This week we have our first Advanced Psych segment of the year, featuring two tracks that have not been played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era before. The first is from British guitarist Geiger Von Müller, who has been described as "a solid proponent of the neo-cubist semi-deconstructionist blues scene", while the other is from the Electric Prunes' 2004 release California. In between, we have a returning favorite from the 1980s incarnation of Robert Fripp's King Crimson. Also of note: an all-Detroit set from 1969 and, in its entirety, the first side of John Mayall's classic Blues From Laurel Canyon.
Title: Within You Without You
Source: LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s): George Harrison
George Harrison began to take an interest in the Sitar as early as 1965. By 1966 he had become proficient enough on the Indian instrument to compose and record Love You To for the Revolver album. He followed that up with perhaps his most well known sitar-based track, Within You Without You, which opens side two of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. After releasing one more similarly-styled song, The Inner Light, as a B side in early 1968, Harrison recorded an entire album's worth of sitar-based tunes for the film Wonderwall before deciding that he was never going to be in the same league as Ravi Shankar, whom Harrison had become friends with by that time. For the remainder of his time with the Beatles Harrison would concentrate on his guitar work and songwriting skills, resulting in classic songs such as While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something and Here Comes The Sun.
Title: Try It
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
After a series of singles written by producer Ed Cobb had resulted in diminishing returns, the Standells recorded Try It, a tune co-written by Joey Levine, who would rise to semi-anonymous notoriety as lead vocalist for the Ohio Express, a group that was essentially a vehicle for the Kazenetz/Katz production team, purveyors of what came to be called "bubble gum" music. The song itself was quickly banned on most radio stations under the assumption that the phrase "try it" was a call for teenage girls to abandon their virginity. The fact is that nowhere in the song does the word "teenage" appear, but nonetheless the song failed to make a dent in the charts, despite its catchy melody and danceable beat, which should have garnered it at least a 65 rating on American Bandstand.
Title: Pictures Of Lily
Source: Mono CD: Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Pictures of Lily was the first single released by the Who in 1967. It hit the #4 spot on the British charts, but only made it to #51 in the US. This was nothing new for the Who, as several of their early singles, including Substitute, I Can't Explain and even My Generation hit the British top 10 without getting any US airplay (or chart action) at all.
Artist: Masters' Apprentices
Title: Tired Of Just Wandering
Source: Australian import CD: The Master's Apprentices (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Michael Bower
Label: Aztec (original label: Astor)
The Masters' Apprentices (or Master's Apprentices or Masters Apprentices...they released records under all three variations at one time or another, both with and without the definitive article), were formed as the Mustangs in Adelaide, Australia in 1964 with Mick Bower on rhythm guitar, Rick Morrison on lead guitar, Brian Vaughton on drums and Gavin Webb on bass guitar. The all-instrumental band specialized in doing covers of groups like the Shadows and the Ventures until, heavily influenced by the Beatles, they took on Scottish-born vocalist Jim Keays, modifying their repertoire to include British invasion bands. As their popularity grew, the Mustangs began playing more original material, changing their name to The Masters Apprentices (no apostrophe) in late 1965. In 1966 they signed with the Adelaide-based Astor Records, releasing half a dozen singles, as well as a full-length album (as The Master's Apprentices) over the next couple of years. Their third single, Living In A Child's Dream (released as The Masters' Apprentices in August of 1967), is considered one of the first examples of Australian psychedelic music, and its popularity propelled the band into teen idol status. This all was a bit too much for Bower, who had written both Child's Dream and its B side, Tired Of Just Waiting. One month after the single was released Bower suffered a severe nervous breakdown and was ordered by his doctor to give up performing, which he did for 10 years. As the band's primary songwriter, Bower's departure resulted in the band going through a period of chaos before being reorganized by Keays with an almost entirely different lineup and sound, beginning a transformation from pop stars to serious rock band with a bit of a "bad boy" image. This "classic" version of Masters Apprentices lasted until the band's breakup in 1972.
Artist: Mothers Of Invention
Title: Help, I'm A Rock, 3rd Movement: It Can't Happen Here
Source: 45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Writer(s): Frank Zappa
Label: Barking Pumpkin (original label: Verve)
Help, I'm A Rock and its follow up track It Can't Happen Here are among the best-known Frank Zappa compositions on the first Mothers Of Invention album, Freak Out! What is not so well known is that the band's label, Verve, issued a single version of the track under the title Help, I'm A Rock, 3rd Movement: It Can't Happen Here, as the B side of the band's first single. This mono single version removes the avant-garde jazz piano and drum section from the piece, making the track slightly over three minutes in length. The result is one of the strangest a cappella performances ever committed to vinyl.
Title: 2-4-2 Fox Trot (The Lear Jet Song)
Source: LP: Fifth Dimension
Writer: Roger McGuinn
1966 was the beginning of a time when rock musicians began to experiment in the recording studio. One early effort was Roger (then Jim) McGuinn's 2-4-2 Fox Trot (The Lear Jet Song), which uses a recording of an actual jet plane throughout the track.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Smoke And Water (original mix)
Source: Mono British import CD: The Ultimate Turn On (originally released on CD: Ignition)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Big Beat (original label: Sundazed)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2000
Before signing with Original Sound Records in late 1966, Sean Bonniwell's band, the Music Machine, recorded several demos, including Smoke And Water. The song was considered too conventional by Bonniwell's standards to be included on the group's debut LP, although it is entirely possible that if the record company had not included several cover songs on the album without the band's knowledge or consent, Smoke And Water, with its outstanding keyboard work from Doug Rhodes, might have made the cut.
Title: How To Find A Lover
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Peter Couad
Label: Rhino (original label: Decca)
In addition to being one of the most successful songwriters in British beat music, Graham Gouldman was one of the most unsuccessful bandleaders in British beat music. His group, the Mockingbirds, released three singles in 1965, all of which were written or co-written by Gouldman. None of them charted, despite the fact that they were released on high-profile labels (Columbia and Immediate). The following year the band signed with yet another major label, Decca, and released two more singles. Neither of these, however, were written by Gouldman, who by then was holding back his best songs to be sold to proven hitmakers like the Hollies and Herman's Hermits. The final Mockingbirds single was How To Find A Lover, written by Peter Couad (or Cowap, according to one source). It too bombed, despite being a well-crafted pop song. Gouldman and bandmate Kevin Godley would eventually be reunited in the 1970 with the band 10cc.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Voodoo In My Basement (instrumental backing track)
Source: LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful
Writer(s): John Sebastian
Label: Sundazed/Kama Sutra
With their 1966 LP Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful, New York's most popular band set out to make an album on which each song sounded like it was performed by a different group. For the most part they succeeded, with songs like Nashville Cats and Summer In The City having few similarities. One of the more notable tracks on the album is Voodoo In My Basement, which acknowledges the folk-blues scene of New York's Greenwich Village, where the band was formed. The backing track heard here was included as a bonus track on the 2003 reissue of the album.
Title: She's Not There
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Rod Argent
Label: Priority (original label: Parrot)
Most of the original British invasion bands were guitar-oriented, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. One notable exception was the Zombies, whose leader, Rod Argent, built the group around his electric piano. Their first single, She's Not There, was a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic and is ranked among the top British rock songs of all time.
Title: Hang On Sloopy
Source: 45 RPM single
The McCoys were a fairly typical Eastern Ohio band of the mid-60s, playing parties, teen clubs, high school dances and occassionally opening for out of town acts. In 1965 the McCoys opened for the Strangeloves, who were on the road promoting their hit single I Want Candy (of course, the Strangeloves were in reality a trio of professional songwriters who had come up with a rather unusual gimmick: they passed themselves off as sons of an Australian sheepherder). The members of the Strangeloves were so impressed with the McCoys, particularly vocalist/guitarist Rick Derringer, that they offered them the song that was slated to be the follow-up to I Want Candy: a song called Hang On Sloopy. The instrumental tracks for the song had already been recorded, so the only member of the McCoys to actually appear on the record is Derringer. Hang On Sloopy went all the way to the top of the charts, becoming one of the top 10 singles of the year and providing a stellar debut for Derringer, who went on to hook up with both Johnny Winter and the Edgar Winter Group before embarking on a successful solo career.
Artist: Oxford Circle
Title: Foolish Woman
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: World United)
The Oxford Circle was one of those bands that had a reputation for being the opening band that blew the headliners off the stage, yet never was able to make it big itself. Originally from Sacramento, California, the group appeared frequently in and around San Francisco in 1965 and 1966, but disbanded before the scene started getting national attention, with many of the members moving on to greater fame with other bands. Drummer Paul Whaley was the first to get national attention as a founding member of Blue Cheer. Oxford Circle leader Gary Lee Yoder would eventually join Blue Cheer as well, after a short stint with his own band, Kak. Also of note was bassist Jim Keylor, who was in an early incarnation of Roxy and went on to form BSU studios, where the Dead Kennedys recorded. For all that, the Oxford Circle made only one single, Foolish Woman, which was released on the independent World United label in 1966.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: I Won't Hurt You
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Part One)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Unlike more famous L.A. groups like Love and the Doors, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was not a Sunset Strip club band. In fact, the WCPAEB really didn't play that many live performances in their career, although those they did tended to be at high profile venues such as the Hollywood Bowl. The band was formed when the Harris brothers, sons of an accomplished classical musician, decided to record their own album and release it on the small Fifa label. Only a few copies of that album, Volume One, were made and finding one now is next to impossible. That might have been the end of the story except for the fact that they were acquaintances of Kim Fowley, the Zelig-like record producer and all-around Hollywood (and sometimes London) hustler. Fowley invited them to a party where the Yardbirds were playing; a party also attended by one Bob Markley. Markley, who was nearly ten years older than the Harris brothers, was a former TV show host from the midwest who had moved out to the coast to try his luck in Hollywood. Impressed by the flock of young girls surrounding the Yardbirds, Markley expressed to Fowley his desire to be a rock and roll star and have the girls flock around him, too. Fowley, ever the deal-maker, responded by introducing Markley to the Harris Brothers and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was born. With the addition of guitarist Michael Lloyd and the influence of Markley's not-inconsiderable family money, the group soon landed a contract with Reprise Records, where they proceeded to record the album Part One, which includes the tune I Won't Hurt You, which uses a simulated heartbeat to keep the...umm, beat.
Source: CD: Donovan's Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Released only in the US do to an ongoing dispute between Donovan and the british Pye label, Laléna hit the Billboard top 40 in late 1968, hitting the #33 spot. A quiet ballad, Laléna was inspired by Lotte Lenya's character in the film version of Threepenny Opera. In a 2004 the Scottish singer/songwriter had this to say about the song: "She's a streetwalker, but in the history of the world, in all nations, women have taken on various roles from priestess to whore to mother to maiden to wife. This guise of sexual power is very prominent, and therein I saw the plight of the character. Women have roles thrust upon them and make the best they can out of them, so I'm describing the character Lotte Lenya is playing, and a few other women I've seen during my life, but it's a composite character of women who are outcasts on the edge of society.
Title: I Wanna Be Your Dog (John Cale mix)
Source: CD: The Stooges (bonus track)
Writer(s): The Stooges
In late 1968 Elektra Records sent out DJ/publicist Danny Fields to check out a new band that was getting a lot of attention on the Detroit music scene. That band was the MC5, and Fields signed them immediately after attending one of their gigs. The next day, the MC5's Wayne Kramer assured Fields that he would also like their "little brother" band, the Psychedelic Stooges. He did, and they also signed with Elektra. Former Velvet Underground member John Cale was brought in to produce the band's first album, but Elektra president Jac Holzman rejected his original mixes as "too arty" and, along with vocalist Iggy Pop, remixed the entire album. The Cale mixes, including one (I Wanna Be Your Dog) that has Cale playing piano on it, sat on a shelf until 2005, when it was included as a bonus track on the reissue of The Stooges (the "Psychedelic" having been dropped at the behest of Holzman).
Title: Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)
Source: CD: Kick Out The Jams
Although left-wing politics were a large part of the America folk music scene in the 1960s, it wasn't until later in the decade that rock bands followed suit. One of the most radical was Detroit's MC5. Originally formed as the Bounty Hunters by guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred Smith, the group took on the name MC5 after being joined by vocalist Rob Tyner in 1964. It was Tyner that got the band involved in politics, being a few years older than Kramer and Smith. The addition of bassist Michael Davis and drummer Dennis Thompson in 1965 completed the band's classic lineup. With their unique synthesis of garage rock and free jazz, the MC5 soon became one of the most popular bands on the Detroit music scene, releasing a couple of singles in 1967 and 1968 before coming to the attention of Elektra Records president Jac Holzman, who sent DJ/Publicist Danny Fields out to the motor city to check them out. Fields liked what he heard and immediately signed the band. It was decided early on that the only way to truly showcase the MC5's talents was to release an album of live performances. Their first LP, Kick Out The Jams, was recorded on October 30th and 31st, 1968 at Detroit's Grande Ballroom. One of the most popular songs on the album was Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa), now recognized as one of the most energetic performances ever caught on tape. After Detroit's largest department store, Hudson's, refused to stock the album because of the band's use of profanity, Tyner took out a full-page ad in a local underground newspaper that consisted of a picture of Tyner, the Elektra logo and the words "Fuck Hudsons". This led to Hudson's refusing to stock any records on the Elektra label, which in turn led Elektra to drop the MC5 from their artists roster.
Artist: Bob Seger System
Title: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Bob Seger
Label: Starline (original label: Capitol)
People who are familiar with the 70s and 80s hits of Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band may be surprised to hear how much raw energy there is on Seger's early recordings with the Heard, and later the Bob Seger System. The best known of these records is Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, released as a single in 1969. The song did pretty well at the time, but it would be several years before Seger would return to the charts.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Catfish Blues
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Canned Heat)
Writer: Robert Petway
Label: United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Like many other US cities in the 1960s, San Francisco had a small but enthusiastic community of blues record collectors. A group of them got together in 1966 to form Canned Heat, and made quite an impression when they played the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967. This led to a contract with Liberty Records and an album consisting entirely of cover versions of blues standards. One standout track from that album is Robert Petway's Catfish Blues, expanded to over six minutes by the Heat.
Artist: Geiger Von Müller
Title: Origins #2
Source: CD: Teddy Zur And The Kwands
Writer(s): Geiger Von Müller
Geiger Von Müller is a London-based guitarist who has deconstructed the blues down to one of its most essential elements, slide guitar, and then explored from scratch what can be done with the instrument. The result is tracks like Origins #2, from the album Teddy Zur And The Kwands. The all-instrumental album is accompanied by the beginning of a science fiction story about the Kwands, a powerful race that kidnaps children's stuff toys, including one called Teddy Zur, to work in their factory as slaves. You'll have to find a copy of the CD itself to get a more detailed explanation.
Artist: King Crimson
Title: Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds)
Source: LP: Three Of A Perfect Pair
Label: Warner Brothers/EG
The third and final LP of the 1980s version of King Crimson was not as well-received as its predecessors. Three Of A Perfect Pair featured a "left side" made up mostly of relatively commercial songs with lyrics by Adrian Belew and music composed by the entire band. The "right" side of the LP featured more free-form improvisation on tracks like Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds), which closes the album. Robert Fripp, in a radio interview, described the LP's "left" side as "accessible" and its "right" side as "excessive", which seems as good a description of Three Of A Perfect Pair as any other.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Cinéma Vérité
Source: CD: California
After successfully reestablishing themselves as one of the world's premier psychedelic rock bands with the album Artifact in 2001, the Psychedelic Prunes got to work on their first self-generated concept album (Mass In F Minor having been imposed on them by their then-producer Dave Hassinger). That album, California, centers on the band's own impressions of the Summer of Love and the years beyond, and is an excellent showcase of the songwriting talents of lead vocalist James Lowe and bassist Mark Tulin. The final piece on the album is Cinéma Vérité, which is, to my knowledge, the longest track ever recorded by the Electric Prunes.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: Plastic Fantastic Lover
Source: CD: Surrealistic Pillow
Writer(s): Marty Balin
Label: RCA/BMG Heritage
Jefferson Airplane scored their first top 10 hit with Somebody To Love, the second single released from the Surrealistic Pillow album. Almost immediately, forward-thinking FM stations began playing other tracks from the album. One of those favored album tracks, Plastic Fantastic Lover, ended up being the B side of the band's follow-up single, White Rabbit. When the Airplane reunited in 1989 and issued their two-disc retrospective, 2400 Fulton Street, they issued a special stereo pressing of the single on white vinyl as a way of promoting the collection.
Artist: John Mayall
Title: Blues From Laurel Canyon-part one
Source: European import CD: Blues From Laurel Canyon
Writer(s): John Mayall
In July of 1968, in the middle of a concert tour of Germany, John Mayall made a decision to disband his group The Bluesbreakers, which at this point in time had seven members. After finishing out the band's live commitments, Mayall then got to work on assembling a new, smaller band consisting of himself on keyboards and vocals, Stephen Thompson on bass, Colin Allen on drums, and 17-year-old Mick Taylor on guitar. Once the new group was formed, Mayall promptly left London for a three-week stay in Southern California's Laurel Canyon, where he met several like-minded musicians, including Frank Zappa and the members of Canned Heat, as well as some of L.A.'s more famous groupies. While there he began chronicling his visit by way of a series of songs that would become his next album, Blues From Laurel Canyon. The first of these, Vacation, sets the stage for what is to follow and showcase's Taylor's guitar work. From there it's Walking On Sunset, a paeon to one of L.A.'s most famous boulevards. Laurel Canyon home describes his temporary abode, while 2401 describes a visit to the organized chaos of the Zappa household. The final three songs on side one, Ready To Ride, Medicine Man and Somebody's Acting Like A Child tell the tale of a romantic interlude, and are among Mayall's strongest material. Recorded in early August of 1968, the album was released in November, and helped cement Mayall's reputation as the godfather of British blues.