Sunday, November 21, 2021

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2148 (starts 11/22/21)

    Recently I experienced a touch of insomnia and decided to put it to good use by recording this week's show in the middle of the night. It starts, of course, with the Lovin' Spoonful and, being Thanksgiving week and all, ends with a real turkey of a song.

Artist:    Lovin' Spoonful
Title:    Night Owl Blues
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Butler/Boone/Yanovsky/Sebastian
Label:    Kama Sutra/Sundazed
Year:    Recorded 1965, released 2011
    Night Owl Blues was first released on the Lovin Spoonful's first album, Do You Believe In Magic, making an encore appearance as the B side of their 1966 hit Daydream. The original recording was edited down to less than three minutes on both releases. In 2011 Sundazed issued a previously unreleased recording of the Spoonful's high energy cover of the Hollywood Argyles hit Alley Oop on 45 RPM vinyl, backed with a longer, less edited version of Night Owl Blues made from the same original 1965 recording as the earlier release. The track features some nice blues harp from John Sebastian and a rare electric guitar solo from Zal Yanovsky.

Artist:     Butterfield Blues Band
Title:     Walkin' Blues
Source:     CD: East-West
Writer:     Robert Johnson
Label:     Elektra
Year:     1966
     Unlike The Blues Project, which mixed original material with improvisational arrangements of blues classics, the Butterfield Blues Band took pride in presenting an authentic Chicago blues sound. The opening track for their most famous album, East-West, was Robert Johnson's Walkin' Blues.

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:    Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title:    Born On The Bayou
Source:    LP: Bayou Country
Writer(s):    John Fogerty
Label:    Fantasy
Year:    1968
    If there is any single song that sums up what Creedence Clearwater Revival was all about, it could very well be Born On The Bayou, the opening track of CCR's second LP, Bayou Country. The song, which was written by John Fogerty late at night, became the opening for nearly every Creedence concert over the next few years, and is considered by many to be the band's signature song. Oddly enough, John Fogerty had never set foot on a bayou in his life when he wrote the song, but had always been a fan of the movie Swamp Fever, as well as having a fascination with "every other bit of southern bayou information that had entered my imagination from the time I was born."

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Going To Try
Source:    CD: Stonedhenge
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Deram
Year:    1969
    Although Ten Years After is known mostly for straight ahead blues rock and roll numbers like I'm Going Home, Alvin Lee and company did have a more experimental side, as evidenced by their third LP, Stonedhenge. The album consists of a half dozen tracks written by Lee and performed by the entire band interspersed with solo tracks from each of the four band members. The opening track, Going To Try, is possibly the most psychedelic song in the TYA catalog, being basically a series of variations on a common theme in different time and key signatures.  

Artist:    Kaleidoscope (US)
Title:    Another Lover
Source:    British import CD: Pulsating Dreams (originally released in US on LP: Bernice)
Writer(s):    David Lindley
Label:    Floating World (original US label: Epic)
Year:    1970
    The American band known as Kaleidoscope was not really a rock band. If you had to define them, you might go with terms like "roots" or even "world" music, but not rock. While still in high school, Kaleidoscope's multi-instrumentalist founder David Lindley formed his first band, the Mad Mountain Ramblers in Pasadena, California, where he met Chris Darrow, Kaleidoscope's co-founder. At age 20 (more or less) the two, who had been in rival bands, formed a new group the Dry City Scat Band, but Darrow soon left to form his own rock band. The two, along with multi-instrumentalists Solomon Feldthouse and Chester Crill (aka all sorts of odd names such as Fenrus Epp and Max Budda) along with drummer John Vidican formed Kaleidoscope in 1966. By the time they had released their fourth and final album Bernice, in 1970, with only Feldthouse, Crill (now calling himself both Connie Crill and Max Buda, depending on which instrument he was playing at the time) and Lindley, who wrote Another Lover, left from the original lineup. After contributing two new songs to the film Zabriskie Point Kaleidoscope officially disbanded.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Tend My Garden/Garden Gate
Source:    CD: James Gang Rides Again
Writer:    Joe Walsh
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1970
    Cleveland, Ohio's James Gang spent so much time on the road promoting their first album, Takes Off, that they didn't have much material ready when it came time to record a follow-up LP. The group found itself actually writing songs in the studio and recording them practically as they were being written. Guitarist/lead vocalist Joe Walsh, meanwhile, had some acoustic songs he had been working on, and it was decided that the new album would have one side of electric hard rock songs while the other would be an acoustic side. The opening tracks for the second side of the album were Tend My Garden, which features Walsh on both organ and guitar, followed by Garden Gate, a Walsh solo piece.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Baby Don't Scold Me
Source:    Mono CD: Buffalo Springfield
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Atco/Elektra
Year:    1966
    When For What It's Worth became a big hit single in early 1967, Atco recalled all unsold copies of the first Buffalo Springfield album and re-released the LP with a new track order that included For What It's Worth. Of course, that meant that one of the original songs on the album had to be cut, and for years it has been somewhere between difficult and impossible to find the song that was cut, a Stephen Stills composition called Baby Don't Scold Me. Now the album has been reissued on compact disc with both the original track order (in monoraul) and the revised listing (in stereo). As a result Baby Don't Scold Me is only available in mono, but probably sounds better than way anyway.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    The Hour Of Not Quite Rain
Source:    LP: Last Time Around
Writer(s):    Furay/Callen
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    In August of 1967, Los Angeles radio station ("Boss Radio") ran a contest in which listeners submitted original poems, with the winner being set to music by Buffalo Springfield. At the same time, a similar contest was being run in San Francisco by KFRC, with the winning entry appearing on Moby Grape's Grape Jam album. Unlike the Moby Grape piece, which is basically set against a "Musique concrète" background, The Hour Of Not Quite Rain, submitted by Micki Callen, is a lavishly produced piece with lots of orchestral backing and vocals by Richie Furay. By the time the song was released, on the album, Last Time Around, was released the band existed in name only, with all of the members having moved on to other things.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound)
Source:    CD: Buffalo Springfield
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    By mid-1966 Hollywood's Sunset Strip was being taken over every night by local teenagers, with several underage clubs featuring live music being a major attraction. Many of the businesses in the area, citing traffic problems and rampant drug and alcohol abuse, began to put pressure on city officials to do something about the situation. The city responded by passing new loitering ordinances and imposing a 10PM curfew on the Strip. They also began putting pressure on the clubs, including condemning the popular Pandora's Box for demolition. On November 12, 1966 fliers appeared on the streets inviting people to a demonstration that evening to protest the closing of the club. The demostration continued over a period of days, exascerbated by the city's decision to revoke the permits of a dozen other clubs on the Strip, forcing them to bar anyone under the age of 21 from entering. Stephen Stills, a member of Buffalo Springfield, one of the many bands appearing regularly in these clubs, wrote a new song in response to the situation, and the band quickly booked studio time, recording the still-unnamed track on December 5th. The band had recently released their debut LP, but sales of the album were lackluster due to the lack of a hit single. Stills reportedly presented the new recording to label head Ahmet Ertegun with the words "I have this song here, for what it's worth, if you want it." Ertegun, sensing that he had a hit on his hands, got the song rush-released two days before Christmas, 1966, using For What It's Worth as the official song title, but sub-titling it Stop, Hey What's That Sound on the label as well. As predicted, For What It's Worth was an instant hit in the L.A. market, and soon went national, where it was taken by most record buyers to be about the general sense of unrest being felt across the nation over issues like racial equality and the Vietnam War (and oddly enough, by some people these days as being about the Kent State massacre, even though that happened nearly three years after the song was released). As the single moved up the charts, eventually peaking at #7, Atco recalled the Buffalo Springfield LP, reissuing it with a modified song selection that included For What It's Worth as the album's opening track. Needless to say, album sales picked up after that. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever even seen a vinyl copy of the Buffalo Springfield album without For What It's Worth on it, although I'm sure some of those early pressings must still exist.

Artist:    Pentangle
Title:    Pentangling
Source:    LP: Superecord Contemporary (originally released on LP: Pentangle)
Writer(s):    Cos/Jansch/McShea/Renbourne/Thompson
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    Once in a while an album comes along that is so consistently good that it's impossible to single out one specific track for airplay. Such is the case with the debut Pentangle album from 1968. The group, consisting of guitarists John Renbourne and Bert Jansch, vocalist Jacqui McShea, bassist Terry Cox, and drummer Danny Thompson, had more talent than nearly any band in history from any genre, yet never succumbed to the clash of egos that characterize most supergroups. That talent is abundantly evident on Pentangling.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Love Story
Source:    CD: This Was (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968 (UK), 1969 (US)
    Love Story was the last studio recording by the original Jethro Tull lineup of Ian Anderson, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker and Glenn Cornish. The song was released as a single (Jethro Tull's first in the US) following the band's debut LP, This Was. Shortly after its release Abrahams left the group, citing differences with Anderson over the band's musical direction. Love Story spent eight weeks on the UK singles chart, reaching the #29 spot. In the U.S., Love Story was released in March 1969, with A Song for Jeffrey (an album track from This Was) on the B-side, but did not chart. Like most songs released as singles in the UK, Love Story did not appear on an album until several years later; in this case on the 1973 anthology album Living In The Past. It has most recently been included as a bonus track on the expanded CD version of This Was.

Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    Roll With It
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Children Of The Future)
Writer:    Steve Miller
Label:    Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1968
    Right from the beginning, the Steve Miller band stood out stylistically from other San Francisco area bands. This was in part because Miller was only recently arrived from Chicago (by way of Texas), which had a music tradition of its own. But a lot of the credit has to go to Miller himself, who had the sense to give his bandmates (such as his college buddy Boz Scaggs) the freedom to provide songs for the band in addition to his own material. One example of the latter is Roll With It from the group's 1968 debut LP, Children Of The Future.

Artist:    Brass Buttons
Title:    Hell Will Take Care Of Her
Source:    Mono CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jay Copozzi
Label:    Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1968
    Rochester, New York, was home to both guitarist Gene Cornish and a band called the Brass Buttons. Cornish, who had been born in Ottawa, Canada, left Rochester for New York City in the early 1960s, eventually co-founding the most successful blue-eyed soul band in history, the (Young) Rascals. By 1968 the Rascals had formed their own production company, Peace, and Cornish invited his friends from the Brass Buttons to record a pair of songs for Peace. The recordings, including a scathing breakup song called Hell Will Take Care Of Her, were released on Atlantic's Cotillion subsidiary in 1968.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    No Time
Source:    CD: Headquarters
Writer(s):    Hank Cicalo
Label:    Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Year:    1967
    No Time is basically a Little Richard styled rock 'n' roll studio jam by the Monkees, with Micky Dolenz improvising on the lyrics. The band, who played their own instruments on the recording, decided to credit the song to recording engineer Hank Cicalo, in appreciation for the hard work he was putting in as de facto producer of their Headquarters album. This actually got Cicalo in trouble with the brass at RCA, who had strict rules about engineers soliciting songs to be recorded. On the other hand, the royalties from the song helped him buy a house.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Prelude-Nothing To Hide
Source:    LP: The Best Of Spirit (originally released on LP: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus)
Writer(s):    Randy California
Label:    Epic
Year:    1970
    Spirit's first few albums had generated good reviews but poor sales. Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus was considered at the time to be their last chance to reach a larger audience. The pseudo-polygamous lyrics of the album's opening track, Prelude-Nothing To Hide, are actually about the band members' commitment to their music, a commitment that is apparent throughout the album. Unfortunately even that level of commitment did not translate to commercial success, leading vocalist Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes to split from Spirit to form Jo Jo Gunne soon thereafter.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Fresh Garbage
Source:    European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Spirit)
Writer(s):    Jay Ferguson
Label:    Sony Music (original label: Ode)
Year:    1968
    Much of the material on the first Spirit album was composed by vocalist Jay Ferguson while the band was living in a big house in California's Topanga Canyon outside of Los Angeles. During their stay there was a garbage strike, which became the inspiration for the album's opening track, Fresh Garbage. The song starts off as a fairly hard rocker and suddenly breaks into a section that is pure jazz, showcasing the group's instrumental talents, before returning to the main theme to finish out the track.The group used a similar formula on about half the tracks on the LP, giving the album and the band a distinctive sound right out of the box.

Artist:     Spirit
Title:     Mr. Skin
Source:     LP: The Best Of Spirit (originally released on LP: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus)
Writer(s):    Jay Ferguson
Label:    Epic
Year:     1970
     Mr. Skin, a song originally released on the 1970 album The Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus, shows just how far Spirit had moved away from the jazz influences heard on their first LP in the space of only a couple of years.

Artist:    Impressions
Title:    Check Out Your Mind
Source:    CD: Curtis Mayfield And The Impressions: The Anthology 1961-1977 (originally released on LP: Check Out Your Mind)
Writer(s):    Curtis Mayfield
Label:    MCA (original label: Curtom)
Year:    1970
    The Impressions scored their first hit single in 1958 with a song called For Your Precious Love. Not long after that lead vocalist Jerry Butler left the group for a solo career, and the Impressions faded off into obscurity. That would have been the end of the story if not for the efforts of 19-year-old Curtis Mayfield, who gathered the group together in 1961 to record their first single for the ABC Paramount label, a tune called Gypsy Woman. The song was a success, prompting several more singles for the label. By 1963 the group was pared down to the trio of Mayfield, Sam Gooden and Fred Cash. The group's style was truly established in August of that year with the song It's All Right, which went all the way to the top of the soul charts. An even bigger hit came the following year with the release of Amen, from the album Keep On Pushin'. The Impressions continued to be a presence on the R&B charts for the remainder of the decade, even after switching over to Mayfield's own Curtom label in 1968. The final Impressions album with Mayfield was Check Out Your Mind, released in 1970. By then Mayfield's songwriting had become highly topical, with virtually every song containing some sort of message. This trend continued after Mayfield left the Impressions for his solo career, notably on the soundtrack of the film Superfly. In August of 1990 a tragic stage accident left Mayfield permanently paralyzed from the neck down, ending his career as a performer.

Artist:    Joe Cocker
Title:    Delta Lady
Source:    LP: Mad Dogs & Englishmen
Writer(s):    Leon Russell
Label:    A&M
Year:    1970
    In the summer of 1971 virtually all the freaks in Mangum, Oklahoma (including the entire membership of the band Sunn) went to the local drive-in theater (our light show guy and I got in by riding in the trunk of our road manager's car) to see the film Mad Dogs & Englishmen. All of us, including the guy running the projection booth (who was also our assistant light show guy) were tripping our brains out by the time the film began. By then we had plugged in our own PA system, put a microphone next to one of the little speakers that you hang on your car window, and cranked it up to full volume, quickly running off the handful of cars who were not part of our group of crazies. Once we had the entire drive-in to ourselves, we proceded to dance, yell and sing along to songs like Delta Lady in a display of reckless abandon that would have made Ken Kesey proud. That August night in Oklahoma is the first thing I think of whenever I hear the live version of Delta Lady.
Artist:    Sugarloaf
Title:    Green-Eyed Lady
Source:    CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1970 (originally released on LP: Sugarloaf and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Corbetta/Phillips/Riordan
Label:    Rhino (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1970
    The unwritten rules of radio, particularly those concerning song length, were in transition in 1970. Take Sugarloaf's Green-Eyed Lady, for example. When first released as a single the 45 was virtually identical to the album version except that it faded out just short of the six-minute mark. This was about twice the allowed length under the old rules and it was soon replaced with an edited version that left out all the instrumental solos, coming in at just under three minutes. The label soon realized, however, that part of the original song's appeal (as heard on FM rock radio) was its organ solo, and a third single edit with that solo restored became the final, and most popular, version of Green-Eyed Lady. The song went into the top 5 nationally (#1 on some charts) and ended up being the band's biggest hit.

Artist:      Bob Dylan
Title:     It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry
Source:      CD: Highway 61 Revisited
Writer:    Bob Dylan
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1965
     East of Albuquerque, NM, there is a trail that is about three miles long. At the end of that trail you at Sandia Crest, which overlooks the city from about a mile above. Continuing eastward, after a short plateau you enter the eastern foothills, traveling many miles up and down hills, each one just a little lower than the one before it. Bob Dylan's career is like that: an incredibly fast rise to an unbelievable height, and then a slow downhill descent from there. The Highway 61 Revisited album is his Sandia Peak.

Artist:    Bob Dylan with The Band
Title:    Tiny Montgomery
Source:    LP: The Basement Tapes
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    Recorded 1967, released 1975
    In July of 1966, Bob Dylan crashed his motorcycle near his home in Woodstock, NY. As a result, he had to cancel his upcoming concert schedule and instead began to focus more on his songwriting. Meanwhile his backup band, the Hawks, ended up moving to West Saugerties, a town a few miles from Woodstock, occupying a house they nicknamed "Big Pink". Once Dylan felt up to playing and singing again he invited the members of the band over to his place for some informal sessions, mostly performing covers of old folk songs. In early 1967 they set up a makeshift studio at Big Pink, using borrowed tape recorder, mixers and microphones, and began recording some of Dylan's new tunes. The first of these to be recorded was Tiny Montgomery, a song that contains such nonsensical lyrics as "Scratch your dad/Do that bird/Suck that pig/And bring it on home". I couldn't have said it better myself.
Artist:      Bob Dylan
Title:     Desolation Row
Source:      CD: Highway 61 Revisited
Writer:    Bob Dylan
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1965
    The last track on Bob Dylan's groundbreaking 1965 LP, Highway 61 Revisited, is also the only non-electric track on the album. With a running time of over eleven minutes, it is also the longest song on the album, and contains some of the bleakest imagery. If you're in the right frame of mind, Desolation Row is a fascinating journey to some pretty dark places. If not, you probably won't be able to listen to the entire piece in one sitting.

Artist:    Joan Baez
Title:    Daddy You Been On My Mind
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Vanguard
Year:    1965
    Although I had heard songs like Where Have All The Flowers Gone and Blowin' In The Wind on the radio and around campfires, I did not actually own a folk record until early 1966, when I picked up a brown paper "grab bag" of four singles at a discount price at the Post Exchange at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. Among the records in the bag was a single by Joan Baez that featured a Phil Ochs song on one side and a Bob Dylan song on the other. Being a twelve-year-old kid, I had never heard of Baez or Ochs, although the name Bob Dylan was vaguely familiar to me. Still, I was intrigued by this new kind of music, that was a bit similar to songs I had heard on the radio like Where Have All The Flowers Gone, but yet had a kind of exotic strangeness that set it apart. I still have that record, although my old record player pretty much ruined it, but have since found a copy in marginally better condition to share with you. Enjoy!

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    I Am A Rock
Source:    LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    The success of I Am A Rock, when released as a single in 1966, showed that the first Simon And Garfunkel hit, The Sound Of Silence, was no fluke. The two songs served as bookends to a very successful LP, Sounds Of Silence, and would lead to several more hit records before the two singers went their separate ways in 1970. This was actually the second time I Am A Rock had been issued as a single. An earlier version, from the Paul Simon Songbook, had been released in 1965. Both the single and the LP were only available for a short time and only in the UK, and were deleted at Simon's request.

Artist:    Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Title:    I'll Search The Sky
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Ricochet)
Writer(s):    David Hanna
Label:    Rhino (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1967
            The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band released two albums in 1967, about four to five months apart. Part of the reason for this may have been that their label, Liberty Records, was finding it difficult to get any of their releases to show up on the Billboard album charts; in fact, the first Dirt Band album was one of only two LPs on the label to accomplish that feat that year. The second LP by the group, Ricochet, was not able to duplicate the success of the first one, however, despite fine tracks like I'll Search The Sky and the band was in danger of fading off into obscurity by the end of the year. The group persisted, however, switching over to the United Artists label when it bought Liberty in the early 1970s, and eventually hit it big with their version of Jerry Jeff Walker's Mr. Bojangles. The band continued to gravitate toward country music over the next decade, eventually emerging as one of the top country acts of the 1980s.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Crosstown Traffic
Source:    LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP: Electric Ladyland)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    By 1968 it didn't matter one bit whether the Jimi Hendrix Experience had any hit singles; their albums were guaranteed to be successful. Nonetheless the Electric Ladyland album had no less that three singles on it (although one was a new stereo mix of a 1967 single). The last of these was Crosstown Traffic, a song that has been included on several anthologies over the years.

Artist:    Them
Title:    Dark Are The Shadows
Source:    Mono British import CD: Time Out! Time In For Them (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Burnick/Monda
Label:    Rev-Ola (original US label: Tower)
Year:    1969
    Even though it was 1969, and several artists had already proven that you no longer needed a hit single to be a success, there were still some people, including Ray Ruff, who insisted on destroying a band's credibility in an attempt at having a top 40 hit. A good example of this is Dark Are The Shadows, Them's final single for the Tower label. Ruff commissioned one more single from Them (a cover of Charlie Rich's Lonely Weekend for the Happy Tiger label) that is reportedly even worse than this turkey. After that the band split up for good.

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