Sunday, March 29, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2014 (starts 3/30/20)
This week we focus mainly on the core years of the psychedelic era (1966-1968) with only a small handful of tunes from before and after those years, along with an Advanced Psych segment with strong connections to the late 1960s. I'd say that's worth staying home for.
Title: And Your Bird Can Sing
Source: British import LP: Revolver
At the time the Revolver album was being made, the Beatles and their producer, George Martin, worked together on the mono mixes of the songs, which were always done before the stereo mixes. In fact, the stereo mixes were usually done without the participation of the band itself, and generally were less time consuming. This led to a rather odd situation in June of 1966. Final mono mixes had been made for three of the songs on Revolver at this point, and the band's US label, Capitol, was ready to release a new Beatles album. The problem was that they did not have enough new material for an entire album. Their solution was to use their Duophonic fake stereo process on the mono mixes and include them on the album, which was titled Yesterday...And Today. As a result, when Revolver was released in the US in the fall of 1966, it had three fewer songs than the original British version of the album. One of those three songs was And Your Bird Can Sing, which was not available in the US in true stereo until the 1980s.
Artist: Other Side
Title: Walking Down The Road
Source: CD: With Love-A Pot Of Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Al Shackman
Label: Big Beat (original labels: Mainstream/Brent)
San Jose, California was at the center of the most vibrant and dynamic local music scenes in the country in the mid-1960s. By the end of 1966 both the Syndicate Of Sound and Count Five had cracked the national charts, while bands such as the Chocolate Watch Band were just beginning to make their mark. There was a lot of movement of musicians between bands as well, with groups like the Topsiders counting Sean Tolby (Watchband) and Skip Spence (Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape) among their early members. A move by the Topsiders to recruit Watchband guitarist/organist Ned Torney in 1966 resulted in an entirely new group, the Other Side, being formed. They soon had established enough of a reputation to get the attention of Golden State Recorders, who were auditioning acts for Mainstream Records owner Bob Shad. Shad signed the group immediately to his Brent label, releasing Walking Down The Road in early autumn. The stereo mix of Walking Down The Road was included on the compilation album With Love-A Pot Of Flowers on Shad's Mainstream label in late 1967, but by then the group had morphed into a band called Bogus Thunder, which would eventually become known as Gladstone, releasing a single on the A&M label in 1969.
Title: Dead End Street
Source: Mono British import CD: Face To Face (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Sanctuary (original US label: Reprise)
The last big US hit for the Kinks in the 60s was Sunny Afternoon in late 1966. The follow-up, Deadend Street, was in much the same style, but did not achieve the same kind of success (although it was a hit in the UK). The Kinks would not have another major US hit until the 1970 worldwide smash Lola.
Title: Unhappy Girl
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: The Doors
After the success of their first album and the single Light My Fire in early 1967, the Doors quickly returned to the studio, releasing a second LP, Strange Days, later the same year. The first single released from the new album was People Are Strange. The B side of that single was Unhappy Girl, from the same album. Both sides got played on the jukebox at a place called the Woog in the village of Meisenbach near Ramstein Air Force Base (which is where I was spending most of my evenings that autumn).
Title: A House Is Not A Motel
Source: CD: Love Story (originally released on LP: Forever Changes)
Writer: Arthur Lee
Arthur Lee was a bit of a recluse, despite leading the most popular band on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. When the band was not playing at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go Lee was most likely to be found at his home up in the Hollywood Hills, often in the company of fellow band member Bryan McLean. The other members of the band, however, were known to hang out in the most popular clubs, chasing women and doing all kinds of substances. Sometimes they would show up at Lee's house unbidden. Sometimes they would crash there. Sometimes Lee would get annoyed, and probably used the phrase which became the title of the second track on Love's classic Forever Changes album, A House Is Not A Motel.
Artist: First Edition
Title: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: The First Edition and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Mickey Newbury
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
In 1968, former New Christy Mistrels members Kenny Rogers and Mike Settle decided to form a psychedelic rock band, the First Edition. Although Settle was the official leader on the first album, it was Rogers who would emerge as the star of the band, even to the point of eventually changing the band's name to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. That change reflected a shift from psychedelic to country flavored pop that would eventually propel Rogers to superstar status.
Artist: Blues Project
Source: CD: The Blues Project Anthology (originally released on LP: Live At Cafe Au Go Go)
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Folkways)
Frontman Tommy Flanders left the Blues Project before their first album, Live At Cafe Au Go Go, was released. This forced the band to record new material for the album itself utilizing lead vocals from the remaining members. Four tracks with Flanders, however, remained on the LP, among them a cover of Willie Dixon's Spoonful that actually predates Cream's studio version of the song (which was included on the original British Fresh Cream album).
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Otis Redding
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Sounding a lot like the Rascals, the Vagrants were a popular Long Island band led by singer Peter Sabatino and best remembered for being the group that had guitarist Leslie Weinstein in it. Weinstein would change his last name to West and record a solo album called Mountain before forming the band of the same name. This version of Respect is fairly faithful to the original Otis Redding version. Unfortunately for the Vagrants, Aretha Franklin would release her radically rearranged version of the song just a few weeks after the Vagrants, relegating their version of the tune (and the Vagrants themselves) to footnote status.
Artist: Bob Seger System
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Bob Seger
Bob Seger had a series of regional hits in his native Detroit in the mid-1960s, leading to a deal with Capitol Records in 1968. The first single for Capitol was 2+2=?, a powerful anti-Vietnam War tune that was later included on his first LP for the label. The mono single version of the song heard here has a guitar chord near the end of the track that was not on the original recording (on which the song simply stops cold for a few seconds). It was inserted because, according to Seger, radio stations were "afraid of dead air".
Artist: Guess Who
Title: American Woman
Source: CD: American Woman)
Label: Buddha/BMG (original label: RCA Victor)
From 1968-1970 I was living on Ramstein AFB, which was and is a huge base in Germany with enough Canadian personnel stationed there to justify their own on-base school. For much of the time I lived there I found myself hanging out with a bunch of Canadian kids and I gotta tell you, they absolutely loved everything by the Guess Who, who were, after all, the most successful Canadian band in history. In particular, they all loved the band's most political (and controversial) hit, the 1970 tune American Woman. I rather liked it myself, and immediately went out and bought a copy of the album, one of the first to be pressed on RCA's Dynaflex vinyl. Luckily, the album is now available on CD, which sounds much better than Dynaflex ever did.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Back To The Family
Source: CD: Stand Up
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
The second Jethro Tull album, Stand Up, shows a band in transition from its roots in the British blues-rock scene to a group entirely dominated by the musical vision of vocalist/flautist/composer Ian Anderson. Back To The Family is sometimes cited as an early example of the style that the band would be come to known for on later albums such as Thick As A Brick.
Title: But It's Alright
Source: Mono British import CD: Time Out! Time In! For Them (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rev-Ola (original US label: Tower)
Following the departure of original founding member and front man Van Morrison, the remaining members of Them, with new vocalist Kenny McDowell, decided to relocate to the US and make a go of it there. Unfortunately, rather than to forge a whole new identity of their own, they chose to remain Them, which, as it turned out, was actually more of a hindrance than a help when it came to establishing a consistent sound. Their first LP, Now And Them, while containing some good music, reflects this lack of direction. Before embarking on a second LP the group cut a cover of JJ Jackson's R&B hit But It's Alright, mostly to satisfy their label's demand for a new single. Them's version of the tune used a similar arrangement to Jackson's original, but with fuzz guitar and a more snarling vocal track. Although the record was not a hit, it did give an indication of where the band was headed as they began work on their next studio album, Time Out! Time In! For Them.
Artist: Country Joe and the Fish
Title: Section 43
Source: CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer: Joe McDonald
In 1966 Country Joe and the Fish released their original mono version of an instrumental called Section 43. The song was included on a 7" EP inserted in an underground newspaper called Rag Baby. In 1967 the group recorded an expanded stereo version of Section 43 and included it on their debut LP for Vanguard Records, Electric Music For The Mind And Body. It was this arrangement of the piece (and quite possibly this recording) that was used in D. A. Pennebacker's film chronicle of the Monterey International Pop Festival that June.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
Source: LP: Through The Past, Darkly (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Flowers)
By mid-1966 there was a population explosion of teenage rock bands popping up in garages and basements all across the US, the majority of which were doing their best to emulate the grungy sound of their heroes, the Rolling Stones. The Stones themselves responded by ramping up the grunge factor to a previously unheard of degree with their last single of the year, Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow? It was the most feedback-laden record ever to make the top 40 at that point in time, and it inspired America's garage bands to buy even more powerful amps and crank up the volume (driving their parents to drink in the process).
Title: Steeled Blues
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Jeff Beck
The first Yardbirds record with Jeff Beck on lead guitar (replacing Eric Clapton) was a single written by Graham Gouldman called Heart Full Of Soul. The song featured Beck playing riffs originally designed for sitar, as well as his own solo in the song's instrumental break. The B side of that single was an instrumental blues jam called Steeled Blues that was basically a showcase for Beck and harmonicist Keith Relf, who trade off leads throughout the track.
Title: Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands (US single version)
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
There are at least three versions of Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands. The first was a monoraul-only electric version of the song released in the US on September 18, 1967 as the B side to I Can See For Miles. Two months later a second, slightly slower stereo version of the tune appeared under the title Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hand (singular) on The Who Sell Out. This more acoustic version of the song, which has a kind of calypso flavor to it, is the best known of the three, due to the album staying in circulation far longer than the 45. A third version of the song, also recorded in 1967 and featuring Al Kooper on organ, appeared as a bonus track on the 1995 CD release of Sell Out. The liner notes on the CD, however, erroneously state that it is the US single version, when in fact it is an entirely different recording.
Title: Little Girl
Source: LP: Conception
Writer(s): Van Morrison
What is known about the band called Frantic: they were formed in 1965 in Billings, Montana by Max Byfuglin (vocals), Jim Hass (vocals, keyboards), Kim Sherman (guitar), David Day (bass), Dennis Devlin (guitar) and Phil "Gordo" Head (drums); After short stays in Colorado and New Mexico, they found themselves in Los Angeles, where they recorded the album Conception for the Lizard label; The album Conception is mostly made up of covers, such as Van Morrison's Little Girl. What is not known about the band called Frantic: pretty much everything else.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Lost Dream
Source: British import LP: Artifact
The story of the Electric Prunes begins in Los Angeles in 1965 with a group called the Sanctions. Like most Southern California bands of the time, the Sanctions' repertoire was mostly covers of popular (and danceable) tunes like Money (That's What I Want), Love Potion # 9 and of course Louie Louie, all of which the band recorded at a home studio owned by Russ Bottomly in March of 1965. At that point in time, the Sanctions were a quartet consisting of James Lowe (vocals), Mark Tulin (bass), Ken Williams (guitar) and Michael "Quint" Weakley (drums). Early in 1966 they came to the attention of Dave Hassinger, who had just finished working with the Rolling Stones, putting the finishing touches on the Aftermath album, and was eager to try his hand at being a producer. He convinced the band that they needed a new name, and eventually the group came up with the name Electric Prunes, which they felt was so far out of the ordinary that people were bound to remember it.
Even though their first single (a cover of the Gypsy Trips' Ain't It Hard) stiffed, the people at Reprise Records signed the Prunes to a rather onerous contract that left Hassinger firmly in control of virtually everything to come out of a recording studio with the name Electric Prunes on it. At first this was fine with the band (who had just replaced Weakley with Preston Ritter and added James "Weasel" Spagnola as a second guitarist), as they and Hassinger worked well together on the hit single I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night). But it soon became obvious that Hassinger and the band itself had different priorities. Lowe and Tulin had been busy writing songs, yet only two of their compositions ended up on the band's 1967 debut LP. The majority of the songs on the album came from outside songwriters, with Annette Tucker's name in particular appearing on more tracks than anyone else's.
The album provided the band with a second top 40 single, Get Me To The World On Time (like I Had Too Much To Dream, penned by Tucker), which in turn became a factor in the band being given a little more creative freedom for their second LP, Underground (although the fact that Hassinger's attention was divided between the Electric Prunes and a second band he was producing that summer, a San Francisco group called the Grateful Dead, was probably an even greater factor). This greater freedom resulted in an album that included seven original tunes among the twelve tracks, including the European hit single Long Day's Flight, which was co-written by Weakley, who had returned to the group in time to appear on five songs on the LP.
The lack of a solid hit single on the album, however, led to Hassinger becoming rather heavy-handed with the group in 1968, possibly due to his frustration with the Grateful Dead that led to his resigning as that band's producer midway through their second LP, Anthem Of The Sun. The Electric Prunes did manage to record one final single, Lowe and Tulin's Everybody Knows You're Not In Love, before Hassinger came up with the idea of the band recording a concept album written by David Axelrod called Mass In F Minor. The band played on three tracks on the Mass, but Hassinger, frustrated by the members' slow pace in learning the material, brought in a Canadian band called the Collectors to finish the project. Although Lowe, Tulin and Weakley did end up making contributions to every track on the album, it had become clear that the Electric Prunes were no longer in control of their own destiny, and after a disastrous attempt to perform the Mass with a full orchestra at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, both Lowe and Weakley left the group. Tulin and Williams stayed around long enough to complete the band's current tour with a patched together lineup that included Kenny Loggins and Jeremy Stuart (of Chad & Jeremy), but by mid-1968 all the original Electric Prunes members were gone.
Two more LPs and an assortment of singles later, the group Hassinger was still calling the Electric Prunes officially disbanded in 1970. Hardly anyone noticed. That wasn't the end of the story, however. Thanks in part to Lenny Kaye, who included I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) on the 1972 Nuggets compilation album that collected some of the best tracks of the psychedelic era on a double LP, interest in the music of the original Electric Prunes began to take root, eventually leading to both of the original band's albums being reissued in Europe in the 1980s. In the late 1990s rumors began circulating that the original group had begun to work on new material. Then, in Y2K, both original albums were issued in the US on compact disc, with the two non-album singles included as bonus tracks (it was these reissues, in fact, that helped convince me that creating a show called Stuck in the Psychedelic Era was a viable idea).
Finally, in 2001, the album Artifact appeared on CD on the band's own PruneTwang label in the US, with a truncated version appearing in the UK on vinyl (on the Heartbeat label) the following year. The core members of the band, James Lowe, Mark Tulin and Ken Williams, were joined by guitarist Mark Moulin, keyboardist Cameron Lowe and drummer Joe Dooley for the album, supplemented by guest appearances from former Moby Grape guitarist Peter Lewis, dotarist Jim Gripps, drummer Mike Vasquez and a special guest appearance by original drummer Michael "Quint" Weakley. The opening track on the album, Lost Dream, shows that the band was by no means going the nostalgia route; rather, they referred to Artifact as "the real third album that we never got to make." They have since released three more studio albums, as well as one live album (recorded in 2007) and a kind of hybrid CD called California '66 made to promote a 2009 East Coast tour that never happened, that would have featured the Electric Prunes, Sky Saxon (whose death prompted the tour's cancellation) and Arthur Lee's 21st century version of Love.
Artist: King Crimson
Title: Lark's Tongue In Aspic Part III
Source: LP: Three Of A Perfect Pair
Label: Warner Brothers
One of the most ambitious works in the history of progressive rock, the five parts of Lark's Tongue In Aspic are spread out over four albums spanning 30 years. The first two parts were the opening and closing tracks of the 1973 LP Lark's Tongue In Aspic, and at the time were considered a finished work. Eleven years later Lark's Tongue In Aspic Part III was included on the LP Three Of A Perfect Pair. Joining guitarist Robert Fripp and drummer Bill Bruford, who had played on the first two parts, were guitarist Adrian Belew and bassist Tony Levin. Part four appeared on the 2000 album The Construkction Of Light, while the final part, deliberately titled Level Five to shake things up, was included on the 2003 album The Power To Believe.
Artist: Claypool Lennon Delerium
Title: Bubbles Burst/There's No Underwear In Space
Source: LP: Monolith Of Phobos
If any one track captures the essence of the Claypool Lennon Delerium, it's the final vocal work on Monolith Of Phobos, Bubbles Burst. The song seamlessly segues into the instrumental There's No Underwear In Space to close out the album.
Artist: Pearls Before Swine
Source: CD: The Complete ESP-Disk' Recordings (originally released on LP: Balaklava)
Writer(s): Leonard Cohen
Psychedelic folk group Pearls Before Swine was, for most of their existence, singer/songwriter Tom Rapp and a whatever group of musicians he happened to be working with at the time. They didn't start out that way, however. The original Pearls Before Swine consisted of Rapp on vocals and guitar, Roger Crissinger on keyboards, Wayne Harley on banjo and mandolin and Lane Lederer on bass and guitar. By their second album, the anti-war themed Balaklava, Crissinger had been replaced by Jim Bohannon, and there were several guest musicians helping out, including bassist Bill Salter, who played on four of the LP's ten tracks, allowing Lederer to concentrate on his guitar playing. Most of the material on Balaklava was written by Rapp, with the notable exception of Leonard Cohen's Suzanne, which opened the second side of the album. Although both albums were well-received by critics, there were financial issues. Rapp later said "We never got any money from ESP. Never, not even like a hundred dollars or something. My real sense is that he (Bernard Stollman, owner of ESP-Disk') was abducted by aliens, and when he was probed it erased his memory of where all the money was". in 1969 Rapp, still using the name Pearls Before Swine although all of the other original members had left by then, signed with Reprise Records, staying with the label until 1972, when he began officially recording as a solo artist.
Title: (Roamin' Thro' The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM B side and on LP: Traffic)
Label: United Artists
The second Traffic album saw the band taking in a broader set of influences, including traditional English folk music. (Roamin' Through The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen, originally released as the B side to the Dave Mason tune No Face, No Name, No Number, combines those influences with the Steve Winwood brand of British R&B to create a timeless classic.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Eighteen Is Over The Hill
Source: CD: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Label: Sundazed (original label: Reprise)
The contributions of guitarist Ron Morgan to the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band are often overlooked, possibly due to the fact that Morgan himself often tried to distance himself from the band. Nonetheless, he did write some of the group's most memorable tunes, including their best-known song, Smell Of Incense (covered by the Texas band Southwest F.O.B.) and the opening track of what is generally considered their best album, A Child's Guide To Good And Evil, a tune called Eighteen Is Over The Hill. Unfortunately, the somewhat senseless lyrics added by Bob Markley detract from what is actually a very tasty piece of music.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: The Prophet
Source: LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
The Beacon Street Union had already relocated to New York from their native Boston by the time their first LP, The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union, appeared in early 1968. Unfortunately, they were grouped together with other Boston bands such as Ultimate Spinach by M-G-M Records as part of a fictional "Boss-Town Sound", which ultimately hurt the band's chances far more than it helped them. The album itself is actually one of the better psychedelic albums of the time, with tracks like The Prophet, which closes out side two of the original LP, combining somewhat esoteric music and lyrics effectively.
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: (Ballad Of The) Hip Death Goddess
Source: LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
Ultimate Spinach was the brainchild of Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote and arranged all the band's material. Although the group had no hit singles, some tracks, such as (Ballad of the) Hip Death Goddess received a significant amount of airplay on progressive "underground" FM stations. The recording has in more recent years become a favorite of movie producers looking to invoke a late 60s atmosphere.
Title: For Another Man
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in the Netherlands as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Rob Van Leeuwen
Label: Rhino (original label: Havoc)
By 1965 the popularity of British beat music had spread to continental Europe, with local bands springing up in every major urban center. Most of these bands made their living playing covers of British hits, but many, especially in places like the Hague, Netherlands, were able to land recording contracts of their own, either with international branches of major labels or, in the case of the Motions, with smaller local labels such as Havoc Records. The third single by the Motions, For Another Man, was very much in the British beat vein, with jangly guitar and catchy vocal harmonies. Like all the Motions' singles, For Another Man was written by guitarist Rob Van Leeuwen, who eventually left the Motions to form Shocking Blue, scoring a huge international hit with Venus.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: There She Goes
Source: LP: Midnight Ride
Paul Revere And The Raiders hit their creative and commercial peak in 1966. The band, which consisted of Paul Revere on keyboards, Mark Lindsay on lead vocals and saxophone, Drake Levin on lead guitar, Phil "Fang" Volk on bass and Mike "Smitty"Smith on drums, released three albums that year, the middle of which was Midnight Ride. The album was their first to feature mostly original tunes written by various band members; in fact it was the only Raiders album on which every member got a song credit. The shortest track on the album is There She Goes, a fast-paced tune that finishes out side one.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s): John Sebastian
Label: Buddah (original label: Kama Sutra)
Although folk music became popular throughout the U.S. in the early 1960s, its primary practicioners tended to make their homes on the eastern seaboard, particularly along the Boston-New York corridor. One hotspot in particular was New York's Greenwich Village, which was also home to the beatnik movement and a thriving acoustic blues revival scene. All these diverse elements came together in the form of the Lovin' Spoonful, who burst upon the scene with the hit single Do You Believe In Magic in 1965. Led by primary songwriter John Sebastian, the Spoonful for a while rivaled even the Beatles in popularity. Among their many successful records was Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind, which made the top 5 in 1966. The band continued to chart hits through 1967, at which point Sebastian departed the group to embark on a solo career.