, with its signature lines: "Timothy Leary's dead. No, no, he's outside looking in." Although never released as a single, the track got a fair amount of airplay on college and progressive FM radio stations, and has long been considered a cult hit.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Lover Of The Bayou
Source:    LP: (untitled)
Writer(s):    McGuinn/Levy
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    By 1970 the band called the Byrds bore little resemblance to the group that had taken the world by storm with its electrified covers of Bob Dylan songs in 1965. The band had gone through several personnel changes, with only Roger (nee Jim) McGuinn left from the original lineup. The band's sound had changed as well, having emerged from its psychedelic phase of 1966-68 to become one of the world's premier country-rock bands. The band's live performances had improved as well; indeed, the 1970 lineup is considered by many to be the group's best in that regard. No wonder, then, that half of the 1970 double album (untitled) was made up of live tracks. All of these elements can be heard on the album's opening track, Lover Of The Bayou.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Like Crying
Source:    LP: Then Play On
Writer(s):    Danny Kirwan
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    Danny Kirwan was only 17 and fronting his own band, Boilerhouse, when he came to the attention of Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green. Green invited the band to play a few opening gigs for Fleetwood Mac and before long the two guitarists were participating in after hours jams together. Drummer Mick Fleetwood invited Kirwan to join the band, and Kirwan became the group's fifth official member (Christine McVie still having guest artist status at that point). After making his debut sharing lead guitar duties with Green on an instrumental single, Albatross, Kirwan settled in as a songwriting member of the band in time for their 1969 LP Then Play On, contributing as many songs to the album as Green himself (although the US version left two of those songs off the LP). Another two Kirwan tunes were deleted from the US version when the album was revised to include the eight-minute track Oh Well. Among the few Danny Kirwan songs to be included on every version of Then Play On was the low-key Like Crying, which appears toward the end of the album.

Artist:     Merry-Go-Round
Title:     Listen, Listen!
Source:     CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):     Emmitt Rhodes
Label:     Rhino (original label: A&M)
Year:     1968
     In 1968, drummer/vocalist Emmit Rhodes was on the verge of branching out on a solo career. One of the last songs released under the Merry-Go-Round banner was a tune called Listen, Listen! The track shows a strong Beatle influence, although it tends to rock out a bit harder than the average Beatle song.

Artist:     Sugarloaf
Title:     The Train Kept A-Rollin' (Stroll On)
Source:     Mono LP: Sugarloaf
Writer:     Relf/Page/Beck/Dreja
Label:     Liberty
Year:     1970
     One of the Yardbirds' best-known early recordings was Train Kept A Rollin', a song credited to the entire band. In 1966  the band reworked the tune, adding a feedback drenched intro, new lyrics, and dueling guitar leads from Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. The song, retitled Stroll On, was included in the Michelangelo Antonioni film Blow-Up. Four years later an instrumental version of the newer arrangement appeared on the debut album of the Denver, Colorado band Sugarloaf, using the title The Train Kept A-Rollin' (Stroll On). For reasons unknown, the Sugarloaf track was a mono recording on an otherwise stereo LP, leading me to theorize that it had possibly started off as a demo tape, or maybe an unreleased single, that ended up being included on the album itself. 

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Hello, Goodbye
Source:    CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone
Year:    1967
    1967 was unquestionably a good year for the Beatles. Their first release was a double A sided single, Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, both sides of which were major hits. They followed that up with the #1 album of the year, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and another hit single, All You Need Is Love. To finish out the year they released yet another major hit single, Hello Goodbye. The only downside to the year was the cool reception that was afforded their December telefilm, Magical Mystery Tour, although the songs themselves were well-received when released in the UK as a double-EP set (complete with full color booklet containing stills from the film, as well as lyric sheets). As EPs were not considered a viable format in the US, Capitol Records put together an LP that included all six tracks from the telefilm on one side of the album and the five single sides (Hello Goodbye had used I Am The Walrus from Magical Mystery Tour as a B side) on the other. That album has since become the official version of Magical Mystery Tour, although the EP continued to be available in the UK for several years following its initial release.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Abbey Road Medley #1
Source:    CD: Abbey Road
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone
Year:    1969
    Much of the second side of the last album to be recorded by the Beatles, Abbey Road, is taken up by (depending on whose view you take) either one long medley or two not-quite-so-long medleys of songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Personally I take the former view, as there is just a bit too much quiet space at the end of She Came In Through The Bathroom Window for me to consider it linked to the next song, Golden Slumbers. Regardless, the whole thing starts with You Never Give Me Your Money, a Paul McCartney composition reputed to be a jab at the band's second (and last) manager, Allen Klein. This leads into three John Lennon pieces, Sun King, Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam, ending finally with another McCartney piece, She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, that was inspired by a real life break-in by an overzealous Beatle fan.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Baby, You're A Rich Man
Source:    CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone
Year:    1967
    Baby, You're A Rich Man was one of the last collaborations between John Lennon and Paul McCartney and addresses the Beatles' longtime manager Brian Epstein, although not by name.  Lennon came up with the basic question "how does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?" (a popular term for the young and hip in late 60s London), which became the basis for the song's verses, which were combined with an existing, but unfinished, Paul McCartney chorus (Baby, You're A Rich Man, too). The finished piece was issued as the B side of the Beatles' second single of 1967, All You Need Is Love, and later remixed in stereo and included on the US-only LP version of Magical Mystery Tour.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    It's A Hard Life
Source:    LP: The Seeds
Writer(s):    Sky Saxon
Label:    GNP Crescendo
Year:    1966
    If there was any real weakness in the first Seeds album, it was a certain sameness among the songs on the LP. There were exeptions, however, such as It's A Hard Life, which manages to stay true to the Seeds' style without sounding too much like Pushin' Too Hard.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    No Time Like The Right Time
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Al Kooper
Label:    Rhino (original label: Verve Forecast)
Year:    1967
    The Blues Project were ahead of their time. They were the first jam band. They virtually created the college circuit for touring rock bands. Unfortunately, they also existed at a time when having a hit single was the considered a necessity. The closest the Blues Project ever got to a hit single was No Time Like The Right Time, which peaked at # 97 and stayed on the charts for all of two weeks. Personally, I rate it among the top 5 best songs ever recorded.

Artist:    Truth
Title:    P.S. (Prognosis Stegnoisis)
Source:    Mono CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lyte Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jose Sanchez
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1968
    The truth about Truth is that nobody seems to know the truth about Truth. What is known is: 1)Truth recorded a single for Warner Brothers and released it in 1968. 2)The A side of that single was a song written by Jose Sanchez called P.S. (Prognosis Stegnoisis). 3)The record was produced by Dave Hassinger, engineer of the Rolling Stones' recordings made at RCA studios in Hollywood and producer of the first couple of Grateful Dead albums as well as the Electric Prunes. 4) The song P.S. (Prognosis Stegnoisis) is a nice example of acid rock. Enjoy!

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