Sunday, March 24, 2019

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1913 (starts 3/25/19)

    A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from a listener suggesting I check out a band called the Claypool/Lennon Delerium for possible inclusion on a future Advanced Psych segment. I did, and was so impressed that I immediately ordered a copy of their first album, Monolith Of Phobos. The album did not disappoint, and this week's show features an entire set of tunes from the double LP. The show itself starts out with back to back artists' sets from two of the British Invasion's best bands.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (US version)
Source:    Mono LP: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Mann/Weil
Label:    Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1965
    In 1965 producer Mickey Most put out a call to Don Kirschner's Brill building songwriters for material that could be recorded by the Animals. He ended up selecting three songs, all of which are among the Animals' most popular singles. Possibly the best-known of the three is a song written by the husband and wife team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil called We Gotta Get Out Of This Place. The song (the first Animals recording to featuring Dave Rowberry, who had replaced founder Alan Price on organ) starts off with what is probably Chas Chandler's best known bass line, slowly adding drums, vocals, guitar and finally keyboards on its way to an explosive chorus. The song was not originally intended for the Animals, however; it was written for the Righteous Brothers as a follow up to (You've Got That) Lovin' Feelin', which Mann and Weil had also provided for the duo. Mann, however, decided to record the song himself, but the Animals managed to get their version out first, taking it to the top 20 in the US and the top 5 in the UK. As the Vietnam war escalated, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place became a sort of underground anthem for US servicemen stationed in South Vietnam, and has been associated with that war ever since. Incidentally, there were actually two versions of We Gotta Get Out Of This Place recorded during the same recording session, with an alternate take accidentally being sent to M-G-M and subsequently being released as the US version of the single. This version (which some collectors and fans maintain has a stronger vocal track) appeared on the US-only LP Animal Tracks in the fall of 1965 as well as the original M-G-M pressings of the 1966 album Best Of The Animals. The original UK version, on the other hand, did not appear on any albums, as was common for British singles in the 1960s. By the 1980s record mogul Allen Klein had control of the original Animals' entire catalog, and decreed that all CD reissues of the song would use the original British version of the song, including the updated (and expanded) CD version of The Best Of The Animals. This expanded version of the album first appeared on the ABKCO label in 1973, but with the American, rather than the British, version of We Gotta Get Out Of This Place. Luckily I have a copy of that LP, which is where this track was taken from. It's not in the best of shape, but it's worth putting up with a few scratches to hear the song the way the troops heard it back in '65.
Artist:    Animals
Title:    I'm Crying
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Price/Burdon
Label:    Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1964
    Like most groups in the early 1960s, the Animals started their studio career by recording a mixture of songs provided to their producer by professional songwriters and covers of tunes previously recorded by other artists. Their first self-penned single was I'm Crying, a tune by vocalist Eric Burdon and organist Alan Price that was released in September of 1964. The song made the top 10 in Canada and the UK, but stalled out in the lower reaches of the top 40 in the US, falling far short of their previous international hit, House Of The Rising Sun. Producer Mickie Most decided from then on that songs written by the band itself would only be released as album tracks and B sides, a policy that stayed in effect until the Animals changed producers in 1966.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Source:    Mono LP: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Benjamin/Marcus/Caldwell
Label:    Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1965
    1965 was a huge year for the Animals. Coming off the success of their 1964 smash House Of The Rising Sun, the Newcastle group racked up three major hits in 1965, including Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, a song originally recorded by jazz singer Nina Simone. The Animals version speeded up the tempo and used a signature riff that had been taken from Simone's outro. The Animals version of Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood made the top 20 in the US and the top five in both the UK and Canada.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Play With Fire
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and on LP: Out Of Our Heads)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1965
    Generally when one thinks of the Rolling Stones the first thing that comes to mind is down to earth rock and roll songs such as Satisfaction, Jumpin' Jack Flash and Honky Tonk Women. The band has always had a more mellow side, however. In fact, the first Mick Jagger/Keith Richards compositions were of the slower variety, including Heart Of Stone and As Tears Go By. Even after the duo started cranking out faster-paced hits like 19th Nervous Breakdown and The Last Time, they continued to write softer songs such as Play With Fire, which made the charts as a B side in 1965. The lyrics of Play With Fire, with their sneering warning to not mess with the protagonist of the song, helped cement the Stones' image as the bad boys of rock and roll.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Let's Spend The Night Together
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    I seem to recall some TV show (Ed Sullivan, maybe?) making Mick Jagger change the words of Let's Spend The Night Together to "Let's Spend Some Time Together". I can't imagine anyone doing that to the Stones now.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    It's All Over Now
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bobby & Shirley Womack
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1964
    During a 1964 on-air interview with the Rolling Stones, New York DJ Murray the K played a copy of a song called It's All Over Now by Bobby Womack's band, the Valentinos. The song had been a minor hit earlier in the year, spending two weeks in the top 100, and the Stones were reportedly knocked out by the record, calling it "our kind of song." Less than two weeks later the Stones recorded their own version of the song, which became their first number one hit in the UK. At first, Womack was reportedly against the idea of a British band recording his song, but changed his mind when he saw his first royalty check from the Stones' recording.

Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    Your Saving Grace
Source:    LP: Your Saving Grace
Writer:    Tim Davis
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    One of the most highly regarded of the Steve Miller Band's early albums was 1969's Your Saving Grace. A listen to the title track of the album shows why. As often as not, spoken sections in the middle of a song come off as silly or pretentious, but here Miller manages to make it work, enhancing what is already a fine recording.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    My Friend
Source:    LP: The Cry Of Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 1971
    Most of the tracks on The Cry Of Love, the first Jimi Hendrix LP to be released post-humously, were recordings made in 1969 and 1970 that were in various states of completion. The exeption is a song called My Friend, recorded in 1968 not long after the Electric Ladyland album was released. The song, which features the still-intact original Jimi Hendrix Experience lineup of Hendrix, bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, is basically a blues number that utilizes various background noises to make it sound as if it was recorded in a bar late at night.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Magic Of Love (live)
Source:    CD: Cheap Thrills (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Mark Spoelstra
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 1999
    Like many San Francisco bands of the psychedelic era, Big Brother And The Holding Company had a synergistic relationship with their audience. When they played, there would be people literally dancing in the aisles of places like the Avalon ballroom and the original Fillmore. The challenge for producer John Simon was to somehow capture the energy shared by band and audience on a vinyl disc. The group had already recorded one LP for Bob Shad's Mainstream label, but the album itself sounded sterile compared to the band's live performances. Simon's tentative solution for the second Big Brother album, Cheap Thrills, was to record the band live, starting with a show in Detroit on March 2, 1968. Ultimately, it was decided to shelve the live recordings (with one exception) and instead work with the band in the studio and sweeten the recordings with crowd sounds to simulate live performances. One of those shelved recordings, Magic Of Love (from the Detroit concert), finally surfaced on the 1999 CD reissue of Cheap Thrills as a bonus track.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Oh, Sweet Mary
Source:    LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Albin/Andrew/Getz/Gurley/Joplin
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    The only song credited to the entire membership of Big Brother And The Holding Company on their Cheap Thrills album was Oh, Sweet Mary (although the original label credits Janis Joplin as sole writer and the album cover itself gives only Joplin and Peter Albin credit). The tune bears a strong resemblance to Coo Coo, a non-album single the band had released on the Mainstream label before signing to Columbia. Oh, Sweet Mary, however, has new lyrics and, for a breath of fresh air, a bridge section played at a slower tempo than the rest of the tune.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Ball And Chain
Source:    CD: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Willie Mae Thornton
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1968
    Big Brother And The Holding Company electrified the crowd at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 with their performance of Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton's Ball And Chain. The rest of the world, however, would have to wait until the following year to hear Janis Joplin's version of the old blues tune, when a live performance recorded at Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditorium was included on the LP Cheap Thrills.

Artist:    Lovin' Spoonful
Title:    Rain On The Roof
Source:    LP: Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful
Writer(s):    John Sebastian
Label:    Sundazed/Kama Sutra
Year:    1966
    The 1966 album Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful was deliberately recorded in a variety of styles to give the impression of several different bands performing on the record. Among the hit singles from the LP was Rain On The Roof, a folky piece with a childlike quality to it.
Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Rainy Day In June
Source:    British import CD: Face To Face
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Sanctuary (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    Ray Davies let his imagination run free on a Rainy Day In June, from the 1966 Kinks LP Face To Face. The result was a song "about fairies and little evil things within the trees that come to life".

Artist:    Young Rascals
Title:    You Better Run
Source:    CD: Groovin' (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Cavaliere/Brigati
Label:    Warner Special Products (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1966
    The Young Rascals were riding high in 1966, thanks to their second single, Good Lovin', going all the way to the top of the charts early in the year. Rather than to follow up Good Lovin' with another single the band's label, Atlantic, chose to instead release a new album, Collections, on May 10th. This was somewhat unusual for the time, as having a successful single was considered essential to an artist's career, while albums were still viewed as somewhat of a luxury item. Three weeks later, a new non-album single, You Better Run, was released, with a song from Collections, Love Is A Beautiful Thing, as the B side. The stereo version of the song appeared on the 1967 LP Groovin'.

Artist:       Easybeats
Title:        Friday On My Mind
Source:   CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Vanda/Young
Label:    Rhino (original label: United Artists)
Year:        1966
       Considered by many to be the "greatest Australian song" ever (despite the fact that it was actually recorded in London), the Easybeats' Friday On My Mind, released in late 1966, certainly was the first major international hit to emerge from a band on the island continent. Rhythm guitarist George Young, who co-wrote Friday On My Mind, would go on to produce another Australian band featuring his two younger brothers, Angus and Malcolm in the 1970s. That band? AC/DC.

Artist:    Otis Redding
Title:    Respect
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer:    Otis Redding
Label:    Volt
Year:    1965
    Released well over a year before Aretha Franklin's version, Otis Redding's Respect was a hit on the R&B charts and managed to crack the lower reaches of the mainstream charts as well. Although not as well known as Franklin's version, the Redding track has its own unique energy and is a classic in its own right. The track, like most of Redding's recordings, features the Memphis Group rhythm section and the Bar-Kays on horns.

    Fans of alternative rock are no doubt familiar with a band called Primus, led by bassist Les Claypool. One of the more colorful characters on the modern music scene, Claypool was once rejected by Metallica as being "too good" for them. Claypool himself has said that he thought James Hetfield was just being nice when he told him that, but the fact is that Claypool is indeed one of the most talented bass players (if not the best) in rock history. Sean Lennon is, of course, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Unlike his half-borther Julian, Sean has never had to prove anything to anyone, and, thanks in large part to his mother's influence (and let's be honest here, money), has always felt free to pursue his own artistic path without having to bow to commercial pressures. The two of them met when their respective bands were on tour and they immediately recognized that they had a musical connection. That connection manifested itself in the album Monolith Of Phobos (a title inspired by Arthur Clarke's works), released in 2016. This week, for our Advanced Psych segment, we feature a set of tunes from that album.

Artist:    Claypool/Lennon Delerium
Title:    Ohmerica
Source:    LP: Monolith Of Phobos
Writer(s):    Claypool/Lennon
Label:    Ato
Year:    2016
    A pointed look at the state of the nation.
Artist:    Claypool/Lennon Delerium
Title:    Cricket And The Genie
Source:    LP: Monolith Of Phobos
Writer(s):    Claypool/Lennon
Label:    Ato
Year:    2016
    Cricket And The Genie actually comes in two parts. Both parts were released separately as singles.

Artist:    Claypool/Lennon Delerium
Title:    Bubbles Burst/There's No Underwear In Space
Source:    LP: Monolith Of Phobos
Writer(s):    Claypool/Lennon
Label:    Ato
Year:    2016
    If any one track captures the essence of the Claypool/Lennon Delerium, it's the final vocal work on Monolith Of Phobos, Bubbles Burst. The song seamlessly segues into the instrumental There's No Underwear In Space to close out the album.

Artist:    Blind Faith
Title:    Sea Of Joy
Source:    CD: Blind Faith
Writer(s):    Steve Winwood
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    At the time Blind Faith was formed there is no question that the biggest names in the band were guitarist Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, having just come off a successful three-year run with Cream. Yet the true architect of the Blind Faith sound was actually Steve Winwood, formerly of the Spencer Davis Group and, more recently, Traffic. Not only did Winwood handle most of the lead vocals for the group, he also wrote more songs on the band's only album than any other member. Among the Winwood tunes on that album is Sea Of Joy, which opens side two of the LP. The track also features some tasty violin work from the often-overlooked fourth member of Blind Faith, bassist Rick Grech, who would later join Winwood in a reformed Traffic.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Onie
Source:    CD: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (original album title: The Electric Prunes)
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Producer Dave Hassinger is a bit of an enigma. When working with the Rolling Stones as an engineer, he was involved in some of their best work and was thought of highly by the Stones themselves. As producer of the Grateful Dead, however, he obviously had no clue as to what the band was about, and bailed out midway through the production of the second album. As the producer of the first Electric Prunes LP he seems to have been trying to follow a formula that been established by Don Kirshner on the first two Monkees albums. That formula was to use professional songwriters (in this case mostly Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz) to provide a hit single and establish a particular sound, allowing the band members themselves to contribute only two songs to the album. Another part of the formula was to include a novelty number or two and at least one slow teenybopper-oriented ballad, in this case a song called Onie. Perhaps in response to seeing how the Monkees had rebelled against Kirshner following the release of More Of The Monkees, Hassinger eased up on the band a bit for their second album, Underground. Unfortunately that freedom was short-lived, but that's a story for another time.
Artist:    Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title:    Incense And Peppermints
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Carter/Gilbert/Weitz/King
Label:    Rhino (original labels: USA/Uni)
Year:    1967
    Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was originally released to Los Angeles area radio stations it was intended to be the B side of The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    The Masked Marauder
Source:    LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Perhaps more than any other band, Country Joe and the Fish capture the essence of the San Francisco scene in the late 60s (which is rather ironic, considering that they were actually based in Berkeley on the other side of the bay and rarely visited the city itself, except to play gigs). Their first two releases were floppy inserts included in Joe McDonald's self-published Rag Baby underground newspaper. In 1967 the band was signed to Vanguard Records, a primarily folk-oriented prestige label that also had Joan Baez on its roster. Their first LP, Electric Music For the Mind and Body had such classic cuts as Section 43, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, and the political parody Superbird on it, as well as the mostly-instrumental tune The Masked Marauder. Not for the unenlightened.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Eskimo Blue Day
Source:    LP: Volunteers
Writer(s):    Slick/Kantner
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1969
    Jefferson Airplane's sixth LP, Volunteers, was by far their most socio-political album, from the first track (We Can Be Together, with its famous "up against the wall" refrain) to the last (the song Volunteers itself). One of the more controversial tracks on the 1969 album is Eskimo Blue Day, which describes just how meaningless human concerns are in the greater scheme of things with the repeated use of the phrase "doesn't mean shit to a tree". Eskimo Blue Day was one of two songs from Volunteers performed by the Airplane at Woodstock.

Artist:    Phil Ochs
Title:    The War Is Over
Source:    CD: The Best Of Phil Ochs (originally released on LP: Tape From California)
Writer(s):    Phil Ochs
Label:    A&M
Year:    1968
    Considered one of the most iconic antiwar songs of the 1960s, The War Is Over, from Phil Ochs' fifth album, Tape From California, was inspired by poet Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg's idea was that, instead of expending energy protesting against the war in Vietnam, people should simply declare that the war was over, and if enough people did so, the war would indeed end. Of course, like all wars, the Vietnam War did eventually end, but not for several more years, although Ochs's song did inspire many young men to burn their draft cards as a symbolic gesture.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    House Of Jansch
Source:    Mono LP: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic
Year:    1967
    One of the most respected names in British folk music during the 1960s was Bert Jansch. House Of Jansch, from the Mellow Yellow album, was Donovan's way of acknowledging Jansch's influence on his own music.


No comments:

Post a Comment