Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1650 (starts 12/14/16)
Lots of long sets in the first hour, and a couple of artists' sets in the second. Plus an array of tasty treats throughout.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: As Tears Go By
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
As Tears Go By is sometimes referred to as the Rolling Stones' answer to the Beatles' Yesterday. The problem with this theory, however, is that As Tears Go By was written a year before Yesterday was released, and in fact was a top 10 UK single for Marianne Faithful in 1964. The story of the song's genesis is that producer/manager Andrew Oldham locked Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in the kitchen until they came up with an original song. The original title was As Time Goes By, but, not wanting anyone to confuse it with the famous song used in the film Casablanca, Oldham changed Time to Tears, and got a writing credit for his trouble. Since the Stones were not at that time known for soft ballads, Oldham gave the song to Marianne Faithful, launching a successful recording career for the singer in 1964. The following year the Stones included their own version of the song on the album December's Children (And Everybody's), using a string arrangement that may indeed have been inspired by the Beatles' Yesterday, which was holding down the # 1 spot on the charts at the time the Rolling Stones were recording As Tears Go By. After American disc jockeys began playing As Tears Go By as an album track, London Records released the song as a US-only single, which ended up making the top 10 in 1965.
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released in UK only on LP: Fresh Cream)
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Label: Cotillion (original label: Reaction)
When the album Fresh Cream was released by Atco in the US it was missing one track that was on the original UK version of the album: the band's original studio version of Willie Dixon's Spoonful. A live version of Spoonful was included on the LP Wheels of Fire, but it wasn't until the 1970 soundtrack album for the movie Homer that the studio version was finally released in the US. Unfortunately the compilers of that album left out the last 25 seconds or so from the original recording.
Title: Fixing A Hole
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The first Beatle album to appear with the same tracks in the same order on both US and UK versions was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The only differences between the two were a lack of spaces in the vinyl (called "banding") on the UK version and a bit of gobbledygook heard at the end of the record (but only if you did not have a turntable that automatically lifted the needle out of the groove after the last track). The main consequence of this is that disc jockeys in the US had an easier time cueing up tracks like Fixing A Hole in the days before the album came out on CD.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Boogie Music
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Living The Blues and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): L.T.Tatman III
Label: United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Canned Heat was formed in 1966 by a group of San Francisco Bay Area blues purists. Although a favorite on the rock scene, the band continued to remain true to the blues throughout their existence, even after relocating to the Laurel Canyon area near Los Angeles in 1968. The band's most popular single was Going Up the Country from the album Living the Blues. An edited version of Boogie Music, also from Living the Blues, was issued as the B side of that single. This is a stereo mix of that version, featured on a United Artists anthology album released in 1969.
Title: Power Play
Source: CD: Monster
Writer(s): John Kay
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
1969's Monster album is generally considered the most political of Steppenwolf's albums. A listen to Power Play certainly lends creedence to that viewpoint.
Artist: Allman Brothers Band
Source: CD: Beginnings (originally released on LP: Idlewild South0
Writer(s): Dicky Betts
Label: Polydor (original label: Capricorn)
The second Allman Brothers band was the first to include songs written by guitarist Dicky Betts. One of those songs, Revival, was also issued as the first single from the album. Originally written as an instrumental, Revival is one of the most easily recognizable songs in the Allman Brothers' catalog, and was the band's first single to hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart, spending three weeks there.
Artist: Janis Joplin
Title: Mercedes Benz
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Pearl)
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year: Recorded 1970, released 1971
Mercedes Benz was the last song recorded by Janis Joplin in October of 1970. After laying down this vocal track she went home and OD'd on Heroin.
Title: Pushin' Too Hard
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: The Seeds)
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
The Seeds originally released their biggest hit in late 1965 under the title You're Pushin' Too Hard. It wasn't until the song was re-released in 1966 under the more familiar title Pushin' Too Hard that it became a local L.A. hit, and it wasn't until spring of 1967 that the tune took off nationally. The timing was perfect for me, as the new FM station (KLZ-FM Denver) I was listening to was all over it that spring.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in November of 1966. The record, initially released without much promotion from the record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation (and the second track on Rhino's first Nuggets LP).
Artist: Human Beinz
Title: Nobody But Me
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ron, Rudy and O'Kelley Isley
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
The Human Beinz were a band that had been around since 1964 doing mostly club gigs in the Youngstown, Ohio area as the Premiers. In the late 60s they decided to update their image with a name more in tune with the times and came up with the Human Beingz. Unfortunately someone at Capitol misspelled their name on the label of Nobody But Me, and after the song became a national hit the band was stuck with the new spelling. The band split up in 1969, but after Nobody But Me was featured in the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill: Vol.1, original leader Ting Markulin reformed the band with a new lineup that has appeared in the Northeastern US in recent years.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Mrs. Robinson
Source: CD :Collected Works (originally released on LP: Bookends)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Possibly the most enduring song in the entire Simon And Garfunkel catalog, Mrs. Robinson (in an edited version) first appeared on the soundtrack for the film The Graduate in 1967. It wasn't until the Bookends album came out in 1968 that the full four minute version was released. Also released as a single, the song shot right to the top of the charts, staying there for several weeks.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Source: Mono CD: The Complete Atco Singles
Label: Real Gone/Rhino
Although credited to the entire band, People was the brainchild of Vanilla Fudge guitarist Vinnie Martell, who came up with the tune while the group was brainstorming for original material to record (as opposed to the rearranged and rocked out covers they were famous for). According to Martell, the song "tells of humanity evolving in time through the prisms of my own personal altered state of consciousness." Brainstorming indeed!
Title: Break On Thru #2
Source: LP: Absolutely Live
Writer(s): The Doors
The first live Doors album had a close relationship to controversy without itself being particularly controversial. The double LP was made up of performances from the Absolutely Live tour between July of 1969 and June of 1970. At the time the album was released, producer Paul Rothchild claimed that he had to make "over 1000" edits to get acceptable takes of the songs, including splicing part of one performance into part of another. In recent years, however, this claim has been disproven by the Bright Midnight record company, which has issued uncut masters of all of the performances in question over a total of 22 CDs. Audio proofs made by comparing these uncut masters with the original album tracks show there there were fewer than five major edits on the entire album, none of them on the songs themselves. A more personal controversy erupted at the time the album was released over the cover art, which was modified by the record label to include a picture of singer Jim Morrison that did not reflect his 1970 look. None of the band members approved the change from the original artwork, which was a single image of the band in concert against a blue background. Of course, that particular period in time was somewhat controversial for the band itself, as they were experiencing the aftermath of Morrison's arrest for onstage obscenity in Miami, Florida. As a result, the album did not do all that well in record stores, selling only about half as many copies as their most recent studio LP, Morrison Hotel. The CD reissue of the album breaks down the individual tracks differently than the original LPs; Break On Thru #2, for instance, is divided into two tracks: Dead Cats, Dead Rats and Break On Through (To The Other Side). The two pieces were actually one continuous performance recorded in Detroit in 1970.
Title: Prelude-Nothing To Hide
Source: CD: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus
Writer(s): Randy California
Spirit's first few albums had generated good reviews but poor sales. Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus was considered at the time to be their last chance to reach a larger audience. The pseudo-polygamous lyrics of the album's opening track, Prelude-Nothing To Hide, are actually about the band members' commitment to their music, a commitment that is apparent throughout this classic album. Unfortunately even that level of commitment did not translate to commercial success, leading vocalist Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes to split from Spirit to form Jo Jo Gunne soon thereafter.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: You Got Me Floatin'
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience took four-track recording technology to new levels with their second LP, Axis: Bold As Love on songs like You Got Me Floatin'. The track opens with backwards guitar followed by a memorable riff that continues throughout the song. The entire instrumental break also uses backward-masked guitar, making a somewhat simplistic song into a track that bears further listens.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: Louie, Go Home
Source: LP: Midnight Ride
Nobody knows for sure who recorded Louie Louie first: the Kingsmen or Paul Revere And The Raiders. Both bands recorded the song in April of 1963 in the same studio in Portland, Oregon, but nobody seems to remember which band played at which session. Regardless, the Kingsmen ended up with the national hit version of the song, while Paul Revere And The Raiders went on to become one of the most successful American rock band of the mid-1960s, thanks in part to Dick Clark, who discovered them playing in Hawaii and chose them to be the house band on his new show Where The Action Is. By this time the band had been signed to Columbia Records, releasing their first single for the label, Louie-Go Home, in 1964. By 1966 they were riding high on the charts, and re-recorded Louie, Go Home (different punctuation, same song) in stereo for their second of three albums released that year: Midnight Ride.
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: Ups And Downs
Source: Mono LP: All-Time Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
At the beginning of 1967 Paul Revere and the Raiders were still flying high, with singles that consistently hit the upper reaches of the charts and a solid promotional platform in the daily afternoon TV show Where The Action Is. Their first hit of the year was Ups And Downs, a collaboration between lead vocalist Mark Lindsay and producer Terry Melcher. Before long things would turn sour for the band, however, as a volatile market soon turned against the group. In part it was because their revolutionary war costumes were becoming a bit camp. Also, Action left the airwaves in 1967, and its Saturday Morning replacement, Happening, was seen as more of a kid's show than a legitimate rock and roll venue. Most importantly, however, Melcher and the Raiders parted company, and the band realized too late just how important a role Melcher had played in the group's success.
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: There's Always Tomorrow
Source: LP: Midnight Ride
We move now to sunny Los Angeles, circa 1966, where we find a band from Boise, Idaho starring in Dick Clark's daily national dance show, Where The Action Is. Paul Revere and the Raiders were one of the many bands of the early 1960s that helped lay the groundwork for the temporary democratization of American popular music later in the decade (for more on that click the "era" button at hermitradio.com). After honing their craft for years in the clubs of the Pacific Northwest the Raiders caught the attention of Clark, who called them the most versatile rock band he had ever seen. Clark introduced the band to Terry Melcher, which in turn led to Paul Revere and the Raiders being the first rock band ever signed to industry giant Columbia Records, at that time the second largest record company in the country. In addition to organist Revere the band featured Mark Lindsay on lead vocals and saxophone, Phil "Fang" Volker on bass, Drake Levin on lead guitar and Mike "Smitty" Smith on drums. Occassional someone other than Lindsay would get the opportunity to sing a lead vocal part, as Smitty does on There's Always Tomorrow, a song he co-wrote with Levin shortly before the guitarist quit to join the National Guard. Seriously, the guy who played the double-tracked lead guitars on Just Like Me quit the hottest band in the US at the peak of their popularity to voluntarily join the military. I'd say there was a good chance he was not one of the guys burning their draft cards that year.
Title: Paper Sun
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Silver Spotlight (original label: United Artists)
One of the first British acid-rock bands was a group called Deep Feeling, which included drummer Jim Capaldi and woodwind player Chris Wood. At the same time Deep Feeling was experimenting with psychedelia, another, more commercially oriented band, the Spencer Davis Group, was tearing up the British top 40 charts with hits like Keep On Running, Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man. The undisputed star of the Spencer Davis Group was a teenaged guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist named Steve Winwood, who was also beginning to make his mark as a songwriter. Along with guitarist/vocalist Dave Mason, who had worked with Capaldi in earlier bands, they formed Traffic in the spring of 1967, releasing their first single, Paper Sun, in May of that year. Capaldi and Winwood had actually written the tune while Winwood was still in the Spencer Davis Group, and the song was an immediate hit in the UK. This was followed quickly by an album, Mr. Fantasy, that, as was the common practice at the time in the UK, did not include Paper Sun. When the album was picked up by United Artists Records for US release in early 1968, however, Paper Sun was included as the LP's opening track. The US version of the album was originally titled Heaven Is In Your Mind, but was quickly retitled Mr. Fantasy to match the original British title (although the alterations in track listing stayed).
Title: Have You Seen Her Face
Source: Mono LP: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): Chris Hillman
Perhaps the greatest surprise on the fourth Byrds album, Younger Than Yesterday, was the emergence of bassist Chris Hillman as a quality songwriter, already on a par with David Crosby and the recently-departed Gene Clark, and even exceeding Roger McGuinn as a solo writer (most of McGuinn's contributions being as a collaborator rather than a solo songwriter). One of the many strong Hillman tracks on Younger Than Yesterday was Have You Seen Her Face, which eventually became the third single from the album.
Title: You Just May Be The One
Source: CD: Headquarters
Writer(s): Michael Nesmith
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
In early 1967 the Monkees became a real band-for one album, at least. The process began not long after the group was formed in 1966, when Michael Nesmith insisted on producing a couple of songs for the first Monkees album. Although those sessions used studio musicians, they were the beginning of a long journey for the "prefab four". Not long after the Monkees' TV made its debut on NBC the group began performing onstage to support the show. While on the road, unbeknownst to the group, Musical Director Don Kirshner supervised the packaging of a second Monkees, which was issued on January 9,1966 as More Of The Monkees. According to Peter Tork, the band actually had to buy a copy of the album to hear what was on it. About a week later the group was back in L.A., and recorded their first pair of songs as a band on January 16th, intending them to be paired up as the group's next single. Unfortunately the song picked for the A side, All Of Your Toys, was not published by Screen Gems, which had exclusive rights to all things with the Monkees name on it. While the band was working on putting together a replacement, Kirshner did an end run and issued two entirely different songs as the new Monkees single in early February, immediately disappearing to the wilds of Florida, where he could not be reached by convention means. This move proved to be Kirshner's undoing, however, and the single was quickly withdrawn, with only a few copies sent out to various radio stations remaining in existence. Kirshner himself was fired from the Monkees project, severing ties with Screen Gems, Columbia Pictures and Colgems Records in the process. This left the Monkees in control of their own musical destiny, and they immediately got to work on a new album, Headquarters, in the mean time issuing a replacement single that featured Kirshner's original A side, Neil Diamond's A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, paired with a new recording of the band's original intended B side, Nesmith's The Girl I Knew Somewhere. On Febrary 23rd the band officially began recording sessions for Headquarters, recording a pair of songs before taking a week off. On March 2nd the sessions resumed with the recording of You Just May Be The One, with Nesmith on vocals and electric 12-string guitar, Tork on bass, Mickey Dolenz on bass and Davy Jones on tambourine. By mid-May the album was finished, and Headquarters quickly shot up to the top of the Billboard album charts before giving way to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The two album remained in the #1 & #2 spots for 11 consecutive weeks. Despite this, the band was still being branded as a fake by the rock press, and subsequent recordings once again used studio musicians, albeit under the direct artistic control of the Monkees themselves.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Summertime Blues
Source: Dutch import LP: Vincebus Eruptum
European electronics giant Philips had its own record label in the 1960s. In the US, the label was distributed by Mercury Records, and was known primarily for a long string of hits by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. In 1968 the label surprised everyone by signing the loudest band in San Francisco, Blue Cheer. Their cover of the 50s Eddie Cochrane hit Summertime Blues was all over both the AM and FM airwaves that summer.
Artist: Fairport Convention
Title: Time Will Show The Wiser
Source: British import CD: Fairport Convention
Writer(s): Emmitt Rhodes
Fairport Convention was originally marketed as "the British Jefferson Airplane", and with good reason. Like the Airplane, Fairport featured two lead vocalists, Ian MacDonald and Judy Dyble, and even appeared on the same playbill as the Airplane at the first Isle Of Wight festival in 1968. There was a similarity in the two bands' repertoire as well. Like the Airplane, Fairport relied heavily on cover versions of songs by American songwriters in their early days, and their debut LP featured five of them, including the album's opening track, Emmitt Rhodes' Time Will Show The Wiser. Not long after the album was released Dyble left the group, to be replaced by Sandy Denny.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: CD: Crown of Creation
Writer: David Crosby
It's interesting to contrast the attitudes of the band members of the Byrds and Jefferson Airplane to David Crosby's Triad. Whereas both Jim McGuinn and Chris Hillman expressed discomfort with the song (to the point of not releasing it), the Airplane members, particularly Paul Kantner and Grace Slick, embraced the tune, giving it a featured spot on the Crown of Creation album. The song itself is based on ideas put forth by Robert A. Heinlein in his Science Fiction masterpiece Stranger In A Strange Land.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Plastic Fantastic Lover
Source: Mono LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Label: Sundazed/BMG (original label: RCA Victor)
Following the success of Somebody To Love, Jefferson Airplane quickly followed up with their third single from the Surrealistic Pillow album, White Rabbit. Although it didn't get the same amount of top 40 airplay, Marty Balin's Plastic Fantastic Lover, issued as the B side of White Rabbit, has proved just as enduring as the A side. So much so that, when the Airplane reunited in 1989 and issued their two-disc retrospective, 2400 Fulton Street, they issued a special pressing of both songs on white vinyl as a way of promoting the collection. More recently, Sundazed has reissued the entire Surrealistic Pillow album in its original mono mix, which differs considerably from the more familiar stereo version.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Crown Of Creation
Source: CD: Crown of Creation
Writer: Paul Kantner
After the acid rock experimentation of After Bathing At Baxter's, the Airplane returned to a more conventional format for 1968's Crown Of Creation album. The songs themselves, however, had a harder edge than those on the early Jefferson Airplane albums, as the band itself was becoming more socio-politically radical. The song Crown of Creation draws a definite line between the mainstream and the counter-culture.
Title: Such A Shame
Source: Mono 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Ray Davies
The B side of a 45 RPM record was usually thought of as filler material, but in reality often served another purpose entirely. Sometimes it was used to make an instrumental version of the hit side available for use in clubs or even as a kind of early kind of Karioke. As often as not it was a chance for bands who were given material by their producer to record for the A side to get their own compositions on record, thus giving them an equal share of the royalties. Sometimes the B sides went on to become classics in their own right. Possibly the band with the highest percentage of this type of B side was the Kinks, who seemed to have a great song on the flip side of every record they released. One such B side is Such A Shame, released as the B side of A Well Respected Man in 1966. It doesn't get much better than this.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Two Trains Running
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): McKinley Morganfield
Label: Verve Forecast
Possibly the most influential (yet least known outside of musicians' circles) band of the Psychedelic Era was the Blues Project. Formed in 1965 in Greenwich Village, the band worked its way from coast to coast playing mostly college campuses, in the process blazing a path that continues to be followed by underground/progressive/alternative artists. As if founding the whole college circuit wasn't enough, they were arguably the very first jam band, as their version of the Muddy Waters classic Two Trains Running shows. Among those drawing their inspiration from the Blues Project were the Warlocks, a group of young musicians who were traveling with Ken Kesey on the Electric Cool-Aid Acid Test tour bus. The Warlocks would soon change their name to the Grateful Dead and take the jam band concept to a whole new level. Still, they may never have moved in that direction at all if it weren't for the Blues Project.
Artist: Winston's Fumbs
Title: Real Crazy Apartment
Source: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Jimmy Winston
Label: Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Vocalist/guitarist Jimmy Winston was a child actor turned musician who was one of the original members of the Small Faces, where he played organ. In 1965 he was basically kicked out of the band for unknown reasons, but soon resurfaced with his own band, Winston's Reflection, which released one single on the British Decca label in 1966. By the following year the band had changed its name to Winston's Fumbs and signed with RCA Records, releasing Real Crazy Apartment before disbanding. By then Winston had switched from organ to guitar, and would next surface as a cast member of the London production of Hair. Meanwhile, Winston's Fumbs organist Tony Kaye had become a founding member of some obscure band called Yes.