This week, in addition to presenting the entire first side of the Moody Blues album Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, we have a bit of audio sleight of hand. We start with two groups that shared a name in their early days, yet were not the ones responsible for making that name famous. We have bands that sound like other bands, a band that was contractually obligated to use an old name when they had already taken a new one, a band whose name was misspelled on their own record, and more.
Artist: Grass Roots
Title: Mr. Jones (A Ballad Of A Thin Man)
Source: 45 RPM single (promo copy)
Writer: Bob Dylan
In late 1965 songwriters/producers P.F. Sloan (Eve of Destruction) and Steve Barri decided to create a series of records by a band called the Grass Roots. The problem was that there was already a band called the Grass Roots that was not interested in recording Sloan and Barri's songs, and whose members weren't particularly diplomatic when rejecting Sloan and Barri's offer. Unfortunately for that first band, they had never bothered to copyright the name, so Sloan and Barri decided to recruit another band and talk them into changing their name to the Grass Roots. The band they found was the Bedouins, one of the early San Francisco bands. As the rush to sign SF bands was still months away, the Bedouins were more than happy to come down to L.A. and record the songs Sloan and Barri picked out for them. The first single by the newly-named Grass Roots was a cover of Bob Dylan's A Ballad Of A Thin Man, released under the title Mr. Jones. The band soon got to work promoting the single to Southern California radio stations, but with both the Byrds and the Turtles already on the charts with Dylan covers it soon became obvious that the market was quickly getting saturated. After a period of months the band, who wanted more freedom to write and record their own material, had a falling out with Sloan and Barri and it wasn't long before they moved back to San Francisco, leaving drummer Joel Larson in L.A. The group, with another drummer, continued to perform as the Grass Roots until Dunhill Records ordered them to stop. Eventually Dunhill would hire a local L.A. band called the 13th Floor to be the final incarnation of the Grass Roots who would crank out a series of top 40 hits in the early 70s. Meanwhile the original lineup changed their name but never had the opportunity to make records again.
Title: Orange Skies
Source: Australian Import CD: Comes In Colours (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: Da Capo)
Writer(s): Bryan MacLean
Label: Raven (original label: Elektra)
Once upon a time in Los Angeles there was a band calling themselves the Grass Roots. They were a young band, inexperienced in the ways of the record business, but popular with the locals. Just as they were starting to get noticed they were approached by a pair of professional songwriters looking for a band to record their songs. The band, however, had not one, but two talented songwriters already, and were quick to reject the offer, and by some accounts were quite rude about it. Not long after that, a record by a band called the Grass Roots was heard on local radio stations, and the original Grass Roots, having never copyrighted the name Grass Roots, were forced to find another moniker for themselves. Unable to agree on one, the members decided to toss out two or three of the names they were considering to their fans, to see which one got the best response. The overwhelming winner was Love, and by 1966 Love was the most popular band on the Sunset Strip, which led to them being the first rock band signed by Elektra Records. They were also among the most eclectic bands on the Strip. Nowhere is this more evident than on their second LP, Da Capo. After starting off with the punkish Stephanie Knows Who, the tone abruptly shifts with Orange Skies, a soft almost lounge lizard-like tune written by Bryan MacLean (who later claimed it was the first song he ever wrote), but sung by Arthur Lee in a style that was at the time compared to Johnny Mathis. The song was released ahead of the album in late 1966 as a B side.
Artist: Pearls Before Swine
Source: CD: The Complete ESP-Disk' Recordings (originally released on LP: One Nation Underground)
Writer(s): Saxie Dowell
Pearls Before Swine, in its later years, was little more than a vehicle for singer/songwriter Tom Rapp. In the beginning, however, it was an actual band, formed in Eau Gallie, Florida in 1965 by Rapp, Wayne Harley, Lane Lederer and Roger Crissinger. Inspired by the Fugs, they sent some demo tapes to the New York-based ESP Disk' label, which had released the first Fugs recordings. They were quickly signed to the label and got to work on their first LP, One Nation Underground. Like later Pearls Before Swine albums, One Nation Underground was made up almost entirely of Rapp originals, although, unlike later albums, there were exceptions. One of those exceptions, Playmate, was originally recorded (as Playmates) by Kay Kyser in 1940 and credited to Saxie Dowell, who reportedly lifted the melody note for note from a 1904 intermezzo called Iola, written by Charles Johnson (who promptly sued Kaiser and his band for plagiarism; the matter was settled out of court).
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Crosstown Traffic
Source: LP: The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two (originally released on LP: Electric Ladyland)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (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 last of these was Crosstown Traffic, a song that has been included on several anthologies over the years.
Artist: Fat Mattress
Title: Petrol Pump Assistant
Source: Mono LP: Fat Mattress
After the Jimi Hendrix Experience split up, Noel Redding co-founded a band called Fat Mattress, playing bass, co-writing songs and occassionally singing on songs like Mr. Moonshine. The band's name may have come from a quote by Hendrix at the Experience's Monterey Pop Festival appearance, when he responded to negative comments by critics by saying "...or they say we have fat mattresses or that we wear golden underwear". It could even be that Hendrix got the phrase from Redding himself. Since all three members of the Experience are dead now, I guess we'll never know. Regardless, Fat Mattress failed to make much of an impression on either critics or audiences and Redding's career was effectively over with the band's demise.
Title: Church Street Soul Revival
Source: 45 RPM single (promo)
Formed in 1963 by a group of high school students in Richmond, Kentucky as Ronnie Hall And The Fascinations, the Exiles were by 1965 popular enough to tour regionally with Dick Clark's Caravan Of Stars. After graduating from high school, the Exiles moved to Lexington, Kentucky, signing with Columbia Records in 1967. Their first three singles for Columbia were actually released on the Date label, with the first actual Columbia release being Church St. Soul Revival in 1969. The song, co-written by Tommy James and Richie Cordell, would later be recorded by James himself. After one more failed single, the Exiles were cut from the Columbia roster. This wasn't the end for the band, however. In 1973 the dropped the 's' from their name, releasing records on RCA's Wooden Nickel label and then Atco before signing with Warner Brothers in 1978. That year they had a huge hit with the song Kiss You All Over. It looked for a while like Exile would be added to the list of one-hit wonders, however, until in 1983 they decided to redefine themselves as a country band, racking up a string of seven consecutive #1 hits on the country chartsfrom 1983-1985, adding three more in 1986 and 1987. Their most recent release was a Christmas album recorded in 2016.
Artist: Blues Project
Title: Niartaes Hornpipe
Source: LP: Planned Obsolescense
Writer(s): John Gregory
Label: Verve Forecast
After a rather sloppy performance at the Monterey International Pop Festival after the departure of keyboardist Al Kooper, two more members of the Blues Project left the group, leaving only flutist/bassist Andy Kulberg and drummer Roy Blumenfeld. The two of them decided to stay in California and form a new band called Seatrain with ex-Mystery Trend guitarist John Gregory, former Blue Grass Boy and Jim Kweskin Jug Band violinist/fiddler Richard Greene, saxophonist Don Kretmar and dedicated lyricist Jim Roberts. They were still under contract to Verve Records, however, and the shirts at the label insisted that the new band's first album, Planned Obsolescense, be released as the final Blues Project album. One of the more interesting tracks on Planned Obsolescence is an instrumental called Niartaes Hornpipe that serves as a preview of what was to come on the band's next LP, Sea Train.
Artist: First Crew To The Moon
Title: The Sun Lights Up The Shadows Of Your Mind
Source: Mono British import CD: Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): Jerry Milstein
Label: Zonophone (original label: Roulette)
Originally known as the Back Door Men, and later the Bootleggers, Brooklyn, NY's First Crew To The Moon signed with the Roulette label on the recommendation of legendary songwriter Doc Pomus. Unfortunately for the band, their only record for Roulette, a song called Spend Your Life With Me, was released just as the label's entire promotional budget was being spent on the latest single by labelmates Tommy James And The Shondells, a tune called I think We're Alone Now. To add insult to injury, Roulette misspelled the band's name on both sides of the record, inadvertently rechristening them First Crow To The Moon, a name that actually fits the record's B side, a psychedelic masterpiece called The Sun Lights Up The Shadows Of Your Mind, quite well. As it turned out, none of this really mattered, as the band soon disbanded following the death of lead guitarist Alan Avick of leukemia. Perhaps the group's greatest legacy, however, was to serve as inspiration to their friend Chris Stein, who several years later would team up with Deborah Harry to form a group called Blondie.
Title: Happenings Ten Years Time Ago
Source: Mono British import CD: Think I'm Going Weird (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Grapefruit (original label: Epic)
Following the release of the 1966 LP The Yardbirds (aka Roger The Engineer), bassist Paul Samwell-Smith decided to leave the band to pursue a career as a record producer. The group recruited studio guitar whiz Jimmy Page as his replacement, with Page joining Jeff Beck as co-lead guitarist and Chris Dreja switching from rhythm guitar to bass. The first recording by the new lineup was a single, Happenings Ten Years Time Ago. Dreja, however, was not yet comfortable on bass, so a colleague of Page's, John Paul Jones, was brought in for the sessions, with Dreja playing rhythm guitar. Despite the wealth of talent on the recording, Happenings Ten Years Time Ago was not a major hit, peaking at # 30 on the US charts. It did even worse in the UK, where it only made it to the # 43 spot. Beck and Page would play together on two more Yardbirds recordings before Beck left the group under somewhat mysterious circumstances.
Title: Pushin' Too Hard
Source: Simulated stereo CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: The Seeds)
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Pushin' Too Hard is generally included on every collection of psychedelic hits ever compiled. And for good reason. The song is an undisputed classic, although it took the better part of two years to catch on. Originally released in 1965 as Your Pushin' Too Hard, the song was virtually ignored by local Los Angeles radio stations until a second single, Can't Seem To Make You Mine, started getting some attention. After being included on the Seeds' debut LP in 1966, Pushin' Too Hard was rereleased and soon was being heard all over the L.A. airwaves. By the end of the year stations in other markets were starting to spin the record, and the song hit its peak of popularity in early 1967.
Title: The Soft Parade
Source: LP: The Soft Parade
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
The Doors caught a lot of flack from their fans for their departure from the style that made them popular when they released their fourth LP, The Soft Parade. Ironically, the track that most resembles their previous efforts was the nearly nine minute title track, which starts with one of Jim Morrison's best-known monologues. You cannot petition the Lord with prayer, indeed!
Artist: Glass Family
Title: House Of Glass
Source: LP: The Glass Family Electric Band
Writer(s): Ralph Parrett
Label: Maplewood (original label: Warner Brothers)
The Glass Family (Ralph Parrett, David Capilouto and Gary Green) first surfaced in 1967 with a single called Teenage Rebellion on Mike Curb's Sidewalk label. The following year they signed with Warner Brothers, releasing their only LP, The Glass Family Electric Band, in 1969. The opening track from the album, House Of Glass, is, in the words of Capilouto, self-explanatory, which is a good thing, as it saves me the trouble of trying to figure out what it's about.
Title: Little Doll (original John Cale mix)
Source: CD: The Stooges (bonus track)
Writer(s): The Stooges
Year: Recorded 1969, released 2005
Producer John Cale's original mixes for the first Stooges album, done in a style emulating Lou Reed's "closet mix" of the third Velvet Underground LP, were considered "too arty" by Elektra Records honcho Jac Holzman, so he and Iggy Pop went back and remixed the entire album before it was released. The original Cale mixes sat on the shelf for years, finally surfacing as bonus tracks on the 2005 CD reissue of The Stooges. The version of Little Doll heard here is one of those John Cale mixes, albeit pitch corrected.
Title: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Source: Mono LP: The Byrds' Greatest Hits (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!)
Writer(s): Pete Seeger
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.
Title: Wrapping Paper
Source: British import LP: Cream (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Polydor (original label: Reaction)
Wrapping Paper is the nearly forgotten debut single from Cream, released two months before the Fresh Cream album in 1966. The song only made it to the #34 spot in the UK, and was not released in the US at all until several years later, when it appeared on an album called The Very Best Of Cream. Drummer Ginger Baker made no secret of his dislike of the song, calling it " the most appalling piece of shit I've ever heard in my life", adding that Eric Clapton didn't like the song either. Nonetheless, here it is, for the curious among you.
Title: No Friend of Mine
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts from the Psychedelic Era (originally released as a 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Hickory)
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the state of Texas would produce its share of garage/psychedelic bands. After all, the place used to be a medium-sized country. In fact, one of the first bands to actually use the word psychedelic in an album title was the 13th Floor Elevators out of Austin. The Sparkles hailed from a different part of the state, one known for its high school football teams as much as anything else: West Texas. Recorded in Big Spring, No Friend of Mine was one of a series of regional hits for the Sparkles that got significant airplay in cities like Midland, Odessa and Monahans.
Source: CD: Kick Out The Jams
Although left-wing politics were a large part of the America folk music scene in the 1960s, it wasn't until later in the decade that rock bands followed suit. One of the most radical was Detroit's MC5. Originally formed as the Bounty Hunters by guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred Smith, the group took on the name MC5 after being joined by vocalist Rob Tyner in 1964. It was Tyner that got the band involved in politics, being a few years older than Kramer and Smith. The addition of bassist Michael Davis and drummer Dennis Thompson in 1965 completed the band's classic lineup. With their unique synthesis of garage rock and free jazz, the MC5 soon became one of the most popular bands on the Detroit music scene, releasing a couple of singles in 1967 and 1968 before coming to the attention of Elektra Records president Jac Holzman, who sent DJ/Publicist Danny Fields out to the motor city to check them out. Fields liked what he heard and immediately signed the band. It was decided early on that the only way to truly showcase the MC5's talents was to release an album of live performances. Their first LP, Kick Out The Jams, was recorded on October 30th and 31st, 1968 at Detroit's Grande Ballroom. Included on the album was a new version of the B side of the band's second single, a tune called Borderline. After Detroit's largest department store, Hudson's, refused to stock the album because of the band's use of profanity, Tyner took out a full-page ad in a local underground newspaper that consisted of a picture of Tyner, the Elektra logo and the words "Fuck Hudsons". This led to Hudson's refusing to stock any records on the Elektra label, which in turn led Elektra to drop the MC5 from their artists roster.
Artist: Moody Blues
Title: Every Good Boy Deserves Favor-side one
Source: LP: Every Good Boy Deserves Favor
The Moody Blues are probably the first rock band to become known for doing nothing but concept albums, starting with the 1967 LP Days Of Future Past. Their 1971 album, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, is no exception, as each song on the LP leads directly into the next track. The album's first side starts off with the only Moody Blues track written by all five band members. Procession is meant to describe the history of music from the beginning of time up until 1971, when the album was recorded. The only vocals on Procession are the spoken words "desolation," "creation," and "communication". This leads into the album's hit single, Justin Hayward's The Story In Your Eyes, which had been released a couple months ahead of the LP itself. From there, the song sequence continues with Ray Thomas's Our Guessing Game and John Lodge's Emily's Song, concluding with Graeme Edge's After You Came. Ironically, Edge is the only member of the band that does not sing on After You Came.
Title: Sister Theresa's East River Orphanage
Source: LP: The Fabulous Farquahr
Writer(s): Barnswallow Farquahr
Label: Verve Forecast
Farquahr was, for lack of a better term, a hippy band from Branford, Connecticut who were quite popular among the locals in the mid to late 60s. According to the back cover of their only album, they were all members of British nobility, the Farquahr family, which somehow had been mysteriously left off the official peerage list. Each band member's first name was a species of songbird, such as leader Barnswallow Farquahr, who wrote Sister Theresa's East River Orphanage. The band's visual image was similar to San Francisco's Charlatans, and indeed, they seemed to have a similar fondness for the jug band style of music as well. Like their west coast counterparts, the Farquahr's good-time approach to music found them getting increasingly out of step with their counter-culture audience, which itself was becoming more radicalized as the decade wore on.
Title: How Does It Feel To Feel
Source: Mono British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Creation was one of a handful of British bands that were highly successful in Germany, but were unable to buy a hit in their own country. Evolving out of a band known as the Mark Four, Creation was officially formed in 1966 by vocalist Kenny Pickett, guitarist Eddie Phillips, bassist Bob Garner and drummer Jack Jones. Their first single stalled out at #49 on the British charts, but went to #5 in Germany. The gap was even wider for their second single, which topped the German charts but did not chart in Britain at all. Garner and Phillips both left the band just as How Does It Feel To Feel was issued in early 1968. The band, with a fluctuating lineup, continued on for a few months but finally threw in the towel in late 1968.
Title: Born To Be Wild
Source: CD: Steppenwolf
Writer(s): Mars Bonfire
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Born To Be Wild's status as a counter-cultural anthem was cemented when it was chosen for the soundtrack of the movie Easy Rider. The popularity of both the song and the movie resulted in Steppenwolf becoming the all-time favorite band of bikers all over the world.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: Who Do You Love (demo version)
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on CD: Quicksilver: Lost Gold And Silver)
Writer(s): Elias McDaniel
Label: Rhino (original label: Collector's Choice)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1999
The classic San Francisco music scene (c 1966) had at its core three popular local bands: Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Although none of these bands were at their artistic peak, they did epitomize the spirit of the city's counter-culture and the Haight-Ashbury district in particular. The Airplane was the first to experience national success, thanks to a membership shuffle in late 1966 that brought Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden into the group. The Dead followed in 1967, leaving only Quicksilver without a record contract as late as 1968. By the time they did sign their deal to Capitol, Quicksilver had already had its own share of personnel changes, including the departure of original lead vocalist Jim Murray. In fact, the only QMS recording I know of with Murray at the helm is this 1966 demo of the Bo Diddley classic Who Do You Love, featuring an extended jam that was typical of the band in its early days.
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Title: Blues In F
Source: British import 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Steve Winwood
18-year-old Steve Winwood got to show off his organ-playing chops on Blues In F, the B side to the classic Gimme Some Lovin'. This one is for kicking back and listening to.
Artist: Music Machine
Title: Come On In
Source: British import CD: The Ultimate Turn On (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Turn On The Music Machine)
Writer(s): Sean Bonniwell
Label: Big Beat (original label: Original Sound)
It only cost a total of $150 for the Music Machine to record both sides of their debut single at RCA Studios in Los Angeles, thanks to the band having been performing the songs live for several months. The band then took the tapes to Original Sound, who issued Talk Talk and Come On In on their own label. It may seem odd now, but original promo copies of the record show Come On In, a song that in many ways anticipated bands like the Doors and Iron Butterfly, as the "plug side" of the record, rather than Talk Talk, which of course went on to become the Music Machine's only major hit.
Title: Last Laugh
Source: Mono LP: It Ain't Me Babe
Label: White Whale
The first Turtles album was recorded quickly to cash in on the popularity of their debut single, a cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe that went into the top 10 on the Billboard charts in 1965. The band members were still in their teens and required parental permission to record the album, the first LP issued on L.A.'s White Whale label. Most of the tracks on the album were electrified folk songs in a similar vein to the title track. There were also a handful of originals penned by lead vocalist Howard Kaylan while still in high school. Among them was a song called Last Laugh which Kaylan co-wrote with Nita Garfield, who would remain active as a singer/songwriter in the L.A. area for the rest of her life.
Artist: American Breed
Title: It's Getting Harder
Source: Mono CD: If You're Ready-The Best Of Dunwich Records...Volume Two
Writer(s): L. Weiss
Year: Recorded c. 1966, released 1993
One of the bands that Bill Traut, head on Dunwich Records, was most enthusiastic about was a group originally known as Gary & The Knight Lites, a Chicago area cover band that Traut found "very malleable". Sometime around 1966 or '67 they changed their name to the American Breed and, with Traut producing, cut a tune called It's Getting Harder. The song (written by Larry Weiss, who would go on to write Rhinestone Cowboy for Glen Campbell) remained unreleased until 1993. Ironically, the American Breed ended up literally living up to Traut's description in 1968, when they scored their biggest hit with a song called Bend Me, Shape Me. Malleable indeed!
Title: In The Hall Of The Mountain King
Source: LP: The Who Sell Out (bonus track)
Writer(s): Edvard Grieg, arr. by the Who
Year: Recorded 1967, released 1993
A trend among Mod bands in mid-60s London was to come up with their own arrangements of Edvard Grieg's In The Hall Of The Mountain King, written in 1875 as incidental music for Henrik Ibsen's 1867 play Peer Gynt. As the most popular Mod band of all, the Who naturally had their own version of the tune as well, and recorded it while putting together tracks for the 1967 album The Who Sell Out. While the basic recording is mono, the band members went back and added various vocal effects (mostly howling) in full stereo.