This week we have a "cool and unusual" Advanced Psych segment that has tracks from three different decades, and three different continents. Speaking of cool and unusual, how about Dave Van Ronk's version of Alley Oop, possibly the coolest and most unusual version of that song ever to appear on vinyl. And then there's the early demo recording of an Electric Prunes song written by James Lowe and Mark Tulin that sat on the shelf for nearly 50 years before finally being released as a B side on Record Store Day in 2015. And there's lots more where those came from on this week's edition of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era.
Artist: Count Five
Title: Psychotic Reaction
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
San Jose, California, had a vibrant teen music scene in the late 60s, despite the fact that the relatively small (at the time) city was overshadowed by San Francisco at the other end of the bay (both cities were then, as now, considered part of the same metropolitan market). One of the more popular bands in town was Count Five, a group of five individuals who chose to dress up like Bela Lugosi's Dracula, capes and all. Musically, they idolized the Yardbirds (Jeff Beck era), and for slightly more than three minutes managed to sound more like their idols than the Yardbirds themselves (who by then had replaced Beck with Jimmy Page and had shifted musical gears).
Title: Big Black Smoke
Source: Mono British import CD: Face To Face (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Sanctuary (original US label: Reprise)
The Kinks had some of the best non-album sides of the 60s. Case in point: Big Black Smoke, which appeared as the B side of Dead End Street in November of 1966. The song deals with a familiar phenomenon of the 20th century: the small town girl that gets a rude awakening after moving to the big city. In this case the city was London, known colloquially as "the Smoke".
Artist: Janis Ian
Title: Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking)
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Janis Ian
Label: Polydor (original label: Verve Folkways)
Janis Ian began writing Society's Child, using the title Baby I've Been Thinking, when she was 13 years old, finishing it shortly after her 14th birthday. She shopped it around to several record labels before finally finding one willing to take a chance on the controversial song about interracial dating. The record was released in September of 1966 by M-G-M subsidiary Verve Folkways, a label whose roster included Dave Van Ronk, Laura Nyro and the Blues Project, among others. Despite being banned on several radio stations the song became a major hit when re-released the following year after being featured on an April 1967 Leonard Bernstein TV special. Ian had problems maintaining a balance between her performing career and being a student which ultimately led to her dropping out of high school. She would eventually get her career back on track in the mid-70s, scoring another major hit with At Seventeen, and becoming somewhat of a heroine to the feminist movement.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing
Source: CD: Buffalo Springfield
Writer: Neil Young
One of the most influential folk-rock bands to come out of the L.A. scene was the Buffalo Springfield. The Springfield had several quality songwriters, including Neil Young, whose voice was deemed "too weird" by certain record company people. Thus we have Richie Furay handling the lead vocals on Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing, the group's debut single. The track was just one of several Young songs sung by Furay on the band's first album. By the time the second Buffalo Springfield album was released things had changed somewhat, and Young got to do his own lead vocals on songs like Mr. Soul and Broken Arrow.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Steve's Song
Source: LP: Projections
Writer(s): Steve Katz
Label: Verve Forecast
The members of the Blues Project came from a variety of backgrounds, including jazz, rock, classical and of course, blues. Guitarist Steve Katz had the strongest connection to the Greenwich Village folk scene and was the lead vocalist on the Project's recording of Donovan's Catch The Wind on their first LP. For their second album Katz wrote his own song, entitled simply Steve's Song. The tune starts with a very old-English style repeated motif that gets increasing complicated as it repeats itself before segueing into a more conventional mode with Katz on the lead vocal. Katz would write and sing simlarly-styled tunes, such as Sometimes In Winter, as a member of Blood, Sweat and Tears.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: The People In Me
Source: CD: The Very Best Of The Music Machine-Turn On (originally released on LP: Turn On The Music Machine and as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Sean Bonniwell
Label: Collectables (original label: Original Sound)
After Talk Talk soared into the upper reaches of the US charts the Music Machine's management made a tactical error. Instead of promoting the follow-up single, The People In Me, to the largest possible audience, the band's manager gave exclusive air rights to a relatively low-rated Burbank station at the far end of the Los Angeles AM radio dial. As local bands like the Music Machine depended on airplay in L.A. as a necessary step to getting national exposure, the move proved disastrous. Without any airplay on influential stations like KHJ and KRLA, The People In Me was unable to get any higher than the # 66 spot on the national charts. Even worse for the band, the big stations remembered the slight when subsequent singles by the Music Machine were released, and by mid-1967 the original lineup had disbanded.
Artist: Dave Van Ronk
Title: Alley Oop
Source: LP: Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters
Writer(s): Dallas Frazier
Label: Verve Forecast
Alley Oop was a popular comic strip in the early 1960s and an even more popular song in 1960, with no less than three versions occupying the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. For my money, though, the absolute best version of the song was recorded by the "Mayor of McDougall Street", Dave Van Ronk on his 1967 LP Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters. The rest of the Hudson Dusters on this recording were guitarist Dave Woods, keyboardist Phillip "Pot" Namenworth, bassist Ed Gregory and drummer Rick Henderson.
Artist: H.P. Lovecraft
Title: It's About Time
Source: Two Classic Albums from H. P. Lovecraft (originally released on LP: H.P. Lovecraft II)
Writer(s): Terry Callier
Label: Collector's Choice/Universal Music Special Markets (original label: Philips)
The second H.P. Lovecraft album, coming after a series of gigs opening for such acts as Pink Floyd, Donovan and Jefferson Airplane, was even more psychedelic than their first effort. Like the early Airplane, Lovecraft were at their best doing psychedelic arrangements of folks tunes from lesser-known songwriters such as Terrier Callier, whose fan base, according to rock critic Richie Unterberger, was small enough to make Fred Neil's seem huge by comparison. Lovecraft's treatment of Callier's It's About Time certainly has the same sort of vocal harmonies that characterized the San Francisco take on folk-rock, despite the fact that H.P. Lovecraft was actually from Chicago, a city not particularly known for its psychedelic scene.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: You Still Believe In Me
Source: Mono LP: Pet Sounds
Although they were one of the first self-contained US rock bands, by 1966 the Beach Boys were using studio musicians almost exclusively on their recordings. At the same time Brian Wilson, who by then was writing all the band's music, had retired from performing with the band onstage. These factors combined to give Wilson the freedom to create the album that is often considered his and the band's artistic peak, Pet Sounds. Much of the material on the album, such as You Still Believe In Me, was written with the help of lyricist Tony Asher. Like many of the songs on Pet Sounds, You Still Believe In Me includes unusual instrumentation such as a theramin and even a bicycle bell.
Title: Pay You Back With Interest
Source: CD: The Best Of The Hollies
Label: Cema Special Products (original label: Imperial)
By 1967 the Hollies had actually achieved a level of popularity in the US that allowed them to issue singles that were not available in their native UK. One of these was Pay You Back With Interest, which made the US top 20 in 1967. The tune was written by the Hollies' usual songwriting partnership of Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, and Graham Nash.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
Janis Joplin, on the 1968 Big Brother And The Holding Company album Cheap Thrills, sounds like she was born to sing Gershwin's Summertime. Maybe she was. Guitarist Sam Andrew later said that Summertime, as it appears on Cheap Thrills, was one of the hardest songs to duplicate in front of a live audience.
Title: Can You Travel In The Dark Alone
Source: LP: Gandalf
Writer(s): Peter Sando
What's in a name? Well, when you're a rock band and your name is the Rhagoos, apparently not enough to keep the producers happy. The name the producers suggested, however, was even worse. I mean, you really can't blame the band members for hating a name like the Knockrockers, right? It took a while, but after throwing around several possibilities, the band decided to go with Gandalf And The Wizards, a name suggested by drummer Davy Bauer that was later shortened to just Gandalf. Gandalf only recorded one album, which was released on the Capitol label in 1969. Most of the tracks on that album were cover songs, with only two originals, both of which were provided by guitarist Peter Sando. Of those, Can You Travel In The Dark Alone is the more notable. For the completists among you, the other two members of this New York band were Bob Muller (bass) and Frank Hubach (keyboards). I'm not sure who provided the vocals, although my guess would be Sando.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Stupid Girl
Source: British import LP: Aftermath
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
By 1966 the songwriting team of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had hit its stride, turning out Rolling Stones classics like Mother's Little Helper and Paint It Black as a matter of course. Even B sides such as Stupid Girl were starting to get occasional airplay on top 40 stations, a trend that would continue to grow over the next year or so.
Artist: Otis Redding
Source: Mono CD: The Very Best Of Otis Redding (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Sam Cooke
Label: Rhino (original label: Volt)
At the beginning of his recording career Otis Redding told friends that his primary goal was to fill the gap left by his idol, Sam Cooke, who had been shot in his hotel room in late 1964.
Two years later he was electrifying crowds on both sides of the Atlantic with his energetic version of Cooke's Shake, which he used as a set opener at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival. Earlier that year he had released another live version of the song, recorded in London, as a single that peaked at # 47 on the Hot 100 and # 16 on the R&B chart. The record also made the British top 30.
Artist: Johnny Winter
Title: Rollin' And Tumblin'
Source: LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: The Progressive Blues Experiment)
Writer(s): McKinley Morganfield
Label: United Artists (original labels: Sonobeat/Imperial)
Johnny Winter's first album, The Progressive Blues Experiment, was originally released in 1968 on the Texas-based Sonobeat label. A ctitical success, it was picked up and reissued on the Imperial label a year later. Most of the songs on the album are covers of blues classics such as Muddy Waters's Rollin' And Tumblin'.
Title: Hey Bulldog
Source: British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: EMI (original label: Columbia)
Fans of Uriah Heep may recognize the names Ken Hensley, Joe Konas, John Glascock and Lee Kerslake as members of the legendary British rock band at various phases of its existence. What they may not realize is that these four members had already been bandmates since early 1968 as members of the Gods. The band made it's recording debut with a song called Baby's Rich, which led to a concept album called Genesis. 1969 saw the release of a powerful cover of the Beatles' Hey Bulldog, along with a second album, before the group morphed into a band called Toe Fat, with Hensley soon departing to form Uriah Heep. Glascock would later become a long time member of another British band, Jethro Tull.
Artist: Peter Fonda
Title: November Night
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Gram Parsons
Label: Rhino (original label: Chisa)
Once upon a time the son of actor Henry Fonda was hanging around the swimming pool with his friends Gram Parsons, Stewart Levine and Hugh Masakela and decided he wanted to be a rock star. Levine and Masakela had started their own record label, Chisa (based on a Zulu "exclamation"), and Parsons provided the song November Night for Fonda to record. Although the single did get released, it failed to make an impression with anyone, and young Fonda decided that instead of trying to be a singer he perhaps should follow in his father's footsteps and become an actor like his sister Jane had. It turned out to be the right career move, as Peter Fonda would become famous for the film Easy Rider just two years later.
Artist: Sand Pebbles
Title: Tennessee Says
Source: Australian import CD: Ceduna
Writer(s): Sand Pebbles
Label: Sensory Projects
Neighbours is the longest-running drama series on Australian television, having aired its first episode in March of 1985. It is also the unlikely origin point for Sand Pebbles, a band formed in 2001 by three Neighbours screenwriters. Those three founding members, bassist Christopher Hollow, guitarist Ben Michael and drummer Piet Collins were soon joined by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Tanner. The band's fourth album, Ceduna, also featured guitarist/vocalist Tor Larsen. Although it starts off sounding somewhat like a mainstream pop song, Tennessee Says ends up having some nice guitar work featured later in the song.
Title: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single (reissue)
Described by one prominent indy musician as "loose, belligerent, violent...a real stick in the eye of everything conventionally tasteful in 1976 America", the Residents unique version of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction was not widely available when it was originally released. In fact, there were only 200 numbered copies pressed of the original single. Two years later, another 30,000 copies were pressed on translucent gold-colored vinyl. The Residents would later gain a cult following after their videos were featured prominently on the fledgling MTV in the early 1980s.
Artist: Geiger Von Müller
Source: CD: Ruby Red Run
Writer(s): Geiger Von Müller
Geiger Von Müller is a London-based guitarist who has deconstructed the blues down to one of its most essential elements, slide guitar, and then explored from scratch what can be done with the instrument. His latest album, Ruby Red Run is full of tasty tunes such as Rebirth.
Title: Getting Better
Source: Mono LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Following their 1966 North American tour, the Beatles announced that they were giving up live performances to concentrate on their songwriting and studio work. Freed of the responsibilities of the road (and under the influence of mind-expanding substances), the band members found themselves discovering new sonic possibilities as never before (or since), hitting a creative peak with their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, often cited as the greatest album ever recorded. The individual Beatles were about to move in separate musical directions, but as of Sgt. Pepper's were still functioning mostly as a single unit, as is heard on the chorus of Getting Better, in which Paul McCartney's opening line, "I have to admit it's getting better", is immediately answered by John Lennon's playfully cynical "can't get no worse". The members continued to experiment with their instrumentation as well, such as George Harrison's use of sitar on the song's bridge, accompanied by Ringo Starr's bongos.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Title: How Suite It Is
Source: LP: After Bathing At Baxters
Label: RCA Victor
The second side of After Bathing At Baxters starts off fairly conventionally (for the Airplane), with Paul Kantner's Watch Her Ride, the first third or so of something called How Suite It Is. This leads (without a break in the audio) into Spare Chaynge, one of the coolest studio jams ever recorded, featuring intricate interplay between Jack Casady's bass and Jorma Kaukonen's guitar, with Spencer Dryden using his drum kit as enhancement rather than as a beat-setter. In particular, Casady's virtuoso performance helped redefine what could be done with an electric bass.
Title: You Baby
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: White Whale
After first hitting the charts with their version of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, the Turtles released yet another "angry young rebel" song, P.F. Sloan's Let Me Be. Realizing that they needed to vary their subject matter somewhat if they planned on having a career last longer than six months, the band formerly known as the Crossfires went with another Sloan tune, You Baby, for their first single of 1966. Although the music was in a similar style to Let Me Be, the lyrics, written by Steve Barri, were fairly typical of teen-oriented love songs of the era. The Turtles would continue to record songs from professional songwriters for single release for the remainder of their existence, with their original compositions showing up mostly as album tracks and B sides.
Title: See See Rider
Source: Mono LP: Animalization
Writer(s): Ma Rainey
One of the last singles released by the original incarnation of the Animals (and the first to use the name Eric Burdon And The Animals on the label), See See Rider traces its roots back to the 1920s, when it was first recorded by Ma Rainey. The Animals version is considerably faster than most other recordings of the song, and includes a signature opening rift by organist Dave Rowberry (who had replaced founder Alan Price prior to the recording of the Animalization album that the song first appeared on) that is unique to the Animals' take on the tune.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: World Of Darkness
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Year: Recorded 1966, released 2015
Electric Prunes vocalist James Lowe recalls that he and bassist Mark Tulin wrote World Of Darkness after seeing the Beatles on TV. The song was recorded in 1966 as a demo, but the band never returned to the recording to fix what he calls "timing" errors. The tune was released "as is" as a B side for Record Store Day 2015.
Artist: Butterfield Blues Band
Title: I Got a Mind To Give Up Living
Source: CD: East-West
The Butterfield Blues band in 1966 had a lot in common with British blues-rock group the Yardbirds. Both bands were led by harmonica-playing vocalists (Butterfield and Keith Relf), and featured two top-quality lead guitarists (Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page for the Yardbirds, Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop for the Butterfields). Whereas the Yardbirds only managed to record three songs with both Beck and Page, the Butterfield outfit with Bloomfield and Bishop recorded an entire album: the classic East-West. Several songs on the album were credited to "traditional", meaning that they were in the public domain. Among these is I Got A Mind To Give Up Living, a song also recorded by B.B. King and Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, although a casual search associates the song mainly with Butterfield.
Artist: Winston's Fumbs
Title: Real Crazy Apartment
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Jimmy Winston
Label: Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
Vocalist/guitarist Jimmy Winston was a child actor turned musician who was one of the original members of the Small Faces, where he played organ. In 1965 he was basically kicked out of the band for unknown reasons, but soon resurfaced with his own band, Winston's Reflection, which released one single on the British Decca label in 1966. By the following year the band had changed its name to Winston's Fumbs and signed with RCA Records, releasing Real Crazy Apartment before disbanding. By then Winston had switched from organ to guitar, and would next surface as a cast member of the London production of Hair. Meanwhile, Winston's Fumbs organist Tony Kaye had become a founding member of some obscure band called Yes.
Artist: Paul Jones
Title: The Dog Presides
Source: British import CD: Insane Times (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Paul Jones
Label: Zonophone (original UK label: Columbia)
Like many frontmen in the mid-60s Manfred Mann's Paul Jones decided to leave the group for a solo career right at the height of the band's success. Also like many former frontmen, Jones's solo career, beginning in 1966, was less than stellar. Most of Jones's records were done in an almost lounge lizard style. One notable exception is The Dog Presides, the B side of a forgettable 1968 single called And The Sun Will Shine. In addition to Jones on vocals and harmonica, The Dog Presides features former Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck and bassist Paul-Samwell Smith and some guy named Paul McCartney on drums. This bit of psychedelic insanity was officially credited to Jones himself, but in all likelihood was a collaborative effort by the four of them.
Artist: Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Source: LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s): Neil Young
After releasing a fairly well produced debut solo album utilizing the talents of several well-respected studio musicians in late 1968, Neil Young surprised everyone by recruiting an unknown L.A. bar band and rechristening them Crazy Horse for his second effort, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The album was raw and unpolished, with Young's lead vocals recorded using a talkback microphone normally used by engineers to communicate with people in the studio from the control room. In spite of, or more likely because of, these limitations, the resulting album has come to be regarded as one of the greatest in the history of rock, with Young sounding far more comfortable, both as a vocalist and guitarist, than on the previous effort. Although the album is best known for three songs he wrote while running a fever (Cinnamon Girl, Cowgirl In The Sand, and Down By The River), there are plenty of good other songs on the LP, including the title track heard here.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Source: CD: First Rays of the New Rising Sun (originally released on LP: Rainbow Bridge)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA/Experience Hendrix (original label: Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix was working on a new double album when he died, but nobody else seemed to be sure where he was going with it. As there were several tracks that were unfinished at the time, Reprise Records gathered what they could and put them together on an album called The Cry Of Love. Freedom, a nearly finished piece (the unfinished part being a short "placesetter" guitar solo that Hendrix never got around to replacing with a final take), is the opening track from the album. Soon after that, a new Hendrix concert film called Rainbow Bridge was released along with a soundtrack album containing most of the remaining tracks from the intended double album. Finally, in 1997 the Hendrix Family (with the help of original engineer Eddie Kramer and drummer Mitch Mitchell) pieced together what was essentially an educated guess about what would have been that album and released it under the name First Rays of the New Rising Sun. Although I'm not in total agreement with their song selection or sequencing, Freedom does seem to be the perfect opening track for the album.