Archive for the ‘Country Joe & The Fish’ Category

The Seeds

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Can’t Seem To Make You Mine / The Seeds

Listen: Can’t Seem To Make You Mine / The Seeds
11 Can't Seem To Make You Mine.mp3

GNP Crescendo not only possessed a great label name, turns out they were one of the small indies with enough taste to issue several of their singles in quality color picture sleeves. Biggest sellers, The Seeds, certainly benefitted most.

Not unlike London’s maraca drenched blues knockoffs epitomized the English sound, The Seeds ruled roost as to what life sounded like in L.A., at least to a little kid growing up in small town New York State.

Never did I hear The Seeds on daytime radio when current, but certainly heard them at night. Whether by choice or reality, my recollection associates the band with summertime ’67, when The Seeds original debut single, ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’ got re-released. Yes, late night, warm weather airplay, when the AM Top 40′s went all underground rock in the evenings. Those non hits by Lothar & The Hand People, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Leaves and Country Joe & The Fish rubbed shoulders with The Seeds on every nighttime playlist that summer, both locally and as far off as WBZ from Boston and WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The band’s interest was peaking, certainly in the world of radio. Depending on the market, each were playing The Seeds, whether it being ‘Mr. Farmer’, ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’, their latest, most psychedelic record yet, ‘A Thousand Shadows’ or ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’.

Just imagine this intro beaming through my transistor for the first time. I tell you in all honesty, the memory is as plain as day. It, and the song, were one listens. I desperately needed the record on the spot.

Praise be, the thrill of finding it in my weekly pile of airplay rejects from WMCR that very Friday. Yet another single which didn’t fit into their adult, easy listening format, much to my miraculous luck.

Pianist Daryl Hooper, already carving the initial model of playing bass on a separate keyboard, not only dominated the overall sound of The Seeds, he also wrote some of their most powerful hooks, all based on simplicity. In my fantasy world, that break in ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’ soundtracked driving through the desert by night, heading into the creepy unknown, speeding west on Route 66, just like The Doors long keyboard middle in ‘Light My Fire’. Hearing both for the first time, late on hot summer nights, clearly left deep impressions.

The Merry-Go-Round

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Listen: Live / The Merry-Go-Round

I think summer ’67 was the sunniest ever. I remember it like yesterday, and can still feel the angst of wanting every last record that was being released. I was insatiable, riding my bike daily, many times twenty miles each way on the back country roads either between Canastota and Oneida, or into Syracuse. Every night as I lay in bed with the transistor under my pillow, listening to AM broadcasts from far away places in the Midwest or way up into the Northeast via Boston or Maine, I’d be scheming out tomorrow’s plan of where to go, looking for, asking for records.

Back then, at dusk, AM stations were required to switch from broad, local signals, to limited radius and directional. This meant those directional beams would make local broadcasts from hundreds and hundreds of miles away sound down the street. And with many of the looser US Top 40′s playing the latest underground and psychedelic releases overnight, new discoveries became a daily occurrence. Whether it be Country Joe & The Fish, The Pink Floyd, Moby Grape, The Move, The Magic Mushrooms, Tim Hardin, The Lewis & Clark Expedition, The Flowerpot Men or The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, I was hearing it all and my want list was endless.

So off I’d go, to the various shops, blagging promo records, last week’s copies of BILLBOARD, CASHBOX and RECORD WORLD, music surveys from the local Top 40′s, inventory check lists the distributors would leave with the store buyers, I hoarded them all.

Wednesdays were when the national record label reps would hit the Syracuse stations promoting their wares. None of my friends dared join me, so I’d wait alone on my bike in the parking lots for them to pull up, and got good at talking singles out of these guys, handing my high school newspaper record reviews to them in exchange for a dig through their latest releases. I’ll tell you truthfully, I’ve tried just about every drug out there, but never have I found a high near the one a free for all through a promotion man’s trunk full of 1967 promo 45′s could provide.

What became known as sunshine pop surfaced amongst the sub genres and regional music scenes during that summer. God, I hated the term and generally cringe when having to admit liking music tagged as such. Along with The Third Rail, Sagittarius, Eternity’s Children, Colours and The Sunshine Company, I guess The Merry-Go-Round’s ‘Live’ inhabited a slot. Their obvious British looking haircuts caught my eye, and when ‘Live’ started to pick up a lot of daytime play quickly, I was hooked. Critics claim a similarity to The Beatles, I don’t hear it. I preferred to associate them closer to The Hollies or The Tremeloes, they certainly looked the part.

‘Live’ almost made it nationally, but stalled just short of Top 50, which was ultimately a real shame.

You know those songs that take you right back? This is one for me.

Country Joe & The Fish

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Listen: Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine / Country Joe & The Fish CountryJoeLorraine.mp3

During the summer of ’67 when ‘the late night DJ was your fireside chat friend’, I would lie in bed with the transistor radio under my pillow, exactly as The Ramones described it in ‘Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio’, dialing in these far beaming AM stations, usually from Boston. They’d play a nice array of all the hippie underground bands who looked so extreme and oozed the sound of San Francisico’s Haight-Ashbury seemingly dersirable lifestyle. Country Joe & The Fish were certainly tied with Big Brother & The Holding Company for best name, and after slowly climbing up the Bubbling Under The Hot 100 Billboard list for six weeks, ‘Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine’ finally peaked at #95. Not such a great result, but was I ever happy to lay my hands on this single.

Having heard it once during a quiet summer night, it sounded as alien at the time as it actually does now. Then, it was mysterious, now probably just not aging well. But my soft spot for it is still there.

You learn something everyday supposedly. I found out just tonght Corinne saw them at The Fillmore. After all these years, somehow this fact never came up. Bizarre.

The Youngbloods

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Above & Below: Double Sided US Picture Sleeve

Listen: Grizzly Bear / The Youngbloods

I want to say I got turned on to The Youngbloods around the time of those late night summer ’67 transistor-under-the-pillow listening experiences; but I’m not certain, as ‘Grizzly Bear’ picked up a lot of daytime Top 40 play in my hometown pretty quickly.

I consistently seem to forget them as well as Country Joe & The Fish, who I did first hear on late night AM, when recalling favorite west coast bands during a period of primarily preferring English acts. But I always appreciated their sound, even when veering dangerously close to The Grateful Dead’s more country, mellow stuff. I guess the difference was the near magical combination of Jesse Colin Young’s voice and Lowell Banana Levinger’s guitar technique. I liked that instantly, yet it wasn’t until a few years later I could admit it to my Anglofile friends, shockingly even more prejudice than me.

A bunch of us went to see The Youngbloods at the Hamilton Collage gymnasium around the time of ‘Get Together’, chugging cheap strawberry wine during the ride. Never a dull moment. A loose, fun and spontaneous set will always be the way I remember their greatness.

This, the band’s first single, as with a few that followed, were considerably more pop than the albums and The Youngbloods’ general m.o. Presumably some record company arm twisting went down here, looking for singles. And why not, check out the result.

‘Grizzly Bear’ was issued in a now pretty scarce double front cover picture sleeve. At the time, it was impossible to find. All the copies that made it into the local Syracuse shops were bagged in stock RCA sleeves. In fact, it wasn’t until the early 90′s, at a Seattle record fair, that my luck finally changed. Took that long to find one.

The Steve Miller Band

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Quicksilver Girl / The Steve Miller Band

Listen: Quicksilver Girl / The Steve Miller Band SteveMillerQuicksilverGirl.mp3

Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around / The Steve Miller Band

Listen: Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around / The Steve Miller Band SteveMillerDontLetNobodyTurnYouAround.mp3

Going To The Country / The Steve Miller Band

Listen: Going To The Country / The Steve Miller Band SteveMillerGoingToTheCountry.mp3

They keep coming to me: west coast bands that were guilty pleasures.

Let’s see, there’s Spirit, Mother Earth, Country Joe & The Fish and also The Steve Miller Band. Even the progressive bands tried making commercial singles at the start. Maybe it was record label pressure, maybe not. But they did it. No question, Steve Miller had a knack for hooks. Even later singles, like ‘The Joker’ and ‘Take The Money And Run’ were each like a three minute oasis on Top 40. The above earlier ones never got AM play, but the underground FM’s gave them exposure. Perhaps the role of the 7″ then was to focus the DJ’s on the more pop leaning songs. Seems likely. ‘Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around’ has a guitar line that replicates the vocal line identically. Canned Heat, and a lot of the ‘blues’ bands did this. You just don’t hear that anymore – which is probably for the better. ‘Going To The Country’ was typical lyrical stuff in the late 60′s. Oh dear me, the city is just too much – let’s get out into nature and, uh, be free. Fair enough, it made for something to sing about. Again, guilty pleasure.