Sunday, March 19, 2023

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2312 (starts 3/20/21)

    After squeezing in a record number of tunes last week, I figured it was time to stretch out a bit....but not until the second hour. To do that we pulled out three extra-long Advanced Psych tracks, including something from the first Weather Report album (recorded back before anyone had come up with the term jazz-rock fusion). And in our last segment we have back-to-back tracks from the original Vanilla Fudge and the band that was called by some critics "the British Vanilla Fudge" (both of which are, of course, cover songs).

Artist:    Iron Butterfly
Title:    Most Anything You Want
Source:    CD: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Writer(s):    Doug Ingle
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    Iron Butterfly will forever be known for the seventeen minute long In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, but, contrary to popular believe, they did record other songs as well, releasing four studio albums from 1968-1971. The In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida lineup of Doug Ingle (vocals, organ), Ron Bushy (drums), Lee Dorman (bass) and Erik Brann (guitar) was only around for two of those LPs, however, and can be heard on tracks like Most Anything You Want, which opens the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album.

Artist:    Bonzo Dog Band
Title:    I'm The Urban Spaceman
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Neil Innes
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1968
    The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (as they were originally called) was as much theatre (note the British spelling) as music, and were known for such antics as starting out their performances by doing calisthentics (after being introduced as the warm-up band) and having one of the members, "Legs" Larry Smith tapdance on stage (he was actually quite good). In 1967 they became the resident band on Do Not Adjust Your Set, a children's TV show that also featured sketch comedy by future Monty Python members Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin along with David Jason, the future voice of Mr. Toad and Danger Mouse. Late in the year they appeared in the Beatles' telefilm Magical Mystery Tour, performing a song called Deathcab For Cutie. In 1968 the Bonzos released their only hit single, I'm The Urban Spaceman, co-produced by Paul McCartney. Frontman Neil Innes would go on to hook up with Eric Idle for the Rutles project, among other things, and is often referred to as the Seventh Python.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Dogs
Source:    CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    Polydor (original label: Track)
Year:    1968
    Possibly the most obscure (to US audiences) Who song of the psychedelic era was Dogs, a single released only in the UK in 1968. The song was inspired by guitarist Pete Townshend's friend Chris Morphet, who was a fan of greyhound racing. Dogs was the first Who track to be recorded using then state-of-the-art eight-track recording equipment, and Townshend would later refer to it as one of the songs recorded during a period when the group went "slightly mad." The song remained unreleased in the US until the 1987 compilation album Two's Missing. Originally recorded in mono, the song was remixed in stereo in 1994 for the 30 Years Of Maximum R&B box set.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    That Means A Lot
Source:    Simulated stereo CD: Anthology 2
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol/Apple
Year:    Recorded 1965, released 1996
    Originally written and recorded to be used in the film Help, That Means A Lot is a Paul McCartney composition that was ultimately given to PJ Proby to record. As John Lennon put it "We thought we'd give it to someone who could sing it well". Proby's version of That Means A Lot, released in September of 1965, went to the #24 spot on the British charts, while the original Beatles version, recorded in February of 1965, remained unreleased until 1996.

Artist:     Buffalo Springfield
Title:     Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing
Source:     CD: Retrospective (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Buffalo Springfield)
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Atco
Year:     1966
     One of the most influential folk-rock bands to come out of the L.A. scene was Buffalo Springfield. The band had several quality songwriters, including Neil Young, whose voice was deemed "too weird" by certain record company people. Thus we have Richie Furay singing a Young tune on the band's first single, Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing.
Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Waterloo Sunset
Source:    CD: Something Else
Writer:    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    One of the most beautiful tunes ever recorded by the Kinks is Waterloo Sunset, a song that was a hit single in the UK, but was totally ignored by US radio stations. The reason for this neglect of such a stong song is a mystery, however it may have been due to the fear that American audiences would not be able to relate to all the references to places in and around London in the song's lyrics. The fact that the American Federation Of Musicians refused to issue permits for the Kinks to play concerts in the US between 1965 and 1969 (in all fairness due mainly to the band members' onstage behavior) probably had something to do with it as well.

Artist:    George Harrison
Title:    Dream Scene
Source:    CD: Wonderwall Music
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Apple
Year:    1968
    Here's one for trivia buffs: What was the first LP released on the Apple label? If you answered The Beatles (White Album) you'd be close, but not quite on the money. The actual first Apple album was something called Wonderwall Music from a film called (what else?) Wonderwall. The album itself was quite avant garde, with virtually no commercial potential. One of the most notable tracks on the album is Dream Scene, an audio collage that predates John Lennon's Revolution 9 by several months.

Artist:    B.B. King
Title:    Friends
Source:    LP: Live And Well
Writer(s):    King/Szymczyk
Label:    Bluesway
Year:    1969
    Thanks to rock guitarists like Jimi Hendrix (who performed a fast version of Rock Me Baby at Monterey) and Eric Clapton, B.B. King reached a whole new audience in the late 1960s. In 1969, working with producer Bill Szymczyk, he released Live And Well, an album that featured live tracks on one side and studio tracks, with a different set of backup musicians, on the other. One of those studio tracks was the instrumental Friends, which features Paul "Harry" Harris on piano, Hugh McCracken on guitar, Gerald Jemmott on bass guitar and Herb Lovelle on drums, described by Szymczyk as "some of the best young blues musicians in the country".

Artist:    Spanky And Our Gang
Title:    Sunday Mornin'
Source:    "Cut down" from LP: Like To Get To Know You (edited to match single version)
Writer(s):    Margo Guryan
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1967
    Despite peaking no higher than the #30 spot on the Hot 100 chart, Margo Guryan's Sunday Mornin' was listed by BMI as one of the 102 most performed songs of 1968. In addition to the most successful version of the song by Spanky And Our Gang (released in December of 1967 and appearing, in extended form, on the 1968 LP Like To Get To Know You), Sunday Mornin' appeared on albums by Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell, the Baja Marimba Band, Julie London, Richard "Groove" Holmes, and others, as well as appearing as a 1969 single by Oliver. Guryan herself included a version of the tune on her critically acclaimed LP Take A Picture.
Artist:    Lemon Pipers
Title:    Green Tambourine
Source:    CD: The Best Of 60s Psychedelic Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Green Tambourine)
Writer(s):    Leka/Pinz
Label:    Priority (original label: Buddah)
Year:    1967
    Originally known as Ivan And The Sabers, Oxford, Ohio's Lemon Pipers have the distinction of being the first band to score a number one hit for the Buddah label. Unfortunately for the band, it was their only hit. Making it even worse is the fact that, although the Lemon Pipers themselves were a real band that had been making recordings since 1964, they ended up being grouped in with several "bands" who were for the most part studio creations by the Kazenetz/Katz production team that supplied Buddah with a steady stream of bubble-gum hits throughout 1968.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    My Eyes Have Seen You
Source:    CD: Strange Days
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1967
    It's strange. Some reviewers seem to think that the album Strange Days is inferior to the first Doors album. They justify this view by citing the fact that almost all the songs on both albums were already in the band's repertoire when they signed their record contract with Elektra. The implication is that the band naturally selected the best material for the first album, making Strange Days a collection of sloppy seconds. There is one small problem with this theory however. Pick a song at random from Strange Days and listen to it and in all likelihood it will sound every bit as good as a song randomly picked from the first album (and probably better than one picked from either of the Doors' next two LPs). In fact, I'll pick one for you: My Eyes Have Seen You. See what I mean?

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    The Lantern
Source:    CD: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Writer:    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    The Rolling Stones hit a bit of a commercial slump in 1967. It seemed at the time that the old Beatles vs. Stones rivalry (a rivalry mostly created by US fans of the bands rather than the bands themselves) had been finally decided in favor of the Beatles with the chart dominance of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band that summer. The Stones' answer to Sgt. Pepper's came late in the year, and was, by all accounts, their most psychedelic album ever. Sporting a cover that included a 5X5" hologram of the band dressed in wizard's robes, the album was percieved as a bit of a Sgt. Pepper's ripoff, possibly due to the similarity of the band members' poses in the holo. Musically Majesties was the most adventurous album the group ever made in their long history, amply demonstrated by songs like The Lantern. The Stones' next LP, Beggar's Banquet, was celebrated as a return to the band's roots.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Rhino (original label: Original Sound, stereo LP version released on Warner Brothers)
Year:    1967
     The Music Machine was by far the most advanced of all the bands playing on Sunset Strip in 1966-67. Not only did they feature tight sets (ensuring that audience members wouldn't get the chance to call out requests between songs), they also had their own visual look that set them apart from other groups. With all the band members dressed entirely in black (including dyed hair) and wearing one black glove, the Machine projected an image that would influence such diverse artists as the Ramones and Michael Jackson in later years. Musically, Bonniwell's songwriting showed a sophistication that was on a par with the best L.A. had to offer, demonstrated by a series of fine singles such as The Eagle Never Hunts the Fly. Unfortunately, problems on the business end prevented the Music Machine from achieving the success it deserved and Bonniwell, disheartened, dissillusioned and/or disgusted, quit the music business altogether in 1970.

Artist:    Rovin' Kind
Title:    She
Source:    Mono CD: Oh Yeah! The Best Of Dunwich Records (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Boyce/Hart
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Dunwich)
Year:    1967
    Although primarily known for their live performances, The Rovin' Kind did manage to find time to record several cover songs for various labels before changing their name to Illinois Speed Press and signing with Columbia in 1969. Among those cover songs was She, released as a single on the Dunwich label in May of 1967, just a few short months after the song first appeared as the opening track on the album More Of The Monkees.

Artist:    Thee Midnighters
Title:    Jump, Jive And Harmonize
Source:    CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Espinoza/Garcia/Marquez
Label:    Rhino (original label: Whittier)
Year:    1967
    Although Max Uballez was the top producer of rock records by Hispanic artists in the Los Angeles area, the region's most popular band, Thee Midnighters, did not use Uballez's studios. Instead they chose to record at their own practice hall, the Jewel Theater. The result was a raw, energetic sound that suited their particular brand of raunch and roll.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Don't Want You Woman (Top Gear version)
Source:    British import CD: Ten Years After
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Deram
Year:    1967
    Originally broadcast in 1964 and revived in 1967, Top Gear was a showcase for up and coming progressive rock bands that ran on Saturday evenings on BBC Radio 1 into the early 1970s. One of the first bands to appear on the show was Ten Years After, playing songs from their debut LP such as Don't Want You Woman. Under host John Peel, Top Gear would go on to win several awards until a financial crunch forced the BBC to cancel the program in 1972.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Four Until Late
Source:    LP: Fresh Cream
Writer(s):    Robert Johnson
Label:    Atco
Year:    1966
    By the time Cream was formed, Eric Clapton had already established himself as one of the world's premier blues-rock guitarists. He had not, however, done much singing, as the bands he had worked with all had strong vocalists: Keith Relf with the Yardbirds and John Mayall with the Bluesbreakers. With Cream, however, Clapton finally got a chance to do some vocals of his own. Most of these are duets with bassist Jack Bruce, who handled the bulk of Cream's lead vocals. Clapton did get to sing lead on a few Cream songs, however. One of the earliest ones was the band's updated version of Robert Johnson's Four Until Late, from the Fresh Cream album.

Artist:    Swinging Blue Jeans
Title:    Hippy Hippy Shake
Source:    Mono LP: History Of British Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Chan Romero
Label:    Sire (original UK label: His Master's Voice; original US label: Imperial)
Year:    1963
    Merseybeat is the term applied to bands from Liverpool that were popular from around 1962 to 1965. Perhaps the most typical example of a Merseybeat band was the Swinging Blue Jeans. Formed as a skiffle sextet called the Bluegenes in 1957, the group switched to rock 'n' roll in 1962 after being booed off the stage at Hamburg's Star Club, taking the name Swinging Blue Jeans at the same time. They released their first single for EMI's His Master's Voice label in June of 1963, but had their greatest success with their December 1963 cover of Chan Romero's Hippy Hippy Shake. The song went to the #2 spot on the British charts and was one of the first British Invasion records to hit the Hot 100 in the US, peaking at #24.

Artist:    Claypool Lennon Delirium
Title:    Bubbles Burst/There's No Underwear In Space
Source:    LP: Monolith Of Phobos
Writer(s):    Claypool/Lennon
Label:    Ato
Year:    2016
    If any one track captures the essence of the Claypool Lennon Delirium, it's the final vocal work on Monolith Of Phobos, Bubbles Burst. The song seamlessly segues into the instrumental There's No Underwear In Space to close out the album.

Artist:    Rome Yamilov/Henry Kaiser
Title:    God's Word
Source:    CD: The Lenoir Investigation
Writer(s):    J.D. Lenoir
Label:    Little Village
Year:    2022
    The origins of the project that came to be known as The Lenoir Investigation can be traced back to Jim Pugh, who in 2014 started the Little Village Foundation to produce and distribute "culturally significant recordings made by individuals and groups that might otherwise not be heard beyond the artists' community or family". One of the first musicians he found was Mumbai-born blues harmonicist Aki Kumar. . Kumar, who now lives in San Jose, California, brought along drummer June Core and Russian-born guitarist Rome Yamilov (who has lived in San Jose since he was seven years old), to record the album Hindi Man Blues. Eventually Pugh suggested to Yamilov that he team with the legendary Bay Area "free improviser" guitarist Henry Kaiser to make a "crazy guitar" album. Pugh even had an idea for the subject matter: an exploration of the music of J.B. Lenoir, himself a blue legend who tragically died at the age of 38 from untreated injuries suffered in a car crash. With backup from Core, Kumar and bassist Kid Anderson (from Charlie Musselwhite's band), the two guitarists set out to deconstruct and then reimagine some of Lenoir's compositions. For those of you listening to God's Word in stereo (especially if you have headphones on), Yamilov's guitar, which is rooted solidly in the blues, is on the left side, while Kaiser's work, which tends to be a bit more (dare I say it?) psychedelic, is on the right.

Artist:    Weather Report
Title:    Waterfall
Source:    European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Weather Report)
Writer(s):    Joe Zawinul
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    Although keyboardist Joe Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter had known each other since 1959, it wasn't until the groundbreaking Miles Davis album In A Silent Way that they actually worked together. Following the completion of Davis's next album, Bitches Brew, the two of them recruited bassist Miroslav Vitouš to form Weather Report (although Vitouš's version of the band's origin has himself and Shorter recruiting Zawinul. Drummer Alphonse Mouzon and percussionist joined the group in time to record its self-titled debut LP in 1971. The album itself built on the avant-garde aspects of Bitches Brew, abandoning the traditional verse-chorus-bridge structure in favor of a more improvisational approach on tracks like Zawinul's Waterfall, with the percussion drawing a lot from the then-current progressive rock movement. In later years Weather Report would take a more R&B/funk approach.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Turn! Turn! Turn!
Source:    Simulated stereo LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!)
Writer(s):    Pete Seeger
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1965
    After their success covering Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man, the Byrds turned to an even more revered songwriter: the legendary Pete Seeger. Turn! Turn! Turn!, with lyrics adapted from the book of Ecclesiastes, was first recorded by Seeger in the early 60s, nearly three years after he wrote the song.

Artist:    Association
Title:    Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies
Source:    Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released in US as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Renaissance)
Writer(s):    Gary Alexander
Label:    Warner Strategic Marketing (original US label: Valiant)
Year:    1966
    Following up on their monster hit Cherish, the Association released their most overtly psychedelic track, Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies, in late 1966, in advance of their second LP, Renaissance. The group had wanted to be more involved in the production process, and provided their own instrumental tracks for the tune, written by band member Gary Alexander. Unfortunately for the band, the single barely made the top 40, peaking at # 35, which ultimately led to the band relying more on outside songwriters and studio musicians for their later recordings such as Never My Love and Windy.

Artist:    Vanilla Fudge
Title:    Take Me For A Little While/Eleanor Rigby
Source:    LP: Vanilla Fudge
Writer(s):    Martin/Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Atco
Year:    1967
    Vanilla Fudge made their mark by doing slowed down rocked out versions of popular songs such as the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On. In fact, all of the tracks on their debut LP were songs of this nature, including two Beatles tunes. Side two of the original LP featured three tracks tied together by short psychedelic instrumental pieces knowns collectively as Illusions Of My Childhood. In addition to the aforementioned Supremes cover, the side features a Trade Martin composition called Take Me For A Little While that takes a diametrically opposed viewpoint to the first song, which leads directly into Eleanor Rigby, which sort of sums up both of the previous tracks lyrically. Although the Vanilla Fudge would stick around for a couple more years (and four more albums), they were never again able to match the commercial success of their 1967 debut LP.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    LP: Purple Passages (originally released on LP: Shades Of Deep Purple)
Writer(s):    Billy Roberts
Label:    Tetragrammaton
Year:    1968
    My first impression of Deep Purple was that they were Britain's answer to the Vanilla Fudge. After all, both bands had a big hit in 1968 with a rearranged version of someone else's song from 1967 (Vanilla Fudge with the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On and Deep Purple with Billy Joe Royal's Hush). Additionally, both groups included a Beatles cover on their debut LP (Fudge: Ticket To Ride, Purple: Help). Finally, both albums included a depressing Cher cover song. In the Vanilla Fudge case it was one of her biggest hits, Bang Bang. Deep Purple, on the other hand, went with a song that was actually more closely associated with the Jimi Hendrix Experience (although Cher did record it as well): Hey Joe. The Deep Purple version of the Billy Roberts classic (originally credited on the label to the band itself), is probably the most elaborate of the dozens of recorded versions of the song (which is up there with Louie Louie in terms of quantity), incorporating sections of the Miller's Dance (by Italian classical composer Manuel de Falla), as well as an extended instrumental section, making the finished track over seven and a half minutes long.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    My Dream
Source:    CD: Then Play On
Writer(s):    Danny Kirwan
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    Danny Kirwan was only 17 and fronting his own band, Boilerhouse, when he came to the attention of Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green. Green invited the band to play a few opening gigs for Fleetwood Mac and before long the two guitarists were participating in after hours jams together. Drummer Mick Fleetwood invited Kirwan to join the band, and Kirwan became the group's fifth official member (Christine Perfect still having guest artist status at that point). After making his debut sharing lead guitar duties with Green on an instrumental single, Albatross, Kirwan settled in as a songwriting member of the band in time for their 1969 LP Then Play On, contributing as many songs to the album as Green himself (although the US version left two of those songs off the LP). Shortly after Then Play On's release, the group had a huge international hit with Oh, Well (part one), which led to the band's US label, Reprise, recalling the album and reissuing it with Oh Well (parts one and two) added to it. To make way for the nearly nine-minute track, two more of Kirwan's songs were deleted from the lineup. One of those two songs was the instrumental My Dream, which has been reinserted into the lineup on recent CD releases.

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