Sunday, December 5, 2021

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2150 (starts 12/6/21) 

    Quicksilver Messenger Service was far better known for their live performances than anything they tried in a recording studio, so it should come as no surprise that their second LP, Happy Trails, consisted, for the most part of live recordings. This week we present side two of Happy Trails, along with artists' sets from Cream (all from Disraeli Gears) and the Rolling Stones. Plus the usual mix of singles, B sides and album tracks, of course.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    It's My Life
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Atkins/D'Errico
Label:    Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1965
    The Animals had a string of solid hits throughout the mid-60s, many of which were written by professional songwriters working out of Don Kirschner's Brill Building in New York. Although vocalist Eric Burdon expressed disdain for most of these songs at the time (preferring to perform the blues/R&B covers that the group had built up its following with), he now sings every one of them, including It's My Life, on the oldies circuit.

Artist:    The Mamas And The Papas
Title:    Go Where You Wanna Go
Source:    LP: If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears
Writer(s):    John Phillips
Label:    Dunhill
Year:    1966
    Written by John Phillips to his wife Michelle concerning one of her affairs, Go Where You Wanna Go was originally slated to be released as a single in November of 1965. In fact, promo copies of the record were even sent out to local Los Angeles radio stations, but at the last minute Lou Adler, head of Dunhill Records, decided to go with California Dreamin' as the debut single of the Mamas And The Papas. As a result, Go Where You Wanna Go was not available to the general public until the last day of February, 1966, when it appeared on the LP If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears. The following year the song, using virtually the same arrangement as the original version, became the first of many top 20 singles for the Fifth Dimension.

Artist:     Procol Harum
Title:     She Wandered Through The Garden Fence
Source:     Simulated stereo LP: Procol Harum
Writer(s): Brooker/Reid
Label:     Deram
Year:     1967
     The first Procol Harum LP, although recorded using 4-track equipment, was originally mixed in monoraul only. In the US, however, where mono LPs were being phased out, the album was electronically re-channeled to simulate stereophonic sound. This practice was largely abandoned by 1970, although there were still a few exceptions, usually among reissues of older recordings. If you really want to know how this "fake" stereo sounds, we have She Wandered Through The Garden Fence, from one of those original 1967 US pressings of the album. 

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Sexy Sadie
Source:    LP: The Beatles
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1968
    I can't hear the song Sexie Sadie without being reminded of Charles Manson and his misinterpretation of the White Album (Sadie Mae Glutz was the nickname Manson gave Susan Atkins, one of his female followers). The song was actually inspired by the Mararishi Mahesh Yogi, or more specifically, John Lennon's disillusionment with the man. Lennon said that Sexie Sadie was the last song he wrote before leaving India, and that bandmate George Harrison would only agree to recording the tune if its original title of Maharishi was changed.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Lover Man
Source:    CD: Valleys Of Neptune
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Legacy
Year:    Recorded 1969, released 2010
    Valleys Of Neptune is a collection of unreleased tracks featuring (mostly) members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Nearly all the tracks, including Lover Man, are credited to Hendrix, although there are a couple of blues covers on the disc as well. Although Valleys Of Neptune contains an album's worth of material, it all sounds like jams that were not intended to be heard by the general public. Whether some of these tracks may have developed into actual compositions is a question that will probably never be answered, as the group split up not long after these recordings were made and Hendrix himself changed musical directions over the next year.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    How Many More Times
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Led Zeppelin)
Writer(s):    Page/Jones/Bonham
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1969
    Like many early Led Zeppelin songs, How Many More Times was originally credited to the band members (except, for contractual reasons, singer Robert Plant). More recent releases of the song, however, list Chester Burnett (Howlin' Wolf) as a co-writer, despite the fact that he and the members of Led Zeppelin had never met. This is because of the similarity, especially in the lyrics, to a 1951 Howlin' Wolf record called How Many More Years. The band reportedly tried to trick radio programmers into playing the eight and a half minute song by listing it on the album cover as being three minutes and thirty seconds long. I doubt anyone was fooled.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Strange Brew
Source:    British import LP Picture Disc: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Clapton/Pappalardi/Collins
Label:    RSO (original US label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Strange Brew, the opening track from Cream's Disraeli Gears album, was also released as a single in early 1967. The song, which was created by adding new lyrics and melody to an existing instrumental track, has proven popular enough over the years to be included on pretty much every Cream anthology album ever compiled, and even inspired a Hollywood movie of the same name.

Artist:         Cream
Title:        Sunshine Of Your Love
Source:      CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released on LP: Disraeli Gears)
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown/Clapton
Label:    Priority (original label: Atco)
Year:        1967
        Although by mid-1967 Cream had already released a handful of singles in the UK, Sunshine Of Your Love, featuring one of the most recognizable guitar rifts in the history of rock, was their first song to make a splash in the US. Although only moderately successful in edited form on AM Top-40 radio, the full-length LP version of the song received extensive airplay on the more progressive FM stations, and turned Disraeli Gears into a perennial best-seller. Clapton and Bruce constantly trade off lead vocal lines throughout the song. The basic compatibility of their voices is such that it is sometimes difficult to tell exactly who is singing what line. Clapton's guitar solo (which was almost entirely edited out of the AM version) set a standard for instrumental breaks in terms of length and style that became a hallmark for what is now known as "classic rock."

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Outside Woman Blues
Source:    LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer(s):    Arthur Reynolds
Label:    RSO (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Although Cream's second album, Disraeli Gears, is best known for its psychedelic cover art and original songs such as Strange Brew, Sunshine Of Your Love and Tales of Brave Ulysses, the LP did have one notable blues cover on it. Outside Woman Blues was originally recorded by Blind Joe Reynolds in 1929 and has since been covered by a variety of artists including Van Halen, Johnny Winters, Jimi Hendrix and even the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Magic Of Love (live)
Source:    CD: Cheap Thrills (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Mark Spoelstra
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 1999
    Like many San Francisco bands of the psychedelic era, Big Brother And The Holding Company had a synergistic relationship with their audience. When they played, there would be people literally dancing in the aisles of places like the Avalon ballroom and the original Fillmore. The challenge for producer John Simon was to somehow capture the energy shared by band and audience on a vinyl disc. The group had already recorded one LP for Bob Shad's Mainstream label, but the album itself sounded sterile compared to the band's live performances. Simon's tentative solution for the second Big Brother album, Cheap Thrills, was to record the band live, starting with a show in Detroit on March 2, 1968. Ultimately, it was decided to shelve the live recordings (with one exception) and instead work with the band in the studio and sweeten the recordings with crowd sounds to simulate live performances. One of those shelved recordings, Magic Of Love (from the Detroit concert), finally surfaced on the 1999 CD reissue of Cheap Thrills as a bonus track.

Artist:    Things To Come
Title:    Come Alive
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Russ Ward
Label:    Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1968
    Long Beach, California was home to a band known as Things To Come, which featured drummer Russ Ward, who, as Russ Kunkel, would go on to become one of L.A.'s most in-demand studio drummers. Come Alive is a solid piece of garage rock written by Ward/Kunkel.
Artist:    Aquarian Age
Title:    Me
Source:    Mono British import CD: Tomorrow (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Alder/Wood)
Label:    Parlophone
Year:    1968
    In 1968, with Tomorrow on the verge of breaking up, bassist John "Junior" Wood and drummer John "Twink" Alder, working with producer Mark Wirtz to create a pair of recordings released as a single and credited to the Aquarian Age. A Third song, Me, was also recorded at the time, but not released until 1999, when it was included as a bonus track on the CD reissue of the album Tomorrow.

Artist:    Blues Magoos
Title:    Chicken Wire Lady
Source:    CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Basic Blues Magoos)
Writer(s):    Gilbert/Thielhelm
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1968
    Following a year of extensive touring, the Blues Magoos decided to take a break from the hectic pace demanded by their producers and hired a mobile unit to come to their house, where they recorded several tracks for what became their third album, Basic Blues Magoos. Among those new tracks was Chicken Wire Lady, the last track on the album and, as it turned out, the last song recorded by the original lineup of the Blues Magoos.

Artist:    Crosby, Stills & Nash
Title:    49 Bye-Byes
Source:    LP: Crosby, Stills & Nash
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    Like most of his 1969 songs, 49 Bye-Byes was written about Stephen Stills's then-girlfriend Judy Collins, proving that what they say about dating a songwriter is true.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Easy Ride
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Jim Morrison
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1969
    Jim Morrison was not happy with the direction the Doors were taking with their fourth studio LP, The Soft Machine. For one thing, he had a problem with some of Robby Krieger's lyrics and thus insisted that songwriting credits go to the individual band members as opposed to the entire group. He also had issues with producer Paul Rothchild's decision to bring in strings and horns, and made sure his own songs, such as Easy Ride, did not include either.

Artist:    Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title:    Mona/Maiden Of The Cancer Moon/Calvary
Source:    LP: Happy Trails
Writer(s):    McDaniel/Duncan/Evans
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    Most everyone familiar with Quicksilver Messenger Service agrees that the band's real strength was its live performances. Apparently the folks at Capitol Records realized this as well, since the band's second LP was recorded (mostly) live at Bill Graham's two Fillmore Auditoriums. The second side of the Happy Trails album starts with a Bo Diddly cover, Mona, which segues directly into a Gary Duncan composition, Maiden Of The Cancer Moon. The original performance segued directly into the more avant-garde Calvary (also credited to Duncan), but for the album a studio recreation of that performance was used (although the album sleeve makes it clear that it was recorded "live" at Golden State Recorders, indicating that it was done in a single take without any overdubs).

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Dandelion
Source:    LP: Through The Past, Darkly (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    If there was a British equivalent to the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations in terms of time and money spent on a single song, it might be We Love You, a 1967 single released by the Rolling Stones. To go along with the single (with its state-of-the-art production) the band spent a considerable sum making a full-color promotional video, a practice that would not become commonplace until the advent of MTV in the 1980s. Despite all this, US radio stations virtually ignored We Love You, choosing to instead flip the record over and play the B side, a tune called Dandelion. As to why this came about, I suspect that Bill Drake, the man behind the nation's most influential top 40 stations, simply decided that the less elaborately produced Dandelion was better suited to the US market than We Love You and instructed his hand-picked program directors at such stations as WABC, KHJ and WLS to play Dandelion. The copycat nature of top 40 radio being what it is, Dandelion ended up being a moderate hit in the US in the summer of '67.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    She's A Rainbow
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    The Stones had their own brand of psychedelia, which was showcased on their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request. The album itself, after zooming to the top of the charts, lost its momentum quickly, despite the fact that She's A Rainbow, which was released as a single, was a solid top 40 hit.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    You Can't Always Get What You Want
Source:    CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1969
    When the Rolling Stones called for singers to back them up on their recording of You Can't Always Get What You Want, they expected maybe 30 to show up. Instead they got twice that many, and ended up using them all on the record. The song, which also features Al Kooper on organ, was orginally released as the B side of Honky Tonk Women in 1969. In the mid-1970s, after the Stones had established their own record label, Allen Klein, who had bought the rights to the band's pre-1970 recordings, reissued the single, this time promoting You Can't Always Get What You Want as the A side. Klein's strategy worked and the song ended up making the top 40.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    She's My Girl
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Bonner/Gordon
Label:    Rhino (original label: White Whale)
Year:    1967
    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.

Artist:    People
Title:    I Love You
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Chris White
Label:    Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1968
    By 1968 the major labels had signed just about every San Francisco band with any perceived potential. Capitol, having had some success with the Chocolate Watchband from San Jose on its Tower subsidiary, decided to sign another south bay band, People, to the parent label. The most successful single for the band was a new recording of an obscure Zombies B side. I Love You ended up hitting the top 20 nationally, despite the active efforts of two of the most powerful men in the music industry, who set out to squash the song as a way of punishing the record's producer for something having nothing to do with the song or the band itself.

Artist:    Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title:    Cowgirl In The Sand
Source:    CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer:    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    It has been said that adverse conditions are conducive to good art. Certainly that truism applies to Neil Young's Cowgirl In The Sand, written while Young was running a 102 degree fever. Almost makes you want to get sick yourself, doesn't it?

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