Monday, October 31, 2016

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1644 (starts 11/2/16)

Artist:    Todd Rundgren
Title:    Little Red Lights
Source:    LP: Something/Anything?
Writer(s):    Todd Rundgren
Label:    Bearsville
Year:    1972
    By mid-1971, Todd Rundgren had already released two solo albums, using studio musicians to support his guitar and keyboards (and of course vocals). For his third solo effort he decided to do it all himself, temporarily relocating to Los Angeles for the project. Most of the backing tracks for the album were recorded at I.D. Sound Studios, one of the few studios not associated with any particular record label. This gave him a relaxed environment in which he could take his time and use state of the art equipment to its fullest potential. He also set up equipment at his home, where he could experiment on his own time. Unfortunately, after about three sides' worth of material was completed, an earthquake hit the L.A. area, prompting Rundgren to return to New York, where he completed the album with the help of studio musicians. The resulting album was Something/Anything?, released in 1972. Each of the three solo sides has a subtitle, with side three being The Kid Gets Heavy. The accuracy of this subtitle is underlined by the final track on the side, a ponderous rocker called Little Red Lights. In the classic California tradition, the song is about cars.

Artist:    Captain Beyond
Title:    Mesmerization Eclipse
Source:    LP: Captain Beyond
Writer(s):    Evans/Caldwell
Label:    Capricorn
Year:    1972
    In the early 1970s it was normal for three bands to be on the playbill at a rock concert. Generally the headliner was someone with a hit record currently on the charts, while the middle act was someone on the way up. The opening act was either a popular local band or, in some cases, a brand new group that had just released their first album. It was not entirely uncommon for the second act to actually get a better audience response than the headliner, especially if the headliner turned out to be a one-hit wonder with no staying power. It was extremely rare, however, for the opening act to blow both of the other two bands out of the water. In fact, I can think of only one time that happened when I was in the audience. It was 1972, and I don't even remember who the headliner was. The middle band was Jo Jo Gunne, featuring front man Jay Ferguson, formerly of Spirit. They weren't bad, although the only songs I remember them performing were Run Run Run and 99 Days. The opening act, however, totally blew me away with their outstanding musicianship and strong material. That band was Captain Beyond, formed by former members of Iron Butterfly (bassist Lee Dorman and guitarist Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt), Deep Purple (vocalist Rod Evans) and drummer Bobby Caldwell, who would eventually go on to have a moderately successful solo career. I was so impressed with their set that I went to the record store the very next day and bought their album (which has this really cool 3D cover, by the way). Mesmerization Eclipse, from that debut LP, was written by the entire band, although only Evans and Caldwell got official writing credits on the album, due to Rhino and Dorman still being under contract to Iron Butterfly at the time.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Walk Like A Man
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Farner/Brewer
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1974
    After starting off in 1969 with a series of highly successful albums, Grand Funk Railroad found itself in a bit of a slump by late 1973. To shake things up the band fired their longtime manager/producer, Terry Knight, and began working on a new album, We're An American Band, with producer Todd Rundgren. At the same time the group made a conscious decision to shift their emphasis away from LP tracks and concentrate more on single releases. The band also added a fourth member, keyboardist Craig Frost. A final, and perhaps more significant change, saw drummer Don Brewer take over lead vocals on several tracks, including the singles We're An American Band and Walk Like A Man, both of which were co-written by Brewer.

Artist:    Mahavishnu Orchestra
Title:    Open Country Joy
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    John McLaughlin
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1973
    John McLaughlin. Billy Cobham. Rick Laird. Jan Hammer. Jerry Goodman. All were destined to become jazz-rock fusion stars by the end of the decade, but in 1971 the term fusion, as applied to music, was not yet in use. Yet fusion was indeed the most appropriate word for the Mahavishnu Orchestra, whose five members came from five different countries: England, Ireland, Panama, Czechoslovakia (as it was then known) and the US, respectively. The members came from a variety of music backgrounds as well. McLaughlin (who wrote all the group's material) and Cobham had met while working on Miles Davis' Bitches Brew album, while Goodman had recorded two albums with the Chicago-based Flock. The Mahavishnu Orchestra was known for its ability to quickly shift between music styles on such tracks as Open Country Joy, which appeared on the group's second LP, Birds of Fire, as well as being released as a single.The original group disbanded after only two albums, but McLaughlin would later revive the band with a different lineup in the 1980s.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Witch's Promise
Source:    CD: Benefit
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1970
    The remastered version of Jethro Tull's third album, Benefit, includes several songs that were released as singles in the UK, but were virtually invisible in the US until the 1973 anthology album Living In The Past. Among those is Witch's Promise, recorded just weeks before the sessions for Benefit began.

Artist:    Pavlov's Dog
Title:    Natchez Trace
Source:    LP: Pampered Menial (promo copy)
Writer(s):    Steve Scorfina
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1975
    One of the most unusual voices in rock history belongs to David Surkamp, lead vocalist for a band called Pavlov's Dog. I first heard Pavlov's Dog on Albuquerque's legendary FM rock station, KRST, around 1975. A friend of mine was so enamoured of the group that he bought a copy of their LP, Pampered Menial, and brought it over to my place to listen to (I had one of those massive console stereos that they used to make back then). I later found out more about the group, which had come from Saint Louis originally, and featured, in addition to Surkamp, an outstanding guitarist by the name of Steve Scorfina. It was Scorfina that wrote Natchez Trace, one of the highest-energy tracks on the album.

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    Reeling In The Years
Source:    CD: Can't Buy A Thrill
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagen
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1972
    My first radio gig (sort of), was volunteering at the Voice Of Holloman, a closed-circuit station that served a handful of locations on Holloman AFB, about 10 miles from Alamogordo, NM. I had been taking broadcasting courses through a community college program that was taught by Sgt. Tim Daniels, who was the NCO in charge of the base Information Office, which ran the station, as well as a free weekly newspaper that was distributed on base. After completing the classes, Tim gave me the opportunity to do a daily two-hour show on the VOH, using records that had been sent to the station by various record labels. We got excellent singles service from some labels (Warner Brothers and Capitol in particular), but virtually nothing from others, such as ABC. This was unfortunate, as one of the best songs out at the time was Steely Dan's Reeling In The Years, from their 1972 Can't Buy A Thrill album. Tim, whose previous gig was with the Armed Forces Vietnam Network, was a big rock fan, however, and went out and bought his own copy of the album, making a copy of Reeling In The Years on reel to reel tape, which we then played extensively until the song had run its course on the charts. Thus the Voice Of Holloman, with its audience consisting mostly of guys working out at the base gym, was playing the longer album version of a song that was also getting airplay on Alamogordo's daytime-only top 40 AM station, KINN, in its edited single form. It was just about the nearest the Voice Of Holloman ever got to being an underground rock station (although I did manage to sneak in some Procol Harum, Jethro Tull and Deep Purple from time to time from the aformentioned Warner Brothers singles)

Artist:    J.J. Cale
Title:    The Woman That Got Away
Source:    LP: Troubador
Writer(s):    J.J. Cale
Label:    Shelter
Year:    1976
    There have always been artists that are well-known and highly respected among the musicians' community, yet were never able to achieve any major commercial recognition. One of the best of these was J.J. Cale, who almost single-handedly created what has come to be called the Tulsa Sound. Cale's songs were often covered by other artists (Eric Clapton in particular) who turned them into major hits (including both After Midnight and Cocaine). The first J.J. Cale album I ever came across was the 1976 LP Troubadour, which I ran across while volunteering at KUNM in Albuquerque. I was so impressed with the album that I went out and bought a copy, no small thing for a poor college student. In addition to the aformentioned Cocaine, Troubadour has several outstanding tracks, including the single Travelin' Light and a tune called The Woman That Got Away. The latter track in particular is a classic example of Cale's Tulsa Sound.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Help!
Source:    LP: Shades Of Deep Purple
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Tetragrammaton
Year:    1968
    It takes brass for a band to include a Beatles cover on their debut LP, especially if they have chosen to completely rearrange the song, a la Vanilla Fudge. Nonetheless, that is exactly what happened on the album Shades Of Deep Purple, which hit the stands in 1968. The Beatles cover song in question is the classic Help! Deep Purple gives it a kind of slow, soft treatment that is both light years away from the original, and, in my opinion, quite an enjoyable listen.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Woman From Tokyo
Source:    Japanese import CD: Who Do We Think We Are
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    Deep Purple's most successful period came to an end with the band's seventh LP, Who Do We Think We Are. The album, released in 1973, was the last for vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover, both of whom had joined the band three years earlier. Those three years saw the group go from semi-obscurity (especially in their home country) to one of the world's most popular rock bands. Songs like Smoke On The Water and Highway Star had become mainstays of FM rock radio worldwide, but tensions within the band itself were starting to tear it apart. Nonetheless, the final album by the classic lineup of Richie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice featured some of the band's best material, including the LP's opening track, My Woman From Tokyo, which is still heard with alarming regularity on classic rock radio stations.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Tend My Garden/Garden Gate
Source:    CD: James Gang Rides Again
Writer:    Joe Walsh
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1970
    Cleveland, Ohio's James Gang spent so much time on the road promoting their first album, Takes Off, that they didn't have much material ready when it came time to record a follow-up LP. The group found itself actually writing songs in the studio and recording them practically as they were being written. Guitarist/lead vocalist Joe Walsh, meanwhile, had some acoustic songs he had been working on, and it was decided that the new album would have one side of electric hard rock songs while the other would be an acoustic side. The opening tracks for the second side of the album were Tend My Garden, which features Walsh on both organ and guitar, followed by Garden Gate, a Walsh solo piece.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    What Is And What Should Never Be
Source:    LP: Led Zeppelin II
Writer(s):    Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    Due to contractual obligations, singer Robert Plant did not received any writing credits for songs on the first Led Zeppelin album. By the time the band's second LP was released, Plant had been able to get out of his previous contract, and his name began appearing as co-writer of songs such as What Is And What Should Never Be. The song itself was based on a true story concerning Plant's attraction to his girlfriend's sister.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1643 (starts 10/26/16)

Artist:    Animals
Title:    Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Source:    Mono LP: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Benjamin/Marcus/Caldwell
Label:    Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1965
    1965 was a huge year for the Animals. Coming off the success of their 1964 smash House Of The Rising Sun, the Newcastle group racked up three major hits in 1965, including Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, a song originally recorded by jazz singer Nina Simone. The Animals version speeded up the tempo and used a signature riff that had been taken from Simone's outro. The Animals version of Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood made the top 20 in the US and the top five in both the UK and Canada.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Season Of The Witch
Source:    CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer:    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Sony Music Special Products (original label: Epic)
Year:    1966
     Season Of The Witch has proved to be one of the most popular and enduring tracks on Donovan's Sunshine Superman album. Due to a contract dispute with Pye Records, the album was not released in the UK until late 1967, and then only as an LP combining tracks from both the Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow albums. Like all tracks from both Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow, Season Of The Witch was only available in a mono mix until 1969, when a new stereo mix was created from the original multi-track masters for the singer/songwriter's first greatest hits compilation. Season of the Witch has since been covered by an impressive array of artists, including Al Kooper and Stephen Stills (on the Super Session album) and Vanilla Fudge.

Artist:    Vanilla Fudge
Title:    Take Me For A Little While/Eleanor Rigby
Source:    LP: Vanilla Fudge
Writer(s):    Martin/Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    Vanilla Fudge made their mark by doing slowed down rocked out versions of popular songs such as the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On. In fact, all of the tracks on their debut LP were songs of this nature, including two Beatles tunes. Side two of the original LP featured three tracks tied together by short psychedelic instrumental pieces knowns collectively as Illusions Of My Childhood. In addition to the aforementioned Supremes cover, the side features a Trade Martin composition called Take Me For A Little While that takes a diametrically opposed viewpoint to the first song, which leads directly into Eleanor Rigby, which sort of sums up both of the previous tracks lyrically. Although the Vanilla Fudge would stick around for a couple more years (and four more albums), they were never again able to match the success of their 1967 debut LP.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Capt. Glory
Source:    CD: Underground
Writer(s):    James Lowe
Label:    Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
        Electric Prunes lead vocalist James Lowe says one of his favorite vocals on the second Electric Prunes album, Underground, was on the song called Capt. Glory. Although he cites the song's "loose, silly" quality, my cynical side thinks it may have something to do with the fact that it is the only track on the album with writing credits going solely to Lowe himself.
Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Get Me To The World On Time
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Tucker/Jones
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    With I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) climbing the charts in early 1967, the Electric Prunes turned to songwriter Annette Tucker for two more tracks to include on their debut LP. One of those, Get Me To The World On Time (co-written by lyricist Jill Jones) was selected to be the follow up single to Dream. Although not as big a hit, the song still did respectably on the charts (and was actually the first Electric Prunes song I ever heard on FM radio).

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    You Never Had It Better
Source:    Mono CD: Underground (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Snagster/Schwartz/Poncher
Label:    Collector's Choice
Year:    1968
    Following the lack of a hit single from their second album, Underground, the Electric Prunes took one last shot at top 40 airplay with a song called Everybody Knows Your Not In Love. The band might have had better luck if they had pushed the flip side of the record, You Never Had It Better, which is a much stronger song. As it is, the record stiffed, and producer David Hassinger reacted by stripping the band of any creative freedom they might have had and made an album called Mass in F Minor using mostly studio musicians. The band, having signed away the rights to the name Electric Prunes to Hassinger when they first started working with him, could do nothing but watch helplessly as Hassinger created an album that had little in common with the original band other than their name. Because of this, the original members soon left, and Hassinger brought in a whole new group for two more albums before retiring the Prunes name for good. In recent years several members of the original band have reformed the Electric Prunes. Whether they had to get permission to use the name is unknown.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    The World Turns All Around Her (alternate mix)
Source:    CD: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Writer(s):    Gene Clark
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1965
    In their early days, the Byrds were known more for their reworking of other writers' material, such as Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man and Pete Seeger's Turn! Turn! Turn! than for the songs they wrote themselves. Eventually, Jim (Roger) McGuinn, David Crosby and Chris Hillman would all develop into outstanding songwriters, but before they did, Gene Clark was considered the band's top composer. The World Turns All Around Her, from their second album, Turn! Turn! Turn!, shows why.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Eight Miles High
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Fifth Dimension)
Writer(s):    Clark/McGuinn/Crosby
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1966
    Gene Clark's final contribution to the Byrds was his collaboration with David Crosby and Roger McGuinn, Eight Miles High. Despite a newsletter from the most powerful man in top 40 radio, Bill Drake, advising stations not to play this "drug song", the song managed to hit the top 20 in 1966. The band members themselves claimed that Eight Miles High was not a drug song at all, but was instead referring to the experience of travelling by air. In fact, it was Gene Clark's fear of flying that in part led to his leaving the Byrds.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Set You Free This Time
Source:    CD: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Writer(s):    Gene Clark
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1965
    The second Byrds album, Turn! Turn! Turn!, featured three songs from the group's most accomplished songwriter, Gene Clark. Probably the best of these was Set You Free This Time. Clark wrote the tune following a night of clubbing with Paul McCartney in London during the Byrds' British tour. According to Clark the entire song was written in about two hours.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    L'America
Source:    LP: L.A. Woman
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1971
    L.A. Woman, the Doors' final album with singer Jim Morrison, is generally considered to be one of the band's best efforts. This is due in large part to the group's decision to abandon the heavily orchestrated production style favored by Paul A. Rothchild on albums like the Soft Parade in favor of the leaner, stripped down sound heard on the band's early albums. This caused Rothchild to abandon the project early on and hand the production reins to longtime Doors engineer Bruce Botnick. One song on the album, however, had already been recorded when the sessions for L.A. Woman got underway; L'America, which opens side two of the original LP, had been recorded for, but not used in, the soundtrack of the Michaelangelo Antonionini film Zabriskie Point using the title Latin America. A few drum overdubs were added during the L.A. Woman sessions; in all other respects the track took the same form it would have had it been included in the film. Actually, in hindsight it's probably a good thing that Antonionini rejected the song, seeing as Zabriskie Point is now seen as a serious contender for the title of Worst Film Ever Made (although to be fair, the movie soundtrack album is held in much higher regard than the film itself.

Artist:     Grateful Dead
Title:     Truckin'
Source:     CD: Skeletons From the Closet (originally released on LP: American Beauty)
Writer:     Garcia/Weir/Hunter/Lesh
Label:     Warner Brothers
Year:     1970
     After two performance-oriented albums that mixed live and studio material and one double live LP, the Grateful Dead decided to shift their focus in the studio to their songwriting skills. The result was Workingman's Dead, the band's most commercially successful album up to that point. Five months later the followup album,  American Beauty defined the Grateful Dead's sound for all but the most dedicated of concertgoers (the legendary Deadheads), thanks to songs like Truckin', which would be the band's most popular single until the mid-1980s.

Artist:     Jethro Tull
Title:     A New Day Yesterday
Source:     LP: Stand Up
Writer:     Ian Anderson
Label:     Chrysalis
Year:     1969
    The first of many lineup changes for Jethro Tull saw the departure of guitarist Mick Abrahams and the beginning of a long run by Matin Barre as his replacement. With that change, the band moved away from its blues roots and began a long transition toward becoming one of the world's leading progressive rock bands.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Your Mind And We Belong Together
Source:    CD: Love Story (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1968
    The last record to be released by the classic Love lineup of Arthur Lee, Ken Forssi, Johnny Echols, Bryan MacLean and Michael Stuart was a single, Your Mind And We Belong Together. Although released in 1968, the song is very much the same style as the 1967 album Forever Changes. A bonus track on the Forever Changes CD shows Lee very much in command of the recording sessions, calling for over two dozen takes before getting an acceptable version of the song. The song serves as a fitting close to the story of one of the most influential, yet overlooked, bands in rock history...or would have, if Lee had not tried unsuccessfully to duplicate the band's success with new members several times in the ensuing years.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    From A Buick 6
Source:    CD: Highway 61 Revisited
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    Although Bob Dylan had experimented with using electric instruments on some of the tracks of his 1965 album, Bringing It All Back Home, he went all out with his next LP, Highway 61 Revisited. Many of the songs had a whole new sound to them, while others, such as From A Buick 6, were more or less in the same style as Dylan's earlier songs, but electrified.

Artist:    Notes From The Underground
Title:    You Don't Love Me
Source:    British import CD: The Berkeley EPs
Writer(s):    Mark Mandrell
Label:    Big Beat
Year:    Recorded 1967, released 1995
    When it comes to describing Berkeley, California, the first word that comes to mind is "alternative." For one thing, Berkeley sits across Oakland Bay from San Francisco, making it a natural alternative to the city itself. This sense of being an alternative extends itself to the local music scene as well. While San Francisco was developing bands like Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead, Berkeley was fostering groups like Country Joe And The Fish and Notes From The Underground. Unlike other Berkeley bands, however, Notes From The Underground stayed away from politics, and were generally less experimental than their contemporaries on the north side of the Bay. The Notes took over the Fish's spot at the place known as the Jabberwock when that band began playing more out-of-town gigs, and eventually followed in Country Joe's footsteps by issuing their own self-titled EP in 1967. In addition to the five songs issued on the EP the group recorded three more songs that remained unreleased until 1995, when they appeared on a British compilation disc called The Berkeley EPs. One of these song is You Don't Love Me, which bears no resemblance to the old Willie Cobb tune covered by several rock bands in the late 60s and early 70s (including the Allman Brothers Band). This You Don't Love Me was written by guitarist Mark Mandell (no relation to Harvey), who co-founded Notes From The Underground in 1965.

Artist:    Mouse And The Traps
Title:    Nobody Cares
Source:    British import CD: The Fraternity Years
Writer(s):    Weiss/Fouts
Label:    Big Beat
Year:    Recorded 1967, released 1997
    When the first single from Ronnie "Mouse" Weiss came out, several people (including at least one promoter from Columbia Records) thought it was a pirated Bob Dylan recording. It wasn't (obviously), but Weiss would find himself dogged by Dylan comparisons for the rest of his recording career. Weiss swears the similarity was not intentional; the two of them just both happened to be slight in stature curly-haired guys who sang with a nasal twang. In Weiss's case it probably had more to do with the country and western music he had been exposed to growing up in Tyler, Texas in the 1950s and early 1960s. Still, there are valid grounds for comparison, particularly on a song called Nobody Cares that Mouse And The Traps recorded in the spring of 1967. The track takes the whole protest thing to a nearly absurd extreme, to the point that Weiss refused to release the record, calling it so negative that someone might shoot him if they heard it.

Artist:    Rupert's People
Title:    Reflections Of Charles Brown
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Rob Lynton
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1967
    First off, Reflections Of Charles Brown was not actually recorded by Rupert's People. In fact, at the time the record was released there was no band called Rupert's People. The track was actually the work of another British band, Les Fleur De Lis, who had been paid by producer Howard Conder to record the song that Rob Lynton had written while Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade Of Pale was at the top of the charts (although Lynton claimed to have never heard of Procol Harum. Once the recording was finished, the band decided that they hated the song and refused to allow their name to be used. Conder, undaunted, simply invented the name Rupert's People and released the record anyway. This would have been the end of it if the record had been a complete flop. As it was, however, Reflections Of Charles Brown started getting airplay on Radio Luxembourg and BBC 1, which made it necessary for an actual band to be formed for live performances. After one early attempt at forming a band that included the Gurvitz brothers (who would almost immediately leave to form their own band, Gun), a final lineup was set in place to record further singles, showing that the blatant exploitation of young musicians was not the exclusive province American producers.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    Excuse, Excuse
Source:    Mono British import CD: Singles As & Bs (originally released on LP: The Seeds and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Sky Saxon
Label:    GNP Crescendo
Year:    1966
    Although their management branded them as the original flower power band, the Seeds have a legitimate claim to being one of the first punk-rock bands as well. A prime example is Excuse, Excuse, from their 1966 debut LP, The Seeds. Whereas a more conventional song of the time might have been an angst-ridden tale of worry that perhaps the girl in question did not return the singer's feelings, Sky Saxon's lyrics (delivered with a sneer that would do Johnny Rotten proud) are instead a scathing condemnation of said girl for not being straight up honest about the whole thing.
Artist:    Critters
Title:    Mr. Diengly Sad
Source:    CD: Battle Of The Bands (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Don Ciccone
Label:    Era (original label: Kapp)
Year:    1966
    The Critters were not, by any stretch of the imagination, a psychedelic band. Still, with the recent passing of bandleader Don Ciccone on Oct. 8th I thought it might be nice to include an airing the the group's biggest hit, Mr. Diengly Sad, on this week's show. The Critters were formed when Don Ciccone, who sang and played guitar, and saxiohonist Bob Podstawski joined a New Jersey the Vibratones in 1964, transforming them from an instrumental band to one of the first American bands to compete directly with the British Invasion bands. The band soon released their first single on the Musicor label, switching to Kapp Records the following year. Mr. Diengly Sad became the group's only top 20 hit, peaking at #17 as the summer of 1966 was coming to a close. The group split up in 1968, and after a stint in the military Ciccone joined the 4 Seasons for awhile (temporarily replacing Frankie Valli, who had left the group for a solo career), and later toured with Tommy James And The Shondells. Eventually Ciccone formed a new incarnation of the Critters in 2007, releasing an album called Time Pieces that included updated versions of their first top 40 hit, Younger Girl, and a slightly retitled Mr. Dyingly Sad. Don Ciccone passed away on October 8, 2016 at the age of 70 after suffering a heart attack.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    D.C.B.A.-25
Source:    LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s):    Paul Kantner
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1967
    One of the first songs written by Paul Kantner without a collaborator was this highly listenable tune from Surrealistic Pillow. Kantner says the title simply refers to the basic chord structure of the song, which is built on a two chord verse (D and C) and a two chord bridge (B and A). That actually fits, but what about the 25 part? [insert enigmatic smile here]

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Savoy Truffle
Source:    CD: The Beatles
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Apple)
Year:    1968
    George Harrison's skills as a songwriter continued to develop in 1968. The double-LP The Beatles (aka the White Album) contained four Harrison compositions, including Savoy Truffle, a tongue-in-cheek song about Harrison's friend Eric Clapton's fondness for chocolate. John Lennon did not participate in the recording of Savoy Truffle. The keyboards were probably played by Chris Thomas, who, in addition to playing on all four Harrison songs on the album, served as de facto producer when George Martin decided to take a vacation in the middle of the album's recording sessions. 

Artist:    Fairport Convention
Title:    Matty Groves
Source:    LP: Liege And Lief
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Fairport Convention
Label:    A&M
Year:    1969
    Britain's Fairport Convention was quite prolific in 1969, releasing no less than three LPs that year. The last of these was Liege And Lief, considered by some to be the greatest British folk-rock album ever made. The album is notable for several reasons, including the fact that it was the group's first album to consist entirely of rocked out adaptations of traditional British folk tunes such as Matty Grove, along with a handful of original compositions done in a similar style. It was also the first Fairport Convention album to feature guitarist Martin Carthy (who had made a guest appearance on the band's previous album, Unhalfbricking) and drummer Dave Mattacks as full-time members. Finally, Liege And Lief was the last Fairport album to feature vocalist Sandy Denny and bassist Ashley Hutchings, both of whom lef to form their own British folk-rock bands (Fotheringay and Steeleye Span, respectively). Like many British folk songs, Matty Grove tells the somewhat morally ambiguous tale of a low-born rascal who beds the wife of his Duke, only to have said Duke catch them in the act, killing them both. Trust me, it sounds better coming from Fairport Convention that it does me.

Artist:    Vagrants
Title:    And When It's Over
Source:    LP: I Can't Make A Friend 1965-1968 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bert Sommer
Label:    Light In The Attic (original label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    The story of the Vagrants could well be subtitled "Living the American Dream...Rock 'n' Roll Style." The band was formed in 1964, in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, NY, by a pair of junior high school buddies, Peter Sabatino and Larry Weinstein. The two, inspired by the Beatles' August 1964 concert at Shea Stadium, recruited Larry's older brother Leslie and soon began rehearsing in the basement of their apartment building. Next to join was the local bowling champion, a guy named Jerry Storch, who was invited to become a member of the band when he casually mentioned that he had a piano and had written a few songs. The super of the Weinstein's apartment building, meanwhile, was starting to take exception to the sounds coming from the building's basement, and the group soon relocated to the Cameo Lanes, the management of which was more than happy to have the local champ hang out there. The group finally became an official band with the addition of drummer Roger Mansour, a schoolmate of Pete and Larry whom they got to know when all three were called into the principal's office for having long hair (hey, stuff like this really happened in the mid-60s). The group soon began playing for parties and bar mitzvahs and eventually even got paid enough to buy proper equipment, such as a bass guitar for Larry (who had been faking it on a $12 acoustic guitar) and a Farfisa organ for Jerry. By the summer of 1965 the band was tight enough to get a regular summer gig in the Hamptons, right up the road from where a band called the Rascals were playing. The Vagrants were heavily influenced by the Rascals, and their repertoire, which had up to that point been mostly covers of British Invasion bands, began to include current R&B hits as well. The band cut their first single in July for the local Southern Sound label, a Jerry Storch tune called Oh Those Eyes. By early 1966 the Vagrants were one of the hottest club bands in New York. The group also started working on their arrangements, often slowing down a popular song and including long instrumental breaks, an approach that would be copied the following year by another area band called the Vanilla Fudge. As with any group of five rock and rollers, there were tensions within the band, mostly between the Weinstein brothers, who would sometimes break into an argument onstage. Eventually Leslie would split with the group to pursue a solo career (changing his last name to West), but not until the band had issued several singles, including three on the Atco label. The last of these was And When It's Over, a song written by Bert Sommer, who would go on to become the opening act at Woodstock.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    Tracy Had A Hard Day Sunday
Source:    LP: Volume II
Writer(s):    Markley/Harris
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    Once upon a time record producer Kim Fowley hired the Yardbirds to play a private Hollywood party. The Harris brothers, a pair of local art school students who had sent their homemade tapes to Fowley, were impressed by the band's musical abilities. Bob Markley, an almost-30-year-old hipster with a law degree and an inheritance was impressed with the band's ability to attract teenage girls. Fowley introduced the Harris brothers to Markley, who expressed a willingness to finance them in return for letting him be their new lead vocalist, and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was formed. Before it was all over the group had recorded five or six albums for at least three labels, churning out an eclectic mix of psychedelic tunes such as Tracy Had A Hard Day Sunday, which appeared on the second album for Reprise Records (their third LP overall), appropriately titled Volume II.

Artist:    Left Banke
Title:    Walk Away Renee
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Brown/Calilli/Sansune
Label:    Smash
Year:    1966
    The Left Banke's Walk Away Renee is one of the most covered songs in rock history, starting with a version by the Four Tops less than two years after the original recording had graced the top 5. The Left Banke version kicked off what was thought at the time to be the latest trend: baroque rock. The trend died an early death when the band members themselves made some tactical errors resulting in radio stations being hesitant to play their records.

Artist:    Simon and Garfunkel
Title:    I Am A Rock
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Sounds of Silence)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    The success of I Am A Rock, when released as a single in 1966, showed that the first Simon And Garfunkel hit, The Sound Of Silence, was no fluke. The two songs served as bookends to a very successful LP, Sounds Of Silence, and would lead to several more hit records before the two singers went their separate ways in 1970. This was actually the second time I Am A Rock had been issued as a single. An earlier version, from the Paul Simon Songbook, had been released in 1965. Both the single and the LP were only available for a short time and only in the UK, and were deleted at Simon's request.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Connection
Source:    LP: Between The Buttons
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    Often dismissed as the beginning of a departure from their blues roots, the Rolling Stones first LP of 1967, Between The Buttons, actually has a lot of good tunes on it, such as Connection, a song with multiple meanings. Most studios at that time only had four tracks available and would use two tape machines to mix the first tracks recorded on one machine (usually the instrumental tracks) down to a single track on the other machine, freeing up the remaining tracks for overdubs. This process, known as "bouncing", sometimes happened two or three times on a single recording if extra overdubs were needed. Unfortunately each pass resulted in a loss of quality on the bounced tracks, especially if the equipment was not properly maintained. This is particularly noticeable on Connection, as the final mix seems to have lost most of its high and low frequencies, resulting in an unintentionally "lo-fi" recording.

Artist:    Johnny Winter
Title:    Mean Town Blues
Source:    LP: The Progressive Blues Experiment
Writer:    Johnny Winter
Label:    Imperial (original label: Sonobeat)
Year:    1968
    Although he had been making records for a variety of local Texas labels for most of the 1960s, Johnny Winter did not get to record a full-length album until 1968, when The Progressive Blues Experiment was released on the Sonobeat label. The album quickly gained a following among blues enthusiasts, prompting the Imperial label to reissue the album nationally. Among the many outstanding tracks recorded by the trio consisting of Winter, drummer Uncle John Turner and bassist Tommy Shannon, was Mean Town Blues, a tune the band would perform at Woodstock. The response from the crowd was strong enough to prompt Columbia Records to offer Winter a $600,000 recording deal, a huge amount for a virtually unknown artist at that time.

Rockin' in the Days Of Confusion # 1643 (starts 10/26/16)

Artist:    Patti Smith
Title:    Gloria: In Excelsis Deo/Gloria
Source:    LP: Horses
Writer(s):    Smith/Morrison
Label:    Arista
Year:    1975
    Patti Smith's first appearance on NBC's Saturday Night Live TV show was a memorable one. The first song she performed was her radical rearrangement of Van Morrison's Gloria, with a slow introductory buildup written by Smith herself. By the time the nearly six-minute-long piece was finished the audience was totally engrossed in the performance, and the world knew that a major new talent was now on the scene. To say that Smith revolutionized rock music is perhaps overstating the importance of the album Horses, but if so, not by much. Before Horses, punk rock was a little known fringe movement; Smith brought it into the spotlight. What made Smith stand out from other punkers, however, was her use of poetry as lyrics, something that only a handful of artists (such as Smith's idol Jim Morrison) have ever been able to pull off in any music genre.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    Inside And Out
Source:    Canadian import 12" 45 RPM blue vinyl EP: Spot The Pigeon
Writer(s):    Rutherford/Collins/Hackett/Banks
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1977
    After Genesis finished recording sessions for the Wind And Wuthering album the band members realized that they had more music than they could fit on a standard LP, and three tracks were left off the album. Those three tracks, including the five and a half minute long Inside And Out, were issued in May of 1977 on an EP called Spot The Pigeon. In North America the EP was only issued in Canada, on blue 12" vinyl that played at 45 RPM. Hey, whatever it takes to get it to sell, I guess.

Artist:    Tommy Bolin
Title:    Savannah Woman
Source:    Japanese import CD: Teaser
Writer(s):    Bolin/Tesar
Label:    Sony (original US label: Nemperor)
Year:    1975
    Tommy Bolin's second solo LP, Teaser, is often overlooked, mostly due to a lack of promotion on the part of the record company. This is generally attributed to the fact that the Deep Purple album Come Taste The Band, which featured Bolin as Ritchie Blackmore's replacement, came out at the same time as Teaser, overshadowing Bolin's solo effort. This is a shame, since Teaser is strong album that covers a variety of styles. The song Savannah Woman was issued as a single from the album and got some airplay, mostly on FM rock radio stations and on jazz stations that were playing jazz/rock fusion tracks at the time.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Mystery
Source:    LP: Bang
Writer(s):    Bolin/Cook
Label:    Atco
Year:    1973
    It seems like every James Gang album (excepting the first one) ends with a long, grandiose track, complete with strings. For the 1973 album Bang, guitarist Tommy Bolin came up with Mystery, a song very much in the same vein as Joe Walsh's Ashes The Rain And I. Roy Kenner, who had joined the band in 1972, provides lead vocals on the track.

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    Daughters Of The Sea/Flying Cloud
Source:    CD: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits
Writer(s):    Simmons/Porter
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1974
    When I got out of basic training in southwestern Texas I was told to report to duty at my tech school in northern Texas. Now this might seem a fairly short distance; apparently the people making my travel arrangements thought so, because, rather than a plane flight, they put me on a bus. This bus also had several other basic training graduates on it, all heading for the same tech school location. The ride took approximately six hours, as I recall, and one of the guys had used his initial paycheck to buy a boombox and an 8-track tape of the new Doobie Brothers album, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits. Apparently he didn't realize how big Texas is, as he did not buy any other tapes. And so, for six hours, we listened to the new Doobie Brothers album, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, over and over. And over. And over. Luckily, it's actually a pretty decent album, although some songs are more listenable than others, of course. A personal favorite is (are?) the closing track of the original LP, which is actually two songs that merge together, Daughters Of The Sea and the short instrumental Flying Cloud. A good way to end a good album.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    That's The Way
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin III
Writer(s):    Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    I read somewhere that Jimmy Page came up with The Rain Song (from the album Houses Of The Holy) in response to someone asking him why Led Zeppelin hadn't recorded any ballads. Apparently that person had never heard That's The Way, from the album Led Zeppelin III.

Artist:    Allman Brothers Band
Title:    In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
Source:    LP: At Fillmore East
Writer(s):    Dicky Betts
Label:    Mercury (original label: Capricorn)
Year:    1971
    One of the greatest instrumentals in rock history, In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed was written by Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dicky Betts. The song got it's name from a headstone that Betts saw at the Rose Hill Cemetary in Macon, Georgia. That same cemetary is where band members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley were eventually buried. The version of the song heard on the 1971 album At Fillmore East was recorded live on March 13, 1971 and contains no edits or overdubs. Yes, they were that good.

Artist:    Joni Mitchell
Title:    Woodstock
Source:    LP: Miles Of Aisles
Writer(s):    Joni Mitchell
Label:    Asylum
Year:    1974
    Oddly enough, the song most associated with the Woodstock Music And Art Festival was written by someone who did not attend the event. Joni Mitchell actually had an opportunity to perform at Woodstock but was advised by her manager that it would be better to make an appearance on the Dick Cavett show that weekend. She was, however, dating Graham Nash at the time. Nash, of course, was at Woodstock (in fact a case could be made that his appearance as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was one of the highpoints of the entire festival) and was more than willing to tell her all about the experience. Mitchell then based her song on Nash's recollections and released it on her 1970 album Ladies Of The Canyon. Other versions of the song by various artists, including Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, followed and in 1974 Mitchell included her own electric version of the song on her Miles Of Aisles live album with Tom Scott And The L.A. Express.

Artist:    Gun
Title:    Race With The Devil
Source:    British import CD: Gun
Writer(s):    Adrian Gurvitz
Label:    Repertoire (original label: CBS)
Year:    1968
    One of the most popular songs on the jukebox at the teen club on Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany in 1969 was a song called Race With The Devil by a band called Gun. The song was so popular, in fact, that at least two local bands covered it (including the one I was in at the time). Nobody seemed to know much about the band at the time, but it turns out that the group was fronted by the Gurvitz brothers, Adrian and Paul (who at the time used the last name Curtis); the two would later be members of the Baker-Gurvitz Army with drummer Ginger Baker. I've also learned recently that Gun spent much of its time touring in Europe, particularly in Germany, where Race With The Devil hit its peak in January of 1969 (it had made the top 10 in the UK in 1968, the year it was released).

Artist:    Elton John
Title:    Goodbye
Source:    CD: Madman Across The Water
Writer(s):    John/Taupin
Label:    MCA (original label: Uni)
Year:    1971
    Not to be confused with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Goodbye is a short piece at the end of Elton John's Madman Across The Water album, released in 1971.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1642 (starts 10/19/16)

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    Some of the best rock and roll songs of 1966 were banned on a number of stations for being about either sex or drugs. Most artists that recorded those songs claimed they were about something else altogether. In the case of Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35, "stoned" refers to a rather unpleasant form of execution (at least according to Dylan). On the other hand, Dylan himself was reportedly quite stoned while recording the song, having passed a few doobies around before starting the tape rolling. Sometimes I think ambiguities like this are why English has become the dominant language of commerce on the planet.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    A Christmas Camel
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Procol Harum
Writer(s):    Brooker/Reid
Label:    Deram
Year:    1967
    In 1966 Gary Brooker, former member of British cover band the Paramounts, formed a songwriting partnership with lyricist Keith Reid. By spring of 1967 the two had at least an album's worth of songs written but no band to play them. They solved the dilemma by placing an ad in Melody Maker and soon formed a group called the Pinewoods. Their very first record was A Whiter Shade Of Pale, which soon became the number one song on the British charts (after the Pinewoods changed their name to Procol Harum). The problem was that the group didn't know any other songs, a problem that was solved by firing the drummer and guitarist and replacing them with two of Brooker's former bandmates, B.J. Wilson and Robin Trower. This second version of the group soon recorded an LP, which included several strong tracks such as A Christmas Camel.

Artist:    Yardbirds
Title:    Think About It
Source:    Mono British import CD: Insane Times (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Relf/McCarty/Page
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Epic)
Year:    1968
    The last Yardbirds single, Good Night Josephine, was slated for March of 1968, but ended up being released only in the US, where it barely cracked the top 100. More notable was the song's B side, Think About It, which shows a side of guitarist Jimmy Page that would soon come to be identified with one of the most influential bands of the 1970s, Led Zeppelin.

Artist:    Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Title:    Sea Of Madness
Source:    CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm (originally released on LP: Woodstock soundtrack)
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Rhino (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1969
    Neil Young joined Crosby, Stills and Nash to perform a few songs at at Woodstock, including one of his own compositions, Sea Of Madness, and would be a full member of the group when their next album, Deja Vu, came out.
Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Closer To Home
Source:    CD: Heavy Hitters (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    Despite getting three albums certified gold in the same year (1970), Grand Funk Railroad had a difficult time getting their music played on the radio. It was too loud and hard for all but the most adventurous AM top 40 stations and too unsophisticated for the emerging FM rock stations. They were finally able to crack the ceiling, however, with a 10-minute long masterpiece called I'm Your Captain on their third studio LP, Closer To Home. Still, 10 minutes was way too long for AM radio, and their label soon released an edited version of the song under the title Closer To Home.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    She's Leaving Home
Source:    LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone/EMI
Year:    1967
    One of the striking things about the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the sheer variety of songs on the album. Never before had a rock band gone so far beyond its roots in so many directions at once. One of Paul McCartney's most poignant songs on the album was She's Leaving Home. The song tells the story of a young girl who has decided that her stable homelife is just too unfulling to bear and heads for the big city. Giving the song added depth is the somewhat clueless response of her parents, who can't seem to understand what went wrong.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Why
Source:    CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    McGuinn/Crosby
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    One of the earliest collaborations between Byrds songwriters David Crosby and Roger McGuinn was the up-tempo raga rocker Why. The song was first recorded at RCA studios in Los Angeles in late 1965 as an intended B side for Eight Miles High, but due to the fact that the band's label, Columbia, refused to release recordings made at their main rival's studios, the band ended up having to re-record both songs at Columbia's own studios in early 1966. Although the band members felt the newer versions were inferior to the 1965 recordings, they were released as a single in March of 1966. Later that year, for reasons that are still unclear, Crosby insisted the band record a new version of Why, and that version was used for the band's next LP, Younger Than Yesterday.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Crosstown Traffic
Source:    LP: Smash Hits (originally released on LP: Electric Ladyland)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    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, including the Smash Hits LP, over the years.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Still Raining, Still Dreaming
Source:    LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer:    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    Still Raining, Still Dreaming, from the third Jimi Hendrix Experience album Electric Ladyland, is the second half of a live studio recording featuring guest drummer Buddy Miles, who would later join Hendrix and bassist Billy Cox to form Band Of Gypsys. The recording also features Mike Finnegan on organ, Freddie Smith on tenor sax and Larry Faucett on congas, as well as Experience member Noel Redding on bass.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Fire
Source:    LP: Smash Hits (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    Sometime in late 1966 Jimi Hendrix was visiting his girlfriend's mother's house in London for the first time. It was a cold rainy night and Jimi immediately noticed that there was a dog curled up in front of the fireplace. Jimi's first action was to scoot the dog out of the way so he himself could benefit from the fire's warmth, using the phrase "Move over Rover and let Jimi take over." The phrase got stuck in his head and eventually became the basis for one of his most popular songs. Although never released as a single, Fire was a highlight of the Jimi Hendrix Experience's live performances, often serving as a set opener.
Artist:    Leaves
Title:    Just A Memory
Source:    CD: Hey Joe
Writer(s):    Bob Arlin
Label:    One Way (original label: Mira)
Year:    1966
    Tracking down specifics can be a difficult when it comes to the mid-60s Los Angeles band The Leaves. I'm talking about things like who wrote a particular song, who does the lead vocals on said song and even who played what instruments on that song. Still, I've managed to figure out that it was guitarist Bobby Arlin who was responsible for the melodic folk-rock tune Just A Memory on the group's debut LP, Hey Joe. Just A Memory is quite contrastic (I made that word up) with the title track that immediately precedes it on the original LP. But then, the Leaves had quite the schizophrenic reputation, musically speaking, with garage punk songs like Hey Joe and the original single version of Too Many People coexisting uneasily with folkier tunes such as Just A Memory and, well, the album version of Too Many People.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Back Door Man
Source:    CD: The Doors
Writer(s):    Willie Dixon
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    In their early days as an L.A. club band, the Doors supplemented their growing body of original material with covers of classic blues tunes (rather than covers of top 40 hits like many of their contemporaries). Perhaps best of these was Willie Dixon's Back Door Man, which had been a mid-50s R&B hit for Howlin' Wolf. The Doors themselves certainly thought so, as it was one of only two cover songs on their debut LP.

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:    Crow
Title:    Busy Day
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Larry Weigand
Label:    Amaret
Year:    1969
    Crow started off as a Minneapolis band called South 40, a name they used until they began releasing records nationally in 1969. Their first LP, Crow Music, was released in 1969 and did fairly well on the charts, thanks in large part to the success of the song Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me), which made the top 20. The follow-up single, Cottage Cheese, was released in advance of their second album, Crow By Crow, in 1970. As no other tracks from that LP were available for the B side, a tune from Crow Music, Busy Day, was included instead. The song was written by bassist Larry Weigand, who had been listed as co-writer on both A sides.

Artist:    Pentangle
Title:    Cruel Sister
Source:    British Import CD: Cruel Sister
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Pentangle
Label:    Sanctuary (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1970
    Nearly four years after their self-titled debut LP was released, Pentangle was one of the most (if not the most) popular British folk music based bands in the world. The members of Pentangle, however, were beginning to feel constricted by the expectations that came with their own success and were determined to remain true to their musical roots, regardless of the commercial consequences. With this in mind they set about to record their fourth LP, Cruel Sister. The title track of the album demonstrates the band's willingness to try out new ideas such as extended jazz-style improvisations on a traditional folk tune. Cruel Sister also marked guitarist John Renbourne's first use of an electric guitar on an album, an ironic move considering the entire album was made up of traditional songs.

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Magic Carpet Ride
Source:    CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf The Second)
Writer(s):    Moreve/Kay
Label:    Priority (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1968
    Steppenwolf's second top 10 single was Magic Carpet Ride, a song that combines feedback, prominent organ work by Goldy McJohn and an updated Bo Diddly beat with psychedelic lyrics. Along with Born To Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride (co-written by vocalist John Kay and bassist Rushton Moreve) has become one of the defining songs of both Steppenwolf and the late 60s.

Artist:     Rolling Stones
Title:     Time Is On My Side
Source:     45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer:     Jerry Ragovoy
Label:     London
Year:     1964
     Jerry Ragovoy's songwriting career was long and productive, extending back to the 1940s and including classics by artists such as Kai Winding. In later years he wrote several tunes that were recorded by Janis Joplin, including Try (Just A Little Bit Harder), My Baby, Cry Baby and the classic Piece Of My Heart. He occassionally used a pseudonym as well, and it was as Norman Meade he published his best-known song: Time Is On My Side, an R&B hit for Irma Thomas that became one of the first US hits for the Rolling Stones.

Artist:     Astronauts
Title:     Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day
Source:     45 RPM single
Writer:     Boyce/Venet
Label:     RCA Victor
Year:     1965
     The Astronauts were formed in the early 60s in Boulder, Colorado, and were one of the few surf bands to come from a landrocked state. They had a minor hit with an instrumental called Baja during the height of surf's popularity, but were never able to duplicate that success in the US, although they did have considerable success in Japan, even outselling the Beach Boys there. By 1965 they had started to move away from surf music, adding vocals and taking on more of a garage-punk sound. What caught my attention when I first ran across this promo single in a commercial radio station throwaway pile was the song's title. Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day, written by Tommy Boyce and producer Steve Venet, was featured on the Monkees TV show and was included on their 1966 debut album. This 1965 Astronauts version of the tune has a lot more attitude than the Monkees version. Surprisingly the song didn't hit the US charts, despite being released on the biggest record label in the world (at that time), RCA Victor.

Artist:    Association
Title:    Enter The Young
Source:    LP: The Association's Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: And The Along Comes...The Association)
Writer(s):    Terry Kirkman
Label:    Warnter Brothers (original label: Valiant)
Year:    1966
    The Association started off the same way as many Los Angeles club bands in the mid-1960s, playing various venues and trying to get a record deal. Their first few singles, first on the Jubilee label and then the Valiant label, were not commercially successful, although they did allow the group to get a feel for the recording studio. The Association's version of Bob Dylan's One Too Many Mornings got the attention of producer Curt Boettcher, who gave them their first real hit, Along Comes Mary. This in turn led to the group's first LP, And The Along Comes...The Association, which Boettcher produced. The opening track on the LP, Enter The Young, was at the time an appropriate way to introduce the group to album buyers, although it does sound a bit dated today. The tune was written by band member Terry Kirkman, who also wrote their next major hit, Cherish.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Somebody To Love
Source:    CD: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Surrealistic Pillow)
Writer(s):    Darby Slick
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1967
    The monster hit that put the San Francisco Bay area on the musical map in early 1967, Somebody To Love was actually the second single released from the Jefferson Airplane's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow; the first being the Skip Spence tune My Best Friend.

Artist:    West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title:    Until The Poorest People Have Money To Spend
Source:    CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer(s):    Markley/Harris
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
            The final West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album for Reprise, Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil, is generally considered the group's best album as well, despite the absence of founding member Danny Harris (who would return for their next LP on the Amos label). As always, Bob Markley provided the lyrics for all the band's original songs on the LP, including Until The Poorest People Have Money To Spend, which Shaun Harris wrote the music for. Although the sentiment expressed in the song is a good one, the sincerity of Markley's lyrics is somewhat suspect, according to guitarist Ron Morgan, who said that Markley was notoriously miserly with his own money (of which he had inherited quite a lot).
Artist:    Sons Of Champlain
Title:    1982-A
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Loosen Up Naturally)
Writer(s):    Steven Tollestrup
Label:    Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1969
    Bill Champlin is probably best known as the lead guitarist for Chicago from 1981 to 2008 (more or less). Before and after that period, however, he fronted his own band, the Sons Of Champlin. Like Chicago, the Sons were distinguished by the presence of a horn section, a trend that was just getting underway in 1969. Unlike most other bands of their type, however, the Sons Of Champlin were a San Francisco band, and one of the more popular local acts of their time. They did not show much of an interest in touring outside the Bay Area, however, and as a result got limited national exposure. The first single from the first of two albums they recorded for the Capitol label was a tune called 1982-A. I really can't say what the title has to do with the lyrics of the song, but it is a catchy little number nonetheless.

Artist:    Edwin Starr
Title:    War
Source:    CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1970 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Whitfield/Strong
Label:    Rhino (original label: Gordy)
Year:    1970
    Edwin Starr's War is the highest charting antiwar song in history, as well as Starr's biggest hit, going all the way to the top of both the top 40 and R&B charts in 1970. It is also a solid example of Norman Whitfield/Barrett Strong productions, which, although part of Motown, was a semi-autonomous entity (as was Holland-Dozier-Holland productions, which had brought Motown its greatest commercial success in the 60s, cranking out hit after hit by the Supremes and other acts). In fact, when Motown first signed the Jackson 5ive, the company took steps to avoid yet another independent company-within-a-company by forming a collective called The Corporation to write and produce all the new group's records.

Artist:    Jan And Dean
Title:    Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift
Source:    LP: The Little Old Lady From Pasadena
Writer(s):    Berry/Torrance
Label:    Liberty
Year:    1964
    Before the Beatles reinvented the entire album market, most pop LPs contained lots of filler material. Most often these were cover songs, but in a few cases they were original songs that had very little chance of ever getting played on the radio. Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift, from the 1964 Jan And Dean album The Little Old Lady From Pasadena, is a case of the latter. Written by Jan And Dean, the song is a short instrumental in the surf music style. This might seem a bit strange, since Jan And Dean were a vocal duo, but put in context (hot rod music being an offshoot of surf music) actually makes sense. Surf music was still a mainly instrumental form, after all, with vocal groups like Jan And Dean and the Beach Boys being the exception rather than the rule (even though their records routinely outsold those of instrumentalists like Dick Dale).

Artist:    Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title:    Mona/Maiden Of The Cancer Moon/Calvary/Happy Trails
Source:    LP: Happy Trails
Writer(s):    McDaniel/Duncan/Evans
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    Most everyone familiar with Quicksilver Messenger Service agrees that the band's real strength was its live performances. Apparently the folks at Capitol Records realized this as well, since the band's second LP was recorded (mostly) live at Bill Graham's two Fillmore Auditoriums. The second side of the Happy Trails album starts with a Bo Diddly cover, Mona, which segues directly into a Gary Duncan composition, Maiden Of The Cancer Moon. The original performance segued directly into the more avant-garde Calvary (also credited to Duncan), but for the album a studio recreation of that performance was used (although the album sleeve makes it clear that it was recorded "live" at Golden State Recorders, indicating that it was done in a single take without any overdubs). The album side finishes up with a rather goofy take on the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans signature song Happy Trails, which Evans herself wrote.

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1642 (starts 10/19/16)

Artist:    Joni Mitchell
Title:    Shadows And Light
Source:    LP: The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
Writer(s):    Joni Mitchell
Label:    Asylum
Year:    1975
    Following up on the success of her 1974 album Court And Spark, Joni Mitchell released The Hissing Of Summer Lawns in 1975. Although the album initially got mixed reviews from the rock press, it has since come to be regarded as a masterpiece. The final track on the album, Shadows And Light, features Mitchell's multi-tracked vocals accompanied only by an ARP String Machine.

Artist:    Mountain
Title:    Mississippi Queen
Source:    CD: The Best Of Mountain (originally released on LP: Mountain Climbing)
Writer(s):    West/Laing/Pappalardi/Rea
Label:    Columbia/Windfall
Year:    1970
    One of the most overlooked bands of the mid-1960s was the Vagrants. Based on Long Island, the group made a specialty of covering popular R&B and rock songs, often slowing them down and featuring extended solos by guitarist Leslie Weinstein, inspiring fellow Long Islanders Vanilla Fudge to do the same. Although the Vagrants never were able to gain much national attention, Weinstein himself had established quite a reputation by the time the group disbanded. Meanwhile, keyboardist/producer/songwriter Felix Pappalardi had been working with the members of Cream as a producer, but with the demise of that band was looking for a new project to sink his teeth into. That new project turned out to be a solo album by Weinstein, who by then had shortened his last name to West. The album was called Mountain, and soon after its release West and Pappalardi decided to form a band of the same name. The group first got national attention performing at Woodstock, and in 1970 released the album Mountain Climbing, featuring the hit single Mississippi Queen.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Homeward Bound
Source:    CD: Bare Trees
Writer(s):    Christine McVie
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1972
    By 1972 Christine Perfect was now Christine McVie, and was a full-fledged member of Fleetwood Mac (not to mention the wife of bassist John McVie. The group was still considered a second-tier band at this point, with enough commercial appeal to stay together, yet nowhere near the superstar status they would achieve by the end of the decade. The album Bare Trees is a snapshot of the early 70s version of Fleetwood Mac, with the songwriting duties shared by Danny Kirwan, Bob Welch and McVie herself. One of her two contributions to Bare Trees was Homeward Bound, which bears absolutely no resemblance to the Simon And Garfunkel tune with the same name. It does, however, indicate the direction Christine McVie's songwriting would take over the next decade.

Artist:    David Bromberg
Title:    Danger Man II
Source:    LP: How Late'll Ya Play 'Til
Writer(s):    David Bromberg
Label:    Fantasy
Year:    1976
    One of the most respected names in the music world is David Bromberg, a multi-instrumentalist who is also known for his handcrafted string instruments. After appearing mostly in supporting roles in the early 1970s (although he did get some attention for his version of Mr. Bojangles), Bromberg let loose with a double-LP in 1976 called How Late'll Ya Play 'Til. Following the pattern set by Cream with their Wheels Of Fire album, the first side of How Late'll Ya Play 'Til is made up entirely of studio tracks, while the second is all live material. The album covers perhaps the widest variety of styles ever attempted on one album, including rock, blues, bluegrass, traditional folk, country and even R&B on the album's opening track, a punchy number called Danger Man II.

Artist:    Robin Trower
Title:    Little Bit Of Sympathy
Source:    CD: Bridge Of Sighs
Writer(s):    Robin Trower
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol
Year:    1974
    Released in 1974, Bridge Of Sighs was the second solo LP by former Procol Harum guitarist Robin Trower. The album was Trower's commercial breakthrough, staying on the Billboard album charts for 31 weeks, peaking at #7. In addition to Trower, the album features James Dewar on lead vocals and bass, along with Reg Isidore on drums. The album was a staple of mid-1970s progressive rock radio, with several tunes, including album closer Little Bit Of Sympathy, becoming concert favorites.

Artist:    Crack The Sky
Title:    She's A Dancer
Source:    LP: Crack The Sky
Writer(s):    John Palumbo
Label:    Lifesong
Year:    1975
    The first LP released on Terry Cashman and Joe West's Lifesong label was a group that is still active in the Baltimore area called Crack The Sky. Originally called Words, the band had been formed in Weirton, West Virginia by members of two local bands, Sugar and Uncle Louie. The 10-member band successfully auditioned for CashWest Productions, the company that also produced singer/songwriter Jim Croce, and, after paring down to five members, released their self-titled debut LP in 1975. Although never a major national success (due mostly to distribution problems on the part of Lifesong), the group did manage to place three albums on the Billboard charts, the two of which have since been reissued as a single CD. The band itself is hard to classify, incorporating elements of progressive rock, jazz and even soft-rock, as can be heard on tracks like She's A Dancer.

Artist:    Johnny Winter
Title:    Rock And Roll Hoochie Coo
Source:    European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Johnny Winter And)
Writer(s):    Rick Derringer
Label:    Sony Music (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1970
    Athough best known as a solo Rick Derringer hit, Rock And Roll Hoochie Coo was originally recorded in 1970 by Johnny Winter for the album Johnny Winter And when Derringer was a member of Winter's band (also known as Johnny Winter And at that time). As can be heard here the arrangement on the earlier version is nearly identical to the hit version, the main differences being Winter's lead vocals and the presence of two lead guitarists in the band.

Artist:     Cream
Title:     Sitting On Top Of The World
Source:     LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer:     Vinson/Chatmon (original) Chester Burnett (modern version)
Label:     RSO (original label: Atco)
Year:     1968
     Throughout their existence British blues supergroup Cream recorded covers of blues classics. One of the best of these is Sitting On Top Of The World from the album Wheels Of Fire, which in its earliest form was written by Walter Vinson and Lonnie Chatmon and recorded by the Mississippi Shieks in 1930. Cream's cover uses the lyrics from the 1957 rewrite of the song by Chester Burnett, better know as Howlin' Wolf.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Cat's Squirrel
Source:    CD: This Was
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Abrahams
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    Probably the Jethro Tull recording with the least Ian Anderson influence, Cat's Squirrel was recorded at the insistence of record company people, who felt the song was most representative of the band's live sound. The traditional tune was arranged by guitarist Mick Abrahams, who left the band due to creative differences with Anderson shortly thereafter. Cat's Squirrel became a live staple of Abrahams's next band, Blodwyn Pig.

Artist:    Alice Cooper
Title:    Eighteen
Source:    CD: Electric Seventies (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Love It To Death
Writer(s):    Cooper/Bruce/Buxton/Dunaway/Smith
Label:    JCI/Warner Special Products (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1970
    Alice Cooper's ultimate teenage anthem Eighteen was kind of a do or die release for the group, who had up to that point been a part of Frank Zappa's Straight Records' stable of oddball artists with little or no commercial potential. In 1970, however, Zappa sold Straight to Warner Brothers, who agreed to release Eighteen that same year, with the stipulation that if the record sold well the group could record an album for the label. The single did indeed do well, propelling Alice Cooper to stardom and allowing them to record Love It To Death, the first in a series of best-selling albums for the label. The song came at a perfect time, as most states were in the process of raising the drinking age to 21 but had not yet lowered the voting age to 18. Furthermore, the military draft was still in effect in 1970, making many 18-year-olds quite nervous, especially those with low lottery numbers.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:     Rock 'N' Roll Soul
Source:     Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer:     Mark Farner
Label:     Capitol
Year:     1972
     By 1972 Grand Funk Railroad's live performances, which just two years before were setting box office records, were no longer all sellouts, and the band began to shift emphasis to their recorded work. Problems with Terry Knight's management practices were also becoming an issue, and their sixth studio LP, Phoenix, would be the last to be produced by Knight. Rock 'N' Roll Soul, a somewhat typical Mark Farner song, was the first and only single released from the album, and would have only minor success on the charts. The next record, We're An American Band, would signal a major change of direction for the band, with other members besides Farner taking a role in the songwriting and a much greater emphasis on hit singles than ever before.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Soul Sacrifice
Source:    CD:Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer(s):    Brown/Malone/Rolie/Santana
Label:    Rhino (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1969
    Although this is the original recording of Santana performing Soul Sacrifice at Woodstock, it does not sound quite the same as what you may have heard on the Woodstock original movie soundtrack album. That's because they doctored the recording a bit for the original soundtrack album, adding in audience sounds, including the crowd rain chant that seques into the piece on the original LP. More recent copies of the movie itself sound even more different because the people doing the remastering of the film decided to record new versions of some of the percussion tracks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1641 (starts 10/12/16)

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Last Train To Clarksville
Source:    CD: The Monkees' Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: The Monkees)
Writer(s):    Boyce/Hart
Label:    Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year:    1966
    The song that introduced the world to the Monkees, Last Train To Clarksville, was actually a bit of an anomaly for the group. For one thing, most of the early Monkees recordings utilized the services of various Los Angeles based studio musicians known collectively as the Wrecking Crew. Last Train To Clarksville, however, was recorded by the Candy Store Prophets, a local band that included Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, who wrote and produced the song. The song was released as a single on August 16, 1966,  two months in advance of the first Monkees album, and hit the #1 spot on the charts in early November. Last Train To Clarksville was also included in seven episodes of the Monkees TV show, the most of any song.

Artist:    Misunderstood
Title:    Find The Hidden Door
Source:    British Import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in UK on LP: Before The Dream Faded)
Writer(s):    Hill/Brown
Label:    Grapefruit (original label: Cherry Red)
Year:    Recorded 1966, released 1982
    One of London't most legendary psychedelic bands was actually from California. The story of the Misunderstood started in 1963 when three teenagers from Riverside, California decided to form a band called the Blue Notes. Like most West Coast bands of the time, the group played a mixture of surf and 50s rock and roll cover songs, slowly developing a sound of their own as they went through a series of personnel changes, including the addition of lead vocalist Rick Brown. In 1965 the band changed their name to the Misunderstood and recorded six songs at a local recording studio. Although the recordings were not released, the band caught the attention of a San Bernardino disc jockey named John Ravencroft, and Englishman with an extensive knowledge of the British music scene. In June of 1966 the band, with Ravencroft's help, relocated to London, where they were joined by a local guitarist, Tony Hill.  Ravencroft's brother Alan got the band a deal with Fontana Records, resulting in a single in late 1966, I Can Take You To The Sun, that took the British pop scene by storm. In addition to that single, the band recorded a handful of outstanding tracks that remained unreleased until the 1980s. Among those unreleased tracks was a masterpiece called Find The Hidden Door, written (as were most of the songs the band recorded in London) by Brown and Hill.  Problems with their work visas soon derailed the Misunderstood, and the band members soon found themselves being deported back to the US, and in one case, drafted into the US Army.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    What Am I Living For
Source:    Mono LP: Animalization
Writer:    Jay/Harris
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1966
    Throughout their existence the original Animals were known for their love of American Blues and R&B music. In fact, hit singles aside, almost everything they recorded was a cover of an R&B hit. Among the covers on their 1966 LP Animalism (released in the US as Animalization) was What Am I Living For, originally recorded by the legendary Chuck Willis. The original version was released shortly after Willis's death from cancer in 1958, and is considered a classic. The Animals, thanks in large part to their obvious respect and admiration for the song, actually managed to improve on the original (as was often the case with their cover songs).

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

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Bluebird
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    When it comes right down to it Buffalo Springfield has one of the highest ratios of songs recorded to songs played on the radio of any band in history, especially if you only count the two albums worth of material that was released while the band was still active. This is probably because Buffalo Springfield had more raw songwriting talent than just about any two other bands. Although Neil Young was just starting to hit his stride as a songwriter, bandmate Stephen Stills was already at an early peak, as songs like Bluebird clearly demonstrate.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    See Emily Play
Source:    Mono CD: Relics (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Syd Barrett
Label:    Capitol (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    Following up on their first single, Arnold Layne, Pink Floyd found even greater chart success (at least in their native England) with See Emily Play. Released in June of 1967, the song went all the way to the #6 spot on the British charts. In the US the song failed to chart as a single, although it was included on the US version of Pink Floyd's debut LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. The "Emily" in question is reportedly the sculptor Emily Young, who in those days was nicknamed the "psychedelic schoolgirl" at London's legendary UFO club.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Prelude: Happiness/I'm So Glad
Source:    LP: Shades Of Deep Purple
Writer(s):    Evans/Lord/Paice/Blackmore/Simper/James
Label:    Tetragrammaton
Year:    1968
    Deep Purple was originally the brainchild of vocalist Chris Curtis, whose idea was to have a band called Roundabout that utilized a rotating cast of musicians onstage, with only Curtis himself being up there for the entire gig. The first two musicians recruited were organist Jon Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, both of whom came aboard in late 1967. Curtis soon lost interest in the project, and Lord and Blackmore decided to stay together and form what would become Deep Purple. After a few false starts the lineup stabilized with the addition of bassist Nicky Simper, drummer Ian Paice and vocalist Rod Evans. The group worked up a songlist and used their various connections to get a record deal with a new American record label, Tetragrammaton, which was partially owned by actor/comedian Bill Cosby. This in turn led to a deal to release the band's recordings in England on EMI's Parlophone label as well, although Tetragrammaton had first rights to all the band's material, including the classically-influenced Prelude: Happiness, which leads directly into a cover of the Skip James classic I'm So Glad. The band's first LP, Shades Of Deep Purple, was released in the US in July of 1968 and in the UK in September of the same year. The album was a major success in the US, where the single Hush made it into the top five. In the UK, however, it was panned by the rock press and failed to make the charts. This would prove to be the pattern the band would follow throughout its early years; it was only after Evans and Simper were replaced by Ian Gillan and Roger Glover that the band would find success in their native land. (Check out this week's edition of Rockin' in the Days of Confusion for a classic track from the revised Deep Purple lineup).

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    In Held Twas I
Source:    LP: Shine On Brightly
Writer:    Brooker/Fisher/Reid
Label:    A&M
Year:    1968
    Although the idea of grouping songs together as "suites" was first tried by Jefferson Airplane on their 1967 album After Bathing At Baxter's, Procol Harum's 17-minute long In Held Twas I, from their 1968 album Shine On Brightly, is usually cited as the first progressive rock suite. The title comes from the first word of each section of the piece that contains vocals (several sections are purely instrumental). The work contains some of the best early work from guitarist Robin Trower, who would leave the group a few years later for a solo career. Shine On Brightly was the last Procol Harum album to include organist Matthew Fisher, who came up with the famous opening riff for the group's first hit, A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    An Untitled Protest
Source:    LP: The Life And Times Of Country Joe And The Fish (originally released on LP: Together)
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1968
    By 1968 the Summer Of Love, with its emphasis on peace, love and mind-expanding substances, was only a memory in the San Francisco area. In its place a new cynicism was beginning to take hold, brought on by a combination of increased racial tensions and elevated anxiety over the ongoing war in Vietnam nationally and an influx of harder, less beneficial drugs into the Bay Area itself. The music of local bands such as Country Joe And The Fish was becoming more cynical as well, as An Untitled Protest from the band's third LP, Together, illustrates.

Artist:    Moody Blues
Title:    Dr. Livingstone, I Presume
Source:    CD: In Search Of The Lost Chord
Writer(s):    Ray Thomas
Label:    Deram
Year:    1968
    The Moody Blues may have been In Search Of The Lost Chord, but when they got to Africa they had to say they had run into Dr. Livingstone, I Presume. (Well, I tried).

Artist:    Tommy James And The Shondells
Title:    Mony Mony
Source:    CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    James/Gentry/Cordell/Bloom
Label:    Priority (original label: Roulette)
Year:    1968
    Sometime around 1964, a kid named Tommy James took his band, the Shondells, into a recording studio to record a simple song called Hanky Panky. The song was released on the Roulette label and went absolutely nowhere. Two years later a Pittsburgh DJ, looking for something different to make his show stand out from the crowd, decided to dig out a copy of the record and play it as a sort of on-air audition. The audience loved it, and the DJ soon contacted James, inviting him and the Shondells to make a personal appearance. Unfortunately by this time there were no Shondells, so James hastily put together a new band to promote the record. It wasn't long before the word spread and Hanky Panky was a national hit. James and his new Shondells then commenced to pretty much single-handedly keep Roulette Records afloat for the next three or four years with songs like their 1968 jukebox favorite Mony Mony, one of many top 10 singles for the band.

Artist:    Napoleon XIV
Title:    They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Ha!
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Napoleon XIV
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1966
    The less said about this, the better.

Artist:    Big Stars Theory
Title:    Think Piece
Source:    10" 45 RPM Extended Play: El Paraguas
Writer(s):    Red Stars Theory
Label:    Deluxe
Year:    1995
    Red Stars Theory was formed in Seattle, Washington in early 1995 by James Bertram (guitar/vocals) Tonie Palmasani (guitar/vocals), Jeremiah Green (drums/percussion/vocals) and Jason Talley (bass guitar/vocals). By the end of the year they had released a self-titled EP (sometimes known as El Paraguas), a single and an album. The band has only recorded sporadically since then, due to all of the members also being involved in other projects. I personally find Think Piece, the last track on the original EP, to be the most interesting tune on the record.

Artist:    Liquid Scene
Title:    Leave Me Here
Source:    CD: Revolutions
Writer(s):    Becki diGregorio
Label:    Ziglain
Year:    2014
    The first track ever to get a third listen on our Advanced Psych segment is Leave Me Here, from the 2014 Liquid Scene album Revolutions. Yes, it's that good.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Under My Thumb
Source:    CD: Aftermath
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1966
    With the exception of certain Beatle tracks, pretty much every popular song from the beginning of recorded music through the year 1966 had been released as a single either on 45 or 78 RPM records (and for a while in the 1950s, on both). With Under My Thumb, from the Aftermath album, the Rolling Stones proved that someone besides the fab four could record a classic that was available only as a 33 1/3 RPM LP track. In a sense, then, Aftermath can be considered the very foundation of album rock, as more and groups put their most creative energy into making albums rather than singles in the ensuing years. Thanks, Stones.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Ruby Tuesday
Source:    CD: Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Bakco (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    One of the most durable songs in the Rolling Stones catalog, Ruby Tuesday was originally intended to be the B side of their 1967 single Let's Spend The Night Together. Many stations, however, balked at the subject matter of the A side and began playing Ruby Tuesday instead, which is somewhat ironic considering speculations as to the subject matter of the song (usually considered to be about a groupie of the band's acquaintance, although Mick Jagger has said it was about Keith Richards' ex-girlfriend).

Artist:     Rolling Stones
Title:     Lady Jane
Source:     British import LP: Aftermath (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer:     Jagger/Richards
Label:     Abkco (original label: London)
Year:     1966
     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 separately from the A side of the single, and Lady Jane managed to climb to the # 24 spot on the Hot 100 (Mother's Little Helper peaked at # 8).

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    Mean Woman Blues
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Underground Gold (originally released in UK on LP: Autumn '66)
Writer(s):    Claude Demetrius
Label:    Liberty (original label: Fontana)
Year:    1966
    It was common for British rock bands to include cover versions of early rock 'n' roll and blues songs, along with more contempory R&B numbers on their LPs in the 1960s. As the decade wore on the groups began to rely more on their own material, although there were still many exceptions. One of these exceptions was the Spencer Davis Group, who only included a handful of originals on albums like Autumn '66. Among the many cover songs on that album was a remake of the 1957 Elvis Presley hit Mean Woman Blues, which had originally appeared on the soundtrack of the film Loving You. The Spencer Davis Group version of the song relies heavily on the vocal talents of a then 16-year-old Steve Winwood, who also played keyboards on the track.

Artist:    Cyrkle
Title:    Money To Burn
Source:    LP: Red Rubber Ball
Writer(s):    Don Dannemann
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    By late 1966 surf music was pretty much gone from the top 40 charts. The Beach Boys, however, had managed to adapt to changing audience tastes without abandoning the distinctive vocal harmonies that had made them stand out from their early 60s contemporaries. In fact, several other bands had sprung up with similar vocal styles. One of the most successful of these (at least in the short term) was the Cyrkle. Led by vocalist/guitarist Don Dannemann, the group hit the scene with two consecutive top 10 singles, both of which were included on the band's debut LP, Red Rubber Ball. Although manager Brian Epstein had the group recording mostly songs from outside sources, there were a handful of Cyrkle originals on the album, including Danneman's Money To Burn, which was also issued as the B side to the band's third single.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Somewhere They Can't Find Me
Source:    LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    The first Simon And Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning 3AM, was a fairly traditional type of folk LP. The album was originally released in late 1964, but due to lackluster sales was soon deleted from the Columbia catalog. In 1965 Paul Simon relocated to London, releasing a solo LP called the Paul Simon Songbook there. Before leaving the country, however, he and Art Garfunkel recorded two new songs in a more upbeat style that remained unreleased until 1966, when the duo reunited for a new album, Sounds of Silence. One of those two new songs was Somewhere They Can't Find Me. The song was, lyrically, a reworking of the title track of Wednesday Morning 3AM, but with entirely new music inspired by a Bert Jansch tune called Anji. As a tribute Simon included his own recording of Anji on the album immediately following Somewhere They Can't Find Me.

Artist:    Al Kooper
Title:    I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source:    CD: Blues Project Anthology (originally released on LP: What's Shakin')
Writer(s):    Blind Willie Johnson
Label:    Polydor (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1966
    In early 1966 Elektra Records, then a New York based folk and blues label, decided to put together an album called What's Shakin'. The LP featured some of the top talent appearing in and around the city's Greenwich Village area, including the Lovin' Spoonful and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. In addition to already recorded material, the album included a handful of tracks recorded specifically for the collection, including one by Al Kooper of the Blues Project, who brought along drummer Roy Blumenfeld and bassist Andy Kuhlberg for the session. The song Kooper chose to record was I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes, an old Blind Willie Johnson tune that was already in the Blues Project's repertoire but had not yet been recorded by the band. While the Blues Project version of the song recorded later that year for the Projections album is a classic piece of guitar-based blues-rock, the earlier version for What's Shakin' is built around Kooper's piano playing and has more of a Ramsey Lewis feel to it.

Artist:    Count Five
Title:    Psychotic Reaction
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ellner/Chaney/Atkinson/Byrne/Michaelski
Label:    Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
Year:    1965
    San Jose, California, had a vibrant teen music scene in the late 60s, despite the fact that the relatively small (at the time) city was overshadowed by San Francisco at the other end of the bay (both cities were then, as now, considered part of the same metropolitan market). One of the more popular bands in town was Count Five, a group of five individuals who chose to dress up like Bela Lugosi's Dracula, capes and all. Musically, they idolized the Yardbirds (Jeff Beck era), and for slightly more than three minutes managed to sound more like their idols than the Yardbirds themselves (who by then had replaced Beck with Jimmy Page).

Artist:    Del-Vetts
Title:    Last Time Around
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Dennis Dahlquist
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    The Del-Vetts were from Chicago's affluent North Shore. Their gimmick was to show up at a high school dance by driving their matching corvettes onto the gymnasium dance floor. Musically, like most garage/punk bands, they were heavily influenced by the British invasion bands. Unlike most garage/punk bands, who favored the Rolling Stones, the Del-Vetts were more into the Jeff Beck incarnation of the Yardbirds. The 'Vetts had a few regional hits from 1965-67, the biggest being this single issued on the Dunwich label, home of fellow Chicago suburbanites the Shadows of Knight. In retrospect, Last Time Around may well be the very first metal death rock song ever recorded.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: Electric Comic Book and as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Gilbert/Scala/Esposito/Thielhelm
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mercury)
Year:    1966
    The Blues Magoos (original spelling: Bloos) 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 (of course the fact that they were on Mercury Records, one of the "big six" labels of the time, didn't hurt). 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.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    I Feel Free
Source:    LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Atco
Year:    1966
    After an unsuccessful debut single (Wrapping Paper), Cream scored a bona-fide hit in the UK with their follow-up, I Feel Free. As was the case with nearly every British single at the time, the song was not included on Fresh Cream, the band's debut LP. In the US, however, singles were commonly given a prominent place on albums, and the US version of Fresh Cream actually opens with I Feel Free. To my knowledge the song, being basically a studio creation, was never performed live.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice
Source:    Simulated stereo Dutch import LP: The Singles (originally released in Europe and the UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1967
    The fourth single released in Europe and the UK by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was 1967's Burning Of The Midnight Lamp, which appeared in stereo the following year on the album Electric Ladyland. The B side of that single was a strange bit of psychedelia called The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice, which is also known in some circles as STP With LSD. The piece features Hendrix on guitar and vocals, with background sounds provided by a cast of at least dozens. Hendrix's vocals are spoken rather than sung, and resemble nothing more than a cosmic travelogue with Hendrix himself as the tour guide. Unfortunately the only US release of the track is a remix in which the vocal track is almost totally buried under everything else. I did manage to find a copy of the track on a Dutch import album called The Singles that was released in the early 1970s that uses an electronically rechanneled stereo version of the original mono mix that was first issued on the UK/EU version of the Smash Hits album in 1968. It's a fun listen.