Sunday, June 2, 2019
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1923 (starts 6/3/19)
This week we have something you have probably never heard before: the stereo album version of the Doors' Light My Fire played at the speed it was actually recorded at. For the full story check out the entry below. Other than that, it's mostly sets from 1966, 1967 and 1968, with a couple of artists' sets thrown in and a set of regional hits from various locales (one of which went national in 1966). It starts appropriately, with the Story of Rock and Roll, and ends with (literally) the Show Stoppers.
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: Guess Who
Title: We're Coming To Dinner
Source: CD: Wheatfield Soul
Label: Iconoclassic (original labels: Canada:Nimbus, US: RCA Victor)
I suppose it was inevitable that a band named the Guess Who would include a song called We're Coming To Dinner on their first American LP. After all, lots of people were talking about the film Guess Who's Coming To Dinner in 1968, when the album was recorded. The song itself, however, can be seen more as an announcement to those in the lower 48 that one of Canada's most popular bands had arrived and was ready to take their place at the dinner table of American success. Or something like that.
Artist: H.P. Lovecraft
Title: It's About Time
Source: Two Classic Albums from H. P. Lovecraft (originally released on LP: H.P. Lovecraft II)
Writer(s): Terry Callier
Label: Collector's Choice/Universal Music Special Markets (original label: Philips)
The second H.P. Lovecraft album, coming after a series of gigs opening for such acts as Pink Floyd, Donovan and Jefferson Airplane, was even more psychedelic than their first effort. Like the early Airplane, Lovecraft were at their best doing psychedelic arrangements of folks tunes from lesser-known songwriters such as Terrier Callier, whose fan base, according to rock critic Richie Unterberger, was small enough to make Fred Neil's seem huge by comparison. Lovecraft's treatment of Callier's It's About Time certainly has the same sort of vocal harmonies that characterized the San Francisco take on folk-rock, despite the fact that H.P. Lovecraft was actually from Chicago, a city not particularly known for its psychedelic scene.
Source: German import CD: Black Monk Time
Label: Repertoire (original label: Polydor International)
The Monks were ahead of their time. In fact they were so far ahead of their time that only in the next century did people start to realize just how powerful the music on their first and only LP actually was. Released in West Germany in 1966, Black Monk Time both delighted and confused record buyers with songs like Higgle-Dy-Piggle-Dy, which sounds at first like a typical mid-60s dance tune, but soon displays a subversive edge that presages both the British punk-rock movement of the late 1970s and the hypnotic rhythmic patterns that would become the basis of kraut-rock as well. Not bad for a group of five American GIs (probably draftees) who, while stationed at Frankfurt, managed to come up with the idea of a rock band that looked and dressed like Monks (including the shaved patch on the top of each member's head) and sounded like nothing else in the world at that time. Of course, such a phenomenon can't sustain itself indefinitely, and the group disappeared in early 1967, never to be seen or heard from again.
Source: CD: The Best Of The Standells (originally released on LP: Why Pick On Me/Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
The Standells are generally not known for their album tracks, but Mainline, from their second LP, Why Pick On Me/Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, was considered strong enough by the folks at Rhino to be included on their Best Of The Standells compilation CD in the late 1980s. That's gotta count for something.
Title: It's My Fault
Source: CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Germany on LP: Hurra Die Rattles Kommen)
Writer(s): Achim Reichel
Label: Rhino (original label: Star Club)
Hamburg's Star Club is famous for being the place where the Beatles honed their sound in the early 1960s. The club continued to bring in both British and American bands throughout the decade. Often opening for these bands was Hamburg's own popular beat group, the Rattles. The band, which was managed by the club's owner, Manfred Weissleder, released several records on the Star Club label, and even starred in their own Beatles-style movie in 1966, Hurra, Die Rattles Kommen. It's My Fault, from the film's soundtrack, is a good example of the band's mid-60s sound. In 1970, following the departure of original lead vocalist Achim Reichel, who was drafted into the army soon after the film was released, the Rattles scored an international hit with a song called The Witch, but by then the band's sound had changed a lot from their beat days.
Title: Eight Miles High
Source: CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released on LP: Fifth Dimension)
Label: BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Columbia)
By all rights, the Byrds' Eight Miles High should have been a huge hit. Unfortunately, the highly influential Gavin Report labelled the tune as a drug song and recommended that stations avoid playing it, despite band's insistence that it was about a transatlantic plane trip. The band's version actually makes sense, as Gene Clark had just quit the group due to his fear of flying (he is listed as a co-writer of the song), and the subject was probably a hot topic of discussion among the remaining members.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Walk Away Renee
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
The Left Banke's Walk Away Renee is one of the most covered songs in rock history, starting with a version by the Four Tops less than two years after the original recording had graced the top 5. The Left Banke version kicked off what was thought at the time to be the latest trend: baroque rock. The trend died an early death when the band members themselves made some tactical errors resulting in radio stations being hesitant to play their records.
Artist: Bobby Fuller Four
Title: Love's Made A Fool Of You
Source: Mono CD: I Fought The Law: The Best Of The Bobby Fuller Four (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mustang)
The Bobby Fuller Four had their biggest hit in 1966 with I Fought The Law, a song written by Sonny Curtis and originally performed by the Crickets not long after the death of Buddy Holly (Curtis having replaced Holly on guitar in the group). Fuller followed I Fought The Law with another Crickets song, this one written by Buddy Holly himself. Love's Made A Fool Of You was actually written in 1954, but the only recording he himself made of the song was a demo intended for the Everly Brothers. The Everlys passed on the tune and the post-Holly Crickets ended up recording the song, although it did not chart for them. Fuller's version, released in 1966, made it the the #26 spot on the Billboard chart.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Let's Spend The Night Together
Source: LP: Through The Past, Darkly (originally released on LP: Between The Buttons and as 45 RPM single)
When Let's Spend The Night Together was climbing the charts, the Rolling Stones made one of their many appearances on the Ed Sullivan show. The show's producers (or maybe Ed himself) asked Mick Jagger to change the words to "Let's Spend Some Time Together", and he actually complied! I can't imagine anyone doing that to the Stones now (nor can I imagine the band agreeing to it).
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Fakin' It
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Writer: Paul Simon
Fakin' It, originally released as a single in 1967, was a bit of a departure for Simon And Garfunkel, sounding more like British psychedelic music than American folk-rock. The track starts with an intro that is similar to the false ending to the Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever; midway through the record the tempo changes drastically for a short spoken word section (name-dropping Mr. [Donovan] Leitch) that is slightly reminiscent of the bridge in Traffic's Hole In My Shoe. The song was later included on the 1968 LP Bookends.
Artist: Balloon Farm
Title: A Question Of Temperature
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Laurie)
It's not entirely clear whether the Balloon Farm was an actual band or simply an East Coast studio concoction. Regardless, they did manage to successfully cross bubble gum and punk with A Question Of Temperature, originally released on the Laurie label in 1967. Band member Mike Appel went on to have greater success as Bruce Springsteen's first manager.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Source: CD: Heavy
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
The band that came to be known as Iron Butterfly traces its roots to two local San Diego cover bands: the Palace Pages, which included organist Doug Ingle and guitarist Danny Weis, and the Voxmen, which included bassist Jerry Penrod and drummer Ron Bushy. In 1966 Ingle and Weis decided to move north to Los Angeles and form a new band, which they called Iron Butterfly. The original bassist and drummer didn't work out, and Ingle and Weis persuaded Penrod and Bushy to join them, along with vocalist Daryl DeLoach. After a slow start the band started to build a following on the Sunset Strip, and in 1967 landed a contract with Atco, recording their first album, Heavy. Although DeLoach's role with the band was limited to vocals, tambourine and percussion, he actually sang lead on only four of the album's ten tracks, among them the opening track of the second side of the LP, a tune he and Ingle co-wrote called So-Lo. Before the album was released, the band temporarily split up, and it was not until the new lineup of Ingle, Bushy, guitarist Erik Braunn and bassist Lee Dorman hit the stage in early 1968 that Atco decided to release Heavy. That lineup would go on to record two more Iron Butterfly albums, including the iconic In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Wish Me Well
Source: CD: Shine On Brightly
The second Procol Harum album, Shine On Brightly, saw the group moving in an increasingly progressive direction, incorporating elements of a variety of styles, including Indian, classical and even gospel music. An example of the latter is Wish Me Well, which finishes out side one of the LP. Gary Brooker's gospel-styled piano work on the track is enhanced by some tasty fills from guitarist Robin Trower.
Artist: Johnny Winter
Title: Rollin' And Tumblin'
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: The Progressive Blues Experiment)
Writer(s): McKinley Morganfield
Label: United Artists (original labels: Sonobeat/Imperial)
Johnny Winter's first album, The Progressive Blues Experiment, was originally released in 1968 on the Texas-based Sonobeat label. A ctitical success, it was picked up and reissued on the Imperial label a year later. Most of the songs on the album are covers of blues classics such as Muddy Waters's Rollin' And Tumblin'.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: You've Never Had It Better
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Following the lack of a hit single from their second album, Underground, the Electric Prunes took one last shot at top 40 airplay with a song called Everybody Knows Your Not In Love. The band might have had better luck if they had pushed the flip side of the record, You Never Had It Better, which is a much stronger song. As it is, the record stiffed, and producer David Hassinger reacted by stripping the band of any creative freedom they might have had and made an album called Mass in F Minor using mostly studio musicians. The band, having signed away the rights to the name Electric Prunes to their manager early on, could do nothing but watch helplessly as Hassinger created an album that had little in common with the original band other than their name. Because of this, the original members soon left, and Hassinger brought in a whole new group for two more albums (and several singles) before retiring the Prunes name for good. In recent years several members of the original band have reformed the Electric Prunes. Whether they had to get permission to use the name is unknown.
Artist: Motorcycle Abileen
Title: (You Used To) Ride So High
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on CD: Warren Zevon: The First Sessions)
Writer(s): Warren Zevon
Label: Rhino (original label: Varese Sarabande)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2003
One of the ripple effects of the British Invasion was the near-disappearance of the solo artist from the top 40 charts for several years. There were exceptions, of course. Folk singers such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, pop singers such as Jackie DeShannon and Dionne Warwick and more adult-oriented vocalists such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin all did reasonably well, but if you wanted to be a rock and roll star you had to have a band. Producers took to creating band names for pieces that were in fact entirely performed by studio musicians, and in a few cases a solo artist would use a band name for his own recordings. One such case is the Motorcycle Abilene, which was in reality producer Bones Howe on various percussion devices working with singer/songwriter Warren Zevon, who sings and plays all non-percussion instruments on (You Used To) Ride So High, a song he wrote shortly after disbanding the duo Lyme And Cybelle (he was Lyme, presumably).
Title: I Need You
Source: Mono LP: Kinkdom
Writer(s): Ray Davies
After a series of hard-rocking hits in 1964 such as You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night, the Kinks mellowed out a bit with songs like Set Me Free the following year. Lurking on the other side of the single, though, was a song that showed that the band still knew how to rock out: I Need You. The song was also included on the 1965 LP Kinks Kinkdom, and went on to become something of a garage rock standard.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Stone Free
Source: Simulated stereo CD: Are You Experienced? (bonus track originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Polydor)
Whether or not Stone Free was the first song ever written by Jimi Hendrix, there is no doubt it was the first original composition to be recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In fact, it is the only song written by Hendrix to be released in 1966 (as the B side to Hey Joe). The song was first released in 1969 on the US on the Smash Hits anthology album. A newer version was recorded that same year under the title Stone Free Again, but was not released during Hendrix's lifetime.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Can You See Me
Source: Mono LP: Are You Experienced (UK version) (original US release: LP: Smash Hits)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original US label: Reprise)
Year: 1967 (US 1969)
Before releasing the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, in the US, Reprise Records decided to make some changes to the track lineup, adding three songs that had been released as non-album singles in the UK. To make room for these, three songs were cut from the original UK version of the LP. The most popular of these three tracks was Can You See Me, a song that was included in the band's US debut set at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. Despite the audience's positive response to the song, the band apparently dropped Can You See Me from their live set shortly after Monterey. The song was originally slated to be released as the B side of The Wind Cries Mary, but instead was used as an album track.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Third Stone From The Sun
Source: CD: Are You Experienced?
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix once stated that he was far more comfortable as a guitarist than as a vocalist, at least in the early days of the Experience. In that case, he was certainly in his element for his classic instrumental from the Are You Experienced album, Third Stone From The Sun. The train sequence at the end of the track, incidentally, was done entirely on guitar.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Baby, I Want You
Source: CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Electric Comic Book)
Although not as well-known as their debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop, the Blues Magoos' Electric Comic Book is a worthy successor to that early psychedelic masterpiece. Handicapped by a lack of hit singles, the album floundered on the charts, despite the presence of songs like Baby, I Want You, one of many original tunes on the LP.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet
Source: CD: More Nuggets (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Label: Rhino (original label: Mercury)
The Blues Magoos (original spelling: Bloos) were either the first or second band to use the word psychedelic in an album title. Both they and the 13th Floor Elevators released their debut albums in 1966 and it is unclear which one actually came out first. What's not in dispute is the fact that Psychedelic Lollipop far outsold The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. One major reason for this was the fact that (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet was a huge national hit in early 1967, which helped album sales considerably. Despite having a unique sound and a look to match (including electric suits), the Magoos were unable to duplicate the success of Nothin' Yet on subsequent releases, partially due to Mercury's pairing of two equally marketable songs on the band's next single without indicating to stations which one they were supposed to be playing.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Love Seems Doomed
Source: CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Unlike most of the tracks on the Blues Magoos' 1966 Debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop, Love Seems Doomed is a slow, moody piece with a message. Along with the Paul Revere and the Raiders hit Kicks from earlier that year, Love Seems Doomed is one of the first songs by a rock band to carry a decidedly anti-drug message. While Kicks warned of the addictive qualities of drugs (particularly the need for larger doses of a drug to achieve the same effect over time), Love Seems Doomed focused more on how addiction affects the user's relationships, particularly those of a romantic nature. Love Seems Doomed is also a more subtle song than Kicks (which tends to hit the listener over the head with its message).
Artist: Otis Redding
Title: (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
Source: LP: Dock Of The Bay (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Otis Redding's (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay, co-written by legendary MGs guitarist Steve Cropper, was released shortly after the plane crash that took the lives of not only Redding, but several members of the Bar-Kays as well. Shortly after recording the song Redding played it for his wife, who reacted by saying "Otis, you're changing." Redding's reply was "maybe I need to."
Title: Fixing A Hole
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Label: Parlophone/EMI (original US label: Capitol)
The first Beatle album to appear with the same tracks in the same order on both US and UK versions was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The only differences between the two were a lack of spaces in the vinyl (called "banding") on the UK version and a bit of gobbledygook heard at the end of the record (but only if you did not have a turntable that automatically lifted the needle out of the groove after the last track). Said gobbledygook is included after A Day In The Life on the CD version of Sgt. Pepper's as a hidden track if you really want to hear what it sounds like.
Artist: ? And The Mysterians
Title: I Can't Get Enough Of You Baby
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Abkco (original label: Cameo)
? And The Mysterians' 1966 hit 96 Tears was the last song on the legendary Cameo label to hit the top 10 before the label went bankrupt in 1967 (and was bought by Allan Klein, who still reissues old Cameo-Parkway recordings on his Abkco label). Shortly before that bankruptcy was declared, however, the group released Can't Get Enough Of You Baby, which stalled out in the lower reaches of the charts. The song itself, however, finally achieved massive popularity at the end of the century, when a new version of the tune by Smash Mouth went to the top of the charts.
Title: The Wind Blows Your Hair
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
The Wind Blows Your Hair is actually one of the Seeds' better tracks. Unfortunately, by the time it was released the whole idea 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.
Title: Light My Fire
Source: LP: The Doors
Writer(s): The Doors
The first Doors album was the only one to be released in both mono and stereo versions. Due to an error in the mastering process the stereo version was slowed down by about 3.5%, or about half a step in musical terms. As the mono version was deleted from the Elektra catalog soon after the album's release, the error went unnoticed for many years until a college professor contacted engineer Bruce Botnick and told him of the discrepancy. This week we have the stereo LP version played 3.5% faster than the normal 33 1/3 RPM (thanks to WHWS having turntables capable of a bit of speed variance). Sure enough, everything is pitch perfect.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: Chess Game
Source: LP: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
New York's Greenwich Village based Circus Maximus was driven by the dual creative talents of guitarist/keyboardist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker. Although Walker went on to have the greatest success, it was Bruno's more jazz-influenced songwriting on songs like Chess Game that defined the band's sound. Bruno is now a successful visual artist, still living in the New York area.
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released on LP: Here Are The Sonics)
Writer: Gerry Roslie
Label: Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
From 1965 we have a band that maintains a cult following to this day: the legendary Sonics, generally considered one of the foundation stones of the Seattle music scene. Although the majority of the songs on their albums were cover tunes, virtually all of their originals are now considered punk classics; indeed, the Sonics are often cited as the first true punk rock band.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
In the early 1960s the San Bernardino/Riverside area of Southern California (sometimes known as the Inland Empire), was home to a pair of rival top 40 stations, KFXM and KMEN. The newer of the two, KMEN, had a staff that included Ron Jacobs, who would go on to co-create the Boss Radio format (more music, less talk!), and Brian Lord, one of the first American DJs to champion British Rock. Lord arranged for copies of Beatles albums to be shipped to KMEN from record shops in London before they were released in the US, giving the station an edge over its competition in 1964. More importantly in the long term, Lord was the man responsible for setting up the Rolling Stones' first US gig (in San Bernardino). From 1965-67 Lord took a break from KMEN, moving north to the San Jose area. While there, he heard a local band playing in a small teen club and invited them to use his garage as a practice space. The band was Count Five, and, with Lord's help, they got a contract with L.A.'s Double Shot label, recording and releasing the classic Psychotic Reaction in 1966. Lord later claimed that this was the origin of the term "garage rock".
Artist: Show Stoppers
Title: If You Want To, Why Don't You
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): W.E. Hjerpe
The Show Stoppers were a Rochester, NY based club band that included Don Potter and Bat McGrath, who would go on to release an album together on the Epic label in 1969. The Show Stoppers were discovered by John Hammond in 1967 and signed to the Columbia label, where they released two singles. Although three of the tracks would best be described as danceable pop music, the A side of their second single, If You Want To, Why Don't You, had more of a garage-rock sound, and has appeared on at least one garage-rock compilation. Both Potter and McGrath now reside in Nashville, where Potter became well-known as the creator of the "Judds sound" in the 1980s. Special thanks to Tom at the Bop Shop in Rochester (a record store that specializes in vinyl) for making this record available to me.