Sunday, January 26, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2005 (starts 1/27/20)
This week's show begins on a solid foundation, eases into a mellow groove, showcases a pair of the greatest bands in rock history, briefly flashes back to the pre-psychedelic era and ends up about as far underground as you could go in 1967 (and that's saying a lot)!
Title: I Am The Walrus
Source: Stereo British import 45 RPM EP: Magical Mystery Tour
Common practice in the UK in the 1960s was to avoid duplication between single releases and album tracks. This led to a unique situation for the Beatles and their British label, EMI/Parlophone, in December of 1967. The band had self-produced a new telefilm to be shown on BBC-TV called Magical Mystery Tour and wanted to make the songs from the film available to the record-buying public in time for Christmas. The problem was that there were only six songs in the one-hour telefilm, not nearly enough to fill an entire album. The solution was to release the songs on a pair of Extended Play 45 RPM records, along with several pages of song lyrics, illustrations and stills from the film itself. My own introduction to Magical Mystery Tour was a friend's German copy of the EPs, and when years later I had the opportunity to pick up a copy of the original UK version, I of course couldn't resist. That copy got totalled in a flood a few years back, but in 2012 I was finally able to locate another copy of the EP set, which is the source of this week's airing of the ultimate British psychedelic recording, I Am The Walrus. This British EP version has a slightly longer intro than the more familiar US release.
Artist: Small Faces
Title: Itchycoo Park
Source: CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: K-Tel (original label: Immediate)
Led by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, the Small Faces got their name from the fact that all the members of the band were somewhat vertically challenged. The group was quite popular with the London mod crowd, and was sometimes referred to as the East End's answer to the Who. Although quite successful in the UK, the group only managed to score one hit in the US, the iconic Itchycoo Park, which was released in late 1967. Following the departure of Marriott the group shortened their name to Faces, and recruited a new lead vocalist named Rod Stewart. Needless to say, the new version of the band did much better in the US than their previous incarnation.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow
Source: LP: Incense And Peppermints
The song Incense And Peppermints was originally a B side released in 1967 on the regional All-American label in southern California. DJs began flipping the record over, however, and the song soon attracted the interest of the people at MCA, who reissued the record on their Uni label. The song was such a huge national hit that Uni gave the band the go ahead to record an entire album. That album, also titled Incense And Peppermints, contained several fine songs, including Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow. This unsung psychedelic classic opens with a flute solo from Steve Bartek, who co-wrote Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow. Strange as it may seem, Bartek was not considered a member of the Strawberry Alarm Clock, although he co-wrote (with bass player George Bunnell) four of the album's 12 tracks and plays on most of them.
Title: Magic Bus (alternate version)
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Magic Bus was originally released as a single in 1968 and ran about three and a half minutes. At the time it was recorded an alternate take was also made that ran almost four and a half minutes. This alternate version was electronically rechanneled for stereo and included on the 1971 album Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy. When the album was reissued on CD in the 1980s it was discovered that there were no unaltered copies left of the longer version, so rather than to put a "fake stereo" version on the CD, the shorter mono single version was used. This is that longer version, never issued on CD.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Jigsaw Puzzle
Source: CD: Beggar's Banquet
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Jigsaw Puzzle, the longest track on the Beggar's Banquet album, comes across as a wry look at the inner workings of a rock and roll band like, say, the Rolling Stones. Founder Brian Jones's only contribution to the recording is some soaring mellotron work toward the end of the song. Not long after the track was recorded, Jones was fired from the band.
Artist: Asylum Choir
Title: Isicle Star Tree
Source: Mono British import CD: Look Inside The Asylum Choir
Label: Rev-Ola (original US label: Smash)
Los Angeles was somewhat unique in that it was home to two distinct music scenes. Like many cities, it had a club scene that included a mix of cover bands and underground garage rock outfits doing original material, the Doors being an example of the latter. But Los Angeles was also home to the largest pool of studio musicians in the world, as well as the music industry's top movers and shakers. A lot of creative people, such as the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, utilized this talent pool to produce some of the finest pop music albums of all time. Among these creative types were Leon Russell and Marc Benno, who called their pwn studio project the Asylum Choir. The Oklahoma-born Russell had relocated to L.A. at the age of 16, and within two years found himself playing piano on such hits as Monster Mash, Surf City and California Girls. He also had songwriting and producing credits for such acts as Bobby Vee and Gary Lewis And The Playboys, among others. Marc Benno was a Dallas native who, as a teenager, fronted his own R&B band before relocating to L.A. in 1965. The two met sometime around 1966 and formed the Asylum Choir in 1967. Their 1968 debut LP, Look Inside The Asylum Choir, is one of the best examples of L.A. studio-based psychedelia ever recorded, covering a wide range of styles within the genre. Benno's Isicle Star Tree, which was also released as a single, would feel right at home among the trippiest British psychedelic recordings of 1967-68. A second album by the duo, recorded in 1969, abandoned all traces of pyschedelia in favor of the roots-based sound that Russell would soon become famous for.
Artist: Otis Redding
Title: I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)
Source: Mono CD: The Very Best of Otis Redding (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Volt)
Although his name had appeared on the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts since 1962, it wasn't until the release of I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) in 1965 that Redding began to get noticed by the public at large. The song hit # 2 on the R&B chart and just barely missed making the top 20 on the mainstream chart. There were actually two different versions of the song released in 1965. The original mono single version heard here, released in April, features Booker T. Jones on piano, while the longer album version (which includes an extra verse) has piano provided by Isaac Hayes. I've Been Loving You Too Long remained Redding's biggest hit for the rest of his life, and was only surpassed in popularity by (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay, released post-humously in 1968.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Coconut Grove
Source: LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful
Label: Sundazed/Kama Sutra
The 1966 album Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful was an attempt by the band to play in a variety of styles, as if it were being recorded by several different bands. By most accounts they succeeded, as can be heard by comparing the two biggest hits from the LP, Summer In The City and Nashville Cats. One of the quieter, acoustic numbers is a tune called Coconut Grove; the song manages to evoke images of the South Pacific without devolving into Rogers and Hart territory.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: The Masked Marauder
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
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: Pink Floyd
Title: A Saucerful Of Secrets
Source: CD: A Saucerful Of Secrets
Label: EMI (original label: Tower)
I think it's safe to say that, along with George Harrison's Wonderwall Music, A Saucerful Of Secrets has to have been the most avant-garde album to come from a British rock band in 1968. Significantly, neither did well on the charts. In fact, A Saucerful Of Secrets is the only Pink Floyd LP not to hit the Billboard album charts when it was released (although it did make it in years later as part of a double-LP package). The fact that the album appeared on Capitol's notoriously low-budget Tower subsidiary probably did not help matters, as the album got virtually no promotional support from the label. Neither did the fact that the album's title track/centerpiece was a twelve-minute long instrumental (then, as now, vocals almost always drew a bigger audience than instrumentals). Nonetheless the piece, which consists of four parts (Something Else, Syncopated Pandemonium, Storm Signal and Celestial Voices), represents a significant chapter in the history of Pink Floyd, as it was the band's first major composition not to include input from founding member Syd Barrett, whose songwriting had dominated the band's early recorded work.
Artist: Bob Seger System
Source: LP: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Writer(s): Dan Honaker
Most of Bob Seger's original compositions in the early days were hard rockers such as Ramblin' Gamblin' Man and 2+2=? For the slower material on his first LP he went with outside songwriters such as Dan Honaker, who wrote the song Gone. Elements of Gone can be heard in Seger's own later compositions such as Turn The Page.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Serenade To A Cuckoo
Source: LP: This Was
Writer(s): Roland Kirk
Label: Chrysalis (original label: Reprise)
Jethro Tull did not, as a general rule, record cover tunes. The most notable exception is Roland Kirk's classic jazz piece Serenade To A Cuckoo, which was included on their first LP, This Was. Ironically, this Jethro Tull cover was for several years the only version of Serenade To A Cuckoo still in print.
Title: Biff! Bang! Pow!
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: Planet)
The Creation is generally acknowledged as the first major British psychedelic band, predating Pink Floyd by several months. Oddly enough, they are also considered a Mod band in the mold of the Who, thanks in large part to the B side of their second single, released in 1966. Biff! Bang! Pow! had the same sort of driving beat and power chords as many of the songs on the Who's My Generation album, and even included piano work by Nicky Hopkins, whose session work can be heard on several early Who recordings.
Artist: King Crimson
Title: The Sheltering Sky
Source: LP: Discipline
Writer(s): King Crimson
Label: Warner Brothers
In 1981, after a seven-year hiatus, Robert Fripp decided to reform his old band, the legendary King Crimson. Not content to rehash the past, however, Fripp assembled a new lineup, with only drummer Bill Bruford being retained from any of the band's previous incarnations. Filling out the new lineup were guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew (who had played with Talking Heads and Frank Zappa's band) and bassist Tony Levin, who also played Chapman stick on the album. Levin's stick playing is most prominent on the album's quietest track, The Sheltering Sky, which also features Bruford playing slit drums (basically hollow wooden boxes made of bamboo or soft wood that resonate when struck).
Artist: Red Stars Theory
Title: Think Piece
Source: 10" 45 RPM Extended Play vinyl: El Paraguas
Writer(s): Red Stars Theory
Red Stars Theory was formed in Seattle, Washington in early 1995 by James Bertram (guitar/vocals) Tonie Palmasani (guitar/vocals), Jeremiah Green (drums/percussion/vocals) and Jason Talley (bass guitar/vocals). By the end of the year they had released a self-titled EP (sometimes known as El Paraguas), a single and an album. The group has only recorded sporadically since then, due to all of the members also being involved in other projects. I personally find Think Piece, the last track on the original EP, to be the most interesting tune on the record.
Artist: Squires Of The Subterrain
Title: Kitty Cologne
Source: CD: Strawberries On Sunday
Writer(s): Chris Zajkowski
Label: Rocket Racket
A few years back, I acquired four CDs from Squires Of The Subterrain, also known as Chris Earl of Rochester, NY. I didn't choose to check them out in any particular order, yet have found that I like each one I've heard even more than the one before it, even when they are not chronologically sequential. I'm just lucky that way, I guess. This time around we have a tune called Kitty Cologne, which is one of those tunes that sounds better every time you hear it, as I discovered when putting together this week's Advanced Psych segment.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Hey Joe
Source: LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer(s): Billy Roberts
The first track recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was Hey Joe, a song that Hendrix had seen Tim Rose perform in Greenwich Village before relocating to London to form his new band. Hendrix's version is a bit heavier than Rose's and leaves off the first verse ("where you going with that money in your hand") entirely. The song itself was copyrighted in 1962 by California folk singer Billy Roberts and a much faster version by the Leaves had hit the US charts in early 1966.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Burning of the Midnight Lamp
Source: Mono German import 45 RPM single
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
For the first few months of their existence as a band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience were an entirely European phenomena, despite being led by an American guitarist/vocalist. By mid-1967 the group had released three singles that made the charts all over Europe and the UK, as well as an album that was only kept out of the # 1 spot by something called Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band's next project was Burning Of The Midnight Lamp, the most complex piece of production yet attempted by the band, and their first using state of the art eight-track recording equipment. The song had two notable firsts: it was the first song to feature Hendrix playing a keyboard instrument (a harpsichord) in addition to his usual guitar, and it was his first recording to use the new "wah-wah" effect. The original mono mix of the song heard here has never been released in the US, as Hendrix himself supervised a remix of the song for inclusion on his 1968 Electric Ladyland LP, which was only released in stereo stateside.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: The Wind Cries Mary
Source: LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP Are You Experienced?)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
The US version of Are You Experienced was significantly different than its UK counterpart. For one thing, the original British album was only available in mono. For the US version, engineers at Reprise Records, working from the original multi-track masters, created all new stereo mixes of about two-thirds of the album, along with all three of the singles that the Jimi Hendrix Experience had released in the UK. The third of these singles was The Wind Cries Mary, which had hit the British charts in February of 1967.
Title: Love Street
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
Like many of Jim Morrison's songs, Love Street started off as a poem. "Love Street" was actually the nickname given to Rothdale Trail, the street he and Pamela Courson lived on in L.A.'s Laurel Canyon. Morrison and Courson spent a lot of time sitting on their balcony, watching the local hippies going to and from the Canyon Country Store, which was across the street from their house. Morrison turned the poem into a song in time to get it recorded for the third Doors album, Waiting For The Sun. The track was also released as the B side of the Doors' second #1 single, Hello I Love You, Won't You Tell Me Your Name.
Title: People Are Strange
Source: CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: Strange Days and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): The Doors
The first single from the second Doors album was People Are Strange. The song quickly dispelled any notion that the Doors might be one-hit wonders and helped establish the band as an international act as opposed to just another band from L.A. The album itself, Strange Days, was a turning point for Elektra Records as well, as it shifted the label's promotional efforts away from their original rock band, Love, to the Doors, who ironically had been recommended to the label by Love's leader, Arthur Lee.
Title: Hello, I Love You, Won't You Tell Me Your Name
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
I have to admit, when I first heard the song Hello, I Love You, Won't You Tell Me Your Name I hated it, considering it only a half step away from the bubble gum hits like 1,2,3 Red Light and Chewy Chewy that were dominating the top 40 charts in 1968. It turns out that the song was originally recorded in 1965 as a demo by Rick And The Ravens (basically a Doors predecessor) using the title Hello, I Love You (Won't You Tell Me Your Name). The single pressing of the song was promoted as the first rock song to be released as a stereo 45 RPM record. The song went to the top of the charts in the US and Canada and became the first Doors song to break into the British top 20 as well.
Title: All Day And All Of The Night
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Eric (original label: Reprise)
Following up on their worldwide hit You Really Got Me, the Kinks proved that lightning could indeed strike twice with All Day And All Of The Night. Although there have been rumors over the years that the guitar solo on the track may have been played by studio guitarist Jimmy Page, reliable sources insist that it was solely the work of Dave Davies, who reportedly slashed his speakers to achieve the desired sound.
Title: I Ain't Got You
Source: Mono Australian import CD: Over, Under, Sideways, Down (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Clarence Carter
Label: Raven (original label: Columbia)
The Yardbirds' first single, I Wish You Would, was actually released in the US, but failed to chart. As a result, their follow-up single, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, was not released in the US at all. The B side of that non-US single was a Calvin Carter song called I Ain't Got You that appeared the following year on the US-only LP For Your Love. It was one of the last recordings by the group to feature guitarist Eric Clapton.
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: MCA (original labela: Downey/Dot)
Bob Spickard, Brian Carman, Bob Welch, Warren Waters and Rob Marshall were all students at Santa Ana High School in California who were inspired by a local group called the Rhythm Rockers to form their own rock and roll band. The surf craze was just getting under way on the California coast, and the new group, calling themselves the Chantays, soon found themselves recording for the local Downey label, which was actually owned by a music publishing company. In December of 1962 they recorded what would become one of the most popular instrumental surf songs ever committed to vinyl: the classic Pipeline. The song was quickly picked up and re-released on the Dot label in early 1963, eventually going all the way to the #4 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The Chantays have the distinction of being the only rock 'n' roll band to ever perform on TV's Lawrence Welk Show.
Title: Pay You Back With Interest
Source: CD: The Best Of The Hollies (originally released on LP: For Certain Because, retitled Stop! Stop! Stop! for US release)
Label: Cema Special Products (original US label: Imperial)
By 1967 the Hollies had actually achieved a level of popularity in the US that allowed them to issue singles that were not available in their native UK. One of these was Pay You Back With Interest, a track from the album For Certain Because (retitled Stop! Stop! Stop! for US release) which made the US top 20 in 1967. The tune was written by the Hollies' usual songwriting partnership of Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, and Graham Nash, and was the last Hollies single to appear on the Imperial label.
Artist: Growing Concern
Title: Edge Of Time
Source: British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released in US on LP: The Growing Concern)
Writer(s): Dan Passaglia
Label: Big Beat (original US label: Mainstream)
The Raevins were a Chicago-based band formed in 1966 that had already spent time in the studio cutting a single for the local Big O label when they decided to add a couple of female vocalists and rename themselves the Growing Concern in 1967. They were discovered by Mainstream Records owner Bob Shad, who had just received an influx of cash when he sold the contract of Big Brother and the Holding Company to Columbia for a reported $200K dollars. Shad reasoned that female fronted rock bands were hot at the time, and the Growing Concern went to work on their debut LP for Mainstream. The album was completed in May of 1968 and released a couple weeks later. Peter Guerin, the band's male vocalist, described the group's sound as "the Airplane meets the Mormon Tabernacle Choir." Edge Of Time is a remake of their 1966 single, with a new intro and coda by Bonnie MacDonald, one of the aforementioned female vocalists.
Artist: H.P. Lovecraft
Title: It's All Over For You
Source: Mono CD: Two Classic Albums from H. P. Lovecraft: H. P. Lovecraft/H. P. Lovecraft II (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): George Edwards
Label: Collector's Choice/Universal Music Special Markets (original label: Philips)
George Edwards was a Chicago-based folk singer who, like many other folkies, began to take an interest in rock in the mid-1960s, both as a solo artist and backup singer for the Dunwich label. In 1966, he recorded the Dylanesque It's All Over For You, which was issued the following year as the B side of the first H.P. Lovecraft single on the Philips label. Edwards had formed the band as a duo with keyboardist Dave Michaels, and the two soon added more members to the band, releasing their first LP in late 1967.
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Thorinshield)
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
Before 1966 it was virtually unheard of for a newly-signed band to record an album without first putting out a single to get an idea of their sales potential. By 1967, however, due to a variety of reasons, including the rise of album-oriented FM rock stations and the interest being shown in album tracks by groups like the Blues Project and the Butterfield Blues Band, as well as more established groups like the Beatles and the Beach Boys, some labels, particularly those not having a lot of top 40 hits anyway such as Philips (yes, the same company that invented CD technology and makes light bulbs), started taking chances with new acts such as L.A.'s Thorinshield. Sounding like a slightly more commercial version of the San Francisco bands making headlines that year on songs like Daydreaming, Thorinshield released one self-titled album before its members moved on to other things.