Monday, April 23, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1817 [B17] (starts 4/25/18)
This week we go kind of heavy on the British stuff, with artists' sets from the Beatles and the Who, among other things. Not that there is a lack of American material as well. Just take a look...
Artist: Blues Project
Title: I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): Blind Willie Johnson
Label: Verve Forecast
One lasting legacy of the British Invasion was the re-introduction to the US record-buying public to the songs of early Rhythm and Blues artists such as Blind Willie Johnson. This emphasis on classic blues in particular would lead to the formation of electric blues-based US bands such as the Butterfield Blues Band and the Blues Project. Unlike the Butterfields, who made a conscious effort to remain true to their Chicago-style blues roots, the Blues Project was always looking for new ground to cover, which ultimately led to them developing an improvisational style that would be emulated by west coast bands such as the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service, and by Project member Al Kooper, who conceived and produced the first rock jam LP ever, Super Session, in 1968. As the opening track to their second (and generally considered best) LP Projections, I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes served notice that this was a new kind of blues, louder and brasher than what had come before, yet tempered with Kooper's melodic vocal style. An added twist was the use during the song's instrumental bridge of an experimental synthesizer known among band members as the "Kooperphone", probably the first use of any type of synthesizer in a blues record.
Title: Sand And Foam
Source: Mono British import CD: Mellow Yellow
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original label: Epic)
When Donovan Leitch, a young singer from Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland, first came to prominence, he was hailed as Britain's answer to Bob Dylan. By 1966 he was recognized as the most popular folk singer in the UK. But Donovan was already starting to stretch beyond the boundaries of folk music, and in the fall of that year he released his first major US hit, Sunshine Superman. From that point on he was no longer Donovan the folk singer; he was now Donovan the singer-songwriter. Donovan continued to expand his musical horizons in 1967 with the release of the Mellow Yellow album and singles such as There Is A Mountain. The B side of There Is A Mountain was Sand And Foam, an acoustic number from the Mellow Yellow album.
Title: We Are The Moles-Pt. 1
Source: British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): The Moles
Label: EMI (original label: Parlophone)
Sometimes success carries it own baggage. Take the case of Britain's Simon Dupree And The Big Sound. The group was formed by a trio of Scottish brothers, Phil, Derek and Ray Shulman, along with Peter O'Flaherty, Eric Hine and Tony Ransley in the Portsmouth area, going through a variety of band names before settling on Simon Dupree And The Big Sound in 1966. The group was originally known for its spot-on covers of songs by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Don Covay. By 1967, however, audience tastes were rapidly changing, and psychedelic bands such as Pink Floyd and the Creation were drawing crowds away from the R&B bands. Under pressure from both their management and record label the band recorded a song called Kites, a psychedelic piece that became their biggest hit and placed the group firmly in the minds of record buyers as a flower-power band. But, like most fads, flower-power was itself out of style by 1968, but Simon Dupree And The Big Sound were stuck with a reputation that didn't even fit the members' own musical preferences (which still ran to R&B). To try to break free of this unwanted rep, the group released a rather bizarre single called We Are The Moles in 1968. The record was shrouded in mystery, with writing credits going to "the Moles", and production credit to George Martin (leading some to believe it was actually a Beatles outtake). The ploy almost worked, as the possible Beatles connection led to increased interest in the record, but that interest quickly dissipated when it was revealed (by Syd Barrett, of all people) that the record was indeed the work of Simon Dupree And The Big Sound. The band continued on for a few more months, until lead vocalist Derek Shulman announced his retirement in 1969, saying he was tired of being Simon Dupree. He would rejoin his brothers the following year for their new venture, an experimental rock band called Gentle Giant.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Sympathy For The Devil
Source: LP: Beggar's Banquet
When I was a teenager I would occasionally hear some adult make a comment about how rock and roll was the "Devil's music." This only got more ridiculous in 1968, when the Rolling Stones released Sympathy For The Devil as the opening track on their Beggar's Banquet album. Mick Jagger, who wrote the lyrics, was actually somewhat mystified by such reactions, as it was, after all, only one song on an album that also included such tunes as Prodigal Son (based on a Bible story) and Salt Of The Earth, a celebration of the common man. There is no doubting, however, that Sympathy For The Devil itself is a classic, and has been a staple of the band's live sets since the late 1980s.
Title: Watch Out
Source: CD: An Overdose Of Heavy Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: St. George International)
Virtually nothing is known about the band called Paraphernalia other than the fact that they released a single called Watch Out on the St. George International label in 1968. The song itself features some killer guitar work from the band that is rumored to be from somewhere in New England.
Artist: Moby Grape
Source: LP: Grape Jam
Writer(s): Bob Mosley
For their second album, Moby Grape decided to do something different. In addition to the LP Wow, there was a second disc called Grape Jam included at no extra charge. For the most part Grape Jam is exactly what you'd expect: a collection of after-hours jam sessions with guest guitarist/keyboardist Michael Bloomfield. The opening track of Grape Jam, however, is actually a composition by Bob Mosley. The song features Mosley on bass and vocals, Jerry Miller and Skip Spence and guitars and Don Stevenson on drums, all of whom were actual members of Moby Grape.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: It's No Secret
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer: Marty Balin
Label: RCA Victor
The first Jefferson Airplane song to get played on the radio was not Somebody To Love. Rather, it was It's No Secret, from the album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, that got extensive airplay, albeit only in the San Francisco Bay area. Still, the song was featured on a 1966 Bell Telephone Hour special on Haight Ashbury that introduced a national TV audience to what was happening out on the coast and may have just touched off the exodus to San Francisco the following year.
Title: I Looked At You
Source: LP: The Doors
Writer(s): The Doors
The first Doors album took about a week to make, and was made up of songs that the band had been performing live as the house band at the Whisky-A-Go-Go in the summer of 1966, including the dance floor friendly I Looked At You. Unlike later Doors albums, which were mixed and released exclusively in stereo, the debut Doors album also had a unique monoraul version with different mixes that was deleted from the Elektra catalogue soon after its release. Like all the songs on the first few Doors albums, I Looked At You is credited to the entire band.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You
Source: CD: This Was
Writer: Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Ian Anderson has often said that he disagreed with record company executives who characterized Jethro Tull as a blues band when the band's first LP, This Was, was released. Yet one of the most traditional sounding blues tunes on that LP was written by Anderson himself. Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You sounds like it could easily have come from the pen of Jimmy Reed. Speaking of record labels, This Was, like all the early Tull albums, was originally released in the US on the Reprise label. Reprise had a policy (instituted by its founder and original owner, Frank Sinatra) of allowing its artists to retain ownership of the recordings released on the label, which is why most of the material released on Reprise in the late 60s has been reissued on other labels.
Source: Mono CD: Magic Bus (originally released in UK on EP: Ready Steady Who)
Writer: Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Reaction)
After a successful appearance on the British TV show Ready Steady Go (the UK's answer to American Bandstand), the Who released an EP featuring mostly cover songs such as Bucket T and the Batman theme. Two tracks on the record, however, were Who originals: a new version of Circles (a song that originally appeared on the My Generation album) and Disguises, which made its debut as the lead track of the EP. The song did not appear in the US until the Magic Bus album, released in 1968. When MCA issued a remastered version of A Quick One in the 1990s, the entire contents of the EP (except Circles) were included as bonus tracks on the CD.
Source: LP: The Who Sell Out
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Starting in 1966, the Who wrote songs about things no other rock group had even considered writing songs about. Happy Jack, for instance, was about a guy who would hang out on the beach and let the local kids tease (but not faze) him. I'm A Boy was about a guy whose mother insisted on dressing him the same as his sisters. And I'm not even getting into the subject matter of Pictures Of Lily. The Who Sell Out, released in December of 1967, continued this trend with songs like Tattoo, about an adolescent and his brother who go out and get (without their parents' permission) their first tattoos. The song is accompanied by a jingle for Radio London, the most successful of the British pirate radio stations that operated from studios in London but utilized illegal transmitters floating on platforms off the coast (the BBC having a monopoly on broadcasting at the time).
Title: I Can't Reach You
Source: CD: Magic Bus-The Who On Tour (originally released on LP: The Who Sell Out)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
One day during my freshman year of high school my friend Bill invited a bunch of us over to his place to listen to the new console stereo his family had bought recently. Like most console stereos, this one had a wooden top that could be lifted up to operate the turntable and radio, then closed to make it look more like a piece of furniture. When we arrived there was already music playing on the stereo, and Bill soon had us convinced that this new stereo was somehow picking up the British pirate radio station Radio London. This was pretty amazing since we were in Weisbaden, Germany, several hundred miles from England or its coastal waters that Radio London broadcast from. Even more amazing was the fact that the broadcast itself seemed to be in stereo, and Radio London was an AM station. Yet there it was, coming in more clearly than the much closer Radio Luxembourg, the powerhouse station that we listened to every evening, when they broadcast in a British top 40 format. Although a couple of us were a bit suspicious about what was going on, even we skeptics were convinced when we heard jingles, stingers, and even commercials for stuff like the Charles Atlas bodybuilding course interspersed with songs we had never heard, such as I Can't Reach You, that were every bit as good as any song being played on Radio Luxembourg. Well, as it turned out, we were indeed being hoaxed by Bill and his older brother, who had put on his brand new copy of The Who Sell Out when he saw us approaching the apartment building they lived in. I eventually picked up a copy of the album for myself, and still consider it one of the best Who albums ever made.
Title: Within You Without You
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s): George Harrison
George Harrison began to take an interest in the Sitar as early as 1965. By 1966 he had become proficient enough on the Indian instrument to compose and record Love You To for the Revolver album. He followed that up with perhaps his most popular sitar-based track, Within You Without You, which opens side two of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Harrison would record one more similarly-styled song, The Inner Light, in 1968, before deciding that he was never going to be in the same league as Ravi Shankar, whom Harrison had become friends with by that time. For the remainder of his time with the Beatles Harrison would concentrate on his guitar work and songwriting skills, resulting in classic songs such as While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something and Here Comes The Sun.
Title: Little Child
Source: Mono CD: With The Beatles
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
The Beatles second album, With The Beatles, followed pretty much the same formula as their debut album, with a mixture of cover tunes and Lennon/McCartney originals. One of those original songs was Little Child, which also was included on the US version of the album (Meet The Beatles, their first LP on the Capitol label).
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: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Gimme Some Lovin'
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: United Artists
The movie The Big Chill used Gimme Some Lovin' by the Spencer Davis Group as the backdrop for a touch football game at an informal reunion of former college students from the 60s. From that point on, movie soundtracks became much more than just background music and soundtrack albums started becoming best-sellers. Not entirely coincidentally, 60s-oriented oldies radio stations began to appear on the FM dial in major markets as well. Ironically, most of those stations are now playing 80s oldies.
Title: Can't Seem To Make You Mine
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: The Seeds)
Writer: Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
One of the first psychedelic singles to hit the L.A. market in 1965 was Can't Seem To Make You Mine. The song was also chosen to lead off the first Seeds album. Indeed, it could be argued that this was the song that first defined the "flower power" sound, its local success predating that of the Seeds' biggest hit, Pushin' Too Hard, by several months.
Title: Sweet Wine
Source: CD: Fresh Cream
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
When Cream was formed, both bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker had new music for the band to record (guitarist Eric Clapton having chosen to shut up and play his guitar for the most part). Most of these new songs, however, did not yet have words to go with the music. To remedy the situation, both musicians brought in outside lyricists. Baker chose poet Pete Brown, while Bruce chose to bring in his wife, Janet Godfrey. After a short time it became apparent that Bruce and Brown had a natural affinity for each other's material, and formed a partnership that would last years. Baker, meanwhile, tried working with Godfrey, but the two only came up with one song together, Sweet Wine, which was included on the band's debut LP, Fresh Cream.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Rock And Roll Woman
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth). Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina and Stephen Stills. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock and Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 40 years after it was recorded.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Journey To The Center Of The Mind and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
Detroit was one of the major centers of pop music in the late 60s. In addition to the myriad Motown acts, the area boasted the popular retro-rock&roll band Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the harder rocking Bob Seger System, the non-Motown R&B band the Capitols, and Ted Nugent's outfit, the Amboy Dukes, who scored big in 1968 with Journey To The Center Of The Mind.
Artist: Ronnie Burns with the Bee Gees
Title: Exit Stage Right
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Australia as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb
Label: Rhino (original label: Spin)
Prior to relocating to London in early 1967, the Bee Gees completed several demo recordings for producer Ossie Byrne in Hurstville, Australia. Byrne, in addition to producing the Bee Gees' Australian recordings, had a singer named Ronnie Burns under contract as well. Burns had first achieved popularity as vocalist with the Australian beat group known as the Flies, but had left the band in 1965 to pursue a solo career. Byrne had Burns add new vocals over the Bee Gees demos, including Exit Stage Right. It turned out to be a winning combination, as Exit Stage Right became a sizable hit when released as a single on Australia's Spin label.
Artist: Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels
Title: Break Out
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Eric (original label: New Voice)
Break Out was the fourth single by Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels, released in 1966. Although not as successful as their previous singles, it did become the title track for their second LP, which included what was to become their biggest hit, Devil With A Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Positively 4th Street
Source: CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Recorded during the same 1965 sessions that produced the classic Highway 61 Revisited album, Positively 4th Street was deliberately held back for release as a single later that year. The stereo mix would not appear on an LP until the first Dylan Greatest Hits album was released in 1967.
Title: She's Not There
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Rod Argent
Label: Priority (original label: Parrot)
Most of the original British invasion bands were guitar-oriented, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. One notable exception was the Zombies, whose leader, Rod Argent, built the group around his electric piano. Their first single, She's Not There, was a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic and is ranked among the top British rock songs of all time.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Full Measure
Source: LP: Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful
Label: Sundazed/Kama Sutra
The album Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful was a deliberate attempt by the band to play in a variety of styles. It contained two of the band's best-known songs, Nashville Cats and Summer In The City, as well as several lesser-known songs featuring other band members on lead vocals. One of those tracks is Full Measure featuring bassist Steve Boone. The song was also released as the B side of Nashville Cats, getting enough airplay to hit the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100.
Title: No Face, No Name, No Number
Source: CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind
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.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: Ball And Chain
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s): Willie Mae Thornton
Big Brother And The Holding Company electrified the crowd at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 with their performance of Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton's Ball And Chain. The rest of the world, however, would have to wait until the following year to hear Janis Joplin's version of the old blues tune, when a live performance recorded at Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditorium was included on the LP Cheap Thrills.
Title: Life Can Be So Simple
Source: LP: Lighthouse
Label: RCA Victor
Lighthouse was formed in Toronto in 1968 by vocalist/drummer Skip Prokop (formerly of the Paupers) and keyboardist/arranger Paul Hoffert. The idea was to combine a rock rhythm section with R&B-style horns and classical-style strings. The first move they made was to recruit guitarist Ralph Cole, whom the Paupers had shared a bill with in New York. The three of them then went about gathering an assortment of friends, studio musicians and members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, making a demo tape and submitting it to M-G-M records, who immediately offered Lighthouse a contract. The band's manager, however, was able to get a better contract from RCA, and the group set about recording their first album, making their stage debut in Toronto in May of 1969. Among the original 13 members of the band were lead vocalist Vic "Pinky" Davin and saxophonist Howard Shore (who would become the leader of the house band for NBC's Saturday Night Live when that TV show made its debut in 1975). The group managed to record two albums that year, their eponymous debut album and the follow-up Suite Feeling. Both albums were recorded at Toronto's Eastern Sound Studio and released on the RCA Victor label in 1969. Although the group scored a couple of minor hits in their native Canada, they were not able to achieve commercial success in the US, and, after a third LP for RCA, changed labels to GRT, where (after several personnel changes, including lead vocals) they managed to chart two top 40 singles in 1971 and 1972. Life Can Be So Simple is from Lighthouse's eponymous debut LP, featuring the group's original lineup.
Title: Ritual Fire Dance
Source: Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution
Writer(s): de Falla/arr. Hodges
After a series of unsuccessful singles for various labels from 1965-1969, Tuesday's Children decided to abandon light pop for a more progressive sound, changing their name to Czar in the process. Czar's debut LP came out in May of 1970, but it was missing one track due to difficulties over publishing rights: an adaptation of Spanish composer Manuel de Falla's Ritual Fire Dance that the group had recorded in February of that year, about a month after their first gig using their new name.