Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1519 (starts 5/6/15)

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Till The End Of The Day
Source:    Mono CD: 25 Years-The Ultimate Collection (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    PolyTel (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1965
    Although the Kinks had, by 1965, largely moved beyond their hard-rocking roots into more melodic territory, there were a few exceptions. The most notable of these was Till The End Of The Day, which was released as a single toward the end of the year. Although it was not as big a hit as, say, You Really Got Me, it did prove that the band could still rock out when it wanted to.

Artist:    Yardbirds
Title:    Still, I'm Sad
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Great Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    McCarty/Samwell-Smith
Label:    Epic
Year:    1965
    The most influential Yardbirds song on US garage bands, as well as their biggest US hit, was their grunged out version of Bo Diddley's I'm A Man, which hit the top 10 in 1965. The B side of that record was Still I'm Sad, possibly the first rock song to incorporate Gregorian chant. Interestingly enough, Still I'm Sad was released in the UK on the exact same day as in the US, but as the B side to an entirely different tune, Evil Hearted You.

Artist:    Rising Sons
Title:    Statesboro Blues (version 2)
Source:    CD: The Rising Sons featuring Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder
Writer(s):    Willie McTell
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    Recorded 1965, released 1992
    The Rising Sons were not your typical Los Angeles club band. Indeed, when they managed to land a record deal with Columbia, nobody at the label knew what to do with them. As a result, the band only released one single, despite being one of the most talked about groups on the strip. By all accounts, the band's showpiece was a high-energy take on Willie McTell's Statesboro Blues. In fact, the song was so popular with the band that they actually recorded two versions of the piece in the studio. When Columbia finally released the band's studio recordings in 1992, both versions of Statesboro Blues were included on the disc.

Artist:    Moby Grape
Title:    Omaha
Source:    LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s):    Skip Spence
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    As an ill-advised promotional gimmick, Columbia Records released five separate singles concurrently with the first Moby Grape album. Of the five singles, only one, Omaha, actually charted, and it only got to the #86 spot. Meanwhile, the heavy promotion by the label led to Moby Grape getting the reputation of being over-hyped, much to the detriment of the band's career.

Artist:    Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title:    Good Times
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Burdon/Briggs/Weider/Jenkins/McCulloch
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1967
    By the end of the original Animals' run they were having greater chart success with their singles in the US than in their native UK. That trend continued with the formation of the "new" Animals in 1967 and their first single, When I Was Young. Shortly after the first LP by the band now known as Eric Burdon And The Animals came out, M-G-M decided to release the song San Franciscan Nights as a single to take advantage of the massive youth migration to the city that summer. Meanwhile the band's British label decided to instead issue Good Times, (an autobiographical song which was released in the US as the B side to San Franciscan Nights) as a single, and the band ended up with one of their biggest UK hits ever. Riding the wave of success of Good Times, San Franciscan Nights eventually did get released in the UK and was a hit there as well.

Artist:    Tim Buckley
Title:    Once Upon A Time
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Writer(s):    Buckley/Beckett
Label:    Rhino
Year:    Recorded 1967, released 2009
    Tim Buckley was one of those people whose style it is almost impossible to define. His first album, consisting of songs he and his friend Bob Beckett had written while still attending high school, was released in 1966 on Elektra Records, and was considered folk music. Before recording a follow-up, Buckley switched gears, recording Once Upon A Time in a deliberate effort to achieve commercial success. Elektra Records chose not to release the song, however, and Buckley soon eased into a more eclectic vein, writing songs that incorporated elements of several genres, including folk, rock and even jazz.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Born Cross-Eyed
Source:    CD: Anthem Of The Sun
Writer(s):    The Grateful Dead
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1968
    After cranking out their first LP in a matter of days, San Francisco's Grateful Dead took a full six months to record, edit and mix the follow-up album, Anthem Of The Sun. Most of the tracks on the album run together and feature an experimental mix of live and studio material. The sole exception is Born Cross-Eyed, which has a running time of barely over two minutes. As near as I can tell, it is also the only actual studio track on the album. Although the song is credited to the entire band, Bob Weir's lyrics are rumoured to be autobiographical in nature.

Artist:    Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title:    Light Your Windows
Source:    CD: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Writer(s):    Duncan/Freiberg
Label:    Rock Beat (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1968
    There are differing opinions on just how serious legendary San Francisco singer/songwriter and general iconoclast Dino Valenti was being when, at a jam session with guitarist John Cippolina one night, he suggested that the two of them form a band. Since Valenti was busted for drugs the very next day (and ended up spending the next two years in jail), we'll never know for sure. Cippolina, however, was motivated enough to begin finding members for the new band, including bassist David Freiberg (later to join Starship) and drummer Skip Spence. When Marty Balin stole Spence away to join his own new band (Jefferson Airplane), he tried to make up for it by introducing Cippolina to vocalist/guitarist Gary Duncan and drummer Greg Elmore, whose own band, the Brogues, had recently disbanded. Taking the name Quicksilver Messenger Service (so named for all the member's astrological connections with the planet Mercury), the new band soon became a fixture on the San Francisco scene. Inspired by the Blues Project, Cippolina and Duncan quickly established a reputation for their dual guitar improvisational abilities. Unlike other San Francisco bands such as the Airplane and the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service did not jump at their first offer from a major record label, preferring to hold out for the best deal. This meant their debut album did not come out until 1968, missing out on the initial buzz surrounding the summer of love. The band toned down their jamming for their first LP, preferring to concentrate on more structured compositions such as Light Your Windows, which clocks in at less that three minutes.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    All Along The Watchtower
Source:    LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    Although there have been countless covers of Bob Dylan songs recorded by a variety of artists, very few of them are considered improvements over Dylan's original versions. Probably the most notable exception is the Jimi Hendrix Experience version of All Along The Watchtower on the Electric Ladyland album. Hendrix's arrangement of the song has been adopted by several other musicians over the years, including Neil Young (at the massive Bob Dylan tribute concert) and even Dylan himself.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Sleepy Time Time
Source:    LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Bruce/Godfrey
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:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    In The Morning
Source:    LP: Early Flight
Writer(s):    Jorma Kaukonen
Label:    Grunt
Year:    Recorded 1966, released 1974
    One of the earliest and best collections of previously unreleased material from a major rock band was the Jefferson Airplane's Early Flight LP, released in 1974. Among the rarities on the LP is In The Morning, a blues jam with Jorma Kaukonen on vocals and lead guitar that runs over six minutes long. The length itself precluded the track being included on the band's debut LP, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, despite the obvious quality of the performance. The song has since been included as a bonus track on the CD version of JATO.

Artist:    Clue
Title:    Bad Times
Source:    Mono LP: Pebbles-vol. 8 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Steve Thomas
Label:    BFD (original label: Byron)
Year:    1966
    Presumably from somewhere around the Midland, Texas area (where Byron Records was located), the Clue only released one single, a garage/punk classic called Bad Times. Unfortunately the only copy I have of the tune (from vol. 8 of the Pebbles anthology series) suffers from poor audio quality. Reportedly the original 45 RPM record sounded much better, so if anyone out there has a copy they can spare (or at least knows of a better version).....

Artist:    Chocolate Watchband
Title:    Dark Side Of The Mushroom
Source:    CD: No Way Out
Writer(s):    Cooper/Podolor
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    Just who played on Dark Side Of The Mushroom is lost to history. What is certain, however, is that it is not the Chocolate Watchband, despite its inclusion on that band's debut LP. Producer Ed Cobb apparently had his own agenda when it came to the Watchband, which included making them sound much more psychedelic on vinyl than when they performed onstage (in fact it is doubtful that Cobb ever actually attended any of the band's live gigs). To accomplish his goal, Cobb enlisted the help of songwriter/musician Richie Podolor, who would later go on to produce Three Dog Night's records. Podolor put together the group of anonymous studio musicians that recorded Dark Side Of The Mushroom, which, despite its shady history, is a decent slice of instrumental psychedelia.

Artist:    Los Chijuas
Title:    Changing The Colors Of Life
Source:    CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jose and Julian Ganem
Label:    Rhino (original label: Musart)
Year:    1968
    Although it was issued on an American label, Changing The Colors Of Life was actually the product of Los Chijuas, a band from Ciudad Juarez, a city located directly across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. Like Tijuana, Juarez was a popular destination for off-duty US military personnel from White Sands Missile Range, Holloman AFB (both in New Mexico) and especially Fort Bliss, located in El Paso itself. The city had a strong local music scene, with bands performing various mixtures of salsa, ranchero, mariachi, rock and soul nightly at the city's many clubs. One band that stood out from the rest was Los Chijuas, who, unlike most of the local groups, was strongly influenced by the folk-rock movement that had stormed the US West Coast just a couple years earlier. Changing The Colors Of Life, written by co-founders Jose and Julian Ganem, was recorded in Juarez, but released on the American Musart label in 1968. The group also had a hit in Mexico that same year with their own version of Bob Dylan's Mighty Quinn, thanks in part to the support of El Paso disc jockey Steve Crosno, who in addition to being the voice of XELO (the bilingual AM top 40 station radiating 100 kilowatts of power from south of the border) was host of a weekly dance show on a local El Paso TV station.

Artist:    Sly And The Family Stone
Title:    Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
Source:    Simulated stereo CD: Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Sylvester Stewart
Label:    Epic
Year:    1969
    For any given season of any year there's always one song that seems to be constantly playing wherever you go; on your favorite radio station, on the jukebox where you hang out, on the stereo at a friend's house or even at a dance, where the song is already being played (by popular request, of course) by a local cover band. In the winter of 1969-70 that song was Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) by Sly And The Family Stone. The record, the last to be released in the 1960s by the band, was a monster hit, spending five weeks at the top of the R&B charts (at that time known as the soul singles charts) and hitting the top spot on the pop charts as well. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) was actually one half of a double A-sided single (the other half being Everybody Is A Star) and along with the band's previous single, Hot Fun In The Summertime, was intended to be part of the first new album released by the band since wowing the crowd at Woodstock the previous summer. However, the album project was shelved, and the three songs were instead included (in fake stereo) on a greatest hits album released in 1970. Sly And The Family Stone would not release any more new material until autumn 1971, when yet another single, Family Affair, signalled the beginning of a whole new direction for the band.

Artist:    Paper Bubble
Title:    Fillin' A Gap
Source:    British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released on LP: Scenery)
Writer(s):    Brake/Crane
Label:    Grapefruit (original label: Deram)
Year:    1970
    Paper Bubble was actually the folk club duo of Brian Crane and Terry Brake, supporting the Strawberry Hill Boys (later to be known as Strawbs), on an album called Scenery, which was recorded in late 1969. The album, released in 1970, was heavy on the vocals and embellished with strings, with relatively little in the way of the usual rock instrumetation, as can be heard on the tune Fillin' A Gap.

Artist:     Standells
Title:     Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source:     Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Ed Cobb
Label:     Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:     1966
     The Standells were probably the most successful band to record for the Tower label (not counting Pink Floyd, whose first LP was issued, in modified form, on the label after being recorded in England). Besides their big hit Dirty Water, they hit the charts with other tunes such as Why Pick On Me, Try It, and the punk classic Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White. All but Try It were written by producer Ed Cobb, who has to be considered the most prolific punk-rock songwriter of the 60s, having also written some of the Chocolate Watch Band's best stuff as well.

Artist:    Liquid Scene
Title:    The Mystery Machine
Source:    Revolutions
Writer(s):    Becki diGregorio (bodhi)
Label:    Ziglain
Year:    2014
    Keeping the spirit of psychedelia alive we have Liquid Scene with a track from their 2014 debut CD Revolutions. The Mystery Machine, the third track on the CD, uses acoustic percussion instruments to set the tone for a piece that combines modern production techiques with bodhi's haunting vocals to create a memorable soundscape without in any way abandoning its late 60s roots. I like this one more every time I hear it.

Artist:    Tears For Fears
Title:    Sowing The Seeds Of Love
Source:    CD single
Writer(s):    Orzabal/Smith
Label:    Fontana
Year:    1989
    Although generally not considered a psychedelic band, Tears For Fears managed to effectively channel George Martin's Magical Mystery Tour production techniques (e.g. I Am The Walrus) on their most political recording, 1989's Sowing The Seeds Of Love. Written in response to Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party's winning of a third consecutive term in office in June of 1987, the track reflects Roland Orzabal's working-class sensibilities with lines like "Politician granny with your high ideals, have you no idea how the majority feels?"

Title:    A House Is Not A Motel
Source:    CD: Comes In Colours (originally released on LP: Forever Changes)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Raven (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1967
    Arthur Lee was a bit of a recluse, despite leading the most popular band on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. When the band was not playing at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go Lee was most likely to be found at his home up in the Hollywood Hills, often in the company of fellow band member Bryan McLean. The other members of the band, however, were known to hang out in the most popular clubs, chasing women and imbibing all kinds of substances. Sometimes they would show up at Lee's house unbidden. Sometimes they would crash there. Sometimes Lee would get annoyed, and probably used the phrase which became the title of the second track on Love's classic Forever Changes album, A House Is Not A Motel.

Artist:    Love
Title:    The Everlasting First
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Blue Thumb
Year:    1970
    After disbanding the original Love in 1968, Arthur Lee soon resurfaced with a new version of the band, recording one more LP for Elektra, as well as a double LP for the fledgling Blue Thumb label. Yet another lineup made its debut on the 1970 album False Start, the final Love album for Blue Thumb. The album features Lee's old friend Jimi Hendrix as co-arranger and lead guitarist on the album's opening track, a tune called The Everlasting First. The track was likely put together from a series of jams that Lee and Hendrix recorded at Island Records' London studios in March of 1970.

Artist:    Love
Title:    No. 14
Source:    Mono Australian import CD: Comes In Colours (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Raven (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1967
    With a title that is an obvious joke, No. 14 is among the most obscure of the original Love's recordings, having appeared on vinyl only as a B side to the 1966 single 7&7 Is and on a 1973 compilation album that was only released in Europe. At less than two minutes long, it would seem that the track's main objective was to make sure that disc jockeys didn't accidentally play the wrong side of the record.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Down On Me
Source:    Live At The Carousel Ballroom-1968
Writer(s):    trad., arr. Joplin
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 2012
    The first single by Big Brother And The Holding Company, Down On Me, barely missed making the top 40 charts when it was released in 1967, peaking at # 42. As can be heard on their Live At The Carousel Ballroom-1968 CD, recorded directly off the sound board by Owsley "Bear" Stanley, their performance of the old song from the 1930s only got better with time.

Artist:    Blue Cheer
Title:    Summertime Blues
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Vincebus Eruptum)
Writer(s):    Cochrane/Capehart
Label:    Rhino (original label: Philips)
Year:    1968
    If 1967 was the summer of love, then 1968 was the summer of violence. Framed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, both major anti-establishment movements of the time (civil rights and anti-war) became increasing radicalized and more violent. The hippies gave way to the Yippies, LSD gave way to crystal meth, and there were riots in the streets of several US cities. Against this backdrop Blue Cheer released one of the loudest and angriest recordings ever to grace the top 40: the proto-metal arrangement of Eddie Cochrane's 1958 classic Summertime Blues. It was the perfect soundtrack of its time.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    The Great Canyon Fire In General
Source:    CD: Spirit
Writer(s):    Jay Ferguson
Label:    Ode/Epic/Legacy
Year:    1968
    Among other things, Southern California is known for its periodic wildfires, which, fueled by hot Santa Ana winds, destroy everything in their path before they can be brought under control. In the summer of 1967, while the members of Spirit were living in L.A.'s Topanga Canyon and working on their first album, one of these wildfires took out about half of the canyon. Although the house the band was living in was spared, the entire area was evacuated and the members of Spirit (and their family) had to spend a week camped out at the beach. Now that's what I call roughing it!

Artist:    Grass Roots
Title:    Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man)
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer:    Bob Dylan
Label:    Dunhill
Year:    1965
    In late 1965 songwriters/producers P.F. Sloan (Eve of Destruction) and Steve Barri decided to create a series of records by a band called the Grass Roots. The problem was that there was no band called the Grass Roots (at least not that they knew of), so Sloan and Barri decided to recruit an existing band and talk them into changing their name. The band they found was the Bedouins, one of the early San Francisco bands. As the rush to sign SF bands was still months away, the Bedouins were more than happy to record the songs Sloan and Barri picked out for them. The first single by the newly-named Grass Roots was a cover of Bob Dylan's Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man). The band soon got to work promoting the single to Southern California radio stations, but with both the Byrds and the Turtles already on the charts with Dylan covers it soon became obvious that the market was pretty much saturated. After a period of months the band, who wanted more freedom to write and record their own material, had a falling out with Sloan and Barri and it wasn't long before they moved back to San Francisco, leaving drummer Joel Larson in L.A. The group, with another drummer, continued to perform as the Grass Roots until Dunhill Records ordered them to stop. Eventually Dunhill would hire a local L.A. band called the 13th Floor to be the final incarnation of the Grass Roots who would crank out a series of top 40 hits in the early 70s. Meanwhile the original lineup changed their name but never had the opportunity to make records again.

Artist:     Mothers of Invention
Title:     Hungry Freaks, Daddy
Source:     CD: Freak Out
Writer:     Frank Zappa
Label:     Ryko (original label: Verve)
Year:     1966
     Hungry Freaks, Daddy is the opening track on the first Mothers Of Invention album, Freak Out! This alone would make the track historically significant, but the truth of the matter is that Hungry Freaks, Daddy is an excellent song in its own right. Unlike most socially aware songs up to that point in time, Hungry Freaks, Daddy has a decidedly satirical edge that would become a trademark of Frank Zappa's songwriting for years to come.

Artist:     Buffalo Springfield
Title:     Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing
Source:     Mono CD: Retrospective (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Buffalo Springfield)
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Atco
Year:     1966
     One of the most influential folk-rock bands to come out of the L.A. scene was Buffalo Springfield. The band had several quality songwriters, including Neil Young, whose voice was deemed "too weird" by certain record company people. Thus we have Richie Furay singing a Young tune on the band's first single, Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing.

Artist:    Other Half
Title:    Mr. Pharmacist
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Jeff Nowlen
Label:    Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year:    1966
    The Other Half was one of the many bands that could be found playing the local L.A. clubs when the infamous Riot On Sunset Strip happened in 1966. They are also the only other band I know of besides the Seeds that recorded for the GNP Crescendo label. The guitar solo is provided by Randy Holden, who would end up replacing Leigh Stephens in Blue Cheer a few years later.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Mr. Limousine Driver (extended version)
Source:    CD: Grand Funk (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    With the advent of eight-track technology, artists sometimes found themselves with more recording space than they actually needed. Bands like Grand Funk Railroad, who only had three members, were generally able to lay down the basic instrumentals on only four tracks (two for drums and one each for bass and guitar), adding vocals on one or two of the remaining tracks. This left extra room for multiple takes of the lead guitar solos and fills. This extended version of one of their most popular tunes, Mr. Limousine Driver, (which was originally released on the band's second LP, Grand Funk (aka The Red Album)), uses the same basic instrumental and vocal tracks as the LP version, but features an unused alternate lead guitar track and does not fade out early like the version heard on Grand Funk.

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