Sunday, April 4, 2021

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2115 (starts 4/5/21)

    This week's show is centered mainly on the core years of the psychedelic era, with over two thirds of the songs coming from either 1966 or 1967, including an all New York City set from 1966. We also have a Beatles set focusing on their earlier material and a set of tunes from the first Strawberry Alarm Clock LP. And as a bonus, hidden somewhere in this week's blog entry we have a mini-essay on how 45s, LPs and EPs came to be.

Artist:    Davie Allan And The Arrows
Title:    Blue's Theme
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: The Wild Ones-soundtrack and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Curb/Allan
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
    It is entirely possible that the Chocolate Watchband (or more accurately, the unknown producers of their first recording) were indirectly responsible for giving guitarist Davie Allan his biggest hit single. In 1966, movie producer Roger Corman hired Mike Curb to comeup with soundtrack music for his 1966 film The Wild Ones. Curb in turn contacted his longtime friend (and frequent collaborator) Davie Allan to actually record the soundtrack with his band, the Arrows. The film was released in July of 1966, with the soundtrack album appearing soon after. The obvious high point of the album was the instrumental track Blue's Theme (which technically should have been Blues's Theme, since the film's main character, played by Peter Fonda, was named Heavenly Blues), but at first there were reportedly no plans to release the song as a single. However, late in the year the Chocolate Watch Band were making their very first visit to a recording studio, and were asked to knock out a quick cover of Blues Theme, which was released (sans apostrophe) on the HBR label, credited to The Hogs. Curb must have heard about this as it was being prepared for release, as he managed to put out a single release of the original Davie Allan version of Blue's Theme before the HBR single hit the racks. Either that, or (more likely) the HBR producers simply had bad info about Curb's intentions in the first place.

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

Artist:    Boots
Title:    Gaby
Source:    CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in West Germany as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Krabbe/Bresser
Label:    Rhino (original label: Telefunken)
Year:    1966
    Formed in Berlin in 1965, the Boots were one of the more adventurous bands operating on the European mainland. While most bands in Germany tended to emulate the Beatles, the Boots took a more underground approach, growing their hair out just a bit longer than their contemporaries and appealing to a more Bohemian type of crowd. Lead guitarist Jurg "Jockel" Schulte-Eckle was known for doing strange things to his guitar onstage using screwdrivers, beer bottles and the like to create previously unheard of sounds. On vinyl the band comes off as being just a bit ahead of its time, as can be heard clearly on the original group's final single, Gaby, a song written by singer Werner Krabbe and bassist Bob Bresser. Not long after Gaby's release, Krabbe left the band. Although the Boots continued on with various configurations until 1969, they were never able to recapture the magic generated by the original lineup.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Holiday In Waikiki
Source:    CD: The Kink Kronikles (originally released on LP: Face To Face)
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1966
    Ray Davies's original idea for the Kinks' 1966 album Face To Face was to tie all the songs together through the use of sound effects to create one continuous audio track. The band's UK record company vetoed the idea, however, and for the most part the sound effects were left on the cutting room floor. One exception to this was Holiday In Waikiki, which retains its oceanic intro and fade.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    On The Road Again
Source:    Mono LP: Bringing It All Back Home
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Sundazed/Columbia
Year:    1965
    On January 14, 1965, Bob Dylan made his first recordings with an electric band at Columbia Records' Studio B. The following day, using mostly the same musicians, he recorded On The Road Again. The song, basically a declaration of indepence from his role as a folk singer, contains the lines "You ask why I don't live here. Honey, how come you don't move?".

Artist:    Cream
Title:    I'm So Glad
Source:    Mono LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Skip James
Label:    Atco
Year:    1966
    Unlike later albums, which featured psychedelic cover art and several Jack Bruce/Pete Brown collaborations that had a decidedly psychedelic sound, Fresh Cream was marketed as the first album by a British blues supergroup, and featured a greater number of blues standards than subsequent releases. One of those covers that became a concert staple for the band was the old Skip James tune I'm So Glad. The song has become so strongly associated with Cream that the group used it as the opening number for all three performances when they staged a series of reunion concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in 2004. Unlike the rest of the songs on Fresh Cream, I'm So Glad was never given a stereo mix.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Rock And Roll Woman
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth) while they were together. Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Richie Furay, Jim Messina, Stephen Stills and Neil Young. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock And Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 50 years after it was recorded.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Flower In The Sun
Source:    CD: Cheap Thrills (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Sam Andrew
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 1999
    Sam Houston Andrew III is one of the more overlooked talents of the late 1960s San Francisco music scene. Born in 1941, Andrew was a military brat who, at the age of 17, was the host of his own TV show in Okinawa, Japan, as well as leader of the show's house band. His father was transferred to a base in California shortly after Andrew graduated high school, and Andrew soon became involved with the San Francisco music scene. In 1966 he and Peter Albin formed Big Brother And The Holding Company, a band that would, by the end of the year, include vocalist Janis Joplin. Following the release of the hit album Cheap Thrills in 1968, Andrew and Joplin left Big Brother to form the Kozmic Blues Band. Less than a year later Andrew returned to Big Brother And The Holding Company, becoming the band's musical director until his death in 2015. Andrew was Big Brother's most prolific songwriter (he had written his first song at age 6), contributing songs like Combination Of The Two (the band's usual set opener) and Flower In The Sun, the studio version of which was intended for inclusion on Cheap Thrills but cut when it was decided to include more live performances on the LP.

Artist:    Lovin' Spoonful
Title:    Bes' Friends
Source:    LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful
Writer(s):    John Sebastian
Label:    Sundazed/Kama Sutra/BMG Heritage
Year:    1966
    Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful was an attempt by one of the most popular bands in the US to sound as different as possible on every track on an album. For the most part they succeeded, especially on songs like Bes' Friends. The song, done in a style that brings to mind the band's Greenwich Village compatriot Dave Van Ronk, is notable for its extensive use of harmonia and clarinet, making it sound like it was performed by a Salvation Army band in early 20th century New Orleans.

Artist:     Blues Project
Title:     Caress Me Baby
Source:     LP: Projections
Writer:     Jimmy Reed
Label:     Verve Forecast
Year:     1966
     After deliberately truncating their extended jams for their first LP, Live At The Cafe Au-Go-Go, the Blues Project recorded a second album that was a much more accurate representation of what the band was all about. Mixed in with the group's original material was this outstanding cover of Caress Me Baby, an old Jimmy Reed tune sung by lead guitarist and Blues Project founder Danny Kalb that runs over seven minutes in length. Andy Kuhlberg's memorable walking bass line would be lifted a few year later by Blood, Sweat and Tears bassist Jim Fielder for the track Blues, Part II.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet
Source:    CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Psychedelic Lollipop)
Writer(s):    Gilbert/Scala/Esposito
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1966
    Although originally released in 1966 on the Psychedelic Lollipop album, the Blues Magoos' (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet is best remembered as one of the first psychedelic hits of 1967, hitting its peak in February of that year. The Magoos would go on to record a few more albums and release a few more singles, but were fated never to repeat the success of this monster hit.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    From Later
Source:    LP: Living In The Past (originally released in UK on EP: Life Is A Long Song)
Writer:    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1971    
    In the late 1940s there was a push to find a viable replacement for the 78 RPM record, which was heavy and brittle and not capable of reproducing the high fidelity recordings being made on tape recorders, a technology that had been brought back from Germany by returning GIs at the end of World War II. Additionally, a 10-inch 78 RPM record could only hold three or four minutes of material per side, resulting in an industry standard length for popular music. RCA Victor, which had dominated the recording industry pretty much from the beginning, took the most direct route, developing the 45 RPM vinyl record with a similar running time to the 78 (45 RPM having been mathmatically determined to be the optimum speed for a 7" vinyl record). RCA's chief rival, Columbia Records, took a different approach. Long pieces of music (classical in particular) had always, by necessity, been spread out over several 78s (known as an album due to its resemblance to a photo album). Columbia reasoned that there was a market for a new type of record that could hold up to 30 uninterrupted minutes per side and set about developing the 33 1/3 RPM LP record (based on the speed used for radio transcription discs). From the start, RCA banked on the 45 being the only record anyone would buy, and even made phongraphs that only played records in that format (45s had a large hole in the center, while LPs had a small hole, the same as 78s). As it turned out, there was a market for both 45 and LP records in the booming postwar economy, and RCA found itself at a disadvantage when it came to not only classical music, but modern jazz as well, which was quickly gravitating to the longer LPs as the medium of choice. RCA responded at first by developing the extended play 45 (or EP) which applied the microgroove technology of the LP to nearly double the capacity of a 45 RPM record. These EPs enjoyed a brief period of popularity in the US in the 1950s, until the RCA 45-only players wore out and got replaced by multi-speed units in most homes. In England, however, the format was even more successful and remained that way well into the 1960s, with EPs occupying space on the record racks alongside LPs and singles. One reason for this was that unlike in the US, where EPs were almost always shortened versions of albums available in the LP format, the British EPs often contained music that was not available in any other format. An artist with a moderately successful single might get a contract to record an EP as a logical next step in Britain, while in the US that same group would have to crank out a couple more successful singles before being allowed to record an LP. Often, British artists would have a handful of new songs to record, but not enough to fill an entire LP. Such was the case in 1971, when Jethro Tull recorded a five-song EP entitled Life Is A Long Song. From Later is an instrumental piece from Life Is A Long Song that did not get released in the US until 1973, when it was included on Jethro Tull's Living In The Past collection.

Artist:    Czar
Title:    Ritual Fire Dance
Source:    Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution
Writer(s):    de Falla/arr. Hodges
Label:    Grapefruit
Year:    Recorded 1970, released 2013
    After a series of unsuccessful singles for various labels from 1965-1969, Tuesday's Children decided to abandon light pop for a more progressive sound, changing their name to Czar in the process. Czar's debut LP came out in May of 1970, but it was missing one track due to difficulties over publishing rights: an adaptation of Spanish composer Manuel de Falla's Ritual Fire Dance that the group had recorded in February of that year, about a month after their first gig using their new name. Ritual Fire Dance was included in a box set of British psychedelic tracks called Love, Poetry And Revolution, released in 2013.

Artist:    Mandrake Paddle Steamer
Title:    Strange Walking Man
Source:    Mono British import CD: Insane Times (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Briley/Engle
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Columbia UK)
Year:    1969
    Mandrake Paddle Steamer was the brainchild of art school students Martin Briley and Brian Engle, who, with producer Robert Finnis, were among the first to take advantage of EMI's new 8-track recording equipment at their Abbey Road studios. The result was Strange Walking Man, a single released in 1969. The track includes an uncredited coda created by Finnis by splicing a tape of studio musicians playing a cover version of an Incredible String Band tune, Maybe Someday.

Artist:    Otis Redding
Title:    (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Redding/Cropper
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1968
    Otis Redding's (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay, co-written by legendary MGs guitarist Steve Cropper, was released shortly after the plane crash that took the lives of not only Redding, but several members of the Bar-Kays as well. Shortly after recording the song Redding played it for his wife, who reacted by saying "Otis, you're changing." Redding's reply was "maybe I need to."

Artist:    Tiffany Shade
Title:    An Older Man
Source:    Mono British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released in US on LP: Tiffany Shade)
Writer(s):    Barnes/Leonard
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
Year:    1967
    From 1967 through 1970 Bob Shad's Mainstream label released over two dozen rock albums. Most of these albums were by bands that were known only to audiences in their own hometowns. Indeed, most of these albums were highly forgettable. This was due in large part to the fact that Shad would book the absolute minimum amount of studio time required to get an LP's worth of material recorded. This generally meant using the first take of every recording, even if the band felt they could do better if they had a little more time. As a result, most late 60s Mainstream LPs ended up on the budget rack not long after their release, and, at least in some cases, even the band members themselves considered the whole thing a waste of time and effort. Such is the case with Cleveland's Tiffany Shade, which consisted of guitarist/lead vocalist Mike Barnes, keyboardist Bob Leonard, drummer Tom Schuster and bassist Robb Murphy. The group's manager recommended the group to Shad, who booked two eight-hour sessions for the band at the Cleveland Recording Company. Fortunately, the band was better prepared than most of the Mainstream bands, and actually turned out a halfway decent album, thanks in large part to Barnes's talent as a songwriter, which can be heard on tunes like An Older Man, co-written by Leonard.

Artist:    Moles
Title:    We Are The Moles-Pt. 1
Source:    British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    The Moles
Label:    EMI (original label: Parlophone)
Year:    1968
    Sometimes success carries it own baggage. Take the case of Britain's Simon Dupree And The Big Sound. The group was formed by a trio of Scottish brothers, Phil, Derek and Ray Shulman, along with Peter O'Flaherty, Eric Hine and Tony Ransley in the Portsmouth area, going through a variety of band names before settling on Simon Dupree And The Big Sound in 1966. The group was originally known for its spot-on covers of songs by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Don Covay. By 1967, however, audience tastes were rapidly changing, and psychedelic bands such as Pink Floyd and the Creation were drawing crowds away from the R&B bands. Under pressure from both their management and record label the band recorded a song called Kites, a psychedelic piece that became their biggest hit and placed the group firmly in the minds of record buyers as a flower-power band. But, like most fads, flower-power was itself out of style by 1968, but Simon Dupree And The Big Sound were stuck with a reputation that didn't even fit the members' own musical preferences (which still ran to R&B). To try to break free of this unwanted rep, the group released a rather bizarre single called We Are The Moles in 1968. The record was shrouded in mystery, with writing credits going to "the Moles", and production credit to George Martin (leading some to believe it was actually a Beatles outtake). The ploy almost worked, as the possible Beatles connection led to increased interest in the record, but that interest quickly dissipated when it was revealed (by Syd Barrett, of all people) that the record was indeed the work of Simon Dupree And The Big Sound. The band continued on for a few more months, until lead vocalist Derek Shulman announced his retirement in 1969, saying he was tired of being Simon Dupree. He would rejoin his brothers the following year for their new venture, an experimental rock band called Gentle Giant.

Artist:     Beatles
Title:     Little Child
Source:     Mono CD: With The Beatles (released in US on LP: Meet The Beatles)
Writer:     Lennon/McCartney
Label:     Apple/Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year:     1963
     The Beatles second album, With The Beatles, followed pretty much the same formula as their debut album, with a mixture of cover tunes and Lennon/McCartney originals. One of those original songs was Little Child, which also was included on the US version of the album (Meet The Beatles, their first LP on the Capitol label).

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Think For Yourself
Source:    LP: Rubber Soul
Writer:    George Harrison
Label:    Parlophone/Apple (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1965
    By the end of 1965 George Harrison was writing two songs per Beatle album. On Rubber Soul, however, one of his two songs was deleted from the US version of the album and appeared on 1966's Yesterday...And Today LP instead. The remaining Harrison song on Rubber Soul was Think For Yourself. Harrison later said that he was still developing his songwriting skills at this point and that bandmate John Lennon had helped write Think For Yourself.
Artist:     Beatles
Title:     All I've Got To Do
Source:     Mono CD: With The Beatles (released in US on LP: Meet The Beatles)
Writer:     Lennon/McCartney
Label:     Apple/Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
Year:     1963
    It's been said that there really is no such thing as an obscure Beatles song. That really isn't true, however. Consider this: Meet The Beatles was released on January 20, 1964, as the first Beatles LP to appear on the Capitol label. By then it's lead single, I Want To Hold Your Hand, was already climbing the Billboard charts, and would hit the #1 spot less than two weeks later. Just two months after that the Beatles would occupy the top five spots on the Billboard charts, a feat that has never been duplicated. A second Capitol LP, The Beatles Second Album, was released on April 10, 1964. Add to the the fact that the US version of Please Please Me, retitled Introducing The Beatles, was also available to US audiences on the Vee Jay label, and it's easy to see why a non-single LP track like All I've Got To Do, buried near the end of side one of Meet The Beatles, did not receive a whole lot of airplay. The song itself is a slower number, with John Lennon taking the lead vocal and Paul McCartney providing harmonies. For most of us, All I've Got To Do was the song you sat through to get to the more popular All My Loving, which, although not released as a single, had been featured on one of the band's appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. Still, All I've Got To Do is vintage Fab Four material, and, as such, is worth a listen.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Light My Fire (single version)
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    Once in a while a song comes along that totally blows you away the very first time you hear it. The Doors' Light My Fire was one of those songs. I liked it so much that I immediately went out and bought the 45 RPM single. Apparently I was not the only one, as the song spent three weeks at the top of the charts in July of 1967. Despite this success, the single version of the song, which runs less than three minutes, is all but forgotten by modern radio stations, which universally choose to play the full-length album version. Nonetheless, the single version, which was created by editing out most of the solo instrumental sections of the piece, is a historical artifact worth an occasional listen.

Artist:    Young Rascals
Title:    Find Somebody
Source:    CD: Groovin'
Writer(s):    Cavaleire/Brigati
Label:    Warner Special Products (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1967
    Back in the early 1980s I made myself a mix tape from various albums that I had found at the studios of KUNM, the University Of New Mexico radio station, where I was doing a couple of weekly shifts as a student/volunteer. I still have that tape somewhere, but somewhere along the way I lost track of just what the sources were for the various songs I recorded. Among those "mystery songs" was a tune I really liked a lot called (presumably) Find Somebody. The problem was that I had no clue who the band was. I thought it might be the Young Rascals; if it was it was hands down the coolest Young Rascals song I had ever heard. I spent the next 30 years or so trying to find out where the song had originally appeared, as the cassette tape was too worn out to use over the air. Finally, in 2017, I found a copy of the third Young Rascals album, Groovin', and there it was. So here it is: Find Somebody by the Young Rascals, featuring vocals by Eddie Brigati. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Artist:    Garden Club
Title:    Little Girl Lost-And-Found
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Walsh/Almer
Label:    Rhino (original label: A&M)
Year:    1967
    Garden Club was in reality Ruthann Friedman (who wrote the Association hit Windy) on vocals with a bunch of studio musicians performing a song co-written by Tandyn Almer (co-writer of the Association hit Along Comes Mary and inventor of the dual-chamber bong). Oddly enough, the track reminds me somehow of Suzanne Vega.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    Person Without A Care
Source:    French import CD: Happy Together
Writer(s):    Al Nichol
Label:    Magic (original US label: White Whale)
Year:    1967
    Al Nichol never seems to get the credit he deserves. Along with Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, he was the only original member of the Turtles to remain with the group for its entire existence; in fact, he was the lead guitarist for the Nightriders, the instrumental surf group led by Kaylan that eventually became the Turtles. Starting with their second LP, You Baby, Nichol wrote or co-wrote at least one song on each of the band's albums, and those songs were usually among the most original-sounding tracks on the album. A perfect example of this is Person Without A Care. While not particularly commercial, the song has a catchy hook and, for 1967, an innovative chord structure. Not much is known of Nichol's post-Turtles adventures, other than a short note on the Turtles' web site saying that he "lives in Nevada".

Artist:    Status Quo
Title:    Pictures Of Matchstick Men
Source:    LP: Golden Days Of British Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Francis Rossi
Label:    Sire (original US label: Cadet Concept)
Year:    1967
    If you have ever seen the film This Is Spinal Tap, the story of Britain's Status Quo might seem a bit familiar. Signed to Pye Records in 1967 the group scored a huge international hit with their first single, Pictures Of Matchstick Men, but were unable to duplicate that success with subsequent releases. In the early 1970s the band totally reinvented itself as a boogie band and began a run in the UK that resulted in them scoring more charted singles than any other band in history, including the Beatles and Rolling Stones. For all that, however, they never again charted in the US, where they are generally remembered as one-hit wonders. In addition to their UK success, Status Quo remains immensely popular in the Scandanavian countries, where they continue to play to sellout crowds on a regular basis.

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    I'm A Man
Source:    Mono LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Miller
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1967
    The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve and Muff Winwood, was one of the UK's most successful white R&B bands of the sixties, cranking out a steady stream of hit singles. Two of them, the iconic Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man, were also major hits in the US, the latter being the last song to feature the Winwood brothers. Muff Winwood became a successful record producer. The group itself continued on for several years, but were never able to duplicate their earlier successes. As for Steve Winwood, he quickly faded off into obscurity, never to be heard from again. Except as the leader of Traffic. And a member of Blind Faith. And Traffic again. And some critically-acclaimed collaborations in the early 1980s with Asian musicians. Oh yeah, and a few major solo hits (Back In The High Life, Roll With It...that kinda thing) in the mid-to-late 1980s. Other than that, nothing.

Artist:    Arlo Guthrie
Title:    Chilling Of The Evening
Source:    LP: Alice's Restaurant
Writer(s):    Arlo Guthrie
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    Although totally overshadowed by the album's title track, Arlo Guthrie's debut LP, Alice's Restaurant, contains other tasty morsels as well, such as Chilling Of The Evening, which opens the album's second side. The song's production is a bit in the Glen Campbell vein, but the lyrics are young, innocent and honest, reflecting Guthrie's own situation at the time.

Artist:    Noel Harrison
Title:    Sign Of The Queen
Source:    Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Brewer/Shipley
Label:    Warner Strategic Marketing
Year:    1967
    Noel Harrison is no relation to George Harrison. He is, however the son of actor Rex Harrison, which no doubt helped him get a contract with Reprise Records, which had recently been acquired from original owner Frank Sinatra by Warner Brothers. The fact that he also was also co-starring in the spinoff series The Girl From Uncle probably played into it as well. Among the tunes recorded by Harrison was Sign Of The Queen, a B side released in 1967. The tune was written by Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley, who would have a huge hit of their own four years later with a song called One Toke Over The Line.

Artist:    First Edition
Title:    Shadow In The Corner Of Your Mind
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Mike Settle
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    The First Edition was formed by Mike Settle and Kenny Rogers, both members of the New Christy Minstrels, a group that made more appearances on TV variety shows than on the record charts (imagine a professional version of a high school madrigal choir). The two wanted to get into something a little more hip than watered-down choral versions of Simon and Garfunkel songs and the like, and recorded an album that included folk-rock, country-rock and even the full-blown psychedelia of Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In), which ended up being their first single. For the B side of that single one of Settle's songs, Shadow In The Corner Of Your Mind, was selected. The song, a decent piece of folk-rock with reasonably intelligent lyrics, might have been hit record material itself if it weren't for the fact that by 1968 folk-rock had pretty much run its course.

Artist:    Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title:    The World's On Fire
Source:    LP: Incense And Peppermints
Writer(s):    King/Bunnell/Freeman/Weitz/Seal
Label:    Sundazed/Uni
Year:    1967
    So you think because you've heard Incense And Peppermints (the song, not the album) about a million times, you have a pretty good grip on what the Strawberry Alarm Clock was all about? Well, a listen to the opening track of their first LP (also titled Incense And Peppermints) will disabuse you of that notion in a hurry. Running well over eight minutes in length, The World's On Fire is essentially an extended jam showcasing the talents of the band itself, including guitarist Ed King, who would later become a member of Lynyrd Skynryd . The piece was also included in the 1968 film Psych-Out.

Artist:    Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title:    Incense And Peppermints
Source:    Mono CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Carter/Gilbert/Weitz/King
Label:    Rhino (original label: Uni)
Year:    1967
    Incense and Peppermints started off as an instrumental from Los Angeles band Thee Sixpence members Mark Weitz and Ed King, mostly because the band simply couldn't come up with any lyrics. Their producer decided to bring in professional songwriters John S. Carter and Tim Gilbert to finish the song, and ended up giving them full credit for it. This did not sit well with the band members. In fact, they hated the lyrics so much that they refused to sing them. Undaunted, the producer persuaded 16-year-old Greg Munford, a friend of the band who had accompanied them to the recording studio, to sing the lead vocals on the track, which was was then issued as the B side of the group's fourth single, The Birdman Of Alkatrash, on the All-American label. Somewhere along the line a local 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) immediately signed the band (which by then had changed their name to the Strawberry Alarm Clock) issuing the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side. Naturally, the song went to the number one spot, becoming the band's only major hit.

Artist:    Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title:    Strawberries Mean Love
Source:    LP: Incense And Peppermints
Writer(s):    George Bunnell
Label:    Sundazed/Uni
Year:    1967
    There seems to be a bit of confusion as to who actually wrote Strawberries Mean Love, the last song on side one of the Strawberry Alarm Clock album Incense And Peppermints. The original 1967 label lists it as being a collaboration between bassist George Bunnell, flautist Steve Bartek and "S.A. Clock". The Wikipedia entry for the album credits the song to Bunnell/Bartek. The copy I use, however, which is the 2011 Sundazed vinyl reissue, lists Bunnell as the sole writer of the song. Since three other tracks on that same copy as credited to Bunnell/Bartok, I tend to believe that Strawberries Mean Love is indeed the sole creation of Bunnell.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    So close...
    Your opening song, Blue's Theme, was written for "The Wild Angels".
    I truly enjoy your eclectic mix of tunes... reminds me of the days before corporate radio.
    Aloha and thanks!