Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1601 (starts 12/30/15)

Happy New Year!

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    White Rabbit
Source:    CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Grace Slick
Label:    RCA
Year:    1967
    The first time I heard Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit was on Denver's first FM rock station, KLZ-FM, in the spring of 1967. The station branded itself as having a top 100 (as opposed to local ratings leader KIMN's top 60), and prided itself on being the first station in town to play new releases and album tracks. It wasn't long before White Rabbit was officially released as a single, and went on to become a top 10 hit, the last for the Airplane.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    The Crystal Ship
Source:    LP: The Doors
Writer:    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    Ever feel like you've discovered something really special that nobody else (among your circle of friends at any rate) knows about? At first you kind of want to keep it to yourself, but soon you find yourself compelled to share it with everyone you know. Such was the case when, in the early summer of 1967, I used my weekly allowance to buy copies of a couple of songs I had heard on the American Forces Network (AFN). As usual, it wasn't long before I was flipping the records over to hear what was on the B sides. I liked the first one well enough (a song by Buffalo Springfield called Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It, the B side of For What It's Worth), but it was the second one, the B side of the Doors' Light My Fire, that really got to me. To this day I consider The Crystal Ship to be one of the finest slow rock songs ever recorded.

Artist:    Love
Title:    The Red Telephone
Source:    CD: Forever Changes
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1967
    Love's Forever Changes album, released in late 1967, is known for its dark imagery that contrasted with the utopian messages so prevalent in the music associated with the just-passed summer of love. One of the tracks that best illustrates Arthur Lee's take on the world at that time is The Red Telephone, which closes out side one of the album. The title, which refers to the famous cold war hotline between Washington and Moscow, does not actually appear in the song's lyrics. Instead, the most prominent line of the song is a chant repeated several times that refers to the repression of youth culture in the US, particularly in Los Angeles, where the city had enacted new ordinances that had virtually destroyed the vibrant club scene that had given rise to such bands as the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Doors and of course Love. The chant itself: "They're locking them up today, they're throwing away the key; I wonder who it'll be tomorrow, you or me?" expresses an idea that would be expanded on by Frank Zappa the following year on the landmark Mothers Of Invention album We're Only In It For The Money.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Yesterday
Source:    LP: Yesterday...And Today (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1965
    One of the most covered songs in history (and certainly THE most covered Beatles song), Yesterday first appeared in the UK on side two of the Help album. Side one of the LP had been made up entirely of songs from the movie Help, while side two contained songs recorded around the same time, but not used in the film. In the US the mono mix of the song was released as a single in late 1965 ahead of the Rubber Soul album, reaching the #1 spot on the Billboard charts and staying there for several weeks. The following June it was released in stereo as the title track of the US-only Yesterday...And Today LP.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    Gotta Get Away
Source:    LP: Psychedelic Lollipop
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:    Kinks
Title:    End Of The Season
Source:    LP: Something Else
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    The first Kinks album to be recorded in stereo, Something Else was also the first album produced by Ray Davies. Davies later said that he should have found someone more experienced to guide him through the process; despite this, Something Else is now considered somewhat of a classic, thanks to tunes like End Of The Season.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Those Were The Days
Source:    LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer(s):    Baker/Taylor
Label:    RSO (original label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    Drummer Ginger Baker only contributed a handful of songs to the Cream repertoire, but each was, in its own way, quite memorable. Those Are The Days, with its sudden changes of time and key, presages the progressive rock that would flourish in the mid-1970s. As was often the case with Baker-penned songs, bassist Jack Bruce provides the vocals from this Wheels Of Fire track.

Artist:    Tom Dae Turned On
Title:    I Shall Walk
Source:    CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Tom Dae
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Hitt)
Year:    1970
    Rockville, Connecticutt was home to Tom Dae, one of the more prolific, yet obscure, artists of the psychedelic era. His earliest record was a song that his father (who worked at a major record label) wrote called You've Got It Made, which was released by Dae's band the High Tensions. Other singles followed, with names such as TD and the Tensionettes, the TD Trio and Love 70, as well as the High Tensions, appearing on the labels. His 1970 effort, I Shall Walk, was a heavily produced track credited to Tom Dae Turned On.
Artist:    Five Americans
Title:    I See The Light
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Durrill/Ezell/Rabon
Label:    Rhino (original label: Abnak)
Year:    1965
    For years I was under the impression that the Five Americans were a Texas band, mainly due to Abnak Records having a Texas address. It turns out, though, that the band was actually from Durant, Oklahoma, although by the time they had their biggest hit, Western Union, they were playing most of their gigs in the Lone Star state. I See The Light is an earlier single built around a repeating Farfisa organ riff that leads into a song that can only be described as in your face. The song was produced by the legendary Dale Hawkins, who wrote and recorded the original version of Suzy Q in the late 1950s.

Artist:    Lovin' Spoonful
Title:    Nashville Cats
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful)
Writer(s):    John B. Sebastian
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Kama Sutra)
Year:    1966
    After the success of their debut LP, Do You Believe In Magic, The Lovin' Spoonful deliberately set out to make a followup album that sounded like it was recorded by several different bands, as a way of showcasing their versatility. With Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful, released in 1966, they did just that. Songs on the album ranged from the folky Darlin' Be Home Soon to the rockin' psychedelic classic Summer In The City, with a liberal dose of what would come to be called country rock a few years later. The best example of the latter was Nashville Cats, a song that surprisingly went into the top 40 (but did not receive any airplay from country stations) and became a staple of progressive FM radio in the early 70s.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    At The Zoo
Source:    LP: Bookends (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Sundazed/Columbia
Year:    1967
    Simon and Garfunkel did not release any new albums in 1967, instead concentrating on their live performances. They did, however, issue several singles over the course of the year, most of which ended up being included on 1968's Bookends LP. At The Zoo was one of the first of those 1967 singles. It's B side ended up being a hit as well, but by Harper's Bizarre, which took The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) to the top 10 early in the year.

Artist:    Them
Title:    Square Room
Source:    Simulated stereo British import CD: Now And Them
Writer(s):    Armstrong/Elliot/Harley/Henderson/McDowell
Label:    Rev-Ola (original label: Tower)
Year:    1968
    With new lead vocalist Kenny McDowell replacing the departed Van Morrison, Them relocated to the US West Coast and cut the first of two LPs for Tower, Now and Them. The longest track on the album is Square Room, with songwriting credits being given to the band itself (a practice that the Doors also used on their first few albums). Jim Armstrong in particular turns in a strong performance on lead guitar.
Artist:    Donovan/Jeff Beck Group
Title:    Barabajabal (Love Is Hot)
Source:    CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released on LP: Barabajagal)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Sony Music Special Products (original label: Epic)
Year:    1969
    Donovan Leitch enlisted the Jeff Beck Group as collaborators for Barabajabal (Love Is Hot), a track from his 1969 Barabajal album. Sometimes the song itself is erroreously referred to as Goo Goo Barabajabal, but I'm going with what's on the original 45 RPM label.

Artist:    Focus
Title:    Happy Nightmare (Mescaline)
Source:    LP: In And Out Of Focus (originally released in the Netherlands as Focus Plays Focus)
Writer(s):    Van Leer/Dresden/Hayes
Label:    Sire (original label: Imperial)
Year:    Holland: 1970; US: 1973
            The first Focus album, Focus Plays Focus, was released in the Netherlands in 1970. It was the only Focus album to feature the band's original lineup of Thijs Van Leer (organ, flute), Jan Akkerman (guitar), Martin Dresden (bass guitar, vocals) and Hans Cleuver (drums, vocals). One of the stronger tracks on the LP was a tune called Happy Nightmare (Mescaline), which oddly enough has a melody line similar to Them's Square Room.
Focus was virtually unknown in the US until 1973, when the Moving Waves album was released. The popularity of the album's single, Hocus Pocus, prompted the band's US label, Sire, to release the band's debut LP under a new name, In And Out Of Focus.
Artist:    101 Strings
Title:    Karma Sitar
Source:    LP: Sounds Of Today
Writer(s):    M. Kelly
Label:    Alshire
Year:    1967
    The only turntable in our house during my youngest years was an RCA Victor 45 RPM changer from the early 1950s. As a result we had no LPs in the house until I was about ten years old, when my parents bought me a small portable record player. Even though the record player was technically mine, my mother did buy one album for herself, an LP called Fire And Romance of South America (or something like that) by 101 Strings. As I recall, she got it at the local Woolworth's store, which had entire racks dedicated to discount-priced LPs, usually for under a dollar. It turns out the name 101 Strings (actually there were 124) had been in use since 1957, when record mogul David L. Miller came up with the idea of using German orchestras to cover popular songs (although not rock and roll) and would continue to be used until the early 1980s. Many 101 Strings LPs were genre-based, including albums featuring Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Asian and South American standards, as well as Broadway show tunes and orchestral covers of pop hits. In 1964 the franchise was sold to Al Sherman, who moved its base of operations to London, changing the name of the record label the group appeared on from Somerset to Ashire. Under Sherman the group attempted to shift its appeal to a younger audience, as evidenced by tracks like Karma Sitar, from the Sounds Of Today album. These efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, and the last 101 Strings album (a collection of early Beatles covers) was released in January of 1981.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    The Wind Blows Your Hair
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Saxon/Bigelow
Label:    Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year:    1967
    The Wind Blows Your Hair is actually one of the Seeds' better tracks. Unfortunately, by the time it was released the whole concept of Flower Power (which the Seeds were intimately tied to) had become yesterday's news and the single went nowhere.

Artist:    Liquid Scene
Title:    Leave Me Here
Source:    CD: Revolutions
Writer(s):    Becki diGregorio
Label:    Ziglain
Year:    2014
            This year's first Advanced Psych entry is Leave Me Here, a tune from the Revolutions album by San Francisco Bay Area-based Liquid Scene. I've played several tracks from the album already, although this is the first time for this particular tune. Like all Liquid Scene songs, Leave Me Here was written by multi-instrumentalist Becki diGregorio, who also sings on the track.
Artist:    Psychedelic Furs
Title:    Sister Europe
Source:    LP: The Psychedelic Furs
Writer(s):    Psychedelic Furs
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1980
            Initially consisting of Richard Butler (vocals), Tim Butler (bass guitar), Duncan Kilburn (saxophone), Paul Wilson (drums) and Roger Morris (guitars), the Psychedelic Furs were formed in 1977 under the name RKO. They soon began calling themselves Radio, then did gigs under two different names, the Europeans and the Psychedelic Furs. By 1979 they had settled on the latter name and expanded to a sextet, adding guitarist John Ashton and replacing Wilson with Vince Ely on drums. The Furs' self-titled debut album, released in 1980, was an immediate hit in Europe and the UK, but airplay in the US was limited mostly to college radio and "alternative" rock stations. The second single released from the album was Sister Europe, a tune that was also  the band's concert opener in the early days of their existence. The Psychedelic Furs' greatest claim to fame, however, is probably the song Pretty In Pink. Originally released on their second album, Talk Talk Talk, in 1981, the song was re-recorded for the John Hughes film of the same name in 1986.

Artist:    Sugarloaf
Title:    I Don't Need You Baby
Source:    LP: Spaceship Earth
Writer(s):    Corbetta/Webber/Yeazel
Label:    Liberty
Year:    1971
    The second Sugarloaf album saw the addition of Robert Yeazel on 2nd lead guitar to the band's lineup, adding considerably to the band's depth. Spaceship Earth, however, despite being a better album overall than their debut LP, did not have the benefit of a # 1 hit single (Green-Eyed Lady) and only made it to the # 111 spot on the Billboard albums chart. Nonetheless, the album contains many fine tracks, such as I Don't Need You Baby, which was written by the band's two guitarists (Yeazel and Bob Webber) and keyboardist/vocalist Jerry Corbetta.
Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Sugar Magnolia
Source:    CD: Skeletons From The Closet (originally released on LP: American Beauty)
Writer(s):    Hunter/Weir
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:     1970
            One of the most popular songs in the Grateful Dead catalog, Sugar Magnolia also has the distinction of being the second-most performed song in the band's history, with 596 documented performances. The song, written by Robert Hunter and Bob Weir, first appeared on the 1970 album American Beauty, but was not released as a single. A live version two years later, however, did see a single release, charting in the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100.

Artist:    Fat Mattress
Title:    Iredescent Butterfly
Source:    CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Neil Landon
Label:    Grapefruit (original label: Polydor)
Year:    1969
    Fat Mattress was, in a sense, a sort of second (or maybe third) tier supergroup formed by Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding, first as a side project and then as his primary band. Other members included vocalist Neil Landon (Flower Pot Men) and bassist Jim Leverton (Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens), with Redding on guitar. Iredescent Butterfly was a song written by Landon that was recorded at the same time as the band's debut LP but was not released until 1969, when it appeared as a B side.

Artist:    Beacon Street Union
Title:    Recitation/My Love Is
Source:    LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
Writer(s):    Wayne Ulaky
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1968
    For a time in early 1968 my favorite album was The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union, which is in a sense kind of strange, since I didn't own a copy of the LP. I did, however, have access to my dad's Dual turntable and Akai reel-to-reel tape recorder, and used to fall asleep on the couch with the headphones on nearly every night (hey, it beat sharing a room with my 8-year-old brother). So when one of my bandmates invited the rest of us over to hear his new album by this new band from Boston I naturally asked to borrow it long enough to tape a copy for myself.  As it turned out, The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union is one of those albums best listened to with headphones on, with all kinds of cool (dare I say groovy?) stereo effects, like the organ and cymbals going back and forth from side to side following the spoken intro (by producer Tom Wilson, it turns out) on the album's first track, My Love Is. Years later I acquired a mono copy of the LP, but it just wasn't the same.

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    I'm A Man
Source:    Mono LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Miller
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1967
    The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve and Muff Winwood, was one of the UK's most successful white R&B bands of the sixties, cranking out a steady stream of hit singles. Two of them, the iconic Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man, were also major hits in the US, the latter being the last song to feature the Winwood brothers. Muff Winwood became a successful record producer. The group itself continued on for several years, but were never able to duplicate their earlier successes. As for Steve Winwood, he quickly faded off into obscurity, never to be heard from again. Except as the leader of Traffic. And a member of Blind Faith. And Traffic again. And some critically-acclaimed collaborations in the early 1980s with Asian musicians. Oh yeah, and a few major solo hits in the late 80s. Other than that, nothing.

Artist:    Shindogs
Title:    Who Do You Think You Are
Source:    Mono LP: Ain't It Hard (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bramlett/Cooper
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Viva)
Year:    1966
    In the early 60s the ABC TV network ran a show called Hootenanny, which was a musical variety show built around the folk music revival that had swept the nation. With the advent of the British Invasion, however, Hootenanny took a ratings hit and found itself replaced with a new, more pop/rock oriented show called Shindig in the fall of 1964. The show had its own house band, the Shindiggers, who later became the Shindogs. The Shindogs had a wealth of talent, including Delaney Bramlett, who would go on to greater fame working with Eric Clapton in the early 70s with his own band, Delaney And Bonnie And Friends. Shindig was cancelled in January of 1966 (to be replaced by a new show, Batman), but the Shindogs stayed together long enough to record a single, Who Do You Think You Are, for Snuff Garrett's Viva label.

Artist:    Zombies
Title:    Tell Her No
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Rod Argent
Label:    London (original label: Parrot)
Year:    1965
    Rod Argent was responsible for writing four well-known hit songs, which were spread out over a period of eight years (and two bands). The second of these was the Zombies' Tell Her No, released in 1965. The song got mixed reviews from critics, all of which measured the tune against Beatle songs of the same period.

Artist:    Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title:    All About Her
Source:    LP: Spirit Of '67
Writer(s):    Gerhardt/Lindsay/Melcher
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    Spirit Of '67 was the first Paul Revere And The Raiders album to feature mostly original material. It was also their final collaboration with producer Terry Melcher, who co-wrote most of the songs on the album. By this point the group had lost their original lead guitarist, Drake Levin, and were utilizing the services of studio musicians more than ever before. Although most of the tunes on the LP were rockers, there were slower tunes such as All About Her to provide some variety.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Foxy Lady
Source:    LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    The first track on the original release of Are You Experienced was Foxy Lady. The British custom of the time was to not include any songs on albums that had been previously released as singles. When Reprise Records got the rights to release the album in the US, it was decided to include three songs that had all been top 40 hits in the UK. One of those songs, Purple Haze, took over the opening spot on the album, and Foxy Lady was moved to the middle of side 2. For some reason Reprise Records misspelled the title as Foxey Lady, and continued to do so on posthumous compilations such as The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two.
Artist:    Ultimate Spinach
Title:    Jazz Thing
Source:    LP: Behold And See
Writer(s):    Ian Bruce-Douglas
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1968
    Although the second Ultimate Spinach album, Behold And See, is generally considered inferior to the group's debut effort, there are a few high points that are among the best tracks the band ever recorded. Perhaps the strongest track on the album is Jazz Thing, which almost sounds like a Bob Bruno Circus Maximus track.

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