Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1424 (starts 6/11/14)

Artist:    Count Five
Title:    Psychotic Reaction
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ellner/Chaney/Atkinson/Byrne/Michaelski
Label:    Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
Year:    1965
    San Jose, California, had a vibrant teen music scene in the late 60s, despite the fact that the relatively small (at the time) city was overshadowed by San Francisco at the other end of the bay (both cities were considered part of the same metropolitan market). One of the more popular bands in town was Count Five, a group of five individuals who chose to dress up like Bela Lugosi's Dracula, capes and all. Musically, they idolized the Yardbirds (Jeff Beck era), and for slightly more than three minutes managed to sound more like their idols than the Yardbirds themselves (who by then had replaced Beck with Jimmy Page).

Artist:    Brigands
Title:    (Would I Still Be) Her Big Man
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Kris/Arthur Resnick
Label:    Rhino (original label: Epic)
Year:    1966
    Virtually nothing is known about the Brigands, other than the fact that they recorded in New York City. Their only single was a forgettable piece of imitation British pop, but the B side, (Would I Still Be) Her Big Man, holds up surprising well. The song itself was written by the husband and wife team of Kris and Artie Resnick, who would end up writing a series of bubble gum hits issued under various band names on the Buddah label in 1968.

Artist:    13th Floor Elevators
Title:    Slip Inside This House
Source:    CD: Easter Everywhere
Writer(s):    Hall/Erickson
Label:    Charly (original label: International Artists)
Year:    1967
    The 13th Floor Elevators returned from their only California tour in time to celebrate Christmas of 1966 in their native Texas. Not long after that things began to fall apart for the band. Much of this can be attributed to bad management, but at least some of the problems were internal in nature. Lead guitarist Stacy Southerland was caught with marijuana in the trunk of his car, thus causing his probation to be revoked, which in turn meant he was not allowed to leave the Lone Star state. This in turn caused the entire rhythm section to head off for San Francisco, leaving Southerland, along with Tommy Hall and Roky Erickson, to find replacement members in time to start work on the band's second album, Easter Everywhere. Despite this, the album itself came out remarkably well, and is now considered a high point of the psychedelic era. Unlike the first 13th Floor Elevators album, Easter Everywhere was designed to be a primarily spiritual work. Nowhere is this more evident than on the album's opening track, the eight-minute epic Slip Inside This House. Written primarily by Hall, Slip Inside This House was intended to "establish the syncretic concepts behind Western and Eastern religions, science and mysticism, and consolidate them into one body of work that would help redefine the divine essence". Whether he succeeded or not is a matter of opinion; the track itself is certainly worth hearing for yourself. Enjoy.

Artist:    Mouse And The Traps
Title:    A Public Execution
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Henderson/Weiss
Label:    Rhino (original label: Fraternity)
Year:    1965
    It's easy to imagine some kid somewhere in Texas inviting his friends over to hear the new Bob Dylan record, only to reveal afterwards that it wasn't Dylan at all, but this band he heard while visiting his cousins down in Tyler. Mouse and the Traps, in fact, got quite a bit of airplay in that part of the state with a series of singles issued in the mid-60s. A Public Execution is unique among those singles in that the artist on the label was listed simply as Mouse.

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

Artist:    Janis Joplin
Title:    Kozmic Blues
Source:    LP: I Got Dem 'Ol Kozmic Blues Again Mama
Writer(s):    Joplin/Mekler
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1969
    After she parted company with Big Brother and the Holding Company following the Cheap Thrills album, Janis Joplin got to work forming a new band that would come to be known as the Kozmic Blues Band. Unlike Big Brother, this new band included a horn section, and leaned more toward R&B than the earlier band's hard rocking sound. Joplin released only one studio album with the Kozmic Blues Band, 1969's I Got Dem 'Ol Kozmic Blues Again Mama. Although the album sold well, it was savaged by the rock press. Still, there were some standout tracks on the album, including the title tune of sorts, Kozmic Blues. Joplin made several live appearances with this group, including the Woodstock performing arts festival, before disbanding the unit in favor of a smaller group, the Full-Tilt Boogie Band.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Teen Angel
Source:    Mono British import CD: The Hurdy Gurdy Man (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    EMI (original label: Epic)
Year:    1968
    For the B side of Donovan's 1968 single, Hurdy Gurdy Man, the Scottish singer/songwriter recorded one of his older songs, Teen Angel. Unlike the A side, this track is a quiet, folky piece with minimal instrumentation.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Sunrise
Source:    LP: The Who Sell Out
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    Decca
Year:    1967
    One of the nicest tunes on The Who Sell Out is Sunrise, which is actually a Pete Townshend solo tune featuring Townshend's vocals and acoustic guitar. One of my favorites.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    As The World Rises And Falls
Source:    CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer(s):    Markley/Morgan
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's third album for Reprise, Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil, is generally considered their best, and for good reason. The album includes some of guitarist Ron Morgan's finest contributions, including the gently flowing As The World Rises And Falls. Even Bob Markley's lyrics, which could run the range from inane to somewhat disturbing, here come across as poetic and original. Unfortunately for the band, Morgan was by this time quite disenchanted with the whole thing, and would often not even show up to record. Nonetheless, the band continued on for a couple more years (and two more albums) before finally calling it quits in 1970.

Artist:     West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:     Delicate Fawn
Source:     LP: Volume II
Writer:     Markley/Harris
Label:     Reprise
Year:     1967
     The members of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band made it a point to emphasize the fact that they had complete artistic control of their second LP for Reprise, Volume II. The album itself lives up to the band's name, as many of the songs are indeed quite experimental. The song Delicate Fawn is in a sense prophetic, as vocalist Bob Markley would find himself on the wrong side of the law over issues involving underage girls in the 1970s.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    1906 (mono single mix)
Source:    CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Markley/Morgan
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    A while back I was in contact with Robert Morgan, brother of the late Ron Morgan, guitarist for the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. I asked him if his brother had ever received royalties from songs like 1906, which was essentially a Morgan composition with spoken lyrics tacked on by bandleader/vocalist Bob Markley. He replied that Ron had received a check for something like eight dollars shortly before his death, but that he had always felt that Markley had paid him fairly for his services. He then went on to say that Ron Morgan was more interested in making his mark than in getting any financial compensation. Attitudes like that are a big part of why I do this show. It's hard to imagine many of today's pop stars making a statement like that and meaning it.

Artist:    Castaways
Title:    Liar Liar
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    James Donna
Label:    Eric (original label: Soma)
Year:    1965
     The Castaways were a popular local band in the Minneapolis area led by keyboardist James Donna, who, for less than two minutes at a time, dominated the national airwaves with their song Liar Liar for a couple months before fading off into obscurity.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    Bright Lights, Big City
Source:    LP: On Tour
Writer(s):    Jimmy Reed
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1965
    The Animals, especially in their early years, did not write much of their own material. Their singles were, for the most part, chosen by their producer, Mickey Most, while their album tracks were almost exclusively covers of 50s and early 60s Rhythm and Blues classics. Among those was Jimmy Reed's Bright Lights, Big City, a song originally released in 1961. The Animals version alternates between an approximation of Reed's own "steady-rolling" style and a more frenetic pace, with vocalist Eric Burdon putting on one of his finest performances throughout.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Double Yellow Line
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Rhino (original label: Original Sound, stereo LP version released on Warner Brothers)
Year:    1967
    One of the Original Sound singles that also appeared on the Warner Brothers LP Bonniwell Music Machine, Double Yellow Line features lyrics that were literally written by Bonniwell on the way to the recording studio. In fact, his inability to stay in his lane while driving with one hand and writing with the other resulted in a traffic ticket. The ever resourceful Bonniwell wrote the rest of the lyrics on the back of the ticket and even invited the officer in to watch the recording session. He declined.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    Lime Street Blues
Source:    45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Writer(s):    Brooker/Reid
Label:    A&M (original label: Deram)
Year:    1967
    Anyone expecting more of the same when flipping over their new copy of A Whiter Shade Of Pale in 1967 got a big surprise when they heard Lime Street Blues. The song, reminiscent of an early Ray Charles track, was strong enough to be included on their first greatest hits collection, no mean feat for a B side.

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband
Title:    Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In)
Source:    Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: No Way Out)
Writer(s):    McElroy/Bennett
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    The Chocolate Watchband are unique in that they managed to attain legendary status in spite of their record label or even their own management. The band started off well enough; a group of guys enrolled at Foothills Junior College in what would become Silicon Valley forming a band to play mostly covers by such hard-edged British bands as the Kinks and the Rolling Stones. The problems started when they signed a management contract with Ed Cobb, who also managed and produced the Standells and other garage-punk bands. Cobb, at that point, was looking to make inroads with the crowd that was buying records by the Seeds and other flower power groups, and tried his best to reshape the Watchband into a more psychedelic sound. Unfortunately, the band was really not suited to what Cobb wanted, so Cobb brought in studio musicians to present his musical vision. The result was a pair of albums that both sounded like they had been recorded by two entirely different groups...because they had (some tracks even had a studio lead vocalist on them). One of the few true Watchband tracks is Are You Gonna Be There, a song used in the cheapie teenspliotation flick the Love-In and included on the Watchband's first album. The irony about this track is the fact that the song was co-written by Don Bennett, the studio vocalist whose voice was substituted for Aguilar's on a couple of other songs from the same album.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Rock And Roll Music
Source:    Mono CD: Beatles For Sale
Writer(s):    Chuck Berry
Label:    Parlophone
Year:    1964
    John Lennon once told Dick Cavett that if they couldn't call it rock and roll they'd have to call it Chuck Berry, a line that sums up the regard that Lennon held for the rock pioneer.  It should be no surprise, then, that in the Beatles' early years they performed, and sometimes recorded, a lot of Chuck Berry covers. Possibly the best of them was Rock And Roll Music, which the group recorded for their fourth LP, Beatles For Sale. Since there was no album released in the US called Beatles For Sale, this track did not appear on this side of the Atlantic until December of 1964, when it was included on an album called Beatles '65. As you might expect, John does the vocals on this one.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    May This Be Love
Source:    LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    The original UK version of Are You Experienced featured May This Be Love as the opening track of side two of the album. In the US, the UK single The Wind Cries Mary was substituted for it, with May This Be Love buried deep on side one. It's obvious that Hendrix thought more highly of the song than the people at Reprise who picked the track order for the US album.

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:    Doors
Title:    Light My Fire
Source:    LP: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    The first Doors album was the only one to be released in both mono and stereo versions. Due to an error in the mastering process the stereo version was slowed down by about 3.5%, or about half a step in musical terms. As the mono version was deleted from the Elektra catalog soon after the album's release, the error went unnoticed for many years until a college professor contacted engineer Bruce Botnick and told him of the discrepancy. This particular mono copy of the album is a bit worn, but still listenable. See if you can tell the difference.

Artist:     E-Types
Title:     Put The Clock Back On The Wall
Source:     Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Bonner/Gordon
Label:     Rhino
Year:     1967
     The E-Types were from Salinas, California, which at the time was known among travelers along US 101 mostly for it's sulfiric smell. As many people from Salinas apparently went to nearby San Jose as often as possible, the E-Types became regulars on the local scene there, eventually landing a contract with Tower Records and Ed Cobb, who also produced the Standells and the Chocolate Watchband. Since the Standells were already known as a garage-rock band (although they were really a bar band), Cobb tried positioning the Watchband as a psychedelic band (they were really more of a garage band) and the E-Types as a pop-rock band (although they were probably the most psychedelic of the three), hooking them up with the same Bonner/Gordon songwriting team that would soon be receiving fat royalty checks from songs like Happy Together and She's My Girl, both hits for the Turtles.  Put The Clock Back On The Wall was actually titled after a popular phase of the time. After a day or two of losing all awareness of time (and sometimes space), generally due to the influence of certain mind-altering chemicals, it was time to put the clock back on the wall, or get back to reality if you prefer. The song was originally released in early 1967, shortly before Happy Together hit the charts.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Flight 505
Source:    CD: Aftermath
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1966
    For years it was rumored that the Rolling Stones' Flight 505 was about the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly in 1959. In all likelihood, however, the song's title came from the fact that the band's first trip to the US in 1964 was on BOAC flight 505, a forgotten memory that probably was in the back of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' minds when they were coming up with material for the Aftermath album, which was released in early 1966. In fact, Aftermath was the Stones' first LP to be made up entirely of tunes composed by Jagger and Richards, who were writing songs at a record pace at the time. The song features the "sixth Stone" Ian Stewart, on piano. Stewart had originally been a performing member of the band, but became their road manager before they began their recording career.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Prodigal Son
Source:    LP: Beggar's Banquet
Writer(s):    Robert Wilkins
Label:    London
Year:    1968
    The Rolling Stones always had a fondness for American Roots music, but by 1967 had largely abandoned the genre in favor of more modern sounds such as pychedelia. The 1968 album Beggar's Banquet, however, marked a return to the band's own roots and included such tunes as Prodigal Son, which at first was credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. In reality the song was written by the Reverend Robert Wilkins, and has since been acknowledged as such.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Under My Thumb
Source:    CD: Aftermath
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1966
    With the exception of certain Beatle tracks, pretty much every well-known song from the beginning of recorded music through the year 1966 had been released as a single either on 45 or 78 RPM records (and for a while in the 1950s, on both). With Under My Thumb, from the Aftermath album, the Rolling Stones proved that someone besides the fab four could record a classic that was available only as a 33 1/3 RPM LP track. In a sense, then, Aftermath can be considered the very foundation of album rock, as more and groups put their most creative energy into making albums rather than singles in the ensuing years. Thanks, Stones.

Artist:    Doctor Hook And The Medicine Show
Title:    Hey, Lady Godiva
Source:    LP: Doctor Hook
Writer(s):    Shel Silversteen
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    One of the most unusual bands in rock history was a group originally known as Doctor Hook And The Medicine Show. With a sound that owed as much to the vaudeville tradition as it did to rock and roll, the group was seen as the perfect vehicle for songs written by Shel Silversteen for the film Who Is Harry Kellerman And Why Is He Saying All Those Terrible Things About Me. Following work on the film's soundtrack, the group signed with Columbia Records, where they continued to record Silversteen's tunes. Among those tunes was the band's first hit, Sylvia's Mother, as well as Hey, Lady Godiva, a humorous take on history's most famous equestrian nudist. Both songs appear on the band's first album, entitled Doctor Hook. As time went on, the group turned to more serious pop songs like When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman, shortening their name to Doctor Hook in the process.

Artist:    Syd Barrett
Title:    No Good Trying
Source:    British import CD: Insane Times (originally released on LP: The Madcap Laughs)
Writer(s):    Syd Barrett
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1970
    After parting company with Pink Floyd in 1968, Syd Barrett made an aborted attempt at recording a solo album. After spending several months in psychiatric care, Barrett resumed work on the project in April of 1969, recording the basic tracks for songs such as It's No Good Trying with producer Malcolm Jones. In May of 1969 Barrett brought in three members of the Soft Machine to record overdubs for several songs, including No Good Trying (the "It's" having mysteriously disappeared from the song title). Barrett then added some backwards guitar, and the final track appeared on his 1970 LP The Madcap Laughs.

Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    Brave New World
Source:    LP: Homer soundtrack (originally released on LP: Brave New World)
Writer(s):    Steve Miller
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1969
    It took the Steve Miller Band half a dozen albums (plus appearances on a couple of movie soundtracks) to achieve star status in the early 1970s. Along the way they developed a cult following that added new members with each successive album. The fourth Miller album was Brave New World, the title track of which was used in the film Homer, a 1970 film that is better remembered for its soundtrack than for the film itself.

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    The Pusher
Source:    CD: Easy Rider Soundtrack (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf)
Writer(s):    Hoyt Axton
Label:    MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1968
    While AM radio was all over Born To Be Wild in 1968 (taking the song all the way to the # 2 spot on the top 40 charts), the edgier FM stations were playing heavier tunes from the debut Steppenwolf album. The most controversial (and thus most popular) of these heavier tunes was Hoyt Axton's The Pusher, with it's repeated use of the line "God damn the Pusher." Axton himself did not record the song until 1971, at which point the song was already burned indelibly in the public consciousness as a Steppenwolf tune.

Artist:    Velvet Underground
Title:    All Tomorrow's Parties
Source:    CD: The Velvet Underground And Nico
Writer(s):    Lou Reed
Label:    Polydor (original label: Verve)
Year:    1967
    If nothing else characterized the lifestyle of Andy Warhol, it was the sheer number of people who always seemed to be hanging around. This was especially noticable at the numerous parties Warhol would throw. In late 1966 and early 1967 the Velvet Underground was part of this scene, and the band's main songwriter, Lou Reed, took advantage of the situation to come up All Tomorrow's Parties for the band's debut LP, The Velvet Underground And Nico. Although the song was somewhat satiric, it was reportedly Warhol's personal favorite Velvet Underground tune.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    The Flute Thing
Source:    LP: Projections
Writer(s):    Al Kooper
Label:    Verve Forecast
Year:    1966
    The Blues Project was one of the most influential bands in rock history, yet to this day remains one of the most obscure. Perhaps the first of the "underground" rock bands, the Project made their name by playing small colleges across the country (including Hobart College, where Stuck in the Psychedelic Era is produced). The Flute Thing, from the group's first studio LP, Projections, features bassist Andy Kuhlberg on flute, with rhythm guitarist Steve Katz taking over the bass playing, joining lead guitarist Danny Kalb and keyboardist Al Kooper for a tune that owes more to jazz artists like Roland Kirk than to anything top 40 rock had to offer at the time.

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