The first thing that comes to mind for most people when they hear the words "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is a really long rock song with a drum solo. This week, though, those words describe three other songs from the same album. We also have a set of songs credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney that were actually written entirely by Lennon. There are a few more oddities, as well as a healthy dose of classics, on this week's edition of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era.
Artist: It's A Beautiful Day
Title: White Bird
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: It's A Beautiful Day)
Writer(s): David & Linda LaFlamme
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
San Francisco's It's A Beautiful Day is a good illustration of how a band can be a part of a trend without intending to be or even realizing that they are. In their case, they were actually tied to two different trends. The first one was a positive thing: it was now possible for a band to be considered successful without a top 40 hit, as long as their album sales were healthy. The second trend was not such a good thing; as was true for way too many bands, It's A Beautiful Day was sorely mistreated by its own management, in this case one Matthew Katz. Katz already represented both Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape when he signed up It's A Beautiful Day in 1967. What the members of It's A Beautiful Day did not know at the time was that both of the aforementioned bands were desperately trying to get out of their contracts with Katz. The first thing Katz did after signing It's A Beautiful Day was to ship the band off to Seattle to become house band at a club Katz owned called the San Francisco Sound. Unfortunately for the band, Seattle already had a sound of its own and attendance at their gigs was sparse. Feeling downtrodden and caged (and having no means of transportation to boot) classically-trained 5-string violinist and lead vocalist David LaFlamme and his keyboardist wife Linda LaFlamme translated those feelings into a song that is at once sad and beautiful: the classic White Bird. As an aside, Linda LaFlamme was not the female vocalist heard on White Bird. Credit for those goes to one Pattie Santos, the other female band member. To this day Katz owns the rights to It's A Beautiful Day's recordings, which have been reissued on CD on Katz's San Francisco Sound label.
Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: Dupree's Diamond Blues
Source: CD: Aoxomoxoa
Label: Warner Brothers
The third Grateful Dead LP, Aoxomoxoa, was one of the first albums to be recorded using state-of-the-art sixteen track equipment, and the band, in the words of guitarist Jerry Garcia, "tended to put too much on everything...A lot of the music was just lost in the mix, a lot of what was really there." Garcia and bassist Phil Lesh would return to the master tapes in 1971, remixing the entire album for the version that has appeared on vinyl and CD ever since then. Recently, however, Warner Brothers and Rhino have released a limited edition pressing of the original mix on vinyl. All of the music on the LP, including Dupree's Diamond Blues (which was also released as a single) is credited to guitarist Jerry Garcia and bassist Phil Lesh, with lyrics by poet Robert Hunter.
Title: I've Got Time
Source: British import CD: Kak-Ola (originally released on LP: Kak)
Writer(s): Gary Lee Yoder
Label: Big Beat (original label: Epic)
Every band has its own unique story. Nonetheless, the story of Kak is more unique than most. The genesis of the group came in the summer of 1967 when guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Gary Lee Yoder, former member of the Oxford Circle, was approached by a guy named Gary Grelecki, who, after expressing regret that the Circle had broken up, asked Yoder if he would interested in recording for CBS. Two months later Grelecki, whose father was a CIA agent fronting as a Far East distributor for CBS Records, called back with the news that he had used his dad's contacts to secure Yoder a deal with Epic, a CBS label. In early 1968 Yoder began recruiting local musicians, including fellow Oxford Circle lead guitarist Dehner Patton, bassist Joe-Dave Damrell (Group 'B'), and drummer Chris Lockheed (the Majestics). What started off as a solo project soon turned into a group effort, and by June the band had worked up enough material to start recording. After only one session, however, the project was delayed and work on the album itself did not begin until September. During this time the band continued to work up new material written by Yoder, such as I've Got Time, as well as a few songs co-written by Grelecki. The band had very little equipment of their own, however; as a result they did not do any live performances that summer. Once they were able to commence recording in earnest the entire album took about a week to record. In October, with the recording finished, the band was given $10,000 worth of new equipment to go on the road and promote the album, but soon discovered that they did not have the right kind of onstage chemistry. Without strong touring support, the album got lost among the many outstanding records released in 1969, and Kak disbanded soon after.
Title: The Girl With No Name
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): Chris Hillman
As is often the case, a failed relationship was the inspiration for The Girl With No Name, one of five songs written or co-written by Byrds bassist Chris Hillman for the group's fourth LP, Younger Than Yesterday. The tune has a strong country feel to it, presaging Hillman's future career as a member of the Desert Rose Band in the 1980s. Guitarist Clarence White, who would soon become a member of the band, makes an early appearance on the track.
Artist: Simon Dupree And The Big Sound
Source: British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road-1965-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: EMI (original label: Parlophone)
Almost all of the British beat bands of the 1960s played R&B covers in their early days. Most, like the Animals and Rolling Stones, covered blues artists like John Lee Hooker or early rock and rollers like Chuck Berry. Simon Dupree And The Big Sound, however, saw themselves more as a "soul" band in the image of such American artists as Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. Led by the Shulman brothers (Derek, Ray and Phil), the band was formed in early 1966 and was soon signed to EMI's Parlophone label. After their first few singles failed to chart, the band's label and management convinced them to record the more psychedelic-sounding Kites. Although the band hated the record, it ended up being their only top 10 single in the UK, and after subsequent records went nowhere, the group, finally realizing that they were not destined to hit the big time as a blue-eyed soul band, disbanded in 1969. The Shulman brothers, however, did achieve success in the 1970s with their new band Gentle Giant, which was about as far removed from blue-eyed soul as you can get.
Title: She's My Girl
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: White Whale)
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.
Title: The Ginza Strip
Source: Mono British import CD: Acid Daze (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Roy and Tony Carr
Label: Uncut (original label: Columbia)
The Executives were one of the many British beat bands that decided to try their hand at psychedelia in 1967. They had previously been tied closely to the Mod movement however (in fact producer/bandleader Tony Carr had written the 1964 hit March Of The Mods) and, despite the fact that The Ginza Strip is a fine slice of psychedelia, were unable to shed their Mod image enough to gain credibility as a psychedelic band.
Artist: Red Crayola
Title: Pink Stainless Tail
Source: Stereo British import 45 RPM single B side
Label: International Artists
Year: 1967 (single released 2011)
Rock history is dotted with stories of bands who reputations exceeded their actual recorded output. One such band was Red Crayola, a Texas band who found themselves labelmates with the 13th Floor Elevators in 1967. Although the Red Crayola (who were forced to change their name to Red Krayola in 1968) were only together for a couple of years, their legend continued to grow throughout the punk/new wave era and indy rock movements of the late 20th century and beyond. Which brings us to this curious single issued in 2011. The songs themselves, including B side Pink Stainless Tail, were lifted from the first Red Crayola album, Parable Of Arable Land, and are even on the same label, International Artists...or are they? International Artists, a relatively small label owned by a group of Texas businessmen, ceased to exist in 1971, and this 2011 single is a British import. So what's the deal? Well, as it turns out, one of the original partners in International Artists was a guy named Lelan Rogers. In 1978 Rogers (perhaps with the help of his brother Kenny?) revived the label and reissued all twelve of the LPs that originally been released by the label. This was followed by various compilation albums, some of which included previously released material. By the early 2000s, the revived International Artists had become part of Britian's Charly Records, a company that specializes in archival material. Apparently the people at Charly felt there was enough interest in Red Crayola recordings to issue a yellow vinyl single 2011, with a newly remixed Hurrican Fighter Pilot on the A side and Pink Stainless Tail on the flip. As both these tracks overlap other stuff on the original LP, the single turns out to be a pretty good thing to have around.
Artist: Music Machine
Source: CD: The Very Best Of The Music Machine-Turn On
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
Sean Bonniwell was a member of the mainstream (i.e. lots of appearances on TV variety shows hosted by people like Perry Como and Bob Hope) folk group the Lamplighters in the early 60s. By 1966 he had morphed into one of the more mysterious figures on the LA music scene, leading a proto-punk band dressed entirely in black. Bonniwell himself wore a single black glove (Michael Jackson was about seven years old at the time), and was one of the most prolific songwriters of the day. His recordings, often featuring the distinctive Farfisa organ sound, were a primary influence on later L.A. bands such as Iron Butterfly and the Doors. A classic example of the Music Machine sound was the song Wrong, which was issued as the B side of the group's most successful single, Talk Talk.
Source: CD: The Who Sell Out (bonus track originally released in box set: 30 Years Of Maximum R&B)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1994
The Who included a short "commercial" for Premier Drums on their late 1967 LP The Who Sell Out, and ended up getting gifted a set of drums as a result. Perhaps they had hopes for a similar result when they recorded Jaguar?
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: Call On Me
Source: 45 RPM single B side from box set: Move Over)
Writer(s): Sam Andrew
Year: Recorded 1968, released 2012
Call On Me was one of the songs from the first Big Brother And The Holding Company album that everyone, including the band, felt had not been properly recorded. Accordingly, the band made a new recording of the song for possible inclusion of their second LP, Cheap Thrills, but ultimately decided to shelve that version indefinitely. Finally, in 2012, someone came up with the idea of releasing a box set of previously unreleased 45 RPM Janis Joplin singles called Move Over for Record Store Day 2012, and the second version of Call On Me was included in the set.
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: Fortunate Son
Source: LP: Willy And The Poor Boys
Writer(s): John Fogerty
John Fogerty says it only took him 20 minutes to write what has become one of the iconic antiwar songs of the late 1960s. But Fortunate Son is not so much a condemnation of war as it is an indictment of the political elite who send the less fortunate off to die in wars without any risk to themselves. In addition to being a major hit single upon its release in late 1969 (peaking at #3 as half of a double-A sided single), Fortunate Son has made several "best of" lists over the years, including Rolling Stone magazine's all-time top 100. Additionally, in 2014 the song was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Source: German import LP: Led Zeppelin III
Writer(s): Jimmy Page
The third Led Zeppelin album, released in 1970, saw the band expanding beyond its blues-rock roots into more acoustic territory. This was in large part because the band had, after an exhausting North American concert tour, decided to take a break, with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page renting an 18th century cottage in Wales that had no electricity. While there, the two composed most of the music that would become Led Zeppelin III. Once the music was written, the band reunited in a run-down mansion at Headley Grange to rehearse the new material, giving the entire project a more relaxed feel. Only one song on the album, Tangerine, is credited solely to Jimmy Page; as it turns out Tangerine would be the last original Led Zeppelin song that Plant did not write lyrics for (excepting instrumentals of course).
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: Most Anything You Want
Source: CD: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Writer(s): Doug Ingle
Iron Butterfly will forever be known for the seventeen minute long In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, but, contrary to popular believe, they did record other songs as well, releasing four studio albums from 1968-1971. The In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida lineup of Doug Ingle (vocals, organ), Ron Bushy (drums), Lee Dorman (bass) and Erik Brann (guitar) was only around for two of those LPs, however, and can be heard on tracks like Most Anything You Want, which opens the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Source: LP: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Although most Iron Butterfly songs were written by keyboardist/vocalist Doug Ingle, there were a few exceptions. One of those is Termination, from the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album, which was written by guitarist Erik Brann and bassist Lee Dorman. From a 21st century perspective Termination sounds less dated than most of Ingle's material.
Artist: Iron Butterfly
Title: My Mirage
Source: CD: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Writer(s): Doug Ingle
One thing about Iron Butterfly's In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida album is that almost nobody remembers any of the songs from the other side of the album. That's a bit of a shame, because there are a couple of really good tunes on there, such as My Mirage, a Doug Ingle composition that helped lay the groundwork for the progressive rock movement of the 1970s.
Artist: Grass Roots
Title: You're A Lonely Girl
Source: 45 RPM single B side
In late 1965 songwriters/producers P.F. Sloan (Eve of Destruction) and Steve Barri decided to create a series of records by a band called the Grass Roots. The problem was that there was no band called the Grass Roots (or so they claimed), so Sloan and Barri decided to recruit an existing band and talk them into changing their name. The band they found was the Bedouins, one of the early San Francisco bands. As the rush to sign SF bands was still months away, the Bedouins were more than happy to record the songs Sloan and Barri picked out for them. The first single by the newly-named Grass Roots was a cover of Bob Dylan's Mr. Jones (Ballad Of A Thin Man). The B side was You're A Lonely Girl, a Sloan/Barri composition. The Bedouins would soon grow disenchanted with their role and move back to San Francisco, leaving Sloan and Barri the task of finding a new Grass Roots. Eventually they did, and the rest is history. The Bedouins never recorded again.
Title: Run For Your Life
Source: LP: Rubber Soul
Compared to some of John Lennon's later songs, Run For Your Life comes across as a sexist, even violent expression of jealous posessiveness. However, in 1965 such a viewpoint was quite common; in fact it was pretty much the acceptable norm for the times. Scary, huh?
Title: Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
According to principal songwriter John Lennon, Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite was inspired by a turn of the century circus poster that the Beatles ran across while working on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Most of the lyrics refer to items on the poster itself, such as Henry the Horse and the Hendersons.
Source: CD: Rubber Soul
Some people think Girl is one of those John Lennon drug songs. I see it as one of those John Lennon observing what's really going on beneath the civilized veneer of western society songs myself. Your choice.
Title: Pressed Rat And Warthog
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Label: RSO (original label: Atco)
Pressed Rat And Warthog, from Cream's third LP, Wheels Of Fire, is one of those songs you either love or hate. I loved it the first time I heard it but had several friends that absolutely despised it. As near as I can tell, drummer Ginger Baker actually talks that way. Come to think of it, all the members of Cream had pretty heavy accents.
Title: Take What You Need
Source: CD: Steppenwolf
Year: 1968 (original label: Dunhill)
Not long after the first Steppenwolf album came out, I borrowed a copy from a friend and taped it on my dad's Akai reel-to-reel recorder. I must have been getting kind of tired toward the end of the album, because I failed to catch a skip in the next to last track on the album. The song, Take What You Need, was one of two tunes on the LP that were co-written by producer Gabriel Mekler. Those same two songs both appeared as B sides of singles as well, guaranteeing Mekler a share of royalties from both singles. Although the one with Take What You Need on flip was a flop, the next one, Born To Be Wild (with its B side, Everybody's Next One, bearing a Mekler co-writing credit), ended up making lots of money for quite a few people, Mekler included.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: The Fool
Source: CD: Quicksilver Messenger Service (bonus track originally released on CD: Unreleased Quicksilver: Lost Gold And Silver)
Label: Rock Beat (original label: Collector's Choice)
Year: Recorded 1968, released 2000
There are differing opinions on just how serious legendary San Francisco singer/songwriter and general iconoclast Dino Valenti was being when, at a jam session with guitarist John Cippolina one night, he suggested that the two of them form a band. Since Valenti was busted for drugs the very next day (and ended up spending the next two years in jail), we'll never know for sure. Cippolina, however, was motivated enough to begin finding members for the new band, including bassist David Freiberg (later to join Starship) and drummer Skip Spence. When Marty Balin stole Spence away to join his own new band (Jefferson Airplane), he tried to make up for it by introducing Cippolina to vocalist/guitarist Gary Duncan and drummer Greg Elmore, whose own band, the Brogues, had recently disbanded. Taking the name Quicksilver Messenger Service (so named for all the member's astrological connections with the planet Mercury), the new band soon became a fixture on the San Francisco scene. Inspired by the Blues Project, Cippolina and Duncan quickly established a reputation for their dual guitar improvisational abilities. Unlike other San Francisco bands such as the Airplane and the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service did not jump at their first offer from a major record label, preferring to hold out for the best deal. This meant their debut album did not come out until 1968, missing out on the initial buzz surrounding the summer of love. In one way this actually worked to the band's advantage, since by 1968 record companies were more willing to include lengthy improvisational tracks like The Fool, which took up the entire second side of the group's debut LP.
Title: Money To Burn
Source: LP: Red Rubber Ball
Writer(s): Don Dannemann
By late 1966 surf music was pretty much gone from the top 40 charts. The Beach Boys, however, had managed to adapt to changing audience tastes without abandoning the distinctive vocal harmonies that had made them stand out from their early 60s contemporaries. In fact, several other bands had sprung up with similar vocal styles. One of the most successful of these (at least in the short term) was the Cyrkle. Led by vocalist/guitarist Don Dannemann, the group hit the scene with two consecutive top 10 singles, both of which were included on the band's debut LP, Red Rubber Ball. Although manager Brian Epstein had the group recording mostly songs from outside sources, there were a handful of Cyrkle originals on the album, including Danneman's Money To Burn, which was also issued as the B side to the band's third single.
Title: Rainy Day In June
Source: British import CD: Face To Face
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Sanctuary (original US label: Reprise)
Ray Davies let his imagination run free on a Rainy Day In June, from the 1966 Kinks LP Face To Face. The result was a song "about fairies and little evil things within the trees that come to life".
Title: Hey Girl
Source: LP: Backtrackin' (originally released in UK on LP: Them Again)
Writer(s): Van Morrison
Label: London (original label: Decca)
Of the five Van Morrison originals on the album Them Again, only four were included on the US version of the LP. The missing song, Hey Girl, finally appeared in the US in 1974 on the album Backtrackin'. Stylistically, Hey Girl has more in common with Van Morrison's first solo LP, Astral Weeks, than with anything else Them recorded.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: If 6 Was 9
Source: LP: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA/Experience Hendrix (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.
Title: Moonlight Drive
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): The Doors
Much of the second Doors album consisted of songs that were already in the band's repertoire when they signed with Elektra Records but for various reasons did not record for their debut LP. One of the earliest was Jim Morrison's Moonlight Ride. As was the case with all the Doors songs on their first three albums, the tune was credited to the entire band.
Artist: Circus Maximus
Source: CD: Circus Maximus
Writer(s): Bob Bruno
Circus Maximus was formed out of the chance meeting of multi-instrumentalist Bob Bruno and guitarist Jerry Jeff Walker in Greenwich Village in 1967. From the start the band was moving in different directions, with Bruno incorporating jazz elements into the band while Walker favored country-rock. Eventually the two would go their separate ways, but for the short time the band was together they made some of the best, if not best-known, psychedelic music on the East Coast. The band's most popular track was Wind, a Bruno tune from their debut album. The song got a considerable amount of airplay on the new "underground" radio stations that were popping up across the country at the time.