Saturday, January 21, 2023

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2304 (starts 1/23/23

    This week's show, recorded three days before the death of psychedelic era icon David Crosby, features a Crosby, Stills & Nash set that includes two tunes written by Crosby. If that isn't spooky enough for you, how about this: in early 1967 the duo of Jeff Blackburn (who passed away less than two weeks before Crosby did) and Crosby's ex-girlfriend Sherry Snow released their first single, a cover of a song written by Crosby but not released by his then-current band, the Byrds. That song, Stranger In A Strange Land, immediately precedes the two David Crosby penned songs from Crosby, Stills & Nash in our second hour. Also of note is a rare Yardbirds B side featuring Jeff Beck on lead vocals and a new Advanced Psych set that features three tracks never played on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era before, two of which have never been released in the US. Of course there are lots of other goodies on the show as well, including lots of old favorites and a couple more non-US releases making their debut this week.

Artist:    Monkees
Title:    Pleasant Valley Sunday
Source:    CD: Nuggets-Classics From the Psychedelic 60s (originally released on LP: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.)
Writer:    Goffin/King
Label:    Rhino
Year:    1967
    After making it a point to play their own instruments on their third LP, Headquarters, the Monkees decided to once again use studio musicians for their next album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD. The difference was that this time the studio musicians would be recording under the supervision of the Monkees themselves rather than Don Kirschner and the array of producers he had lined up for the first two Monkees LPs. The result was an album that many critics consider the group's best effort. The only single released from the album was Pleasant Valley Sunday, a song penned by the husband and wife team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and backed by the band's remake of the Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart song Words, which had been recorded the previous year by the Leaves. Although both songs ended up making the charts, it was Pleasant Valley Sunday that got the most airplay and is considered by many to be Monkees' greatest achievement.

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  from British musician Beverley Martyn (name-dropping her friend Mr. [Donovan] Leitch), that is slightly reminiscent of the bridge in Traffic's Hole In My Shoe. The song was later remixed in stereo and included on the 1968 LP Bookends.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    How Suite It Is
Source:    CD: After Bathing At Baxter's
Writer(s):    Kantner/Casady/Dryden/Kaukonen
Label:    RCA/BMG Heritage
Year:    1967
    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.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Something Happened To Me Yesterday
Source:    LP: Between The Buttons
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    The final track on the 1967 Rolling Stones album Between The Buttons is notable for several reasons. Most signficantly, it is the first officially-released Stones tune to feature Keith Richards on lead vocals (on the chorus; Mick Jagger sings lead on the verses). Second, at just a second under five minutes, Something Happened To Me Yesterday is the longest track on Between The Buttons. The third point is illustrated by a quote from Mick Jagger himself: "I leave it to the individual imagination as to what happened." According to one critic, that "something" was an acid trip, making this one of the band's more overt drug songs.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    Good Vibrations
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Wilson/Love
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1966
    Although I had originally discovered top 40 radio in 1963 (when I received a small Sony transistor radio for my birthday), it wasn't until 1966 that I really got into it in a big way. This was due to a combination of a couple of things: first, my dad bought a console stereo, and second, my junior high school went onto split sessions, meaning that I was home by one o'clock every day. This gave me unprecedented access to Denver's two big top 40 AM stations, as well as an FM station that was experimenting with a Top 100 format for a few hours each day. At first I was content to just listen to the music, but soon realized that the DJs were making a point of mentioning each song's chart position just about every time that song would play. Naturally I began writing all this stuff down in my notebook (when I was supposed to be doing my homework), until I realized that both KIMN and KBTR actually published weekly charts, which I began to diligently hunt down at various local stores. In addition to the songs occupying numbered positions on the charts, both stations included songs at the bottom of the list that they called "pick hits". These were new releases that had not been around long enough to achieve a chart position. The one that most stands out in my memory was the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations, a song I liked so much that I went out to the nearest Woolco and bought it the afternoon I heard it. Within a few weeks Good Vibrations had gone all the way to the top of the charts, and I always felt that some of the credit should go to me for buying the record when it first came out (hey I was 13, OK?). Over the next couple of years I bought plenty more singles, but to this day Good Vibrations stands out as the most significant 45 RPM record purchase I ever made.
Artist:    Sonics
Title:    Strychnine
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released on LP: Here Are The Sonics)
Writer(s):    Gerald Roslie
Label:    Rhino (original label: Etiquette)
Year:    1965
    From 1965 we have a band that maintains a cult following to this day: the legendary Sonics, generally considered one of the foundation stones of the Seattle music scene. Although the majority of songs on their albums were cover tunes, virtually all of their originals, such as Strychnine from their debut LP, are now considered punk classics; indeed, the Sonics, along with their labelmates the Wailers, are often cited as the first true punk rock bands.

Artist:     Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title:     The Great Airplane Strike
Source:     LP: Spirit of '67
Writer:     Revere/Melcher/Lindsay
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1966
      Often dismissed for their Revolutionary War costumes and frequent TV appearances, Paul Revere and the Raiders were actually one of the first great rock bands to emerge from the Pacific Northwest. Their accomplishments include recording Louie Louie (arguably before the Kingsmen did) and being the first rock band signed to industry giant Columbia Records. The Great Airplane Strike is a good example of just how good a band they really were.

Artist:     Cream
Title:     Take It Back
Source:     CD: Disraeli Gears
Writer:     Bruce/Brown
Label:     Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:     1967
     After seven years of serving in the Air Force liason office at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, my dad got transferred to Weisbaden Air Force Base in Germany. Standard practice at the time was for the married GI to go on ahead of the rest of the family and find a place to live "on the economy." My dad, already having quite a bit of time in the service, was able to instead get a spot in a place called Kastel, which was a group of WWII Panzer barracks that had been adapted for use by American military with families. When the rest of us arrived in August I was happily surprised to find that my dad, in addition to finding us a place to live, had bought a state-of-the-art Akai X-355 Tape Recorder using money he had won at Lotto, along with a pair of Koss headphones. I of course had to go to the Base Exchange to look for pre-recorded tapes. Already having experience with reel to reel machines, I knew that tapes recorded at 3 3/4 ips had more tape hiss than those recorded at 7 1/2 ips, so I was resolved to only buy tapes recorded at the faster speed. Unfortunately several albums I wanted were only available at the slower speed. The problem was resolved a year later when my dad finally got a Dual turntable to hook up to the tape recorder. I immediately went out and bought a reel of blank tape; the first album I made a copy of was Cream's Disraeli Gears. I would often fall asleep listening to that tape, which meant I ended up sleeping through the last songs on the album, including Take It Back. I must have done some kind of sleep learning, though, since to this day I can quote the lyrics of the entire song.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Combination Of The Two
Source:    LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Sam Andrew
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
     Everything about Big Brother And The Holding Company can be summed up by the title of the opening track for their Cheap Thrills album (and their usual show opener as well): Combination Of The Two. A classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, Big Brother, with Janis Joplin on lead vocals, had an energy that neither Joplin or the band itself was able to duplicate once they parted company. On the song itself, the actual lead vocals for the verses are the work of Combination Of The Two's writer, bassist Sam Houston Andrew III, but those vocals are eclipsed by the layered non-verbal chorus that starts with Joplin then repeats itself with Andrew providing a harmony line which leads to Joplin's promise to "rock you, sock you, gonna give it to you now". It was a promise that the group seldom failed to deliver on.

Artist:    Love Sculpture
Title:    In The Land Of The Few
Source:    CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released on LP: Forms And Feelings)
Writer(s):    Edmunds/Findsilver/Ker
Label:    Rhino (original label: Parrot)
Year:    1969
    Dave Edmunds started off young. At age 10 the Cardiff, Wales native played in the Edmund Bros Duo (a piano duo) with his older brother Geoff. By the time Dave was 13 he and his brother had formed their own rock and roll band, with Dave on lead guitar and Geoff on rhythm. By the mid-1960s Dave Edmunds had switched to blues-rock, fronting a band called the Human Beans. It wasn't long before that group was pared down to a power trio consisting of Edmunds on guitar, John Williams on bass, and Congo Jones on drums calling itself Love Sculpture. The group released their first album, Blues Helping, in 1968, as well as a non-album single, Sabre Dance, that made the British top 10. The band's second, and final, album, Forms And Feelings, expanded beyond the electric blues of the first album to include harder to describe tracks like In The Land Of The Few. Not long after the album was released, Edmunds decided to go it as a solo artist, scoring a huge international hit with a remake of Smiley Lewis's I Hear You Knockin' in late 1970.

Artist:    Kevin Ayers And The Whole World
Title:    Clarence In Wonderland
Source:    British import CD: Acid Daze (originally released on LP: Shooting At The Moon)
Writer(s):    Kevin Ayers
Label:    Uncut (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1970
    According to rock journalist Nick Kent, who specialized in the British underground music scene,  "Kevin Ayers and Syd Barrett were the two most important people in British pop music. Everything that came after came from them." Of course everyone knows that Syd Barrett was the founder of Pink Floyd, but Kevin Ayers, despite having a longer and more productive career, is nowhere near as well known. Ayers was a founding member of the Soft Machine, the band most associated with the "Canterbury Scene" in the late 1960s, but left the group after an exhausting US tour with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, selling his bass guitar to Noel Redding. Ayers spent most of the next year composing new material that appeared on his solo debut LP, Joy Of A Toy in November of 1969. He assembled a band that he christened The Whole World to promote the album that included a young Mike Oldfield on bass and occasionally lead guitar, avant-garde composer David Bedford on keyboards and improvising saxophonist, Lol Coxhill, among others. He took The Whole World into the studio to record his next LP, Shooting At The Moon. The album included somewhat whimsical tunes such as Clarence In Wonderland, interspersed with more avant-garde pieces. Ayers would release more than a dozen more albums before his death in 2013.

Artist:    Yardbirds
Title:    Psycho Daisies
Source:    Mono CD: Roger The Engineer (bonus track originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    The Yardbirds
Label:    Great American Music (original British label: Columbia)
Year:    1966
    Happenings Ten Years Time Ago was the only single released by the Yardbirds to feature both Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on lead guitar. The US version of the single featured a track from the band's 1966 LP Over Under Sideways Down (aka Roger The Engineer) on the B side, while the British single featured a unique recording of a song called Psycho Daisies that featured Beck on lead guitar, Page on bass and Jim McCarty on drums. Although credited to the entire band, Psycho Daisies was reportedly written about a woman that Beck was in love with at the time, and features a rare lead vocal performance by the guitarist.

Artist:     Blues Project
Title:     Fly Away
Source:     The Blues Project Anthology (originally released on LP: Projections)
Writer:     Al Kooper
Label:     Polydor (original label: Verve Folkways)
Year:     1966
     The Blues Project has a permanent place in rock history, both for pioneering the idea of touring coast to coast playing college venues and as the first jam band. Still, they were never able to break into top 40 radio at a time when a top 40 hit was considered essential to a band's commercial success. Keyboardist Al Kooper, on the other hand, was no stranger to hit records, having co-written This Diamond Ring, a song that became the first number one hit for Gary Lewis and the Playboys (although Kooper himself hated their arrangement of the song) in 1965. One of Kooper's attempts at writing a hit song for the Blues Project was Fly Away, included on their second LP, Projections.

Artist:    Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Title:    Prelude-Nightmare/Fire Poem/Fire
Source:    British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown)
Writer(s):    Brown/Crane/Finesilver/Ker
Label:    Polydor (original US label: Atlantic)
Year:    1968
    The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was unusual for their time in that they were much more theatrical than most of their contemporaries, who were generally more into audio experimentation than visual. I have a video of Fire being performed (or maybe just lip-synched). In it, all the members are wearing some sort of mask, and Brown himself is wearing special headgear that was literally on fire. There is no doubt that The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown sowed the seeds of what was to become the glitter-rock movement in the early to mid 70s. This week we have the uncut stereo version of Fire along with Prelude-Nightmare and Fire Poem that precede it on the original album.

Artist:    Billy Cox's Nitro Function
Title:    Touch Me
Source:    German import CD: Billy Cox's Nitro Function
Writer(s):    Char Vinnedge
Label:    O Music (original label: Pye International)
Year:    1971
    Following the death of Jimi Hendrix, his longtime friend and current bass player Billy Cox got in touch with Char Vinnedge, the founder of the Luv'd Ones, one of the first all-female rock bands. After the Luv'd Ones had split up, Vinnedge had spent a considerable amount of time studying Hendrix's unique approach to playing the guitar and had developed her own similar style of playing, which can be heard on Touch Me, a song she wrote for the album Billy Cox's Nitro Function. In addition to Cox and Vinnedge, the album, which was never released in the US, features Robert Tarrant on drums.

Artist:    Stranglers
Title:    Crabs (live)
Source:    British import EP: Don't Bring Harry
Writer(s):    J.J. Burnell
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1979
    Formed in 1974, the Guildford Stranglers were registered as a business called The Stranglers in September of 1974. Although the cite the Doors and the Music Machine as early influences, the Stranglers have become one of the most influential bands to emerge from the late '70s British punk rock scene. They have also been one of the most commercially successful bands to come from that scene, with nearly two dozen singles and 20 LPs making the British top 40 charts. In the US, they have always been a cult band with a relatively small following (only one of their albums and none of their singles have appeared on American charts). In 1979 bassist Jean-Jacques Burnell released his first solo LP, Euroman Cometh, a concept album about the need for a United States Of Europe to counterract the influence of both the US and USSR. That same year the Stranglers themselves included a live version of Crabs on a four-song EP entitled Don't Bring Harry.

Artist:    Electric Prunes
Title:    Rewired
Source:    CD: California
Writer(s):    Lowe/Tulin
Label:    PruneTwang
Year:    2004
    In 2001 the recently reformed original lineup of the Electric Prunes released their first album of new material in over 30s. The album was called Artifact, and it was welcomed by a whole lot of people who had been hoping the band would get back together. For the next three years, in between live performances, band members Mark Tulin and James Lowe worked up a whole 'nother album's worth of tunes that were loosely based on the Summer of Love and the years beyond. Songs like Rewired were well-suited to the band's more mature 21st century sound, and led to even more live gigs in venues they never got to play in the 60s, including gigs in Europe and Japan.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    End Of The Night
Source:    CD: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    The Doors first big break came when they opened for Love at L.A.'s most famous club, the Whisky-A-Go-Go, and became friends with the members of the more established popular local band. Love was already recording for Elektra Records, and enthusiastically recommended that the label sign the Doors as well. Elektra did, and the Doors went on to become one of the most successful and influential bands in rock history. Although not as well-known as Light My Fire or The End, the dark and moody End Of The Night is a classic early Doors tune, from the opening bent chords from guitarist Robby Krieger to the spooky keyboard work of Ray Manzarek and of course Jim Morrison's distinctive vocals, all backed up by John Densmore's tastefully understated drumming.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Fixing A Hole
Source:    LP: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol/EMI
Year:    1967
    The first Beatles album to appear with the same tracks in the same order on both US and UK versions was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The only differences between the two were a lack of spaces in the vinyl (called "banding") on the UK version and a bit of gobbledygook heard at the end of the record (but only if you did not have a turntable that automatically lifted the needle out of the groove after the last track). The main consequence of this is that disc jockeys in the US had an easier time cueing up tracks like Fixing A Hole in the days before the album came out on CD.

Artist:    Blackburn And Snow
Title:    Stranger In A Strange Land
Source:    Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Rhino (original label: Verve)
Year:    1967
    If Blackburn And Snow's version of David Crosby's Stranger In A Strange Land had been released at around the time it was recorded, it might have become, at the very least, a cult hit among the Hippy crowd just starting to colonize San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. As it was, the song sat on the shelf for over a year; by the time it was released as a single in early 1967 the love crowd was almost exclusively into LPs and the record went virtually unnoticed. Crosby's song was inspired by the Robert Heinlein book that has sometimes been called the "Hippy Bible".

Artist:    Crosby, Stills And Nash
Title:    Long Time Gone
Source:    CD: Crosby, Stills And Nash
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    In addition to showcasing some of the most popular bands of 1969, the Woodstock festival helped several relatively new acts attain stardom as well. Among these newer artists were Santana, Ten Years After and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The biggest Woodstock success story, however, was Crosby, Stills and Nash, whose appearance at the event was only their second live performance. In addition to the group's live set, the movie and soundtrack album of the event included the original studio recording of Long Time Gone from the debut Crosby, Stills and Nash LP.

Artist:    Crosby, Stills and Nash
Title:    Guinnevere
Source:    LP: So Far (originally released on LP: Crosby, Stills and Nash)
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    By 1969 David Crosby had developed into a first-class songwriter. Nowhere is that more evident than on Guinnevere, from the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album. Instrumentally the song is essentially a solo guitar piece. It is the layered harmonies from Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash that make the song truly stand out as one of the best releases of 1969.
Artist:    Crosby, Stills And Nash
Title:    Pre-Road Downs
Source:    CD: Crosby, Stills And Nash
Writer(s):    Graham Nash
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    The 1969 LP Crosby, Stills And Nash is considered one of the strongest debut albums in rock history, as well as one of the most influential. Against a backdrop of guitar-dominated blues-based jam-oriented bands, CSN shifted the emphasis to vocal harmonies and highly personal lyrics, creating a template for the singer-songwriter movement of the early 70s as well as the so-called California Sound (as typified by the Eagles, Jackson Browne and others) in the latter part of the decade and beyond. One of the harder rocking tunes on that first album is Pre-Road Downs, a song about the various highs and lows associated with touring with a rock band.

Artist:    Sorrows
Title:    The Makers
Source:    British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in Italy on LP: Old Songs, New Songs)
Writer(s):    Chuck Fryers
Label:    Grapefruit (original label: Miura)
Year:    1968
    The Sorrows were originally formed in 1963 as one of many British R&B-styled groups (think early Who and Kinks). They signed with Pye records the following year, releasing several singles and one album before disbanding relocating to Italy in 1967, where they went through several personnel changes. In 1968 that had a hit with their Italian language version of the Hollies' Listen To Me on the Miura label. This led to an album for the label called Old Songs, New Songs, which combined cover versions of current British hits and Sorrows originals. The best of the original tracks was The Makers, penned by new member Chuck Fryers.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    Happiness Runs
Source:    LP: Barabajagal
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic
Year:    1969
    Starting with his 1967 album A Gift From A Flower To A Garden, Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan Leitch devoted much of his time to writing and performing songs aimed specifically at children. Several of these appear on the 1969 album Barabajagal, including Happiness Runs. The second portion of the song is sung as a round, with Donovan being joined by Graham Nash, Mike McCartney (as Mike McGear) and Lesley Duncan.

Artist:    Idle Race
Title:    Days Of The Broken Arrows
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):    Jeff Lynne
Label:    Rhino (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1969
    The Idle Race had already released one LP and four singles when they came out with Days Of The Broken Arrows in early 1969. Lead vocalist Jeff Lynne, who wrote and produced the song, was disappointed with the single's performance, and after releasing a second album late in the year he announced that he was leaving the Idle Race to join his friend Roy Wood's band, the Move. Eventually Lynne came to dominate the Move and saw that band evolve into the Electric Light Orchestra. Meanwhile, the remaining members of the Idle Race stayed together, finally becoming the Steve Gibbons Band in the early 1970s.

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