Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1501 (starts 12/31/14)

Artist:    Love
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    Mono LP: Love
Writer(s):    Billy Roberts
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1966
    There are contradictory stories of the origins of the song Hey Joe. Some say it's a traditional folk song, while others have attributed it to various songwriters, including Tim Rose and Dino Valenti (under his birth name Chet Powers). As near as I've been able to determine the song was actually written by an obscure California folk singer named Billy Roberts, who reportedly was performing the song as early as 1958. The song circulated among West Coast musicians over the years and eventually caught the attention of the Byrds' David Crosby. Crosby was unable to convince his bandmates to record the song, although they did include it in their live sets at Ciro's on L.A.'s Sunset Strip. One of the Byrds' roadies, Bryan Maclean, joined up with Arthur Lee's new band, Love, and brought Crosby's version of the song (which had slightly different lyrics than other, more popular versions) with him. In 1966 Love included Hey Joe on their debut album, with Maclean doing the vocals. Meanwhile another L.A. band, the Leaves, recorded their own version of Hey Joe (reportedly using misremembered lyrics acquired from Love's Johnny Echols) in 1965, but had little success with it. In 1966 they recorded a new version of the song, adding screaming fuzz-drenched lead guitar parts by Bobby Arlin, and Hey Joe finally became a national hit. With two other L.A. bands (and Chicago's Shadows Of Knight) having recorded a song that David Crosby had come to regard as his own, the Byrds finally committed their own version of Hey Joe to vinyl in late 1966 on the Fifth Dimension album, but even Crosby eventually admitted that recording the song was a mistake. Up to this point the song had always been recorded at a fast tempo, but two L.A. songwriters, Sean Bonniwell (of the Music Machine) and folk singer Tim Rose, came up with the idea of slowing the song down. Both the Music Machine and Tim Rose versions of the songs were released on albums in 1966. Jimi Hendrix heard the Rose recording and used it as the basis for his own embellished version of the song, which was released as a single in the UK in late 1966 (although it did not come out in the US until the release of the Are You Experienced album in 1967).

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    The People In Me
Source:    CD: Turn On The Music Machine
Writer:    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1966
    After Talk Talk soared into the upper reaches of the US charts the Music Machine's management made a tactical error. Instead of promoting the follow-up single, The People In Me, to the largest possible audience, the band's manager gave exclusive air rights to a new station at the far end of the Los Angeles AM radio dial. As local bands like the Music Machine depended on airplay in L.A. as a necessary step to getting national exposure, the move proved disastrous. Without any airplay on influential stations such as KFI, The People In Me was unable to get any higher than the # 66 spot on the national charts. Even worse for the band, the big stations remembered the slight when subsequent singles by the Music Machine were released, and by mid-1967 the original lineup had disbanded.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    It's No Use
Source:    LP: Mr. Tambourine Man
Writer(s):    Clark/McGuinn
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    Like most non-Beatle albums in 1965, the Byrds' Mr. Tambourine Man contained several cover songs, many of which were written by Bob Dylan. At that time, the band's most fully developed songwriter was Gene Clark, who penned the majority of the original tunes on the LP. Among those originals was It's No Use, an upbeat collaboration with guitarist/vocalist Jim (now Roger) McGuinn.

Artist:    Shy Limbs
Title:    Love
Source:    Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    John Dickenson
Label:    Grapefruit (original label: CBS)
Year:    1969
    The volatile nature of the late 60s British rock scene is clearly illustrated by a band called Shy Limbs. Formed by songwriter John Dickenson and vocalist Greg Lake, both former members of a band called Shame, the band also included guitarist/bassist Alan Bowery (from a band called the Actress) and drummer Andy McCulloch. The B side of the band's first single, a song called Love, featured guest guitarist Robert Fripp, who was in the process of forming his own band, King Crimson, at the time. Before the single was even released, Lake had left to join Fripp's band, and Shy Limbs released a second single without him before disbanding, at which time McCulloch replaced Michael Giles in King Crimson. By then, however, Lake had left King Crimson to co-found Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Artist:    World Column
Title:    Lantern Gospel
Source:    Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Kaplan/Meyer
Label:    Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    World Column was actually an R&B band from the midwest that, for some unknown reason, decided to change styles and record a song which has since become a psychedelic classic. Lantern Gospel, released in the summer of 1968, appeared on a dozen bootleg compilation albums before finally being officially released on the Rhino Handmade CD My Mind Goes High, which is now available in the UK through Warner Strategic Marketing.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    For What It's Worth
Source:    CD: Buffalo Springfield
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    Most people associate the name Buffalo Springfield with the song For What It's Worth. And for good reason. The song is one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded, and to this day is in regular rotation on both oldies and classic rock radio stations. The song was written and recorded in November of 1966 and released in January of 1967. By then the first Buffalo Springfield LP was already on the racks, but until that point had not sold particularly well. When it became clear that For What It's Worth was becoming a breakout hit, Atco Records quickly recalled the album and added the song to it (as the opening track). All subsequent pressings of the LP (and later the CD) contain For What It's Worth, making earlier copies of the album somewhat of a rarity and quite collectable.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Bert's Blues
Source:    Mono CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Sony (original label: Epic)
Year:    1966
    In 1966 Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan Leitch got into a contractual dispute with his record label, Pye Records UK. Up to that point his records had appeared in the US on the independent Hickory label. Now, however, he was about to make his US major label debut (on Epic), and the dispute with Pye led to his newest album, Sunshine Superman, being released only in North America. Like Bob Dylan, Donovan was beginning to expand beyond his folk roots, but in addition to the usual rock instruments (guitar, bass, drums, organ) Donovan used older acoustic instruments such as strings and harpsichord as well as experimenting with modern jazz arrangements and instrumentation. Somehow he managed to combine all of these elements in one track, Bert's Blues. Surprisingly, it worked.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    3rd Stone From The Sun
Source:    LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    Jimi Hendrix once stated that he was far more comfortable as a guitarist than as a vocalist, at least in the early days of the Experience. In that case, he was certainly in his element for this classic instrumental from the Are You Experienced album. Many of the sounds heard on 3rd Stone From The Sun were made by superimposing a slowed down recording of the following conversation between Hendrix and producer Chas Chandler over the music:
    Hendrix :   Star fleet to scout ship, please give your position. Over.
    Chandler : I am in orbit around the third planet of star known as sun. Over.
    Hendrix :   May this be Earth? Over.
    Chandler : Positive. It is known to have some form of intelligent species. Over.
    Hendrix :   I think we should take a look (Jimi then makes vocal spaceship noises).
    One of the more notable spoken lines that plays at normal speed on the recording, "To you I shall put an end, then you'll never hear surf music again", was Hendrix's reaction to the news that famed surf guitarist Dick Dale had been diagnosed with a possible terminal case of colon cancer and was meant to encourage his friend's recovery. As heard on the 2007 album The Jimi Hendrix Experience: 1966–1967, Hendrix's original overdub included two more sentences "That sounds like a lie to me. Come on, man; let's go home." that were not used on the final recording. The train sequence at the end of the track, incidentally, was done entirely on guitar.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away)
Source:    LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer:    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away) from the Electric Ladyland album is the longest work created purely in the studio by Jimi Hendrix, with a running time of over 16 minutes. The piece starts with tape effects that lead into the song's main guitar rift. The vocals and drums join in to tell a science fiction story set in a future world where the human race has had to move underwater in order to survive some unspecified catastrophe. After a couple verses, the piece goes into a long unstructured section made up mostly of guitar effects before returning to the main theme and closing out with more effects that combine volume control and stereo panning to create a circular effect. As is the case with several tracks on Electric Ladyland, 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away) features Hendrix on both guitar and bass, with Mitch Mitchell on drums and special guest Chris Wood (from Traffic) on flute.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Purple Haze
Source:    LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    Purple Haze has one of the most convoluted release histories of any song ever recorded. Originally issued in the UK as a single, it scored high on the British charts. When Reprise, a division of what is now WEA, got the rights to release the first Hendrix album, Are You Experienced?, they chose to replace the first track on the album with Purple Haze, moving the original opening track, Foxy Lady, to side two of the LP. The song next appeared on the Smash Hits album, which in Europe was on the Polydor label. This was the way things stayed until the early 1990s, when MCA (now Universal) acquired the rights to the Hendrix catalog and re-issued Are You Experienced? with the tracks restored to the UK ordering, but preceded by the six non-album sides (including Purple Haze) that had originally been released prior to the album. Most recently, the Hendrix Family Trust has again changed labels and the US version of Are You Experienced? is once again in print, this time on Sony's Legacy label. This means that Purple Haze, as well as the rest of the Jimi Hendrix Experience catalog, has the distinction of having been released by every major record company in the world (yes, there are only three now).

Artist:    Gonn
Title:    Blackout Of Gretely
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Garrett/Moore
Label:    Rhino (original label: Emir)
Year:    1966
    Keokuk, Iowa was home to the band called Gonn, who released only two singles in their short recording career. The first of these was Blackout Of Gretely, a song recorded in the back room of a local electronics store using a total of two microphones, both of which were pointed at the band and their amplifiers. The track opens with the immortal words: "The universe is permeated with the smell of kerosene" followed by a scream and a repeating guitar riff that is as primitive as any ever recorded. Such was the legendary status of Blackout Of Gretely that Gonn actually reformed thirty years after the record was released for a tour of Europe.

Artist:    Count Five
Title:    Psychotic Reaction
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ellner/Chaney/Atkinson/Byrne/Michalski
Label:    Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
Year:    1966
    San Jose, California, had a vibrant teen music scene in the late 60s, despite the fact that the relatively small city was overshadowed by San Francisco at the other end of the bay (both cities are considered part of the same metropolitan market). One of the more popular bands in town was this 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:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds
Source:    CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Marty Balin
Label:    RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:    1967
    Marty Balin says he came up with the title of the opening track of side two of Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow album by combining a couple of random phrases from the sports section of a newspaper. 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds works out to 216 MPH, by the way.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Combination Of The Two
Source:    CD: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Sam Andrew
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
     Everything about Big Brother And The Holding Company can be summed up by the title of the opening track for their Cheap Thrills album (and their usual show opener as well): Combination Of The Two. A classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, Big Brother, with Janis Joplin on lead vocals, had an energy that neither Joplin or the band itself was able to duplicate once they parted company. On the song itself, the actual lead vocals for the verses are the work of Combination Of The Two's writer, bassist Sam Houston Andrew III, but those vocals are eclipsed by the layered non-verbal chorus that starts with Joplin then repeats itself with Andrew providing a harmony line which leads to Joplin's promise to "rock you, sock you, gonna give it to you now". It was a promise that the group seldom failed to deliver on.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Turtle Blues
Source:    LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Janis Joplin
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    Sometimes I do play favorites. Turtle Blues, from the Big Brother And The Holding Company album Cheap Thrills, is certainly one of them. Besides vocalist Janis Joplin, who wrote the tune, the only other band member heard on the track is guitarist Peter Albin. Legendary producer John Simon provides the piano playing.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Summertime
Source:    CD: 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:    Rolling Stones
Title:    We Love You
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer:    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    After the less than stellar chart performance of the LP Their Satanic Majesties Request, the Stones decided to pull out all the stops with a double 'A' sided single. We Love You was their most expensive production ever (as well as the last Rolling Stones record produced by Andrew Loog Oldham), and included a promotional film that is considered a forerunner of the modern music video. We Love You did well in the UK, reaching the # 8 spot on the charts, but it was the other side of the record, Dandelion, that ended up being a hit in the US.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    I'm So Tired
Source:    CD: The Beatles
Writer:    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Apple)
Year:    1968
    Somehow I can't help but thinking of the Firesign Theatre's Further Adventures of Nick Danger every time I hear this song. I guess that's better than thinking of Charles Manson's group, which some of the other songs on the "white album" make me do.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Sleepy Time Time
Source:    CD: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Bruce/Godfrey
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1966
    When Cream was first formed, both Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker worked with co-writers on original material for the band. Baker's partner was Pete Brown, while Bruce worked with his wife, Janet Godfrey. Eventually Bruce and Brown began collaborating, creating some of Cream's most memorable songs, but not before Bruce and Godfrey wrote Sleepy Time Time, one of the high points of the Fresh Cream album.

Artist:    Things To Come
Title:    Come Alive
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Russ Ward
Label:    Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1968
    Long Beach, California was home to a band known as Things To Come, which featured drummer Russ Ward, who, as Russ Kunkel, would go on to become one of L.A.'s hottest studio drummers. Come Alive is a solid piece of garage rock written by Ward/Kunkel.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    Shifting Sands
Source:    CD: Part One
Writer(s):    Baker Knight
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Despite releasing six albums over a five-year period, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band never had a hit record. One attempt was Shifting Sands, one of two Baker Knight compositions the band recorded for their first LP for Reprise.

Artist:    Shadows Of Knight
Title:    The Behemoth
Source:    LP: Back Door Men
Writer(s):    H. Pye
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    When it comes to garage punk bands of the sixties there are two that are generally considered to be at the top of the heap. Unlike the Standells, who started off as a bar band and only embraced the punk ethic when they hooked up with writer/producer Ed Cobb, the Shadows of Knight were the real deal. Coming from the Chicago suburbs, they literally got their start practicing in the garage, slowly graduating to parties and high school dances, getting banned from at least one high school campus in the process (something having to do with a female student getting knocked up, rumor has it). The Shadows (as they were originally known) cited the British blues bands as their main influence, with a dose of Chicago blues thrown in for good measure. The Behemoth, an instrumental track from their second album, Back Door Men, was chosen for a 1967 B side as well.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Heaven Is In Your Mind
Source:    CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi/Wood
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
    For a time in the mid-1960s recording artists would actually make two mixes of each song on their albums, one in monoraul and one in stereo. Often the monoraul mix would have a brighter sound, as those mixes were usually made with AM radio's technical limitations in mind. In rare cases, the differences would be even more pronounced. Such is the case with Traffic's first LP, Mr. Fantasy. The two versions of the first track on the album, Heaven Is In Your Mind, differ not only in their mix but in the actual recording, as the mono mix features an entirely different guitar solo than the stereo one.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    Wish Me Well
Source:    CD: Shine On Brightly
Writer(s):    Brooker/Reid
Label:    A&M
Year:    1968
    The second Procol Harum album, Shine On Brightly, saw the group moving in an increasingly progressive direction, incorporating elements of a variety of styles, including Indian, classical and even gospel music. An example of the latter is Wish Me Well, which finishes out side one of the LP. Gary Brooker's bluesy piano work is enhanced by some tasty fills from guitarist Robin Trower.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    How Many More Times
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Led Zeppelin)
Writer(s):    Page/Jones/Bonham
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1969
    Like many early Led Zeppelin songs, How Many More Times was originally credited to the band members (except, for contractual reasons, singer Robert Plant). More recent releases of the song, however, list Chester Burnett (Howlin' Wolf) as a co-writer, despite the fact that he and the members of Led Zeppelin had never met. This is because of the similarity, especially in the lyrics, to a 1951 Howlin' Wolf record called How Many More Years. The band reportedly tried to trick radio programmers into playing the eight and a half minute song by listing it on the album cover as being three minutes and thirty seconds long. I doubt anyone was fooled.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It was 50 years ago today: Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1452 (starts 12/24/14)

    It was 50 years ago today that 1964 was coming to an end. Although the psychedelic era was not yet under way, the foundations were all there, including folk, surf, blue-eyed soul and, most importantly, the British Invasion. This week we take a sampling of all these genres, starting with a short overview and a quick look at what a couple of veteran rockers were up to before visiting the folk scene for a set. Our second segment is all about the British, while the third takes us back to the USA. The final half hour is just good music from a remarkable year: 1964.

Artist:     Kingsmen
Title:     Louie Louie
Source:     Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as a 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Richard Berry
Label:     Rhino (original label: Wand)
Year:     1963
     Although Paul Revere and the Raiders had recorded the song first, it's the Portland-based Kingsmen's version of Louie Louie that is remembered as the greatest party song of all time. With its basic three-chord structure and incomprehensible lyrics, the most popular song to ever come out of the Pacific Northwest was considered a must-learn song for garage bands nationwide. A huge hit in 1963, the song was still popular enough to make 1964's top 100 list as well.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    The Times They Are A-Changin'
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: The Times They Are A-Changin')
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1964
    Bob Dylan's first release of 1964 could not have been more appropriate for a year in which popular music would be changed forever. The Times They Are A-Changin' hit the record racks in January of 1964. By the end of the year even Dylan himself would be starting to shift away from pure folk music toward what would come to be called folk-rock.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    I Want To Hold Your Hand
Source:    CD: 1 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Capitol
Year:    1963
    Originally released in the UK in November of 1963, the Beatles' I Want To Hold Your Hand was originally slated for a January 1964 release, but when a Washington DC disc jockey started playing an imported copy of the British single in early December Capitol Records decided to move up the release of the song to December 26th. By the middle of January the song was in the US top 50 and on February 1st it took over the #1 spot, staying there for seven weeks and touching off what would come to be known as the British Invasion. Unlike many later Beatles songs that, despite being credited to the songwriting team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney were actually written by one or the other of the pair, I Want To Hold Your Hand was a true collaboration worked out in the basement of the house McCartney was living in. The group performed the song on the Ed Sullivan TV show in mid-January, setting all-time records for viewership. The tune was included on the band's first album for Capitol, Meet The Beatles, which actually ended up outselling the single, the first time in US history that had happened. It was not long before other British bands started hitting the US charts and American kids began growing their hair out in imitation of the Beatles, many of them even going so far as to form their own British-influenced garage bands.

Artist:    Chuck Berry
Title:    You Never Can Tell
Source:    CD: Chess Box (originally released on LP: St. Louis To Liverpool and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Chuck Berry
Label:    MCA (original label: Chess)
Year:    1964
    The Beatles made no secret of their admiration for the music of rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry, whose popularity in the US had faded while serving time for allegedly violating the Mann act by transporting a teenaged girl across state lines. Boosted by this endorsement, Berry made a bit of a comeback in 1964 with a series of top 20 singles, the last of which was You Never Can Tell, a song about the perseverance of young love. The song enjoyed a resurgence of popularity thirty years later when it was used by director Quentin Tarantino in the film Pulp Fiction.

Artist:    Roy Orbison
Title:    Oh, Pretty Woman
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Orbison/Dees
Label:    Monument
Year:    1964
    Although the vast majority of Roy Orbison's hits were love ballads such as It's Over and Blue Bayou, his best-known song is the classic rocker Oh, Pretty Woman. The song managed to work its way to the top of both US and British charts during the height of the British Invasion. Orbison, in fact, was even more successful in the UK than in his native US, scoring two number hits on the British charts in 1964, the only American artist to do so.

Artist:    Henry Mancini
Title:    The Pink Panther Theme
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Henry Mancini
Label:    RCA
Year:    1964 (LP version released 1963)
    In one sense, Henry Mancini was a bit of an anachronism, as a writer of heavily orchestrated, melodic pop songs in the Cole Porter tradition at a time when rock and roll was king. Despite this, Mancini was responsible for creating some of the best-known music of the time, including the oft-covered theme from the TV show Peter Gunn. His most enduring piece, however, has to be the Pink Panther Theme, from the movie (and later a series of theatrical cartoons) of the same name. Although the full stereo version of the song featured on the original 1963 soundtrack album is close to four minutes long, it was this 2 1/2 minute mono version that was heard on nearly every radio station in the world in 1964.

Artist:    Peter, Paul And Mary
Title:    Blowin' In The Wind
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1963
    Just as knowing the chords for Van Morrison's Gloria was pretty much a prerequisite for being in a garage band, being able to play Bob Dylan's Blowing In The Wind was a must for anyone attempting to play folk music at a party in the mid-1960s. If there was more than one of you singing, you most likely used the Peter, Paul and Mary arrangement of the tune, with its three-part harmony. Their version was by far the most popular recording of the song, going all the way to the # 2 spot on the top 40 charts in the summer of '63. The recording remained popular well into the latter part of the decade.

Artist:    Joan Baez
Title:    There But For Fortune
Source:    45 RPM single (promo copy)
Writer(s):    Phil Ochs
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1964
    When I was a kid I used to occasionally pick up something called a grab bag. It was literally a sealed brown paper bag that sold for about 50 cents with anywhere from four to six 45 rpm records in it. Usually these were "cut-outs", unsold copies of records that hadn't sold as well as expected. Often they were five or six years old (albeit unplayed). Once in a while, though, there would be a real gem among them. My original copy of the Joan Baez recording of Phil Ochs's There But For Fortune was one such gem. I later found a promo copy while working at KUNM in Albuquerque, which is the one I use now, since my original is long since worn out. Not only was this record my first introduction to Joan Baez, it was also the first record I had ever seen on the Vanguard label and the first song written by Phil Ochs I had ever heard. Not bad for twelve and a half cents.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Bleeker Street
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Wednesday Morning, 3AM)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1964
    One of the first of many "slice of life" songs from songwriter Paul Simon, Bleeker Street (a real street in New York's Greenwich Village) appeared on the first Simon And Garfunkel LP, Wednesday Morning, 3AM, in late 1964. The album did not initially sell well, and the duo actually split up shortly after it was deleted from the Columbia catalog. Following the success of an electrified remix of another song from the album, The Sound Of Silence, the pair reunited and Columbia reissued Wednesday Morning, 3AM in 1966.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    A Hard Day's Night
Source:    Mono CD: A Hard Day's Night (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone (original label: United Artists) (original single label: Capitol)
Year:    1964
    The Beatles continued to set new records throughout 1964. One of the most remarkable was simultaneously occupying the top spots on both the US and UK album charts with an LP featuring the song that was currently occupying the top spots on the singles charts in both countries. The song (and album) that accomplished this feat was the title track of the Fab Four's first feature film, A Hard Day's Night, in July of 1964. Although United Artists had the rights to the soundtrack album, Capitol Records had the release rights to the individual songs, resulting on the same song being at the top of four charts on three different labels at the same time (both LP and single being on the Parlophone label in the UK).

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    She Loves You
Source:    Mono CD: 1 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Capitol (original US label: Swan)
Year:    1963
    Beatlemania hit its British peak in the fall of 1963, when She Loves You spent 18 weeks in the UK top 5, six of them in the # 1 spot. Such was the popularity of the band at that time that thousands of copies of the single had been pre-ordered before the song was even written, a number that grew to half a million by the time the record was released. She Loves You is the all-time best-selling Beatles single in the UK, and was the group's second consecutive # 1 hit in the US as well (knocking I Want To Hold Your Hand out of the top spot on March 21, 1964. The song, which was initially released in the US on the Swan label, was at first considered a flop, selling only about 1,000 copies when it first hit the American record racks in September of 1963. Eventually, though, the song became one of the five Beatles songs to occupy the top 5 spots on the US charts simultaneously in April of 1964 and ended up being the second-highest ranked song of the year, behind I Want To Hold Your Hand.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Can't Buy Me Love
Source:    Mono CD: A Hard Day's Night (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone (original label: United Artists) (original single label: Capitol)
Year:    1964
    In April of 1964 the Beatles set a record that has yet to be equaled: they owned the top five spots on the US charts. The song at the top of that heap of tunes was Can't Buy Me Love, which had been recorded just as Beatlemania was beginning to take hold in the US. Can't Buy Me Love was the third consecutive # 1 hit for the Beatles, an accomplishment that has never been repeated.

Artist:    Manfred Mann
Title:    Do Wah Diddy Diddy
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Barry/Greenwich
Label:    Silver Spotlight
Year:    1964
    Manfred Mann started off as the Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers and were part of the same London British blues scene as the Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones. In 1964 they took a decidedly commercial turn with one of the silliest, yet memorable hits of the British invasion, Do Wah Diddy Diddy. The song was written by the husband and wife team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, who operated out of New York's Brill building under the supervision of Don Kirschner. Do Wah Diddy Diddy, with lead vocals by Paul Jones, topped the charts for several weeks and ended up among the top 10 songs of the year.

Artist:    Dave Clark Five
Title:    Glad All Over
Source:    Mono CD: 5 By Five (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Clark/Smith
Label:    Hollywood (original label: Epic)
Year:    1964
    The Dave Clark Five were originally formed as a way of raising money for Clark's football (soccer) team. Toward the end of 1963 they recorded their first big hit, Glad All Over, which went to the top of the British charts in January of 1964. Within a few months the song found its way onto the US charts as well, peaking at # 6 in April of 1964. What had started off as a one-band show was becoming a full-scale British Invasion of the US music industry.

Artist:    Zombies
Title:    She's Not There
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Rod Argent
Label:    Priority (original label: Parrot)
Year:    1964
    Most of the original British invasion bands were guitar-oriented, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. One notable exception was the Zombies, whose leader, Rod Argent, built the group around his electric piano. Their first single, She's Not There, was a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic and is ranked among the top British rock songs of all time.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Not Fade Away
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Hardin/Petty
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1964
    The Rolling Stones first top 5 hit in the UK was an updated version of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away. The Stones put a greater emphasis on the Bo Diddley beat than Holly did and ended up with their first charted single in the US as well, establishing the Rolling Stones as the Yang of the British Invasion to the Beatles' Ying. It was a role that fit the top band from the city they call "The Smoke" well.

Artist:     Rolling Stones
Title:     Time Is On My Side
Source:     45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer:     Jerry Ragovoy
Label:     London
Year:     1964
     A while back I got word of the passing of songwriter Jerry Ragovoy, who died on July 13th 2013 at the age of 83. Ragovoy's writing career extended back to the 1940s and included classics by artists such as Kai Winding. In later years he wrote several tunes that were recorded by Janis Joplin, including Try (Just A Little Bit Harder), My Baby, Cry Baby and the classic Piece Of My Heart. He occassionally used a pseudonym as well, and it was as Norman Meade he published his best-known song: Time Is On My Side, an R&B hit for Irma Thomas that became one of the first US hits for the Rolling Stones.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Tell Me
Source:    Singles Collection-The London Years
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco
Year:    1964
    The first song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to be recorded by the Rolling Stones, Tell Me was only available as an LP cut in the UK. In the US it became a hit single, establishing the Stones as serious competition to the Beatles themselves. Jagger and Richards would continue to write songs together, eventually outlasting the John Lennon/Paul McCartney team by several decades (and still counting).

Artist:    Hollies
Title:    Here I Go Again
Source:    LP: The Very Best Of The Hollies
Writer(s):    Shuman/Westlake
Label:    United Artists (original label: Imperial)
Year:    1964
    Most US listeners first heard about the Hollies in 1966, when they took Bus Stop and Stop Stop Stop into the top 10. The group had actually been making hit records since 1963 in their native UK, where they were one of the most visible bands on TV dance programs. One of their earliest hits was 1964's Here I Go Again, a song that was co-written by Mort Shuman and Clive Westlake.

Artist:    Trashmen
Title:    Surfin' Bird
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Frazier/White/Harris/Wilson
Label:    Eric (original label: Garrett)
Year:    1963
    The Trashmen were a group from Minneapolis that came up with the idea of taking two Rivingtons hits from the 1950s, Papa Oom Mow Mow and Bird Is The Word, and combining them, speeding up the tempo to insane levels in the process. The result was a huge hit in 1963. I only have one question: why did I play this?

Artist:    Dick Dale And His Del-Tones
Title:    Banzai Washout
Source:    CD: The Best Of Dick Dale And His Del-Tones (originally released on LP: Summer Surf)
Writer(s):    Douglas
Label:    Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1964
    Instrumental surf music had already gone underground by 1964, eclipsed in popularity first by vocal surf groups like the Beach Boys and then by the British Invasion. Still, the talented Dick Dale, who had created the genre with his song Let's Go Trippin', was still warming up the beaches on the US west coast with tracks like Banzai Washout from his Summer Surf LP. Dale finally left the music business when he was diagnosed with cancer in 1966, but resurfaced in the 1980s in the film Back To The Beach and, thanks in part to filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, has finally gotten the recognition he deserves for his role as "King of the surf guitar" in recent years.

Artist:    Ventures
Title:    Walk-Don't Run, 1964
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Johnny Smith
Label:    Silver Spotlight
Year:    1964
    The first two Ventures songs to hit the top 10 were actually two different versions of the same song. The original 1960 version of Walk-Don't Run was the band's first charted hit, which was followed by a succession of moderately successful surf instrumentals. It wasn't until late 1964, however, that the band returned to the top 10 with this updated version of the same song made for the soundtrack of the Walk-Don't Run movie. The Ventures would return to the top 10 five years later with the Hawaii Five-Oh theme. Despite only having three top 10 singles, the Ventures are universally acknowledged to be the most prolific instrumental rock band in history, with over 200 albums to their credit.

Artist:    Pyramids
Title:    Penetration
Source:    Mono CD: Surfin' Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    S. Leonard
Label:    Rhino (original label: Best)
Year:    1964
    The last instrumental surf record to hit the top 20 charts was a tune called Penetration from a Long Beach, California band called the Pyramids. Other than that, the group is notable for appearing in the 1964 film Bikini Beach wearing Beatle wigs, removing them during their performance to reveal shaved heads underneath. Well, I guess there are worse things to be remembered for.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    I Get Around
Source:    Mono LP: Endless Summer (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Brian Wilson
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1964
    Although in its purest form surf music was instrumental in nature, there were several vocal groups that found success in the genre. First among these was the Beach Boys, who had begun their recording career in 1962 with the song Surfin'. Only one of the band members, however, (drummer Dennis Wilson) actually did any surfing, and it wasn't long before the Beach Boys came to embody the entire lifestyle of southern California youth. This lifestyle included cruising the streets in various cars, the coolest of which were the "hot rods", generally older models that had been heavily customized, both on the outside, with lots of chrome and fiery decals, and under the hood, with souped up engines with plenty of excess horsepower. It was this aspect of the SoCal experience that inspired the band's first # 1, I Get Around, which was on the radio from coast to coast in the summer of 1964, competing head-on with the British Invasion and coming up a winner.

Artist:    Jan And Dean
Title:    Dead Man's Curve
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Berry/Christian/Kornfeld/Wilson
Label:    Silver Spotlight (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1964
    As I talk about in a really long scholarly article elsewhere on the web site, one of the many contributing factors to the temporary democratization of the US popular music industry was the surf music craze of 1962 and '63, which morphed into the hot rod music craze of 1964 and '65. Although the style was created by instrumentalists such as Dick Dale and the Ventures, it was the vocal groups such as the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean that found the greatest commercial success with it. One of the biggest hits was the eerily predictive Dead Man's Curve, about a car wreck along a particularly nasty stretch of Sunset Blvd. in the vicinity of Beverly Hills. About two years after this song topped the charts, Jan Berry was involved in a near-fatal collision just a few blocks from the infamous curve; an accident he never fully recovered from.

Artist:    Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title:    Louie Go Home
Source:    Mono CD: The Legend Of Paul Revere (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Revere/Lindsay
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1964
    Paul Revere was an enterprising young man who had left high school to go to barber college, opening his own barber shop as well as a drive-in burger joint by the time he was old enough to vote. A talented pianist who idolized Jerry Lee Lewis, Revere joined a local rock 'n' roll band in the late 1950s. By 1960 the band had added vocalist/saxophonist Mark Lindsay and had changed its name to Paul Revere And The Raiders., releasing their first single, a boogie-woogie version of Chopsticks called Beatnik Sticks, on both the Apex and Gardenia labels. The song hit the top 40 charts and led to an appearance on American Bandstand, but before the group could build on its success, Revere received his draft notice and went into the US Army. In 1962 Revere and Lindsay reformed the Raiders in Portland, Oregon, going through a succession of guitarists, bassists and drummers before settling on a more or less permanent lineup by early 1963. In April they recorded a rock version of Louie Louie, which was released on the local Sande label before being picked up by Columbia for national distribution. At that time Columbia was the second largest record company in the world, but had never released a rock record and had no idea how to promote the single. Meanwhile the Kingsmen's version had become a major hit, and the Raiders version of Louie Louie, which had been released first, was largely forgotten by the record buying public. The band, however, remembered that their version of the song had been a huge regional hit and decided to record a follow-up single called Louie Go Home, to cash in on it in 1964. Around this same time Revere and Lindsay came up with the idea of the band wearing Revolutionary war costumes, which added a new dimension to the group's image and got the attention of Dick Clark, who helped them achieve success on a national level.

Artist:    Sonics
Title:    The Witch
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Gerald Roslie
Label:    Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
Year:    1964
    The #1 selling single in the history of the Pacific Northwest was this tune by one of the founding bands of the Seattle music scene. The Sonics were as raw as any punk rock band of the seventies, as The Witch proves beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Artist:    Dino Valenti
Title:    Let's Get Together
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70
Writer(s):    Chet Powers (Dino Valenti)
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1964
    At first glance this version of Let's Get Together could be mistaken for a cover tune. In reality, though, Dino Valenti was one of several aliases used by the guy who was born Chester Powers. Perhaps this was brought on by his several encounters with the law, most of which led to jail time. By all accounts, Valenti was one of the more bombastic characters on the San Francisco scene. The song was first commercially recorded by Jefferson Airplane in 1966, but it wasn't until 1969, when the 1967 Youngbloods version was re-released with the title shortened to Get Together, that the song became a major hit.

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)
Year:    1964
    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.

Artist:    Them
Title:    Baby, Please Don't Go
Source:    Mono 12" single (reissue)
Writer:    Joe Williams
Label:    A&M
Year:    1964
    Belfast, Northern Ireland was home to one of the first bands that could be legitimately described as punk rock. Led by Van Morrison, the band quickly got a reputation for being rude and obnoxious, particularly to members of the English press (although it was actually a fellow Irishman who labeled them as "boorish"). Their first single was what has come to be considered the definitive rock and roll version of the 1923 Joe Williams tune Baby, Please Don't Go. Despite its UK success, the single was never issued in the US. Oddly enough, the song's B side ended up being the song most people associate with Them: the classic Gloria, which was released as Them's US debut single in 1965 but promptly found itself banned on most US radio stations due to suggestive lyrics. Them's recording of Baby, Please Don't Go gained renewed popularity in the 1980s when it was used in the film Good Morning Vietnam.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    House Of The Rising Sun
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    trad., arr. Price
Label:    Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1964
    Sometimes, to use a baseball analogy, you hit a home run in your first time out fo the box. Such was the case with the Animals recording of the traditional folk song House Of The Rising Sun. The record, released in 1964, went to the top of the charts virtually all over the planet and the song itself has long since come to be identified specifically with the Animals, despite its 19th century (some say even earlier) origins. In fact, Bob Dylan, who recorded the song years before the Animals, removed the song from his own repertoire when he was accused of stealing it from the latter band. Dave Van Ronk, who taught the song to Dylan in the first place, has claimed that the Animals were actually using his arrangement of the song. Regardless, the fact remains that if you were going to play guitar in a rock and roll band in the mid-60s you had to know how to play the Animals version of House Of The Rising Sun. It helped if you had the stamina in your chord hand to still be playing it six verses later.

Artist:    Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs
Title:    Wooly Bully
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Domingo Samudio
Label:    Rhino (original label: XL)
Year:    1964
    Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs were pioneers of what has come to be called Tex-Mex, a style that can best described as straight ahead rock and roll seasoned with traditional Mexican forms such as salsa and ranchero. The Pharaohs were already a popular band in their native Texas when they recorded Wooly Bully for the regional XL label in 1964. The song proved so popular that it (and the band's contract) was bought outright by M-G-M Records, at the time one of the largest labels in the country. Wooly Bully was re-released nationally on M-G-M in 1965 and ended up among the top 10 records of the year.

Artist:      Beau Brummels
Title:     Laugh Laugh
Source:      CD: Nuggets-Classics From the Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ron Elliott
Label:    Rhino (original label: Autumn)
Year:     1964
     It was difficult for an American band to get a hit record in 1964. Some, such as San Francisco's Beau Brummels, decided the best way was to beat the Brits at their own game. Laugh Laugh, their debut single, was released in December of that year. Ultimately, the decision to emulate British rock worked against the Brummels, as they were never considered part of the blossoming San Francisco music scene.

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

Artist:    Yardbirds
Title:    Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Source:    Australian import CD: Over, Under, Sideways, Down (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: For Your Love)
Writer(s):    Level/Love
Label:    Raven (original US label: Epic)
Year:    1964
    The history of Good Morning Little Schoolgirl is complicated by the fact that there were actually two entirely different songs using the same title. The first was an R&B hit for Sonny Boy Williamson, and is probably the better known of the two, thanks to being covered by such groups as Ten Years After and the Grateful Dead. The second song to use the title was written by Don Level and Bob Love, who performed as an R&B duo called Don & Bob. This version was covered by the Yardbirds  in 1964 and released as the band's second single in the UK. Although it was not released as a single in the US it was included on the band's first US LP, For Your Love.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    You Really Got Me
Source:    Mono CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    K-Tel (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1964
    The Kinks' You Really Got Me has been described as the first hard rock song and the track that invented heavy metal. You'll get no argument from me on either of those.

Artist:    Danny Kalb
Title:    I'm Troubled
Source:    CD: The Blues Project Anthology (originally released on compilation LP: The Blues Project)
Writer(s):    McKinley Morganfield
Label:    Polydor (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1964
    In 1964 Elektra Records, then a folk and blues label, decided to put together an album showcasing the various white blues musicians making a living in New York's Greenwich Village. Among the participants was a young singer/guitarist named Danny Kalb, who contributed two songs to the album. One of those two was his cover of the Muddy Waters tune I'm Troubled. A few months later Bob Dylan released his Highway 61 Revisited album using electric instruments, inspiring Kalb to start an electric blues band of his own. At first the band did not have a name, but eventually they decided to appropriate the name of the album that Kalb's first recordings had appeared on: The Blues Project.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    I Feel Fine
Source:    CD: 1 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Capitol
Year:    1964
    The Beatles' final record (pun intended) of 1964 was I Feel Fine, the group's sixth single to hit the # 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 that year, a record that has never been equaled. It is also the first studio recording to open with deliberate feedback, a fact that John Lennon, who wrote the song, was quite proud of in later years.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stuck with a hermit at Yuletide (starts 12/19/14)

    Just about every weekly radio show does a Christmas special this time of year, and for several years now Stuck In the Psychedelic Era has been no exception. There is a problem, though, and that is the unavoidable fact that for the most part the artists featured on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era never had the opportunity (or inclination, for that matter) to record Christmas songs. There are exceptions, of course, and this week you'll hear some of those by Jethro Tull, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, and others. But, unless I wanted to spend over half the show on Beach Boys Christmas songs (and there are nearly enough of those for an entire show), I knew I would have to take an entirely different approach to selecting the songs. After a couple of years of experimenting around with various approaches I finally decided to just pick out the coolest holiday tracks I could find, regardless of genre or year they were recorded, and have been doing it that way ever since. As a result, on this year's show we'll be hearing tunes that span from 1948 through 1983. One unintended consequence of doing it this way is that nearly every track used on the show tonight is from a CD. So prepare to be Stuck with the Hermit at Yuletide without any scratchy records this year.

Artist:      Mannheim Steamroller
Title:     Hark! The Herald Trumpets Sing
Source:  CD: A Fresh Aire Christmas
Year:     1988
     I was looking for something that was both pompous and cool at the same time to start the show. Mannheim Steamroller seemed to fit the bill. Besides, Chip Davis wrote it to be an introduction, so I figured why not?

Artist:  George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Song Title: Rock and Roll Christmas
Source:  CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas
Release Year: 1983
 George Thorogood has always said that his group was at heart a bar band. As a bar band is just a step away from being a garage band, this seemed like as good a place as any to get into the actual meat of the show.

Artist:  Beatles
Song Title: Christmas Time (Is Here Again)
Source:  CD single: Free As a Bird
Release Year: 1967/1997
 Every year the Beatles would record a special Christmas message to go out to members of their fan club, and mail it out on what was then known as a floppy disc. This was not the same as a computer floppy disc, however. In fact, the medium the Beatles used eventually came to be known as a flexi-disc, just to keep things from getting any more confusing. Regardless of what you called it, the things tended to wear out after just a few plays and I doubt there are many playable copies of these discs left in the universe. Luckily for us, George Martin had the foresight to hang on to everything the Beatles ever recorded, including this tune, which was chopped up and used for the 1967 Christmas Greeting. When the Beatles Anthology was released in 1997, the piece was included on the Free As a Bird CD single, and we got to hear the song in its uninterrupted entirety for the first time.

Artist:  John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Song Title: Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Source:  CD: New Gold on CD
Release Year: 1971
 Originally intended as an anti-Vietnam War song, John and Yoko's Happy Xmas (War Is Over) has long since acquired classic status and is now one of the most familiar songs of the season. It was first released in the US in December of 1971, but due to a problem with the publisher did not appear in the rest of the world until November of 1972.

Artist:  Beach Boys
Song Title: Morning Christmas
Source:  CD: Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas
Release Year: 1977
 Dennis Wilson was not hanging around with the rest of the clan in 1977, but did want to make a contribution to their new Christmas album that year, so he sent in this recording. The album ended up not being released, but the track finally did see the light of day on the Ultimate Christmas collection issued four or five years ago.

Artist:  Simon and Garfunkel
Song Title: Silent Night/7 O'Clock News
Source:  CD: Complete Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Release Year: 1966
 Simon and Garfunkel's Silent Night/7 O'Clock News is unique for several reasons. The most obvious is that it uses two unrelated recordings to make an ironically chilling point. The first is a rendition of Franz Gruber's Silent Night, with vocals in the center channel and piano only coming from one speaker. As the song progresses a newscast in the other channel slowly gets louder. Eventually the song ends and there is only the news. What's also unusual is that this well-known Christmas carol is not featured on a Christmas album at all; instead it appears as the final track of the duo's 1966 LP Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme.

Artist:  Simon and Garfunkel
Song Title: A Hazy Shade of Winter
Source:  CD: Complete Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Release Year: 1966
 I wish I could take credit for putting Simon And Garfunkel's Silent Night/7 O'Clock News and A Hazy Shade of Winter back to back. The truth is I don't know who came up with the idea; my best guess is someone from Westwood One radio, as I first heard it done on one of their syndicated programs. Still, it's not a bad idea, and I happened to have a copy of the Westwood One version of the paired tracks, so there it is.

Artist:  Jethro Tull
Song Title: Ring Out Solstice Bells
Source:  LP: Songs From the Wod
Release Year: 1976
 Until the late 1940s the predominate form of recorded music was the 78 RPM (revolutions per minute) record, which was either 10 or 12 inches in diameter and made of a brittle material called shellac. The 10 inch version was the standard for popular music, with a running time of about 3 to 4 minutes. RCA Victor developed a direct replacement for the 78 that was 7 inches in diameter and ran at 45 RPM. Meanwhile, RCA's top rival, Columbia Records, developed a slower long-playing record that used something called microgroove technology that allowed up to half an hour's worth of recorded material per side. Somewhere along the way somebody decided to try the microgroove approach to the 45 and the Extended Play (EP) record was born. In the US, EPs were somewhat popular in the 1950s, but pretty much died out by the time of the Beatles, except for specialized formats such as children's records and low-budget cover labels that would hire anonymous studio musicians to re-create popular hits. In the UK, on the other hand, the format remained viable up through the mid-70s. Jethro Tull took advantage of the EP format to release a Christmas record in December of 1976. Ring Out Solstice Bells was the featured song on the EP, and would not be released in the US until the following spring, when it was included on the album Songs From the Wood.

Artist:  Ed "Cookie" Byrnes
Song Title: Yulesville
Source:  CD: Cool Yule
Release Year: 1959
 The ABC TV network was a perennial also-ran that was just starting to find a winning formula in the late 50s with shows targeted toward a younger audience. The most popular of these was 77 Sunset Strip, starring Ed "Cookie" Byrnes. He and co-star Connie Stevens, staying in character, cut a hit novelty record called "Cookie, Cookie," which played on Cookie's propensity for combing his hair. Byrnes, again in character, followed it up with this hip retelling of the classic poem Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Artist:  Bobby "Boris" Pickett
Song Title: Monster's Holiday
Source:  CD: New Gold on CD
Release Year: 1962
 Bobby Picket scored big with his Halloween hit Monster Mash in 1962, and quickly followed it up with this sequel set around the Christmas holidays. Legendary producer Gary Paxton was responsible for both recordings making it onto vinyl and on the air.

Artist:  Johnny Preston
Song Title: (I Want a) Rock and Roll Guitar
Source:  CD: Cool Yule
Release Year: 1960
 Johnny Preston recorded his signature song in 1960, the classic Running Bear, penned by J.P. Richardson, the Big Bopper. The pair teamed up again to create a brand new Christmas song, (I Want a) Rock and Roll Guitar, later the same year. Interesting enough, by the middle of the decade a guitar was exactly what many kids were indeed asking for. I should know; I got my first guitar (and amp) as a Christmas present after badgering my parents mercilessly for months. I think between the two they might have run about $100, which made it the most expensive Christmas I ever had.

Artist:  Foghat
Song Title: All I Want For Christmas Is You
Source:  CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas
Release Year: 1981
 Foghat was formed when all the members of Savoy Brown except leader Kim Simmonds decided to form their own band in the early 70s. After a moderately successful run, founding member "Lonesome" Dave Peverett was all set to call it quits in 1981, but not until after he wrote and recorded All I Want For Christmas Is You.

Artist:  Kinks
Song Title: Father Christmas
Source:  CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas
Release Year: 1977
 There are not many socially-conscious Christmas songs, especially slightly twisted ones like the Kinks' classic Father Christmas from 1977. I guess by then getting a guitar was kind of passe anyway.

Artist:  Charles Brown
Song Title: Please Come Home For Christmas
Source:  CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits (1955-Present)
Release Year: 1961
 By now just about everyone is familiar with the Eagles version of Please Come Home For Christmas. Not everyone, however, knows the song was written by blues great Charles Brown. Even fewer have actually heard Brown's 1961 original, which is a shame, as it blows the Eagles version clean out of the water.

Artist:  James Brown
Song Title: Santa Claus, Santa Claus
Source:  CD: Cool Yule
Release Year: 1968
 Few people would ever accuse James Brown of being a blues artist, but this recording of Santa Claus, Santa Claus (sometimes called just Santa Claus) from 1968 shows what it would have sounded like if he was.

Artist:  Clarence Carter
Song Title: Back Door Santa
Source:  CD: New Gold on CD
Release Year: 1969
 Clarence Carter is an icon of the beach music (for you non-Carolinians, beach music has nothing to do with surf music) crowd. For everyone else, he is a moderately successful soul artist known mostly for his mid-70s hit Slip Away. Regardless of where you might know him from, his Back Door Santa will surprise you with its down and funky energy.

Artist:  Jimmy McCracklin
Song Title: Christmas Time
Source:  CD: New Gold on CD
Release Year: 1961 (?)
 Jimmy McCracklin recorded one of the catchiest, yet underplayed, tunes of the 50s when he did The Walk. Christmas Time, from a few years later, actually sounds like beach music. Go figure.

Artist:  Chuck Berry
Song Title: Run Rudolph Run
Source:  CD: Chuck Berry Chess Box
Release Year: 1958
 Chuck Berry established a reputation in the 60s for reworking his old songs from the 50s, giving them new lyrics and sometimes new guitar rifts. Probably the best-known example of this was No Particular Place To Go, which is a reworked version of School Day. His first reworking of a previously-recorded song was 1958's Run Rudoph Run, which was virtually identical to Little Queenie, released earlier the same year. To me it sounds like he actually used the Little Queenie instrumental tracks rather than to re-record the song. This kind of cost-cutting measure would be consistent with his later practice of using pick-up bands rather than incurring the travel expenses of having his own band on the road.

Artist:  Jack Scott
Song Title: There's Trouble Brewin'
Source:  CD: Cool Yule
Release Year: 1963
Canadian born Jack Scott was one of the great rockabilly performers of the late 50s, scoring several top 10 hits, including My True Love and Burning Bridges. This 1963 recording of There's Trouble Brewin' shows him at the peak of his vocal powers.

Artist:  Cheech and Chong
Song Title: Santa Claus and His Old Lady
Source:  CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas
Release Year: 1971
 I heard Cheech And Chong's Santa Claus and His Old Lady on the radio the year it was released and managed to find a copy of the 45 only to have it disappear on me a few years later. Luckily, the folks at Rhino somehow knew of my dilemma and included it on their Rock and Roll Christmas CD (sure they did). Incidentally, the B side of that old 45 was Dave's Not Here from Cheech and Chong's first album.

Artist:  Ray Stevens
Song Title: Santa Claus Is Watching You
Source:  CD: New Gold on CD (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1962
 I've mentioned something called the Grab Bag before. Basically, it was a sealed paper bag (sometimes with a clear plastic front) containing four 45 RPM records, generally "cut-outs" that were no longer in print. The one my family bought for Christmas of 1964 had a Sing Along With Mitch Christmas EP in the front. By far the oddest record in the bag was Santa Claus Is Watching You by Ray Stevens, although I seem to remember that version being slightly different than the one heard here. One thing that both versions had in common was the presence of Clyde the Camel from Stevens's first hit Ahab the Arab.

Artist:  Spike Jones and His City Slickers
Song Title: All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)
Source:  CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1935-1954
Release Year: 1948
 Spike Jones and His City Slickers were a highly talented bunch who made music out of sound effects, toy instruments, and whatever else it occurred to them to use. Their forte was the novelty record, and no one did it better.  All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) was written by Middleton, NY schoolteacher Donald Yetter Gardner, who was inspired to write the song when he asked his second grade class what they wanted for Christmas and was struck by how many of them were lisping due to missing front teeth.

Artist:  Chipmunks
Song Title: The Chipmunk Song
Source:  CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1955-Present
Release Year: 1958
 In 1958 pop-jazz composer/bandleader Ross Bagdasarian decided to play around with a variable-speed tape recorder and came up with the novelty hit Witch Doctor. He followed it up by using multiple tape machines to create a trio of sped up voices that he called the Chipmunks, and released this smash hit in time for the Christmas season. The success of The Chipmunk Song led to a Saturday morning cartoon series and a series of albums for the Liberty label. His son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. has revived the concept in recent years, although not with the same level of success.

Artist:  Beach Boys
Song Title: Little Saint Nick (stereo single version)
Source:  CD: Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas
Release Year: 1963
 When the Beach Boys first recorded Little Saint Nick they were the hottest surf music band in the country. A year later Beatlemania had set in, and a new version of Little Saint Nick was recorded for the Beach Boys Christmas Album. The new version put a greater emphasis on the vocals, and much of the original instrumentation was deleted from the arrangement. That is the version that usually gets heard on commercial radio every year. In the mid-70s, Carl Wilson, who by then had stepped into the leader's role formerly held by older brother Brian, pulled out the original 1963 tapes and created a new stereo mix of the song. The instruments have greater prominence in this version and include the distinctive sound of sleighbells that were completely exorcised from the 1964 version.

Artist:  Ventures
Song Title: Sleigh Ride
Source: CD: The Ventures Christmas Album
Release Year: 1965  
    The Ventures are by far the most successful instrumental rock group in history, with over 100 albums released over several decades. One of the most successful of these was their 1965 Christmas album, which featured this surfinated version of Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride, a piece usually associated with the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Artist:  Sonics
Song Title: Santa Claus
Source:  CD: Cool Yule (originally released on LP:
Release Year: 1966
 The Pacific Northwest was home to several bands that can only be described as proto-punk (think Louie Louie). One of the top bands on the scene up there was the Sonics, who recorded raw hard-driving songs with titles like Psycho, the Witch and Strychnine. Santa Claus is very much in the same vein, making it the punkiest Christmas song of the sixties, if not all time.

Artist:  Jethro Tull
Song Title: Christmas Song
Source:  CD: This Was (bonus track originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1968
 I wanted to play one set made up entirely of songs from the psychedelic era performed by artists that I feature on the show on a fairly regular basis. One of these artists is the band Jethro Tull, led by flautist/acoustic guitarist/vocalist Ian Anderson. His somewhat cynical Christmas Song, originally released in the UK in 1968, did not appear in the US until the 1973 anthology album Living In the Past.

Artist:  Canned Heat
Song Title: Christmas Blues
Source:  CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas
Release Year: 1968
 Although Steve Miller originally hailed from Chicago, it was Canned Head that emerged as the San Francisco Bay area's electric blues band of choice. With Robert "Big Bear" Hite fronting the band on blues harp and vocals, they recorded their Christmas Blues in time for the 1968 Yule season.

Artist:  Chuck Berry
Song Title: Merry Christmas, Baby
Source:  CD: Chuck Berry Chess Box
Release Year: 1958
 Chuck Berry did not record too many cover tunes, as he was a prolific songwriter himself. However, for the B side to Run Rudolph Run, he cut this tasty version of Charles Brown's "other" Christmas song, Merry Christmas, Baby.

Artist:  Solomon Burke
Song Title: Presents For Christmas
Source:  CD: Cool Yule
Release Year: 1966
 Solomon Burke was a staple artist for the Atlantic label at a time when Atlantic itself was being overshadowed by the Stax/Volt labels that it distributed. Nonetheless, Burke had several R&B hits throughout the sixties and was highly respected by his fellow artists. Presents For Christmas captures Burke at his peak in 1966.

Artist:  Eartha Kitt
Song Title: Santa Baby
Source:  CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1935-1954
Release Year: 1953
 Eartha Kitt has one of the most unique voices in the history of jazz, and put it to good use on the original 1953 version of Santa Baby, a tune that has unfortunately in recent years become associated with Madonna. Kitt continued to perform with nearly as much energy as she had in the 50s right up to her death on Christmas Day, 2008.

Artist:  Rufus Thomas
Song Title: I'll Be Your Santa Baby
Source:  CD: New Gold on CD (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: unknown
 Rufus Thomas had a long and storied career, first with his "dog" hits in the early 60s (Walking the Dog being the most famous) and then later as a member of the Stax/Volt stable of artists. I'll Be Your Santa Baby, recorded for Stax, was released sometimes in the late 60s around the same time that his daughter Carla was making a name for herself with hits like B-A-B-Y and (with Otis Redding) Tramp.

Artist:  Cadillacs
Song Title: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Source:  CD: New Gold on CD (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Release Year: 1956
 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has been recorded by a lot of different artists over the years, but this version by the Cadillacs stands out for its pure sense of fun. Doo-wop was at the peak of its popularity in 1956 and the Cadillacs, led by Earl "Speedoo" Carroll, were among the best of the bunch.

Artist:  Drifters
Song Title: White Christmas
Source:  CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits (1955-Present)
Release Year: 1955
 The Drifters were a kind of early R&B doowop supergroup made up of ex-members of other R&B groups such as Billy Ward's Dominoes. The most distinctive voice of the original Drifters was high tenor Clyde McPhatter (for whom Ray Stevens's famous camel was named), which is heard prominently on their version of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. Over the years the group's lineup changed many times and led to several former members forming competing groups, all using the Drifters name. Over time, members of these offshoots would in turn form their own Drifters, despite having virtually no connection to the original group. This is why it sometimes seems that half the doowop singers in the world claim to be former members of the Drifters.

Artist:  Marquees
Song Title: Christmas In the Congo
Source:  CD: Cool Yule
Release Year: 1958
 You have to hear this one to believe it. 'Nuff said.

Artist:  King Curtis
Song Title: The Christmas Song
Source:  45 RPM vinyl
Release Year: 1966
 King Curtis was one of the most in-demand saxophone players of the first wave of rock and roll. His best known work was on the song Yakety Yak by the Coasters in 1958. In the sixties he became the music director for the Atlantic Records group, appearing on a variety of recordings by artists such as Solomon Burke and occassionally released material on the Atco label under his own name. Tragically, his life was cut short when he was the victim of a stabbing when he attempted to stop junkies from shooting up on his front steps in New York.

 So there it is: the Hermit's own take on Yuletime. I hope you enjoy the show. Next week we take a look back at the songs and artists that got the most airtime on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era this past year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1450 (starts 12/10/14)

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Somebody To Love
Source:     CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer:     Darby Slick
Label:     RCA
Year:     1967
     Over 40 years after the fact, it's hard to imagine just how big an impact Somebody To Love had on the garage band scene. Whereas before Somebody To Love came out you could just dismiss hard-to-cover songs as being "lame" anyway, here was a tune that was undeniably cool, and yet virtually impossible for anyone but the Airplane to play well (and even they were unable to get it to sound quite the same when they performed it live). Although garage bands would continue to exist (and still do), the days when a group of kids from the suburbs could form a band, play a handful of parties, maybe win a battle of the bands and write and record a hit record with virtually no prior experience were gone forever.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Can You See Me
Source:    Mono LP: Are You Experienced (UK version) (original US release: LP: Smash Hits)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Legacy (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1967 (US 1969)
    Before releasing the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, in the US, Reprise Records decided to make some changes to the track lineup, adding three songs that had been released as non-album singles in the UK. To make room for these, three songs were cut from the original UK version of the LP. The most popular of these three tracks was Can You See Me, a song that was included in the band's set at their US debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967.  Despite the audience's positive response to the song, the band apparently dropped Can You See Me from their live set shortly after Monterey. The song was originally slated to be released as the B side of The Wind Cries Mary, but instead was used as an album track.
Artist:    Who
Title:    Someone's Coming
Source:    CD: The Who Sell Out (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    John Entwhistle
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1968
    Some songs just get no respect. First released in 1967 in the UK as the B side of I Can See For Miles, John Alec Entwistle's Someone's Coming got left off the US release entirely. It wasn't until the release of the Magic Bus single (and subsequent LP) in 1968 that the tune appeared on US vinyl, and then, once again as a B side. The Magic Bus album, however, was never issued on CD in the US, although it has been available as a Canadian import for several years. Finally, in 1995 the song found a home on a US CD as a bonus track on The Who Sell Out.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Have You Seen Her Face
Source:    Mono LP: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    Chris Hillman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    Perhaps the greatest surprise on the fourth Byrds album, Younger Than Yesterday, was the emergence of bassist Chris Hillman as a quality songwriter, already on a par with David Crosby and the recently-departed Gene Clark, and even exceeding Roger McGuinn as a solo writer (most of McGuinn's songs being collaborations). One of the many strong Hillman tracks on Younger Than Yesterday was Have You Seen Her Face, which eventually became the third single from the album.

Artist:    Circus Maximus
Title:    Oops I Can Dance
Source:    CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s):    Jerry Jeff Walker
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Right from the start, the band Circus Maximus was being pulled in two musical directions by its co-founders, Bob Bruno and Jerry Jeff Walker. Although it was Bruno's song Wind that got the most airplay in 1967, it was Walker who went on to have a successful career as a singer/songwriter with songs like Mr. Bojangles. One of Walker's earliest songs was Oops I Can Dance from the first Circus Maximus album.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    The Masked Marauder
Source:    LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Perhaps more than any other band, Country Joe and the Fish capture the essence of the San Francisco scene in the late 60s. Their first two releases were floppy inserts included in Joe McDonald's self-published Rag Baby underground newspaper. In 1967 the band was signed to Vanguard Records, a primarily folk-oriented prestige label that also had Joan Baez on its roster. Their first LP, Electric Music For the Mind and Body had such classic cuts as Section 43, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, and the political parody Superbird on it, as well as the mostly-instrumental tune The Masked Marauder. Not for the unenlightened.

Artist:    Leaves
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Billy Roberts
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mira)
Year:    1966
    In 1966 there were certain songs you had to know how to play if you had any aspirations of being in a band. Among those were Louie Louie, Gloria and Hey Joe. The Byrds' David Crosby claims to have discovered Hey Joe, but was not able to convince his bandmates to record it before their third album. In the meantime, several other bands had recorded the song, including Love (on their first album) and the Leaves. The version of Hey Joe heard here is actually the third recording the Leaves made of the tune. After the first two versions tanked, guitarist Bobby Arlin, who had recently replaced founding member Bill Rinehart on lead guitar, came up with the idea of adding fuzz guitar to the song. It was the missing element that transformed a rather bland song into a hit record (the only national hit the Leaves would have). As a side note, the Leaves credited Chet Powers (aka Dino Valenti) as the writer of Hey Joe, but California-based folk singer Billy Roberts had copyrighted the song in 1962 and had reportedly been heard playing the tune as early as 1958.

Artist:    Barbarians
Title:    Moulty
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Greenberg/Morris/Baer/Schwartz)
Label:    Rhino (original label: Laurie)
Year:    1966
    The Barbarians were originally formed in Cape Cod in 1963, and were known as much for their noncomformity as for their music. They were the first Boston area band to grow out their hair and wear leather sandals; To top it off their drummer, Vic "Moulty" Moulton, had lost his left hand in an accident when he was younger and wore a prosthetic hook. In 1966, after the band had moderate national success with a semi-novelty song called Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl, the band's producer, Doug Morris, talked Moulton into recording a faux-autobiographical song called Moulty, using New York studio musicians from a group called Levon and the Hawks (who had backed up such notables as Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan on tour and would, in a few years, become superstars in the own right after changing their name to The Band). Moulton, upon finding out that the recording had been released, was incensed, and went to the New York offices of Laurie Records, chasing the label's president around the office and breaking copies of the record over his head. Moulty was the last Barbarians record to appear on the Laurie label.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Mother's Little Helper
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1966
    By 1966 the Rolling Stones had already had a few brushes with the law over their use of illegal drugs. Mother's Little Helper, released in Spring of '66, is a scathing criticism of the abuse of prescription drugs by the parents of the Stones' fans. Perhaps more than any other song of the time, Mother's Little Helper illustrates the increasingly hostile generation gap that had sprung up between the young baby boomers and the previous generation.

Artist:    Trade Winds
Title:    Mind Excursion
Source:    CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Excursions)
Writer(s):    Anders/Poncia
Label:    BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Kama Sutra)
Year:    1966
    The Trade Winds were a semi-studio band from New York that first scored in 1965 with the song New York Is A Lonely Town (When You're the Only Surfer Boy Around). A year later they had their second and last hit, Mind Excursion, which holds up as one of the best examples of "flower power" pop ever recorded.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    For Emily, Whenever I Might Find Her
Source:    LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Sundazed/Columbia
Year:    1966
    Art Garfunkel's vocals were in the spotlight on For Emily, Whenever I Might Find Her, a track from the duo's third LP, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme. Other than the vocals, the only other instrument heard on the track is Paul Simon's guitar. Garfunkel has called the piece, which is still in his solo repertoire, "one of the most challenging" to perform, due to its somewhat free-form structure. A live version of the song was released as a single in 1972, making it to the # 53 spot on the charts.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Positively 4th Street
Source:    45 RPM promo single
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    Recorded during the same 1965 sessions that produced the classic Highway 61 Revisited album, Positively 4th Street was deliberately held back for release as a single later that year. It would not appear on an LP until the first Dylan Greatest Hits album.

Artist:    ? And The Mysterians
Title:    96 Tears
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    The Mysterians
Label:    Abkco (original label: Cameo)
Year:    1966
    Although his birth certificate gives the name Rudy Martinez, the leader of the Mysterians had his name legally changed to "?" several years ago. He asserts that he is actually from the planet Mars and has lived among dinosaurs in a past life. Sometimes I feel like I'm living among dinosaurs in this life, so I guess I can relate a little. The band's only major hit, 96 Tears, has the distinction of being the last top 10 single on the Cameo label before Cameo-Parkway went bankrupt.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source:    CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)).
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in early 1967. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation.

Artist:    Asylum Choir
Title:    Indian Style
Source:    Look Inside The Asylum Choir
Writer(s):    Russell/Benno
Label:    Rev-Ola
Year:    1968
    Leon Russell and Marc Benno were both well-established on the Los Angeles studio scene when they decided to record an album called Look Inside The Asylum Choir in 1968, using several of their fellow studio musicians. Sporting a cover depicting a roll of toilet paper against a background of tiles with the likenesses of Russell and Benno, the album was a curious mix of psychedelia and novelty, with Indian Style (which was also released as a single) being a good example of the latter. Look Inside The Asylum Choir was not an immediate success, but was reissued with a new cover following Russell's emergence as a star in his own right in the early 1970s.

Artist:    Thunderclap Newman
Title:    Something In The Air
Source:    CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    John Keen
Label:    Polydor (original label: Marmalade)
Year:    1969
    Thunderclap Newman was actually the creation of the Who's Pete Townshend, who assembled a bunch of studio musicians to work with drummer (and former Who roadie) John "Speedy" Keen. Keen had written Armenia City In The Sky, the opening track on The Who Sell Out, and Townshend set up the studio project to return the favor. Joining Keen were 15-year-old guitarist Jimmy McCulloch (who would eventually join Paul McCartney's Wings before dying of a heroin overdose in 1979), studio engineer Andy "Thunderclap" Newman (who had worked with Pink Floyd, among others) on piano, and Townshend himself on bass. Following the success of Something In The Air, the group recorded an album, but sales were disappointing and the group soon disbanded.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Animal Zoo
Source:    CD: Best Of Spirit (originally released on LP: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus)
Writer:    Jay Ferguson
Label:    Epic
Year:    1970
    The last album by the original lineup of Spirit was Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus, released in 1970. The album was originally going to be produced by Neil Young, but due to other commitments Young had to bow out, recommending David Briggs, who had already produced Young's first album with Crazy Horse, as a replacement. The first song to be released as a single was Animal Zoo, but the tune barely cracked the top 100 charts. The album itself did better on progressive FM stations and has since come to be regarded as a classic. Shortly after the release of Twelve Dreams, Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes left Spirit to form Jo Jo Gunne.

Artist:    Shadows of Knight
Title:    Light Bulb Blues
Source:    CD: Gloria (also released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Kelley/Sohns/McGeorge
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    Following the national success of their cover of Van Morrison's Gloria, Chicago's Shadows Of Knight returned to the studio to cut a cover of a Bo Diddley tune, Oh Yeah. For the B side of that record the band was allowed to record one of their own compositions. Light Bulb Blues captures the essence of the Shadows' style: hard-driving garage/punk that follows a traditional 12-bar blues progression. The result is a track that sounds a bit like a twisted variation on Muddy Waters's classic Rollin' And Tumblin'.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Mother's Lament
Source:    LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Cream
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    The shortest-ever Cream recording was Mother's Lament, an old English drinking song that was tacked onto the end of the Disraeli Gears album. Other than the slightly off-key vocals (led by drummer Ginger Baker), the only instrument heard on the track is a piano (probably played by producer Felix Pappalardi).

Artist:    Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title:    Bears
Source:    British import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Roger Perkins
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1968
    Possibly the most obscure song in the Quicksilver Messenger Service catalog, Bears appeared as the B side to Dino Valenti's Stand By Me (no relation to the Ben E. King song) in late 1968. To my knowledge, this novelty song was never included on any of the band's albums.

Artist:     Doors
Title:     People Are Strange
Source:     LP: Strange Days (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:     The Doors
Label:     Elektra
Year:     1967
     The first single from the second Doors album was People Are Strange. The song quickly dispelled any notion that the Doors might be one-hit wonders and helped establish the band as an international act as opposed to just another band from L.A. The album itself, Strange Days, was a turning point for Elektra Records as well, as it shifted the label's promotional efforts away from their original rock band, Love, to the Doors, who ironically had been recommended to the label by Love's leader, Arthur Lee.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Magical Mystery Tour
Source:    CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    1967 had been a great year for the Beatles, starting with their double-sided hit single Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, followed by the iconic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album and their late summer hit All You Need Is Love, with its worldwide TV debut (one of the few events of the time to utilize satellite technology). The next project, however, did not go over quite so well. It had been over two years since the group's last major movie (HELP!), and the band decided that their next film would be an exclusive for broadcast on BBC-TV. Unlike the previous two films, this new project would not follow traditional filmmaking procedures. Instead it would be a more experimental piece; a series of loosely related songs and comedy vignettes connected by a loose plot about a bus trip to the countryside. Magical Mystery Tour made its debut in early December of 1967 to overwhelmingly negative reaction by viewers and critics alike (partially because the film was shown in black and white on the tradition minded BBC-1 network; a later rebroadcast in color on BBC-2 went over much better). The songs used in the film, however, were quite popular. Since there were only six of them, far too few for a regular LP, it was decided to issue the album as a pair of 45 RPM EPs, complete with lyric sheets and booklet recounting the story from the film. The original EPs were available in both stereo and mono versions in Europe and the UK. In the US, where the six tunes were supplemented by the band's five remaining single sides from 1967 to create an LP, Magical Mystery Tour was only available in stereo. Although both the EP and LP versions have different sequencing than the telefilm, all three open the same way, with the film's title song.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Wild Honey Pie/The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill/While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Source:    British import LP: The Beatles
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney/Harrison
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:    Beatles
Title:    I Am The Walrus
Source:    CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    I once ranked over 5000 recordings from the 1920s through the 1990s based on how many times I could listen to each track without getting sick of hearing it. My original intention was to continue the project until I had ranked every recording in my collection, but after about ten years of near-continuous listening to 90-minute cassette tapes that I would update weekly I finally decided that I needed a break, and never went back to it. As a result, many of my favorite recordings (especially album tracks) never got ranked. Of those that did, every song on the top 10 was from the years 1966-69, with the top five all being from 1967. Although I never returned to the project itself, the results I did get convinced me that I was indeed stuck in the psychedelic era, and within five years I had created a radio show inspired by the project. Not surprisingly, the number one recording on my list was I Am The Walrus, a track from the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour that is often considered the apex of British psychedelia.

Artist:    Ultimate Spinach
Title:    (Ballad Of The) Hip Death Goddess
Source:    LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer(s):    Ian Bruce-Douglas
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1968
    Ultimate Spinach was the brainchild of Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote and arranged all the band's material. Although the group had no hit singles, some tracks, such as (Ballad of the) Hip Death Goddess received a significant amount of airplay on progressive "underground" FM stations. The recording has in more recent years been used by movie producers looking to invoke a late 60s atmosphere.

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband
Title:    Voyage Of The Trieste
Source:    CD: The Inner Mystique
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Tower)
Year:    1968
    The Chocolate Watchband underwent a series of personnel changes starting in the late spring of 1967. By the end of that year the band no longer existed. This, apparently, was not considered a relevant fact by the people at Green Grass Productions, as they went ahead and released a new Chocolate Watchband album, The Inner Mystique, on the Tower label in February of 1968. Like the first Watchband album, The Inner Mystique had several tracks that were actually performed by studio musicians. In fact, the entire first side of the 8-song LP consisted of tracks put together by engineer Richie Podolor, and had nothing to do with the band itself. The first of these tracks, Voyage Of The Trieste, was written by the band's producer, Ed Cobb, who had also written the band's first official single, Sweet Young Thing, as well as several hits for the Standells, who were also signed to Green Grass. Somehow, the Chocolate Watchband managed to reform in time to record a third album, One Step Beyond, the following year, but that's a story for another week.

Artist:    Moby Grape
Title:    Murder In My Heart For The Judge
Source:    LP: Great Grape (originally released on LP: Wow)
Writer(s):     Don Stevenson
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    Moby Grape was one of those bands that probably should have been more successful than they were, but were thrown off-track by a series of bad decisions by their own support personnel. First, Columbia damaged their reputation by simultaneously releasing five singles from their debut LP in 1967, leading to accusations that the band was nothing but hype. Then their producer, David Rubinson, decided to add horns and strings to many of the tracks on their second album, Wow, alienating much of the band's core audience in the process. Still, Wow did have its share of fine tunes, including drummer Don Stevenson's Murder In My Heart For The Judge, probably the most popular song on the album. The song proved popular enough to warrant cover versions by such diverse talents as Lee Michaels, Chrissy Hynde and Three Dog Night.

Artist:    Del Shannon
Title:    I Think I Love You
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover)
Writer(s):    Del Shannon
Label:    Rhino (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1968
    Del Shannon? The guy who did Runaway back in '62? Yep. Also the same Del Shannon who Tom Petty has acknowledged as his number one inspiration and who was on the verge of being asked to replace the late Roy Orbison in the Traveling Wilburys when he himself became the late Del Shannon. Unlike many of his early 60s contemporaries such as Bobby Vee or Fabian, Shannon was able to keep up with the times, as this piece of pure psychedelia (penned by Shannon himself) from the album The Further Adventures of Charles Westover demonstrates.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
     If ever a song could be considered a garage-punk anthem, it's Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, the follow-up single to the classic Dirty Water. Both songs were written by Standells' manager/producer Ed Cobb, the record industry's answer to Ed Wood.

Artist:    The Light
Title:    Back Up
Source:    Mono CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Anglin/Samson
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: A&M)
Year:    1967
    The San Bernadino/Riverside area of southern California is probably better known to racing fans than to music afficionados, yet the area did have its share of local bands filling up various venues in the area in the late 60s. Among those bands was the Light, who released one single, Back Up, on the A&M label in 1967.

Artist:    October Country
Title:    My Girlfriend Is A Witch
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Michael Lloyd
Label:    Rhino (original label: Epic)
Year:    1968
    By 1968 the L.A. under-age club scene was winding down, and several now out of work bands were making last (and sometimes only) attempts at garnering hits in the studio. One such band was October Country, whose first release had gotten a fair amount of local airplay, but who had become bogged down trying to come up with lyrics for a follow-up single. Enter Michael Lloyd, recently split from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and looking to become a record producer. Lloyd not only produced and wrote the lyrics for My Girlfriend Is A Witch, he also ended up playing drums on the record as well.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Flight Of The Phoenix
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1972
    After five successful albums produced by Terry Knight, the members of Grand Funk Railroad decided to go it alone for their 1972 album Phoenix. The album was the first to include Craig Frost, who would eventually become a full member of the band, on keyboards, as can be heard on the LP's opening track, the instrumental Flight Of The Phoenix. Famed fiddler Doug Kershaw also appeared on the album.