Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1722 (starts 5/31/17)
A little of this and a little of that this week, including a British set to get things started (and a British mini-set to finish things off), as well as a long San Francisco set in the second hour. As far as the rest of the show goes, read on...
Title: Sunny Afternoon
Source: Mono LP: Face To Face
Writer: Ray Davies
My family got its first real stereo (a GE console model with a reel-to-reel recorder instead of a turntable) just in time for me to catch the Kinks' Sunny Afternoon at the peak of its popularity. My school had just gone into split sessions and all my classes were over by one o'clock, which gave me the chance to explore the world of top 40 radio for a couple hours every day without the rest of the family telling me to turn it down (or off). Of course, none of the few stereo FM stations were playing rock songs in 1966, but since the Kinks were still only mixing their songs in mono at that point it didn't really matter.
Title: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor
Source: 45 RPM single B side
By 1967 the Yardbirds had moved far away from their blues roots and were on their fourth lead guitarist, studio whiz Jimmy Page. The band had recently picked up a new producer, Mickey Most, known mostly for his work with Herman's Hermits and the original Animals. Most had a tendency to concentrate solely on the band's single A sides, leaving Page an opportunity to develop his own songwriting and production skills on songs such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, a track that also shows signs of Page's innovative guitar style (including an instrumental break played with a violin bow) that would help define 70s rock.
Artist: Love Sculpture
Title: In The Land Of The Few
Source: CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK on LP: Forms And Feelings)
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
Dave Edmunds started off young. At age 10 the Cardiff, Wales native played in the Edmund Bros Duo (a piano duo) with his older brother Geoff. By the time Dave was 13 he and his brother had formed their own rock and roll band, with Dave on lead guitar and Geoff on rhythm. By the mid-1960s Dave Edmunds had switched to blues-rock, fronting a band called the Human Beans. It wasn't long before that group was pared down to a power trio consisting of Edmunds on guitar, John Williams on bass, and Congo Jones on drums calling itself Love Sculpture. The group released their first album, Blues Helping, in 1968, as well as a non-album single, Sabre Dance, that made the British top 10. The band's second, and final, album, Forms And Feelings, expanded beyond the electric blues of the first album to include harder to describe tracks like In The Land Of The Few. Not long after the album was released, Edmunds decided to go it as a solo artist, scoring a huge international hit with a remake of Smiley Lewis's I Hear You Knockin' in late 1970.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Death Sound Blues
Source: CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
I generally use the term "psychedelic" to describe a musical attitude that existed during a particular period of time rather than a specific style of music. On the other hand, the term "acid rock" is better suited for describing music that was composed and/or performed under the influence of certain mind-expanding substances. That said, the first album by Country Joe and the Fish is a classic example of acid rock. I mean, really, is there any other way to describe Death Sound Blues than "the blues on acid"?
Artist: Rolling Stones
Source: CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Probably the most overtly psychedelic track ever recorded by the Rolling Stones, Gomper might best be described as a hippy love song with its references to nature, innocence and, of course, pyschedelic substances. Brian Jones makes one of his last significant contributions as a member of the band he founded, playing the dulcimer, as well as tablas, organ, pan flutes and various percussion instruments on the song.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Summer Is The Man
Source: Mono LP: Electric Comic Book
Following up on their successful debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop, the Blues Magoos released Electric Comic Book in March of 1967. Unfortunately the first single from the album had two equally strong songs, one of which was favored by the producers and the other by the band. Radio stations were unsure which song to push, and as a result, neither made the top 40, which in turn had a negative effect on album sales. Most of the remaining tracks on the album were written by the band members, including Summer Is The Man, a song with an interesting chord structure, a catchy melody and somewhat existential lyrics.
Title: No Face, No Name, No Number
Source: Mono CD: Mr. Fantasy
Label: Island (original US label: United Artists)
When the first Best of Traffic album was issued in 1969 (after the group first disbanded) it included No Face, No Name, No Number, a non-hit album track. Later Traffic anthologies tended to focus on the group's post-reformation material and the song was out of print for many years until the first Traffic album was reissued on CD. The song itself is a good example of Winwood's softer material.
Title: Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: RCA Victor
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: Magic Mushrooms
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: A&M)
It's not known whether or not the Magic Mushrooms heard any of the tracks from the Mothers Of Invention album Freak Out when they recorded It's-A-Happening. Still, it's hard to imagine this bit of inspired weirdness being created in a vacuum. Besides this one single, nobody seems to have any knowledge whatsoever of the group known as the Magic Mushrooms, other than the fact that they hailed from Philadelphia, Pa.
Title: Father's Name Was Dad
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): Dave Lambert
Label: Rhino (original label: Decca)
As any fan of the Austin Powers movies can tell you, London in the mid-1960s was home to the Mods, a group (or movement) of young people distinguished by the colorful fashions they wore, most of which came from shops on Carnaby Street. The Mods had their own music as well, usually referred to as "freakbeat" or sometimes just "beat", although not all of the bands playing that kind of music identified with the Mods themselves. Most of the early beat bands were also in the first wave of the British invasion of the US; in fact the Beatles themselves (prior to the release of Rubber Soul) were usually considered the top beat band of all. By 1966, however, the US audience was already getting into other things (Motown, garage rock, Memphis soul and the beginnings of bubble gum). In Europe and the UK, however, beat bands were still on top, with newer groups like the Move, the Small Faces and the Who (in their pre-Tommy days) riding high on the charts. Among these newer beat groups was a trio called Friday's Chyld. After changing their name to Fire, they got a contract with the British Decca label and a publishing deal with the Beatles' Apple organization. After hearing a demo of Father's Name Was Dad, Paul McCartney made a few production suggestions and the group added backing vocals and double-tracked guitar for the final released version of the song. Although Father's Name Was Dad was not a hit, it did serve as the recording debut of lead vocalist/guitarist Dave Lambert, who would go on to have some success in the 70s as a founding member of a band called Strawbs.
Title: Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
Source: CD: The Beatles
Sporting the longest title of any Beatles recording, Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey is also one of the hardest-rocking late period Beatle tracks. There are two schools of thought concerning the subject matter of the lyrics. According to Lennon, the song is about himself and Yoko Ono, who was his constant companion during recording sessions for what would come to be known as the "White album". The other, more negative view, is that the one expressed by Paul McCartney that the Monkey was heroin, which both Lennon and Ono were getting into at the time. Since Lennon wrote the song, his version of things is the generally accepted one.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Long Gone Geek
Source: LP: The Best Of Procol Harum (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
The last Procol Harum record to feature Matthew Fisher on organ was the 1969 single version of the title track of their third album, A Salty Dog. The B side of the record (which did not appear on the album) was a song called Long Gone Geek. The tune was co-written by Fisher, along with the band's regular writers Gary Brooker and Keith Reid.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Hey Joe
Source: Simulated stereo British import LP: Smash Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Billy Roberts
The first track recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was Hey Joe, a song that Hendrix had seen Tim Rose perform in Greenwich Village before relocating to London to form his new band. Hendrix's version is a bit heavier than Rose's and leaves off the first verse ("where you going with that money in your hand") entirely. The song itself was copyrighted in 1962 by California folk singer Billy Roberts and a much faster version by the Leaves had hit the US charts in early 1966.
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.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Somewhere They Can't Find Me
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Sounds of Silence)
Writer: Paul Simon
Simon and Garfunkel's success as a folk-rock duo was actually due to the unauthorized actions of producer John Simon, who, after working on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited album, got Dylan's band to add new tracks to the song Sound of Silence. The song had been recorded as an acoustic number for the album Wednesday Morning 3AM, which had, by 1966, been deleted from the Columbia catalog. The new version of the song was sent out to select radio stations, and got such positive response that it was released as a single, eventually making the top 10. Meanwhile, Paul Simon, who had since moved to London and recorded an album called the Paul Simon Songbook, found himself returning to the US and reuniting with Art Garfunkel. Armed with an array of quality studio musicians they set about making their first electric album, Sounds of Silence. The song Somewhere They Can't Find Me was one of the new songs recorded for that album. From a lyrical standpoint, the song is actually a reworking of the title track of Wednesday Morning 3AM. Musically, the song shows a strong influence from British folk guitarist Bert Jansch, whom Simon greatly admired.
Artist: Crosby, Stills And Nash
Title: Marrakesh Express
Source: CD: Crosby, Stills And Nash
Writer(s): Graham Nash
The first time I ever heard of Crosby, Stills And Nash was on Europe's powerhouse AM station Radio Luxembourg, which broadcast in an American-style top 40 format during the evening and into the early morning hours. As was common on top 40 stations, Radio Luxembourg had a "pick hit of the week", a newly-released song that the station's DJs felt was bound to be a big hit. One night in July of 1969 I tuned in and heard the premier of the station's latest pick hit: Marrakesh Express, by Crosby, Stills And Nash. Sure enough, the song climbed the British charts rather quickly, peaking at #17 (20 positions higher than in the US). The song itself was based on real events that Graham Nash experienced on a train ride in Morocco while still a member of the Hollies. Nash had been riding first class when he got bored and decided to check out what was happening in the other cars. He was so impressed by the sheer variety of what he saw (including ducks and chickens on the train itself) that he decided to write a song about it. The other members of the Hollies were not particularly impressed with the song, however, and its rejection was one of the factors that led to Nash leaving the band and moving to the US, where he hooked up with David Crosby and Stephen Stills. Crosby and Stills liked the song, and it became the trio's first single.
Title: Wanderin' Kind
Source: Mono LP: It Ain't Me Babe
Writer(s): Howard Kaylan
Label: White Whale
White Whale Records, being a typical L.A. label, insisted on using professional songwriters for all the Turtles' A sides. The band was allowed to write its own material for the B sides, however. Here we have one written by lead vocalist Howard Kaylan, who would end up co-writing most of Flo & Eddie's material a few years later. That's OK, though, since Kaylan is Eddie (fellow Turtle Mark Volman is Flo).
Title: My Mind
Source: Simulated stereo British import CD: Before The Dream Faded
Label: Cherry Red
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1982
The story of the legendary band the Misunderstood actually started in 1963 when three teenagers from Riverside, California decided to form a band called the Blue Notes. Like most of the bands at 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 My Mind, written (as were most of the songs the band recorded in London) by Brown and Hill. Problems having nothing to do with music soon derailed the Misunderstood, who soon found themselves being deported back to the US, and in one case, drafted into the US Army.
Title: Bummer In The Summer
Source: CD: Forever Changes
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Perhaps the least known tune on Love's third LP, Forever Changes, Bummer In The Summer sounds at first like a throwback to the band's earlier work. A closer listen, however, reveals a thematic similarity with the rest of the critically-acclaimed album, which is generally considered to be the band's finest work.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: Are You Happy
Source: LP: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Writer(s): Doug Ingle
Besides the title track itself, probably the best known song on Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album is a Doug Ingle tune called Are You Happy. Opening with a distinctive drum pattern followed by a shouted "are you happy?", the song is one of the most upbeat tunes on the entire album, and was fittingly placed at the end of the LP's first side.
Artist: Johnny Winter
Title: I Hate Everybody
Source: LP: Second Winter
Writer(s): Johnny Winter
The shortest track on Johnny Winter's Second Winter album, I Hate Everybody is a 50s-styled blues boogie that features Johnny's younger brother Edgar prominently on both organ and saxophone, supported by the rhythm section of Tommy Shannon on bass and Uncle John Turner on drums.
Artist: Shadows of Knight
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Van Morrison
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
The original Them version of Van Morrison's Gloria found itself banned on the majority of US radio stations due to controversial lyrics. By changing one line (essentially substituting "around here" for "up to my room") the suburban Chicago punk-blues band Shadows of Knight turned it into a huge hit and a garage band standard.
Title: People Are Strange
Source: LP: Strange Days (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: The Doors
The first single from the second Doors album was People Are Strange. The song quickly dispelled any notion that the Doors might be one-hit wonders and helped establish the band as an international act as opposed to just another band from L.A. The album itself, Strange Days, was a turning point for Elektra Records as well, as it shifted the label's promotional efforts away from their original rock band, Love, to the Doors, who ironically had been recommended to the label by Love's leader, Arthur Lee.
Title: Hoochie Coochie Man
Source: CD: Steppenwolf
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
A major driving force behind the renewed interest in the blues in the 1960s was the updating and re-recording of classic blues tunes by contempory rock musicians. This trend started in England, with bands like the Yardbirds and the Animals in the early part of the decade. By the end of the 60s a growing number of US bands were playing songs such as Hoochie Coochie Man, a tune originally recorded by Muddy Waters in 1954. Like Cream's Spoonful and Led Zeppelin's You Shook Me, Hoochie Coochie Man was written by Willie Dixon. The 1968 Steppenwolf version of the song slows the tempo down a touch from the original version and features exquisite sustained guitar work from Michael Monarch.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: St. Stephen
Source: CD: Aoxomoxoa
Label: Warner Brothers
One of the Grateful Dead's most recognizable tunes is St. Stephen. The song first appeared on the 1969 album Aoxomoxoa, and remained in the Grateful Dead stage repertoire for pretty much their entire existence.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: The Fool (live version)
Source: CD: Quicksilver Messenger Service (bonus track originally released on CD: Unreleased Quicksilver: Lost Gold And Silver)
Label: Rock Beat (original label: Collector's Choice)
Year: Recorded 1968, released 2000
There are differing opinions on just how serious legendary San Francisco singer/songwriter and general iconoclast Dino Valenti was being when, at a jam session with guitarist John Cippolina one night, he suggested that the two of them form a band. Since Valenti was busted for drugs the very next day (and ended up spending the next two years in jail), we'll never know for sure. Cippolina, however, was motivated enough to begin finding members for the new band, including bassist David Freiberg (later to join Starship) and drummer Skip Spence. When Marty Balin stole Spence away to join his own new band (Jefferson Airplane), he tried to make up for it by introducing Cippolina to vocalist/guitarist Gary Duncan and drummer Greg Elmore, whose own band, the Brogues, had recently disbanded. Taking the name Quicksilver Messenger Service (so named for all the member's astrological connections with the planet Mercury), the new band soon became a fixture on the San Francisco scene. Inspired by the Blues Project, Cippolina and Duncan quickly established a reputation for their dual guitar improvisational abilities. Unlike other San Francisco bands such as the Airplane and the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service did not jump at their first offer from a major record label, preferring to hold out for the best deal. This meant their debut album did not come out until 1968, missing out on the initial buzz surrounding the summer of love. In one way this actually worked to the band's advantage, since by 1968 record companies were more willing to include lengthy improvisational tracks like The Fool, which took up the entire second side of the group's debut LP.
Artist: Moby Grape
Source: LP: Moby Grape
All of the members of Moby Grape were songwriters as well as performers. Most contributed songs individually, but one songwriting team did emerge early on. Guitarist Jerry Miller and drummer Don Stevenson formed a durable partnership that was responsible for many of the group's best tracks, including Changes from the band's 1967 debut LP.
Artist: Wayne Fontana And The Mindbenders
Title: Game Of Love
Source: CD: Reelin' And Rockin' (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Clint Ballard, Jr.
Label: Happy Days (original label: Fontana)
The Mindbenders were formed in 1963 to backup British pop singer Wayne Fontana. The group scored their biggest hit in 1965 with Game Of Love, a song that went to the top of the US charts. Later that year Fontana parted company with the band, which continued on without him for several years, scoring another major hit, Groovy Kind Of Love, in 1966.
Title: You're On My Mind
Source: Simulated stereo LP: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals-Vol. II (originally released on LP: Animalization)
I can't tell you with any certainty how the song You're On My Mind ended up being included on the second greatest hits collection from the Animals, but I do have a theory. The song first appeared on the UK album Animalisms, and then two months later on that album's nearest thing to a US counterpart, Animalization. It was one of only two songs on Animalisms credited to vocalist Eric Burdon and organist Dave Rowberry (most of the album being covers of various rhythm and blues songs). I suspect that when it came to compile a greatest hits album, it was decided that even a relatively weak original song would be a better choice than a cover song, so both of the Burdon/Rowberry tunes from Animalisms/Animalization were included. Besides, including You're On My Mind on the album meant more royalties for Burdon and Rowberry, always a consideration in the 1960s.