Title: Paper Sun
Source: CD: Smiling Phases (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: Heaven Is In Your Mind)
Label: Island (original US label: United Artists)
One of the first British acid-rock bands was a group called Deep Feeling, which included drummer Jim Capaldi and woodwind player Chris Wood. At the same time Deep Feeling was experimenting with psychedelia, another, more commercially oriented band, the Spencer Davis Group, was tearing up the British top 40 charts with hits like Keep On Running, Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man. The undisputed star of the Spencer Davis Group was a teenaged guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist named Steve Winwood, who was also beginning to make his mark as a songwriter. Along with guitarist/vocalist Dave Mason, who had worked with Capaldi in earlier bands, they formed Traffic in the spring of 1967, releasing their first single, Paper Sun, in May of that year. Capaldi and Winwood had actually written the tune while Winwood was still in the Spencer Davis Group, and the song was an immediate hit in the UK. This was followed quickly by an album, Mr. Fantasy, that, as was the common practice at the time in the UK, did not include Paper Sun. When the album was picked up by United Artists Records for US release in early 1968, however, Paper Sun was included as the LP's opening track. The US version of the album was originally titled Heaven Is In Your Mind, but was quickly retitled Mr. Fantasy to match the original British title (although the alterations in track listing stayed).
Title: Old Man
Source: CD: Love Story (originally released on LP: Forever Changes)
Writer(s): Bryan MacLean
An often overlooked fact about the L.A. band Love is that they had not one, but two quality singer/songwriters in the band. Although Arthur Lee wrote the bulk of the band's material, it was Bryan McLean who wrote and sang one of the group's best-known songs, the haunting Alone Again Or, which opens their classic Forever Changes album. A second McLean song, Old Man, was actually one of the first tracks recorded for Forever Changes. At the time, the band's rhythm section was more into sex and drugs than rock and roll, and McLean and Lee arranged to have studio musicians play on Old Man, as well as on one of Lee's songs. The rest of the group was so stunned by this development that they were able to temporarily get their act together long enough to complete the album. Nonetheless, the two tunes with studio musicians were left as is, although reportedly Ken Forssi did step in to show Carol Kaye how the bass part should be played (ironic, since Kaye is estimated to have played on over 10,000 recordings in her long career as a studio musician).
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Rock And Roll Woman
Source: LP: Buffalo Springfield Again
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
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: Richie Furay, Jim Messina, Stephen Stills and Neil Young. 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: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Dark Side Of The Mushroom
Source: CD: No Way Out
Label: Sundazed (original label: Tower)
Just who played on Dark Side Of The Mushroom is lost to history. What is certain, however, is that it is not the Chocolate Watchband, despite its inclusion on that band's debut LP. Producer Ed Cobb apparently had his own agenda when it came to the Watchband, which included making them sound much more psychedelic on vinyl than when they performed onstage (in fact it is doubtful that Cobb ever actually attended any of the band's live gigs). To accomplish his goal, Cobb enlisted the help of songwriter/musician Richie Podolor, who would later go on to produce Three Dog Night's records. Podolor put together the group of anonymous studio musicians that recorded Dark Side Of The Mushroom, which, despite its shady history, is a decent slice of instrumental psychedelia.
Title: Along Comes Mary
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer: Tandyn Almer
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Valiant)
The Association are best known for a series of love ballads and light pop songs such as Cherish, Never My Love and Windy. Many of these records were a product of the L.A. studio scene and featured several members of the Wrecking Crew, the studio musicians who played on dozens of records in the late 60s and early 70s. The first major Association hit, however, featured the band members playing all the instruments themselves. Produced (and possibly co-written) by Curt Boettcher, who would soon join Gary Usher's studio project Sagittarius, Along Comes Mary shows that the Association was quite capable of recording a classic without any help from studio musicians.
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
The Supremes weren't exactly known as a psychedelic group, nor were their primary songwriters, Lamont Dozier and the Holland brothers. Nonetheless, together they produced one of the most psychedelic tunes ever to come out of Motown. Well, it was 1967, after all.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: No Expectations
Source: CD: Beggar's Banquet
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
After the heavy dose of studio effects on Their Satanic Majesties Request, the Rolling Stones took a back-to-basics approach for their next album, Beggar's Banquet, the first to be produced by Jimmy Miller (who had previously worked with Steve Winwood in Traffic and the Spencer Davis Group). No Expectations, the second track on the album, uses minimal instrumentation and places a greater emphasis on Mick Jagger's vocals and Brian Jones's slide guitar work. Sadly, it was to be Jones's last album as a member of the Rolling Stones, as heavy drug use was already taking its toll (and would soon take his life as well).
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Planet Caravan
Source: CD: Paranoid
Label: Warner Brothers
Many rock musicians are also science fiction fans. Why this should be is a bit of a mystery, but it is a fact nonetheless. As a result, some of the coolest rock songs have science fiction overtones. A case in point is Black Sabbath's Planet Caravan, from their second LP, Paranoid. The use of minor and diminished chords, along with weird studio effects like running Ozzy Osbourne's vocals through the rotating horns of a Leslie cabinet, gives Planet Caravan a decidedly otherworldly feel (the song's title and lyrics don't hurt, either).
Title: Fresh Garbage
Source: LP: Spirit
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
Label: Epic (original label: Ode)
Much of the material on the first Spirit album was composed by vocalist Jay Ferguson while the band was living in a big house in California's Topanga Canyon outside of Los Angeles. During their stay there was a garbage strike, which became the inspiration for the album's opening track, Fresh Garbage. The song starts off as a fairly hard rocker and suddenly breaks into a section that is pure jazz, showcasing the group's instrumental talents, before returning to the main theme to finish out the track.The group used a similar formula on about half the tracks on the LP, giving the album and the band a distinctive sound right out of the box.
Title: Girl In Your Eye
Source: CD: Spirit
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
Spirit was born in 1965 when drummer Ed Cassidy left the Rising Sons after breaking his arm and settled down with his new wife, who had a teenaged son named Randy. It wasn't long before Ed and Randy (who played guitar) formed a new band called the Red Roosters. The group lasted until the spring of 1966, when the family moved to New York for a few months, where Randy jammed up with an unknown guitarist named Jimi Hendrix for the summer. After returning to California, Randy ran into two of his Red Roosters bandmates, singer Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes, and decided to form a new band with Cassidy and keyboardist John Locke. Both Cassidy and Locke had played in jazz bands, and the new band, Spirit, incorporated both rock and jazz elements into their sound. Most of the songs of the band's 1968 debut album were written by Ferguson, who tended to favor a softer sound on tracks like Girl In Your Eye. On later albums Randy California would take a greater share in the songwriting, eventually becoming the only original member to stay with the band throughout its history.
Source: LP: Spirit
Writer(s): Randy California
Label: Epic (original label: Ode)
After the release of Spirit's debut album they went on tour, with a new band, Led Zeppelin, opening for them. I mention this just in case you happen to notice any similarity between the opening acoustic guitar riff on this song and the one on "Stairway To Heaven", which was released three or four years later. I bet you thought Jimmy Page only ripped off blues legends like Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon.
Artist: Nashville Teens
Title: Tobacco Road
Source: Mono CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: John D. Loudermilk
Label: KTel (original label: London)
The Nashville Teens were not teens. Nor were they from Nashville. In fact, they were one of the original British Invasion bands. Their version of John D. Loudermilk's Tobacco Road was a huge international hit in the summer of 1964. The lead guitar parts on the recording are the work of studio musician Jimmy Page.
Title: Rollin' And Tumblin'
Source: LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s): McKinley Morganfield
Right from the beginning Cream demonstrated two distinct sides: the psychedelic-tinged studio side and the blues-based live performance side. In the case of the US version of the band's first LP, Fresh Cream, that was literally true, as side one consisted entirely of original songs (mostly written by bassist Jack Bruce) and side two was nearly all covers of blues classics such as Muddy Waters's Rollin' And Tumblin'. What makes this particular recording interesting is the instrumentation used: guitar, vocals, harmonica and drums, with no bass whatsoever. This could be due to the limited number of tracks available for overdubs. Just as likely, though, is the possibility that the band chose to make a recording that duplicated their live performance of the song.
Artist: Van Der Graaf Generator
Title: People You Were Going To (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Source: Mono British import CD: Spirit Of Joy
Writer(s): Peter Hammill
One of the rarest records ever released was Van Der Graff's debut single, People You Were Going To. The record was released on the UK Polydor label in January of 1969, but was almost immediately withdrawn due to the fact that the band's leader, Peter Hammill, had signed a contract with Mercury Records the previous year. The Mercury contract was so bad, however, that the rest of the band members refused to sign it, and for a while it looked like Van Der Graaf Generator would be little more than a footnote in the history of British Rock. Later that year, however, Hammill began work on a solo album that appeared under the name Van Der Graaf Generator, but only in the US. Nonetheless, it was enough to fulfill the terms of his Mercury contract, freeing Hammill up to reform the band and sign with the Charisma label, where they established themselves as one of the top progressive rock bands of the 1970s.
Title: Porpoise Song
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Head soundtrack)
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
In 1968 the Monkees, trying desperately to shed a teeny-bopper image, enlisted Jack Nicholson to co-write a feature film that was a 180-degree departure from their recently-cancelled TV show. This made sense, since the original fans of the show were by then already outgrowing the group. Unfortunately, by 1968 the Monkees brand was irrevocably tainted by the fact that the Monkees had not been allowed to play their own instruments on their first two albums. The movie Head itself was the type of film that was best suited to being shown in theaters that specialized in "art" films, but that audience was among the most hostile to the Monkees and the movie bombed. It is now considered a cult classic.
Artist: Spanky And Our Gang
Title: Lazy Day
Source: LP: Spanky And Our Gang
Sounding a bit like the Mamas and the Papas, Spanky And Our Gang had a series of hit records, starting with Sunday Will Never Be The Same, in 1967. The follow-up single, Lazy Day, actually had a longer chart life than its predecessor, although it did not chart quite as high. Both songs were featured on the group's debut LP. A second album yielded another major hit, I'd Like To Get To Know You, but, like many other hit-oriented bands of the time, Spanky And Our Gang were already starting to sound dated by 1968 and soon faded off into pop music history.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
Although San Jose, Ca. is a rather large city in its own right (the 10th-largest city in the US in fact), it has always had a kind of suburban status, thanks to being within the same media market as San Francisco. Nonetheless, San Jose had its own very active music scene in the mid-60s, and Count Five was, for a time in late 1966, at the top of the heap, thanks in large part to Psychotic Reaction tearing up the national charts. The song had originally been released in 1965, but had not made much of an initial impression outside the local San Jose area.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Foxy Lady
Source: CD: The Ultimate Experience (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
The first track on the original UK release of Are You Experienced was Foxy Lady. The British custom of the time was to not include any songs on albums that had been previously released as singles. When Reprise Records got the rights to release the album in the US, it was decided to include three songs that had all been top 40 hits in the UK. One of those songs, Purple Haze, took over the opening spot on the album, and Foxy Lady was moved to the middle of side 2.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: She Has Funny Cars
Source: Mono LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Label: Sundazed (original label: RCA Victor)
She Has Funny Cars, the opening track of Jefferson Airplane's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow, was a reference to some unusual possessions belonging to new drummer Spencer Dryden's girlfriend. As was the case with many of the early Airplane tracks, the title has nothing to do with the lyrics of the song itself. The song was also released as the B side to the band's first top 10 single, Somebody To Love.
Title: Looking At A Baby
Source: Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Valiant)
Formed as the Classics in 1961, the Collectors hailed from Vancouver, British Columbia. By 1966 they had managed to secure a contract with Valiant Records, releasing Looking At A Baby as a single in January of 1967. Although the record was not a hit in the US, it did get the attention of engineer/producer Dave Hassinger, who was having problems completing David Axelrod's Mass In F Minor using the Electric Prunes. As the Collectors were musically more adept than the Prunes, Hassinger hired them to provide the instrumental tracks for the album, which nonetheless came out under the Electric Prunes name (which Hassinger owned at that time). Eventually the Collectors would change their name to Chilliwack and release a series of moderately successful records on the A&M label in the early to mid 1970s.
Artist: Savoy Brown
Title: Poor Girl
Source: CD: Looking In
Writer(s): Kim Simmonds
Label: Deram (original label: Parrot)
Poor Girl, from the 1970 album Looking In, is probably Savoy Brown's best known recording. Shortly after Looking In was released, the entire band except for leader Kim Simmonds left Savoy Brown to form a new band: Foghat.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: In The Time Of Our Lives
Source: 45 RPM single
The lead track on Ball, Iron Butterfly's highly-anticipated 1969 follow-up LP to In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, was In The Time Of Our Lives. It was also chosen to be released as a single. Although some labels were starting to issue stereo 45s, Atco was not one of them, and In The Time Of Our Lives became one of only two songs from Ball with an alternate monoraul mix (the other being the B side of the single, It Must Be Love).
Title: Open My Eyes
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: The Nazz)
Writer(s): Todd Rundgren
Label: Rhino (original label: SGC)
The Nazz was a band from Philadelphia who were basically the victims of their own bad timing. 1968 was the year that progressive FM radio began to get recognition as a viable format while top 40 radio was being dominated by bubble gum pop bands such as the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the Ohio Express. The Nazz, on the other hand, sounded more like British bands such as the Move and Brian Augur's Trinity that were performing well on the UK charts but were unable to buy a hit in the US. The band had plenty of talent, most notably guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Todd Rundgren, who would go on to establish a successful career, both as an artist (he played all the instruments on his Something/Anything LP and led the band Utopia) and a producer (Grand Funk's We're An American Band, among others). Open My Eyes was originally issued as the A side of a single, but ended up being eclipsed in popularity by its flip side, a song called Hello It's Me, that ended up getting airplay in Boston and other cities, eventually hitting the Canadian charts (a new solo version would become Rundgren's first major hit five years later).
Artist: Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title: Yes, I'm Experienced
Source: LP: Winds Of Change
A grand tradition dating back to the early Rhythm and Blues recordings was something called the "answer song". Someone would record a song (Hound Dog, for example), that would become popular. In turn, another artist (often a friend of the original one), would then come up with a song that answered the original tune (Bear Cat, in our example earlier). This idea was picked up on by white artists in the late 50s (Hey Paula answered by Hey Paul). True to the tradition, Eric Burdon answered his friend Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced with this song, done in a style similar to another Hendrix tune, Manic Depression.
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Australia as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
While Beatlemania was sweeping the northern hemisphere, a similar phenomena known as Easyfever was all the rage down under. Formed in the migrant hostels on the edge of Sydney, the Easybeats signed with Parlophone in 1965, and hit the top of the Australian charts with their second single. From that point on, the Easybeats were the # 1 band in the country, cranking out hit after hit, including Sorry from 1966. Like all the band's early hits, Sorry was written by the team of vocalist Stevie Wright and guitarist George Young. Not long after the release of Sorry, the Easybeats would decide to relocate to England. At around the same time lead guitarist Harry Vanda replaced Wright as Young's primary writing partner; together they wrote the international smash Friday On My Mind. The Easybeats continued to record into the early 70s, but with only moderate success. Eventually Young returned to Australia, where he was instrumental in helping his younger brothers Angus and Malcolm find success with their own band, AC/DC.
Artist: Red Squares
Title: You Can Be My Baby
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Denmark as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Originally formed in Boston, England, in 1964, the Red Squares relocated to Denmark in 1966 and soon became massively popular. For the most part the band's sound was similar to the Hollies, as can be heard on the original LP version of You Can Be My Baby. The single version of the song heard here, however, cranks up the energy levels to something approaching the early Who records.
Artist: Simon Dupree And The Big Sound
Source: British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road-1965-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: EMI (original label: Parlophone)
Almost all of the British beat bands of the 1960s played R&B covers in their early days. Most, like the Animals and Rolling Stones, covered blues artists like John Lee Hooker or early rock and rollers like Chuck Berry. Simon Dupree And The Big Sound, however, saw themselves more as a "soul" band in the image of such American artists as Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. Led by the Shulman brothers (Derek, Ray and Phil), the band was formed in early 1966 and was soon signed to EMI's Parlophone label. After their first few singles failed to chart, the band's label and management convinced them to record the more psychedelic-sounding Kites. Although the band hated the record, it ended up being their only top 10 single in the UK, and after subsequent records went nowhere, the group, finally realizing that they were not destined to hit the big time as a blue-eyed soul band, disbanded in 1969. The Shulman brothers, however, did achieve success in the 1970s with their new band Gentle Giant, which was about as far removed from blue-eyed soul as you can get.
Artist: Randy Newman
Title: Last Night I Had A Dream
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Randy Newman
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Randy Newman has, over the course of the past fifty-plus years, established himself as a Great American Writer of Songs. His work includes dozens of hit singles (over half of which were performed by other artists), nearly two dozen movie scores and eleven albums as a solo artist. Newman has won five Grammys, as well as two Oscars and Three Emmys. Last Night I Had A Dream was Newman's second single for the Reprise label (his third overall), coming out the same year as his first LP, which did not include the song.
Artist: Guess Who
Title: American Woman
Source: LP: American Woman
Label: RCA Victor
From 1968-1970 I was living on Ramstein AFB, which was and is a huge base in Germany with enough Canadian personnel stationed there to justify their own on-base school. For much of the time I lived there I found myself hanging out with a bunch of Canadian kids and I gotta tell you, they absolutely loved everything by the Guess Who, who were, after all, the most successful Canadian band in history. In particular, they all loved the band's most political (and controversial) hit, the 1970 tune American Woman. I rather liked it myself, and immediately went out and bought a copy of the album, one of the first to be pressed on RCA's Dynaflex vinyl. In fact, I still have that copy, which explains why the intro to the song sounds so scratchy.
Artist: Loose Endz
Title: Easy Rider
Source: Mono CD: An Overdose Of Heavy Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): R. Bershinger
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Virtue)
Although they only released two singles, the Loose Endz, from York, Pennsylvania, are legendary among collectors of vintage garage rock records. The B side of their second single was a tune called Easy Rider that has shown up on various anthology LPs and CDs over the year.
Title: What Goes On
Source: CD: Rubber Soul (originally held back in US and included on LP: Yesterday...And Today)
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year: 1965 (US release: 1966)
Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote several songs for Ringo Starr to sing on their albums, only one actually conferred songwriting credits on the drummer. What Goes On, a country and western flavored tune, appeared in the UK on the Rubber Soul album, but was not included on the US version of that album. Instead, the song appeared on the 1966 album Yesterday...And Today, an LP that only came out in North America.
Artist: James Brown
Title: I Got You (I Feel Good)
Source: Mono CD: 20 All-Time Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): James Brown
Label: Polydor (original label: King)
James Brown had probably more nicknames/titles than any other entertainer of the 20th century, including Soul Brother # 1, the Godfather of Soul, and the Hardest Working Man In Show Business. He also had one of the longest careers as a recording artists, starting in 1956 with Please Please Please and continuing into the 1980s on the pop charts and the 1990s on the R&B charts. During that time he chalked up over 100 hit singles, including 17 #1 R&B hits. Oddly enough, for all that he never got a number one hit on the pop charts; in fact Brown holds the all-time record for the number of charted singles without ever hitting the top spot. The nearest he came was his 1965 hit I Got You (I Feel Good), which made it to the # 3 spot on the Billboard top 100 chart. The song spent six week's topping the R&B chart, however, and has been ranked # 78 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.