Monday, December 26, 2022

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2252 (starts 12/26/22)

    Sixty years ago EMI released a single on its second-tier Parlophone label written and performed by four young men from Liverpool. That single touched off what came to be known as Beatlemania. In early 1964 Beatlemania reached the US, launching an invasion of the US music industry by British "beat" bands, which in turn inspired American teenagers to form their own self-contained garage bands, setting the stage for what we now call the Psychedelic Era. This week we celebrate that British Invasion, starting at the very beginning with that 1962 single.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Love Me Do (Ringo on drums version)
Source:    Mono CD: Past Masters Volume One (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple Parlophone
Year:    1962
    The Beatles made three recordings of their debut single, Love Me Do. The first version of the song (which had actually been written before the Beatles even existed) was made on June 6, 1962  for the band's EMI Artist Test with Pete Best playing drums. Although the band passed the audition, they decided to change drummers soon after, replacing Best with Richard Starkey, AKA Ringo Starr. On September 4, 1962 they returned to EMI studios for their first official recording session and cut the song a second time, this time with Ringo on drums. Producer George Martin was not entirely satisfied with Ringo's drumming on the recording, and so the song was recut a week later, on September 11, 1962, with studio drummer Andy White (Ringo played tambourine on this version). The single was first issued on October 5th of that year, using the version with Ringo on drums. That version was soon replaced, however, with the Alan White version, which was included on the band's 1963 debut LP Please Please Me, as well as the first pressings of Vee Jay's Introducing...The Beatles LP and the US single version of the song released on the Tollie label.

Artist:     Tornados
Title:     Telstar
Source:     45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer:     J. Meek
Label:     London
Year:     1962
     Before the Beatles kicked off the British Invasion in 1964 there had only been two British recordings that had been able to hit the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The first was Strangers On The Shore, a jazz piece by saxophonist Mr. Acker Bilk. The second chart-topper (the first by a rock band) was the Tornados' Telstar, a quasi-surf instrumental named for the first transatlantic communication satellite.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Please Please Me
Source:    Mono CD: Please Please Me
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple Parlophone
Year:    1963
    When Love Me Do was released in autumn of 1962 it did respectively well for a debut single from a group situated well outside the London hub of the British music scene, peaking at #17 on the British charts. The next single by the band, Please Please Me, did considerably better, going to the #1 spot on all but one of the British music charts (which ironically has come to be the one that is now considered the "official" chart of the time). More importantly, Please Please Me touched off a phenomenon that soon came to be called Beatlemania.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    From Me To You
Source:    Mono CD: Past Masters Volume One (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone
Year:    1963
    The first Beatles single to top every British record chart was From Me To You, released on April 11, 1963. It was the first of 11 consecutive number one hits for the band.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    She Loves You
Source:    Mono CD: Past Masters Volume One (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Capitol (original US label: Swan)
Year:    1963
    Beatlemania hit its British peak in the fall of 1963, when She Loves You spent 18 weeks in the UK top 5, six of them in the # 1 spot. Such was the popularity of the band at that time that thousands of copies of the single had been pre-ordered before the song was even written, a number that grew to half a million by the time the record was released. She Loves You is the all-time best-selling Beatles single in the UK, and was the group's second consecutive # 1 hit in the US as well (knocking I Want To Hold Your Hand out of the top spot on March 21, 1964. The song, which was initially released in the US on the Swan label, was at first considered a flop, selling only about 1,000 copies when it first hit the American record racks in September of 1963. Eventually, though, the song became one of the five Beatles songs to occupy the top 5 spots on the US charts simultaneously in April of 1964 and ended up being the second-highest ranked song of the year, behind I Want To Hold Your Hand.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    I Want To Hold Your Hand
Source:    CD: Past Masters Volume One (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Capitol
Year:    1963
    Originally released in the UK in November of 1963, I Want To Hold Your Hand was originally slated for a January 1964 release in the US, but when a Washington DC disc jockey started playing an imported copy of the British single in early December Capitol Records decided to move up the release of the song to December 26th. By the middle of January the song was in the US top 50 and on February 1st it took over the #1 spot, staying there for seven weeks and touching off what would come to be known as the British Invasion. Unlike many later Beatles songs that, despite being credited to the songwriting team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney were actually written by one or the other of the pair, I Want To Hold Your Hand was a true collaboration worked out in the basement of the house McCartney was living in. The group performed the song on the Ed Sullivan TV show in mid-January, setting all-time records for viewership. The track (the first by the band to be recorded on four-track equipment and mixed in stereo as well as mono) was included on their first album for Capitol, Meet The Beatles. That album, released on January 20, 1964, actually ended up outselling the single, the first time in US history that had happened. It was not long before other British bands started hitting the US charts and American kids began growing their hair out in imitation of the Beatles, many of them even going so far as to form their own British-influenced garage bands.

Artist:    Dusty Springfield
Title:    I Only Want To Be With You
Source:    Mono LP: History Of British Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Hawker/Raymonde
Label:    Sire (original label: Philips)
Year:    1963
    Released in November of 1963, Dusty Springfield's debut single as a solo artist, I Only Want To Be With You, became the first non-Beatles single of the British Invasion to hit the US charts, making its debut at #77 the last week of January, 1964. It would eventually hit its peak at #12.

Artist:     Dave Clark Five
Title:    Glad All Over
Source:     Mono CD: 5 By Five (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Clark/Smith
Label:    Hollywood (original label: Epic)
Year:     1963
     The Dave Clark Five were originally formed as a way of raising money for Clark's football (soccer) team. Toward the end of 1963 they scored a number one hit in England with Glad All Over, which was released to an enthusiastic US audience a few months later. For a while they even rivaled the Beatles in popularity.

Artist:    Freddie And The Dreamers
Title:    I'm Telling You Now
Source:    Mono LP: I'm Telling You Now (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Garrity/Murray
Label:    Tower
Year:    1963
    Although it was not released in the US until 1965, Freddie And The Dreamers' I'm Telling You Now was a huge UK hit in 1963, going all the way to the #2 spot on the British charts. The wild, almost comical, dancing style of bandleader Freddie Garrity inspired a short-lived dance called The Freddie following the song's US release. Probably the most famous performance of the dance was by Gomez Addams (played by John Astin) in a 1965 episode of the TV show The Addams Family called "Lurch, the Teenage Idol".

Artist:    Gerry And The Pacemakers
Title:    I Like It
Source:    Mono LP: History Of British Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Mitch Murray
Label:    Sire (original UK label: Columbia; original US label: Laurie)
Year:    1963
    Gerry And The Pacemakers were the second band to be managed by Brian Epstein and probably the second most popular band to come from Liverpool, behind the Beatles. They were the first band, however, to hit the #1 spot on the British charts will their first three singles, a record that was not equalled until the 1980s (ironically by another Liverpool band, Frankie Goes To Hollywood). The second of those three songs was a Mitch Murray tune called I Like It. Released in May of 1963, the song made it into the US top 20 in early 1964 but was soon eclipsed by the ballad Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying.

Artist:    Swinging Blue Jeans
Title:    Hippy Hippy Shake
Source:    Mono LP: History Of British Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Chan Romero
Label:    Sire (original UK label: His Master's Voice; original US label: Imperial)
Year:    1963
    Merseybeat is the term applied to bands from Liverpool that were popular from around 1962 to 1965. Perhaps the most typical example of a Merseybeat band was the Swinging Blue Jeans. Formed as a skiffle sextet called the Bluegenes in 1957, the group switched to rock 'n' roll in 1962 after being booed off the stage at Hamburg's Star Club, taking the name Swinging Blue Jeans at the same time. They released their first single for EMI's His Master's Voice label in June of 1963, but had their greatest success with their December 1963 cover of Chan Romero's Hippy Hippy Shake. The song went to the #2 spot on the British charts and was one of the first British Invasion records to hit the Hot 100 in the US, peaking at #24.

Artist:    Nashville Teens
Title:    Tobacco Road
Source:    Mono CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    John D. Loudermilk
Label:    K-Tel (original US label: London)
Year:    1964
    The Nashville Teens were not teens. Nor were they from Nashville. In fact, they were one of the original British Invasion bands. Their version of John D. Loudermilk's Tobacco Road was a huge international hit in the summer of 1964. The lead guitar parts on the recording are the work of studio musician Jimmy Page.

Artist:    Yardbirds
Title:    I'm A Man
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Elias McDaniel
Label:    Epic
Year:    1965
    It's pretty much a given that the Rolling Stones were the most influential band in the world when it came to inspiring American garage bands. The single song that had the most influence on those bands, however, was probably the Yardbirds high-energy cover of Bo Diddley's I'm A Man, which electrified the US charts in 1965. I spell M....A.....N....Yeah!

Artist:     Troggs
Title:     Wild Thing
Source:     Simulated stere LP: History Of British Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Chip Taylor
Label:     Sire (original label: Fontana)
Year:     1966
    I have a DVD copy of a music video (although back then they were called promotional films) for the Troggs' Wild Thing in which the members of the band are walking through what looks like a train station while being mobbed by girls at every turn. Every time I watch it I imagine singer Reg Presley saying "giggity-giggity" as he bobs his head.

Artist:     Status Quo
Title:     Pictures Of Matchstick Men
Source:     Simulated stereo CD: British Beat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Francis Rossi
Label:     K-Tel (original label: Cadet Concept)
Year:     1968
     The band with the most charted singles in the UK is not the Beatles or even the Rolling Stones. It is, in fact, Status Quo, quite possibly the nearest thing to a real life version of Spinal Tap. Except for Pictures of Matchstick Men, the group has never had a hit in the US. On the other hand, they remain popular in Scandanavia, playing to sellout crowds on a regular basis (yes, they are still together).

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Beggar's Farm
Source:    LP: This Was
Writer(s):    Abrahams/Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1968
    Although Jethro Tull would eventually come to be considered almost a backup band for flautist/vocalist/songwriter Ian Anderson, in the early days the group was much more democratically inclined, at least until the departure of guitarist and co-founder Mick Abrahams. In addition to providing a more blues-based orientation for the band, Abrahams shared songwriting duties with Anderson as well, including collaborations such as Beggar's Farm from the band's 1968 debut LP, This Was.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Cirrus Minor
Source:    CD: Relics (originally released on LP: Music From The Film "More")
Writer(s):    Roger Waters
Label:    Capitol (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1969
    In the years between the departure of founding member Syd Barrett and their breakthrough album Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd provided music for several independent films such as Zabriskie Point and one called More. One of the tracks from the latter film, Cirrus Minor, foreshadows how the band would sound during its most successful period during the late 70s and early 80s. The song, written by keyboardist Roger Waters, features lead vocals by Barrett's replacement, guitarist David Gilmour.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Lola
Source:    LP: Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1970
    By 1970 the Kinks were all but forgotten in the US and not doing all that much better in their native UK. Then came Lola. I guess I could stop right there. Or I could mention that the song was based on a true story involving the band's manager. I could even say something about Dave Davies' claim that, although his brother Ray is credited as the sole songwriter of Lola, Dave actually came up with the music and Ray added the lyrics. But you've probably heard it all before. This is Lola, the most famous transvestite song in history, we're talking about, after all.

Artist:    Pink Fairies
Title:    War Girl
Source:    CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Neverneverland)
Writer(s):    Twink aka John Charles Edward Alder
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1971
    The Pink Fairies were formed when three members of the Deviants (Paul Rudolph, Duncan Sanderson, and Russell Hunter), who had fired their own band leader during a disastrous North American tour, decided to hook up with Twink (John Charles Edward Alder), the former drummer of Tomorrow and the Pretty Things. Twink had done a one-shot gig with an ad hoc group of musicians under the name Pink Fairies in 1969, and the new group decided that they liked the name and appropriated it for themselves. The band gained immediate notoriety for putting on free concerts, often just outside the gates of places that were charging premium prices for tickets to see more well-known bands. By the end of 1970 the Fairies had secured a contract with Polydor and releasing their first single late in the year. This was followed by a 1971 album called Neverneverland that featured several tracks written by Twink, such as War Girl. Although the Pink Fairies split up in 1976, they still get together from time to time to put on a show.

Artist:    Them
Title:    Baby, Please Don't Go
Source:    Mono 12" single (reissue)
Writer:    Joe Williams
Label:    A&M
Year:    1964
    Belfast, Northern Ireland was home to one of the first bands that could be legitimately described as punk rock. Led by Van Morrison, the band quickly got a reputation for being rude and obnoxious, particularly to members of the English press (although it was actually a fellow Irishman who first labeled them as "boorish"). Their first single was what has come to be considered the definitive rock and roll version of the 1923 Joe Williams tune Baby, Please Don't Go. Despite its UK success, the single did not chart in the US, although its B side, Gloria, did get some airplay before being banned on most US radio stations due to its suggestive lyrics. Them's recording of Baby, Please Don't Go gained renewed popularity in the 1980s when it was used in the film Good Morning Vietnam and reissued as a 12' promotional single in 1988.  One side of that record is the song "in the clear", while the other (heard on this week's show) includes an introduction by Robin Williams in his film role as US Air Force disc jockey Adrian Cronauer.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Catch The Wind
Source:    Mono CD: Donovan's Greatest Hits (originally released in UK on LP: What's Bin Did And What's Bin Hid and in US on LP: Catch The Wind)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic/Legacy (original US label: Hickory)
Year:    1965
    Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan Leitch released his first single, Catch The Wind, in March of 1965. The record was an instant hit, going to the #4 spot on the British charts and later hitting #23 in the US. He ended up re-recording the song twice; first for his debut LP,  What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid (released in the US as Catch The Wind), and then again in stereo for his 1969 greatest hits album, when Epic Records was unable to secure the rights to either of the original versions. By the late 1990s, however, Epic was able to substitute the first LP version for the later one on the CD issue of Donovan's Greatest Hits (although the liner notes erroneously state that the single version was used). Having heard all three, I would personally pick the original mono LP version heard here as the best of the lot.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    The Trip
Source:    Mono LP: Sunshine Superman
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Sundazed/Epic
Year:    1966
    Donovan had already established a reputation in his native Scotland as the UK's answer to Bob Dylan, but had not had much success in the US, where his records were being released on the poorly distributed Hickory label. That all changed in 1966, however, when he began to move beyond his folk roots and embrace a more electric sound. Unlike Dylan, who basically kept the same style as his acoustic songs, simply adding electic instruments, Donovan took a more holistic approach. The result was a body of music with a much broader range of sounds. The first of these new electric tunes was Sunshine Superman, sometimes cited as the first top 10 psychedelic hit. The B side of Sunshine Superman was a song called The Trip, which managed to be even more psychedelic than its A side. Both songs soon appeared on Donovan's major US label debut, an album that was not even released in the UK due to a contractual dispute between the singer/songwriter and Pye Records.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Hurdy Gurdy Man
Source:    CD: Donovan's Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Hurdy Gurdy Man)
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic/Legacy
Year:    1968
    In early 1968 Donovan Leitch decided to try his hand at producing another band, Hurdy Gurdy, which included his old friend bassist Mac MacLeod. However, creative differences with the band led to Donovan recording the song himself and releasing it as a single in May of that year. The song is done in a harder rock style than most of Donovan's recordings, and features some of London's top studio musicians, including Clem Cattini on drums, Alan Parker on guitar and future Led Zeppelin member John Paul Jones on bass. It has long been rumoured that Jimmy Page and John Bonham also participated on the recording, but their presence is disputed. Donovan reportedly wanted to use Jimi Hendrix on the recording, but the guitarist was unavailable at the time.

Artist:    Blossom Toes
Title:    Look At Me I'm You
Source:    British import CD: We Are Ever So Clean
Writer(s):    Godding/Gomelski
Label:    Sunbeam (original label: Marmalade)
Year:    1968
    Bands often have to work hard to get "discovered". The Blossom Toes had a different, more short-term goal however; they wanted Georgio Gomelski to be their manager. Originally calling themselves the Ingoes (after an obscure Chuck Berry tune), the band formed in 1964 and was willing to play anywhere and anytime for whatever pay they could get. The first time they approached Gomelski, who was already well-known locally as the manager of the Yardbirds, he told them to come back when they had gotten themselves together. They took him at his word and went to Dortmund, Germany, for a three-week long engagement where, in the words of bandleader Brian Godding, "the learning curve became a vertical line". Upon their return they again approached Gomelski and were again rejected, but this time tasked his right-hand man Hamish Grimes with finding the group some "educational" gigs around London. Gomelski finally took on the band as clients, but soon sent them to Paris, where they were billed as "Los Ingoes from the world-famous Marquee Club". Eventually the band changed its name to the Blossom Toes and got the opportunity to record their debut LP for Gomelski's own Marmalade label. The resulting album, We Are Ever So Clean has been called an example of "quintessentially British Psychedelia". Britain's Melody Maker magazine referred to it as "Giorgio Gomelsky's Lonely Hearts Club Band", and indeed, Gomelski co-wrote the album's opening track, Look At Me I'm You, with Godding. Blossom Toes went on to record a second, harder rocking album for Marmalade before disbanding in 1970 due to lack of commercial success.

Artist:    Bonzo Dog Band
Title:    I'm The Urban Spaceman
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Neil Innes
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1968
    The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (as they were originally called) was as much theatre (note the British spelling) as music, and were known for such antics as starting out their performances by doing calisthentics (after being introduced as the warm-up band) and having one of the members, "Legs" Larry Smith tapdance on stage (he was actually quite good). In 1967 they became the resident band on Do Not Adjust Your Set, a children's TV show that also featured sketch comedy by future Monty Python members Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin along with David Jason, the future voice of Mr. Toad and Danger Mouse. Late in the year they appeared in the Beatles' telefilm Magical Mystery Tour, performing a song called Deathcab For Cutie. In 1968 the Bonzos released their only hit single, I'm The Urban Spaceman, co-produced by Paul McCartney. Frontman Neil Innes would go on to hook up with Eric Idle for the Rutles project, among other things, and is often referred to as the Seventh Python.

Artist:    Small Faces
Title:    Itchycoo Park
Source:    LP: History Of British Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Marriott/Lane
Label:    Sire (original label: Immediate)
Year:    1967
    Led by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, the Small Faces got their name from the fact that all the members of the band were somewhat vertically challenged. The group was quite popular with the London mod crowd, and was sometimes referred to as the East End's answer to the Who. Although quite successful in the UK, the group only managed to score one hit in the US, the iconic Itchycoo Park, which was released in late 1967. Following the departure of Marriott the group shortened their name to Faces, and recruited a new lead vocalist named Rod Stewart. Needless to say, the new version of the band did much better in the US than their previous incarnation.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Wring That Neck (aka Hard Road)
Source:    LP: Purple Passages (originally released on LP: The Book Of Taleisyn)
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Lord/Simper/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Tetragrammaton)
Year:    1968
    Wring That Neck is an instrumental piece by Deep Purple first recorded for their second LP, The Book Of Taleisyn. The piece served as the band's opening number for live performances, particularly when touring the US in 1968 and 1969. The title refers to the playing styles of guitarist Richie Blackmore and bassist Nicky Simper, who would "wring the neck" of their instruments to "squeeze out" the notes, according to Simper. The band's American label, Tetragrammaton, felt that the title was too violent, however, and had it changed to Hard Road for the album's US release. One of the stops on the band's American tour was San Francisco, home of a band called It's A Beautiful Day. Don And Dewey, the opening track of It's A Beautiful Day's second LP, Marrying Maiden (released in 1970), uses an almost identical signature riff to that of Hard Road. Perhaps not coincidentally, Child In Time, the best-known track on Deep Purple's 1970 LP Deep Purple In Rock, is built around a riff nearly identical to that of Bombay Calling, a popular concert piece from It's A Beautiful Day's 1969 debut album.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    It's My Life
Source:    Mono CD: Retrospective (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:    Animals
Title:    Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Source:    Mono LP: The Best Of The Animals (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Benjamin/Marcus/Caldwell
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:    Animals
Title:    We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (US version)
Source:    Mono CD: Retrospective (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Mann/Weil
Label:    Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1965
    In 1965 producer Mickey Most put out a call to Don Kirschner's Brill building songwriters for material that could be recorded by the Animals. He ended up selecting three songs, all of which are among the Animals' most popular singles. Possibly the most familiar of the three is a song written by the husband and wife team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil called We Gotta Get Out Of This Place. The song (the first Animals recording to featuring Dave Rowberry, who had replaced founder Alan Price on organ) starts off with what is probably Chas Chandler's best known bass line, slowly adding drums, vocals, guitar and finally keyboards on its way to an explosive chorus. The song was not originally intended for the Animals, however; it was written for the Righteous Brothers as a follow up to (You've Got That) Lovin' Feelin', which Mann and Weil had also provided for the duo. Mann, however, decided to record the song himself, but the Animals managed to get their version out first, taking it to the top 20 in the US and the top 5 in the UK. As the Vietnam war escalated, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place became a sort of underground anthem for US servicemen stationed in South Vietnam, and has been associated with that war ever since. Incidentally, there were actually two versions of We Gotta Get Out Of This Place recorded during the same recording session, with an alternate take accidentally being sent to M-G-M and subsequently being released as the US version of the single. This version (which some collectors and fans maintain has a stronger vocal track) appeared on the US-only LP Animal Tracks in the fall of 1965 as well as the original M-G-M pressings of the 1966 album Best Of The Animals. The original UK version, on the other hand, did not appear on any albums, as was common for British singles in the 1960s. By the 1980s record mogul Allen Klein had control of the original Animals' entire catalog, and decreed that all CD reissues of the song would use the original British version of the song, including the updated (and expanded) CD version of The Best Of The Animals. Abkco decided to use the US version, however, on the 2004 Retrospective CD, which for the first time combines tracks from both the original Animals and later lineups that went by the name Eric Burdon And The Animals.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Paper Sun
Source:    Mono CD: Mr. Fantasy (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi
Label:    Island (original US label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
    One of the first British acid-rock bands was a group called Deep Feeling, which included drummer Jim Capaldi and woodwind player Chris Wood. At the same time Deep Feeling was experimenting with psychedelia, another, more commercially oriented band, the Spencer Davis Group, was tearing up the British top 40 charts with hits like Keep On Running, Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man. The undisputed star of the Spencer Davis Group was a teenaged guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist named Steve Winwood, who was also beginning to make his mark as a songwriter. Along with guitarist/vocalist Dave Mason, who had worked with Capaldi in earlier bands, they formed Traffic in the spring of 1967, releasing their first single, Paper Sun, in May of that year. Capaldi and Winwood had actually written the tune while Winwood was still in the Spencer Davis Group, and the song was an immediate hit in the UK. This was followed quickly by an album, Mr. Fantasy, that, as was the common practice at the time in the UK, did not include Paper Sun. When the album was picked up by United Artists Records for US release in early 1968, however, Paper Sun was included as the LP's opening track. The US version of the album was originally titled Heaven Is In Your Mind, but was quickly retitled Mr. Fantasy to match the original British title (although the alterations in track listing remained).

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    I'm A Man
Source:    Mono LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Miller
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1967
    The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve and Muff Winwood, was one of the UK's most successful white R&B bands of the sixties, cranking out a steady stream of hit singles. Two of them, the iconic Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man, were also major hits in the US, the latter being the last song to feature the Winwood brothers. Muff Winwood became a successful record producer, while his brother Steve went on to form the band Traffic. Then Blind Faith. Then Traffic again. And then a successful solo career. Meanwhile, the Spencer Davis Group continued on for several years with a series of replacement vocalists, but were never able to duplicate their earlier successes with the Winwoods.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Tell Me
Source:    Singles Collection-The London Years
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco
Year:    1964
    The first song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to be recorded by the Rolling Stones, Tell Me was only available as an LP cut in the UK. In the US it became a hit single, establishing the Stones as serious competition to the Beatles themselves. Jagger and Richards would continue to write songs together, eventually outlasting the John Lennon/Paul McCartney team by several decades (and still counting).

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Ruby Tuesday
Source:    Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and on LP: Between The Buttons)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    One of the most durable songs in the Rolling Stones catalog, Ruby Tuesday was originally intended to be the B side of their 1967 single Let's Spend The Night Together. Many stations, however, balked at the subject matter of the A side and began playing Ruby Tuesday instead.

Artist:    Rolling Stones (also released as Bill Wyman)
Title:    In Another Land
Source:    CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer(s):    Bill Wyman
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    In Another Land was the first Rolling Stones song written and sung by bassist Bill Wyman, and was even released in the US as a Wyman single. The song originally appeared on the Stones' most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, in late 1967.


Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2252 (starts 12/26/22)

    It was fifty years ago this week that 1972 was coming to a close, and this week on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion we present a sample of what various FM rock radio stations around the country were playing. Unlike today, where virtually every commercial radio station in the country adheres to a nationally determined playlist, FM rock stations in 1972 were still figuring out what worked and what didn't in their particular markets. A song that received multiple requests in Cleveland might go virtually ignored in Sacramento, and vice versa. This week Rockin' in the Days of Confusion presents a sampling of tracks heard on various stations from coast to coast. Some songs, such as our opening track from Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show (as they were then known), were national hits, while others, such as Lou Reed's Wild Child, were more regional in their appeal. We even have a couple of unreleased tracks tossed in, along with several album tracks and B sides.

Artist:    Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show
Title:    The Cover Of  "Rolling Stone"
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Shel Silverstein
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1972
    Much of the success of Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show can be attributed to one man: Shel Silverstein. In addition to writing nearly every well-known Dr. Hook song, including The Cover Of "Rolling Stone", Silverstein was an accomplished cartoonist, having been published regularly in Playboy since the late 1950s, and prose writer whose works included the children's book The Giving Tree. He also wrote songs for such varied artists as Johnny Cash (A Boy Named Sue), Tompall Glazer (Put Another Log On The Fire) and the Irish Rovers (The Unicorn).

Artist:     Bob Weir
Title:     Mexicali Blues
Source:     CD: Skeletons From the Closet (originally released on LP: Ace)
Writer:     Weir/Barlow
Label:     Warner Brothers
Year:     1972
     In 1972 Warner Brothers gave all the members of the Grateful Dead an opportunity to record solo albums. Three of them, Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart and Bob Weir, took the label up on their offer. Unlike Garcia, who played many of the instruments on his album himself, Weir chose to use the other members of the Dead (with the sole exception of Ron "Pigpen" McKernan) on his LP, entitled Ace.

Artist:    Bert Jansch
Title:    The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Source:    LP: Appetizers (originally released on LP: Moonshine)
Writer(s):    Ewan MacColl
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1972
    British folk singer and political activist Ewan MacColl wrote The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face for his then-girlfriend (and later wife) Peggy Seeger in 1957, after she asked him to come up with a song for a play she was in at the time. She later said that MacColl, whose own repertoire reflected his political leanings, had taken the challenge to go outside his comfort zone and write a love song for her. The ahem, first time the song was recorded was when Bonnie Dobson included it on her 1961 debut LP. The Kingstone Trio recorded the first mainstream version of the tune in 1962, with several other folk artists following suit. MacColl himself hated all the various cover versions of the song, and even had a special section in his record collection for them called the "chamber of horrors". He described Elvis Presley's version as being like Romeo singing at the bottom of the Post Office Tower (from 1964 to 1980 the tallest building in London) to Juliet at the top, nearly 600 feet away. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face became an international hit in 1971, when Clint Eastwood used Roberta Flack's slowed down 1969 version of the song in his film Play Misty For Me. The following year renowed British folk artist Bert Jansch included it on his Moonshine album. A Celine Dion version of the song made the British and Scottish top 20 in 2000, with later versions by Leona Lewis and Matt Cardle also showing up on the British charts as recently as 2012.

Artist:    Mark Fry
Title:    The Witch
Source:    British Import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in Italy on LP: Dreaming With Alice)
Writer(s):    Mark Fry
Label:    Grapefruit (original label: IT)
Year:    1972
    One of the most obscure albums ever released, Dreaming With Alice is sometimes considered the ultimate example of acid folk. Recorded in 1971 by teenaged British art student Mark Fry and released only in Italy on RCA's IT subsidiary, the album includes a track called The Witch, which is described in the book Galactic Ramble as "one of the creepiest songs you'll ever hear". Personally I don't really find anything creepy about it at all, although the track itself is quite hypnotic and highly listenable.
Artist:    Eagles
Title:    Witchy Woman
Source:    LP: Their Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Eagles)
Writer(s):    Henley/Leadon
Label:    Asylum
Year:    1972
    The Eagles made their debut in 1972 with an album that included three charting singles. The second of those singles, Witchy Woman, was the first Eagles song to hit the top 10, peaking at #9. Witchy Woman was originally conceived by guitarist Bernie Leadon in 1971 while he was still a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers, and fleshed out with the help of drummer Don Henley, who provided the lead vocals on the Eagles' recording of the tune.

Artist:    Lou Reed
Title:    Wild Child
Source:    European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Lou Reed)
Writer(s):    Lou Reed
Label:    Sony Music (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1972
    Lou Reed's first album after leaving the Velvet Underground was made up mostly of new recordings of songs the VU had already recorded but not released, using British session musicians and members of other bands such as Yes. Familiar names on songs such as Wild Child include Steve Howe and Caleb Quaye on guitars and Rick Wakeman on piano.

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    Only A Fool Would Say That
Source:    LP: Can't Buy A Thrill
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagan
Label:    ABC
Year:    1972
    Steely Dan's first album, Can't Buy A Thrill, is best known for its two hit singles, Do It Again and Reeling In The Years. The LP, however, has plenty more good tracks, including Only A Fool Would Say That, which also appeared as a B side.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Did You See His Name?
Source:    CD: The Kink Kronikles
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1972
    When the Kinks suddenly switched their US distribution to RCA, the people at Reprise responded by compiling a two LP set called Kinks Kronikles that spanned the years 1966-1971 and included several tracks that had only been released in the UK. There was even one previously unreleased track: a Ray Davies composition called Did You See His Name, recorded around the same time as 1968 LP The Village Green Preservation Society.

Artist:    Kevin Coyne
Title:    Evil Island Home
Source:    British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released on LP: Case History)
Writer(s):    Kevin Coyne
Label:    Grapefruit (original label: Dandelion)
Year:    1972
    Sometimes known as the "anti-star", Kevin Coyne had one of the most distinctive, yet somehow disturbing, voices on the British blues scene. He was also known for his advocacy for rights of the mentally ill, whom he had dealt with as a social therapist and psychiatric nurse from 1965-68 and later as a drug counselor. His first album, Case History, reflects that background, as can be heard on the track Evil Island Home. One of the last LPs released on John Peel's Dandelion label, the album soon disappeared off the racks when the label went out of business. Coyne went on to have a prolific career, releasing around three dozen more albums before his death in 2004.

Artist:    Richie Havens
Title:    Handsome Johnny
Source:    B side of 45 RPM bonus record included with LP: Richie Havens On Stage
Writer:    Gossett/Gossett/Havens
Label:    Stormy Forest
Year:    1969
    When it became obvious that the amplifiers needed by the various rock bands that were scheduled to perform on the opening Friday afternoon at Woodstock would not be ready in time, singer/songwriter Richie Havens came to the rescue, performing for several hours as the new opening act. One of the highlights of Havens' performance was Handsome Johnny, a song that he had co-written with Lou Gossett and Lou Gossett, Jr. and released on his debut album. A new live recording of the song (along with Freedom, another Woodstock highlight) was included as a bonus single with the 1972 LP Richie Havens On Stage.

Artist:    National Lampoon
Title:    Deteriorata
Source:    CD: Greatest Hits Of The National Lampoon (originally released on LP: Radio Dinner)
Writer(s):    Hendra/Guest
Label:    Uproar (original label: Blue Thumb)
Year:    1972
    National Lampoon was a product of its time. Originally a magazine, NatLamp (as it was often referred to) grew to include a weekly radio show, a series of albums, and eventually, a series of movies. Some of the best bits from the radio show were assembled in 1972 on an album called National Lampoon's Radio Dinner. The opening track of this album was a piece written by Tony Hendra (with music by Christopher Guest) that parodied a 1971 spoken word recording by Les Crane of an early 20th century poem by Max Ehrmann called Desirata. The Lampoon piece, Deteriorata, was narrated by Norman Rose, with Melissa Manchester singing.

Artist:    Elton John
Title:    Slave (alternate version)
Source:    CD: Rare Masters
Writer(s):    John/Taupin
Label:    MCA
Year:    Recorded 1972, released 1992
    As originally conceived, Slave was a high-energy piece earmarked to be the B side of Elton John's single version of Hercules. The plans for the single got cancelled, however, and Slave was destined for the reject pile until someone came up with the idea of recording a slower version of the song. That version ended up being included on the 1972 LP Honky Chateau, while the original version (which everyone considered too fast) sat on the shelf for 20 years until being included on Elton John's Rare Masters collection.

Artist:    David Bowie
Title:    Suffragette City
Source:    CD: The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    Ryko (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1972
    Arguably the most popular song from David Bowie's 1972 breakthrough album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, Suffragette City was originally released as the B side of Starman a month and a half ahead of the album itself. Suffragette City had originally been offered to Mott The Hoople, who decided to instead record All The Young Dudes. Showing the influences of such diverse sources as Little Richard and the Velvet Underground, as well as the novel A Clockwork Orange, Suffragette City was one of the last songs recorded for the album by Bowie's band, the Spiders From Mars, which included Mick Ronson on electric guitar, piano, synthesizer and backing vocals, Trevor Bolder on bass and Mick Woodmansey on drums. Bowie himself, in addition to providing lead vocals on Suffragette City, also played an acoustic 12-string guitar on the track.

Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Warrior
Source:    British import CD: The Collection (originally released on LP: Argus)
Writer(s):    Upton/Turner/Turner/Powell
Label:    MCA/Decca
Year:    1972
    One of the first bands ever to feature two lead guitarists was Wishbone Ash. The story goes that following the departure of their original guitar player, bassist Martin Turner and drummer Steve Upton auditioned several lead guitarists and got it down to two finalists, Andy Powell and Ted Turner (no relation to either Martin Turner or Jane Fonda), but could not decide between the two. At that point they decided just to keep both of them, and a heavy metal tradition was born. Whether the story is true or not, the two definitely traded off leads for the next three years and five albums, including their third and most successful LP, Argus. One of the album's best-known songs, Warrior, is built around classical Greek literary themes and features shared lead vocals from Andy Powell and Martin Turner, as well as simultaneous lead guitar tracks from Powell and the other Turner.


Sunday, December 18, 2022

Having a Cool Yule with a hermit (#2251, starts 12/19/22)

    Just about every weekly radio show does a Christmas special this time of year, and for several years now Stuck In the Psychedelic Era has been no exception. There is a problem, though, and that is the unavoidable fact that for the most part the artists featured on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era never had the opportunity (or inclination, for that matter) to record Christmas songs. There are exceptions, of course, and this week you'll hear some of those by Jethro Tull, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, and others. But, unless I wanted to spend over half the show on Beach Boys Christmas songs (and there are nearly enough of those for an entire show), I knew I would have to take an entirely different approach to selecting the songs. After a couple of years of experimenting around with various approaches I finally decided to just pick out the coolest holiday tracks I could find, regardless of genre or year they were recorded, and have been doing it that way ever since. The addition of our second show, Rockin' in the Days of Confusion, gave me the opportunity to dig even deeper into the Yule (cata)log, adding artists like Bob Seger (with his mid-60s band The Heard), Ike And Tina Turner, The Royal Guardsmen and even Soupy Sales. So get ready to kick back and have a Cool Yule!

Artist:      John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Title:     Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Source:      CD: Now That's What I Call Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/Ono
Label:     Zomba (original label: Apple)
Year:     1971
     Originally intended as an anti-Vietnam War song, John and Yoko's Happy Xmas (War Is Over) has long since acquired classic status and is now one of the most familiar songs of the season. It was first released in the US in December of 1971, but due to a problem with the publisher did not appear in the rest of the world until November of 1972.

Artist:      Beatles
Title:     Christmas Time (Is Here Again)
Source:      CD single: Free As a Bird
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey)
Label:    Apple/Capitol
Year:     Recorded 1966 and 1967, released 19671997
     Every year the Beatles would record a special Christmas message to go out to members of their fan club, and mail it out on what was then known as a floppy disc. This was not the same as a computer floppy disc, however. In fact, the medium the Beatles used eventually came to be known as a flexi-disc, just to keep things from getting any more confusing. Regardless of what you called it, the things tended to wear out after just a few plays and I doubt there are many playable copies of these discs left in the universe. Luckily for us, George Martin had the foresight to hang on to everything the Beatles ever recorded, including this tune, which was chopped up and used for the 1967 Christmas Greeting. When the Beatles Anthology was released in 1997, the piece was included on the Free As a Bird CD single, and we got to hear the song in its uninterrupted entirety for the first time. Included at the end are Christmas greetings from the 1966 fan club disc and a bit of poetry read by John Lennon.

Artist:      Simon And Garfunkel
Title:     Silent Night/7 O'Clock News
Source:      CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Writer(s):    Gruber/Muhr, arr. Paul Simon   
Label:     Columbia       
Year:     1966
     Simon and Garfunkel's Silent Night/7 O'Clock News is unique for several reasons. The most obvious is that it uses two unrelated recordings to make an ironically chilling point. The first is a rendition of Franz Gruber's Silent Night, with vocals in the center channel and piano only coming from one speaker. As the song progresses a newscast in the other channel slowly gets louder. Eventually the song ends and there is only the news. What's also unusual is that this well-known Christmas carol is not featured on a Christmas album at all; instead it appears as the final track of the duo's 1966 LP Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme.

Artist:      Simon And Garfunkel
Title:     A Hazy Shade of Winter
Source:      CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Writer:    Paul Simon
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1966
     I wish I could take credit for putting Simon And Garfunkel's Silent Night/7 O'Clock News and A Hazy Shade of Winter back to back. The truth is I don't know who came up with the idea; my best guess is someone from Westwood One radio, as I first heard it done on one of their syndicated programs. Still, it's not a bad idea, and I happened to have a copy of the Westwood One version of the paired tracks, so there it is.

Artist:      Chuck Berry
Title:     Merry Christmas, Baby
Source:      Mono CD: The Chess Box (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer:    Baxter/Moore
Label:     Chess/MCA
Year:     1958
     Chuck Berry did not record too many cover tunes, as he was a prolific songwriter himself. However, for his 1958 Christmas single he cut this tasty version of Charles Brown's "other" Christmas song, Merry Christmas, Baby, originally recorded by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers (with Brown on lead vocal). The B side of Berry's single, Run Rudolph Run, was also a cover song, although the tune has come to be almost exclusively associated with Berry himself.

Artist:    Ike And Tina Turner
Title:    Merry Christmas Baby
Source:    CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Baxter/Moore
Label:    Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1964
    Ike Turner was a talent scout for Chess Records that formed a band called the Kings Of Rhythm in the early 50s, immediately scoring a #1 R&B hit backing Jackie Brenston on a song called Rocket 88. By 1964 he had married Anna Mae Bullock, who changed her name to Tina Turner and began receiving co-billing on Ike's records, such as the 1964 B side, Merry Christmas Baby. Although lyrically the same as the Charles Brown song of the same name, the track is musically worlds away from Brown's slow blues number.

Artist:      Solomon Burke
Title:     Presents For Christmas
Source:      CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Burke/Burke/Burke
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
Year:     1966
     Solomon Burke was a staple artist for the Atlantic label at a time when Atlantic itself was being overshadowed by the Stax/Volt labels that it distributed. Nonetheless, Burke had several R&B hits throughout the sixties and was highly respected by his fellow artists. Presents For Christmas captures Burke at his peak in 1966.

Artist:      Jimmy McCracklin
Title:     Christmas Time
Source:      Mono CD: Blue Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Jimmy McCracklin
Label:    Rhino (original label: Art-Tone)
Year:     1961
     Jimmy McCracklin recorded one of the catchiest, yet underplayed, tunes of the 50s when he did The Walk. Christmas Time, from a few years later, actually sounds like beach music. Go figure.

Artist:      James Brown
Title:     Santa Claus, Santa Claus
Source:      CD: Cool Yule (originally released on LP: Soulful Christmas)
Writer(s):    Bobbitt/Jones
Label:     Rhino (original label: King)
Year:     1968
     Few people would ever accuse James Brown of being a blues artist, but this recording of Santa Claus, Santa Claus (sometimes called just Santa Claus) from 1968 shows what it would have sounded like if he was.
Artist:      Ed "Cookie" Byrnes
Title:     Yulesville
Source:      CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Galanoy/Olafson/Barker
Label:    Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:     1959
     The ABC TV network was a perennial also-ran that was just starting to find a winning formula in the late 50s with shows targeted toward a younger audience. The most popular of these was 77 Sunset Strip, starring Ed "Cookie" Byrnes. He and co-star Connie Stevens, staying in character, cut a hit novelty record called Cookie, Cookie, which played on Cookie's propensity for combing his hair. Byrnes, again in character, followed it up with this hip retelling of the classic poem Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Artist:    Elvis Presley
Title:    Santa Claus Is Back In Town
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Lieber/Stoller
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1957
    Santa Claus Is Back In Town is the opening track on the 1957 LP Elvis' Christmas Album.  The song, written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, was also released that year in the UK as a single, going to the #7 spot on the charts. In the US, however, it remained available only as an album track until 1965, when it was released as a single, going to the #4 spot on the Billboard chart. For the B side, RCA reissued Blue Christmas, which had gone into the top 10 the previous year. The Blue Christmas/Santa Claus Is Back In Town single was certified platinum in 1999.

Artist:    Martels
Title:    Rockin' Santa Claus
Source:    Mono CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Mason/Robinson
Label:    Rhino (original label: Bella)
Year:    1959
    Rock history is littered with one-hit wonders, many of whom only got to release one single. The Martels, however, released only half a single, as the other side of the record was by another artist altogether. They cut Rockin' Santa Claus for the tiny Bella label in San Jose, California in 1959, and were never heard from since.

Artist:      Ray Stevens
Title:     Santa Claus Is Watching You
Source:      45 RPM single
Writer:    Ray Stevens
Label:     Mercury
Year:     1962
     I've mentioned something called the Grab Bag before. Basically, it was a sealed paper bag (sometimes with a clear plastic front) containing four 45 RPM records, generally "cut-outs" that were no longer in print. The one my family bought for Christmas of 1964 had a Sing Along With Mitch Christmas EP in the front. By far the oddest record in the bag was Santa Claus Is Watching You by Ray Stevens, although I seem to remember that version being slightly different than the one heard here. One thing that both versions had in common was the presence of Clyde the Camel from Stevens's first hit, Ahab the Arab.

Artist:      Sonics
Title:     Santa Claus
Source:      Mono CD: Cool Yule (originally released on LP: Merry Christmas)
Writer:    Greg Roslie
Label:     Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
Year:     1965
     The Pacific Northwest was home to several bands that can only be described as proto-punk (think Louie Louie). One of the top bands on the scene up there was the Sonics, who recorded raw hard-driving songs with titles like Psycho, the Witch and Strychnine. Santa Claus is very much in the same vein, making it the punkiest Christmas song of the sixties, if not all time.

Artist:    Bob Seger And The Last Heard
Title:    Sock It To Me Santa
Source:    Mono: Christmas A Go-Go (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Seger/Honaker/Lagassa
Label:    Wicked Cool (original label: Cameo)
Year:    1966
    Years before he was singing that old time rock 'n' roll on his way to Katnandu, Bob Seger led a band called the Last Heard. The band was formed when Seger decided to leave his former band, the Omens, to record a song called East Side Story. The song, released on the local Hideout label, was Seger's first hit, selling about 50,000 copies, mostly in the Detroit area. This led to a deal with Cameo-Parkway Records. The first single released by the band on Cameo was a Christmas tune called Sock It To Me Santa that predates fellow Detroiter Mitch Ryder's Sock It To Me-Baby by a few weeks. Seger, of course, would eventually sign with Capitol Records, changing the name of the band to the Bob Seger System, and later, the Silver Bullet Band.

Artist:      Beach Boys
Title:     Little Saint Nick (stereo single version)
Source:      CD: Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Wilson/Love
Label:    Capitol
Year:     1963
     When the Beach Boys first recorded Little Saint Nick they were the hottest surf music band in the country. A year later Beatlemania had set in, and a new version of Little Saint Nick was recorded for the Beach Boys Christmas Album. The new version put a greater emphasis on the vocals, and much of the original instrumentation was deleted from the arrangement. That is the version that usually gets heard on commercial radio every year. In the mid-70s, Carl Wilson, who by then had stepped into the leader's role formerly held by older brother Brian, pulled out the original 1963 tapes and created a new stereo mix of the song. The instruments have greater prominence in this version and include the distinctive sound of sleighbells that were completely exorcised from the 1964 version.

Artist:    Soupy Sales
Title:    Santa Claus Is Surfin' To Town
Source:    Mono CD: Christmas A Go-Go (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Gillespie/Coots
Label:    Wicked Cool/Reprise
Year:    1963
    Best known as the host of a popular kids' show on TV, Soupy Sales cut this bit of weirdness for the Reprise label in 1963. Need I say more?

Artist:      Eartha Kitt
Title:     Santa Baby
Source:      Mono CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1935-1954 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Javits/Springer/Springer
Label:     Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:     1953
     Eartha Kitt has one of the most unique voices in the history of jazz, and put it to good use on the original 1953 version of Santa Baby, a tune that has unfortunately in recent years become associated with Madonna. Kitt continued to perform with nearly as much energy as she had in the 50s right up to her death on Christmas Day, 2008.

Artist:      Rufus Thomas
Title:     I'll Be Your Santa Baby
Source:      Mono CD: Christmas A Go-Go (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Thomas/Roberts
Label:     Wicked Cool (original label: Stax)
Year:     1973
     Rufus Thomas had a long and storied career going back to the 1950s, first with Bear Cat, an answer song to Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller's Hound Dog, and later with his own series of "dog" hits (Walking the Dog being the most famous). By the mid-1960s he was an important member of the Stax/Volt stable of artists, where his daughter Carla was making a name for herself with hits like B-A-B-Y and (with Otis Redding) Tramp. After Stax severed its distribution deal with Atlantic Records Rufus Thomas stayed with the now fully independent Stax, releasing I'll Be Your Santa Baby in 1973.

Artist:      Clarence Carter
Title:     Back Door Santa
Source:      CD: Christmas A Go-Go (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Carter/Daniel
Label:     Wicked Cool (original label: Atlantic)
Year:     1969
     Clarence Carter is an icon of the beach music (for you non-Carolinians, beach music has nothing to do with surf music) crowd. For everyone else, he is a moderately successful soul artist known mostly for his mid-70s hit Slip Away. Regardless of where you might know him from, his Back Door Santa will surprise you with its down and funky energy.

Artist:    Ramsey Lewis Trio
Title:    Winter Wonderland
Source:    45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Writer(s):    Bernard/Smith
Label:    Cadet (original label: Argo)
Year:    1960
    The Ramsey Lewis Trio released their first LP, Ramsey Lewis and the Gentlemen of Swing, in 1956. They remained primarily a jazz band over their first ten years of existence, releasing several singles on the Argo label, a Chess subsidiary. As well as original material, the group recorded their own distinctive versions of standards such as the holiday-oriented Winter Wonderland, which appeared as a B side in 1960.

Artist:      Bobby "Boris" Pickett
Title:     Monster's Holiday
Source:      45 RPM single
Writer:    Bobby Pickett
Label:     Garpax
Year:     1962
     Bobby Picket scored big with his Halloween hit Monster Mash in 1962, and quickly followed it up with this sequel set around the Christmas holidays. Legendary producer Gary Paxton was responsible for both recordings making it onto vinyl and on the air.

Artist:      Spike Jones and His City Slickers
Title:     All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)
Source:      Mono CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1935-1954 (originally released as 78 RPM single)
Writer:    Don Gardner
Label:    Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:     1948
     Spike Jones and His City Slickers were a highly talented bunch who made music out of sound effects, toy instruments, and whatever else it occurred to them to use. Their forte was the novelty record, and no one did it better.  All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) was written by Middleton, NY schoolteacher Donald Yetter Gardner, who was inspired to write the song when he asked his second grade class what they wanted for Christmas and was struck by how many of them were lisping due to missing front teeth.

Artist:      Chipmunks
Title:     The Chipmunk Song
Source:      CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1955-Present (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Ross Bagdasarian
Label:    Rhino (original label: Liberty)
Year:     1958
     In 1958 pop-jazz composer/bandleader Ross Bagdasarian decided to play around with a variable-speed tape recorder and came up with the novelty hit Witch Doctor. He followed it up by using multiple tape machines to create a trio of sped up voices that he called the Chipmunks, and released this smash hit in time for the Christmas season. The success of The Chipmunk Song led to a Saturday morning cartoon series and a series of albums for the Liberty label. His son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. has revived the concept in recent years, although not with the same level of success. Bagdasarian himself, incidentally, had a small part as a lonely pianist in the Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window.

Artist:    Royal Guardsmen
Title:    Snoopy's Christmas
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Hugo & Luigi/Weiss
Label:    Laurie
Year:    1967
    Like many American bands, the Ocala, Florida based Posmen decided to change their name to something more Anglo sounding in the wake of the British invasion of 1964. As the Royal Guardsmen they had their first regional hit in 1966 with a song called Baby Let's Wait. It was their next release, however, that established the direction the group's career would take from that point on. Snoopy vs. the Red Baron was a huge national hit, going all the way to the #2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1966. Several more Snoopy themed songs followed, including Snoopy's Christmas, released in 1967. The most recent of these is Snoopy vs. Osama, which came out in 2006.

Artist:    Dodie Stevens
Title:    Merry, Merry Christmas Baby
Source:    Mono CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Sylvia/Lopez
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dot)
Year:    1960
    Dodie Stevens only had one hit record, the semi-novelty Pink Shoelaces, which came out in 1959. That didn't stop her from trying her luck with a contemporary holiday tune called Merry, Merry Christmas Baby the following year. The song, based on the Tune Weavers' Happy, Happy Birthday Baby, came out on the Dot label, which was no stranger to cover songs, having established itself by releasing sanitized Pat Boone remakes of songs originally recorded by Little Richard and other early rock 'n' roll artists.

Artist:    Otis Redding
Title:    Merry Christmas Baby
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Baxter/Moore
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    Merry Christmas Baby was originally released by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, which featured Charles Brown on guitar and vocals, in 1947. Several different versions of the song have been recorded over the years by such diverse artists as Chuck Berry, Ike & Tina Turner, Hansen, Christina Aguilara, Bruce Springsteen and Brown himself. Otis Redding's version of the song was released in 1968, almost a year after the plane crash that killed the singer and most of his band.

Artist:      Charles Brown
Title:     Please Come Home For Christmas
Source:      CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1955-Present (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Brown/Redd
Label:    Rhino (original label: King)
Year:     1960
     By now just about everyone is familiar with the Eagles version of Please Come Home For Christmas. Not everyone, however, knows the song was written by blues great Charles Brown. Even fewer have actually heard Brown's 1960 original, which is a shame, as it blows the Eagles version clean out of the water.

Artist:      Johnny Preston
Title:     (I Want a) Rock and Roll Guitar
Source:      CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer:    J.P. Richardson
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mercury)
Year:     1960
     Johnny Preston recorded his signature song in 1960, the classic Running Bear, penned by J.P. Richardson, the Big Bopper. The pair teamed up again to create a brand new Christmas song, (I Want a) Rock and Roll Guitar, later the same year. Interesting enough, by the middle of the decade a guitar was exactly what many kids were indeed asking for. I should know; I got my first guitar (and amp) as a Christmas present after badgering my parents mercilessly for months. I think between the two they might have run about $100, which made it the most expensive Christmas I ever had.

Artist:      Ventures
Title:     Sleigh Ride
Source:     LP: The Ventures Christmas Album
Writer:    Leroy Anderson
Label:    Dolton
Year:     1965  
        The Ventures are by far the most successful instrumental rock group in history, with over 100 albums released over several decades. One of the most successful of these was their 1965 Christmas album, which featured this surfinated version of Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride, a piece usually associated with the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Artist:    Brenda Lee
Title:    Papa Noel
Source:    CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Ray Botkin
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1958
    Just about everyone is familiar with Brenda Lee's 1958 hit Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree. Not as well known is the flip side of that single, a song called Papa Noel. Lee, known as "Little Miss Dynamite" was first discovered by country legend Red Foley when still in her teens.

Artist:    Crystals
Title:    Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Source:    Mono CD: A Christmas Gift For You
Writer(s):    Coots/Gillespie
Label:    Phil Spector Records (original label: Philles)
Year:    1963
    In 1963 Phil Spector was riding high as one of the most successful record producers on the East coast. His "wall of sound" was heard on top 40 radio stations coast to coast on recordings by groups like the Crystals, who hit it big with And Then He Kissed Me and Da Doo Ron Ron that same year. Late in the year Spector issued an album called A Christmas Gift For You, which featured all the groups on his Philles label. The Crystals had three songs on the album, including an arrangement of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town that was later used by Bruce Springsteen.

Artist:    Ronettes
Title:    Frosty The Snowman
Source:    Mono CD: A Christmas Gift For You
Writer(s):    Nelson/Rollins
Label:    Phil Spector Records (original label: Philles)
Year:    1963
    1963 was probably the peak year for the Ronettes, with two of their biggest hits, Baby I Love You and Be My Baby, being released that year. To cap it all off they contirbuted a trio of tunes to Phil Spector's classic holiday LP, the first of which was their unique take on Frosty The Snowman.   

Artist:    Darlene Love
Title:    Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Source:    Mono CD: A Christmas Gift For You (also released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Spector/Greenwich/Barry
Label:    Phil Spector Records (original label: Philles)
Year:    1963
    Only one song from Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift For You was ever released as a single: Darlene Love's solo track, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Surprisingly, it was not a major hit and to this day is one of the least-played songs on the album.

Artist:      Jack Scott
Title:     There's Trouble Brewin'
Source:      CD: Cool Yule (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Laura Veronica
Label:    Rhino (original label: Groove)
Year:     1963
    Canadian born Jack Scott was one of the great rockabilly performers of the late 50s, scoring several top 10 hits, including My True Love and Burning Bridges. This 1963 recording of There's Trouble Brewin' shows him at the peak of his vocal powers.

Artist:      Canned Heat
Title:     Christmas Blues
Source:      Mono CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Canned Heat
Label:    Rhino (original label: Liberty)
Year:     1968
     Possibly the strangest pairing on record was the 1968 remake of The Chipmunk Song by the Chipmunks and Canned Heat. Yes, you read that correctly. Canned Heat did indeed provide the instrumental backing tracks for Simon, Theodore and Alvin's 10th anniversary remake of their best-known song. The B side of that record is a true gem: an original Canned Heat composition called Christmas Blues.

Artist:      Jethro Tull
Title:     Christmas Song
Source:      British import EP
Writer:    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:     1968
     I wanted to play one set made up entirely of songs from the psychedelic era performed by artists that I feature on the show on a fairly regular basis. One of these artists is the band Jethro Tull, led by flautist/acoustic guitarist/vocalist Ian Anderson. His somewhat cynical Christmas Song, originally released in the UK in 1968, did not appear in the US until the 1973 anthology album Living In the Past.
Artist:      Cadillacs
Title:     Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Source:      45 RPM vinyl
Writer:    Johnny Marks
Label:    Josie
Year:     1956
     Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has been recorded by a lot of different artists over the years, but this version by the Cadillacs stands out for its pure sense of fun. Doo-wop was at the peak of its popularity in 1956 and the Cadillacs, led by Earl "Speedoo" Carroll, were among the best of the bunch.

Artist:      Drifters
Title:     White Christmas
Source:      Mono CD: Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1955-Present (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Irving Berlin
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
Year:     1955
     The Drifters were a kind of early R&B doowop supergroup made up of ex-members of other R&B groups such as Billy Ward's Dominoes. The most distinctive voice of the original Drifters was high tenor Clyde McPhatter (for whom Ray Stevens's famous camel was named), which is heard prominently on their version of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. Over the years the group's lineup changed many times and led to several former members forming competing groups, all using the Drifters name. Over time, members of these offshoots would in turn form their own Drifters, despite having virtually no connection to the original group. This is why it sometimes seems that half the doowop singers in the world claim to be former members of the Drifters.

Artist:      Marquees
Title:     Christmas In the Congo
Source:      Mono CD: Cool Yule (Originally released as 45 RPM single, possibly promo only)
Writer(s):    Masten/Botkin
Label:    Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:     1959
     I recently saw a signed publicity photo of the Marquees taken sometime in the late 1950s. One of the signatures is Marvin Gaye's. What I have not been able to find is any evidence that this record was actually released commercially, although at least one promo copy is known to exist.

Artist:      King Curtis
Title:     The Christmas Song
Source:      45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Mel Torme
Label:    Atco
Year:     1966
     King Curtis was one of the most in-demand saxophone players of the first wave of rock and roll. His best known work was on the song Yakety Yak by the Coasters in 1958. In the sixties he became the music director for the Atlantic Records group, appearing on a variety of recordings by artists such as Solomon Burke and occassionally releasing material on the Atco label under his own name. Tragically, his life was cut short when he was the victim of a stabbing when he attempted to stop junkies from shooting up on his front steps in New York.

Rockin' the Holidays of Confusion (# 2251, starts 12/19/22)

This week we are Rockin' the Holidays of Confusion, with some pretty cool tracks ranging from Steeleye Span to Emerson, Lake And Palmer. See playlist below for details.

Artist:    Steeleye Span
Title:    The King
Source:    LP: Please To See The King
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Steeleye Span
Label:    Chrysalis (original label: Big Tree)
Year:    1971
    The King, adapted and recorded by Steeleye Span for their second LP, Please To See The King, has its origins in the old Irish "Cutty Wren" ceremony, wherein a wren in a cage is paraded around as if it were a king. Since the ceremony was traditionally held on December 26th, St. Stephen's Day, the song itself was often performed as a Christmas Carol. The tradition has seen a resurgence in recent years, but in England rather than Ireland.

Artist:      Jethro Tull
Title:     Ring Out Solstice Bells
Source:      LP: Songs From the Wood
Writer:    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:     1976
     Until the late 1940s the predominate form of recorded music was the 78 RPM (revolutions per minute) record, which was either 10 or 12 inches in diameter and made of a brittle material called shellac. The 10 inch version was the standard for popular music, with a running time of about 3 to 4 minutes. RCA Victor developed a direct replacement for the 78 that was 7 inches in diameter and ran at 45 RPM. Meanwhile, RCA's top rival, Columbia Records, developed a slower long-playing record that used something called microgroove technology that allowed up to half an hour's worth of recorded material per side. Somewhere along the way somebody decided to try the microgroove approach to the 45 and the Extended Play (EP) record was born. In the US, EPs were somewhat popular in the 1950s, but pretty much died out by the time of the Beatles, except for specialized formats such as children's records and low-budget cover labels that would hire anonymous studio musicians to re-create popular hits. In the UK, on the other hand, the format remained viable up through the mid-70s. Jethro Tull took advantage of the EP format to release a Christmas record in December of 1976. Ring Out Solstice Bells was the featured song on the EP, and would not be released in the US until the following spring, when it was included on the album Songs From the Wood.

Artist:    Greg Lake
Title:    I Believe In Father Christmas
Source:    British import 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Lake/Sinfield
Label:    Manticore
Year:    1975
    According to Greg Lake, I Believe In Father Christmas was not intended to be a Christmas song, despite its title. Lake said he wrote the song to protest the commercialization of Christmas. Peter Sinfield, who wrote the lyrics to the song, had a different take on the matter, saying that the words are about a loss of innocence and childhood belief. One thing they did agree on was that the song is not anti-religious, despite what some critics have said. In fact, Lake made his own views clear in an interview after the song was released, saying "I find it appalling when people say it's politically incorrect to talk about Christmas, you've got to talk about 'The Holiday Season'. Christmas was a time of family warmth and love. There was a feeling of forgiveness, acceptance. And I do believe in Father Christmas." The song was recorded in 1974 and released in 1975, while Lake was still a member of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. It was his most successful solo recording, going to the #2 spot on the British singles chart (kept out of the #1 spot by Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody).

Artist:      Kinks
Title:     Father Christmas
Source:      CD: Christmas A Go-Go (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Ray Davies
Label:     Wicked Cool (original label: Arista)
Year:     1977
     There are not many socially-conscious Christmas songs, especially slightly twisted ones like the Kinks' classic Father Christmas. Originally released in 1977 the track is recognized as one of the greatest rock Christmas songs ever, as well as one of Ray Davies' most unforgettable tunes.

Artist:      Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys)
Title:     Morning Christmas
Source:      CD: Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas
Writer:    Dennis Wilson)
Label:    Capitol
Year:     Recorded 1977, released 1998
     Dennis Wilson was not hanging around with the rest of the Wilson clan in 1977, but did want to make a contribution to their new Christmas album that year, so he sent in this recording of a song he wrote called Morning Christmas. The album ended up not being released, but the track finally did see the light of day on the Beach Boys' Ultimate Christmas collection issued in 1998.

Artist:    Big Crosby/David Bowie
Title:    Peace On Earth/The Little Drummer Boy
Source:    Mono CD: Now That's What I Call Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Grossman/Fraser/Kohan/Simeone/Onerati/Davis
Label:    Zomba (original label: RCA)
Year:    1982
    In 1977 David Bowie was deliberately trying to "normalize" his musical reputation following his stint as the "king of glitter-rock". One way of doing this was to appear on Bing Crosby's annual Christmas special on NBC-TV, about as mainstream an event as still existed in 1977. Bowie later admitted that the only reason he appeared on the show is that he knew his mother liked Crosby. The two were slated to exchange scipted stories describing each one's own family Christmas traditions before breaking into a duet of The Little Drummer Boy, a song made famous by the Harry Simeone Chorale in 1958. Bowie reportedly told the show's producers that he hated the song, and asked if he could sing something else instead. The producers responded by coming up with a whole new song, Peace On Earth, that was designed to be sung as a counterpoint to The Little Drummer Boy. On the show, Crosby sang the original tune and Bowie the new one, creating a new Christmas classic in the process. Sadly, Crosby died a month before the show aired. The song was not released on vinyl until 1982, when RCA issued it as a single. The song has gone on to become one of Bowie's most successful singles, as well as Crosby's last recording ever to hit the charts.

Artist:    Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Title:    The Three Kings And I (What Really Happened)
Source:    CD: The Christmas Attic
Writer(s):    O'Neil/Kinkel
Label:    Lava
Year:    1998
    The Christmas Attic was the second part of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Trilogy. Released in 1998, the music was not performed live until 2014. One of my personal favorite tracks on the album is The Three Kings And I (What Really Happened), which has a kind of beatnik feel to it. Good stuff.

Artist:    Queen
Title:    Jesus
Source:    LP: Queen
Writer(s):    Freddie Mercury
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1973
    Although technically not a Christmas song, Freddie Mercury's song Jesus, from the first Queen album, was one of the songs I knew I had to include on Rockin' the Holidays of Confusion. After all, without Jesus there wouldn't be a Christmas in the first place, right?

Artist:    Who
Title:    Christmas
Source:    LP: Tommy
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    Decca
Year:    1969
    Although not usually considered a Christmas song per se, The Who's Christmas, from the rock-opera Tommy, is actually one of the most thought-provoking pieces on the subject ever put to music. The song features the repeated question "How can he be saved from the eternal grave" if he remains unaware of who Jesus is, due to his inability to see or hear anything. It is the same kind of question I used to ask as a child about various aboriginal peoples that lived and died without ever having been exposed to Christian doctrine. Needless to say, I never did get a satisfactory answer from any of the adults I posed the question to.

Artist:      Cheech and Chong
Title:     Santa Claus and His Old Lady
Source:      CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Marin/Chong
Label:    Rhino (original label: Ode)
Year:     1971
     I heard Cheech And Chong's Santa Claus and His Old Lady on the radio the year it was released and managed to find a copy of the 45 only to have it disappear on me a few years later. Luckily, the folks at Rhino somehow knew of my dilemma and included it on their Rock and Roll Christmas CD (sure they did). Incidentally, the B side of that old 45 was Dave's Not Here from Cheech and Chong's first album.

Artist:    Chesterfield Kings
Title:    Hey Santa Claus
Source:    CD: Christmas A Go-Go
Writer(s):    Babiuk/Prevost/Morabito/Boise
Label:    Wicked Cool
Year:    2004
    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. Although much of their material is self-released, they have a habit of showing up on various compilations such as Christmas A Go-Go, a 2004 presentation of Little Steven's Underground Garage released on the Wicked Cool label. As near as I can tell, this is the only place Hey Santa Claus appears.

Artist:      George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Title:     Rock And Roll Christmas
Source:      CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    George Thorogood
Label:    Rhino (original label: EMI America)
Year:     1983
     I'm not sure what prompted roots rocker George Thorogood to write Rock And Roll Christmas and record it with his the band, the Destroyers, but I'm glad he did. The tune was released as a single on the EMI America label in 1983.

Artist:    Keith Richards
Title:    Run Rudolph Run
Source:    Mono CD: Christmas A Go-Go (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Marks/Brodie
Label:    Wicked Cool (original label: Rolling Stones)
Year:    1978
    Chuck Berry is undisputably one of the most (if not the most) influential rock 'n' roll artists of 1950s. In fact, John Lennon once said of him that if they couldn't call it rock 'n' roll they'd have to call it Chuck Berry. Nonetheless, Berry has always had a bit of shady side to him. For instance, he had the reputation of being so cheap that he refused to hire his own touring band, instead using local bands to back him up at his gigs, whether they could perform his material competently or not. Another cost-saving measure he was known for was re-using old music tracks with new lyrics to create a whole new song. Finally, like many of his contemporaries in the blues world, Berry was not above borrowing someone else's ideas and putting his own name on it. Consider Run Rudolph Run, which was released by Berry as a B side in late 1958. The following year the song Little Queenie was released using the same backing tracks as Run Rudolph Run. The label on the original pressing of Run Rudolph Run credits the song to Chuck Berry Music/Brodie, despite the fact that the song was actually written by Marvin Brodie and Johnny Marks, while Little Queenie is credited entirely to Chuck Berry Music. Newer versions of Run Rudolph Run such as Keith Richards's 1978 single credit Brodie and Marks, while using a variation of the Berry arrangement of the tune.

Artist:      Foghat
Title:     All I Want For Christmas Is You
Source:      CD: Billboard Rock and Roll Christmas (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Dave Peverett
Label:    Rhino (original label: Bearsville)
Year:     1981
     Foghat was formed when all the members of Savoy Brown except leader Kim Simmonds decided to form their own band in the early 70s. After a moderately successful run, founding member "Lonesome" Dave Peverett was all set to call it quits in 1981, but not until after he wrote and recorded All I Want For Christmas Is You. The song was pressed as a promo single in 1981, but I'm not sure if it was ever released to the public.

Artist:    Emerson, Lake And Palmer
Title:    Nutrocker
Source:    LP: Pictures At An Exhibition
Writer(s):    Kim Fowley
Label:    Atlantic (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1972
    In 1962, Kim Fowley, the Zelig of 60s rock, managed to secure the rights to a rock 'n' roll arrangement of Tchaikovsky's March Of The Toy Soldiers from the Nutcracker ballet. He took this arrangement to a couple different Los Angeles record company labels, both of which recorded the song with their house bands. The second of these was released as Nut Rocker by B.Bumble And The Stingers. The song made it to the #23 spot on the US charts and hit #1 in the UK (which might explain how Fowley found himself producing British bands in London by the middle of the decade). Ten years later, Emerson, Lake And Palmer released their own live version of Nutrocker, which they had been using as an encore, on their Pictures At An Exhibition album.