Sunday, August 5, 2018
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1832 (starts 8/8/18)
This week we pillage the basket of obscurity to bring you 31 songs; over half a dozen of these have never been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, while several more, including our opening Turtles tune, haven't made an appearance on the show in years. To balance it out we do have a handful of songs that are more familiar to regular listeners, plus a three-song Advanced Psych segment that includes a track from last year's new Country Joe McDonald album, 50, and a Mumphries song that hasn't been heard since 2015. Enjoy!
Title: The Story Of Rock And Roll
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Harry Nilsson
Label: White Whale
Harry Nilsson was still an up and coming, but not yet arrived, young singer/songwriter when he penned The Story Of Rock And Roll. The Turtles, always in a struggle with their record label, White Whale, over whether to record their own material or rely on professional songwriters, were the first to record the tune, releasing it as a single in 1968. Although it was not a major hit, the song did set the stage for Nilsson's later successes.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Special Care
Source: LP: Last Time Around
Writer: Stephen Stills
Released after Buffalo Springfield had already split up, 1968's Last Time Around is an uneven album that nonetheless includes some tasty tracks that have been largely overlooked. A prime example is Stephen Stills's Special Care, sounding as much like early Crosby, Stills And Nash as it does Buffalo Springfield.
Artist: Bee Gees
Title: Lemons Never Forget
Source: 45 RPM Extended Play promo (taken from LP: Horizontal)
Writer(s): Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb
Following up on the international success of the album Bee Gees 1st (actually their third album, but we won't get into that), the
Gibb brothers, along with guitarist Vince Melouney and drummer Colin Peterson got to work on their next LP, Horizontal. The album included a song called World that, although a huge international hit, was never released as a single in the US. Their US label, Atco, did send out a promo EP to radio stations that included mono mixes of World and three other tracks from Horizontal. One of those other three tracks was Lemons Never Forget. Like much of the Bee Gees material from that time, it has an innovative arrangement with suitably psychedelic lyrics.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: Little Bird
Source: CD: Good Vibrations-30 Years Of The Beach Boys (originally released on LP: Friends)
By 1968 the Beach Boys had been deemed irrelevant by much of the record buying public, although they still held the respect of the rock press. Brian Wilson, who had until then been the band's main songwriter, was showing signs of the mental health issues that would sideline him for much of the 1970s, and the band had just come off a disastrous tour with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that had to be cancelled midway due to lack of ticket sales. Amid all this, the rest of the band stepped up to produce the first true Beach Boys group effort since their early days, the 1968 LP Friends. Although the album did not sell well, it was well-received by the rock press and the band's hardcore fans, who consider it the Beach Boys' "TM album". Friends was the first Beach Boys LP to feature songwriting contributions from Dennis Wilson, who co-wrote Little Bird with poet Stephen Kalinich. The track, as released, includes a musical phrase from the then-unreleased Child Is Father To The Man, from the legendary Smile sessions.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: Punky's Dilemma
Source: LP: Bookends
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Originally written specifically for the 1967 soundtrack of the movie The Graduate but rejected by the producers, Punky's Dilemma sat on the shelf until the following year, when it became the only track on side two of Simon And Garfunkel's Bookends LP that had not been previously released. The lyrics are about as psychedelic as Simon And Garfunkel ever got.
Artist: Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title: His Holy Modal Majesty
Source: CD: Super Session
One of the earliest electronic keyboard instruments was a device that came to be known as the Kooperphone, thanks to its use by Al Kooper as early as 1966, when he was a member of the Blues Project. The instrument could not play chords, only single notes, and Kooper used it extensively on tracks like His Holy Modal Majesty on the 1968 album Super Session. If that were all there was to the track it might be remembered as little more than a curiosity piece. Thanks to the outstanding improvisational abilities of Kooper, guitarist Michael Bloomfield, bassist Harvey Brooks and drummer Eddie Hoh however, the piece soars, changing style and tempo with a fluidity rarely found outside of jazz circles.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: I Need A Man To Love
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
Big Brother and the Holding Company recorded their first album at the Chicago studios of Mainstream records in 1967. Mainstream, however, was a jazz label and their engineers had no idea how to make a band like Big Brother sound good. When the band signed to Columbia the following year it was decided that the best way to record the band was onstage at the Fillmore West. As a result, when Cheap Thrills was released, four of the seven tracks were live recordings, including the Janis Joplin/Peter Albin collaboration I Need A Man To Love.
Artist: Young Rascals
Title: Love Is A Beautiful Thing
Source: Mono LP: Collections
One of the strongest tracks on the 1967 Young Rascals album Collections was actually released as a B side in 1966, six months before the album actually came out. Love Is A Beautiful Thing, which was paired with the non-album track You Better Run, was written by organist Felix Cavaliere and drummer Eddie Brigati (although early pressings of the single credit bassist Gene Cornish as co-writer rather than Brigati). To this day I associate Love Is A Beautiful Thing with one of the most popular local cover bands in Weisbaden, Germany when I was a freshman in high school. The band, made up entirely of sons of American servicemen, called itself the Collections, and played virtually every song on the album, as well as tunes by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and other popular R&B artists.
Artist: Cuby And The Blizzards
Title: Your Body Not Your Soul
Source: CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in the Netherlands as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: Desolation)
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
In the Netherlands it was a given that if you wanted to hear some live blues you needed to check out Cuby And The Blizzards. Led by vocalist Harry "Cuby" Muskee and lead guitarist Eelco Gelling, C+B, as they were known to their fans, had been in a couple of local bands as early as 1962, but had made a decision to abandon rock 'n' roll for a more blues/R&B approach in 1964. After cutting a single for the small CNR label in 1965, C+B signed a long-term contract with Philips the following year. Your Body Not Your Soul, the B side of their first single for the label, shows the influence of British blues/R&B bands such as the Pretty Things and the Animals. The group hit the Dutch top 40 nine times between 1967 and 1971, and released several well received albums as well.
Artist: Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
Title: Diddy Wah Diddy
Source: Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: A&M)
Don Van Vliet and Frank Zappa knew each other in high school in the Antelope Valley area of Los Angeles, but did not stay in close contact after graduation. While Zappa was developing an interest in early 20th century avant-garde classical music, Van Vliet established a reputation as one of the best white blues singers around. When the opportunity came to record a few tracks for A&M records in 1965, Van Vliet, who by then was calling himself Captain Beefheart, chose several vintage R&B tunes to showcase his vocal talents. A&M only released four of the tracks, however, the first being Bo Diddly's Diddy Wah Diddy, which became Captain Beefheart's debut single in 1966. Beefheart's first full-length album, Safe As Milk, was recorded and released the following year as the first LP issued by the new Buddah label. Later he would again hook up with his old cohort Zappa and develop into one of rock's premier avant-garde composers.
Title: Shapes Of Things
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Priority (original label: Epic)
Unlike earlier Yardbirds hits, 1966's Shapes Of Things was written by members of the band. The song, featuring one of guitarist Jeff Beck's most distinctive solos, just barely missed the top 10 in the US, although it was a top 5 single in the UK.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: And I Like It
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
Jorma Kaukonen was giving guitar lessons when he was approached by Marty Balin about joining a new band that Balin was forming. Kaukonen said yes and became a founding member of Jefferson Airplane. The two seldom collaborated on songwriting, though. One of the few examples of a Balin/Kaukonen composition is And I Like It from the band's first album. The song sounds to me like what Hot Tuna would sound like but with Balin's vocals instead of Kaukonen's.
Artist: Music Machine
Source: Mono British import CD: The Ultimate Turn On (originally released on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Big Beat (original label: Original Sound)
Sean Bonniwell had definite plans for the Music Machine's first album. His primary goal was to have all original material (with the exception of a slowed-down version of Hey Joe that he and fellow songwriter Tim Rose had been working on (before you ask, both Rose and the Music Machine recorded it before Jimi Hendrix did). Unfortunately, the shirts at Original Sound Records did not take their own company name seriously and inserted four cover songs that the band had recorded for a local TV show. (This was just the first in a series of bad decisions by the aforementioned shirts that led to a great band not getting the success it deserved.) The best way to listen to Turn On The Music Machine, then, is to program your CD player to skip all the extra cover songs. Listened to that way, this track becomes the second song on the disc, following the classic Talk Talk.
Title: Twentieth Century Fox
Source: Mono LP: The Doors
Writer(s): The Doors
There's no getting around it: there are no bad songs on the first two Doors albums. Pick one at random, say Twentieth Century Fox. Great song. They all are.
Artist: Yellow Balloon
Title: Yellow Balloon
Source: Mono CD: Where the Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on 45 RPM vinyl and included on LP: The Yellow Balloon)
Writer(s): Zeckley/St. John/Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Canterbury)
After Jan Berry's near-fatal car wreck in April of 1966, partner Dean Torrance turned to songwriter Gary Zeckley for material for a new album. Zeckley responded by writing the song Yellow Balloon, but was unhappy with Jan and Dean's recording of the song and decided to cut his own version. The resulting recording, utilizing studio musicians for the instrumental tracks, was released in May of 1967 on the Canterbury label and was a moderately successful hit, peaking at #25 (Jan and Dean's version stalled out at #111).
Artist: Human Beinz
Title: Nobody But Me
Source: Mono CD: Battle Of The Bands-Vol. II (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ron, Rudy and O'Kelley Isley
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
The Human Beinz were a band that had been around since 1964 doing mostly club gigs in the Youngstown, Ohio area as the Premiers. In the late 60s they decided to update their image with a name more in tune with the times and came up with the Human Beingz. Unfortunately someone at Capitol misspelled their name on the label of Nobody But Me, and after the song became a national hit the band was stuck with the new spelling. The band split up in 1969, but after Nobody But Me was featured in the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill: Vol.1, original leader Ting Markulin reformed the band with a new lineup that has appeared in the Northeastern US in recent years.
Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: In The Midnight Hour
Source: CD: The Time Has Come
When you think about it, the term "recording artist" is actually grossly inaccurate in most cases. Making a record takes a whole lot of people, from the songwriter to the mastering engineer and everyone in between. Nonetheless, we use the term "artist" as kind of a shorthand for whoever's name is on the label. That said, there are several different kinds of artists. You have your Entertainers (Elvis Presley being a good example), who are more into showing the audience a good time than trying to make any kind of artistic statement, which is the province of the Artist (people like Joseph Byrd that most people have never heard of). Most artists, of course, fall in between these two extremes, or even incorporate elements of both (like Prince and Michael Jackson). There is a third category, however, that is often overlooked, yet is much larger than either of the others. These are the studio musicians, the professional songwriters, the engineers and other technicians, whose job it is to make the artist of record sound as good as possible. I call them, for lack of a better word, the Craftsmen (and women). Sometimes an entire band is made up of Craftsmen. These are the working bands, that may or may not ever get a shot at the Big Time, and even if they do, often end up as one-hit-wonders. The Chambers Brothers began performing together in the 1950s, yet did not release their first LP, The Time Has Come, until 1967. Even then, the record looked like it was going nowhere until college radio stations began playing the LP's showcase track, the 10 minute long Time Has Come Today. The thing is, Time Has Come Today sounded nothing like the rest of the band's repertoire, which can be heard by randomly choosing any other track on the album. More typical of what you would hear the Chambers Brothers performing in a club is In The Midnight Hour, a 1966 hit for Wilson Pickett and one of the most covered songs of the mid 1960s.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Lucifer Sam
Source: Mono CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Writer(s): Syd Barrett
Label: Capitol (original label: Tower)
Beyond a shadow of a doubt the original driving force behind Pink Floyd was the legendary Syd Barrett. Not only did he front the band during their rise to fame, he also wrote their first two singles, Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, as well as most of their first LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. In fact it could be argued that one of the songs on that album, Lucifer Sam, could have just as easily been issued as a single, as it is stylistically similar to the first two songs. Sadly, Barrett's mental health deteriorated quickly over the next year and his participation in the making of the band's next LP, A Saucerful Of Secrets, was minimal. He soon left the group altogether, never to return (although several of his former bandmates did participate in the making of his 1970 solo album, The Madcap Laughs).
Artist: Country Joe McDonald
Title: Sadness And Pain
Source: CD: 50
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rag Baby
50 years after the Summer Of Love Country Joe McDonald released an album called 50. The songs, while recorded up to modern production standards, reflect the same sort of social awareness and activism that have always characterized McDonald's work. Case in point: Sadness And Pain, which carries a timeless message.
Artist: Tears For Fears
Title: Sowing The Seeds Of Love
Source: British import CD single
Although generally not considered a psychedelic band, Tears For Fears managed to effectively channel George Martin's Magical Mystery Tour production techniques (e.g. I Am The Walrus) on their most political recording, 1989's Sowing The Seeds Of Love. Written in response to Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party's winning of a third consecutive term in office in June of 1987, the track reflects Roland Orzabal's working-class sensibilities with lines like "Politician granny with your high ideals, have you no idea how the majority feels?"
Title: Bad Dream
Source: CD: Thank You, Bonzo
Writer(s): Stephen R Webb
One of the more unusual bands on the Albuquerque, NM scene in the late 1980s was a group called the Soft Corps. With a membership that varied depending on the needs of a particular song, the group's on-stage antics included a guitar being leaned on its amp, causing massive feedback while members traded instruments and the band's leader walked off the stage to watch the show. In mid-1988 the Soft Corps officially disbanded, with three of the members, guitarist/bassist/vocalist Quincy Adams, guitarist/keyboardist Suzan Hagler and guitarist/bassist/vocalist StephenR Webb joining up with drummer John Henry Smith to form The Mumphries. Bad Dream, recorded in 1989, features Webb on lead guitar and vocals, Hagler on keyboards, Adams on bass and Smith on drums.
Title: Because (isolated vocal tracks)
Source: CD: Anthology 3 (promo EP)
The Beatles took full advantage of the new 8-track technology to record Because for the Abbey Road album. In addition to the instruments, the recording has three separate vocal tracks, each with John, Paul & George singing three-part harmony, making a total of nine voices. Here are those vocal tracks, presented without backing instruments on the 1996 Anthology 3 collection.
Artist: B.B. King
Title: Until I Found You
Source: British import CD: Blues On Top Of Blues
Writer(s): Riley King
Label: BGO (original US label: Bluesway)
Riley King first got the nickname Beale Streeet Blues Boy when working as a singer and DJ at a Memphis radio station in the late 1940s. That nickname soon got shortened to Blues Boy, and later B.B. King. By the time of his death in 2016, B.B. King had recorded dozens of albums and had become the most famous blues musician in history. In the liner notes for his 1968 album Blues On Top Of Blues, B.B. King stated that "My ambition is to be one of the greatest blues singers there have ever been." King's vocals, in particular, are on display on the song Until I Found You, which utilizes horns arranged by Johnny Pate.
Title: One Rainy Day
Source: Mono LP: Magic People
Label: Verve Forecast
The Paupers were formed in Toronto in 1965, but did not really catch fire until Scottish immigrant Adam Mitchell became the group's lead vocalist and (with drummer Skip Prokop) primary songwriter. He made his debut with the band on August 14th; within a month the group had signed a contract with M-G-M Records, at the time one of the major US labels. In early 1967 the group came under the guidance of Albert Grossman, who was already well-known as Bob Dylan's manager. Grossman quickly re-negotiated the contract with M-G-M and got the band signed to its associate label, Verve Forecast, releasing a single, If I Call You By Some Name. The band quickly established a reputation for its live performances, reportedly upstaging the Jefferson Airplane on that band's first trip to New York. For some reason the band was unable, however, to create the same kind of excitement in the studio that characterized their live performances. Their debut LP, Magic People, barely cracked the Billboard top 200 album charts and none of their singles charted at all. The band started experiencing personnel changes, although they continued to play high-profile gigs, such as opening for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Soft Machine in February of 1968. A second album and corresponding tour followed, but by then drummer Skip Prokop was getting interested in doing session work (appearing on Peter Paul And Mary's I Dig Rock And Roll Music, among others), and by 1969 the Paupers were history and Prokop was back in Toronto forming a new band, Lighthouse.
Artist: Uriah Heep
Source: LP: Uriah Heep
Gypsy, the first track on the first Uriah Heep album was also the first Heep song I ever heard. Apparently the rock press hated the song, the album, and the band itself, but it turns out that 1970 was a good year to be hated by the rock press. Just look at how things turned out for Grand Funk Railroad. For that matter, Uriah Heep didn't do too badly over the next few years, either. Maybe that's why Rolling Stone magazine turned to politics: much easier to get away with being totally wrong about something, and when you're right everybody praises you for your journalistic integrity.
Title: Dual Carraigeway Pain
Source: British import CD: Taste
Writer(s): Rory Gallagher
Label: Polydor (original US label: Atco)
Guitarist Rory Gallagher cuts loose on Dual Carraigeway Pain, from the first Taste album. One thing, though. What exactly is a "dual carraigeway? Some sort of divided highway?
Artist: Catfish Knight And The Blue Express
Source: CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): J. Knight
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Verve)
A fairly common practice in the mid-1960s was for a producer to sign a new band and assign them to record a song of his own choosing. In fact, the producer often already had the song in mind before finding a band to record it. That song would then be issued as a single, with the band itself being allowed to choose and record the B side. Such is the likely case with Deathwish, a truly manic B side from a group called Catfish Knight And The Blue Express. Virtually nothing is known about the band itself, and the A side of the record, from what I have heard, was pretty flacid in comparison to Deathwish.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: EXP/Up From The Skies
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
The second Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Axis: Bold As Love, is very much a studio creation. Hendrix had been taking a growing interest in what could be done with multiple tracks to work with, and came up with a masterpiece. What makes the achievement even more remarkable is the fact that he actually only had four tracks to work with (compared to the virtually unlimited number available with modern digital equipment). EXP, which opens the album, is an exercise in creative feedback, using volume and panning to create the illusion of circular motion. The intro to the piece is a faux interview of a slowed-down Hendrix (posing as his friend Paul Caruso) by bassist Noel Redding. The track leads directly into Up From The Skies, the only song on the album to be issued as a single in the US. Up From The Skies features Hendrix's extensive use of a wah-wah pedal, with vocals and guitar panning back and forth from speaker to speaker over the jazz-styled brushes of drummer Mitch Mitchell.
Title: I Want You
Source: Mono British import CD: Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Spectrum (original label: Fontana)
The Troggs are best known in the US for their 1966 hit Wild Thing, a song that is still recognizable to most Americans today. In reality, though, the Troggs were one of England's most successful and long-lived bands, charting several hit records and remaining active until the death of lead vocalist Reg Presley in 2013. Among their most popular songs in the UK was I Want You, which was released as the B side of With A Girl Like You, the follow up to Wild Thing and the Troggs' only #1 record in the UK. (Wild Thing stalled out at #2 in the UK, although it did top the US charts).
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: The Last Time
Source: Mono LP: Out Of Our Heads
Released in late winter of 1965, The Last Time was the first single to hit the top 10 in both the US and the UK (being their third consecutive #1 hit in England) and the first one written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Despite that, it would be overshadowed by their next release: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, which went to the top of the charts everywhere and ended up being the #1 song of 1965.
Artist: Sons Of Champlin
Title: Terry's Tune
Source: British import CD: Loosen Up Naturally/The Sons/Follow Your Heart (originally released on LP: The Sons)
Writer(s): The Sons
Label: BGO (original US label: Capitol)
Despite the implications of the band's name, the Sons Of Champlin was formed as a cooperative, with all band members equal partners in the venture. Still, as front man, Bill Champlin inevitably became the focus of the band in the eyes of both the public and their record label. This did not sit too well with the other band members, and steps were taken on their second album to rectify the situation. Most obviously, the album cover itself proclaimed that the band was now called The Sons. Less obvious, but just as important, all songwriting credits were given to the entire band, regardless of who actually wrote the song. Finally, Champlin himself did not sing lead vocals on every song, as he had on the first album. Terry's Tune, for instance, was actually written and sung by guitarist Terry Haggerty. The album did not do well, and, due to various reasons, the band split up soon after.