You ever have one of those days when, about halfway through doing something, you think of a way that you could have done it better? That's what kept happening with this week's show. Midway through a segment I'd decide that the fourth song should have been the set opener, or that a group of songs from different sets should have been grouped together in a set of their own. There was even one really nice song that just didn't fit with anything else on the show (hopefully it'll show up in a more appropriate setting in the near future). Since each of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era's four segments is recorded in real time, that meant a lot of going back and starting over to get everything just right. I hope you enjoy the result.
Title: Back In The USSR
Source: LP: The Beatles
The day it appeared in the Ramstein AFB Base Exchange, I bought a numbered copy of The Beatles (aka the White Album) without ever having heard a single track from it. I took it home, unwrapped it from the cellophane and put it on the turntable. My first thought when I head the album's opening track, Back In The USSR, was "this sounds like the Beach Boys!" The song was, according to Paul McCartney, written from the point of view of a Russian spy returning home to the USSR after an extended mission in the United States, and that he intended it to be a "spoof" on the typical American international traveller's contention that "it's just so much better back home" and their yearning for the comforts of their homeland.
Title: She Said She Said
Source: CD: Revolver
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
The last song to be recorded for the Beatles' Revolver album was She Said She Said, a John Lennon song inspired by an acid trip taken by members of the band (with the exception of Paul McCartney) during a break from touring in August of 1965. The band's manager, Brian Epstein, had rented a large house in Beverly Hills, but word had gotten out and the Beatles found it difficult to come and go at will. Instead, they invited several people, including the original Byrds and actor Peter Fonda, to come over and hang out with them. At some point, Fonda brought up the fact that he had nearly died as a child from an accidental gunshot wound, and used the phrase "I know what it's like to be dead." Lennon was creeped out by the things Fonda was saying and told him to "shut up about that stuff. You're making me feel like I've never been born." Both lines ended up being used in She Said She Said, which took nine hours to record and mix, and is one of the few Beatle tracks that does not have Paul McCartney on it (George Harrison played bass). Ironically, Fonda himself would star in a Roger Corman film called The Trip (written by Jack Nicholson and co-starring Dennis Hopper) the following year.
Title: Happiness Is A Warm Gun
Source: LP: The Beatles
It is by now a well-known fact that very few of the songs on the 1968 double-LP The Beatles (aka the White Album) actually featured the entire group. One of those few (and reportedly both Paul McCartney's and George Harrison's favorite song on the album) was Happiness Is A Warm Gun. Written by John Lennon, the piece is actually a pastiche of three song fragments, each of which is radically different from the others. The opening lines (uncredited) were contributed by Derek Taylor, the London promoter who was one of many people sometimes referred to as the "fifth Beatle". The track, one of the most musically challenging in the entire Beatles catalog, took three days to record, and was produced by Chris Thomas, who was filling in for a vacationing George Martin at the time.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Some of the best rock and roll songs of 1966 were banned on a number of stations for being about either sex or drugs. Most artists that recorded those songs claimed they were about something else altogether. In the case of Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35, "stoned" refers to a rather unpleasant form of execution (at least according to Dylan). On the other hand, Dylan himself was reportedly quite stoned while recording the song, having passed a few doobies around before starting the tape rolling. Sometimes I think ambiguities like this are why English has become the dominant language of commerce on the planet.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: If 6 Was 9
Source: CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Before 1967 stereo was little more than an excuse to charge a dollar more for an LP. That all changed in a hurry, as artists such as Jimi Hendrix began to explore the possibilities of the technology, in essence treating stereophonic sound as a multi-dimensional sonic palette. The result can be heard on songs such as If 6 Were 9 from the Axis: Bold As Love album, which is best listened to at high volume, preferably with headphones on. Especially the spoken part in the middle, when Jimi says the words "I'm the one who's got to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want." It sounds like he's inside your head with you.
Artist: The Doors
Title: Wild Child
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
Although The Soft Parade is generally considered the weakest of all the Jim Morrison era Doors albums, it did have a couple of notable songs on it. Touch Me was a major hit for the band, and its B side, Wild Child, has long been a fan favorite. In fact, the band even made a promotional film for Wild Child, something not commonly done for a B side (but then, not many rock bands have a filmmaker of Ray Manzarek's level of talent in the band, either).
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Let Me In
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Label: RCA Victor
Marty Balin deserves recognition for his outstanding abilities as a leader. Most people don't even realize he was the founder of Jefferson Airplane, yet it was Balin who brought together the diverse talents of what would become San Francisco's most successful band of the 60s and managed to keep the band together through more than its share of controversies. One indication of his leadership abilities is that he encouraged Paul Kantner to sing lead on Let Me In, a song that the two of them had written together for the band's debut LP, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, despite the fact that Balin himself had no other onstage role than to sing lead vocals.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: I'm A Man
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: United Artists
The Spencer Davis Group, featuring brothers 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 like Higher Love and Roll With It in the late 80s. Other than that, nothing.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Ritual #1
Source: LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Technically, Volume III is actually the fourth album by the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. The first one was an early example of a practice that would become almost mandatory for a new band in the 1990s. The LP, titled Volume 1, was recorded at a home studio and issued on the tiny Fifa label. Many of the songs on that LP ended up being re-recorded for their major label debut, which they called Part One. That album was followed by Volume II, released in late 1967. The following year they released their final album for Reprise, which in addition to being called Volume III was subtitled A Child's Guide To Good And Evil. Included on that album were Ritual #1 and Ritual #2, neither of which sounds anything like the other.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: Simulated stereo LP: KRLA 42 Solid Rocks (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Take 6 (original label: Double Shot)
In late 1966 five guys from San Jose California managed to sound more like the Jeff Beck-era Yardbirds that the Yardbirds themselves (a task probably made easier by the fact that by late 1966 Jeff Beck was no longer a member of the Yardbirds). One interesting note about this record is that as late as the mid-1980s the 45 RPM single on the original label was still available in record stores, complete with the original B side. Normally (in the US at least) songs more than a year or two old were only available on anthology LPs or on reissue singles with "back-to-back hits" on them. The complete takeover of the record racks by CDs in the late 1980s changed all that, as all 45s (except for indy releases) soon went the way of the 78 RPM record. The resurgence of vinyl in the 2010s has been almost exclusively limited to LP releases, making it look increasingly unlikely that we'll ever see (with the exception of Record Store Day special releases) 45 RPM singles on the racks ever again.
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)
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).
Title: Hey Joe
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Billy Roberts
Label: Rhino (original label: Mira)
In 1966 there were certain songs you had to know how to play if you had any aspirations of being in a band. Among those were Louie Louie, Gloria and Hey Joe. The Byrds' David Crosby claims to have discovered Hey Joe, but was not able to convince his bandmates to record it before their third album. In the meantime, several other bands had recorded the song, including Love (on their first album) and the Leaves. The version of Hey Joe heard here is actually the third recording the Leaves made of the tune. After the first two versions tanked, guitarist Bobby Arlin, who had recently replaced founding member Bill Rinehart on lead guitar, came up with the idea of adding fuzz guitar to the song. It was the missing element that transformed a rather bland song into a hit record (the only national hit the Leaves would have). As a side note, the Leaves credited Chet Powers (aka Dino Valenti) as the writer of Hey Joe, but California-based folk singer Billy Roberts had copyrighted the song in 1962 and had reportedly been heard playing the tune as early as 1958.
Artist: Bonzo Dog Band
Title: I'm The Urban Spaceman
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Neil Innes
Label: United Artists
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (as they were originally called) was as much theatre (note the British spelling) as music, and were known for such antics as starting out their performances by doing calisthentics (after being introduced as the warm-up band) and having one of the members, "Legs" Larry Smith tapdance on stage (he was actually quite good). In 1967 they became the resident band on Do Not Adjust Your Set, a children's TV show that also featured sketch comedy by future Monty Python members Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin along with David Jason, the future voice of Mr. Toad and Danger Mouse. Late in the year they appeared in the Beatles' telefilm Magical Mystery Tour, performing a song called Deathcab For Cutie. In 1968 the Bonzos released their only hit single, I'm The Urban Spaceman, co-produced by Paul McCartney. Frontman Neil Innes would go on to hook up with Eric Idle for the Rutles project, among other things, and is often referred to as the Seventh Python.
Artist: Vanity Fare
Title: Hitchin' A Ride
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Golden Days Of British Rock
Label: Sire (original label: Page One)
Formed in Kent, England as the Avengers in 1966 and releasing a US-only single as the Sages later that year, Vanity Fare signed with Larry Page's Page One Records, scoring a British hit with their first single, a cover of the Sunrays' I Live For The Sun, in 1968. In August of that year they had their biggest British hit with a song called Early In The Morning, which also made it to the #12 spot in the US and #10 in Canada. Their next single, however, was an international smash hit, charting in much of the English-speaking world, including South Africa, where it went to #2, and the US, where it made the top 5. Vanity Fare continued to release records well into the 1970s and still exists as a performing unit.
Artist: Lazy Nickels
Title: 35 Design
Source: CD: A Lethal Dose Of Hard Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: Slug)
Not much is known about Lazy Nickels, who released 35 Design as their only single in 1970. The recording uses various tape effects to enhance what was probably a pretty accurate representation of this Michigan-based band's live sound.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Caress Me Baby
Source: LP: Tommy Flanders, Danny Kalb, Steve Katz, Al Kooper, Andy Kulberg, Roy Blumenfeld Of The Blues Project (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer: Jimmy Reed
Label: Verve Forecast
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 Jimmy Reed's Caress Me Baby, sung by lead guitarist and Blues Project founder Danny Kalb, running over seven minutes long. Andy Kulberg'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.
Title: Ferris Wheel
Source: Mono LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
In the fall of 1966 the career of Scottish folk singer Donovan Leitch took an odd turn. Up until that point in time he had a run of successful records in the UK but got very little airplay in the US. Two events, however, combined to turn the entire situation around 180 degrees. First, Donovan had just signed a contract with Epic Records in the US, a major step up from the poorly distributed and even more poorly promoted Hickory label. At the same time contract negotiations between the singer/songwriter and his British label, Pye, had come to an impasse. As a result Donovan's next LP, Sunshine Superman, was released only in the US, making songs like Ferris Wheel unavailable to his oldest fans. His popularity in the UK suffered greatly from lack of any new recordings over the next year, while it exploded in the US with consecutive top 10 singles Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow in 1966. From that point on Donovan would have his greatest success in North America, even after securing a new record contract in the UK in late 1967.
Title: The Train Kept A-Rollin'
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Great Hits (originally released on LP: Having A Rave-Up)
Originally recorded by Tiny Bradshaw in 1951, The Train Kept A-Rollin' was transformed from a relatively unremarkable jump blues tune into a rock classic when it was reworked by Jeff Beck and the Yardbirds in 1965. The song was chosen to be featured in the film Blowup the following year, but when the filmmakers ran into difficulties securing copyrights to the song Yardbirds vocalist Keith Relf came up with new lyrics and a new title, Stroll On. The entire band, including new member Jimmy Page, was given songwriting credit for the 1966 version of the song.
Source: CD: Fresh Cream (released in US as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Willie Dixon
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
When the album Fresh Cream was released by Atco in the US it was missing one track that was on the original UK version of the album: the original studio version of Willie Dixon's Spoonful. Instead the song was released on two sides of a single in 1967, with 90 seconds removed from the song between parts one and two. The single never charted and now is somewhat difficult to find a copy of (not that anybody would want to). A live version of Spoonful was included on the LP Wheels of Fire, but it wasn't until the 1969 compilation album Best Of Cream that the uncut studio version was finally released in the US.
Title: Sunshine Of Your Love
Source: LP: Disraeli Gears (picture disc, if anyone cares)
Label: RSO (original label: Atco)
Although by mid-1967 Cream had already released a handful of singles in the UK, Sunshine Of Your Love, featuring one of the most recognizable guitar rifts in the history of rock, was their first song to make a splash in the US. Although only moderately successful in edited form on AM Top-40 radio, the full-length LP version of the song received extensive airplay on the more progressive FM stations, and turned Disraeli Gears into a perennial best-seller. Guitarist Eric Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce constantly trade off lead vocal lines throughout the song. The basic compatibility of their voices is such that it is sometimes difficult to tell exactly who is singing what line. Clapton's guitar solo (which was almost entirely edited out of the AM version) set a standard for instrumental breaks in terms of length and style that became a hallmark for what is now known as "classic rock."
Title: Rollin' And Tumblin'
Source: CD: Fresh Cream
Writer(s): McKinley Morganfield
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Right from the beginning Cream demonstrated two distinct sides: the psychedelic-tinged studio side and the blues-based live performance side. In the case of the US version of the band's first LP, Fresh Cream, that was literally true, as side one consisted entirely of original songs (mostly written by bassist Jack Bruce) and side two was nearly all covers of blues classics such as Muddy Waters's Rollin' And Tumblin'. What makes this particular recording interesting is the instrumentation used: guitar, vocals, harmonica and drums, with no bass whatsoever. This could be due to the limited number of tracks available for overdubs. Just as likely, though, is the possibility that the band chose to make a recording that duplicated their live performance of the song.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Nashville Cats
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful)
Writer(s): John B. Sebastian
Label: Cotillion (original label: Kama Sutra)
In late 1966, with two best-selling albums to their credit, The Lovin' Spoonful deliberately set out to make an album that sounded like it was recorded by several different bands, as a way of showcasing their versatility. With Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful, they did just that. Songs on the album ranged from the folky Darlin' Be Home Soon to the rockin' psychedelic classic Summer In The City, with a liberal dose of what would eventually come to be called country rock. The best example of the latter was Nashville Cats, a song that surprisingly went into the top 40 (but did not receive any airplay from country stations) and was (even more suprisingly) often heard on FM rock radio in the early 70s.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Let Go Of You Girl
Source: LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
Following a practice that was all too common in 1966-1967, the producers of the Left Banke LP Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina chose to use studio musicians rather than the band itself to record the album's instrumental backing tracks. There were, however, two songs on the LP that featured the band members playing their own instruments. One of those tracks, Lazy Day, was also issued as the B side of the group's second single, Pretty Ballerina. The other was Let Go Of You Girl, a tune that is only available as an album cut.
Title: Porpoise Song
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Head soundtrack)
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
In 1968 the Monkees, trying desperately to shed a teeny-bopper image, enlisted Jack Nicholson to co-write a feature film that was a 180-degree departure from their recently-cancelled TV show. This made sense, since the original fans of the show were by then already outgrowing the group. Unfortunately, by 1968 the Monkees brand was irrevocably tainted by the fact that the Monkees had not been allowed to play their own instruments on their first two albums. The movie Head itself was the type of film that was best suited to being shown in theaters that specialized in "art" films, but that audience was among the most hostile to the Monkees and the movie bombed. It is now considered a cult classic.
Title: Glad/Freedom Rider
Source: CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: John Barleycorn Must Die)
Label: Island (original US label: United Artists)
Following the breakup of Blind Faith in early 1970, Steve Winwood got to work on his first solo LP, to be called Mad Shadows. After completing a couple of tracks Winwood found that he preferred to work within the band format and invited Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi to join him on the project, which became the fourth Traffic album, John Barleycorn Must Die. Unlike earlier Traffic studio recordings, John Barleycorn Must Die contained longer, improvisational pieces incorporating jazz elements, as can be heard on the album's opening tracks, Glad (an instrumental) and Freedom Rider. The new approach worked, as John Barleycorn Must Die became Traffic's first album to go gold.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Dark Star (Excerpt)
Source: LP: Zabriskie Point soundtrack
Writer(s): McGannahan Skjellyfetti
Label: 4 Men With Beards (original label: M-G-M)
Zabriskie Point is generally considered by critics to be among the worst films ever made. At the same time the soundtrack album for the film is a cult classic, with an eclectic mix of music from such diverse artists as Pink Floyd, Patti Page, John Fahey and Jerry Garcia, both with and without the rest of the Grateful Dead. Although Garcia's solo tracks were written specifically for the film, it is likely that the short (less than three minutes) excerpt from Dark Star was lifted from the 1969 LP Live Dead, although documentation to prove it is pretty much nonexistent. Still, it sounds like the Live Dead version...
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: On The Way Home
Source: CD: Retrospective (originally released on LP: Last Time Around)
Writer(s): Neil Young
Things fell apart for Buffalo Springfield following the drug bust and deportation of bassist Bruce Palmer in January of 1968. Neil Young stopped showing up for gigs, forcing Stephen Stills to carry all lead guitar duties for the band. By March, the band was defunct in everything but name. However, the group was still contractually obligated to provide Atco Records with one more album, so Richie Furay, along with replacement bassist Jim Messina, set about compiling a final Buffalo Springfield album from various studio tapes that the band members had made. None of these tapes featured the entire lineup of the band, although Neil Young's On The Way Home, which was chosen to open the album, came close, as it featured Furay on lead vocals, Stills on guitar and backup vocals, and Palmer on bass as well as Young himself on lead guitar and backup vocals.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Yesterday's Papers
Source: CD: Between The Buttons
Label: Abkco (original label:London)
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 the band's native UK.
Artist: Syndicate Of Sound
Title: Little Girl
Source: CD: Battle Of The Bands, Vol. Two (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Era (original labels: Hush & Bell)
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. It's also one of the few original garage-rock hits recorded and mixed in true stereo. Little Girl was originally released regionally in mid 1966 on the Hush label, and reissued nationally by Bell Records a couple months later.
Artist: Mouse And The Traps
Title: A Public Execution
Source: Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Fraternity)
It's easy to imagine some kid somewhere in Texas inviting his friends over to hear the new Bob Dylan record, only to reveal afterwards that it wasn't Dylan at all, but this band he heard while visiting his cousin down in Tyler. Speaking of cousins, A Public Execution was inspired by a misunderstanding concerning a cousin and a motorcycle ride. According to Ronnie "Mouse" Weiss, his fiancee actually broke up with him after getting word that Mouse had been seen giving an attractive girl a ride. It turned out the attractive girl in question was his cousin from across the state who had come for a visit, but by the time the truth came out Weiss and his band had their first of many regional hit records.
Artist: Royal Guardsmen
Title: The Airplane Song
Source: 45 RPM single
The Royal Guardsmen didn't initially set out to be known as a novelty act. In fact, they initially didn't set out to be called the Royal Guardsmen at all when they formed in Ocala, Florida as the Posmen. They were among the first American bands, however, to try and cash in on the British Invasion by adopting an Anglophile name. After signing with Laurie Records they released their first single, Baby Let's Wait, in October of 1966, following it a month later with Snoopy vs. the Red Baron. Baby Let's Wait didn't do anything on the charts, but Snoopy ended up defining the Royal Guardsmen for the rest of their existence. They followed it up in February of 1967 with The Return Of The Red Baron, then tried a different kind of novelty pop tune, The Airplane Song, in June. As sunshine pop was at its peak around that time (with songs like Yellow Balloon and Come To The Sunshine riding high on the charts) releasing The Airplane Song probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but it really didn't help the band's career all that much. The Royal Guardsmen released several more singles, many of them Snoopy oriented, before disbanding in 1969.