Being in a rock band can be frustrating at times, even when that band is considered successful. In fact, sometimes that frustration is a direct result of a band's success. Take Peter Tork, for instance. He was a reasonably talented multi-instrumentalist that had moved from Greenwich Village to Los Angeles in search of success, only to find himself unable to accomplish it on his own terms. Then there are all those bands that spent years working toward the goal of recording something, only have have the song bomb out on the charts, or in some cases not even be released at all. Of course, there are also the true success stories, and this week we feature a mixture of both, starting with a guy who eventually quit a well-known band at the height of its popularity only to see his own new project go nowhere.
Artist: Paul Revere And The Raiders
Title: I'm Crying
Source: LP: Just Like Us
In their early days, Paul Revere And The Raiders were a band of equals, with every member getting their share of the spotlight. This all began to change around 1965, when the band landed a gig as house band for Where The Action Is, a daily pop music oriented variety show created by Dick Clark for the ABC television network, and saxophonist Mark Lindsay began to move into the role of lead vocalist and primary songwriter for the band. But that was still in the future when the Raiders recorded their second album for Columbia (their fourth overall), and Just Like Us, released the first week of 1966, was very much the product of a band that was still in touch with its roots. Unlike later Raiders albums, Just Like Us did not feature any studio musicians, giving individual members like bassist Phil "Fang" Volk a chance to be front and center on an energetic cover version of I'm Crying, which had been a hit for the Animals in 1964. Volk and two other members of the Raiders would leave the band in 1967 to form their own group, but were unable to overcome the stigma of having been members of a band that dressed up like Revolutionary War characters.
Title: She Said She Said
Source: CD: Revolver
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
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 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." Both lines ended up being used in She Said She Said, which 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.
Title: Unhappy Girl
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: The Doors
After the success of their first album and the single Light My Fire in early 1967, the Doors quickly returned to the studio, releasing a second LP, Strange Days, later the same year. The first single released from the new album was People Are Strange. The B side of that single was Unhappy Girl, from the same album. Both sides got played on the jukebox at a place called the Woog in the village of Meisenbach near Ramstein Air Force Base (which is where I was spending most of my evenings that autumn).
Title: Poll/Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Now
Source: LP: Head
Writer(s): Peter Tork
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the Monkees was the fact that Peter Tork was never taken seriously as a musician, despite being, according to Mike Nesmith, the best instrumentalist in the band, and for that matter a much better vocalist than anyone realized. Born Peter Halsten Thorkelson on Feb 13, 1942, Tork was part of New York's Greenwich Village folk music community, where he became friends with Stephen Stills. By 1966, both Stills and Tork had relocated to Los Angeles, and after Stills auditioned unsuccessfully for the Monkees, he recommended Tork, who got the part. It was a mixed blessing, however, as Tork, more than any of the others, wanted the Monkees to be a real band, but was constantly frustrated in his efforts to make it happen. Tork was proficient on several instruments, including banjo, acoustic and electric bass, guitar and harpsichord. Tork had few opportunities to sing lead vocals with the Monkees, the most famous being the comical Your Auntie Grizelda on the album More Of The Monkees. He finally did get to show his true talent on Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Now, a song that he wrote and sang lead on from the LP Head, the soundtrack album from the movie of the same name. The album itself, a major departure from the light pop the Monkees were known for, was a commercial failure, and Tork soon left the group for a solo career.
Artist: Kaleidoscope (UK band)
Title: If You So Wish
Source: British import CD: Further Reflections: The Complete Recordings 1967-1969 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Grapefruit (original label: Fontana)
Formed in 1963 as the Sidekicks, the Key, consisting of guitarist Eddy Pumer, bassist/flautist Steve Clark, drummer Danny Bridgman and vocalist/keyboardist Peter Daltrey, changed their name to Kaleidoscope in 1967 when they signed with Fontana Records. After failing to achieve commercial success after releasing five singles and two LPs, they changed their name once again, this time to Fairfield Parlour, taking on a more progressive rock sound on From Home To Home, their only LP for the Vertigo label. Their final release as Kaleidoscope was a single called Balloon, which was backed with a mono mix of If You So Wish, a track from their second LP, Faintly Blowing. The band's last appearance was at a concert in Bremen, Germany, in 1972. The recordings of Kaleidoscope, long lost to obscurity, resurfaced in 2012 on a compilation album called Further Reflections: The Complete Recordings 1967-1969, which has led to band being more popular now than while it was still in existence.
Artist: Canned Heat
Title: Let's Work Together
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Wilbert Harrison
By a rather odd twist of fate Wilbert Harrison, known primarily for his 50s hit Kansas City, decided to reissue one of his lesser-known tunes, Let's Work Together, just a few weeks before a new Canned Heat version of the song was released in 1970. As it turns out, neither version became a major hit, although the Canned Heat version did get some airplay and managed to crack the Billboard Hot 100 that year.
Artist: Luv'd Ones
Title: I'm Leaving You
Source: Mono CD: Truth Gotta Stand (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Beatrocket (original label: Dunwich)
Although nearly all of the original material performed by the Luv'd Ones was written by lead guitarist/vocalist Char Vinnedge, rhythm guitarist Mary Gallagher got a co-writing credit on I'm Leaving You. The song was issued as the band's second single for the Dunwich label, and was reissued five months later as the B side of their third and final single, Dance Kid Dance.
Artist: Little Boy Blues
Title: You Dove Deep In My Soul
Source: CD: Oh Yeah! The Best Of Dunwich Records
Writer(s): Ray Levin
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1991
The Little Boy Blues, consisting of Ray Levin (bass), Paul Ostroff (lead guitar), Jim Boyce (drums), and a series of rhythm guitarists, originated in Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The band released half a dozen records on three different labels from 1965 to 1968, none of which were Dunwich. They did, however, record Levin's You Dove Deep In My Soul for the legendary label in 1967, but the track remained unreleased for nearly 25 years.
Title: Abraham, Martin And John
Source: CD: Songs Of Protest (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Dick Holler
Label: Rhino (original label: Laurie)
Although sometimes characterized as a protest song, Dion DiMucci's 1968 hit Abraham, Martin And John is really a tribute to three famous Americans, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy (with a reference to the recently-assassinated Bobby Kennedy included in the final verse of the song). Most people in the business saw Dion, perhaps the most successful doo-wop artist of all time, as being near the end of his career by 1967, although he was one of only two rock musicians included on the cover collage of the Beatles' 1967 LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band beside the Beatles themselves (the other being Bob Dylan). In April of 1968, however, Dion experienced what he later called "a powerful religious experience" which led to him approaching his old label, Laurie Records, for a new contract. The label agreed on the condition that he record Abraham, Martin And John. The song, written by Dick Holler (who also wrote, strangely enough, Snoopy vs. The Red Baron), ended up being one of Dion's biggest hits and led to the revitalization of his career.
Title: The Wind Blows Your Hair
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
The Wind Blows Your Hair is actually one of the Seeds' better tracks. Unfortunately, by the time it was released as a single in October of 1967 the whole idea of Flower Power (which the Seeds were intimately tied to) had become yesterday's news (at least in ultra-hip L.A.) and the single went nowhere.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Pretty Big Mouth
Source: Mono LP: Psychotic Reaction
Label: Bicycle (original label: Double Shot)
In the early to mid 1960s, when a band was lucky enough to score a hit single, they often were given the opportunity to record an entire album, usually made up of cover versions of other popular songs. San Jose's Count Five, however, recorded an album made up almost entirely of original tunes, written or co-written by bandleader John "Sean" Byrne (the two exceptions being covers of Who songs that the band members liked). Only two of the tracks on the album, however, were credited to the entire band. One was their hit single and album title track, Psychotic Reaction. The other was a song called Pretty Big Mouth that would probably be considered too politically incorrect to be recorded in this century.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Source: CD: Heavy Hitters (originally released on LP: On Time)
Writer(s): Mark Farner
The second single released from the first Grand Funk Railroad album, Heartbreaker was a concert staple for the band. Unlike most of Grand Funk's early material, Heartbreaker is a slow ballad that speeds up toward the end, building to a typical Spinal Tap, er, Grand Funk, finish.
Artist: Fifty Foot Hose
Title: Red The Sign Post
Source: LP: Cauldron
Although most of the more avant-garde bands of the psychedelic era were headquarted in New York, there were some exceptions, such as San Francisco's Fifty Foot Hose. The core members of the band were founder and bassist Louis "Cork" Marcheschi, guitarist David Blossom, and his wife, vocalist Nancy Blossom. The group used a lot of unusual instruments, such as theramin, Moog synthesizer and prepared guitar and piano. Probably their most commercial song was Red The Sign Post from the LP Cauldron. After that album the group called it quits, with most of the members joining the cast of Hair. In fact, Nancy Blossom played lead character Sheila in the San Francisco production of the musical.
Artist: Third Rail
Title: Run Run Run
Source: CD: Even More Nuggets
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
Run Run Run is actually a studio creation issied in 1967 from husband and wife team Artie and Kris Resnick collaborating with Joey Levine, who sings lead vocals on the track. They only performed the song live once (in Cincinatti, of all places) as the Third Rail. All three would find a home as part of the Kasenetz-Katz bubble gum machine that would make Buddah Records a major player in 1968, with Levine himself singing lead for one of the label's most successful groups, the Ohio Express.
Title: Get On This Plane
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Faro)
The Premiers were a band from East L.A. best known for their 1964 hit Farmer John. After that national success, the group continued to record, cranking out a series of local hits for local latino label Faro, run by Max Uballez. The last of these was Get On This Plane, a song that Uballez co-wrote for the band in 1966.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: The Spider And The Fly
Source: Mono CD: Out Of Our Heads
There were often differences in the track lineup between the US and UK versions of albums in the 1960s. There were two main reasons for this difference. The first was that British albums generally had a longer running time than their American counterparts. The second was that the British tradititionally did not include songs on albums that had been already issued on singles. Such was the case with The Spider And The Fly, which was first released as the B side of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. Both songs were included on the US version of Out Of Our Heads in July of 1965, but when the British version of the album was released two months later neither song was included.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Nashville Cats
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful)
Writer(s): John B. Sebastian
Label: Cotillion (original label: Kama Sutra)
In late 1966, with two best-selling albums to their credit, The Lovin' Spoonful deliberately set out to make an album that sounded like it was recorded by several different bands, as a way of showcasing their versatility. With Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful, they did just that. Songs on the album ranged from the folky Darlin' Be Home Soon to the rockin' psychedelic classic Summer In The City, with a liberal dose of what would eventually come to be called country rock. The best example of the latter was Nashville Cats, a song that surprisingly went into the top 40 (but did not receive any airplay from country stations) and was (even more suprisingly) often heard on FM rock radio in the early 70s.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Mr. Soul
Source: CD: Retrospective (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s): Neil Young
Executives at Atco Records originally considered Neil Young's voice "too weird" to be recorded. As a result many of Young's early tunes (including the band's debut single Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing), were sung by Richie Furay. By the time the band's second album, Buffalo Springfield Again, was released, the band had enough clout to make sure Young was allowed to sing his own songs. In fact, the album starts with a Young vocal on the classic Mr. Soul.
Title: Wendell Gee
Source: LP: Fables Of The Reconstruction
Wendell Gee is the last track on the 1985 R.E.M album Fables Of The Reconstruction, and it almost didn't make it onto the album at all. Composed mostly by bassist/keyboardist Mikel Mills, the song features a banjo solo by Peter Buck and lyrics by vocalist Michale Stipe. Wendell Gee was released as a single in Europe and the UK, but did not chart.
Artist: Liquid Scene
Title: The Mad Potter Of Biloxi
Source: CD: Revolutions
Writer(s): becki diGregorio
In March of 2015 I received an e-mail from Vincent Sanchez, who had been involved in the making of an album called Revolutions by a band called Liquid Scene that had been released in December of 2014. I invited him to send me a copy of the album and was highly impressed with the CD. I had already been toying with the idea of finding a way to occasionally work newer psychedelic/garage rock material into the show, and listening to Liquid Scene was just the push I needed to create a new segment called Advanced Psych. Like the rest of Liquid Scene's material, The Mad Potter of Biloxi was written by multi-instrumentalist bodhi (becki diGregorio), who also sings on the tune.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Circus Freak
Source: CD: California '66 (originally released on CD: Feedback)
James Lowe's lyrics and Mark Tulin's running bass line are the strength of Circus Freak, a track from the 2006 Electric Prunes album Feedback. The album was the last full disc from the band to be released before the death of Tulin in 2011.
Title: I Feel Free
Source: CD: Fresh Cream
Label: Polydor/Polygram (original label: Atco)
The first single released by Cream was I Feel Free. As was the case with nearly every British single at the time, the song was not included on Fresh Cream, the band's debut LP. In the US, however, singles were commonly given a prominent place on albums, and the US version of Fresh Cream actually opens with I Feel Free. To my knowledge the song, being basically a studio creation, was never performed live.
Source: CD: Best of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Wheels Of Fire)
Writer: Robert Johnson
Label: Priority (original label: Atco)
Robert Johnson's Crossroads has come to be regarded as a signature song for Eric Clapton, who's live version (recorded at the Fillmore East) was first released on the Cream album Wheels Of Fire.
Source: CD: Fresh Cream
Writer(s): Jack Bruce
Label: Polydor/Polygram (original US label: Atco)
Although most of Jack Bruce's Cream songs were co-written with lyricist Pete Brown, there were some exceptions. Among the most notable of these is N.S.U. from Cream's debut LP, which features Bruce's own lyrics. The song, also released as a B side, has proven popular enough to be included on several Cream retrospective collections and was part of the band's repertoire when they reunited for a three-day stint at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005. Before his death, Bruce revealed that N.S.U. actually stands for non-specific urethritis, which one of his bandmates was suffering from at the time the song was written.
Title: Along Comes Mary
Source: LP: And Then...Along Comes The Association
Writer: Tandyn Almer
The Association are best known for a series of love ballads and light pop songs such as Cherish, Never My Love and Windy. Many of these records were a product of the L.A. studio scene and featured several members of the Wrecking Crew, the studio musicians who played on dozens of records in the late 60s and early 70s. The first major Association hit, however, featured the band members playing all the instruments themselves. Produced, and possibly co-written, by Curt Boettcher, who would soon join Gary Usher's studio project Sagittarius, Along Comes Mary shows that the Association was quite capable of recording a classic without any help from studio musicians.
Title: Pearly Queen
Source: CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: Traffic)
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
The second Traffic LP was less overtly psychedelic than the Mr. Fantasy album, with songs like Pearly Queen taking the band in a more funky direction. When the band reformed in 1970 without Dave Mason (who had provided the most psychedelic elements) the songwriting team of Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, who had written Pearly Queen, continued the trend.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)
Source: CD: Electric Ladyland
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away) from the Electric Ladyland album is the longest work created purely in the studio by Jimi Hendrix, with a running time of over 16 minutes. The piece starts with tape effects that lead into the song's main guitar rift. The vocals and drums join in to tell a science fiction story set in a future world where the human race has had to move underwater in order to survive some unspecified catastrophe. After a couple verses, the piece goes into a long unstructured section made up mostly of guitar effects before returning to the main theme and closing out with more effects that combine volume control and stereo panning to create a circular effect. As is the case with several tracks on Electric Ladyland, 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)/Moon Turn The Tides (Gently, Gently Away) features Hendrix on both guitar and bass, with Mitch Mitchell on drums and special guest Chris Wood (from Traffic) on flute.
Artist: Ultimate Spinach
Title: Jazz Thing
Source: LP: Behold And See
Writer(s): Ian Bruce-Douglas
Although the second Ultimate Spinach album, Behold And See, is generally considered inferior to the group's debut effort, there are a few high points that are among the best tracks the band ever recorded. Perhaps the strongest track on the album is Jazz Thing, which almost sounds like a Bob Bruno Circus Maximus track.