Sunday, May 12, 2024

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2420 (starts 5/13/24) 

    This week we feature what will undoubtably be our loudest artists' set ever heard on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, with three tracks from Vincebus Eruptum, the first Blue Cheer album. And as always, we have plenty of singles, B sides and album tracks from 1964-1970, including two from somewhat obscure artists (The Troys and the Sunshine Company) making their Stuck in the Psychedelic Era debut.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    It's Only Love
Source:    Mono CD: Rubber Soul
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol/EMI
Year:    1965
    It's not often that you hear a Beatles song referred to as "filler", but that is exactly the term used by Paul McCartney when describing It's Only Love, a song that first appeared on the British version of the Help album, but was held back and included on Rubber Soul in the US. Even John Lennon, who mostly wrote the song (with some help from McCartney), later told an interviewer that "I always thought it was a lousy song. The lyrics were abysmal. I always hated that song." That said, the tune does have a nice melody and a decent chord structure and arrangement. The rhythm tracks for It's Only Love, which originally had a working title of That's A Nice Hat, were recorded in six takes in June of 1965, with Lennon's lead vocal and Harrison's lead guitar track added as overdubs.

Artist:    Blues Project
Title:    Fly Away
Source:    Mono CD: Projections
Writer(s):    Al Kooper
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Verve Folkways)
Year:    1966
    The Blues Project has a permanent place in rock history, both for pioneering the idea of touring coast to coast playing college venues and as the first jam band. Still, they were never able to break into top 40 radio at a time when a top 40 hit was considered essential to a band's commercial success. Keyboardist Al Kooper, on the other hand, was no stranger to hit records, having co-written This Diamond Ring, a song that became the first number one hit for Gary Lewis and the Playboys (although Kooper himself hated their arrangement of the song) in 1965. One of Kooper's attempts at writing a hit song for the Blues Project was Fly Away, included on their second LP, Projections.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Flaming
Source:    CD: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (not included on original US release)
Writer:    Syd Barrett
Label:    Capitol (original UK label: Columbia)
Year:    1967
    Despite his legendary status as the original driving force behind Pink Floyd there is actually very little recorded material by the band itself that is credited to Syd Barrett. Most of that material is on the first Floyd album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, and on a handful of singles released by the group at a time when single releases in the UK seldom appeared on albums. Unlike Barrett's singles, which managed to be commercial without sacrificing their psychedelic qualities, album tracks such as Flaming (from Piper) show a willingness to go off into unexplored musical territory. It was these types of explorations that would set the direction the band would take once Barrett became unable to continue with the group. Flaming, for many years, was almost impossible to find in US record stores, as it was left off Capitol Records' original 1967 release of Piper At The Gates Of Dawn on their Tower subsidiary.

Artist:    Gods
Title:    Toward The Skies
Source:    British import CD: Insane Times (originally released in UK on LP: Genesis)
Writer(s):    Joe Konas
Label:    Zonophone (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1968
    It was probably pretty pretentious for a band to call themselves the Gods, but when you consider that, at various times, the band's lineup included Greg Lake and  Mick Taylor (both future rock gods), as well as two future members of Uriah Heep, the claim somehow doesn't seem quite so outrageous. By the time their first album, Genesis, came out in 1968 both Taylor and Lake had moved on, but between guitarist/keyboardist Ken Hensley, drummer Lee Kerslake (the two aforementioned Heepsters), bassist John Glascock (who would eventually serve as Jethro Tull's bassist until his untimely death in 1979) and guitarist Joe Konas, who wrote the album's opening track, Toward The Skies, the Gods had talent to spare.

Artist:    B.B. King
Title:    You're Mean
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    King/Jemmott/McCracken/Harris/Lovelle
Label:    Bluesway
Year:    1969
    I can't imagine that anyone reading this has not heard of B.B. King, so all I'll say is that this edited version of an instrumental jam from the 1969 LP Completely Well was included as the B side of King's biggest hit, The Thrill Is Gone, in 1970.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Satisfied Mind
Source:    LP: Turn! Turn! Turn!
Writer(s):    Hayes/Rhodes
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    Satisfied Mind (alternately known as A Satisfied Mind) is one of several cover songs on the second Byrds LP, Turn! Turn! Turn! It was the first Byrds cover of a country song, with versions by Porter Wagoner, Red and Betty Foley, and Jean Shepherd all appearing on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1955. A jazz version of the song by Ella Fitzgerald also charted that year, and the song had already been recorded by several more artists before the Byrds got ahold of it. All in all there have been over 40 different versions of Satisfied Mind recorded over the years, the most recent being a single by Eilen Jewell released in 2020.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission)
Source:    CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1966
    Paul Simon's sense of humor is on full display on A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission). The song first appeared, with slightly different lyrics on Simon's 1965 LP The Paul Simon Songbook, which was released only in the UK after Simon and Garfunkel had split following the disappointing sales of their first Columbia LP, Wednesday Morning 3AM. When the duo got back together following the surprise success of an electrified version of The Sound Of Silence, they re-recorded A Simple Desultory Philippic, including it on their third Columbia LP, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. The song is a deliberate parody/tribute to Bob Dylan, written in a style similar to It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), and is full of sly references to various well-known personages of the time as well as lesser-known acquaintances of Simon himself.

Artist:    Sunshine Company
Title:    Back On The Street Again
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 10-Folk Rock (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Steve Gillette
Label:    Rhino (original label: Imperial)
Year:    1967
    Los Angeles' Sunshine Company may not have invented the term "sunshine pop" but they were certainly one of its most ardent practitioners. Originally formed as a duo by Mary Nance (vocals) and Maury Manseau (vocals, guitar), they added bassist Larry Sims and drummer Merel Bregante when the signed with Imperial Records, releasing the debut LP, Happy Is The Sunshine Company, in 1967. Their first single from the album, Up, Up And Away, was scheduled to be released in May of 1967 but was withdrawn when the Fifth Dimension beat them to the punch. The followup title track from the album went nowhere, but their next single, Back On The Street Again, released in November, managed to make it to the #36 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Two more albums and several more singles followed, but none were as successful as Back On The Street Again and the group disbanded in 1968.

Artist:    The Raik's Progress
Title:    Why Did You Rob Us, Tank?
Source:    Mono LP: Sewer Rat Love Chant (originally released in US as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Krikorian/Shapazian/van Maarth/Olson/Scott
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1966
    Fresno, California, was home to the Raik's Progress, once described as "a bunch of 17-year-old quasi-intellectual proto-punks" by frontman Steve Krikorian, who later became known as Tonio K. The Raik's progress only released one single, Sewer Rat Love Chant, which appeared on the Liberty label in 1966. The B side of that single, Why Did You Rob Us, Tank?, was an apparent dig at their manager, but when questioned about what prompted the title, Krikorian was a bit vague in his answer, saying it could have been about anything from gate receipts to not paying for burgers.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Spanish Castle Magic
Source:    CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    When the second Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Axis: Bold As Love came out it was hailed as a masterpiece of four-track engineering. Working closely with producer Chas Chandler and engineer Eddie Kramer, Hendrix used the recording studio itself as an instrument, making an art form out of the stereo mixing process. The unfortunate by-product of this is that most of the songs on the album could not be played live and still sound anything like the studio version. One notable exception is Spanish Castle Magic, which became a more or less permanent part of the band's performing repertoire.

Artist:    Moby Grape
Title:    Murder In My Heart For The Judge
Source:    LP: Wow
Writer(s):     Don Stevenson
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    Moby Grape was one of those bands that probably should have been more successful than they were, but were thrown off-track by a series of bad decisions by their own support personnel. First, Columbia damaged their reputation by simultaneously releasing five singles from their debut LP in 1967, leading to accusations that the band was nothing but hype. Then their producer, David Rubinson, decided to add horns and strings to many of the tracks on their second album, Wow, alienating much of the band's core audience in the process. Still, Wow did have its share of fine tunes, including drummer Don Stevenson's Murder In My Heart For The Judge, probably the most popular song on the album. The song proved popular enough to warrant cover versions by such notables as Lee Michaels, Chrissy Hynde and Three Dog Night.

Artist:     Guess Who
Title:     No Time
Source:     CD: American Woman
Writer(s): Bachman/Cummings
Label:     Buddha/BMG (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:     1970
     The Guess Who hit their creative and commercial peak with their 1970 album American Woman. The first of three hit singles from the album was No Time, which was already climbing the charts when the LP was released. After American Woman the band's two main songwriters, guitarist Randy Bachman and vocalist Burton Cummings, would move in increasingly divergent directions, with Bachman eventually leaving the band to form the hard-rocking Bachman-Turner Overdrive, while Cummings continued to helm an increasingly light pop flavored Guess Who.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Peace Frog/Blue Sunday
Source:    LP: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: Morrison Hotel)
Writer(s):    Morrison/Kreiger
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1970
    The Doors' Peace Frog, in a very basic sense, is actually two separate works of art. The track started off as an instrumental piece by guitarist Robbie Kreiger, recorded while the rest of the band was waiting for Jim Morrison to come up with lyrics for another piece. Not long after the track was recorded, producer Paul Rothchild ran across a poem of Morrison's called Abortion Stories and encouraged him to adapt it to the new instrumental tracks. Peace Frog, which appears on the album Morrison Hotel, leads directly into Blue Sunday, one of many poems/songs written by Morrison for Pamela Courson, his girlfriend/significant other/co-dependent substance abuser/whatever since 1965.

Artist:    Chants R&B
Title:    I'm Your Witch Doctor
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in New Zealand as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    John Mayall
Label:    Rhino (original label: Action)
Year:    1966
    The Chants R&B were formed in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1964 and were heavily influenced by such punkish UK bands as the Pretty Things and Them. Shortly after the released of their first single in mid-1966, the group got a new guitarist, Max Kelly, whose efforts helped make their second single, a wild cover of John Mayall's I'm Your Witch Doctor, a national hit. Before they could return to the studio however, it was discovered that Kelly, whose real name was Matt Croke, was actually a deserter from the Australian Air Force, and was soon deported. The rest of the band followed him to Sydney, but things didn't work out and the band split up in early 1967.

Artist:    Music Machine
Title:    Double Yellow Line
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: Bonniwell Music Machine)
Writer(s):    Sean Bonniwell
Label:    Rhino (original label: Original Sound, stereo LP version released on Warner Brothers)
Year:    1967
    One of the Original Sound singles that also appeared on the Warner Brothers LP Bonniwell Music Machine, Double Yellow Line features lyrics that were literally written by Bonniwell on the way to the recording studio. In fact, his inability to stay in his lane while driving with one hand and writing with the other resulted in a traffic ticket. The ever resourceful Bonniwell wrote the rest of the lyrics on the back of the ticket and even invited the officer in to watch the recording session. The officer declined the invitation.

Artist:    Troys
Title:    Take Care
Source:    Mono CD: If You're Ready! The Best Of Dunwich Records...Volume 2 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Mike Dixon
Label:    Sundazed/Here 'Tis (original label: Tower)
Year:    1968
    For all its legendary status as one of the first and most successful garage-punk-oriented labels, Dunwich Records in reality was only around for a couple of years. By 1968 the label itself had, in fact, ceased to exist, although Dunwich Productions would continue on for some time, supplying recordings of bands like H.P. Lovecraft to larger labels. One of the earliest of these was a single called Gotta Fit You Into My Life by a group called the Troys, released in April of 1968 in the US on the Tower label and in Canada on Capitol. The Troys were a popular suburban college cover band formed in 1965 by bassist Randy Curlee and lead guitarist Jack "Hawkeye" Daniels, with Mike Dixon on keyboards, Mike Been on guitar, and Dave Nelson on drums, with Mark Gallagher handling the lead vocals. In 1967 they began to add in original material, including Dixon's Take Care, which was released as the B side of their 1968 single. Internal problems caused the band to change musical direction, taking a Vanilla Fudge inspired approach that did not go over well with their fan base, leading to the group's eventual demise.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Little Miss Queen Of Darkness
Source:    Mono British import CD: Face To Face
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Sanctuary (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1966
    Although the Kinks were putting out some of their most classic recordings in 1966 (A Well Respected Man, Sunny Afternoon), the band was beset with problems not entirely of their own making, such as being denied visas to perform in the US and having issues with their UK label, Pye Records. Among those issues was the cover of their LP Face To Face, which bandleader Ray Davies reportedly hated, as the flower power theme was not at all representative of the band's music. There were internal problems as well, with bassist Peter Quaife even quitting the band for about a month during the recording of Face To Face. Although a replacement for Quaife, John Dalton, was brought in, the only track he is confirmed to have played on was a Ray Davies tune called Little Miss Queen Of Darkness.

Artist:    Second Hand
Title:    Reality
Source:    British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Reality)
Writer(s):    Elliott/Gibbons
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1968
    Formed in Streatham, South London, in 1965 by vocalist/keyboardist Ken Elliott, guitarist Bob Gibbons and drummer Kieran O'Connor, the Next Collection soon won a local battle of the bands and the opportunity to make a demo recording at Maximum Sound Studios. This brought them to the attention of producer Vic Keary, who got them signed to Polydor in 1968 under the name Moving Finger. Just as the album Reality was about to be released, however, another band called the Moving Finger released a single on another label, forcing Elliot and company to come up with a new band name, as well as new packaging for the LP. The name they chose was Second Hand, since all of their equipment had been bought used. Apparently the delay also caused some rethinking on the part of the people at Polydor, who had initially been enthusiastic supporters of the band. When Reality was released in late 1968 it got no promotional support whatsoever from the label, and was a commercial failure. In recent years, however, Second Hand's Reality, including the title track, has come to be recognized as one of the pioneering albums of the prog-rock movement, predating bands like Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer by several years.

Artist:    Blue Cheer
Title:    Rock Me Baby
Source:    Dutch import LP: Vincebus Eruptum
Writer(s):    King/Josea
Label:    Philips
Year:    1968
    The first Blue Cheer LP, Vincebus Eruptum, is cited by some as the first heavy metal album, while others refer to it as proto metal. However you want to look at it, the album is dominated by the feedback-laden guitar of Leigh Stephens, as can be plainly heard on their version of B.B. King's classic Rock Me Baby. Although there seem to be very few people still around who actually heard Blue Cheer perform live, the power trio has the reputation of being one of the loudest bands in the history of rock music. 

Artist:    Blue Cheer
Title:    Summertime Blues
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 1-The Hits (originally released on LP: Vincebus Eruptum)
Writer(s):    Cochrane/Capehart
Label:    Rhino (original label: Philips)
Year:    1968
    If 1967 was the summer of love, then 1968 was the summer of violence. Framed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, both major anti-establishment movements of the time (civil rights and anti-war) became increasing radicalized and more violent. The hippies gave way to the Yippies, LSD gave way to crystal meth, and there were riots in the streets of several US cities. Against this backdrop Blue Cheer released one of the loudest and angriest recordings ever to grace the top 40: the proto-metal arrangement of Eddie Cochrane's 1958 classic Summertime Blues. It was the perfect soundtrack song for its time.

Artist:    Blue Cheer
Title:    Doctor Please
Source:    Mono LP: Vincebus Eruptum
Writer(s):    Dick Peterson
Label:    Philips
Year:    1968
    With it's raw feedback-drenched guitar and bass and heavily distorted drums, Blue Cheer is often cited as the first heavy metal band. If any one song most demonstrates their right to the title it's Doctor Please from the Vincebus Eruptum album. Written by bassist Dick Peterson, the song is exactly what your parents meant by "that noise". Contrary to the rumor going around in 1970, guitarist Leigh Stephens did not go deaf after recording two albums with Blue Cheer. In fact, he went to England and recorded the critically-acclaimed (but seldom heard) Red Weather album with some of the UK's top studio musicians.

Artist:    Lovin' Spoonful
Title:    Voodoo In My Basement (instrumental backing track)
Source:    LP: Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful
Writer(s):    John Sebastian
Label:    Sundazed/Kama Sutra
Year:    1966
     With their 1966 LP Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful, New York's most popular band set out to make an album on which each song sounded like it was performed by a different group. For the most part they succeeded, with songs like Nashville Cats and Summer In The City having few similarities. One of the more notable tracks on the album is Voodoo In My Basement, which acknowledges the folk-blues scene of New York's Greenwich Village, where the band was formed. The backing track heard here was included as a bonus track on the 2003 reissue of the album.

Artist:    Kingsmen
Title:    The Jolly Green Giant
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Easton/Harris/Terry
Label:    Wand
Year:    1964
    Following the success of Louie Louie in 1963, the Kingmen signed a long term contract with New York's Swan Records, although they continued to record for Seattle-based Jerden Productions. Besides Louie Louie, their only top 10 single was The Jolly Green Giant, released in 1964. Originally credited to lead vocalist Lynn Easton, the song was later determined to be a rewrite of the Olympics' Big Boy Pete, and subsequent issues  have included that song's writers, Don Harris and Dewey Terry, in the credits.

Artist:    Kim Fowley
Title:    The Trip
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Hardesty/Fowley/Geddes
Label:    Rhino (original label: Corby)
Year:    1965
    Kim Fowley was well-known among the movers and shakers of the L.A. music scene as an important promoter and record producer, as well as the guy who threw some of the best parties in town. To the general public, however, he remained largely unknown except as the guy who recorded possibly the first, and probably the only, psychedelic novelty record, The Trip, in 1965.

Artist:    Animals
Title:    Don't Bring Me Down
Source:    CD: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals (originally released on LP: Animalization)
Writer(s):    Goffin/King
Label:    Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
Year:    1966
    Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Don't Bring Me Down is reportedly one of the few songs written for the Animals by professional songwriters that lead vocalist Eric Burdon actually liked. The song was one of the last hit singles recorded by the original Animals before they disbanded in late 1966.

Artist:    Janis Ian
Title:    Pro-Girl
Source:    LP: Janis Ian
Writer(s):    Janis Ian
Label:    Polydor (original label: Verve Forecast)
Year:    1967
    It took guts for a fifteen-year-old to write and record a song that is basically an open letter to a prostitute. It took maturity to do it without either condoning or condemning that kind of life. Janis Ian displayed both with the song Pro-Girl on her 1967 debut LP.
Artist:    Zombies
Title:    This Will Be Our Year
Source:    Mono 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Chris White
Label:    Varese Vintage (original label: Date)
Year:    1968
    The Zombies second (and final) album, Odyssey And Oracle, was made pretty much under duress. The band had secured a contract with the British CBS label, but because of budget and time constraints, the recordings were done quickly, with no outtakes or unused songs from the sessions. Like many songs recorded at Abbey Road Studios at the time, This Will Be Our Year was first mixed monoraully, with horns added during the mixing process. As a result, the stereo version of the album contained a fake stereo mix made from the mono master. Since mono pressings were being phased out in the US, only the fake stereo version was available to American record buyers. Recently, Varese Vintage has included the original mono mix as the B side of a single made for a recent Record Store Day event.

Artist:     Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title:    Down By The River
Source:    CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    Down By The River is one of four songs on the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere that Neil Young wrote while running a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (that's 39.5 degrees for people in civilized nations that use the Celsius, aka centrigrade, scale). By some strange coincidence, they are the four best songs on the album. I wish I could have been that sick in my days as a wannabe rock star.

Artist:    Lollipop Shoppe (actual name: The Weeds)
Title:    You Must Be A Witch
Source:    Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Fred Cole
Label:    Rhino (original label: Uni)
Year:    1968
    The Weeds were formed in Las Vegas in 1965 by vocalist Fred Cole, who at age 16 was already a recording studio veteran. They showed up at the Fillmore to open for the Yardbirds in 1966 only to find out that their manager had lied to them about being on the playbill (in fact Bill Graham had never even heard of them). Disenchanted with their management and fearing the Draft, the entire band decided to head for Canada, but ran out of gas in Portland, Oregon. They soon landed a regular gig at a club called the Folk Singer (where Cole met his future wife Toody) and after relocating to Southern California in 1968 attracted the attention of Seeds' manager Lord Tim, who got them a contract with MCA Records (now Universal). They recorded one album for MCA's Uni label, (discovering after the fact that Lord Tim had changed their name to the Lollipop Shoppe), which included the single You Must Be A Witch. Fred Cole has since become an icon of indy rock, returning to Portland to co-lead the band Dead Moon with his wife Toody from 1987-2006.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Let's Spend The Night Together
Source:    CD: Flowers (originally released on LP: Between The Buttons)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: London)
Year:    1967
    The Rolling Stones second LP of 1967 was Flowers, one of a series of US-only albums made up of songs that had been released in various forms in the UK but not in the US. In the case of Flowers, though, there were a couple songs that had already been released in the US-but not in true stereo. One of those was Let's Spend The Night Together, a song intended to be the A side of a single, but that was soon banned on a majority of US radio stations because of its suggestive lyrics. Those stations instead flipped the record over and began playing the B side. That B side, a song called Ruby Tuesday, ended up in the top 5, while Let's Spend The Night Together barely cracked the top 40. The Stones did get to perform the tune on the Ed Sullivan Show, but only after promising to change the lyrics to "let's spend some time together." Later  the same year the Doors made a similar promise to the Sullivan show to modify the lyrics of Light My Fire, but when it came time to actually perform the song Jim Morrison defiantly sang the lyrics as written. The Doors were subsequently banned from making any more appearances on the Sullivan show.

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