This week we have a couple of artists' sets, a set of "recorded in England" tunes (including one from a Greek band that usually recorded in France), and an assortment of oddities, including Paul McCartney's demo of a Badfinger hit and a song by an artist so obscure that even the people who compiled the disc she appears on had nothing to say about her. And, as always, there are a few hits thrown in to keep things grounded.
Artist: Otis Redding
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer: Otis Redding
Released well over a year before Aretha Franklin's version, Otis Redding's Respect was a hit on the R&B charts and managed to crack the lower reaches of the mainstream charts as well. Although not as well known as Franklin's version, the Redding track has its own unique energy and is a classic in its own right. The track, like most of Redding's recordings, features musical backing from Booker T. & the MGs, supplemented by the Bar-Kays on horns.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Talk Talk
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Rhino (original label: Original Sound)
The Music Machine was one of the most sophisticated bands to appear on the L.A. club scene in 1966, yet their only major hit, Talk Talk, was deceptively simple and straightforward punk-rock, and still holds up as two of the most intense minutes of rock music ever to crack the top 40 charts.
Artist: Masters' Apprentices
Title: Don't Fight It
Source: Australian import CD: The Master's Apprentices (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
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. The album itself featured a mix of original tunes (mostly written by Bower) and cover songs such as Don't Fight It, a Wilson Pickett song that had gone into the top 5 on the US R&B chart in 1965.
Artist: Ellen Margulies
Title: The White Pony
Source: Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Warner Strategic Marketing (original US label: Reprise)
When it comes to obscurities, few records compare with The White Pony, released as a single on the Reprise label in September of 1968. Nobody seems to know who Ellen Margulies, the vocalist on the track, was. For that matter, all that is known about the producer, Roger Joyce, is that he once was a member of a New York group called New Order. Joyce co-wrote the song with two other people, whose last names were Steinberg and Secunda (appropriately, their first names are unknown).
Title: Shaman's Blues
Source: LP: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: The Soft Parade)
Writer: Jim Morrison
Often dismissed as the weakest entry in the Doors catalogue, The Soft Parade nonetheless is significant in that for the first time songwriting credits were given to individual band members. Shaman's Blues, in my opinion one of the four redeeming tracks on the album, is Jim Morrison's.
Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Title: Scarborough Fair/Canticle
Source: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
After the reunion of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel following the surprise success of an electrified remix of The Sound Of Silence, the two quickly recorded an album to support the hit single. Sounds Of Silence was, for the most part, a reworking of material that Simon had recorded for 1965 UK LP the Paul Simon Songbook. The pressure for a new album thus (temporarily) relieved, the duo got to work on their first album of all new material since their unsuccessful 1964 effort Wednesday Morning 3AM (which had in fact been re-released and was now doing well on the charts). In October the new album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, hit the stands. The title track was a new arrangement of an old English folk ballad, Scarborough Fair, combined with a reworking of a 1963 Simon tune (The Side Of A Hill,) with all-new lyrics and retitled Canticle. The two melodies and sets of lyrics are set in counterpoint to each other, creating one of the most sophisticated folk song arrangements ever recorded. After being featured in the film The Graduate, Scarborough Fair/Canticle was released as a single in early 1968, going on to become one of the duo's most celebrated songs.
Artist: Uncalled For
Title: Do Like Me
Source: Mono LP: Pebbles Vol. 8 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: BFD (original labels Dollie, Laurie)
Virtually nothing is known about the Uncalled For other than that they came from Youngstown, Ohio (which was still a vital steel-making center with a thriving local music scene in the 1960s) and recorded one 1967 single, Do Like Me, for the local Dollie label. The song was apparently successful enough to be picked up by a national label, Laurie, and re-released later in the year. If anyone knows more about the Uncalled For, feel free to drop me a line.
Artist: Grass Roots
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Feelings and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
In 1968 the Grass Roots decided to assert themselves and take artistic control of their newest album, Feelings, writing most of the material for the album themselves. Unfortunately for the band, the album, as well as its title track single, fared poorly on the charts. From that point on the Grass Roots were firmly under the control of producers/songwriters Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan, cranking out a series of best-selling hits such as I'd Wait A Million Years and Midnight Confessions (neither of which get played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, incidentally).
Artist: Fairport Convention
Title: Come All Ye
Source: LP: Liege And Lief
Fairport Convention completed their transition from "Britain's answer to Jefferson Airplane" to the world's premier British folk-rock band with their fourth album, Liege And Lief. Gone were the cover songs of American artists such as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, replaced by electric adaptations of traditional English folk songs, many of which were brought to the band by vocalist Sandy Denny, who had replaced the original Fairport Vocalist, Judy Dyble, following the release of the band's first LP. Ashley Hutchings was also instrumental in finding material for the group, much of which came from a collection maintained by the English Folk Dance and Song Society. Even the original songs written by band members were in a more traditional folk style, especially tracks like Come All Ye, which opens the album. Not surprisingly, the tune was written by Denny and Hutchings.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Nothing Is Easy
Source: CD: Stand Up
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis/Capitol (original US label: Reprise)
Not long after the release of the first Jethro Tull album, guitarist Mick Abrahams, who was a blues enthusiast, left the group due to musical differences with lead vocalist/flautist Ian Anderson, who favored a more eclectic approach to songwriting. Abrahams's replacement was Martin Barre, who remains a member of the group to this day. One of the first songs recorded with Barre is Nothing Is Easy, a blues rocker that opens side two of the band's second LP, Stand Up. More than any other track on Stand Up, Nothing Is Easy sounds like it could have been an outtake from This Was, the band's debut LP.
Artist: Aphrodite's Child
Title: Magic Mirror
Source: CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released in Europe as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Polydor (original European label: Mercury) (released in UK on Polydor)
Aphrodite's Child was formed in Greece in 1967, but left following a right-wing military coup that severely curtailed both political and artistic freedoms in that country. The band had been invited by Mercury Records to come to London and record, but were refused entry to the UK due to problems with their work permits and found themselves in Paris instead. Mercury's parent label, Philips, soon signed the band to a contract to record in France. Their first single for the label, Rain And Tears, was a top 10 single in several European countries and led to an equally popular album, End Of The World, that established Aphrodite's Child as one of the continent's most popular acts. That popularity did not extend to the UK, however, and subsequent records failed to make a dent on the British charts. One 1969 single was recorded in London, but was not even released in the UK by the band's regular label, Mercury, and was instead issued independently by the Polydor label. The B side of that single, Magic Mirror, shows a band just beginning to transition from their early psychedelic sound to the more experimental one that would characterize their best known work, a concept double LP based on the biblical book of Revelation called 666. After Aphrodite's Child disbanded in 1972 the band's leader, Evangahlos Papathanassiou (generally known as Vangelis), would go on to become one of the world's top electronic music pioneers (can anyone say Chariots Of Fire?).
Artist: Open Mind
Title: Magic Potion
Source: CD Nuggets II (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
Originally known as the Drag Set, the Open Mind adopted their new name in late 1967. Not long after the change they signed a deal with Philips Records and recorded an album with producer Johnny Franz in 1968. Their greatest achievement, however, came the following year, when they released Magic Potion as a single. By that time, unfortunately, British psychedelia had run its course, and Open Mind soon closed up shop.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Walk Away Renee
Source: LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
The Left Banke's Walk Away Renee is one of the most covered songs in rock history, starting with a version by the Four Tops less than two years after the original recording had graced the top 5. The Left Banke version kicked off what was thought at the time to be the latest trend: Baroque Pop. The trend died an early death when the band members themselves made some tactical errors resulting in radio stations being hesitant to play their records.
Title: In The City
Source: CD: A Quick One (bonus track originally released in UK as a 45 RPM single B side)
Label: MCA (original UK label: Track)
The war between the Who and Brunswick Records continued throughout 1966 with Brunswick responding to each new Who single with one of their own, using album tracks from the My Generation album. Despite this all the new Who singles on Reaction/Polydor that year made it to the top 5 in the UK, while the Brunswick singles did increasingly worse with each subsequent release. Brunswick finally gave up the battle after I'm A Boy (on Reaction) went all the way to # 2 on the UK charts, while Brunswick's La-La-La-Lies didn't even crack the top 100. The B side of I'm A Boy was In The City, a rare collaboration between bassist John Entwhistle and drummer Keith Moon. The song was included on the CD remastered version of the Who's second album, A Quick One, released in 1993.
Artist: The Raik's Progress
Title: All Night Long
Source: Mono LP: Sewer Rat Love Chant
Writer(s): Tommy Scott
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2003
"A bunch of 17-year-old quasi-intellectual proto-punks" was how Steve Krikorian, later to be known as Tonio K, described his first band. Krikorian, along with friends Alan Shapazian, Steve Olson, Nick van Maarth, and Duane Scott, formed The Raik's Progress in 1966 in Fresno, California. By the end of the year they had already cut a single for a major label (Liberty) and would soon find themselves opening for Buffalo Springfield at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium. The Raik's Progress was best known for their stage show, which included sitting down and playing a game of poker between songs and other strange antics. Their music was equally eccentric, in that it combined influences from the more blues oriented British Invasion bands like the Animals and Them with an avant-garde sensibility more in line with what Frank Zappa's Mothers were doing at the time. Although they only released one single, the band did manage to record an album's worth of material before disbanding, including a cover of Call My Name, written by Scottish songwriter Tommy Scott and released by Van Morrison's band, Them, in 1966.
Title: Inside Looking Out
Source: Mono CD: Retrospective (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
One of the last songs recorded by the Animals before their first breakup, Inside Looking Out (a powerful song about life in prison) was covered a few years later by Grand Funk Railroad, who made it one of their concert staples. This has always been one of my all-time favorite rock songs, no matter who recorded it.
Title: She Said She Said
Source: LP: Revolver
The last song to be recorded for the Beatles' Revolver album was She Said She Said, a John Lennon song inspired by an acid trip taken by members of the band (with the exception of Paul McCartney) during a break from touring in August of 1965. The band's manager, Brian Epstein, had rented a large house in Beverly Hills, but word had gotten out and the Beatles found it difficult to come and go at will. Instead, they invited several people, including the original members of the Byrds and actor Peter Fonda, to come over and hang out with them. At some point, Fonda brought up the fact that he had nearly died as a child from an accidental gunshot wound, and used the phrase "I know what it's like to be dead." Lennon was creeped out by the things Fonda was saying and told him to "shut up about that stuff. You're making me feel like I've never been born." The song itself took nine hours to record and mix, and is one of the few Beatles tracks that does not have Paul McCartney on it (George Harrison played bass). Perhaps not all that coincidentally, Fonda himself would star in a Roger Corman film called The Trip (written by Jack Nicholson and co-starring Dennis Hopper) the following year.
Artist: The Move
Title: Fire Brigade
Source: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Roy Wood
Label: Rhino (original label: A&M)
The Move scored their fourth consecutive British top 5 single with Fire Brigade, released in January of 1968. It would be the last single released by the group's original lineup.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: We Love You
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The last Rolling Stones record to be produced by their longtime manager Andrew Loog Oldham, We Love You, released in August of 1967, was also the most elaborate and expensive single the band had ever recorded. Although some critics dismissed the song as an attempt to outdo the Beatles' All You Need Is Love, this view is inconsistent with the fact that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who wrote We Love You, were part of the background crowd appearing with the Beatles on the worldwide premier of All You Need Is Love; furthermore, John Lennon and Paul McCartney sing background vocals on We Love You, which the Stones maintain was meant as more of a sequel to the Beatles tune rather than a competitor. The recording itself opens with the sound of a jail cell door slamming shut, a reference to the recent drug bust that had earned Jagger and Richards disproportionate sentences in an attempt to "make an example" of the pair. This is followed by an ominous sounding piano riff from famed session man Nicky Hopkins that is quickly enhanced by a cacaphony of sound, including some of the creepiest sounding mellotron (played by Brian Jones) ever recorded. Of course, being a Rolling Stones record, the lyrics take a somewhat more cynical tone than the Beatles song, but against the chaotic music track those lyrics work perfectly. We Love You was a top 10 single in the UK, but only made it to the #50 spot in the US as the B side of the song Dandelion (a short section of which fades in and out at the end of We Love You).
Artist: Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones)
Title: In Another Land
Source: LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer(s): Bill Wyman
During recording sessions for the late 1967 Rolling Stones album Their Satanic Majesties Request bassist Bill Wyman made a forty-five minute drive to the studio one evening only to find out that the session had been cancelled. The band's manager and producer, Andrew Loog Oldham, managed to salvage the moment by asking Wyman if he had any song ideas he'd like to work on while he was there. As it turned out, Wyman had just come up with a song called In Another Land, about waking up from a dream only to discover you are actually still dreaming. Utilizing the talents of various people on hand, including Steve Marriott, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts and Nicky Hopkins, Wyman recorded a rough demo of his new tune. When Mick Jagger and Keith Richards heard the song they liked it so much that they added background vocals and insisted the track be used on the album and released as a single by Bill Wyman (with another track from the LP on the B side credited to the entire band). They even went so far as to give Wyman solo artist credit on the label of the LP itself (the label reads: Their Satanic Majesties Request by the Rolling Stones*, with the next line reading *by Bill Wyman), with an asterisk preceeding the song title in the track listing. Wyman reportedly hated the sound of his own voice on the song, and insisted that a tremelo effect be added to it in the final mix. The snoring at the end of the track is Wyman himself, as captured in the studio by Mick and Keith.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: You Can't Always Get What You Want
Source: CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
When the Rolling Stones called for singers to back them up on their recording of You Can't Always Get What You Want, they expected maybe 30 to show up. Instead they got twice that many, and ended up using them all on the record. The song, which also features Al Kooper on organ, was orginally released as the B side of Honky Tonk Women in 1969. In the mid-1970s, after the Stones had established their own record label, Allen Klein, who had bought the rights to the band's pre-1970 recordings, reissued the single, this time promoting You Can't Always Get What You Want as the A side. Klein's strategy worked and the song ended up making the top 40.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Tobacco Road
Source: LP: Psychedelic Lollipop
Writer(s): John D. Loudermilk
For years I've been trying to find a DVD copy of a video I saw on YouTube. It was the Blues Magoos, complete with electric suits and smoke generators, performing Tobacco Road on a Bob Hope TV special. The performance itself was a vintage piece of psychedelia, but the true appeal of the video is in Hope's reaction to the band immediately following the song. You can practically hear him thinking "Well, that's one act I'm not taking with me on my next USO tour."
Title: The Trip
Source: Mono CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released as 45 RPM B side and on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Sony (original label: Epic)
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 relatively 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 it's 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: Rovin' Kind
Title: My Generation
Source: Mono LP: The Dunwich Records Story (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: Tutman (original label: Dunwich)
Unlike most acts signed to Dunwich Records, the Rovin' Kind had already released a pair of singles (for two different companies) before switching labels in late 1966. Their first release for the Chicago-based Dunwich was a cover of the Who's My Generation with a decidedly garage-rock feel to it. The Rovin' Kind were primarily a live act, however, and continued to do gigs throughout their brief recording career. The Rovin' Kind eventually morphed into Illinois Speed Press, who released two LPs for the Columbia label before splitting up, with founding member Paul Cotton going on to become a member of Poco.
Title: Sitting On Top Of The World
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer(s): Chester Burnett
Throughout their existence British blues supergroup Cream recorded covers of blues classics. One of the best of these is Sitting On Top Of The World from the album Wheels Of Fire, which in its earliest form was written by Walter Vinson and Lonnie Chatmon and recorded by the Mississippi Shieks in 1930. Cream's version uses the lyrics from the 1957 rewrite of the song by Chester Burnett, better know as Howlin' Wolf.
Title: What A Bringdown
Source: CD: Goodbye Cream
Writer(s): Ginger Baker
Label: Polydor/Polygram (original label: Atco)
Right around the time that Cream's third LP, Wheels Of Fire, was released, the band announced that it would be splitting up following its upcoming tour. Before starting the tour the band recorded three tracks, each one written by one of the three band members. Both Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce worked with collaborators on their songs, while drummer Ginger Baker was given full credit for his tune, What A Bringdown (which was sung by Bruce). As it turned out those would be the only studio recordings on the final Cream album, Goodbye Cream, released in 1969, which in addition to the three new songs had several live tracks from a 1968 performance at the Los Angeles Palladium.
Source: LP: Wheels Of Fire
Although the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and Pete Brown are best known for providing Cream with its more psychedelic songs such as White Room and SWLABR, they did occasionally come up with bluesier numbers such as Politician from the Wheels Of Fire album. The song quickly became a staple of Cream's live performances.
Artist: Paul McCartney
Title: Come And Get It
Source: CD: Beatles Anthology 3
Writer(s): Paul McCartney
Year: Recorded 1969, released 1996
By 1969, the Beatles had signed other artists to their Apple record label. Among them was a group called the Iveys. One July morning, Paul McCartney arrived early at the studio with a new song, and in less than an hour had assembled a demo version of the tune, which he then brought to the Iveys to use as a guideline for recording their own version of it. The song was Come And Get It, and within a few months would become the first of several hits for the Iveys, who by now had changed their name to Badfinger. McCartney's demo version was finally released on Beatles Anthology 3 in 1996.
Title: Uncle Jack
Source: CD: Spirit
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
Despite nearly universal positive reviews by the rock press, the first Spirit album never really caught the imagination of the record buying public. Why this is the case is still a bit of a mystery, as the album is full of outstanding tracks such as Uncle Jack. Perhaps the album, and indeed the band itself, was just a bit ahead of its time.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Salad Days (Are Here Again)
Source: Mono British import 45 RPM EP: Homburg (originally released on LP: Procol Harum)
Label: Esoteric/Cherry Red (original label: Deram)
In 1967, in the midst of sessions for the first Procol Harum album, keyboardist Matthew Fisher took on the extra task of writing instrumental music for a film called Separation, written by and starring Jane Arden. To sweeten the deal, Fisher agreed to include Salad Days (Are Here Again), a new Procol Harum song from their forthcoming LP, in the soundtrack as well. The film, due to the usual post-production process, was not released until 1968. The Procol Harum album, however, was released in late 1967, making the back cover "From the film Separation" note a kind of reverse anachronism, as the film had not yet been released.
Title: Fight Fire
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: J. Fogerty/T. Fogerty
Label: Rhino (original label: Scorpio)
A quick look at the songwriting credits provides a clue to who these guys were. In fact, the Golliwogs, with their pink cotton candy colored wigs, boasted the exact same lineup as one of the most popular bands in rock history. The primary difference is that the Golliwogs (a name imposed on them by their record label that the band itself hated) were led by Tom Fogerty; by 1968 the group had changed its name to Creedence Clearwater Revival and younger brother John was clearly in charge.
Title: Ah, Sunflower Weary Of Time
Source: CD: The Fugs First Album (originally released as The Village Fugs Sing Ballads of Contemporary Protest, Point of Views, and General Dissatisfaction)
Label: Fantasy (original label: Folkways)
The Fugs were formed in New York in 1964 after poet/publisher Ed Sanders opened a bookstore next door to the apartment of poet Tuli Kupferberg and the two of them decided to form a band with drummer Ken Weaver. Their first official performance was at the bookstore's opening, where the three were joined by Steve Weber and Peter Stampfel of the Holy Modal Rounders. In April of 1965 the five of them recorded 23 songs in a 3-hour long acoustic jam session. Five months later the original trio, joined by John Anderson (on bass), Steve Weber (on guitar) and Vinny Leary (on guitar), recorded nine more songs, this time on electric instruments. Among the songs recorded that day was Ah, Sunflower Weary Of Time, an adaptation of a poem by William Blake first published in 1794, with music by Sanders. All nine of the electric tracks, as well as three tunes from the earlier acoustic sessions, were released late in 1965 as The Village Fugs Sing Ballads of Contemporary Protest, Point of Views, and General Dissatisfaction on the Folkways label. The LP was reissued the following year as The Fugs First Album on ESP-Disk.