Monday, July 31, 2017
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1731 (starts 8/2/17)
All the electric lights were out when I recorded this, so I went with longer tracks so I wouldn't have to write down as much stuff. Eyestrain, you know.
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: Steppin' Out (1990 stereo remix)
Source: CD: The Legend Of Paul Revere (originally released as 45 RPM single)
1965 was the year that Paul Revere and the Raiders hit the big time. The Portland, Oregon band had already been performing together for several years, and had been the first rock band to record Louie Louie in the spring of 1963, getting airplay on the West Coast and Hawaii but losing out nationally to another Portland band, the Kingsmen, whose version was recorded the same month as the Raiders'. While playing in Hawaii the band came to the attention of Dick Clark, who was looking for a band to appear on his new afternoon TV program, Where The Action Is. Clark introduced the band to Terry Melcher, a successful producer at Columbia Records, which led to the Raiders being the first true rock band signed by the label. Appearing on Action turned out to be a major turning point for the band, who soon became the show's defacto hosts as well as house band. The Raiders' first national hit in their new role was Steppin' Out, a song written by Revere and vocalist Mark Lindsay about a guy returning from military service (as Revere himself had done in the early 60s, reforming the band upon his return) and finding out his girl had been unfaithful. Working with Melcher, the Raiders enjoyed a run of hits from 1965-67 unequalled by any other Amercian rock band of the time.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Steve's Song
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): Steve Katz
Label: Verve Forecast
The members of the Blues Project came from a variety of backgrounds, including jazz, rock, classical and of course, blues. Guitarist Steve Katz had the strongest connection to the Greenwich Village folk scene and was the lead vocalist on the Project's recording of Donovan's Catch The Wind on their first LP. For their second album Katz wrote his own song, entitled simply Steve's Song. The tune starts with a very old-English style repeated motif that gets increasing complicated as it repeats itself before segueing into a more conventional mode with Katz on the lead vocal. Katz would write and sing simlarly-styled tunes, such as Sometimes In Winter, as a member of Blood, Sweat and Tears.
Title: Epistle To Dippy
Source: Mono CD: Mellow Yellow (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original US label: Epic)
Following up on his successful Mellow Yellow album, Donovan released Epistle To Dippy in the spring of 1967. The song, utilizing the same kind of instrumentation as Mellow Yellow, was further proof that the Scottish singer was continuing to move beyond the restrictions of the "folk singer" label and was quickly becoming the model for what would come to be called "singer/songwriters" in the following decade.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Label: RCA Victor
After Bathing At Baxter's is generally considered the most pyschedelic of all the Jefferson Airplane albums. For one thing, the members were reportedly all on LSD through most of the creative process and were involved in the entire package, right down to the decision to divide the album up into five suites and press the vinyl in such a way that the spaces normally found between songs were only present between the suites themselves, making it almost impossible to set the needle down at the beginning of the second or third song of a suite (there is a slight overlap between most of the songs as well). The first suite on After Bathing At Baxter's is called Streetmasse. It consists of three compositions: Paul Kantner's The Ballad of You and Me and Pooniel; A Small Package of Value Will Come To You Shortly (a free-form jazz piece led by drummer Spencer Dryden); and the Paul Kantner/Marty Balin composition Young Girl Sunday Blues.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: White Rabbit
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released on LP: Surrealistic Pillow)
Writer: Grace Slick
The first time I heard White Rabbit was on Denver's first FM rock station, KLZ-FM. The station branded itself as having a top 100 (as opposed to local ratings leader KIMN's top 60), and prided itself on being the first station in town to play new releases and album tracks. It wasn't long before White Rabbit was officially released as a single, and went on to become a top 10 hit, the last for the Airplane.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: How Suite It Is
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxters
Label: RCA Victor
The second side of After Bathing At Baxters starts off fairly conventionally (for the Airplane), with Paul Kantner's Watch Her Ride, the first third or so of something called How Suite It Is. This leads (without a break in the audio) into Spare Chaynge, one of the coolest studio jams ever recorded, featuring intricate interplay between Jack Cassidy's bass and Jorma Kaukonen's guitar, with Spencer Dryden using his drum kit as enhancement rather than as a beat-setter. In particular, Cassidy's virtuoso performance helped redefine what could be done with an electric bass.
Title: The Spy
Source: CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: Morrison Hotel)
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
As the 1960s drew to a close, the Doors, who had been riding high since 1967, were at a low point. In fact, it could be argued that the last few months of 1969 were the worst in the band's career. Vocalist Jim Morrison had been arrested for indecent exposure for exposing himself onstage in Miami the previous March. This had resulted in the cancellation of over two dozen performances as well as a sizable number of radio stations refusing to play their records. In June, the band released their fourth album, The Soft Parade, which was critically panned for its overuse of horns and strings. The album was also the first to give individual members of the band songwriting credits (previously all songwriting credits were shared by the four band members). This was brought about by Morrison's wish to distance himself from the lyrics of the album's opening track, Tell All The People, which had been written by guitarist Robby Krieger. Adding to the problems, Morrison had been arrested for causing a disturbance on an airplane and charged under a new hijacking law that carried a fine up of to $10,000 and ten years in prison. In November, the Doors started work on their fifth album, to be called Morrison Hotel (with the second side subtitled Hard Rock Cafe). After the poor reception of The Soft Parade the band decided to take a back to basics approach. One thing that did not change, however, was the policy of band members taking individual song credits. Thus, we have songs like The Spy (originally called Spy In The House Of Love), which was inspired by Morrison's fiery relationship with his longtime girlfriend Pamela Coulson. Morrison Hotel would end up being a turning point for the Doors; their next LP, L.A. Woman, is universally considered one of their best.
Artist: The Doors
Title: Wild Child
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
Although The Soft Parade is generally considered the weakest of all the Jim Morrison era Doors albums, it did have a couple of notable songs on it. Touch Me was a major hit for the band, and its B side, Wild Child, has long been a fan favorite. In fact, the band even made a video for Wild Child, something not commonly done for a B side.
Title: The End
Source: CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: The Doors)
Writer(s): The Doors
Prior to recording their first album the Doors' honed their craft at various Sunset Strip clubs, working up live versions of the songs they would soon record, including their show-stopper, The End. Originally written as a breakup song by singer/lyricist Jim Morrison, The End runs nearly twelve minutes and includes a controversial spoken "Oedipus section". My own take on the famous "blue bus" line is that Morrison, being a military brat, was probably familiar with the blue shuttle buses used on military bases for a variety of purposes, including taking kids to school, and simply incorporated his experiences with them into his lyrics. The End got its greatest exposure in 1979, when Oliver Stone used it in his film Apocalypse Now.
Title: Time Waits For No One
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
In 1979 Capitol Records signed a group from Los Angeles called the Knack, promoted them heavily and released a single called My Sharona. It was a huge hit. Twelve years earlier Capitol Records signed a group from Los Angeles called the Knack, promoted them heavily and released a single called Time Waits For No One. It flopped. The strange thing is that Time Waits For No One is every bit as good a song as My Sharona, albeit in an entirely different style. Why one succeeded and the other one failed is one of those mysteries that will probably never be solved.
Artist: Country Joe McDonald
Title: Compared To Florence
Source: CD: 50
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rag Baby
A highly personal song, Compared To Florence continues our weekly presentation of tracks from the new Country Joe McDonald album, 50. Nice stuff.
Artist: Brian Wilson
Title: Wonderful/Song For The Children/Child Is Father Of The Man/Surf's Up
Source: CD: Brian Wilson Presents Smile
Rock history is full of stories about albums that were started with the best of intentions, but for one reason or another ended up on the shelf, sometimes indefinitely. Perhaps the most famous of these was the Beach Boys' follow up album to their critically acclaimed Pet Sounds LP. The album was to be called Smile, and the priveledged few who had heard the work in progress all agreed it was to be Brian Wilson's masterpiece, both as writer and producer. However, a series of problems, including internal disputes among the band members and Wilson's own mental state, kept pushing back the album's completion date. Finally the whole thing was scrapped, and a far less ambitious LP called Smiley Smile was hastily recorded in its place. The legend of the original Smile continued to grow over the years, however, with occasional fragments of the original tapes (which had first thought to have been destroyed) surfacing from time to time. Throughout this time Wilson had resisted the urge to reopen the Smile project, but in the early 2000s he began to integrate some of the songs into his live concerts, including a 2001 performance of Heroes And Villains at Radio City Music Hall in New York. This led to members of his current band suggesting that he work up the majority of Smile for new performances as a followup to his Pet Sounds Live concerts. Wilson approved the idea, and with the help of band member Darian Sahanaja in particular began updating the material for the 21st century, eventually reuniting with lyricist Van Dyke Parks to finish the project. The newly completed version of Smile was first performed live in February of 2004; the concert was a critical and commercial success, and Wilson's band continued to perform Smile throughout 2004 and 2005. Beginning in April of 2004 Wilson began work on a studio version of Smile, which required substantial reworking from the stage version. Finally, in September, of 2004, Brian Wilson Presents Smile was released. The completed version of Smile is divided into three sections: Americana, Cycle Of Life, and The Elements. The middle section, Cycle Of Life, is also the shortest, consisting of just four songs, Wonderful, Song For The Children, Child Is Father Of The Man, and Surf's Up, all of which date back to the original 1966 Smile sessions.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: Magic Of Love
Source: 45 RPM single (from box set Move Over)
Writer(s): M. Spoelstra
Until 2011, the only available recordings of Magic Of Love by Big Brother And The Holding Company were of live performances in 1967 and 1968. What very few people realized, however, is that the band actually recorded a studio version of Magic Of Love for possible inclusion on their Cheap Thrills album in 1968. Ultimately, though, it was decided that Cheap Thrills would consist mostly of live recordings, and only two (three if you count Turtle Blues) of the studio tracks were used on the album. Thus the studio version of Magic Of Love was put on the shelf for over 40 years, finally surfacing as part of a special box set of four 45 RPM records called Move Over.
Artist: Orange Wedge
Title: From The Womb To The Tomb
Source: Mono CD: An Overdose Of Heavy Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Blue Flat Ownsley Memorial)
Recorded in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1968, From The Womb To The Tomb was the only single from Orange Wedge, a forerunner of more famous Michigan bands such as the Stooges and the MC5.
Title: Race With The Devil
Source: Mono German import CD: Gun
Writer(s): Adrian Gurvitz
Label: Repertoire (original label: CBS)
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).
Source: German import CD: The Corporation
Writer: John Coltrane
Label: Repertoire (original label: Capitol)
A few years back I received an e-mail from a listener who works at WITT-FM near Indianapolis, which has been broadcasting Stuck In The Psychedelic Era since 2010. He mentioned a band he had heard in Chicago in the late 60s called the Corporation, adding that he had recently found a copy of their only album for Capitol on CD. He offered to make me a copy, but, as I am somewhat of a stickler for using legitimate sources for everything I play (i.e. no MP3s or burned copies), I decided to head over to my local music store (Area Records in Geneva, NY) to order my own copy of the CD instead. The track he mentioned in particular was called India, notable for taking up an entire side of the album. I've since learned that they track was also quite popular in discoteques, particularly those in Germany. The song itself was written by jazz legend John Coltrane, and as far as I know has never been attempted by any other rock band.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Inside Out
Source: LP: People, Hell And Angels
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Year: Recorded 1968, released 2013
Even while sessions for Electric Ladyland were underway, Jimi Hendrix was starting to look beyond the limitations of working within the Jimi Hendrix Experience. This was evident on the album itself, with some tracks featuring guest musicians such as Steve Winwood, Chris Wood and even Buddy Miles. In the latter case, regular Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell found himself sitting one out so that Miles could provide the drum track for Rainy Day Dream Away (and its "sequel" Still Raining, Still Dreaming). Other songs, such as All Along The Watchtower, featured Hendrix himself providing the bass part, a move that did not sit well with bassist Noel Redding. Not all the recordings made at this time ended up being included on Electric Ladyland, however. One of these, Inside Out, did not get released until 2013, when the album People, Hell And Angels came out. The track, like Watchtower, features Hendrix on guitar, bass and vocals, and Mitchell on drums.
Title: Tales Of Brave Ulysses
Source: CD: Disraeli Gears
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Cream was one of the first bands to break British tradition and release singles that were also available as album cuts. This tradition likely came about because 45 RPM records (both singles and extended play 45s) tended to stay in print indefinitely in the UK, unlike in the US, where a hit single usually had a shelf life of around 4-6 months then disappeared forever. When the Disraeli Gears album was released, however, the song Strange Brew, which leads off the LP, was released in Europe as a single. The B side of that single was Tales Of Brave Ulysses, which opens side two of the album.