Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1634 (starts 8/24/16)
Artist: Missing Links
Title: You're Driving Me Insane
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Australia as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Baden Hutchins
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
Long before AC/DC emerged from down under, the Missing Links were known as "Australia's wildest group". The name Missing Links was first used in 1964 by a group that released only one single in 1964. The following year an entirely new lineup made up of friends and associates of the original group began using the name, releasing three singles (the first of which was You're Driving Me Insane) and an album before disbanding in April of1966.
Title: Nobody Spoil My Fun
Source: LP: The Seeds
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: GNP Crescendo
Sky Saxon's Seeds were a popular attraction on the L.A. club scene in 1966. They were also one of the first bands to feature all original material (mostly from Saxon himself) on their albums, such as Nobody Spoil My Fun from their debut LP.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Flying High
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
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: Ultimate Spinach
Title: Ego Trip
Source: LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
1967 was also the year of the "Boss-Town Sound", a gimmick used to promote several Boston-based bands signed to the M-G-M label (M-G-M having been asleep at the wheel during the recent band-signing frenzy in San Francisco). Derided in the music press as a crass attempt to manipulate record buyers, the ultimate victims of this fraud were the bands themselves, many of which were actually quite talented. Ultimate Spinach was the brainchild of keyboardist Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote all the material for the group's first two LPs. When the stigma of being part of the whole boss-town thing became too much to deal with, Bruce-Douglas left the group. Although the Ultimate Spinach name continued to be used, subsequent albums had little in common musically with the two Bruce-Douglas LPs.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer: Bob Dylan
"Everybody must get stoned." 'Nuff said.
Artist: Chocolate Watchband
Title: Sweet Young Thing
Source: Mono CD: The Inner Mystique (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Sundazed (original label: Uptown)
There is actually very little on vinyl that captures the actual live sound of the Chocolate Watchband, as most of their recorded work was heavily influenced by producer Ed Cobb, who tried his best to make them sound more psychedelic than they really were. One of the few recordings that does accurately represent the Watchband sound is this single released in January of 1967. Ironically, Sweet Young Thing was written by Cobb himself. Even stranger is the fact that the single was released on Tower's Uptown subsidiary, which specialized in R&B artists.
Title: Sunshine (single version)
Source: Mono British import CD: Gun
Writer(s): Adrian Gurvitz
Label: Repertoire (original label: CBS)
When I was a junior in high school I switched from guitar to bass to form a three-piece band called Sunn. Mostly what we did was jam onstage, although we did learn a handfull of cover songs as well. One of those songs we actually learned by playing it on the jukebox at the local youth center over and over. A British band called Gun had released a tune called Race With The Devil that caught on quickly with the dependent kids at Ramstein AFB in Germany. None of us, however, actually had a copy of the record. A rival band had already started playing Race With The Devil, so we decided to instead go for the B side, Sunshine. Luckily, the song has few lyrics, and tends to repeat them a lot, so we didn't have to spend a whole lot of nickels to get them all down. Ditto for the musical part, as the song is basically just three chords over and over. Still, it turned out to be one of our most popular numbers, since it was about the only song in our repertoire you could slow dance to. Also, the simple structure allowed Dave, the guitarist, to extend the song as long as he felt like jamming, which was generally all night. So, here we have the mono single version of Sunshine, as heard on the Ramstein youth center jukebox all those years ago.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: Mono LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Label: Sundazed (original label: RCA Victor)
Uncredited guest guitarist Jerry Garcia adds a simple, but memorable recurring fill riff to Today, an early collaboration between rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner and bandleader Marty Balin on Jefferson Airplane's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mercury)
The Blues Magoos (original spelling: Bloos, not surprising for a bunch of guys from the Bronx) were either the first or second band to use the word psychedelic in an album title. Both they and the 13th Floor Elevators released their debut albums in 1966 and it is unclear which one actually came out first. What's not in dispute is the fact that Psychedelic Lollipop far outsold The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. One major reason for this was the fact that (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet was a huge national hit in early 1967, which helped album sales considerably. Despite having a unique sound and a look to match (including electric suits), the Magoos were unable to duplicate the success of Nothin' Yet on subsequent releases, partially due to Mercury's pairing of two equally marketable songs on the band's next single without indicating to stations which one they were supposed to be playing.
Title: How Can I Leave Her
Source: CD: Red Rubber Ball (A Collection) (originally released on LP: Red Rubber Ball)
Originally known as the Rhondells, the Cyrkle got a huge break when they came to the attention of Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles, in late 1965. Epstein had been looking for an American band to manage, and liked what he heard when he caught the band in Atlantic City on Labor Day weekend. By the following summer the group, whom Epstein had renamed the Cyrkle (with John Lennon credited for the unique spelling) found itself opening for the Beatles on their last North American tour, including their final live performance at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on August 29th. By then the Cyrkle had released a hit single, Red Rubber Ball, and soon would release an album with the same title. About half the tracks on the LP were written by band members, including the soft-pop How Can I Leave Her, which features the Cyrkle's Beach Boys-inspired harmonies.
Title: Eight Miles High
Source: CD: Fifth Dimension
By all rights, the Byrds' Eight Miles High should have been a huge hit. Unfortunately, Bill Drake, the most influential man in the history of Top 40 radio, got it into his head that this was a drug song, despite the band's insistence that it was about a transatlantic plane trip. The band's version actually makes sense, as Gene Clark had just quit the group due to his fear of flying (he is listed as a co-writer of the song), and the subject was probably a hot topic of discussion among the remaining members. Despite all this Eight Miles High still managed to crack the top 20 in late 1966.
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: The Great Airplane Strike (remix)
Source: CD: Legend of Paul Revere (originally released on LP: Spirit of '67 and as a 45 RPM single)
This is actually the third mix of this 1966 recording. The first version of The Great Airplane Strike was in stereo and was included on the LP Spirit of '67. This was followed by a mono single mix of the song which replaced the original fade out ending with an effect created by gradually slowing the tape down. This version is a mid-90s stereo remix of the mono single version. The song itself is a good example of just how good a band Paul Revere and the Raiders were once you got past the cheesy revolutionary war costumes they wore.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Catfish Blues
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Canned Heat)
Writer: Robert Petway
Label: United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Like many other US cities in the 1960s, San Francisco had a small but enthusiastic community of collectors of blues records. A group of them got together in 1966 to form Canned Heat, and made quite an impression when they played the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. This led to a contract with Liberty Records and an album consisting entirely of cover versions of blues standards. One standout track from that album is Robert Petway's Catfish Blues, expanded to over six minutes by the Heat.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: I Won't Hurt You
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Part One)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Unlike more famous L.A. groups like Love and the Doors, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was not a Sunset Strip club band. In fact, the WCPAEB really didn't play that many live performances in their career, although those they did play tended to be at high profile venues such as the Hollywood Bowl. The band was formed when the Harris brothers, sons of an accomplished classical musician, decided to record their own album and release it on the small Fifa label. Only a few copies of that album, Volume One, were made and finding one now is next to impossible. That might have been the end of the story except for the fact that they were acquaintances of Kim Fowley, the Zelig-like record producer and all-around Hollywood hustler. Fowley invited them to a party where the Yardbirds were playing; a party also attended by one Bob Markley. Markley, who was nearly ten years older than the Harris brothers, was a former TV show host from the midwest who had moved out to the coast to try his luck in Hollywood. Impressed by the flock of young girls surrounding the Yardbirds, Markley expressed to Fowley his desire to be a rock and roll star and have the girls flock around him, too. Fowley, ever the deal-maker, responded by introducing Markley to the Harris Brothers and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was born. With the addition of guitarist Michael Lloyd and the influence of Markley's not-inconsiderable family money, the group soon landed a contract with Reprise Records, where they proceeded to record the album Part One, which includes the turn I Won't Hurt You, which uses a simulated heartbeat to keep the...umm, beat.
Title: Tin Soldier Man
Source: CD: Something Else
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Ray Davies's songwriting continued to move in new and unexpected directions on the 1967 album Something Else By The Kinks. A good example is Tin Soldier Man, a tune that has an almost ragtime feel to it, yet is unmistakably a rock song.
Title: Happy Together
Source: French import CD: Happy Together
Label: Magic (original label: White Whale)
The Turtles got off to a strong start with their cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, which hit the top 20 in 1965. By early 1967, however, the band had fallen on hard times and was looking for a way to return to the charts. They found that way with Happy Together, a song written by Gary Bonner and Mark Gordon, both members of an east coast band called the Magicians. Happy Together was the Turtles' first international hit, going all the way to the top of the charts in several countries and becoming one of the most recognizable songs in popular music history.
Title: Preachin' Love
Source: Mono British import CD: Mellow Yellow (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM B side)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original US label: Epic)
Due to a contract dispute with his UK record label, Pye Records, Mellow Yellow (the song), did not get released in Donovan's native country until early 1967, well after the song had already run its course on the US charts. Preachin' Love, a swing jazz tune recorded in late 1966, was chosen as the record's B side. Around the same time Donovan's next US single, Epistle To Dippy, was released, also with Preachin' Love as the B side. The song was not included on any albums, however, until re-issued in the UK on the Mellow Yellow CD.
Title: Wrapping Paper
Source: CD: Fresh Cream (bonus track originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Wrapping Paper is the nearly forgotten debut single from Cream, released two months before the Fresh Cream album in 1966. The song only made it to the #34 spot in the UK, and was not released in the US at all until several years later, when it appeared on an album called The Very Best Of Cream. Drummer Ginger Baker made no secret of his dislike of the song, calling it " the most appalling piece of ____ I've ever heard in my life", adding that Eric Clapton didn't like the song either. Nonetheless, here it is for the curious among you.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Coconut Grove
Source: LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful
Label: Sundazed/Kama Sutra
The 1966 album Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful was an attempt by the band to play in a variety of styles, as if it were being recorded by several different bands. By most accounts they succeeded, as can be heard by comparing the two biggest hits from the LP, Summer In The City and Nashville Cats. One of the quieter, acoustic numbers is a song called Coconut Grove, that manages to evoke images of the South Pacific without devolving into Rogers and Hart territory.
Artist: W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band
Title: Hippy Elevator Operator
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: HBR)
Sometime in 1966, Redondo Beach, California band the Bees decided to start calling themselves the W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band. The new name was interesting enough to attract the attention of HBR, also known as Hanna-Barbera Records, a company owned by the TV animation studio that was famous for characters like Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and the Flintstones. Unfortunately for the band, DJs tended to not take records on the label too seriously, and after a short recording career that culminated in a single called Hippy Elevator Operator, the band faded off into obscurity (followed shortly thereafter by HBR itself).
Title: Don't Bring Me Down
Source: CD: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals (originally released on LP: Animalization)
Label: Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Don't Bring Me Down is reportedly one of the few songs written for the Animals by professional songwriters that lead vocalist Eric Burdon actually liked. The song was one of the last hit singles recorded by the original Animals before they disbanded in late 1966.
Title: You're Lost Little Girl
Source: LP: Strange Days
Writer: The Doors
The Doors second LP, Strange Days, was stylistically similar to the first, and served notice to the world that this band was going to be around for awhile. Songwriting credit for You're Lost Little Girl (a haunting number that's always been a personal favorite of mine) was given to the entire band, a practice that would continue until the release of The Soft Parade in 1969.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Crosstown Traffic
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
By 1968 it didn't matter one bit whether the Jimi Hendrix Experience had any hit singles; their albums were guaranteed to be successful. Nonetheless the Electric Ladyland album had no less that three singles on it (although one was a new stereo mix of a 1967 single). The first single to be released concurrently with Electric Ladyland was Crosstown Traffic, a song that has been included on several anthologies over the years.
Artist: Crystal Rain
Title: Hey Ma Ma
Source: Mono CD: A Lethal Dose of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single A side)
Writer(s): Bill Moan
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Vangee)
Dayton, Ohio's Crystal Rain released two singles on the local Vangee label in 1969. Both are worth checking out. The first of the two, written by Bill Moan, is Hey Ma Ma, released in April. Pretty intense stuff.
Title: Empty Pages
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Silver Spotlight (original label: United Artists)
Traffic was formed in 1967 by Steve Winwood, after ending his association with the Spencer Davis Group. The original group, also featuring Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, put out two and a half albums before disbanding in early 1969. Shortly thereafter, following a successful live reunion album, Welcome to the Canteen, Winwood got to work on what was intended to be his first solo LP. For support Winwood called in Capaldi and Wood to back him up on the project. It soon became apparent, however, that what they were working on was actually a new Traffic album, John Barleycorn Must Die. Although Empty Pages was released as a single (with a mono mix heard here), it got most of its airplay on progressive FM stations, and as those stations were replaced by (or became) album rock stations, the song continued to get extensive airplay for many years.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Street Fighting Man
Source: CD: Beggar's Banquet
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The Rolling Stones were at a low point in their career following their most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which came out in late 1967. As a response to charges in the rock press that they were no longer relevant the Stones released Jumpin' Jack Flash as a single in early 1968, following it up with the Beggar's Banquet album later in the year. The new album included the band's follow-up single, Street Fighting Man, a song that was almost as anthemic as Jumpin' Jack Flash itself and went a long ways toward insuring that the Rolling Stones would be making music on their own terms for as long as they chose to.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Memo From Turner
Source: LP: Metamorphosis
Year: Recorded 1968, released 1975
There are two distinct versions of the song Memo From Turner. The more famous recording was released in 1970 as a Mick Jagger solo single, and features Ry Cooder on slide guitar. The other version was recorded in 1968, with Al Kooper playing guitar on the track. This version was held back for several years, finally surfacing on an album called Metamorphosis in 1975. The album itself was a collection of outtakes and alternate versions of songs released on Allen Klein's Abkco label, Klein having acquired rights to the Stones' London era recordings.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Parachute Woman
Source: CD: Beggar's Banquet
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The last Rolling Stones album with the original lineup was Beggar's Banquet, released in 1968. The album itself was a conscious effort on the part of the band to get back to their roots after the psychedelic excesses of Their Satanic Majesties Request. Sadly, Brian Jones was fast deteriorating at the time and his contributions to the album are minimal compared to the band's earlier efforts. As a result, Keith Richards was responsible for most of the guitar work on Beggar's Banquet, including both lead and rhythm parts on Parachute Woman.
Title: Good Morning Good Morning/Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)/A Day In The Life
Source: CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
One of the great accidents of record production was the splice that turned the chicken at the end of Good Morning Good Morning into a guitar, starting off Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) and ultimately leading into A Day In The Life, with it's slowly dissolving orchestral chord that brings the number one album of 1967 to a close.
Artist: Janis Ian
Title: Hair Of Spun Gold
Source: LP: Janis Ian
Writer(s): Janis Ian
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
Janis Ian wrote her first song, Hair Of Spun Gold, when she was 12 years old. The piece first appeared in Broadside, a New York based folk publication. Two years later, in 1966, she recorded the song, which was included on her debut LP, which after much shopping around, finally appeared on the Verve Forecast label in 1967.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: Slide Machine
Source: British import CD: Easter Everywhere
Writer(s): R. P. St. John
Label: Charly (original label: International Artists)
Following a successful tour of Southern California in late 1966, the 13th Floor Elevators returned to their native Austin, Texas to begin work on a second LP. Unlike the first album, which (like most debut efforts of the time) was recorded in a matter of days, Easter Anywhere took several months to complete. During that time the band underwent personnel changes and a continuously deteriorating relationship with Internation Artists Records, which kept setting up inappropriate gigs instate when the band would have been better served building up a national following. In addition, some of the band members were exhibiting increasingly bizarre behavior due to excessive drug use, which slowed work on the album down considerably. One more factor contributing to the tardiness of the LP was the band's desire to make an album that would be thematically consistent throughout rather than a random collection of songs like their debut LP had been. The fact that the theme itself was pretty cosmic made it that much harder to capture in the recording studio. Although nearly all the material on the album was written by the band members themselves, one track, Slide Machine, was credited to the mysterious R.P. St. John.