Sunday, April 18, 2021

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2117 (starts 4/19/21) 

    This week we have an unusually high number of medleys and artists' sets, with the emphasis on bands from San Francisco. This includes three tracks from the most successful LP of 1968, Cheap Thrills, from Big Brother And The Holding Company, one of the "suites" from Jefferson Airplane's most psychedelic LP, After Bathing At Baxters, and an entire half hour segment of Grateful Dead tracks. We also have our third Beatles set in three weeks, featuring yet another medley. That leaves a bit less time than usual for other stuff, but we still manage to fit no less than four songs that have never been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era before, including a pair of seldom-heard B sides from the Kinks and the Weeds. Speaking of B sides, the show itself gets underway with one of the best...

Artist:    Doors
Title:    The Crystal Ship
Source:    CD: The Doors
Writer:    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    Ever feel like you've discovered something really special that nobody else (among your circle of friends at any rate) knows about? At first you kind of want to keep it to yourself, but soon you find yourself compelled to share it with everyone you know. Such was the case when, in the early summer of 1967, I used my weekly allowance to buy copies of a couple of songs I had heard on the American Forces Network (AFN). As usual, it wasn't long before I was flipping the records over to hear what was on the B sides. I liked the first one well enough (a song by Buffalo Springfield called Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It, the B side of For What It's Worth), but it was the second one, the B side of the Doors' Light My Fire, that really got to me. To this day I consider The Crystal Ship to be one of the finest slow rock songs ever recorded.

Artist:    Human Beinz
Title:    Close Your Eyes
Source:    Australian import CD: Evolutions
Writer(s):    Jim Murray
Label:    Ascension (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1968
    Youngstown, Ohio, was the home of vocalist/guitarists Dick Belley and Ting Markulin, bassist/vocalist Mel Pachuta,  and drummer Gary Coates, who formed a band called the Premiers in 1964. By 1966 they had replaced Coates with Mike Tatman, changed their name to the Human Beingz and released their first single, a cover of the Who's My Generation for the local Elysian label. Around that same time they also recorded a cover of Gloria for the Pittsburgh-based Gateway label that actually predated the more popular Shadows of Knight version of the Van Morrison classic. In 1967 they signed with Capitol Records, who, without input from the band members, changed the spelling of the group's name to Human Beinz, promising to change it back if the band's first single for the label didn't catch on. However, the single, a cover of the Isley Brothers' Nobody But Me, did indeed catch on, and the name change became permanent. The Human Beinz ended up releasing two LPs for Capitol. The first of these was much in the same vein as their previous work, containing a mixture of cover songs and tunes written by their producer, Alexis de Azevedo, along with a pair of original songs from band members. Determined to create something more memorable, the group released Evolutions, a much more experimental album, in 1968. Although not a top seller by any means, the album contains several gems, such as Close Your Eyes, which bears more than a passing resemblance to some of the tunes on Love's Forever Changes album. Following the release of Evolutions, the Human Beinz stayed together long enough to complete a tour of Japan (where they had three #1 singles) before disbanding in 1969.

Artist:    Lighthouse
Title:    Never Say Goodbye
Source:    LP: Lighthouse
Writer:    P. Hoffert/B. Hoffert
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1969
     Lighthouse was formed in Toronto in 1968 by vocalist/drummer Skip Prokop (formerly of the Paupers) and keyboardist/arranger Paul Hoffert. The idea was to combine a rock rhythm section with R&B-style horns and classical-style strings. The first move they made was to recruit guitarist Ralph Cole, whom the Paupers had shared a bill with in New York. The three of them then went about recruiting an assortment of friends, studio musicians and members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, making a demo tape and submitting it to M-G-M records, who immediately offered Lighthouse a contract. The band's manager, however, was able to get a better contract from RCA, and the group set about recording their first album, making their stage debut in Toronto in May of 1969. Among the original 13 members of the band were lead vocalist Vic "Pinky" Davin and saxophonist Howard Shore (who would become the leader of the house band for NBC's Saturday Night Live when that TV show made its debut in 1975). The group managed to record two albums that year, their eponymous debut album and the follow-up Suite Feeling. Both albums were recorded at Toronto's Eastern Sound Studio and released on the RCA Victor label in 1969. Although the group scored a couple of minor hits in their native Canada, they were not able to achieve commercial success in the US, and, after a third LP for RCA, changed labels to GRT, where (after several personnel changes, including lead vocals) they managed to chart two top 40 singles, One Fine Morning and Sunny Days, in 1971 and 1972. Never Say Goodbye, from the first Lighthouse album, is a good example of just how the band was able to combine jazz, rock and classical styles into a single song.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Combination Of The Two
Source:    LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Sam Andrew
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
     Everything about Big Brother And The Holding Company can be summed up by the title of the opening track for their Cheap Thrills album (and their usual show opener as well): Combination Of The Two. A classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, Big Brother, with Janis Joplin on lead vocals, had an energy that neither Joplin or the band itself was able to duplicate once they parted company. On the song itself, the actual lead vocals for the verses are the work of Combination Of The Two's writer, bassist Sam Houston Andrew III, but those vocals are eclipsed by the layered non-verbal chorus that starts with Joplin then repeats itself with Andrew providing a harmony line which leads to Joplin's promise to "rock you, sock you, gonna give it to you now". It was a promise that the group seldom failed to deliver on.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Oh, Sweet Mary
Source:    LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Albin/Andrew/Getz/Gurley/Joplin
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    The only song credited to the entire membership of Big Brother And The Holding Company on their Cheap Thrills album was Oh, Sweet Mary (although the original label credits Janis Joplin as sole writer and the album cover itself gives only Joplin and Peter Albin credit). The tune bears a strong resemblance to Coo Coo, a non-album single the band had released on the Mainstream label before signing to Columbia. Oh, Sweet Mary, however, has new lyrics and, for a breath of fresh air, a bridge section played at a slower tempo than the rest of the tune.

Artist:     Big Brother and the Holding Company
Title:     Piece Of My Heart
Source:     LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer:     Ragovoy/Burns
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1968
     By 1968 Big Brother and the Holding Company, with their charismatic vocalist from Texas, Janis Joplin, had become as popular as fellow San Francisco bands Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. Somehow, though, they were still without a major label record deal. That all changed with the release of Cheap Thrills, with cover art by the legendary underground comix artist R. Crumb. The album itself was a curious mixture of live performances and studio tracks, the latter being led by the band's powerful cover of the 1966 Barbara Lynn tune Piece Of My Heart. The song propelled the band, and Joplin, to stardom. That stardom would be short-lived for most of the band members, however, as well-meaning but ultimately wrong-headed advice-givers convinced Joplin that Big Brother was holding her back. The reality was that the band was uniquely suited to support her better than anyone she would ever work with again.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    She's My Girl
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Bonner/Gordon
Label:    Rhino (original label: White Whale)
Year:    1967
    A favorite among the Turtles' members themselves, She's My Girl is full of hidden studio tricks that are barely (if at all) audible on the final recording. Written by Gary Bonner and Al Gordon, the same team that came up with Happy Together, the song is a worthy follow up to that monster hit.

Artist:    Tomorrow
Title:    Auntie Mary's Dress Shop
Source:    European import CD: Tomorrow
Writer(s):    Hopkins/Burgess
Label:    Parlophone
Year:    1968
    Sometime in the early to mid 1960s there was a band called the Teenbeats that included Ken Burgess on guitar and Keith Hopkins on bass, and later, vocals. The two of them began writing songs together, even after Hopkins became lead vocalist for a new group called Four + One that also included Les Jones on guitar, John "Junior" Wood on bass and John "Twink" Adler on drums. At the time, Motown and Stax recordings were particularly popular among British teens, and bands like Four + One made their living performing those and other current hit songs in local dance clubs. In 1964, after Jones had been replaced by Steve Howe on guitar, Four Plus One was signed to EMI's Parlophone label, releasing their first single, a cover of Time Is On My Side, on January 1, 1965. It was around this time that the band changed its name to The In Crowd and Hopkins started calling himself Keith West. The In Crowd the band released three more singles (all cover songs) that year, and in 1966 recorded a pair of songs for use in a nightclub sequence for the film Blow Up. Those recordings were shelved when the film's director, Michelangelo Antonioni, managed to get the Yardbirds (who had just added studio whiz Jimmy Page to the lineup) to appear in the scene instead. Throughout this period Hopkins and Burgess continued to develop their songwriting skills, and in early 1967 the band decided to start performing their songs, changing its name to Tomorrow and becoming, along with Soft Machine and the Pink Floyd, one of the premier British psychedelic bands. That spring, the group began working on an album that was made up entirely of Hopkins/Burgess originals, including the single My White Bicycle, which was released in May of 1967. In September a second Tomorrow single, Revolution, appeared, but the album itself was delayed until February of 1968, by which time the British psychedelic era (which was considerably shorter than its American counterpart) was already becoming a memory. The album was a commercial failure, but has in more recent years come to be recognized as one of the finest examples of British psychedelia ever recorded. The songs themselves vary from the intensity of My White Bicycle to the more whimsical Auntie Mary's Dress Shop, which is about as British a song as you'll find on a psychedelic record.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Sugar Magnolia
Source:    CD: Skeletons From The Closet (originally released on LP: American Beauty)
Writer(s):    Hunter/Weir
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:     1970
            One of the most popular songs in the Grateful Dead catalog, Sugar Magnolia also has the distinction of being the second-most performed song in the band's history, with 596 documented performances. The song, written by Robert Hunter and Bob Weir, first appeared on the 1970 album American Beauty, but was not released as a single. A live version two years later, however, did see a single release, charting in the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    That's It For The Other One/New Potato Caboose/Born Cross-Eyed
Source:    LP: Anthem Of The Sun
Writer(s):    Garcia/Kreutzmann/Lesh/McKernan/Weir/Constanten
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1968
    After completing their first album in three days, the Grateful Dead decided to take their time with the 1968 follow-up release. The band began recording at  American Studios in North Hollywood, but soon found themselves in New York, where they had their first experience with state-of-the-art eight track recording equipment. Naturally, the band wanted to explore the possibilities that were available with the new technology, which eventually led to producer Dave Hassinger resigning from the project in frustration (reportedly the last straw being Bob Weir's quest to capture the sound of "thick air"). With about a third of the album completed the band decided that the material needed to be road tested and scheduled a series of west coast appearances before heading back to San Francisco to continue work on the album at Coast Recorders. The band made recordings of these performances, interlacing them with the existing studio tracks and adding overdubs as needed. Among these overdubs were the contributions of Tom Constanten, who provided piano, prepared piano and electronic tape effects. As originally mixed, each album side was one continuous track, with no breaks between songs. Side one of Anthem Of The Sun consists of three compositions: That's It For The Other One, New Potato Caboose, and Born Cross-Eyed. In order to score more royalty points, however,That's It For The Other One was broken down into several subsections on the album cover. The album was completed later in 1968 and released by Warner Brothers Records, whose president, Joe Smith, called it "the most unreasonable project with which we have ever involved ourselves". Four years later, band members Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh decided to revist the project, remixing the entire album and reissuing it with the original catalog number. Subsequent releases of the LP and cassette used the 1972 remix, but when the CD version of Anthem Of The Sun came it, it used the original mix. The latest LP release of Anthem Of The Sun was in 2014, remastered on 180 gram vinyl using the original 1968 mix.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Uncle John's Band
Source:    CD: Skeletons From The Closet (originally released on LP: Workingman's Dead)
Writer(s):    Hunter/Garcia
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    For many people who only got their music from commercial radio, Uncle John's Band was the first Grateful Dead song they ever heard. The tune, from the 1970 LP Workingman's Dead, was the first Dead song to crack the top 100, peaking at #69, and got significant airplay on FM rock radio stations as well. The close harmonies on the track were reportedly inspired by Crosby, Stills and Nash, whose debut album had come out the previous year.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    She's Got Everything
Source:    CD: The Kink Kronikles (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    Although recorded in 1966 at sessions for the Face To Face LP, She's Got Everything was shelved until 1968, when the Kinks released it as the B side of Days, one of many singles on the Reprise label that went virtually unnoticed in the US. After the Kinks signed a five-album deal with RCA Victor in 1971, Reprise compiled a double LP collection of Kinks recordings from 1966-1971 called The Kink Kronikles that included, for the first time, a stereo mix of She's Got Everything. The song itself is a deliberate throwback to the band's early sound.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Come Together
Source:    CD: Abbey Road
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone
Year:    1969
    After the Beatles released their 1968 double LP (the so-called White Album), they went to work on their final film project, a documentary about the band making an album. Unfortunately, what the cameras captured was a group on the verge of disintegration, and both the album and the film itself were shelved indefinitely. Instead, the band went to work recording an entirely new group of compositions. Somehow, despite the internal difficulties the band was going through, they managed to turn out a masterpiece: Abbey Road. Before the album itself came out, a single was released. The official A side (green Apple label) was George Harrison's Something, the first Harrison song ever to be released as a Beatle A side. The other A side (Apple core label) was the song that opened the album itself, John Lennon's Come Together. In later years Come Together came to be Lennon's signature song and was a staple of his live performances.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Source:    LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol/EMI
Year:    1967
    The top album of 1967 was the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was also the first US Beatles album to have a song lineup that was identical to the original UK LP. As such, it was also the first Beatles album released in the US to not include any songs that were also released as singles. Nonetheless, several tracks from the LP found their way onto the playlists of both top 40 AM and "underground" FM stations from coast to coast. Among the most popular of these tracks was John Lennon's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, which shows up on just about everyone's list of classic psychedelic tunes.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Abbey Road Medley #1
Source:    CD: Abbey Road
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone
Year:    1969
    Much of the second side of the last album to be recorded by the Beatles, Abbey Road, is taken up by (depending on whose view you take) either one long medley or two not-quite-so-long medleys of songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Personally I take the former view, as there is just a bit too much quiet space at the end of She Came In Through The Bathroom Window for me to consider it linked to the next song, Golden Slumbers. Regardless, the whole thing starts with You Never Give Me Your Money, a Paul McCartney composition reputed to be a jab at the band's second (and last) manager, Allen Klein. This leads into three John Lennon pieces, Sun King, Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam, ending finally with another McCartney piece, She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, a song with nonsense lyrics and a title inspired by a real life break-in by an overzealous fan.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Ruby Tuesday
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and on LP: Between The Buttons)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    One of the most durable songs in the Rolling Stones catalog, Ruby Tuesday was originally intended to be the B side of their 1967 single Let's Spend The Night Together. Many stations, however, balked at the subject matter of the A side and began playing Ruby Tuesday instead.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Paper Sun
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi
Label:    Silver Spotlight (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
    One of the first British acid-rock bands was a group called Deep Feeling, which included drummer Jim Capaldi and woodwind player Chris Wood. At the same time Deep Feeling was experimenting with psychedelia, another, more commercially oriented band, the Spencer Davis Group, was tearing up the British top 40 charts with hits like Keep On Running, Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man. The undisputed star of the Spencer Davis Group was a teenaged guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist named Steve Winwood, who was also beginning to make his mark as a songwriter. Along with guitarist/vocalist Dave Mason, who had worked with Capaldi in earlier bands, they formed Traffic in the spring of 1967, releasing their first single, Paper Sun, in May of that year. Capaldi and Winwood had actually written the tune while Winwood was still in the Spencer Davis Group, and the song was an immediate hit in the UK. This was followed quickly by an album, Mr. Fantasy, that, as was the common practice at the time in the UK, did not include Paper Sun. When the album was picked up by United Artists Records for US release in early 1968, however, Paper Sun was included as the LP's opening track. The US version of the album was originally titled Heaven Is In Your Mind, but was quickly retitled Mr. Fantasy to match the original British title (although the alterations in track listing remained).

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Dance The Night Away
Source:    Mono European import LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Lilith (original US label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    With the album Disraeli Gears, Cream established itself as having a psychedelic side as well as their original blues orientation. Most of the more psychedelic material, such as Dance the Night Away, was from the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. Bruce provides the melody line on vocals, with guitarist Eric Clapton singing harmony throughout the piece.

Artist:    Weeds
Title:    Little Girl
Source:    45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Writer(s):    Van Morrison
Label:    Behemoth (original label: Teenbeat Club)
Year:    1966
    The Weeds were formed in La Vegas in 1966 by Fred Cole (lead vocals), Eddie Bowen (guitar), Ron Buzzell (guitar), Bob Atkins (bass guitar), and Tim Rockson (drums). Cole had already established himself as a recording artist with other local bands that played at the Teenbeat Club (thought to be the first teens-only club in the US) in Paradise, a Las Vegas suburb, and it wasn't long before the Weeds released It's Your Time on the club's own record label. Not long after the single was released the band drove to San Francisco, where they had been promised a gig at the Fillmore Auditorium, but when they arrived they discovered that no one there knew anything about it. Rather than return to Las Vegas, the Weeds decided to head north for Canada to avoid the draft, but they ran out of gas in Portland, Oregon, and soon became part of that city's music scene. Cole would eventually become an indy rock legend with his band Dead Moon, co-founded by his wife Toody, herself a Portland native.

Artist:    Limey And The Yanks
Title:    Guaranteed Love
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Reed/Paxton
Label:    Rhino (original label: Star-Burst)
Year:    1966
    Limey and the Yanks were an Orange County, California band that boasted an honest-to-dog British lead vocalist. Despite being kind of Zelig-like on the L.A. scene, they only recorded two singles. The first one, Guaranteed Love, was co-written by Gary Paxton, best known for his involvement in various novelty records, including the Hollywood Argyles' Alley Oop, which he co-wrote with Kim Fowley, and Bobby "Boris" Pickett's Monster Mash, which was released on Paxton's own Garpax label.

Artist:    Cyrkle
Title:    Bony Moronie
Source:    LP: Red Rubber Ball
Writer(s):    Larry Williams
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    The history of rock and roll is filled with one-hit wonders. Less common, however, are groups than managed to crack the upper reaches of the charts a second time, only to suffer diminishing returns with each subsequent effort. Such was the case with the Cyrkle, who burst on the scene with Red Rubber Ball and Turn Down Day in 1966. Originally a frat-rock band called the Rhondells, the group's fortunes turned in a big way on Labor Day of 1965, when New York attorney Nathan Weiss caught their gig in Atlantic City. Weiss in turn recommended the band to his business partner, Brian Epstein, who was looking for an American band to manage (I guess the Beatles weren't enough for him). Epstein renamed the band the Cyrkle (John Lennon providing the variant spelling) and set them up as the opening band for the Beatles' last US tour, including their final gig at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966. Along the way, the group signed with Columbia Records, recording two LPs and several singles for the label before disbanding in early 1968. The first album, Red Rubber Ball, was a solid example of sunshine pop, as evidenced by the band's unique arrangement of Larry Williams's Bony Moronie. Two of the band's members, Don Dannemann and Tom Dawes, went on to become successful jingle writers (Dannemann wrote the original Un-Cola song while Dawes came up with "Plop plop fizz fizz" for Alka-Seltzer. The other two members became successful in other fields; one, Marty Fried is a bankruptcy attorney and the other, Earl Pickens, is a surgeon.
Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     How Suite It Is
Source:     LP: After Bathing At Baxters
Writer(s):     Kantner/Casady/Dryden/Kaukonen
Label:     RCA Victor
Year:     1967
     The second side of After Bathing At Baxters starts off fairly conventionally (for the Airplane), with Paul Kantner's Watch Her Ride, the first third or so of something called How Suite It Is. This leads (without a break in the audio) into Spare Chaynge, one of the coolest studio jams ever recorded, featuring intricate interplay between Jack Casady's bass and Jorma Kaukonen's guitar, with Spencer Dryden using his drum kit as enhancement rather than as a beat-setter. In particular, Casady's virtuoso performance helped redefine what could be done with an electric bass.

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