Thursday, September 29, 2005

There's a strange, quiet girl I'd love to meet

Decades before The Cramps donned a musical style that mixed punk rock with rockabilly, Dean Carter played a similar style of music. Starting out in Champaign, Illinois and eventually moving out west in the late 1960s, Carter churned out high tempo rockabilly/punk songs alongside more straightforward garage/punk numbers. While his musical peak is often pointed to be his 1967 take on "Jailhouse Rock," I have chosen to feature that single's b-side, "Rebel Woman."

"Rebel Woman" is a high paced love letter to those bad girls mothers have warned their son's about, yet are found to be much more attractive and mysterious than the plain Jane. Carter belts out his pleas and desires over a a bed of frenzied garage/punk.

Several years after the release of "Jailhouse Rock" b/w "Rebel Woman, Carter didn't find his "rebel woman," but instead found gospel music, which records under his given name - Arlie Neaville. In 2002, Ace Records released a 28 track compilation of Carter's music entitled Call of the Wild, which spans his whole career as Dean Carter, 1959-1969.

Dean Carter
"Rebel Woman"

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Today, its Tomorrow

In 1967, Tomorrow shared the spotlight with Pink Floyd's in swinging London, performing at the legendary UFO. Both bands showed great potential, although Tomorrow and the original Pink Floyd line-up didn't last as long as they deserved.

Tomorrow's r&b and psychedelia hybrid sound was a template for many other bands who decided to jump on the psychedelic bandwagon, but many of those bands lacked the musicianship of Tomorrow. Steve Howe, future Yes guitarist, showed his proficiency both in the studio and in the extended jams performed in concert, and John"Twink" Alder, who drummed later with The Pretty Things, The Pink Fairies, and Syd Barrett, provided a strong percussion backbone for the band's sound.

Despite failing to make the pop charts, "My White Bicycle" stands the test of time - easily rated a classic psychedelic track. Lead singer Keith West wrote the song, inspired by community bicycles used in Amsterdam at the time. The song, propelled by Twink's high paced drumming, features some great backwards guitar and strong vocals by West.

In addition to "My White Bicycle," below you fill find a link to their live cover of "Strawberry Fields Forever." The song comes from the December 1967 Christmas On Earth concert , and can be found on 50 Minute Technicolour Dream. 50 Minute Technicolour Dream is a great companion piece to their LP, featuring previously unreleased studio and radio session cuts, as well as 7 other live songs from the Christmas On Earth concert. The cover, which apparently received the seal of approval from John Lennon, is more aggressive than the original, and is an interesting listen, as The Beatles never performed the song live.

For more information about Tomorrow, as well as Twink's involvement in The Pretty Things and The Pink Fairies, check out his website.

"My White Bicycle"

"Strawberry Fields Forever" (live)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Oompa Koobas

Despite being formed in 1963 and releasing a handful of singles, it was until 1969 that Koobas (at one time The Kubas) released their first and only LP. Sadly, for Koobas never shared the commercial success of a fellow Liverpudlian band, whom they opened for in 1965, as well as shared manager Brian Epstein.

Today's song is "Royston Rose", the opening track from their eponymous LP. "Royston Rose" is simply a great late-sixties jam - extended guitar solos, fuzz bass, and some hot drumming by Tony O'Reilly, who drummed for Yes for a very short time after Koobas split.

Although Koobas released only one full-length album during their existence, in 2000 the album was re-released by Beat Goes On. Included on the re-release are all of the A and B sides Koobas released in their build up their only LP.

"Royston Rose"

This Is Uncalled For

Welcome to week two of Medicinal Music. I was intending on posting a weirder, more psychedelic song today, but I found this instead. I'll admit that 65% of the reason I chose to write about this song is because of the band name - Uncalled For. For some reason, I find the it to be an insanely clever name...imagine a radio DJ or a concert announcer introducing them - "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Uncalled For!"

Nashville's own Uncalled For (not to be confused with Johnny and The UNcalled Fours from Ohio) released "Do Like Me" in 1965. This would be the only single Uncalled For released, although they recorded a couple demos in 1966 that have surfaced. The song starts out with a very mellow tone, sparse rhythm guitar is paired with some drums and trance inducing background vocals underneath the lead singers cool delivery. During the first verse, the singer asks us if we've "ever had a day the man's kept you down?" Well of course we have! What should we do?

Ah ha! The answer kicks in during the chorus, and so does the song's energy -
"Come on over/I'm gonna show it to you/Everything I know, girl/Everything to do...Do Like Me." Unfortunately for listeners, as enjoyable as the song is, one can notice that the band seems to be a little subdued in the studio. It begs a listener to imagine what kind of raucous this chorus would have caused in the bars of Nashville. Overall, this song has a great feeling of stoned subversiveness, sexuality, and cockiness that has a listener nodding their head in approval.


Uncalled For
"Do Like Me"

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday on My Mind

Known as the "Australian Beatles," The Easybeats made their first mark on the UK music scene in 1966 with "Friday On My Mind." The song, recorded with Kinks producer Shel Tamly, even caught the attention of actual-Beatle Paul McCartney, who, legend has it, heard the song while driving and pulled over to call the station to find out whose song it was.

When listening to the song, its not hard to hear what sparked McCartney's attention. The universally relatable lyrics, racing guitar, and Beatle-esque backing vocals make this song two minutes and forty three seconds of pure Australian bliss.

Although The Easybeats only lasted five years, they managed to score fifteen Top 40 hits in Australia. David Bowie showed his love for "Friday" by covering The Easybeats' tune on his 1974 Pin Ups album. In 2001, The Australian Performing Rights Association rated "Friday On My Mind" as Australia's best song of all time. Not bad for a bunch of guys singing about Friday.

For more information about The Easybeats, check out this very informative website.

The Easybeats
"Friday On My Mind"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I woke up this morning and I didn't feel so good.

With Hurricane Rita closing in on the Houston, Texas area, I thought it would be appropriate to cover one of Texas' many contributions to the mid-late 1960s psych/garage scene - The Moving Sidewalks. Formed in 1966, The Moving Sidewalks were influenced by fellow Texans - Thirteen Floor Elevators and their single "You're Gonna Miss Me." This inspiration led to their debut single "99th Floor," a title paying homage to the Elevators.

The influence of the Thirteen Floor Elevators can be heard in the recording of "99th Floor," as evident in Bill Gibbons' wailing vocals, the distorted rhythm guitar, and the utilization of the harmonica. The Moving Sidewalks' blues influence is also heard in the song's guitar solo.

"99th Floor" achieved some local chart success for The Moving Sidewalks, although the song failed to catch on nationwide. The band gained some success through covering The Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand" as well as supporting Jimi Hendrix during his band's 1968 tour of Texas. After a few band members left for Vietnam, Bill Gibbons and The Moving Sidewalks called it a day in 1969. This would not be the last Texas and the world would hear of Bill Gibbons - later that year, Gibbons hooked up with Dusty Hill and Frank Beard to form ZZ Top.

The Moving Sidewalks
"99th Floor"

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

My head's burning in confusion

If there is one thing that can be said about music in the late 1960s is that it made strange bedfellows. Take, for instance, today's featured song "Exploding Galaxy" by Infantes Galaxy. Released in October '68, "Exploding Galaxy" reached number one in the singles charts in the UK, as well as being dubbed "Disc of the Week" by The Record Mirror. The success of this song can be attributed to the contribution by producer James Stevens.

James Stevens, coming from a more traditional musical background, had won the Royal Philharmonic Prize for his first composition, as well as winning "Composer of the Year" while studying at the Guildhall School of Music in London. Stevens brought his experience to the recording studio, creating an beautiful orchestration, based on Beethoven's 7th Symphony.

The song's horns and strings make "Exploding Galaxy" a refreshing alternative to the wah-wah pedals and sitars usually associated with mid-late 60s psychedelia. The vocals are also very un-psychedelic. Instead of being laden with effects, the vocals are very clean and the singer hams it up almost to lounge singer status. I guess you could label the record "anti-psychedelic psychedelic music."

For more information on James Stevens, follow this link to the Churchill Society, where he is the Head of Music of the Society.

Infantes Jubilate
"Exploding Galaxy"

Monday, September 19, 2005

Came the dawn and you were gone...

Originally recorded by the California-based band The Electric Prunes, "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)" was penned by songwriting duo Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz. The surreal song was a bit of a departure for the two, who previously wrote songs recorded by Tom Jones, Sonny and Cher, and The Brady Bunch. The Electric Prunes' recording reached as high as #11 in the pop charts,but and while the song is a little trippy, it showed only a glimpse of the song's psychedelic potential.

It wasn't until Rasputin and the Mad Monks recorded the song in late 1967 that "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)" reached its freak-out peak. This song is auditory acid. From its introductory countdown and lift off to the echo and sound effect heavy outro, the song sound as if it were recorded by someone who had too much of one thing or another last night. Lead singer Bob Raymond gives a powerful vocal performance, and avoids being lost in the midst of the song's layers of fuzz and sci-fi effects. During the song's freak-out (about 2/3 of the way through the song) you can hear backwards vocals, which if reversed reveal the band chanting "I had a dream last night," "psychedelic lollipops," and singing "Rock-a-bye Baby" amongst other gibberish.

Many cover songs sound redundant when placed side by side the original recording. But unlike many bands, Rasputin and the Mad Monks did a great job of interpreting the Electric Prunes' song by bringing something more to the table. Sure, a recording like this won't get you the #11 spot on the pop charts, but, nearly forty years later, the Mad Monks' version gives you a much better listening experience. Listeners are able to appreciate something hidden or previously unrecognized with each listen.

Rasputin and The Mad Monks
"I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)"

A Change Is Gonna Come

Just wanted to let everyone know that the blog is currently being revamped and unless there are unforseen technically problems, the first post of the new and improved Medicinal Music will be up by later tonight! Hope you enjoy the new format.