Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1602 (starts 1/6/16)
Title: Strange Days
Source: CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: Strange Days)
Writer(s): The Doors
One of the first rock albums to not picture the band members on the front cover was the Doors' second LP, Strange Days. Instead, the cover featured several circus performers doing various tricks on a city street, with the band's logo appearing on a poster on the wall of a building. The album itself contains some of the Doors' most memorable tracks, including the title song, which also appears on their greatest hits album (which has Jim Morrison's picture on the cover) despite never being released as a single.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Journey To The Center Of The Mind)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
Detroit was one of the major centers of pop music in the late 60s. In addition to the myriad Motown acts, the area boasted the popular retro-rock&roll band Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the harder rocking Bob Seger System, the non-Motown R&B band the Capitols, and Ted Nugent's outfit, the Amboy Dukes, who scored big in 1968 with Journey To The Center Of The Mind.
Artist: Stevie Wonder
Title: Don't Know Why I Love You
Source: 45 RPM single
The Rolling Stones had a minor but notable hit with their cover of Stevie Wonder's I Don't Know Why I Love You in the early 1970s. I thought I'd pull out a copy of the original version, which was intended as an A side but was eclipsed in popularity by the B side of the record, a tune called My Cherie Amour.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: White Rabbit
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s): Grace Slick
For many the definitive song of the psychedelic era, White Rabbit, released as a single after getting extensive airplay on "underground" FM stations, was the second (and final) top 10 hit for the Airplane in the summer of '67. In 1987 RCA released a special stereo reissue of the single on white vinyl to accompany the 2400 Fulton Street box set.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s): Paul Kantner
Label: RCA Victor
The first Jefferson Airplane album (the 1966 release Jefferson Airplane Takes Off) was dominated by songs from the pen of founder Marty Balin, a few of which were collaborations with other band members such as Paul Kantner and Jorma Kaukonen. The songwriting on the group's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow, was fairly evenly balanced between the three above and new arrival Grace Slick. By the band's third album, After Bathing At Baxter's, released in the fall of 1967, Kantner had emerged as the group's main songwriter, having a hand in over half the tracks on the LP. One of the most durable of these was the album's closing track, a medley of two songs, Won't You Try and Saturday Afternoon, the latter being about a free concert that band had participated in in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park earlier that year.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Plastic Fantastic Lover
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Label: RCA Victor
Jefferson Airplane scored their first top 10 hit with Somebody To Love, the second single released from the Surrealistic Pillow album. Almost immediately, forward-thinking FM stations began playing other tracks from the album. One of those favored album tracks, Plastic Fantastic Lover, ended up being the B side of the band's follow-up single, White Rabbit. When the Airplane reunited in 1989 and issued their two-disc retrospective, 2400 Fulton Street, they issued a special stereo pressing of the single on white vinyl as a way of promoting the collection.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as EP)
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rhino (original label: Rag Baby)
A relatively new arrival on the highly politicized Berkeley folk music scene in 1965, Country Joe McDonald had already organized a loose group of musicians to play at "teach-ins" designed to educate the public about what was really going on in Vietnam. He was also attempting to put together a newspaper with a similar focus, but found himself short of usable copy. His solution was to create a "talking issue" by inserting a 7" 33 1/3 RPM record into the paper. His own contribution to the record was the first recorded version of a song that would later become one of the best-known antiwar tunes ever penned: the iconic I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag. The actual makeup of the band called Country Joe And The Fish on this recording is not quite clear, other than the fact that both McDonald and Barry Melton played on it. An early video made of the group performing the song shows several people I don't recognize alternating on the vocals.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Positively 4th Street
Source: CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Recorded during the same 1965 sessions that produced the classic Highway 61 Revisited album, Positively 4th Street was deliberately held back for release as a single later that year. The stereo mix would not appear on an LP until the first Dylan Greatest Hits album was released in 1967.
Title: Bye Bye
Source: Mono British import CD: A Pot Of Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Tony McGuire
Label: Big Beat (original label: Brent)
One of the first garage bands signed to Bob Shad's Brent label was The Ban. Based in Lompoc, California, the Ban was led by guitarist/vocalist Tony McGuire, who also wrote the band's original material. The group released their first single, Bye Bye in late 1965, and for a while it looked like the Ban had a legitimate shot at fame. In early 1966, however, it all came crashing down when McGuire received his draft notice. The remainder of the band regrouped, first in Hollywood as the Now and later (after moving to San Francisco) the Tripsichord Music Box.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: I Am Waiting
Source: British import LP: Aftermath
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The Aftermath album was a turning point for the Rolling Stones. For one thing, it was their first album recorded entirely in the US, and at a much more leisurely pace than their previous albums. This afforded the band the opportunity to spend more time working on their arrangements before committing songs to tape. It also gave Brian Jones a chance to experiment with instruments not normally associate with rock and roll music, such as sitar, dulcimer, marimbas, and koto. Aftermath was also the first Rolling Stones album made up entirely of songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, including the semi-acoustical I Am Waiting.
Title: Within You Without You
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s): George Harrison
George Harrison began to take an interest in the Sitar as early as 1965. By 1966 he had become proficient enough on the Indian instrument to compose and record Love You To for the Revolver album. He followed that up with perhaps his most popular sitar-based track, Within You Without You, which opens side two of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Harrison would record one more similarly-styled song, The Inner Light, in 1968, before deciding that he was never going to be in the same league as Ravi Shankar, whom Harrison had become friends with by that time. For the remainder of his time with the Beatles Harrison would concentrate on his guitar work and songwriting skills, resulting in classic songs such as While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something and Here Comes The Sun.
Artist: Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield/Barry Goldberg/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Source: LP: Super Session
Al Kooper is one of those people who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, often because he was the one that made those times and places happen in the first place. At a Bob Dylan recording session in 1965, for instance, Kooper took it upon himself to sit in on organ, despite the fact that he was by no means proficient on the instrument at that time. The result was a series of classic tracks that made up the Highway 61 Revisited album. The following year Kooper happened to be in the studio when the Blues Project was auditioning for Columbia Records. Although the label passed on the band, Kooper ended up joining the group, making rock history in the process. In 1968 Kooper formed a new band, Blood, Sweat & Tears, but left them after just one LP. While working as an A&R man for Columbia, Kooper booked two days' worth of studio time later that same year, bringing in guitarist Mike Bloomfield, keyboardist Barry Goldberg, and bassist Harvey Brooks from the Electric Flag, as well as session drummer Eddie Hoh. When Bloomfield failed to show up on the second day, Stephen Stills (who had recently left Buffalo Springfield) was recruited to take his place. The result was an album called Super Session, which surprisingly went all the way to the #12 spot on the Billboard album charts. The popularity of Super Session inspired several more rock stars to make jam albums and gave birth to the idea of the rock supergroup as well. Among the mainly instrumental tracks that feature Bloomfield was a tune called Stop, written by the legendary songwriters Jerry Ragovoy and Doc Shuman.
Title: Prologue/Someday (August 29, 1968)
Source: CD: The Chicago Transit Authority
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
In the months leading up to the 1968 Democratic Convention the phrase "come to Chicago" was often heard among members of the counter-culture that had grown up around various anti-establishment causes. As the summer wore on it became clear that something was going to happen at the Convention that August. Sure enough, on August 28, with the crowd chanting "the whole world's watching", police began pulling demonstraters into paddy wagons, with a full-blown riot erupting the following day. Around that same time a local Chicago band calling itself the Big Thing hooked up with producer James William Guercio, who convinced them to change their name to the Chicago Transit Authority (later shortened to Chicago). It's only natural then that the band would include a song referencing the events of August 29th on their debut LP. The tracks begins with an actual recording of the chant itself, which leads into a tune written by James Pankow and Robert Lamm called Someday (August 29, 1968). The chant itself makes a short reappearance midway through the song as well.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Shifting Sands
Source: CD: Part One
Writer(s): Baker Knight
Label: Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Despite releasing six albums over a five-year period, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band never had a hit record. One attempt was Shifting Sands, one of two Baker Knight compositions the band recorded for, Part One, their first LP for Reprise Records.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: Bright Light Lovers
Source: CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
Keyboardist Bob Bruno's contributions as a songwriter to Circus Maximus tended to favor jazz arrangements. On Bright Light Lovers, however, from the band's fist album, he proves that he could rock out with the raunchiest of the garage bands when the mood hit.
Title: She Hangs Out
Source: LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD
Writer(s): Jeff Barry
She Hangs Out is a tune written by Jeff Barry that, through no fault of its own, became the straw that broke the camel's back. In this particular case, the camel was rock impressario Don Kirschner, who, until early 1967, was music director for all things Monkees. The song was one of many recorded in 1966 for use on the Monkees TV show. A dozen songs had been chosen for the first Monkees album in late 1966. The situation at that time was such that the Monkees themselves didn't really have much of a voice in what was included on that album (actually, "voice" was about the only thing the band members did have on most of the tracks). At the time, however, just getting the album out in time for Christmas overrode other considerations, and the band basically stood by and let Krischner run the show. Early the next year, however, Kirschner once again raised the ire of the band members by releasing a second LP, More Of The Monkees, without the band's knowledge or input (other than the vocals that had been recorded in 1966). The Monkees responded by recording a new song, All Of Your Toys, intending it to be their third single. Kirschner, however, again without knowledge or consent of the band, released a Neil Diamond-penned track, A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, backed with a Jeff Barry song, She Hangs Out, as a single. Both tracks were produced by Barry, and were essentially solo efforts by Davy Jones, whose lead vocals had at that point only appeared on album tracks. Ultimately this led to Kirschner being taken off the entire Monkees project and the single withdrawn from circulation. The Monkees were not done with She Hangs Out, however. Later in 1967 the band re-recorded the song, this time playing most of the instruments themselves, for inclusion on their fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.
Title: Time For A Change
Source: CD: Thank You, Bonzo
Writer(s): Stephen R Webb
Time For A Change is the opening track from the only Mumphries album, Thank You, Bonzo. Recorded and released in 1989, it is a protest against corporate misbehavior in the 1980s. Unfortunately, such behavior seems to have only gotten worse in the ensuing decades.
Artist: 27 Devils Joking
Title: Indian Joe
Source: LP: Actual Toons
Writer(s): Brian S. Curley
Label: Live Wire
This seems like a good place to talk about Craig Ellis. Craig was a talented, if somewhat troubled songwriter/guitarist/vocalist whom I first heard of in the early 1980s when I ran across a single by a group called Cosmic Grackles at KUNM radio at the University of New Mexico. I finally met Craig in late1986, when both of us were recording at Bottomline Studios in southeast Albuquerque. I was working on something called Civilian Joe ("a real American zero"), while Craig was putting together a project involving guitarist Larry Otis and drummer John Henry Smith, among others. Around that same time I interviewed a guy from Santa Fe named Brian S. Curley, who was appearing on my Rock Nouveaux radio show to promote his new group, 27 Devils Joking. During the interview Brian mentioned that he had until recently been working with Craig Ellis, and that 27 Devils Joking was actually a result of a falling out between the two. Which brings us to Indian Joe, a track from the first 27 Devils Joking LP, Actual Toons. You see, in early 1987 Craig gave me a cassette tape of some of his most recent work, including a song called Indian Joe. It's the same song, using an almost identical arrangement, yet on the LP the song is listed as being the sole work of Brian Curley. One of these days I'll find that old cassette tape Craig gave me and you can decide for youself whose song it is.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Steve's Song
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): Steve Katz
Label: Verve Forecast
The members of the Blues Project came from a variety of backgrounds, including jazz, rock, classical and of course, blues. Guitarist Steve Katz had the strongest connection to the Greenwich Village folk scene and was the lead vocalist on the Project's recording of Donovan's Catch The Wind on their first LP. For their second album Katz wrote his own song, entitled simply Steve's Song. The tune starts with a very old-English style repeated motif that gets increasing complicated as it repeats itself before segueing into a more conventional mode with Katz on the lead vocal. Katz would write and sing simlarly-styled tunes, such as Sometimes In Winter, as a member of Blood, Sweat and Tears.
Title: Egyptian Gardens
Source: CD: Pulsating Dreams (originally released on LP: Side Trips)
Writer(s): David Saul Feldthouse
Label: Floating Worlds (original label: Epic)
The opening track on Side Trips, the first Kaleidoscope album, served notice to the world that this was not just another band from L.A. Indeed, despite being a product of the same club scene that brought us Love, the Byrds and the Doors, Kaleidoscope had a reputation for being the "eclectic electric" band. In fact, the writer of Egyptian Gardens, David Saul Feldthouse, was practically a one-man band in his own right, playing saz, bouzouki, dobro, vina, oud, doumbek, dulcimer, fiddle and 12-string guitar on the album, in addition to being Kaleidoscope's lead vocalist. Other members of the band included David Lindley, Fenrus Epp and Chris Darrow (multi-instrumentalists all), along with drummer John Vidican (who also played a little tympani).
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer: Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson's Crossroads has come to be regarded as a signature song for Eric Clapton, who's live version (recorded at the Fillmore East) was first released on the Cream album Wheels Of Fire, and later became one of the group's highest charting singles.
Artist: Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title: Down By The River
Source: LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer: Neil Young
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere was Neil Young's second solo album. It was also the first one with Crazy Horse. Down By the River was one of three tracks on the album to get significant FM airplay and continued to be a staple of album rock stations for years. Coincidentally (or maybe not) the same three songs were all written while Young was running a 104 degree fever. We should all be so sick.
Title: Hope You're Feeling Better
Source: CD: Abraxas
Writer(s): Gregg Rolie
Hope You're Feeling Better was the third single to be taken from Santana's Abraxas album. Although not as successful as either Black Magic Woman or Oye Como Va, the song nonetheless received considerable airplay on progressive FM rock stations and has appeared on several anthology anthems since its initial release.
Title: Paper Sun
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Silver Spotlight (original label: United Artists)
One of the first British acid-rock bands was a group called Deep Feeling, which included drummer Jim Capaldi and woodwind player Chris Wood. At the same time Deep Feeling was experimenting with psychedelia, another, more commercially oriented band, the Spencer Davis Group, was tearing up the British top 40 charts with hits like Keep On Running, Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man. The undisputed star of the Spencer Davis Group was a teenaged guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist named Steve Winwood, who was also beginning to make his mark as a songwriter. Along with guitarist/vocalist Dave Mason, who had worked with Capaldi in earlier bands, they formed Traffic in the spring of 1967, releasing their first single, Paper Sun, in May of that year. Capaldi and Winwood had actually written the tune while Winwood was still in the Spencer Davis Group, and the song was an immediate hit in the UK. This was followed quickly by an album, Mr. Fantasy, that, as was the common practice at the time in the UK, did not include Paper Sun. When the album was picked up by United Artists Records for US release in early 1968, however, Paper Sun was included as the LP's opening track. The US version of the album was originally titled Heaven Is In Your Mind, but was quickly retitled Mr. Fantasy to match the original British title (although the alterations in track listing stayed).
Title: Dirty Old Man (2nd single version)
Source: British Import CD: Time Out! Time In! For Them (bonus track originally released on LP: Now And Them)
Writer(s): Tom Lane
This track puzzles me. The CD booklet that comes with the expanded version of Time Out! Time In! For Them lists the song as Dirty Old Man (2nd single version), yet according to every database I have access to the song was only issued as a single once. Even more confusing is the fact that the first single version of the song (also included on the CD) runs about fifteen seconds longer than this one, and that this version is exactly the same length as the version heard on the LP Now And Them, which was released after the first single version but before Time Out! Time In! For Them. Furthermore, this particular track is in stereo, which was fairly uncommon in 1968 and totally unprecedented for the Tower label at that time. As there is nothing in the liner notes to indicate otherwise, I'm going to assume that this version is in fact the album version from Now And Them that was perhaps prepared as a single but never released.
Title: Like The Seasons
Source: French import CD: Happy Together
Writer(s): Warren Zevon
Label: Magic (original label: White Whale)
Although by far the most successful, the Turtles were by no means the only act signed to the White Whale label in the mid-1960s. Among their labelmates were a duo calling themselves lyme and cybelle (the lack of capitalization was deliberate), whose real names were Warren Zevon and Voilet Santangelo. Although not particularly successful as a recording artist at that time, Zevon did write several tunes for the Turtles to record, including Like The Seasons, which appeared as the B side of the band's most successful single, Happy Together, and was included on the Happy Together album as well.
Artist: Lemon Pipers
Title: Green Tambourine
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Green Tambourine)
Label: Priority (original label: Buddah)
Oxford, Ohio's Lemon Pipers have the distinction of being the first band to score a number one hit for the Buddah label. Unfortunately for the band, it was their only hit. Making it even worse is the fact that, although the Lemon Pipers themselves were a real band, they ended up being grouped in with several "bands" who were in fact studio creations by the Kazenetz/Katz production team that supplied Buddah with a steady stream of bubble-gum hits throughout 1968.
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Mr. Blues
Source: LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s): Bob Mosley
Bassist Bob Mosley wrote and sang on Mr. Blues, one of ten songs released on 45 RPM vinyl from the first Moby Grape album. It was a marketing disaster that forever tainted a talented band.