Iron Leg Digital Trip #31 – Drugs, Love and Pot
Kaleidoscope – Keep Your Mind Open (Epic)
Wizards From Kansas – High Flying Bird (Mercury)
Mighty Baby – A Friend You Know But Never See (Head)
Bert Jansch – Poison (WB)
Poppy Family – Shadows On My Wall (London)
Steve Miller Band – My Friend (Capitol)
Yardbirds – White Summer (Epic)
Van Dyke Parks – Music for the Ice Capades Pt2 (WB)
Fever Tree – Death Is the Dancer (UNI)
The Litter – My Little Red Book (ABC/Probe)
Standells – Medication (Tower)
Jethro Tull – Fat Man (Reprise)
Van Dyke Parks – Music for the Ice Capades Pt3 (WB)
Clear Light – Think Again (Elektra)
Bubble Puppy – Lonely (International Artists)
Grateful Dead – Doin’ That Rag (alt version) (WB)
Millennium – Karmic Dream Sequence (Columbia)
Mephistopheles – Take a Jet (WB)
The new week is upon us, and thanks to a little bit of creative time management (part of the Funky16Corners/Iron Leg Ergo-system, in which gaps in the schedule, much like you see when you try to defrag your hard drive, are identified and filled appropriately with blog-related activity, like writing and vinyl digi-ma-tization) the new edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip has arrived.
But first, a programming note…The Funky16Corners blog (aka the mothership) has moved to http://funky16corners.lunarpages.net (www.funky16corners.com should work as well) and, should you wish to read it, you should adjust your linkage appropriately.
Not to get too deep into the process, but as has been discussed before (hither and yon) the mix process has a couple of different MO’s. There are the high-concept, “theme” mixes, in which a very specific topic is addressed musically, in an attempt to put a finer point on something. Then, there are the cumulative mixes, in which, over the course of a few months (or more), as I go through stacks of records, I put things aside in their own little corner of the hard drive that seem to have an affinity, i.e. garagey, poppy, or psychey things, and when a suitable number of them have amassed, a mix is assembled for your (and my) delectation.
Iron Leg Digital Trip #31 is one of those.
The vibe here is a little bit of that late 60s, long hair, pot smoke, blacklight poster, late-night haze, in which the cumulative effects of intoxication have peaked, plateaued and are just about to slide downward into that space where fatigue begins to creep up on you. You know that you’re going to have to succumb to sleep eventually, but you’d much rather feed your head some more sounds, mostly psychedelic, some with an introspective folky vibe, a few with a slightly more confrontational, brain stretching thing, like your brain is fighting back, asking to have a little bit more fun before it puts up the “closed” sign and turns out the lights.
Am I making any sense here? No. Good.
That said, while the elements of this mix may not at first seem to fit together, sit yourself down, slap on the headphones and give it a listen. I think you’ll find that all the right nerve centers start to fire, and maybe some of the old ones, long shuttered and dark, begin to warm up again.
Things get started (and interrupted here and there) with an odd bit of proto-Moog action from the enigmatic Van Dyke Parks. The ‘Music for the Ice Capades’ appeared on an old Warner Brothers sampler, and I’m not sure if they ever saw release anywhere else. They are nothing if not whimsical (like so much of VDPs oeuvre) yet, like most early synthesizer experiments manage also to qualify as psychedelic.
The Kaleidoscope are one of my fave west coast 60s bands, and have appeared in this space before. ‘Keep Your Mind Open’, from their debut LP is probably their most conventionally trippy track.
The Wizards from Kansas may not have been actual wizards (not sure what professional organization issues credentials in that regard) but they did indeed hail from the gateway to Oz. Their version of ‘High Flying Bird’ is a great window into their prairie take on the SanFran sound.
We dropped some Mighty Baby last week in memory of their late bassist Mike Evans. ‘A Friend You Know But Never See’ is another groovy track from their first album.
I’ve been a Bert Jansch fan for a long, long time. I forget where I first heard of him, but I suspect it was somehow related to my early Richard Thompson/Fairport mania. Jansch, as a solo act and as part of Pentangle orbited in the same UK galaxy as Thompson and his mates. Interestingly, all I knew of Jansch for years were his purely acoustic works, many of them in a more traditionalist bent. I was surprised later on when I discovered that he created some more contemporary sounding things. ‘Poison’ is one of those.
Would it surprise you to find out that the Poppy Family (with ‘Shadows on My Wall’) included in its ranks none other than Terry Jacks, the man who attacked the ears of me and my ilk with ‘Seasons in the Sun’ back in the early 70s? It should…
Despite the damage to his rep caused by duff stuff like ‘Abracadabra’, those who know will tell you that early on, Steve Miller made himself a couple of very nice, psyched out albums. ‘My Friend’ is from his 1968 ‘Sailor’ LP, and was co-written by, and features guitar by none other than Boz Scaggs. Dig the vaguely Link Wray/surf vibe of the opening.
If the Yardbirds ‘White Summer’ sounds vaguely familiar, it might be because guitarist Jimmy Page – never one to let the fact that someone else created something stand in the way of taking credit for it himself – borrowed it from the traditional ‘She Moves Through the Fair’ (also recorded under its original title by Fairport Convention).
Fever Tree were one of the cooler Texas psyche bands not related to the International Artists stable. They hailed from Houston and recorded for Uni and Ampex between 1968 and 1970. ‘Death is the Dancer’, which opens with a tip of the hat to the civil rights anthem ‘We Shall Overcome’ sails off into the trippy, suite-like distance with heavy guitars, harpsichord, changes in time signature and vocals that sound like they could have been lifted from a Music Machine album.
The Litter were a Minnesota band that, in addition to creating the garage stunner ‘Action Woman’ recorded a couple of albums (for regional and national labels) that took their garage roots (which included a love for the sounds of the UK) and turned them into something heavier. Their version of the Burt Bacharach classic ‘My Little Red Book’ (made famous by Arthur Lee and Love and Manfred Mann) comes from the 1969 album for ABC/Probe.
The Standells’ ‘Medication’ is one of the earlier tracks in this mix (1966) but is it undeniably psychedelic. It has strong ties to the Standells garage sound, but the inference in the title cannot be denied.
Say what you want about the later recording of Jethro Tull (a major part of my youth) but you really must go back and listen to their first two albums (‘This Was’ 1968 and ‘Stand Up’ 1969) which are truly amazing. Tull combined a fascination with the blues (check their cover of Dr. Ross’ ‘Cats Squirrel’) with serious late-60s UK freakism. ‘Fat Man’, from ‘Stand Up’ blends Ian Anderson’s vocals and flute with a truckload of Middle Eastern-y percussion, with the djoumbek and the finger cymbals and what-not, to the point where you half expect a belly dancer to take the stage. Very groovy indeed.
Clear Light were one of the lesser lights (pun intended) of west coast psychedelia, mainly notable for including in its ranks drummer Dallas Taylor (later of CSNY) and ubiquitous 70s character actor Cliff de Young. ‘Think Again’ is a cool one, and indicative of the sound of a band named after a variety of LSD.
Speaking of International Artists, one of the more successful bands on the label, and one of the most conventional (i.e. falling outside of the influence of Roky and the Elevators) was Bubble Puppy. They had a hit with ‘Hot Smoke and Sassafras’ in 1969 and the excellent ‘Lonely’ appeared on that record’s flipside.
The next cut is something unusual by one of my fave (misunderstood) bands, the Grateful Dead. When I picked up the aforementioned Warner Brothers sampler I was surprised to hear a very different version of 1968s ‘Doin’ that Rag’. The original version appeared on the group’s 1969 LP ‘Aoxomoxoa’. This take is completely different from the LP version, and I don’t know if it ever appeared anywhere else in this form.
‘Karmic Dream Sequence’ is yet another bit of goodness from Curt Boettcher and the Millennium.
This edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip closes out with a track by a band that I know very little about, Mephistopheles. I do know that ‘Take a Jet’ appeared on their 1969 LP for Reprise, and that guitarist Fred Tackett later joined Little Feat.
I hope you dig this mix, and I’ll be back next week with some more cool stuff.