We've been kind of neglecting Jefferson Airplane lately, so to make up for it we have a nearly eighteen minute long artists' set from them this week, about the same length as a typical LP side of the rock era. Also on tap: a Donovan set and several tracks making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut, including one from an ad hoc British blues-rock supergroup put together specifically for one recording session only.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Talk Talk
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound)
The Music Machine was one of the most sophisticated bands to appear on the L.A. club scene in 1966, yet their only major hit, Talk Talk, was deceptively simple and straightforward punk-rock, and still holds up as two of the most intense minutes of rock music ever to crack the top 40 charts.
Source: CD: Disraeli Gears (also released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
I distinctly remember this song getting played on the local jukebox just as much as the single's A side, Sunshine Of Your Love (maybe even more). Like most of Cream's more psychedelic material, SWLABR (an anagram for She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow) was written by the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. Brown had originally been brought in as a co-writer for Ginger Baker, but soon realized that he and Bruce had better songwriting chemistry.
Artist: Bee Gees
Title: The Earnest Of Being George
Source: LP: Horizontal
Writer(s): Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
The 1968 LP Horizontal is generally considered to the Bee Gees' heaviest album, as demonstrated by songs like The Earnest Of Being George. In the words of lead guitarist Vince Melouney: "It was a band effort. We all felt that we were a part of one thing, we'd just try different things. It wasn't like it was the Gibb brothers, Colin (Petersen-drummer) and me. We were all in the Bee Gees together! 'Horizontal' made its way into the top 20 worldwide and helped cement the Bee Gees place as real contenders. And this was only the beginning!"
Artist: Mothers Of Invention
Title: The Air
Source: LP: The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook (originally released on LP: Uncle Meat)
Writer(s): Frank Zappa
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Bizarre/Reprise)
The fifth Mothers Of Invention album, Uncle Meat, was originally intended to be a soundtrack album for a movie that was never completed (although some of the footage was released in the 1980s). It was also part of Frank Zappa's No Commercial Potential project, along with the albums We're Only in It for the Money, Lumpy Gravy and Cruising with Ruben & the Jets. As Zappa put it: "It's all one album. All the material in the albums is organically related and if I had all the master tapes and I could take a razor blade and cut them apart and put it together again in a different order it still would make one piece of music you can listen to. Then I could take that razor blade and cut it apart and reassemble it a different way, and it still would make sense. I could do this twenty ways. The material is definitely related." I'm thinking that it would be fun to put them all in one of those five-disc CD players and hit the "random" button just to test that out. When Warner Brothers put together their first "loss leaders" album in 1969, they chose The Air from Uncle Meat as Zappa's contribution to the budget-priced double LP set (available only through mail order).
Artist: Stephen Stills & Jimi Hendrix
Title: No-Name Jam
Source: Promo CD: Selections from Carry On
For his first solo LP, Stephen Stills brought in several big name guest musicians, including Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Booker T. Jones and Jimi Hendrix. Although Hendrix played on only one track, Old Times Good Times, on the album itself, a warm up jam featuring both Hendrix and Stills on guitar remained in the vaults for several years, finally seeing the light of day on the 2013 Stephen Stills box set Carry On.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: You Keep Me Hangin' On (includes Illusions Of My Childhood part one and two)
Source: Mono LP: Vanilla Fudge
The Vanilla Fudge version of You Keep Me Hangin' On was originally recorded and released in 1967, not too long after the Supremes version of the song finished its own run on the charts. It wasn't until the following year, however, the the Vanilla Fudge recording caught on with radio listeners, turning it into the band's only top 40 hit. The original album version was considerably longer than the single, however, due in part to the inclusion of a framing sequence called Illusions Of My Childhood (basically a series of short psychedelic instrumental pieces incorporating themes from familiar nursery rhymes such as Farmer In The Dell and Ring Around The Rosie). You Keep Me Hangin' On was originally mixed only in mono as a kind of audition tape for the band. Rather than re-record the song for their debut LP, the band chose to use that original mono mix.
Title: Light My Fire (single version)
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): The Doors
Once in a while a song comes along that totally blows you away the very first time you hear it. The Doors' Light My Fire was one of those songs. I liked it so much that I immediately went out and bought the 45 RPM single. Apparently I was not the only one, as the song spent three weeks at the top of the charts in July of 1967. Despite this success, the single version of the song, which runs less than three minutes, is all but forgotten by modern radio stations, which universally choose to play the full-length album version. Nonetheless, the single version, which was created by editing out most of the solo instrumental sections of the piece, is a historical artifact worth an occasional listen.
Artist: Left Banke
Source: Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Smash)
For a while it looked as if the Left Banke would emerge as one of the most important bands of the late 60s. They certainly got off to a good start, with back-to-back top 10 singles Walk Away Renee and Pretty Ballerina. But then bandleader Michael Brown and Smash Records made a serious misstep, issuing a Brown solo effort called Ivy Ivy utilizing studio musicians and trying to pass it off as a Left Banke record. The other band members refused to go along with the charade and sent out letters to their fan club membership denouncing the single. The outraged fans, in turn, threatened to boycott any radio stations that played the single. Brown and the rest of the band, meanwhile, managed to patch things up enough to record a new single, Desiree, and released the song in late 1967. By then, however, radio stations were leery of playing anything with the words Left Banke on the label, and the song failed to chart, despite being an outstanding single. Brown left the Left Banke soon after.
Title: There Is A Mountain
Source: British import CD: Mellow Yellow (bonus track originally released in US as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original label: Epic)
1967 was a year that saw Donovan continue to shed the "folk singer" image, forcing the media to look for a new term to describe someone like him. As you may have already guessed, that term was "singer-songwriter." On There Is A Mountain, a hit single from 1967, Donovan applies Eastern philosophy and tonality to pop music, with the result being one of those songs that sticks in your head for days.
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: CD: Epistle To Dippy (alternative arrangement)
Source: CD: Mellow Yellow
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Label: EMI (original label: Epic)
Following up on his successful Mellow Yellow album, Donovan released Epistle To Dippy in the spring of 1967. The song, utilizing the same kind of instrumentation as Mellow Yellow, was further proof that the Scottish singer was continuing to move beyond the restrictions of the "folk singer" label and was quickly becoming the model for what would come to be called "singer/songwriters" in the following decade. Due to an ongoing contractual dispute between the artist and his UK record label (Pye), Epistle To Dippy was only released in the US. This "alternative" arrangement of the song was recorded about 10 months after the single version and features a violin prominently, replacing the electric guitar used on the original and giving the song a kind of gypsy vibe.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: Homeward Bound
Source: LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Following the success of Sounds Of Silence, Paul Simon And Art Garfunkel set about making an album of all new material (Sounds Of Silence had featured several re-recorded versions of tunes from the 1965 British album The Paul Simon Songbook). The result was Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, one of the finest folk-rock albums ever recorded. The album contained several successful singles, including Homeward Bound.
Title: I'm Only Sleeping
Source: CD: Revolver (originally released in US on LP: Yesterday...And Today)
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Record buyers in the US were able to hear I'm Only Sleeping several weeks before their British counterparts thanks to Capitol Records including the song on the US-only Yesterday...And Today LP. There was a catch, however. Producer George Martin had not yet made a stereo mix of the song, and Capitol used their "Duophonic" system to create a fake stereo version of the tune for the album. That mix continued to be used on subsequent pressings of the LP (and various tape formats), even after a stereo mix was created and included on the UK version of the Revolver album. It wasn't until EMI released the entire run of UK albums on CD in both the US and UK markets that American record buyers had access to the true stereo version of the song heard here.
Title: Deadend Street
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Ray Davies
The last major Kinks hit of the 1960s in the US was Sunny Afternoon in the summer of 1966. The November follow-up, Deadend Street, was in much the same style, but did not achieve the same kind of success in the US (although it was a top five hit in the UK). Although the Kinks would get some minor airplay for subsequent singles such as Victoria, the would not have another major US hit until Lola was released in 1970.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: Just Like Me (stereo remix)
Source: CD: The Legend Of Paul Revere (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Just Like Me was the first top 10 single from Paul Revere And The Raiders, a band that deserves much more credit than they are generally given. The group started in the early part of the decade in Boise, Idaho, when Revere (his real name) hooked up with saxophonist Mark Lindsay. Like most bands at the time, the Raiders' repertoire consisted mostly of instrumentals, as PA systems were a luxury that required more space than was generally allotted to a small town band. It wasn't long before the Raiders relocated to Portland, Oregon, where they became a popular attraction at various clubs. After a hiatus caused by Revere's stint in the military, the band resumed its place as one of the founding bands of the Portland music scene. They soon made their first visit to a recording studio, recording Richard Berry's Louie Louie at around the same time as another popular Portland band, the Kingsmen. The Kingsmen's version ended up being a huge national hit while the popularity of the Raiders' version was mostly restricted to the West Coast, thanks in large part to the active lack of support from Columbia Records, whose head of Artists and Repertoire (A&R), Mitch Miller, was an outspoken critic of rock 'n' roll. Undeterred, the band continued to grow in popularity, recording another single in 1964 (Like Long Hair) and going on tour. It was while playing in Hawaii that the band was noticed by none other than Dick Clark, who hired them to be the house band on his new afternoon TV show, Where The Action Is. Under the leadership of Mitch Miller Columbia Records had done their best to ignore the existence of rock 'n' roll (an effort that was somewhat undermined by one of their most popular artists, Bob Dylan, in 1965, when he went electric). Columbia had, however, a more open-minded West Coast division that included producer Terry Melcher, son of singer Doris Day and co-producer of the Rip Chords' hot rod hit Hey Little Cobra. With the Raiders now being seen daily on a national TV show, the label assigned Melcher to produce the band's records. It was a partnership that would lead to a string of hits, starting with Steppin' Out in 1965. The next record, Just Like Me, was the first of a string of top 10 singles that would last until early 1967, when rapidly changing public tastes made the band seem antiquated compared to up and coming groups like Jefferson Airplane. Just Like Me, despite some rather cheesy lyrics, still holds up well after all these years. Much of the credit for that has to go to Drake Levin, whose innovative double-tracked guitar solo rocked out harder than anything else on top 40 radio at the time (with the possible exception of a couple of well-known Kinks songs).
Artist: Shadows of Knight
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Van Morrison
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
The original Them version of Van Morrison's Gloria found itself banned on the majority of US radio stations due to controversial lyrics. By changing one line (essentially substituting "around here" for "up to my room") the suburban Chicago punk-blues band Shadows of Knight turned it into a huge hit and a garage band standard.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Mr. Second Class
Source: British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Year: Grapefruit (original label: United Artists)
The Spencer Davis Group managed to survive the departure of their star member, Steve Winwood (and his bass playing brother Muff) in 1967, and with new members Eddie Hardin (vocals) and Phil Sawyer (guitar) managed to get a couple more singles on the chart over the next year or so. The last of these was Mr. Second Class, a surprisingly strong composition from Hardin and Davis.
Artist: Amboy Dukes
Title: Flyte Of The Byrd
Source: German import CD: Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Writer(s): Ted Nugent
Label: Repertoire (original US label: Mainstream)
For their second LP, Detroit's Amboy Dukes decided to divide the songwriting on the album evenly between lead guitarist Ted Nugent and rhythm guitarist/vocalis Steve Farmer, with Nugent getting side one of the original LP and Farmer writing side two. As it turned out, the two ended up contributing to each other's side, but there were still some tracks, such as Nugent's Flyte Of The Byrd, that were solo compositions. The song itself gives a hint as to the direction the band's music would take over the next couple of years.
Artist: Eric Clapton And The Powerhouse
Title: Steppin' Out
Source: Mono LP: What's Shakin'
Writer(s): Memphis Slim
Label: Sundazed (original label: Elektra)
In mid-1966 a curiousity appeared on the record shelves from a small, New York based record company specializing in folk and blues recordings. The label was Elektra and the LP was called What's Shakin'. It was basically a collection of mostly unrelated tracks that had been accumulating in Elektra's vaults for several months. Elektra had sent producer Joe Boyd to England to help open a new London office for the label, and while there he made the acquaintance of several local blues musicians, some of which he talked into recording a few songs for Elektra. These included guitarist Eric Clapton (from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers), vocalist Steve Winwood and drummer Pete York (from the Spencer Davis Group), bassist Jack Bruce and harmonica player Paul Jones (from Manfred Mann), and pianist Ben Palmer, a friend of Clapton's who would become a Cream roadie. Recording under the name The Powerhouse, the group recorded four tracks in the studio, three of which were used on What's Shakin' (the fourth, a slow blues, has since gone missing). One of those tracks, a cover of Memphis Slim's Steppin' Out, was an instrumental, and thus did not include Winwood. It does, however, feature some outstanding guitar work by a very young Eric Clapton.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxter's
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
Of all the Jefferson Airplane albums, 1967's After Bathing At Baxter's is generally considered the most pyschedelic . For one thing, the members were reportedly all on LSD through most of the creative process and were involved in entire package, right down to the decision to divide the album up into five suites and press the vinyl in such a way that the spaces in the vinyl normally found between songs were only present between the suites themselves, making it almost impossible to set the needle down at the beginning of the second or third song of a suite (there is a slight overlap between most of the songs as well). The first suite on After Bathing At Baxter's is called Streetmasse. It consists of three compositions: Paul Kantner's The Ballad of You and Me and Pooniel; A Small Package of Value Will Come To You Shortly (a free-form jazz piece led by drummer Spencer Dryden); and the Paul Kantner/Marty Balin composition Young Girl Sunday Blues.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Somebody To Love
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Darby Slick
Label: RCA Victor
Over 40 years after the fact, it's hard to imagine just how big an impact Jefferson Airplane's fifth single had on the garage band scene. Whereas before Somebody To Love came out you could just dismiss hard-to-cover songs as being not worth learning, here was a tune that was undeniably cool, and yet virtually impossible for anyone but the Airplane to play well (and even they were unable to get it to sound quite the same when they performed it live). The mono single mix of the song heard here has noticeably less reverb than the more familiar stereo album version.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon
Source: CD: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s): Paul Kantner
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
The first Jefferson Airplane album (the 1966 release Jefferson Airplane Takes Off) was dominated by songs from the pen of founder Marty Balin, a few of which were collaborations with other band members such as Paul Kantner and Jorma Kaukonen. The songwriting on the group's second LP, Surrealistic Pillow, was fairly evenly balanced between the three above and new arrival Grace Slick. By the band's third album, After Bathing At Baxter's, released in the fall of 1967, Kantner had emerged as the group's main songwriter, having a hand in over half the tracks on the LP. One of the most durable of these was the album's closing track, a medley of two songs, Won't You Try and Saturday Afternoon, the latter being about a free concert that the band had participated in at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park earlier that year.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: Look (Song For The Children)/Child Is Father To The Man
Source: LP: The Smile Sessions
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2011
In 2004 Brian Wilson released Smile, the culmination of a project that went back nearly 40 years. Smile had begun as the projected follow up to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album, with recording for the new album beginning in 1966. Due to a number of reasons the project was suspended in 1967, and a much less ambitious LP called Smiley Smile appeared in its place. For the rest of the 20th century Smile was little more than a legend, surrounded by rumours concerning the disposition of the material that had been recorded before the project was dropped. In the early 1990s some of the tapes resurfaced and were issued as part of the Beach Boys 30th anniversary box set. Still, these were only fragments, without any real sense of how they were meant to be presented on the original album. Finally, with the release of Brian Wilson's all new recordings of much of the same material, there was a template that could be used as a guideline for assembling the original album. Some elements, such as Carl Wilson's backing vocals on tracks like Child Is Father To The Man were actually recorded after the project itself was cancelled and used on later Beach Boys albums. Nonetheless, The Smile Sessions, a double LP released in 2011, is probably the closest thing we'll ever hear to the original Smile album.
Title: Think Twice
Source: German import CD: Salvation
Writer(s): Joe Tate
Label: Head (original US label: ABC)
If there is any one band that typifies the San Francisco music scene of 1968 it would have to be Salvation. Originally from Seattle and known as the Salvation Army Banned, the group came to the attention of ABC Records after a series of successful gigs at Golden Gate Park. The band was often seen cruising the streets of San Francisco in a converted bus and often found themselves sharing the playbill with acts like Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane and the Doors. After recording their debut LP, Salvation, the group did a coast to coast promotional tour "from the Golden Gate to the Village Gate", only to find themselves stranded on the east coast when their management team absconded with the band's advance money. The band's fate was sealed when they, to quote keyboardist Art Resnick, "acted so incredibly wild at the main offices of ABC In in NYC when going there to meet all the top execs. It was totally insane! Wilder than any rock movie I've ever seen."
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Boogie Music
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Living The Blues and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): L.T.Tatman III
Label: United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Canned Heat was formed in 1966 by a group of San Francisco Bay Area blues purists. Although a favorite on the rock scene, the band continued to remain true to the blues throughout their existence, even after relocating to the Laurel Canyon area near Los Angeles in 1968. The band's most popular single was Going Up the Country from the album Living the Blues. The B side of that single was another track from Living The Blues that actually had a longer running time on the single than on the album version. Although the single uses the same basic recording of Boogie Music as the album, it includes a short low-fidelity instrumental tacked onto the end of the song that sounds suspiciously like a 1920s recording of someone playing a melody similar to Going Up The Country on a fiddle. The only time this unique version of the song appeared in stereo was on a 1969 United Artists compilation called Progressive Heavies that also featured tracks from Johnny Winter, Traffic, the Spencer Davis Group and others.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Parachute Woman
Source: CD: Beggar's Banquet
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The last Rolling Stones album with the original lineup was Beggar's Banquet, released in 1968. The album itself was a conscious effort on the part of the band to get back to their roots after the psychedelic excesses of Their Satanic Majesties Request. Sadly, Brian Jones was fast deteriorating at the time and his contributions to the album are minimal compared to the band's earlier efforts. As a result, Keith Richards was responsible for most of the guitar work on Beggar's Banquet, including both lead and rhythm parts on Parachute Woman.
Artist: Ten Years After
Source: CD: Stonedhenge
Writer(s): Leo Lyons
Ten Years After's fourth LP, Stonedhenge, features six tracks by the entire band alternating with one solo track each from the band's four members. Bassist Leo Lyons's piece is called Faro (presumably a corruption of "far out"), and consists of a melody played on a string bass backed by single notes plucked on an electric bass. There is also foot tapping throughout the entire minute-long piece, and a surprise ending which you'll just have to experience for yourself.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: As Kind As Summer
Source: LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
The first time I heard As Kind As Summer from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band album Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil I jumped up to see what was wrong with my turntable. A real gotcha moment.
Title: The End
Source: CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: The Doors)
Writer(s): The Doors
Prior to recording their first album the Doors' honed their craft at various Sunset Strip clubs, working up live versions of the songs they would soon record, including their show-stopper, The End. Originally written as a breakup song by singer/lyricist Jim Morrison, The End runs nearly twelve minutes and includes a toned-down version of the controversial spoken "Oedipus section" that got them fired from their gig as house band at the Whisky-A-Go-Go. My own take on the famous "blue bus" line, incidently, is that Morrison, being a military brat, was probably familiar with the blue shuttle buses used on military bases overseas for a variety of purposes, including taking kids to school, and simply incorporated his experiences with them into his lyrics. The End got its greatest exposure in 1979, when Oliver Stone used it in his film Apocalypse Now.