Monday, October 16, 2017

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1742 (starts 10/18/17)

This week we have the return of an old phase from our pre-syndication days: "It's Coltrane Time!" Lots of fun stuff, including sets from Cream and the Airplane, and, of course, a John Coltrane classic.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Let's Spend The Night Together
Source:    LP: Between The Buttons
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    I seem to recall some TV show (Ed Sullivan, maybe?) making Mick Jagger change the words to "Let's Spend Some Time Together". I can't imagine anyone doing that to the Stones now. Nor can I imagine the band agreeing to it.

Artist:    Left Banke
Title:    I've Got Something On My Mind
Source:    LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
Writer(s):    Cameron/Martin/Brown
Label:    Sundazed/Smash
Year:    1967
    I'll never understand the thought processes that went into deciding to name an album after not one, but two of the songs on that album (with a slash no less), but that's exactly what Smash Records did with the first and only Left Banke LP, Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina. Despite what seems to be nothing less than cheap exploitation, the album actually has some nice sounding (if somewhat light) tracks, such as I've Got Something On My Mind.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Your Mother Should Know
Source:    CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone
Year:    1967
    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? If your answer was Paul McCartney's Your Mother Should Know, you'd be absolutely right (what, you thought it was a trick question?). 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 Of course at the time the rumor mill took it as one of the many hints that Paul had died and been replaced by a lookalike.

Artist:    Huns
Title:    Love Is Gone
Source:    Mono CD: The Huns Conquer Ithaca, NY 1966
Writer(s):    Steve Dworetz
Label:    Jargon
Year:    Recorded 1966, released 2017
    Like most college towns, Ithaca, NY (home of both Ithaca College and Cornell University) has always had a thriving local music scene. In the mid-1960s that scene was dominated by bands doing mostly covers of current top 40 hits. Bassist Frank Van Nostrand and organist John Sweeney, however, wanted to do something different. The two Ithaca College juniors were fans of the more rebellious bands like the Animals, Kinks and especially the Rolling Stones, who were already establishing themselves as the bad boys of British rock. As their fellow students began to stream in to register for the upcoming school year, Sweeney and Van Nostrand were camped out at their own table, looking to recruit like-minded musicians to form a new band that would soon come to be known as the Huns. By the time the school year was over, the Huns had racked up a total of 51 gigs at a combination of local clubs, frat houses and parties. They even made an appearance on a mock TV show produced by fellow student Lynn Cates as a class project. Although the video of that performance is long gone, the audio dub survived for over 50 years, and has been made into a CD called The Huns Conquer Ithaca, NY 1966. Recorded on March 10, the album captures the Huns at the peak of their popularity, before hassles with the college dean over hair length (among other things) led to the dismissal of both Sweeney and Van Nostrand and the subsequent breakup of the band itself. The opening track of the CD, Love Is Gone, shows a band pretty far removed from what was popular in the Eastern US at the time; in fact it feels more like the cutting edge bands populating the club scene in Los Angeles at the time.

Artist:    "E" Types
Title:    Put The Clock Back On The Wall
Source:    CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bonner/Gordon
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    The E-Types were originally from Salinas, California, which at the time was known for its distinct odor of sulfer noticed by travelers along US 101. As many people from Salinas apparently went to "nearby" San Jose (about 60 miles to the north) as often as possible, the E-Types became regulars on the local scene there, eventually landing a contract with Tower Records and Ed Cobb, who also produced the Standells and the Chocolate Watchband. The Bonner/Gordon songwriting team were just a couple months away from getting huge royalty checks from the Turtles' Happy Together when Put The Clock Back On The Wall was released in early 1967. The song takes its title from a popular phrase of the time. After a day or two of losing all awareness of time (and sometimes space) it was time to put the clock back on the wall, or get back to reality if you prefer.

Artist:     Big Brother and the Holding Company
Title:     Piece Of My Heart
Source:     CD: Cheap Thrills
Writer:     Ragovoy/Burns
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1968
     By 1968 Big Brother and the Holding Company, with their charismatic vocalist from Texas, Janis Joplin, had become as popular as fellow San Francisco bands Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. Somehow, though, they were still without a major label record deal. That all changed with the release of Cheap Thrills, with cover art by the legendary underground comix artist R. Crumb. The album itself was a curious mixture of live performances and studio tracks, the latter being led by the band's powerful cover of the 1966 Barbara Lynn tune Piece Of My Heart. The song propelled the band, and Joplin, to stardom. That stardom would be short-lived for most of the band members, however, as well-meaning but ultimately wrong-headed advice-givers convinced Joplin that Big Brother was holding her back. The reality was that the band was uniquely suited to support her better than anyone she would ever work with again.

Artist:     Guess Who
Title:     Undun
Source:     Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer:     Randy Bachman
Label:     RCA Victor
Year:     1969
     Following the release of the Wheatfield Soul album (and the hit single These Eyes), RCA tied the Guess Who down to a long-term contract. One of the stipulations of that contract was that the band would make subsequent recordings at RCA's own studios. After recording the tracks for their follow-up album, Canned Wheat, the band members felt that the sound at RCA was inferior to that of A&R studios, where they had recorded Wheatfield Soul, and secretly re-recorded a pair of tunes at A&R and submitted dubs of the tapes to RCA. The tunes, Laughing and Undun, were issued as a double-sided single in 1969, with both sides getting a decent amount of airplay. Once word got out that the songs had been recorded in a non-RCA studio, the label realized the error of their ways and relaxed the exclusivity policy, although not in time for the band to re-record the rest of the album.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Sugar The Road
Source:    CD: Cricklewood Green
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Chrysalis (original label: Deram)
Year:    1970
    Ten Years After's fourth LP, Cricklewood Green, was the band's first release following their appearance at Woodstock, and by all accounts they made the best of the situation with what is generally considered to be their best studio album. In addition to progressive FM radio favorites Love Like A Man and 50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain, the album contains several tunes that show the group's diversity, such as Sugar The Road, which opens side one of the LP.
Artist:      Jimi Hendrix
Title:     Astro Man
Source:      LP: The Cry Of Love
Writer:    Jimi Hendrix
Label:     Reprise
Year:     1971
     A little known fact about Jimi Hendrix is that he was a comic book fan. Astro Man, from the 1971 LP The Cry Of Love, reflects that aspect of the man. The track, recorded in 1970, features Billy Cox on bass, Mitch Mitchell on drums and Juma Sultan on additional percussion.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Sunshine Of Your Love
Source:    LP: Disraeli Gears (picture disc, if anyone cares)
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown/Clapton
Label:    RSO (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Although by mid-1967 Cream had already released a handful of singles in the UK, Sunshine Of Your Love, featuring one of the most recognizable guitar rifts in the history of rock, was their first song to make a splash in the US. Although only moderately successful in edited form on AM Top-40 radio, the full-length LP version of the song received extensive airplay on the more progressive FM stations, and turned Disraeli Gears into a perennial best-seller. Clapton and Bruce constantly trade off lead vocal lines throughout the song. The basic compatibility of their voices is such that it is sometimes difficult to tell exactly who is singing what line. Clapton's guitar solo (which was almost entirely edited out of the AM version) set a standard for instrumental breaks in terms of length and style that became a hallmark for what is now known as "classic rock." Yeah, I write this stuff myself.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    SWLABR
Source:    Mono Russian import LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Lilith (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    I distinctly remember this song getting played on the local jukebox just as much as the single's A side, Sunshine Of Your Love (maybe even more). Like most of Cream's more psychedelic material, SWLABR (the title being an anagram for She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow) was written by the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and poet Pete Brown. Brown had originally been brought in as a co-writer for Ginger Baker, but soon realized that he and Bruce had better songwriting chemistry.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    We're Going Wrong
Source:    LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer:    Jack Bruce
Label:    RSO (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    On Fresh Cream the slowest-paced tracks were bluesy numbers like Sleepy Time Time. For the group's second LP, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce came up with We're Going Wrong, a song with a haunting melody supplemented by some of Eric Clapton's best guitar fills. Ginger Baker put away his drumsticks in favor of mallets for the recording, giving the song an otherworldly feel.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Stephanie Knows Who
Source:    CD: Da Capo
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    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.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Words
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Boyce/Hart
Label:    Colgems
Year:    1967
    The Monkees made a video of the Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart song Words that shows each member in the role that they were best at as musicians: Mickey Dolenz on lead vocals, Peter Tork on guitar, Michael Nesmith on bass and Davy Jones on drums. This was not the way they were usually portrayed on their TV show, however. Neither was it the configuration on the recording itself, which had Nesmith on guitar, Tork on Hammond organ, producer Chip Douglas on bass and studio ace Eddie Hoh on drums. The song appeared on the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD as well as being released as the B side of Pleasant Valley Sunday. Even as a B side, the song was a legitimate hit, peaking at #11 in 1967.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    (Roamin' Thro' The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM B side and on LP: Traffic)
Writer(s):    Capaldi/Winwood
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1968
    The second Traffic album saw the band taking in a broader set of influences, including traditional English folk music. (Roamin' Through The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen, originally released as the B side to the Dave Mason tune No Face, No Name, No Number, combines those influences with the Steve Winwood brand of British R&B to create a timeless classic.

Artist:    Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title:    Running Dry (Requiem For The Rockets)
Source:    CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    For his second post-Buffalo Springfield LP, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Neil Young found a local Los Angeles band called the Rockets and convinced guitarist Danny Whitten, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina to join him, renaming them Crazy Horse in the process. One member of the Rockets that was not part of Crazy Horse was violinist Bobby Notkoff, whose eerie style gave the band a distinctive sound. Notkoff can be heard on one track of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Running Dry, which is subtitled Requiem For The Rockets as a tribute to the original band. The Rockets themselves had previously recorded one self-titled LP, but only 5000 copies were ever pressed.

Artist:    John Coltrane
Title:    Blue Train-Part I
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    John Coltrane
Label:    Silver Spotlight
Year:    1957
    Since I'm playing a track from way before the psychedelic era (possibly before the word "psychedelic" even existed and certainly before it came into common use), I thought it would be appropriate to talk briefly about the early history of this show. First off, it was not originally called Stuck in the Psychedelic Era; in fact, it was not specifically about the psychedelic era at all. The show made its debut in the summer of 2000 as a 90 minute weekly Adult Album Alternative music show called That Show You Hear On Thursday Night on WEOS in Geneva, NY. I had been working fairly steadily in commercial radio for a number of years and during that time had acquired hundreds of records and CDs, many of which were promo copies of songs sent out to, but not used by, radio stations I had worked at. Some of them were actually quite good, but not appropriate for the format of the station that they were given to; these, mixed with classic rock tracks and oldies from my collection, were to be the foundation of the new show. About a year after the show made its debut WEOS began carrying local City Council meetings once a month on Wednesday nights. This was an issue for "Nobody", the creator/host of the annual Homelessness Radio Telethon (Radiothon?), who at the time also had a weekly talk show on WEOS on Wednesday nights and did not want to be pre-empted on a regular basis. The solution was for the two of us to trade nights, as his show had been on the air long enough to build up a following, especially among listeners in nearby Ithaca. By then I had already started calling the show Stuck in the 20th Century, as I had made a conscious decision not to include any current releases on the playlist. One thing I did almost every week in those days was to play a track featuring jazz great John Coltrane, either fronting his own group or working with Miles Davis. I would always start the set with the words "It's Coltrane time." Not much of a catchphrase, I know, but there are still some people out there that remember it. So for those of you who have been along for the ride since's Coltrane Time, as we feature the mono single mix of part one of the title track of Coltrane's 1957 Blue Train album.

    And now for you completists out there we have the rest of the story: The show continued to be called Stuck in the 20th Century throughout 2002. That year New Year's Day happened to fall on a Wednesday night, and I decided to do something special to celebrate. I had always had fond memories of another New Year's show that I had heard just a few days after becoming a volunteer at KUNM in Albuquerque, NM in late 1975. It was my first gig at a noncommercial station, and, after hearing the set of songs I had put together for an on-air audition the program director instructed me to spend a week listening to the station to get an idea of where it was at musically. Thus I happened to be tuned in on New Year's Eve for a special locally-produced "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" show that featured bands like the Yardbirds, Electric Prunes, Blues Magoos, Standells, Kinks, Chocolate Watchband, Shadows of Knight, Amboy Dukes...essentially everything that was on Lenny Kaye's original Nuggets double album with a little British rock thrown in. Remembering how much I enjoyed hearing that show I decided to do something similar, and for that week only, changed the name of the show to Stuck in the Psychedelic Era. After 90 minutes I realized that there were tons of songs I had wanted to play but didn't get to for lack of time, so I decided to continue the idea the following week, and then came up with some other excuse to extend it yet another week. By then it became obvious even to me that this was the show I wanted to do, so I made it permanent. Eventually Stuck in the Psychedelic Era moved to Saturday nights, expanding to two hours in the process. On Memorial Day weekend 2010 Stuck in the Psychedelic Era began its run as a syndicated show, and was joined by the hour long Rockin' in the Days of Confusion in the summer of 2016.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    John Riley (instrumental version 1)
Source:    CD: Fifth Dimension (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Gibson/Neff
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1966
    While working on the song John Riley for their Fifth Dimension album, the Byrds decided to play around a bit between takes. Using the same basic chord structure, they changed the tempo and beat for this instrumental recording of the traditional English folk ballad.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    The Masked Marauder
Source:    LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Perhaps more than any other band, Country Joe and the Fish capture the essence of the San Francisco scene in the late 60s (which is rather ironic, considering that they were actually based in Berkeley on the other side of the bay and rarely visited the city itself, except to play gigs). Their first two releases were floppy inserts included in Joe McDonald's self-published Rag Baby underground newspaper. In 1967 the band was signed to Vanguard Records, a primarily folk-oriented prestige label that also had Joan Baez on its roster. Their first LP, Electric Music For the Mind and Body had such classic cuts as Section 43, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, and the political parody Superbird on it, as well as the mostly-instrumental tune The Masked Marauder. Not for the unenlightened.

Artist:    Canned Heat
Title:    On The Road Again
Source:    LP: Boogie With Canned Heat
Writer(s):    Jones/Wilson
Label:    United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1968
    Canned Heat was formed by a group of blues record collectors in San Francisco. Although their first album consisted entirely of cover songs, by 1968 they were starting to compose their own material, albeit in a style that remained consistent with their blues roots. On The Road Again is based on an old Floyd Jones tune that was reworked by guitarist Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson into something that is purely Canned Heat.

Artist:    Kaleidoscope (UK band)
Title:    Faintly Blowing
Source:    British import CD: Further Reflections: The Complete Recordings 1967-1969 (originally released in UK on LP: Faintly Blowing)
Writer(s):    Daltrey/Pumer
Label:    Grapefruit (original label: Fontana)
Year:    1969
    Kaleidoscope was one of those bands that were victims of their own bad timing. In this particular case it was being a pyschedelically-tinged soft rock band at a time when rock in general was taking a turn for the harder and moving away from psychedelia. Although their label, Fontana, had enough confidence in the band to finance two LPs and a number of singles, the group was never able to achieve commercial success. In retrospect, tracks like Faintly Blowing, the title track of their second album, would have had a much better chance had they been released during the Summer of Love rather than 18 months later.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Friends/Celebration Day
Source:    German import LP: Led Zeppelin III
Writer(s):    Page/Plant/Jones
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    Following a year of almost constant touring to promote the first two Led Zeppelin albums, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page decided to take a break in early 1970, moving to a Welsh cottage with no electricity and concentrating on their songwriting skills. The result was an album, Led Zeppelin III, that differed markedly from its predecessors. Many of the songs on the album, such as Friends, were almost entirely acoustical, while others, like Celebration Day, were, if possible, more intense than anything on the band's first two albums. Once much of the material for the new album had been written, Page and Plant were joined by John Bonham and John Paul Jones at a place called Headley Grange, where the band rehearsed the new material, adding a few more songs in the process. The album itself caught the band's fans by surprise, and suffered commercially as a result, but has since come to be regarded as a milestone for the band.

1 comment:

  1. I remember the Nobody Show. I wish it was still on. There used to be a show on WEOS that featured a couple of women political scientists from Hobart and William Smith that I always enjoyed as well.