Sunday, July 29, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1831 (starts 8/1/18)
This week's show is all about sets. We have a set of tracks released on the Columbia label in 1966, a set of album tracks from 1967, a killer "B"s set (bands whose name start with the letter B) from 1966, a West Coast love set, a Moby Grape set, a late 60s regression set, a gritty 1966 set and a short trip from '66 to '68 set. Oh, and we have two or three free-standing songs as well. Enjoy!
Title: Money To Burn
Source: LP: Red Rubber Ball
Writer(s): Don Dannemann
By late 1966 surf music was pretty much gone from the top 40 charts. The Beach Boys, however, had managed to adapt to changing audience tastes without abandoning the distinctive vocal harmonies that had made them stand out from their early 60s contemporaries. In fact, several other bands had sprung up with similar vocal styles. One of the most successful of these (at least in the short term) was the Cyrkle. Led by vocalist/guitarist Don Dannemann, the group hit the scene with two consecutive top 10 singles, both of which were included on the band's debut LP, Red Rubber Ball. Although manager Brian Epstein had the group recording mostly songs from outside sources, there were a handful of Cyrkle originals on the album, including Danneman's Money To Burn, which was also issued as the B side to the band's third single.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: The Dangling Conversation
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
The first Simon and Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning 3AM, originally tanked on the charts, causing Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel to temporarily pursue solo careers. Simon went to England, where he wrote and recorded an album's worth of material. Meanwhile, producer Tom Wilson, fresh from producing Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone, went into the studio with the original recording of the song Sound of Silence and added electric instruments to it. The result was a surprise hit that led Paul Simon to return to the US, reuniting with Art Garfunkel and re-recording several of the tunes he had recorded as a solo artist for a new album, Sounds of Silence. The success of that album prompted Columbia to re-release Wednesday Morning, 3AM, which in turn became a bestseller. Meanwhile, Simon and Garfunkel returned to the studio to record an album of all new material. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was yet another success that spawned several hit songs, including The Dangling Conversation, a song Simon described as similar to The Sound Of Silence, but more personal. The song was originally released as a single in fall of 1966, before the album itself came out.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Just Like A Woman
Source: Mono LP: Blonde On Blonde
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
By late 1966 the shock of Bob Dylan's going electric had long since worn off and Dylan was enjoying a string of top 40 hits in the wake of the success of Like A Rolling Stone. One of the last hits of the streak was Just Like A Woman, a track taken from his Blonde On Blonde album. This was actually the first Bob Dylan song I heard on top 40 radio. As a 13-year-old kid I didn't know quite what to make of it.
Title: She's Leaving Home
Source: CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
One of the striking things about the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the sheer variety of styles on the album. Never before had a rock band gone so far beyond its roots in so many directions at once. One of Paul McCartney's most poignant songs on the album was She's Leaving Home. The song tells the story of a young girl who has decided that her stable homelife is just too unfulling to bear and heads for the big city. Giving the song added depth is the somewhat clueless response of her parents, who can't seem to understand what went wrong.
Title: Coloured Rain
Source: CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
Traffic, in its early days, was a band with an almost schizophrenic identity. On the one hand there was Steve Winwood, who was equally adept at guitar, keyboards and vocals and was generally seen as the band's leader, despite being its youngest member. His opposite number in the band was Dave Mason, an early example of the type of singer/songwriter that would be a major force in popular music in the mid-1970s. The remaining members of the band, drummer/vocalist Jim Capaldi and flautist/saxophonist Chris Wood, tended to fall somewhere between the two, although they more often sided with Winwood in his frequent creative disputes with Mason. One of these disputes involved the choice of the band's second single. Mason wanted to follow up the successful Paper Sun with his own composition, Hole In My Shoe, while the rest of the band preferred the group composition, Coloured Rain. Mason won that battle, but would end up leaving the band before the release on the group's first LP, Mr. Fantasy. This in turn led to the album being revised considerably for its US release, which was issued under a completely different title, Heaven Is In Your Mind, with most of Mason's contributions being excised from the album (although, oddly enough, Hole In My Shoe, which was not on the original LP, was included on the US album). One final example of the band's schizophrenic nature was in the way the group was marketed. In the US, Traffic was, from the beginning, perceived as a serious rock band along the lines of Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In their native land, however, they were, thanks in part to the top 40 success of both Paper Sun and Hole In My Shoe as well as Winwood's fame as lead vocalist for the Spencer Davis Group, dismissed as a mere pop group. Mason would rejoin and leave the group a couple more times before achieving solo success in the mid-70s with the hit We Just Disagree, while Traffic would go on to become a staple of progressive FM rock radio in the US.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: I Don't Live Today
Source: LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
I remember a black light poster that choked me up the first time I saw it. It was a shot of Jimi Hendrix playing his guitar with the caption I Don't Live Today. I don't believe Hendrix was being deliberately prophetic when he wrote and recorded this classic track for the Are You Experienced album, but it occasionally gives me chills to hear it, even now.
Artist: Human Beinz
Title: Two Of A Kind
Source: Australian import CD: Evolutions
Originally called the Premiers, the Human Beingz were a popular attraction in their native Youngstown, Ohio, releasing at least one single locally before signing with Capitol Records in 1967. Unfortunately for the band, the label misspelled the band's name on the label of their first single, leaving out the "g". They promised the group they would fix the problem if the record flopped, but in fact the song, Nobody But Me, was a top 10 national hit. As a result, the group was known as the Human Beinz for the rest of their existence. Although they did not score any more hits on the US charts, their next two singles went to #1 in Japan. This led to the band being held onto by the label long enough to record two LPs, the second of which was the relatively experimental Evolutions, released in 1968. One of the more unusual tunes on Evolutions was Two Of A Kind, which starts off as an early example of what would come to be known as country-rock but turns into a completely unexpected bit of musique concrete for the final minute and a half of the piece.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Two Trains Running
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): McKinley Morganfield
Label: Verve Forecast
Possibly the most influential (yet least known outside of musicians' circles) band of the Psychedelic Era was the Blues Project. Formed in 1965 in Greenwich Village, the band worked its way from coast to coast playing mostly college campuses, in the process blazing a path that continues to be followed by underground/progressive/alternative artists. As if founding the whole college circuit wasn't enough, they were arguably the very first jam band, as their version of the Muddy Waters classic Two Trains Running shows. Among those drawing their inspiration from the Blues Project were the Warlocks, a group of young musicians who were traveling with Ken Kesey on the Electric Cool-Aid Acid Test tour bus. The Warlocks would soon change their name to the Grateful Dead and take the jam band concept to a whole new level. Still, they may never have moved in that direction at all if it weren't for the Blues Project.
Title: I See You
Source: CD: Fifth Dimension
The Byrds third LP, Fifth Dimension, was the first without founding member Gene Clark. As Clark was the group's primary songwriter, this left a gap that was soon filled by both David Crosby and Jim (Roger) McGuinn, who collaborated on songs like I See You.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Gotta Get Away
Source: LP: Psychedelic Lollipop
As was common with most 1966 LPs, the Blues Magoos debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, included a handful of cover songs, not all of which had been hits for other groups. One of the non-hits was Gotta Get Away, a fairly typical piece of garage rock that opens side two of the LP. The song was also selected as the B side for the group's second (and by far most successful) single, (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet. As the usual practice was to bring in outside songwriters for a new band's early singles and let the band write their own B side, it is possible that Gotta Get Away may have been the intended A side of the single.
Title: A House Is Not A Motel
Source: CD: Forever Changes
Writer: Arthur Lee
Arthur Lee was a bit of a recluse, despite leading the most popular band on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. When the band was not playing at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go Lee was most likely to be found at his home up in the Hollywood Hills, often in the company of fellow band member Bryan McLean. The other members of the band, however, were known to hang out in the most popular clubs, chasing women and doing all kinds of substances. Sometimes they would show up at Lee's house unbidden. Sometimes they would crash there. Sometimes Lee would get annoyed, and probably used the phrase which became the title of the second track on Love's classic Forever Changes album, A House Is Not A Motel.
Title: If I Had A Woman
Source: CD: Spirit (bonus track)
Writer(s): Randy California
Most of the tracks on the first Spirit album were written by vocalist Jay Ferguson, with only one track each contributed by guitarist Randy California and keyboardist John Locke (plus one group composition). A second California tune, If I Had A Woman, was recorded around the same time, but not used on the original LP, finally appearing on the expanded CD version of the album in 1996. Most of the songs on the original LP included abrupt changes in tempo and style, but as a general rule, those transitions were done pretty smoothly. If I Had A Woman also has such changes, but in this case the transitions sound like the band suddenly decided to play an entirely different song without giving any warning.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Somebody To Love (live version)
Source: LP: Bless Its Pointed Little Head
Writer(s): Darby Slick
Label: RCA Victor
The original Great Society arrangement of Darby Slick's Somebody To Love was noticably slower than the well-known Jefferson Airplane version of the song heard on their 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow. The Airplane's own live version, as heard on the 1969 LP Bless It's Pointed Little Head, is even faster paced, bordering on the downright frenetic. It does make you wonder just what they were taking for their late 1968 Fillmore concert appearances.
Title: Baby, Please Don't Go (with Robin Williams intro)
Source: Mono 12" single (reissue)
Writer: Joe Williams
Belfast, Northern Ireland was home to one of the first bands that could be legitimately described as punk rock. Led by Van Morrison, the band quickly got a reputation for being rude and obnoxious, particularly to members of the English press (although it was actually a fellow Irishman who labeled them as "boorish"). Their first single was what has come to be considered the definitive rock and roll version of the 1923 Joe Williams tune Baby, Please Don't Go. Despite its UK success, the single was never issued in the US. Oddly enough, the song's B side ended up being the song most people associate with Them: the classic Gloria, which was released as Them's US debut single in 1965 but promptly found itself banned on most US radio stations due to suggestive lyrics. Them's recording of Baby, Please Don't Go gained renewed popularity in the 1980s when it was used in the film Good Morning Vietnam.
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Murder In My Heart For The Judge
Source: LP: Great Grape (originally released on LP: Wow)
Writer(s): Don Stevenson
Moby Grape got creatively (and commercially) sabotaged when their producer, David Rubinson, decided to add horns and strings to many of the tracks on their second album, Wow, alienating much of the band's core audience in the process. Still, Wow did have its share of fine tunes, including drummer Don Stevenson's Murder In My Heart For The Judge, probably the most well-known song on the album. The song proved popular enough to warrant cover versions by such diverse talents as Lee Michaels, Chrissy Hynde and Three Dog Night.
Artist: Moby Grape
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Moby Grape)
Writer: Skip Spence
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
As an ill-advised promotional gimmick, Columbia Records released five separate singles concurrently with the first Moby Grape album. Of the five singles, only one, Omaha, actually charted, and it only got to the #86 spot. Meanwhile, the heavy promotion by the label led to Moby Grape getting the reputation of being over-hyped, much to the detriment of the band's career.
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Ooh Mama Ooh
Source: LP: Moby Grape '69
Hard core Moby Grape fans did not quite know what to make of the band's third LP, Moby Grape '69. For one thing, one of the group's most visible members, guitarist Skip Spence, had gone awol from the band and was only heard on the album's final track. For another, MG 69 had more than a dash of country-rock at a time when the term country-rock had not yet been invented. Finally, the entire album had a kind of unfinished feel to it. This may have been the result of a deliberate attempt to avoid the production excesses of their second LP, Wow. It's also possible that the Grape audience was not quite ready for the incorporation of 50s doo-wop vocals on the album's opening track, Ooh Mama Ooh. Whatever the reason, the album stalled out at # 113 on the Billboard charts, although in more recent years it has come to be seen as a precursor to the so-called California Sound of bands like Poco and the Eagles.
Title: Eye To Eye
Source: CD: The House On The Hill
Label: Caroline Blue Plate (original UK label: Charisma)
Audience was a British progressive rock band with somewhat unusual instrumentation. In addition to drums (provided by Tony Conner) and bass (from Trevor Williams, who was also the groups primary lyricist), the band included Howard Werth, who played an acoustic guitar with nylon strings, but fitted with an electric pickup, and Keith Gemmell on flute, saxophone and clarinet. With no lead guitar or keyboards, Audience concentrated on their songwriting and vocal skills, which are showcased on the song Eye To Eye from the album The House On The Hill. Although The House On The Hill was Audience's third LP, it was the first to be released in the US. Eye To Eye, however, was cut from the US version of the LP to make room for Indian Summer, a non-album single that had been released simultaneously with The House On The Hill in the UK. The original band made only one more album before disbanding in 1972, but reformed 32 years later with a different drummer.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Singing All Day
Source: CD: Benefit (bonus track)
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Singing All Day is one of several tracks recorded during the sessions for the third Jethro Tull LP, Benefit, but not included on the album itself. The song finally got released in 1973 on the Living In The Past album and is now available as a bonus track on the CD version of Benefit.
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Chasing Shadows
Source: LP: Deep Purple
As a general rule, recording artists tend to do better on their home ground than anywhere else. Even the Beatles already had a pair of chart-topping British singles (Please Please Me and She Loves You) under their collective belts by the time they touched off the British Invasion of the US with I Want To Hold Your Hand in 1964. There are exceptions, however. One British band that had huge success in the US, yet was unable to buy a hit in its native England, was the original incarnation of a band called Deep Purple. The group had a major US hit right out of the box with their 1968 cover of Joe South's Hush, but the song did not chart at all in the UK. The band's US label, Tetragrammaton, promoted the band heavily and the group's debut LP, Shades Of Deep Purple, was the all-time best selling album in that label's short history. The band followed Shades up with a second LP, The Book Of Taleisyn, that included another hit cover song, Neil Diamond's Kentucky Woman. Still, the British record-buying public was unimpressed, and it was estimated that the group on the average made fifteen to twenty times as much money per gig in the US than they did at home. Unfortunately for the band, Tetragrammaton was badly managed and went belly up just days after the release of the band's self-titled third album. This left the band without a US label and still unsuccessful at home. This, combined with internal conflicts about what direction the band should take musically, led to major personnel changes. Ultimately those changes, particularly the addition of lead vocalist Ian Gillan, proved beneficial, as Deep Purple became one of the top rock bands in the world in the early 1970s. This in turn led to Warner Brothers, the band's new US label, releasing a compilation album of the group's early material called Purple Passages, which included almost the entire third album. Among the outstanding tracks from that album is Chasing Shadows, which utilizes African rhythms from drummer Ian Paice, as well as a strong performance by the band's original vocalist, Rod Evans, who would go on to become the front man for a band called Captain Beyond in the early 1970s.
Title: You Showed Me
Source: CD: The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands
Label: Manifesto (original label: White Whale)
In 1964, while still performing as a duo, Jim McGuinn and Gene Clark wrote a song called You Showed Me. After the Beefeaters, as they were then known, added new members David Crosby, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke, changing their name to the Jet Set in the process, they recorded a demo version of the song. Not long after that You Showed Me was dropped from the band's repertoire and promptly forgotten by almost everyone. One person who didn't forget the song, however, was Chip Douglas, who had seen McGuinn and Clark perform the song in 1964. Four years later, after a stint as bass player for the Turtles, then producer for the Monkees, Douglas met up with his old bandmates and played them his own version of You Showed Me. Douglas's presentation, however, was considerable slower than the original version, due to the fact that he was using a harmonium with a broken bellows and couldn't play the song at its proper speed. The Turtles, however, liked the slower tempo and used it for their own recording of the song, which appeared on the 1968 LP The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands and became the band's last major hit single.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in November of 1966. The record, initially released without much promotion on Reprise Records, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on Lenny Kaye's original Nuggets compilation, released on the Elektra label in 1972.
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Australia as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Parlophone)
While Beatlemania was sweeping the northern hemisphere, a similar phenomena known as Easyfever was all the rage down under. Formed in the migrant hostels on the edge of Sydney, the Easybeats signed with Parlophone in 1965, and hit the top of the Australian charts with their second single. From that point on, the Easybeats were the # 1 band in the country, cranking out hit after hit, including Sorry from 1966. Like all the band's Australian hits, Sorry was written by the team of vocalist Stevie Wright and guitarist George Young. The day after Sorry was released as a single, the Easybeats relocated to London. At around the same time lead guitarist Harry Vanda replaced Wright as Young's primary writing partner; together they wrote the international smash Friday On My Mind. The Easybeats continued to record into the early 70s, but with only moderate success. Eventually most of the band members returned to Australia; Wright to embark on a successful solo career and Vanda and Young to form a group called Flash And The Pan. A few years later, George Young helped his younger brothers Angus and Malcolm find success with their own band, AC/DC.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: Fire Engine
Source: CD: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
Label: Collectables (original label: International Artists)
In the summer of 1971 the band I was in, Sunn, did a cover of Black Sabbath's War Pigs as part of our regular repertoire. For the siren effect at the beginning of the song we used our voices, which always elicited smiles from some of the more perceptive members of the audience. Listening to Fire Engine, from The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators, has the same effect on me, for pretty much the same reason. The main difference is that the Elevators actually did it with the tape rolling on one of their own original songs, something Sunn never got the opportunity to do.
Title: I Gotta Move
Source: Mono CD: The Huns Conquer Ithaca, NY 1966
Writer(s): Rich La Bonte
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2017
In 1965, most bands in the upstate New York area were inspired mainly by the Beatles, and made their living doing cover songs of various British Invasion bands, particularly those with hits on the charts. And then along came the Huns, a group formed in Ithaca, NY by longtime schoolmates Frank Van Nostrand (bass) and John Sweeney (organ). Both Sweeney and Van Nostrand favored the harder-edged British Invasion bands like the Rolling Stones and the Kinks, and set about finding like-minded individuals on the Ithaca College campus. The first member recruited for the new band was vocalist Rich La Bonte, who brought a Mick Jagger like swagger and his own material, including I Gotta Move. Filling out the band were Buz Warmkessel and drummer Dick Headley. The Huns, who by then had replaced Headley with Steve Dworetz and added rhythm guitarist Keith Ginsberg, made their only studio recordings on March 10, 1966 at Ithaca College's experimental TV studios in downtown Ithaca. Less than three months later the Huns were history, thanks in large part to Van Nostrand and Sweeney being asked by the college dean to pursue their academic careers elsewhere.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Flying On The Ground Is Wrong
Source: CD: Buffalo Springfield
Writer(s): Neil Young
It's a fact: the people at Atco Records thought Neil Young's voice was "too weird" to record, and insisted that fellow Buffalo Springfield member Richie Furay sing his songs instead of Young himself. Among the Young tunes sung by Furay on the first Buffalo Springfield album is Flying On The Ground Is Wrong. By the time the band got around to recording a second LP things had changed a bit and Young sang his own material.
Artist: John Mayall's Bluesbreakers
Title: Oh, Pretty Woman
Source: LP: Crusade
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers were, in one sense, a training ground some for Britain's most talented blues musicians, including Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Mick Taylor and Keef Hartley, all of which went on to greater fame as either members of popular bands (Cream, Fleetwood Mac, the Rolling Stones) or as leaders of their own groups. Following the departure of Clapton, the band recruited Taylor to take over lead guitar duties for the 1967 album Crusade, which also featured McVie on bass and Hartley on drums. This lineup would only last for one album, as the next incarnation of the band would feature Fleetwood on drums and Green on guitar.
Title: The Ostrich
Source: Canadian CD: Steppenwolf
Writer(s): John Kay
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Although John Kay's songwriting skills were still a work in progress on the first Steppenwolf album, there were some outstanding Kay songs on that LP, such as The Ostrich, a song that helped define Steppenwolf as one of the most politically savvy rock bands in history.
Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: Time Has Come Today
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: The Time Has Come)
Writer(s): Joe and Willie Chambers
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
One of the quintessential songs of the psychedelic era is the Chambers Brothers' classic Time Has Come Today. The song was originally recorded and issued as a single in 1966. The more familiar version heard here, however, was recorded in 1967 for the album The Time Has Come. The LP version of the song runs about eleven minutes, way too long for a 45 RPM record, so before releasing the song as a single for the second time, engineers at Columbia cut the song down to around 3 minutes. The edits proved so jarring that the record was recalled and a re-edited version, clocking in at 4:57 became the third and final single version of the song, hitting the charts in 1968.