It's the middle of August, and rather than try to dig up a bunch of obscure late summer songs we're going with a couple of long live tracks this week. One of the live tracks is from Woodstock, which of course is the most famous music festival ever held in August, while the other comes from Mad Dogs & Englishmen, a film I first saw at a drive-in theater (remember those?) on a hot August night. Of course that still leaves over an hour and half of other stuff, including a new Advanced Psych segment and a couple of obscurities never heard on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era before.
Title: 7&7 Is
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Arthur Lee
Label: Rhino (original label: Elektra)
The first rock band signed to Elektra Records was Love, a popular L.A. club band that boasted two talented songwriters, Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean. On the heels of their first album, which included the single My Little Red Book and one of the first recordings of the fast version of Hey Joe, came their most successful single, the manic 7&7 Is, released in July of 1966.
Artist: Clear Light
Title: Street Singer
Source: LP: Clear Light
It's pretty well-known (among Stuck in the Psychedelic Era listeners, at any rate) that the first L.A. rock band signed to Elektra Records was Love, followed a few months later by the Doors. But do you know the name of the THIRD band signed to Elektra? Until a couple years ago I had no idea, but then a package arrived from a listener (and record collector) in Bakersfield, California containing a copy of an album called Clear Light. It turns out they were part of the same club scene that included bands like the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the two previous Elektra signings. In fact, one of the members of Clear Light, drummer Dallas Greene, had been a member of Lowell George's legendary band, the Factory (he would go on to greater fame playing with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, among others). The album itself is a rather psychedelic mix of folk, rock, and even classical. I'm not exactly sure which, if any, of those best describes Street Singer, however. Clear Light's vocalist, Cliff DeYoung, went on to become a successful actor.
Artist: Electric Prunes
Title: You've Never Had It Better
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: Snagster/Schwartz/Poncher (Lowe/Tulin)
Following the lack of a hit single from their second album, Underground, the Electric Prunes took one last shot at top 40 airplay with a song called Everybody Knows Your Not In Love. The band might have had better luck if they had pushed the flip side of the record, You Never Had It Better, which is a much stronger song. As it is, the record stiffed, and producer David Hassinger reacted by stripping the band of any creative freedom they might have had and made an album called Mass in F Minor using mostly studio musicians. The band, having signed away the rights to the name Electric Prunes to their manager early on, could do nothing but watch helplessly as Hassinger created an album that had little in common with the original band other than their name. Because of this, the original members soon left, and Hassinger brought in a whole new group for two more albums (and several singles) before retiring the Prunes name for good. In recent years several members of the original band, including James Lowe and Mark Tulin, who wrote You've Never Had It Better, reformed the Electric Prunes. Whether they had to get permission to use the name is unknown.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Room Full Of Mirrors
Source: CD: First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (originally released on LP: Rainbow Bridge)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year: Recorded 1970, released 1971
Jimi Hendrix often showed up at the studio with only the barest idea of a song to record, working out the details as he went along. Sometimes the result would be be a finished song. More often, however, he would end up returning to the song at a later date. Such was the case with Room Full Of Mirrors, a song that he first started working on in 1968. After unsuccessfully trying to come up with a working version of the song with various combinations of musicians, Hendrix decided to shelve the tune, returning to it in November of 1969 with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles. The Band Of Gypsys, as the trio was known, was able to get a working master recorded on November 17, but Hendrix was far from finished with the track. Over the next few months the guitarist experimented with the recording, eventually overhauling the entire track, adding guitar overdubs and upgrading the drum sound to get a rough mix on August 20, 1970. This mix was first released in 1971 on the Rainbow Bridge LP. That's not the end of the story, however. In 1995 Alan Douglas, who by then had control of the Hendrix catalog, decided to release his own version of the album Hendrix left unfinished when he died unexpectedly in September of 1970. Unfortunately, "his own version' in this case meant bringing in Knack drummer Bruce Gary to replace Buddy Miles's original drum tracks, one of the many things Hendrix fans have never forgiven Douglas for.
Title: I'm Only Sleeping
Source: CD: Revolver (originally released in US on LP: Yesterday...And Today)
Label: Parlophone (original label: Capitol)
Record buyers in the US were able to hear I'm Only Sleeping several weeks before their British counterparts thanks to Capitol Records including the song on the US-only Yesterday...And Today LP. There was a catch, however. Producer George Martin had not yet made a stereo mix of the song, and Capitol used their "Duophonic" system to create a fake stereo version of the tune for the album. That mix continued to be used on subsequent pressings of the LP (and various tape formats), even after a stereo mix was created and included on the UK version of the Revolver album. It wasn't until EMI released the entire run of UK albums on CD in both the US and UK markets that American record buyers had access to the true stereo version of the song heard here.
Title: Blue Jay Way
Source: LP: Magical Mystery Tour
Writer(s): George Harrison
The Beatles' psychedelic period hit its peak with the late 1967 release of the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack. As originally conceived there were only six songs on the album, too few for a standard LP. The British solution was to present Magical Mystery Tour as two Extended Play (EP) 45 RPM records in a gatefold sleeve with a 23 page booklet featuring lyrics and scenes from the telefilm of the same name (as well as the general storyline in prose form). As EPs were out of vogue in the US, Capitol Records, against the band's wishes, added five songs that had been issued as single A or B sides in 1967 to create a standard LP. The actual Magical Mystery Tour material made up side one of the LP, while the single sides were on side two. The lone George Harrison contribution to the project was Blue Jay Way, named for a street in the Hollywood Hills that Harrison had rented that summer. As all five of the extra tracks were credited to the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team, this meant that each of the band's 1967 albums had only one Harrison composition on them. This became a point of contention within the band, and on the Beatles' next album (the white album), Harrison's share of the songwriting had doubled.
Title: Tomorrow Never Knows
Source: CD: Revolver
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
A few years ago I started to compile an (admittedly subjective) list of the top psychedelic songs ever recorded. Although I never finished ranking the songs, one of the top contenders for the number one spot was Tomorrow Never Knows from the Beatles' 1966 LP Revolver. The song is one of the first to use studio techniques such as backwards masking and has been hailed as a masterpiece of 4-track studio production.
Title: Hitch Hike
Source: Mono EP: The Spiders (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Sundazed (original label: Mascot)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1998
Told by a Phoenix club owner to find a better name than the Earwigs, the band that would ultimately come to be known as Alice Cooper showed up two weeks later calling themselves the Spiders and performing with a huge black spider web as their backdrop. Within a year they were popular enough to cut their first record, a single called Why Don't You Love Me on the local Mascot label. For the B side they chose to cover the Rolling Stones' cover of Marvin Gaye's 1962 hit Hitch Hike.
Artist: PF Sloan
Title: The Sins Of A Family
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets vol. 10-Folk Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): PF Sloan
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Although New York born, Phillip "Flip" Sloan was a fixture on the L.A. music scene at age 16, when he landed a job as a songwriter for Screen Gems, the biggest music publisher on the West Coast. He soon formed a partnership with fellow songwriter Steve Barri. In 1963 the two of them became backup singers and studio musicians for Jan & Dean, thanks to the efforts of Lou Adler, who would soon leave Screen Gems to start his own publishing company, Trousdale Music. Adler brought Sloan and Barri with him, and Sloan was soon recording for Adler's new Dunhill label, as well as writing hit records like Eve Of Destruction for other artists. He also became a member of the Wrecking Crew, playing lead guitar on most of the songs he himself wrote, including the opening riffs to Johnny Rivers's Secret Agent Man and the Mamas & Papas' California Dreamin'. One of his earliest solo singles for Dunhill was The Sins Of A Family, released in 1965.
Artist: Los Bravos
Title: Black Is Black
Source: 45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
The first band from Spain to have a major pop hit was Los Bravos, who took Black Is Black to the top 10 in several countries, including the US, in late 1966. Interestingly, the band's lead vocalist, Michael Kogel, was actually a German national.
Artist: Blues Magoos
Title: Baby, I Want You
Source: CD: Kaleidoscopic Compendium (originally released on LP: Electric Comic Book)
Although not as well-known as their debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop, the Blues Magoos' Electric Comic Book is a worthy successor to that early psychedelic masterpiece. Handicapped by a lack of hit singles, the album floundered on the charts, despite the presence of songs like Baby, I Want You, one of many original tunes on the LP.
Title: Fresh Garbage
Source: LP: The Best Of Spirit (originally released on LP: Spirit)
Writer(s): Jay Ferguson
Label: Epic (original label: Ode)
Much of the material on the first Spirit album was composed by vocalist Jay Ferguson while the band was living in a big house in California's Topanga Canyon outside of Los Angeles. During their stay there was a garbage strike, which became the inspiration for the album's opening track, Fresh Garbage. The song starts off as a fairly hard rocker and suddenly breaks into a section that is pure jazz, showcasing the group's instrumental talents, before returning to the main theme to finish out the track.The group used a similar formula on about half the tracks on the LP, giving the album and the band a distinctive sound right out of the box.
Title: The Acid Queen
Source: CD: Tommy
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Pete Townshend, the primary composer of the Who's rock opera Tommy, takes the lead vocals on The Acid Queen, a song that, while integral to the Tommy storyline, also stands as one of Townshend's strongest standalone compositions. The song is sung from the first person viewpoint of a gypsy who promises to cure Tommy's condition (blind, deaf and dumb) by using a combination of sex and drugs. Although her efforts are unsuccessful, the attempt itself has a profound effect on the youngster, who explores his inner self under the influence of LSD. Townshend himself has said that the song is "not just about acid: it's the whole drug thing, the drink thing, the sex thing wrapped into one big ball." In a reference to peer pressure, he adds that "society – people – force it on you. She represents this force." The song later became a hit single for, not surprisingly, Tina Turner, who played the part of the Acid Queen in the hit movie version of Tommy.
Artist: Joe Cocker
Title: Delta Lady (live)
Source: LP: Mad Dogs & Englishmen
Writer(s): Leon Russell
In the summer of 1971 virtually all the freaks in Mangum, Oklahoma (including the entire membership of the band Sunn) went to the local drive-in theater (our light show guy and I got in by riding in the trunk of our road manager's car) to see the film Mad Dogs & Englishmen. All of us, including the guy running the projection booth (who was also our assistant light show guy) were tripping our brains out by the time the film began. By then we had plugged in our own PA system, put a microphone next to one of the little speakers that you hang on your car window, and cranked it up to full volume, quickly running off the handful of cars who were not part of our group of crazies. Once we had the entire drive-in to ourselves, we proceded to dance, yell and sing along to songs like Delta Lady in a display of reckless abandon that would have made Ken Kesey proud. That August night in Oklahoma is the first thing I think of whenever I hear the live version of Delta Lady.
Artist: Joni Mitchell
Writer: Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell's Blue album is probably the one that most people point to as the one that introduced them to the Canadian singer-songwriter, despite it being her third LP for Reprise. Carey is one of many songs on the album that received extensive airplay on progressive FM stations, which by 1971 were looking for ways to expand beyond their rock base without alienating their counter-culture core audience.
Source: CD: Steppenwolf The Second
Writer: Gabriel Mekler
A common practice in the sixties was for the record's producer to choose what songs an artist would record, especially with newly-signed acts. Somehow, despite Steppenwolf's massive success with Born To Be Wild, producer Gabriel Mekler managed to make 28, a song he wrote himself, the lead track of side two of Steppenwolf The Second. I've been unable to unearth just who the lead vocalist on 28 is; it certainly isn't John Kay, the band's usual front man. Occasionally one of the other band members would provide lead vocals for a track, so it's entirely possible that is the case with 28. Another possibility (one I favor) is that Mekler himself is lead vocalist on 28. This may in fact have been his original plan for the song, as he had been a recording artist himself as a member of a group called the Lamp Of Childhood as recently as 1967.
Artist: Max Frost And The Troopers (aka the 13th Power)
Title: Shine It On
Source: CD: Shape Of Things To Come
Writer(s): Paul Wibier
Label: Captain High (original label: Tower)
Say what you will about Paul Wibier, he did know how to write a decent tune. Unfortunately, nobody knew who Paul Wibier was when he was actually writing and performing those songs. That's because he worked mostly with Mike Curb, who provided soundtracks for B movies performed by mostly anonymous musicians, Wibier being among the most anonymous. The best example of this is Max Frost And The Troopers, a name attached to a fictional band from a film called Wild In The Streets. Behind the scenes, Wibier provided the vocals for the soundtrack's songs, and when one of them, Shape Of Things To Come, became a legitimate hit record in 1968, Wibier ended up writing and singing on a whole album's worth of tunes by Max Frost And The Troopers, including Shine It One. The album, like the hit single, was called Shape Of Things To Come, which is not to be confused with the Wild In The Streets soundtrack LP, which contained some of the same songs, as well as the kind of incidental music found on 60s soundtrack albums. As to who the 13th Power actually was, the answer is...the 13th Power, Paul Wibier's own band, who also recorded as Mom's Boys.
Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders
Title: There's Always Tomorrow
Source: LP: Midnight Ride
We move now to sunny Los Angeles, circa 1966, where we find a band from Boise, Idaho starring in Dick Clark's daily national dance show, Where The Action Is. Paul Revere and the Raiders were one of the many bands of the early 1960s that helped lay the groundwork for the temporary democratization of American popular music later in the decade (for more on that head over to hermitradio.com). After honing their craft for years in the clubs of the Pacific Northwest the Raiders caught the attention of Clark, who called them the most versatile rock band he had ever seen. Clark introduced the band to Terry Melcher, which in turn led to Paul Revere and the Raiders being the first rock band ever signed to industry giant Columbia Records, at that time the second largest record company in the country. In addition to organist Revere the band featured Mark Lindsay on lead vocals and saxophone, Phil "Fang" Volker on bass, Drake Levin on lead guitar and Mike "Smitty" Smith on drums. Occassional someone other than Lindsay would get the opportunity to sing a lead vocal part, as Smitty does on There's Always Tomorrow, a song he co-wrote with Levin shortly before the guitarist quit to join the National Guard. Seriously, the guy who played the double-tracked lead guitars on Just Like Me quit the hottest band in the US at the peak of their popularity to voluntarily join the military. I'd say there was a good chance he was not one of the guys burning their draft cards that year.
Artist: Chesterfield Kings
Title: I Can't Get Nothin'
Source: LP: Don't Open Til Doomsday
Formed in the late 1970s in Rochester, NY, the Chesterfield Kings (named for an old brand of unfiltered cigarettes that my grandfather used to smoke) were instrumental in setting off the garage band revival of the 1980s. Their earliest records were basically a recreation of the mid-60s garage sound, although by the time their 1987 album, Don't Open Til Doomsday, was released they had gone through some personnel changes that resulted in a harder-edged sound on tracks like I Can't Get Nothin'.
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: Steven Cerio
Title: Put Animals In Your Tall Grass
Source: CD: The Magnificent Pigtail Shadow
Writer(s): Steven Cerio
Steven Cerio is what you might call a psychedelic renaissance man. Born in Liverpool, NY, near Syracuse, he moved to New York City after graduating from Syracuse University in 1987. He soon established himself as an artist and animator, working for a variety of clients, including Disney, Guitar Player magazine, A&M Records, Last Gasp Ecofunnies, Topps Bubble Gum cards and many more. He has worked with a variety of media, including magazines, silkscreen, animation, poster art and film. He has long been associated with the Residents, doing film and animation work on their music videos. He has published several books, including the award-winning "Steven Cerio's ABC book-a-drug primer". His film credits include the 2012 mid-length feature film The Magnificent Pigtail Shadow. Cerio also wrote the music for the film, which features narration by Kristin Hersh (leader of the alternative rock band Throwing Muses) on tracks like Put Animals In Your Tall Grass. The soundtrack album for The Magnificent Pigtail Shadow was released in 2013.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: I'm Going Home (live at Woodstock)
Source: LP: Goin' Home: Ten Years After Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Woodstock-Music From The Original Soundtrack And More)
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Label: Deram (original label: Cotillion)
Ten Years After was one of those bands that had to be heard live to be truly appreciated. Producer Mike Vernon certainly thought so at any rate, so, midway through recording tracks for a second studio album, he decided to instead rent a small club in London and record the band's performance there. The result was the 1968 album Undead, which includes the original live version of I'm Going Home. As good as that version was, it pales in comparison to the band's more famous performance of the song a year later at Woodstock.
Artist: Guess Who
Title: Shakin' All Over
Source: Mono LP: KHJ Boss Oldies vol. 1 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Johnny Kidd
Label: Original Sound (original US label: Scepter)
The band that would become internationally famous as the Guess Who formed in Winnipeg, Alberta, Canada in 1960. Originally calling themselves the Silvertones, they were by 1962 known as Chad Allan and the Silvertones, then Chad Allan and the Reflections and finally, by 1964, Chad Allan and the Expressions. During those years they had several lineup changes, scoring a few minor hits on the Canadian charts in the process. Finally, in 1965, with a lineup consisting of Chad Allan, Randy Bachman, Bob Ashley, Jim Kale and Dale Peterson, they decided to try a new tactic. Their latest single, Shakin' All Over, was already huge success in Canada, going all the way to the top of the charts, but the band had their eyes on the US market as well. Deliberately circulating a rumor that the record might actually be a British Invasion supergroup recording under a pseudonym, the band's US label, Scepter Records, issued the record with a plain white label credited to "Guess Who?" After the song was comfortably ensconced in the US top 40 (peaking at # 22) Scepter revealed that the band was actually Chad Allan and the Expressions. DJs in the US, however, continued to refer to the band as the Guess Who and within a few months the group adopted the new name. The band continued to chart minor hits in Canada using both Chad Allan and the Expressions and the Guess Who on their record labels, and for a time it looked like Shakin' All Over would be their only US hit. Burton Cummings replaced Bob Ashley in late 1965, sharing the lead vocals with Chad Allan, who left the group in 1966. Finally in 1969, after changing labels the Guess Who returned to the US charts with the album Wheatfield Soul, featuring the single These Eyes, and went on to score a series of hits in the early 70s.
Title: I'm Not Like Everybody Else
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Ray Davies
One of the most popular songs in the Kinks' catalog, I'm Not Like Everybody Else was originally written for another British band, the Animals. When that group decided not to record the tune, the Kinks did their own version of the song, issuing it as the B side of the 1966 hit Sunny Afternoon. Although written by Ray Davies, it was sung by his brother Dave, who usually handled the lead vocals on only the songs he himself composed. Initially not available on any LPs, the song has in recent years shown up on various collections and as a bonus track on CD reissues of both the Kink Kontroversy and Face To Face albums. Both Davies brothers continue to perform the song in their live appearances.
Artist: John's Children
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Marc Bolan
Label: Rhino (original label: Track)
After a pair of failed singles, the Ashtead, Surrey band known as John's Children brought in a new lead guitarist, Marc Bolan, who wrote their third release, Desdemona. Although Desdemona was indeed a much stronger song than the band's earlier efforts, it found itself banned by the BBC for the line "lift up your skirt and fly". Since by the BBC-1 was the only legal top 40 station left operating in the UK (Radio Luxembourg being on the continent), the song did not get heard by most British listeners. Bolan soon left the group to form his own psychedelic folk band, Tyrannosaurus Rex, with percussionist Steve Peregrine Took.
Artist: October Country
Title: My Girlfriend Is A Witch
Source: Mono CD: Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Michael Lloyd
Label: Rhino (original label: Epic)
By 1968 the L.A. under-age club scene was winding down, and several now out of work bands were making last (and sometimes only) attempts at garnering hits in the studio. One such band was October Country, whose first release had gotten a fair amount of local airplay, but who had become bogged down trying to come up with lyrics for a follow-up single. Enter Michael Lloyd, recently split from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and looking to become a record producer. Lloyd not only produced and wrote the lyrics for My Girlfriend Is A Witch, he also ended up playing drums on the record as well. Since then Lloyd has gone on to be one of the most successful record producers in L.A. (the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, for instance).
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: Fortunate Son
Source: LP: Willy And The Poor Boys
Writer(s): John Fogerty
John Fogerty says it only took him 20 minutes to write what has become one of the iconic antiwar songs of the late 1960s. But Fortunate Son is not so much a condemnation of war as it is an indictment of the political elite who send the less fortunate off to die in wars without any risk to themselves. In addition to being a major hit single upon its release in late 1969 (peaking at #3 as half of a double-A sided single), Fortunate Son has made several "best of" lists over the years, including Rolling Stone magazine's all-time top 100. Additionally, in 2014 the song was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Artist: Stephen Stills
Title: Go Back Home
Source: LP: Stephen Stills
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
For years I was of the opinion that Go Back Home was the only decent tune on Stephen Still's 1970 debut LP. I've since come to believe that there are actually one or two other listenable tracks on the album. Go Back Home is still the best one, however.
Artist: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
Title: Watch Yourself
Source: LP: Volume III-A Child's Guide To Good And Evil
Writer(s): Robert Yeazel
Although the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band usually wrote their own material, they occassionally drew from outside sources. One example is Watch Yourself, written by Robert Yeazel, who would go on to join Sugarloaf in time for their second LP, Spaceship Earth, writing many of the songs on that album as well.
Artist: Frumious Bandersnatch
Source: British import CD: The Berkeley EPs (originally released on untitled EP)
Writer(s): Jack King
Label: Big Beat (original label: Muggles Gramophone Works)
The longest track on the Frumious Bandersnatch EP (taking up the entire second side of the record), was a tune called Cheshire. Although the recent British CD issue of The Berkeley EPs credits Bob Winkleman as the writer of the piece, the liner notes of the same CD make it clear that Cheshire is actually the work of drummer Jackson King; in fact, the song dates back to the band's earliest days with its original lineup. Like the band name itself, the title of the track reflects King's intense interest in the works of Lewis Carroll.
Sunday, August 13, 2023
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2333 (starts 8/14/23)