Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1543 (starts 10/21/15)
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: The Great Airplane Strike (originally released on LP: Spirit Of '67 and as 45 RPM single)
Source: CD: Greatest Hits
In 1966 Paul Revere and the Raiders were at the peak of their popularity, scoring major hits that year with Hungry and Kicks. The last single the band released that year was The Great Airplane Strike from the Spirit Of '67 album. Written by band members Revere and Mark Lindsay, along with producer Terry Melcher, The Great Airplane Strike stands out as a classic example of Pacific Northwest rock, a style which would eventually culminate in the grunge movement of the 1990s.
Artist: Fantastic Zoo
Title: Light Show
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: Double Shot
The Fantastic Zoo had its origins in Denver, Colorado, with a band called the Fogcutters. When the group disbanded in 1966, main members Don Cameron and Erik Karl relocated to Los Angeles and reformed the group with new members. After signing a deal with local label Double Shot (which had a major hit on the charts at the time with Count Five's Psychotic Reaction), the group rechristened itself Fantastic Zoo, releasing their first single that fall. Early in 1967 the band released their second and final single, Light Show. The song did not get much airplay at the time, but has since become somewhat of a cult favorite.
Title: A Hundred Days And Nights
Source: CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lyte Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Paul Brissetts
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Sadbird)
The only thing known about the single A Hundred Days And Nights by a band called Masada is that the record was a product of Metcalf Recording Studios in New Bedford, Massachusetts. It's a good sounding record, though. If anyone has any information about this band, feel free to share it with me.
Source: Mono British import LP: Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde
By the time the Byrds released their 7th LP, Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde, only one original member, guitarist Roger McGuinn, remained from the band's original lineup. While the band's studio work had continued to move away from the sound that the Byrds had become famous for, the group's live performances continued to improve with each personnel change. Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde itself is, as implied by the title, a curious mixture of psychedelia and country-rock, with most songs favoring one or the other. One tune that combined the two (although favoring the country side) was Candy, a song written by McGuinn and new bassist John York. The tune was one of two songs on the album written for the soundtrack of the 1968 film Candy (the other was a song called Child Of The Universe). Unlike Child Of The Universe, however, the song Candy was not used in the film itself. Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde was not a success in the US, stalling out in the #135 spot on the Billboard charts. It did much better in the UK, however, where it made it all the way to the #15 spot.
Title: You Told Me
Source: CD: Headquarters
Writer(s): Michael Nesmith
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
After Don Kirschner got himself fired from Colgems for issuing the album More of the Monkees without the band's knowledge or permission (as well as a subsequent single that was sent out in promo form to radio stations and almost immediately rescinded), the band members insisted on having greater artistic control over what was being issued with their names on it. The end result was the Headquarters album, the only Monkees LP to feature the band members playing virtually all the instruments (with a few exceptions, notably producer Chip Douglas playing bass guitar). Although the Michael Nesmith composition You Told Me starts off side one of the LP, it was actually the third and final Nesmith track to be recorded for Headquarters. Peter Tork plays banjo on the track, that was sung by Nesmith himself.
Title: Doctor Doctor
Source: Mono CD: A Quick One (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM B side)
Writer: John Entwhistle
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Keeping an accurate chronology of recordings by the Who in their early years can be a bit difficult, mainly due to the difference in the ways songs were released in the US and the UK. Since the British policy was for songs released on 45 RPM vinyl not to be duplicated on LPs, several early Who songs were nearly impossible to find until being released on compilation albums several years after their original release. One such song is Doctor Doctor, a John Entwhistle tune released as the B side to their 1967 hit Pictures Of Lily. The single was released on both sides of the Atlantic, but only received airplay in the UK, where it made the top 10. In the US the record failed to chart and was out of print almost as soon as it was released. The song is now available as a CD bonus track on the 1966 album A Quick One.
Artist: Tim Buckley
Title: Once Upon A Time
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
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: Mouse And The Traps
Title: Lie Beg Borrow And Steal
Source: Mono British import CD: The Fraternity Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Ronnie Weiss
Label: Big Beat (original label: Fraternity)
Mouse and the Traps released over a dozen singles for the Fraternity label in the late 1960s, but never recorded an album. The group was quite popular in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, playing virtually every college in the region, often opening for big name acts like the Byrds, the Yardbirds and even Sonny & Cher. Their records were played on radio stations as far east as Virginia and the Carolinas, often making the top 10 in individual markets, but never in more than one or two places at the same time, thanks to Fraternity's poor national distribution system. One of the band's best songs was actually a B side released in December of 1967. If Lie Beg Borrow And Steal had been released a couple years earlier, it might have been a hit in its own right, but by late 1967 the garage-rock sound had already run its course. The song has since appeared on several garage-rock compilations and is considered a classic example of mid-60s Texas rock.
Title: Magic Carpet Ride
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf The Second)
Label: Priority (original label: Dunhill)
Steppenwolf's second top 10 single was Magic Carpet Ride, a song that combines feedback, prominent organ work by Goldy McJohn and an updated Bo Diddly beat with psychedelic lyrics. Along with Born To Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride (co-written by vocalist John Kay and bassist Rushton Moreve) has become one of the defining songs of both Steppenwolf and the late 60s.
Title: White Room
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Wheels Of Fire)
Label: United Artists (original label: Atco)
In order to get songs played on top 40 radio, record companies made it a practice to shorten album cuts by cutting out extended instrumental breaks and extra verses. This version of the Cream classic White Room, clocking in at just over three minutes, is a typical example.
Artist: Orange Wedge
Title: From The Womb To The Tomb
Source: Mono CD: An Overdose Of Heavy Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Blue Flat Ownsley Memorial)
Recorded in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1968, From The Womb To The Tomb was the only single from Orange Wedge, a forerunner of more famous Michigan bands such as the Stooges and the MC5.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Although never released as a single, Voodoo Child (Slight Return), has become a staple of classic rock radio over the years. The song was originally an outgrowth of a jam session at New York's Record Plant, which itself takes up most of side one of the Electric Ladyland LP. This more familiar studio reworking of the piece has been covered by a variety of artists over the years.
Artist: Harbinger Complex
Title: I Think I'm Down
Source: British import CD: With Love-A Pot Of Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Brent)
Most garage/club bands never made it beyond a single or two for a relatively small independent label. Freemont, California's Harbinger Complex is a good example. The group was one of many that were signed by Bob Shad, owner of Mainstream Records and its various subsidiaries such as Time and Brent. The band had already released one single on the independent Amber label and were recording at Golden State Recorders in San Francisco when they were discovered by Shad, who signed them to Brent. The band's first single was the British-influenced I Think I'm Down, which came out in 1966, and was included on Mainstream's 1967 showcase album With Love-A Pot Of Flowers.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: The Masked Marauder
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
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: Growing Concern
Title: All I Really Want
Source: British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released on LP: The Growing Concern)
Writer(s): Dan Passalaglia
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
The Ravens were a Chicago-based band formed in 1966 that had already spent time in the studio cutting a single for the local Big O label when they decided to add a couple of female vocalists and rename themselves the Growing Concern in 1967. They were discovered by Mainstream Records owner Bob Shad, who had just received an influx of cash when he sold the contract of Big Brother and the Holding Company to Columbia for a reported $200K dollars. Shad reasoned that female fronted rock bands were hot at the time, and the Growing Concern went to work on their debut LP for Mainstream. The album was completed in May of 1968 and released a couple weeks later. Peter Guerin, the band's male vocalist, described the group's sound as "the Airplane meets the Mormon Tabernacle Choir." This actually describes All I Really Want fairly accurately.
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Brave New World
Source: LP: Homer soundtrack (originally released on LP: Brave New World)
Writer(s): Steve Miller
Label: Cotillion (original label: Capitol)
It took the Steve Miller Band half a dozen albums (plus appearances on a couple of movie soundtracks) to achieve star status in the early 1970s. Along the way they developed a cult following that added new members with each successive album. The fourth Miller album was Brave New World, the title track of which was used in the film Homer, a 1970 film that is better remembered for its soundtrack than for the film itself.
Title: Animal Zoo
Source: Mono CD: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
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.
Title: Come Over
Source: British import CD: Turtle Soup
Label: Repertoire (original label: White Whale)
By 1969 the relationship between the Turtles and their label, White Whale, was rapidly deteriorating. The group had attempted to produce their own music the previous year, only to have White Whale refuse to release the recordings (with the exception of a surf parody called Surfer Dan that appeared on the album Battle Of The Bands). The band responded by hiring Ray Davies, leader of the Kinks (who were at the time banned from playing in the US) to produce their next (and as it turns out, final) album, Turtle Soup. All the songs on the album, including Come Over, which opens side one of the LP, were written by the band itself, despite White Whale's insistence on the Turtles using outside songwriters. Although there were two single released from the LP, neither was able to crack the top 40 charts. Things finally got so bad between the Turtles and White Whale that the group refused to complete their next LP and instead disbanded the following year.
Artist: Strawberry Zots
Title: Pretty Flowers
Source: LP: Cars, Flowers, Telephones
Writer(s): Mark Andrews
Albuquerque's Strawberry Zots were led by Mark Andrews, who either wrote or co-wrote all of the band's original material. Their only LP, Cars, Flowers, Telephones, was released locally on the StreetSound label and reissued on CD the following year by RCA records. My personal favorite track on the album is Pretty Flowers, which starts off the LP's second side.
Title: Wishing And Wondering
Source: CD: Thank You, Bonzo
Writer(s): Stephen R Webb
The last track to be completed by Albuquerque band the Mumphries was Wishing And Wondering, a song about man's mistreatment of his home planet. The song was intended to be submitted to various environmentalist organizations, but somehow that never happened. If you know of anyone interested, however....
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: We've Got A Groovy Thing Going
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM B side and included on LP: Sounds Of Silence)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
In late 1965, producer Tom Wilson decided to preform an experiment. He took the original recording of a song from Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel's 1964 album, Wednesday Morning 6AM, and added electric instruments to it (using the same musicians that had played on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited album), essentially creating a whole new version of the song and, for that matter, a whole new genre: folk-rock. The Sound of Silence, backed by We've Got a Groovy Thing Going, became a huge national hit, going all the way to #1 on the top 40 charts. The only problem was that by the time all this happened, Simon and Garfunkel had gone their separate ways, briefly reuniting to record We've Got a Groovy Thing Going in 1965, but not releasing it at the time. Paul Simon, who was by then living in England, returned to the states in early 1966, got back together with Art Garfunkel and quickly recorded a new album, Sounds Of Silence. Many of the tracks on Sounds Of Silence had been previously recorded by Simon and released on an album called The Paul Simon Songbook, which was only available in the UK. Also included on Sounds Of Silence was a new stereo mix of We've Got A Groovy Thing Going.
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)
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.
Title: There Is A Mountain
Source: British import CD: Mellow Yellow (originally released in US as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original label: Epic)
1967 was a year that saw Donovan continue to shed the "folk singer" image, forcing the media to look for a new term to describe someone like him. As you may have already guessed, that term was "singer-songwriter." On There Is A Mountain, a hit single from 1967, Donovan applies Eastern philosophy and tonality to pop music, with the result being one of those songs that sticks in your head for days.
Title: Hey Jude
Source: CD: Past Masters-vol. 2 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Without a question, the biggest hit the Beatles ever had was Hey Jude. The song spent nineteen weeks on the charts, nine of them in the number one spot, making it the most popular song of 1968. It was also the first record released on the Apple label, and became the biggest-selling debut release for a record label in history, topping the charts in eleven countries. At over seven minutes in length, it held the record for longest-playing number one hit for 25 years (finally supplanted by a Meat Loaf single). Hey Jude is also the most popular bar song in mid-world, as described in Stephen King's Dark Tower books.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Eskimo Blue Day
Source: LP: Volunteers
Label: RCA Victor
Jefferson Airplane's sixth LP, Volunteers, was by far their most socio-political album, from the first track (We Can Be Together, with its famous "up against the wall" refrain) to the last (the song Volunteers itself). One of the more controversial tracks on the 1969 album is Eskimo Blue Day, which describes just how meaningless human concerns are in the greater scheme of things with the repeated use of the phrase "doesn't mean shit to a tree". Eskimo Blue Day was one of two songs from Volunteers performed by the Airplane at Woodstock.
Artist: David Bowie
Title: All The Madmen
Source: CD: Sound+Vision Catalogue Sampler #1 (originally released on LP: The Man Who Sold The World)
Writer(s): David Bowie
Label: Ryko (original label: Mercury)
Although most critics agree that the so-called "glitter era" of rock music originated with David Bowie's 1972 LP The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, a significant minority argue that it really began with Bowie's third album, The Man Who Sold The World, released in 1970 in the US and in 1971 in the UK. They point out that World was the first Bowie real rock album (the previous two being much more folk oriented), and cite songs such as All The Madmen, as well as the album's title cut, as the prototype for Spiders From Mars. All The Madmen itself is one of several songs on the album that deal with the subject of insanity, taking the view that an insane asylum may in fact be the sanest place to be in modern times. Whenever I hear the song I think of the film One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, which makes a similar statement.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You
Source: LP: Revolution soundtrack
Label: United Artists
Revolution was a 1968 documentary film following the adventures of a young hippie woman named Daria Halprin in 1967 San Francisco. The movie featured music from several notable Bay Area bands, including the already popular Country Joe And The Fish, the newly formed Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks and the all-female Ace Of Cups. Three unsigned bands (Mother Earth, the Steve Miller Band and Quicksilver Messenger Service) appeared in the film as well, and were included on the movie soundtrack album. Of the three, the most popular was Quicksilver Messenger Service, who had already had offers from major record labels, but were holding out for the best deal (a move that probably backfired, since they were unable to take advantage of the massive media buzz surrounding the summer of love). The band's considerable talents were on display on the song Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You. Quicksilver's arrangement of the tune is considerably different than the 1969 Led Zeppelin version, to the point of sounding like an entirely different song, however, the similarity of the lyrics is pretty hard to miss.
Title: Plastic People
Source: Mono CD: A Deadly Dose Of Wild Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): F. Colli
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Magnum)
Stockton, California's Wildwood only released two singles, both in 1968. The first of these, Plastic People, takes a somewhat cynical view of the Flower Power movement, which had by 1968 pretty much run its course. Musically the track owes much to Sean Bonniwell's Music Machine.
Artist: Fifty Foot Hose
Title: Red The Sign Post
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Cauldron)
Label: Rhino (original label: Limelight)
Although most of the more avant-garde bands of the psychedelic era were headquarted in New York, there were some exceptions, such as San Francisco's Fifty Foot Hose. The core members of the band were founder and bassist Louis "Cork" Marcheschi, guitarist David Blossom, and his wife, vocalist Nancy Blossom. The group used a lot of unusual instruments, such as theramin, Moog synthesizer and prepared guitar and piano. Probably their most commercial song was Red The Sign Post from the LP Cauldron. After that album the group called it quits, with most of the members joining the cast of Hair. In fact, Nancy Blossom played lead character Sheila in the San Francisco production of the musical.
Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Source: LP: Winds Of Change
The first album by the New Animals (generally known as Eric Burdon and the Animals) was Winds of Change, issued in mid-1967. Although the album was not particularly well-received at the time, it has, in more recent years, come to be regarded as a classic example of psychedelic era experimentation. One of the more experimental tracks is Man-Woman, a spoken word piece about a man's unfaithfulness and his woman's reaction to it that takes a rather chauvinistic view of the situation. Instrumentally the entire track is nearly entirely made up of percussion instruments playing African-inspired rhythms.