Sunday, November 2, 2014

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1444 (starts 10/29/14)

Artist:    Yardbirds
Title:    For Your Love
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Graham Gouldman
Label:    Epic
Year:    1965
    The last Yardbirds song to feature guitarist Eric Clapton, For Your Love was the group's fist US hit, peaking at the # 6 slot. The song did even better in the UK, peaking at # 3. Following its release, Clapton left the Yardbirds, citing the band's move toward a more commercial sound and this song in particular as reasons for his departure (ironic when you consider songs like his mid-90s hit Change the World or his slowed down lounge lizard version of Layla). For Your Love was written by Graham Gouldman, who would end up as a member of Wayne Fontana's Mindbenders and later 10cc with Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.

Artist:    Majority
Title:    One Third
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Barry Graham
Label:    Rhino (original label: Decca)
Year:    1966
    Originally known as Barry Graham and the Mustangs, the Majority moved south from Hull to London after signing with the British Decca label in 1965. A highly adaptable group, the Majority recorded a total of eight singles for Decca without achieving any chart success. Among the best of these tracks was One Third, a song from July of 1966 that was sadly relegated to being a B side. The group did manage to pick up a following on the European continent, and after their contract with Decca expired in 1968 the band packed their bags and moved overseas. After a moderately successful run in Europe using the name Majority One, the group disbanded in the mid-1970s.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Fakin' It
Source:    LP: Bookends
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia/Sundazed
Year:    1967
    Fakin' It, originally released as a single in 1967, was a bit of a departure for Simon And Garfunkel, sounding more like British psychedelic music than American folk-rock. The track starts with an intro that is similar to the false ending to the Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever; midway through the record the tempo changes drastically for a short spoken word section that makes a reference to a "Mr. Leitch" (the last name of the Scottish folksinger turned psychedelic pioneer Donovan). The stereo mix of Fakin' It was first released on the 1968 LP Bookends.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Sympathy For The Devil
Source:    CD: Beggars Banquet
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1968
    Beggar's Banquet was a turning point for the Rolling Stones. They had just ended their association with Andrew Loog Oldham, who had produced all of their mid-60s records, and instead were working with Jimmy Miller, who was known for his association with Steve Winwood, both in his current band Traffic and the earlier Spencer Davis Group. Right from the opening bongo beats of Sympathy For The Devil, it was evident that this was the beginning of a new era for bad boys of rock and roll. The song itself has gone on to be one of the defining tunes of album rock radio.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Ruby Tuesday
Source:    LP: Between The Buttons
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    One of the most durable songs in the Rolling Stones catalog, Ruby Tuesday was originally intended to be the B side of their 1967 single Let's Spend The Night Together. Many stations, however, balked at the subject matter of the A side and began playing Ruby Tuesday instead, which is somewhat ironic considering the subject matter of the song (a groupie of the band's acquaintance).

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Stray Cat Blues
Source:    CD: Beggar's Banquet
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    ABKCO (original label: London)
Year:    1968
    The Rolling Stones added to their reputation as rock's bad boys with their 1968 release Beggar's Banquet. In addition to Sympathy To The Devil and Street Fighting Man, the album included a track called Stray Cat Blues, a song about an underage runaway turned groupie. If this song had been released in the 1980s Tipper Gore would probably demanded a disclaimed be added to the album cover.

Artist:    Manfred Mann Chapter Three
Title:    Where Am I Going
Source:    LP: Manfred Mann Chapter Three
Writer(s):    Mike Hugg
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1969
    In 1999, after several years of making hit records as part of the British Invasion, South African organist Manfred Mann and pianist Mike Hugg decided to disband their popular group and form a new, more jazz-oriented combo. Taking their cue from Miles Davis and John Coltrane, the band took a "time, no changes" approach to the project, which included, in addition to Mann and Hugg, several distinguished jazz soloists as well as a five piece horn section. Whereas Mann's compositions for the band were somewhat spacey, Hugg's contributions, such as Where Am I Going, are shorter and more melodic, centered on Hugg's electric piano. The group disbanded after a second LP, and Mann went on to form his more successful Manfred Mann's Earth Band in the 1970s.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Wait Till The Summer Comes Along
Source:    Mono LP: Kinks Kinkdom
Writer(s):    Dave Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1965
    Kinks Kinkdom was an LP that was only released in the US. Most of the songs had been previously released in the UK, but not in the US. Among the songs on Kinks Kinkdom are four tracks that had appeared in the UK on an Extended Play 45 RPM record called Kwyet Kinks. The EP was a deliberate attempt on the part of the band to distance themselves from their early image as one of the hardest rocking bands of the British Invasion. The opening track of Kwyet Kinks was Wait Till The Summer Comes Along, a Dave Davies composition that has a decidedly country feel to it.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Tired Of Waiting For You
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Ray Davies
Label:    Priority (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1965
    After a series of hard-rocking hits such as You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night, the Kinks surprised everyone with the highly melodic Tired Of Waiting For You in 1965. As it turns out the song was just one of many steps in the continually maturing songwriting of Ray Davies.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    It's All Right
Source:    Mono LP: Kinkdom
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1964
    It's All Right, the original B side of the Kinks first hit, You Really Got Me, was not available on an LP until the 1965 album Kinkdom, which was a US-only album made up mostly of tracks that had previously been issued only in the UK. The song shows how strong an influence early US rock and roll had on Ray Davies's songwriting.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    As You Said
Source:    LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
     Cream started off as a British blues supergroup, but soon found themselves putting out some of the finest psychedelic tunes east of the Atlantic. Much of the credit for this goes to the songwriting team of bassist Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. Brown was originally brought in as a songwriting partner for Ginger Baker, but soon found a better synergy with Bruce. The two went on to write some of Cream's most memorable songs, including Tales of Brave Ulysses, Deserted Cities of the Heart and White Room. As You Said, from Cream's third LP, Wheel's Of Fire, is somewhat unusual in that it features acoustical instruments exclusively (including Ginger Baker setting aside his drumsticks in favor of brushes).

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Lather
Source:     CD: Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Crown Of Creation)
Writer:     Grace Slick
Label:     BMG/RCA
Year:     1968
     One of Grace Slick's most memorable tunes was Lather, with its eerie instrumental bridge played on a tissue-paper covered comb (at least that's what I think it was). The song was reportedly about drummer Spencer Dryden, the band's oldest member, who had just turned 30. A popular phrase of the time was "don't trust anyone over 30", making it a particularly bad time to have that particular birthday.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Summertime
Source:    LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Gershwin/Heyward
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    Janis Joplin, on the 1968 Big Brother And The Holding Company album Cheap Thrills, sounds like she was born to sing Gershwin's Summertime. Maybe she was.

Artist:    Jeff Thomas
Title:    Straight Arrow
Source:    Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released in US as 45PM single)
Writer(s):    Jeff Thomas
Label:    Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Warner Brothers
Year:    1968
    To look at a publicity photo of Jeff Thomas, you'd think you had been transported to the late 1950s. Musically, he was squarely (pun intended) in the middle of the road, with a crooning style that was somewhat out of synch with the times. Somehow, though, he managed to write a tasty piece of psychedelia called Straight Arrow, which was released as his second of three singles in late 1968.

Artist:    Aardvarks
Title:    Subconscious Train Of Thought
Source:    Mono CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Borman/Daley/Newman/Wee
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Arch)
Year:    1968
    Not much is known about the Aardvarks other than they were reportedly from Florissant, Missouri. Their only known single was a track called Subconscious Train Of Thought that was released in 1968 on the St. Louis based Arch Records. Interestingly, the record lists Memphis Group guitarist Steve Cropper as co-producer.

Artist:    Fireballs
Title:    Bottle Of Wine
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Tom Paxton
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs had previously had the number one song of the entire year 1963 with Sugar Shack, but had been completely derailed the following year by the British Invasion. After a nearly five-year drought they returned to the charts with Bottle of Wine in 1968. The Fireballs have the distinction of being one of the only bands from New Mexico ever to hit it big on the charts, recording all their hits at the same Norman Petty studios in Clovis, NM that Buddy Holly had recorded at. After the Fireballs stopped recording, Petty moved into larger, more modern facilities that were used for the first record by country singer LeAnn Rimes in the 1990s. The original Norman Petty studios are now the Buddy Holly Museum.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Dirty Water
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
    Dirty Water has long since been adopted by the city of Boston, yet the band that originally recorded this Ed Cobb tune was purely an L.A. band, having started off playing cover tunes in the early 60s. Lead vocalist/drummer Dickie Dodd, incidently, was a former Mouseketeer who had played on the surf-rock hit Mr. Moto as a member of the Bel-Airs.

Artist:     Canned Heat
Title:     Catfish Blues
Source:     LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Canned Heat)
Writer:     Robert Petway
Label:     United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Year     1967
     Like many other US cities in the 1960s, San Francisco had a small but enthusiastic community of collectors of blues records. A group of them got together in 1966 to form Canned Heat, and made quite an impression when they played the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. This led to a contract with Liberty Records and an album consisting entirely of cover versions of blues standards. One standout track from that album is Robert Petway's Catfish Blues, expanded to over six minutes by the Heat.

Artist:     Pink Floyd
Title:     Arnold Layne
Source:     CD: Relics (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Writer:     Syd Barrett
Label:     Capitol (original single released in UK on EMI)
Year:     1967
     The very first record released by Pink Floyd was Arnold Layne, a single written by Syd Barrett. The record got no promotion from the band's US label,  the Capitol-ownedTower Records,This could be because of the song's unusual subject matter (based on a true story) about a man who steals women's underwear off a clothesline. The song was not included on the band's first LP but has been featured on several collections since its initial release, including the early 70s anthology Relics.

Artist:    Circus Maximus
Title:    Wind
Source:    LP: Circus Maximus
Writer(s):    Bob Bruno
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Circus Maximus was formed out of the chance meeting of multi-instrumentalist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker in Greenwich Village in 1967. From the start the band was moving in different directions, with Bruno incorporating jazz elements into the band while Walker favored country-rock. Eventually the two would go their separate ways, but for the short time the band was together they made some of the best, if not best-known, psychedelic music on the East Coast. The band's most popular track was Wind, a Bruno tune from their debut album. The song got a considerable amount of airplay on the new "underground" radio stations that were popping up across the country at the time.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    The Crystal Ship
Source:    CD: The Doors
Writer:    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    Ever feel like you've discovered something really special that nobody else (among your circle of friends at any rate) knows about? At first you kind of want to keep it to yourself, but soon you find yourself compelled to share it with everyone you know. Such was the case when, in the early summer of 1967, I used my weekly allowance to buy copies of a couple of songs I had heard on the American Forces Network (AFN). As usual, it wasn't long before I was flipping the records over to hear what was on the B sides. I liked the first one well enough (a song by Buffalo Springfield called Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It, the B side of For What It's Worth), but it was the second one, the B side of the Doors' Light My Fire, that really got to me. To this day I consider The Crystal Ship to be one of the finest slow rock songs ever recorded.

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband
Title:    Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In) (originally released on LP: No Way Out and as 45 RPM single)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk
Writer:    McElroy/Bennett
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    It took me several years to sort out the convoluted truth behind the recorded works of San Jose, California's most popular local band, the Chocolate Watchband. While it's true that much of what was released under their name was in fact the work of studio musicians, there are a few tracks that are indeed the product of Dave Aguilar and company. Are You Gonna Be There, a song used in the cheapie teenspliotation flick the Love-In and included on the Watchband's first album, is one of those few. Even more ironic 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:    Fifty Foot Hose
Title:    Red The Sign Post
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Cauldron)
Writer(s):    Roswicky/Blossom
Label:    Rhino (original label: Limelight)
Year:    1968
    Although most of the more avant-garde bands of the psychedelic era were headquarted in New York, there were some exceptions, such as San Francisco's Fifty Foot Hose. The core members of the band were founder and bassist Louis "Cork" Marcheschi, guitarist David Blossom, and his wife, vocalist Nancy Blossom. The group used a lot of unusual instruments, such as theramin, Moog synthesizer and prepared guitar and piano. Probably their most commercial song was Red The Sign Post from the LP Cauldron. After that album the group called it quits, with most of the members joining the cast of Hair. In fact, Nancy Blossom played lead character Sheila in the San Francisco production of the musical.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Into The Sun
Source:    LP: On Time
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    One of my fondest memories of the year I graduated high school was moving to the tiny town of Mangum, Oklahoma for the summer. I was up there to take a shot at rock stardom with a band called Sunn, a group that I had been a founding member of in my junior year of high school. The band had its own road manager, a local guy named Gary Dowdy who was home from college for the summer and drove a red '54 Ford panel truck missing its front grille. In addition to being our main equipment van, "The Glump", as Dowdy called it, was our source of daily transportion around town. It's best feature was an 8-track tape system that Dowdy had installed himself. One of the tapes we listened to most often was Grand Funk Railroad's debut album, On Time. In fact, I don't really recall us listening to any other tapes but that one and the band's second album, Grand Funk. As a result, I pretty much know every song on the album by heart, even though I did not have my own copy of On Time until 2013, when I found a somewhat ratty old copy of the LP at a store that sells used records. Of course I have to play this scratchy record from time to time, and this time around its the opening track from side two of the album, Into The Sun. Enjoy!

Artist:    Love
Title:    Old Man
Source:    CD: Forever Changes
Writer(s):    MacLean/Breadcrust
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    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, appears later on the same side of the album.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Alone Again Or
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Bryan MacLean
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    The only song Love ever released as a single that was not written by Arthur Lee was Alone Again Or, issued in 1970. The song had originally appeared as the opening track from the Forever Changes album three years earlier. Bryan McLean would later say that he was not happy with the recording due to his own vocal being buried beneath that of Lee, since Lee's part was meant to be a harmony line to McLean's melody. McLean would later re-record the song for a solo album, but reportedly was not satisfied with that version either.

Artist:    Love
Title:    You Set The Scene (alternate mix)
Source:    CD: Forever Changes (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1967
    Love's third album, Forever Changes, was meant to be Arthur Lee's ultimate statement to the world. Lee had become convinced that he would not live past age 26 or 27, and much of Forever Changes, particularly the album's last track, You Set The Scene, reflects that viewpoint. Nonetheless, the lyrics of the song are not so much a message of doom and gloom as a statement of intention to make every remaining moment left mean something. Of course, as it turned out, Lee lived well beyond his expectations (although his friend Jimi Hendrix did die at age 27). This does not in any way diminish the impact of You Set The Scene, heard here in an alternate mix with extra vocals toward the end of the track that were left out of the official version.

Artist:    Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters
Title:    Swinging On A Star
Source:    LP: Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters
Writer(s):    Burke/Van Heusen
Label:    Verve Forecast
Year:    1967
    As a young child I remember hearing the original Bing Crosby of Swinging On A Star and wanting to hear it again and again. Unfortunately we didn't have a copy of the record, so I only heard it every once in a while on the radio or on TV. Many years later I ran across the 1967 Dave Van Ronk version of the tune from the album Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters. Van Ronk gives the song what he calls a "Buster Keatonish" reading that is even more fun to listen to than the Crosby original.

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