Sunday, October 10, 2021

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2142 (starts 10/11/21)

    This week we feature several sets that are slightly longer than the usual three songs. After an opening five-song set that takes us from 1965 to 1969, we have no less than seven tunes from 1967, all from bands originating in California. We also have an Advanced Psych segment this week featuring artists from Rochester, NY, followed by trips both up and down through the years (not to mention back and forth across the Atlantic), starting in 1965 and ending in 1964, going all the way to 1971 along the way.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Wait
Source:    CD: Rubber Soul
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1965
    The oldest song on the Rubber Soul album, Wait was originally recorded for the Help album, but did not make the final cut. Six months later, when the band was putting the finishing touches on Rubber Soul, they realized they would not be able to come up with enough new material in time for a Christmas release, so they added some overdubs to Wait and included it on the new album. The song itself was a collaboration between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, with the two sharing vocals throughout the tune.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    I Feel Free
Source:    LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Atco
Year:    1966
    After an unsuccessful debut single (Wrapping Paper), Cream scored a bona-fide hit in the UK with their follow-up, I Feel Free. As was the case with nearly every British single at the time, the song was not included on Fresh Cream, the band's debut LP. In the US, however, hit singles were commonly given a prominent place on albums, and the US version of Fresh Cream actually opens with I Feel Free. To my knowledge the song, being basically a studio creation, was never performed live by the band.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Are You Experienced?
Source:    LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Until the release of Are You Experienced by the Jimi Hendrix Experience the emphasis in rock music (then called pop) was on the 45 RPM single, with albums seen as a luxury item that supplemented an artist's career rather than defined it. Are You Experience helped change all that. The album was not only highly influential, it was a major seller, despite getting virtually no airplay on top 40 radio. The grand finale of the LP was the title track, which features an array of studio effects, including backwards masking and tape loops. Interestingly enough, the album was originally issued only in a mono version in the UK, with later European pressings using a simulated stereo mix. After Reprise bought the rights to release the LP in the US it had its own engineers create stereo mixes of the songs from the four-track master tapes.

Artist:    Them
Title:    Young Woman
Source:    LP: Time Out! Time In! For Them
Writer(s):    Lane/Pulley
Label:    Tower
Year:    1968
    Time Out! Time In! For Them is an overlooked classic of the psychedelic era. Featuring compositions by the husband and wife team of Tom Pulley and Vivian Lane (such as Young Woman, a song that touches on a somewhat familiar theme of the time), the album showcases the vocal talents of Kenny McDowell, who had the unenviable task of replacing Van Morrison in Ireland's premier rock band.

Artist:    Fairport Convention
Title:    Percy's Song
Source:    LP: Fairport Chronicles (originally released on LP: Unhalfbricking)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    A&M
Year:    1969
    Although Bob Dylan recorded Percy's Song in 1963, his version of the song remained unreleased until 1985, when it appeared (along with other unreleased tracks) on the Biograph compilation album. Meanwhile, however, bootleg copies of the song were widely circulated and at least two cover versions of the song were released. The best known of these is by Fairport Convention, originally released on the 1969 album Halfbricking and featured on the Fairport Chronicles compilation album.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    The Wind Blows Your Hair
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Saxon/Bigelow
Label:    Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year:    1967
    The Wind Blows Your Hair is actually one of the Seeds' better tracks. Unfortunately, by the time it was released as a single in October of 1967 the whole idea of Flower Power (which the Seeds were intimately tied to) had become yesterday's news (at least in ultra-hip L.A.) and the single went nowhere.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Unhappy Girl
Source:    LP: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    After the success of their first album and the single Light My Fire in early 1967, the Doors quickly returned to the studio, releasing a second LP, Strange Days, later the same year. The first single released from the new album was People Are Strange. The B side of that single was Unhappy Girl, from the same album. Both sides got played a lot on the jukebox at a neighborhood gasthaus known as the Woog in the village of Meisenbach near Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, where I spent a good number of my evening hours.

Artist:    Love
Title:    You Set The Scene (alternate mix)
Source:    CD: Forever Changes (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1967
    Love's third album, Forever Changes, was meant to be Arthur Lee's ultimate statement to the world. Lee had become convinced that he would not live past age 26 or 27, and much of Forever Changes, particularly the album's last track, You Set The Scene, reflects that viewpoint. Nonetheless, the lyrics of the song are not so much a message of doom and gloom as a statement of intention to make every remaining moment left mean something. Of course, as it turned out, Lee lived well beyond his expectations (although his friend Jimi Hendrix did die at age 27). This does not in any way diminish the impact of You Set The Scene, heard here in an alternate mix with extra vocals toward the end of the track that were left out of the official version.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Grace
Source:    LP: The Life And Times Of Country Joe And The Fish (originally released on LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body)
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1967
    Country Joe McDonald liked to write songs that were inspired by women he knew. Being Country Joe McDonald these included some women who would end up becoming quite famous as part of the San Francisco scene. One of the most famous of those was Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane, who inspired the final track on the first Country Joe And The Fish LP, Electric Music For The Mind And Body. Who would have guessed?

Artist:    Chocolate Watch Band
Title:    No Way Out
Source:    CD: No Way Out
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Tower)
Year:    1967
    The Chocolate Watch Band, from the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area (specifically Foothills Junior College in Los Altos Hills), was fairly typical of the South Bay music scene, centered in San Jose. Although they were generally known for lead vocalist Dave Aguilar's ability to channel Mick Jagger with uncanny accuracy, producer Ed Cobb gave them a more psychedelic sound in the studio with the use of studio effects and other enhancements (including additional songs on their albums that were performed entire by studio musicians). The title track of No Way Out, released as the band's debut LP in 1967, is credited to Cobb, but in reality is a fleshing out of a jam the band had previously recorded, but had not released. That original jam, known as Psychedelic Trip, is now available as a mono bonus track on the No Way Out CD and as a limited edition Record Store Day single B side.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Have You Seen Her Face
Source:    CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    Chris Hillman
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1967
    Perhaps the greatest surprise on the fourth Byrds album, Younger Than Yesterday, was the emergence of bassist Chris Hillman as a top-tier songwriter, already on a par with David Crosby and the recently departed Gene Clark, and even exceeding Roger McGuinn as a solo writer (most of McGuinn's contributions being as a collaborator rather than a solo songwriter). Although Hillman would eventually find his greatest success as a country artist (with the Desert Rose Band) it was the hard-rocking Have You Seen Her Face that was chosen to become his first track to be released as a single.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly
Source:    CD: Beyond The Garage (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Sundazed (original labels: Original Sound/Warner Brothers)
Year:    1967
    The Music Machine was by far the most sophisticated of all the bands playing on L.A.'s Sunset Strip in 1966. Not only did they feature tight sets (so that audience members wouldn't get the chance to call out requests between songs), they also had their own visual look that set them apart from other bands. Dressed entirely in black (including dyed hair), and with leader Sean Bonniwell wearing one black glove, the Machine projected an image that would influence such diverse artists as the Ramones and Michael Jackson in later years. Musically, Bonniwell's songwriting showed a sophistication that was on a par with the best L.A. had to offer, demonstrated by a series of fine singles such as The Eagle Never Hunts the Fly. Unfortunately, problems on the business end prevented the Music Machine from achieving the success it deserved and Bonniwell eventually quit the music business altogether in disgust.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    (Roamin' Thro' The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM B side and on LP: Traffic)
Writer(s):    Capaldi/Winwood
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1968
    The second Traffic album saw the band taking in a broader set of influences, including traditional English folk music. (Roamin' Through The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen, originally released as the B side to the Dave Mason tune No Face, No Name, No Number, combines those influences with the Steve Winwood brand of British R&B to create a timeless classic.

Artist:    Jeff Beck
Title:    I Ain't Superstitious
Source:    LP: Truth
Writer(s):    Willie Dixon
Label:    Epic
Year:    1968
    To quote Jeff Beck's own liner notes on the song I Ain't Superstitious from the album Truth, "This number is more or less an excuse for being flash on guitar." I would add that Rod Stewart does an outstanding job on the vocals of this hard rocking version of the Howlin' Wolf classic.

Artist:    Temptations
Title:    Cloud Nine
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Whitfield/Strong
Label:    Motown Yesteryear (original label: Gordy)
Year:    1968
    Motown's psychedelic soul producers were Barrett Strong (whose song Money (That's What I Want) had provided the start up cash for Motown itself in the early 60s) and his partner Norman Whitfield. When the Temptations started to falter following the departure of vocalist David Ruffin in late 1968, the Whitfield-Stong team took over production for the group. Cloud Nine, a song with a frenetic tempo and a strong (no pun intended) anti-drug message, was released in December, and hit its peak in early 1969. The Whitfield-Strong team would continue to produce the Temptations for several years, cranking out hits like Psychedelic Shack, I Can't Get Next To You and Papa Was A Rolling Stone until Whitfield left Motown to form his own label in 1974.

Artist:    Squires Of The Subterrain
Title:    Mrs. Maude
Source:    CD: Pop In A CD
Writer(s):    Chris Zajkowski
Label:    Rocket Racket
Year:    Recorded 1996, released 1998
    Chris Earl was the drummer for Rochester, NY's Salamanders, a popular dance band in the mid-1990s. Before that he had been a member of a group called the Essentials. Throughout all of this he had been quietly indulging his psychedelic side in his basement, recording several songs as the Squires Of The Subterrain and forming his own Rocket Racket label in 1989. While continuing to perform locally with various groups he continued to release underground Squires cassette tapes. Finally, in 1998, he released Pop In A CD, a compilation CD taken from his previous releases. The CD has several outstanding tracks, including 1995's Mrs. Maude. Earl released several more Squires Of The Subterrain CDs over the years, the most recent being Radio Silence, released in 2019 (which I am still waiting for a copy of, if you happen to be reading this, Chris).

Artist:    McFadden's Parachute
Title:    Time
Source:    CD: Psolipsystic Psychedelic Pslyces Of McFadden's Parachute
Writer(s):    Darren Brennessel
Label:    PeterFonda
Year:    1996
    Although the psychedelic era itself officially covers only a few years in the late 1960s, for many the spirit of the era's music lives on. One such person is Darren Brennessel of Rochester, NY, who is the mastermind behind over two dozen McFadden's Parachute albums. Brennessel has been playing professionally since 1989, when he was the drummer for a band called the Purple Flashes, conceiving and recording the first McFadden's Parachute album as a side project. In the years since, in addition to playing multiple instruments on McFadden's Parachute albums, Brennessel has continued to play drums with a variety of bands, including Sky Saxon's Green Forests, which recorded an as-yet unreleased album in 2004. A while back, Darren sent me a special sampler collection of McFadden's Parachute tracks recorded mostly in the 1990s. Time is one of those tracks (I'm guessing at the year).

Artist:    Chesterfield Kings
Title:    Look Around
Source:    LP: Don't Open Til Doomsday
Writer(s):    Babiuk/Prevost/O'Brien/Cona/Meech
Label:    Mirror
Year:    1987
    Formed in the late 1970s in Rochester, NY, the Chesterfield Kings (named for an old brand of unfiltered cigarettes that my grandfather used to smoke) were instrumental in setting off the garage band revival of the 1980s. Their earliest records were basically a recreation of the mid-60s garage sound, although by the time their 1987 album, Don't Open Til Doomsday, was released they had gone through some personnel changes that resulted in a harder-edged sound on songs like Look Around.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Source:    Mono CD: Retrospective (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Benjamin/Marcus/Caldwell
Label:    Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1965
    1965 was a huge year for the Animals. Coming off the success of their 1964 smash House Of The Rising Sun, the Newcastle group racked up three major hits in 1965, including Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, a song originally recorded by jazz singer Nina Simone. The Animals version speeded up the tempo and used a signature riff that had been taken from Simone's outro. The Animals version of Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood made the top 20 in the US and the top five in both the UK and Canada.
Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Sittin' On My Sofa
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1966
    For most people the Kinks were (and still are, to some extent) known for some outstanding hit singles such as You Really Got Me and Sunny Afternoon. People who bought those singles also knew them for some of the best B sides ever released, including I Need You and I'm Not Like Everybody Else. Not every Kinks single was a major hit, however, especially in the US, where the group spent five years being banned from performing. One of those lesser hits was Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, which stalled out in the #36 spot in the spring of 1966, despite being a top 5 hit in the UK. As a result the B side of the US single, a Ray Davies tune called Sittin' On My Sofa, is one of the most obscure Kinks tracks ever released. It's only LP appearance was on a 1967 compilation album called Sunny Afternoon that wasn't even released in the US.

Artist:    Vanilla Fudge
Title:    Take Me For A Little While
Source:    Mono CD: The Complete Atco Singles (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Trade Martin
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    The original single version of Vanilla Fudge's cover of the Holland-Dozier-Holland penned Supremes hit You Keep Me Hangin' On was yet another cover of a tune written by a man but originally sung by female artists. Take Me For A Little While, written by Trade Martin, was first released in 1965, with two versions, one by Evie Sands and the other by Jackie Ross, coming out at about the same time.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Laléna
Source:    CD: Donovan's Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic/Legacy
Year:    1968
    Released only in the US due to an ongoing dispute between Donovan and the british Pye label, Laléna hit the Billboard top 40 in late 1968, hitting the #33 spot. A quiet ballad, Laléna was inspired by Lotte Lenya's character in the film version of Threepenny Opera. In a 2004 the Scottish singer/songwriter had this to say about the song: "She's a streetwalker, but in the history of the world, in all nations, women have taken on various roles from priestess to whore to mother to maiden to wife. This guise of sexual power is very prominent, and therein I saw the plight of the character. Women have roles thrust upon them and make the best they can out of them, so I'm describing the character Lotte Lenya is playing, and a few other women I've seen during my life, but it's a composite character of women who are outcasts on the edge of society."

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Violent Rose
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Herron/Whetstone
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    By 1969 the original lineup of the Electric Prunes was a distant memory. The band's name, however, was still in use, thanks to the fine print on the original contract that gave the ownership of the name Electric Prunes to the band's manager. A Canadian band called the Collectors was brought in to help with the group's third LP, 1968's Mass In F Minor, when it became clear that the complex David Axelrod score was beyond the abilities of the original Prunes (only one of which could read music), but even that group had moved on (to become Chilliwack) by the time Violent Rose was released as a B side in 1969. One of the more notable musicians appearing on Violent Rose is guitarist Ron Morgan, who by then had severed ties with the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band.
Artist:    Santana
Title:    Para Los Rumberos
Source:    LP: Santana (III)
Writer(s):    Tito Puente
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    One of the highlights of Santana's second album, Abraxis, was a song called Oye Como Va. The song, sung entirely in Spanish, was a surprise hit and has been a part of Santana's stage repertoire ever since. The song was originally recorded in the 1950s by its songwriter, Tito Fuente, and his band, which he described as jazz with latin rhythms. Appropriately, Santana's music has often been described as rock with latin rhythms, so it was perhaps inevitable that Santana would record more of Puente's tunes. Indeed, the final track on the next Santana album was a Puente composition. Santana's version of Para Los Rumberos closely follows the original Puente arrangement, even to the presence of a horn section on the piece. I strongly recommend you use your search engine to find one of Puente's performances of the song, for comparison's sake. I did, and watching what turned out to be his final performance literally brought tears to my eyes.

Artist:     Chicago
Title:     Where Do We Go From Here
Source:     CD: Chicago
Writer:     Peter Cetera
Label:     Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:     1970
     After having success with the double LP format on their first album, the Chicago Transit Authority, the band decided to issue their next two albums as double LPs as well. The first of these, simply titled Chicago (reflecting the group's decision to shorten their name to that of the city they came from, partially to avoid legal hassles from said city's public transportation system), featured the band's breakout top 40 hit, Make Me Smile, and the hard driving 25 or 6 to 4, and helped establish Chicago as one of the top acts of the early 70s. Side four of the album was the four-part politically-charged suite It Better End Soon, followed by Peter Cetera's Where Do We Go From Here, a lyrically logical follow-up to the suite.

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Volunteers
Source:     CD: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Volunteers)
Writer:     Balin/Kantner
Label:     BMG/RCA
Year:     1969
     By 1969 Jefferson Airplane's music was a staple of progressive FM stations but had all but disappeared from the top 40 charts. Still, the band continued to release singles from their albums, including the title track to their fifth (and final with the classic JA lineup) LP, Volunteers.

Artist:    Gods
Title:    Toward The Skies/Candles Getting Shorter
Source:    Mono British import LP: Genesis
Writer(s):    Joe Konas/Hensley
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1968
    It was probably pretty pretentious for a band to call themselves the Gods, but when you consider that, at various times, the band's lineup included Greg Lake and  Mick Taylor (both future rock gods), as well as two future members of Uriah Heep, the claim somehow doesn't seem quite so outrageous. By the time their first album, Genesis, came out in 1968 both Taylor and Lake had moved on, but between guitarist/keyboardist Ken Hensley, drummer Lee Kerslake (the two aforementioned Heepsters), bassist John Glascock (who would eventually serve as Jethro Tull's bassist until his untimely death in 1979) and guitarist Joe Konas, the Gods had talent to spare. The first two songs on the album, Konas's Toward The Skies and the Konas/Hensley collaboration overlap each other, as do most of the LP's other tracks.

Artist:    Teddy And His Patches
Title:    Haight-Ashbury
Source:    Mono CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lyte Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Flores/Pearson
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Chance)
Year:    1967
    Following up on their local #1 hit Suzy Creamcheese, San Jose, California band Teddy And His Patches released another punk classic called Haight-Ashbury in June of 1967. Pure madness.
Artist:    Misunderstood
Title:    Find The Hidden Door
Source:    British Import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in UK on LP: Before The Dream Faded)
Writer(s):    Hill/Brown
Label:    Grapefruit (original label: Cherry Red)
Year:    Recorded 1966, released 1982
    One of London's most legendary psychedelic bands was actually from California. The story of the Misunderstood started in 1963 when three teenagers from Riverside, California decided to form a band called the Blue Notes. Like most West Coast bands of the time, the group played a mixture of surf and 50s rock 'n' roll cover songs, slowly developing a sound of their own as they went through a series of personnel changes, including the addition of lead vocalist Rick Brown. In 1965 the band changed their name to the Misunderstood and recorded six songs at a local recording studio. Although the recordings were not released, the band caught the attention of a San Bernardino disc jockey named John Ravencroft, an Englishman with an extensive knowledge of the British music scene. In June of 1966 the band, with Ravencroft's help, relocated to London, where they were joined by a local guitarist, Tony Hill.  Ravencroft's brother Alan got the band a deal with Fontana Records, resulting in a single in late 1966, I Can Take You To The Sun, that took the British pop scene by storm. In addition to that single, the band recorded a handful of outstanding tracks that remained unreleased until the 1980s. Among those unreleased tracks was a masterpiece called Find The Hidden Door, written (as were most of the songs the band recorded in London) by Brown and Hill.  Problems with their work visas derailed the Misunderstood, and the band members soon found themselves being deported back to the US, and in one case, drafted into the US Army.

Artist:    Five Americans
Title:    I See The Light
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Durrill/Ezell/Rabon
Label:    Rhino (original label: Abnak)
Year:    1965
    For years I was under the impression that the Five Americans were a Texas band, mainly due to Abnak Records having a Dallas address. It turns out, though, that the band was actually from Durant, Oklahoma, although by the time they had their biggest hit, Western Union, they were playing most of their gigs in the Lone Star state. I See The Light is an earlier single built around a repeating Farfisa organ riff that leads into a song that can only be described as in your face. The song was produced by the legendary Dale Hawkins, who wrote and recorded the original version of Suzy Q in the late 1950s.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Bleeker Street
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Wednesday Morning, 3AM)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1964
    One of the first of many "slice of life" songs from songwriter Paul Simon, Bleeker Street (a real street in New York's Greenwich Village) appeared on the first Simon And Garfunkel LP, Wednesday Morning, 3AM, in late 1964. The album did not initially sell well, and the duo actually split up shortly after it was deleted from the Columbia catalog. Following the success of an electrified remix of another song from the album, The Sound Of Silence, the pair reunited and Columbia reissued Wednesday Morning, 3AM in 1966.

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