Sunday, February 23, 2020

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2009 (starts 2/24/20)

    This week we have a long set of Doors tunes, a short set of Kinks tunes and, to close out the show, a "full band composition" set. We also have both long and short trips through the years, and, to start off the show, a 1966 set...

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: The Electric Prunes and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    The Electric Prunes biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in November of 1966. The record, initially released without much promotion from their record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation (and the second track on Rhino's first Nuggets LP).

Artist:    Misunderstood
Title:    Who Do You Love
Source:     British import CD: Before The Dream Faded (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Elias McDaniel
Label:    Cherry Red (original label: Fontana)
Year:    1966
    Although not as well-known as Beatlemania or Carnaby Street, London had a thriving underground rock scene from around 1966 on. One of the first bands on that scene was an American group called the Misunderstood. Formed in Riverside, California, in 1965, the Misunderstood soon caught the eye and ear of local disc jockey John Ravencroft, a Britisher who had established himself as one of the most distinctive radio voices in the Inland Empire doing the morning show on San Bernardino's KMEN. Ravencroft convinced the band to relocate to London, where his brother Alan helped the band get a contract with the Fontana label. The B side of their first single was a version of Bo Diddly's Who Do You Love that is even more psychedelic (albeit considerably shorter) than the later Quicksilver Messenger Service version of the tune. Although no recordings of the Misunderstood's live performances at the Marquee Club exist, they were reported attended by members of Pink Floyd and the Move, whose own recording careers were still in the near future. Unfortunately, a series of events completely unrelated to music (visa problems, the Draft) led to the band falling apart before they could truly get established, and the Misunderstood soon became the stuff of legends.

Artist:    Johnny Thompson Quintet
Title:    Color Me Columbuth
Source:    Mono CD: A Deadly Dose Of Wild Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Johnny Thompson Quintet
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Guitarsville)
Year:    1966
    Not much is known about Monterey Park, California's Johnny Thompson Quintet. The group apparently only released two singles, the first of which was the punkish Color Me Columbus. Rather than come up with another song for the B side, one of the band members recorded a new vocal track doing what sounds like a Daffy Duck impersonation over the original instrumental track, titling it Color Me Columbuth. Strange stuff.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Nothin' In This World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl
Source:    Mono LP: Kinda Kinks
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1965
    The Kinks can never be accused of resting on their laurels. Despite virtually inventing hard rock with their 1964 singles You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night, the band, led by Ray Davies, virtually abandoned their own style the following year, moving into more melodic territory with singles like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You, as well as folky material such as Nothin' In This World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl, on their LP Kinda Kinks.

Artist:    Dave Davies
Title:    Suzannah's Still Alive
Source:    Mono Canadian CD: Kinks-25 Years-The Ultimate Collection (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Dave Davies
Label:    Polygram/PolyTel (original label: Pye)
Year:    1967
    Although Ray Davies was the leader and primary songwriter for the Kinks, it was brother Dave who first recorded as a solo artist, with Death of a Clown (which received extensive airplay on the 100,000 watt English language semi-pirate station Radio Luxembourg in late 1967), followed by Suzannah's Still Alive in early 1968, both of which were backed by the other members of the band. After the next two singles flopped, however, Dave returned to the fold, finally releasing his first LP as a solo artist (and playing all of the instruments himself) in 1980, on the album Dave Davies (AFL1-3603).

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Set Me Free
Source:    Mono LP: Kinda Kinks
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1965
    After scoring international success with a series of R&B influenced rockers in 1964, the Kinks started to mellow a bit in 1965, releasing more melodic songs such as Set Me Free. The band would continue to evolve throughout the decade, eventually becoming known for their increasingly innovative concept albums such as The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), and Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    I Want To Tell You
Source:    CD: Revolver
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Capitol/EMI
Year:    1966
    The first pre-recorded reel-to-reel tape I ever bought was the Capitol version of the Beatles' Revolver album, which I picked up about a year after the LP was released. Although my Dad's tape recorder had small built-in speakers, his Koss headphones had far superior sound, which led to me sleeping on the couch in the living room with the headphones on. Hearing songs like I Want To Tell You on factory-recorded reel-to-reel tape through a decent pair of headphones gave me an appreciation for just how well-engineered Revolver was, and also inspired me to (eventually) learn my own way around a recording studio. The song itself, by the way, is one of three George Harrison songs on Revolver; the most on any Beatle LP up to that point, and one of the many reasons that, when pressed, I usually end up citing Revolver as my favorite Beatles album.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Death Sound Blues
Source:    CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    I generally use the term "psychedelic" to describe a musical attitude that existed during a particular period of time rather than a specific style of music. On the other hand, the term "acid rock" is better suited for describing music that was composed and/or performed under the influence of certain mind-expanding substances. That said, the first album by Country Joe and the Fish is a classic example of acid rock. I mean, really, is there any other way to describe Death Sound Blues than "the blues on acid"?

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Born To Be Wild
Source:    CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1968 (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf)
Writer(s):    Mars Bonfire
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1968
    Born To Be Wild's status as a counter-cultural anthem was cemented when it was chosen for the soundtrack of the movie Easy Rider. The popularity of both the song and the movie resulted in Steppenwolf becoming the all-time favorite band of bikers all over the world.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    California Girls
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: California Girls (originally titled Summer Days (And Summer Nights))
Writer(s):    Brian Wilson
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1965   
    The Beach Boys are virtually synonymous with the fun-in-the-sun-partying-on-the-beach lifestyle that many people associate with Southern California, despite the fact that only drummer Dennis Wilson ever really participated in that lifestyle. This can be attributed mainly to the genius of Brian Wilson, who wrote nearly all the group's material, such as the iconic California Girls, which was all over the radio dial coast to coast in the summer of 1965. The song was featured on an album called Summer Days (And Summer Nights), which in addition to the original mono mix was also available on Capitol's Duophonic "electronically rechannelled for stereo" vinyl for a dollar more. In the 1980s, riding a wave of renewed popularity for the band, Capitol released abridged versions many of the group's albums at a budget price, often under new titles such as California Girls. Rather than use the mono mixes Capitol chose to go with the Duophonic mixes for these reissues This was the last time these "fake stereo" mixes were released, as the Beach Boys now insist that only the original mono mixes be used for the band's 1960s recordings on CD (with the exception of a handful of songs that were mixed in true stereo).

Artist:    Mojo Men
Title:    She's My Baby
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Stewart/Alaimo/Curcio
Label:    Rhino (original labels: Autumn/Reprise)
Year:    1965/1966
    Although generally considered to be one of the early San Francisco bands, the Mojo Men actually originated in Rochester, NY. After spending most of the early 60s in Florida playing to fraternities, the band moved out the West Coast in 1965, soon falling in with Autumn Records producer Sylvester Stewart (Sly Stone), for a time becoming his backup band. Stewart produced several singles for the Mojo Men, including She's My Baby, a song that had originally been recorded in 1962 as a song to do the mashed potato (an early 60s dance) to by Steve Alaimo, brother of Mojo Men bassist/lead vocalist Jim Alaimo and co-host (with Paul Revere and the Raiders) of the nationally distributed dance show Where The Action Is. The Mojo Men version of She's My Baby has more of a blues/garage-rock sound than the Steve Alaimo original, prompting its inclusion on several compilation albums over the past forty years. The original single, released in 1965 on the Autumn label, had different vocals than the 1966 Reprise reissue heard here, although both use the same instrumental backing track.

Artist:    Mad River
Title:    Wind Chimes
Source:    Mono British import CD: The Berkeley EPs (originally released as 7" 33 1/3 RPM Extended Play mini-album)
Writer(s):    Mad River
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Wee)
Year:    1967
    Unlike most San Francisco Bay Area bands of the mid to late 1960s, Mad River was already a functioning band when they arrived on the scene from their native Ohio in 1967. The group, consisting of Lawrence Hammond (vocals, bass), David Robinson (guitar), Rick Bockner (guitar) and Greg Dewey (drums, vocals), had been formed in 1965 as the Mad River Blues Band in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where all of the members were attending college. By the time they relocated to Berkeley in early 1967 they had developed a unique style of their own. Once in Berkeley, the band quickly established themselves as one of the most "underground" bands in the area, often appearing on the bill with Country Joe And The Fish. In fact, it was the latter band that inspired Mad River to record an EP later that year. Following an unsuccessful audition for Fantasy Records, Mad River cut a three-song EP for the small Wee label. The entire second side of the disc was a six and a half minute long piece called Wind Chimes. The band later recut the track for their first full-length album the following year.

Artist:    Fairport Convention
Title:    Sun Shade/The Lobster
Source:    British import CD: Fairport Convention
Writer(s):    Ghosh/Horvitz/Painter/Hutchings/Thompson
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1968
    The recording history of the premier English folk-rock band, Fairport Convention, can be more than a little confusing. A large part of the problem was caused by A&M Records, who had the rights to release the band's material in the US, starting with the band's second LP. Rather than go with the original album title, What We Did On Our Holidays, A&M retitled the album Fairport Convention, releasing it in 1970. The problem is that the band's first album, released in the UK on Polydor in 1968, was also titled Fairport Convention. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the lineup on the 1968 Polydor LP differs from that of every other Fairport album, most notably in the absence of the band's most visible member, vocalist Sandy Denny. Fairport Convention (the band) was formed in 1967, and was consciously following in the footsteps of Jefferson Airplane, albeit from a British perspective. Like the Airplane, the original Fairport lineup had a wealth of talent, including Martin Lamble on violin, Simon Nicol on guitars, Judy Dyble on autoharp, recorder and piano, Richard Thompson on guitar and mandolin, Ashley Hutchings (then known as Tyger Hutchings) on bass and Ian MacDonald (who later changed his name to Ian Matthews), who shared lead vocals with Dyble. Musically the band was far more rock-oriented than on later LPs, even dabbling with jazz and progressive rock on tracks like Sun Shade & The Lobster, respectively. This can be attributed, at least in part, to a general disdain among the youth of Britain for the traditional English folk music that was taught to every schoolchild in the country (whether they wanted it or not). Later albums would find Fairport Convention doing more and more traditional folk, eventually becoming the world's most popular practicioners of the art, although they never entirely abandoned rock.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Amazing Journey
Source:    British Import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Tommy)
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    Polydor UK (original US label: Decca)
Year:    1969
    After achieving major success in their native England with a series of hit singles in 1965-67, the Who began to concentrate more on their albums from 1968 on. The first of these concept albums was The Who Sell Out, released in December of 1967. The Who Sell Out was a collection of songs connected by faux radio spots and actual jingles from England's last remaining pirate radio station, Radio London. After releasing a few more singles in 1968, the Who began work on their most ambitious project yet: the world's first rock opera. Tommy, released in 1969, was a double LP telling the story of a boy who, after being tramautized into becoming a blind deaf-mute, eventually emerges as a kind of messiah, only to have his followers ultimately abandon him. One of the early tracks on the album is Amazing Journey, describing Tommy's voyage into the recesses of his own mind in response to the traumatic event that results in his blind, deaf and dumb condition.

Artist:    Sugarloaf
Title:    Mother Nature's Wine
Source:    LP: Spaceship Earth
Writer:    Corbetta/Phillips/Reardon
Label:    Liberty
Year:    1971
    Despite being a better album overall than Sugarloaf's first LP, Spaceship Earth did not sell particularly well, only making it to the #111 spot on the Billboard albums chart. This is probably due to the lack of a hit single on a par with Green-Eyed Lady. Of the two singles that were released from Spaceship Earth, the one more similar in style to Green-Eyed Lady was Mother Nature's Wine. The song stalled out in the # 88 spot however, and Sugarloaf did not have another charted single until 1974, when Don't Call Us, We'll Call You made the top 10.

Artist:    Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Title:    Knife-Edge
Source:    CD: Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Writer(s):    Janácek, arr. Emerson/Lake/Palmer
Label:    Rhino (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1970
    Starting with the release of their first self-titled LP, Emerson, Lake & Palmer were known for incorporating classical music into rock compositions. One of the earliest examples of this is Knife-Edge, an adaptation of  the first movement of Leoš Janácek's Sinfonietta that incorporates a section of Johann Sebastian Bach's first French Suite in D minor as well. All this on a piece that rocks out as hard, if not harder, than anything else released in 1970.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Light My Fire
Source:    CD: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    Once in a while a song comes along that totally blows you away the very first time you hear it. The Doors' Light My Fire was one of those songs. I liked it so much that I immediately went out and bought the 45 RPM single. Not long after that I heard the full-length version of the song from the first Doors album and was blown away all over again.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    The Crystal Ship
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer:    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    Ever feel like you've discovered something really special that nobody else (among your circle of friends at any rate) knows about? At first you kind of want to keep it to yourself, but soon you find yourself compelled to share it with everyone you know. Such was the case when, in the early summer of 1967, I used my weekly allowance to buy copies of a couple of songs I had heard on the American Forces Network (AFN). As usual, it wasn't long before I was flipping the records over to hear what was on the B sides. I liked the first one well enough (a song by Buffalo Springfield called Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It, the B side of For What It's Worth), but it was the second one, the B side of the Doors' Light My Fire, that really got to me. To this day I consider The Crystal Ship to be one of the finest slow rock songs ever recorded.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    When The Music's Over
Source:    LP: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    I remember the first time I heard When The Music's Over. My girlfriend's older brother had a copy of the Strange Days album on the stereo in his room and told us to get real close to the speakers so we could hear the sound of a butterfly while he turned the volume way up. What we got, of course, was a blast of "...we want the world and we want it now." Good times.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Paper Sun
Source:    Mono CD: Mr. Fantasy (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi
Label:    Silver Spotlight (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
    Paper Sun was the first single released by Traffic in mid-1967 in both the US and UK. Despite its length (4:10), the song made the top 5 on both the British and Canadian charts. United Artists Records, however, in deference to the tendency of American top 40 stations to not play any records more than three and a half minutes long, released a shortened version of the track, created by simply fading the song out 50 seconds early. That version only managed to hit the #80 spot on the US charts, however, despite Steve Winwood's name being displayed prominently on the label. The full-length original mono mix of the song is now available as a bonus track on the CD version of the Mr. Fantasy album.

Artist:     Left Banke
Title:     Pretty Ballerina
Source:     45 RPM single
Writer:     Michael Brown
Label:     Smash
Year:     1967
     The Left Banke, taking advantage of bandleader Michael Brown's industry connections (his father owned a New York recording studio), ushered in what was considered to be the "next big thing" in popular music in early 1967: baroque pop. After their debut single, Walk Away Renee, became a huge bestseller, the band followed it up with Pretty Ballerina, which easily made the top 20 as well. Subsequent releases were sabotaged by a series of bad decisions by Brown and the other band members that left radio stations leery of playing any record with the words "Left Banke" on the label.

Artist:     Rolling Stones
Title:     She's A Rainbow
Source:     CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer:     Jagger/Richards
Label:     Abkco (original label: London)
Year:     1967
     The only song from Their Satanic Majesties Request to get significant airplay in the US was She's A Rainbow, released as a single in the fall of 1967. Another song from the album, In Another Land, was released as the first Bill Wyman solo single (with the Stones credited as the artists on the B side). 2,000 Light Years From Home, the B side to She's A Rainbow, did get some international airplay as well.

Artist:     Turtles
Title:     The Last Thing I Remember, The First Thing I Knew
Source:     12" 45 RPM Picture Disc: Turtles 1968
Writer:     The Turtles
Label:     Rhino
Year:     Recorded 1968, released 1978
     In 1968 the Turtles rebelled against their record company, White Whale. They did not attempt to break the contract or go on strike, though. Instead, they simply went into the studio and produced four songs that they themselves wrote and chose to record. White Whale, in turn, elected not to issue any of the band's self-produced recordings (although one, Surfer Dan, did end up on their Battle of the Bands album a few months later). Finally, in the late 1970s a small independent label known for issuing oddball recordings by the likes of Barnes and Barnes (Fish Heads) and professional wrestler Fred Blassie (Pencil-Neck Geek) put out a 12-inch picture disc featuring the four tunes. That label also began reissuing old Turtles albums, starting it on a path that has since become their stock in trade. The name of that label: Rhino Records.

Artist:    Them
Title:    Just One Conception
Source:    LP: Time Out! Time In! For Them
Writer(s):    Them
Label:    Tower
Year:    1968
    Most of the songs on Them's second album without founder Van Morrison, Time Out! Time In! For Them, were written for the band by the wife and husband team of Sharon Pulley and Tom Lane. There were, however, a couple of exceptions, including Just One Conception, which was credited to the band itself. The track, which opens with massive sitar, shows just how deep into the psychedelic pool the original Irish punk band had dived by 1968.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Careful With That Axe, Eugene
Source:    CD: Relics (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Waters/Wright/Mason/Gilmour
Label:    Capitol (original UK label: Columbia)
Year:    1968
    Originally released in the UK as the B side of Point Me At The Sky, Careful With That Axe Eugene went on to become one of Pink Floyd's best known early recordings, thanks in large part to a live performance of the piece being included on the 1969 LP Ummagumma. The original studio version of the tune was included on the 1971 compilation album Relics, which is still in print.

Artist:    Canned Heat
Title:    Amphetamine Annie
Source:    LP: Boogie With Canned Heat
Writer(s):    Canned Heat
Label:    United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1968
    By the end of 1967 the Haight-Ashbury scene had taken a definite turn for the worse. Most veterans of the street (i.e. those who had been there before the Summer of Love) placed the blame firmly on the influx of naive runaways that had flooded the area in the wake of calls to "go to San Francisco" earlier in the year, and on the drug dealers who preyed upon them. Methamphetamine (aka speed) was the drug usually singled out as the most destructive force at play. Back then it was the pill form of speed, such as white crosses, that was prevalent among users; the powdered crystal meth that has become a concern in modern rural America would not be used widely until the 1970s. As one of the original Bay Area bands, Canned Heat decided to take a stand against the drug, declaring in the song Amphetamine Annie that "speed kills", a phrase that would show up as graffiti on various walls in the city as well.

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