Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1421 (starts 5/21/14)

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    Keep On Running
Source:    Mono LP: Gimme Some Lovin' (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Jackie Edwards
Label:    United Artists (original label: Atco)
Year:    1965
    The Spencer Davis Group began a streak of top 10 hits in the UK in 1964, with the then 14-year-old Steve Winwood on lead vocals and keyboards (and occassional guitar). What is not well known is that many of those singles were also released in the US on the Atco label, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. None of the Atco releases charted in the US and eventually the distribution rights to the band's recordings fell to United Artists Records. In 1967 the Spencer Davis Group finally got its breakthrough hit in the US with Gimme Some Lovin' a tune that had originally been released in the fall of 1966. United Artists immediately went to work on compiling an album made up mostly of the band's earlier singles and B sides, releasing it in spring of 1967. One of the many UK hits on the album was Jackie Edwards' Keep On Running, which the Spencer Davis Group had taken to the top of the British charts in 1965.

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:    Rolling Stones
Title:    In Another Land
Source:    CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    In Another Land was the first Rolling Stones song written and sung by bassist Bill Wyman, and was even released in the UK as a Wyman single. The song originally appeared on the Stones' most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, in late 1967.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Hurdy Gurdy Man
Source:    CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Hurdy Gurdy Man)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Sony Music Special Products (original label: Epic)
Year:    1968
    In early 1968 Donovan Leitch decided to try his hand at producing another band, Hurdy Gurdy, which included his old friend bassist Mac MacLeod. However, creative differences with the band led to Donovan recording the song himself and releasing it as a single in May of that year. The song is done in a harder rock style than most of Donovan's recordings, and features some of London's top studio musicians, including Clem Cattini and drums, Alan Parker on guitar and future Led Zeppelin member John Paul Jones on bass. It has long been rumoured that Jimmy Page and John Bonham also participated on the recording, but their presence is disputed. Donovan reportedly wanted to use Jimi Hendrix on the recording, but the guitarist was unavailable.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Streetmasse
Source:    LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s):    Kantner/Dryden/Blackman/Thompson/Balin
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1967
     After Bathing At Baxter's is generally considered the most pyschedelic of all the Jefferson Airplane albums. For one thing, the members were reportedly all on LSD through most of the creative process and were involved in entire package, right down to the decision to divide the album up into five suites and press the vinyl in such a way that the spaces normally found between songs were only present between the suites themselves, making it almost impossible to set the needle down at the beginning of the second or third song of a suite (there is a slight overlap between songs as well). The first suite on After Bathing At Baxter's is called Streetmasse. It consists of three compositions: Paul Kantner's The Ballad of You and Me and Pooniel; A Small Package of Value Will Come To You Shortly (a free-form jazz piece led by drummer Spencer Dryden); and the Paul Kantner/Marty Balin composition Young Girl Sunday Blues.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:     Triad
Source:     CD: The Notorius Byrd Brothers (bonus track)
Writer:     David Crosby
Label:     Columbia/Legacy
Year:     1967
     By fall of 1967 David Crosby had pretty much pissed off Jim (now Roger) McGuinn about as much as he could without getting kicked out of the Byrds. In June he had made statements to the effect that the US government was covering up the truth about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and gone on stage and performed with a rival band, the Buffalo Springfield (filling in for Neil Young, who had just quit the band). And he did this all at the same time and place, the Monterey International Pop Festival. Nobody but the participants knows for sure what the final straw was that got Crosby booted from the band, but before it happened they had recorded this original version of a song that would appear on the 1968 Jefferson Airplane album Crown of Creation. The Byrds version of Triad was naturally left off the album the group had been working on (the Notorious Byrd Brothers), only surfacing years later on a Byrds anthology album.

Artist:    John Mayall
Title:    Blues From Laurel Canyon (side one)
Source:    Blues From Laurel Canyon
Writer(s):    John Mayall
Label:    London
Year:    1968
    In the summer of 1968 John Mayall decided to disband the Bluesbreakers and take a three-week vacation in California. On his return to the UK he put together a new, four piece band consisting of himself, guitarist Mick Taylor, bassist Stephen Thompson and drummer Colin Allen and recorded a suite of songs that he had written about the vacation itself. The resulting album, Blues From Laurel Canyon, is considered not only one of Mayall's best, but one of the finest blues albums ever made. Side one of the LP starts off appropriately with a song called Vacation that features an extended solo from Taylor. This segues into one of Mayall's best-known tracks, Walking On Sunset, a hard-driving electric blues tune that gives everyone in the band a chance to shine. This leads into the slow, contemplative Laurel Canyon Home, a tune that lays the groundwork for several songs that appear later on the album. 2401, a fast rocker that was also released as a single, is full of references to the denizens of a house on Laurel Canyon Boulevard known as the Log Cabin, which was the residence of Frank Zappa and his wife Gail and was frequented by various members and hangers on of both Zappa's band, the Mothers of Invention, and the GTOs, an all female band that Zappa produced. The final three tracks on side one of the album (Ready To Ride, Medicine Man, and Somebody's Acting Like A Child) concern an obviously short relationship that Mayall was involved in during his stay at the Log Cabin.

Artist:    Grass Roots
Title:    Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man)
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer:    Bob Dylan
Label:    Dunhill
Year:    1965
    In late 1965 songwriters/producers P.F. Sloan (Eve of Destruction) and Steve Barri decided to create a series of records by a band called the Grass Roots. The problem was that there was no band called the Grass Roots (at least not that they knew of), so Sloan and Barri decided to recruit an existing band and talk them into changing their name. The band they found was the Bedouins, one of the early San Francisco bands. As the rush to sign SF bands was still months away, the Bedouins were more than happy to record the songs Sloan and Barri picked out for them. The first single by the newly-named Grass Roots was a cover of Bob Dylan's Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man). The band soon got to work promoting the single to Southern California radio stations, but with both the Byrds and the Turtles already on the charts with Dylan covers it soon became obvious that the market was pretty much saturated. After a period of months the band, who wanted more freedom to write and record their own material, had a falling out with Sloan and Barri and it wasn't long before they moved back to San Francisco, leaving drummer Joel Larson in L.A. The group, with another drummer, continued to perform as the Grass Roots until Dunhill Records ordered them to stop. Eventually Dunhill would hire a local L.A. band called the 13th Floor to be the final incarnation of the Grass Roots who would crank out a series of top 40 hits in the early 70s. Meanwhile the original lineup changed their name but never had the opportunity to make records again.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    Albert Common Is Dead
Source:    CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Electric Comic Book)
Writer(s):    Gilbert/Scala
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1967
    The second Blues Magoos LP, Electric Comic Book, was much in the same vein as their 1966 debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, with a mix of fast and slow originals and a couple of cover songs, one of which was done in an extended rave-up style. The second side opener, Albert Common Is Dead, is a fast rocker (with a slowed down final chorus) about an average guy's decision to take to the road, leaving his former life behind. As many young people were doing exactly that during the summer of 1967, you might expect such a song to become somewhat of a soundtrack of its times, but with so many other songs filling that role, Albert Common Is Dead was largely overlooked by the listening public.

Artist:    Cyrkle
Title:    How Can I Leave Her
Source:    LP: Red Rubber Ball
Writer(s):    Danneman/Dawes
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    Originally known as the Rhondells, the Cyrkle got a huge break when they came to the attention of Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles, in late 1965. Epstein had been looking for an American band to manage, and liked what he heard when he caught the band in Atlantic City on Labor Day weekend. By the following summer the group, whom Epstein had renamed the Cyrkle (with John Lennon credited for the unique spelling) found itself opening for the Beatles on their last North American tour, including their final live performance at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on August 29th. By then the Cyrkle had released a hit single, Red Rubber Ball, and soon would release an album with the same title. About half the tracks on the LP were written by band members, including the soft-pop How Can I Leave Her, which features the Cyrkle's Beach Boys-inspired harmonies.

Artist:    Timon
Title:    The Bitter Thoughts Of Little Jane
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):    Timon Dogg
Label:    Rhino (original label: Pye)
Year:    1967
    Timon Dogg was a British folk singer that came up with a bizarre little song called The Bitter Thoughts Of Little Jane, releasing it as a single on the Pye label in late 1967. The following year Dogg signed with the Beatles' Apple label, but a planned album was never completed. Dogg later could be found working as a street singer in the London Underground, often alongside his close friend John Mellon (who would later change his name to Joe Strummer and form a band called the Clash). Dogg would eventually appear as a guest vocalist on a song he wrote called Lose This Skin on the 1980 Clash album Sandinista.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Wild Honey Pie/The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill/While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Source:    The Beatles
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Apple)
Year:    1968
    By early 1968 the Beatles were beginning to show signs that they would not be together as a band much longer. The group had just experienced their first commercial & critical failure, the Magical Mystery Tour telefilm (although the soundtrack did quite well). Additionally, each member (except maybe Ringo) was starting to move off in his own direction as a songwriter. Nonetheless they went ahead with plans to form Apple, a company designed to market not only their music, but other products as well. The first album released on the new label was titled simply The Beatles and had a plain white cover, resulting in it soon becoming known as the White Album. It was the Beatles' first double-LP set, and the only one to feature all-new material. The music covered a wide variety of styles, some of which are even now hard to describe. As an example we have Paul McCartney's Wild Honey Pie, which segues into John Lennon's The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill. I defy anyone to define exactly what genre these two tracks are representative of. 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 immediately follows Bungalow Bill on the 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:    Fairport Convention
Title:    Fotheringay
Source:    LP: Fairport Chronicles (originally released in UK on LP: What We Did On Our Holidays, retitled Fairport Convention for US release)
Writer(s):    Sandy Denny
Label:    A&M
Year:    1969 (US 1970)
    The early history of Fairport Convention can be a bit confusing. The original lineup released their first LP in 1968, entitled simply Fairport Convention. This album, however, never appeared in the US. The following year the group released an album called What We Did On Our Holidays, featuring new vocalist Sandy Denny. After the band began to catch on with American audiences, What We Did On Our Holidays was repackaged and released (in the US only) under the name Fairport Convention. The opening track of that album was a song called Fotheringay, a name that would be used for Denny's own band a couple of years later. Just to add even more to the confusion, when A&M released a late 70s retrospective called Fairport Chronicles they listed all the songs from What We Did On Our Holidays as being from an album called Fairport Convention (which was technically true in the US), but listed the release year for the songs as 1968, the year the British album of the same name came out, rather than 1969, the actual release year of What We Did On Our Holidays or 1970, the year the US version was released.

Artist:    Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title:    When I Was Young
Source:    Mono CD: The Best of Eric Burdon and the Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Burdon/Briggs/Weider/Jenkins/McCulloch
Label:    Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1967
    After the Animals disbanded in 1966, Eric Burdon set out to form a new band that would be far more psychedelic than the original group. The first release from these "New Animals" was When I Was Young. The song was credited to the entire band, a practice that would continue throughout the entire existence of the group that came to be called Eric Burdon And The Animals.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Strange Days
Source:    The Best Of The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    One of the first rock albums to not picture the band members on the front cover was the Doors' second LP, Strange Days. Instead, the cover featured several circus performers doing various tricks on a city street, with the band's logo appearing on a poster on the wall of a building. The album itself contains some of the Doors' most memorable tracks, including the title song, which also appears on their greatest hits album (which has Jim Morrison's picture on the cover) despite never being released as a single.

Artist:    Sons Of Champlain
Title:    1982-A
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Loosen Up Naturally)
Writer(s):    Steven Tollestrup
Label:    Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1969
    Bill Champlin is probably best known as the lead guitarist for Chicago from 1981 to 2008 (more or less). In his earlier years, however, he fronted his own band, the Sons Of Champlin. Like Chicago, the Sons were distinguished by the presence of a horn section, a trend that was just getting underway in 1969. Unlike most other bands of their type, however, the Sons Of Champlin were a San Francisco band, and one of the more popular local acts of their time. They did not show much of an interest in touring outside the Bay Area, however, and as a result got limited national exposure. The first single from the first of two album they recorded for the Capitol label was a tune called 1982-A. I really can't say what the title has to do with the lyrics of the song, but it is a catchy little number nonetheless.

Artist:     Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title:     Really
Source:     LP: Super Session
Writer:     Bloomfield/Kooper
Label:     Columbia/Legacy
Year:     1968
     Al Kooper and Michael Bloomfield first met when they were both members of Bob Dylan's band in 1965, playing on the classic Highway 61 Revisited album and famously performing at the Newport Folk Festival, where Kooper's organ was physically assaulted by angry folk purists. After a stint with seminal jam band The Blues Project, Kooper became a staff producer for Columbia Records in New York, where he came up with the idea of an album made up entirely of studio jams. He recruited Bloomfield, who had in the intervening years played with the Butterfield Blues Band and the Electric Flag, along with bassist Harvey Brooks (also from Butterfield's band) and studio drummer Eddie Hoh and came up with the surprise hit album of 1968, Super Session. Although Bloomfield bowed out of the project halfway through, he plays on all the tracks on side one of the album, including Really, which utilizes a classic blues progression.

Artist:     Otis Redding
Title:     Try A Little Tenderness
Source:     LP: Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival
Writer:     Woods/Campbell/Connelly
Label:     Reprise
Year:     1967
            One of the most electrifying performances at the legendary Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967 happened on Saturday night during a rainstorm. Otis Redding (backed by Booker T. and the MGs, with Wayne Jackson on trumpet and Andrew Love on sax) was scheduled for the closing slot, but due to technical problems earlier in the day found himself with only enough time for five songs before the festival had to shut down for the night. At the end of his closing song, Try A Little Tenderness, Redding can be heard saying "I've got to go now. I don't want to go" as the festival's organizers, mindful of the terms of their permit, were rushing him off the stage.

Artist:    Great! Society
Title:    Somebody To Love
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Conspicuous Only In Its Absence)
Writer(s):    Darby Slick
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    Recorded 1966, released 1968
    One of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era (and of the so-called San Francisco sound) is Somebody To Love, released by Jefferson Airplane in 1967 on their Surrealistic Pillow album. Somebody To Love was written by Darby Slick, guitarist for another San Francisco band, Great! Society. The Society had released the song, featuring Slick's sister-in-law Grace on lead vocals, as a single in early 1966 but was unable to get any local airplay for the record. In June the group played the Matrix, a club managed by Marty Balin, leader of Jefferson Airplane. The entire gig was recorded (probably by legendary Grateful Dead soundman Owsley Stanley, whose board recordings usually isolated the vocals in one channel and the instruments in the other to provide the band with a tape they could use to critique their own performance) and eventually released on an album called Conspicuous Only In Its Absence two years after Great! Society disbanded. Within a few weeks of this performance Grace Slick would leave the group to join Jefferson Airplane, taking the song with her. This whole set of circumstances can't help but raise the question of whether Balin was using the Society's gig at the Matrix as a kind of sideways audition for Slick.

Artist:    Buckinghams
Title:    Susan
Source:    LP: The Buckinghams' Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Holvay/Beisbier/Guercio
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    The Buckinghams were a local Chicago cover band that made the big time with a song called Kind Of A Drag, released on the local USA label in 1966. Producer James William Guercio, who would become famous as the producer of both Blood, Sweat And Tears and Chicago, was enamored by the Buckinghams' use of a horn section, and got them signed to Columbia Records. The group's first LP for Columbia yielded two hit singles, Don't You Care and Mercy Mercy Mercy, as well as a few notable LP tracks written and arranged by Guercio himself. The band's last hit single, Susan, was released late in 1967. The song starts off as a somewhat bland lite pop tune, but takes an avant-garde turn about two-thirds of the way through, thanks to Guercio's unusual horn and string interlude.

Artist:    Penny Peeps
Title:    Model Village
Source:    Mono British import CD: Insane Times (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Alexander
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1967
    Although the British psychedelic era was considerably shorter (only about two years long) than its American counterpart, there are a surprisingly large number of British psych-pop singles that were never issued in the US. Among those was a somewhat forgettable song called Little Man With A Stick, released in 1967 by a band called the Penny Peeps. The band took its name from the risque coin-fed viewers at Brighton Beach (apparently London's version of Coney Island). Emulating his American counterparts, producer Les Reed (who wrote Little Man), allowed the band itself to come up with its own B side. The result was Model Village, a track that manages to convey a classic garage-rock energy while remaining uniquely British.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Ain't No Tellin'
Source:    CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Possibly the closest thing to a traditional R&B style song in JImi Hendrix's repertoire, Ain't No Tellin' was also, at one minute and 47 seconds, one of the shortest tracks ever recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The tune appeared on the Axis: Bold As Love album in 1967.

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