Sunday, May 5, 2024

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2419 (starts 5/6/24) 

    This week's edition of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era includes an Advanced Psych segment that includes bands from New York to New Mexico. We also have an all-monoraul Bob Dylan set from 1965, and, as always, an intriguing mix of singles, B side and album tracks from 1965-1970.

Artist:    Vanilla Fudge
Title:    You Keep Me Hangin' On
Source:    Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Holland/Dozier/Holland
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    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.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Brooker/Reid/Fisher
Label:    A&M (original label: Deram)
Year:    1967
    Often credited as being the first progressive rock band, Procol Harum drew heavily from classical music sources, such as the Bach inspired theme used by organist Matthew Fisher as the signature rift for A Whiter Shade of Pale. Fisher initially did not get writing credit for his contributions to the song, but finally, after several lawsuits, began collecting royalties for the song in 2009. A Whiter Shade Of Pale, incidentally, holds the distinction of being the most-played song on the British airwaves over the past 70+ years.

Artist:    Wild Flowers
Title:    More Than Me
Source:    Mono CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lyte Psych (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    The Wildflowers
Label:    Arf! Arf! (original label: Aster)
Year:    1967
    Phoenix, Arizona, was home to the Wild Flowers, a band that included bassist Michael Bruce, who would go on to become a founding member of Alice Cooper. The Wild Flowers only released a couple of singles on the local Aster label, the second of which was More Than Me, released in 1967.
Artist:    Beatles
Title:    I Am The Walrus
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1967
    There were actually three different versions of the Beatles' I Am The Walrus released in late 1967, all of which were made from the same basic master tape. The first (heard here) was a mono single version that was issued as the B side of the Hello Goodbye single in late November. This version features a four-beat intro and has an extra bar of music immediately preceding the words "yellow matter custard" in the middle of the song. The second version was the stereo version featured on the US-only Magical Mystery Tour album. This version is basically the same as the mono version, but does not contain the extra bar in the middle. The third version appeared in early December in Europe and the UK on the stereo version of the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack EP. This version features a six beat intro, but is otherwise identical to the US stereo version. In the early 1980s engineers at Capitol Records created a fourth version of I Am The Walrus that uses the six beat intro from the UK stereo version and includes the extra bar in the middle of the song from the US single version. That fourth version was included on the US version of the Beatles' Rarities album.
Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Bottom Of The Soul
Source:    CD: Beyond The Garage (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1967
    After severing ties with Original Sound Records in early 1967, Sean Bonniwell and his band, the Music Machine, signed a contract with Warner Brothers, a label that was already well on its way to becoming one of the world's top record companies. Although the first single released on the label featured the original lineup, the song, Bottom Of The Soul, was credited to the Bonniwell Music Machine, as were all subsequent releases by the band. The song itself, in the words of Bonniwell himself, "celebrates the courage of those homeless whose criterion...measures the burdon of living life at the bottom of the soul".

Artist:     Cream
Title:     Deserted Cities Of The Heart
Source:     LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer:     Bruce/Brown
Label:     Atco
Year:     1968
     The most psychedelic of Cream's songs were penned by Jack Bruce and his songwriting partner Pete Brown. One of the best of these was chosen to close out the last studio side of the last Cream album released while the band was still in existence. Deserted Cities Of The Heart is a fitting epitaph to an unforgettable band.

Artist:    Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title:    Cinnamon Girl
Source:    LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    My favorite Neil Young song has always been Cinnamon Girl. I suspect this is because the band I was in the summer after I graduated from high school used an amped-up version of the song as our show opener (imagine Cinnamon Girl played like I Can See For Miles and you get a general idea of how it sounded). If we had ever recorded an album, we probably would have used that arrangement as our first single. I finally got to see Neil Young perform the song live (from the 16th row even) with Booker T. and the MGs as his stage band in the mid-1990s. It was worth the wait.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Aimless Lady
Source:    CD: Closer To Home
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    Despite being universally panned by the rock press, Grand Funk Railroad managed to achieve gold record status three times in the year 1970. The first two of these were actually released the previous year, but it was the massive success of their third LP, Closer To Home, that spurred sales of the band's albums overall. All of the songs on Closer To Home were written and sung by guitarist Mark Farner, including Aimless Lady, probably the best example on the album of a "typical" Grand Funk Railroad song.

Artist:    Country Joe And The Fish
Title:    Section 43 (Original EP version)
Source:    Mono British import CD: The Berkeley EPs (originally released on EP)
Writer(s):    Joe McDonald
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Rag Baby)
Year:    1966
    Rag Baby was an underground journal published by Country Joe McDonald in mid-60s Berkeley, California. In 1965 McDonald decided to do a "talking issue" of the paper with an extended play (EP) record containing two songs by McDonald's band, Country Joe and the Fish and two by singer Peter Krug. In 1966 McDonald published a second Rag Baby EP, this time featuring three songs by Country Joe and the Fish. Among those was the original version of Section 43, a psychedelic instrumental that would appear in a re-recorded (and slightly rearranged) stereo form on the band's first LP, Electric Music For The Mind And Body, in early 1967.

Artist:    Vagrants
Title:    A Sunny Summer Rain
Source:    Mono LP: I Can't Make A Friend 1965-1968 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Sommer/Pappaalardi
Label:    Light In The Attic (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    Not many people outside of the New York (city) area ever heard of the Vagrants. This is a shame, since their influence was greater than their fame. The group consisting of Peter Sabatino on vocals, harmonica, and tambourine, Leslie Weinstein on vocals and guitar, his brother Larry on vocals and bass guitar, Jerry Storch (also known as Jay Storch) on organ, and Roger Mansour on drums, were the first to do slowed down, heavier versions of current pop hits, a technique "borrowed" by fellow Long Island band Vanilla Fudge to great success. The Vagrants, however, never recorded an entire album, although they did release a series of singles on the Atco label from 1966 to 1968. The limitations of the single format, however, forced the band to concentrate on shorter, less experimental tracks, although some of them, such as the 1967 release A Sunny Summer Rain, show at least a glimpse of the band's true style. Eventually, though, the group called it quits, although the story does not quite end there. Following the breakup of the Vagrants, guitarist Leslie Weinstein changed his name to Leslie West, and along with the band's producer, Felix Pappalardi, recorded a solo LP for the Windfall label, which led to the formation of Mountain in 1969. Following a well-received appearance at the Woodstock festival, Mountain went on to become one of the more successful bands of the early 1970s.

Artist:    Orphans
Title:    20 Light Years Away
Source:    Mono British import CD: All Kinds Of Highs
Writer(s):    The Orphans
Label:    Big Beat
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 2012
    Starting around 1967 Bob Shad, owner of Mainstream Records, criss-crossed the nation looking for local and regional rock bands to sign to both the Mainstream and Brent labels. Most of the bands he signed recorded at least an album's worth of material for him, but not all of it made it to vinyl. Among the bands whose material remained unreleased was a group from "somewhere in the Midwest" called The Orphans. In 2012 Ace Records, on their rock-oriented Big Beat label, made a single track from the Orphans available on a collection called All Kinds Of Highs. This six-minute long piece, 20 Light Years Away, remains the only released recording by the band. Other than what can be heard here, nobody seems to know anything about the Orphans at all, making them perhaps the most well-named band of the entire psychedelic era.

Artist:    Fairport Convention
Title:    Crazy Man Michael
Source:    LP: Liege And Lief
Writer(s):    Thompson/Swarbrick
Label:    A&M
Year:    1969
    1969 was a singularly prolific year for Britain's premier folk-rock band, Fairport Convention, who released no fewer than three albums over a period of less than twelve months. It was also the only year that vocalist Sandy Denny was a member of the band; in fact, by the time Liege And Lief was released she had already left the group to form Fotheringay. 1969 was also a year of transition for the band. Their 1968 debut LP had drawn comparisons to early Jefferson Airplane. Leige And Lief, their fourth effort, is considered by some to be the seminal British folk-rock album, combining new arrangements of traditional material with original compositions in a similar style, one example being Crazy Man Michael, which closes out the LP.

Artist:     Traffic
Title:     No Face, No Name, No Number
Source:     CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: Mr. Fantasy, aka Heaven Is In Your Mind)
Writer(s): Winwood/Capaldi
Label:     Island (original US label: United Artists)
Year:     1967
     When the first Best of Traffic album was issued in 1969 (after the group first disbanded) it included No Face, No Name, No Number, a non-hit album track. Later Traffic anthologies tended to focus on songs recorded after the group reformed in 1970 and No Face, No Name, No Number was out of print for many years until the first Traffic album was reissued on CD. The song itself is a good example of Winwood's softer material.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Have You Seen Her Face
Source:    CD: Younger Than Yesterday
Writer(s):    Chris Hillman
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1967
    Perhaps the greatest surprise on the fourth Byrds album, Younger Than Yesterday, was the emergence of bassist Chris Hillman as a top-tier songwriter, already on a par with David Crosby and the recently departed Gene Clark, and even exceeding Roger McGuinn as a solo writer (most of McGuinn's contributions being as a collaborator rather than a solo songwriter). Although Hillman would eventually find his greatest success as a country artist (with the Desert Rose Band) it was the hard-rocking Have You Seen Her Face that was chosen to become his first track to be released as a single.

Artist:    Dinks
Title:    Nina-Kocka-Nina
Source:    Mono LP: Also Dug-Its (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Waddell/Bergman
Label:    Elektra (original label: Sully)
Year:    1965
    The Ragging Regattas were a fairly typical regional band from the early 1960s, playing mostly instrumental rock songs at venues throughout the Great Plains states of Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. In 1965 Ray Ruff, proprietor of Sully Records of Oklahoma City, hired the band to record a song he had co-written called Penny A Tear Drop. Ruff had recently relocated Sully to Texas, and the band ended up going to Amarillo to record the song. After spending several hours perfecting the tune, everyone realized they still needed a B side for the record, so the band members themselves quickly came up with a couple minutes of insanity (or maybe just inanity) they ended up calling Nina-Kocka-Nina (perhaps inspired by the Trashmen hit Surfin' Bird). The resulting recording was so unique they ended up making it the A side, and even changed their name to The Dinks to better fit the song itself. Ruff promoted the record heavily, taking out ads in various music industry publications, including one that contained a quote from none other than Bill Gavin, publisher of the Gavin Report and considered by many to be the most powerful man in radio. In the ad, Gavin called Nina-Kocka-Nina "My Personal Pick-Worst record I ever hear...people will buy it because they don't believe it". Whether many people actually did by Nina-Kocka-Nina is questionable, but in 2023 was included on an album called Also Dug-Its, a kind of addendum to Lenny Kaye's Nuggets collection that was included in the 50th anniversary edition of the original Nuggets album.

Artist:    London Souls
Title:    Old Country Road
Source:    CD: Here Come The Girls
Writer(s):    Neal/St. Hilaire
Label:    Feel/Round Hill
Year:    2015
    Despite the implications of their name, the London Souls were actually a New York City band that was formed in 2008 by guitarist Tash Neal and drummer Chris St. Hilaire. The two met as teenagers, jamming with friends in rehearsal rooms rented by the hour. After recording a 16-song demo in 2009 they released their first actual album, The London Souls, in 2011. The duo made their mark by applying a 21st century sensibility to psychedelic era and classic rock concepts, resulting in songs like The River. A second album, Here Come The Girls, was originally planned for a 2013 release, but was delayed until 2015 after Tash Neal was injured in a hit-and-run accident. Although they never officially disbanded, the London Souls have been inactive since 2018.

Artist:    Chesterfield Kings
Title:    Don't Blow Your Mind
Source:    Spanish 10" EP: Tripin Out
Writer(s):    Dunaway/Furnier
Label:    Impossible
Year:    1997
    Fans of 70s rock may recognize the names Dennis Dunaway and Vince Furnier, co-writers of the song Don't Blow Your Mind. The two of them were founding members of a band that originally called itself the Earwigs, quickly changing it to the Spiders to secure a gig with a club in Phoenix. They later tried calling themselves the Nazz before finally settling on the name they would make famous: Alice Cooper. As the Spiders they cut two singles, the second of which was Don't Blow Your Mind, released in 1966. Over thirty years later the Chesterfield Kings recorded a cover version of the song for a six-song EP called Tripin Out that was released in support of the band's Spanish Tour. As always, the Kings did the song justice.

Artist:    Splinterfish
Title:    Milo's Sunset
Source:    LP: Splinterfish
Writer(s):    Chuck Hawley
Label:    StreetSound
Year:    1989
    Albuquerque, NM, like most medium-sized cities, had a vibrant club scene throughout the rock and roll era, with many of these clubs featuring live music. Until the late 1980s, however, very few bands were able to find gigs performing their own material. This began to change, however, with the emergence of alternative bands such as Jerry's Kidz and F.O.R., and underground venues such as the Club REC and the refurbished El Rey theater. One of the best bands to emerge at this time was Splinter Fish. Formed by guitarist/vocalist Chuck Hawley in 1988, the band also featured Jeff Bracey on bass, former F.O.R. member Deb-O on vocals, and the prolific Zoom Crespin on drums. The group released one self-titled LP in 1989, which featured a strong set of tunes, including Milo's Sunset, a song somewhat reminiscent of the Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    Don't Bring Me Down
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Goffin/King
Label:    M-G-M
Year:    1966
    I originally bought the Animals Animalization album in early 1967 and immediately fell in love with the first song, Don't Bring Me Down. Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Don't Bring Me Down is one of the few songs written for the Animals by professional songwriters that lead vocalist Eric Burdon actually admitted he liked.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Somewhere They Can't Find Me
Source:    LP: Sounds Of Silence
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    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:     Donovan
Title:     Sunshine Superman
Source:     CD: Sunshine On The Mountain (originally released in edited form as 45 RPM single)
Writer:     Donovan Leitch
Label:     Sony Music Special Products (original label: Epic)
Year:     1966
     Donovan's hugely successful Sunshine Superman is sometimes credited as being the tsunami that launched the wave of psychedelic music that washed over the shores of pop musicland in 1967. OK, I made that up, but the song really did change the direction of American pop as well as Donovan's own career. Originally released as a three and a quarter minute long single, the full unedited four and a half minute long stereo mix of the song heard here did not appear on vinyl until Donovan's 1969 Greatest Hits album.

Artist:    Jefferson Airplane
Title:    Two Heads
Source:    European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: After Bathing At Baxter's)
Writer(s):    Grace Slick
Label:    Sony Music (original US label: RCA Victor)
Year:    1967
    The third Jefferson Airplane album, After Bathing At Baxter's, saw the group moving in increasingly experimental directions, as Grace Slick's two contributions to the LP attest. The more accessible of the two was Two Heads, which was the first part of the fifth and final "suite" on the album.

Artist:    Canned Heat
Title:    Boogie Music
Source:    LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released on LP: Living The Blues and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    L.T.Tatman III
Label:    United Artists (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1968
    Canned Heat was formed in 1966 by a group of San Francisco Bay Area blues purists. Although a favorite on the rock scene, the band continued to remain true to the blues throughout its existence, even after relocating to the Laurel Canyon area near Los Angeles in 1968. The band's most popular single was Going Up the Country from the album Living the Blues. The B side of that single was another track from Living The Blues that actually had a longer running time on the single than on the album version. Although the single uses the same basic recording of Boogie Music as the album, it includes a short low-fidelity instrumental tacked onto the end of the song that sounds suspiciously like a 1920s recording of someone playing a melody similar to Going Up The Country on a fiddle. The only time this unique version of the song appeared in true stereo was on a 1969 United Artists compilation called Progressive Heavies that also featured tracks from Johnny Winter, Traffic, the Spencer Davis Group and others.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Subterranean Homesick Blues
Source:    Mono LP: Bringing It All Back Home
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Sundazed/Columbia
Year:    1965
    1965 was the year Bob Dylan went electric, and got his first top 40 hit, Subterranean Homesick Blues, in the process. Although the song, which also led off his Bringing It All Back Home album, stalled out in the lower 30s, it did pave the way for electrified cover versions of Dylan songs by the Byrds and Turtles and Dylan's own Like A Rolling Stone, which would revolutionize top 40 radio. A line from the song itself, "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows", became the inspiration for a radical offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) that called itself the Weathermen (later the Weather Underground). My own favorite line from the song is "Don't follow leaders, watch the parkin' meters". Words to live by.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Tombstone Blues
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings (originally released on LP: Highway 61 Revisited)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1965
    One of the most influential albums in rock history was Bob Dylan's 1965 LP Highway 61 Revisited. Although he had experimented with adding electric guitar, bass and drums to some of the songs on his previous album, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited was his first LP to feature electric instruments on every track. Of these, the most notable was probably the guitar work of Michael Bloomfield, who would soon come to prominence as lead guitarist for the Butterfield Blues Band. Bloomfield's work is most prominent on blues-based tracks such as Tombstone Blues, which follows the classic Like A Rolling Stone on side one of the original LP.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Bob Dylan's 115th Dream
Source:    Mono LP: Bringing It All Back Home
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Sundazed/Columbia
Year:    1965
    Bob Dylan presents a somewhat twisted parallel history of the United States on a six and a half minute long track called Bob Dylan's 115th Dream, from his 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home. The track itself starts off with a magical moment in which Dylan starts the song without realizing the rest of the band is deliberately doing nothing. After a bit of laughter he starts over and the band is right there with him. Fun stuff that is also about as compelling as it gets.
Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    How Many More Times
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Led Zeppelin)
Writer(s):    Page/Jones/Bonham
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1969
    Like many early Led Zeppelin songs, How Many More Times was originally credited to the band members (except, for contractual reasons, singer Robert Plant). More recent releases of the song, however, list Chester Burnett (Howlin' Wolf) as a co-writer, despite the fact that he and the members of Led Zeppelin had never met. This is because of the similarity, especially in the lyrics, to a 1951 Howlin' Wolf record called How Many More Years. The band reportedly tried to trick radio programmers into playing the eight and a half minute song by listing it on the album cover as being three minutes and thirty seconds long. I doubt anyone was fooled.

Artist:    Nazz
Title:    Open My Eyes
Source:    LP: Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Nazz)
Writer(s):    Todd Rundgren
Label:    Elektra (original label: SGC)
Year:    1968
    The Nazz was a band from Philadelphia who were basically the victims of their own bad timing. 1968 was the year that progressive FM radio began to get recognition as a viable format while top 40 radio was being dominated by bubble gum pop bands such as the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the Ohio Express. The Nazz, on the other hand, sounded more like British bands such as the Move and Brian Augur's Trinity that were performing well on the UK charts but were unable to buy a hit in the US. The band had plenty of talent, most notably guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Todd Rundgren, who would go on to establish a successful career, both as an artist (he played all the instruments on his Something/Anything LP and led the band Utopia) and a producer (Grand Funk's We're An American Band, as well as many others). Open My Eyes was originally issued as the A side of a single, but ended up being eclipsed in popularity by its flip side, a song called Hello It's Me, that ended up getting airplay in Boston and other cities, eventually hitting the Canadian charts (a new version would become a solo hit for Rundgren five years later).

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