Sunday, August 28, 2011
Okay, we're back to a mostly evenly split compilation between the U.S. and the U.K. with one Dutch band thrown in for good measure. Interestingly, we also get our first Scottish artist represented on TPF: Donovan. Actually that's not quite true, as I know that Cream's Jack Bruce is Scottish but I put Cream down as English, because they formed in London. France also makes an appearance, in quite an interesting way.
If you do not know the story behind Philippe Debarge, then by all means check it out over at Technicolor Web of Sound. The short and the skinny of the story is that Debarge had some money and he befriended The Pretty Things and funded a fantastic album, on which he sang and the Pretties backed him up. Sounds like a recipe for disaster but Debarge can really hold his own behind the microphone.
Vol. IV's cover boys, The Yardbirds, are most famous for producing three of most innovative guitarists of the Rock & Roll era. Their real ace in the hole, might have been original member, bassist/composer Paul Samwell-Smith, who co-wrote many of the Yardbirds' finest tunes including the one featured here from Roger the Engineer, which would be the last Yardbirds' album before his departure.
This edition of TPF kicks off with a band that actually gained some notoriety by sharing their name with a much more famous band. In 1991, I had never heard of the original Nirvana, but I remember reading that there was a psychedelic band from the U.K. which had already used the name. It was probably 10 years later before I actually heard The Story of Simon Simopath, which is one of the earliest examples of a Concept Album. A great album in its own right.
Tiny Purple Fishes: A Trip Through the First Psychedelic Era, Vol. IV
01. Nirvana (U.K.), “Pentecost Hotel” . U.K. (England)
02. Mighty Baby, “Egyptian Tomb” . U.K. (England)
03. The Misunderstood, “My Mind” . U.S. (California)
04. Tyrannosaurus Rex, “Chariots of Silk” . U.K. (England)
05. The Red Krayola, “Green of My Pants” . U.S. (Texas)
06. The Rising Storm, “Frozen Laughter” . U.S. (Massachusetts)
07. Billy Nicholls, “Would You Believe? . U.K. (England)
08. The Outsiders, “It Seems Like Nothing’s Gonna Come My Way Today” . Holland
09. The Yardbirds, “He’s Always There” . U.K. (England)
10. The Mystery Trend, “What If I . U.S. (California)
11. The Mystic Tide, “Why” . U.S. (New York)
12. The Tremeloes, “What a State I’m In” . U.K. (England)
13. The Mojo Men, “Evelyn Hope” . U.S. (California)
14. Donovan, “Super Lungs” . U.K. (Scotland)
15. The Velvet Underground, “Sunday Morning” . U.S. (New York)
16. Philippe Debarge w/ The Pretty Things, “All Gone Now” . France/U.K. (England)
17. Eric Burdon & the Animals, “No Self Pity” . U.K. (England)
18. Fifty Foot Hose, “If Not This Time” . U.S. (California)
19. The Moody Blues, “Peak Hour” . U.K. (England)
20. Index, “Rainy Starle” . U.S. (Michigan)
Total time: 59:58
Download it here: Tiny Purple Fishes, Vol. IV
Sunday, August 21, 2011
When I put these TPF compilations together, I did not really attempt to balance them geographically. The first two volumes in the series were pretty evenly split between American and British acts. As I was jotting down the track listing for Vol. III, I noticed a decidedly American flavor-- as it turns out, only five of the twenty tracks are British.
Even more interesting, this compilation kicks off with five consecutive tracks from the L.A. Scene. California completely dominates this comp, with L.A. stealing the show with seven tracks, including the important compilation positions of opener, closer and cover star (that of course, is Love's Arthur Lee pictured above).
One of the non-California, American bands featured here, however, has a little more in common with the U.K. The Aerovons were hugely influenced by the Brits, and in particular their heroes the Beatles. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the John, Paul, George and Ringo would blush right through the Aerovons sole long player, Ressurection, which did not see the light of day until 2003. I chose the title track here, because it is the most Beatle-like track on the album. Listening to it the first time back in '03 when RPM lovingly released it, I found it to be a sub par, Beatles' ripoff. But damn if it didn't get stuck in my head. As I learned more about the band, I soon had a change of heart. Tom Hartman, was only 17-years old when this track was recorded, and did I mention he produced it? And oh, by the way, he got to record it at Abbey Road Studios? Not too shabby for a kid from St. Louis.
Batting in the two-slot here, is a song that was featured here at Burn and Shine about a year ago when I posted AMC's The Walking Dead trailer. One of the biggest hits featured in this series, the Walker Brothers took this wonderful track all the way to #13 on the Billboard charts. For the life of me, I don't know why this song doesn't get more love when critics discuss the greatest songs of all time. I would put it right up there with "Be My Baby", "Waterloo Sunset" and "A Day in the Life".
Tiny Purple Fishes: A Trip Through the First Psychedelic Era, Vol. III
01. Buffalo Springfield, “Out of My Mind” . U.S./Canada (California)
02. The Walker Brothers, “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” . U.S. (California)
03. She, “Braids of Hair” [ca. 1970]. U.S. (California)
04. Jan & Dean, “Yellow Balloon” . U.S. (California)
05. Love, “She Comes In Colors” . U.S. (California)
06. The Nazz, “Letters Don’t Count” . U.S. (Pennsylvania)
07. The Rascals, “Find Somebody” . U.S. (New York)
08. The Creation, “Life is Just Beginning . U.K. (England)
09. H.P. Lovecraft, “Moubius Trip” . U.S. (Illinois)
10. The Small Faces, “Long Agos and Worlds Apart” . U.K. (England)
11. Jefferson Airplane, “Today” . U.S. (California)
12. The Pretty Things, “Trust” . U.K. (England)
13. The Honey Combs, “It Ain’t Necessarily So” . U.K. (England)
14. The Aerovons, “Resurrection” [ca. 1969]. U.S. (Missouri)
15. Moby Grape, “Sitting by the Window” . U.S. (California)
16. The Rolling Stones, “She’s a Rainbow” . U.K. (England)
17. Gary Lewis, “Jill” . U.S. (California)
18. Country Joe & the Fish, “Porpoise Mouth” . U.S. (California)
19. The Fugs, “Ah, Sunflower Weary of Time” . U.S. (New York)
20. Tim Buckley, “Hallucinations” . U.S. (California)
Total time: 59:44
Download it here: Tiny Purple Fishes, Vol. III
Sunday, August 14, 2011
I got so caught up in explaining the new series last week, I said nary a word about the the artists or tracks on the first volume. As has been the case lately, I won't do a track-by-track commentary, but I will single out a few highlights.
Notes on Tiny Purple Fishes, Vol I:
The first disc (which can be found here!) in this series kicks off with the acid-folk of New York's Holy Modal Rounders. "Hesitation Blues" is a traditional folk tune, with some not-so-traditional, lyrics added. This track from 1964, contains the first recorded use of the word "psychedelic" in a pop song, so I thought it would be an appropriate way to kick off the series.
The first disc is pretty evenly split between American and British acts with two Australian bands thrown in for good measure, although the Bee Gees had moved to London by 1967. Speaking of London, you'll notice some of the giants from the British invasion, including the biggest of them all, the Beatles. The fab four will make three appearances on TPF, the first of which is the John Lennon penned "Tomorrow Never Knows". Here in an early version, which can be found on the Beatles' Anthology 2. According to Steve Turner in A Hard Day's Write, Lennon was attempting "to create in words and sounds a suitable guide track for the LSD experience"-- the very definition of psychedelic music.
The most well known of the American bands listed here would probably be Austin's 13th Floor Elevators, who's charismatic leader, Roky Erickson, was the cover boy for Tiny Purple Fishes, Vol. I; and one of the first acid-casualties of the Rock & Roll era.
Vol. I closes with one of my favorite songs ever, the beautiful "Beechwood Park" by the Zombies. A song that was usurped to great effect by Knoxville Power-Poppers, Superdrag on the opening track from their neo-psychedelic masterpiece Head Trip In Every Key:
Notes on Tiny Purple Fishes, Vol. II:
Volume II kicks off with my favorite band. According to Ray Davies, the Kinks never wrote a psychedelic song. That may be true in the sense that they never set out to write a psychedelic song, but there are a number of Kinks' tracks that I would consider to be at least in the ball park of psychedelia. Two of which have already been used on comps here at Burn and Shine: "Lazy Old Sun" and "Wicked Anabella". I've picked another Kinks' track for inclusion on TPF, the lovely "Lavender Hill" which was an outtake from the Village Green sessions.
Though I'm not a big fan of guitar-gawd, Eric Clapton, I do tend to like some of the projects he was involved with during the early part of his career, Cream being one of them. His "Tales of Brave Ulysses" gets the envious honor of giving me the title for the Tiny Purple Fishes series.
Volume II hosts the first non-Anglo group on TPF, Israel's The Churchills, whose lead singer Stan Soloman was actually Canadian, and he sounds remarkably like Cream's Jack Bruce. Although there will be a few tracks on subsequent volumes sung in other languages, I must admit to owning very little psychedelic music (or any genre of music for that matter) from around the globe.
On the cover of Vol. II, is the first incarnation of the Soft Machine (from Left: Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and Mike Ratledge). Not as well known over here in the States, but the Soft Machine might have been as influential as Pink Floyd in the U.K. The Richard Wright penned, "Remember Day" is also included on Vol. II-- the first of three Pink Floyd tracks which will be featured on TPF.
The closing track here is a fairly obscure track from a Boston band, Earth Opera. Those of you who know me, probably remember that I'm a huge Red Sox fan, so the title of this song certainly intrigued me. Presumably written during or just after the "Impossible Dream" 1967 season, the song itself has very little to do with baseball, but is a wonderful, early example of psychedelic prog.
Tiny Purple Fishes: A Trip Through the First Psychedelic Era, Vol. II
01. The Kinks, “Lavender Hill” [ca. 1968]. U.K. (England)
02. The Turtles, “Me About You” . U.S. (California)
03. Cream, “Tales of Brave Ulysses” . U.K. (England)
04. It’s a Beautiful Day, “Girl With No Eyes”  U.S. (California)
05. Pearls Before Swine, “Uncle John” . U.S. (Florida)
06. We the People, “St. John’s Shop (Early Version)” [ca. 1966]. U.S. (Florida)
07. Blossom Toes, “What’s It For” . U.K. (England)
08. J.K. & Co., “Little Children” . U.S. (Nevada)
09. Kaleidoscope, “Keep Your Mind Open” . U.S. (California)
10. Soft Machine, “Save Yourself” . U.K. (England)
11. The Byrds, “Draft Morning” . U.S. (California)
12. Leaf Hound, “Growers of Mushrooms” . U.K. (England)
13. Mouse & the Traps, “Requiem for Sarah” [ca. 1967]. U.S. (Texas)
14. Music Emporium, “Velvet Sunsets” . U.S. (California)
15. The Churchills, “Pictures in My Mind” . Israel
16. The David, “Time M” . U.S. (California)
17. The Five Day Week Straw People, “Five Day Week Straw People” . U.K. (England)
18. The Majority, “Wait By the Fire” . U.K. (England)
19. Pink Floyd (Richard Wright), “Remember Day” . U.K. (England)
20. Earth Opera, “The Red Sox Are Winning” . U.S. (Massachusetts)
Total time: 59:52
Download it here: Tiny Purple Fishes, Vol. II
Saturday, August 6, 2011
“Psychedelia represented rock ‘n’ roll at its most breathtakingly adventurous and innovative—and sometimes, at its most foolish. While the most self-conscious experiments of the mid and late ‘60s have dated badly, the best psychedelic rock had an exhilarating recklessness that has been difficult to recapture in the ensuing decades.”—Richie Unterberger
If you are a fan of Rock & Roll and are over the age of fifteen, then you probably have an opinion regarding the original Psychedelic Era. Whether you love it or hate it, I suspect that the first part of the above quote by Richie Unterberger probably resonates with most of you. It’s the last dependent clause that I am going to try tackle during this series. Perhaps I will even go a little further, and claim that virtually all great (and not-so-great) rock movements since this era owe a huge debt to the Flower Power Crowd. Prog, Heavy Metal, Punk, Post-Punk, Post-Rock, Shoegaze, Lo-Fi, Brit-Pop, Indie, Electronica—all can be directly linked to this era.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been on quite a psychedelic binge over the last several weeks. For the record, I’m not talking about doing hallucinogenic drugs. I have, however, been digging through my collection and scouring the internet for some of the best music from the First Psychedelic Era, which for the purposes of this series is roughly 1966-1970, though there will be a few outliers.
As with some of the other genre series I’ve done here at Burn and Shine, there are many great commercially available compilations out there which mine the same territory. Of course, Rhino has put out at least two definitive box sets, chronicling the U.S. garage scene and the (mostly) U.K. psychedelic scene: Nuggets I and II. If you are completely new to this era, I would certainly suggest you start with those first. I have, I think, made sure that none of the songs on my compilations are found on either of those. In addition, I have a great box set from a few years ago that further explored the U.K. scene from the editors at Mojo Magazine: Acid Drops, Spacedust & Flying Saucers: Psychedelic Confectionery from the UK Underground 1965-1969. This one, unfortunately, looks as though it is out of print. It would be, should you run across it, another worthwhile investment for anyone serious about getting to know this genre, and you will find none of those tracks on my Psychedelic compilations.
There are many, slightly more obscure, commercially available psychedelic series/comps (Pebbles, Rubble, Fading Yellow, Trash, Teenage Shutdown, etc.). I cannot guarantee that the songs I’ve chosen for my compilations won’t be found on those, because frankly, I haven’t heard all of them. It generally seems that on those niche comps, they tend to feature bands that maybe put out just a few singles (or even just one track). For the most part, I’ve tried to use artists that made albums or at least produced an album’s worth of material. So as is usually the case here at Burn and Shine, if you are a hardcore fan of this genre, you probably are not going to find much here you haven’t heard before. For those of you relatively new to this era, this should be a great jumping off point. All of the big names of the era will be represented, as will many, many unheralded acts. Feel free to use these discs as a road map to track down some great records.
As for the music, my tastes tend to err on the pop side of the ledger, as many of you well know. Some of these songs may not sound all that psychedelic to your ears. If they had been released during some other era, I wouldn’t feel the need to classify them as such. I’ve very little patience for studio wankery, so these tracks will be somewhat tame. If “psychedelic” doesn’t seem to fit, then maybe “mildly trippy” might be a better way to describe them. It may come as a surprise, but I’m not a big fan of the sitar, so that particular instrument of hippiedom, might be somewhat under-represented here (though it does make a few appearances). In general, I like my psychedelic music to be a little more melancholy than fey. Lyrics are never really important to me when listening to music (other than that there are some), and I would imagine there are quite a few lyrics contained here that will make even Jim Morrison fans cringe. I’m much more concerned with harmonies and pop hooks—these, you should find in spades here.
As always, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on psychedelic music and this era in particular. Just leave me a comment. Thanks, and Happy Listening!
Tiny Purple Fishes: A Trip Through the First Psychedelic Era, Vol. I
01. The Holy Modal Rounders, “Hesitation Blues” . U.S. (New York)
02. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, “Shifting Sands” . U.S. (California)
03. Condello, “Dr. Tarr Professor Fether” . U.S. (Arizona)
04. The United States of America, “The Garden of Earthly Delights” . U.S. (California)
05. Colours, “I Think of Her (She’s On My Mind)” . U.K. (England)
06. 13th Floor Elevators, “She Lives (In a Time of Her Own)” . U.S. (Texas)
07. Skip Bifferty, “Come Around” . U.K. (England)
08. Tomorrow, “Hallucinations” . U.K. (England)
09. The Beatles, “Tomorrow Never Knows (Mark I)” . U.K. (England)
10. The Bee Gees, “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You” . Australia
11. The Hollies, “Heading for a Fall” . U.K. (England)
12. The C.A. Quintet, “Colorado Mourning” . U.S. (Minnesota)
13. The Godz, “1 + 1 = ?” . U.S. (New York)
14. The Cowsills, “Mr. Flynn” . U.S. (Rhode Island)
15. Spirit, “Dream Within a Dream” . U.S. (California)
16. The Neighb’rhood Childr’n, “Feeling Zero” . U.S. (Oregon)
17. The Deviants, “I’m Coming Home” . U.K. (England)
18. Forever Amber, “On My Own Special Mountain” . U.K. (England)
19. The Easybeats, “Land of Make Believe” . Australia
20. The Zombies, “Beechwood Park” . U.K. (England)
Total time: 1:00:21
Download it here: Tiny Purple Fishes, Vol. I