Sunday, May 31, 2020
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2023 (starts 6/1/20)
After two week's worth of hearing nothing but the most-played artists and tracks on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era over the past ten years, I thought it was time to dig a bit deeper than usual, with nearly a third of the songs on this week's show making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut. In fact, we even managed to come up with a couple artists that have never been played on the show before at all, along with several others whose former appearances can be counted on one hand. Of course, we still have plenty of favorites on hand as well, especially in the first hour, where we start off by heralding the onset of summer (yes, I know the calendar says it's still a couple weeks off, but with temps already in the 90s, it sure feels like summer to me).
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Summer In The City
Source: LP: Harmony (originally released on LP: Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful)
Label: RCA Special Products (original label: Kama Sutra)
The Lovin' Spoonful changed gears completely for what would become their biggest hit of 1966: Summer In The City. Inspired by a poem by John Sebastian's brother, the song was recorded for the album Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful. That album was an attempt by the band to deliberately record in a variety of styles; in the case of Summer In The City, it was a rare foray into psychedelic rock for the band. Not coincidentally, Summer In The City is also my favorite Lovin' Spoonful song.
Title: Friday On My Mind
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: United Artists)
Considered by many to be the "greatest Australian song" ever recorded, the Easybeats' Friday On My Mind, released in late 1966, certainly was the first (and for many years only) major international hit by a band from the island continent. Technically, however, Friday On My Mind is not an Australian song at all, since it was recorded after the band had relocated to London. The group continued to release records for the next year or two, but were never able to duplicate the success of Friday On My Mind. Ultimately vocalist Stevie Wright returned to Australia, where he had a successful solo career. Guitarists Harry Vanda and George Young, who had written Friday On My Mind, also returned home to form a band called Flash And The Pan in the early 1970s. Later in the decade Young would help launch the careers of his two younger brothers, Angus and Malcolm, in their own band, AC/DC.
Source: CD: Past Masters-volume two (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
The Beatles' B side to their 1966 hit Paperback Writer was innovative in more than one way. First off, the original instrumental tracks were actually recorded at a faster speed (and higher key) than is heard on the finished recording. Also, it is the first Beatles record to feature backwards masking (John Lennon's overdubbed vocals toward the end of the song were recorded with the tape playing in reverse). Needless to say, both techniques were soon copied and expanded upon by other artists.
Title: 7&7 Is
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
The first rock band signed to Elektra Records was Love, a popular L.A. club band that boasted two talented songwriters, Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean. On the heels of their first album, which included the single My Little Red Book and one of the first recordings of the fast version of Hey Joe, came their most successful single, the manic 7&7 Is, released in July of 1966.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: People's Games
Source: CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Jerry Jeff Walker
Although People's Games is far from my favorite Circus Maximus song, it is, according to at least one member of the band, the tune that was most representative of what the band was all about. It is also one of the earliest compositions of Circus Maximus member Jerry Jeff Walker, who went on to greater fame as a songwriter, particularly for the song Mr. Bojangles.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: Mrs. Robinson
Source: LP: Bookends
Writer(s): Paul Simon
A shortened version of Mrs. Robinson first appeared on the soundtrack for the film The Graduate in 1967, but it wasn't until the Bookends album came out in 1968 that the full four minute version was released.
Title: Evil Ways
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Santana)
Writer(s): Clarence Henry
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Evil Ways was originally released in 1968 by jazz percussionist Willie Bobo on an album of the same name. When Carlos Santana took his new band into the studio to record their first LP, they made the song their own, taking it into the top 10 in 1969.
Artist: Paul McCartney
Title: That Would Be Something
Source: LP: McCartney
Writer(s): Paul McCartney
On September 20, 1969, John Lennon told the other members of the Beatles that he wanted a "divorce" from the band that had made them all rock gods. This was particularly upsetting for Paul McCartney, who retreated to his house in St. John's Wood and started drinking heavily. After a while, and at the urging of his wife Linda, McCartney began working on new songs, recording them at home on his own 4-track equipment without the knowledge of the other members of the band (for various reasons, mostly business, news of the impending breakup was kept quiet). Meanwhile, there were still Beatles recordings that needed to be finished, including overdubs on McCartney's own Let It Be, so McCartney secretly took his 4-track tapes to Morgan Studios, in the London suburb of Willesden, to be copied over to 8-track tape for further overdubbing. While there, using the name Billy Martin, he added overdubs and a couple of new recordings before moving over to Abbey Road Studios in February of 1970 for further mixing. While still using the Billy Martin pseudonym, McCartney contined work on his new album even as Phil Spector was working on what would become the Let It Be LP. By this point McCartney was no longer talking to the rest of the Beatles, and so was unaware that Apple was planning on releasing Let It Be at around the same time as McCartney's album. When he found out, he refused to delay the release of his own album and instead released a "Q&A" package to the press explaining his reasons for making the solo LP. This was interpreted by some members as an announcement that the Beatles were breaking up, and that Paul McCartney was the one responsible. The album itself came out a week later, on April 17th, and was savaged by the press for its "unprofessional, low fidelity and unfinished" quality. Still, despite all this, the album was a commercial success and some tunes, including That Would Be Something, actually got airplay, particularly on college radio. Modern reviewers have been more kind, and the album McCartney is now considered a forerunner of the DIY movement.
Source: LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s): Jack Bruce
Although Cream recorded several songs that bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce co-wrote with various lyricists (notably poet Pete Brown), there were relatively few that Bruce himself wrote words for. One of these is Dreaming, a song from the band's first LP that features both Bruce and guitarist Eric Clapton on lead vocals. Dreaming is also one of the shortest Cream songs on record, clocking in at one second under two minutes in length.
Artist: Velvet Illusions
Title: Acid Head
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tell, also released on Metromedia Records)
Showing an obvious influence by the Electric Prunes (a suburban L.A. band that was embraced by the Seattle crowd as one of their own) the Illusions backtracked the Prunes' steps, leaving their native Yakima and steady gigging for the supposedly greener pastures of the City of Angels. After a few months of frustration in which the band seldom found places to practice, let alone perform, they headed back to Seattle to cut Acid Head before calling it quits.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Jumpin' Jack Flash
Source: 45 RPM single
After the negative reaction by both fans and the rock press to their most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request in late 1967, the Stones replaced longtime producer Andrew Loog Oldham with Jimmy Miller, who had made a name for himself working with Steve Winwood on recordings by both the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic. The collaboration resulted in a back-to-basics approach that produced the classic single Jumpin' Jack Flash, followed by the Beggar's Banquet album.
Title: Amazing Journey/Sparks
Source: LP: Tommy
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
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. This leads into the instrumental Sparks, featuring a bass solo by John Entwhistle and some intricate guitar work from Pete Townshend.
Title: Just A Little More Time
Source: LP: Peacing It All Together
Label: RCA Victor
Almost from the inception of recorded music the industry leader had been the Victor Talking Machine Company, which had soon become the RCA Victor record label. By 1969, however, its leadership was being challenged by newer conglomerates such as Kinney National Services, which owned Warner/Reprise, Elektra/Asylum and the Atlantic/Atco group (and would eventually change its name to Warner Communications) and MCA, as well as RCA Victor's longtime rival Columbia (which included the Epic label). Columbia had recently gone on a midwest buying spree, signing several bands with horn sections, including Illinois Speed Press, the Flock and Chicago. RCA Victor was having success with Canada's Guess Who at the time, and so turned their eyes north for an answer to Columbia's recent moves. What they found was a newly formed band that actually did the new Columbia bands one better: not only did they have their own horn section, they included strings as well. The 13-piece Lighthouse had been formed the previous year by keyboardist Paul Hoffert and drummer Skip Prokop. Prokop had already gotten the attention of the RCA Victor people when he previous band, the Paupers, had opened for RCA's own Jefferson Airplane in New York and had, quite frankly, blown them off the stage. Lighthouse ended up recording three LPs for RCA Victor. The third, and most successful of these was Peacing It All Together, which peaked at #133 on the Billboard album chart. Featuring songs like Just A Little More Time, Peacing It All Together was the last Lighthouse LP to feature the band's originaly lead vocalist, Pinky Dauvin. The band, dropped by RCA Victor, went on to greater success with a different label, scoring a top 40 hit with One Fine Morning in 1971.
Title: He Went Down To The Sea
Source: Mono German import CD: Black Monk Time (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Repertoire (original label: Polydor)
German record buyers who had heard and liked the Monks' debut LP, Black Monk Time, were undoubtably disappointed when they got their copy of the fourth and final Monks single home and actually listened to it. At the insistence of Polydor Records, the band had toned down everything that had gotten them attention in the first place in an attempt to be more "commercial". The result was songs like He Went To The Sea, which, taken on its own is listenable, but pales in comparison to the band's earlier releases.
Artist: Harbinger Complex
Title: When You Know You're In Love
Source: British import CD: With Love-A Pot Of Flowers
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
Freemont, California's Harbinger Complex already had issued one single (on the local Amber label) when they booked studio time at San Francisco's Golden State Recorders to cut four more tunes. Bob Shad, owner of the Chicago-based Mainstream Records, was at the studio as part of a talent search, and signed the band immediately. Two of the four tracks were issued as a single in 1966, while the other two, including When You Know You're In Love, were held back and eventually appeared on a Mainstream album called With Love-A Pot Of Flowers. All four of the tunes were co-written by vocalist Jim Hockstaff and guitarist Bob Hoyle.
Title: The Crystal Ship
Source: 45 RPM single B side (European reissue of Japanese single)
Writer: The Doors
One of the most popular B sides ever released, The Crystal Ship is a slow moody piece with vivid lyrical images. The mono mix of the song sounds a bit different from the more commonly-heard stereo version. Not only is the mix itself a bit hotter, it is also a touch faster. This is due to an error in the mastering of the stereo version of the first Doors LP that resulted in the entire album running at a 3.5% slower speed than it was originally recorded. This discrepancy went unnoticed for over 40 years, until a college professor pointed out that every recorded live performance of Light My Fire was in a key that was about half a step higher than the stereo studio version.
Artist: Third Bardo
Title: I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time
Source: Mono British import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released in US as 45 RPM single)
Label: Zonophone (original label: Roulette)
The Third Bardo (the name coming from the Tibetan Book of the Dead) only released one single, but I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time has become, over a period of time, one of the most sought-after records of the psychedelic era. Not much is known of this New York band made up of Jeffrey Moon (vocals), Bruce Ginsberg (drums), Ricky Goldclang (lead guitar), Damian Kelly (bass) and Richy Seslowe (guitar).
Artist: Janis Ian
Title: Insanity Comes Quickly To The Structured Mind
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Janis Ian
Label: Verve Forecast
Janis Ian followed up her critically acclaimed 1967 debut LP with an equally excellent single, Insanity Comes Quickly To The Structured Mind, later the same year. The song was later included on her 1968 LP For All The Seasons Of Your Mind. I don't (yet) have a copy of this album, so instead we have a rather scratchy copy of the single.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Sit With The Guru
Source: LP: The Best Of The Strawberry Alarm Clock (originally released on LP: Wake Up...It's Tomorrow and as 45 RPM single)
Sit With The Guru is the second single from the second Strawberry Alarm Clock album, Wake Up...It's Tomorrow. The song addresses the subject of polytheism, which might explain the fact that it only peaked at #65 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Artist: Big Boy Pete and The Squire
Title: El Dorado Beach
Source: CD: Hitmen
Label: Rocket Racket
Once upon a time in England there was a singer/guitarist named Pete Miller, sometimes known as Big Boy Pete. For a time he was also the frontman for a group called Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers. That group disbanded in 1966, however, when Big Boy Pete came up with a batch of new songs that the rest of the band turned down. Miller went solo and the Jaywalkers were history. Flash forward to 2013. Rochester, NY's Chris Zajkowski aka the Squire and Big Boy Pete (now living in San Francisco), release a coast-to-coast collaboration album called Hitmen made up of the songs that the Jaywalkers rejected back in 1966. El Dorado Beach is one of those songs.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Bullet Thru The Back Seat
Source: British import LP: Artifact
In 1969, with all of the original members long gone, the Electric Prunes officially disbanded. 30 years later the founding members decided to revive the band, releasing their first album of all-new material in 2001. That album, Artifact, was billed as "the one we never got to make", and led to a European tour in 2002. Unlike previous albums, the majority of tunes on Artifact, including Bullet Thru The Backseat, were originals written by band members James Lowe and Mark Tulin.
Artist: Chesterfield Kings
Title: Look Around
Source: LP: Don't Open Til Doomsday
Formed in the late 1970s in Rochester, NY, the Chesterfield Kings (named for an old brand of unfiltered cigarettes that my grandfather used to smoke) were instrumental in setting off the garage band revival of the 1980s. Their earliest records were basically a recreation of the mid-60s garage sound, although by the time their 1987 album, Don't Open Til Doomsday, was released they had gone through some personnel changes that resulted in a harder-edged sound on songs like Look Around.
Artist: Wheels (released in US as Wheel-A-Ways)
Title: Bad Little Woman
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original labels: UK: Columbia, US: Aurora)
The Wheels were a popular Belfast beat band with close ties to Van Morrison, who occasionally joined them onstage as a saxophonist until his own band, Them, became a full-time job. Their first release, in fact, was a cover of Morrison's Gloria, released less than a year after Them's original version of the tune. The Wheels followed that up with an original of their own, Bad Little Woman, in early 1966, a demo version of which was released in the US under the name Wheel-A-Ways on the obscure Aurora label. Meanwhile, a third version of Gloria, this one by the suburban Chicago garage-rock band Shadows Of Knight, ended up a top 40 hit in the US. While looking for material for a follow-up the Shadows ran across the demo of Bad Little Woman and ended up recording it themselves, releasing it as their third single in August of 1966. Small world, ain't it?
Title: Over Under Sideways Down
Source: Simulated stereo Australian import CD: Over, Under, Sideways, Down (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Raven (original US label: Epic)
The only Yardbirds album to feature primarily original material was released under different titles in different parts of the world. The original UK version was called simply The Yardbirds, while the US album bore the title Over, Under, Sideways, Down. In addition, the UK album was unofficially known as Roger the Engineer because of band member Chris Dreja's drawing of the band's recording engineer on the cover. The title cut was the last single to feature Jeff Beck as the band's sole lead guitarist (the follow-up single, Happenings Ten Years Time Ago, featured both Beck and Jimmy Page).
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: Wouldn't It Be Nice
Source: Mono CD: Pet Sounds
Wouldn't It Be Nice is the first song on what has come to be considered Brian Wilson's first true masterpiece: the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album. Wilson has often cited the Beatles' Rubber Soul as his inspiration for Pet Sounds; not because of any musical similarity, but because neither album has any "filler" material on it (although an argument could be made that Sloop John B, which was released as a single almost six months before Pet Sounds, was not really in line with the rest of the songs on the album). Wouldn't It Be Nice (backed with God Only Knows) was released in mid-July of 1966 as a single, two months after the release of Pet Sounds, while Wilson was already working on a followup single: Good Vibrations.
Artist: Mamas And The Papas
Title: Hey Girl
Source: LP: If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears
Writer(s): John and Michelle Phillips
It's a question that often vexed me as a teenager: Why do all the nice, attractive girls go for the sleazy guys instead of me? While Hey Girl, from the Mamas and the Papas' debut LP, If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears, doesn't exactly provide answers to that age old question, it certainly presents it in a unique way, with conflicting lines from the male and female members of the group being sung at the same time:
Don't try to put him down!
(Don't let him get you down)
He's the boy I want around
(You know I'll always be around.)
Of course, both points of view lead to the same concluding line:
And you—you shouldn't be so blue.
Overall, it's a clever bit of role-playing songwriting from John and Michelle Phillips, who would have their own issues within a few months of the album's release.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): Blind Willie Johnson
Label: Verve Forecast
One lasting legacy of the British Invasion was the re-introduction to the US record-buying public to the songs of early Rhythm and Blues artists such as Blind Willie Johnson. This emphasis on classic blues in particular would lead to the formation of electric blues-based US bands such as the Butterfield Blues Band and the Blues Project. Unlike the Butterfields, who made a conscious effort to remain true to their Chicago-style blues roots, the Blues Project was always looking for new ground to cover, which ultimately led to them developing an improvisational style that would be emulated by west coast bands such as the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service, and by Project member Al Kooper, who conceived and produced the first rock jam LP ever, Super Session, in 1968. As the opening track to their second (and generally considered best) LP Projections, I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes served notice that this was a new kind of blues, louder and brasher than what had come before, yet tempered with Kooper's melodic vocal style. An added twist was the use during the song's instrumental bridge of an experimental synthesizer known among band members as the "Kooperphone", probably the first use of any type of synthesizer in a blues record.
Artist: Twentieth Century Zoo
Title: You Don't Remember
Source: Mono CD: An Overdose Of Heavy Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Caz)
Twentieth Century Zoo was a quintet from Phoenix, Arizona that released You Don't Remember as a B side in late 1967. Originally known as the Bittersweets, the group released three singles for various labels (including one on the Original Sound label) before recording an album for the Vault label in 1969.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Everything Is Everything
Source: Mono CD: Ignition (originally released on LP: The Best Of The Music Machine)
Label: Sundazed (original label: Rhino)
Year: Recorded 1968, released 1984
The original Music Machine scored one huge hit with Talk Talk in late 1966, but due to a number of factors (nearly all of which can be attributed to bad management) were unable to repeat their success with subsequent singles. Finally, after a change of label failed to result in a change of fortunes, the original lineup disbanded. Undaunted, leader Sean Bonniwell assembled an entirely new lineup to complete the band's scheduled tours, stopping to record at various studios along the way whenever possible. Many of these recordings went unreleased for several years, such as the 1968 track Everything Is Everything. The song is a rare instance of Bonniwell collaborating with another songwriter, in this case Harry Garfield. Bonniwell later said of the track "This is what the fool on the hill said, but he didn't collaborate with Harry Garfield. If he did, he would have said 'I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.'" I'm not sure what that means but it sounds good.
Title: Castles (full-length version)
Source: Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry & Revolution
Writer(s): Pat O'Nion
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2009
Serendipity, unique in that they had two keyboardists in the band, were originally known as Abject Blues. Why they didn't keep such a cool name is beyond me. Nonetheless, after spending a few months in Germany (including gigs at Hamburg's Star Club) the band returned to England and released two singles for the CBS label. The B side of the second one was an original by keyboardist Pat O'Nion that was horribly mangled by the label to get it down to the three and a half minute mark (which was kind of an odd thing to do to a song not intended for airplay). Finally, in 2009, the full five and a half minute version was released on a compilation CD called Love, Poetry and Revolution. It was worth the wait.
Title: Nature's Way/Animal Zoo/Love Has Found A Way/Why Can't I Be Free
Source: CD: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus
Spirit was one of those bands that consistently scored well with the critics, yet was never truly able to connect with a large segment of the record buying audience at any given time. Perhaps their best album was Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus, released in 1970 to glowing reviews. Despite this, the album actually charted lower than any of their three previous efforts, and would be the last to feature the band's original lineup. In the long haul, however, Twelve Dreams has become the group's top selling album, thanks to steady catalog sales over a period of years. Unlike many more popular records of the time, Twelve Dreams sounds as fresh and original today as when it first appeared, as can be easily heard on the four-song medley that makes up the bulk of the LP's first side. Indeed, despite never having charted as a single, Nature's Way, a Randy California tune which starts the sequence, is one of the best-known songs in the entire Spirit catalog. Additionally, its ecological theme segues naturally into Animal Zoo, a Jay Ferguson tune with a more satirical point of view. Love Has Found A Way, written by vocalist Ferguson and keyboardist John Locke, can best described as psychedelic space jazz, while Why Can't I Be Free is a simple, yet lovely, short coda from guitarist California. Although Spirit, in various incarnations, would continue to record for many years, they would never put out another album as listenable as Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus.
Artist: Syndicate Of Sound
Title: Little Girl
Source: CD: Battle Of The Bands, Vol. Two (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Era (original labels: Hush & Bell)
San Jose California, despite being a relatively small city in the pre-silicon valley days, was home to a thriving music scene in the mid 60s that produced more than its share of hit records from 1966-68. One of the earliest and biggest of these hits was the Syndicate Of Sound's Little Girl, which has come to be recognized as one of the top garage-rock songs of all time. Little Girl was originally released regionally in mid 1966 on the Hush label, and reissued nationally by Bell Records a couple months later.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Plastic Fantastic Lover
Source: LP: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Label: RCA Victor
Jefferson Airplane scored their first top 10 hit with Somebody To Love, the second single released from the Surrealistic Pillow album. Almost immediately, forward-thinking FM stations began playing other tracks from the album. One of those favored album tracks, Plastic Fantastic Lover, ended up being the B side of the band's follow-up single, White Rabbit. When the Airplane reunited in 1989 and issued their two-disc retrospective, 2400 Fulton Street, they issued a special stereo pressing of the single on white vinyl as a way of promoting the collection.