Sunday, June 16, 2024

Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 2425 (starts 6/17/24)

    There's an artists' set in every half hour of this week's Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, including a set by the Jimi Hendrix Experience that exceeds the 20 minute mark and a trio of Beatles recordings that didn't get released until the mid-1990s. As always, we have lots of singles, B sides and album tracks from the mid to late 1960s as well.

Artist:    Spencer Davis Group
Title:    I'm A Man
Source:    Mono LP: Progressive Heavies (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Miller
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1967
    The Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve and Muff Winwood, was one of the UK's most successful white R&B bands of the sixties, cranking out a steady stream of hit singles. Two of them, the iconic Gimme Some Lovin' and I'm A Man, were also major hits in the US, the latter being the last song to feature the Winwood brothers. Muff Winwood became a successful record producer, while his brother Steve went on to co-found the band Traffic. Then Blind Faith. Then Traffic again. And then a successful solo career. Meanwhile, the Spencer Davis Group continued on for several years with a series of replacement vocalists, but were never able to duplicate their earlier successes with the Winwoods.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Lucifer Sam
Source:    Mono LP: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Writer(s):    Syd Barrett
Label:    Tower
Year:    1967
    Beyond a shadow of a doubt the original driving force behind Pink Floyd was the legendary Syd Barrett. Not only did he front the band during their rise to fame, he also wrote their first two singles, Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, as well as most of their first LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. In fact it could be argued that one of the songs on that album, Lucifer Sam, could have just as easily been issued as a single, as it is stylistically similar to the first two songs. Sadly, Barrett's mental health deteriorated quickly over the next year and his participation in the making of the band's next LP, A Saucerful Of Secrets, was minimal. He soon left the group altogether, never to return (although several of his former bandmates did participate in the making of his 1970 solo album, The Madcap Laughs).

Artist:    Masters Apprentices
Title:    Hot Gully Wind
Source:    Australian import CD: The Master's Apprentices
Writer(s):    Michael Bower
Label:    Aztec (original label: Astor)
Year:    1967
    Formed in 1964 by guitarists Mick Bower and Rick Morrison, drummer Brian Vaughton and bassist Gavin Webb, the Mustangs were an instrumental surf music band from Adelaide, South Australia that specialized in covers of Ventures and Shadows songs. In June of that year the Beatles came to Adelaide and were greeted by the largest crowd of their career (around 300,000 people). The popularity of the Beatles among the locals prompted the Mustangs to add vocalist Jim Keays and switch to British-influenced Beat music. In late 1965, having been introduced to the blues through records by bands like the Yardbirds and Rolling Stones, the band changed its name to the Masters Apprentices, with Bower explaining that  "we are apprentices to the masters of the blues—Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, Elmore James and Robert Johnson". The band decided to relocate to Melbourne in early 1967, taking on Steve Hopgood as the band's new drummer when Vaughton decided to stay in Adelaide. They released their debut LP in 1967, although the people at Astor Records mistakenly added an apostrophe to Masters on the album cover. Among the many Bower originals on the album was Hot Gully Wind, a solid rocker that has held up well over the years. Unfortunately, Bower suffered a nervous breakdown in September, and the band was left without a songwriter. By the end of 1967 the band was on the verge of disintegrating, which led Keays to reorganize the band in January of 1968 with several new members, retaining only Gavin Webb from the original Mustangs lineup. He also ended up leaving the group due to stomach ulcers in April of 1968.

Artist:    Simon & Garfunkel
Title:    He Was My Brother
Source:    LP: Wednesday Morning, 3AM
Writer(s):    Paul Simon
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1964
    Andrew Goodman was one of three college students from New York City who was murdered in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan in Philadelphia, Mississippi (some of whom were law enforcement officers) for the "crime" of attempting to register black voters. Later that same year two former classmates, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, released the album Wednesday Morning, 3AM, which included a song called He Was My Brother that was dedicated to Goodman. Although the song was actually written and recorded before Goodman's death, it addresses the same sort of violent racism that led to the murder of Goodman and two companions, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner on June 21, 1964.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Voices Of Old People/Old Friends/Bookends Theme
Source:    LP: Bookends
Writer(s):    Simon/Garfunkel
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    Voices of Old People is a sound collage featured on the 1968 Simon And Garfunkel album Bookends. It was recorded on tape by Art Garfunkel at the United Home for Aged Hebrews and the California Home for the Aged at Reseda and then edited by the duo in the studio. On the album the piece leads directly into a Paul Simon composition, Old Friends, a musically experimental song about longtime friends nearing the end of their lives. The album side finishes with the Bookends Theme, which continues the reflective theme of the previous tracks.

Artist:    Simon And Garfunkel
Title:    Benedictus
Source:    LP: Wednesday Morning 3AM
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Simon/Garfunkel
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1964
    Not every song on the first Simon And Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning 3AM, was written by Paul Simon. In addition to the handful of cover songs, the album contained an a capella piece called Benedictus, based on a motet by Orlande de Lassus. The lyrics, sung in Latin, translate as "Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Ironically, the duo's next LP, Sounds Of Silence, would include a Simon original called Blessed.
Artist:    Lovin' Spoonful
Title:    Wild About My Lovin'
Source:    LP: Do You Believe In Magic
Writer(s):    Traditional, arr. Lovin' Spoonful
Label:    Kama Sutra
Year:    1965
    Fewer than half the songs on the first Lovin' Spoonful LP, Do You Believe In Magic, were written by members of the band itself. Several, in fact, were traditional jug band standards such as Wild About My Lovin' that had been arranged by the entire band. Subsequent Lovin' Spoonful albums would see John Sebastian taking on the lion's share of songwriting for the group, with minimal input from the other band members.

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Positively 4th Street   
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1965
    Positively 4th Street, recorded at the same time as the Highway 61 Revisited album, was held back for single release later the same year. The tactic worked, scoring Bob Dylan his second top 10 hit.

Artist:    Mustangs
Title:    That's For Sure
Source:    Where The Action Is: L.A. Nuggets 1965-68 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Wade/Lisonbee
Label:    Rhino (original label: Nero)
Year:    1965
    Riverside, California, had a vibrant local music scene in the 1960s, supported by at least two competing top 40 radio stations that were generally able to hold their own against the more powerful stations like KHJ broadcasting out of Los Angeles, about 60 miles to the west. In the early part of the decade the city had their own local instrumental/surf bands, including the Ressacs and the Ris-Kays. In 1964, influenced by the British Invasion, members of both these bands combined to form the Mustangs (named for a new car from Ford Motor Company), adding vocals in the process. With the help of a local high school teacher, the Mustangs got to record one of their own tunes at a studio in nearby Glendale. That's For Sure, released in 1965 on the Nero label, is a classic example of mid-60s garage rock, showing an obvious Rolling Stones influence and attitude. The song was written by drummer Terry Wade and keyboardist Dennis Lisonbee, both of whom sang on the recording.

Artist:    Moby Grape
Title:    Changes
Source:    LP: Moby Grape
Writer(s):    Miller/Stevenson
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1967
    All of the members of Moby Grape were songwriters as well as performers. Most contributed songs individually, but one songwriting team did emerge early on. Guitarist Jerry Miller and drummer Don Stevenson formed a durable partnership that was responsible for many of the group's most memorable tracks, including Changes from the band's 1967 debut LP.

Artist:     Moby Grape
Title:     Omaha
Source:     45 RPM single
Writer:     Skip Spence
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1967
     As an ill-advised promotional gimmick, Columbia Records released five separate singles concurrently with the first Moby Grape album. Of the five singles, only one, Omaha, actually charted, and it only got to the #86 spot. Meanwhile, the heavy promotion by the label led to Moby Grape getting the reputation of being over-hyped, much to the detriment of the band's career.

Artist:     Moby Grape
Title:     Someday
Source:     LP: Moby Grape
Writer:     Miller/Stevenson/Spence
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1967
     Moby Grape was a talented band that unfortunately was the victim of their own hype (or more accurately, that of Columbia Records, who issued five singles from their first album simultaneously). They were never able, however, to live up to that hype, despite some fine tunes like Someday, which was included on their first LP.

Artist:    It's A Beautiful Day
Title:    Girl With No Eyes
Source:    CD: It's A Beautiful Day
Writer(s):    Linda and David LaFlamme
Label:    San Francisco Sound (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    The truth of the adage that adversity fuels creativity is nowhere more evident than on the 1969 debut album of San Francisco's It's A Beautiful Day. The band had spent much of the previous year in Seattle, Washington in a tiny room above the San Francisco Sound, a less-than-popular club owned by their manager, Matthew Katz. As the house band at the club, It's A Beautiful Day ostensibly got a percentage of the door, but as the place always had poor attendance the band was pretty much broke the entire time they spent there, making them virtual prisoners. During this time the husband and wife team of David and Linda LaFlamme concentrated on their songwriting, coming up with the material that eventually became the group's first album. The best of these tracks were collaborations between the two, including the band's signature song, White Bird, and the gentle Girl With No Eyes, which closes out side one of the original LP. Ironically, once the group was successful the LaFlammes split up, with Linda leaving the band altogether. Although It's A Beautiful Day continued on with a new keyboardist, David LaFlamme's solo material was not as strong as his collaborations with Linda and the group eventually disbanded.

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Magic Carpet Ride
Source:    LP: Nuggets Vol. 9-Acid Rock (originally released on LP: Steppenwolf The Second)
Writer(s):    Moreve/Kay
Label:    Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
Year:    1968
    Steppenwolf's second top 10 single was Magic Carpet Ride, a song that combines feedback, prominent organ work by Goldy McJohn and an updated Bo Diddly beat with psychedelic lyrics. Along with Born To Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride (co-written by vocalist John Kay and bassist Rushton Moreve) has become one of the defining songs of both Steppenwolf and the psychedelic era itself.

Artist:    Hollies
Title:    King Midas In Reverse
Source:    British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Clarke/Hicks/Nash
Label:    EMI (original label: Parlophone)
Year:    1967
    One of the last Hollies singles to include original member Graham Nash, King Midas In Reverse combines pop and psychedelia in a purely British way. The problem was that, with the exception of Nash, the Hollies had no desire to embrace psychedelia, and Nash soon found himself banding with Americans David Crosby and Stephen Stills instead.

Artist:    Gurus
Title:    Come Girl
Source:    Mono CD: The Gurus Are Hear! (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Jimmy Ryan
Label:    Sundazed (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1966
    Gurus were not your usual garage band. They were, in fact, the creation of Ron Haffkine, co-owner of Café Feenjon, a Greenwich Village coffee house/club that specialized Middle Eastern decor and music, who came up with the idea of a Middle Eastern flavored rock band. He recruited John Lieto (vocals), Pete ''Blackwood'' Smith (guitar), Michael ''Jason'' Weinstein (bass, harmonica), Victor ''Vittorio'' King (drums), Medulla Oblongata (guitar) and Jonathan Talbot (bass) and used his connections to get United Artists to release the band's first single in late 1966. The B side of that tune, Come Girl, is now considered a garage band classic. The group also released a second single in early 1967 and an album that was completed but for some reason never released. This, along with internal conflicts, led to the group disbanding later that year.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    A Well Respected Man
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer:    Ray Davies
Label:    Eric (original label: Reprise)
Year:    Released 1965, charted 1966
    The Kinks were one of the original British Invasion bands, scoring huge R&B-influenced hits with You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night in 1964. The hits continued in 1965 with more melodic songs like Set Me Free and Tired Of Waiting For You. 1966 saw Ray Davies's songwriting take a satiric turn, as A Well Respected Man (actually released in late 1965) amply illustrates. Over the next few years the Kinks would continue to evolve, generally getting decent critical reviews but less than stellar record sales (in part because of a performance ban imposed on them by the American Federation of Musicians) for their albums until 1970, when the song Lola became a huge international hit, reviving the band's fortunes and reigniting interest in their earlier tunes.

Artist:    Turtles
Title:    The Story Of Rock And Roll
Source:    CD: The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Harry Nilsson
Label:    FloEdCo (original label: White Whale)
Year:    1968
    Harry Nilsson was still an up and coming, but not yet arrived, young singer/songwriter when he penned The Story Of Rock And Roll. The Turtles, always in a struggle with their record label, White Whale, over whether to record their own material or rely on professional songwriters, were the first to record the tune, releasing it as a single in 1968. Although it was not a major hit, the song did set the stage for Nilsson's later successes.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    That Means A Lot
Source:    Simulated stereo CD: Anthology 2
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol/Apple
Year:    Recorded 1965, released 1996
    Originally written and recorded to be used in the film Help, That Means A Lot is a Paul McCartney composition that was ultimately given to PJ Proby to record. As John Lennon put it "We thought we'd give it to someone who could sing it well". Proby's version of That Means A Lot, released in September of 1965, went to the #24 spot on the British charts, while the original Beatles version, recorded in February of 1965, remained unreleased until 1996.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Only A Northern Song (alternate version)
Source:    CD: Anthology 2
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Apple/Capitol
Year:    Recorded 1967, released 1996
    Anyone who thinks that George Harrison was happily oblivious to how badly he was being screwed over as a songwriter during his years as a member of the Beatles need only listen to the lyrics of Only A Northern Song, one of four new tracks submitted by the band for use in the film Yellow Submarine. Although Harrison had actually formed his own publishing company, Harrisongs, in 1964, he was persuaded to stay with the band's own Northern Songs LTD. by his bandmates when the company went public in 1965 in order to get around British tax laws on international sales of Beatles' compositions. The problem was that, as the principle songwriters, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were also the principle stockholders, at 15% each, while Harrison and Ringo Starr each owned only 8%. This meant that Lennon and McCartney were actually making more in royalties on Harrison's compositions than Harrison himself. Harrison later said that the company's manager, Dick James, hadn't told him that he was giving up ownership of his own compositions by signing with Northern Songs. Following the formation of Apple Corp in 1968 Harrison's compositions were no longer published by Northern Songs.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    If You've Got Trouble
Source:    CD: Anthology 2
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Capitol/Apple
Year:    Recorded 1965, released 1996
    As a general rule, drummer Ringo Starr was given the opportunity to sing lead vocals on one song per Beatles album, the sole exception being the soundtrack album for A Hard Days Night (he did, however, come up with the title of the movie). For the Help album it was a Lennon/McCartney composition called If You've Got Trouble, which was recorded on the same day as Tell Me What You See. After adding vocal tracks, however, it was evident that the song just wasn't up to the Beatles' standards, and was dropped in favor of Ringo's rendition of Act Naturally, which had been a #1 country hit for Buck Owens two years earlier. If You've Got Trouble was finally released in 1996, on the second Beatles Anthology album.

Artist:     Who
Title:     Happy Jack
Source:     45 RPM single
Writer:     Pete Townshend
Label:     Decca
Year:     1967
     Happy Jack was originally released as a single in the UK in late 1966. It did not hit the US airwaves, however, until the early months of 1967. (I heard it for the first time on KLZ-FM, a Denver station whose format was a forerunner of progressive rock. KLZ-FM didn't call themselves a rock station. They instead marketed themselves as playing the top 100, as opposed to the top 60 played on KIMN, the dominant AM station in the city.) Although the song was not intended to be on an album, Decca Records quickly rearranged the track order of the Who's second album, A Quick One, to make room for the song, changing the name of the album itself to Happy Jack in the process.

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Bluebird
Source:    LP: Homer (soundtrack) (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Cotillion (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    When it comes right down to it Buffalo Springfield has one of the highest ratios of songs recorded to songs played on the radio of any band in history, especially if you only count the two albums worth of material that was released while the band was still active. This is probably because Buffalo Springfield had more raw songwriting talent than just about any two other bands. Although Neil Young was just starting to hit his stride as a songwriter, bandmate Stephen Stills was already at an early peak, as songs like Bluebird clearly demonstrate.

Artist:    Love
Title:    Your Mind And We Belong Together
Source:    CD: Forever Changes (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Arthur Lee
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1968
    The last record to be released by the classic Love lineup of Arthur Lee, Ken Forssi, Johnny Echols, Bryan MacLean and Michael Stuart was a single, Your Mind And We Belong Together. Although released in 1968, the song is very much the same style as the 1967 album Forever Changes. A bonus track on the Forever Changes CD shows Lee very much in command of the recording sessions, calling for over two dozen takes before getting an acceptable version of the song. The song serves as a fitting close to the story of one of the most influential, yet overlooked, bands in rock history...or would have, if Lee had not tried to revive the band with new members several times over the next several decades.

Artist:    Blind Faith
Title:    Can't Find My Way Home
Source:    CBritish import LP: Blind Faith
Writer:    Steve Winwood
Label:    Polydor (original US label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    Blind Faith was the result of some 1969 jam sessions in guitarist Eric Clapton's basement with keyboardist/guitarist Steve Winwood, whose own band, Traffic, had disbanded earlier in the year. Drummer Ginger Baker, who had been Clapton's bandmate in Cream for the previous three years, showed up one day, and Winwood eventually convinced Clapton to form a band with the three of them and bassist Rick Grech. Clapton, however, did not want another Cream, and even before Blind Faith's only album was released was ready to move on to something that felt less like a supergroup. As a result, Winwood took more of a dominant role in Blind Faith, even to the point of including one track, Can't Find My Way Home, that was practically a Winwood solo piece. Blind Faith disbanded shortly after the album was released, with the various band members moving on to other projects. Winwood, who soon reformed Traffic, is still active as one of rock's elder statesmen, and still performs Can't Find My Way Home in his concert appearances.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Spanish Castle Magic
Source:    CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Experience Hendrix/Legacy (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:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Voodoo Chile
Source:    LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    Midway through the making of the Electric Ladyland album, producer Chas Chandler parted ways with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. At first this may seem to be a mystery, but consider the situation: Hendrix, by this time, had considerable clout in the studio. This allowed him to invite pretty much anyone he damn well pleased to hang out while he was making records, including several fellow musicians. It also allowed him the luxury of using the studio itself as a kind of incubator for new ideas, often developing those ideas while the tape machine was in "record" mode. Chandler, on the other hand, had learned virtually everything he knew about producing records from Mickie Most, one of Britain's most successful producers. As such, Chandler tended to take a more professional approach to recording, finding Hendrix's endless jamming to be a waste of valuable studio time. Whether you side with Chandler or Hendrix over the issue, there is one thing that can't be disputed: the Hendrix approach resulted in some of the most memorable rock recordings ever made. Case in point: Voodoo Chile, a long studio jam featuring Jefferson Airplane's Jack Casady (misspelled Cassidy in the liner notes) on bass and Traffic's Steve Winwood on keyboards, as well as regular Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Wait Until Tomorrow
Source:    CD: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Experience Hendrix/Legacy (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Jimi Hendrix shows his sense of humor on Wait Until Tomorrow, a track from his second Jimi Hendrix Experience LP, Axis: Bold As Love. The song tells a story of a young man standing outside his girlfriend's window trying to convince her to run away from him. He gets continually rebuffed by the girl, who keeps telling him to Wait Until Tomorrow. Ultimately the girl's father resolves the issue by shooting the young man. The entire story is punctuated by outstanding distortion-free guitar work that showcases just how gifted Hendrix was on his chosen instrument.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Jigsaw Puzzle
Source:    LP: Beggar's Banquet
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1968
    Jigsaw Puzzle, the longest track on the Beggar's Banquet album, comes across as a wry look at the inner workings of a rock and roll band like, say, the Rolling Stones. Brian Jones's only contribution to the recording is some soaring mellotron work toward the end of the song. Not long after the track was recorded, Jones was fired from the band he had founded.

Artist:    Fairport Convention
Title:    Portfolio
Source:    British import CD: Fairport Convention
Writer(s):    Dyble/Hutchings
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1968
    Fairport Convention is well known as one of the premier British folk bands of the 1970s. The band did not, however, start off that way. The original lineup, consisting of Ian McDonald (lead vocals), Judy Dyble (lead vocals, autoharp, recorder, piano), Richard Thompson (guitars, vocals, mandolin), Simon Nicol (guitars, vocals), Ashley Hutchings (bass), and Martin Lamble (percussion, violin), were an eclectic bunch with eclectic tastes that included the written works of Spike Milligan and James Joyce and the music of John Coltrane, Doc Watson, and the Butterfield Blues Band, among others. Their own music was a synthesis of folk, rock, jazz, blues and the avant-garde, and was hailed as Britain's answer to the Jefferson Airplane. The first self-titled Fairport Convention album was only released in the UK (which in later years would lead to some confusion, since the band's next LP, 1969's What We Did On Our Holidays, was released in the US in 1970 with no other name than Fairport Convention). Not every track on the original Fairport Convention LP had vocals. One of the strongest tracks, in fact, was an instrumental written by Dyble and Hutchings called Portfolio that manages, in just two minutes, to give a strong impression of where the band was at musically in 1968. As much as I like the much better known Sandy Denny version of Fairport Convention, I would have loved to have heard more from this original lineup of the band.

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