Sunday, November 13, 2022

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2246 (starts 11/14/22) 

    It's time for another battle of the bands, except this time one of the bands is actually a duo. Of course, by 21st century standards most "bands" are actually duos or solo artists anyway, but still, we're talking about the psychedelic era, not the psychotic one. In this instance we are talking about the most popular duo of the late 60s, going up against the first rock band out of San Francisco to achieve superstar status. Besides our little battle we have the usual assortment of singles, B sides and album tracks from all over the world, beginning with the original version of a song that later became associated with the Monkees.

Artist:     Astronauts
Title:     Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day
Source:     45 RPM single
Writer:     Boyce/Venet
Label:     RCA Victor
Year:     1965
     The Astronauts were formed in the early 60s in Boulder, Colorado, and were one of the few surf bands to come from a landlocked state. They had a minor hit with an instrumental called Baja during the height of surf's popularity, but were never able to duplicate that success in the US, although they did have considerable success in Japan, even outselling the Beach Boys there. By 1965 they had started to move away from surf music, adding vocals and taking on more of a garage-punk sound. What caught my attention when I first ran across this promo single in a commercial radio station throwaway pile was the song's title. Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day, written by Tommy Boyce and producer Steve Venet, was featured on the Monkees TV show and was included on their 1966 debut album. This 1965 Astronauts version of the tune has a lot more attitude than the Monkees version. Surprisingly the song didn't hit the US charts, despite being released on what was then the biggest record label in the world, RCA Victor.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Love You To
Source:    CD: Yellow Submarine Soundtrack (originally released on LP: Revolver)
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1966
    Following the release of Rubber Soul in December of 1965, the Beatles' George Harrison began to make a serious effort to learn to play the Sitar, studying under the master, Ravi Shankar. Along with the instrument itself, Harrison studied Eastern forms of music. His first song written in the modal form favored by Indian composers was Love You To, from the Revolver album. The recording also features Indian percussion instruments and suitably spiritual lyrics.

Artist:    Mad River
Title:    Orange Fire
Source:    Mono British import CD: The Berkeley EPs (originally released in US on EP: Mad River)
Writer(s):    Lawrence Hammond
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Wee)
Year:    1967
    Mad River was formed in 1965 in Yellow Spings, Ohio, as the Mad River Blues Band. The group (after several personnel changes) relocated to the Berkeley, California in spring of 1967, and soon began appearing at local clubs, often alongside Country Joe And The Fish. Around this time the band came into contact with Lonnie Hewitt, a jazz musician who had started his own R&B-oriented label, Wee. After auditioning for Fantasy Records, the band decided instead to finance their own studio recordings, which were then issued as a three-song EP on Wee. From the start, Mad River's music was pretty far out there, even by Bay Area standards. Orange Fire, for instance, was an attempt by bandleader Lawrence Hammond to portray the horrors of war musically. Interestingly enough, all the tracks on the EP had been written and arranged before the band moved out to the West Coast. The group eventually signed with Capitol, releasing two decidedly non-commercial albums for the label before disbanding in 1969.
Artist:    Neil Young
Title:    The Loner
Source:    LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: Neil Young)
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    The Loner could easily have been passed off as a Buffalo Springfield song. In addition to singer/songwriter/guitarist Neil Young, the tune features Springfield members Jim Messina on bass and George Grantham on drums. Since Buffalo Springfield was functionally defunct by the time the song was ready for release, however, it instead became Young's first single as a solo artist. The song first appeared, in a longer form, on Young's first solo album in late 1968, with the single being released three months later. The subject of The Loner has long been rumored to be Young's bandmate Stephen Stills, or possibly Young himself. As usual, Neil Young ain't sayin'.
Artist:     Traffic
Title:     Feelin' Alright
Source:     CD: Traffic
Writer:     Dave Mason
Label:     United Artists
Year:     1968   
    Dave Mason left Traffic after the band's first album, Mr. Fantasy, but returned in time to contribute several songs to the band's eponymous second album. Among those was his most memorable song, Feelin' Alright, which would become one of the most covered songs in rock history.

Artist:    Moles
Title:    We Are The Moles-Pt. 1
Source:    British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    The Moles
Label:    EMI (original label: Parlophone)
Year:    1968
    Sometimes success carries it own baggage. Take the case of Britain's Simon Dupree And The Big Sound. The group was formed by a trio of Scottish brothers, Phil, Derek and Ray Shulman, along with Peter O'Flaherty, Eric Hine and Tony Ransley in the Portsmouth area, going through a variety of band names before settling on Simon Dupree And The Big Sound in 1966. The group was originally known for its spot-on covers of songs by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Don Covay. By 1967, however, audience tastes were rapidly changing, and psychedelic bands such as Pink Floyd and the Creation were drawing crowds away from the R&B bands. Under pressure from both their management and record label the band recorded a song called Kites, a psychedelic piece that became their biggest hit and placed the group firmly in the minds of record buyers as a flower-power band. But, like most fads, flower-power was itself out of style by 1968, but Simon Dupree And The Big Sound were stuck with a reputation that didn't even fit the members' own musical preferences (which still ran to R&B). To try to break free of this unwanted rep, the group released a rather bizarre single called We Are The Moles in 1968. The record was shrouded in mystery, with writing credits going to "the Moles", and production credit to George Martin (leading some to believe it was actually a Beatles outtake). The ploy almost worked, as the possible Beatles connection led to increased interest in the record, but that interest quickly dissipated when it was revealed (by Syd Barrett, of all people) that the record was indeed the work of Simon Dupree And The Big Sound. The band continued on for a few more months, until lead vocalist Derek Shulman announced his retirement in 1969, saying he was tired of being Simon Dupree. He would rejoin his brothers the following year for their new venture, an experimental rock band called Gentle Giant.

Artist:    Rokes
Title:    When The Wind Arises
Source:    Mono European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Cassia/Shapiro
Label:    Sony Music (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1968
    In the early 1960s it was fairly common for a British band to head south into Germany for a few weeks, or even months, playing clubs in places like Hanover and Hamburg. In January of 1963 a band called the Shel Carson Combo went the rest of them one better by not only doing a residency at Hamburg's Top Ten Club, but continuing south to Italy, becoming the backing band for a singer name Colin Hicks. As the group toured around Italy, they began to develop and performing their own material as well, breaking with Hicks entirely by June of 1963. After changing their name to the Rokes, they released their first single on the Arc label, an updated version of Shake, Rattle And Roll. Several more singles, many of them sung in Italian, followed, and by 1966 they were voted the second most popular beat band in Italy. Their 1966 B side Piangi Con Me became a worldwide million seller, and was re-recorded with English lyrics by the Grass Roots the following year as Let's Live For Today. For all that, they only released two singles in the US: their own English version of Let's Live For Today in 1967 and an English version of their 1968 single Le Opere di Bartolomeo (The Works Of Bartholomew). When The Wind Arises was the B side of that second and final US single.

Artist:     Merry-Go-Round
Title:     Listen, Listen!
Source:     Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):     Emmitt Rhodes
Label:     Rhino (original label: A&M)
Year:     1968
     In 1968, drummer/vocalist Emmit Rhodes was on the verge of branching out on a solo career. One of the last songs released under the Merry-Go-Round banner was a tune called Listen, Listen! The track shows a strong Beatles influence, although it tends to rock out a bit harder than the average Beatles song.

Artist:    Them
Title:    Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out
Source:    British import CD: Now And Them
Writer(s):    Jimmie Cox
Label:    Rev-Ola (original US label: Tower)
Year:    1968
    The artist that comes to mind when I see the title of this Jimmy Cox tune is, of course, Eric Clapton, who included it on the Derek and the Dominos Layla album. Them's version of Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out, from the album Now And Them featuring vocalist Kenny McDowell, actually predates Clapton's by a couple years.

Artist:    Fairport Convention
Title:    Chelsea Morning
Source:    British import CD: Fairport Convention
Writer(s):    Joni Mitchell
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1968
    Although Joni Mitchell wrote Chelsea Morning, she was not the first person to record the song. That honor goes to Dave Van Ronk, who released the song on his 1967 LP Dave Van Ronk and the Hudson Dusters. The following year the song was included on the first Fairport Convention album, and remains my personal favorite of the many different versions of the tune. Mitchell herself finally recorded the song for her second LP, Clouds, in 1969. The song itself was inspired by Mitchell's room in New York's Chelsea neighborhood.

Artist:    Amboy Dukes
Title:    Journey To The Center Of The Mind
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Journey To The Center Of The Mind and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Nugent/Farmer
Label:    Rhino (original label: Mainstream)
Year:    1968
    Detroit was one of the major centers of pop music in the late 60s. In addition to the myriad Motown acts, the area boasted the popular retro-rock&roll band Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the harder rocking Bob Seger System, the non-Motown R&B band the Capitols, and Ted Nugent's outfit, the Amboy Dukes, who scored big in 1968 with Journey To The Center Of The Mind.

Artist:    Small Faces
Title:    Here Come The Nice
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Marriott/Lane
Label:    Rhino (original label: Immediate)
Year:    1967
    If there was ever a song that could be considered too British for American audiences, it's Here Come The Nice, the first Small Faces single to be released by Immediate Records following the band's acrimonious departure from the British Decca label. Although it was a top 20 song in the UK (peaking at #12), the tune failed to chart in the US at all. The fact that Here Come The Nice was a thinly-veiled drug song probably didn't help its chances, either.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Change Is Now
Source:    Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    McGuinn/Hillman
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1967
    1967 saw the departure of two of the Byrds' founders and most prolific songwriters: Gene Clark and David Crosby. The loss of Clark coincided with the emergence of Chris Hillman as a first-rate songwriter in his own right; the loss of Crosby later in the year, however, created an extra burden for Hillman and Roger McGuinn, who from that point on were the band's primary composers. Change Is Now was the band's first post-Crosby single, released in late 1967 and later included (in a stereo version) on their 1968 LP The Notorious Byrd Brothers.

Artist:    Elois
Title:    By My Side
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in Australia as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Heenan/van Berkel/Rowe/Fiorini
Label:    Rhino (original label: IN)
Year:    1967
    If the Easybeats were known as the "Australian Beatles", then, by all rights, the Elois (named after the race of pampered humans being bred for food in H.G. Wells's The Time Machine) should be called the "Australian Yardbirds". They certainly emulated their British heroes, even to the point of recording Bo Diddley's I'm A Man as their only single. They continued to channel the Yardbirds on the B side of that single, a self-composed tune called By My Side. The record was released on the obscure IN label in 1967, but the Elois split up before they could record a followup.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Riders On The Storm
Source:    CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: L.A. Woman)
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1971
    The last major hit single for the Doors was also one of their best: Riders On The Storm. In fact, it still holds up as one of the finest singles ever released. By anyone.

Artist:    Janis Joplin
Title:    Mercedes Benz
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Pearl)
Writer(s):    Joplin/Neuwirth/McClure
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    Recorded 1970, released 1971
    Mercedes Benz was the last song recorded by Janis Joplin. After laying down this vocal track on October 3, 1970 she went home and OD'd on heroin. The song appeared exactly as recorded on the 1971 album Pearl.

Artist:    Simon and Garfunkel
Title:    A Most Peculiar Man
Source:    LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer:    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    You would think that a high school on a US military facility would be inclined to use the most staunchly traditional teaching methods known to man. Surprisingly, though, this was not the case at General H. H. Arnold High School in Weisbaden, Germany in late 1967. In fact, the English department was teaching some sort of new system that dispensed with terms such as verb and noun and replaced them with a more conceptual approach to language. What I best remember about my Freshman English class is the day that my rather Bohemian teacher (he wore sandals to class!), actually brought in a copy of the Sounds Of Silence and had us dissect two songs from the album, Richard Cory and A Most Peculiar Man. We spent several classes discussing the similarities (they both deal with a suicide by someone representing a particular archetype) and differences (the methods used and the archetypes themselves) between the songs. I have forgotten everything else about that class and its so-called revolutionary approach, but those two songs have stayed with me my entire life. I guess that teacher (whose name I have unfortunately forgotten) was on to something.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    A Song For All Seasons
Source:    CD: Volunteers
Writer(s):    Spencer Dryden
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1969
    When it comes to Jefferson Airplane rarities, there is nothing more rare than a Spencer Dryden composition. In fact, to my knowledge, A Song For All Seasons is the only one that he is given sole credit for. The song itself is a bit of a novelty, sounding like it would be more at home on a Rolling Stones (Let It Bleed era) album than an Airplane one, which is even odder when one considers Dryden's jazz background.

Artist:    Simon and Garfunkel
Title:    Richard Cory
Source:    LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    First published as a narrative poem in 1897, Richard Cory has been adapted to music several times since its initial publication. The most famous of these adaptations was by Paul Simon and recorded by himself and Art Garfunkel for their 1966 LP Sounds Of Silence. The song takes the point of view of a factory worker who envies his employer, who seems to have everything going his way, yet ends up putting "a bullet in his head".

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Hey Fredrick
Source:    CD: Volunteers
Writer:    Grace Slick
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1969
    By 1969 Grace Slick's songwriting had taken a somewhat discordant tone, at least as far as the music went. Slick's lyrics were, for the most part, highly personal: no generic love songs for her. Hey Frederick, from the Volunteers album, illustrates both of these ideas well. The first line of the song is a challenge that has been echoed by several other people over the years, most notably Ted Turner, whose motto "lead, follow or get out of the way" is in much the same spirit.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Somewhere They Can't Find Me
Source:    LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    The first Simon And Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning 3AM, was a fairly traditional type of folk LP. The album was originally released in late 1964, but due to lackluster sales was soon deleted from the Columbia catalog. In 1965 Paul Simon relocated to London, releasing a solo LP called the Paul Simon Songbook there. Before leaving the country, however, he and Art Garfunkel recorded two new songs in a more upbeat style. One of those two, We've Got A Groovey Thing Goin', was used as the B side for an electrified version of The Sound Of Silence, a tune from Wednesday Morning 3AM that was issued without the knowledge of either Simon or Garfunkel. The other song, Somewhere They Can't Find Me, was, lyrically, a reworking of the title track of Wednesday Morning 3AM, but with entirely new music inspired by a Davey Graham tune called Anji. It remained unreleased until 1966, when the duo reunited in early 1966 and quickly put together a new album, Sounds of Silence, to capitalize on the success of the unauthorized (but happily accepted) single. On the album itself, Somewhere They Can't Find Me is followed by Simon's cover of Anji.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Plastic Fantastic Lover (live version)
Source:    CD: The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane (originally released on LP: Bless Its Pointed Little Head)
Writer(s):    Marty Balin
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1969
    Marty Balin's Plastic Fantastic Lover first appeared on the 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow and was issued as the B side of White Rabbit. For Jefferson Airplane's 1969 live album, Bless Its Pointed Little Head, the band, including new drummer Joey Covington, upped the tempo considerably, transforming a good song for potheads to dance to into one more suited to an audience on speed, reflecting the changes on the streets of San Francisco itself.

Artist:    Fut
Title:    Have You Heard The Word
Source:    Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Kipner/Lawrie/Groves
Label:    Grapefruit (original label: Beacon)
Year:    1970
            Have You Heard The Word was the result of a drunken 1969 recording session attended by Steve Groves and Steve Kipner (known collectively as Tin Tin), Maurice Gibb (of the Bee Gees) and Gibbs's brother-in-law (and singer Lulu's brother) Billy Lawrie. A tape of the session was leaked to Beacon Records, who issued it as a single credited to the Fut. The song has been repeatedly mistaken for a lost Beatles track; in fact, Yoko One even tried to copyright the piece as a lost John Lennon composition in 1985.

Artist:    Nazz
Title:    Meridian Leeward/Under The Ice
Source:    LP: Nazz Nazz
Writer(s):    Todd Rundgren
Label:    SGC
Year:    1969
    The second Nazz album was a study in what not to do when making a second album. First off, bandleader Todd Rundgren assumed production duties and started writing songs that were more keyboard-oriented without the knowledge or participation of Stewkey, the band's keyboardist/lead vocalist. At the same time he became more authoritarian in his leadership style, which did not sit well with the other band members. Complicating matters were a paperwork snafu that caused the British Musician's Union to bar the band from recording at London's Trident Studios after the band had completed just one day's work there (the instrumental track for Under The Ice), forcing them to return to the US and complete the album in Los Angeles. Stewkey also had problems with some of Rundgren's lyrics and refused to sing them (although Meridian Leeward, a song about a pig that had nothing to do with sailing, was apparently not one of them). Not long after the LP was completed bassist Carson Van Osten quit the band, leaving Rundgren, Stewkey and drummer Thom Mooney to carry on as a trio to promote the album, using guest bassists on stage. Finally, Rundgren himself, citing the increasing tension within the group, also quit before the album was actually released, leaving the remaining two members to oversee the final touches, including paring it down from a double to a single LP, with the remaining tracks eventually being released on the album Nazz III.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (originally released on LP: A Saucerful Of Secrets)
Source:    CD: Works
Writer:    Roger Waters
Label:    Capitol (original label: Tower)
Year:    1968
    With mental illness pretty much taking Sid Barrett out of the Pink Floyd equation by 1968, other members stepped up their own songwriting game for the band's second LP, A Saucerful Of Secrets. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, a Roger Waters composition, is the only Pink Floyd recording to have both Barrett and his replacement, David Gilmour, playing guitar parts and was considered strong enough to be included on the Works compilation album in the early 80s. A Saucerful Of Secrets is the only Pink Floyd album that failed to chart in the US, due in part to it being released on Capitol's Tower subsidiary, which was generally regarded as a second-rate label dedicated to releasing material from outside sources. 
Artist:    Fantastic Zoo
Title:    Light Show
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Cameron/Karl
Label:    Double Shot
Year:    1967
    The Fantastic Zoo had its origins in Denver, Colorado, with a band called the Fogcutters. When the group disbanded in 1966, main members Don Cameron and Erik Karl relocated to Los Angeles and reformed the group with new members. After signing a deal with local label Double Shot (which had a major hit on the charts at the time with Count Five's Psychotic Reaction), the group rechristened itself Fantastic Zoo, releasing their first single that fall. Early in 1967 the band released their second and final single, Light Show. The song did not get much airplay at the time, but has since become somewhat of a cult favorite.

Artist:     Love
Title:     Revelation (conclusion)
Source:     CD: Da Capo
Writer:     Lee/MacLean/Echols/Forsi
Label:     Elektra
Year:     1967
     The undisputed kings of the Sunset Strip in the mid-1960s were the members of Love. Led by Arthur Lee, the band held down the position of house band at the Strip's most famous club, the Whisky A-Go-Go, throughout 1966 and much of 1967, even as the club scene itself was being squeezed out of existence by restrictive new city ordinances. Love liked being the top dog in L.A., so much so that they decided to forego touring to promote their records in favor of maintaining their presence at the Whisky. In the long run this cost them, as many of their contemporaries (including one band that Love itself had discovered and introduced to Elektra producer Paul Rothchild: the Doors) went on to greater fame while Love remained a cult band throughout their existence. One of the highlights of their stage performances was a 19-minute jam called Revelation, a piece originally called John Hooker that served to give each band member a chance to show off with a solo. Although the band had been playing Revelation throughout 1966, inspiring the Rolling Stones to do a similar number on one of their own albums, they did not get around to recording a studio version of Revelation until 1967, prompting some critics to assume that Love had ripped off the Stones rather than the other way around. By that point they had added two new members, Tjay Cantrelli (sax) and Michael Stuart (drums), whose solos take up the last six minutes or so of the recorded version of the tune. The Harpsichord solo at the end of Revelation is played by "Snoopy" Pfisterer, who had switched from drums to keyboards when Stuart joined the group, and would soon leave the band completely.

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