Sunday, July 3, 2022

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2228 (starts 7/4/22)

    This week we present our first battle of the bands not to include any songs by the Rolling Stones. The Beatles, however, are deeply involved, going up against a challenger from L.A.  Stones fans needn't feel neglected, however, as we do have artists' sets from both the Stones and Simon & Garfunkel.

Artist:     Jefferson Airplane
Title:     Lather
Source:     CD: Crown of Creation
Writer:     Grace Slick
Label:     BMG/RCA
Year:     1968
     One of Grace Slick's most memorable tunes was Lather, with its eerie instrumental bridge played on a tissue-paper covered comb (at least that's what I think it was). The song was reportedly about drummer Spencer Dryden, the band's oldest member, who had just turned 30. A popular phrase of the time was "don't trust anyone over 30", making it a particularly bad time to have that particular birthday.

Artist:    Stevie Wonder
Title:    Don't Know Why I Love You
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer:    Hunter/Hardaway/Wonder/Reiser
Label:    Tamla
Year:    1968
    The Rolling Stones had a minor but notable hit with their cover of Stevie Wonder's I Don't Know Why I Love You in the early 1970s. I thought I'd pull out a copy of the original version, which was intended as an A side but was eclipsed in popularity by the B side of the record, a tune called My Cherie Amour.

Artist:    Them
Title:    But It's Alright
Source:    Mono British import CD: Time Out! Time In! For Them (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jackson/Tubbs
Label:    Rev-Ola (original US label: Tower)
Year:    1968
    Following the departure of original founding member and front man Van Morrison, the remaining members of Them, with new vocalist Kenny McDowell, decided to relocate to the US and make a go of it there. Unfortunately, rather than to forge a whole new identity of their own, they chose to remain Them, which, as it turned out, was actually more of a hindrance than a help when it came to establishing a consistent sound. Their first LP, Now And Them, while containing some good music, reflects this lack of direction. Before embarking on a second LP the group cut a cover of JJ Jackson's R&B hit But It's Alright, mostly to satisfy their label's demand for a new single. Them's version of the tune used a similar arrangement to Jackson's original, but with fuzz guitar and a more snarling vocal track. Although the record was not a hit, it did give an indication of where the band was headed as they began work on their next studio album, Time Out! Time In! For Them.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    White Room
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Wheels Of Fire)
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    United Artists (original label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    In order to get songs played on top 40 radio, record companies made it a practice to shorten album cuts by cutting out extended instrumental breaks and extra verses. This version of the Cream classic White Room, clocking in at just over three minutes, is a typical example.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Stone Free
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Smash Hits
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1966
    Whether or not Stone Free was the first song ever written by Jimi Hendrix, there is no doubt it was his first original composition to be recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In fact, it is the only song written by Hendrix to be released in 1966, albeit only in Europe and the UK (as the B side to Hey Joe). The first time the song was released in the US was on the Smash Hits anthology album that was put out by Reprise Records in 1969. A newer version was recorded, but not released, that same year under the title Stone Free Again.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ed Cobb
Label:    Rhino (original label: Tower)
Year:    1966
     If ever a song could be considered a garage-punk anthem, it's Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, the follow-up single to the classic Dirty Water. Both songs were written by Standells' manager/producer Ed Cobb, who might be considered the record industry's answer to Ed Wood.

Artist:    Knickerbockers
Title:    One Track Mind
Source:    Mono CD: Even More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    L. Colley/K. Colley
Label:    Rhino (original label: Challenge)
Year:    1966
    After successfully fooling many people into thinking that they were the Beatles recording under a different name with their 1965 hit Lies, the Knickerbockers (originally from Bergenfield, New Jersey) went with a more R&B flavored rocker for their follow up single. Unfortunately their label, the Los Angeles-based Challenge Records, did not have the resources and/or skills to properly promote the single.

Artist:    Del-Vetts
Title:    Last Time Around
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Dennis Dahlquist
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    The Del-Vetts were from Chicago's affluent North Shore. Their gimmick was to show up at a high school dance by driving their matching corvettes onto the gymnasium dance floor. Musically, like most garage/punk bands, they were heavily influenced by the British invasion bands. Unlike most garage/punk bands, who favored the Rolling Stones, the Del-Vetts were more into the Jeff Beck incarnation of the Yardbirds. The 'Vetts had a few regional hits from 1965-67, the biggest being this single issued on the Dunwich label, home of fellow Chicago suburbanites the Shadows of Knight. In retrospect, considering the song's subject matter (and overall loudness), Last Time Around may well be the very first death metal rock song ever recorded.

Artist:    Count Five
Title:    Psychotic Reaction
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ellner/Chaney/Atkinson/Byrne/Michalski
Label:    Priority (original label: Double Shot)
Year:    1966
    San Jose, California, was home to one of the most vibrant local music scenes in the late 60s, despite its relatively  small, pre-silicon valley population. One of the most popular bands on that scene was Count Five, a group of five guys who dressed like Bela Lugosi's Dracula and sounded like the Jeff Beck-era Yardbirds. Fortunately for Count Five, Jeff Beck had just left the Yardbirds when Psychotic Reaction came out, leaving a hole that the boys from San Jose were more than happy to fill.

Artist:    Simon and Garfunkel
Title:    Fakin' It
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bookends)
Writer:    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    Fakin' It, originally released as a single in 1967, was a bit of a departure for Simon And Garfunkel, sounding more like British psychedelic music than American folk-rock. The track starts with an intro that is similar to the false ending to the Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever; midway through the record the tempo changes drastically for a short spoken word section (name-dropping Mr. [Donovan] Leitch) that is slightly reminiscent of the bridge in Traffic's Hole In My Shoe. The song was later included on the 1968 LP Bookends.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Blessed
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Sounds Of Silence)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    Possibly the most psychedelic track on Simon And Garfunkel's Sounds Of Silence album, Blessed is a classic example of structured chaos, combining a wall of sound approach with tight harmonies and intelligent lyrics. One of the duo's most overlooked recordings.

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:    Left Banke
Title:    I Haven't Got The Nerve
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Cameron/Martin
Label:    Smash/Sundazed
Year:    1967
    The first thought I had when seeing the title of Left Banke's 1967 debut LP, Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina, was "if they had to name the album after the band's two hit singles, the rest of the songs must really suck", so I never gave it another thought. It turns out I was totally wrong, as the album is actually filled with fine tracks such as I Haven't Got The Nerve, which was originally the B side of the Walk Away Renee single in late 1966. I still think it's an annoying name for an album, though.

Artist:     Johnny Rivers
Title:     Secret Agent Man
Source:     45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer:     Sloan/Barri
Label:     Imperial
Year:     1966
     The sixties were a decade of fads and trends in the US, many of them imported from England. One of the most popular was the spy craze. Inspired by cold war politics and the first James Bond movie, Dr. No, TV producers began cranking out shows like I-Spy and the Man from U.N.C.L.E. One of the earliest of these shows was a British production called Danger Man, aired in the US under the name Secret Agent. The show starred Darrin McGavin as a (surprise) secret agent for a fictional version of MI6, the British intelligence agency, and enjoyed a successful run on both sides of the Atlantic. After a few seasons McGavin got tired of doing the show and Danger Man/Secret Agent was cancelled. Before that happened, however, Johnny Rivers scored a huge hit with the theme song written by Steve Barri and PF Sloan especially for the US airings of the show. McGavin would make another series called the Prisoner about a former secret agent that had been "retired" to a closed village in order to protect the secret knowledge he had accumulated over the years. Although it was never explicitly stated, it was assumed that his character (who had indeed been given a number and had his name taken away) was the same one he had played in the earlier show.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Colored Balls Falling
Source:    Mono LP: Love
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1966
    The first Love album is rooted solidly in both folk-rock and garage rock. A solid example of this blend is Colored Balls Falling, written by Arthur Lee. To my knowledge, Colored Balls Falling has never been included on any anthology albums, making this mono mix of the song somewhat of a rarity.

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    I'm A Man
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer:    Winwood/Miller
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1967
    The Spencer Davis Group, featuring brothers 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. The group itself continued on for several years, but were never able to duplicate their earlier successes. As for Steve Winwood, he quickly faded off into obscurity, never to be heard from again. Except as the leader of Traffic. And a member of Blind Faith. And Traffic again. And some critically-acclaimed collaborations in the early 1980s with Asian musicians. Oh yeah, and a few major solo hits like Higher Love and Roll With It in the late 80s. Other than that, nothing.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Bluebird
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    When it comes right down to it Buffalo Springfield has one of the highest ratios of songs recorded to songs played on the radio of any band in history, especially if you only count the two albums worth of material that was released while the band was still active. This is probably because Buffalo Springfield had more raw songwriting talent than just about any two other bands. Although Neil Young was just starting to hit his stride as a songwriter, bandmate Stephen Stills was already at an early peak, as songs like Bluebird clearly demonstrate.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Shanghai Noodle Factory
Source:    LP: Last Exit (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi/Wood/Miller/Fallon
Label:    Island (original US LP label: United Artists)
Year:    1968
    After Traffic split up (for the first time), Island Records decided to milk one more album out of one their most popular groups. To do so they took studio outtakes, singles that had not been included on previous albums, and even an entire side of live performances, issuing the entire package in 1969 under the title Last Exit. Shanghai Noodle Factory, a song that was recorded without the participation of guitarist Dave Mason, was originally released in late 1968 as the B side of the Medicated Goo single.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    Chicken Little Was Right
Source:    French import CD: Happy Together (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer:    The Turtles
Label:    Magic (original label: White Whale)
Year:    1968
    Like many of the bands of the time, the Turtles usually recorded songs from professional songwriters for their A sides and provided their own material for the B sides. In the Turtles' case, however, these B sides were often psychedelic masterpieces that contrasted strongly with their hits. Chicken Little Was Right, the B side of She's My Girl, at first sounds like something you'd hear at a hootenanny, but then switches keys for a chorus featuring the Turtles' trademark harmonies, with a little bit of Peter And The Wolf thrown in for good measure. The original version of the song had a slight country twang, which was more strongly emphasized for a new stereo version they recorded for the 1968 LP The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Yellow Submarine
Source:    European import LP: Revolver
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone/EMI
Year:    1966
    Ringo's greatest hit. (What, you expected some sort of hidden insight into one of the best-known songs in pop culture history???)

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    She's My Girl
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Bonner/Gordon
Label:    Rhino (original label: White Whale)
Year:    1967
    A favorite among the Turtles' members themselves, She's My Girl is full of hidden studio tricks that are barely (if at all) audible on the final recording. Written by Gary Bonner and Al Gordon, the same team that came up with Happy Together, the song is a worthy follow up to that monster hit.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    She Said She Said
Source:    European Import LP: Revolver
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Parlophone/EMI (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1966
    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 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 Beatle tracks that does not have Paul McCartney on it (George Harrison played bass). Ironically, 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:    Beatles
Title:    Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Source:    CD: Yellow Submarine Songtrack (originally released on LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Capitol
Year:    1967
    The only Beatles album to get a complete remix for CD was the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album, which was reissued under the title Yellow Submarine Songbook in 1999 with a radically modified track selection. Gone was George Martin's orchestral film score, which had taken up the entire second side of the 1969 LP. In its place were several songs that had appeared in the Yellow Submarine animated film but had been left off the soundtrack album, including John Lennon's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, which has a richer, fuller sound than the original 1967 mix on the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    You Know What I Mean
Source:    French import CD: Happy Together (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Bonner/Gordon
Label:    Magic (original label: White Whale)
Year:    1967
    1967 was a good year for the Turtles, mainly due to their discovery of the songwriting team Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon. Not only did the former members of the Magicians write the Turtles' biggest hit, Happy Together, they also provided two follow-up songs, She's My Girl and You Know What I Mean, both of which hit the top 20 later in the year.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Careful With That Axe, Eugene
Source:    CD: Ummagumma
Writer(s):    Waters/Wright/Mason/Gilmour
Label:    EMI/Capitol (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1969
    Pink Floyd's first double LP, Ummagumma, consisted of a live album with four tracks and a studio LP showcasing each individual member of the group. In later years the album would find itself disparaged by band members and critics alike, although one critic did point out that the live version of Careful With That Axe, Eugene, was actually a pretty decent rendition of one the band's most popular early tunes.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Midnight Rambler
Source:    LP: Let It Bleed
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1969
    1969 was, with one huge exception, a good year for the Rolling Stones. Their Beggar's Banquet album, released late in 1968, had reestablished them as one of the world's premier rock bands, and their first single of 1969, Honky Tonk Women, was nothing short of a masterpiece. The song had introduced Stones fans to the band's newest member, Mick Taylor, who had replaced Brian Jones, who had left the band he founded just a few weeks before he was found dead in his swimming pool on the very night that Honky Tonk Women was recorded. The timing of it all gave fuel to all kinds of conspiracy theories, of course, but the band itself was already hard at work on what would be their final album for the British Decca label (and it's US counterpart, London) before starting their own label. One of the most enduring tracks on Let It Bleed was Midnight Rambler, which would become a staple of the band's live performances for years to come.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Back Street Girl
Source:    CD:  Flowers
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    Back Street Girl is a tune that was originally released on the British version of the 1967 LP Between The Buttons, but left off the US album. Instead, the tune appeared later the same year on the US-only album Flowers. The album itself was a mixture of new and previously released material; in fact, half the songs on Flowers had already appeared on the US versions of Aftermath and Between The Buttons, while several more (including Back Street Girl) were available in the UK. This led critics to initially dismiss Flowers as a promotional ploy, but in more recent years the album has been recognized as a strong collection of songs based on the social scene surrounding the band itself.
Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Monkey Man
Source:    LP: Let It Bleed
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1969
    Ever have a song get stuck in your head for days at a time? Monkey Man, from the Rolling Stones' 1969 LP Let It Bleed, is that kind of song. Admit it: now you've got Mick screaming "I'm A Monkey" running through your brain.

Artist:     Blues Project
Title:     Caress Me Baby
Source:     LP: Projections
Writer:     Jimmy Reed
Label:     Verve Forecast
Year:     1966
     After deliberately truncating their extended jams for their first LP, Live At The Cafe Au-Go-Go, the Blues Project recorded a second album that was a much more accurate representation of what the band was all about. Mixed in with the group's original material was this outstanding cover of Caress Me Baby, an old Jimmy Reed tune sung by lead guitarist and Blues Project founder Danny Kalb that runs over seven minutes in length. Andy Kuhlberg's memorable walking bass line would be lifted a few year later by Blood, Sweat and Tears bassist Jim Fielder for the track Blues, Part II.

Artist:    Things To Come (Illinois band)
Title:    I'm Not Talkin'
Source:    Mono CD: If You're Ready! The Best Of Dunwich Records...Volume 2 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Mose Allison
Label:    Sundazed/Here 'Tis (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1966
    Not to be confused with the California band Things To Come, this Illinois group released one single on the Dunwich label in 1966, a cover of the Yardbirds cover version of an old Mose Allison tune called I'm Not Talkin'. Other than that, absolutely nothing is known about this band, so if you have some info you'd like to pass along, you know where to send it, right?

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