Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1545 (starts 11/4/15)

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    As Tears Go By
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass) (originally released on LP: December's Children [And Everybody's] and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards/Oldham
Label:    London
Year:    1965
            As Tears Go By is sometimes referred to as the Rolling Stones' answer to the Beatles' Yesterday. The problem with this theory, however, is that As Tears Go By was written a year before Yesterday was released, and in fact was a top 10 UK single for Marianne Faithful in 1964. The story of the song's genesis is that producer/manager Andrew Oldham locked Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in the kitchen until they came up with an original song. The original title was As Time Goes By, but, not wanting anyone to confuse it with the famous song used in the film Casablanca, Oldham changed Time to Tears, and got a writing credit for his trouble. Since the Stones were not at that time known for soft ballads, Oldham gave the song to Marianne Faithful, launching a successful recording career for the singer in 1964. The following year the Stones included their own version of the song on the album December's Children (And Everybody's), using a string arrangement that may indeed have been inspired by the Beatles' Yesterday, which was holding down the # 1 spot on the charts at the time the Rolling Stones were recording As Tears Go By. After American disc jockeys began playing As Tears Go By as an album track, London Records released the song as a US-only single, which ended up making the top 10 in 1965.
Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Trouble
Source:    CD: Turn On The Music Machine
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1966
    Sean Bonniwell had definite plans for the Music Machine's first album. His primary goal was to have all original material, with the exception of a slowed-down version of Hey Joe that he and fellow songwriter Tim Rose had been working on (and before you ask, both Rose and the Music Machine recorded it before Jimi Hendrix did). Unfortunately, the shirts at Original Sound Records did not take their own company name seriously and inserted four cover songs that the band had recorded for a local TV show. This was just the first in a series of bad decisions by the aforementioned shirts that led to a great band not getting the success it deserved. To hear Turn On The Music Machine the way Bonniwell intended it to be heard program your CD player to skip all the extra cover songs. Listened to that way, Trouble is restored to its rightful place as the second song on the disc (following Talk Talk) and a fairly decent album is transformed into a work that is equal to the best albums of 1966.

Artist:    Young Rascals
Title:    It's Wonderful
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Once Upon A Dream)
Writer:    Cavaliere/Brigati
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1967
    Psychedelic rock is generally considered to have begun on the West Coast (although Austin, Texas has a legitimate claim as well). By the time of the Summer of Love, however, psychedelic rock was a national trend. New York had always been one of the major centers of the music industry, so it's not surprising that on the East Coast 1967 was the year of the psychedelic single. One of the most popular New York bands of the time was the Young Rascals, generally considered to be the greatest blue-eyed soul band of the era, if not of all time. Still, the times being what they were, the Rascals departed from their usual style more than once in '67, first with the smash hit How Can I Be Sure, and then with their own psychedelic single, It's Wonderful, released in November of the same year.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    As Kind As Summer
Source:    LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer(s):    Markley/Harris
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    The first time I heard As Kind As Summer from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil I jumped up to see what was wrong with my turntable. A real gotcha moment.

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Two Heads
Source:     CD: After Bathing At Baxters
Writer:     Grace Slick
Label:     RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:     1967
     The third Jefferson Airplane album, After Bathing At Baxter's, saw the group moving in increasingly experimental directions, as Grace Slick's two contributions to the LP attest. The more accessible of the two was Two Heads, which was the first part of Schizoforest Love Suite,
the fifth and final "suite" on the album.

Artist:     Turtles
Title:     She's My Girl
Source:     LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Bonner/Gordon
Label:     Rhino (original label: White Whale)
Year:     1967
      After a moderate amount of success in 1965 with a series of singles starting with a cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, the Turtles found themselves running out of steam by the end of 1966. Rather than throw in the towel, they enlisted the services of Gary Bonner and Al Gordon (from the New York band the Magicians) and recorded their most successful single, Happy Together, in 1967. They dipped into the same well for She's My Girl later the same year. According to vocalist Howard Kaylan (or maybe it was Mark Volman), at that point in the band's career things were getting kind of weird, with one of the band members becoming convinced that he, not John Lennon, was in fact the walrus. Reportedly there were strange things going on with the backup vocals on this track as well.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Daily Nightly
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.)
Writer(s):    Michael Nesmith
Label:    Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year:    1967
    One of the first rock songs to feature a Moog synthesizer was the Monkees' Daily Nightly from the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD. Micky Dolenz, who had a reputation for nailing it on the first take but being unable to duplicate his success in subsequent attempts, was at the controls of the new technology for this recording of Michael Nesmith's most psychedelic song (he also sang lead on it). The Moog itself had been programmed by electronic music pioneer Paul Beaver especially for this recording.

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:    The Mickey Finn
Title:    Garden Of My Mind
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):    Waller/Marks
Label:    Rhino (original label: Direction)
Year:    1967
    Not every band in the world makes a living performing their own original material. In fact, the majority of working musicians are members of cover bands, playing a variety of venues all over the world. Most of these bands will never see the inside of a recording studio. There have been times and places, however, when even cover bands could get recording contracts, especially if they had a sizable local following. One such time and place was London in the mid-1960s, where bands like Mickey Finn And The Blue Men found steady work playing ska and R&B covers for the Mod crowd. They recorded a series of singles for several different local labels, one of which was Garden Of My Mind, a freakbeat tune written by guitarist Mickey Waller and vocalist Alan Marks and released on the Direction label. As the decade wore on and the Mod fad began to die out, the Mickey Finn (as they were then known) found itself playing more and more on the European continent, eventually calling it a day (or night) in 1971.

Artist:    Amboy Dukes
Title:    Baby Please Don't Go
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: The Amboy Dukes)
Writer(s):    Joe Williams
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
Year:    1967
            The Amboy Dukes were a garage supergroup formed by guitarist Ted Nugent, a Chicago native who had heard that Bob Shad, head of jazz-oriented Mainstream Records, was looking for rock bands to sign to the label. Nugent relocated to Detroit in 1967, where he recruited vocalist John Drake, guitarist Steve Farmer, organist Rick Lober, bassist Bill White and drummer Dave Palmer, all of whom had been members of various local bands. The Dukes' self-titled debut LP was released in November of 1967. In addition to seven original pieces, the album included a handful of cover songs, the best of which was their rocked out version of the old Joe Williams tune Baby Please Don't Go. The song was released as a single in January of 1968, where it got a decent amount of airplay in the Detroit area, and was ultimately chosen by Lenny Kaye for inclusion on the original Nuggets compilation album.
Artist:    Leaves
Title:    Too Many People
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Pons/Rinehart
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mira)
Year:    1965
    The Leaves are a bit unusual in that in a city known for drawing wannabes from across the world, this local band's members were all native L.A.ins. Formed by members of a fraternity at Cal State Northridge, the Leaves had their greatest success when they took over as house band at Ciro's after the Byrds vacated the slot to go on tour. Like many bands of the time, they were given a song to record as a single by their producer (Love Minus Zero) and allowed to write their own B side. In this case that B side was Too Many People, written by bassist Jim Pons and  guitarist Bill Rhinehart. The song ended up getting more airplay on local radio stations than Love Minus Zero, making it their first regional hit. The Leaves had their only national hit the following year with their third attempt at recording the fast version of Hey Joe, the success of which led to their first LP, which included a watered down version of Too Many People. The version heard here is the 1965 original. Eventually Pons would leave the Leaves, hooking up first with the Turtles, then Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    Wake Me, Shake Me
Source:    LP: Live At Town Hall
Writer(s):    arr. Al Kooper
Label:    Verve Forecast
Year:     1967
           The Blues Project was one of the most influential, yet volatile bands in rock history. Their original lead vocalist, Tommy Flanders, left the group before their first album was released, leaving the other members to take up the slack on subsequent releases. Al Kooper, in particular, became the group's most prominent vocalist, as well as their most prolific songwriter and arranger. Kooper, however, would be the next to leave the group, splitting just in time to form his own pick up band to appear at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967, a festival that also included the Blues Project on the playbill. The group's record label, Verve Forecast, cobbled together one last album from a handful of live tracks and singles that had been previously unavailable on LPs. The album, Live At Town Hall, was released after Kooper's departure from the group, although all the songs, including an eight and a half minute version of Wake Me, Shake Me, featured Kooper's playing (and in most cases singing). The album itself has long been criticized for its use of canned applause to give the impression that the studio tracks on the LP were recorded live, as well as the fact that only one of the live tracks was actually recorded at Town Hall itself (the others were from other venues). It seems likely that Wake Me, Shake Me, is, in fact, the one track recorded "live at Town Hall", but even that is difficult to prove, as very little documentation has survived over the years.
Artist:    Sound Barrier
Title:    (My) Baby's Gone
Source:    Mono LP: Pebbles Vol. 8 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Paul Hess
Label:    BFD (original label: Zounds)
Year:    1967
    A couple weeks after the first time I played (My) Baby's Gone (in 2012), I got an e-mail from Paul Hess, leader and lead vocalist of Salem, Ohio's Sound Barrier. Hess confirmed that he indeed was the writer of the song in question, as well as the record's B side (I'm still waiting for him to send me a copy).

Artist:    Ars Nova
Title:    Zarathustra
Source:    CD: Ars Nova
Writer(s):    Maury Baker
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1968
    Ars Nova was formed by guitarist/keyboardist Wyatt Day and trombonist Jon Pierson in 1967. The two had known each other in Spain and found themselves attending Mannes College in New York City, where they met drummer Maury Baker, the third core member of the band. Baker in turn introduced the others to lead guitarist Jonathan Raskin and bassist Johnny Papalia, who took over lead guitar duties upon Raskin's departure. With the addition of new bassist Bill Folwell, the lineup was set for the group's first LP, which was produced by Paul Rothchild. One of the tracks from the album, Zarathustra (based loosely on Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra), was chosen as the B side of the band's first single. Following the release of the LP, Ars Nova found themselves booked as the second opening act for the Doors at the Fillmore East, a gig that was a total disaster, due in part to the first band overstaying their welcome, leading to Ars Nova being booed off the stage before playing a single note. This led to the band losing its contract with Elektra, which in turn led to several personnel changes, a second album for a different label and the eventual demise of Ars Nova.
Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    How Many More Times
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Led Zeppelin)
Writer(s):    Page/Jones/Bonham
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1969
    Like many early Led Zeppelin songs, How Many More Times was originally credited to the band members (except, for contractual reasons, singer Robert Plant). More recent releases of the song, however, list Chester Burnett (Howlin' Wolf) as a co-writer, despite the fact that he and the members of Led Zeppelin had never met. This is because of the similarity, especially in the lyrics, to a 1951 Howlin' Wolf record called How Many More Years. The band reportedly tried to trick radio programmers into playing the eight and a half minute song by listing it on the album cover as being three minutes and thirty seconds long. I doubt anyone was fooled.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Twitchin'
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Larry Tamblyn
Label:    Sundazed
Year:    1963
    One of the earliest Standells recordings was an instrumental called Twitchin'. The song, written by guitarist Larry Tamblyn, was recorded in 1963, but sat on the shelf until 2014, when it was selected to be released as the B side of a newly discovered live version of their greatest hit, Dirty Water.

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:    Beach Boys
Title:    Sloop John B
Source:    Mono CD: Pet Sounds
Writer(s):    arr. Brian Wilson
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1966
            Released in advance of the Pet Sounds album, Sloop John B is the most conventional song on the landmark 1966 Beach Boys album, and, in all honesty, does not really fit in well with the rest of the songs on the LP. It was Al Jardine who convinced Brian Wilson to record the tune, which was released in March of 1966, going all the way to the # 3 spot on the Billboard singles chart.
Artist:    Love
Title:    Mushroom Clouds
Source:    Mono LP: Love
Writer(s):    Lee/Echols/Forssi/MacLean
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1966
    Mushroom Clouds is a bit of an anomaly. For one thing, writing credit on the tune, from Love's first LP, is shared by Arthur Lee, guitarist Johnny Echols, bassist Ken Forssi and guitarist Bryan MacLean, despite being a purely acoustical piece. In fact, it is probably the closest thing to a pure folk song the band ever recorded, complete with obligatory 60s antiwar sentiment. Personally, I like the piece, despite the fact that it seems to have been left off every Love retrospective I have ever seen or heard.
Artist:    Plastic Ono Band
Title:    Give Peace A Chance
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1969
    The future of the Beatles was very much in doubt in 1969. Lennon and McCartney were feuding, Ringo had briefly quit the band during the making of the White Album and George Harrison was spending more time with friends like Eric Clapton than his own bandmates. One notable event that year was the marraige of John Lennon to performance artist Yoko Ono. The two of them did some world traveling that eventually led them to Toronto, where they staged a giant slumber party to promote world peace (don't ask). While in bed they recorded Give Peace A Chance, accompanied by as many people as they could fit in their hotel suite. The record was the first single released under the name Plastic Ono Band, a name that Lennon would continue to use after the Beatles disbanded in 1970.

Artist:    Janis Joplin
Title:    Work Me Lord
Source:    CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer(s):    Nick Gravenites
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1969
    After leaving Big Brother and the Holding Company in late 1968 Janis Joplin formed a new outfit, the Kozmic Blues Band, to back her up, both in concert and on her first solo LP, I Got Dem 'Ol Kozmic Blues Again Mama. Although there was indisputedly a greater amount of raw talent in the new band, they lacked synergy with Joplin's style and ultimately failed to provide a proper vehicle for her talents. This became quite evident when she and the new band performed a set that failed to excite the crowd at Woodstock. The closest they came was with a performance of Work Me Lord, a song written specifically for Joplin by Nick Gravenites of the Electric Flag (another band that failed to live up to its potential).

Artist:    Fairport Convention
Title:    Fotheringay
Source:    LP: Fairport Chronicles (originally released in UK on LP: What We Did On Our Holidays, retitled Fairport Convention for US release)
Writer(s):    Sandy Denny
Label:    A&M
Year:    1969 (US 1970)
    The early history of Fairport Convention can be a bit confusing. The original lineup released their first LP in 1968, entitled simply Fairport Convention. This album, however, never appeared in the US. The following year the group released an album called What We Did On Our Holidays, featuring new vocalist Sandy Denny. After the band began to catch on with American audiences, What We Did On Our Holidays was repackaged and released (in the US only) under the name Fairport Convention. The opening track of that album was a song called Fotheringay, a name that would be used for Denny's own band a couple of years later. Just to add even more to the confusion, when A&M released a late 70s retrospective called Fairport Chronicles they listed all the songs from What We Did On Our Holidays as being from an album called Fairport Convention (which was technically true in the US), but listed the release year for the songs as 1968, the year the British album of the same name came out, rather than 1969, the actual release year of What We Did On Our Holidays or 1970, the year the US version was released.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine
Source:    LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Sundazed/Columbia
Year:    1966
    After the surprise success of the Sound Of Silence single, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, who had disbanded their partnership after the seeming failure of their Wednesday Morning 3 AM album in 1964, hastily reunited to record a new album of electrified versions of songs written by Simon, many of which had appeared on his 1965 solo LP the Paul Simon Songbook. With their newfound success, the duo set about recording an album's worth of new material. This time around, however, Simon had the time (and knowledge of what was working for the duo) to compose songs that would play to both the strengths of himself and Garfunkel as vocalists, as well as take advantage of the additional instrumentation available to him. The result was Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme, featuring tracks such as The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine, an energetic piece that effectively combines folk and rock with intelligent (if somewhat satirical) lyrics.

Artist:    Knack
Title:    Time Waits For No One
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Chain/Kaplan
Label:    Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    In 1979 Capitol Records signed a group from Los Angeles called the Knack, promoted them heavily and released a single called My Sharona. It was a huge hit. Twelve years earlier Capitol Records signed a group from Los Angeles called the Knack, promoted them heavily and released a single called Time Waits For No One. It flopped. The strange thing is that Time Waits For No One is every bit as good a song as My Sharona, albeit in an entirely different style. Why one succeeded and the other one failed is one of those mysteries that will probably never be solved.

Artist:    Nazz
Title:    Open My Eyes
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: The Nazz)
Writer(s):    Todd Rundgren
Label:    Rhino (original label: SGC)
Year:    1968
    The Nazz was a band from Philadelphia who were basically the victims of their own bad timing. 1968 was the year that progressive FM radio began to get recognition as a viable format while top 40 radio was being dominated by bubble gum pop bands such as the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the Ohio Express. The Nazz, on the other hand, sounded more like British bands such as the Move and Brian Augur's Trinity that were performing well on the UK charts but were unable to buy a hit in the US. The band had plenty of talent, most notably guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Todd Rundgren, who would go on to establish a successful career, both as an artist (he played all the instruments on his Something/Anything LP and led the band Utopia) and a producer (Grand Funk's We're An American Band, among others). Open My Eyes was originally issued as the A side of a single, but ended up being eclipsed in popularity by its flip side, a song called Hello It's Me, that ended up getting airplay in Boston and other cities, eventually hitting the Canadian charts (a new solo version would become Rundgren's first major hit five years later).

Artist:    Koobas
Title:    Barricades
Source:    British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released on LP: Koobas)
Writer(s):    Ellis/Stratton-Smith/Leathwood
Label:    EMI (original UK label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    The Koobas were a Merseybeat band that never managed to achieve the level of success enjoyed by bands such as the Beatles or Gerry and the Pacemakers, despite having the patronage of Beatles manager Brian Epstein and even appearing in the film Ferry Across The Mersey.  They did record several singles for both Pye and Columbia, but with little to show for it. Nonetheless, EMI, the parent company of Columbia, commissioned an entire album from the band in 1969. Among the standout tracks from that self-titled LP was the five-minute long Barricades, a track that starts with a Motown beat, but before long morphs into a chaotic portrait of riot and revolution, complete with anarchic sound effects.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Fool On The Hill
Source:    British import stereo 45 RPM Extended Play album: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone
Year:    1967
    The Beatles only came up with six new songs for their 1967 telefilm Magical Mystery Tour, enough to fill up only one side of an LP. Rather than use outtakes and B sides to complete the album (which they had done in 1965 for the Help album), the band chose to release the six songs on a two-record 45 RPM Extended Play set, complete with a booklet that included the storyline, lyric sheets and several still photographs from the film itself. Magical Mystery Tour appeared in this form in both the UK and in Europe, while in the US and Canada, Capitol Records instead issued the album in standard LP format, using the band's 1967 singles and B sides to fill up side two. None of the songs from the telefilm were issued as singles, although one, I Am The Walrus, was used as the B side to the Hello Goodbye single. Another song, Fool On The Hill, was covered by Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66, making the US charts in early 1968. By the 1980s, however, the only version of the song still played on the radio was the original Beatles version, with the footage from the Magical Mystery Tour telefilm used as a video on early music TV channels.

Artist:     Pink Floyd
Title:     Arnold Layne
Source:     CD: Relics (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl)
Writer:     Syd Barrett
Label:     Capitol (original single released in UK on EMI)
Year:     1967
     The very first record released by Pink Floyd was Arnold Layne, a single written by Syd Barrett. The record got no promotion from the band's US label,  the Capitol-ownedTower Records,This could be because of the song's unusual subject matter (based on a true story) about a man who steals women's underwear off a clothesline. The song was not included on the band's first LP but has been featured on several collections since its initial release, including the early 70s anthology Relics.

Artist:    Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title:    Paint It Black
Source:    British import CD: : Winds Of Change
Writer(s):    Burdon/Briggs/Weider/McCulloch/Jenkins/Jagger/Richards
Label:    Repertoire (original 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.

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