This week's show was recorded on a cold, chilly morning that felt more like late October than mid-spring. That really has nothing to do with the song selection (other than a few tracks in the last half hour), but I thought I'd mention it anyway. What we do have is quite a few tunes that haven't been heard on the show for a long time (we're talking years here) and an Advanced Psych set featuring female vocalists. Oh, and a Beatles set that does not include any hit singles, but does include a version of For You Blue that has a newer George Harrison vocal take than the one used on the original Let It Be album.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Do You Believe In Magic
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer: John Sebastian
Label: Buddah (original label: Kama Sutra)
Do You Believe In Magic, the debut single by the Lovin' Spoonful, was instrumental in establishing not only the band itself, but the Kama Sutra label as well. Within the next five years, the Spoonful (and later John Sebastian as a solo artist) would crank out a string of hits. Not to be outdone, Kama Sutra would itself morph into a company called Buddah Records and come to dominate the "bubble gum" genre of top 40 music throughout 1968 and well into 1969.
Artist: Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
Title: Diddy Wah Diddy
Source: Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: A&M)
Don Van Vliet and Frank Zappa knew each other in high school in the Antelope Valley area of Los Angeles, but did not stay in close contact after graduation. While Zappa was developing an interest in early 20th century avant-garde classical music, Van Vliet established a reputation as one of the best white blues singers around. When the opportunity came to record a few tracks for A&M records in 1965, Van Vliet, who by then was calling himself Captain Beefheart, chose a Bo Diddly tune, Diddy Wah Diddy, to showcase his vocal talents. The song was a local hit in Los Angeles, but A&M, for reasons unknown, did not retain the Captain on their roster of artists. Beefheart would record for several more labels over the years, with his greatest success being the album Trout Mask Replica, which was released on Zappa's own Straight Records label in 1969.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Yesterday's Papers
Source: LP: Between The Buttons
Between The Buttons was the Rolling Stones first album of 1967 and included their first forays into psychedelic music, a trend that would dominate their next LP, Their Satanic Majesties Request. The opening track of Between The Buttons was Yesterday's Papers, a song written in the wake of Mick Jagger's breakup with his girlfriend Chrissie Shrimpton (who, after the album was released, tried to commit suicide). The impact of the somewhat cynical song was considerably less in the US, where it was moved to the # 2 slot on side one to make room for Let's Spend The Night Together, a song that had only been released as a single in their native UK.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Rainy Day, Dream Away
Source: CD: Electric Ladyland
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Although officially credited to the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Rainy Day, Dream Away actually has several guest musicians appearing on it, including Electric Flag drummer Buddy Miles, who would later be a member of Hendrix's short-lived Band of Gypsys and then have some success as leader of his own band. Also featured on the track are Mike Finnegan on organ, Freddie Smith on tenor sax, and Larry Faucette on congas. It's unclear whether regular Experience bassist Noel Redding or Hendrix himself provided bass parts on the track (or even if there is a bass track, as Finnegan could have been playing a Ray Manzarek style bassline on the keyboards for all I know).
Source: LP: Santana
Possibly the most successful (in the long term) of the musicians to emerge from late 60s San Francisco was Carlos Santana, a Mexican-born guitarist who still plays to sellout crowds worldwide. Santana's band originally got lukewarm reviews from the rock press, but after their legendary performance at Woodstock found themselves among rock's royalty. Waiting, the opening track from the group's 1969 debut LP, is an instrumental that was also released as the B side of the band's first single, Evil Ways.
Title: Magical Mystery Tour
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Label: Apple/Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
1967 had been a great year for the Beatles, starting with their double-sided hit single Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, followed by the iconic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album and their late summer hit All You Need Is Love, with its worldwide TV debut (one of the few events of the time to utilize satellite technology). The next project, however, did not go over quite so well. It had been over two years since the group's last major movie (HELP!), and the band decided that their next film would be an exclusive for broadcast on BBC-TV. Unlike the previous two films, this new project would not follow traditional filmmaking procedures. Instead it would be a more experimental piece; a series of loosely related songs and comedy vignettes connected by a loose plot about a bus trip to the countryside. Magical Mystery Tour made its debut in early December of 1967 to overwhelmingly negative reaction by viewers and critics alike (partially because the film was shown in black and white on the tradition minded BBC-1 network; a later rebroadcast in color on BBC-2 went over much better). The songs used in the film, however, were quite popular. Since there were only six of them, far too few for a regular LP, it was decided to issue the album as a pair of 45 RPM EPs, complete with lyric sheets and booklet recounting the story from the film. The original EPs were available in both stereo and mono versions in Europe and the UK. In the US, where the six tunes were supplemented by the band's five remaining single sides from 1967 to create an LP, Magical Mystery Tour was only available in stereo. Although both the EP and LP versions have different sequencing than the telefilm, all three open the same way, with the film's title song.
Title: For You Blue
Source: CD: Let It Be...Naked
Writer(s): George Harrison
I'll be honest here. My least favorite Beatles album has always been Let It Be. I've always felt that Phil Spector's over-the-top production style obscured what was a fairly decent set of tunes. One of the songs on the album that Spector didn't entirely ruin, however, was For You Blue. Nonetheless, when Paul McCartney decided to completely remake the Let It Be album in 2003 he chose to remix the song and eliminate the bits of dialogue that Spector had added at the beginning and end of the tune.
Title: Baby, You're A Rich Man
Source: CD: Magical Mystery Tour
Baby, You're A Rich Man was one of the last collaborations between John Lennon and Paul McCartney and addresses the Beatles' longtime manager Brian Epstein, although not by name. Lennon came up with the basic question "how does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?" (a popular term for the young and hip in late 60s London), which became the basis for the song's verses, which were combined with an existing, but unfinished, Paul McCartney chorus (Baby, You're A Rich Man, too). The finished piece was issued as the B side of the Beatles' second single of 1967, All You Need Is Love, and later remixed in stereo and included on the US-only LP version of Magical Mystery Tour.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Train For Tomorrow
Source: CD: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (originally LP name: The Electric Prunes)
Label: Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Although the bulk of material on the Electric Prunes' first LP was from outside sources, there were a few exceptions. One of the more notable ones was Train For Tomorrow, an innovative piece credited to the entire band that shows what this group could have done if allowed more artistic freedom.
Title: Party Line
Source: Mono British import CD: Face To Face
Writer(s): Ray and Dave Davies
Label: Sanctuary (original US label: Reprise)
"Party line" is one of those terms that has undergone a total change in meaning over the past century or so. These days, it is generally used to describe adherence to a particular dogma, generally that of a political party. Years ago, however, a "party line" was actually a particular type of phone service, where several subscribers shared a land line. This meant that when you picked up your phone you might not hear a dial tone; instead, you might hear one of your neighbors, or even someone you didn't know, chatting away, oblivious to the fact that you were listening to every word they said. As phone technology improved, party lines became increasingly rare, as most people opted for a private line when it was available. Although I never actually used a party line myslef, I do remember my mother telling me about having one while growing up during the Great Depression. Apparently they stayed in use in England for several years after World War II, however, since the Davies brothers were inspired to write a song about it for the 1966 Kinks album Face To Face.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Source: Simulated stereo CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released on 45 RPM single)
Label: Priority (original label: Columbia)
Kicks was not the first pop song with a strong anti-drug message, but it was the first one to be a major hit, making it to the number four spot on the US charts and hitting number one in Canada. It was also the biggest hit for Paul Revere and the Raiders until Indian Reservation went all the way to the top of the charts five years later.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: Caroline No
Source: Mono CD: Pet Sounds
According to lyricist Peter Asher, Caroline No was written because Brian Wilson was "saddened to see how sweet little girls turned out to be kind of bitchy, hardened adults". Though the song was originally part of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album, it ended up being the only single ever released by Capitol credited to Brian Wilson as a solo artist.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound)
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
By mid-1966 Hollywood's Sunset Strip was being taken over every night by local teenagers, with several underage clubs featuring live music being a major attraction. Many of the businesses in the area, citing traffic problems and rampant drug and alcohol abuse, began to put pressure on city officials to do something about the situation. The city responded by passing new loitering ordinances and imposing a 10PM curfew on the Strip. They also began putting pressure on the clubs, including condemning the popular Pandora's Box for demolition. On November 12, 1966 fliers appeared on the streets inviting people to a demonstration that evening to protest the closing of the club. The demostration continued over a period of days, exascerbated by the city's decision to revoke the permits of a dozen other clubs on the Strip, forcing them to bar anyone under the age of 21 from entering. Stephen Stills, a member of Buffalo Springfield, one of the many bands appearing regularly in these clubs, wrote a new song in response to the situation, and the band quickly booked studio time, recording the still-unnamed track on December 5th. The band had recently released their debut LP, but sales of the album were lackluster due to the lack of a hit single. Stills reportedly presented the new recording to label head Ahmet Ertegun with the words "I have this song here, for what it's worth, if you want it." Ertegun, sensing that he had a hit on his hands, got the song rush-released two days before Christmas, 1966, using For What It's Worth as the official song title, but sub-titling it Stop, Hey What's That Sound on the label as well. As predicted, For What It's Worth was an instant hit in the L.A. market, and soon went national, where it was taken by most record buyers to be about the general sense of unrest being felt across the nation over issues like racial equality and the Vietnam War (and oddly enough, by some people as being about the Kent State massacre, even though that happened nearly three years after the song was released). As the single moved up the charts, eventually peaking at #7, Atco recalled the Buffalo Springfield LP, reissuing it with a modified song selection that included For What It's Worth as the album's openng track. Needless to say, album sales picked up after that. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever even seen a copy of the Buffalo Springfield album without For What It's Worth on it, although I'm sure some of those early pressings must still exist.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Title: Chess Game
Source: CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
New York's Greenwich Village based Circus Maximus was driven by the dual creative talents of guitarist/keyboardist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker. Although Walker went on to have the greatest success, it was Bruno's more jazz-influenced songwriting on songs like Chess Game that defined the band's sound. Bruno is now a successful visual artist, still living in the New York area.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: Dino's Song
Source: CD: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Writer(s): Chet Powers, aka Dino Valenti
Label: RockBeat (original label: Capitol)
A few years back I picked up the DVD collector's edition of the telefilm that DA Pennebacker made of the Monterey International Pop Festival. In addition to the film itself there were two discs of bonus material, including a song by Quicksilver Messenger Service that was listed under the title All I Ever Wanted To Do (Was Love You). I spent some time trying to figure out which album the song had originally appeared on, but came up empty until I got a copy of the first Quicksilver album and discovered it was actually called Dino's Song. I suspect the confusion in song titles is connected to the origins of the band itself, which was the brainchild of Dino Valenti and John Cipollina (and possibly Gary Duncan). The day after their first practice session Valenti got busted and spent the next few years in jail for marijuana possession. My theory is that this was an untitled song that Valenti showed Cippolina at that first practice. Since it probably still didn't have a title when the group performed the song at Monterey, the filmmakers used the most repeated line from the song itself, All I Ever Wanted To Do (Was Love You). When the band recorded their first LP in 1968 they just called it Dino's Song.
Title: Feel So Good
Source: LP: Suite Feeling
Label: RCA Victor
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, including Feel So Good from the Suite Feeling LP, which peaked at #55, 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 in 1971 and 1972.
Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Source: LP: So Far (originally released on LP: déjà vu)
Writer(s): Joni Mitchell
It's somewhat ironic that the most famous song about the Woodstock Music and Art Festival was written by someone who was not even at the event. Joni Mitchell had been advised by her manager that she would be better off appearing on the Dick Cavett show that weekend, so she stayed in her New York City hotel room and watched televised reports of what was going on up at Max Yasgur's farm. Further inspiration came from her then-boyfried Graham Nash, who shared his firsthand experiences of the festival with Mitchell. The song was first released on the 1970 album Ladies Of The Canyon, and was made famous the same year when it was chosen to be the first single released from the Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young album déjà vu. The CSNY version peaked just outside of the Billboard top 10.
Title: Message From The Country
Source: LP: Message From The Country
Writer(s): Jeff Lynne
The Move was one of those bands that was extremely popular in its native UK without having any success whatsoever in the US. Although primarily a singles band, they did manage to release four albums over a period of years, the last of which was Message From The Country. Even as the album was being recorded, several members, including Jeff Lynne, were already working on the first album by the Move's successor, the Electric Light Orchestra. A conscious effort was made, however, to keep the two projects separate, with the Move album getting the more psychedelic material (such as the title track), while ELO took a more prog-rock approach.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Nothing Is The Same (demo)
Source: CD: Grand Funk (bonus track)
Writer(s): Mark Farner
Nothing Is The Same, from the Closer To Home album, was also the B side of Grand Funk Railroad's first single from that LP. It was not, however, the band's first recording of the song. In October of 1969, while in the midst of sessions for the album Grand Funk (aka the Red Album), they recorded a demo version of Nothing Is The Same that uses a different arrangement than the Closer To Home version of the song. It also features Don Brewer's lead vocals in the song's middle section.
Artist: A Cast Of Thousands
Source: CD: Alone In The Crowd
Writer(s): Beth Beer
Despite the implications of their name, A Cast Of Thousands is actually three people: Terry Cuddy (guitar), Beth Beer (bass) and Jim Andrews (drums). All are from Auburn, NY, where the band was formed in 2010. Their third album, Alone In The Crowd, has 16 tracks, most of which were written by Beer, who also handles the lead vocals on tunes such as Salvation. If you're into songs that actually mean something, this one is definitely worth checking out.
Artist: Ace Of Cups
Title: We Can't Go Back Again
Source: CD: Ace Of Cups
Label: High Moon
According to Ace Of Cups founder Mary Gannon, Denise Kaufman wrote We Can't Go Back Again on keyboards rather than her usual guitar and first presented it to the group at their rehearsal space in Sausalito. Producer Dan Shae helped update the song for inclusion of the 2018 Ace Of Cups album. The lyrics are at once a caution about squandering what little time we have on this planet and an invitation to reach out to others while we still can.
Artist: Splinter Fish
Source: LP: Splinter Fish
Writer(s): Chuck Hawley
One of my favorite bands on the late 80s Albuquerque music scene was Splinter Fish, a group that didn't quite fall naturally into any specific musical genre. They certainly had things in common with many new wave bands, but also touched on world music and even hard rock. One of their most popular tracks was Mars, which itself is hard to define, thanks to many sudden tempo and even stylistic changes, even though the entire track runs less than three minutes in length. Guitarist/vocalist Chuck Hawley now leads his own band, while fem vocalist Deb-O performs with a variety of Albuquerque musicians in several different combos.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: The Birdman Of Alkatrash
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Mark Weitz
Label: Uni (original label: All-American)
Thee Sixpence was a Los Angeles band that consisted of Ed King (lead guitar, vocals), Michael Luciano (vocals), Lee Freeman (rhythm guitar, harmonica, vocals), Gary Lovetro (bass), Steve Rabe (guitar, vocals), and Gene Gunnels (drums). The band released four singles on the local All-American label in 1966. In early 1967 Gunnels, Rabe, and Luciano all left the band, to be replaced by keyboardist Mark Weitz and drummer Randy Seol. At the same time, they decided to change their name to Strawberry Alarm Clock. Their first single under their new name was a Weitz composition called The Birdman Of Alkatrash. For some reason local radio stations instead began playing the other side of the record and, after being re-released on MCA's Uni label, it became one of the biggest hits of 1967, going all the way to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. That other side? Incense and Peppermints.
Title: Strange Days
Source: LP: Strange Days
Writer(s): The Doors
One of the first rock albums to not picture the band members on the front cover was the Doors' second LP, Strange Days. Instead, the cover featured several circus performers doing various tricks on a city street, with the band's logo appearing on a poster on the wall of a building. The album itself contains some of the Doors' most memorable tracks, including the title song, which also appears on their greatest hits album despite never being released as a single.
Title: Everybody's Been Burned
Source: Mono LP: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): David Crosby
There is a common misconception that David Crosby's songwriting skills didn't fully develop until he began working with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. A listen to Everybody's Been Burned from the Byrds' 1967 LP Younger Than Yesterday, however, puts the lie to that theory in a hurry. The track has all the hallmarks of a classic Crosby song: a strong melody, intelligent lyrics and an innovative chord structure. It's also my personal favorite tune from what is arguably the Byrds' best album.
Title: Tell Her No
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s): Rod Argent
Label: London (original label: Parrot)
Rod Argent was responsible for writing four well-known hit songs, which were spread out over a period of eight years (and two bands). The second, and probably least known of these was the Zombies' Tell Her No, released in 1965. The song got mixed reviews from critics, all of which measured the tune against Beatles songs of the same period.
Artist: Harbinger Complex
Title: I Think I'm Down
Source: British import CD: With Love-A Pot Of Flowers (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Brent)
Most garage/club bands never made it beyond a single or two for a relatively small independent label. Freemont, California's Harbinger Complex is a good example. The group was one of many that were signed by Bob Shad, owner of Mainstream Records and its various subsidiaries such as Time and Brent. The band had already released one single on the independent Amber label and were recording at Golden State Recorders in San Francisco when they were discovered by Shad, who signed them to Brent. The band's first single for the label was the British-influenced I Think I'm Down, which came out in 1966 and was included on Mainstream's 1967 showcase album With Love-A Pot Of Flowers.
Artist: Status Quo
Title: Pictures Of Matchstick Men
Source: Simulated stereo CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Francis Rossi
Label: Priority (original label: Cadet Concept)
The band with the most charted singles in the UK is not the Beatles or even the Rolling Stones. It is, in fact, Status Quo, quite possibly the nearest thing to a real life version of Spinal Tap. Except for Pictures of Matchstick Men, the group has never had a hit in the US. On the other hand, they remain popular in Scandanavia, playing to sellout crowds on a regular basis (yes, they are still together).
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Death Sound (aka Death Sound Blues)
Source: CD: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
I generally use the term "psychedelic" to describe a musical attitude that existed during a particular period of time rather than a specific style of music. On the other hand, the term "acid rock" is better suited for describing music that was composed and/or performed under the influence of certain mind-expanding substances. That said, the first album by Country Joe and the Fish is a classic example of acid rock. I mean, really, is there any other way to describe Death Sound than "the blues on LSD"?
Title: Love Is Only Sleeping (alternate mix)
Source: CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD. (bonus track)
The Monkees's began work on their fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD., using four-track tape recorders, the standard technology at the time. At some point during the making of the album the group was able to get access to state-of-the-art eight-track recorders, and in August of 1967 all the recordings made up to that point were copied over to the new machines. This mixdown of Love Is Only Sleeping, a song originally intended to be released as a single, was made from the original four-track master tape on July 7th.
Title: Someone's Coming
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): John Entwhistle
Some songs just get no respect. First released in 1967 in the UK as the B side of I Can See For Miles, John Alec Entwistle's Someone's Coming got left off the US release entirely. It wasn't until the release of the Magic Bus single (and subsequent LP) in 1968 that the tune appeared on US vinyl, and then, once again as a B side (the version used here). The Magic Bus album, however, was never issued on CD in the US, although it has been available as a Canadian import for several years. Finally, in 1995 the song found a home on a US CD as a bonus track on The Who Sell Out.
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Otis Redding
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
The Vagrants are one of those bands that should have been a much bigger success than they actually were. Originally signed to the independent Southern Sound label in 1965, they switched to Vanguard Records for a pair of 1966 singles. In 1967 they signed with Atco, releasing three singles for that label. The first of these was a song called I Love, Love You which is now forgotten. The B side of that single, however, was a cover of Otis Redding's Respect that, unlike Aretha Franklin's version, uses an arrangement similar to Redding's original. The band itself was known for it's slowed-down, extended versions of current hit songs, a style that was copied by another Long Island band, Vanilla Fudge, to great success. Following the failure of their final single for Atco to chart, the band split up in 1968, with guitarist Leslie Weinstein going on to greater success after changing his last name to West and forming a band called Mountain.