Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1612 (starts 3/16/16)
Title: Sunshine Of Your Love
Source: LP: Disraeli Gears
Only a handful of songs can truly be described as "iconic". Sunshine Of Your Love, with its often-imitated signature riff, the line-by-line trading off of lead vocals by Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton and one of the best-known lead guitar solos in rock history, certainly qualifies.
Title: You're A Very Lovely Woman (originally released on Emitt Rhodes LP: The American Dream)
Source: CD: More Nuggets
Writer: Emmit Rhodes
Label: Rhino (original label: A&M)
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1971
Emitt Rhodes first got noticed in his mid-teens as the drummer for the Palace Guard, a beatle-influenced L.A. band that had a minor hit with the song Like Falling Sugar in 1966. Rhodes would soon leave the guard to front his own band, the Merry-Go-Round, scoring one of the most popular regional hits in L.A. history with the song Live. In 1969 Rhodes decided to try his hand as a solo artist. The problem was that he was, as a member of the Merry-Go-Round, contractually obligated to record one more album for A&M. The album itself, featuring a mixture of Rhodes solo tunes and leftover Merry-Go-Round tracks, sat on the shelf for two years until Rhodes had released a pair of well-received LPs for his new label, at which time A&M finally issued The American Dream as an Emitt Rhodes album. One of the best tracks on The American Dream was You're A Very Lovely Woman, a Merry-Go-Round recording from 1967 that show's influences from fellow L.A band Love's Forever Changes album.
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Otis Redding
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Sounding a lot like the Rascals, the Vagrants were a popular Long Island band led by singer Peter Sabatino and best remembered for being the group that had guitarist Leslie Weinstein in it. Weinstein would change his last name to West and record a solo album called Mountain before forming the band of the same name. This version of Respect is fairly faithful to the original Otis Redding version. Unfortunately for the Vagrants, Aretha Franklin would release her radically rearranged version of the song just a few weeks after the Vagrants, relegating their version of the tune (and the Vagrants themselves) to footnote status.
Artist: Garden Club
Title: Little Girl Lost-And-Found
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: A&M)
Garden Club was in reality Ruthann Friedman (who wrote the Association hit Windy) on vocals with a bunch of studio musicians performing a song co-written by Tandyn Almer (co-writer of the Association hit Along Comes Mary and inventor of the dual-chamber bong). Oddly enough, the track reminds me somehow of Suzanne Vega.
Title: We Had A Good Thing Goin'
Source: 45 RPM single
The Cyrkle released ten singles from 1966 to 1968. With one exception (the song Camaro, which was released exclusively to Chevrolet dealerships), each of those singles did worse on the charts than the one before it. Their debut single, Red Rubber Ball, made the top 5. The follow-up, Turn Down Day, peaked within the top 20. We Had A Good Thing Goin', released in early 1967, only managed to make it to the # 51 spot, despite being written by Neil Sedaka and Ellie Greenfield.
Title: Dear Mr. Fantasy
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Heaven Is In Your Mind)
Label: United Artists
Steve Winwood is one of those artists that has multiple signature songs, having a career that has spanned decades (so far). Still, if there is any one song that is most closely associated with the guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist, it's the title track of Traffic's Mr. Fantasy album.
Title: Fixing A Hole
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Label: Parlophone/EMI (original US label: Capitol)
The first Beatle album to appear with the same tracks in the same order on both US and UK versions was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The only differences between the two were a lack of spaces in the vinyl (called "banding") on the UK version and a bit of gobbledygook heard at the end of the record (but only if you did not have a turntable that automatically lifted the needle out of the groove after the last track). Said gobbledygook is included after A Day In The Life on the CD as a hidden track if you really want to hear what it sounds like.
Source: CD: The Rutles (originally released on LP: All You Need Is Cash)
Writer(s): Neil Innes
Label: Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
In the mid-1970s Monty Python's Eric Idle made an appearance as guest host of NBC's Saturday Night Live. He brought with him a short film documenting the rise of the Rutles, the British rock band responsible for the Rutlemania phenomenon. The idea was soon expanded to a full-length telefilm that was broadcast by the network in 1978. In addition to Idle (Dirk McQuigly), the Rutles consisted of Neil Innes (Ron Nasty), Rikki Fataar (Stig O'Hara) and John Halsey (Barry Wom). In the studio Innes, Halsey and Fataar were joined by Ollie Halsall and Andy Brown, producing what are generally considered the finest Beatles parodies ever recorded. Among the songs used in the TV special (and soundtrack album) was a short piece called Nevertheless, from the Parlourphone album Sgt. Rutter's Only Darts Club Band. The piece features sitar work by Fataar. All the Rutles songs were written by Neil Innes, himself a veteran of the legendary Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band that made an appearance in the 1967 Beatles telefilm Magical Mystery Tour.
Title: Getting Better
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Label: Parlophone/EMI (original label: Capitol)
Following their 1966 North American tour, the Beatles announced that they were giving up touring to concentrate on their songwriting and studio work. Freed of the responsibilities of the road (and under the influence of mind-expanding substances), the band members found themselves discovering new sonic possibilities as never before (or since), hitting a creative peak with their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, often cited as the greatest album ever recorded. The individual Beatles were about to move in separate musical directions, but as of Sgt. Pepper's were still functioning mostly as a single unit, as is heard on the chorus of Getting Better, in which Paul McCartney's opening line, "I have to admit it's getting better", is immediately answered by John Lennon's playfully cynical "can't get no worse". The members continued to experiment with new instrumental styles as well, such as George Harrison's use of sitar on the song's bridge, accompanied by Ringo Starr's bongos.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Burning of the Midnight Lamp
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Burning of the Midnight Lamp was the fourth, and at the time most sophisticated single released by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, coming out in mid-1967 between Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold As Love. By this time, Reprise had changed its policy and ended up releasing the Axis album with the same song lineup as the UK original, which left Midnight Lamp a kind of orphan. Hendrix, though, having put a lot of work into the song, was not content to let the mono single release be the last word on the cut, and created a new stereo mix from the original tapes for inclusion on Electric Ladyland the following year.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: You Got Me Floatin'
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience took four-track recording technology to new levels with their second LP, Axis: Bold As Love on songs like You Got Me Floatin'. The track opens with backwards guitar followed by a memorable riff that continues throughout the song. The entire instrumental break also uses backward-masked guitar, making a somewhat simplistic song into a track that bears further listens.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Come On (part one)
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s): Earl King
Despite being rated by many as the greatest rock guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix's roots were in the blues. One of his most performed songs was Red House (a track that was left off the US release of Are You Experienced), and the Experience's debut US performance at Monterey featured an amped-up version of the B.B. King classic Rock Me Baby. For the Electric Ladyland album Hendrix chose a relatively obscure tune from Earl King, originally recorded in 1962. Come On (Pt. 1) was one of only two cover songs on Electric Ladyland (the other being Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower).
Artist: Nashville Teens
Title: Tobacco Road
Source: Mono CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: John D. Loudermilk
Label: KTel (original label: London)
The Nashville Teens were not teens. Nor were they from Nashville. In fact, they were one of the original British Invasion bands. Their version of John D. Loudermilk's Tobacco Road was a huge international hit in the summer of 1964. The lead guitar parts on the recording are the work of studio musician Jimmy Page.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Like A Rolling Stone
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan incurred the wrath of folk purists when he decided to use electric instruments for his 1965 LP Highway 61 Revisited. The opening track on the album is the six-minute Like A Rolling Stone, a song that was also selected to be the first single released from the new album. After the single was pressed, the shirts at Columbia Records decided to cancel the release due to its length. An acetate copy of the record, however, made it to a local New York club, where, by audience request, the record was played over and over until it was worn out (acetate copies not being as durable as their vinyl counterparts). When Columbia started getting calls from local radio stations demanding copies of the song the next morning they decided to release the single after all. Like A Rolling Stone ended up going all the way to the number two spot on the US charts, doing quite well in several other countries as well.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: Good Vibrations
Source: Mono CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1966 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Although I had originally discovered top 40 radio in 1963 (when I had received a small Sony transistor radio for my birthday), it wasn't until 1966 that I really got into it in a big way. This way due to a combination of a couple of things: first, my dad bought a console stereo, and second, my junior high school went onto split sessions, meaning that I was home by one o'clock every day. This gave me unprecedented access to Denver's two big top 40 AM stations, as well as an FM station that was experimenting with a Top 100 format for a few hours each day. At first I was content to just listen to the music, but soon realized that the DJs were making a point of mentioning each song's chart position just about every time that song would play. Naturally I began writing all this stuff down in my notebook (when I was supposed to be doing my homework), until I realized that both KIMN and KBTR actually published weekly charts, which I began to diligently hunt down at various local stores. In addition to the songs occupying numbered positions on the charts, both stations included songs at the bottom of the list that they called "pick hits". These were new releases that had not been around long enough to achieve a chart position. The one that most stands out in my memory was the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations, a song I liked so much that I went out and bought it the afternoon I heard it. Within a few weeks Good Vibrations had gone all the way to the top of the charts, and I always felt that some of the credit should go to me for buying the record when it first came out. Over the next couple of years I bought plenty more singles, but to this day Good Vibrations stands out as the most important record purchase I ever made.
Title: Circus With A Female Clown
Source: Mono British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: EMI (original label: Columbia)
One of the first British bands to label themselves as "psychedelic", the Fingers included as part of their stage show a monkey named Freak Out, whom the band members claimed produced "psychotic" odors. The band only released two singles, however, the second of which was Circus With A Female Clown, which came out on the British Columbia label in 1967. The song failed to chart, however, and the group broke up soon after its release.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock
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: Steven Cerio
Title: Fox In The Weeds
Source: CD: The Magnificent Pigtail Shadow
Writer(s): Steven Cerio
Steven Cerio is a multimedia artist originally from Liverpool, NY, who is credited with setting the stage for the new-psychedelic revival in New York City. A graduate of Syracuse University, Cerio wrote and directed the indy film The Magnificent Pigtail Shadow in 2012. The following year a soundtrack album for the film, which is narrated by Kristin Hirsch of Throwing Muses. The CD also contains several tracks that were written for, but not used in, the film itself, among them a piece called Fox In The Weeds.
Artist: Mark Fry
Title: The Witch
Source: British Import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in Italy on LP: Dreaming With Alice)
Writer(s): Mark Fry
Label: Grapefruit (original label: RCA Italian)
One of the most obscure albums ever released, Dreaming With Alice is sometimes considered the ultimate example of acid folk. Recorded in 1971 by teenaged British art student Mark Fry, the album includes a track called The Witch, which is described in the book Galactic Ramble as "one of the creepiest songs you'll ever hear". Personally I don't really find anything creepy about it at all, although the track itself is quite hypnotic and highly listenable.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Source: LP: Through The Past, Darkly (originally released as 45 RPM single)
If there was a British equivalent to the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations in terms of time and money spent on a single song, it might be We Love You, a 1967 single released by the Rolling Stones. To go along with the single (with its state-of-the-art production) the band spent a considerable sum making a full-color promotional video, a practice that would not become commonplace until the advent of MTV in the 1980s. Despite all this, US radio stations virtually ignored We Love You, choosing to instead flip the record over and play the B side, a tune called Dandelion. As to why this came about, I suspect that Bill Drake, the man behind the nation's most influential top 40 stations, simply decided that the less elaborately produced Dandelion was better suited to the US market than We Love You and instructed his hand-picked program directors at such stations as WABC, KHJ and WLS to play Dandelion. The copycat nature of top 40 radio being what it is, Dandelion ended up being a moderate hit in the US in the summer of '67.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Lady Jane
Source: 45 RPM single B side
One of the best early Rolling Stones albums is 1966's Aftermath, which included such classics as Under My Thumb, Stupid Girl and the eleven-minute Goin' Home. Both the US and UK versions of the LP included the song Lady Jane, which was also released as the B side to Mother's Little Helper (which had been left off the US version of Aftermath to make room for Paint It, Black). The policy at the time was for B sides that got a significant amount of airplay to be rated seperately from the A side of the single, and Lady Jane managed to climb to the # 24 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 (Mother's Little Helper peaked at # 8).
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: She's A Rainbow
Source: LP: Through The Past, Darkly (originally released on LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request)
The Stones had their own brand of psychedelia, which was showcased on their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request. The album itself didn't really connect with either critics or public, although She's A Rainbow was a hit single in the US.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: Bad Little Woman
Source: Mono CD: Dark Sides (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Originally recorded by an Irish R&B band called the Wheels, Bad Little Woman was the third single from the Chicago area's premier garage/punk band, the Shadows Of Knight. The group had previously scored big with their cover of Van Morrison's Gloria, taking the song to the top of the Chicago charts and into the top 10 nationally. The group's second single, a cover of Bo Diddley's Oh Yeah, had managed to make the US top 40 charts, but Bad Little Woman ended up stalling out at #91. Nonetheless, the track stands as one of the loudest and raunchiest examples of garage rock ever recorded, especially on the choruses, which were mastered about five decibels louder than the verses.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Viola Lee Blues
Source: LP: The Grateful Dead
Writer(s): Noah Lewis
Label: Warner Brothers
The Grateful Dead established a reputation over the years for playing long extended jams. The first of these to be released on vinyl was Viola Lee Blues, clocking in at about 10 minutes. Compared to some of the later performances of Dark Star or St. Stephen, ten minutes does not seem very long, but the track does show flashes of the interplay between band members that would become the stuff of legends.
Artist: Picadilly Line
Title: Rosemary's Bluebell Day
Source: Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution
Year: Recorded 1967; released 2013
Rod Edwards and Roger Hand were a British folk-rock duo who appeared (occassionally with a backup band) at various underground London clubs like the UFO and Middle Earth under the name Picadilly Line. The duo released several singles and one LP (The Huge World Of Emily Small), before dropping the pretense of being a band and going on to greater success as Edwards Hand with producer George Martin. While still using the name Picadilly Line they recorded Rosemary's Bluebelle Day with a full band in 1967, but did not release the track.
Title: A House Is Not A Motel
Source: Australian import CD: Comes In Colours (originally released on LP: Forever Changes)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Raven (original label: Elektra)
Arthur Lee was a bit of a recluse, despite leading the most popular band on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. When the band was not playing at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go Lee was most likely to be found at his home up in the Hollywood Hills, often in the company of fellow band member Bryan McLean. The other members of the band, however, were known to hang out in the most popular clubs, chasing women and imbibing all kinds of substances. Sometimes they would show up at Lee's house unbidden. Sometimes they would crash there. Sometimes Lee would get annoyed, and probably used the phrase which became the title of the second track on Love's classic Forever Changes album, A House Is Not A Motel.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Richard Cory
Source: LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer(s): Paul Simon
My ultra-cool 9th-grade English teacher brought in a copy of Simon And Garfunkel's Sounds Of Silence album one day. As a class, we deconstructed the lyrics of two of the songs on that album: A Most Peculiar Man and Richard Cory. Both songs deal with suicide, but under vastly different circumstances. Whereas A Most Peculiar Man is about a lonely man who lives an isolated existence as an anonymouse resident of a boarding house, Richard Cory deals with a character who is at the center of society, known and envied by many. Too bad most high school English classes weren't that interesting.
Title: Renaissance Fair
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Younger Than Yesterday was David Crosby's last official album with the Byrds (he was fired midway through the recording of The Notorious Byrd Brothers) and the last one containing any collaborations between Crosby and Jim (now Roger) McGuinn. Renaissance Fair is one of those collaborations.
Artist: Blood, Sweat and Tears
Title: My Days Are Numbered
Source: LP: Child Is Father To The Man
Writer: Al Kooper
The first artist spotlight I ever did on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era (back in 2002, long before the show went into syndication) was on Al Kooper. At the time I didn't realize just how important a figure he was in rock history. I knew that he had first appeared on the scene as the replacement for the original guitarist of the Royal Teens, but not that he had become friends with producer Tom Wilson as a result of that. It was as a guest of Wilson that Kooper was in attendance at the historic sessions that produced the classic Bob Dylan track Like A Rolling Stone and the subsequent Highway 61 Revisited album. I knew that Kooper had been the organist for those sessions, but not that he had intended to play guitar that day (when he saw that Michael Bloomfield was already there, he changed his mind) and only played the organ because nobody else was sitting at it. This led to other studio work from producers hoping to cash in on the "Dylan organ" sound. Kooper soon realized that he was being typecast and began looking for ways to expand and hone his abilities, not only as an organist, but on piano and other, more experimental keyboard instruments that were just hitting the market at the time. It was at yet another studio session as a guest of Tom Wilson that Kooper met the members of a new band called the Blues Project, who were (unsuccessfully) auditioning for Columbia Records at their New York studios. Kooper and the band members hit it off and Kooper soon became the band's regular keyboardist, playing on two LPs with the band (and appearing on a third that was released after his departure). In 1968 Kooper hooked up with his friend Michael Bloomfield (among others) to record the historic Super Session album. Feeling that some of the tracks were lacking something, Kooper arranged for horns to be overdubbed, which led to him forming a new band that featured a horn section as an integral part of the band. Calling the new group Blood, Sweat and Tears, he released one album, Child Is Father To The Man, with them before moving on to other things. The majority of songs on Child were written by Kooper, including My Days Are Numbered.