This time around we have our first California battle of the bands and an entire segment of single-take jams, all in the second hour. As for the first hour, read on...
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Talk Talk
Source: British import CD: The UltimateTurn On (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer: Sean Bonniwell
Label: Big Beat (original label: Original Sound)
When it came time for Sean Bonniwell's band, the Music Machine, to go into the studio, the group decided to go for the best sound possible. This meant signing with tiny Original Sound Records, despite having offers from bigger labels, due to Original Sound having their own state-of-the-art eight-track studios. Unfortunately for the band, they soon discovered that having great equipment did not mean the people in charge of Original Sound made great decisions. One of the first, in fact, was to include a handful of cover songs on the Music Machine's first LP that were recorded for use on a local TV show. Bonniwell was livid when he found out, as he had envisioned an album made up entirely of his own compositions (although he reportedly did plan to use a slowed-down version of Hey Joe that he and Tim Rose had worked up together). From that point on it was only a matter of time until the Music Machine and Original Sound parted ways, but not until after they scored a big national hit with Talk Talk in 1966.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Rock And Roll Woman
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Buffalo Springfield did not sell huge numbers of records (except for the single For What It's Worth) while they were together. Nor did they pack in the crowds. As a matter of fact, when they played the club across the street from where Love was playing, they barely had any audience at all. Artistically, though, it's a whole 'nother story. During their brief existence Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of no less than four major artists: Richie Furay, Jim Messina, Stephen Stills and Neil Young. They also recorded more than their share of tracks that have held up better than most of what else was being recorded at the time. Case in point: Rock And Roll Woman, a Stephen Stills tune that still sounds fresh well over 50 years after it was recorded.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Mystic Mourning
Source: LP: The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union
If I had to choose one single recording that encapsulates the psychedelic era, my choice would be Mystic Mourning, from the album The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union. Everything about the tune screams psychedelic, starting with a short spacy intro of electric piano over cymbals, leading into a raga beat with a solo bass line that builds up to a repeating riff that ends up getting played at various times by guitar, bass, and/or electric piano. The lyrics are appropriately existential, and both guitar and electric piano get a chance to show their stuff over the course of the nearly six-minute-long track.
Artist: Savoy Brown
Title: Made Up My Mind
Source: British import CD: A Step Further
Writer: Chris Youlden
Label: Polygram/Deram (original US label: Parrot)
To coincide with a US tour, the fourth Savoy Brown album, A Step Further, was actually released in North America several months before it was in the UK, with Made Up My Mind being simultaneously released as a single. Luckily for the band, 1969 was a year that continued the industry-wide trend away from hit singles and toward successful albums instead, at least among the more progressive groups, as the single itself tanked. Aided by a decent amount of airplay on progressive FM radio, however, the album (the last to feature lead vocalist Chris Youlden) peaked comfortably within the top 100.
Title: A Well Respected Man
Source: 45 RPM EP: Kwyet Kinks (reissue)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: BMG (original UK label: Pye)
Year: Released 1965, charted 1966
The Kinks were one of the original British Invasion bands, scoring huge R&B-influenced hits with You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night in 1964. The hits continued in 1965 with more melodic songs like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You. 1966 saw Ray Davies's songwriting take a satiric turn, as A Well Respected Man (actually released in late 1965 in the UK on the Kwyet Kinks EP) amply illustrates. Over the next few years the Kinks would continue to evolve, generally getting decent critical reviews and moderate record sales for their albums. The title of one of those later albums, Muswell Hillbillies, refers to the Davies brothers hometown of Muswell Hill, North London.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: I Got My Mojo Workin'
Source: CD: Dark Sides-The Best Of The Shadows Of Knight (originally released on LP: Gloria)
Writer(s): McKinley Morganfield
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
When it became apparent that the Shadows Of Knight cover version of Van Morrison's Gloria was going to be a hit, Dunwich Records honcho Bill Traut rushed the popular suburban Chicago band into the studio to record an entire LP's worth of material. Much of the material that they recorded for the album were songs they had been performing live for local audiences, including covers of songs by legendary Chicago blues artists such as Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon and of course Muddy Waters, who penned I Got My Mojo Workin'. Ironically, the Shadows' main inspirations were the various British invasion bands that had been covering Chicago blues artists since their own early days.
Title: Daily Nightly
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.)
Writer(s): Michael Nesmith
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
One of the first rock songs to feature a Moog synthesizer was the Monkees' Daily Nightly from the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD. Micky Dolenz, who had a reputation for nailing it on the first take but being unable to duplicate his success in subsequent attempts, was at the controls of the new technology for this recording of Michael Nesmith's most psychedelic song (he also sang lead on it). The Moog itself had been programmed by electronic music pioneer Paul Beaver especially for this recording.
Artist: Jeff Beck
Title: Love Is Blue (L'Amout Est Bleu)
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Label: Sundazed/Epic (original UK label: Columbia)
In early 1968 guitarist Jeff Beck, having parted company with the Yardbirds, found himself with all kinds of freedom, but few ideas about what to do with it. One of his earliest solo recordings was a cover of Paul Mauriat's L'Amour Est Bleu (Love Is Blue). Producer Mickey Most's arrangement of the piece, which made the British top 40, was actually quite similar to Mauriat's original, the main difference being Beck's guitar taking the part that had been played by a string section on the original. While recording Love Is Blue, Beck was also in the process of putting together a new band, the Jeff Beck Group, that featured a young Rod Stewart on lead vocals. The rest is history.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Summer In The City
Source: LP: KRLA 42 Solid Rocks (originally released on LP: Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful)
Label: Take 6 (original label: Kama Sutra)
The Lovin' Spoonful changed gears completely for what would become their biggest hit of 1966: Summer In The City. Inspired by a poem by John Sebastian's brother, the song was recorded for the album Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful. That album was an attempt by the band to deliberately record in a variety of styles; in the case of Summer In The City, it was a rare foray into psychedelic rock for the band. Not coincidentally, Summer In The City is by far my favorite Lovin' Spoonful song.
Artist: We The People
Title: Mirror Of Your Mind
Source: Mono CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Thomas Talton
Label: Rhino (original label: Challenge)
We The People was formed when a newspaper reporter in Orlando, Florida talked members of two local bands to combine into a garage/punk supergroup. The result was one of the most successful regional bands in Florida history. After their first recording got airplay on a local station, they were signed to record in Nashville for Challenge Records (a label actually based in Los Angeles) and cranked out several regional hits over the next few years. The first of these was Mirror Of Your Mind. Written by lead vocalist Tom Talton, the song is an in-your-face rocker that got played on a number of local stations and has been covered by several bands since.
Title: Time Won't Let Me
Source: Mono LP: Time Won't Let Me
From Cleveland we have the Outsiders, a popular local band signed to a major label, in this case Capitol Records, which at the time was having great success with both the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Lead vocalist Sonny Gerachi would reappear a few years later with the band Climax, singing a song called Precious and Few, which is one of the greatest juxtapositions of artist names and song titles ever.
Artist: Janis Ian
Title: New Christ Cardiac Hero
Source: Mono LP: Janis Ian
Writer(s): Janis Ian
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
When Bob Dylan went electric in 1965, many of the Greenwich Village-based folk artists that knew him had much to say about it. 14-year-old Janis Ian, however, went her contemporaries one better by writing a song about it. That song, New Christ Cardiac Hero, ended up appearing on Ian's own debut LP, released in January of 1967. Ian was fifteen at the time of the album's release.
Title: The Girl With No Name
Source: CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s): Chris Hillman
As is often the case, a failed relationship was the inspiration for The Girl With No Name, one of five songs written or co-written by Byrds bassist Chris Hillman for the group's fourth LP, Younger Than Yesterday. The tune has a strong country feel to it, presaging Hillman's future career as a member of the Desert Rose Band in the 1980s. Guitarist Clarence White, who would soon become a member of the band, makes an early appearance on the track.
Artist: Moby Grape
Title: Mr. Blues
Source: LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s): Bob Mosley
Bassist Bob Mosley wrote and sang on Mr. Blues, one of ten songs released simultaneously on 45 RPM vinyl from the first Moby Grape album. It was a marketing disaster that forever tarnished a talented band.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: I'm A Man
Source: Mono LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: United Artists
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. The 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.
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 (original US label: Hickory)
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 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. Having heard all three versions, I would pick this one as the best of the lot.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: The Dangling Conversation
Source: LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Writer(s): Paul Simon
The first Simon and Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning 3AM, originally tanked on the charts, causing Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel to temporarily pursue solo careers. Simon went to England, where he wrote and recorded an album's worth of material. Meanwhile, producer Tom Wilson, fresh from producing Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone, went into the studio with the original recording of the song Sound of Silence and added electric instruments to it. The result was a surprise hit that led Paul Simon to return to the US, reuniting with Art Garfunkel and re-recording several of the tunes he had recorded as a solo artist for a new album, Sounds of Silence. The success of that album prompted Columbia to re-release Wednesday Morning, 3AM, which in turn became a bestseller. Meanwhile, Simon and Garfunkel returned to the studio to record an album of all new material. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was yet another success that spawned several hit songs, including The Dangling Conversation, a song Simon described as similar to The Sound Of Silence, but more personal. The song was originally released as a single in fall of 1966, before the album itself came out.
Artist: Elastik Band
Source: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): David Cortopassi
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Just plain weird, and probably politically incorrect as well, Spazz was the work of five young men from Belmont, California calling themselves the Elastik Band. For some odd reason, someone at Atco Records thought Spazz might be commercially viable, and released the track as a single in late 1967. They were wrong.