Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1645 (starts 11/9/16)
Title: Paper Sun
Source: CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
There were several notable differences between the US and UK versions of the first Traffic album. For one thing they had different titles. In the US the album was called Heaven Is In Your Mind when it was released in early 1968 in the hope that the single of the same name would be a hit. When it became evident that the song wasn't going anywhere on the US top 40 charts the album was quickly retitled Mr. Fantasy, matching the original 1967 UK album. There were differences in the tracks on the album as well. One of the most notable changes was the inclusion of Paper Sun, a non-LP single that had been a British hit in late 1967. The version on the US album, however, was slightly different from its UK counterpart in that the song fades out quite a bit earlier than on the original version, with the deleted portion showing up at the end of the album.
Title: Daily Nightly (alternate mix)
Source: CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD.
Writer(s): Michael Nesmith
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1995
From a technical standpoint, 1967 was a year of transition. Mono pressings of albums were being phased out in favor of "stereo, also playable mono" releases, reflecting improvements in even the cheapest record players (older mono needles had a tendency to ruin stereo records). Behind the scenes, four-track technology was giving way to machines capable of recording eight separate tracks simultaneously, giving artists production options that had previously been unavailable. In some cases this transition was quite literal; albums were begun using four-track technology and completed on the new eight-track systems. One such album was the Monkees' fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD. Preliminary stereo mixes were made of several songs, including Michael Nesmith's psychedelic classic Daily Nightly, prior to the master tracks being transferred to eight-track tape. Missing are the Moog synthesizer overdubs (played by Mickey Dolenz, who also sang lead on the tune), which were added after the transfer.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less)
Source: CD: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Label: Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
For a follow-up to the hit single I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), producer Dave Hassinger chose another Annette Tucker song (co-written by Jill Jones) called Get Me To The World On Time. This was probably the best choice from the album tracks available, but Hassinger may have made a mistake by choosing Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less) as the B side. That song, written by the same Tucker/Mantz team that wrote I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) could quite possibly been a hit single in its own right if it had been issued as an A side. I guess we'll never know for sure.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Cream Puff War
Source: CD: The Grateful Dead
Writer(s): Jerry Garcia
Label: Warner Brothers
The first Grateful Dead album was recorded in a matter of days, and was mostly made up of cover tunes that the band was currently performing. The two exceptions were The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion), which was credited to the entire band, and Cream Puff War, a song written by guitarist Jerry Garcia. The two tracks were paired up on the band's first single as well. Cream Puff War, as recorded, ran nearly three and a half minutes, but was edited down to 2:28 at the insistence of the corporate shirts at Warner Brothers Records.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: CD: Volunteers
Writer(s): Lev Knipper
One of the most unexpected tracks on the fifth Jefferson Airplane album, Volunteers, was a one-minute instrumental version of a Russian tune written in 1933 played entirely on keyboards by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen. I still haven't figured out exactly why it was included on the album.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: She Has Funny Cars
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Label: RCA Victor
She Has Funny Cars, the opening track of Jefferson Airplane's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow, was a reference to some unusual possessions belonging to new drummer Spencer Dryden's girlfriend. As was the case with many of the early Airplane tracks, the title has nothing to do with the lyrics of the song itself. The song was also released as the B side to the band's first top 10 single, Somebody To Love. The mono mix used for the single has noticably less reverb than the more familiar stereo version of the song.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Eskimo Blue Day
Source: LP: Volunteers
Label: RCA Victor
Jefferson Airplane's sixth LP, Volunteers, was by far their most socio-political album, from the first track (We Can Be Together, with its famous "up against the wall" refrain) to the last (the song Volunteers itself). One of the more controversial tracks on the 1969 album is Eskimo Blue Day, which describes just how meaningless human concerns are in the greater scheme of things with the repeated use of the phrase "doesn't mean shit to a tree". Eskimo Blue Day was one of two songs from Volunteers performed by the Airplane at Woodstock.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Kind Woman
Source: CD: Retrospective (originally released on LP: Last Time Around)
Writer(s): Richie Furay
Let's be honest here. The third Buffalo Springfield LP, Last Time Around, was a contractual obligation album, no doubt about it. In fact the band had all but split up by the time the album was released; as a result, none of the songs on the album feature the entire band. Still, for all that, there are some bonafide classics on the LP, including the final track, Kind Woman. Richie Furay, who wrote and sang the tune, continued to perform Kind Woman throughout his career, both as a solo artist and with his band Poco.
Title: All You Need Is Love
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Year: 1967 (original label: Capitol)
After creating a revolution with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles went to work on a major media event: the world-wide television premier of their next single. These days a world-wide TV broadcast is fairly commonplace, but in 1967 it was truly a big deal, as even major sports events such as the World Cup were only available on radio to most listeners. The song in question was All You Need Is Love, which immediately went to the top of the charts. The song would be included on the US-only release of the Magical Mystery Tour LP, which in the UK was a double EP containing only the songs from the actual Magical Mystery Tour telefilm.
Title: I've Just Seen A Face
Source: Mono CD: Rubber Soul (originally released in UK on LP: Help)
Label: Capitol (original UK label: Parlophone)
Consider the case of Dave Dexter, Jr. Dexter was the guy at Capitol Records who decided in late 1962 that there was no profit in Capitol releasing records by the hot new British band known as the Beatles that had just been signed to their UK partner label, EMI. After he was finally persuaded to issue I Want To Hold Your Hand as a single in late 1963, he became the guy responsible for determining which songs got released in what format: LP or 45 RPM single. He also set the song lineups for all the Beatle albums released in the US up to and including Revolver in 1966. In 1965 he decided to change the entire tone of the Rubber Soul album by deleting the more soulful numbers and substituting a pair of more acoustical tunes that he had left off the US release of Help! This was a deliberate attempt to tie in the Beatles with the folk-rock movement, which at the time of Rubber Soul's release was at the peak of its popularity. Not surprisingly, there are still people around who prefer the US version of the album, which opens with one of the aforementioned Help tracks, I've Just Seen A Face.
Title: Your Mother Should Know
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Here's a trivia question for you: what song were the Beatles working on the last time manager Brian Epstein attended one of the band's recording sessions? The answer: Your Mother Should Know. EMI's Abbey Road studios were unavailable on August 22nd and 23rd of 1967, so the band used Chappell Recording Studios instead, recording late into the night. Epstein dropped in to see how things were going before heading home. He was found dead on August 27th of that year. Could that be the real reason Paul McCartney wore a black carnation when the Beatles performed the number as part of their Magical Mystery Tour telefilm? Of course at the time the rumor mill took it as one of the many hints that Paul had died and been replaced by a lookalike.
Title: Sunshine Superman
Source: LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Donovan's Sunshine Superman is sometimes credited as being the tsunami that launched the wave of psychedelic music that washed over the shores of pop musicland in 1967. OK, I made that up, but the song really did change the direction of American pop as well as Donovan's own career.
Artist: Second Helping
Title: Let Me In
Source: Mono LP: Ain't It Hard (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Kenny Loggins
Label: Sundazed (original label: Viva)
Before making it big as a member of Loggins And Messina (and later as a solo artist), Kenny Loggins fronted his own band, Second Helping, recording for the Viva label in 1968. Although the single, Hard Times, did not crack the charts, it did feature the punkish Let Me In on the B side. Loggins would serve briefly as a member of the Electric Prunes before hooking up with former Buffalo Springfield member Jim Messina in the early 1970s.
Title: Hungry Women
Source: British import CD: With Love-A Pot Of Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Wesley Watt
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
Euphoria was the brainchild of multi-instrumentalists Wesley Watt and Bill Lincoln. The band existed in various incarnations, starting in 1966. Originally based in San Francisco, the group, minus Lincoln, relocated to Houston in early summer of 1966, only to return a couple months later with a pair of new members pirated from a band called the Misfits that had gotten in trouble with local law enforcement officials. Around this time they were discovered by Bob Shad, who was out on the west coast looking for acts to sign to his Chicago-based Mainstream label. The band recorded four songs at United studios, two of which, Hungry Women and No Me Tomorrow, were issued as a single in late 1966. The following year both songs appeared in stereo on Shad's Mainstream showcase LP With Love-A Pot Of Flowers, along with tunes from several other Bay Area acts that Shad had signed in 1966.
Artist: Blind Faith
Title: Had To Cry Today
Source: German import LP: Blind Faith
Writer(s): Steve Winwood
Label: Polydor (original US label: Atco)
One of the most eagerly-awaited albums of 1969 was Blind Faith, the self-titled debut album of a group consisting of Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker from Cream, Steve Winwood from Traffic and Rich Grech, who had played bass with a band called Family. The buzz about this new band was such that the rock press had to coin a brand-new term to describe it: supergroup. On release, the album shot up to the number one spot on the charts in record time. Of course, as subsequent supergroups have shown, such bands seldom stick around very long, and Blind Faith set the pattern early on by splitting up after just one LP and a short tour to promote it. The opening track of the album was a pure Winwood piece that showcases both Winwood and Clapton on separate simultaneous guitar tracks.
Title: You Really Got Me
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Eric (original label: Reprise)
You Really Got Me has been described as the first hard rock song and the track that invented heavy metal. You'll get no argument from me on either of those assessments.
Title: Stephanie Knows Who
Source: CD: Da Capo
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Following up on a strong, if not spectacular debut LP followed by a national hit record (7&7 Is), Love went into the studio with two new members to record their second album, Da Capo. By this point Love had established itself as the most popular band on the Sunset Strip, and the music on Da Capo is a fair representation of what the group was doing onstage (including the 17 minute Revelation, which takes up the entire second side of the LP). The opening track, Stephanie Knows Who, is hard proto-punk, showcasing the band's tightness with abrupt changes in tempo throughout the song. The tune also features the harpsichord playing of "Snoopy" Pfisterer, who switched over from drums to keyboards for the LP, making way for Michael Stewart, who stayed with the band for their next LP, Forever Changes.
Title: Eight Miles High
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released on LP: Fifth Dimension)
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Columbia)
By all rights, the Byrds' Eight Miles High should have been a huge hit. Unfortunately, Bill Drake, the most influential man in the history of Top 40 radio, got it into his head that this was a drug song, despite the band's insistence that it was about a transatlantic plane trip. The band's version actually makes sense, as Gene Clark had just quit the group due to his fear of flying (he is listed as a co-writer of the song), and the subject was probably a hot topic of discussion among the remaining members.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: I'm Waiting For The Day
Source: Mono CD: Pet Sounds
Although it was originally copyrighted in 1964 (words and music by Brian Wilson), I'm Waiting For The Day did not get recorded or released until 1966, when it appeared on the Pet Sounds album. Mike Love shares writing credit on the finished version of the song.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: If 6 Was 9
Source: LP: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Before 1967 stereo was little more than an excuse to charge a dollar more for an LP. That all changed in a hurry, as artists such as Jimi Hendrix began to explore the possibilities of the technology, in essence treating stereophonic sound as a multi-dimensional sonic palette. The result can be heard on songs such as If 6 Were 9 from the Axis: Bold As Love album, which is best listened to at high volume, preferably with headphones on. Especially the spoken part in the middle, when Jimi says the words "I'm the one who's got to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want." It sounds like he's inside your head with you.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Pretty Ballerina
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Michael Brown
The Left Banke, taking advantage of bandleader Michael Brown's industry connections (his father owned a New York recording studio), ushered in what was considered to be the "next big thing" in popular music in early 1967: baroque pop. After their debut single, Walk Away Renee, became a huge bestseller, the band followed it up with Pretty Ballerina, which easily made the top 20 as well. Subsequent releases were sabotaged by a series of bad decisions by Brown and the other band members that left radio stations leery of playing any record with the words "Left Banke" on the label.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: I'm A Man
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: United Artists
The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve and Muff Winwood, was one of the UK's most successful white R&B bands of the sixties, cranking out a steady stream of hit singles. Two of them, the iconic Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man, were also major hits in the US, the latter being the last song to feature the Winwood brothers. Muff Winwood became a successful record producer. The group itself continued on for several years, but were never able to duplicate their earlier successes. As for Steve Winwood, he quickly faded off into obscurity, never to be heard from again. Except as the leader of Traffic. And a member of Blind Faith. And Traffic again. And some critically-acclaimed collaborations in the early 1980s with Asian musicians. Oh yeah, and a few major solo hits like Higher Love and Roll With It in the late 80s. Other than that, nothing.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: The Lantern
Source: CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The Rolling Stones hit a bit of a commercial slump in 1967. It seemed at the time that the old Beatles vs. Stones rivalry (a rivalry mostly created by US fans of the bands rather than the bands themselves) had been finally decided in favor of the Beatles with the chart dominance of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band that summer. The Stones' answer to Sgt. Pepper's came late in the year, and was, by all accounts, their most psychedelic album ever. Sporting a cover that included a 5X5" hologram of the band dressed in wizard's robes, the album was percieved as a bit of a Sgt. Pepper's ripoff, possibly due to the similarity of the band members' poses in the holo. Musically Majesties was the most adventurous album the group ever made in their long history, amply demonstrated by songs like The Lantern. The Stones' next LP, Beggar's Banquet, was celebrated as a return to the band's roots.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Queen Jane Approximately
Source: CD: Highway 61 Revisited
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
The thing that stands out to me about Bob Dylan's Queen Jane Approximately from his Highway 61 Revisited album is the fact that Michael Bloomfield's guitar is badly out of tune throughout the song. Yes, the song has sufficiently deep, meaningful lyrics (it is Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan, after all), and the rhyming structure is unique, but all I can hear is that out of tune guitar.
Title: Up In Her Room
Source: LP: A Web Of Sound
Writer: Sky Saxon
Label: GNP Crescendo
One of the first extended jams released on a rock album, Up In Her Room, from the Seeds' second LP, A Web Of Sound, is a sort of sequel to Van Morrison's Gloria (but only the original Them version; the secret of the Shadows Of Knight's success with the song was to replace the line "she comes up to my room" with "she comes around here").
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Shifting Sands
Source: CD: Part One
Writer(s): Baker Knight
Label: Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
Despite releasing six albums over a five-year period, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band never had a hit record. One attempt was Shifting Sands, one of two Baker Knight compositions the band recorded for, Part One, their first LP for Reprise Records.
Artist: Big Brother and the Holding Company
Title: Down On Me
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Joplin In Concert)
Writer: Trad. Arr. Joplin
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Big Brother And The Holding Company's first album, featuring the single Down On Me, was recorded in 1967 at the studios of Mainstream Records, a medium-sized Chicago label known for its jazz recordings. At the time, Mainstream's engineers had no experience with a rock band, particularly a loud one like Big Brother, and vainly attempted to clean up the band's sound as best they could. The result was an album full of bland recordings sucked dry of the energy that made Big Brother and the Holding Company one of the top live attractions of its time. Luckily we have this live recording made in early 1968 and released in 1972 that captures the band at their peak, before powerful people with questionable motives convinced singer Janis Joplin that the rest of the group was (ahem) holding her back.