In recent weeks we've had battles of band vs solo artist and band vs duo, but no actual battle of the bands...until now. And this one features two of the best, as we have the 1966-67 Electric Prunes going up against the 1965-66 Rolling Stones. Also of note: Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady (along with drummer Joey Covington) in a pre-Hot Tuna performance recorded by Owsley Stanley in June of 1969, and several sets from specific years, starting with a fairly long one from 1967.
Artist: Strawberry Alarm Clock
Title: Incense And Peppermints
Source: Mono CD: Billboard Top Rock 'n' Roll Hits-1967 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: All-American)
Incense and Peppermints is one of the iconic songs of the psychedelic era, yet when it was originally released to Los Angeles area radio stations it was intended to be the B side of The Birdman of Alkatrash. Somewhere along the line a DJ flipped the record over and started playing Incense And Peppermints instead. The song caught on and Uni Records (short for Universal, which is now the world's largest record company) picked up the Strawberry Alarm Clock's contract and reissued the record nationally with Incense And Peppermints as the A side.
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Otis Redding
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Sounding a lot like the Rascals, the Vagrants were a popular Long Island band led by singer Peter Sabatino and best remembered for being the group that had guitarist Leslie Weinstein in it. Weinstein would change his last name to West and record a solo album called Mountain before forming the band of the same name. This version of Respect is fairly faithful to the original Otis Redding version. Unfortunately for the Vagrants, Aretha Franklin would release her radically rearranged version of the song just a few weeks after the Vagrants, relegating their version of the tune (and the Vagrants themselves) to footnote status.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice
Source: German import 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
The fourth single released in Europe and the UK by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was 1967's Burning Of The Midnight Lamp, which appeared in stereo the following year on the album Electric Ladyland. The B side of that single was a strange bit of psychedelia called The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice, which is also known in some circles as STP With LSD. The piece features Hendrix on guitar and vocals, with background sounds provided by a cast of at least dozens. Hendrix's vocals are, throughout much of the track, spoken rather than sung, and resemble nothing more than a cosmic travelogue with Hendrix himself as the tour guide. The original mono mix of the track has never been released in the US, which is a shame, since it is the only version where Jimi's vocals dominate the mix, allowing his somewhat whimsical sense of humor to shine through.
Artist: Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
Title: Zig Zag Wanderer
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released on LP: Safe As Milk)
Writer(s): Don Van Vliet
Label: Rhino (original label: Buddah)
Don Van Vliet made his first recordings as Captain Beefheart in 1965, covering artists like Bo Diddley in a style that could best be described as "punk blues." Upon hearing those recordings A&M Records, despite its growing reputation as a hot (fairly) new label, promptly cancelled the project. Flash forward a year or so. Another hot new label, Buddah Records, an offshoot of Kama Sutra Records that had somehow ended up being the parent rather than the subsidiary, was busy signing new acts like Johnny Winter, and ended up issuing Safe As Milk in 1967 as their very first LP. The good captain would eventually end up on his old high school acquaintance Frank Zappa's Bizarre Records, turning out classic albums like Trout Mask Replica, and the world would never be quite the same.
Title: Harry Rag
Source: LP: Something Else By The Kinks
Writer: Ray Davies
By 1967 the Kinks were starting to feel the effects of a four-year ban on performing in the United States imposed in 1965 by the American Federation of Musicians due to their rowdy onstage behavior. Their last major US hit had been Sunny Afternoon the previous summer, although they continued to have success in their native England. Their 1967 album Something Else was their first LP to be released in stereo, but went virtually unnoticed in the US. The album was produced by Ray Davies, and included a wide variety of songs, including Harry Rag, a tune that could easily have been passed off as an English sea chanty. The Kinks would continue to struggle in the US until 1970, when the international hit Lola put them once again in the spotlight.
Artist: Chambers Brothers
Title: Time Has Come Today
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: The Time Has Come)
Writer(s): Joe and Willie Chambers
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
One of the quintessential songs of the psychedelic era is the Chambers Brothers' classic Time Has Come Today. The song was originally recorded and issued as a single in 1966. The more familiar version heard here, however, was recorded in 1967 for the album The Time Has Come. The LP version of the song runs about eleven minutes, way too long for a 45 RPM record, so before releasing the song as a single for the second time, engineers at Columbia cut the song down to around 3 minutes. The edits proved so jarring that the record was recalled and a re-edited version, clocking in at 4:57 became the third and final single version of the song, hitting the charts in 1968.
Artist: Shadows Of Knight
Title: I'll Make You Sorry
Source: LP: Back Door Men
Writer(s): Joe Kelley
Label: Sundazed (original label: Dunwich)
Following the success of the Shadows Of Knight's debut single and LP (both titled Gloria), the band went back into the studio with a bit more experience under their belt and came up with their finest album, Back Door Men. Like Gloria, Back Door Men contained a mixture of Chicago blues and garage/punk, but overall had a greater diversity of style than its predecessor. Surprisingly, every song on the album worked, including the vindictive punk rocker I'll Make You Sorry, which was also released as a B side.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Title: Thru The Rhythm
Source: CD: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
Label: Collectables (original label: International Artists)
The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators was reportedly recorded while the entire band was tripping on LSD, making it the first known example of acid rock to be released on vinyl. The album was also (arguably) the first rock album to include the word psychedelic in its title. The 13th Floor Elevators were formed by vocalist Roky Erickson, guitarist Stacy Sutherland and electric juggist Tommy Hall, who also provided lyrics for the group's original compositions such as Thru The Rhythm. Hearing is believing.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound)
Source: LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Label: Cotillion (original label: Atco)
By mid-1966 Hollywood's Sunset Strip was being taken over every night by local teenagers, with several underage clubs featuring live music being a major attraction. Many of the businesses in the area, citing traffic problems and rampant drug and alcohol abuse, began to put pressure on city officials to do something about the situation. The city responded by passing new loitering ordinances and imposing a 10PM curfew on the Strip. They also began putting pressure on the clubs, including condemning the popular Pandora's Box for demolition. On November 12, 1966 fliers appeared on the streets inviting people to a demonstration that evening to protest the closing of the club. The demostration continued over a period of days, exascerbated by the city's decision to revoke the permits of a dozen other clubs on the Strip, forcing them to bar anyone under the age of 21 from entering. Stephen Stills, a member of Buffalo Springfield, one of the many bands appearing regularly in these clubs, wrote a new song in response to the situation, and the band quickly booked studio time, recording the still-unnamed track on December 5th. The band had recently released their debut LP, but sales of the album were lackluster due to the lack of a hit single. Stills reportedly presented the new recording to label head Ahmet Ertegun with the words "I have this song here, for what it's worth, if you want it." Ertegun, sensing that he had a hit on his hands, got the song rush-released two days before Christmas, 1966, using For What It's Worth as the official song title, but sub-titling it Stop, Hey What's That Sound on the label as well. As predicted, For What It's Worth was an instant hit in the L.A. market, and soon went national, where it was taken by most record buyers to be about the general sense of unrest being felt across the nation over issues like racial equality and the Vietnam War (and oddly enough, by some people as being about the Kent State massacre, even though that happened nearly three years after the song was released). As the single moved up the charts, eventually peaking at #7, Atco recalled the Buffalo Springfield LP, reissuing it with a modified song selection that included For What It's Worth as the album's openng track. Needless to say, album sales picked up after that. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever even seen a copy of the Buffalo Springfield album without For What It's Worth on it, although I'm sure some of those early pressings must still exist.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Out Of Focus
Source: Dutch import LP: Vincebus Eruptum
Writer: Dickie Peterson
With the possible exception of the Grateful Dead (when they were using the Owsley-designed sound system), the loudest band to come out of San Francisco was Blue Cheer. The album Vincebus Eruptum, highlighted by the band's feedback-drenched version of Eddie Cochrane's Summertime Blues, is considered by some to be the first heavy metal album ever recorded. My own favorite track on the album is Out Of Focus, which opens side 2 of the LP and was issued as the B side of Summertime Blues.
Title: Passing The Time
Source: CD: Wheels Of Fire
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Although Jack Bruce is generally acknowledged as the member of Cream that provided the most psychedelic material that the band recorded, drummer Ginger Baker gave him a run for his money on the studio half of their third LP, Wheels Of Fire. Perhaps the best of these was Passing The Time, which alternates between a slow, dreamlike section notable for its use of a calliope and a fast section that rocks out as hard as anything the band performed live in concert.
Title: I'm So Tired
Source: CD: The Beatles
Label: Parlophone (original label: Apple)
Somehow I can't help but thinking of the Firesign Theatre's Further Adventures of Nick Danger every time I hear this song. I guess that's better than thinking of Charles Manson's group, which some of the other songs on the "white album" make me do.
Artist: Frumious Bandersnatch
Title: Hearts To Cry
Source: British import CD: The Berkeley EPs (originally released on self-titled EP)
Writer: Jack King
Label: Big Beat (original label: Muggles Gramophone Works)
Rock music and the real estate business have something in common: location can make all the difference. Take the San Francisco Bay Area. You have one of the world's great Cosmopolitan cities at the north end of a peninsula. South of the city, along the peninsula itself you have mostly redwood forest land interspersed with fairly affluent communities along the way to Silicon Valley and the city of San Jose at the south end of the bay. The eastern side of the bay, on the other hand, spans a socio-economic range from blue collar to ghetto and is politically conservative; not exactly the most receptive environment for a hippy band calling itself Frumious Bandersnatch, which is a shame, since they had at least as much talent as any other band in the area. Unable to develop much of a following, they are one of the great "should have beens" of the psychedelic era, as evidenced by Hearts To Cry, the lead track of their 1968 untitled EP.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: Somewhere They Can't Find Me
Source: LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer(s): Paul Simon
The first Simon And Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning 3AM, was a fairly traditional type of folk LP. The album was originally released in late 1964, but due to lackluster sales was soon deleted from the Columbia catalog. In 1965 Paul Simon relocated to London, releasing a solo LP called the Paul Simon Songbook there. Before leaving the country, however, he and Art Garfunkel recorded two new songs in a more upbeat style. One of those two, We've Got A Groovey Thing Goin', was used as the B side for an electrified version of The Sound Of Silence, a tune from Wednesday Morning 3AM that was issued without the knowledge of either Simon or Garfunkel. The other song, Somewhere They Can't Find Me, was, lyrically, a reworking of the title track of Wednesday Morning 3AM, but with entirely new music inspired by a Davey Graham tune called Anji. It remained unreleased until 1966, when the duo reunited in early 1966 and quickly put together a new album, Sounds of Silence, to capitalize on the success of the unauthorized (but happily accepted) single. On the album itself, Somewhere They Can't Find Me is followed by Simon's cover of Anji.
Artist: Beach Boys
Title: I'm Waiting For The Day
Source: Mono CD: Pet Sounds
Although it was originally copyrighted in 1964 (words and music by Brian Wilson), I'm Waiting For The Day did not get recorded or released until 1966, when it appeared on the Pet Sounds album. Mike Love shares writing credit on the finished version of the song.
Title: Stephanie Knows Who
Source: CD: Da Capo
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Following up on a strong, if not spectacular debut LP followed by a national hit record (7&7 Is), Love went into the studio with two new members to record their second album, Da Capo. By this point Love had established itself as the most popular band on the Sunset Strip, and the music on Da Capo is a fair representation of what the group was doing onstage (including the 17 minute Revelation, which takes up the entire second side of the LP). The opening track, Stephanie Knows Who, is hard proto-punk, showcasing the band's tightness with abrupt changes in tempo throughout the song. The tune, originally released as a single in October of 1966 but quickly withdrawn in favor of She Comes In Colors, also features the harpsichord playing of "Snoopy" Pfisterer, who switched over from drums to keyboards for the LP, making way for Michael Stewart, who stayed with the band for their next LP, Forever Changes.
Artist: Bobby Hebb
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Robert Von "Bobby" Hebb is best known for his 1966 hit Sunny, but in fact had a long and productive career starting when he was three years old, when he and his older brother Harold performed in Nashville as a song-and-dance team. In the early 1950s he performed on a local TV show, leading to him becoming a member of Roy Acuff's band. His other credits include a stint with the US Navy jazz band, recording backup vocals for Bo Diddley and even becoming a replacement Mickey in Mickey and Sylvia for awhile. At the height of his popularity Hebb toured with the Beatles in 1966 (at that time Sunny was charting higher than any Beatles song). Among the other songs Hebb was performing at the time was a song called Bread, which appeared as the B side of Sunny.
Title: That's The Way It's Gotta Be
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Decca)
From Glasgow, Scotland, the Poets were discovered by Rolling Stones' manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham while on a trip to Edinburgh to marry his 16-year-old girlfriend. Although Oldham's primary focus remained on the Stones (and presumably his girlfriend), he did stick by the Poets through half a dozen singles from 1964 through 1967. One of the best of these was That's The Way It's Gotta Be, released on the British Decca label in 1965.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Play With Fire
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and on LP: Out Of Our Heads)
Generally when one thinks of the 60s incarnation of the Rolling Stones the first thing that comes to mind is down to earth rock and roll songs such as Satisfaction, Jumpin' Jack Flash and Honky Tonk Women. The band has always had a more mellow side, however. In fact, the first Mick Jagger/Keith Richards compositions were of the slower variety, including Heart Of Stone and As Tears Go By. Even after the duo started cranking out faster-paced hits like 19th Nervous Breakdown and The Last Time, they continued to write softer songs such as Play With Fire, which made the charts as a B side in 1965. The lyrics of Play With Fire, with their sneering warning to not mess with the protagonist of the song, helped cement the Stones' image as the bad boys of rock and roll.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: Capt. Glory
Source: CD: Underground
Writer(s): James Lowe
Label: Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
Electric Prunes lead vocalist James Lowe says one of his favorite vocals on the second Electric Prunes album, Underground, was on the song called Capt. Glory. Although he cites the song's "loose, silly" quality, my cynical side thinks it may have something to do with the fact that it is the only track on the album with writing credits going solely to Lowe himself.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Going Home
Source: British import LP: Aftermath
Label: Abkco (original label: Decca)
Goin' Home was not originally meant to run over eleven minutes, but when the Rolling Stones recorded the track they decided to keep the tape rolling as the band kept on jamming after the intended two and a half minutes had passed. The result was one of the first extended-length studio recordings by a rock band and the first "jam" recorded expressly for an album. The regular lineup of Mick Jagger (vocals), Keith Richards (guitar), Billy Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums) and Brian Jones (who plays harmonica on the tune) was augmented by Ian Stewart on piano and Jack Nitzsche on percussion. The track was included on both the US and UK versions of the Aftermath album, which was the first Stones LP to not include any cover songs as well as being the first Rolling Stones album to be recorded in true stereo.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: The Electric Prunes and as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Reprise)
The Electric Prunes' biggest hit was I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night), released in November of 1966. The record, initially released without much promotion from their record label, was championed by Seattle DJ Pat O'Day of KJR radio, and was already popular in that area when it hit the national charts (thus explaining why so many people assumed the band was from Seattle). I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) has come to be one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era and was the opening track on the original Lenny Kaye Nuggets compilation (and the second track on Rhino's first Nuggets LP).
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Get Off My Cloud
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
Early British Invasion bands generally fell into one of two camps. On the one hand there were the relatively clean-cut Merseybeat bands such as Gerry and the Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits and of course the Beatles themselves, who were the overwhelming favorites of teenage girls all across America. Then there were the so-called "bad boy" bands such as Them and the Animals who tended to favor a raunchier interpretation of rock and roll than their Merseybeat counterparts and had more male than female fans. Chief among these were London's Rolling Stones. While the Beatles were still cranking out love songs through most of 1965, the Stones were shouting their defiance at the world with songs like Get Off My Cloud.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Source: CD: Underground
Label: Collector's Choice/Rhino (original label: Reprise)
After the moderately successful first Electric Prunes album, producer David Hassinger loosened the reigns a bit for the followup, Underground. Among the original tunes on Underground was Hideaway, a song that probably would have been a better choice as a single than what actually got released: a novelty tune called Dr. Feelgood written by Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz, who had also written the band's first hit, I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
Artist: Scarlet Letter
Title: Time Keeper
Source: Mono British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Mainstream)
One of the Detroit music scene's most overlooked bands, the Scarlet Letter released three singles for Bob Shad's Mainstream label. The best of these was a tune called Mary Maiden, with the equally strong Timekeeper on the flip side. The group also released a single on the Time label (a subsidiary of Mainstream) using the name Paraphernalia in 1968.
Artist: Bob Seger System
Title: Tales Of Lucy Blue (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Source: LP: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Writer: Bob Seger
For many years the only Bob Seger record I owned was the single Ramblin' Gamblin' Man that I bought new in 1969 at the Base Exchange at Ramstein Air Force Base Germany for about 50 cents. The B side was the song Tales of Lucy Blue. After that single disappeared from my collection I never bought another Bob Seger record (although I did score a promo copy of Turn The Page from a radio station I was working at in the mid 90s). More recently I was allowed to pillage the WEOS vinyl archives (found on the Hobart and William Smith campus in a storage area in one of the dorms) and found this copy of the Ramblin' Gamblin' Man album. The cover features a young blond woman dressed in blue satin against a blue background. It turns out that the album (Seger's first) was originally going to be titled Tales of Lucy Blue but was changed at the last minute by the shirts at Capitol in order to capitalize on the popularity of the single that I had bought a copy of back in 1969. Luckily they didn't change the cover art as well, as a picture of Seger in blue satin probably wouldn't have worked.
Artist: Jorma Kaukonen/Jack Casady
Title: Inspiration In The Hall Of Arrivals
Source: CD: Before We Were Them-June 28, 1969
Label: Bear's Sonic Journals
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2018
Shortly after finishing recording sessions for the 1969 Jefferson Airplane album Volunteers, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady did a pair of shows at the Vets Memorial Building in Santa Rosa, California, that were recorded, but not released, by Owsley "Bear" Stanley. Accompanied by future Airplane drummer Joey Covington, Jorma And Jack, as they were billed, did a set of mostly improvisational pieces, most of which went nameless until 2018, when Bear's Sonic Journals, released recordings of the second show on a CD called Before We Were Them-June 28, 1969. Included as a bonus track was Inspiration In The Hall Of Arrivals, which was actually recorded on June 27, 1969. Three months later Kaukonen and Casady recorded their first Hot Tuna album together.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: She's Not There
Source: LP: Vanilla Fudge
Writer(s): Rod Argent
With the exception of three short audio bridges between songs on side two of the original LP (none of which exceed 23 seconds in length), the entire first Vanilla Fudge album was made up of heavily rearranged cover songs. Among them was a slowed down, psychedelic prog-rock version of She's Not There. Although it is one of the more overlooked songs from the Vanilla Fudge catalog, it is a unique take on the Zombies classic.
Title: Wear Your Love Like Heaven
Source: CD: Donovan's Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: A Gift From A Flower To A Garden)
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Following the release of his Mellow Yellow album in early 1967 Donovan decided to take a break from the studio, only recording a pair of singles over the next few months. Finally, in October, the Scottish singer/songwriter began work on his next album, a double LP to be called A Gift From A Flower To A Garden. The first disc was a collection of electric pop songs subtitled Wear Your Love Like Heaven, while the second, For Little Ones, featured more acoustic material and was oriented to a younger audience. As a way of hedging their bets, Epic Records also issued the project as a pair of separate albums. The lead single from the album was the title track from the first disc, Wear Your Love Like Heaven, which also opens the entire album. The song did fairly well on the charts, peaking at #23 in the US, and is considered a highlight of Donovan's psychedelic period.
Artist: John Mayall with Eric Clapton
Title: Ramblin' On My Mind
Source: Mono LP: Blues Breakers
Writer(s): Robert Johnson
After leaving the Yardbirds, guitarist Eric Clapton joined up with the dean of the British blues scene, John Mayall. Mayall was known for giving the members of his band, the Bluesbreakers, room to strut their stuff, even if they themselves were a bit shy about being in the spotlight. The first Mayall album to feature Clapton did just that: the LP itself was billed as John Mayall with Eric Clapton, and Mayall even convinced a reluctant Clapton to sing on their cover of Robert Johnson's classic Ramblin' On My Mind. Although Clapton had contributed vocally to some Yardbirds recordings, this was his first recorded solo vocal performance.