Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1419 (starts 5/7/14)

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Lovely Rita
Source:    LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol/EMI
Year:    1967
    By 1967 John Lennon and Paul McCartney were a songwriting team in name only, with nearly all their compositions being the work of one or the other, but not both. Lovely Rita, from the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, was pure McCartney. The song features McCartney on both piano and overdubbed bass, with Lennon and George Harrison on guitars and Ringo Starr on drums. Pink Floyd, who were recording their debut LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn at the same Abbey Road studios the Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper's at, ended up borrowing some of the effects heard toward the end of Lovely Rita for their own Pow R Toc H.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands
Source:    CD: The Who Sell Out
Writer:    Pete Townshend
Label:    MCA
Year:    1967
    There are at least three versions of Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands. A faster, electric version of the song was released only in the US as the B side to I Can See For Miles, while this semi-latin flavored acoustic version was included on The Who Sell Out. Yet another version is featured as a bonus track on the 1993 CD release of Sell Out.

Artist:    Left Banke
Title:    Desiree
Source:    Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Brown/Feher
Label:    Rhino (original label: Smash)
Year:    1967
    For a while it looked as if the Left Banke would emerge as one of the most important bands of the late 60s. They certainly got off to a good start, with back-to-back top 10 singles Walk Away Renee and Pretty Ballerina. But then bandleader Michael Brown and Smash Records made a serious misstep, issuing a Brown solo effort called Ivy Ivy utilizing studio musicians and trying to pass it off as a Left Banke record. The other band members refused to go along with the charade and sent out letters to their fan club membership denouncing the single. The outraged fans, in turn, threatened to boycott any radio stations that played the single. Brown and the rest of the band, meanwhile, managed to patch things up enough to record a new single, Desiree, and released the song in late 1967. By then, however, radio stations were leery of playing anything with the words Left Banke on the label, and the song failed to chart, despite being an outstanding single. Brown left the Left Banke soon after.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Take It As It Comes
Source:    CD: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    L.A.'s Whisky-A-Go-Go was the place to be in 1966. Not only were some of the city's hottest bands playing there, but for a while the house band was none other than the Doors, playing songs like Take It As It Comes. One evening in early August Jack Holzman, president of Elektra Records, and producer Paul Rothchild were among those attending the club, having been invited there to hear the Doors by Arthur Lee (who with his band Love was already recording for Elektra). After hearing two sets Holzman signed the group to a contract with the label, making the Doors only the second rock band on the Elektra label (although the Butterfield Blues Band is considered by some to be the first, predating Love by several months). By the end of the month the Doors were in the studio recording songs like Take It As It Comes for their debut LP, which was released in January of 1967.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Good Times, Bad Times
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass) (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1964
    It may be hard to imagine now, but the first Rolling Stones US tour was less than a complete success. In order to salvage something positive about the trip abroad, producer Andrew Loog Oldham arranged for the band to book time at Chicago's Chess Records studio, where many of the band's idols had recorded for the past decade. One of the songs from those sessions was Good Times, Bad Times. The song was only the second Jagger/Richards composition to be recorded by the Stones, and the first to be released on 45 RPM vinyl. Since 45s outsold LPs by a factor of at least five to one in 1964, this was an important distinction.

Artist:    Love
Title:    7&7 Is
Source:    CD: Da Capo
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1966
    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.

Artist:    Pretty Things
Title:    Talkin' About The Good Times
Source:    Mono British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    May/Taylor/Waller
Label:    EMI (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1968
    Although the Pretty Things, co-founded by guitarist Dick Taylor and vocalist Phil May, had started off doing R&B cover tunes (as did their London contemporaries the Who and the Rolling Stones), by late 1967 they had moved into psychedelic territory, with Taylor and May developing their songwriting skills at the same time. Working with producer Norman Smith (who had just finished engineering Pink Floyd's debut LP), the band recorded a pair of sides for EMI's flagship Columbia label at Abbey Road studios in November. The resulting single, Talkin' About The Good Times, was successful enough to give the band the opportunity to record an entire album, the legendary S.F. Sorrow.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Can You See Me
Source:    CD: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA
Year:    1967
    Before releasing the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, in the US, Reprise Records decided to make some changes to the track lineup, adding three songs that had been released as non-album singles in the UK. To make room for these, three songs were cut from the original UK version of the LP. The most popular of these three tracks was Can You See Me, a song that was included in the band's US debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967.  Despite the audience's positive response to the song, the band apparently dropped Can You See Me from their live set shortly after Monterey. The song was originally slated to be released as the B side of The Wind Cries Mary, but instead was used as an album track.
Artist:    Jimi Hendrix
Title:    Message To Love
Source:    LP: Band Of Gypsys
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    In the mid-1960s Jimi Hendrix sat in on some recording sessions with his friend Curtis Knight, signing what he thought was a standard release contract at the time. It wasn't until Hendrix was an international star that the signing came back to haunt him in the form of a lawsuit by Capitol Records accusing him of breach of contract. The end result was that Hendrix ended up owing the label two albums, the first being an album called Get That Feeling that was made up of the material Hendrix had recorded with Knight. The second album was to be all new material, but at the time of the settlement in mid-1969 Hendrix had just disbanded the Experience and was experimenting around with different combinations of musicians before getting to work on his next studio project. Hendrix appeared at Woodstock with a number of these musicians, including his old Army buddy Billy Cox on bass. The two of them soon began to work up a live set with drummer Buddy Miles, who had made a guest appearance on the last Experience album, Electric Ladyland. The new three-piece group, calling itself Band Of Gypsys, played a two-night engagement at New York's Madison Square Garden over the New Year's holiday, using the best performances from both nights to compile a live album that was released by Capitol the following spring. Among the new songs that made their debut on Band Of Gypsys was Message To Love. The song is a fair indication of the direction that Hendrix's music was beginning to take.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Manic Depression
Source:    CD: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    On February 22, 1967 the Jimi Hendrix Experience played what was possibly their worst gig, which culminated in Hendrix's white Stratocaster being stolen before it was fully paid for. Later that night the band made an appearance at a press reception at which Hendrix, in the words of manager/producer Chas Chandler, sounded like a manic depressive. Inspired by Chandler's observation, Hendrix wrote a song on the subject, which he taught to the band and recorded the next day. Hendrix later referred to Manic Depression as "ugly times music", calling it a "today's type of blues."

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Like A Rolling Stone
Source:    CD: Highway 61 Revisited
Writer:    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
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. Personnel on this historic recording included guitarist Michael Bloomfield, pianist Paul Griffin, drummer Bobby Gregg, bassist Joe Madho, guitarist Charlie McCoy and tambourinist Bruce Langhorne. In addition, guitarist Al Kooper, who was on the scene as a guest of producer Tom Wilson, sat in on organ, ad-libbing a part that so impressed Dylan that he insisted it be given a prominent place in the final mixdown. This in turn led to Kooper permanently switching over to keyboards for the remainder of his career.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Blowin' In The Wind
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings (originally released on LP: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1963
    Generally acknowledged as Bob Dylan's first true classic, Blowin' In The Wind first appeared on the 1963 album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. The song was popularized the following year by Peter, Paul and Mary and soon was the single most played song around campfires from coast to coast. For all I know it still is. (Do people still sing around campfires?)

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    From A Buick 6
Source:    CD: Highway 61 Revisited
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    Although Bob Dylan had experimented with using electric instruments on some of the tracks of his 1965 album, Bringing It All Back Home, he went all out with his next LP, Highway 61 Revisited. Many of the songs had a whole new sound to them, while others, such as From A Buick 6, were more or less in the same style as Dylan's earlier songs, but electrified.

Artist:     Byrds
Title:     The Times They Are A-Changin'
Source:     LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Writer:     Bob Dylan
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1965
     Despite occupying a prominent place in rock history, the folk-rock movement actually had a fairly short lifespan. The most successful folk-rock band, the Byrds, only cut two albums with their original lineup before entering a more experimental phase with the 5D album. Both those early LPs were released in 1965, and by mid-1966 folk-rock had already given way to garage-rock, flower power and psychedelic music. Like the Mr. Tambourine Man album before it, Turn! Turn! Turn! was dominated by electrified versions of existing folk songs, many of which were written and originally recorded by Bob Dylan. Although The Times They Are A-Changin' was a staple of the band's live sets at Ciro's Le Disc on Sunset Strip and on the road, the song was only released as a single in the UK, where it became one of the band's biggest hits there.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    You Movin'
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on CD: The Preflyte Sessions)
Writer(s):    Gene Clark
Label:    Rhino (original label: Sundazed)
Year:    Recorded 1964, released 2001
    Although the Byrds got their first hit with a Bob Dylan cover, Mr. Tambourine Man, they did have a quality songwriter right from the beginning in the person of guitarist Gene Clark. One of the earliest Clark songs to be recorded by the band was You Movin', which was included on a 1964 demo tape that remained unreleased until 2001.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Lay Down Your Weary Tune
Source:    LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    It did not take long for the Byrds to get a reputation as the band that depended on Bob Dylan for their material. This reputation was not entirely undeserved, as they did include a inordinately large number of Dylan covers on their first two albums. Among the many Dylan songs on their second LP, 1965's Turn! Turn! Turn!, was Lay Down Your Weary Tune. At least this one was never released as a single.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    House In The Country
Source:    Mono LP: Face To Face
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1966
    The Kinks 1966 LP Face To Face is sometimes considered an early concept album, dealing as it does with the subject of modern life, particulary in the band's native England. Then again, nearly all their material from 1966 deals with the same theme, so whether Face To Face is a true concept album along the lines of their later album Arthur is debatable. Regardless, Face To Face is indeed full of topical songs such as House In The Country (something most modern city dwellers dream of at least occasionally).

Artist:    Cream
Title:    World Of Pain
Source:    CD: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Collins/Pappalardi
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Whereas the first Cream LP was made up of mostly blues-oriented material, Disraeli Gears took a much more psychedelic turn, due in large part to the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. The Bruce/Brown team was not, however, the only source of material for the band. Both Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker made contributions, as did Cream's unofficial fourth member, producer (and keyboardist) Felix Pappalardi, who, along with his wife Janet Collins, provided World Of Pain.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Rock And Roll Woman
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth). Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina and Stephen Stills. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock and Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 40 years after it was recorded.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Today
Source:    CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Marty Balin
Label:    RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:    1967
    Uncredited guest guitarist Jerry Garcia adds a simple, but memorable recurring fill riff to Today, an early collaboration between rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner and bandleader Marty Balin on Jefferson Airplane's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Punky's Dilemma
Source:    LP: Bookends
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Sundazed/Columbia
Year:    1968
    Originally written specifically for the 1967 soundtrack of the movie The Graduate but rejected by the producers, Punky's Dilemma sat on the shelf until the following year, when it became the only track on side two of Simon And Garfunkel's Bookends LP that had not been previously released. The lyrics are about as psychedelic as Simon And Garfunkel ever got.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    Shine On Brightly
Source:    LP: Shine On Brightly
Writer(s):    Brooker/Reid
Label:    A&M
Year:    1968
    Although it was never released as a single, the title track of Procol Harum's second album, Shine On Brightly, is probably their most commercially viable song on the album. Opening with power chords from organist Matthew Fischer and augmented by guitarist Robin Trower, the song quickly moves into psychedelic territory with some of Keith Reid's trippiest lyrics ever, including the refrain "my befuddled brain shines on brightly, quite insane." One of their best tracks ever.

Artist:    Quiet Jungle
Title:    Everything
Source:    Mono CD: An Overdose Of Heavy Psych (originally released in Canada as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Mark Taylor
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Yorkshire)
Year:    1967
    Musically speaking, 1967 was a busy year in the US, with the Summer of Love in San Francisco, the aftermath of the Sunset Strip crackdowns on teenagers in Los Angeles, Andy Warhol's unveiling of the Velvet Underground in New York, and of course, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band casting its shadow over everything. It's easy to see, then, how happenings in neighboring Canada pretty much went under the radar, with bands like the Guess Who cranking out hit after hit without getting any attention whatsoever south of the border. That all changed in 1969 for that band, but other groups, such as Toronto's Quiet Jungle, were never successful outside of Canada itself. That did not stop Yorkshire Records from putting out plenty of singles, however, including Everything, a 1967 tune from the aforementioned Quiet Jungle.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Samba Pa Ti
Source:    CD: Abraxas
Writer(s):    Carlos Santana
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    One of the most enduring tracks from Santana's second LP, Abraxis, Samba Pa Ti starts off as a slow instrumental, slowly picking up the pace and adding percussion to give it a decidedly latin flavor. As far as I know, Carlos Santana still includes Samba Pa Ti in his concert repertoire.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    Where There's Smoke, There's Fire
Source:    LP: Live At Town Hall
Writer:    Kooper/Levine/Brass
Label:    Verve Forecast
Year:    1966
    Al Kooper left the Blues Project in early 1967. That probably should have been the end of the story, but the record company instead decided to patch together some recordings made while Kooper was still with the band to create a new album. They called the album Live At Town Hall, despite the fact that several tracks were not recorded live, instead being studio tracks with audience sounds overdubbed onto the beginning and end of each track, and most of the live tracks were not actually recorded at Town Hall. One of these studio tracks was Where There's Smoke, There's Fire, which actually predates the 1966 Projections album and was released as a single (without the fake audience sounds) in June of  that year.

Artist:    Charlatans
Title:    How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away
Source:    CD: The Amazing Charlatans
Writer(s):    Dan Hicks
Label:    Big Beat
Year:    1967
    The Charlatans tried to make a point of writing and performing songs that were not tied to any particular time or place (such as mid-60s San Francisco). Oddly enough this led to some songs, such as How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away, having a decidedly 19th century feel to them. Since the band tended to wear 19th century clothing, it actually worked quite well. Charlatans drummer Dan Hicks, who wrote How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away, later recorded a more commercial version of the song with his own band, Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks, in 1969. For my money, however, the original unreleased 1967 Charlatans version of the tune is far more fun to listen to, sloppiness and all.

Artist:    Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title:    Codine
Source:    LP: Revolution soundtrack
Writer(s):    Buffy St. Marie
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1968
    Buffy St. Marie's Codine was a popular favorite among the club crowd in mid-60s California. In 1967, L.A. band The Leaves included it on their second LP. Around the same time, up the coast in San Francisco, the Charlatans selected it to be their debut single. The suits at Kama-Sutra Records, however, balked at the choice, and instead sold the band's master tapes to Kapp Records, who then released the group's cover of the Coasters' The Shadow Knows (and sped up the master tape in the mastering process). The novelty-flavored record bombed so bad that the label decided not to release any more Charlatans tracks, thus leaving their version of Codine gathering dust in the vaults until the mid 1990s, when the entire Kama-Sutra sessions were released on CD. Meanwhile, back in 1968, fellow San Francisco band Quicksilver Messenger Service was still without a record contract, despite pulling decent crowds at various Bay Area venues, including a credible appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. Quicksilver did find their way onto vinyl, however, when the producers of the quasi-documentary film Revolution decided to include footage of the band playing Codine, and commissioned this studio recording of the song for the soundtrack album.

Artist:    Allman Brothers Band
Title:    Whipping Post
Source:    CD: Beginnings (originally released on LP: The Allman Brothers Band)
Writer(s):    Gregg Allman
Label:    Polydor  (original label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    It's hard to believe now, but when it was released in 1969, the first Allman Brothers Band LP did not sell all that well. Even stranger, the critics were at best lukewarm in their reviews of the album. It wasn't until the band released a live album in 1971 that had been recorded during the final days of the Fillmore East that the Allman Brothers became a major force in rock. Not long after that Atco Records re-released both the Allman Brothers Band and its followup, Idlewild South, as a double-LP entitled Beginnings. One of the high points of the Fillmore East album was the band's rendition of Whipping Post, heard here in its original studio form.

Artist:     Mothers of Invention
Title:     Return of the Son of Monster Magnet
Source:     LP: Freak Out
Writer:     Frank Zappa
Label:     Verve
Year:     1966
     Return of the Son of Monster Magnet was the most experimental piece on the first Mothers Of Invention album, taking up the entirety of side four. Described in the liner notes (written by Frank Zappa) as the result of turning a bunch of freaks loose in the studio with $300 worth of rented percussion instruments at 3AM, the piece served notice that Zappa was not afraid to emulate such modern composers as John Cage and Edgard Varese.

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