So far this year, with a few exceptions, Stuck in the Psychedelic Era has featured a lot of relatively short tunes, which of course was the norm in the mid to late 1960s. But things were starting to change, as can be heard on several of the songs on this week's show. The longest of these is the Savoy Brown Boogie, a nineteen minute long live performance that makes its Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut this week. As for the rest, read on...
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)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
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).
Title: Sunny Afternoon
Source: Mono Canadian import CD: 25 Years-The Ultimate Collection (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Face To Face)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Polygram/PolyTel (original label: Reprise)
1966 was the year that Ray Davies's songwriting began to take a sardonic turn. Sunny Afternoon, using a first person perspective, manages to lampoon the idle rich through mock sympathy. Good stuff, and the Kinks' last song to make US top 40 charts until 1970, when the international hit Lola gave the band a much needed career boost.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Gimme Some Lovin'
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: United Artists
By mid-1966 the Spencer Davis Group had already racked up an impressive number of British hit singles, but had yet to crack the US top 40. This changed when the band released Gimme Some Lovin', an original composition that had taken the band about an hour to develop in the studio. The single, released on Oct 28, went to the #2 spot on the British charts. Although producer Jimmy Miller knew he had a hit on his hands, he decided to do a complete remix of the song, including a brand new lead vocal track, added backup vocals and percussion and plenty of reverb, for the song's US release. His strategy was successful; Gimme Some Lovin', released in December of 1966, hit the US charts in early 1967, eventually reaching the #7 spot. The US remix has since become the standard version of the song, and has appeared on countless compilations over the years.
Title: Light My Fire
Source: Mono LP: The Doors
Writer(s): The Doors
The first Doors album was the only one to be released in both mono and stereo versions. Due to an error in the mastering process the stereo version was slowed down by about 3.5%, or about half a step in musical terms. As the mono version was deleted from the Elektra catalog soon after the album's release, the error went unnoticed for many years until a college professor contacted engineer Bruce Botnick and told him of the discrepancy. This particular mono copy of the album is a bit worn, but still listenable. See if you can tell the difference.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Smell of Incense
Source: LP: Volume II
One of the commercially strongest songs on the second West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album for Reprise was Smell of Incense. The length of the track, however (over five minutes), meant it would never get airplay on AM radio, although England Dan Seals and John Ford Coley took it to the # 56 spot on the charts while still in high school in 1968 with their band Southwest F.O.B.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original labels: All-American/Uni)
Thee Sixpence was a Los Angeles band that released four singles on the local All-American label, owned by the band's producer/manager Bill Holmes, in 1966. None of those records were written by band members, however. In fact, the B sides of the first three were covers of songs that had been recently released on fellow L.A. band Love's first album. One of those singles, a song called Fortune Teller, backed by My Flash On You, had even been reissued on the Dot label for national distribution, but had not charted. For their fifth single, Thee Sixpence worked with a new producer, Frank Slay, on The Birdman Of Alkatrash, a tune written by the band's keyboardist, Mark Weitz. The song was recorded in early 1967, along with an instrumental by Weiss and guitarist Ed King that was intended for the record's B side. Slay, however, brought in professional songwriters Tim Gilbert and John Carter to write lyrics and a melody line for the tune (giving the two sole credit for the finished song), which became Incense And Peppermints. The members of Thee Sixpence hated the new lyrics, and 16-year-old Greg Munford, a member of another local band called Shapes Of Sound, was hired to provide lead vocals for the tune. It was, after all, only a B side, right? Around this time, the band decided to change their name from the faux-British sounding Thee Sixpence to the more psychedelically-flavored Strawberry Alarm Clock. Whether The Birdman of Alkatrash was ever issued under the Thee Sixpence name is disputed (nobody seems to have actually seen a copy), but All-American most definitely released it as the first Strawberry Alarm Clock single in April of 1967. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side in May of 1967. By the end of November, Incense And Peppermints had become Uni's first #1 hit record, making it, to my knowledge the only instance of a hit single being played, but not sung, by the artists of record (the reverse being a fairly common occurence). Although the Strawberry Alarm Clock was never able to duplicate the success of Incense And Peppermints, the band did end up releasing a total of twelve singles and four LPs before disbanding in 1971, Following the breakup guitarist Ed King became a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd (who had been the Strawberry Alarm Clock's opening band when they toured the south in 1970-71), and wrote the opening guitar riff of that band's first major hit, Sweet Home Alabama. To my knowledge, neither King or Weitz ever saw a penny in royalties for Incense And Peppermints, although Weitz, as sole writer of The Birdman Of Alkatrash, was able to get a share of the royalties for the single itself.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Chauffeur Blues
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s): Lester Melrose (disputed, may have been Lizzie Douglas)
Label: RCA Victor
The Jefferson Airplane's original female vocalist was Signe Toly Anderson. Unlike Grace Slick, who basically shared lead vocals with founder Marty Balin, Anderson mostly functioned as a backup singer. The only Airplane recording to feature Anderson as a lead vocalist was Chauffeur Blues, a cover of an old Memphis Minnie tune that was included on the 1966 LP Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. The song was credited on the album's label to Lester Melrose, who produced the original Memphis Minnie version of the song. However, the original 1941 78 RPM label gives the songwriting credit to "Lawler", which is thought to be a misspelled reference to Minnie's husband, Ernest "Little Son Joe" Lawlars. It is now believed that Memphis Minnie, whose given name was Lizzie Douglas, was the actual writer of Chaffeur Blues, but that it was easier to get the song published under her husband's name.
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.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Run Around
Source: LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Label: RCA Victor
The first Jefferson Airplane album was dominated by the songwriting of the band's founder, Marty Balin, both as a solo writer and as a collaborator with other band members such as Paul Kantner. The shirts at RCA had problems with some of Balin and Kantner's lyrics; specifically they objected to the line "flowers that sway as you lay under me" in the song Run Around, saying it was sexually suggestive, and the band had to change it to "flowers that sway as you stay here by me" to get it included on Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. RCA had problems with two other Balin/Kantner tunes as well; one of them, Let Me In, had to undergo a similar change of lyrics, while another, Runnin' Round This World, was left off the album entirely.
Artist: Frijid Pink
Title: Boozin' Blues
Source: German import CD: Frijid Pink
Label: Repertoire (original label: Parrot)
Although never considered a first-tier band, Frijid Pink was a solid component in Detroit's "second-wave" of rock bands in the late 1960s. Formed in 1967, when fellow Detroiters Mitch Ryder and ? And The Mysterians were already riding high, Frijid Pink came up around the same time as the Amboy Dukes and The Stooges, among others. Despite releasing some of the hardest rocking singles of the time, they experience limited commercial success until their cover of House Of The Rising Sun became an international smash hit in 1970. A self-titled album soon followed which included several of their earlier singles, as well as originals like the sultry Boozin' Blues. Subsequent efforts by the band failed to equal the success of House Of The Rising Sun, however, and within a couple of years Frijid Pink had melted back into the shadows.
Artist: Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title: Running Dry (Requiem For The Rockets)
Source: LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s): Neil Young
For his second post-Buffalo Springfield LP, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Neil Young found a local Los Angeles band called the Rockets and convinced guitarist Danny Whitten, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina to join him, renaming them Crazy Horse for the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. One member of the Rockets that was not part of Crazy Horse was violinist Bobby Notkoff, whose eerie style gave the band a distinctive sound. Notkoff can be heard on Running Dry, which is subtitled Requiem For The Rockets as a tribute to the original band. The Rockets themselves had previously recorded one self-titled LP, but only 5000 copies were ever pressed.
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. Kirk's own version, from the 1965 LP I Talk To The Spirits, was deleted from the Mercury catalog in the early 1970s, making Jethro Tull's cover the only version of Serenade To A Cuckoo currently available for several years.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Castles Made Of Sand
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Although born in Seattle, Washington, James Marshall Hendrix was never associated with the local music scene that produced some of the loudest and raunchiest punk-rock of the mid 60s. Instead, he paid his professional dues backing R&B artists on the "chitlin circuit" of clubs playing to a mostly-black clientele, mainly in the southern US. After a short stint leading his own soul band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, Hendrix, at the behest of Chas Chandler (who had just left the Animals to try his hand at being a record producer), moved to London, where he recuited a pair of local musicians, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, to form the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Although known for his innovative use of feedback, Hendrix was quite capable of knocking out some of the most complex "clean" riffs ever to be committed to vinyl. A prime example of this is Castles Made Of Sand. Hendrix's highly melodic guitar work combined with unusual tempo changes and haunting lyrics makes Castles Made Of Sand a classic that sounds as fresh today as it did when Axis: Bold As Love was released in 1967.
Title: The Witch Queen Of New Orleans
Source: European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Message From A Drum)
Writer(s): Pat and Lolly Vegas
Label: Sony Music (original label: Epic)
Citing part-Cherokee Jimi Hendrix as an inspiration, brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas, already veteran performers who had appeared several times on ABC-TV's Shindig, among other venues, decided to form an all Native American band in 1969. Their first hit single was The Witch Queen Of New Orleans, from the 1971 LP Message From A Drum. Redbone recorded a total of six albums for the Epic label in the early 1970s, and are known for being the opening act at the first Earth Day event.
Title: I Am The Walrus
Source: 45 RPM single B side
There were actually three different versions of the Beatles' I Am The Walrus released in late 1967, all of which were made from the same basic master tape. The first was a mono single version that was issued as the B side of the Hello Goodbye single in late November. This version features a four-beat intro and has an extra bar of music immediately preceding the words "yellow matter custard" in the middle of the song. The second version was the stereo version featured on the US-only Magical Mystery Tour album. This version is basically the same as the mono version, but does not contain the extra bar in the middle. The third version appeared in early December in Europe and the UK on the stereo version of the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack EP. This version features a six beat intro, but is otherwise identical to the US stereo version. In the early 1980s engineers at Capitol Records created a fourth version of I Am The Walrus that uses the six beat intro from the UK stereo version and includes the extra bar in the middle of the song from the US single version. This fourth version was included on the Beatles' Rarities album, and has, to my knowledge, never been issued on CD.
Title: Norwegian Wood
Source: Mono CD: Rubber Soul
The first Beatles song to feature a sitar, Norwegian Wood, perhaps more than any other song, has come to typify the new direction songwriters John Lennon and Paul McCartney began to take with the release of the Rubber Soul album in December of 1965. Whereas their earlier material was written to be performed as well as recorded, songs like Norwegian Wood were first and foremost studio creations. The song itself was reportedly based on a true story and was no doubt a contributing factor to the disintegration of Lennon's first marraige.
Title: Hello, Goodbye
Source: 45 RPM single
1967 was unquestionably a good year for the Beatles. Their first release was a double A sided single, Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, both sides of which were major hits. They followed that up with the #1 album of the year, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and another hit single, All You Need Is Love. To finish out the year they released yet another major hit single, Hello Goodbye. The only downside to the year was the cool reception that was afforded their December telefilm, Magical Mystery Tour, although the songs themselves were well-received when released in the UK as a double-EP set (complete with full color booklet containing stills from the film, as well as lyric sheets). As EPs were not considered a viable format in the US, Capitol Records put together an LP that included all six tracks from the telefilm on one side of the album and the five single sides (Hello Goodbye had used I Am The Walrus from Magical Mystery Tour as a B side) on the other. That album has since become the official version of Magical Mystery Tour, although the EP continued to be available in the UK for several years following its initial release.
Artist: Savoy Brown
Title: Savoy Brown Boogie
Source: CD: A Step Further
Label: Deram (original label: Parrot)
A short-lived mini-trend among British blues bands in 1969 was to release an album that was a mix of live and studio tracks. The trend was probably inspired by the success of Cream's Wheels Of Fire, which was a two-disc set that featured all studio tracks on one LP and all live tracks on the other, making it essentially two separate albums. Savoy Brown tried a similar tactic on the single disc A Step Further by putting all the studio tracks on the album's first side and one long live track, Savoy Brown Boogie, on the second. The piece, recorded at The Cooks Ferry Inn, Edmonton, London on Monday 12 May 1969, is essentially a rock and roll medley, framed by original music from guitarist Kim Simmonds and vocalist Chris Youlden. The medley includes Chuck Willis's Feels So Good, Jerry Lee Lewis's Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On, Chuck Berry's Little Queenie, and a short snippet of Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze. The oddest part of the medley, however, is a rocked out version of Hernando's Hideaway, a tango show tune from the 1954 production The Pajama Game. Somehow they made it work.
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: Ramble Tamble
Source: LP: Cosmo's Factory
Writer(s): John Fogerty
Creedence Clearwater Revival is rightly known for its series of catchy, compact singles, all of which scored high on the Billboard charts. As a result, their longer, more instrumentally-oriented material such as Ramble Tamble often gets overlooked. The track, which opens the 1970 LP Cosmo's Factory, showcases John Fogerty's guitar work, along with the solidity of the band's rhythm section of Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford.
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.
Title: Deserted Cities Of The Heart
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
The most psychedelic of Cream's songs were penned by Jack Bruce and his songwriting partner Pete Brown. One of the best of these was chosen to close out the last studio side of the last Cream album released while the band was still in existence. Deserted Cities Of The Heart is a fitting epitaph to an unforgettable band.
Title: King Midas In Reverse
Source: British import CD: Acid Daze (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Uncut (original label: Parlophone)
One of the last Hollies singles to include original member Graham Nash, King Midas In Reverse combines pop and psychedelia in a purely British way. The problem was that, with the exception of Nash, the Hollies had no desire to embrace psychedelia, and Nash soon found himself banding with David Crosby and Stephen Stills instead.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: I'm Gonna Make You Mine
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Possibly the loudest rockin' recordings of 1966 came from the Shadows of Knight. A product of the Chicago suburbs, the Shadows (as they were originally known) quickly established a reputation as the region's resident bad boy rockers (lead vocalist Jim Sohns was reportedly banned from more than one high school campus for his attempts at increasing the local teen pregnancy rate). After signing a record deal with the local Dunwich label, the band learned that there was already a band called the Shadows and added the Knight part (after their own high school sports teams' name). Their first single was a cover of Van Morrison's Gloria that changed one line ("around here" in place of "up to my room") and thus avoided the mass radio bannings that had derailed the original Them version. I'm Gonna Make You Mine was the follow up to Gloria, but its lack of commercial success consigned the Shadows to one-hit wonder status until years after the band's breakup, when they finally got the recognition they deserved as one of the founding bands of garage/punk, and perhaps its greatest practitioner.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Alley Oop
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Dallas Frazier
Label: Sundazed/Kama Sutra
The Lovin' Spoonful didn't actually release their version of the old Hollywood Argyles song Alley Oop as a single in 1965. In fact, they didn't release the song at all, even though it was recorded during the same sessions that became their debut LP that year. In 2011 the people at Sundazed decided to create a "single that never was", pairing Alley Oop with the full-length version of Night Owl Blues, a song that had been included on the 1965 debut in edited form. The Spoonful version of Alley Oop has an almost garage-band feel about it, and is perhaps the best indication on vinyl of what the band actually sounded like in their early days as a local fixture on the Greenwich Village scene.