Sunday, April 3, 2022

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2215 (starts 4/4/22)

    This week we have not one, but two long medley's in our second hour. The first is Eric Burdon and War's take on a Moody Blues classic, while the second is Procol Harum's landmark In Held Twas In I, from their Shine On Brightly LP. Other than that we have no less than 24 tracks from 24 different artists (and for once, none of them are from the Beatles).

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Dirty Water
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1965
    Dirty Water has long since been adopted by the city of Boston, yet the band that originally recorded this Ed Cobb tune was purely an L.A. band, having started off playing cover tunes in the early 60s. Drummer Dickie Dodd, who sings lead vocals on Dirty Water, was a former Mouseketeer who had played on the surf-rock hit Mr. Moto as a member of the Bel-Airs.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission)
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    Paul Simon's sense of humor is on full display on A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission). The song first appeared, with slightly different lyrics on Simon's 1965 LP The Paul Simon Songbook, which was released only in the UK after Simon and Garfunkel had split following the disappointing sales of their first Columbia LP, Wednesday Morning 3AM. When the duo got back together following the surprise success of an electrified version of The Sound Of Silence, the re-recorded A Simple Desultory Philippic, including it on their third Columbia LP, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. The song is a deliberate parody/tribute to Bob Dylan, written in a style similar to It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), and is full of sly references to various well-known personages of the time as well as lesser-known acquaintances of Simon himself.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Relax
Source:    LP: The Who Sell Out
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    Polydor/UMC/Track (original US label: Decca)
Year:    1967
    The Who Sell Out stands apart from other Who albums in a number of ways. First off, the cover features individual photographs of each of the
band members in ridiculous ad parodies. The front cover is split between Pete Townshend using a gigantic can of Odorono deodorant and Roger Daltry sitting cross-legged covered in Heinz Baked Beans. In the back cover, John Entwhistle is using an oversized tube of Medac on a blemish that covers half his face, while Keith Moon strikes a muscleman pose with a beautiful model in a bikini (advertising for the Charles Atlas fitness course). Each of the photos is accompanied by tongue-in-cheek ad text. The album itself contains several excellent songs (in fact, many critics consider it the Who's best album of their career) interspersed with faux radio commercials and actual jingles from pirate station Radio London (the jingles having been produced by PAMS Productions of Dallas, Texas, the company that provided jingles for many US top 40 stations as well). Most of these songs were never performed live. One exception was Relax, which was part of the band's stage repertoire for a short time in 1968. This lack of promotion (and the growing sense of rock music being SERIOUS ART), hampered the album's commercial success, although it still managed to climb to the #13 spot in the UK and #48 in the US. The Who themselves would turn SERIOUS with their next new studio work, a double-LP called Tommy.

Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    Superbyrd
Source:    LP: Revolution soundtrack
Writer(s):    Steve Miller
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1968
    Before releasing their debut LP on the Capitol label in 1968, the Steve Miller Band appeared in the documentary film Revolution, which was filmed the previous year on the streets of San Francisco. Among the songs performed in the film, and then re-recorded in the studio for the soundtrack album, was a trippy instrumental called Superbyrd, which doesn't sound anything like Superbird by Country Joe and the Fish (who also appeared in the film, but not on the soundtrack LP).

Artist:    Vanity Fare
Title:    Hitchin' A Ride
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Golden Days Of British Rock
Writer(s):    Murray/Callender
Label:    Sire (original label: Page One)
Year:    1969
    Formed in Kent, England as the Avengers in 1966 and releasing a US-only single as the Sages later that year, Vanity Fare signed with Larry Page's Page One Records, scoring a British hit with their first single, a cover of the Sunrays' I Live For The Sun, in 1968. In August of that year they had their biggest British hit with a song called Early In The Morning, which also made it to the #12 spot in the US and #10 in Canada. Their next single, however, was an international smash hit, charting in much of the English-speaking world, including South Africa, where it went to #2, and the US, where it made the top 5. Vanity Fare continued to release records well into the 1970s and still exists as a performing unit.

Artist:     Yardbirds
Title:     Steeled Blues
Source:     45 RPM single B side
Writer:     Beck/Relf
Label:     Epic
Year:     1965
     The first Yardbirds record with Jeff Beck on lead guitar (replacing Eric Clapton) was a single written by Graham Gouldman called Heart Full Of Soul. The song featured Beck playing riffs originally designed for sitar, as well as his own solo in the song's instrumental break. The B side of that single was an instrumental blues jam called Steeled Blues that was basically a showcase for Beck and harmonicist Keith Relf, who trade off leads throughout the track.

Artist:    Shadows of Knight
Title:    Oh Yeah
Source:    CD: Oh Yeah! The Best Of Dunwich Records (originally released on LP: Gloria and as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Elias McDaniel
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    The original British blues bands like the Yardbirds made no secret of the fact that they had created their own version of a music that had come from Chicago. The Shadows Of Knight, on the other hand, were a Chicago band that created their own version of the British blues, bringing the whole thing full circle. After taking their version of Van Morrison's Gloria into the top 10 early in 1966, the Shadows (which had added "of Knight" to their name just prior to releasing Gloria) decided to follow it up with an updated version of Bo Diddley's Oh Yeah. Although the song did not have a lot of national top 40 success, it did help establish the Shadows' reputation as one of the grittiest bands around (the term garage-punk not yet being in common usage).

Artist:    Kim Fowley
Title:    Strangers From The Sky
Source:    Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released in US as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Fowley/Lloyd
Label:    Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    The 1960s Los Angeles music scene contained more than its share of colorful characters, so it takes quite a bit to stand out from even that group. Kim Fowley, however, definitely fits the bill, as he is more than willing to tell anyone who will listen. His first claim to fame is being the voice of the Hollywood Argyles, a studio concoction that had a huge hit with the novelty song Alley Oop in the early 1960s. Fowley met prodigy Michael Lloyd when Lloyd was only 13, and immediately recognized his potential. In late 1966 he was instrumental in hooking Lloyd up with the Harris brothers and local hipster Bob Markley, who together formed the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. It was while a member of the WCPAEB that Lloyd produced Fowley's Strangers From The Sky, recorded in Lloyd's own home 4-track studio with Lloyd playing all the instruments himself. In it's own way, Strangers From The Sky is every bit as bizarre as Alley Oop, although nowhere near as successful on the charts. Lloyd went on to become a big-time record producer, working with teen idols like the Osmonds and Shaun Cassidy as well as supervising the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.   
Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    In My Neighborhood
Source:    CD: Beyond The Garage
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Sundazed
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 1995
    Sean Bonniwell has been quoted as saying that he had overproduced the original version of In My Neighborhood, due to having too much idle time in the studio. As a result, he chose not to release the song at all. Years later, Bonniwell and Bob Irwin remixed the track for release on the anthology CD Beyond The Garage.

Artist:    Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title:    Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Source:    LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    After releasing a fairly well produced debut solo album utilizing the talents of several well-respected studio musicians in late 1968, Neil Young surprised everyone by recruiting an unknown L.A. bar band and rechristening them Crazy Horse for his second effort, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The album was raw and unpolished, with Young's lead vocals recorded using a talkback microphone normally used by engineers to communicate with people in the studio from the control room. In spite of, or more likely because of, these limitations, the resulting album has come to be regarded as one of the greatest in the history of rock, with Young sounding far more comfortable, both as a vocalist and guitarist, than on the previous effort. Although the album is best known for three songs he wrote while running a fever (Cinnamon Girl, Cowgirl In The Sand, and Down By The River), there are plenty of good other songs on the LP, including the title track heard here.

Artist:    Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title:    Hungry (1990 stereo remix)
Source:    CD: The Legend Of Paul Revere (originally released on LP: Spirit Of '67)
Writer(s):    Mann/Weil
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    1966 was an incredibly successful year for Paul Revere and the Raiders. In addition to continuing their gig as the host band for Dick Clark's afternoon TV show, Where The Action Is, the band managed to crank out four hit singles, three of which made the top 10. The second of these was Hungry, written by Brill building regulars Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who also had written the band's previous (and to that point biggest) hit, Kicks.

Artist:    Groupies
Title:    Primitive
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Cortez/Derosiers/Hendleman/McLaren/Peters/Venet
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atco)
Year:    1966
    You know, with a name like the Groupies you would expect an all-female band or at least something like the Mothers of Invention. Instead we get a band from New York City that billed itself as "abstract rock." I guess that's using the term abstract in the same sense that scientific journals use it: to distill something complicated down to its basic essence, because these guys were musically exactly what the title of their only single implied: primitive.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: The Electric Prunes and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Tucker/Mantz
Label:    Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    The Electric Prunes' biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in November of 1966. The record, initially released without much promotion from their record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation (and the second track on Rhino's first Nuggets LP).

Artist:    Litter
Title:    Action Woman
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Distortions)
Writer(s):    Warren Hendrick
Label:    Rhino (original labels: Scotty and Warick)
Year:    1967
    The Litter was one of many bands to come under the guidance of Warren Kendrick, owner of the Minneapolis-based Warick Records (later Warwick). Their first album, Distortions, was comprised mostly of cover songs of mainly British groups, but did include a pair of songs written by Hendrick himself, including Action Woman, which was also released as the band's first single in January of 1967. The group made two more albums, including one for ABC's Probe label in 1969, before disbanding, reuniting in the late 90s for a pair of CDs on the Arf! Arf! label.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Strange Days
Source:    LP: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: Strange Days)
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    One of the first rock albums to not picture the band members on the front cover was the Doors' second LP, Strange Days. Instead, the cover featured several circus performers doing various tricks on a city street, with the band's logo appearing on a poster on the wall of a building. The album itself contains some of the band's most memorable recordings, including the title tune, which tends to show up on just about every "best of" collection of Doors tracks ever released, despite having never been issued as a single.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Wait Until Tomorrow
Source:    CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Jimi Hendrix showed a whimsical side with Wait Until Tomorrow, a track from his second Jimi Hendrix Experience LP, Axis: Bold As Love. The song tells a story of a young man standing outside his girlfriend's window trying to convince her to run away from him. He gets continually rebuffed by the girl, who keeps telling him to Wait Until Tomorrow. Ultimately the girl's father resolves the issue by shooting the young man. The entire story is punctuated by outstanding distortion-free guitar work that showcases just how gifted Hendrix was on his chosen instrument.

Artist:    Earth Island
Title:    Mother Earth Is A Beautiful Lover
Source:    LP: We Must Survive
Writer(s):    R. Tyson
Label:    Philips
Year:    1969
    Earth Island was a band from Hollywood, California, that released one album on the Philips label in 1969. We Must Survive, produced by the Zelig-like Kim Fowley, sounds to me like a collection of sunshine pop songs that were reworked (or in the case of Mother Earth Is A Beautiful Lover, simply retitled) to make the band sound more environmentally hip.

Artist:    Glass Family
Title:    House Of Glass
Source:    LP: The Glass Family Electric Band
Writer(s):    Ralph Parrett
Label:    Maplewood (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1969
    The Glass Family (Ralph Parrett, David Capilouto and Gary Green) first surfaced in 1967 with a single called Teenage Rebellion on Mike Curb's Sidewalk label. The following year they signed with Warner Brothers, releasing their only LP, The Glass Family Electric Band, in 1969. The opening track from the album, House Of Glass, is, in the words of Capilouto, self-explanatory, which is a good thing, as it saves me the trouble of trying to figure out what it's about.

Artist:    Sonics
Title:    Strychnine
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: Here Are The Sonics)
Writer(s):    Gerald Roslie
Label:    Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
Year:    1965
    From 1965 we have a band that maintains a cult following to this day: the legendary Sonics, generally considered one of the foundation stones of the Seattle music scene. Although the majority of songs on their albums were cover tunes, virtually all of their originals, such as Strychnine from their debut LP, are now considered punk classics; indeed, the Sonics, along with their labelmates the Wailers, are often cited as the first true punk rock bands.

Artist:    Eric Burdon & War
Title:    Nights In White Satin medley
Source:    CD: The Black-Man's Burdon
Writer(s):    Hayward/War
Label:    UMe (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1970
    Most of the second side of the double LP The Black Man's Burdon is taken up by an expanded version of the Moody Blues's Nights In White Satin. It starts with a four and a half minute rendition of the song itself before going into three connected instrumental pieces, The Bird and the Squirrel, Nuts Seeds and Life and Out Of Nowhere. The side finishes with a three-minute reprise of Nights In White Satin itself. The instrumental sections foreshadow the fusion of Latin jazz and soul that would characterize War's music following lead vocalist Eric Burdon's departure from the band.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    The Farm
Source:    LP: Volunteers
Writer(s):    Kantner/Blackman
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1969
    Although Jefferson Airplane was never known as a country-rock band, they did record a few tracks that could be considered early examples of the genre, especially on their later albums. Among the first of these tracks was The Farm, a Paul Kantner piece from the Volunteers album. Although the album itself is generally known for it's strident antiwar (and pro-anarchic) stance, The Farm leans more toward the album's secondary themes of community and ecology.

Artist:     Humane Society
Title:     Eternal Prison
Source:     Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer:     Danny Minnich
Label:     Rhino (original label: New World)
Year:     1968
     Simi Valley, California, was home to the Humane Society, a band who, at least on vinyl, showed a decidedly schizophrenic face to the world. The A side of their first single, released on the Liberty label in 1967, was Tip Toe Thru The Tulips (yes, the same song that Tiny Tim became famous for). The B side, on the other hand, was the truly psychotic Knock Knock. The following year they repeated the pattern with another forgettable A side backed with Eternal Prison, one of the most psychedelic tracks ever recorded.

Artist:    Troggs
Title:    Night Of The Long Grass
Source:    British simulated stereo CD: Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Chip Taylor
Label:    Spectrum (original label: Fontana)
Year:    1967
    After scoring a huge international hit in 1966 with Wild Thing, the Troggs (originally known as the Troglodytes) cranked out a series of singles that did well in the UK but for the most part were never heard by US listeners. One of the best of those British hits was Night Of The Long Grass, which got airplay across Europe in the summer of '67. Like many of the Troggs' hits, Night Of The Long Grass has somewhat suggestive lyrics that probably hurt its chances for airplay on US top 40 radio stations.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Sympathy For The Devil
Source:    CD: Beggars Banquet
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1968
    Beggar's Banquet was a turning point for the Rolling Stones. They had just ended their association with Andrew Loog Oldham, who had produced all of their mid-60s records, and instead, (following one self-produced album) were working with Jimmy Miller, who was known for his association with Steve Winwood, both in his current band Traffic and the earlier Spencer Davis Group. Right from the opening bongo beats of Sympathy For The Devil, it was evident that this was the beginning of a new era for the bad boys of rock and roll. The song itself has gone on to be one of the defining tunes of album rock radio, and occupies the #32 spot on Rolling Stone magazine's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    In Held Twas In I
Source:    LP: Shine On Brightly
Writer:    Brooker/Fisher/Reid
Label:    A&M
Year:    1968
    Although the idea of grouping songs together as "suites" was first tried by Jefferson Airplane on their 1967 album After Bathing At Baxter's, Procol Harum's 17-minute long In Held Twas I, from their 1968 album Shine On Brightly, is usually cited as the first progressive rock suite. The title comes from the first word of each section of the piece that contains vocals (several sections are purely instrumental). For the curious among you, here is a breakdown of where each word in the title comes from:
"In the darkness of the night..."             From movement 1, Glimpses of Nirvana
"Held close by that which some despise..."     From the sixth verse of movement 1
"′Twas tea-time at the circus..."         From movement 2, Twas Teatime at the Circus
"In the autumn of my madness..."         From movement 3, In the Autumn of My Madness
"I know if I'd been wiser..."             From movement 4, Look to Your Soul
In addition to being a psychedelic milestone, In Held Twas In I contains some of the finest early work from guitarist Robin Trower, particularly on the piece's Grand Finale, which was written by organist Matthew Fisher, who was also responsible for coming up with the famous opening riff for the group's first hit, A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

Artist:    Al Kooper/Stephen Stills/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title:    Harvey's Tune
Source:    CD: Super Session
Writer(s):    Harvey Brooks
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1968
    Probably the most overlooked track on the classic Super Session LP is the album's closer, a two-minute instrumental called Harvey's Tune. The piece was written by bassist Harvey Brooks, who, along with Mike Bloomfield, had been a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and later, the Electric Flag. Although Stephen Stills is credited as guitarist on the track, I don't actually hear any guitar on Harvey's Tune, even with headphones on.

1 comment:

  1. Your assertion that Everybody Knows This is Nowhere has “come to be regarded as one of the greatest in the history of rock” (agreed) reminds me of my nomination for that title, from the same year, Fleetwood Mac’s Then Play On. For all the many records in my collection, it’s the one I reach for most often.