Sunday, February 24, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1909 (starts 2/25/19)
This week we had a mysterious problem with the recording software at Finger Lakes Public Radio, which resulted in a three-day hiatus after three of the four segments had been completed. Just to make it even more confusing, the final segment to be recorded was not the final segment of the show itself, but rather the second half of the first hour. The result is a show that has an unusually high percentage of tracks that have never been played on the show before, including an entire Grateful Dead set and a 1967 hit from the Hombres, who are making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut. We also have, for the first time, the single versions of a pair of hit songs from Jim Morrison's final album as a member of the Doors, L.A. Woman. Read on...
Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: Time Has Come Today
Source: CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released on LP: The Time Has Come; edited version released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Joe and Willie Chambers
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year: 1967 (edited version released 1968)
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 4:55 became the third and final single version of the song, hitting the charts in 1968.
Title: We're Going Wrong
Source: British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Disraeli Gears)
Writer: Jack Bruce
Label: Polydor (original US label: Atco)
On Fresh Cream the slowest-paced tracks were bluesy numbers like Sleepy Time Time. For the group's second LP, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce came up with We're Going Wrong, a song with a haunting melody supplemented by some of Eric Clapton's best guitar fills. Ginger Baker put away his drumsticks in favor of mallets, giving the song an otherworldly feel.
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Otis Redding
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Sounding a lot like the Rascals, the Vagrants were a popular Long Island band led by singer Peter Sabatino and best remembered for being the group that had guitarist Leslie Weinstein in it. Weinstein would change his last name to West and record a solo album called Mountain before forming the band of the same name. This version of Respect is fairly faithful to the original Otis Redding version. Unfortunately for the Vagrants, Aretha Franklin would release her radically rearranged version of the song just a few weeks after the Vagrants, relegating their version of the tune (and the Vagrants themselves) to footnote status.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: The Only Time Is Now
Source: CD: Birth Of The Dead
Year: Recorded 1965, released 2003
In early 1965 five young San Francisco musicians decided to form a rock 'n' roll band called the Warlocks. As was the case with most self-contained bands at the time, the Warlocks were essentially a blues-rock band in the mold of such British invasion bands as the Animals and the Rolling Stones, but even then, their varied musical backgrounds (folk, jazz, bluegrass, R&B) and a common love of the music of John Coltrane led them to be more improvisational than the average garage band of the time. By November of 1965 they felt ready to audition for a local record label, Autumn Records. The label itself, owned by radio legend Tom "Big Daddy" Donahue and his partner Bobby Mitchell, had already achieved a measure of national success with recordings by Bobby Freeman and the Beau Brummels, and had, as a staff producer, another popular local disc jockey named Sylvester Stewart, better known as Sly Stone. Just prior to entering the studio, bassist Phil Lesh had been in a local record store and happened to see a single by a band called The Warlocks. Having already booked the studio time, the band quickly came up with a temporary moniker, The Emergency Crew, to use for the audition. Six songs were recorded that day, all but one of which were either written by members of the band or in the public domain and arranged by the group (the exception being a cover of a song by the then-unknown Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot). Perhaps the best of the originals was a tune called The Only Time Is Now, credited to the entire band. It was obvious, however, that this was a band still in the process of getting it together, and the recordings remained unreleased for many years. Not long after the Autumn sessions the band settled on a new, more permanent name, The Grateful Dead, and spent the next couple of months participating as a sort of "house band" for the Acid Tests conducted by Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: He Was A Friend Of Mine
Source: CD: Birth Of The Dead
Writer(s): Trad., arr. Garcia/Kreutzmann/Lesh/McKernan/Weir
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2003
By summer of 1966, the Grateful Dead were already local legends on the San Francisco music scene, despite having been together only slightly more than a year (and had only been called the Grateful Dead for about eight months). Following their participation in the Merry Pranksters' acid tests, the Dead had spent some time in Los Angeles with their sound man, Owsley "Bear" Stanley, working up new material for what would soon become the first of their legendary live shows. Some of the earliest of these shows were recorded in July of 1966 at various San Francisco area venues by Bear himself. Among those recordings is this version of the popular folk song He Was A Friend Of Mine. At the time the band was still fronted by Rob "Pigpen" McKernan (who also played keyboards and harmonica), with additional vocals by guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir. Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann provided the band with a solid rhythm section.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Dire Wolf
Source: LP: Workingman's Dead
Label: Warner Brothers
The Grateful Dead spent their first five years perfecting their live sound. In 1969 they finally captured that sound on vinyl for the first time with the double-LP Live Dead. Now it was time to start concentrating on the songs themselves, and there were several things happening at once that helped the band do just that. First off, poet Robert Hunter had begun accompanying the band on the road, giving him and guitarist Jerry Garcia more time to write songs together. Second, drummer Mickey Hart had a house guest for about three months by the name of Stephen Stills, who had just released an album with David Crosby and Graham Nash that emphasized vocal harmonies and solid songwriting over instrumental performances. Finally, Garcia himself was itching to get back to his own country-folk roots. The result was songs like Dire Wolf, one of many similarly styled tunes on the 1970 album Workingman's Dead. Unlike their previous studio effort Aoxomoxoa, which had taken several months to record and mix and had gone way over budget, Workingman's Dead was recorded in about a week, and featured a mellow, stripped down sound that the band members themselves compared to the Bakersfield sound. This new style would become even more developed with the band's next LP, American Beauty, before yet another change in direction resulted in a hybrid of the two styles that allowed the band the freedom to do pretty much whatever they wanted to from that point on.
Title: Who's Been Talking
Source: Simulated stereo British import CD: Before The Dream Faded
Writer(s): Chester Burnett
Label: Cherry Red
Year: Recorded 1965, released 1982
The Misunderstood were a well-named band from Southern California's Inland Empire that later moved to England and became a local legend before a combination of the Draft and problems with work visas terminated the band's existence prematurely. Before their move across the Atlantic the band entered a local Los Angeles studio to cut a demo. An acetate of that demo, featuring mostly covers of blues classics like Howlin' Wolf's Who's Been Talking, resurfaced in the early 1980s and was reproduced on a British album called Before The Dream Faded in 1982. Luckily, that album, which also includes all the band's British recordings, is still available on CD.
Title: Careful Sam
Source: Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution
Writer(s): Peter Dunton
Year: Recorded 1970, released 2013
T2, consisting of drummer Peter Dunton, bassist Bernie Jinks and guitarist Keith Cross, released only one album, It'll All Work Out In Boomland, in 1970. The album did not get much support from their label (British Decca) and plans for a second LP were scrapped before any new material got beyond the demo stage. One of those demo tapes, however, finally surfaced on a CD set called Love, Poetry And Revolution on the Grapefruit label in 2013. Written by Dunton, the track has some outstanding guitar work from Cross. Unfortunately, even CD copies of It'll All Work Out In Boomtown are ridculously expensive, so, unless some generous person wants to donate a copy to the show, I doubt we'll ever get to hear any of it on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era. Yeah, I know, that was about as subtle as a thrown brick.
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Show-Biz Blues
Source: CD: Then Play On
Writer(s): Peter Green
Then Play On was the third and final Fleetwood Mac studio LP to feature founder Peter Green on vocals and lead guitar. Green wrote a majority of the songs on the album, including Show-Biz Blues (also known as Showbiz Blues), a piece that shows a strong country-blues influence.
Title: (Roamin' Thro' The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM B side and on LP: Traffic)
Label: United Artists
The second Traffic album saw the band taking in a broader set of influences, including traditional English folk music. (Roamin' Through The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen, originally released as the B side to the Dave Mason tune No Face, No Name, No Number, combines those influences with the Steve Winwood brand of British R&B to create a timeless classic.
Title: Let It Out (aka Let It All Hang Out)
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): B.B. Cunningham
Label: Rhino (original label: Verve Forecast)
Once upon a time there was a band called Ronny And The Daytonas, who had a hit with the hot rod single Little GTO. Like many of the bands that had surf and hot rod hit singles, Ronny And The Daytonas was actually a group of studio musicians. Unlike most surf and hot rod groups, they were based in landlocked Nashville, Tennessee. When Little GTO became a hit, they did what many groups of studio musicians with a mid-60s hit single did: they hired other musicians to go on the road as Ronny And The Daytonas. One night, on the way to a gig, three of the touring Daytonas, organist Billy Cunningham, guitarist Gary McEwan and drummer Johnny Hunter, heard Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues on the radio and were inspired to write a song of their own called Let It Out. One thing led to another, and before you know it (well, actually August of 1967) the trio (who had become a quartet with the addition of bassist Jerry Lee Masters) had a huge national hit on their hands. Subsequent efforts, including an album and several singles, failed to make an impression, however, and the Hombres (as they were now calling themselves) went their separate ways the following year.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Plastic Fantastic Lover
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Jefferson Airplane scored their first top 10 hit with Somebody To Love, the second single released from the Surrealistic Pillow album. Almost immediately, forward-thinking FM stations began playing other tracks from the album. One of those favored album tracks, Plastic Fantastic Lover, ended up being the B side of the band's follow-up single, White Rabbit. When the Airplane reunited in 1989 and issued their two-disc retrospective, 2400 Fulton Street, they issued a special stereo pressing of the single on white vinyl as a way of promoting the collection.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Death Sound Blues
Source: CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
I generally use the term "psychedelic" to describe a musical attitude that existed during a particular period of time rather than a specific style of music. On the other hand, the term "acid rock" is better suited for describing music that was composed and/or performed under the influence of certain mind-expanding substances. That said, the first album by Country Joe and the Fish is a classic example of acid rock. I mean, really, is there any other way to describe Death Sound Blues than "the blues on acid"?
Artist: Human Beinz
Title: Nobody But Me
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as a 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ron, Rudy and O'Kelley Isley
Label: LP: Rhino (originally released on Capitol)
The Human Beingz 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 Records misspelled their name (leaving out the "g") 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: Left Banke
Title: She May Call You Up Tonight
Source: 45 RPM single
Unlike their first two singles, Walk Away Renee and Pretty Ballerina, the Left Banke's third single, She May Call You Up Tonight, failed to chart, possibly due to the release two months earlier of a song called Ivy Ivy, written by keyboardist Michael Brown and shown on the label as being by the Left Banke. Ivy Ivy was in reality performed entirely by session musicians, including lead vocals by Bert Sommer, who would be one of the acoustic acts on the opening afternoon of the Woodstock festival a couple years later. The resulting fued between Brown and the rest of the band left a large number of radio stations gun shy when came to any record with the name Left Banke on the label, and She May Call You Up Tonight tanked.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Baby Please Don't Go
Source: CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: The Amboy Dukes)
Writer(s): Joe Williams
Label: Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
The Amboy Dukes were a garage supergroup formed by guitarist Ted Nugent, a Chicago native who had heard that Bob Shad, head of jazz-oriented Mainstream Records, was looking for rock bands to sign to the label. Nugent relocated to Detroit in 1967, where he recruited vocalist John Drake, guitarist Steve Farmer, organist Rick Lober, bassist Bill White and drummer Dave Palmer, all of whom had been members of various local bands. The Dukes' self-titled debut LP was released in November of 1967. In addition to seven original pieces, the album included a handful of cover songs, the best of which was their rocked out version of the old Joe Williams tune Baby Please Don't Go. The song was released as a single in January of 1968, where it got a decent amount of airplay in the Detroit area, and was ultimately chosen by Lenny Kaye for inclusion on the original Nuggets compilation album.
Title: Ship Of Fools
Source: CD: Morrison Hotel
1969 was, if nothing else, a turbulent year for the Doors. The band had made headlines for a March 1st performance in Miami that resulted in lead vocalist Jim Morrison's arrest for indecent exposure. In July, the group released their fourth album, The Soft Parade, which was heavily criticized for its use of strings and horns and an overall more commercial sound that the band had previously exhibited. That same month Morrison gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine in which he stressed the importance of country and blues to American culture. It was not a big surprise then, that the band's next album, Morrison Hotel, featured a more stripped down sound, perhaps even more so than their first LP. Side one of the album, subtitled Hard Rock Cafe, starts off strong with one of the band's most iconic songs, Roadhouse Blues, and ends on a similar note with Ship Of Fools. The group would continue in this direction and even improve on it on their next LP, L.A. Woman. Sadly, L.A. Woman would be the last Doors studio album before Morrison's death.
Title: Love Her Madly
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): The Doors
Released as a single in advance of the 1971 Doors album L.A. Woman, Love Her Madly was a major success, peaking just outside the top 10 in the US, and going all the way to the #3 spot in Canada. The album itself was a return to a more blues-based sound by the Doors, a change that did not sit well with producer Paul Rothchild, who left the project early on, leaving engineer Bruce Botnik to assume production duties. Rothchild's opinion aside, it was exactly what the Doors needed to end their run (in their original four man incarnation) on a positive note.
Title: Riders On The Storm
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): The Doors
The last major hit single for the Doors was also one of their best: Riders On The Storm. In fact, it still holds up as one of the finest singles ever released. By anyone.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Wake Me, Shake Me
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): arr. Al Kooper
Label: Verve Forecast
After losing their original lead vocalist, Tommy Flanders, in early 1966, the remaining members of the Blues Project decided to concentrate on their improvisational and songwriting skills, splitting vocal duties between them. Rather than trying to rework the same songs they had been performing with Flanders, they instead began to work up new material, including keyboardist Al Kooper's rock and roll arrangement of an old gospel song, Wake Me, Shake Me. It was this arrangement that appeared on the group's next LP, Projections.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Cool, Calm And Collected
Source: LP: Between The Buttons
The Rolling Stones were beginning to experiment with psychedelia on their first album of 1967, Between The Buttons. Cool, Calm and Collected, which closes side one of the LP, features pianist Nicky Hopkins prominently. Hopkins, one of the most respected British session players (and the inspiration for the Kinks song Session Man) would soon start showing up on albums by American artists, and even became a member of one of them (Quicksilver Messenger Service) for a time. Probably the most memorable thing about Cool, Calm And Collected, however, is the fact that, about where you would expect a fadeout you instead get a slow increase in tempo which builds up to a truly manic train wreck of an ending. Fun stuff indeed.
Title: Cairo Hotel
Source: Mono LP: Ellis Island
Writer(s): Adam Mitchell
Label: Verve Forecast (mono promo copy)
Rock history is filled with stories of bands that were legendary stage performers, yet had little success in the recording studio. One of the best examples of this phenomena is a Canadian band called the Paupers. Formed in Toronto in 1964 by guitarist/vocalist Bill Marion and drummer Skip Prokop, the Paupers (called the Spats until 1965) reportedly put in 40 hours a week rehearsing, and were generally considered the tightest band on the Toronto music scene. Marion left the group in 1966, and was replaced by Scottish-born Adam Mitchell, who, with Prokop, wrote nearly all the band's original material. In 1967 they signed with the Verve Forecast label and began making appearances in the Eastern US, often opening for major acts like Jefferson Airplane (and reportedly blowing them off the stage, so to speak). The band released their first LP, Magic People, in 1967, touring extensively to promote it, but the album did not sell well, and Prokop left the group before their second LP, Ellis Island, was released in 1968, deciding to try his hand as a session musician (he played on Peter, Paul and Mary's I Dig Rock 'N' Roll Music, among other things), and eventually was a co-founder of a band called Lighthouse. After a final single from Ellis Island, Cairo Hotel, failed to chart, the Paupers disbanded, with Mitchell going on to become a solo artist. A new version of the Paupers was formed later that year to pay off debts, but did not make any studio recordings.
Artist: Blood, Sweat And Tears
Title: Spinning Wheel
Source: CD: Blood, Sweat And Tears
Writer(s): David Clayton-Thomas
After the departure of Blood, Sweat & Tears founder Al Kooper following the group's first LP, the remaining members decided to make a go of it with a new vocalist. They recruited Canada's David Clayton-Thomas, who not only brought a unique vocal sound to the group, but also penned one of their most popular songs, Spinning Wheel. The tune was the band's second consecutive top 5 single and cemented the group's reputation as a force to be reckoned with in the music world.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: Most Anything You Want
Source: CD: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Writer(s): Doug Ingle
Iron Butterfly will forever be known for the seventeen minute long In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, but, contrary to popular believe, they did record other songs as well, releasing four studio albums from 1968-1971. The In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida lineup of Doug Ingle (vocals, organ), Ron Bushy (drums), Lee Dorman (bass) and Erik Brann (guitar) was only around for two of those LPs, however, and can be heard on tracks like Most Anything You Want, which opens the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Absolutely Sweet Marie
Source: Mono LP: Blonde On Blonde
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan's Absolutely Sweet Marie, from his 1966 album Blonde On Blonde is best known for the line "To live outside the law you must be honest". The line was not entirely without precedent, however. Woody Guthrie, in his notes about the song Pretty Boy Floyd, said "I love a good man outside the law, just as I hate a bad man inside the law". And then there is the line "When you live outside the law, you have to eliminate dishonesty', from the 1958 film The Lineup, which Dylan may or may not have seen (I know I haven't). Regardless, it's Dylan's line that has had the greatest cultural impact.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Ain't No Tellin'
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Possibly the closest thing to a traditional R&B style song in JImi Hendrix's repertoire, Ain't No Tellin' was also, at one minute and 47 seconds, one of the shortest tracks ever recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The tune appeared on the Axis: Bold As Love album in 1967.
Artist: Grass Roots
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Feelings and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
In 1968 the Grass Roots decided to assert themselves and take artistic control of their newest album, Feelings, writing most of the material for the album themselves. Unfortunately for the band, the album, as well as its title track single, fared poorly on the charts. From that point on the Grass Roots were firmly under the control of producers/songwriters Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan, cranking out a series of best-selling hits such as I'd Wait A Million Years and Midnight Confessions (neither of which get played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, incidentally).
Artist: The audience at Woodstock
Title: Crowd Rain Chant
Source: LP: Woodstock
Writer(s): about half a million
It's debatable whether the crowd singing a rain chant at Woodstock made the storm stop (knowing upstate New York it probably just made it worse) but there's no denying the sincerity of the moment.