Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1513 (starts 3/25/15)

Artist:    Jose Feliciano
Title:    If I Really Bug You
Source:    A Bag Full Of Soul
Writer(s):    Jose and Hilda Feliciano
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1966
    Guitarist/vocalist Jose Feliciano was born in Lares, Puerto Rico on September 10, 1945. His family relocated to Spanish Harlem in New York City when he was five and played his first gig at age 9 at the Teatro Puerto Rico in The Bronx.  At 17 he quit school to become a professional performer, signing with RCA Victor in 1963 and releasing his first single the following year. In 1965 he released his first album, The Voice And Guitar Of Jose Feliciano, following it up with A Bag Full Of Soul in 1966. The album encompasses a variety of styles, including jazz, folk and soul. Feliciano's sense of humor comes through on his self-penned opening track, If I Really Bug You, which asks the musical question: why do you keep me around, then?

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    Gotta Get Away
Source:    CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Gordon/Adams
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1966
    As was common with most 1966 LPs, the Blues Magoos debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, included a handful of cover songs, not all of which had been hits for other groups. One of the non-hits was Gotta Get Away, a fairly typical piece of garage rock that opens side two of the LP. The song was also selected as the B side for the group's second (and by far most successful) single, (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet. As the usual practice was to bring in outside songwriters for a new band's early singles and let the band write their own B side, it is possible that Gotta Get Away may have been the intended A side of the single.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Goin' Home
Source:    British import LP: Aftermath
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: Decca)
Year:    1966
    Goin' Home was not originally meant to run over eleven minutes, but when the Rolling Stones recorded the track they decided to keep the tape rolling as the band kept on jamming after the intended two and a half minutes had passed. The result was one of the first extended-length studio recordings by a rock band and the first "jam" recorded expressly for an album. The regular lineup of Mick Jagger (vocals), Keith Richards (guitar), Billy Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums) and Brian Jones (who plays harmonica on the tune) was augmented by Ian Stewart on piano and Jack Nitzsche on percussion. The track was included on both the US and UK versions of the Aftermath album, which was the first Stones LP to not include any cover songs as well as being the first Rolling Stones album to be recorded in true stereo.

Artist:     Simon and Garfunkel
Title:     Somewhere They Can't Find Me
Source:     CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Sounds of Silence)
Writer:     Paul Simon
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1966
    Simon and Garfunkel's success as a folk-rock duo was actually due to the unauthorized actions of producer John Simon, who, after working on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited album, got Dylan's band to add new tracks to the song Sound of Silence. The song had been recorded as an acoustic number for the album Wednesday Morning 3AM, which had, by 1966, been deleted from the Columbia catalog. The new version of the song was sent out to select radio stations, and got such positive response that it was released as a single, eventually making the top 10. Meanwhile, Paul Simon, who had since moved to London and recorded an album called the Paul Simon Songbook, found himself returning to the US and reuniting with Art Garfunkel. Armed with an array of quality studio musicians they set about making their first electric album, Sounds of Silence. The song Somewhere They Can't Find Me was one of the new songs recorded for that album. The song shows a strong influence from British folk guitarist Bert Jansch, whom Simon greatly admired.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    The Coffee Song
Source:    CD: Fresh Cream (bonus track originally released in Sweden on LP: Fresh Cream and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Smith/Colton
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1966
    Cream's debut single, Wrapping Paper, appeared in England in 1966. The record did not chart and was soon forgotten. Cream's next single, I Feel Free, was a huge hit in the UK and the band soon got to work on their first LP. The practice in the UK at the time was to not include any songs on an album that had previously been released as singles; Fresh Cream partially broke with this tradition by using I Feel Free's B side, N.S.U., as the opening track.  When a US version of Fresh Cream was released in early 1967, I Feel Free was added to the lineup (replacing the original studio version of Spoonful). Neither side of the band's first single was included on the album...with one notable exception. The German pressing of Fresh Cream used the same track listing as the original UK version, but a Swedish version, manufactured in Germany, had two extra tracks: Wrapping Paper and another unreleased recording, The Coffee Song. Neither song was released anywhere else until the late 1980s, when the first US CD version of Fresh Cream included all the tracks from the various LP pressings of the album. For unknown reasons, subsequent releases of Fresh Cream have not included either Wrapping Paper or The Coffee Song (although the band members' oft expressed distaste for both songs may have something to do with it).

Artist:    Second Hand
Title:    A Fairy Tale (demo version)
Source:    Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution
Writer(s):    Elliott
Label:    Grapefruit
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 2013
    Secon Hand was an iconoclastic band from East London that released two albums for Polydor, Reality and Death May Be Your Santa Claus in 1969. The group's most commercial track was probably A Fairy Tale, which opened side one of Reality. The version heard here is actually a demo of the tune recorded in 1968.

Artist:     Grand Funk Railroad
Title:     Please Don't Worry
Source:     45 RPM single B side
Writer:     Farner/Brewer
Label:     Capitol
Year:     1970
     Grand Funk Railroad bridged the gap from garage rock to heavy metal, almost single-handedly creating arena rock in the process. Their sound was as raw and unpolished as any garage band (at least at first) and the rock press universally detested them. Nonetheless, Mark Farner, Mel Schacher and Don Brewer struck a (power) chord with the concertgoing/record-buying public and was the first band to consistently play to sellout crowds at large-scale venues such as sports arenas. Grand Funk played loud; so loud, in fact, that it was impossible to hear anything but the band itself when they were playing (even your own screaming). Please Don't Worry, from Grand Funk Railroad's self-title second album (often referred to as the red album), is as typical an early Grand Funk song as you're going to find, with its driving power chords and screaming lead guitar solo and Mark Farner's distinctive barely-on-key vocals.

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    Questions 67 & 68
Source:    CD: The Chicago Transit Authority
Writer(s):    Robert Lamm
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Originally calling themselves The Big Thing, The Chicago Transit Authority moved to Los Angeles in 1968, changing their name in the process. After a year of touring the band headed to New York to record their first album in early 1969. The first single released from that album was Questions 67 & 68, which was released as a nearly five-minute long single in July. The song stalled out at the #71 spot, but two years later an edited version of the song made it to #24. By then the group had shortened its name to Chicago. The rest, as they say, is history.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Love Story
Source:    CD: This Was (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968 (UK), 1969 (US)
    Love Story was the last studio recording by the original Jethro Tull lineup of Ian Anderson, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker and Glenn Cornish. The song was released as a single following the band's debut LP, This Was. Shortly after it's release Abrahams left the group, citing differences with Anderson over the band's musical direction. The song spent eight weeks on the UK singles chart, reaching the #29 spot. In the U.S., Love Story was released in March 1969, with A Song for Jeffrey (an album track from This Was) on the B-side, but did not chart. Like most songs released as singles in the UK, Love Story did not appear on an album until several years later; in this case on the 1973 anthology album Living In The Past. It has most recently been included as a bonus track on the expanded CD version of This Was.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Bleak City Woman
Source:    LP: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic
Year:    1967
    Donovan is one of those rare artists whose early work actually sounds less dated than their later efforts. Although no one can say for sure why this is, I suspect it may have something to do with Donovan's trying to live up to what was expected of him, both from fans and members of the press, who, following the success of Sunshine Superman, tried to set the singer/songwriter up as some sort of hippy messiah, similar to Bob Dylan. Before long, Donovan found himself making trips to India with the Beatles and writing Aquarian anthems like Wear Your Love Like Heaven and Atlantis. Before succumbing to all this, however, he put out one fine album in the form of Mellow Yellow in early 1967. Like Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow is an adventurous album, mixing folk, psychedelic rock and old-time jazz in unique configurations. Even the arguably weakest track on the LP, Bleak City Woman, stands above 90% of what was being released at the time (and closer to 100% of what has come out this century).

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Dirty Water
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
    The Standells were not from Boston (they were a Los Angeles club band). Ed Cobb, who wrote and produced Dirty Water, was. The rest is history.

Artist:    Them
Title:    Gloria
Source:    Mono LP: Them
Writer(s):    Van Morrison
Label:    Parrot
Year:    1965
    Gloria was one of the first seven songs that Van Morrison's band, Them, recorded for the British Decca label on July 5, 1964. Morrison had been performing the song since he wrote it in 1963, often stretching out the performance to twenty minutes or longer. The band's producer, Dick Rowe, brought in session musicians on organ and drums for the recordings, as he considered the band members themselves "inexperienced". The song was released as the B side of Them's first single, Baby Please Don't Go, in November of 1964. The song was also released in the US in early 1965, but was soon banned in most parts of the country for its suggestive lyrics. Later that year a suburban Chicago band, the Shadows Of Knight, released their own version of Gloria. That version, with slight lyrical revisions, became a major hit.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    You Really Got Me
Source:    Mono LP: You Really Got Me
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1964
    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:    James Gang
Title:    The Bomber
Source:    LP: The Best Of The James Gang (originally released on LP: James Gang Rides Again)
Writer(s):    Joe Walsh
Label:    ABC
Year:    1970
    The second James Gang album saw the addition of a new bass player, Dale Peters, who replaced founding member Tom Kriss. Unlike the group's debut LP, James Gang Rides Again consisted almost entirely of material written by the band members themselves. The only exceptions were adaptations of Ravel's Bolero and Vince Guaraldi's Cast Your Fate To The Wind that guitarist Joe Walsh incorporated into the instrumental section of The Bomber, which at seven minutes was the longest track on the album. The beginning and end of The Bomber consist of a piece called Closet Queen, which was composed by the entire band. Shortly after the album's rellease the Ravel estate initiated legal proceedings against the band for using Bolero without permission. In response the record was recalled and a new version with Bolero edited out of the track was released in its place. By the time the album The Best Of The James Gang came out (in 1973) the track had been restored to its original length (although the shorter time appears in the credits) and that is the version used on subsequent CD releases of James Gang Rides Again as well.

Artist:    Humans
Title:    Warning
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Bill Kuhns
Label:    Audition
Year:    1966
    Throughout the history of rock and roll there have been bands named after various species of fauna, such as crickets, beetles, hawks, and eagles. In seems inevitable, then, that someone would decide to name themselves after the dominant species on the planet. The Humans were formed in Albion, NY in 1964 by six members of the local high school marching band during summer break. In 1966 they went into Riposo Studios in Syracuse, NY to record their only single, a folk-rocker called Take A Taxi. The B side of that single was Warning, a song that has come to be considered a garage-rock classic. The record was released on the Audition label and was successful enough to get the band gigs in Miami and New York City, opening for such name acts as the Animals and the Hollies. Animals bassist Chas Chandler even invited the band members to go with him to the Cafe Wha in the summer of '66 to see a band called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames that featured a hot new guitarist that everyone was talking about. That guitarist was Jimi Hendrix, and Chandler was able to talk him into going back to London with him, an event of major significance for the future of rock music. Meanwhile, the Humans were struck by tragedy that September when lead vocalist Danny Long was killed in a car accident, and other band members began receiving draft notices. Finally, in November, the remaining members of the band decided to call it quits, and the Humans were history. Special thanks to Bill Vosteen for sending me a copy of that Humans single.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Love Is Only Sleeping
Source:    LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD.
Writer(s):    Mann/Weil
Label:    Colgems
Year:    1967
    Among the various professional songwriters hired by Don Kirschner in 1966 to write songs for the Monkees were the husband and wife team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who had hit it big with a pair of songs for Paul Revere And The Raiders (Kicks and Hungry) earlier that year. But when the Monkees rebelled against Kirschner's control over their recorded output in early 1967 it looked as though the band was done with Mann/Weil compositions altogether. Later that year, however, the Monkees themselves, now firmly in control of their own musical direction, chose to record a new Mann/Weil tune, Love Is Only Sleeping, as their fourth single. At the same time, the group was working on their fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD. A last-minute change of plans resulted in a different song, Daydream Believer, being released as a single instead, with a tune from the album, Goin' Down, as the B side. Goin' Down was then deleted from the album lineup and Love Is Only Sleeping included in its place. It was the closest that Michael Nesmith would ever come to being the lead vocalist on a Monkees hit single. 

Artist:    Who
Title:    I Can See For Miles
Source:    CD: The Who Sell Out
Writer:    Pete Townshend
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1967
     I Can See For Miles continued a string of top 10 singles in the UK and was their biggest US hit ever. Pete Townshend, however, was disappointed with the song's performance on the UK charts. He said that the song was the ultimate Who song and as such it should have charted even higher than it did. It certainly was one of the heaviest songs of its time and there is some evidence that it prompted Paul McCartney to come up with Helter Skelter in an effort to take the heaviest song ever title back for the Beatles. What makes the story even more bizarre is that at the time McCartney reportedly had never actually heard I Can See For Miles and was going purely by what he read in a record review. The song is preceeded by a series of jingles produced for Radio London, a pirate radio station operating off the coast with offices in London. One of those (Roto Sound Strings) was actually performed by the Who. The others were made by the same Texas company (now known as TM) that supplied jingles to most US top 40 stations.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Rock And Roll Woman
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth). Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina and Stephen Stills. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock and Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 40 years after it was recorded.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Tomorrow Never Knows
Source:    CD: Revolver
Writer:    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1966
    A few years ago I started to compile an (admittedly subjective) list of the top psychedelic songs ever recorded. Although I never finished ranking the songs, one of the top contenders for the number one spot was Tomorrow Never Knows. The song is one of the first to use studio techniques such as backwards masking and has been hailed as a studio masterpiece.

Artist:    Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title:    Poem By The Sea/Paint It Black
Source:    LP: Winds Of Change
Writer(s):    Burdon/Briggs/Weider/McCulloch/Jenkins/Jagger/Richards
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1967
    One of the highlights of the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967 was the onstage debut of Eric Burdon's new Animals, a group much more in tune with the psychedelic happenings of the summer of love than its working class predecessor. The showstopper for the band's set was an extended version of the Rolling Stone's classic Paint It, Black. That summer saw the release of the group's first full LP, Winds Of Change, which included a studio version of Paint It, Black preceded by a slow piece called Poem By The Sea.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Oh, Sweet Mary
Source:    CD: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Albin/Andrew/Getz/Gurley/Joplin
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    The only song credited to the entire membership of Big Brother And The Holding Company on their Cheap Thrills album was Oh, Sweet Mary (although some copies credit Janis Joplin as sole writer). The tune bears a strong resemblance to Coo Coo, a non-album single the band had released on the Mainstream label before signing to Columbia. Oh, Sweet Mary, however, has new lyrics and a "dreamy" bridge section played at a slower tempo than the rest of the tune.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    Have You Met My Pet Pig
Source:    LP: Where's My Daddy
Writer(s):    Markley/Harris
Label:    Amos
Year:    1969
    After being cut from the Reprise Records roster in 1968, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band found themselves recording one album for Jimmy Bowen's Amos label. Musically, the album is even more divorced from the mainstream than its predecessors, being a kind of concept album centered around a young homeless girl known as "Poor Patty". The story follows Patty's adventures in Los Angeles following the summer of love, and includes such strangely titled tunes as Have You Met My Pet Pig.

Artist:    Savoy Brown
Title:    Gypsy
Source:    CD: Looking In
Writer(s):    Kim Simmonds
Label:    Deram (original label: Parrot)
Year:    1970
    The opening track to the 1970 Savoy Brown album Looking In is a short instrumental by guitarist Kim Simmonds titled Gypsy. To me it sounds just like the album's closing track (which is the same length: one minute exactly).

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    That's It For The Other One/New Potato Caboose/Born Cross-Eyed
Source:    LP: Anthem Of The Sun
Writer(s):    Garcia/Kreutzmann/Lesh/McKernan/Weir/Constanten
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1968
    After completing their first album in three days, the Grateful Dead decided to take their time with the 1968 follow-up release. The band began recording at  American Studios in North Hollywood, but soon found themselves in New York, where they had their first experience with state-of-the-art eight track recording equipment. Naturally, the band wanted to explore the possibilities that were available with the new technology, which eventually led to producer Dave Hassinger resigning from the project in frustration (reportedly the last straw being Bob Weir's quest to capture the sound of "thick air"). With about a third of the album completed the band decided that the material needed to be road tested and scheduled a series of west coast appearances before heading back to San Francisco to continue work on the album at Coast Recorders. The band made recordings of these performances, interlacing them with the existing studio tracks and adding overdubs as needed. Among these overdubs were the contributions of Tom Constanten, who provided piano, prepared piano and electronic tape effects. As originally mixed, each album side was one continuous track, with no breaks between songs. Side one of Anthem Of The Sun consists of three compositions: That's It For The Other One, New Potato Caboose, and Born Cross-Eyed. In order to score more royalty points, however,That's It For The Other One was broken down into several subsections on the album cover. The album was completed later in 1968 and released by Warner Brothers Records, whose president, Joe Smith, called it "the most unreasonable project with which we have ever involved ourselves". Four years later, band members Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh decided to revist the project, remixing the entire album and reissuing it with the original catalog number. All subsequent releases of Album Of The Sun (LP, tape and CD) have used the 1972 remix with one exception: in 2014, Warner Brothers released a limited edition 180g vinyl pressing of the original 1968 mix. This week we present side one of that original mix. Enjoy!

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Plastic Fantastic Lover
Source:    CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Marty Balin
Label:    RCA
Year:    1967
    Jefferson Airplane scored their first top 10 hit with Somebody To Love, the second single released from the Surrealistic Pillow album. Almost immediately, forward-thinking FM stations began playing other tracks from the album. One of those favored album tracks, Plastic Fantastic Lover, ended up being the B side of the band's follow-up single, White Rabbit. When the Airplane reunited in 1989 and issued their two-disc retrospective, 2400 Fulton Street, they issued a special stereo pressing of the single on white vinyl as a way of promoting the collection.

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

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