This week's show is made up mostly of shorter tunes, including three singles from the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Well, until the last half hour, when we go for a suite or two.
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: Steppin' Out (stereo remix)
Source: CD: Greatest Hits
1965 was the year that Paul Revere and the Raiders hit the big time. The Portland, Oregon band had already been performing together for several years, and had been the first rock band to record Louie Louie in the spring of 1963, getting airplay on the West Coast and Hawaii but losing out nationally to another Portland band, the Kingsmen, whose version was recorded the same month as the Raiders'. While playing in Hawaii the band came to the attention of Dick Clark, who was looking for a band to appear on his new afternoon TV program, Where The Action Is. Clark introduced the band to Terry Melcher, a successful producer at Columbia Records, which led to the Raiders being the first genuine rock band signed by the label. Appearing on Action turned out to be a major turning point for the group, who soon became the show's defacto hosts as well as house band. The Raiders' first national hit in their new role was Steppin' Out, a song written by Revere and vocalist Mark Lindsay about a guy returning from military service (as Revere himself had done in the early 60s, reforming the band upon his return) and finding out his girl had been cheating on him. The song was originally mixed only in mono, but in the 1990s a new stereo mix was created from the original multi-track master tape.
Artist: Lovin' Spoonful
Title: Summer In The City
Source: LP: Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful
Label: Sundazed/Kama Sutra
The Lovin' Spoonful changed gears completely for what would become their biggest hit of 1966: Summer In The City. Inspired by a poem by John Sebastian's brother, the song was recorded for the album Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful. That album was an attempt by the band to deliberately record in a variety of styles; in the case of Summer In The City, it was a rare foray into psychedelic rock for the band. Not coincidentally, Summer In The City is also my favorite Lovin' Spoonful song.
Title: I Can See For Miles
Source: LP: The Who Sell Out
Writer: Pete Townshend
I Can See For Miles continued a string of top 10 singles in the UK and was the Who's biggest US hit ever. Pete Townshend, however, was disappointed with the song's performance on the UK charts. He said that the song was the ultimate Who song and as such it should have charted even higher than it did. It certainly was one of the heaviest songs of its time and there is some evidence that it prompted Paul McCartney to come up with Helter Skelter in an effort to take the heaviest song ever title back for the Beatles. What makes the story even more bizarre is that at the time McCartney reportedly had never actually heard I Can See For Miles and was going purely by what he read in a record review. I Can See For Miles was also used as the closing track of side one of The Who Sell Out, released in December of 1967. Some of the commercials and jingles heard at the beginning of the track were recorded by the band itself. Others were lifted (without permission) from Radio London, a pirate radio station operating off the English coast.
Artist: Public Nuisance
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on CD: Gotta Survive)
Writer(s): David Houston
Label: Rhino (original label: Frantic)
Year: Recorded 1968, released 2003
Looking and sounding a lot like the Ramones would in the late 70s, Public Nuisance found itself the victim of unusual circumstances that led to the cancellation of their only LP in 1968. Producer Terry Melcher, who had risen to fame as producer of Paul Revere and the Raiders, had made the mistake of rejecting tapes sent to him by a wannabe rock star named Charles Manson. When Manson achieved the fame and notoriety that had eluded him as a musician (by killing a bunch of people), Melcher felt it prudent to go into hiding, shelving the Public Nuisance project in the process. The album was finally released 35 years later on the independent Frantic label.
Artist: Albert King/Steve Cropper/Pop Staples
Source: LP: Jammed Together
Although Stax records was best known for its Memphis soul recordings by such artists as Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and Booker T. and the MGs, the label also was home to one of the most popular blues guitarists of the late 60s: Albert King. Among King's many recordings for the label is this collection of studio jams with MGs guitarist Steve Cropper and the legendary Pop Staples. All of the tracks on Jammed Together are covers of songs originally recorded by other artists, although some, such as Eddie Floyd's Water, were co-written by Cropper.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single
Label: Rhino (original label: Philips)
Following the departure of Randy Holden, who had himself replaced founding member Leigh Stephens, Blue Cheer decided to forego the power trio configuration of their first two and a half albums and instead go with a more melodic sound and shorter songs. To accomplish this, Bruce Stephens (no relation to Leigh) was brought in for one side of the third Blue Cheer album, The New Improved Blue Cheer. Stephens stayed with the band long enough to record the group's self-titled fourth LP, but even on that album his replacement, former Oxford Circle guitarist/vocalist Gary Lee Yoder, whose own band Kak was already disintegrating, made a guest appearance as a songwriter on two of the album's tracks. Cementing his relationship with the band even further, Yoder added a new lead vocal track to the single version of the album's opening track, Fool (which, being co-written by his Kak cohort Gary Grelecki, was probably intended to be recorded by Kak, had that band stayed together long enough to issue a second LP), making it considerably different (and much harder to find) than the original LP track. Yoder would officially replace Stephens as Blue Cheer's guitarist by the time sessions began for the band's fifth album.
Title: Pushin' Too Hard
Source: Simulated stereo LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: The Seeds and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Pushin' Too Hard was originally released as a single in 1965 (under the title You're Pushin' Too Hard), but did not make an immediate impression. The following year, however, the tune started getting some local airplay on Los Angeles area stations. This in turn led to the band recording their first album, The Seeds, which was released in spring of 1966. A second Seeds LP, A Web Of Sound, hit L.A. record stores in the fall of the same year. Meanwhile, Pushin' Too Hard, which had been reissued with a different B side in mid-1966, started to get national airplay, hitting its peak position on the Billboard charts in February of 1967.
Title: My Little Red Book
Source: Mono LP: Love
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 composer's Burt Bacharach and Hal David had in mind.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Super Bird
Source: LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Country Joe and the Fish, from Berkeley, California, were one of the first rock bands to incorporate political satire into their music. Their I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag is one of the most famous protest songs ever written. Super Bird is even heavier on the satire than the Rag. The song, from the band's debut LP, puts president Lyndon Johnson, whose wife and daughter were known as "Lady-bird" and "Linda-bird", in the role of a comic book superhero.
Artist: John Wonderling
Title: Man Of Straw
Source: Mono British import CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Warner Strategic Marketing (original US labels: Loma/Warner Brothers)
Recorded on September 11, 1968, Man Of Straw was the B side of John Wonderling's debut single on two different (but closely related) labels in October of the same year. Wonderling, who produced the record himself, has called it "the only I've ever composed in over 35 years that was 'religious' in intent", a view contradicted by lyricist Edward Goldfluss, who claims "there was no religious intent whatsoever". Whatever the intent, it was the last single ever released on the Loma label, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers that had previously specialized in R&B artists such as Ike & Tina Turner.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Foxy Lady
Source: Dutch import LP: The Singles (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Polydor (original UK label: Track)
The first track on the original UK release of Are You Experienced was Foxy Lady. The British custom of the time was to not include any songs on albums that had been previously released as singles. When Reprise Records got the rights to release the album in the US, it was decided to include three songs that had all been top 40 hits in the UK. One of those songs, Purple Haze, took over the opening spot on the album, and Foxy Lady was moved to the middle of side two of the original LP. The song was also released as a US-only single in 1967, but did not chart. Eventually a European single version of the song was released as well, albeit posthumously, warranting its inclusion on the Singles double-LP, released in Europe in the early 1980s.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Source: Mono LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Sometime in late 1966 Jimi Hendrix was visiting his girlfriend's mother's house in London for the first time. It was a cold rainy night and Jimi immediately noticed that there was a dog curled up in front of the fireplace. Jimi's first action was to scoot the dog out of the way so he himself could benefit from the fire's warmth, using the phrase "Move over Rover and let Jimi take over." The phrase got stuck in his head and eventually became the basis for one of his most popular songs. Fire was a highlight of the Jimi Hendrix Experience's live performances, often serving as a set opener. In 1969, two years after its original UK appearance on the mono LP Are You Experienced, the stereo remix of Fire from the US version of the album (which had never been released outside of the US and Canada) was issued in the UK, along with a handful of European countries and New Zealand, as a single called Let Me Light Your Fire.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Crosstown Traffic
Source: Dutch import LP: The Singles (originally released on LP: Electric Ladyland)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
By 1968 it didn't matter one bit whether the Jimi Hendrix Experience had any hit singles; their albums were guaranteed to be successful. Nonetheless the Electric Ladyland album had no less that three singles on it (although one was a new stereo mix of a 1967 single). The third and final single from Electric Ladyland was also the shortest: Crosstown Traffic clocks in at less than two and a half minutes.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: You Keep Me Hangin' On
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
You Keep Me Hangin' On, a hit for the Supremes in 1967, was the first song recorded by Vanilla Fudge, who laid down the seven-minute plus track in a single take. Producer Shadow Morton then used that recording to secure the band a contract with Atco Records (an Atlantic subsidiary) that same year. Rather than to re-record the song for their debut LP, Morton and the band chose to use the original tape, despite the fact that it was never mixed in stereo. For single release the song was edited considerably, clocking in at around three minutes.
Title: Daily Nightly
Source: CD: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones, LTD.
Writer(s): Michael Nesmith
Label: Rhino (original label: Colgems)
One of the first rock songs to feature a Moog synthesizer was the Monkees' Daily Nightly from the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD. Micky Dolenz, who had a reputation for nailing it on the first take but being unable to duplicate his success in subsequent attempts, was at the controls of the new technology for this recording of Michael Nesmith's most psychedelic song (Dolenz also sang lead on the tune).
Artist: Chocolate Watch Band
Title: Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In) (originally released on LP: No Way Out and as 45 RPM single)
Source: LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
It took me several years to sort out the convoluted truth behind the recorded works of San Jose, California's most popular local band, the Chocolate Watch Band. While it's true that much of what was released under their name was in fact the work of studio musicians, there are a few tracks that are indeed the product of Dave Aguilar and company. Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In), a song used in the cheapie teenspliotation flick the Love-In and included on the Watch Band's first album, is one of those few. Ironically, the song was co-written by Don Bennett, the studio vocalist whose voice was substituted for Aguilar's on a couple of other songs from the same album. According to legend, the band actually showed up at the movie studio without any songs prepared for the film, and learned to play and sing Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In) right there on the set. This, combined with the story of their first visit to a recording studio the previous year (a story for another time) shows one of the Watch Band's greatest strengths: the ability to pick up and perfect new material faster than anyone else. It also shows their overall disinterest in the recording process. This was a band that wanted nothing more than to play live, often outperforming the big name bands they opened for.
Artist: Elastik Band
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): David Cortopassi
Label: Rhino (original label: Atco)
Just plain weird, and probably politically incorrect as well, Spazz was the work of five young men from Belmont, California calling themselves the Elastik Band. For some odd reason, someone at Atco Records thought Spazz might be commercially viable, and released the track as a single in late 1967. They were wrong.
Artist: Mothers Of Invention
Title: Help, I'm A Rock, 3rd Movement: It Can't Happen Here
Source: 45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Writer(s): Frank Zappa
Label: Barking Pumpkin (original label: Verve)
Help, I'm A Rock and its follow up track It Can't Happen Here are among the best-known Frank Zappa compositions on the first Mothers Of Invention album, Freak Out! What is not so well known is that the band's label, Verve, issued an edited version of the track under the title Help, I'm A Rock, 3rd Movement: It Can't Happen Here, as the B side of the band's first single. This mono single version removes the avant-garde jazz piano and drum section from the piece, making the track slightly over three minutes in length. The result is one of the strangest a cappella performances ever committed to vinyl.
Title: Hot House Of Omagararshid
Source: CD: Roger The Engineer (originally released in US as LP: Over Under Sideways Down)
Label: Great American (original US label: Epic)
The Yardbirds hit their creative peak in 1966 with the release of their only studio album (previous US-only LPs being pastiches of previously released British singles and EP tracks). Originally known simply as The Yardbirds, the album soon came to be known as Roger The Engineer, for its distinctive cover artwork by band member Chris Dreja. In the US, the album was released (with a couple of tracks deleted) as Over Under Sideways Down. One of the more experimental pieces on the album is Hot House Of Omagararshid, and instrumental credited to the entire band.
Artist: Tommy Boyce And Bobby Hart
Title: Words (demo version)
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68
Year: Recorded 1965, released 2009
Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were really hoping to be selected for the new band that Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures was putting together to star in a new weekly TV series. To that effect they produced and recorded several of their own songs, using some of L.A's top studio musicians. Most of those recordings ended up on the first two Monkees albums, with re-recorded vocals by the four young men that were officially in the band. This early demo of Words (a song that the Monkees re-recorded in 1967 and took into the top 40 as a B side), shows what the band may have sounded like if Boyce and Hart themselves had made the cut.
Artist: Geiger Von Müller
Title: Toys In Ghettos [Part 1]
Source: CD: Teddy Zer And The Kwands
Writer(s): Geiger Von Müller
Geiger Von Müller is a London-based guitarist who has deconstructed the blues down to one of its most essential elements, slide guitar, and then explored from scratch what can be done with it. The result is tracks like Toys In Ghettos [Part 1], from the album Teddy Zer And The Kwands. The all-instrumental CD includes an insert containing the beginnings of a science fiction story about the Kwands, a powerful spacefaring race that kidnaps children's stuffed toys, including one called Teddy Zer, from various worlds to work in their factory as slaves. You'll have to find a copy of the CD itself to get a more detailed explanation.
Artist: Sugar Candy Mountain
Source: LP: 666
Label: People In A Position To Know
It's easy to read something into both the band name and album title of the 2016 release 666 by Sugar Candy Mountain. It's better, however, to not do any of that and instead simply listen to any of the album's 10 tracks for what they are: good music. Sugar Candy Mountain was officially formed on 2011 by guitarist/vocalist Ash Reiter and multi-instrumentalist Will Halsey, natives of Oakland, California who relocated to Joshua Tree not long after the band was formed. They are joined on Tired, the closing track of the albums's first side, by guitarist Bryant Denison and keyboardist Jason Quever (who also mixed the album).
Title: Wolves, Lower
Source: 12" EP: Chronic Town
Following the release of the first recording of Radio Free Europe as a single on the independent Hib-Tone label in 1981, R.E.M. returned to Drive-in Studio in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to record Chronic Town, a five-song EP to be released on a proposed new label called Dasht Hopes. Before any of that could happen, however, the band signed a deal with I.R.S. Records, who bought out the band's contracts with both Hib-Tone and Dasht Hopes and released Chronic Town on August 24, 1982, with one significant change. Wolves, Lower, as originally recorded, was not included on the planned EP, but the people at I.R.S. felt that the song Ages Of You was weaker than the rest of the tracks on the EP and had the band re-record it for the released version of Chronic Town. Although the EP itself is long out of print, all five tracks from Chronic Town were included on the CD edition of Dead Letter Office, released in 1987.
Artist: Alice Cooper
Title: No Longer Umpire
Source: European import CD: Pretties For You
The band known as Alice Cooper was still in its pre-commercial underground phase as part of Frank Zappa's collection of misfits recording for Bizarre Productions when they released the album Pretties For You on Zappa's Straight label in 1969. Like the rest of the album, No Longer Umpire is a somewhat experimental piece from the band that had formed a few years earlier in Phoenix, Arizona. Zappa would eventually sell Straight to Warner Brothers, and Alice Cooper would become the world's first major shock-rock band in the early 1970s.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Source: LP: Bookends
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Originally written for (but not used in) the film The Graduate, Overs is the middle part of a series of songs on side one of the Bookends album that follow the cycle of life from childhood to old age. The song deals with a long relationship that is coming to an end after years of slow stagnation. Musically the tune is quiet and contemplative, with a loose structure that has more in common with the cool jazz of Miles Davis than either folk or rock.
Artist: Purple Gang
Title: Granny Takes A Trip
Source: British import CD: Acid Daze (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: The Purple Gang Strikes)
Label: Uncut (original label: Transatlantic, LP released in US on Sire label)
Formed in the Manchester, England area as the Young Contemporaries Jug Band, The Purple Gang took on their new identity when they relocated to London and became part of the psychedelic scene there. Their first single, Granny Takes A Trip, was banned by the BBC for 1) having the word "trip" in the song title (even though it was named for an actual gift shop that had nothing to do with acid) and 2) the lead singer's nickname was Lucifer. Sounds pretty circumstantial to me, but that was the BBC in 1967, the inaugural year of BBC-1, and I suppose they were still a bit on the timid side at that point in time.
Title: Money To Burn
Source: LP: Red Rubber Ball
Writer(s): Don Dannemann
By late 1966 surf music was pretty much gone from the top 40 charts. The Beach Boys, however, had managed to adapt to changing audience tastes without abandoning the distinctive vocal harmonies that had made them stand out from their early 60s contemporaries. In fact, several other bands had sprung up with similar vocal styles. One of the most successful of these (at least in the short term) was the Cyrkle. Led by vocalist/guitarist Don Dannemann, the group hit the scene with two consecutive top 10 singles, both of which were included on the band's debut LP, Red Rubber Ball. Although manager Brian Epstein had the group recording mostly songs from outside sources, there were a handful of Cyrkle originals on the album, including Danneman's Money To Burn, which was also issued as the B side to the band's third single.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Oh! Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin')
Source: Mono LP: The Rolling Stones Now!
Writer(s): Barbara Lynn Ozen
There was one song on the US-only compilation album The Rolling Stones Now that had not yet appeared in the band's native England. That song was a cover of Barbara Lynn's Oh! Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin'), which would be included on the UK version of their next LP, Out Of Our Heads. The song was written by Barbara Lynn Ozen, whose story is quite remarkable in its own right. For one thing she was a female R&B artist that wrote her own material at a time when the assembly-line produced Motown sound was coming to dominate the soul charts. Even more unusual, Ozen was a guitarist as well as a vocalist. To top it off, she played left-handed! Her best knows song was You'll Lose A Good Thing, which went all the way to the top of the R&B charts and was later covered by the San Francisco band Cold Blood. Using the stage name Barbara Lynn, Ozen remains active in her native Beaumont, Texas.