Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1609 (starts 2/24/16)

Artist:     Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:     Purple Haze
Source:     Dutch import LP: The Singles (originally released in the UK as a 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Jimi Hendrix
Label:     Polydor (original label:Track)
Year:     1967
     Purple Haze has one of the most convoluted release histories of any song ever recorded. Originally issued in the UK on the Track label and in Europe on the Polydor label as a single, it scored high on the British charts. When Reprise got the rights to release the first Hendrix album, Are You Experienced, in the US, they chose to replace the first track on the album with Purple Haze, moving the original opening track, Foxy Lady, to side two of the LP. Purple Haze next appeared on the Smash Hits album, which was released pretty much everywhere. The song's next appearance was on a European double LP release on Polydor called The Singles, which collected all the tracks that had previously appeared on 7" vinyl anywhere, including posthumous releases. This was the way things stayed until the early 1990s, when MCA acquired the rights to the Hendrix catalog and re-issued Are You Experienced with the tracks restored to the UK ordering, but preceded by the six non-album sides (including Purple Haze) that had originally been released prior to the album. Most recently, the Hendrix Family Trust has again changed labels and the US version of Are You Experienced is once again in print, this time on Sony's Legacy label. This means that the song has now been released by all three currently existing major record conglomerates.

Artist:    Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title:    Help Me Girl
Source:    LP: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals-Vol. II (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Eric Is Here)
Writer(s):    English/Weiss
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1966
    Consider the following paradox: Animals vocalist Eric Burdon made no secret of his disdain for the songs provided to the Animals by producer Mickey Most, which by and large came from professional songwriters based in New York's Brill Building. Nonetheless, when the original Animals split up, the first new song to come from Eric Burdon was not only a product of professional songwriters, it was even lighter in tone than the songs that he had complained about. Even stranger, Help Me Girl was fully orchestrated and, with the exception of drummer Barry Jenkins, was performed entirely by studio musicians.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Let's Spend The Night Together
Source:    LP: Between The Buttons
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    I seem to recall some TV show (Ed Sullivan, maybe?) making Mick Jagger change the words to "Let's Spend Some Time Together". I can't imagine anyone doing that to the Stones now. Nor can I imagine the band agreeing to it.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Flying High
Source:    LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Any guesses to what a song called Flying High from an album called Electric Music For The Mind And Body by Country Joe And The Fish released in 1967 might be about? I thought not.

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

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    T.N.U.C.
Source:    LP: On Time
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    Something puzzles me about the Grand Funk Railroad track called T.N.U.C. from their first album, On Time. No, it's not the meaning of the track's title (I figured that one out years ago). It's not even the strange coincidence that three tracks featuring drum solos by entirely different bands happen to have titles that are four letters long and start with the letter "T" (the others being Cream's Toad and Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Tank). No, what puzzles me is how guitarist Mark Farner managed to get sole writing credit on a track that is mostly a drum solo by Don Brewer.
Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Iron Man
Source:    CD: Paranoid
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osbourne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    Black Sabbath tended to write songs as a group, with Tony Iommi coming up with a guitar riff, Ozzy Osbourne figuring out a melody, Geezer Butler writing lyrics and Bill Ward adding the finishing touches with his drum set. One of their most famous tracks, Iron Man, started off exactly that way. When Ozzy Osbourne heard Tony Iommi's riff he remarked that it sounded "like a big iron bloke walking about". Butler took the idea and ran with it, coming up with a song about a man who travels to the future, sees the devastation and returns to his own time to try to change things. Unfortunately he gets caught in a magnetic field that turns him into living steel, mute and unable to verbally express himself. His efforts to communicate are met with indifference and even mockery, angering him to the point that he himself becomes the cause of the destruction he had witnessed. The song is considered one of foundation stones of what came to be called heavy metal. It's continued popularity is evidenced by the fact that it was used in the Iron Man movies, despite having no real connection to the film, other than being the title character's favorite song.
Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    For What It's Worth
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released as 45 RPM single and added to LP: Buffalo Springfield)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Most people associate the name Buffalo Springfield with the song For What It's Worth. And for good reason. The song is one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded, and to this day is in regular rotation on both oldies and classic rock radio stations. The song was written and recorded in November of 1966 and released in January of 1967. By then the first Buffalo Springfield LP was already on the racks, but until that point had not sold particularly well. When it became clear that For What It's Worth was becoming a breakout hit, Atco Records quickly recalled the album and added the song to it (as the opening track). All subsequent pressings of the LP (and later the CD) contain For What It's Worth, making earlier copies of the album somewhat of a rarity and quite collectable.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Alone Again Or
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Bryan MacLean
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    The only song Love ever released as a single that was not written by Arthur Lee was Alone Again Or, issued in 1970. The song had originally appeared as the opening track from the Forever Changes album three years earlier. Bryan McLean would later say that he was not happy with the recording due to his own vocal being buried beneath that of Lee, since Lee's part was meant to be a harmony line to McLean's melody. McLean would later re-record the song for a solo album, but reportedly was not satisfied with that version either.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Elijah
Source:    CD: Spirit
Writer:    John Locke
Label:    Ode/Epic/Legacy
Year:    1968
    Since the mid-1960s many bands have had one long piece that they play in concert that is specifically designed to allow individual band members to strut their stuff. In a few cases, such as Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida or Lynnard Skynnard's Freebird, it becomes their best-known song. In most cases, though, a studio version of the piece gets put on an early album and never gets heard on the radio. Such is the case with Spirit's show-stopper Elijah, which was reportedly never played the same way twice. Elijah, written by keyboardist John Locke, starts with a hard-rockin' main theme that is followed by a jazzier second theme that showcases one of the lead instruments (guitar, keyboards). The piece then comes to a dead stop while one of the members has a solo section of their own devising. This is followed by the main theme, repeating several times until every member has had their own solo section. The piece ends with a return to the main theme followed by a classic power rock ending.

Artist:    Rabbit Habit
Title:    Angel Angel Down We Go
Source:    CD: A Deadly Dose Of Wylde Psych (originally released as stereo 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Mann/Weil
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Tower)
Year:    1969
    I don't have the slightest clue who plays on this record (although the band that performs it on film is called Rabbit Habit). What I do know is that is was the title track of an American International Pictures film called Angel Angel Down We Go. Unfortunately I had never seen or even heard of a movie called Angel Angel Down We Go before hearing this track, so I have no idea what is was about (other than a band called Rabbit Habit). But that's OK, because I strongly suspect I wouldn't be interested in watching a 1969 film from American International Pictures anyway. Then again, if it's cheesy enough, I just might. I actually did like Wild In The Streets the first time I saw it, after all (I was fifteen). Speaking of which, the theme from both that movie and Angel Angel Down We Go were written by Barry Mann and his wife Cynthia Weil, who also wrote (among other things) Kicks and Hungry for Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Artist:    Mops
Title:    I'm Just A Mops
Source:    CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Japan on LP: Psychedelic Sounds In Japan)
Writer(s):    Suzuki/Hoshi
Label:    Rhino (original label: Victor)
Year:    1968
            Popular rock in the mid-60s UK was known collectively as beat music, which was basically inspired by the Beatles and other Merseybeat bands and taken to its greatest success by London bands such as the Rolling Stones. The rest of the world soon followed suit with their own British-inspired movements such as garage rock in the US and something called group sounds, or GS, in Japan. Among the more successful GS bands was a group called the Mops. Formed in 1966, the band followed in the footsteps of the Animals, who had taken a decidedly psychedelic turn in early 1967. By the time the Mops released their first single in November of 1967 they were being billed as the "First Psychedelic Band in Japan." Six months later they cemented this reputation with the release of their first LP, Psychedelic Sounds In Japan. Mixed in among their own arrangements of such standards as San Franciscan Nights and Somebody To Love were a handful of original tunes, the most notable of which was the grammatically weird I'm Just A Mops, which served as a kind of theme song. With the arrival of Led Zeppelin on the international music scene, the Mops took on a heavier sound, releasing eight more albums before disbanding in 1974.
 Artist:    Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title:    Incense And Peppermints
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Carter/Gilbert/Weitz/King
Label:    Rhino (original label: Uni)
Year:    1967
    Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was originally released to Los Angeles area radio stations it was intended to be the B side of The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    You Can't Catch Me
Source:    LP: Tommy Flanders, Danny Kalb, Steve Katz, Al Kooper, Andy Kuhlberg, Roy Blumenfeld Of The Blues Project (promo copy)
Writer:    Chuck Berry
Label:    Verve Forecast
Year:    1966
    One of the reasons for Chuck Berry's enduring popularity throughout the 1960s (despite a lack of major hits during the decade) was the fact that so many bands covered his 50s hits, often updating them for a 60s audience. Although not as well-known as Roll Over Beethoven or Johnny B. Goode, You Can't Catch Me nonetheless got its fair share of coverage, including versions by the Rolling Stones and the Blues Project (as well as providing John Lennon an opening line for the song Come Together).

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Paperback Writer
Source:    CD: Past Masters Volume Two
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone
Year:    1966
    Following a successful 1965 that culminated with their classic Rubber Soul album, the Beatles' first release of 1966 was the equally classic Paperback Writer. The song was as influential as it was popular, to the point that the coda at the end of the song inspired Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to write what would become the Monkees' first number one hit: Last Train To Clarksville.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source:    CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night))
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in early 1967. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on both the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation and Rhino's first Nuggets LP.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Taxman
Source:    CD: Turn On The Music Machine
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Collector's Choice (original label: Original Artists)
Year:    1966
    Sean Bonniwell's original conception for his band, the Music Machine's first album was a continuous collage of original songs connected by short orchestral pieces. The band's record label, Original Sound, however, had other ideas. The group had recorded a handful of cover songs for use on a local Los Angeles TV dance show that were never intended to be released on vinyl. When Turn On The Music Machine was released, Bonniwell was livid when he discovered that the album had included these covers in additional to his original songs, diluting the impact of Bonniwell's songs considerably. One of the better of these covers was Taxman, a George Harrison composition that had only a short time before been released by the Beatles as the opening track for their Revolver album.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Double Yellow Line
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Rhino (original label: Original Sound, stereo LP version released on Warner Brothers)
Year:    1967
    One of the Original Sound singles that also appeared on the Warner Brothers LP Bonniwell Music Machine, Double Yellow Line features lyrics that were literally written by Bonniwell on the way to the recording studio. In fact, his inability to stay in his lane while driving with one hand and writing with the other resulted in a traffic ticket. The ever resourceful Bonniwell wrote the rest of the lyrics on the back of the ticket and even invited the officer in to watch the recording session. He declined.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Wrong
Source:    CD: Turn On The Music Machine
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1966
    Sean Bonniwell was a member of the mainstream (i.e. lots of appearances on TV variety shows hosted by people like Perry Como and Bob Hope) folk group the Lamplighters in the early 60s. By 1966 he had morphed into one of the more mysterious figures on the LA music scene, leading a proto-punk band dressed entirely in black. Bonniwell himself wore a single black glove (Michael Jackson was about seven years old at the time), and was one of the most prolific songwriters of the time. His recordings, often featuring the distinctive Farfisa organ sound, were a primary influence on later LA bands such as Iron Butterfly and the Doors. A classic example of the Music Machine sound was the song Wrong, which was issued as the B side of the group's most successful single, Talk Talk.

Artist:    Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters
Title:    Mr. Middle
Source:    LP: Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters
Writer(s):    Bogardus/Woods
Label:    Verve Forecast
Year:    1967
    Probably the closest Dave Van Ronk ever got to psychedelia was an album called Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters, released on the Verve Forecast label in 1967. The Hudson Dusters themselves have been described as an eclectic combination of electric jugband, folk orchestra and bubblegum band. All these elements can be heard on Mr. Middle, a song that really can't be described any other way.

Artist:    Mad River
Title:    Orange Fire
Source:    Mono British import CD: The Berkeley EPs (originally released in US on EP: Mad River)
Writer(s):    Lawrence Hammond
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Wee)
Year:    1967
    Mad River was formed in 1965 in Yellow Spings, Ohio, as the Mad River Blues Band. The group (after several personnel changes) relocated to the Berkeley, California in spring of 1967, and soon began appearing at local clubs, often alongside Country Joe And The Fish. Around this time the band came into contact with Lonnie Hewitt, a jazz musician who had started his own R&B-oriented label, Wee. After auditioning for Fantasy Records, the band decided instead to finance their own studio recordings, which were then issued as a three-song EP on Wee. From the start, Mad River's music was pretty far out there, even by Bay Area standards. Orange Fire, for instance, was an attempt by bandleader Lawrence Hammond to portray the horrors of war musically. Interestingly enough, all the tracks on the EP had been written and arranged before the band moved out to the West Coast. The group eventually signed with Capitol, releasing two decidedly non-commercial albums for the label before disbanding in 1969.
Artist:    Otis Redding/Carla Thomas
Title:    Tramp
Source:    LP: The Dock Of The Bay (originally released on LP: King And Queen)
Writer(s):    Fulson/McCracklin
Label:    Volt (original label: Stax)
Year:    1967
    Tramp is a classic example of Memphis Soul, originally recorded by Lowell Fulson (who co-wrote the tune with Jimmy McCracklin), who took the song to the top 5 on the R&B chart and the # 52 spot on the Hot 100 in early 1967. The song was covered by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas for the King And Queen album that same year and did even better on the charts than Fulson's original when released as a single, going to the # 2 spot on the R&B chart and # 26 on the Hot 100. Their version was so popular, in fact, that it was included on Redding's next solo LP, The Dock Of The Bay, which was released in early 1968, following Redding's death in a December 1967 plane crash.
Artist:     Blues Magoos
Title:     Gloria
Source:     Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
Writer:     Van Morrison
Label:     Mercury
Year:     1967
     Although the Blues Magoos are best known for their hit (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet, the band got a lot of airplay on underground FM stations for their extended psychedelic rave up on John D. Loudermilk's Tobacco Road, which had been a hit a couple of years before for the Nashville Teens. Both songs were featured on the band's debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop. For their second album, Electric Comic Book, the Magoos decided to do a similar treatment on Van Morrison's Gloria, which had been a hit for the Shadows of Knight in 1966. The result was six minutes of pure madness.

Artist:    Moby Grape
Title:    8:05
Source:    LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s):    Miller/Stevenson
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    Moby Grape was formed out of the ashes of a band called the Frantics, which featured the songwriting team of guitarist Jerry Miller and drummer Don Stevenson. The two continued to write songs together in the new band. One of those was 8:05, one of five songs on the first Moby Grape album to be released simultaneously as singles.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    White Room
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Wheels Of Fire)
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    United Artists (original label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    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:    Manfred Mann Chapter Three
Title:    Sometimes
Source:    LP: Manfred Mann Chapter Three
Writer(s):    Mike Hugg
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1969
    In 1999, after several years of making hit records as part of the British Invasion, South African organist Manfred Mann and pianist Mike Hugg decided to disband their popular group and form a new, more jazz-oriented combo. Taking their cue from Miles Davis and John Coltrane, the band took a "time, no changes" approach to the project, which included, in addition to Mann and Hugg, several distinguished jazz soloists as well as a five piece horn section. Whereas Mann's compositions for the band were somewhat spacey, Hugg's contributions, such as Sometimes, are shorter and more melodic, centered on Hugg's electric piano. The group disbanded after a second LP, and Mann went on to form his more successful Manfred Mann's Earth Band in the 1970s.

Artist:    Syd Barrett
Title:    No Good Trying
Source:    British import CD: Insane Times (originally released on LP: The Madcap Laughs)
Writer(s):    Syd Barrett
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1970
    After parting company with Pink Floyd in 1968, Syd Barrett made an aborted attempt at recording a solo album. After spending several months in psychiatric care, Barrett resumed work on the project in April of 1969, recording the basic tracks for songs such as It's No Good Trying with producer Malcolm Jones. In May of 1969 Barrett brought in three members of the Soft Machine to record overdubs for several songs, including No Good Trying (the "It's" having mysteriously disappeared from the song title). Barrett then added some backwards guitar, and the final track appeared on his 1970 LP The Madcap Laughs.

Artist:    Golden Earrings
Title:    Daddy Buy Me A Girl
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Holland as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Gerritson/Kooymans
Label:    Rhino (original label: Polydor)
Year:    1966
    Years before Radar Love made them international stars, Golden Earring had an 's' on the end of their name and was one of Holland's most popular beat bands, thanks to songs like Daddy Buy Me A Girl, which takes the usual "poor boy out to prove he's worthy of the rich girl" theme and turns it on its head, with the singer complaining that everyone just likes him for his money and not for himself. The song, released in 1966, was the group's fourth single for the Dutch Polydor label.

Artist:    Red Squares
Title:    You Can Be My Baby
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Denmark as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Martin/Bell
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1966
    Originally formed in Boston, England, in 1964, the Red Squares relocated to Denmark in 1966 and soon became massively popular. For the most part the band's sound was similar to the Hollies, as can be heard on the original LP version of You Can Be My Baby. The single version of the song heard here, however, cranks up the energy levels to something approaching the early Who records.

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