Sunday, February 19, 2023

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2308 (starts 2/20/23)

    This is one of those shows that kept going off in directions I didn't originally intend it to (I didn't plan on three artists' sets, for instance), but for the most part it seems to have worked out pretty well. A couple of never-before-played-on-the-show pieces snuck into the first half hour, including a pre-Rod Stewart cover of a Cat Stevens song. Speaking of Rod Stewart, we have a track with him sitting in as guest lead vocalist for a band originally formed in Australia that had relocated to England a couple years before (no, not the Easybeats).

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Talk Talk
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Rhino (original label: Original Sound)
Year:    1966
    The Music Machine was one of the most sophisticated bands to appear on the L.A. club scene in 1966, yet their only major hit, Talk Talk, was deceptively simple and straightforward punk-rock, and still holds up as two of the most intense minutes of rock music ever to crack the top 40 charts.

Artist:    We The People
Title:    You Burn Me Up And Down
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Thomas Talton
Label:    Rhino (original label: Challenge)
Year:    1966
    We The People was kind of a regional supergroup in the Orlando, Florida area, as it was made up of musicians from various local garage bands. The departure of lead guitarist Wayne Proctor in early 1967 and the band's other main songwriter Tommy Talton a year later led to the group's demise, despite having landed a contract with RCA Victor, at the time the world's largest record label. Before splitting up, however, they recorded a handful of garage-rock classics such as You Burn Me Up And Down, which was released as a B side in 1966.

Artist:    Count Five
Title:    Psychotic Reaction
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ellner/Chaney/Atkinson/Byrne/Michaelski
Label:    Rhino (original label: Double Shot)
Year:    1966
    Although San Jose, Ca. is a rather large city in its own right (the 10th-largest city in the US in fact), it has always had a kind of suburban status, thanks to being within the same media market as San Francisco. Nonetheless, San Jose had its own very active music scene in the mid-60s, and Count Five was, for a time in late 1966, at the top of the heap, thanks in large part to Psychotic Reaction tearing up the national charts.

Artist:    Standells
Title:    Zebra In The Kitchen
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Hal Hopper
Label:    Sundazed/M-G-M
Year:    1965
    Although they are best known for the song Dirty Water and a couple of followup garage band favorites, the Standells were actually a well-established band by the time they gained national fame, having released several singles for the Liberty (1964) and Vee Jay (1965 labels). Probably the oddest early Standells release, however, was a one-off single for M-G-M of the title song for a film called Zebra In The Kitchen starring a then 14-year-old Jay (Dennis the Menace) North. Given, in the words of lead vocalist/keyboardist Larry Tamblyn, "carte blanche to do as we saw fit." Tamblyn rewrote the melody, chord structure and arrangement on the tune originally written by North's uncle, Hal Hopper. The single was released, along with the film itself, in June of 1965.

Artist:    Cyrkle
Title:    The Visit (She Was Here)
Source:    Mono LP: Neon
Writer(s):    Chandler/McKendry
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    If you were to look up the term "diminishing returns" in a pop music encyclopedia, you might see a picture of the Cyrkle. Their first single, Red Rubber Ball, was a huge hit in 1966, going all the way to the #2 spot, with the album of the same name peaking at #47. The follow-up single, Turn Down Day, was also a top 20 hit, but it would be their last. Each consecutive single, in fact, would top out just a little bit lower than the one before it. Their first single of 1967 only managed to peak at #70. The B side of that single was the soft-rock tune The Visit (She Was Here), which was taken from the Cyrkle's second LP, Neon (which only managed to make it to #164 on the album charts). The group disbanded later that same year.

Artist:    Seeds
Title:    The Wind Blows Your Hair
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Saxon/Bigelow
Label:    Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Year:    1967
    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:    Ultimate Spinach
Title:    Baroque # 1
Source:    LP: Ultimate Spinach
Writer(s):    Ian Bruce-Douglas
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1967
    Of the half dozen or so major US record labels of the time, only two, Decca and M-G-M, failed to sign any San Francisco bands in the late 1960s. Decca, which had been bought by MCA in the early 60s, was fast fading as a major force in the industry (ironic considering that Universal, the direct descendant of MCA, is now the world's largest record company). M-G-M, on the other hand, had a strong presence on the Greenwich Village scene thanks to Jerry Schoenbaum at the Verve Forecast label, who had signed such critically-acclaimed artists as Dave Van Ronk, Tim Hardin and the Blues Project. Taking this as an inspiration, the parent label decided to create interest in the Boston music scene, aggressively promoting (some would say hyping) the "Boss-Town Sound". One of the bands signed was Ultimate Spinach, which was led by keyboardist Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote all the band's material, including Baroque # 1, an instrumental that shows the influence of West Coast bands such as Country Joe And The Fish.
Artist:    Koobas
Title:    First Cut Is The Deepest
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):    Cat Stevens
Label:    Rhino (original UK label: Columbia)
Year:    1968
    Formed in Liverpool in 1962, the Koobas (after an obligatory stay in Hamburg) landed their first record contract after filming a segment for a movie called Ferry Cross The Mersey that ended up on the cutting room floor. They released several singles from 1965-1968, but none of them were successful in their native land, although their final single, a psychedelicized (think Vanilla Fudge) version of Cat Stevens's First Cut Is The Deepest, did fairly well in Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Artist:    Action
Title:    Bustbin Full Of Rubbish
Source:    British import CD: Mighty Baby (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Ian Whiteman
Label:    Big Beat
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 1993
    Although popular with the Mod crowd, the Action was never able to convert that popularity into chart success, despite releasing a series of singles on the Parlophone label from 1965-67. The band began going through changes in 1967, including the loss of lead vocalist Reg King and the addition of keyboardist/composer Ian Whiteman in 1967. After being dropped by Parlophone, the Action recorded a series of demos for Georgio Gomelski, who was in the process of setting up his new Marmalade label in 1968, but were unable to find any takers among the labels that existed at the time, and the recordings remained unreleased until the 1990s. Meanwhile, the Action finally changed its name to Mighty Baby in 1969, signing with the new Head label. Unfortunately, Head Records went belly up in 1970, and after releasing a second LP on the Blue Horizon label in 1971, the Action/Mighty Baby finally called it quits.

Artist:    Love
Title:    The Daily Planet
Source:    CD: Forever Changes
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1967
    The closest Love ever got to a stable lineup was in early 1967, when the group consisted of multi-instrumentalist and band leader Arthur Lee, lead guitarist Johnny Echols, rhythm guitarist Bryan MacLean, bassist Ken Forssi and drummer Michael Stuart. This group, along with "Snoopy" Pfisterer on keyboards and Tjay Cantrelli on flute and saxophone, had completed the De Capo album in late 1966 and were firmly entrenched as the top-drawing band on the Sunset Strip. There were drawbacks, however. Then, as now, Los Angeles was the party capitol of the world, and the members of Love, as kings of the Strip, had easy access to every vice they could imagine. This became a serious problem when it was time to begin working on the band's third LP, Forever Changes. Both Lee and MacLean had new material ready to be recorded, but getting the other band members into the studio was proving to be impossible, so their producer took matters into his own hands and brought in some of L.A.'s top studio musicians (known as the Wrecking Crew) to begin work on the album. The move turned out to be a wake up call for the rest of the band, who were able to get their act together in time to finish the album themselves. Lee and MacLean, however, chose to keep the two tracks that they had completed using studio musicians. One of those was a Lee composition, The Daily Planet, that had been arranged by Neil Young. Ken Forssi later claimed that bassist Carol Kaye was having problems with the song and Forssi himself ended up playing on the track, but there is no way now to verify Forssi's claim.

Artist:    Love
Title:    My Little Red Book
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released on LP: Love)
Writer(s):    Bacharach/David
Label:    Rhino (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1966
    The first rock record ever released by Elektra Records was a single by Love called My Little Red Book. The track itself (which also opens Love's debut LP), is a punked out version of a tune originally recorded by Manfred Mann for the What's New Pussycat movie soundtrack. Needless to say, Love's version was not exactly what composers Burt Bacharach and Hal David had in mind when they wrote the song.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Andmoreagain
Source:    CD: Love Story
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1967
    If there is any one song that validates comparisons of Johnny Mathis and Love's Arthur Lee, it's Andmoreagain, from the third Love album, Forever Changes. Oddly enough, the song has also drawn comparisons to the music of Burt Bacharach, particularly for its soft melody and use of major 7th chords. This is somewhat ironic, given Bacharach's adverse reaction to Love's version of My Little Red Book, a song he wrote for the soundtrack of the film What's New, Pussycat.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Wicked World
Source:    LP: Black Sabbath (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osborne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Warner Brothers (original UK label: Fontana)
Year:    1970
    The Secret Origin of Heavy Metal-Part One: After a short (one month) stint as Mick Abrahams's replacement in Jethro Tull, guitarist Tony Iommi rejoined his former bandmates Ozzy Osborne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward in the blues-rock band Earth in January of 1969. Later that year they realized that there was already another English band called Earth and decided to change their name. Taking inspiration from a playbill of a movie theater showing classic Boris Karloff horror films across the street from where they were rehearsing, they started calling themselves Black Sabbath in August of 1969 and began to forge a new sound for the band in keeping with their new name. Three months later Black Sabbath got their first record contract, releasing a cover of Crow's Evil Woman in January of 1970. They followed the (UK only) single up with their self-titled debut LP, recorded in just two days, on Friday, February 13th, 1970. The album was released three months later in the US, and spent over a year on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart. Although Evil Woman was included on the UK version of the LP, Warner Brothers chose to instead include the B side of the band's single, a song called Wicked World that was not on the UK version of the album. Most Black Sabbath fans, it turns out, consider Wicked World a stronger track, as it shows a trace of the band's original blues-rock sound, particularly on the US LP version of the song, which leaves out the overdubbed horns added to both sides of the UK single.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    The Boxer
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bridge Over Troubled Water)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1969
    The only Simon And Garfunkel record released in 1969, The Boxer was one of the duo's most successful singles, making the top 10 in nine countries, including the US, where it hit the #7 spot. The track, which runs more than five minutes, was later included on the 1970 LP Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Artist:     Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title:     Really
Source:     LP: Super Session
Writer:     Bloomfield/Kooper
Label:     Columbia/Legacy
Year:     1968
     Al Kooper and Michael Bloomfield first met when they were both members of Bob Dylan's band in 1965, playing on the classic Highway 61 Revisited album and famously performing at the Newport Folk Festival, where Kooper's organ was physically assaulted by angry folk purists. After a stint with seminal jam band The Blues Project, Kooper became a staff producer for Columbia Records in New York, where he came up with the idea of an album made up entirely of studio jams. He recruited Bloomfield, who had in the intervening years played with the Butterfield Blues Band and the Electric Flag, along with bassist Harvey Brooks (also from Butterfield's band) and studio drummer Eddie Hoh and came up with the surprise hit album of 1968, Super Session. Although Bloomfield bowed out of the project halfway through, he plays on all the tracks on side one of the album, including Really, which utilizes a classic blues progression.

Artist:    Yardbirds
Title:    For Your Love
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Graham Gouldman
Label:    Epic
Year:    1965
    The last Yardbirds song to feature guitarist Eric Clapton, For Your Love was the group's fist US hit, peaking at the # 6 slot. The song did even better in the UK, peaking at # 3. Following its release, Clapton left the Yardbirds, citing the band's move toward a more commercial sound and this song in particular as reasons for his departure (ironic when you consider songs like his mid-90s hit Change the World or his slowed down lounge lizard version of Layla). For Your Love was written by Graham Gouldman, who would end up as a member of Wayne Fontana's Mindbenders and later 10cc with Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.

Artist:     Who
Title:     Bucket T
Source:     Mono LP: Magic Bus (original released in UK on EP: Ready Steady Who)
Writer(s):     Atfield/Christian/Torrance
Label:     MCA (original label: Track)
Year:     1966
     Ready Steady Go was Britain's answer to American Bandstand. A hugely popular one-shot special edition of the show called Ready Steady Who aired in 1966. A five song EP (also called Ready Steady Who) had an entirely different set of songs than the TV special, and included some real oddities such as their version of the Batman theme and Bucket T, a hot rod song originally recorded by Ronny & the Daytonas.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    St. Stephen (1971 remix)
Source:    CD: Aoxomoxoa
Writer(s):    Hunter/Garcia/Lesh
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1969
    One of the Grateful Dead's most recognizable tunes is St. Stephen. The song first appeared on the 1969 album Aoxomoxoa, and was a regular part of the band's live performances (usually combined with The Eleven) for the next few years. From the mid-1970s on the song was only occasionally played in concert, and was considered a special treat by Deadheads.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)
Source:    CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: The Grateful Dead
Writer(s):    McGannahan Skjellyfetti
Label:    Rhino (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1967
    The Grateful Dead's major label debut single actually sold pretty well in the San Francisco Bay area, where it got airplay on top 40 stations from San Francisco to San Jose. Around the rest of the country, not so much, but the Dead would soon prove that there was more to survival than having a hit record. Writing credits on The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion) were given to McGannahan Skjellyfetti, which like the Rolling Stones' Nanker Phelge was a name used for songs written by the entire band (there was probably some copyright-related reason for doing so).

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    China Cat Sunflower
Source:    CD: Aoxomoxoa (1971 remix)
Writer(s):    Hunter/Garcia/Lesh
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1969
    The third Grateful Dead album, Aoxomoxoa, was an experimental mixture of live audio and studio enhancements, much in the same vein as their previous effort, Anthem Of The Sun. One significant difference between the two is that, unlike Anthem, Aoxomoxoa was written entirely by the team of guitarist Jerry Garcia, bassist Phil Lesh and poet Robert Hunter, giving the album a more cohesive sound. One track on Aoxomoxoa, China Cat Sunflower, is almost entirely a studio creation, and as such has a bit cleaner sound than the rest of the LP, especially on the 1971 remixed version of the album.

Artist:    Python Lee Jackson
Title:    In A Broken Dream
Source:    LP: Golden Days Of British Rock (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    David Bentley
Label:    Sire (original label: Youngblood International)
Year:    1970
    Formed in Sydney, Australia in December 1965, Python Lee Jackson went through several personnel changes before breaking up in January of 1968.  Not long after that two of the band's founding members, guitarist Mick Lieber and drummer David Montgomery, along with keyboardist/vocalist Dave Bentley (who had joined the band in 1966), relocated to the UK, reforming the band in October 1968. In April of 1969 they recorded three songs with guest vocalist Rod Stewart, after Bentley told his bandmates that he didn't think his voice was right for the songs. The first of these was In A Broken Dream, produced by legendary DJ John Peel, who had taken an interest in the band after seeing them perform at the Arts Lab on Drury Lane. The song was originally released in 1970, but did not chart until it was re-released two years later in the wake of Stewart's rise to fame as a solo artist and member of Faces.

Artist:    Mandrake Paddle Steamer
Title:    Steam
Source:    British import 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Martin Briley
Label:    Bam Caruso (original label: Parlophone)
Year:    1969
    Mandrake Paddle Steamer was the brainchild of art school students Martin Briley and Brian Engle, who, with producer Robert Finnis, were among the first to take advantage of EMI's new 8-track recording equipment at their Abbey Road studios. The result was Strange Walking Man, a single released in 1969. The B side of that record was an instrumental written by Briley called, appropriately, Steam. The single was the only recording ever released by Mandrake Paddle Steamer, and was re-released (with a really nice looking picture sleeve) by the British Bam Caruso label in June of 1985.

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

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    I Am The Walrus
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1967
    There were actually three different versions of the Beatles' I Am The Walrus released in late 1967, all of which were made from the same basic master tape. The first (heard here) was a mono single version that was issued as the B side of the Hello Goodbye single in late November. This version features a four-beat intro and has an extra bar of music immediately preceding the words "yellow matter custard" in the middle of the song. The second version was the stereo version featured on the US-only Magical Mystery Tour album. This version is basically the same as the mono version, but does not contain the extra bar in the middle. The third version appeared in early December in Europe and the UK on the stereo version of the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack EP. This version features a six beat intro, but is otherwise identical to the US stereo version. In the early 1980s engineers at Capitol Records created a fourth version of I Am The Walrus that uses the six beat intro from the UK stereo version and includes the extra bar in the middle of the song from the US single version. This fourth version was included on the US version of the Beatles' Rarities album.
Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: More Hot Rocks (Big Hits and Fazed Cookies) (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Flowers)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1966
    By mid-1966 there was a population explosion of teenage rock bands popping up in garages and basements all across the US, the majority of which were doing their best to emulate the grungy sound of their heroes, the Rolling Stones. The Stones themselves responded by ramping up the grunge factor to a previously unheard of degree with their last single of the year, Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow? It was the most feedback-laden record ever to make the top 40 at that point in time, and it inspired America's garage bands to buy even more powerful amps and crank up the volume (driving their parents to drink in the process).

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Connection
Source:    CD: Between The Buttons
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label:London)
Year:    1967
    Often dismissed as the beginning of a departure from their blues roots, the Rolling Stones first LP of 1967, Between The Buttons, actually has a lot of good tunes on it, such as Connection, a song with multiple meanings. Most studios at that time only had four tracks available and would use two tape machines to mix the first tracks recorded on one machine (usually the instrumental tracks) down to a single track on the other machine, freeing up the remaining tracks for overdubs. This process, known as "bouncing", sometimes happened two or three times on a single recording if extra overdubs were needed. Unfortunately each pass resulted in a loss of quality on the bounced tracks, especially if the equipment was not properly maintained. This is particularly noticeable on Connection, as the final mix seems to have lost most of its high and low frequencies, resulting in an unintentionally "lo-fi" recording.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    She's A Rainbow
Source:    LP: More Hot Rocks (Big Hits and Fazed Cookies) (originally released on LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1967
    The only song from the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request album to get significant airplay in the US was She's A Rainbow, released as a single in the fall of '67.  Oddly enough it was the single's B side, 2,000 Light Years From Home, that charted in Germany. Another song from the album, In Another Land, had been released in the US a week before the album came out and was marketed as the first Bill Wyman solo song (with a Rolling Stones B side), but only made it to the #87 spot on the Billboard singles chart. This perhaps is a reflection of the uncertainty surrounding the Rolling Stones' role in the world of rock at the time. That uncertainty would soon be dispelled when the band hired a new producer, Jimmy Miller, the following year and released Jumpin' Jack Flash, an undisputed classic that helped define the band for years to come.

Artist:     Moby Grape
Title:     Omaha
Source:     45 RPM single
Writer:     Skip Spence
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1967
     As an ill-advised promotional gimmick, Columbia Records released five separate singles concurrently with the first Moby Grape album. Of the five singles, only one, Omaha, actually charted, and it only got to the #86 spot. Meanwhile, the heavy promotion by the label led to Moby Grape getting the reputation of being over-hyped, much to the detriment of the band's career.

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

Artist:     Donovan
Title:     House Of Jansch
Source:     Mono British import CD: Mellow Yellow
Writer:     Donovan Leitch
Label:     EMI (original US label: Epic)
Year:     1967
     One of the top names in British folk music in the 60s was Bert Jansch. House Of Jansch was Donovan's way of acknowledging Jansch's influence on his own music. Ironically, the album it appeared on, Mellow Yellow, was not released in the UK due to an ongoing contract dispute between the Scottish singer/songwriter and Pye records.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Let's Get Together
Source:    LP: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
Writer(s):    Dino Valenti
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1966
    Although Dino Valenti recorded a demo version of his song Let's Get Together in 1964, it wasn't until two years later that the song made its first appearance on vinyl as a track on Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. The Airplane version of the song is unique in that the lead vocals alternate between Paul Kantner, Signe Anderson and Marty Balin, with each one taking a verse and all of them singing on the chorus.

Artist:    Hollies
Title:    Pay You Back With Interest
Source:    LP: The Hollies Greatest Hits
Writer(s):    Clarke/Hicks/Nash
Label:    Epic (original label: Imperial)
Year:    1967
    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.

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