Thursday, February 12, 2015

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1507 (starts 2/11/15)

 Artist:    Humans
Title:    Take A Taxi
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Bill Kuhns
Label:    Audition
Year:    1966
    Albion, NY, a small town situated between Buffalo and Rochester, was home to the Humans, a group formed by members of the local high school marching band in 1964. They had a decent amount of regional success, which in turn led to a trip to Riposo studios in Syracuse, N, where they recorded their only single, a folk-rock tune called Take A Taxi, in 1966. The highlight of the group's career came later that same year, when they play the Rheingold Festival in New York's Central Park and met Chas Chandler of the Animals. Chandler was looking to branch out into management and production, and invited the members of the band to join him at a place called the Cafe Wha to check out and up and coming young guitarist who was fronting his own band there. The guitarist was Jimi Hendrix, and Chandler convinced him to return to London with him after seeing him play that night. Meanwhile, the Humans returned to Western New York and continued to play regularly until tragedy struck in September of 1966, when one of the band's two vocalists, Danny Long, was killed in a car accident. The band tried to continue without him, but soon fell victim to the draft and disbanded in November of that year.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    Happy Together
Source:    LP: Harmony (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Happy Together)
Writer(s):    Bonner/Gordon
Label:    RCA Special Products (original label: White Whale)
Year:    1967
    The Turtles got off to a strong start with their cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, which hit the top 20 in 1965. By early 1967, however, the band had fallen on hard times and was looking for a way to return to the charts. They found that way with Happy Together, a song written by Gary Bonner and Mark Gordon, both members of an east coast band called the Magicians. Happy Together was the Turtles' first international hit, going all the way to the top of the charts in several countries and becoming one of the most recognizable songs in popular music history.

Artist:    Oracle
Title:    Don't Say No
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single).
Writer(s):    Ruthann Friedmann
Label:    Rhino (original label: Verve Forecast)
Year:    1968
    Before the days of arena rock, with two or three bands touring together and putting on virtually the same show night after night, headliner bands often looked to local talent for their opening act, making each stop on the tour a unique event. Sometimes the local opening band made enough of an impression to create a path to stardom for themselves as well, or at least to get a record contract. Take the case of a Lake Charles, Lousiana band known locally as the Great Society. Although they had not made any records, they had developed enough of a reputation to be able to score gigs across the state line in East Texas. One of those gigs was opening for the Music Machine in mid 1967. The Music Machine, at this point, was experiencing the frustration of being unable to score a successful follow up to their 1966 hit Talk Talk and was on the verge of dissolving, with the various individual members starting to explore other options. Among those members was bassist Keith Olsen, who liked Great Society enough to convince them to come out to Los Angeles and let Olsen produce them. Things did not go exactly as planned, however, as a bad acid trip left the band in no shape to cut a record. Olsen, however, working with co-producer Curt Boettcher, did get the group to provide vocals for a studio project the two of them were working on, a Ruthann Friedmann song called Don't Say No. As there had already been a band in California called Great! Society as recently as 1966, it was decided to rename the group the Oracle for the release of Don't Say No on the Verve Forecast label in 1968. Although the record was not a hit, it did help open doors for Olsen, who would go on to discover and produce the duo known as Buckingham Nicks, along with their breakthrough album as members of Fleetwood Mac. Since then Olsen has become one of the top producers in the history of rock music, working with such well known artists as the Grateful Dead, Bob Weir, Eddie Money, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Rick Springfield, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Heart, Joe Walsh, Starship, Santana, Kim Carnes, Jethro Tull, The Babys, Ozzy Osbourne, the Scorpions, .38 Special, Bad Company, Sammy Hagar, Russ Ballard, Whitesnake, Foreigner, Sheena Easton, Journey, Loverboy, and Lou Gramm. Not bad for a bass player.

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

Artist:    Love
Title:    Alone Again Or (alternate mix)
Source:    CD: Forever Changes
Writer:    Bryan MacLean
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1967
    Bryan McLean, the "other" singer/songwriter of the L.A. band Love, once said that he was unhappy with the way his best-known song, Alone Again Or, sounded on the band's Forever Changes album, due to the producer's decision to give Arthur Lee's harmony line a greater prominence in the mix than McLean's lead vocal. This was probably done for consistency's sake, as Lee was the lead vocalist on an overwhelming majority of Love's recordings. This mono alternate mix uses a different balance of vocals, although McLean's part is still not as prominent as McLean would have preferred. McLean himself re-recorded the song on an early 70s solo album, but reportedly was still not satisfied with the way the song sounded.

Artist:    Simon and Garfunkel
Title:    59th Street Bridge Song
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    Simon And Garfunkel's 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) features two members of the Dave Brubeck Quartet: bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello. The song first appeared as an album track on Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme in 1966 and was later released as the B side of the 1967 single At The Zoo. Finally in 1970 the song was re-released, this time as an A side of a single after Simon And Garfunkel had split up. In the meantime another band, Harper's Bizarre (featuring future Doobie Brothers and Van Halen producer Ted Templeman on lead vocals), scored a hit with the song in early 1967.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Born Under A Bad Sign
Source:    LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer:    Jones/Bell
Label:    RSO (original label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were pretty much considered the cream of the crop of the British blues scene in the mid 1960s, so it came as no surprise when they decided to call their new band Cream. Although the trio would go on to record several memorable non-blues tunes such as I Feel Free and White Room, they never completely abandoned the blues. Born Under A Bad Sign, originally recorded by Albert King  for the Stax label and written by labelmates William Bell and Booker T. Jones, is one of the better known tracks from Cream's double-LP Wheels Of Fire, the last album released while the band was still together.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Little Miss Strange
Source:    CD: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s):    Noel Redding
Label:    Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    When Chas Chandler brought Jimi Hendrix to England in 1966 he introduced him to several local musicians, including drummer Mitch Mitchell and guitarist Noel Redding. Hendrix talked Redding into switching to bass, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience was born. Redding, however, still had aspirations of being a front man and wrote this tune in 1968. As it turned out, Little Miss Strange would be the second (and last) Redding tune the band would record (She's So Fine on Axis: Bold As Love being the first). After the Experience split up Redding formed Fat Mattress, but that band had little success.

Artist:    Nilsson
Title:    Sister Marie
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    D. Morrow
Label:    Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1968
    Well-known as John Lennon's 1970s drinking buddy, singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson first came to prominence in 1969 with the song Everybody's Talking from the movie Midnight Cowboy (the film that brought stardom to actor Dustin Hoffman as well). Although Nilsson is best known as a songwriter (Lennon once called him America's greatest), the B side of his first single, Sister Marie, actually came from an outside source.

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

Artist:    Kaleidoscope
Title:    Flight From Ashiya
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Daltry/Pumer
Label:    Rhino (original label: Fontana)
Year:    1967
    Although they did not have any hit singles, London's Kaleidoscope had enough staying power to record two album's worth of material for the Fontana label before disbanding. The group's first release was Flight From Ashiya, a single released in September of 1967. Describing a bad plane trip with a stoned pilot, the song is filled with chaotic images, making the song's story a bit hard to follow. Still, it's certainly worth a listen.

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    Gimme Some Lovin'
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Winwood/Davis
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1966
    The movie The Big Chill used Gimme Some Lovin' by the Spencer Davis Group as the backdrop for a touch football game at an informal reunion of former college students from the 60s. From that point on, movie soundtracks became much more than just background music and soundtrack albums started becoming best-sellers. Not entirely coincidentally, 60s-oriented oldies radio stations began to appear in major markets as well. Ironically, most of those stations are now playing 80s oldies.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Coo Coo
Source:    Mono CD: Big Brother And The Holding Company (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Peter Albin
Label:    Columbia/Legacy (original label: Mainstream)
Year:    1968
    Like most of the bands in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1960s, Big Brother And The Holding Company had members who had already been part of the local folk music scene when they decided to go electric. Peter Albin, in particular, had established himself as a solo artist before joining the band, and, naturally, brought some of his repertoire with him. Perhaps the most popular of these tunes was a song called Coo Coo, that had also been in circulation under the title Jack Of Diamonds. Although there are existing recordings of the song prior to the Big Brother version, Albin took full credit for the tune, possibly due to his providing almost all new lyrics for the track. Coo Coo, recorded in Chicago in 1966, was not included on the group's first LP for Mainstream, instead being issued as a single in early 1968. A reworked version of the tune with yet another set of new lyrics and a new musical bridge appeared later the same year on the band's Cheap Thrills album under the title Oh, Sweet Mary.

Artist:     Mandala
Title:     Love-Itis
Source:     CD: Soul Crusade
Writer:     Scales/Vance
Label:     Wounded Bird (original label: Atlantic)
Year:     1968
     When it comes to blue-eyed soul, the first place that comes to mind is New York, home of the Vagrants and the  (Young) Rascals. One might also be inclined to think of Detroit, with bands such as Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels leading the pack. One place that does not immediately come to mind is Toronto, Canada, yet Mandala was certainly firmly placed within the genre. Two members of Mandala, vocalist Roy Kenner and guitarist Dominic Troiano, went on to replace Joe Walsh in the James Gang, with Troiano eventually replacing Randy Bachman in another Canadian band, the Guess Who.

Artist:    Zombies
Title:    She's Not There
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer:    Rod Argent
Label:    London (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:    Kinks
Title:    A Well Respected Man
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Eric (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    The Kinks were one of the original British Invasion bands, scoring huge R&B-influenced hits with You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night in 1964. The hits continued in 1965 with more melodic songs like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You. 1966 saw Ray Davies's songwriting take a satiric turn, as A Well Respected Man amply illustrates. Over the next few years the Kinks would continue to evolve, generally getting decent critical reviews and moderate record sales for their albums. The title of one of those later albums, Muswell Hillbillies, refers to the Davies brothers hometown of Muswell Hill, North London.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    Nobody Spoil My Fun
Source:    LP: The Seeds
Writer(s):    Sky Saxon
Label:    GNP Crescendo
Year:    1966
    Sky Saxon's Seeds were a popular attraction on the L.A. club scene in 1966. They were also one of the first bands to feature all original material (mostly from Saxon himself) on their albums, such as Nobody Spoil My Fun from their debut LP.

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

Artist:    Crazy Horse
Title:    Beggar's Day
Source:    LP: Crazy Horse
Writer(s):    Nils Lofgren
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1971
    The band that would come to be known as Crazy Horse actually started their recording career in 1968 as the Rockets. In 1969 they were hired by Neil Young to be his backup band on his second LP, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, changing their name at Young's suggestion. While working with Young on his next album, After The Gold Rush, the band added teen guitar prodigy Nils Lofgren, who appeared with the group on their 1971 LP Crazy Horse. Lofgren wrote some of the songs on the album as well, including Beggar's Day, which was later covered by the Scottish group Nazareth on their Hair Of The Dog LP.

Artist:    Moody Blues
Title:    In Search Of The Lost Chord (part two)
Source:    CD: In Search Of The Lost Chord
Writer:    Hayward/Pinder/Thomas/Edge
Label:    Deram
Year:    1968
    After using the London Symphony Orchestra extensively on their second LP, Days Of Future Passed, the Moody Blues played every instrument themselves on the next album, In Search Of The Lost Chord. There were reportedly 33 (or possibly more) different instruments played on the album. Among those was something called a mellotron, which used tape loops of recorded instruments played on a keyboard. Each side was one continuous piece of music, making In Search Of The Lost Chord, released in 1968, one of the first rock concept albums. Side two of the album features the following tracks: Voices in the Sky, The Best Way to Travel, Visions of Paradise, The Actor, The Word, Om

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Source:    LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol/EMI
Year:    1967
    The top album of 1967 was the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was also the first US Beatle album to have a song lineup that was identical to the original UK LP. As such, it was also the first Beatle album released in the US to not include any songs that were also released as singles. Nonetheless, several tracks from the LP found their way onto the playlists of both top 40 AM and "underground" FM stations from coast to coast. Among the most popular of these tracks was John Lennon's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, which shows up on just about everyone's list of classic psychedelic tunes.

Artist:     Monkees
Title:     Peter Perceival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky/Pleasant Valley Sunday
Source:     CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
Writer:     Tork/Goffin/King
Label:     Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year:     1967
     The album version of Pleasant Valley Sunday differs from the single version in two ways. First, the mix is different, with the background vocals more prominent on the stereo album mix. Second, on the original LP Peter Tork's spoken piece Peter Perceival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky precedes the song on the album and is considered part of the same track (although the CD version assigns the two different track numbers). In honor of the original album I'm playing the entire combo. Besides, Tork's piece is fun to listen to and it only lasts 27 seconds.

Artist:    Mystery Trend
Title:    Johnny Was A Good Boy
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Nagle/Cuff
Label:    Rhino (original label: Verve)
Year:    1967
    The Mystery Trend was a bit of an anomaly. Contemporaries of bands such as the Great! Society and the Charlatans, the Trend always stood a bit apart from the rest of the crowd, playing to an audience that was both a bit more affluent and a bit more "adult" (they were reportedly the house band at a Sausalito strip club). Although they played in the city itself as early as 1965, they did not release their first record until early 1967. The song, Johnny Was A Good Boy, tells the story of a seemingly normal middle-class kid who turns out to be a monster (without actually specifying what he did), surprising friends, family and neighbors. The same theme would be used by XTC in the early 1980s in the song No Thugs In Our House, one of the standout tracks from their landmark English Settlement album.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Empty Pages
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi
Label:    Silver Spotlight (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1970
    Traffic was formed in 1967 by Steve Winwood, after ending his association with the Spencer Davis Group. The original group, also featuring Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, put out two and a half albums before disbanding in early 1969. Shortly thereafter, following a successful live reunion album, Welcome to the Canteen, Winwood got to work on what was intended to be his first solo LP. For support Winwood called in Capaldi and Wood to back him up on the project. It soon became apparent, however, that what they were working on was actually a new Traffic album, John Barleycorn Must Die. Although Empty Pages was released as a single (with a mono mix heard here), it got most of its airplay on progressive FM stations, and as those stations were replaced by (or became) album rock stations, the song continued to get extensive airplay for many years.

Artist:    Open Mind
Title:    Magic Potion
Source:    British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Brancaccio
Label:    Grapefruit (original label: Philips)
Year:    1969
    Originally known as the Drag Set, the Open Mind adopted their new name in late 1967. Not long after the change they signed a deal with Philips Records and recorded an album with producer Johnny Franz in 1968. Their greatest achievement, however, came the following year, when they released Magic Potion as a single. By that time, unfortunately, British psychedelia had run its course, and Open Mind soon closed up shop.

Artist:    Vanilla Fudge
Title:    That's What Makes A Man
Source:    LP: Renaissance
Writer(s):    Mark Stein
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    The first Vanilla Fudge album was made up entirely of slowed-down/rocked-out versions of songs that had been made popular by other artists. The group then created one of the first concept albums, The Beat Goes On, a highly experimental work that addresses the passage of time in various ways (such as a medley of popular tunes that runs from the Baroque era through the Beatles, including Beethoven and Scott Joplin along the way). For their third LP, the band went with mostly original material (although there were still a couple covers done in a style similar to the first album), with each of the band members contributing at least one song. Lead vocalist/keyboardist Mark Stein provided That's What Makes A Man, which closes side one of the LP.

Artist:    Left Banke
Title:    Shadows Breaking Over My Head
Source:    LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
Writer(s):    Brown/Martin
Label:    Smash/Sundazed
Year:    1967
    Shadows Breaking Over My Head is one of many examples of what has come to be called Baroque Rock as defined by the Left Banke on their 1967 album Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina. Written by lead vocalist Steve Martin and keyboardist Michael Brown, the track utilizes studio musicians extensively, with Brown's keyboard work featured prominently.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    Let's Go Away For Awhile
Source:    Mono CD: Pet Sounds
Writer(s):    Brian Wilson
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1966
    After spending six months and a record amount of money making Good Vibrations, Brian Wilson and Capitol Records decided to use an existing track for the B side of the single rather than take the time to record something new. The chosen track was Let's Go Away For Awhile, a tune from the Pet Sounds album that Wilson described as the most satisfying instrumental piece he had ever written.

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