Sunday, November 24, 2019

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1948 (starts 11/25/19)

    Once again we have a Beatles vs. Stones segment, this time featuring tracks from 1966-1967 (in fact all the Beatles tracks are from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band). Also on the show: a Turtles set, a Savoy Brown LP side and a set of truly obscure songs that includes two artists (Pearls Before Swine and Smith) making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut.

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    Gimme Some Lovin'
Source:    Mono LP: Gimme Some Lovin' (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Steve Winwood
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1966
    The 1980s 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 becomming best-sellers. Not entirely coincidentally, 60s-oriented oldies radio stations began to appear in major markets as well. Most of them are now playing 80s and even 90s oldies, by the way.

Artist:    Yardbirds
Title:    Shapes Of Things
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Samwell-Smith/Relf/McCarty
Label:    Priority (original label: Epic)
Year:    1966
    Unlike earlier Yardbirds hits, 1966's Shapes Of Things was written by members of the band. The song, featuring one of guitarist Jeff Beck's most distinctive solos, just barely missed the top 10 in the US, although it was a top 5 single in the UK.

Artist:    Downliners Sect
Title:    Why Don't You Smile Now
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released on LP: The Rock Sect's In)
Writer(s):    Philips/Vance/Reed/Cale
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia UK)
Year:    1966
    The Downliners Sect was one of the more unusual British bands of the mid-sixties, with a penchant for choosing unconventional material to record. Their second LP, for instance, was made up of covers of songs originally recorded by US Country and Western artists. Their third LP, The Rock Sect's In, was (as the title implies) more of a straight rock album than their previous efforts. Still, they managed to find unique material to record, such as Why Don't You Smile Now, a song chosen from a stack of producers' demos from the US. Although nobody seems to know who Philips or Vance were, the Reed and Cale in the songwriting credits were none other than Lou and John, in a pre-Velvet Underground incarnation.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet
Source:    CD: Psychedelic Pop (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Writer(s):    Gilbert/Scala/Esposito
Label:    BMG/RCA/Buddah (original label: Mercury)
Year:    1966
    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 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:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Bluebird
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    When it comes right down to it Buffalo Springfield has one of the highest ratios of songs recorded to songs played on the radio of any band in history, especially if you only count the two albums worth of material that was released while the band was still active. This is probably because Buffalo Springfield had more raw songwriting talent than just about any two other bands. Although Neil Young was just starting to hit his stride as a songwriter, bandmate Stephen Stills was already at an early peak, as songs like Bluebird clearly demonstrate.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Beggar's Farm
Source:    LP: This Was
Writer(s):    Abrahams/Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1968
    Although Jethro Tull would eventually come to be considered almost a backup band for flautist/vocalist/songwriter Ian Anderson, in the early days the group was much more democratically inclined, at least until the departure of guitarist and co-founder Mick Abrahams. In addition to providing a more blues-based orientation for the band, Abrahams shared songwriting duties with Anderson as well, including collaborations such as Beggar's Farm from the band's 1968 debut LP, This Was.

Artist:    Gods
Title:    Hey Bulldog
Source:    British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    EMI (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Fans of Uriah Heep may recognize the names Ken Hensley, Joe Konas, John Glascock and Lee Kerslake as members of the legendary British rock band at various phases of its existence. What they may not realize is that these four members had already been bandmates since early 1968 as members of the Gods. The band made it's recording debut with a song called Baby's Rich, which led to a concept album called Genesis. 1969 saw the release of a powerful cover of the Beatles' Hey Bulldog, along with a second album, before the group morphed into a band called Toe Fat, with Hensley soon departing to form Uriah Heep.

Artist:    Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Title:    Our House
Source:    CD: déjà vu
Writer(s):    Graham Nash
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    Sometimes even the most mundane events can inspire art. Graham Nash's Our House, from the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album, déjà vu, is a perfect example. The song was written by Nash at the Laurel Canyon home of Joni Mitchell following a trip into Los Angeles for breakfast. They had stopped at an antique shop on the way back, where Mitchell had bought a vase, and while Mitchell was gathering up some flowers to put in it Nash sat down at Mitchell's piano. About an hour later, Nash had put the finishing touches on Our House. Nash later said he was already bored with Our House the day after he had recorded it, but that he still plays the song from time to time "because it does mean so much to so many people". The song was released as a single in 1970, peaking at #30.

    Since it is Thanksgiving time, I figured I ought to include one song about food, so here it is, along with a very special recipe:

Artist:    Bigg Brothers (aka the Turtles)
Title:    Food
Source:    CD: The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands
Writer(s):    The Turtles
Label:    Sundazed (original label: White Whale)
Year:    1968
    By 1968 the Turtles' relationship with their label, White Whale, had deteriorated to the point that the group was starting to consider the possibility of disbanding in order to get out of their contract. They had self-produced several songs earlier in the year that the label had rejected and were under constant pressure to come up with another monster hit like Happy Together. Against this backdrop the group released one of the most unique albums in rock history. Entitled The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands, the album contained a dozen tunes, each done in a different style and credited to a different band. Food, for instance, was credited to the Bigg Brothers, and sounded like one of the more whimsical tracks from the Association. The song also included the following recipe within its lyrics, which I am presenting here as a public service:

Two thirds cups of flour
A teaspoon full of salt
A quarter pound of butter
Add an egg and blend it out
Two squares of dark chocolate
Walnuts, pot and sugar
A teaspoon of bakin' powder
Thirty minutes in the heat and it's over

Although The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands peaked at only the #128 spot, it is now considered one of the band's best efforts.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    She's My Girl
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Bonner/Gordon
Label:    Rhino (original label: White Whale)
Year:    1967
    A favorite among the Turtles' members themselves, She's My Girl is full of hidden studio tricks that are barely (if at all) audible on the final recording. Written by Gary Bonner and Al Gordon, the same team that came up with Happy Together, the song is a worthy follow up to that monster hit.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    Let Me Be
Source:    Mono CD: Songs Of Protest (originally released on LP: It Ain't Me Babe and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    P.F. Sloan
Label:    Rhino (original label: White Whale)
Year:    1965
    The Turtles were nothing if not able to redefine themselves when the need arose. Originally a surf band known as the Crossfires, the band quickly adopted an "angry young men" stance with their first single, Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, and the subsequent album of the same name. For the follow-up single the band chose a track from their album, Let Me Be, that, although written by a different writer, had the same general message as It Ain't Me Babe. The band would soon switch over to love songs like Happy Together and She'd Rathr Be With Me before taking their whole chameleon bit to its logical extreme with an album called Battle Of The Bands on which each track was meant to sound like it was done by an entirely different group.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Dirty Water (live version)
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Sundazed
Year:    Recorded 1966, released 2014
    In October of 1966 the Standells were riding high on the strength of their hit single, Dirty Water, when they opened for the Beach Boys at the University of Michigan. Unbeknownst to the band at the time, the entire performance was being professionally recorded by people from Capitol Records, the parent company of Tower Records, whom the Standells recorded for. The recordings remained unreleased for many years; in fact, even the band members themselves were unaware of their existence until around 2000. Finally, in 2014, Sundazed released the live recording of Dirty Water on clear 45 RPM vinyl as part of their Record Store Day promotion. Enjoy!

Artist:    Leaves
Title:    Officer Shayne
Source:    British import CD: All The Good That's Happening
Writer(s):    Beck/Arlin
Label:    Grapefruit (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    The first album by the Leaves was a success in the Los Angeles area and included a national hit, Hey Joe. This led to the group signing with a major label, Capitol, and releasing a second LP, All The Good That's Happening. Unfortunately, the group was already starting to fall apart at this point, with bassist Jim Pons on the verge of accepting a job with the Turtles, replacing bassist Chip Douglas, who had left the group to become the Monkees' producer. All The Good That's Happening, as a result, is about as far from a cohesive sounding album as you can get. One of the stranger tunes on the album is Officer Shayne, about an encounter with a law enforcement officer gone wrong. Midway through the song, which starts off as a standard folk-rock kind of tune, the tempo, style and key of the piece abruptly changes into something vaguely reminiscent of Strawberry Fields Forever before just as abruptly going back to the song's original pattern.

Artist:    McGough & McGear
Title:    So Much To Love
Source:    Mono CD: McGough & McGear
Writer(s):    McGough/McGear
Label:    Real Gone (original UK label: Parlophone)
Year:    1968
    The Scaffold was a uniquely English performance trio consisting of comic John Gorman, poet Roger McGough and musician Mike McGear formed in 1964 in Liverpool. In 1968 McGough and McGear decided to make a record album, utilizing McGear's contacts in the record industry to secure a contract with EMI's Parlophone label (his older brother was a member of a band signed to the label). Unlike the first Scaffold album, a live performance released later the same year, McGough & McGear was a studio creation that included guest appearances from Jimi Hendrix (who plays guitar on So Much To Love), and drummer Mitch Mitchell. Mike McGear, incidentally, was a stage name for Peter Michael McCartney, whose older brother Paul provided backup vocals for So Much To Love as well as being listed (along with McGear and Paul Samwell-Smith) as co-producer of the LP. Other contributors to the album include Graham Nash, Jane Asher and Dave Mason.

Artist:    Smith
Title:    The Weight
Source:    CD: Easy Rider soundtrack
Writer(s):    Robbie Robertson
Label:    MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1969
    When it came time to select music for the film Easy Rider, producer Peter Fonda went with some of the coolest tracks available, including Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild and The Pusher, the Jimi Hendrix Experience's If 6 Was 9 and The Weight, a Robbie Robertson tune performed by The Band. Of course it was only natural that these songs would be included on a soundtrack album as well, but there was a problem. The album itself was released on the Dunhill label in August of 1969, but then transferred to the Reprise label later in the year. Since Steppenwolf recorded for Dunhill and Hendrix for Reprise, this was not an issue. The Band, however, was under contract to Capitol Records, who were more than happy to have one of their artists on display, as it were, in the cult film of the year, but balked at having that artist appear on a rival label. So they withheld the rights to The Weight. Dunhill, however, had a fallback plan. They had recently signed a band named Smith who specialized in cover songs (their biggest hit was a remake of the Shirelles' Baby It's You) and commissioned them to do their own version of The Weight, which sounded nearly identical to that of The Band. Record companies can be so proprietary!

Artist:    Pearls Before Swine
Title:    Song About A Rose
Source:    CD: Constructive Melancholy-30 Years Of Pearls Before Swine (originally released on LP: The Use Of Ashes)
Writer(s):    Tom Rapp
Label:    Birdman (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1970
    After getting screwed out of their royalties for their first two albums, nearly all of the members of Pearls Before Swine except for bandleader Tom Rapp quit in disgust. Rapp, however, didn't throw in the towel. In fact, he signed a much more favorable contract with the Reprise label, continuing to record as Pearls Before Swine with whoever he happened to be working with at the time. Around this same time he met his future wife Elisabeth, who would appear on all subsequent Pearls Before Swine albums. By the time sessions got underway for their second Reprise album, The Use Of Ashes, the group consisted of Rapp, Elisabeth and a whole lot of studio musicians, including guitarist Charlie McCoy, who was already well-known for his work on Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde album, among other projects. By this time Rapp's music had lost any semblance of rock 'n' roll, moving instead into a spacier folky realm on songs like Song About A Rose. The next Pearls Before Swine album would have a strong Nashville sound, with Rapp's vocals resembling Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline style.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    You Can't Catch Me
Source:    LP: Tommy Flanders, Danny Kalb, Steve Katz, Al Kooper, Andy Kuhlberg, Roy Blumenfeld Of The Blues Project (promo copy) (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer:    Chuck Berry
Label:    Verve Forecast
Year:    1966
    One of the reasons for Chuck Berry's enduring popularity throughout the 1960s (despite a lack of major hits during the decade) was the fact that so many bands covered his 50s hits, often updating them for a 60s audience. Although not as well-known as Roll Over Beethoven or Johnny B. Goode, You Can't Catch Me nonetheless got its fair share of coverage, including versions by the Rolling Stones and the Blues Project (as well as providing John Lennon an opening line for the song Come Together).

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Got This Thing On The Move
Source:    CD: Grand Funk
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    From summer of 1967 to summer of 1970 I lived in Germany. This gave me a bit of a different perspective on the state of rock music during those years. For example, the Who, a band I had only barely heard of in the US, was huge overseas. On the other hand, bands like the Grateful Dead were little more than a distant legend in Europe at that time. On my return to the States in summer of 1970, I learned of the existence of a power trio from Flint, Michigan called Grand Funk Railroad.  In the US they were universally hated by rock music critics, yet managed to set all kinds of attendance records throughout 1969 and 1970, pretty much single-handedly inventing arena rock in the process. They also managed to get no less than three albums certified gold in 1970 alone. Despite this, GFR was totally unknown in Europe, leading me to believe that the people who ordered albums for the BX were paying too much attention to the Village Voice and Rolling Stone magazine and not enough attention to actual record sales and concert attendance figures. Anyway, I soon got my hands on the album Grand Funk (aka the Red Album) and was totally blown away by the opening track, Got This Thing On The Move. There's a valuable lesson in there somewhere.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Stupid Girl
Source:    CD: Aftermath
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1966
    By 1966 the songwriting team of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had hit its stride, turning out Rolling Stones classics like Mother's Little Helper and Paint It Black as a matter of course. Even B sides such as Stupid Girl were starting to get airplay on top 40 stations, a trend that would continue to grow over the next year or so.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    She's Leaving Home
Source:    CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    One of the striking things about the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the sheer variety of styles on the album. Never before had a rock band gone so far beyond its roots in so many directions at once. One of Paul McCartney's most poignant songs on the album was She's Leaving Home. The song tells the story of a young girl who has decided that her stable homelife is just too unfulling to bear and heads for the big city. Giving the song added depth is the somewhat clueless response of her parents, who can't seem to understand what went wrong.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Gomper
Source:    LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    Probably the most overtly psychedelic track ever recorded by the Rolling Stones, Gomper might best be described as a hippy love song with its references to nature, innocence and, of course, pyschedelic substances. Brian Jones makes one of his last significant contributions as a member of the band he founded, playing the dulcimer, as well as tablas, organ, pan flute and various percussion instruments on the song.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Fixing A Hole
Source:    CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    Until 1967 every Beatles album released in the US had at least one hit single included that was not on the British version of the album (or was never released as a single in the UK). With the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, however, the track lineup became universal, making it the first Beatle album released in the US to not have a hit single on it. Nonetheless, the importance (and popularity) of the album was such that virtually every song on it got top 40 airplay at one time or another, although some tracks got more exposure than others. One of the many tracks that falls in between these extremes is Fixing A Hole, a tune by Paul McCartney that features the harpsichord prominently.

Artist:    Rolling Stones (Bill Wyman)
Title:    In Another Land
Source:    LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer(s):    Bill Wyman
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    During recording sessions for the late 1967 Rolling Stones album Their Satanic Majesties Request bassist Bill Wyman made a forty-five minute drive to the studio one evening only to find out that the session had been cancelled. The band's manager and producer, Andrew Loog Oldham, managed to salvage the moment by asking Wyman if he had any song ideas he'd like to work on while he was there. As it turned out, Wyman had just come up with a song called In Another Land, about waking up from a dream only to discover you are actually still dreaming. Utilizing the talents of various people on hand, including Steve Marriott, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts and Nicky Hopkins, Wyman recorded a rough demo of his new tune. When Mick Jagger and Keith Richards heard the song they liked it so much that they added background vocals and insisted the track be used on the album and released as a single by Bill Wyman (with another track from the LP on the B side credited to the entire band). They even went so far as to give Wyman solo artist credit on the label of the LP itself (the label reads: Their Satanic Majesties Request by the Rolling Stones*, with the next line reading *by Bill Wyman), with an asterisk preceeding the song title in the track listing as well. Wyman reportedly hated the sound of his own voice on the song, and insisted that a tremelo effect be added to it in the final mix. The snoring at the end of the track is Wyman himself, as captured in the studio by Mick and Keith.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Source:    CD: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1967
    The top album of 1967 was the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was also the first US Beatles album to have a song lineup that was identical to the original UK LP. Consequently, it was also the first Beatle album released in the US to not include any songs that were also released as singles. Nonetheless, several tracks from the LP found their way onto the playlists of both top 40 AM and "underground" FM stations from coast to coast. Among the most popular of these tracks was John Lennon's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, which shows up on just about everyone's list of classic psychedelic tunes.

Artist:    Savoy Brown
Title:    Savoy Brown Boogie
Source:    CD: A Step Further
Writer(s):    Simmonds/Youlden
Label:    Deram (original label: Parrot)
Year:    1969
    1969 was a busy year for Savoy Brown. Early in the year their third LP, Blue Matter, had been released, accompanied by a US tour to support the album. Upon their return to London they immediately began work on their fourth LP, A Step Further. On May 12th, they recorded a live performance at Edmonton that became the second side of A Step Further. Credited to guitarist Kim Simmonds and vocalist Chris Youlden, the Savoy Brown Boogie was structured similarly to Ten Years After's I'm Going Home as performed at Woodstock, with short references to a variety of classic tunes, including Feel So Good, Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On, Little Queenie, Purple Haze and Hernando's Hideaway. The band's lineup had stabilized somewhat, making A Step Further the first album to have the same personnel as its predecessor. Besides Simmonds and Youlden, the band included "Lonesome" Dave Peverett on guitar, Tone Stevens on bass and Roger Earl on drums, all three of which would leave Savoy Brown in 1971 to form Foghat.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Supplicio/Can You Dig It
Source:    LP: Head
Writer(s):    Peter Tork
Label:    Colgems
Year:    1968
    Peter Tork only received two solo writing credits for Monkees recordings. The first, and most familiar, was For Pete's Sake, which was released on the Headquarters album in 1967 and used as the closing theme for the second season of their TV series. The second Tork solo piece was the more experimental Can You Dig It, used in the movie Head and included on the 1968 movie soundtrack album. Not long after Head was completed, Tork left the group, not to return until the 1980s, when MTV ran a Monkees TV series marathon, introducing the band to a whole new generation and prompting a reunion tour and album. Supplicio, which precedes Can You Dig It on the LP, is a short bit of uncredited electronics effects that lead into the Tork tune.

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