Sunday, April 22, 2012

Thick as a Brick 2 (TAAB 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock?) - Or, the Dangers Inherent in What-Ifs, Maybes, and Might-Have-Beens, an Album Review


Ian Anderson’s Thick as a Brick 2 (alternatively titled TAAB 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock? or simply TAAB2) is an album of surfaces. On the surface, TAAB2 is a recapitulation of Jethro Tull’s 1972 progressive rock masterpiece Thick as a Brick. On the surface, Ian Anderson and a band of hired hands try to recapture the musically adventurous and audacious Jethro Tull original recording. On the surface, Gerald Bostock, the main character of the tale, relives his half-century on earth through song and spoken-word poetry, Ian Anderson tries to relive his glory days as eccentric rock star, and we as listeners, ever yearning for what we can’t have, try to relive a revolutionary period of history where music really did make a difference – on the surface. You can never really go back, but the desultory reverie is still comforting in our muddled, work-a-day minds. On the surface, the song “What-ifs, Maybes, and Might-Have-Beens” may well be a more apt title for this project and this review. The question remains if there is anything of worth beneath the surface. I would say the answer is yes, but this affirmative is not absolute, and comes with several qualifiers.

The danger here, of course, is having the audacity to call a project "Thick as a Brick 2". Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull were audacious enough to present a single song stretched over two sides of a piece of vinyl and call it Thick as a Brick. They were even more audacious by repeating the process with A Passion Play a year later in 1973. But such audacity was rewarded, as both albums hit #1 in the U.S., an unheard of feat for albums without a hit single, even in the heyday of progressive rock. One could question the 64-year-old Ian Anderson’s motives for recording TAAB2, and a cynic may well consider this effort as one last crass attempt to cash in – as if the immensely wealthy Anderson needed to pad his voluminous retirement coffers - but this concern has been hurled at Anderson previously, most often regarding the ludicrous amount of Jethro Tull remasters, repackagings, anthologies, live recordings, and greatest hits albums he has inundated the market with over the years.

But Ian Anderson has always done whatever the hell he wanted, and it is that “fuck you” mentality that has endeared him and his band Jethro Tull to his intensely loyal fans and enraged the rock-critic establishment (themselves often personifications of the term “thick as a brick”), who attacked Tull quite unmercifully, resulting in a hostile war of invective between Anderson and the critics for much of the 1970s. Anderson himself states on j-tull.com:

“It was a little daunting to consider the impact – or perhaps lack of – which this release might have on old and new fans alike but I eventually decided that I would embark on this for my own benefit and enjoyment rather than trying to please anyone else at all…Ah, well – you can always go and watch The X Factor and the Eurovision Song Contest.”

So, let’s take Ian at his word that TAAB2 is just another eclectic piece of stubborn individualism and not a bit of self-serving promotion. In either case, one confronts the daunting specter of comparison between the epic original and the fledgling newcomer. In this, I believe Mr. Anderson does this release a real and glaring disservice, particularly to the musicians who recorded the album with him and to the music itself. To follow-up a momentous and revered masterpiece with an appendage in afterthought literally invites disappointment and overly critical contrasting. To put it bluntly, TAAB2 is not as good as Thick as Brick – how could it be? In context, Thick as a Brick is one of those albums that is forever memorialized as a pivotal piece of rock history - like In the Court of the Crimson King, Close to the Edge or Selling England by the Pound – the standard by which all progressive rock albums are measured. And you want to do a sequel? WTF!

Thick as a Brick was, ostensibly, a single song composed around a “prize-winning” epic poem by the mythical Milton Bostock, an 8-year-old child prodigy whose scandal-ridden youth was reported in a wonderful spoof of a local newspaper, The St. Cleve Chronicle, as part of the cover art of the album itself (one of the finest examples of album cover art in the 1970s). On TAAB2, we find Gerald Bostock at age 50, contemplating his mortality and reviewing the rather sordid samplings of his life history. The differences between the two albums are stark. On Thick as a Brick, incidences of Gerald’s life are wittily recounted in the newspaper album cover, but the poem/lyrics themselves tell an allusive tale with clever wordplay of growing up in post-WWII Britain; whereas, in TAAB2 the songs themselves recount Gerald’s story. The music on Thick as a Brick is an organic flow of musical moods and themes in ever-changing time signatures and tempos without stops – a near-continuous piece of music; while TAAB2 is a broken mosaic of different musical styles and traditionally separated songs with the lyrics as the only unifying theme (and the concept of the album).

If one removes the many direct references to the original album (which are welcome, of course, because Thick as a Brick is always a worthwhile listen), then what is most noticeable is that TAAB2 owes less to Thick as a Brick and more to the Ian Anderson 2002 solo album Rupi’s Dance. In fact, you could have titled this release Rupi2, and no one would have noticed the difference. For context, give a critical listen to “Lost in Crowds”, “A Raft of Penguins”, "Pigeon Flying Over Berlin Zoo", “A Hand of Thumbs”, or “A Week of Moments” from Rupi’s Dance and you’ll understand my consternation. It’s not that I dislike Rupi’s Dance, on the contrary, it is a fine Ian Anderson solo album; however, it is an Anderson solo album and not a Jethro Tull album, just as TAAB2 is an Ian solo effort and not a Tull release. Am I splitting hairs here? I do not think so, and thus my main disconnect with TAAB2.

To put things in the proper perspective, I would merely point to another great rock performer, Alice Cooper, a direct contemporary of Jethro Tull in the 1970s. At the same time Tull released landmark albums like Aqualung, Thick as Brick, Minstrel in the Gallery and Songs from the Wood, Alice Cooper (meaning in this case a great, cohesive band) released superb rock albums such as Love It to Death, Killer, School’s Out and Billion Dollar Babies. Then Alice Cooper (meaning now the individual performer who changed his name and dropped his band) went on to become a mockery of himself, failing to repeat the success he had in large part to his bandmates Glenn Buxton, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and Neil Smith. Likewise, Ian Anderson, who has always been the principal songwriter and driving force behind Jethro Tull - an authoritarian figure who has been known to go through musicians like a baby goes through diapers - tries to recreate the mystique of an album that, whatever Mr. Anderson considers to the contrary, was a remarkable effort by a band of incredibly talented individuals that were with him through most of Tull’s greatest successes. Again, like it or not, when you loudly proclaim that you are making a sequel to a great album, this leads to the inevitable comparisons of one band to another.

The musicians on TAAB2 are evidently very accomplished (or else Ian Anderson, perfectionist that he is, would have nothing to do with them), but it is obvious that they are following cues here, and that TAAB2 is indeed a solo album. In comparison, Thick as a Brick was an ensemble effort, with long musical passages wherein band members trade fiery salvos at a breathless pace. There was a fire in Thick as a Brick that cannot be found in TAAB2. From a compositional theory standpoint, I suppose one could say that there is a fundamental difference between the explosive passion of youth and the banked embers of middle age, which match the child prodigy and the stodgy 50-year-old; but let’s be honest, we don’t necessarily make philosophical differentiations between two albums, we compare the music and musicians.

Guitarist Florian Opahle spends most of the album copying Martin Barre licks. Opahle, although gifted, never gains his own “voice”, so to speak, and one is constantly reminded of Martin’s absence (he had been on all Jethro Tull albums since 1968). Because of all the musical reminders - every last distinctive guitar inflection and monster riff - we recall Barre’s immense input in the making of Tull compositions. Elsewhere, keyboardist John O’Hara in no way matches the classical piano runs and ferocious Hammond organ of John Evan, and the reliance on accordion on many tracks (that foul instrument Tull fans derisively refer to as “the squeezy thing”) in no way perpetuates Evan’s fluent keyboards or the magnificent strings and horns David (Dee) Palmer arranged on Thick as Brick. And let’s not even get into the differences between the thrilling and inventive drumming of Barriemore Barlow (who Led Zep’s John Bonham once called "the greatest rock drummer England ever produced") to the fellow on TAAB2 who keeps a beat like a metronome. You could have borrowed a drum machine from the Under Wraps sessions for all that. That there are no band members from the original album to mark the passing of years and offer continuity is perhaps the greatest mistake Ian Anderson made: this is an approximation of Jethro Tull, but it aint “Tull”.

If one divorces oneself from the premise (a big “if” in my estimation), TAAB2 is a very good Ian Anderson solo album. Naturally, there is always the regret over Anderson’s severe throat problems, which constrain his once powerful vocals and leave him nasally and straining. But he overcomes this handicap better here than on many of his previous albums. The spoken word bits are a hit and miss proposition. The poem “Might-Have-Beens” has Ian doing his best Ronald Colman impersonation (see Colman as the medieval poet François Villon in the 1938 film If I Were King), but it is terribly annoying on “Give Till It Hurts” (with Anderson using a dreadful evangelical American accent).

Yet the brief acoustic passage that precedes the bible-thumping infomercial babble on “Give Till It Hurts” is the album’s finest example of Ian’s underappreciated abilities on acoustic guitar (and it is regrettably far too short). Elsewhere, we learn that Gerald Bostock got felt up in school by a pedophilic teacher on "Swing It Far", followed by the two best compositions on the album “Adrift and Dumbfounded” and “Old School Song” which, oddly enough, is a song that best adheres to the spirit of Thick as a Brick, containing almost continuous inferences to the original. The band really seems to gel by the end of the album with their most cohesive efforts musically “Kismet in Suburbia” and "What-ifs, Maybes and Might-Have-Beens", and TAAB2 ends with a nostalgic reprise of the final acoustic passage of Thick as a Brick, which Anderson ruins when he sings the last line as “…and your wise men don’t know how it feels, to be thick as a brick – TWO!” (as if it was necessary to remind us, Ian).

I have heard other reviews gushing over the album’s return to a “1970’s sound”; unfortunately, I don’t hear it. Producer Steve Wilson (of the prog-rock band Porcupine Tree) does not give the album the warm ambience of 70s vinyl, it has that digitally sequenced sound that leaves me cold, with keyboards that are lifeless, and flat, mechanical drums. And as I mentioned previously, it doesn’t help matters that TAAB2 has only passing references to the original instruments and equipment used. There was no “squeezy thing” on the original, and it doesn’t belong here: more Hammond organ, less squeezy thing, please. Oh, and Ian, you could have at least given Dee Palmer a call for some much needed string arrangements!

But I digress. We are often most critical of that which we love most, and I have been an ardent fan of Tull since the early 70s. On the surface, and if I compare apples to apples, I can only rate this release two and ½ or perhaps three stars if I’m feeling charitable (on a five star scale, which is what I have rated the original Thick as a Brick). But there is more lurking beneath the surface here, isn’t there? And really, if we look at this album as a release in 2012 and forget its regrettable ties to a masterpiece by Jethro Tull, then it is goddamn good in comparison to the crap that passes for music these days. Therefore, I have to say this is the best solo album Ian Anderson has ever made, and I give it four stars (music, like the economy, is prone to inflation), even with the “what-ifs, maybes and might-have-beens” that mar the surface.

To discuss all things "Tull", please go to the JETHRO TULL BOARD.

To discuss this TAAB2 review or to add a review of your own, please go here: OFFICIAL TAAB2 REVIEW @ THE JETHRO TULL BOARD.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Son of Psychedelicide! 69 More Great Songs from the Psychedelic Age

As I readied another article for publication on The Dark Elf File, The Greatest Rock Albums of the 1960s, Part II (coming soon to your grocer's freezer), I became enamored again of psychedelia, as I am wont to do ever and anon. Hey, after you listen to a hundred or so albums from the 60s, you're bound to pick up on it, almost subliminally, like the "don't steal" messages hidden insidiously in the muzak at J.C. Penney.

I soon realized that the original post on the subject, Psychedelicide! The 69 Greatest Songs from the Psychedelic Age, in no way credibly encompassed the depth and breadth of that era. So, in my usual digressive manner, I dropped the one article for the other, and voilà! Here are 69 more psychedelic songs from the 1960s and early 1970s. And this was one hell of an enjoyable side trip for me.

The selections here run the gambit of psychedelia: commercially quaint psychedelics, hippie mantras and psych-folk, acid rock, space rock and psych-prog. The requisite fuzzy guitars are prevalent, as are mellotrons, sitars, tambourines and fistfuls of whatever was the drug of choice for each band.
Some of the songs, like those from The Mothers, Procol Harum and the Moody Blues, dance around the verges of psychedelia, while others from Hendrix, Barrett and Floyd are fully immersed in the genre (as well as the lifestyle itself). I also included some pre-psychedelic tracks from such progenitors as Dick Dale, The Safaris and The Ramrods just to show that the psychedelic movement didn't incubate in the resinous chamber of a water pipe.

And speaking of lifestyles, the psychedelic ethic was not merely a product of 60s rock, as it was embraced by bands like War, The Temptations, and the "white soul" rarity of Motown, Rare Earth, in the soul genre as well. But let's let the music do the talking, shall we? After all, if there is rambling to be done, there is no place more fertile for long discursive excursions and militant meandering than in a psychedelic song.



APHRODITE'S CHILD -
All the Seats Were Occupied
- Clocking in at 19:21 (according to the album), this is the longest song on the band's concept album 666. Aphrodite's Child was a Greek band fronted by Vangelis, and this record was basically his brainchild, melding psychedelic and progressive rock into a sprawling double album of the apocalypse. Love the Greek motifs running through the song.

ALICE COOPER -
Below Your Means
Lay Down and Die, Goodbye
- Two songs from Alice's woefully underappreciated 1970 release Easy Action. Both songs reflect the transformation of 60s psychedelia into early 70s acid rock. Disturbing and dissonant, Easy Action was the precursor for greater things from the band, their next album being the stellar Love It To Death.

AXE -
The Child's Dream
- Pentangle reinterprets The Doors "The End" with a timely assist from Fairport Convention and Jefferson Airplane. Or something like that. Sure, it's a bit derivative, but it is also entrancing...one can get lost...in the...music...

SYD BARRETT -
No Man's Land
Long Gone
- Every time I listen to the album The Madcap Laughs, I become sad. This is why I don’t listen to it often. Such a tremendous talent and innovator. Such a waste. The song "Long Gone" may just as well be Syd's epitaph.

THE BEATLES -
Glass Onion
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite ("Love" Remix)
Within You, Without You ("Love" Remix)
- If you haven't heard The Beatle album Love, then I suggest it highly. It is an extraordinary remix of standard Beatles tunes melding pieces of one song or several songs onto another by Sir George Martin. And if you've ever wondered why he is called "The fifth Beatle", the tantalizing results here are self-explanatory. Oh, and just for reference sake, I've offered "Glass Onion" in its original state from The White Album.

DAVID BOWIE -
Space Oddity
- If psychedelia had a personification, then it would be Bowie in this video. It is no wonder he had no problem playing the alien in "The Man Who Fell To Earth". He didn't even need to change his clothes!

BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD -
For What It's Worth
- Anti-war sentiment and psychedelics collide in this Stephen Stills song with the spacey guitar by Neil Young. Or maybe Neil is the one that was spacey. Either or.

THE BYRDS -
Mr. Tambourine Man
- Dylan gets the psychedelic treatment from one of his fervent bands of disciples, The Byrds, wherein the phrase "take me for a trip upon your magic swirling ship" gets an entirely different meaning from the one espoused by Mr. Zimmerman.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART -
Electricity
- Psychedelic blues from the Captain's stellar 1967 debut album, with Ry Cooder leading the eccentric assault on slide guitar, and of course the 64 year-old Dr. Samuel Hoffman on theremin.

COUNTRY JOE & THE FISH -
Pat's Song
- I don't know who Pat was, but I assume she looked like one of the women painted by Picasso during his Blue Period.

CREAM -
I'm So Glad
Tales of Brave Ulysses
As You Said
- Look, you have to be stoned to sit and count how many times Jack Bruce says "glad" in the song "I'm So Glad". I've tried more than once, but I kept forgetting the sum by the time I woke up the next morning. It's 140 something, I think.

DICK DALE AND THE DEL TONES -
Misirlou
- Listen to Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive" and hear Syd Barrett directly influenced by Dick Dale. No doubt about it. This is supposedly "surf rock", but I would suggest the guitar licks churned out by Dale are the direct antecedents of many leads in later psychedelic tunes.

DONOVAN -
Hurdy Gurdy Man
- I've heard the theory that the "Hurdy Gurdy Man" is an allusion to Jesus Christ, but according to Donovan it involves a reawakening of knowledge as taught by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Depending on who you believe, Jimmy Page and John Bonham may or may not have played on this song, but John Paul Jones is certainly the bassist.

THE DOORS -
Shaman's Blues
Not to Touch the Earth
Strange Days
- The poet laureate of psychedelia utters something on "Shaman's Blues" that only someone who is really stoned will find profound: "Optical promise. You'll be dead and in hell before I'm born. Sure thing. Bridesmaid. The only solution, isn't it amazing?" The Doors' music has had the uncanny ability to maintain its freshness while most psychedelic acts have floundered in dated distortion. The fevered vision of the JFK assassination in "Not to Touch the Earth" was and still is both gruesome and fascinating.

THE EASYBEATS -
Friday On My Mind
- A mythical week in the life of a 1966 rock band. I've always really liked the guitar work in this song.

GONG -
Fohat Digs Holes In Space
- I could try to explain the strange mythology surrounding Gong albums, or the many variants and offshoots of the band (like Mother Gong), but it would be like trying to describe this song. So we'll just pretend I didn't mention any of it.

JIMI HENDRIX -
Love or Confusion
If 6 Was 9
1983...A Merman I Should Turn To Be
- A slice of psychedelia from each of Jimi's three studio albums: Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland. Yes, just three studio albums total. So much great output and fascinating innovation from one who shuffled off this mortal coil so soon.

HAWKWIND -
Orgone Acumulator
- The last gasp of psychedelia in the 70s (before its resurgence in later decades), Hawkwind changed the genre name to "Space Rock" in order to fool anyone that wasn't still stoned from the 60s. This is a tune culled from their enjoyable live double album Space Ritual released in 1973.

H.P. LOVECRAFT -
It's About Time
Mobius Trip
- The band with the chthonic name never really made it past 1969. A couple of the members tried to resurrect the band in the 70s under the shortened names "Lovecraft" and "Love Craft", but had little success. But it's really only their first two albums that are important here (titled simply H.P. Lovecraft I and II). Some great psychedelics.

THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND -
Creation
- So many weird songs to choose from in the eccentric recording history of TISB! Hey, how about a really long hippie epic? Get out the patchouli oil, incense, some sangria, a bong, and trip to your heart's content. I usually can't get beyond six minutes or so.

TOMMY JAMES & THE SHONDELLS -
Crimson and Clover
- Actually, I never took Tommy James seriously. I think he dropped acid and decided to make this song in an effort to change his band's direction. Otherwise, he's known for the singles "Mony, Mony", "Crystal Blue Persuasion" and "I Think We're Alone Now". Critic Lester Bangs once referred to the Shondells as "bubblegum apotheosis"; hence, poor Tommy getting stoned, I suppose, over and over.

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE -
Crown of Creation
Rejoyce
- "Rejoyce" is my favorite song from After Bathing at Baxter's; likewise, the title song of Crown of Creation is the most memorable piece from that album. Ergo, their inclusion here.

JETHRO TULL -
Sunshine Day
Aeroplane
- Two priceless and hilarious singles from very early Tull (1968, with the band name mislabeled as "Jethro Toe" on the 45). There are hints of the bands musical virtuosity that would later mark their great progressive releases, but here we get an approximation of cocktail lounge psychedelia. They wisely switched to a more blues/jazz sound soon after.

LOVE -
The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This
Red Telephone
- Arthur Lee came up with the best titles for songs. They really had nothing to do with the songs, but man, great titles. The songs are great too.

MANFRED MANN -
Mighty Quinn
- Manfred Mann seemed to have a hit every five years or so. It just seems he couldn't string them together in successive years and become famous. Someone else always seemed to write his hit songs as well. In this case, it was Bob Dylan. In the 70s, it was Bruce Springsteen on "Blinded by the Light". Anyway, "Mighty Quinn" was Manfred's obligatory hit for the last five years of the 60s. Enjoy.

THE MOODY BLUES -
Gypsy (Of a Strange and Distant Time)
Isn't Life Strange
- The Moody Blues, like Procol Harum, brought symphonic sensibilities to psychedelics, and their orchestral compositions transformed aspects of the genre into what later became progressive rock. There is no discordant buzz of distortion here, but the psychedelia in the songs is easily apparent with a pair of headphones and an easy chair.

MORGEN -
Of Dreams
- Morgen didn't have much luck. They signed a two record deal with RCA, released one album in 1972 (Nova Solis) and recorded another album (The Sleeper Wakes or Brown Out, depending on whether it was distributed by RCA or Passport Records) in 1973. Unfortunately, it wasn't released until 1976 in the UK and 1977 in the U.S. By then no one cared. Some interesting psych-prog modeled on the band's heroes King Crimson and Floyd."Of Dreams" is from the "Brown Out" album.

MOTHERS OF INVENTION -
Brown Shoes Don't Do It
- Of course it's not really psychedelic. To this day, I am not sure what it is! The mad genius of dear old uncle Frank Zappa strikes again, this time on the album Absolutely Free from 1967. Yes, 1967.

PINK FLOYD -
Interstellar Overdrive
Arnold Layne
Careful with that Axe, Eugene
- It is a closely guarded secret that Floyd began their career as a psychedelic band. At least it's a secret in places like Manchuria and Uzbekistan. maybe Cameroon. Two of the songs here are with Syd Barrett as principal lead guitarist (in the studio, otherwise he had to be propped up in a corner during concerts), and the third song "Careful With that Axe, Eugene" (love that title!) features David Gilmour.

PRETTY THINGS -
S.F. Sorrow Is Born
- You might not be aware, but the Pretty Things have released albums in the 60s, 70s, 80s (just one), 90s (again, just one) and a few in the 2000s. Unfortunately, the only album anyone really refers to is the early concept album S.F. Sorrow from 1968. Which is too bad actually, as some of their albums from the mid-60s are pretty good. I'm really not familiar with the rest of their catalog. Obviously, no one else is either.

PROCOL HARUM -
Repent Walpurgis
(Outside the Gates of) Cerdes
- Symphonic and literate: two qualities that don't mesh well with stoned hippies gibbering peace and love platitudes at muddy festivals. But somehow, Harum managed to work around that. Perhaps they turned the volume up on Robin Trower's amps at concerts - loudness being an effective tranquilizer used to stun hippies. Anyway, here's two songs from their debut album in 1967. Turn 'em up!

QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE -
Fresh Air
- Quicksilver received accolades for a couple of their 60s albums like their eponymous first release and the classic Happy Trails (a double entendre if ever there was one), but their only big hit "Fresh Air" appeared on their third album Just for Love. And that's it. They kept on making albums with mixed results. They might still be making albums for all I know.

THE RAMRODS -
Ghost Riders in the Sky
- Cowboy psychedelia from 1961. You could put this on a Quicksilver Messenger Service album and everyone would be smoking opium to it. Way before its time.

RARE EARTH -
Get Ready
I Know I'm Losing You
- The only "white" band to have hit records for a Motown label, Rare Earth became the unexpected poster children for reverse discrimination when Gil Scott-Heron derided the band (and a slew of other white performers) in his poem and song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". Too bad too. The psychedelicized Smokey Robinson song "Get Ready" and The Temptations' "I Know I'm Losing You" are quite good. There is soul there, and a reverence for the influences. Whether it's black or white doesn't matter.

THE SEEDS -
Pushin' too Hard
- The Seeds pushed very hard to get this single released. They were eventually pushed back to wherever they came from.

THE SOFT MACHINE -
Hope for Happiness/Joy of a Toy/Hope for Happiness (reprise)
- An early psychedelic song and instrumental from the Canterbury Scene band Soft Machine before they journeyed off into jazz fusion and prog rock. Incredible keyboards here.

STEPPENWOLF -
Magic Carpet Ride
- I've always loved Steppenwolf. No pretenses, no excessive rambling, just straight ahead rock and roll. Fire all of your guns at once and explode into space! Wait, that's not this song. Well, you get the idea.

STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK -
Curse of the Witches
- An overdose of psychedelic composition on the part of the Alarm Clock. They throw everything and the kitchen sink into this song. The lyrics and the harmonies are absolutely hilarious.

THE TEMPTATIONS -
Psychedelic Shack
Papa Was a Rolling Stone
- Two great songs from The Temptations. I still remember watching them on the Ed Sullivan Show. That's it, I just remember them from there. "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" is one of my all-time favorite soul classics.

THEM -
Black Widow Spider
- Them struggled manfully along without Van Morrison as their leader and muse after he split for solo stardom. They even made some good psychedelic stuff in the late 60s, "Black Widow" being a sample.

THE 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS -
Kingdom of Heaven
- One of the late, great unknown psychedelic rock bands from the mid-60s. Perhaps they are still stuck in the elevator.

TRAFFIC -
Pearly Queen
Heaven is in Your Mind
Withering Tree
- If you ever see film clips of Traffic playing in the 60s or early 70s, just look at Steve Winwood's eyes. They are as wide as saucers! Dude was stoned out of his mind. Here we get a taste of Traffic while Dave Mason was still in the band ("Pearly Queen" and "Heaven Is In Your Mind") and with Winwood as the principal leader ("Withering Tree").

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA -
Cloud Song
- One album. That's all you get. The USA disappeared faster than the filets at a lobbyist's dinner held in Washington. Great, great psychedelia.

WAR (with and without Eric Burdon) -
Spill the Wine
Slippin' Into Darkness
- It goes without saying that Eric Burdon was probably not sober when he recorded "Spill the Wine" with the great band War. But the "overfed, long-haired, leaping gnome" seems to be having a grand time of it. "Slipping Into Darkness" is one of the truly epic songs of that era.

THE YARDBIRDS -
For Your Love
Over Under Sideways Down
- Some early Yardbirds psych. Eric Clapton leads the band through their paces on 1965's "For Your Love" (The Yardbirds' biggest hit), and then Jeff Beck takes the baton with the guitar-like-a-sitar-gone-mad "Over Under Sideways Down".