Sunday, March 21, 2021

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2113 (starts 3/22/21)

    This week's first hour features sets from 1965, '66, and '67, alternating with artists' sets from the Doors and Country Joe And The Fish. For the second hour we have, in its entirety, the first side of the 1971 Moody Blues LP Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, followed by more songs from 1966 and a few album tracks to finish things out.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    A Well Respected Man
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer:    Ray Davies
Label:    Eric (original label: Reprise)
Year:    Released 1965, charted 1966
    The Kinks were one of the original British Invasion bands, scoring huge R&B-influenced hits with You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night in 1964. The hits continued in 1965 with more melodic songs like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You. 1966 saw Ray Davies's songwriting take a satiric turn, as A Well Respected Man (actually released in late 1965) amply illustrates. Over the next few years the Kinks would continue to evolve, generally getting decent critical reviews and moderate record sales for their albums until 1970, when the song Lola became a huge international hit, reviving the band's fortunes.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Subterranean Homesick Blues
Source:    CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Bringing It All Back Home)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    1965 was the year Bob Dylan went electric, and got his first top 40 hit, Subterranean Homesick Blues, in the process. Although the song, which also led off his Bringing It All Back Home album, stalled out in the lower 30s, it did pave the way for electrified cover versions of Dylan songs by the Byrds and Turtles and Dylan's own Like A Rolling Stone, which would revolutionize top 40 radio. A line from the song itself, "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows", became the inspiration for a radical offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) that called itself the Weathermen (later the Weather Underground).

Artist:     Astronauts
Title:     Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day
Source:     45 RPM single
Writer:     Boyce/Venet
Label:     RCA Victor
Year:     1965
     The Astronauts were formed in the early 60s in Boulder, Colorado, and were one of the few surf bands to come from a landrocked state. They had a minor hit with an instrumental called Baja during the height of surf's popularity, but were never able to duplicate that success in the US, although they did have considerable success in Japan, even outselling the Beach Boys there. By 1965 they had started to move away from surf music, adding vocals and taking on more of a garage-punk sound. What caught my attention when I first ran across this promo single in a commercial radio station throwaway pile was the song's title. Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day, written by Tommy Boyce and producer Steve Venet, was featured on the Monkees TV show and was included on their 1966 debut album. This 1965 Astronauts version of the tune has a lot more attitude than the Monkees version. Surprisingly the song didn't hit the US charts, despite being released on the biggest record label in the world (at that time), RCA Victor.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Riders On The Storm
Source:    European import CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: L.A. Woman)
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1971
    The last major hit single for the Doors was also one of their best: Riders On The Storm. In fact, it still holds up as one of the finest singles ever released. By anyone.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Moonlight Drive
Source:    European import CD: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1967
    Much of the second Doors album consisted of songs that were already in the band's repertoire when they signed with Elektra Records but for various reasons did not record for their debut LP. One of the earliest was Jim Morrison's Moonlight Ride. As was the case with all the Doors songs on their first three albums, the tune was credited to the entire band.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Running Blue
Source:    European Import CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: The Soft Parade)
Writer(s):    Robby Krieger
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1969
    On the recommendation of producer Paul Rothchild, the Doors made a complete departure from the sound that had won them critical and commercial success on their first three albums with the release of The Soft Parade in 1969. The band was supplemented by strings and horns on most of the album. At the same time Jim Morrison, battling personal and legal issues, was less involved with the songwriting on The Soft Parade, with the slack being taken up primarily by guitarist Robby Krieger. In fact, Krieger wrote all four singles released from the album, including Running Blue, which only made it to the #64 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The song itself was meant to be a tribute to Otis Redding, with lyrics based on an old Leadbelly song, but the country-style vocals provided by Krieger on the song's "back eight" (supplemented by bluegrass-style mandolin played by Jesse McReynolds) undermine his intentions.

Artist:    Syndicate Of Sound
Title:    Little Girl
Source:    CD: Battle Of The Bands, Vol. Two (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Baskin/Gonzalez
Label:    Era (original labels: Hush & Bell)
Year:    1966
    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:    Who
Title:    Whiskey Man
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer:    John Entwhistle
Label:    Decca
Year:    1966
    Although the Who had previously issued a pair of singles in the US, the first one to make any kind of waves was Happy Jack, released in late 1966 and hitting its peak the following year. The B side of that record was the song Whiskey Man. Like all the Who songs penned by bassist John Entwhistle, this one has an unusual subject: in this case, psychotic alcohol-induced hallucinations.

Artist:    13th Floor Elevators
Title:    You're Gonna Miss Me
Source:    CD: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
Writer:    Roky Erickson
Label:    Collectables (original label: International Artists)
Year:    1966
    If anyplace outside of California has a legitimate claim to being the birthplace of the psychedelic era, it's Austin, Texas. That's mainly due to the presence of the 13th Floor Elevators, a local band led by Roky Erickson that had the audacity to use an electric jug onstage. Their debut album was the first to actually use the word psychedelic (predating the Blues Magoos' Psychedelic Lollipop by mere weeks). Musically, their leanings were more toward garage-rock than acid-rock, at least on their first album (they got more metaphysical with their follow-up album, Easter Everywhere).

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Flying High
Source:    LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Any guesses to what a song called Flying High from an album called Electric Music For The Mind And Body by Country Joe And The Fish released in 1967 might be about? I thought not.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Super Bird
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body)
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Rhino (original label: Vanguard)
Year:    1967
    Country Joe and the Fish, from Berkeley, California, were one of the first rock bands to incorporate political satire into their music. Their I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag is one of the most famous protest songs ever written. Super Bird is even heavier on the satire than the Rag. The song, from the band's debut LP, puts president Lyndon Johnson, whose wife and daughter were known as "Lady-bird" and "Linda-bird", in the role of a comic book superhero.

Artist:    Country Joe and the Fish
Title:    Section 43
Source:    LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer:    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    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 Joe McDonald's underground arts 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:    Otis Redding
Title:    I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)
Source:    LP: Historic Performances Recorded At The Monterey International Pop Festival
Writer(s):    Redding/Butler
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    Although his name had appeared on the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts since 1962, it wasn't until the release of I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) in 1965 that Redding began to get noticed by the public at large. The song, co-written by Jerry Butler, hit # 2 on the R&B chart and just barely missed making the top 20 on the mainstream chart. Two years later Redding performed the song as part of his set at the Monterey International Pop Festival, backed by Booker T and the MGs, along with the Bar-Kays horn section. Less than a year later a plane crash would claim the lives of Redding and the Bar-Kays, just as the singer was achieving his greatest success.

Artist:    Mouse And The Traps
Title:    Ya-Ya
Source:    Mono British import CD: The Fraternity Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Robinson/Dorsey/Lewis
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Fraternity)
Year:    1967
    Mouse And The Traps had a well-deserved reputation for being able to play in any style they wanted to. An example of this is their cover of Lee Dorsey's hit Ya-Ya, which Mouse released as a B side in 1967. Unfortunately, that same versatility kept them from establishing a musical identity of their own, and, although they had regional success all across Texas, the Ohio valley and the southern US, they were never able to score a major hit on the national charts.

Artist:     Leaves
Song:     To Try For the Sun
Source:     British import CD: All the Good That's Happening
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:     Grapefruit (original label: Capitol)    
Year:     1967
     After their success with the fast version of Hey Joe in 1966 the Leaves signed with Capitol Records and recorded their second LP, All the Good That's Happening. Unfortunately, the band was already in the process of disintegrating by then and no more hits were forthcoming. One song that shows their interest in folk music was their cover of Donovan's To Try For the Sun. It was the only purely acoustic song the band ever recorded.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    We're Going Wrong
Source:    British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Disraeli Gears)
Writer:    Jack Bruce
Label:    Polydor (original US label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    On Fresh Cream the slowest-paced tracks were bluesy numbers like Sleepy Time Time. For the group's second LP, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce came up with We're Going Wrong, a song with a haunting melody supplemented by some of Eric Clapton's best guitar fills. Ginger Baker put away his drumsticks in favor of mallets, giving the song an otherworldly feel.

Artist:    Peter, Paul And Mary
Title:    Blowin' In The Wind
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1963
    Just as knowing the chords for Van Morrison's Gloria was pretty much a prerequisite for being in a garage band, being able to play Bob Dylan's Blowing In The Wind was a must for anyone attempting to play folk music at a party in the mid-1960s. If there was more than one of you singing, you most likely used the Peter, Paul and Mary arrangement of the tune, with its three-part harmony. Their version was by far the most popular recording of the song, going all the way to the # 2 spot on the top 40 charts in the summer of '63.

Artist:    Moody Blues
Title:    Every Good Boy Deserves Favor-side one
Source:    LP: Every Good Boy Deserves Favor
Writer(s):    Lodge/Thomas/Hayward/Pinder/Edge
Label:    Threshold
Year:    1971
    The Moody Blues are probably the first rock band to become known for doing nothing but concept albums, starting with the 1967 LP Days Of Future Past. Their 1971 album, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, is no exception, as each song on the LP leads directly into the next track. The album's first side starts off with the only Moody Blues track written by all five band members. Procession is meant to describe the history of music from the beginning of time up until 1971, when the album was recorded. The only vocals on Procession are the spoken words "desolation," "creation," and "communication". This leads into the album's hit single, Justin Hayward's The Story In Your Eyes, which had been released a couple months ahead of the LP itself. From there, the song sequence continues with Ray Thomas's Our Guessing Game and John Lodge's Emily's Song, concluding with Graeme Edge's After You Came. Ironically, Edge is the only member of the band that does not sing on After You Came.  

Artist:    Tom Dae Turned On
Title:    I Shall Walk
Source:    CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Tom Dae
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Hitt)
Year:    1970
    Rockville, Connecticut was home to Tom Dae, one of the more prolific, yet obscure, artists of the 1960s and 70s. His first single, Janie, was released on the New York based Goldisc label in 1963, with most of his subsequent records appearing on Hitt Records out of Hartford, Connecticut. Dae's recordings appeared under several variations, including Tommy Dae's Tensionettes, Tommy Dae's High Tensions, and in 1970, Tom Dae Turned On. I Shall Walk is, by far, the most psychedelic recording Dae ever released.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    See See Rider
Source:    Mono LP: Animalization
Writer(s):    Ma Rainey
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1966
    One of the last singles released by the original incarnation of the Animals, See See Rider traces its roots back to the 1920s, when it was first recorded by Ma Rainey. The Animals version is considerably faster than most other recordings of the song, and includes a signature opening rift by organist Dave Rowberry (who had replaced founder Alan Price prior to the recording of the Animalization album that the song first appeared on) that is unique to the Animals' take on the tune.

Artist:    Mothers Of Invention
Title:    Help, I'm A Rock, 3rd Movement: It Can't Happen Here
Source:    45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:    Barking Pumpkin (original label: Verve)
Year:    1966
    Help, I'm A Rock and its follow up track It Can't Happen Here are among the best-known Frank Zappa compositions on the first Mothers Of Invention album, Freak Out! What is not so well known is that the band's label, Verve, issued a single version of the track under the title Help, I'm A Rock, 3rd Movement: It Can't Happen Here, as the B side of the band's first single. This mono single version removes the avant-garde jazz piano and drum section from the piece, making the track slightly over three minutes in length. The result is one of the strangest a cappella performances ever committed to vinyl.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Taxman
Source:    Mono CD: Revolver
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Capitol/EMI
Year:    1966
    The Beatles' 1966 LP Revolver was a major step forward, particularly for guitarist George Harrison, who for the first time had three of his own compositions on an album. Making it even sweeter was the fact that one of these, Taxman, was chosen to lead off the album itself. Although Harrison is usually considered the band's lead guitarist, the solo in Taxman is actually performed by Paul McCartney.
Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Sunny South Kensington
Source:    Mono LP: Mellow Yellow (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic
Year:    1966
    Donovan followed up his 1966 hit single Sunshine Superman with an album of the same name. He then repeated himself with the song and album Mellow Yellow. The B side of the Mellow Yellow single was Sunny South Kensington, a tune done in much the same style as Superman. The song was also included on the Mellow Yellow album.

Artist:    Love
Title:    7&7 Is
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single. Stereo version released on LP: Da Capo)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Rhino (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1967
    The word "seven" does not appear anywhere in the song 7&7 Is. In fact, I have no idea where Arthur Lee got that title from. Nonetheless, the song is among the most intense tracks to ever make the top 40. 7&7 Is starts off with power chords played over a constant drum roll (possibly played by Lee himself), with cymbals crashing over equally manic semi-spoken lyrics. The song builds up to an explosive climax: an atomic bomb blast followed by a slow post-apocalyptic quasi-surf instrumental that fades out after just a few seconds.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Adventures Of A Young Organ
Source:    European import CD: Ten Years After
Writer(s):    Churchill/Lee
Label:    Deram
Year:    1967
    Perpetually overshadowed by his bandmate Alvin Lee, organist Chick Churchill first joined Ten Years After as their road manager in 1966, when they were still working with singer Ivan Jay as the Jaybirds, but soon became the band's keyboardist. In November of 1966, the group, minus Jay, signed Chris Wright as their manager and changed their name, first to Blues Trip, then Blues Yard, then finally Ten Years After. Churchill's style was heavily influenced by American jazz and blues organist Jimmy Smith, as can be heard on tracks like Adventures Of A Young Organ from the fist Ten Years After LP, released in 1967.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Remember A Day
Source:    CD: A Saucerful Of Secrets
Writer(s):    Rick Wright
Label:    EMI (original label: Tower)
Year:    1968
    Trivia question: Which Pink Floyd album never made the US album charts? The answer:  A Saucerful Of Secrets, the band's second LP. Like the band's debut LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, A Saucerful Of Secrets was released on Capitol's tax-writeoff Tower subsidiary and received virtually no promotion from the label. By 1968 it was becoming increasingly clear that Syd Barrett was going off the deep end due to ongoing mental health issues exacerbated by heavy use of hallucinogenics and it's reasonable to assume the label expected to band to soon dissolve. After one performance where Barrett did nothing but stand and strum a single chord for the entire set the rest of the band made a decision to bring in Barrett's childhood friend David Gilmour as their new guitarist. In all likelihood this decision saved the band itself, as A Saucerful Of Secrets ended up being the only Pink Floyd album to include both Barrett and Gilmour. Meanwhile, other band members were stepping up their own contributions, Rick Wright's Remember A Day being a prime example.

Artist:     It's A Beautiful Day
Title:     Hot Summer Day
Source:     CD: It's A Beautiful Day
Writer:     David and Linda LaFlamme
Label:     San Francisco Sound (original label: Columbia)
Year:     1969
     Next to White Bird, the two most recognizable It's A Beautiful Day songs are Bombay Calling and Hot Summer Day. All three songs are on the band's debut album. David and Linda LaFlamme split up after that album was released, and stopped writing songs together. There was an overall drop in the quality of the band's recordings as well. Coincidence? I think not.

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