Sunday, January 27, 2019

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1905 (starts 1/28/19)

    This time around we have artists' sets from the Monkees and the Kinks, plus an entire album side from John Mayall. Not bad for a contingency show, eh? Of course, one drawback of using a contingency show is that some of the songs may have aired on recent shows as well, and sure enough, we have no less than three of 'em, all in the second hour. Then again, we have one tune that hasn't played on the show since September of 2010 and another that's never been played at all, so I guess it all balances out.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    It's No Secret
Source:    CD: The Worst Of jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off)
Writer:    Marty Balin
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1966
    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.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    Worried Life Blues
Source:    LP: Psychedelic Lollipop
Writer(s):    Major Merriweather
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1966
    Major "Big Macao" Merriweather was an early blues artist who is best known for a song he wrote and recorded in 1941. Worried Life Blues has since been covered literally hundreds of times, including a 1965 version on the US-only LP The Animals On Tour. The Blues Magoos apparently were impressed by the Animals' recording of the song, as they copied the arrangement pretty much note for note on their own debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop, the following year.
Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    Gimme Some Lovin'
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Winwood/Davis
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1966
    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.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    The Wind Blows Your Hair
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Saxon/Bigelow
Label:    Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year:    1967
    The Wind Blows Your Hair is actually one of the Seeds' better tracks. Unfortunately, by the time it was released the whole concept of Flower Power (which the Seeds were intimately tied to) had become yesterday's news (at least in ultra-hip L.A.) and the single went nowhere.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Lovely Rita
Source:    LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone/EMI (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    By 1967 John Lennon and Paul McCartney were a songwriting team in name only, with nearly all their compositions being the work of one or the other, but not both. Lovely Rita, for instance, from the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, was pure McCartney. The song features McCartney on both piano and overdubbed bass, with Lennon and George Harrison on guitars and Ringo Starr on drums. Pink Floyd, who were recording their debut LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn at the same Abbey Road studios the Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper's at, ended up borrowing some of the effects heard toward the end of Lovely Rita for their own Pow R Toc H.

Artist:    Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title:    Good Times
Source:    British import CD: Winds Of Change
Writer(s):    Burdon/Briggs/Weider/Jenkins/McCulloch
Label:    Repertoire (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1967
    By the end of the original Animals' run they were having greater chart success with their singles in the US than in their native UK. That trend continued with the formation of the "new" Animals in 1967 and their first single, When I Was Young. Shortly after the first LP by the band now known as Eric Burdon And The Animals came out, M-G-M decided to release the song San Franciscan Nights as a single to take advantage of the massive youth migration to the city that summer. Meanwhile the band's British label decided to instead issue Good Times, (an autobiographical song which was released in the US as the B side to San Franciscan Nights) as a single, and the band ended up with one of their biggest UK hits ever. Riding the wave of success of Good Times, San Franciscan Nights eventually did get released in the UK and was a hit there as well.

Artist:    Peter Fonda
Title:    November Night
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Gram Parsons
Label:    Rhino (original label: Chisa)
Year:    1967   
    Once upon a time the son of actor Henry Fonda was hanging around the swimming pool with his friends Gram Parsons, Stewart Levine and Hugh Masakela and decided he wanted to be a rock star. Levine and Masakela had started their own record label, Chisa (based on a Zulu "exclamation"), and Parsons provided the song November Night for Fonda to record. Although the single did get released, it failed to make an impression with anyone, and young Fonda decided that instead of trying to be a singer he perhaps should follow in his father's footsteps and become an actor like his sister Jane had. It turned out to be the right career move, as Peter Fonda would become famous for the film Easy Rider just two years later.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Wait Till The Summer Comes Along
Source:    Mono 45 RPM EP: Kwyet Kinks
Writer(s):    Dave Davies
Label:    Sanctuary/BMG (original UK label: Pye)
Year:    1965
    Kinks Kinkdom was an LP that was only released in the US. Most of the songs had been previously released in the UK, but not in the US. Among the songs on Kinks Kinkdom are four tracks that had appeared in the UK on an Extended Play 45 RPM record called Kwyet Kinks. The EP was a deliberate attempt on the part of the band to distance themselves from their early image as one of the hardest rocking bands of the British Invasion. The opening track of Kwyet Kinks was Wait Till The Summer Comes Along, a Dave Davies composition that has a decidedly country feel to it.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Death Of A Clown
Source:    Canadian CD: 25 Years-The Ultimate Collection (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Something Else By The Kinks)
Writer(s):    Ray and Dave Davies
Label:    Polygram/PolyTel (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Kinks lead guitarist Dave Davies has always been overshadowed by his brother Ray, who wrote the vast majority of the band's material, including all their hit singles. As a way to make up for this, the Davies brothers wrote Death Of A Clown, which was then recorded by the band with Dave on vocals and released in the UK as a solo Dave Davies single. The song was an immediate hit with the British buying public, going into the top five on the influential Radio Luxumbourg and fueling talk of a possible Dave Davies solo LP. Meanwhile, the recording was included on the 1967 album Something Else By The Kinks, the first Kinks album to feature identical track lineups in both the US and the UK (and presumably elsewhere).

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Such A Shame
Source:    Mono 45 RPM EP: Kwyet Kinks
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Sanctuary/BMG (original UK label: Pye)
Year:    1965
    The B side of a 45 RPM record was usually thought of as filler material, but in reality often served another purpose entirely. Sometimes it was used to make an instrumental version of the hit side available for use in clubs or even as a kind of early kind of Karioke. As often as not it was a chance for bands who were given material by their producer to record for the A side to get their own compositions on record. Sometimes the B sides went on to become classics in their own right. Possibly the band with the highest percentage of this type of B side was the Kinks, who seemed to have a great song on the flip side of every record they released. One such B side is Such A Shame, released as the B side of A Well Respected Man in 1966. It doesn't get much better than this. Such A Shame was originally released in 1965 in the UK on a four-song EP called Kwyet Kinks that has only recently been reissued on vinyl in the US.

Artist:    Cyrkle
Title:    Bony Moronie
Source:    LP: Red Rubber Ball
Writer(s):    Larry Williams
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    The history of rock and roll is filled with one-hit wonders. Less common, however, are groups than managed to crack the upper reaches of the charts a second time, only to suffer diminishing returns with each subsequent effort. Such was the case with the Cyrkle, who burst on the scene with Red Rubber Ball and Turn Down Day in 1966. Originally a frat-rock band called the Rhondells, the group's fortunes turned in a big way on Labor Day of 1965, when New York attorney Nathan Weiss caught their gig in Atlantic City. Weiss in turn recommended the band to his business partner, Brian Epstein, who was looking for an American band to manage (I guess the Beatles weren't enough for him). Epstein renamed the band the Cyrkle (John Lennon providing the variant spelling) and set them up as the opening band for the Beatles' last US tour, including their final gig at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966. Along the way, the group signed with Columbia Records, recording two LPs and several singles for the label before disbanding in early 1968. The first album, Red Rubber Ball, was a solid example of sunshine pop, as evidenced by the band's unique arrangement of Larry Williams's Bony Moronie. Two of the band's members, Don Dannemann and Tom Dawes, went on to become successful jingle writers (Dannemann wrote the original Un-Cola song while Dawes came up with "Plop plop fizz fizz" for Alka-Seltzer. The other two members became successful in other fields; one, Marty Fried is a bankruptcy attorney and the other, Earl Pickens, is a surgeon.
Artist:    Circus Maximus
Title:    Oops I Can Dance
Source:    CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s):    Jerry Jeff Walker
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Right from the start, the band Circus Maximus was being pulled in two musical directions by its co-founders, Bob Bruno and Jerry Jeff Walker. Although it was Bruno's song Wind that got the most airplay in 1967, it was Walker who went on to have a successful career as a singer/songwriter with songs like Mr. Bojangles. One of Walker's earliest songs was Oops I Can Dance from the first Circus Maximus album.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    I Need A Man To Love
Source:    LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Joplin/Andrew
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    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:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer(s):    Billy Roberts
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1966
    The first track recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was Hey Joe, a song that Hendrix had seen Tim Rose perform in Greenwich Village before relocating to London to form his new band. Hendrix's version is a bit heavier than Rose's and leaves off the first verse ("where you going with that money in your hand") entirely. The song itself was copyrighted in 1962 by California folk singer Billy Roberts and a much faster version by the Leaves had hit the US charts in early 1966.

Artist:    ? And The Mysterians
Title:    96 Tears
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    The Mysterians
Label:    Abkco (original label: Cameo)
Year:    1966
    Although his birth certificate gives the name Rudy Martinez, the leader of the Mysterians had his name legally changed to "?" several years ago. He asserts that he is actually from the planet Mars and has lived among dinosaurs in a past life. Sometimes I feel like I'm living among dinosaurs in this life, so I guess I can relate a little. The band's only major hit, 96 Tears, has the distinction of being the last top 10 single on the Cameo label before Cameo-Parkway went bankrupt and was bought by Allen Klein, who now operates the company as Abkco.

Artist:     Cream
Title:     N.S.U.
Source:     LP: Fresh Cream
Writer:     Jack Bruce
Label:     Atco
Year:     1966
     The US version of Fresh Cream starts off the with powerful one-two punch of I Feel Free and N.S.U. Although I Feel Free was a purely studio creation that never got performed live, N.S.U. became a staple of the band's concert performances, and was even performed by various other bands that bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce was a member of over the years.

Artist:      Steppenwolf
Title:    28
Source:      CD: Steppenwolf The Second
Writer:    Gabriel Mekler
Label:    Atco
Year:     1968
     A common practice in the sixties was for the record's producer to choose what songs an artist would record, especially with newly-signed acts. Somehow, despite Steppenwolf's massive success with Born To Be Wild, producer Gabriel Mekler managed to make 28, a song he wrote himself, the lead track of side two of Steppenwolf The Second. I've been unable to unearth just who the lead vocalist on 28 is; it certainly isn't John Kay, the band's usual front man. Occasionally one of the other band members would provide lead vocals for a track, so it's entirely possible that is the case with 28. Another possibility (one I favor) is that Mekler himself is lead vocalist on 28. This may in fact have been his original plan for the song, as he had been a recording artist himself as a member of a group called the Lamp Of Childhood as recently as 1967.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: The Electric Prunes and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    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 from their record label, 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 the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation (and the second track on Rhino's first Nuggets LP).

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Daily Nightly
Source:    CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD.
Writer(s):    Michael Nesmith
Label:    Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year:    1967
    One of the first rock songs to feature a Moog synthesizer was the Monkees' Daily Nightly from the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD. Micky Dolenz, who had a reputation for nailing it on the first take but being unable to duplicate his success in subsequent attempts, was at the controls of the new technology for this recording of Michael Nesmith's most psychedelic song (Dolenz also sang lead on the tune).

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Mary Mary
Source:    CD: More Of The Monkees
Writer(s):    Michael Nesmith
Label:    Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year:    1967
    Everyone associated with the Monkees project in 1966 agreed that one of their top priorities was to get a lot of songs recorded for use on the TV show, which was set to premier in September of that year. A dozen of these songs were then selected for inclusion on the first Monkees album, released on the heels of the hit single Last Train To Clarksville. Two more songs that had not been included on the LP, I'm A Believer and (I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone, were chosen to be the band's followup single. At this point everyone was still on the same page, but that was about to change. The Monkees had been told that they were be making the second Monkees LP themselves as a band, but early in 1967 a new album appeared on the racks: More Of The Monkees. The band, however, which had been touring to promote the first album and TV show, were unaware of the existence of More Of The Monkees until after it had been released. They were understandably unhappy with the album, which was made up of tracks recorded for the TV show, but not intended for release on vinyl, plus stereo versions of the two songs from the second single. This was the beginning of the end for musical director Don Kirshner's association with the group (he would be fired when he tried to pull the same kind of crap with the band's third single). Nonetheless, the album was a huge hit, and did include a pair of songs written and produced by the band's de facto leader, Michael Nesmith. One of the two songs was Mary Mary, a tune recorded in July of 1966 featuring Mickey Dolenz on lead vocals. That same month, the Butterfield Blues Band had also recorded Mary Mary, releasing it on their landmark album East-West in August of 1966. No songwriting credits were included on East-West, leading Butterfield fans to believe the Monkees' version was a cover, when in reality it was one of their few original compositions to appear under Kirshner's supervision. Incidentally, the lead guitar part on the Monkees version of Mary Mary was not played by Nesmith or the band's other guitarist, Peter Tork. Rather, it is the work of one of L.A.'s top studio musicians, Glen Campbell, who would become a major star as a solo artist in the 1970s.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Love Is Only Sleeping
Source:    CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD.
Writer(s):    Mann/Weil
Label:    Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year:    1967
    Among the various professional songwriters hired by Don Kirschner in 1966 to write songs for the Monkees were the husband and wife team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who had hit it big with a pair of songs for Paul Revere And The Raiders (Kicks and Hungry) earlier that year. But when the Monkees rebelled against Kirschner's control over their recorded output in early 1967 it looked as though the band was done with Mann/Weil compositions altogether. Later that year, however, the Monkees themselves, now firmly in control of their own musical direction, chose to record a new Mann/Weil tune, Love Is Only Sleeping, as their fourth single. At the same time, the group was working on their fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD. A last-minute change of plans resulted in a different song, Daydream Believer, being released as a single instead of Love Is Only Sleeping, with a tune from the album, Goin' Down, as the B side. Goin' Down was then deleted from the album lineup and Love Is Only Sleeping included in its place. It was the closest that Michael Nesmith would ever come to being the lead vocalist on a Monkees hit single. 

Artist:    Mouse And The Traps
Title:    A Public Execution
Source:    Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Henderson/Weiss
Label:    Rhino (original label: Fraternity)
Year:    1965
    It's easy to imagine some kid somewhere in Texas inviting his friends over to hear the new Bob Dylan record, only to reveal afterwards that it wasn't Dylan at all, but this band he heard while visiting his cousins down in Tyler. Speaking of cousins, A Public Execution was inspired by a misunderstanding concerning a cousin and a motorcycle ride. According to Ronnie "Mouse" Weiss, his fiancee actually broke up with him after getting word that Mouse had been seen giving an attractive girl a ride. It turned out the attractive girl in question was his cousin from across the state who had come for a visit, but by the time the truth came out Weiss and his band had their first of many regional hit records.

Artist:    Lovin' Spoonful
Title:    Big House From Speonks
Source:    Mono LP: Daydream
Writer(s):    Sebastian/Boone/Yanovsky/Butler
Label:    Kama Sutra
Year:    1966
    The Lovin' Spoonful are generally known for their feelgood tunes like Do You Believe In Magic and Daydream. Once in a while, however, their true identity as one of the best rock bands of the mid-1960s shines through on tracks like Big House From Speonks. Essentially a studio jam, Big House is one of the few Spoonful tracks to be credited to the entire band, and has an energy on par with bands like the Yardbirds and Rolling Stones.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source:    CD: Ten Years After
Writer(s):    Blind Willie Johnson, arr. Al Kooper
Label:    Deram
Year:    1967
    The first Ten Years After album had several cover tunes on it, including one that was actually a cover of a cover. Al Kooper of the Blues Project had initially reworked Blind Willie Johnson's I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes for inclusion on a blues sampler album for Elektra Records called What's Shakin', while at the same time working up a harder-edged version of the song for the Blues Project, which became the opening track for their Projections LP. Alvin Lee based his own interpretation of the tune on Kooper's solo arrangement, taking an even quieter approach to the song.

Artist:     Simon and Garfunkel
Title:     America
Source:     45 RPM single B side (song originally released on LP: Bookends)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Year:     1968/1972
     Four years after the release of the album Bookends (and two years after the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel), Columbia decided to release the song For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her, from their final album Bridge Over Troubled Water, as a single, to coincide with the release of their Greatest Hits album. For the B side, they went even further back, pulling out the original tapes for the song America. The tracks on the Bookends album were deliberately overlapped to form a continuous audio montage, making this the first standalone version of America to be released by the duo.

Artist:    John Mayall
Title:    Blues From Laurel Canyon (part two)
Source:    British import LP: Blues From Laurel Canyon
Writer(s):    John Mayall
Label:    Deram (original label: London)
Year:    1968
    The first release following the breakup of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Blues From Laurel Canyon featured a 19-year-old Mick Taylor on guitar, with an even younger Stephen Thompson on bass along with drummer Colin Allen. The album itself is autobiographical, documenting Mayall's L.A. vacation in the summer of '68. The second side of the album starts with a track called The Bear, which describes Mayall's stay with Canned Heat, who by then had relocated from their native San Francisco to Laurel Canyon. The bear that was "rolling in the shade" in the song was of course the legendary Robert Hite, lead vocalist and harmonica player for Canned Heat. This segues into a tune about Mayall's efforts to track down the "strange, elusive" Miss James (reportedly the famous groupie Catherine James). Eventually he finds her quite by accident, leading into an intimate First Time Alone. All good things must come to an end, however, as the lyrics to Long Gone Midnight point out. Just as well, as Mayall has to Fly Tomorrow to get back to London and put together a band to record an album called Blues From Laurel Canyon. Eventually Mayall would return to Laurel Canyon, this time as a resident.
Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    Going To Mexico
Source:    LP: Anthology (originally released on LP: Number 5)
Writer(s):    Miller/Scaggs
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    Although Boz Scaggs had left the Steve Miller Band following their second album, Sailor, the song Going To Mexico, co-written by Miller and Scaggs, did not appear on an album until Number 5 was released in 1970. Miller himself referred to the song as a 1969 track on his Anthology album, however, leading me to believe the song may have been among the last tracks recorded while Scaggs was still with the band. The recording also features future star Lee Michaels on organ.

No comments:

Post a Comment