Monday, March 26, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1813 (starts 3/28/18)
It's hard not to talk about this week's presentation of the entire second side of the 1968 debut album by It's A Beautiful Day. Still, there are all kinds of other good things going on this week as well, including a Doors set and my own personal favorite Young Rascals song (more on that below).
Artist: Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs
Title: Wooly Bully
Source: Mono CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll HIts 1965 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Domingo Samudio
Label: Rhino (original label: XL)
Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs were pioneers of what has come to be called Tex-Mex, a style that can best described as straight ahead rock and roll seasoned with traditional Mexican forms such as salsa and ranchero. The Pharaohs were already a popular band in their native Texas when they recorded Wooly Bully for the regional XL label in 1964. The song proved so popular that it (and the band's contract) was bought outright by M-G-M Records, at the time one of the largest labels in the country. Wooly Bully was re-released nationally on M-G-M in 1965 and ended up among the top 10 records of the year.
Title: Pushin' Too Hard
Source: Simulated stereo CD: Best of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: The Seeds)
Writer: Sky Saxon
Label: Priority (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Pushin' Too Hard was originally released to the L.A. market as a single in late 1965 and included on side one of the first Seeds album the following year. After being re-released as a single the song did well enough to go national in early 1967, peaking at #36 in February.
Source: CD: Fresh Cream
Writer(s): Jack Bruce
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Although most of Jack Bruce's Cream songs were co-written with lyricist Pete Brown, there were some exceptions. One of the most notable of these is N.S.U. from Cream's debut LP. The song has proven popular enough to be included in the band's repertoire when they reunited for a three-day stint at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005.
Artist: Third Bardo
Title: I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Roulette)
The Third Bardo (the name coming from the Tibetan Book of the Dead) only released one single, but I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time has become, over a period of time, one of the most sought-after records of the psychedelic era. Not much is known of this New York band made up of Jeffrey Moon (vocals), Bruce Ginsberg (drums), Ricky Goldclang (lead guitar), Damian Kelly (bass) and Richy Seslowe (guitar).
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: The Prophet
Source: LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
The Beacon Street Union had already relocated to New York from their native Boston by the time their first LP, The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union, appeared in early 1968. Unfortunately, they were grouped together with other Boston bands such as Ultimate Spinach by M-G-M Records as part of a fictional "Boss-Town Sound", which ultimately hurt the band's chances far more than it helped them. The album itself is actually one of the better psychedelic albums of the time, with tracks like The Prophet, which closes out side two of the original LP, combining somewhat esoteric music and lyrics effectively.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Ain't No Tellin'
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Possibly the closest thing to a traditional R&B style song in JImi Hendrix's repertoire, Ain't No Tellin' was also, at one minute and 47 seconds, one of the shortest tracks ever recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The tune appeared on the Axis: Bold As Love album in 1967.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: Fakin' It
Source: LP: Bookends
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Fakin' It, originally released as a single in 1967, was a bit of a departure for Simon And Garfunkel, sounding more like British psychedelic music than American folk-rock. The track starts with an intro that is similar to the false ending to the Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever; midway through the record the tempo changes drastically for a short spoken word section that makes a reference to a "Mr. Leitch" (the last name of the Scottish folksinger turned psychedelic pioneer Donovan). The stereo mix of Fakin' It was first released on the 1968 LP Bookends.
Title: Baby, You're A Rich Man
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Baby, You're A Rich Man was one of the last collaborations between John Lennon and Paul McCartney and addresses the Beatles' longtime manager Brian Epstein, although not by name. Lennon came up with the basic question "how does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?" (a popular term for the young and hip in late 60s London), which became the basis for the song's verses, which were combined with an existing, but unfinished, Paul McCartney chorus (Baby, You're A Rich Man, too). The finished piece was issued as the B side of the Beatles' second single of 1967, All You Need Is Love, and later remixed in stereo and included on the US-only LP version of Magical Mystery Tour.
Artist: Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
Title: Abba Zaba
Source: 45 RPM single (also included on LP: Safe As Milk)
Writer(s): Don Van Vliet
After an aborted recording career with A&M Records, future avant-garde rock superstar Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) signed a contract with the newly formed Buddah record label. The first record ever released by Buddah was the album Safe As Milk, which included the single Yellow Brick Road, backed with Abba Zaba. Although the Captain's music was at that time still somewhat blues-based, the album was not a commercial success, and Buddah cut Beefheart and his Magic Band from the label in favor of more pop oriented groups like the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the Ohio Express. Captain Beefheart then moved to yet another fledgling label, Blue Thumb, before finding a more permanent home with his old high school classmate Frank Zappa's Bizarre Records, where he released the classic Trout Mask Replica. More recently, Sundazed has re-released the Buddah single, but with Abba Zaba as the A side.
Title: She's My Girl
Source: Mono French import CD: Happy Together (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Magic (original US label: White Whale)
After a moderate amount of success in 1965 with a series of singles starting with a cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, the Turtles found themselves running out of steam by the end of 1966. Rather than throw in the towel, they enlisted the services of the Bonner/Gordon songwriting team (from an East Coast band called the Magicians) and recorded their most successful single, Happy Together, in 1967. They dipped into the same well for another major hit, She's My Girl, later the same year.
Title: Hello, I Love You
Source: LP: 13 (originally released on LP: Waiting For The Sun and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
I have to admit, when I first heard Hello, I Love You I hated it, considering it only a half step away from the bubble gum hits like 1,2,3 Red Light and Chewy Chewy that were dominating the top 40 charts in 1968. It turns out that the song was originally recorded in 1965 as a demo by Rick And The Ravens (basically a Doors predecessor) using the title Hello, I Love You (Won't You Tell Me Your Name). The single pressing of the song is notable for being one of the first rock songs to be released as a stereo 45 RPM record. The song went to the top of the charts in the US and Canada and became the first Doors song to break into the British top 20 as well.
Title: Spanish Caravan
Source: CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: Waiting For The Sun)
Writer(s): The Doors
The third Doors album, Waiting For The Sun, was somewhat of a departure from the first two, covering a greater variety of styles than their previous efforts. A prime example is Spanish Caravan, which starts with a flamenco solo from guitarist Robbie Kreiger and continues in a highly Spanish (not Mexican) flavored musical vein.
Title: Light My Fire
Source: LP: 13 (originally released on LP: The Doors)
Writer(s): The Doors
Once in a while a song comes along that totally blows you away the very first time you hear it. The Doors' Light My Fire was one of those songs. I liked it so much that I immediately went out and bought the 45 RPM single. Not long after that I heard the full-length version of the song from the first Doors album and was blown away all over again. To this day I have a tendency to crank up the volume whenever I hear it.
Title: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Source: Simulated Stereo CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!)
Writer(s): Pete Seeger
Label: Priority (origina label: Columbia)
After their success covering Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man, the band turned to an even more revered songwriter: the legendary Pete Seeger. Turn! Turn! Turn!, with lyrics taken directly from the book of Ecclesiastes, was first recorded by Seeger in the early 60s, nearly three years after he wrote the song. The song was never mixed in true stereo, forcing the band's record label to use a simulated stereo mix on stereo copies of the LP. Once monoraul albums were phased out in the late 1960s, this "fake" stereo version remained the only one available for many years, appearing on various compilations before a mid-1990s remaster of the Turn! Turn! Turn! album used the original mono mix.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Pay The Price
Source: LP: Buffalo Springfield
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Long before the term "country-rock" came into being, Stephen Stills was writing and recording songs like Pay The Price. The track, from Buffalo Springfield's 1966 debut LP, is one of the earliest examples of the sub-genre.
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).
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Quite Rightly So
Source: CD: Shine On Brightly
In 1969, while living on Ramstein AFB in Germany, my dad managed to get use of one of the basement storage rooms in building 913, the 18-unit apartment building we resided in. For a few months (until getting in trouble for having overnight guests and making too much noise...hey I was 16, whaddaya expect?) I got to use that room as a bedroom. I had a small record player that shut itself off when it got to the end of the record, which meant I got to go to sleep every night to the album of my choice. As often as not that album was Shine On Brightly, a copy of which I had gotten in trade for another album (the Best of the Beach Boys I think) from a guy who was expecting A Whiter Shade of Pale and was disappointed to discover it was not on this album. I always thought I got the better end of that deal, despite the fact that there was a skip during the fade of Quite Rightly So, causing the words "one was me" to repeat over and over until I scooted the needle over a bit. Luckily Quite Rightly So is the first song on the album, so I was usually awake enough to do that.
Artist: Otis Redding
Title: Mr. Pitiful
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Otis Redding got his first big break when he recorded These Arms Of Mine in late 1962. The song took off on the R&B charts the following year, eventually selling over 800,000 copies. Redding followed the song up with a series of R&B hits in the same slow soulful style, leading one music critic to dub him Mr. Pitiful. Redding, always one to recognize an opportunity, took the title and, along with co-writer Steve Cropper, came up with his first up-tempo hit in 1965. By the time of his death in late 1967 Redding had established himself as one of the top R&B acts in the country, and, thanks to a electrifying set at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967, was well on the way to becoming a major star on top 40 radio as well.
Artist: It's A Beautiful Day
Title: Bombay Calling/Bulgaria/Time Is
Source: CD: It's A Beautiful Day
Label: San Francisco Sound (original label: Columbia)
The story of It's A Beautiful Day shows a dark side of late 60s San Francisco. In mid 1967 It's A Beautiful Day, formed by former Utah Symphony violinist David LaFlamme and his wife, keyboardist Linda LaFlamme, caught the attention of Matthew Katz, who was managing both Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape. The LaFlammes were not aware of the fact that both of the other bands were trying desperately to get out of their contracts with Katz, and were more than happy to sign a contract with him. Katz immediately shipped It's A Beautiful Day off to Seattle, where they became the house band at a club called the San Francisco Sound that was owned by Katz himself. The band lived upstairs from the club and had no transportation; their only money was a meager food allowance provided by Katz. It was in this environment, during the rainy Seattle winter, that the band composed the music that would become their first LP. Side one was highlighted by the songs White Bird and Hot Summer Day, while the second side was a continuous piece of music that was banded as three separate tracks, Bombay Calling, Bulgaria and Time Is (probably to increase royalties). Deep Purple used the opening riff from Bombay Calling for Child In Time on their 1970 album Deep Purple In Rock. Conversely, It's A Beautiful Day "borrowed" the main riff and much of the arrangement of Deep Purple's Hard Road (from their 1968 LP The Book Of Taleisyn) for Don And Dewey, the opening track of their own 1970 LP, Marrying Maiden.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s): Paul Kantner
Label: RCA Victor
The first Jefferson Airplane album (the 1966 release Jefferson Airplane Takes Off) was dominated by songs from the pen of founder Marty Balin, a few of which were collaborations with other band members such as Paul Kantner and Jorma Kaukonen. The songwriting on the group's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow, was fairly evenly balanced between the three above and new arrival Grace Slick. By the band's third album, After Bathing At Baxter's, released in the fall of 1967, Kantner had emerged as the group's main songwriter, having a hand in over half the tracks on the LP. One of the most durable of these was the album's closing track, a medley of two songs, Won't You Try and Saturday Afternoon, the latter being about a free concert that band had participated in in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park earlier that year.
Artist: Young Rascals
Title: Find Somebody
Source: CD: Groovin'
Label: Warner Special Products (original label: Atlantic)
Back in the early 1980s I made myself a mix tape from various albums that I had found at the studios of KUNM, the University Of New Mexico radio station, where I was doing a couple of weekly shifts as a student/volunteer. I still have that tape somewhere, but somewhere along the way I lost track of just what the sources were for the various songs I recorded. Among those "mystery songs" was a tune I really liked a lot called (presumably) Find Somebody. The problem was that I had no clue who the band was. I thought it might be the Young Rascals; if it was it was hands down the coolest Young Rascals song I had ever heard. I spent the next 30 years or so trying to find out where the song had originally appeared, as the cassette tape was too worn out to use over the air. Finally, in 2017, I found a copy of the third Young Rascals album, Groovin', and there it was. So here it is: Find Somebody by the Young Rascals, featuring vocals by Eddie Brigati. I hope you enjoy hearing it as much as I do.
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: Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title: Poem By The Sea/Paint It, Black
Source: British import CD: Winds Of Change
Label: BGO (original label: M-G-M)
One of the highlights of the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967 was the onstage debut of Eric Burdon's new Animals, a group much more in tune with the psychedelic happenings of the summer of love than its working class predecessor. The showstopper for the band's set was an extended version of the Rolling Stone's classic Paint It, Black. That summer saw the release of the group's first full LP, Winds Of Change, which included a studio version of Paint It, Black preceded by a slow piece called Poem By The Sea.
Title: Piggy In The Middle
Source: CD: The Rutles
Writer(s): Neil Innes
Label: Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
In 1978, Eric Idle of Monty Python's Flying Circus produced a TV film called All You Need Is Cash, a documentary about the rise and fall of England's "prefab four" The Rutles. The clever Beatles parody featured music written by Neil Innes, sometimes called the "seventh Python" and the primary songwriter of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, who had performed Death Cab For Cutie in the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour telefilm eleven years earlier. Innes recruited two former Timebox members, Guitarist/singer Ollie Halsall and drummer John Halsey, along with Rikki Fataar, a multi-instrumentalist who had become a member of the Beach Boys in the early 1970s. One of the highlights of All You Need Is Cash, and of the album itself, is the brilliant Piggy In The Middle, a parody of I Am The Walrus that includes the same kind of production techniques used by George Martin for the Magical Mystery Tour album.
Artist: Ars Nova
Title: General Clover Wins A War
Source: CD: Ars Nova
Label: Sundazed (original label: Elektra)
Ars Nova was formed by guitarist/keyboardist Wyatt Day and trombonist Jon Pierson in 1967. The two had known each other in Spain and found themselves attending Mannes College in New York City, where they met drummer Maury Baker, the third core member of the band. Baker in turn introduced the others to lead guitarist Jonathan Raskin and bassist Johnny Papalia, who took over lead guitar duties upon Raskin's departure. With the addition of new bassist Bill Folwell, the lineup was set for the group's first LP, which was produced by Paul Rothchild. Following the release of the LP, Ars Nova found themselves booked as the second opening act for the Doors at the Fillmore East, a gig that was a total disaster, due in part to the first band overstaying their welcome, leading to Ars Nova being booed off the stage before playing a single note. This led to the band losing its contract with Elektra, which in turn led to several personnel changes, a second album for a different label and the eventual demise of Ars Nova. Of course, with songs like General Clover Wins A War, Ar Nova already had an uphill battle building a following among serious rock fans anyway.