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A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 162: “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 31, 2023


Episode 162 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at "Daydream Believer", and the later career of the Monkees, and how four Pinocchios became real boys. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-minute bonus episode available, on "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources No Mixcloud this time, as even after splitting it into multiple files, there are simply too many Monkees tracks excerpted. The best versions of the Monkees albums are the triple-CD super-deluxe versions that used to be available from monkees.com , and I've used Andrew Sandoval's liner notes for them extensively in this episode. Sadly, though, none of those are in print. However, at the time of writing there is a new four-CD super-deluxe box set of Headquarters (with a remixed version of the album rather than the original mixes I've excerpted here) available from that site, and I used the liner notes for that here. Monkees.com also currently has the intermittently-available BluRay box set of the entire Monkees TV series, which also has Head and 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee. For those just getting into the group, my advice is to start with this five-CD set, which contains their first five albums along with bonus tracks. The single biggest source of information I used in this episode is the first edition of Andrew Sandoval's The Monkees; The Day-By-Day Story. Sadly that is now out of print and goes for hundreds of pounds. Sandoval released a second edition of the book in 2021, which I was unfortunately unable to obtain, but that too is now out of print. If you can find a copy of either, do get one. Other sources used were Monkee Business by Eric Lefcowitz, and the autobiographies of three of the band members and one of the songwriters — Infinite Tuesday by Michael Nesmith, They Made a Monkee Out of Me by Davy Jones, I'm a Believer by Micky Dolenz, and Psychedelic Bubble-Gum by Bobby Hart. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript When we left the Monkees, they were in a state of flux. To recap what we covered in that episode, the Monkees were originally cast as actors in a TV show, and consisted of two actors with some singing ability -- the former child stars Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz -- and two musicians who were also competent comic actors, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork.  The show was about a fictional band whose characters shared names with their actors, and there had quickly been two big hit singles, and two hit albums, taken from the music recorded for the TV show's soundtrack. But this had caused problems for the actors. The records were being promoted as being by the fictional group in the TV series, blurring the line between the TV show and reality, though in fact for the most part they were being made by session musicians with only Dolenz or Jones adding lead vocals to pre-recorded backing tracks. Dolenz and Jones were fine with this, but Nesmith, who had been allowed to write and produce a few album tracks himself, wanted more creative input, and more importantly felt that he was being asked to be complicit in fraud because the records credited the four Monkees as the musicians when (other than a tiny bit of inaudible rhythm guitar by Tork on a couple of Nesmith's tracks) none of them played on them. Tork, meanwhile, believed he had been promised that the group would be an actual group -- that they would all be playing on the records together -- and felt hurt and annoyed that this wasn't the case. They were by now playing live together to promote the series and the records, with Dolenz turning out to be a perfectly competent drummer, so surely they could do the same in the studio? So in January 1967, things came to a head. It's actually quite difficult to sort out exactly what happened, because of conflicting recollections and opinions. What follows is my best attempt to harmonise the different versions of the story into one coherent narrative, but be aware that I could be wrong in some of the details. Nesmith and Tork, who disliked each other in most respects, were both agreed that this couldn't continue and that if there were going to be Monkees records released at all, they were going to have the Monkees playing on them. Dolenz, who seems to have been the one member of the group that everyone could get along with, didn't really care but went along with them for the sake of group harmony. And Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, the production team behind the series, also took Nesmith and Tork's side, through a general love of mischief. But on the other side was Don Kirshner, the music publisher who was in charge of supervising the music for the TV show. Kirshner was adamantly, angrily, opposed to the very idea of the group members having any input at all into how the records were made. He considered that they should be grateful for the huge pay cheques they were getting from records his staff writers and producers were making for them, and stop whinging. And Davy Jones was somewhere in the middle. He wanted to support his co-stars, who he genuinely liked, but also, he was a working actor, he'd had other roles before, he'd have other roles afterwards, and as a working actor you do what you're told if you don't want to lose the job you've got. Jones had grown up in very severe poverty, and had been his family's breadwinner from his early teens, and artistic integrity is all very nice, but not as nice as a cheque for a quarter of a million dollars. Although that might be slightly unfair -- it might be fairer to say that artistic integrity has a different meaning to someone like Jones, coming from musical theatre and a tradition of "the show must go on", than it does to people like Nesmith and Tork who had come up through the folk clubs. Jones' attitude may also have been affected by the fact that his character in the TV show didn't play an instrument other than the occasional tambourine or maracas. The other three were having to mime instrumental parts they hadn't played, and to reproduce them on stage, but Jones didn't have that particular disadvantage. Bert Schneider, one of the TV show's producers, encouraged the group to go into the recording studio themselves, with a producer of their choice, and cut a couple of tracks to prove what they could do. Michael Nesmith, who at this point was the one who was most adamant about taking control of the music, chose Chip Douglas to produce. Douglas was someone that Nesmith had known a little while, as they'd both played the folk circuit -- in Douglas' case as a member of the Modern Folk Quartet -- but Douglas had recently joined the Turtles as their new bass player. At this point, Douglas had never officially produced a record, but he was a gifted arranger, and had just arranged the Turtles' latest single, which had just been released and was starting to climb the charts: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Happy Together"] Douglas quit the Turtles to work with the Monkees, and took the group into the studio to cut two demo backing tracks for a potential single as a proof of concept. These initial sessions didn't have any vocals, but featured Nesmith on guitar, Tork on piano, Dolenz on drums, Jones on tambourine, and an unknown bass player -- possibly Douglas himself, possibly Nesmith's friend John London, who he'd played with in Mike and John and Bill. They cut rough tracks of two songs, "All of Your Toys", by another friend of Nesmith's, Bill Martin, and Nesmith's "The Girl I Knew Somewhere": [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere (Gold Star Demo)"] Those tracks were very rough and ready -- they were garage-band tracks rather than the professional studio recordings that the Candy Store Prophets or Jeff Barry's New York session players had provided for the previous singles -- but they were competent in the studio, thanks largely to Chip Douglas' steadying influence. As Douglas later said "They could hardly play. Mike could play adequate rhythm guitar. Pete could play piano but he'd make mistakes, and Micky's time on drums was erratic. He'd speed up or slow down." But the takes they managed to get down showed that they *could* do it. Rafelson and Schneider agreed with them that the Monkees could make a single together, and start recording at least some of their own tracks. So the group went back into the studio, with Douglas producing -- and with Lester Sill from the music publishers there to supervise -- and cut finished versions of the two songs. This time the lineup was Nesmith on guitar, Tork on electric harpsichord -- Tork had always been a fan of Bach, and would in later years perform Bach pieces as his solo spot in Monkees shows -- Dolenz on drums, London on bass, and Jones on tambourine: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere (first recorded version)"] But while this was happening, Kirshner had been trying to get new Monkees material recorded without them -- he'd not yet agreed to having the group play on their own records. Three days after the sessions for "All of Your Toys" and "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", sessions started in New York for an entire album's worth of new material, produced by Jeff Barry and Denny Randell, and largely made by the same Red Bird Records team who had made "I'm a Believer" -- the same musicians who in various combinations had played on everything from "Sherry" by the Four Seasons to "Like a Rolling Stone" by Dylan to "Leader of the Pack", and with songs by Neil Diamond, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Leiber and Stoller, and the rest of the team of songwriters around Red Bird. But at this point came the meeting we talked about towards the end of the "Last Train to Clarksville" episode, in which Nesmith punched a hole in a hotel wall in frustration at what he saw as Kirshner's obstinacy. Kirshner didn't want to listen to the recordings the group had made. He'd promised Jeff Barry and Neil Diamond that if "I'm a Believer" went to number one, Barry would get to produce, and Diamond write, the group's next single. Chip Douglas wasn't a recognised producer, and he'd made this commitment. But the group needed a new single out. A compromise was offered, of sorts, by Kirshner -- how about if Barry flew over from New York to LA to produce the group, they'd scrap the tracks both the group and Barry had recorded, and Barry would produce new tracks for the songs he'd recorded, with the group playing on them? But that wouldn't work either. The group members were all due to go on holiday -- three of them were going to make staggered trips to the UK, partly to promote the TV series, which was just starting over here, and partly just to have a break. They'd been working sixty-plus hour weeks for months between the TV series, live performances, and the recording studio, and they were basically falling-down tired, which was one of the reasons for Nesmith's outburst in the meeting. They weren't accomplished enough musicians to cut tracks quickly, and they *needed* the break. On top of that, Nesmith and Barry had had a major falling-out at the "I'm a Believer" session, and Nesmith considered it a matter of personal integrity that he couldn't work with a man who in his eyes had insulted his professionalism. So that was out, but there was also no way Kirshner was going to let the group release a single consisting of two songs he hadn't heard, produced by a producer with no track record. At first, the group were insistent that "All of Your Toys" should be the A-side for their next single: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "All Of Your Toys"] But there was an actual problem with that which they hadn't foreseen. Bill Martin, who wrote the song, was under contract to another music publisher, and the Monkees' contracts said they needed to only record songs published by Screen Gems. Eventually, it was Micky Dolenz who managed to cut the Gordian knot -- or so everyone thought. Dolenz was the one who had the least at stake of any of them -- he was already secure as the voice of the hits, he had no particular desire to be an instrumentalist, but he wanted to support his colleagues. Dolenz suggested that it would be a reasonable compromise to put out a single with one of the pre-recorded backing tracks on one side, with him or Jones singing, and with the version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" that the band had recorded together on the other. That way, Kirshner and the record label would get their new single without too much delay, the group would still be able to say they'd started recording their own tracks, everyone would get some of what they wanted. So it was agreed -- though there was a further stipulation. "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" had Nesmith singing lead vocals, and up to that point every Monkees single had featured Dolenz on lead on both sides. As far as Kirshner and the other people involved in making the release decisions were concerned, that was the way things were going to continue. Everyone was fine with this -- Nesmith, the one who was most likely to object in principle, in practice realised that having Dolenz sing his song would make it more likely to be played on the radio and used in the TV show, and so increase his royalties. A vocal session was arranged in New York for Dolenz and Jones to come and cut some vocal tracks right before Dolenz and Nesmith flew over to the UK. But in the meantime, it had become even more urgent for the group to be seen to be doing their own recording. An in-depth article on the group in the Saturday Evening Post had come out, quoting Nesmith as saying "It was what Kirshner wanted to do. Our records are not our forte. I don't care if we never sell another record. Maybe we were manufactured and put on the air strictly with a lot of hoopla. Tell the world we're synthetic because, damn it, we are. Tell them the Monkees are wholly man-made overnight, that millions of dollars have been poured into this thing. Tell the world we don't record our own music. But that's us they see on television. The show is really a part of us. They're not seeing something invalid." The press immediately jumped on the band, and started trying to portray them as con artists exploiting their teenage fans, though as Nesmith later said "The press decided they were going to unload on us as being somehow illegitimate, somehow false. That we were making an attempt to dupe the public, when in fact it was me that was making the attempt to maintain the integrity. So the press went into a full-scale war against us." Tork, on the other hand, while he and Nesmith were on the same side about the band making their own records, blamed Nesmith for much of the press reaction, later saying "Michael blew the whistle on us. If he had gone in there with pride and said 'We are what we are and we have no reason to hang our heads in shame' it never would have happened." So as far as the group were concerned, they *needed* to at least go with Dolenz's suggested compromise. Their personal reputations were on the line. When Dolenz arrived at the session in New York, he was expecting to be asked to cut one vocal track, for the A-side of the next single (and presumably a new lead vocal for "The Girl I Knew Somewhere"). When he got there, though, he found that Kirshner expected him to record several vocals so that Kirshner could choose the best. That wasn't what had been agreed, and so Dolenz flat-out refused to record anything at all. Luckily for Kirshner, Jones -- who was the most co-operative member of the band -- was willing to sing a handful of songs intended for Dolenz as well as the ones he was meant to sing. So the tape of "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You", the song intended for the next single, was slowed down so it would be in a suitable key for Jones instead, and he recorded the vocal for that: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You"] Incidentally, while Jones recorded vocals for several more tracks at the session -- and some would later be reused as album tracks a few years down the line -- not all of the recorded tracks were used for vocals, and this later gave rise to a rumour that has been repeated as fact by almost everyone involved, though it was a misunderstanding. Kirshner's next major success after the Monkees was another made-for-TV fictional band, the Archies, and their biggest hit was "Sugar Sugar", co-written and produced by Jeff Barry: [Excerpt: The Archies, "Sugar Sugar"] Both Kirshner and the Monkees have always claimed that the Monkees were offered "Sugar, Sugar" and turned it down. To Kirshner the moral of the story was that since "Sugar, Sugar" was a massive hit, it proved his instincts right and proved that the Monkees didn't know what would make a hit. To the Monkees, on the other hand, it showed that Kirshner wanted them to do bubblegum music that they considered ridiculous. This became such an established factoid that Dolenz regularly tells the story in his live performances, and includes a version of "Sugar, Sugar" in them, rearranged as almost a torch song: [Excerpt: Micky Dolenz, "Sugar, Sugar (live)"] But in fact, "Sugar, Sugar" wasn't written until long after Kirshner and the Monkees had parted ways. But one of the songs for which a backing track was recorded but no vocals were ever completed was "Sugar Man", a song by Denny Randell and Sandy Linzer, which they would later release themselves as an unsuccessful single: [Excerpt: Linzer and Randell, "Sugar Man"] Over the years, the Monkees not recording "Sugar Man" became the Monkees not recording "Sugar, Sugar". Meanwhile, Dolenz and Nesmith had flown over to the UK to do some promotional work and relax, and Jones soon also flew over, though didn't hang out with his bandmates, preferring to spend more time with his family. Both Dolenz and Nesmith spent a lot of time hanging out with British pop stars, and were pleased to find that despite the manufactured controversy about them being a manufactured group, none of the British musicians they admired seemed to care. Eric Burdon, for example, was quoted in the Melody Maker as saying "They make very good records, I can't understand how people get upset about them. You've got to make up your minds whether a group is a record production group or one that makes live appearances. For example, I like to hear a Phil Spector record and I don't worry if it's the Ronettes or Ike and Tina Turner... I like the Monkees record as a grand record, no matter how people scream. So somebody made a record and they don't play, so what? Just enjoy the record." Similarly, the Beatles were admirers of the Monkees, especially the TV show, despite being expected to have a negative opinion of them, as you can hear in this contemporary recording of Paul McCartney answering a fan's questions: Excerpt: Paul McCartney talks about the Monkees] Both Dolenz and Nesmith hung out with the Beatles quite a bit -- they both visited Sgt. Pepper recording sessions, and if you watch the film footage of the orchestral overdubs for "A Day in the Life", Nesmith is there with all the other stars of the period. Nesmith and his wife Phyllis even stayed with the Lennons for a couple of days, though Cynthia Lennon seems to have thought of the Nesmiths as annoying intruders who had been invited out of politeness and not realised they weren't wanted. That seems plausible, but at the same time, John Lennon doesn't seem the kind of person to not make his feelings known, and Michael Nesmith's reports of the few days they stayed there seem to describe a very memorable experience, where after some initial awkwardness he developed a bond with Lennon, particularly once he saw that Lennon was a fan of Captain Beefheart, who was a friend of Nesmith, and whose Safe as Milk album Lennon was examining when Nesmith turned up, and whose music at this point bore a lot of resemblance to the kind of thing Nesmith was doing: [Excerpt: Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, "Yellow Brick Road"] Or at least, that's how Nesmith always told the story later -- though Safe as Milk didn't come out until nearly six months later. It's possible he's conflating memories from a later trip to the UK in June that year -- where he also talked about how Lennon was the only person he'd really got on with on the previous trip, because "he's a compassionate person. I know he has a reputation for being caustic, but it is only a cover for the depth of his feeling." Nesmith and Lennon apparently made some experimental music together during the brief stay, with Nesmith being impressed by Lennon's Mellotron and later getting one himself. Dolenz, meanwhile, was spending more time with Paul McCartney, and with Spencer Davis of his current favourite band The Spencer Davis Group. But even more than that he was spending a lot of time with Samantha Juste, a model and TV presenter whose job it was to play the records on Top of the Pops, the most important British TV pop show, and who had released a record herself a couple of months earlier, though it hadn't been a success: [Excerpt: Samantha Juste, "No-one Needs My Love Today"] The two quickly fell deeply in love, and Juste would become Dolenz's first wife the next year. When Nesmith and Dolenz arrived back in the US after their time off, they thought the plan was still to release "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" with "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" on the B-side. So Nesmith was horrified to hear on the radio what the announcer said were the two sides of the new Monkees single -- "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You", and "She Hangs Out", another song from the Jeff Barry sessions with a Davy vocal. Don Kirshner had gone ahead and picked two songs from the Jeff Barry sessions and delivered them to RCA Records, who had put a single out in Canada. The single was very, *very* quickly withdrawn once the Monkees and the TV producers found out, and only promo copies seem to circulate -- rather than being credited to "the Monkees", both sides are credited to '"My Favourite Monkee" Davy Jones Sings'. The record had been withdrawn, but "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" was clearly going to have to be the single. Three days after the record was released and pulled, Nesmith, Dolenz and Tork were back in the studio with Chip Douglas, recording a new B-side -- a new version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", this time with Dolenz on vocals. As Jones was still in the UK, John London added the tambourine part as well as the bass: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere (single version)"] As Nesmith told the story a couple of months later, "Bert said 'You've got to get this thing in Micky's key for Micky to sing it.' I said 'Has Donnie made a commitment? I don't want to go there and break my neck in order to get this thing if Donnie hasn't made a commitment. And Bert refused to say anything. He said 'I can't tell you anything except just go and record.'" What had happened was that the people at Columbia had had enough of Kirshner. As far as Rafelson and Schneider were concerned, the real problem in all this was that Kirshner had been making public statements taking all the credit for the Monkees' success and casting himself as the puppetmaster. They thought this was disrespectful to the performers -- and unstated but probably part of it, that it was disrespectful to Rafelson and Schneider for their work putting the TV show together -- and that Kirshner had allowed his ego to take over. Things like the liner notes for More of the Monkees which made Kirshner and his stable of writers more important than the performers had, in the view of the people at Raybert Productions, put the Monkees in an impossible position and forced them to push back. Schneider later said "Kirshner had an ego that transcended everything else. As a matter of fact, the press issue was probably magnified a hundred times over because of Kirshner. He wanted everybody thinking 'Hey, he's doing all this, not them.' In the end it was very self-destructive because it heightened the whole press issue and it made them feel lousy." Kirshner was out of a job, first as the supervisor for the Monkees and then as the head of Columbia/Screen Gems Music. In his place came Lester Sill, the man who had got Leiber and Stoller together as songwriters, who had been Lee Hazelwood's production partner on his early records with Duane Eddy, and who had been the "Les" in Philles Records until Phil Spector pushed him out. Sill, unlike Kirshner, was someone who was willing to take a back seat and just be a steadying hand where needed. The reissued version of "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" went to number two on the charts, behind "Somethin' Stupid" by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, produced by Sill's old colleague Hazelwood, and the B-side, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", also charted separately, making number thirty-nine on the charts. The Monkees finally had a hit that they'd written and recorded by themselves. Pinocchio had become a real boy: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere (single version)"] At the same session at which they'd recorded that track, the Monkees had recorded another Nesmith song, "Sunny Girlfriend", and that became the first song to be included on a new album, which would eventually be named Headquarters, and on which all the guitar, keyboard, drums, percussion, banjo, pedal steel, and backing vocal parts would for the first time be performed by the Monkees themselves. They brought in horn and string players on a couple of tracks, and the bass was variously played by John London, Chip Douglas, and Jerry Yester as Tork was more comfortable on keyboards and guitar than bass, but it was in essence a full band album. Jones got back the next day, and sessions began in earnest. The first song they recorded after his return was "Mr. Webster", a Boyce and Hart song that had been recorded with the Candy Store Prophets in 1966 but hadn't been released. This was one of three tracks on the album that were rerecordings of earlier outtakes, and it's fascinating to compare them, to see the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches. In the case of "Mr. Webster", the instrumental backing on the earlier version is definitely slicker: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Mr. Webster (1st Recorded Version)"] But at the same time, there's a sense of dynamics in the group recording that's lacking from the original, like the backing dropping out totally on the word "Stop" -- a nice touch that isn't in the original. I am only speculating, but this may have been inspired by the similar emphasis on the word "stop" in "For What It's Worth" by Tork's old friend Stephen Stills: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Mr. Webster (album version)"] Headquarters was a group album in another way though -- for the first time, Tork and Dolenz were bringing in songs they'd written -- Nesmith of course had supplied songs already for the two previous albums. Jones didn't write any songs himself yet, though he'd start on the next album, but he was credited with the rest of the group on two joke tracks, "Band 6", a jam on the Merrie Melodies theme “Merrily We Roll Along”, and "Zilch", a track made up of the four band members repeating nonsense phrases: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Zilch"] Oddly, that track had a rather wider cultural resonance than a piece of novelty joke album filler normally would. It's sometimes covered live by They Might Be Giants: [Excerpt: They Might Be Giants, "Zilch"] While the rapper Del Tha Funkee Homosapien had a worldwide hit in 1991 with "Mistadobalina", built around a sample of Peter Tork from the track: [Excerpt: Del Tha Funkee Homosapien,"Mistadobalina"] Nesmith contributed three songs, all of them combining Beatles-style pop music and country influences, none more blatantly than the opening track, "You Told Me", which starts off parodying the opening of "Taxman", before going into some furious banjo-picking from Tork: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "You Told Me"] Tork, meanwhile, wrote "For Pete's Sake" with his flatmate of the time, and that became the end credits music for season two of the TV series: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "For Pete's Sake"] But while the other band members made important contributions, the track on the album that became most popular was the first song of Dolenz's to be recorded by the group. The lyrics recounted, in a semi-psychedelic manner, Dolenz's time in the UK, including meeting with the Beatles, who the song refers to as "the four kings of EMI", but the first verse is all about his new girlfriend Samantha Juste: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Randy Scouse Git"] The song was released as a single in the UK, but there was a snag. Dolenz had given the song a title he'd heard on an episode of the BBC sitcom Til Death Us Do Part, which he'd found an amusing bit of British slang. Til Death Us Do Part was written by Johnny Speight, a writer with Associated London Scripts, and was a family sitcom based around the character of Alf Garnett, an ignorant, foul-mouthed reactionary bigot who hated young people, socialists, and every form of minority, especially Black people (who he would address by various slurs I'm definitely not going to repeat here), and was permanently angry at the world and abusive to his wife. As with another great sitcom from ALS, Steptoe and Son, which Norman Lear adapted for the US as Sanford and Son, Til Death Us Do Part was also adapted by Lear, and became All in the Family. But while Archie Bunker, the character based on Garnett in the US version, has some redeeming qualities because of the nature of US network sitcom, Alf Garnett has absolutely none, and is as purely unpleasant and unsympathetic a character as has ever been created -- which sadly didn't stop a section of the audience from taking him as a character to be emulated. A big part of the show's dynamic was the relationship between Garnett and his socialist son-in-law from Liverpool, played by Anthony Booth, himself a Liverpudlian socialist who would later have a similarly contentious relationship with his own decidedly non-socialist son-in-law, the future Prime Minister Tony Blair. Garnett was as close to foul-mouthed as was possible on British TV at the time, with Speight regularly negotiating with the BBC bosses to be allowed to use terms that were not otherwise heard on TV, and used various offensive terms about his family, including referring to his son-in-law as a "randy Scouse git". Dolenz had heard the phrase on TV, had no idea what it meant but loved the sound of it, and gave the song that title. But when the record came out in the UK, he was baffled to be told that the phrase -- which he'd picked up from a BBC TV show, after all -- couldn't be said normally on BBC broadcasts, so they would need to retitle the track. The translation into American English that Dolenz uses in his live shows to explain this to Americans is to say that "randy Scouse git" means "horny Liverpudlian putz", and that's more or less right. Dolenz took the need for an alternative title literally, and so the track that went to number two in the UK charts was titled "Alternate Title": [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Randy Scouse Git"] The album itself went to number one in both the US and the UK, though it was pushed off the top spot almost straight away by the release of Sgt Pepper. As sessions for Headquarters were finishing up, the group were already starting to think about their next album -- season two of the TV show was now in production, and they'd need to keep generating yet more musical material for it. One person they turned to was a friend of Chip Douglas'. Before the Turtles, Douglas had been in the Modern Folk Quartet, and they'd recorded "This Could Be the Night", which had been written for them by Harry Nilsson: [Excerpt: The MFQ, "This Could Be The Night"] Nilsson had just started recording his first solo album proper, at RCA Studios, the same studios that the Monkees were using. At this point, Nilsson still had a full-time job in a bank, working a night shift there while working on his album during the day, but Douglas knew that Nilsson was a major talent, and that assessment was soon shared by the group when Nilsson came in to demo nine of his songs for them: [Excerpt: Harry Nilsson, "1941 (demo)"] According to Nilsson, Nesmith said after that demo session "You just sat down there and blew our minds. We've been looking for songs, and you just sat down and played an *album* for us!" While the Monkees would attempt a few of Nilsson's songs over the next year or so, the first one they chose to complete was the first track recorded for their next album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd., a song which from the talkback at the beginning of the demo was always intended for Davy Jones to sing: [Excerpt: Harry Nilsson, "Cuddly Toy (demo)"] Oddly, given his romantic idol persona, a lot of the songs given to Jones to sing were anti-romantic, and often had a cynical and misogynistic edge. This had started with the first album's "I Want to Be Free", but by Pisces, it had gone to ridiculous extremes. Of the four songs Jones sings on the album, "Hard to Believe", the first song proper that he ever co-wrote, is a straightforward love  song, but the other three have a nasty edge to them. A remade version of Jeff Barry's "She Hangs Out" is about an underaged girl, starts with the lines "How old d'you say your sister was? You know you'd better keep an eye on her" and contains lines like "she could teach you a thing or two" and "you'd better get down here on the double/before she gets her pretty little self in trouble/She's so fine". Goffin and King's "Star Collector" is worse, a song about a groupie with lines like "How can I love her, if I just don't respect her?" and "It won't take much time, before I get her off my mind" But as is so often the way, these rather nasty messages were wrapped up in some incredibly catchy music, and that was even more the case with "Cuddly Toy", a song which at least is more overtly unpleasant -- it's very obvious that Nilsson doesn't intend the protagonist of the song to be at all sympathetic, which is possibly not the case in "She Hangs Out" or "Star Collector". But the character Jones is singing is *viciously* cruel here, mocking and taunting a girl who he's coaxed to have sex with him, only to scorn her as soon as he's got what he wanted: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Cuddly Toy"] It's a great song if you like the cruelest of humour combined with the cheeriest of music, and the royalties from the song allowed Nilsson to quit the job at the bank. "Cuddly Toy", and Chip Douglas and Bill Martin's song "The Door Into Summer", were recorded the same way as Headquarters, with the group playing *as a group*, but as recordings for the album progressed the group fell into a new way of working, which Peter Tork later dubbed "mixed-mode". They didn't go back to having tracks cut for them by session musicians, apart from Jones' song "Hard to Believe", for which the entire backing track was created by one of his co-writers overdubbing himself, but Dolenz, who Tork always said was "incapable of repeating a triumph", was not interested in continuing to play drums in the studio. Instead, a new hybrid Monkees would perform most of the album. Nesmith would still play the lead guitar, Tork would provide the keyboards, Chip Douglas would play all the bass and add some additional guitar, and "Fast" Eddie Hoh, the session drummer who had been a touring drummer with the Modern Folk Quartet and the Mamas and the Papas, among others, would play drums on the records, with Dolenz occasionally adding a bit of acoustic guitar. And this was the lineup that would perform on the hit single from Pisces. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, who had written several songs for the group's first two albums (and who would continue to provide them with more songs). As with their earlier songs for the group, King had recorded a demo: [Excerpt: Carole King, "Pleasant Valley Sunday (demo)"] Previously -- and subsequently -- when presented with a Carole King demo, the group and their producers would just try to duplicate it as closely as possible, right down to King's phrasing. Bob Rafelson has said that he would sometimes hear those demos and wonder why King didn't just make records herself -- and without wanting to be too much of a spoiler for a few years' time, he wasn't the only one wondering that. But this time, the group had other plans. In particular, they wanted to make a record with a strong guitar riff to it -- Nesmith has later referenced their own "Last Train to Clarksville" and the Beatles' "Day Tripper" as two obvious reference points for the track. Douglas came up with a riff and taught it to Nesmith, who played it on the track: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Pleasant Valley Sunday"] The track also ended with the strongest psychedelic -- or "psycho jello" as the group would refer to it -- freak out that they'd done to this point, a wash of saturated noise: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Pleasant Valley Sunday"] King was unhappy with the results, and apparently glared at Douglas the next time they met. This may be because of the rearrangement from her intentions, but it may also be for a reason that Douglas later suspected. When recording the track, he hadn't been able to remember all the details of her demo, and in particular he couldn't remember exactly how the middle eight went. This is the version on King's demo: [Excerpt: Carole King, "Pleasant Valley Sunday (demo)"] While here's how the Monkees rendered it, with slightly different lyrics: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Pleasant Valley Sunday"] I also think there's a couple of chord changes in the second verse that differ between King and the Monkees, but I can't be sure that's not my ears deceiving me. Either way, though, the track was a huge success, and became one of the group's most well-known and well-loved tracks, making number three on the charts behind "All You Need is Love" and "Light My Fire". And while it isn't Dolenz drumming on the track, the fact that it's Nesmith playing guitar and Tork on the piano -- and the piano part is one of the catchiest things on the record -- meant that they finally had a proper major hit on which they'd played (and it seems likely that Dolenz contributed some of the acoustic rhythm guitar on the track, along with Bill Chadwick, and if that's true all three Monkee instrumentalists did play on the track). Pisces is by far and away the best album the group ever made, and stands up well against anything else that came out around that time. But cracks were beginning to show in the group. In particular, the constant battle to get some sort of creative input had soured Nesmith on the whole project. Chip Douglas later said "When we were doing Pisces Michael would come in with three songs; he knew he had three songs coming on the album. He knew that he was making a lot of money if he got his original songs on there. So he'd be real enthusiastic and cooperative and real friendly and get his three songs done. Then I'd say 'Mike, can you come in and help on this one we're going to do with Micky here?' He said 'No, Chip, I can't. I'm busy.' I'd say, 'Mike, you gotta come in the studio.' He'd say 'No Chip, I'm afraid I'm just gonna have to be ornery about it. I'm not comin' in.' That's when I started not liking Mike so much any more." Now, as is so often the case with the stories from this period, this appears to be inaccurate in the details -- Nesmith is present on every track on the album except Jones' solo "Hard to Believe" and Tork's spoken-word track "Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky", and indeed this is by far the album with *most* Nesmith input, as he takes five lead vocals, most of them on songs he didn't write. But Douglas may well be summing up Nesmith's *attitude* to the band at this point -- listening to Nesmith's commentaries on episodes of the TV show, by this point he felt disengaged from everything that was going on, like his opinions weren't welcome. That said, Nesmith did still contribute what is possibly the single most innovative song the group ever did, though the innovations weren't primarily down to Nesmith: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daily Nightly"] Nesmith always described the lyrics to "Daily Nightly" as being about the riots on Sunset Strip, but while they're oblique, they seem rather to be about streetwalking sex workers -- though it's perhaps understandable that Nesmith would never admit as much. What made the track innovative was the use of the Moog synthesiser. We talked about Robert Moog in the episode on "Good Vibrations" -- he had started out as a Theremin manufacturer, and had built the ribbon synthesiser that Mike Love played live on "Good Vibrations", and now he was building the first commercially available easily usable synthesisers. Previously, electronic instruments had either been things like the clavioline -- a simple monophonic keyboard instrument that didn't have much tonal variation -- or the RCA Mark II, a programmable synth that could make a wide variety of sounds, but took up an entire room and was programmed with punch cards. Moog's machines were bulky but still transportable, and they could be played in real time with a keyboard, but were still able to be modified to make a wide variety of different sounds. While, as we've seen, there had been electronic keyboard instruments as far back as the 1930s, Moog's instruments were for all intents and purposes the first synthesisers as we now understand the term. The Moog was introduced in late spring 1967, and immediately started to be used for making experimental and novelty records, like Hal Blaine's track "Love In", which came out at the beginning of June: [Excerpt: Hal Blaine, "Love In"] And the Electric Flag's soundtrack album for The Trip, the drug exploitation film starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper and written by Jack Nicholson we talked about last time, when Arthur Lee moved into a house used in the film: [Excerpt: The Electric Flag, "Peter's Trip"] In 1967 there were a total of six albums released with a Moog on them (as well as one non-album experimental single). Four of the albums were experimental or novelty instrumental albums of this type. Only two of them were rock albums -- Strange Days by the Doors, and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd by the Monkees. The Doors album was released first, but I believe the Monkees tracks were recorded before the Doors overdubbed the Moog on the tracks on their album, though some session dates are hard to pin down exactly. If that's the case it would make the Monkees the very first band to use the Moog on an actual rock record (depending on exactly how you count the Trip soundtrack -- this gets back again to my old claim that there's no first anything). But that's not the only way in which "Daily Nightly" was innovative. All the first seven albums to feature the Moog featured one man playing the instrument -- Paul Beaver, the Moog company's West Coast representative, who played on all the novelty records by members of the Wrecking Crew, and on the albums by the Electric Flag and the Doors, and on The Notorious Byrd Brothers by the Byrds, which came out in early 1968. And Beaver did play the Moog on one track on Pisces, "Star Collector". But on "Daily Nightly" it's Micky Dolenz playing the Moog, making him definitely the second person ever to play a Moog on a record of any kind: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daily Nightly"] Dolenz indeed had bought his own Moog -- widely cited as being the second one ever in private ownership, a fact I can't check but which sounds plausible given that by 1970 less than thirty musicians owned one -- after seeing Beaver demonstrate the instrument at the Monterey Pop Festival. The Monkees hadn't played Monterey, but both Dolenz and Tork had attended the festival -- if you watch the famous film of it you see Dolenz and his girlfriend Samantha in the crowd a *lot*, while Tork introduced his friends in the Buffalo Springfield. As well as discovering the Moog there, Dolenz had been astonished by something else: [Excerpt: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Hey Joe (Live at Monterey)"] As Peter Tork later put it "I didn't get it. At Monterey Jimi followed the Who and the Who busted up their things and Jimi bashed up his guitar. I said 'I just saw explosions and destruction. Who needs it?' But Micky got it. He saw the genius and went for it." Dolenz was astonished by Hendrix, and insisted that he should be the support act on the group's summer tour. This pairing might sound odd on paper, but it made more sense at the time than it might sound. The Monkees were by all accounts a truly astonishing live act at this point -- Frank Zappa gave them a backhanded compliment by saying they were the best-sounding band in LA, before pointing out that this was because they could afford the best equipment. That *was* true, but it was also the case that their TV experience gave them a different attitude to live performance than anyone else performing at the time. A handful of groups had started playing stadiums, most notably of course the Beatles, but all of these acts had come up through playing clubs and theatres and essentially just kept doing their old act with no thought as to how the larger space worked, except to put their amps through a louder PA. The Monkees, though, had *started* in stadiums, and had started out as mass entertainers, and so their live show was designed from the ground up to play to those larger spaces. They had costume changes, elaborate stage sets -- like oversized fake Vox amps they burst out of at the start of the show -- a light show and a screen on which film footage was projected. In effect they invented stadium performances as we now know them. Nesmith later said "In terms of putting on a show there was never any question in my mind, as far as the rock 'n' roll era is concerned, that we put on probably the finest rock and roll stage show ever. It was beautifully lit, beautifully costumed, beautifully produced. I mean, for Christ sakes, it was practically a revue." The Monkees were confident enough in their stage performance that at a recent show at the Hollywood Bowl they'd had Ike and Tina Turner as their opening act -- not an act you'd want to go on after if you were going to be less than great, and an act from very similar chitlin' circuit roots to Jimi Hendrix. So from their perspective, it made sense. If you're going to be spectacular yourselves, you have no need to fear a spectacular opening act. Hendrix was less keen -- he was about the only musician in Britain who *had* made disparaging remarks about the Monkees -- but opening for the biggest touring band in the world isn't an opportunity you pass up, and again it isn't such a departure as one might imagine from the bills he was already playing. Remember that Monterey is really the moment when "pop" and "rock" started to split -- the split we've been talking about for a few months now -- and so the Jimi Hendrix Experience were still considered a pop band, and as such had played the normal British pop band package tours. In March and April that year, they'd toured on a bill with the Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens, and Englebert Humperdinck -- and Hendrix had even filled in for Humperdinck's sick guitarist on one occasion. Nesmith, Dolenz, and Tork all loved having Hendrix on tour with them, just because it gave them a chance to watch him live every night (Jones, whose musical tastes were more towards Anthony Newley, wasn't especially impressed), and they got on well on a personal level -- there are reports of Hendrix jamming with Dolenz and Steve Stills in hotel rooms. But there was one problem, as Dolenz often recreates in his live act: [Excerpt: Micky Dolenz, "Purple Haze"] The audience response to Hendrix from the Monkees' fans was so poor that by mutual agreement he left the tour after only a handful of shows. After the summer tour, the group went back to work on the TV show and their next album. Or, rather, four individuals went back to work. By this point, the group had drifted apart from each other, and from Douglas -- Tork, the one who was still keenest on the idea of the group as a group, thought that Pisces, good as it was, felt like a Chip Douglas album rather than a Monkees album. The four band members had all by now built up their own retinues of hangers-on and collaborators, and on set for the TV show they were now largely staying with their own friends rather than working as a group. And that was now reflected in their studio work. From now on, rather than have a single producer working with them as a band, the four men would work as individuals, producing their own tracks, occasionally with outside help, and bringing in session musicians to work on them. Some tracks from this point on would be genuine Monkees -- plural -- tracks, and all tracks would be credited as "produced by the Monkees", but basically the four men would from now on be making solo tracks which would be combined into albums, though Dolenz and Jones would occasionally guest on tracks by the others, especially when Nesmith came up with a song he thought would be more suited to their voices. Indeed the first new recording that happened after the tour was an entire Nesmith solo album -- a collection of instrumental versions of his songs, called The Wichita Train Whistle Sings, played by members of the Wrecking Crew and a few big band instrumentalists, arranged by Shorty Rogers. [Excerpt: Michael Nesmith, "You Told Me"] Hal Blaine in his autobiography claimed that the album was created as a tax write-off for Nesmith, though Nesmith always vehemently denied it, and claimed it was an artistic experiment, though not one that came off well. Released alongside Pisces, though, came one last group-recorded single. The B-side, "Goin' Down", is a song that was credited to the group and songwriter Diane Hildebrand, though in fact it developed from a jam on someone else's song. Nesmith, Tork, Douglas and Hoh attempted to record a backing track for a version of Mose Allison's jazz-blues standard "Parchman Farm": [Excerpt: Mose Allison, "Parchman Farm"] But after recording it, they'd realised that it didn't sound that much like the original, and that all it had in common with it was a chord sequence. Nesmith suggested that rather than put it out as a cover version, they put a new melody and lyrics to it, and they commissioned Hildebrand, who'd co-written songs for the group before, to write them, and got Shorty Rogers to write a horn arrangement to go over their backing track. The eventual songwriting credit was split five ways, between Hildebrand and the four Monkees -- including Davy Jones who had no involvement with the recording, but not including Douglas or Hoh. The lyrics Hildebrand came up with were a funny patter song about a failed suicide, taken at an extremely fast pace, which Dolenz pulls off magnificently: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Goin' Down"] The A-side, another track with a rhythm track by Nesmith, Tork, Douglas, and Hoh, was a song that had been written by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio, who you may remember from the episode on "San Francisco" as being a former songwriting partner of John Phillips. Stewart had written the song as part of a "suburbia trilogy", and was not happy with the finished product. He said later "I remember going to bed thinking 'All I did today was write 'Daydream Believer'." Stewart used to include the song in his solo sets, to no great approval, and had shopped the song around to bands like We Five and Spanky And Our Gang, who had both turned it down. He was unhappy with it himself, because of the chorus: [Excerpt: John Stewart, "Daydream Believer"] Stewart was ADHD, and the words "to a", coming as they did slightly out of the expected scansion for the line, irritated him so greatly that he thought the song could never be recorded by anyone, but when Chip Douglas asked if he had any songs, he suggested that one. As it turned out, there was a line of lyric that almost got the track rejected, but it wasn't the "to a". Stewart's original second verse went like this: [Excerpt: John Stewart, "Daydream Believer"] RCA records objected to the line "now you know how funky I can be" because funky, among other meanings, meant smelly, and they didn't like the idea of Davy Jones singing about being smelly. Chip Douglas phoned Stewart to tell him that they were insisting on changing the line, and suggesting "happy" instead. Stewart objected vehemently -- that change would reverse the entire meaning of the line, and it made no sense, and what about artistic integrity? But then, as he later said "He said 'Let me put it to you this way, John. If he can't sing 'happy' they won't do it'. And I said 'Happy's working real good for me now.' That's exactly what I said to him." He never regretted the decision -- Stewart would essentially live off the royalties from "Daydream Believer" for the rest of his life -- though he seemed always to be slightly ambivalent and gently mocking about the song in his own performances, often changing the lyrics slightly: [Excerpt: John Stewart, "Daydream Believer"] The Monkees had gone into the studio and cut the track, again with Tork on piano, Nesmith on guitar, Douglas on bass, and Hoh on drums. Other than changing "funky" to "happy", there were two major changes made in the studio. One seems to have been Douglas' idea -- they took the bass riff from the pre-chorus to the Beach Boys' "Help Me Rhonda": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Help Me Rhonda"] and Douglas played that on the bass as the pre-chorus for "Daydream Believer", with Shorty Rogers later doubling it in the horn arrangement: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daydream Believer"] And the other is the piano intro, which also becomes an instrumental bridge, which was apparently the invention of Tork, who played it: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daydream Believer"] The track went to number one, becoming the group's third and final number one hit, and their fifth of six million-sellers. It was included on the next album, The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees, but that piano part would be Tork's only contribution to the album. As the group members were all now writing songs and cutting their own tracks, and were also still rerecording the odd old unused song from the initial 1966 sessions, The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees was pulled together from a truly astonishing amount of material. The expanded triple-CD version of the album, now sadly out of print, has multiple versions of forty-four different songs, ranging from simple acoustic demos to completed tracks, of which twelve were included on the final album. Tork did record several tracks during the sessions, but he spent much of the time recording and rerecording a single song, "Lady's Baby", which eventually stretched to five different recorded versions over multiple sessions in a five-month period. He racked up huge studio bills on the track, bringing in Steve Stills and Dewey Martin of the Buffalo Springfield, and Buddy Miles, to try to help him capture the sound in his head, but the various takes are almost indistinguishable from one another, and so it's difficult to see what the problem was: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Lady's Baby"] Either way, the track wasn't finished by the time the album came out, and the album that came out was a curiously disjointed and unsatisfying effort, a mixture of recycled old Boyce and Hart songs, some songs by Jones, who at this point was convinced that "Broadway-rock" was going to be the next big thing and writing songs that sounded like mediocre showtunes, and a handful of experimental songs written by Nesmith. You could pull together a truly great ten- or twelve-track album from the masses of material they'd recorded, but the one that came out was mediocre at best, and became the first Monkees album not to make number one -- though it still made number three and sold in huge numbers. It also had the group's last million-selling single on it, "Valleri", an old Boyce and Hart reject from 1966 that had been remade with Boyce and Hart producing and their old session players, though the production credit was still now given to the Monkees: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Valleri"] Nesmith said at the time he considered it the worst song ever written. The second season of the TV show was well underway, and despite -- or possibly because of -- the group being clearly stoned for much of the filming, it contains a lot of the episodes that fans of the group think of most fondly, including several episodes that break out of the formula the show had previously established in interesting ways. Tork and Dolenz were both also given the opportunity to direct episodes, and Dolenz also co-wrote his episode, which ended up being the last of the series. In another sign of how the group were being given more creative control over the show, the last three episodes of the series had guest appearances by favourite musicians of the group members who they wanted to give a little exposure to, and those guest appearances sum up the character of the band members remarkably well. Tork, for whatever reason, didn't take up this option, but the other three did. Jones brought on his friend Charlie Smalls, who would later go on to write the music for the Broadway musical The Wiz, to demonstrate to Jones the difference between Smalls' Black soul and Jones' white soul: [Excerpt: Davy Jones and Charlie Smalls] Nesmith, on the other hand, brought on Frank Zappa. Zappa put on Nesmith's Monkee shirt and wool hat and pretended to be Nesmith, and interviewed Nesmith with a false nose and moustache pretending to be Zappa, as they both mercilessly mocked the previous week's segment with Jones and Smalls: [Excerpt: Michael Nesmith and Frank Zappa] Nesmith then "conducted" Zappa as Zappa used a sledgehammer to "play" a car, parodying his own appearance on the Steve Allen Show playing a bicycle, to the presumed bemusement of the Monkees' fanbase who would not be likely to remember a one-off performance on a late-night TV show from five years earlier. And the final thing ever to be shown on an episode of the Monkees didn't feature any of the Monkees at all. Micky Dolenz, who directed and co-wrote that episode, about an evil wizard who was using the power of a space plant (named after the group's slang for dope) to hypnotise people through the TV, chose not to interact with his guest as the others had, but simply had Tim Buckley perform a solo acoustic version of his then-unreleased song "Song to the Siren": [Excerpt: Tim Buckley, "Song to the Siren"] By the end of the second season, everyone knew they didn't want to make another season of the TV show. Instead, they were going to do what Rafelson and Schneider had always wanted, and move into film. The planning stages for the film, which was initially titled Changes but later titled Head -- so that Rafelson and Schneider could bill their next film as "From the guys who gave you Head" -- had started the previous summer, before the sessions that produced The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees. To write the film, the group went off with Rafelson and Schneider for a short holiday, and took with them their mutual friend Jack Nicholson. Nicholson was at this time not the major film star he later became. Rather he was a bit-part actor who was mostly associated with American International Pictures, the ultra-low-budget film company that has come up on several occasions in this podcast. Nicholson had appeared mostly in small roles, in films like The Little Shop of Horrors: [Excerpt: The Little Shop of Horrors] He'd appeared in multiple films made by Roger Corman, often appearing with Boris Karloff, and by Monte Hellman, but despite having been a working actor for a decade, his acting career was going nowhere, and by this point he had basically given up on the idea of being an actor, and had decided to start working behind the camera. He'd written the scripts for a few of the low-budget films he'd appeared in, and he'd recently scripted The Trip, the film we mentioned earlier: [Excerpt: The Trip trailer] So the group, Rafelson, Schneider, and Nicholson all went away for a weekend, and they all got extremely stoned, took acid, and talked into a tape recorder for hours on end. Nicholson then transcribed those recordings, cleaned them up, and structured the worthwhile ideas into something quite remarkable: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Ditty Diego"] If the Monkees TV show had been inspired by the Marx Brothers and Three Stooges, and by Richard Lester's directorial style, the only precursor I can find for Head is in the TV work of Lester's colleague Spike Milligan, but I don't think there's any reasonable way in which Nicholson or anyone else involved could have taken inspiration from Milligan's series Q.  But what they ended up with is something that resembles, more than anything else, Monty Python's Flying Circus, a TV series that wouldn't start until a year after Head came out. It's a series of ostensibly unconnected sketches, linked by a kind of dream logic, with characters wandering from one loose narrative into a totally different one, actors coming out of character on a regular basis, and no attempt at a coherent narrative. It contains regular examples of channel-zapping, with excerpts from old films being spliced in, and bits of news footage juxtaposed with comedy sketches and musical performances in ways that are sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes distasteful, and occasionally both -- as when a famous piece of footage of a Vietnamese prisoner of war being shot in the head hard-cuts to screaming girls in the audience at a Monkees concert, a performance which ends with the girls tearing apart the group and revealing that they're really just cheap-looking plastic mannequins. The film starts, and ends, with the Monkees themselves attempting suicide, jumping off a bridge into the ocean -- but the end reveals that in fact the ocean they're in is just water in a glass box, and they're trapped in it. And knowing this means that when you watch the film a second time, you find that it does have a story. The Monkees are trapped in a box which in some ways represents life, the universe, and one's own mind, and in other ways represents the TV and their TV careers. Each of them is trying in his own way to escape, and each ends up trapped by his own limitations, condemned to start the cycle over and over again. The film features parodies of popular film genres like the boxing film (Davy is supposed to throw a fight with Sonny Liston at the instruction of gangsters), the Western, and the war film, but huge chunks of the film take place on a film studio backlot, and characters from one segment reappear in another, often commenting negatively on the film or the band, as when Frank Zappa as a critic calls Davy Jones' soft-shoe routine to a Harry Nilsson song "very white", or when a canteen worker in the studio calls the group "God's gift to the eight-year-olds". The film is constantly deconstructing and commenting on itself and the filmmaking process -- Tork hits that canteen worker, whose wig falls off revealing the actor playing her to be a man, and then it's revealed that the "behind the scenes" footage is itself scripted, as director Bob Rafelson and scriptwriter Jack Nicholson come into frame and reassure Tork, who's concerned that hitting a woman would be bad for his image. They tell him they can always cut it from the finished film if it doesn't work. While "Ditty Diego", the almost rap rewriting of the Monkees theme we heard earlier, sets out a lot of how the film asks to be interpreted and how it works narratively, the *spiritual* and thematic core of the film is in another song, Tork's "Long Title (Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?)", which in later solo performances Tork would give the subtitle "The Karma Blues": [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Long Title (Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?)"] Head is an extraordinary film, and one it's impossible to sum up in anything less than an hour-long episode of its own. It's certainly not a film that's to everyone's taste, and not every aspect of it works -- it is a film that is absolutely of its time, in ways that are both good and bad. But it's one of the most inventive things ever put out by a major film studio, and it's one that rightly secured the Monkees a certain amount of cult credibility over the decades. The soundtrack album is a return to form after the disappointing Birds, Bees, too. Nicholson put the album together, linking the eight songs in the film with collages of dialogue and incidental music, repurposing and recontextualising the dialogue to create a new experience, one that people have compared with Frank Zappa's contemporaneous We're Only In It For The Money, though while t

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Their Very Best
033 - The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's

Their Very Best

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 24, 2023 30:22


* Casual hangs with George Martin* Bill right / Waldron wrong* The un-falseable quizSee the episode page for addenda and errata

Footy Prime The Podcast
FP Foundation show & News & Such mash up: Famous celebrities, Agents, Big Prem Weekend, Footy Picks & Wonger's Mail Sack

Footy Prime The Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 19, 2023 42:43


James Sharman, Craig Forrest, Jimmy Brennan and Dan Wong, joined by VO/Producer Jeff Cole, coalesce around their virtual studio computers to deliver a fun-filled original Wednesday episode & News and Such mash up.  Jimmy and Craig share some of their celebrity sightings and drinkings, agent stories in England and MLS, Oso interview was sublime comments, big matches for Footy Picks with Liverpool v Chelsea, Arsenal v United and West Ham v Everton plus Wonger's Mail sack.  All this and more on today's pod drop. The Premier League has a new home in Canada this season: FuboTV. Don't miss a second of the action! Subscribe at: fubotv.com/footyprime Presenters: James Sharman, Jimmy Brennan, Craig Forrest and Dan Wong Men's Room Attendant: Jeff Cole This podcast has content that may use words and share tales that offend, please feel free to use your best discretion. Parental discretion is advised. Be advised this episode includes explicit language.

In The Money Players' Podcast
Where Does Verifying Fit With the Top Three-Year-Olds?

In The Money Players' Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 17, 2023 36:48


PTF and Nick Tammaro are back with a show that starts with a little NFL Playoffs chatter but quickly moves to racing.First they look back at the three-year-old races from the weekend with thoughts on Verifying, Zydeceaux, Champions Dream, Cuvier, Kingsbarns, Sgt Pepper and Prairie Dunes.Then it's a look at the three-year-old fillies with chat about Occult, Julia Shining, Affirmative Lady and Opus Forty Two.Lastly they chat about show favorite Pass the Champagne.***Leave a comment with your thoughts!***As a reminder, you can sign up for the FREE Players' Newsletter at https://www.inthemoneypodcast.com/email - This weekly newsletter, sent on Friday, is a hub for horse racing content from the ITM Team and our partners.***If you want even more premium handicapping analysis, including exclusive podcasts, detailed written analysis, and show notes from the free podcasts, please check out ITM Plus - https://www.inthemoneypodcast.com/plus

In The Money Players' Podcast
Where Does Verifying Fit With the Top Three-Year-Olds?

In The Money Players' Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 17, 2023 36:48


PTF and Nick Tammaro are back with a show that starts with a little NFL Playoffs chatter but quickly moves to racing.First they look back at the three-year-old races from the weekend with thoughts on Verifying, Zydeceaux, Champions Dream, Cuvier, Kingsbarns, Sgt Pepper and Prairie Dunes.Then it's a look at the three-year-old fillies with chat about Occult, Julia Shining, Affirmative Lady and Opus Forty Two.Lastly they chat about show favorite Pass the Champagne.***Leave a comment with your thoughts!***As a reminder, you can sign up for the FREE Players' Newsletter at https://www.inthemoneypodcast.com/email - This weekly newsletter, sent on Friday, is a hub for horse racing content from the ITM Team and our partners.***If you want even more premium handicapping analysis, including exclusive podcasts, detailed written analysis, and show notes from the free podcasts, please check out ITM Plus - https://www.inthemoneypodcast.com/plus

Everything Fab Four
Episode 37: Hayley Orrantia on authenticity, inspiration and "Sgt. Pepper's"

Everything Fab Four

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 20, 2022 39:59


Today's guest is Hayley Orrantia, an American singer and actress known for her role in the hit TV show "The Goldbergs." The show follows the hilarious and awkward lives of a colorful, suburban family in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania in the 1980s. Orrantia is a scene stealer as Erica, the eldest Goldberg sibling, who fans have watched transform from a socially awkward, nerdy high schooler to popular, college-aged beauty who drops out of school to form a band with her girlfriends. In film, Orrantia most recently starred in Amazon/Lionsgate's holiday comedy “Christmas is Cancelled” alongside Dermot Mulroney and Janel Parrish. Born and raised in Texas, Orrantia discovered her love of performing at nine years old, performing impromptu concerts in her bedroom. Now Orrantia is widely recognized as a successful independent music artist, who draws on inspiration from all genres to create soulful country-pop. In 2018, Orrantia conducted her first headlining tour, the Strong, Sweet and Southern Tour, hitting 22 cities across the United States. On this episode of "Everything Fab Four," host Kenneth Womack and Orrantia discuss covering iconic songs like “Maybe I'm Amazed,” her search for authenticity as an artist, working with the late George Segal, and how Lindsay Lohan's “The Parent Trap” introduced her to the Beatles. --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/everythingfabfour/support

Entrez sans frapper
Felix van Groeningen et Charlotte Vandermeersch/Éric Russon/Laurence Bibot

Entrez sans frapper

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 11, 2022 45:13


"Les inconnus connus" d'Éric Russon : Pop et poivre. Felix van Groeningen et Charlotte Vandermeersch pour leur film "Les huit montagnes", d'après le roman de Paolo Cognetti, Prix du Jury au Festival de Cannes 2022, qui sort ce mercredi. Pietro est un garçon de la ville, Bruno est le dernier enfant à vivre dans un village oublié du Val d'Aoste. Ils se lient d'amitié dans ce coin caché des Alpes qui leur tient lieu de royaume. La vie les éloigne sans pouvoir les séparer complètement. Alors que Bruno reste fidèle à sa montagne, Pietro parcourt le monde. Cette traversée leur fera connaître l'amour et la perte, leurs origines et leurs destinées, mais surtout une amitié à la vie à la mort. "J'entends des voix" de Laurence Bibot : L'idéal masculin en 1963.

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 158: “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2022


Episode one hundred and fifty-eight of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “White Rabbit”, Jefferson Airplane, and the rise of the San Francisco sound. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-three-minute bonus episode available, on "Omaha" by Moby Grape. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Erratum I refer to Back to Methuselah by Robert Heinlein. This is of course a play by George Bernard Shaw. What I meant to say was Methuselah's Children. Resources I hope to upload a Mixcloud tomorrow, and will edit it in, but have had some problems with the site today. Jefferson Airplane's first four studio albums, plus a 1968 live album, can be found in this box set. I've referred to three main books here. Got a Revolution!: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane by Jeff Tamarkin is written with the co-operation of the band members, but still finds room to criticise them. Jefferson Airplane On Track by Richard Molesworth is a song-by-song guide to the band's music. And Been So Long: My Life and Music by Jorma Kaukonen is Kaukonen's autobiography. Some information on Skip Spence and Matthew Katz also comes from What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean?: The Moby Grape Story, by Cam Cobb, which I also used for this week's bonus. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Before I start, I need to confess an important and hugely embarrassing error in this episode. I've only ever seen Marty Balin's name written down, never heard it spoken, and only after recording the episode, during the editing process, did I discover I mispronounce it throughout. It's usually an advantage for the podcast that I get my information from books rather than TV documentaries and the like, because they contain far more information, but occasionally it causes problems like that. My apologies. Also a brief note that this episode contains some mentions of racism, antisemitism, drug and alcohol abuse, and gun violence. One of the themes we've looked at in recent episodes is the way the centre of the musical world -- at least the musical world as it was regarded by the people who thought of themselves as hip in the mid-sixties -- was changing in 1967. Up to this point, for a few years there had been two clear centres of the rock and pop music worlds. In the UK, there was London, and any British band who meant anything had to base themselves there. And in the US, at some point around 1963, the centre of the music industry had moved West. Up to then it had largely been based in New York, and there was still a thriving industry there as of the mid sixties. But increasingly the records that mattered, that everyone in the country had been listening to, had come out of LA Soul music was, of course, still coming primarily from Detroit and from the Country-Soul triangle in Tennessee and Alabama, but when it came to the new brand of electric-guitar rock that was taking over the airwaves, LA was, up until the first few months of 1967, the only city that was competing with London, and was the place to be. But as we heard in the episode on "San Francisco", with the Monterey Pop Festival all that started to change. While the business part of the music business remained centred in LA, and would largely remain so, LA was no longer the hip place to be. Almost overnight, jangly guitars, harmonies, and Brian Jones hairstyles were out, and feedback, extended solos, and droopy moustaches were in. The place to be was no longer LA, but a few hundred miles North, in San Francisco -- something that the LA bands were not all entirely happy about: [Excerpt: The Mothers of Invention, "Who Needs the Peace Corps?"] In truth, the San Francisco music scene, unlike many of the scenes we've looked at so far in this series, had rather a limited impact on the wider world of music. Bands like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and Big Brother and the Holding Company were all both massively commercially successful and highly regarded by critics, but unlike many of the other bands we've looked at before and will look at in future, they didn't have much of an influence on the bands that would come after them, musically at least. Possibly this is because the music from the San Francisco scene was always primarily that -- music created by and for a specific group of people, and inextricable from its context. The San Francisco musicians were defining themselves by their geographical location, their peers, and the situation they were in, and their music was so specifically of the place and time that to attempt to copy it outside of that context would appear ridiculous, so while many of those bands remain much loved to this day, and many made some great music, it's very hard to point to ways in which that music influenced later bands. But what they did influence was the whole of rock music culture. For at least the next thirty years, and arguably to this day, the parameters in which rock musicians worked if they wanted to be taken seriously – their aesthetic and political ideals, their methods of collaboration, the cultural norms around drug use and sexual promiscuity, ideas of artistic freedom and authenticity, the choice of acceptable instruments – in short, what it meant to be a rock musician rather than a pop, jazz, country, or soul artist – all those things were defined by the cultural and behavioural norms of the San Francisco scene between about 1966 and 68. Without the San Francisco scene there's no Woodstock, no Rolling Stone magazine, no Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, no hippies, no groupies, no rock stars. So over the next few months we're going to take several trips to the Bay Area, and look at the bands which, for a brief time, defined the counterculture in America. The story of Jefferson Airplane -- and unlike other bands we've looked at recently, like The Pink Floyd and The Buffalo Springfield, they never had a definite article at the start of their name to wither away like a vestigial organ in subsequent years -- starts with Marty Balin. Balin was born in Ohio, but was a relatively sickly child -- he later talked about being autistic, and seems to have had the chronic illnesses that so often go with neurodivergence -- so in the hope that the dry air would be good for his chest his family moved to Arizona. Then when his father couldn't find work there, they moved further west to San Francisco, in the Haight-Ashbury area, long before that area became the byword for the hippie movement. But it was in LA that he started his music career, and got his surname. Balin had been named Marty Buchwald as a kid, but when he was nineteen he had accompanied a friend to LA to visit a music publisher, and had ended up singing backing vocals on her demos. While he was there, he had encountered the arranger Jimmy Haskell. Haskell was on his way to becoming one of the most prominent arrangers in the music industry, and in his long career he would go on to do arrangements for Bobby Gentry, Blondie, Steely Dan, Simon and Garfunkel, and many others. But at the time he was best known for his work on Ricky Nelson's hits: [Excerpt: Ricky Nelson, "Hello Mary Lou"] Haskell thought that Marty had the makings of a Ricky Nelson style star, as he was a good-looking young man with a decent voice, and he became a mentor for the young man. Making the kind of records that Haskell arranged was expensive, and so Haskell suggested a deal to him -- if Marty's father would pay for studio time and musicians, Haskell would make a record with him and find him a label to put it out. Marty's father did indeed pay for the studio time and the musicians -- some of the finest working in LA at the time. The record, released under the name Marty Balin, featured Jack Nitzsche on keyboards, Earl Palmer on drums, Milt Jackson on vibraphone, Red Callender on bass, and Glen Campbell and Barney Kessell on guitars, and came out on Challenge Records, a label owned by Gene Autry: [Excerpt: Marty Balin, "Nobody But You"] Neither that, nor Balin's follow-up single, sold a noticeable amount of copies, and his career as a teen idol was over before it had begun. Instead, as many musicians of his age did, he decided to get into folk music, joining a vocal harmony group called the Town Criers, who patterned themselves after the Weavers, and performed the same kind of material that every other clean-cut folk vocal group was performing at the time -- the kind of songs that John Phillips and Steve Stills and Cass Elliot and Van Dyke Parks and the rest were all performing in their own groups at the same time. The Town Criers never made any records while they were together, but some archival recordings of them have been released over the decades: [Excerpt: The Town Criers, "900 Miles"] The Town Criers split up, and Balin started performing as a solo folkie again. But like all those other then-folk musicians, Balin realised that he had to adapt to the K/T-event level folk music extinction that happened when the Beatles hit America like a meteorite. He had to form a folk-rock group if he wanted to survive -- and given that there were no venues for such a group to play in San Francisco, he also had to start a nightclub for them to play in. He started hanging around the hootenannies in the area, looking for musicians who might form an electric band. The first person he decided on was a performer called Paul Kantner, mainly because he liked his attitude. Kantner had got on stage in front of a particularly drunk, loud, crowd, and performed precisely half a song before deciding he wasn't going to perform in front of people like that and walking off stage. Kantner was the only member of the new group to be a San Franciscan -- he'd been born and brought up in the city. He'd got into folk music at university, where he'd also met a guitar player named Jorma Kaukonen, who had turned him on to cannabis, and the two had started giving music lessons at a music shop in San Jose. There Kantner had also been responsible for booking acts at a local folk club, where he'd first encountered acts like Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, a jug band which included Jerry Garcia, Pigpen McKernan, and Bob Weir, who would later go on to be the core members of the Grateful Dead: [Excerpt: Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, "In the Jailhouse Now"] Kantner had moved around a bit between Northern and Southern California, and had been friendly with two other musicians on the Californian folk scene, David Crosby and Roger McGuinn. When their new group, the Byrds, suddenly became huge, Kantner became aware of the possibility of doing something similar himself, and so when Marty Balin approached him to form a band, he agreed. On bass, they got in a musician called Bob Harvey, who actually played double bass rather than electric, and who stuck to that for the first few gigs the group played -- he had previously been in a band called the Slippery Rock String Band. On drums, they brought in Jerry Peloquin, who had formerly worked for the police, but now had a day job as an optician. And on vocals, they brought in Signe Toley -- who would soon marry and change her name to Signe Anderson, so that's how I'll talk about her to avoid confusion. The group also needed a lead guitarist though -- both Balin and Kantner were decent rhythm players and singers, but they needed someone who was a better instrumentalist. They decided to ask Kantner's old friend Jorma Kaukonen. Kaukonen was someone who was seriously into what would now be called Americana or roots music. He'd started playing the guitar as a teenager, not like most people of his generation inspired by Elvis or Buddy Holly, but rather after a friend of his had shown him how to play an old Carter Family song, "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy": [Excerpt: The Carter Family, "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy"] Kaukonen had had a far more interesting life than most of the rest of the group. His father had worked for the State Department -- and there's some suggestion he'd worked for the CIA -- and the family had travelled all over the world, staying in Pakistan, the Philippines, and Finland. For most of his childhood, he'd gone by the name Jerry, because other kids beat him up for having a foreign name and called him a Nazi, but by the time he turned twenty he was happy enough using his birth name. Kaukonen wasn't completely immune to the appeal of rock and roll -- he'd formed a rock band, The Triumphs, with his friend Jack Casady when he was a teenager, and he loved Ricky Nelson's records -- but his fate as a folkie had been pretty much sealed when he went to Antioch College. There he met up with a blues guitarist called Ian Buchanan. Buchanan never had much of a career as a professional, but he had supposedly spent nine years studying with the blues and ragtime guitar legend Rev. Gary Davis, and he was certainly a fine guitarist, as can be heard on his contribution to The Blues Project, the album Elektra put out of white Greenwich Village musicians like John Sebastian and Dave Van Ronk playing old blues songs: [Excerpt: Ian Buchanan, "The Winding Boy"] Kaukonen became something of a disciple of Buchanan -- he said later that Buchanan probably taught him how to play because he was such a terrible player and Buchanan couldn't stand to listen to it -- as did John Hammond Jr, another student at Antioch at the same time. After studying at Antioch, Kaukonen started to travel around, including spells in Greenwich Village and in the Philippines, before settling in Santa Clara, where he studied for a sociology degree and became part of a social circle that included Dino Valenti, Jerry Garcia, and Billy Roberts, the credited writer of "Hey Joe". He also started performing as a duo with a singer called Janis Joplin. Various of their recordings from this period circulate, mostly recorded at Kaukonen's home with the sound of his wife typing in the background while the duo rehearse, as on this performance of an old Bessie Smith song: [Excerpt: Jorma Kaukonen and Janis Joplin, "Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out"] By 1965 Kaukonen saw himself firmly as a folk-blues purist, who would not even think of playing rock and roll music, which he viewed with more than a little contempt. But he allowed himself to be brought along to audition for the new group, and Ken Kesey happened to be there. Kesey was a novelist who had written two best-selling books, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion, and used the financial independence that gave him to organise a group of friends who called themselves the Merry Pranksters, who drove from coast to coast and back again in a psychedelic-painted bus, before starting a series of events that became known as Acid Tests, parties at which everyone was on LSD, immortalised in Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Nobody has ever said why Kesey was there, but he had brought along an Echoplex, a reverb unit one could put a guitar through -- and nobody has explained why Kesey, who wasn't a musician, had an Echoplex to hand. But Kaukonen loved the sound that he could get by putting his guitar through the device, and so for that reason more than any other he decided to become an electric player and join the band, going out and buying a Rickenbacker twelve-string and Vox Treble Booster because that was what Roger McGuinn used. He would later also get a Guild Thunderbird six-string guitar and a Standel Super Imperial amp, following the same principle of buying the equipment used by other guitarists he liked, as they were what Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin' Spoonful used. He would use them for all his six-string playing for the next couple of years, only later to discover that the Lovin' Spoonful despised them and only used them because they had an endorsement deal with the manufacturers. Kaukonen was also the one who came up with the new group's name. He and his friends had a running joke where they had "Bluesman names", things like "Blind Outrage" and "Little Sun Goldfarb". Kaukonen's bluesman name, given to him by his friend Steve Talbot, had been Blind Thomas Jefferson Airplane, a reference to the 1920s blues guitarist Blind Lemon Jefferson: [Excerpt: Blind Lemon Jefferson, "Match Box Blues"] At the band meeting where they were trying to decide on a name, Kaukonen got frustrated at the ridiculous suggestions that were being made, and said "You want a stupid name? Howzabout this... Jefferson Airplane?" He said in his autobiography "It was one of those rare moments when everyone in the band agreed, and that was that. I think it was the only band meeting that ever allowed me to come away smiling." The newly-named Jefferson Airplane started to rehearse at the Matrix Club, the club that Balin had decided to open. This was run with three sound engineer friends, who put in the seed capital for the club. Balin had stock options in the club, which he got by trading a share of the band's future earnings to his partners, though as the group became bigger he eventually sold his stock in the club back to his business partners. Before their first public performance, they started working with a manager, Matthew Katz, mostly because Katz had access to a recording of a then-unreleased Bob Dylan song, "Lay Down Your Weary Tune": [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Lay Down Your Weary Tune"] The group knew that the best way for a folk-rock band to make a name for themselves was to perform a Dylan song nobody else had yet heard, and so they agreed to be managed by Katz. Katz started a pre-publicity blitz, giving out posters, badges, and bumper stickers saying "Jefferson Airplane Loves You" all over San Francisco -- and insisting that none of the band members were allowed to say "Hello" when they answered the phone any more, they had to say "Jefferson Airplane Loves You!" For their early rehearsals and gigs, they were performing almost entirely cover versions of blues and folk songs, things like Fred Neil's "The Other Side of This Life" and Dino Valenti's "Get Together" which were the common currency of the early folk-rock movement, and songs by their friends, like one called "Flower Bomb" by David Crosby, which Crosby now denies ever having written. They did start writing the odd song, but at this point they were more focused on performance than on writing. They also hired a press agent, their friend Bill Thompson. Thompson was friends with the two main music writers at the San Francisco Chronicle, Ralph Gleason, the famous jazz critic, who had recently started also reviewing rock music, and John Wasserman. Thompson got both men to come to the opening night of the Matrix, and both gave the group glowing reviews in the Chronicle. Record labels started sniffing around the group immediately as a result of this coverage, and according to Katz he managed to get a bidding war started by making sure that when A&R men came to the club there were always two of them from different labels, so they would see the other person and realise they weren't the only ones interested. But before signing a record deal they needed to make some personnel changes. The first member to go was Jerry Peloquin, for both musical and personal reasons. Peloquin was used to keeping strict time and the other musicians had a more free-flowing idea of what tempo they should be playing at, but also he had worked for the police while the other members were all taking tons of illegal drugs. The final break with Peloquin came when he did the rest of the group a favour -- Paul Kantner's glasses broke during a rehearsal, and as Peloquin was an optician he offered to take them back to his shop and fix them. When he got back, he found them auditioning replacements for him. He beat Kantner up, and that was the end of Jerry Peloquin in Jefferson Airplane. His replacement was Skip Spence, who the group had met when he had accompanied three friends to the Matrix, which they were using as a rehearsal room. Spence's friends went on to be the core members of Quicksilver Messenger Service along with Dino Valenti: [Excerpt: Quicksilver Messenger Service, "Dino's Song"] But Balin decided that Spence looked like a rock star, and told him that he was now Jefferson Airplane's drummer, despite Spence being a guitarist and singer, not a drummer. But Spence was game, and learned to play the drums. Next they needed to get rid of Bob Harvey. According to Harvey, the decision to sack him came after David Crosby saw the band rehearsing and said "Nice song, but get rid of the bass player" (along with an expletive before the word bass which I can't say without incurring the wrath of Apple). Crosby denies ever having said this. Harvey had started out in the group on double bass, but to show willing he'd switched in his last few gigs to playing an electric bass. When he was sacked by the group, he returned to double bass, and to the Slippery Rock String Band, who released one single in 1967: [Excerpt: The Slippery Rock String Band, "Tule Fog"] Harvey's replacement was Kaukonen's old friend Jack Casady, who Kaukonen knew was now playing bass, though he'd only ever heard him playing guitar when they'd played together. Casady was rather cautious about joining a rock band, but then Kaukonen told him that the band were getting fifty dollars a week salary each from Katz, and Casady flew over from Washington DC to San Francisco to join the band. For the first few gigs, he used Bob Harvey's bass, which Harvey was good enough to lend him despite having been sacked from the band. Unfortunately, right from the start Casady and Kantner didn't get on. When Casady flew in from Washington, he had a much more clean-cut appearance than the rest of the band -- one they've described as being nerdy, with short, slicked-back, side-parted hair and a handlebar moustache. Kantner insisted that Casady shave the moustache off, and he responded by shaving only one side, so in profile on one side he looked clean-shaven, while from the other side he looked like he had a full moustache. Kantner also didn't like Casady's general attitude, or his playing style, at all -- though most critics since this point have pointed to Casady's bass playing as being the most interesting and distinctive thing about Jefferson Airplane's style. This lineup seems to have been the one that travelled to LA to audition for various record companies -- a move that immediately brought the group a certain amount of criticism for selling out, both for auditioning for record companies and for going to LA at all, two things that were already anathema on the San Francisco scene. The only audition anyone remembers them having specifically is one for Phil Spector, who according to Kaukonen was waving a gun around during the audition, so he and Casady walked out. Around this time as well, the group performed at an event billed as "A Tribute to Dr. Strange", organised by the radical hippie collective Family Dog. Marvel Comics, rather than being the multi-billion-dollar Disney-owned corporate juggernaut it is now, was regarded as a hip, almost underground, company -- and around this time they briefly started billing their comics not as comics but as "Marvel Pop Art Productions". The magical adventures of Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts, and in particular the art by far-right libertarian artist Steve Ditko, were regarded as clear parallels to both the occult dabblings and hallucinogen use popular among the hippies, though Ditko had no time for either, following as he did an extreme version of Ayn Rand's Objectivism. It was at the Tribute to Dr. Strange that Jefferson Airplane performed for the first time with a band named The Great Society, whose lead singer, Grace Slick, would later become very important in Jefferson Airplane's story: [Excerpt: The Great Society, "Someone to Love"] That gig was also the first one where the band and their friends noticed that large chunks of the audience were now dressing up in costumes that were reminiscent of the Old West. Up to this point, while Katz had been managing the group and paying them fifty dollars a week even on weeks when they didn't perform, he'd been doing so without a formal contract, in part because the group didn't trust him much. But now they were starting to get interest from record labels, and in particular RCA Records desperately wanted them. While RCA had been the label who had signed Elvis Presley, they had otherwise largely ignored rock and roll, considering that since they had the biggest rock star in the world they didn't need other ones, and concentrating largely on middle-of-the-road acts. But by the mid-sixties Elvis' star had faded somewhat, and they were desperate to get some of the action for the new music -- and unlike the other major American labels, they didn't have a reciprocal arrangement with a British label that allowed them to release anything by any of the new British stars. The group were introduced to RCA by Rod McKuen, a songwriter and poet who later became America's best-selling poet and wrote songs that sold over a hundred million copies. At this point McKuen was in his Jacques Brel phase, recording loose translations of the Belgian songwriter's songs with McKuen translating the lyrics: [Excerpt: Rod McKuen, "Seasons in the Sun"] McKuen thought that Jefferson Airplane might be a useful market for his own songs, and brought the group to RCA. RCA offered Jefferson Airplane twenty-five thousand dollars to sign with them, and Katz convinced the group that RCA wouldn't give them this money without them having signed a management contract with him. Kaukonen, Kantner, Spence, and Balin all signed without much hesitation, but Jack Casady didn't yet sign, as he was the new boy and nobody knew if he was going to be in the band for the long haul. The other person who refused to sign was Signe Anderson. In her case, she had a much better reason for refusing to sign, as unlike the rest of the band she had actually read the contract, and she found it to be extremely worrying. She did eventually back down on the day of the group's first recording session, but she later had the contract renegotiated. Jack Casady also signed the contract right at the start of the first session -- or at least, he thought he'd signed the contract then. He certainly signed *something*, without having read it. But much later, during a court case involving the band's longstanding legal disputes with Katz, it was revealed that the signature on the contract wasn't Casady's, and was badly forged. What he actually *did* sign that day has never been revealed, to him or to anyone else. Katz also signed all the group as songwriters to his own publishing company, telling them that they legally needed to sign with him if they wanted to make records, and also claimed to RCA that he had power of attorney for the band, which they say they never gave him -- though to be fair to Katz, given the band members' habit of signing things without reading or understanding them, it doesn't seem beyond the realms of possibility that they did. The producer chosen for the group's first album was Tommy Oliver, a friend of Katz's who had previously been an arranger on some of Doris Day's records, and whose next major act after finishing the Jefferson Airplane album was Trombones Unlimited, who released records like "Holiday for Trombones": [Excerpt: Trombones Unlimited, "Holiday For Trombones"] The group weren't particularly thrilled with this choice, but were happier with their engineer, Dave Hassinger, who had worked on records like "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones, and had a far better understanding of the kind of music the group were making. They spent about three months recording their first album, even while continually being attacked as sellouts. The album is not considered their best work, though it does contain "Blues From an Airplane", a collaboration between Spence and Balin: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Blues From an Airplane"] Even before the album came out, though, things were starting to change for the group. Firstly, they started playing bigger venues -- their home base went from being the Matrix club to the Fillmore, a large auditorium run by the promoter Bill Graham. They also started to get an international reputation. The British singer-songwriter Donovan released a track called "The Fat Angel" which namechecked the group: [Excerpt: Donovan, "The Fat Angel"] The group also needed a new drummer. Skip Spence decided to go on holiday to Mexico without telling the rest of the band. There had already been some friction with Spence, as he was very eager to become a guitarist and songwriter, and the band already had three songwriting guitarists and didn't really see why they needed a fourth. They sacked Spence, who went on to form Moby Grape, who were also managed by Katz: [Excerpt: Moby Grape, "Omaha"] For his replacement they brought in Spencer Dryden, who was a Hollywood brat like their friend David Crosby -- in Dryden's case he was Charlie Chaplin's nephew, and his father worked as Chaplin's assistant. The story normally goes that the great session drummer Earl Palmer recommended Dryden to the group, but it's also the case that Dryden had been in a band, the Heartbeats, with Tommy Oliver and the great blues guitarist Roy Buchanan, so it may well be that Oliver had recommended him. Dryden had been primarily a jazz musician, playing with people like the West Coast jazz legend Charles Lloyd, though like most jazzers he would slum it on occasion by playing rock and roll music to pay the bills. But then he'd seen an early performance by the Mothers of Invention, and realised that rock music could have a serious artistic purpose too. He'd joined a band called The Ashes, who had released one single, the Jackie DeShannon song "Is There Anything I Can Do?" in December 1965: [Excerpt: The Ashes, "Is There Anything I Can Do?"] The Ashes split up once Dryden left the group to join Jefferson Airplane, but they soon reformed without him as The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, who hooked up with Gary Usher and released several albums of psychedelic sunshine pop. Dryden played his first gig with the group at a Republican Party event on June the sixth, 1966. But by the time Dryden had joined, other problems had become apparent. The group were already feeling like it had been a big mistake to accede to Katz's demands to sign a formal contract with him, and Balin in particular was getting annoyed that he wouldn't let the band see their finances. All the money was getting paid to Katz, who then doled out money to the band when they asked for it, and they had no idea if he was actually paying them what they were owed or not. The group's first album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, finally came out in September, and it was a comparative flop. It sold well in San Francisco itself, selling around ten thousand copies in the area, but sold basically nothing anywhere else in the country -- the group's local reputation hadn't extended outside their own immediate scene. It didn't help that the album was pulled and reissued, as RCA censored the initial version of the album because of objections to the lyrics. The song "Runnin' Round This World" was pulled off the album altogether for containing the word "trips", while in "Let Me In" they had to rerecord two lines -- “I gotta get in, you know where" was altered to "You shut the door now it ain't fair" and "Don't tell me you want money" became "Don't tell me it's so funny". Similarly in "Run Around" the phrase "as you lay under me" became "as you stay here by me". Things were also becoming difficult for Anderson. She had had a baby in May and was not only unhappy with having to tour while she had a small child, she was also the band member who was most vocally opposed to Katz. Added to that, her husband did not get on well at all with the group, and she felt trapped between her marriage and her bandmates. Reports differ as to whether she quit the band or was fired, but after a disastrous appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival, one way or another she was out of the band. Her replacement was already waiting in the wings. Grace Slick, the lead singer of the Great Society, had been inspired by going to one of the early Jefferson Airplane gigs. She later said "I went to see Jefferson Airplane at the Matrix, and they were making more money in a day than I made in a week. They only worked for two or three hours a night, and they got to hang out. I thought 'This looks a lot better than what I'm doing.' I knew I could more or less carry a tune, and I figured if they could do it I could." She was married at the time to a film student named Jerry Slick, and indeed she had done the music for his final project at film school, a film called "Everybody Hits Their Brother Once", which sadly I can't find online. She was also having an affair with Jerry's brother Darby, though as the Slicks were in an open marriage this wasn't particularly untoward. The three of them, with a couple of other musicians, had formed The Great Society, named as a joke about President Johnson's programme of the same name. The Great Society was the name Johnson had given to his whole programme of domestic reforms, including civil rights for Black people, the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts, and more. While those projects were broadly popular among the younger generation, Johnson's escalation of the war in Vietnam had made him so personally unpopular that even his progressive domestic programme was regarded with suspicion and contempt. The Great Society had set themselves up as local rivals to Jefferson Airplane -- where Jefferson Airplane had buttons saying "Jefferson Airplane Loves You!" the Great Society put out buttons saying "The Great Society Really Doesn't Like You Much At All". They signed to Autumn Records, and recorded a song that Darby Slick had written, titled "Someone to Love" -- though the song would later be retitled "Somebody to Love": [Excerpt: The Great Society, "Someone to Love"] That track was produced by Sly Stone, who at the time was working as a producer for Autumn Records. The Great Society, though, didn't like working with Stone, because he insisted on them doing forty-five takes to try to sound professional, as none of them were particularly competent musicians. Grace Slick later said "Sly could play any instrument known to man. He could have just made the record himself, except for the singers. It was kind of degrading in a way" -- and on another occasion she said that he *did* end up playing all the instruments on the finished record. "Someone to Love" was put out as a promo record, but never released to the general public, and nor were any of the Great Society's other recordings for Autumn Records released. Their contract expired and they were let go, at which point they were about to sign to Mercury Records, but then Darby Slick and another member decided to go off to India for a while. Grace's marriage to Jerry was falling apart, though they would stay legally married for several years, and the Great Society looked like it was at an end, so when Grace got the offer to join Jefferson Airplane to replace Signe Anderson, she jumped at the chance. At first, she was purely a harmony singer -- she didn't take over any of the lead vocal parts that Anderson had previously sung, as she had a very different vocal style, and instead she just sang the harmony parts that Anderson had sung on songs with other lead vocalists. But two months after the album they were back in the studio again, recording their second album, and Slick sang lead on several songs there. As well as the new lineup, there was another important change in the studio. They were still working with Dave Hassinger, but they had a new producer, Rick Jarrard. Jarrard was at one point a member of the folk group The Wellingtons, who did the theme tune for "Gilligan's Island", though I can't find anything to say whether or not he was in the group when they recorded that track: [Excerpt: The Wellingtons, "The Ballad of Gilligan's Island"] Jarrard had also been in the similar folk group The Greenwood County Singers, where as we heard in the episode on "Heroes and Villains" he replaced Van Dyke Parks. He'd also released a few singles under his own name, including a version of Parks' "High Coin": [Excerpt: Rick Jarrard, "High Coin"] While Jarrard had similar musical roots to those of Jefferson Airplane's members, and would go on to produce records by people like Harry Nilsson and The Family Tree, he wasn't any more liked by the band than their previous producer had been. So much so, that a few of the band members have claimed that while Jarrard is the credited producer, much of the work that one would normally expect to be done by a producer was actually done by their friend Jerry Garcia, who according to the band members gave them a lot of arranging and structural advice, and was present in the studio and played guitar on several tracks. Jarrard, on the other hand, said categorically "I never met Jerry Garcia. I produced that album from start to finish, never heard from Jerry Garcia, never talked to Jerry Garcia. He was not involved creatively on that album at all." According to the band, though, it was Garcia who had the idea of almost doubling the speed of the retitled "Somebody to Love", turning it into an uptempo rocker: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Somebody to Love"] And one thing everyone is agreed on is that it was Garcia who came up with the album title, when after listening to some of the recordings he said "That's as surrealistic as a pillow!" It was while they were working on the album that was eventually titled Surrealistic Pillow that they finally broke with Katz as their manager, bringing Bill Thompson in as a temporary replacement. Or at least, it was then that they tried to break with Katz. Katz sued the group over their contract, and won. Then they appealed, and they won. Then Katz appealed the appeal, and the Superior Court insisted that if he wanted to appeal the ruling, he had to put up a bond for the fifty thousand dollars the group said he owed them. He didn't, so in 1970, four years after they sacked him as their manager, the appeal was dismissed. Katz appealed the dismissal, and won that appeal, and the case dragged on for another three years, at which point Katz dragged RCA Records into the lawsuit. As a result of being dragged into the mess, RCA decided to stop paying the group their songwriting royalties from record sales directly, and instead put the money into an escrow account. The claims and counterclaims and appeals *finally* ended in 1987, twenty years after the lawsuits had started and fourteen years after the band had stopped receiving their songwriting royalties. In the end, the group won on almost every point, and finally received one point three million dollars in back royalties and seven hundred thousand dollars in interest that had accrued, while Katz got a small token payment. Early in 1967, when the sessions for Surrealistic Pillow had finished, but before the album was released, Newsweek did a big story on the San Francisco scene, which drew national attention to the bands there, and the first big event of what would come to be called the hippie scene, the Human Be-In, happened in Golden Gate Park in January. As the group's audience was expanding rapidly, they asked Bill Graham to be their manager, as he was the most business-minded of the people around the group. The first single from the album, "My Best Friend", a song written by Skip Spence before he quit the band, came out in January 1967 and had no more success than their earlier recordings had, and didn't make the Hot 100. The album came out in February, and was still no higher than number 137 on the charts in March, when the second single, "Somebody to Love", was released: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Somebody to Love"] That entered the charts at the start of April, and by June it had made number five. The single's success also pushed its parent album up to number three by August, just behind the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Monkees' Headquarters. The success of the single also led to the group being asked to do commercials for Levis jeans: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Levis commercial"] That once again got them accused of selling out. Abbie Hoffman, the leader of the Yippies, wrote to the Village Voice about the commercials, saying "It summarized for me all the doubts I have about the hippie philosophy. I realise they are just doing their 'thing', but while the Jefferson Airplane grooves with its thing, over 100 workers in the Levi Strauss plant on the Tennessee-Georgia border are doing their thing, which consists of being on strike to protest deplorable working conditions." The third single from the album, "White Rabbit", came out on the twenty-fourth of June, the day before the Beatles recorded "All You Need is Love", nine days after the release of "See Emily Play", and a week after the group played the Monterey Pop Festival, to give you some idea of how compressed a time period we've been in recently. We talked in the last episode about how there's a big difference between American and British psychedelia at this point in time, because the political nature of the American counterculture was determined by the fact that so many people were being sent off to die in Vietnam. Of all the San Francisco bands, though, Jefferson Airplane were by far the least political -- they were into the culture part of the counterculture, but would often and repeatedly disavow any deeper political meaning in their songs. In early 1968, for example, in a press conference, they said “Don't ask us anything about politics. We don't know anything about it. And what we did know, we just forgot.” So it's perhaps not surprising that of all the American groups, they were the one that was most similar to the British psychedelic groups in their influences, and in particular their frequent references to children's fantasy literature. "White Rabbit" was a perfect example of this. It had started out as "White Rabbit Blues", a song that Slick had written influenced by Alice in Wonderland, and originally performed by the Great Society: [Excerpt: The Great Society, "White Rabbit"] Slick explained the lyrics, and their association between childhood fantasy stories and drugs, later by saying "It's an interesting song but it didn't do what I wanted it to. What I was trying to say was that between the ages of zero and five the information and the input you get is almost indelible. In other words, once a Catholic, always a Catholic. And the parents read us these books, like Alice in Wonderland where she gets high, tall, and she takes mushrooms, a hookah, pills, alcohol. And then there's The Wizard of Oz, where they fall into a field of poppies and when they wake up they see Oz. And then there's Peter Pan, where if you sprinkle white dust on you, you could fly. And then you wonder why we do it? Well, what did you read to me?" While the lyrical inspiration for the track was from Alice in Wonderland, the musical inspiration is less obvious. Slick has on multiple occasions said that the idea for the music came from listening to Miles Davis' album "Sketches of Spain", and in particular to Davis' version of -- and I apologise for almost certainly mangling the Spanish pronunciation badly here -- "Concierto de Aranjuez", though I see little musical resemblance to it myself. [Excerpt: Miles Davis, "Concierto de Aranjuez"] She has also, though, talked about how the song was influenced by Ravel's "Bolero", and in particular the way the piece keeps building in intensity, starting softly and slowly building up, rather than having the dynamic peaks and troughs of most music. And that is definitely a connection I can hear in the music: [Excerpt: Ravel, "Bolero"] Jefferson Airplane's version of "White Rabbit", like their version of "Somebody to Love", was far more professional, far -- and apologies for the pun -- slicker than The Great Society's version. It's also much shorter. The version by The Great Society has a four and a half minute instrumental intro before Slick's vocal enters. By contrast, the version on Surrealistic Pillow comes in at under two and a half minutes in total, and is a tight pop song: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit"] Jack Casady has more recently said that the group originally recorded the song more or less as a lark, because they assumed that all the drug references would mean that RCA would make them remove the song from the album -- after all, they'd cut a song from the earlier album because it had a reference to a trip, so how could they possibly allow a song like "White Rabbit" with its lyrics about pills and mushrooms? But it was left on the album, and ended up making the top ten on the pop charts, peaking at number eight: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit"] In an interview last year, Slick said she still largely lives off the royalties from writing that one song. It would be the last hit single Jefferson Airplane would ever have. Marty Balin later said "Fame changes your life. It's a bit like prison. It ruined the band. Everybody became rich and selfish and self-centred and couldn't care about the band. That was pretty much the end of it all. After that it was just working and living the high life and watching the band destroy itself, living on its laurels." They started work on their third album, After Bathing at Baxter's, in May 1967, while "Somebody to Love" was still climbing the charts. This time, the album was produced by Al Schmitt. Unlike the two previous producers, Schmitt was a fan of the band, and decided the best thing to do was to just let them do their own thing without interfering. The album took months to record, rather than the weeks that Surrealistic Pillow had taken, and cost almost ten times as much money to record. In part the time it took was because of the promotional work the band had to do. Bill Graham was sending them all over the country to perform, which they didn't appreciate. The group complained to Graham in business meetings, saying they wanted to only play in big cities where there were lots of hippies. Graham pointed out in turn that if they wanted to keep having any kind of success, they needed to play places other than San Francisco, LA, New York, and Chicago, because in fact most of the population of the US didn't live in those four cities. They grudgingly took his point. But there were other arguments all the time as well. They argued about whether Graham should be taking his cut from the net or the gross. They argued about Graham trying to push for the next single to be another Grace Slick lead vocal -- they felt like he was trying to make them into just Grace Slick's backing band, while he thought it made sense to follow up two big hits with more singles with the same vocalist. There was also a lawsuit from Balin's former partners in the Matrix, who remembered that bit in the contract about having a share in the group's income and sued for six hundred thousand dollars -- that was settled out of court three years later. And there were interpersonal squabbles too. Some of these were about the music -- Dryden didn't like the fact that Kaukonen's guitar solos were getting longer and longer, and Balin only contributed one song to the new album because all the other band members made fun of him for writing short, poppy, love songs rather than extended psychedelic jams -- but also the group had become basically two rival factions. On one side were Kaukonen and Casady, the old friends and virtuoso instrumentalists, who wanted to extend the instrumental sections of the songs more to show off their playing. On the other side were Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden, the two oldest members of the group by age, but the most recent people to join. They were also unusual in the San Francisco scene for having alcohol as their drug of choice -- drinking was thought of by most of the hippies as being a bit classless, but they were both alcoholics. They were also sleeping together, and generally on the side of shorter, less exploratory, songs. Kantner, who was attracted to Slick, usually ended up siding with her and Dryden, and this left Balin the odd man out in the middle. He later said "I got disgusted with all the ego trips, and the band was so stoned that I couldn't even talk to them. Everybody was in their little shell". While they were still working on the album, they released the first single from it, Kantner's "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil". The "Pooneil" in the song was a figure that combined two of Kantner's influences: the Greenwich Village singer-songwriter Fred Neil, the writer of "Everybody's Talkin'" and "Dolphins"; and Winnie the Pooh. The song contained several lines taken from A.A. Milne's children's stories: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil"] That only made number forty-two on the charts. It was the last Jefferson Airplane single to make the top fifty. At a gig in Bakersfield they got arrested for inciting a riot, because they encouraged the crowd to dance, even though local by-laws said that nobody under sixteen was allowed to dance, and then they nearly got arrested again after Kantner's behaviour on the private plane they'd chartered to get them back to San Francisco that night. Kantner had been chain-smoking, and this annoyed the pilot, who asked Kantner to put his cigarette out, so Kantner opened the door of the plane mid-flight and threw the lit cigarette out. They'd chartered that plane because they wanted to make sure they got to see a new group, Cream, who were playing the Fillmore: [Excerpt: Cream, "Strange Brew"] After seeing that, the divisions in the band were even wider -- Kaukonen and Casady now *knew* that what the band needed was to do long, extended, instrumental jams. Cream were the future, two-minute pop songs were the past. Though they weren't completely averse to two-minute pop songs. The group were recording at RCA studios at the same time as the Monkees, and members of the two groups would often jam together. The idea of selling out might have been anathema to their *audience*, but the band members themselves didn't care about things like that. Indeed, at one point the group returned from a gig to the mansion they were renting and found squatters had moved in and were using their private pool -- so they shot at the water. The squatters quickly moved on. As Dryden put it "We all -- Paul, Jorma, Grace, and myself -- had guns. We weren't hippies. Hippies were the people that lived on the streets down in Haight-Ashbury. We were basically musicians and art school kids. We were into guns and machinery" After Bathing at Baxter's only went to number seventeen on the charts, not a bad position but a flop compared to their previous album, and Bill Graham in particular took this as more proof that he had been right when for the last few months he'd been attacking the group as self-indulgent. Eventually, Slick and Dryden decided that either Bill Graham was going as their manager, or they were going. Slick even went so far as to try to negotiate a solo deal with Elektra Records -- as the voice on the hits, everyone was telling her she was the only one who mattered anyway. David Anderle, who was working for the label, agreed a deal with her, but Jac Holzman refused to authorise the deal, saying "Judy Collins doesn't get that much money, why should Grace Slick?" The group did fire Graham, and went one further and tried to become his competitors. They teamed up with the Grateful Dead to open a new venue, the Carousel Ballroom, to compete with the Fillmore, but after a few months they realised they were no good at running a venue and sold it to Graham. Graham, who was apparently unhappy with the fact that the people living around the Fillmore were largely Black given that the bands he booked appealed to mostly white audiences, closed the original Fillmore, renamed the Carousel the Fillmore West, and opened up a second venue in New York, the Fillmore East. The divisions in the band were getting worse -- Kaukonen and Casady were taking more and more speed, which was making them play longer and faster instrumental solos whether or not the rest of the band wanted them to, and Dryden, whose hands often bled from trying to play along with them, definitely did not want them to. But the group soldiered on and recorded their fourth album, Crown of Creation. This album contained several songs that were influenced by science fiction novels. The most famous of these was inspired by the right-libertarian author Robert Heinlein, who was hugely influential on the counterculture. Jefferson Airplane's friends the Monkees had already recorded a song based on Heinlein's The Door Into Summer, an unintentionally disturbing novel about a thirty-year-old man who falls in love with a twelve-year-old girl, and who uses a combination of time travel and cryogenic freezing to make their ages closer together so he can marry her: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Door Into Summer"] Now Jefferson Airplane were recording a song based on Heinlein's most famous novel, Stranger in a Strange Land. Stranger in a Strange Land has dated badly, thanks to its casual homophobia and rape-apologia, but at the time it was hugely popular in hippie circles for its advocacy of free love and group marriages -- so popular that a religion, the Church of All Worlds, based itself on the book. David Crosby had taken inspiration from it and written "Triad", a song asking two women if they'll enter into a polygamous relationship with him, and recorded it with the Byrds: [Excerpt: The Byrds, "Triad"] But the other members of the Byrds disliked the song, and it was left unreleased for decades. As Crosby was friendly with Jefferson Airplane, and as members of the band were themselves advocates of open relationships, they recorded their own version with Slick singing lead: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Triad"] The other song on the album influenced by science fiction was the title track, Paul Kantner's "Crown of Creation". This song was inspired by The Chrysalids, a novel by the British writer John Wyndham. The Chrysalids is one of Wyndham's most influential novels, a post-apocalyptic story about young children who are born with mutant superpowers and have to hide them from their parents as they will be killed if they're discovered. The novel is often thought to have inspired Marvel Comics' X-Men, and while there's an unpleasant eugenic taste to its ending, with the idea that two species can't survive in the same ecological niche and the younger, "superior", species must outcompete the old, that idea also had a lot of influence in the counterculture, as well as being a popular one in science fiction. Kantner's song took whole lines from The Chrysalids, much as he had earlier done with A.A. Milne: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Crown of Creation"] The Crown of Creation album was in some ways a return to the more focused songwriting of Surrealistic Pillow, although the sessions weren't without their experiments. Slick and Dryden collaborated with Frank Zappa and members of the Mothers of Invention on an avant-garde track called "Would You Like a Snack?" (not the same song as the later Zappa song of the same name) which was intended for the album, though went unreleased until a CD box set decades later: [Excerpt: Grace Slick and Frank Zappa, "Would You Like a Snack?"] But the finished album was generally considered less self-indulgent than After Bathing at Baxter's, and did better on the charts as a result. It reached number six, becoming their second and last top ten album, helped by the group's appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in September 1968, a month after it came out. That appearance was actually organised by Colonel Tom Parker, who suggested them to Sullivan as a favour to RCA Records. But another TV appearance at the time was less successful. They appeared on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, one of the most popular TV shows among the young, hip, audience that the group needed to appeal to, but Slick appeared in blackface. She's later said that there was no political intent behind this, and that she was just trying the different makeup she found in the dressing room as a purely aesthetic thing, but that doesn't really explain the Black power salute she gives at one point. Slick was increasingly obnoxious on stage, as her drinking was getting worse and her relationship with Dryden was starting to break down. Just before the Smothers Brothers appearance she was accused at a benefit for the Whitney Museum of having called the audience "filthy Jews", though she has always said that what she actually said was "filthy jewels", and she was talking about the ostentatious jewellery some of the audience were wearing. The group struggled through a performance at Altamont -- an event we will talk about in a future episode, so I won't go into it here, except to say that it was a horrifying experience for everyone involved -- and performed at Woodstock, before releasing their fifth studio album, Volunteers, in 1969: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Volunteers"] That album made the top twenty, but was the last album by the classic lineup of the band. By this point Spencer Dryden and Grace Slick had broken up, with Slick starting to date Kantner, and Dryden was also disappointed at the group's musical direction, and left. Balin also left, feeling sidelined in the group. They released several more albums with varying lineups, including at various points their old friend David Frieberg of Quicksilver Messenger Service, the violinist Papa John Creach, and the former drummer of the Turtles, Johnny Barbata. But as of 1970 the group's members had already started working on two side projects -- an acoustic band called Hot Tuna, led by Kaukonen and Casady, which sometimes also featured Balin, and a project called Paul Kantner's Jefferson Starship, which also featured Slick and had recorded an album, Blows Against the Empire, the second side of which was based on the Robert Heinlein novel Back to Methuselah, and which became one of the first albums ever nominated for science fiction's Hugo Awards: [Excerpt: Jefferson Starship, "Have You Seen The Stars Tonite"] That album featured contributions from David Crosby and members of the Grateful Dead, as well as Casady on two tracks, but  in 1974 when Kaukonen and Casady quit Jefferson Airplane to make Hot Tuna their full-time band, Kantner, Slick, and Frieberg turned Jefferson Starship into a full band. Over the next decade, Jefferson Starship had a lot of moderate-sized hits, with a varying lineup that at one time or another saw several members, including Slick, go and return, and saw Marty Balin back with them for a while. In 1984, Kantner left the group, and sued them to stop them using the Jefferson Starship name. A settlement was reached in which none of Kantner, Slick, Kaukonen, or Casady could use the words "Jefferson" or "Airplane" in their band-names without the permission of all the others, and the remaining members of Jefferson Starship renamed their band just Starship -- and had three number one singles in the late eighties with Slick on lead, becoming far more commercially successful than their precursor bands had ever been: [Excerpt: Starship, "We Built This City on Rock & Roll"] Slick left Starship in 1989, and there was a brief Jefferson Airplane reunion tour, with all the classic members but Dryden, but then Slick decided that she was getting too old to perform rock and roll music, and decided to retire from music and become a painter, something she's stuck to for more than thirty years. Kantner and Balin formed a new Jefferson Starship, called Jefferson Starship: The Next Generation, but Kantner died in January 2016, coincidentally on the same day as Signe Anderson, who had occasionally guested with her old bandmates in the new version of the band. Balin, who had quit the reunited Jefferson Starship due to health reasons, died two years later. Dryden had died in 2005. Currently, there are three bands touring that descend directly from Jefferson Airplane. Hot Tuna still continue to perform, there's a version of Starship that tours featuring one original member, Mickey Thomas, and the reunited Jefferson Starship still tour, led by David Frieberg. Grace Slick has given the latter group her blessing, and even co-wrote one song on their most recent album, released in 2020, though she still doesn't perform any more. Jefferson Airplane's period in the commercial spotlight was brief -- they had charting singles for only a matter of months, and while they had top twenty albums for a few years after their peak, they really only mattered to the wider world during that brief period of the Summer of Love. But precisely because their period of success was so short, their music is indelibly associated with that time. To this day there's nothing as evocative of summer 1967 as "White Rabbit", even for those of us who weren't born then. And while Grace Slick had her problems, as I've made very clear in this episode, she inspired a whole generation of women who went on to be singers themselves, as one of the first prominent women to sing lead with an electric rock band. And when she got tired of doing that, she stopped, and got on with her other artistic pursuits, without feeling the need to go back and revisit the past for ever diminishing returns. One might only wish that some of her male peers had followed her example.

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Colin's Last Stand: KnockBack
#248 | Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Beatles album)

Colin's Last Stand: KnockBack

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 14, 2022 127:07


In the history of rock, there are seminal records... and then there are the true cream of the crop. The Beatles' 1967 classic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is very much in the latter camp, a record so mind-bending and fresh that, 55 years later, it remains one of the most-revered albums ever recorded. And when we say recorded, we mean it in the old-fashion way: Using tape reels and decks without a semblance of computer assistance, which wouldn't have even been possible ast the time. From musicianship to lyrical work to production, Sgt. Pepper's may be unrivaled even in the Beatles' very own discography of genre titans. So let's delve in, go through some of these amazing songs, and discuss the neverending legacy of what some would argue is the strongest LP ever set to vinyl, one that shook the world it entered into, and continues to morph it to this day. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 157: “See Emily Play” by The Pink Floyd

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2022


Episode one hundred and fifty-seven of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “See Emily Play", the birth of the UK underground, and the career of Roger Barrett, known as Syd. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-five-minute bonus episode available, on "First Girl I Loved" by the Incredible String Band. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources No Mixcloud this time, due to the number of Pink Floyd songs. I referred to two biographies of Barrett in this episode -- A Very Irregular Head by Rob Chapman is the one I would recommend, and the one whose narrative I have largely followed. Some of the information has been superseded by newer discoveries, but Chapman is almost unique in people writing about Barrett in that he actually seems to care about the facts and try to get things right rather than make up something more interesting. Crazy Diamond by Mike Watkinson and Pete Anderson is much less reliable, but does have quite a few interview quotes that aren't duplicated by Chapman. Information about Joe Boyd comes from Boyd's book White Bicycles. In this and future episodes on Pink Floyd I'm also relying on Nick Mason's Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd and Pink Floyd: All the Songs by Jean-Michel Guesdon and Philippe Margotin. The compilation Relics contains many of the most important tracks from Barrett's time with Pink Floyd, while Piper at the Gates of Dawn is his one full album with them. Those who want a fuller history of his time with the group will want to get Piper and also the box set Cambridge St/ation 1965-1967. Barrett only released two solo albums during his career. They're available as a bundle here. Completists will also want the rarities and outtakes collection Opel.  ERRATA: I talk about “Interstellar Overdrive” as if Barrett wrote it solo. The song is credited to all four members, but it was Barrett who came up with the riff I talk about. And annoyingly, given the lengths I went to to deal correctly with Barrett's name, I repeatedly refer to "Dave" Gilmour, when Gilmour prefers David. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript A note before I begin -- this episode deals with drug use and mental illness, so anyone who might be upset by those subjects might want to skip this one. But also, there's a rather unique problem in how I deal with the name of the main artist in the story today. The man everyone knows as Syd Barrett was born Roger Barrett, used that name with his family for his whole life, and in later years very strongly disliked being called "Syd", yet everyone other than his family called him that at all times until he left the music industry, and that's the name that appears on record labels, including his solo albums. I don't believe it's right to refer to people by names they choose not to go by themselves, but the name Barrett went by throughout his brief period in the public eye was different from the one he went by later, and by all accounts he was actually distressed by its use in later years. So what I'm going to do in this episode is refer to him as "Roger Barrett" when a full name is necessary for disambiguation or just "Barrett" otherwise, but I'll leave any quotes from other people referring to "Syd" as they were originally phrased. In future episodes on Pink Floyd, I'll refer to him just as Barrett, but in episodes where I discuss his influence on other artists, I will probably have to use "Syd Barrett" because otherwise people who haven't listened to this episode won't know what on Earth I'm talking about. Anyway, on with the show. “It's gone!” sighed the Rat, sinking back in his seat again. “So beautiful and strange and new. Since it was to end so soon, I almost wish I had never heard it. For it has roused a longing in me that is pain, and nothing seems worth while but just to hear that sound once more and go on listening to it for ever. No! There it is again!” he cried, alert once more. Entranced, he was silent for a long space, spellbound. “Now it passes on and I begin to lose it,” he said presently. “O Mole! the beauty of it! The merry bubble and joy, the thin, clear, happy call of the distant piping! Such music I never dreamed of, and the call in it is stronger even than the music is sweet! Row on, Mole, row! For the music and the call must be for us.” That's a quote from a chapter titled "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" from the classic children's book The Wind in the Willows -- a book which for most of its length is a fairly straightforward story about anthropomorphic animals having jovial adventures, but which in that one chapter has Rat and Mole suddenly encounter the Great God Pan and have a hallucinatory, transcendental experience caused by his music, one so extreme it's wiped from their minds, as they simply cannot process it. The book, and the chapter, was a favourite of Roger Barrett, a young child born in Cambridge in 1946. Barrett came from an intellectual but not especially bookish family. His father, Dr. Arthur Barrett, was a pathologist -- there's a room in Addenbrooke's Hospital named after him -- but he was also an avid watercolour painter, a world-leading authority on fungi, and a member of the Cambridge Philharmonic Society who was apparently an extraordinarily good singer; while his mother Winifred was a stay-at-home mother who was nonetheless very active in the community, organising a local Girl Guide troupe. They never particularly encouraged their family to read, but young Roger did particularly enjoy the more pastoral end of the children's literature of the time. As well as the Wind in the Willows he also loved Alice in Wonderland, and the Little Grey Men books -- a series of stories about tiny gnomes and their adventures in the countryside. But his two big passions were music and painting. He got his first ukulele at age eleven, and by the time his father died, just before Roger's sixteenth birthday, he had graduated to playing a full-sized guitar. At the time his musical tastes were largely the same as those of any other British teenager -- he liked Chubby Checker, for example -- though he did have a tendency to prefer the quirkier end of things, and some of the first songs he tried to play on the guitar were those of Joe Brown: [Excerpt: Joe Brown, "I'm Henry VIII I Am"] Barrett grew up in Cambridge, and for those who don't know it, Cambridge is an incubator of a very particular kind of eccentricity. The university tends to attract rather unworldly intellectual overachievers to the city -- people who might not be able to survive in many other situations but who can thrive in that one -- and every description of Barrett's father suggests he was such a person -- Barrett's sister Rosemary has said that she believes that most of the family were autistic, though whether this is a belief based on popular media portrayals or a deeper understanding I don't know. But certainly Cambridge is full of eccentric people with remarkable achievements, and such people tend to have children with a certain type of personality, who try simultaneously to live up to and rebel against expectations of greatness that come from having parents who are regarded as great, and to do so with rather less awareness of social norms than the typical rebel has. In the case of Roger Barrett, he, like so many others of his generation, was encouraged to go into the sciences -- as indeed his father had, both in his career as a pathologist and in his avocation as a mycologist. The fifties and sixties were a time, much like today, when what we now refer to as the STEM subjects were regarded as new and exciting and modern. But rather than following in his father's professional footsteps, Roger Barrett instead followed his hobbies. Dr. Barrett was a painter and musician in his spare time, and Roger was to turn to those things to earn his living. For much of his teens, it seemed that art would be the direction he would go in. He was, everyone agrees, a hugely talented painter, and he was particularly noted for his mastery of colours. But he was also becoming more and more interested in R&B music, especially the music of Bo Diddley, who became his new biggest influence: [Excerpt: Bo Diddley, "Who Do You Love?"] He would often spend hours with his friend Dave Gilmour, a much more advanced guitarist, trying to learn blues riffs. By this point Barrett had already received the nickname "Syd". Depending on which story you believe, he either got it when he started attending a jazz club where an elderly jazzer named Sid Barrett played, and the people were amused that their youngest attendee, like one of the oldest, was called Barrett; or, more plausibly, he turned up to a Scout meeting once wearing a flat cap rather than the normal scout beret, and he got nicknamed "Sid" because it made him look working-class and "Sid" was a working-class sort of name. In 1962, by the time he was sixteen, Barrett joined a short-lived group called Geoff Mott and the Mottoes, on rhythm guitar. The group's lead singer, Geoff Mottlow, would go on to join a band called the Boston Crabs who would have a minor hit in 1965 with a version of the Coasters song "Down in Mexico": [Excerpt: The Boston Crabs, "Down in Mexico"] The bass player from the Mottoes, Tony Sainty, and the drummer Clive Welham, would go on to form another band, The Jokers Wild, with Barrett's friend Dave Gilmour. Barrett also briefly joined another band, Those Without, but his time with them was similarly brief. Some sources -- though ones I consider generally less reliable -- say that the Mottoes' bass player wasn't Tony Sainty, but was Roger Waters, the son of one of Barrett's teachers, and that one of the reasons the band split up was that Waters had moved down to London to study architecture. I don't think that's the case, but it's definitely true that Barrett knew Waters, and when he moved to London himself the next year to go to Camberwell Art College, he moved into a house where Waters was already living. Two previous tenants at the same house, Nick Mason and Richard Wright, had formed a loose band with Waters and various other amateur musicians like Keith Noble, Shelagh Noble, and Clive Metcalfe. That band was sometimes known as the Screaming Abdabs, The Megadeaths, or The Tea Set -- the latter as a sly reference to slang terms for cannabis -- but was mostly known at first as Sigma 6, named after a manifesto by the novelist Alexander Trocchi for a kind of spontaneous university. They were also sometimes known as Leonard's Lodgers, after the landlord of the home that Barrett was moving into, Mike Leonard, who would occasionally sit in on organ and would later, as the band became more of a coherent unit, act as a roadie and put on light shows behind them -- Leonard was himself very interested in avant-garde and experimental art, and it was his idea to play around with the group's lighting. By the time Barrett moved in with Waters in 1964, the group had settled on the Tea Set name, and consisted of Waters on bass, Mason on drums, Wright on keyboards, singer Chris Dennis, and guitarist Rado Klose. Of the group, Klose was the only one who was a skilled musician -- he was a very good jazz guitarist, while the other members were barely adequate. By this time Barrett's musical interests were expanding to include folk music -- his girlfriend at the time talked later about him taking her to see Bob Dylan on his first UK tour and thinking "My first reaction was seeing all these people like Syd. It was almost as if every town had sent one Syd Barrett there. It was my first time seeing people like him." But the music he was most into was the blues. And as the Tea Set were turning into a blues band, he joined them. He even had a name for the new band that would make them more bluesy. He'd read the back of a record cover which had named two extremely obscure blues musicians -- musicians he may never even have heard. Pink Anderson: [Excerpt: Pink Anderson, "Boll Weevil"] And Floyd Council: [Excerpt: Floyd Council, "Runaway Man Blues"] Barrett suggested that they put together the names of the two bluesmen, and presumably because "Anderson Council" didn't have quite the right ring, they went for The Pink Floyd -- though for a while yet they would sometimes still perform as The Tea Set, and they were sometimes also called The Pink Floyd Sound. Dennis left soon after Barrett joined, and the new five-piece Pink Floyd Sound started trying to get more gigs. They auditioned for Ready Steady Go! and were turned down, but did get some decent support slots, including for a band called the Tridents: [Excerpt: The Tridents, "Tiger in Your Tank"] The members of the group were particularly impressed by the Tridents' guitarist and the way he altered his sound using feedback -- Barrett even sent a letter to his girlfriend with a drawing of the guitarist, one Jeff Beck, raving about how good he was. At this point, the group were mostly performing cover versions, but they did have a handful of originals, and it was these they recorded in their first demo sessions in late 1964 and early 1965. They included "Walk With Me Sydney", a song written by Roger Waters as a parody of "Work With Me Annie" and "Dance With Me Henry" -- and, given the lyrics, possibly also Hank Ballard's follow-up "Henry's Got Flat Feet (Can't Dance No More) and featuring Rick Wright's then-wife Juliette Gale as Etta James to Barrett's Richard Berry: [Excerpt: The Tea Set, "Walk With Me Sydney"] And four songs by Barrett, including one called "Double-O Bo" which was a Bo Diddley rip-off, and "Butterfly", the most interesting of these early recordings: [Excerpt: The Tea Set, "Butterfly"] At this point, Barrett was very unsure of his own vocal abilities, and wrote a letter to his girlfriend saying "Emo says why don't I give up 'cos it sounds horrible, and I would but I can't get Fred to join because he's got a group (p'raps you knew!) so I still have to sing." "Fred" was a nickname for his old friend Dave Gilmour, who was playing in his own band, Joker's Wild, at this point. Summer 1965 saw two important events in the life of the group. The first was that Barrett took LSD for the first time. The rest of the group weren't interested in trying it, and would indeed generally be one of the more sober bands in the rock business, despite the reputation their music got. The other members would for the most part try acid once or twice, around late 1966, but generally steer clear of it. Barrett, by contrast, took it on a very regular basis, and it would influence all the work he did from that point on. The other event was that Rado Klose left the group. Klose was the only really proficient musician in the group, but he had very different tastes to the other members, preferring to play jazz to R&B and pop, and he was also falling behind in his university studies, and decided to put that ahead of remaining in the band. This meant that the group members had to radically rethink the way they were making music. They couldn't rely on instrumental proficiency, so they had to rely on ideas. One of the things they started to do was use echo. They got primitive echo devices and put both Barrett's guitar and Wright's keyboard through them, allowing them to create new sounds that hadn't been heard on stage before. But they were still mostly doing the same Slim Harpo and Bo Diddley numbers everyone else was doing, and weren't able to be particularly interesting while playing them. But for a while they carried on doing the normal gigs, like a birthday party they played in late 1965, where on the same bill was a young American folk singer named Paul Simon, and Joker's Wild, the band Dave Gilmour was in, who backed Simon on a version of "Johnny B. Goode". A couple of weeks after that party, Joker's Wild went into the studio to record their only privately-pressed five-song record, of them performing recent hits: [Excerpt: Joker's Wild, "Walk Like a Man"] But The Pink Floyd Sound weren't as musically tight as Joker's Wild, and they couldn't make a living as a cover band even if they wanted to. They had to do something different. Inspiration then came from a very unexpected source. I mentioned earlier that one of the names the group had been performing under had been inspired by a manifesto for a spontaneous university by the writer Alexander Trocchi. Trocchi's ideas had actually been put into practice by an organisation calling itself the London Free School, based in Notting Hill. The London Free School was an interesting mixture of people from what was then known as the New Left, but who were already rapidly aging, the people who had been the cornerstone of radical campaigning in the late fifties and early sixties, who had run the Aldermaston marches against nuclear weapons and so on, and a new breed of countercultural people who in a year or two would be defined as hippies but at the time were not so easy to pigeonhole. These people were mostly politically radical but very privileged people -- one of the founder members of the London Free School was Peter Jenner, who was the son of a vicar and the grandson of a Labour MP -- and they were trying to put their radical ideas into practice. The London Free School was meant to be a collective of people who would help each other and themselves, and who would educate each other. You'd go to the collective wanting to learn how to do something, whether that's how to improve the housing in your area or navigate some particularly difficult piece of bureaucracy, or how to play a musical instrument, and someone who had that skill would teach you how to do it, while you hopefully taught them something else of value. The London Free School, like all such utopian schemes, ended up falling apart, but it had a wider cultural impact than most such schemes. Britain's first underground newspaper, the International Times, was put together by people involved in the Free School, and the annual Notting Hill Carnival, which is now one of the biggest outdoor events in Britain every year with a million attendees, came from the merger of outdoor events organised by the Free School with older community events. A group of musicians called AMM was associated with many of the people involved in the Free School. AMM performed totally improvised music, with no structure and no normal sense of melody and harmony: [Excerpt: AMM, "What Is There In Uselesness To Cause You Distress?"] Keith Rowe, the guitarist in AMM, wanted to find his own technique uninfluenced by American jazz guitarists, and thought of that in terms that appealed very strongly to the painterly Barrett, saying "For the Americans to develop an American school of painting, they somehow had to ditch or lose European easel painting techniques. They had to make a break with the past. What did that possibly mean if you were a jazz guitar player? For me, symbolically, it was Pollock laying the canvas on the floor, which immediately abandons European easel technique. I could see that by laying the canvas down, it became inappropriate to apply easel techniques. I thought if I did that with a guitar, I would just lose all those techniques, because they would be physically impossible to do." Rowe's technique-free technique inspired Barrett to make similar noises with his guitar, and to think less in terms of melody and harmony than pure sound. AMM's first record came out in 1966. Four of the Free School people decided to put together their own record label, DNA, and they got an agreement with Elektra Records to distribute its first release -- Joe Boyd, the head of Elektra in the UK, was another London Free School member, and someone who had plenty of experience with disruptive art already, having been on the sound engineering team at the Newport Folk Festival when Dylan went electric. AMM went into the studio and recorded AMMMusic: [Excerpt: AMM, "What Is There In Uselesness To Cause You Distress?"] After that came out, though, Peter Jenner, one of the people who'd started the label, came to a realisation. He said later "We'd made this one record with AMM. Great record, very seminal, seriously avant-garde, but I'd started adding up and I'd worked out that the deal we had, we got two percent of retail, out of which we, the label, had to pay for recording costs and pay ourselves. I came to the conclusion that we were going to have to sell a hell of a lot of records just to pay the recording costs, let alone pay ourselves any money and build a label, so I realised we had to have a pop band because pop bands sold a lot of records. It was as simple as that and I was as naive as that." Jenner abandoned DNA records for the moment, and he and his friend Andrew King decided they were going to become pop managers. and they found The Pink Floyd Sound playing at an event at the Marquee, one of a series of events that were variously known as Spontaneous Underground and The Trip. Other participants in those events included Soft Machine; Mose Allison; Donovan, performing improvised songs backed by sitar players; Graham Bond; a performer who played Bach pieces while backed by African drummers; and The Poison Bellows, a poetry duo consisting of Spike Hawkins and Johnny Byrne, who may of all of these performers be the one who other than Pink Floyd themselves has had the most cultural impact in the UK -- after writing the exploitation novel Groupie and co-writing a film adaptation of Spike Milligan's war memoirs, Byrne became a TV screenwriter, writing many episodes of Space: 1999 and Doctor Who before creating the long-running TV series Heartbeat. Jenner and King decided they wanted to sign The Pink Floyd Sound and make records with them, and the group agreed -- but only after their summer holidays. They were all still students, and so they dispersed during the summer. Waters and Wright went on holiday to Greece, where they tried acid for the first of only a small number of occasions and were unimpressed, while Mason went on a trip round America by Greyhound bus. Barrett, meanwhile, stayed behind, and started writing more songs, encouraged by Jenner, who insisted that the band needed to stop relying on blues covers and come up with their own material, and who saw Barrett as the focus of the group. Jenner later described them as "Four not terribly competent musicians who managed between them to create something that was extraordinary. Syd was the main creative drive behind the band - he was the singer and lead guitarist. Roger couldn't tune his bass because he was tone deaf, it had to be tuned by Rick. Rick could write a bit of a tune and Roger could knock out a couple of words if necessary. 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' was the first song Roger ever wrote, and he only did it because Syd encouraged everyone to write. Syd was very hesitant about his writing, but when he produced these great songs everyone else thought 'Well, it must be easy'" Of course, we know this isn't quite true -- Waters had written "Walk with me Sydney" -- but it is definitely the case that everyone involved thought of Barrett as the main creative force in the group, and that he was the one that Jenner was encouraging to write new material. After the summer holidays, the group reconvened, and one of their first actions was to play a benefit for the London Free School. Jenner said later "Andrew King and myself were both vicars' sons, and we knew that when you want to raise money for the parish you have to have a social. So in a very old-fashioned way we said 'let's put on a social'. Like in the Just William books, like a whist drive. We thought 'You can't have a whist drive. That's not cool. Let's have a band. That would be cool.' And the only band we knew was the band I was starting to get involved with." After a couple of these events went well, Joe Boyd suggested that they make those events a regular club night, and the UFO Club was born. Jenner and King started working on the light shows for the group, and then bringing in other people, and the light show became an integral part of the group's mystique -- rather than standing in a spotlight as other groups would, they worked in shadows, with distorted kaleidoscopic lights playing on them, distancing themselves from the audience. The highlight of their sets was a long piece called "Interstellar Overdrive", and this became one of the group's first professional recordings, when they went into the studio with Joe Boyd to record it for the soundtrack of a film titled Tonite Let's All Make Love in London. There are conflicting stories about the inspiration for the main riff for "Interstellar Overdrive". One apparent source is the riff from Love's version of the Bacharach and David song "My Little Red Book". Depending on who you ask, either Barrett was obsessed with Love's first album and copied the riff, or Peter Jenner tried to hum him the riff and Barrett copied what Jenner was humming: [Excerpt: Love, "My Little Red Book"] More prosaically, Roger Waters has always claimed that the main inspiration was from "Old Ned", Ron Grainer's theme tune for the sitcom Steptoe and Son (which for American listeners was remade over there as Sanford and Son): [Excerpt: Ron Grainer, "Old Ned"] Of course it's entirely possible, and even likely, that Barrett was inspired by both, and if so that would neatly sum up the whole range of Pink Floyd's influences at this point. "My Little Red Book" was a cover by an American garage-psych/folk-rock band of a hit by Manfred Mann, a group who were best known for pop singles but were also serious blues and jazz musicians, while Steptoe and Son was a whimsical but dark and very English sitcom about a way of life that was slowly disappearing. And you can definitely hear both influences in the main riff of the track they recorded with Boyd: [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "Interstellar Overdrive"] "Interstellar Overdrive" was one of two types of song that The Pink Floyd were performing at this time -- a long, extended, instrumental psychedelic excuse for freaky sounds, inspired by things like the second disc of Freak Out! by the Mothers of Invention. When they went into the studio again with Boyd later in January 1967, to record what they hoped would be their first single, they recorded two of the other kind of songs -- whimsical story songs inspired equally by the incidents of everyday life and by children's literature. What became the B-side, "Candy and a Currant Bun", was based around the riff from "Smokestack Lightnin'" by Howlin' Wolf: [Excerpt: Howlin' Wolf, "Smokestack Lightnin'"] That song had become a favourite on the British blues scene, and was thus the inspiration for many songs of the type that get called "quintessentially English". Ray Davies, who was in many ways the major songwriter at this time who was closest to Barrett stylistically, would a year later use the riff for the Kinks song "Last of the Steam-Powered Trains", but in this case Barrett had originally written a song titled "Let's Roll Another One", about sexual longing and cannabis. The lyrics were hastily rewritten in the studio to remove the controversial drug references-- and supposedly this caused some conflict between Barrett and Waters, with Waters pushing for the change, while Barrett argued against it, though like many of the stories from this period this sounds like the kind of thing that gets said by people wanting to push particular images of both men. Either way, the lyric was changed to be about sweet treats rather than drugs, though the lascivious elements remained in. And some people even argue that there was another lyric change -- where Barrett sings "walk with me", there's a slight "f" sound in his vocal. As someone who does a lot of microphone work myself, it sounds to me like just one of those things that happens while recording, but a lot of people are very insistent that Barrett is deliberately singing a different word altogether: [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "Candy and a Currant Bun"] The A-side, meanwhile, was inspired by real life. Both Barrett and Waters had mothers who used  to take in female lodgers, and both had regularly had their lodgers' underwear stolen from washing lines. While they didn't know anything else about the thief, he became in Barrett's imagination a man who liked to dress up in the clothing after he stole it: [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "Arnold Layne"] After recording the two tracks with Joe Boyd, the natural assumption was that the record would be put out on Elektra, the label which Boyd worked for in the UK, but Jac Holzman, the head of Elektra records, wasn't interested, and so a bidding war began for the single, as by this point the group were the hottest thing in London. For a while it looked like they were going to sign to Track Records, the label owned by the Who's management, but in the end EMI won out. Right as they signed, the News of the World was doing a whole series of articles about pop stars and their drug use, and the last of the articles talked about The Pink Floyd and their association with LSD, even though they hadn't released a record yet. EMI had to put out a press release saying that the group were not psychedelic, insisting"The Pink Floyd are not trying to create hallucinatory effects in their audience." It was only after getting signed that the group became full-time professionals. Waters had by this point graduated from university and was working as a trainee architect, and quit his job to become a pop star. Wright dropped out of university, but Mason and Barrett took sabbaticals. Barrett in particular seems to have seen this very much as a temporary thing, talking about how he was making so much money it would be foolish not to take the opportunity while it lasted, but how he was going to resume his studies in a year. "Arnold Layne" made the top twenty, and it would have gone higher had the pirate radio station Radio London, at the time the single most popular radio station when it came to pop music, not banned the track because of its sexual content. However, it would be the only single Joe Boyd would work on with the group. EMI insisted on only using in-house producers, and so while Joe Boyd would go on to a great career as a producer, and we'll see him again, he was replaced with Norman Smith. Smith had been the chief engineer on the Beatles records up to Rubber Soul, after which he'd been promoted to being a producer in his own right, and Geoff Emerick had taken over. He also had aspirations to pop stardom himself, and a few years later would have a transatlantic hit with "Oh Babe, What Would You Say?" under the name Hurricane Smith: [Excerpt: Hurricane Smith, "Oh Babe, What Would You Say?"] Smith's production of the group would prove controversial among some of the group's longtime fans, who thought that he did too much to curtail their more experimental side, as he would try to get the group to record songs that were more structured and more commercial, and would cut down their improvisations into a more manageable form. Others, notably Peter Jenner, thought that Smith was the perfect producer for the group. They started work on their first album, which was mostly recorded in studio three of Abbey Road, while the Beatles were just finishing off work on Sgt Pepper in studio two. The album was titled The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, after the chapter from The Wind in the Willows, and other than a few extended instrumental showcases, most of the album was made up of short, whimsical, songs by Barrett that were strongly infused with imagery from late-Victorian and Edwardian children's books. This is one of the big differences between the British and American psychedelic scenes. Both the British and American undergrounds were made up of the same type of people -- a mixture of older radical activists, often Communists, who had come up in Britain in the Ban the Bomb campaigns and in America in the Civil Rights movement; and younger people, usually middle-class students with radical politics from a privileged background, who were into experimenting with drugs and alternative lifestyles. But the  social situations were different. In America, the younger members of the underground were angry and scared, as their principal interest was in stopping the war in Vietnam in which so many of them were being killed. And the music of the older generation of the underground, the Civil Rights activists, was shot through with influence from the blues, gospel, and American folk music, with a strong Black influence. So that's what the American psychedelic groups played, for the most part, very bluesy, very angry, music, By contrast, the British younger generation of hippies were not being drafted to go to war, and mostly had little to complain about, other than a feeling of being stifled by their parents' generation's expectations. And while most of them were influenced by the blues, that wasn't the music that had been popular among the older underground people, who had either been listening to experimental European art music or had been influenced by Ewan MacColl and his associates into listening instead to traditional old English ballads, things like the story of Tam Lin or Thomas the Rhymer, where someone is spirited away to the land of the fairies: [Excerpt: Ewan MacColl, "Thomas the Rhymer"] As a result, most British musicians, when exposed to the culture of the underground over here, created music that looked back to an idealised childhood of their grandparents' generation, songs that were nostalgic for a past just before the one they could remember (as opposed to their own childhoods, which had taken place in war or the immediate aftermath of it, dominated by poverty, rationing, and bomb sites (though of course Barrett's childhood in Cambridge had been far closer to this mythic idyll than those of his contemporaries from Liverpool, Birmingham, Newcastle, or London). So almost every British musician who was making music that might be called psychedelic was writing songs that were influenced both by experimental art music and by pre-War popular song, and which conjured up images from older children's books. Most notably of course at this point the Beatles were recording songs like "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" about places from their childhood, and taking lyrical inspiration from Victorian circus posters and the works of Lewis Carroll, but Barrett was similarly inspired. One of the books he loved most as a child was "The Little Grey Men" by BB, a penname for Denys Watkins-Pitchford. The book told the story of three gnomes,  Baldmoney, Sneezewort, and Dodder, and their adventures on a boat when the fourth member of their little group, Cloudberry, who's a bit of a rebellious loner and more adventurous than the other three, goes exploring on his own and they have to go off and find him. Barrett's song "The Gnome" doesn't use any precise details from the book, but its combination of whimsy about a gnome named Grimble-gromble and a reverence for nature is very much in the mould of BB's work: [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "The Gnome"] Another huge influence on Barrett was Hillaire Belloc. Belloc is someone who is not read much any more, as sadly he is mostly known for the intense antisemitism in some of his writing, which stains it just as so much of early twentieth-century literature is stained, but he was one of the most influential writers of the early part of the twentieth century. Like his friend GK Chesterton he was simultaneously an author of Catholic apologia and a political campaigner -- he was a Liberal MP for a few years, and a strong advocate of an economic system known as Distributism, and had a peculiar mixture of very progressive and extremely reactionary ideas which resonated with a lot of the atmosphere in the British underground of the time, even though he would likely have profoundly disapproved of them. But Belloc wrote in a variety of styles, including poems for children, which are the works of his that have aged the best, and were a huge influence on later children's writers like Roald Dahl with their gleeful comic cruelty. Barrett's "Matilda Mother" had lyrics that were, other than the chorus where Barrett begs his mother to read him more of the story, taken verbatim from three poems from Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children -- "Jim, Who Ran away from his Nurse, and was Eaten by a Lion", "Henry King (Who chewed bits of String, and was cut off in Dreadful Agonies)", and "Matilda (Who Told Lies and Was Burned to Death)" -- the titles of those give some idea of the kind of thing Belloc would write: [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "Matilda Mother (early version)"] Sadly for Barrett, Belloc's estate refused to allow permission for his poems to be used, and so he had to rework the lyrics, writing new fairy-tale lyrics for the finished version. Other sources of inspiration for lyrics came from books like the I Ching, which Barrett used for "Chapter 24", having bought a copy from the Indica Bookshop, the same place that John Lennon had bought The Psychedelic Experience, and there's been some suggestion that he was deliberately trying to copy Lennon in taking lyrical ideas from a book of ancient mystic wisdom. During the recording of Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the group continued playing live. As they'd now had a hit single, most of their performances were at Top Rank Ballrooms and other such venues around the country, on bills with other top chart groups, playing to audiences who seemed unimpressed or actively hostile. They also, though made two important appearances. The more well-known of these was at the 14-Hour Technicolor Dream, a benefit for International Times magazine with people including Yoko Ono, their future collaborator Ron Geesin, John's Children, Soft Machine, and The Move also performing. The 14-Hour Technicolor Dream is now largely regarded as *the* pivotal moment in the development of the UK counterculture, though even at the time some participants noted that there seemed to be a rift developing between the performers, who were often fairly straightforward beer-drinking ambitious young men who had latched on to kaftans and talk about enlightenment as the latest gimmick they could use to get ahead in the industry, and the audience who seemed to be true believers. Their other major performance was at an event called "Games for May -- Space Age Relaxation for the Climax of Spring", where they were able to do a full long set in a concert space with a quadrophonic sound system, rather than performing in the utterly sub-par environments most pop bands had to at this point. They came up with a new song written for the event, which became their second single, "See Emily Play". [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "See Emily Play"] Emily was apparently always a favourite name of Barrett's, and he even talked with one girlfriend about the possibility of naming their first child Emily, but the Emily of the song seems to have had a specific inspiration. One of the youngest attendees at the London Free School was an actual schoolgirl, Emily Young, who would go along to their events with her schoolfriend Anjelica Huston (who later became a well-known film star). Young is now a world-renowned artist, regarded as arguably Britain's greatest living stone sculptor, but at the time she was very like the other people at the London Free School -- she was from a very privileged background, her father was Wayland Young, 2nd Baron Kennet, a Labour Peer and minister who later joined the SDP. But being younger than the rest of the attendees, and still a little naive, she was still trying to find her own personality, and would take on attributes and attitudes of other people without fully understanding them,  hence the song's opening lines, "Emily tries, but misunderstands/She's often inclined to borrow somebody's dream til tomorrow". The song gets a little darker towards the end though, and the image in the last verse, where she puts on a gown and floats down a river forever *could* be a gentle, pastoral, image of someone going on a boat ride, but it also could be a reference to two rather darker sources. Barrett was known to pick up imagery both from classic literature and from Arthurian legend, and so the lines inevitably conjure up both the idea of Ophelia drowning herself and of the Lady of Shallot in Tennyson's Arthurian poem, who is trapped in a tower but finds a boat, and floats down the river to Camelot but dies before the boat reaches the castle: [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "See Emily Play"] The song also evokes very specific memories of Barrett's childhood -- according to Roger Waters, the woods mentioned in the lyrics are meant to be woods in which they had played as children, on the road out of Cambridge towards the Gog and Magog Hills. The song was apparently seven minutes long in its earliest versions, and required a great deal of editing to get down to single length, but it was worth it, as the track made the top ten. And that was where the problems started. There are two different stories told about what happened to Roger Barrett over the next forty years, and both stories are told by people with particular agendas, who want particular versions of him to become the accepted truth. Both stories are, in the extreme versions that have been popularised, utterly incompatible with each other, but both are fairly compatible with the scanty evidence we have. Possibly the truth lies somewhere between them. In one version of the story, around this time Barrett had a total mental breakdown, brought on or exacerbated by his overuse of LSD and Mandrax (a prescription drug consisting of a mixture of the antihistamine diphenhydramine and the sedative methaqualone, which was marketed in the US under the brand-name Quaalude), and that from late summer 1967 on he was unable to lead a normal life, and spent the rest of his life as a burned-out shell. The other version of the story is that Barrett was a little fragile, and did have periods of mental illness, but for the most part was able to function fairly well. In this version of the story, he was neurodivergent, and found celebrity distressing, but more than that he found the whole process of working within commercial restrictions upsetting -- having to appear on TV pop shows and go on package tours was just not something he found himself able to do, but he was responsible for a whole apparatus of people who relied on him and his group for their living. In this telling, he was surrounded by parasites who looked on him as their combination meal-ticket-cum-guru, and was simply not suited for the role and wanted to sabotage it so he could have a private life instead. Either way, *something* seems to have changed in Barrett in a profound way in the early summer of 1967. Joe Boyd talks about meeting him after not having seen him for a few weeks, and all the light being gone from his eyes. The group appeared on Top of the Pops, Britain's top pop TV show, three times to promote "See Emily Play", but by the third time Barrett didn't even pretend to mime along with the single. Towards the end of July, they were meant to record a session for the BBC's Saturday Club radio show, but Barrett walked out of the studio before completing the first song. It's notable that Barrett's non-cooperation or inability to function was very much dependent on circumstance. He was not able to perform for Saturday Club, a mainstream pop show aimed at a mass audience, but gave perfectly good performances on several sessions for John Peel's radio show The Perfumed Garden, a show firmly aimed at Pink Floyd's own underground niche. On the thirty-first of July, three days after the Saturday Club walkout, all the group's performances for the next month were cancelled, due to "nervous exhaustion". But on the eighth of August, they went back into the studio, to record "Scream Thy Last Scream", a song Barrett wrote and which Nick Mason sang: [Excerpt: Pink Floyd, "Scream Thy Last Scream"] That was scheduled as the group's next single, but the record company vetoed it, and it wouldn't see an official release for forty-nine years. Instead they recorded another single, "Apples and Oranges": [Excerpt: Pink Floyd, "Apples and Oranges"] That was the last thing the group released while Barrett was a member. In November 1967 they went on a tour of the US, making appearances on American Bandstand and the Pat Boone Show, as well as playing several gigs. According to legend, Barrett was almost catatonic on the Pat Boone show, though no footage of that appears to be available anywhere -- and the same things were said about their performance on Bandstand, and when that turned up, it turned out Barrett seemed no more uncomfortable miming to their new single than any of the rest of the band, and was no less polite when Dick Clark asked them questions about hamburgers. But on shows on the US tour, Barrett would do things like detune his guitar so it just made clanging sounds, or just play a single note throughout the show. These are, again, things that could be taken in two different ways, and I have no way to judge which is the more correct. On one level, they could be a sign of a chaotic, disordered, mind, someone dealing with severe mental health difficulties. On the other, they're the kind of thing that Barrett was applauded and praised for in the confines of the kind of avant-garde underground audience that would pay to hear AMM or Yoko Ono, the kind of people they'd been performing for less than a year earlier, but which were absolutely not appropriate for a pop group trying to promote their latest hit single. It could be that Barrett was severely unwell, or it could just be that he wanted to be an experimental artist and his bandmates wanted to be pop stars -- and one thing absolutely everyone agrees is that the rest of the group were more ambitious than Barrett was. Whichever was the case, though, something had to give. They cut the US tour short, but immediately started another British package tour, with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Move, Amen Corner and the Nice. After that tour they started work on their next album, A Saucerful of Secrets. Where Barrett was the lead singer and principal songwriter on Piper at the Gates of Dawn, he only sings and writes one song on A Saucerful of Secrets, which is otherwise written by Waters and Wright, and only appears at all on two more of the tracks -- by the time it was released he was out of the group. The last song he tried to get the group to record was called "Have You Got it Yet?" and it was only after spending some time rehearsing it that the rest of the band realised that the song was a practical joke on them -- every time they played it, he would change the song around so they would mess up, and pretend they just hadn't learned the song yet. They brought in Barrett's old friend Dave Gilmour, initially to be a fifth member on stage to give the band some stability in their performances, but after five shows with the five-man lineup they decided just not to bother picking Barrett up, but didn't mention he was out of the group, to avoid awkwardness. At the time, Barrett and Rick Wright were flatmates, and Wright would actually lie to Barrett and say he was just going out to buy a packet of cigarettes, and then go and play gigs without him. After a couple of months of this, it was officially announced that Barrett was leaving the group. Jenner and King went with him, convinced that he was the real talent in the group and would have a solo career, and the group carried on with new management. We'll be looking at them more in future episodes. Barrett made a start at recording a solo album in mid-1968, but didn't get very far. Jenner produced those sessions, and later said "It seemed a good idea to go into the studio because I knew he had the songs. And he would sometimes play bits and pieces and you would think 'Oh that's great.' It was a 'he's got a bit of a cold today and it might get better' approach. It wasn't a cold -- and you knew it wasn't a cold -- but I kept thinking if he did the right things he'd come back to join us. He'd gone out and maybe he'd come back. That was always the analogy in my head. I wanted to make it feel friendly for him, and that where we were was a comfortable place and that he could come back and find himself again. I obviously didn't succeed." A handful of tracks from those sessions have since been released, including a version of “Golden Hair”, a setting by Barrett of a poem by James Joyce that he would later revisit: [Excerpt: Syd Barrett, “Golden Hair (first version)”] Eleven months later, he went back into the studio again, this time with producer Malcolm Jones, to record an album that later became The Madcap Laughs, his first solo album. The recording process for the album has been the source of some controversy, as initially Jones was producing the whole album, and they were working in a way that Barrett never worked before. Where previously he had cut backing tracks first and only later overdubbed his vocals, this time he started by recording acoustic guitar and vocals, and then overdubbed on top of that. But after several sessions, Jones was pulled off the album, and Gilmour and Waters were asked to produce the rest of the sessions. This may seem a bit of a callous decision, since Gilmour was the person who had replaced Barrett in his group, but apparently the two of them had remained friends, and indeed Gilmour thought that Barrett had only got better as a songwriter since leaving the band. Where Malcolm Jones had been trying, by his account, to put out something that sounded like a serious, professional, record, Gilmour and Waters seemed to regard what they were doing more as producing a piece of audio verite documentary, including false starts and studio chatter. Jones believed that this put Barrett in a bad light, saying the outtakes "show Syd, at best as out of tune, which he rarely was, and at worst as out of control (which, again, he never was)." Gilmour and Waters, on the other hand, thought that material was necessary to provide some context for why the album wasn't as slick and professional as some might have hoped. The eventual record was a hodge-podge of different styles from different sessions, with bits from the Jenner sessions, the Jones sessions, and the Waters and Gilmour sessions all mixed together, with some tracks just Barrett badly double-tracking himself with an acoustic guitar, while other tracks feature full backing by Soft Machine. However, despite Jones' accusations that the album was more-or-less sabotaged by Gilmour and Waters, the fact remains that the best tracks on the album are the ones Barrett's former bandmates produced, and there are some magnificent moments on there. But it's a disturbing album to listen to, in the same way other albums by people with clear talent but clear mental illness are, like Skip Spence's Oar, Roky Erickson's later work, or the Beach Boys Love You. In each case, the pleasure one gets is a real pleasure from real aesthetic appreciation of the work, but entangled with an awareness that the work would not exist in that form were the creator not suffering. The pleasure doesn't come from the suffering -- these are real artists creating real art, not the kind of outsider art that is really just a modern-day freak-show -- but it's still inextricable from it: [Excerpt: Syd Barrett, "Dark Globe"] The Madcap Laughs did well enough that Barrett got to record a follow-up, titled simply Barrett. This one was recorded over a period of only a handful of months, with Gilmour and Rick Wright producing, and a band consisting of Gilmour, Wright, and drummer Jerry Shirley. The album is generally considered both more consistent and less interesting than The Madcap Laughs, with less really interesting material, though there are some enjoyable moments on it: [Excerpt: Syd Barrett, "Effervescing Elephant"] But the album is a little aimless, and people who knew him at the time seem agreed that that was a reflection of his life. He had nothing he *needed* to be doing -- no  tour dates, no deadlines, no pressure at all, and he had a bit of money from record royalties -- so he just did nothing at all. The one solo gig he ever played, with the band who backed him on Barrett, lasted four songs, and he walked off half-way through the fourth. He moved back to Cambridge for a while in the early seventies, and he tried putting together a new band with Twink, the drummer of the Pink Fairies and Pretty Things, Fred Frith, and Jack Monck, but Frith left after one gig. The other three performed a handful of shows either as "Stars" or as "Barrett, Adler, and Monck", just in the Cambridge area, but soon Barrett got bored again. He moved back to London, and in 1974 he made one final attempt to make a record, going into the studio with Peter Jenner, where he recorded a handful of tracks that were never released. But given that the titles of those tracks were things like "Boogie #1", "Boogie #2", "Slow Boogie", "Fast Boogie", "Chooka-Chooka Chug Chug" and "John Lee Hooker", I suspect we're not missing out on a lost masterpiece. Around this time there was a general resurgence in interest in Barrett, prompted by David Bowie having recorded a version of "See Emily Play" on his covers album Pin-Ups, which came out in late 1973: [Excerpt: David Bowie, "See Emily Play"] At the same time, the journalist Nick Kent wrote a long profile of Barrett, The Cracked Ballad of Syd Barrett, which like Kent's piece on Brian Wilson a year later, managed to be a remarkable piece of writing with a sense of sympathy for its subject and understanding of his music, but also a less-than-accurate piece of journalism which led to a lot of myths and disinformation being propagated. Barrett briefly visited his old bandmates in the studio in 1975 while they were recording the album Wish You Were Here -- some say even during the recording of the song "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond", which was written specifically about Barrett, though Nick Mason claims otherwise -- and they didn't recognise him at first, because by this point he had a shaved head and had put on a great deal of weight. He seemed rather sad, and that was the last time any of them saw him, apart from Roger Waters, who saw him in Harrod's a few years later. That time, as soon as Barrett recognised Waters, he dropped his bag and ran out of the shop. For the next thirty-one years, Barrett made no public appearances. The last time he ever voluntarily spoke to a journalist, other than telling them to go away, was in 1982, just after he'd moved back to Cambridge, when someone doorstopped him and he answered a few questions and posed for a photo before saying "OK! That's enough, this is distressing for me, thank you." He had the reputation for the rest of his life of being a shut-in, a recluse, an acid casualty. His family, on the other hand, have always claimed that while he was never particularly mentally or physically healthy, he wasn't a shut-in, and would go to the pub, meet up with his mother a couple of times a week to go shopping, and chat to the women behind the counter at Sainsbury's and at the pharmacy. He was also apparently very good with children who lived in the neighbourhood. Whatever the truth of his final decades, though, however mentally well or unwell he actually was, one thing is very clear, which is that he was an extremely private man, who did not want attention, and who was greatly distressed by the constant stream of people coming and looking through his letterbox, trying to take photos of him, trying to interview him, and so on. Everyone on his street knew that when people came asking which was Syd Barrett's house, they were meant to say that no-one of that name lived there -- and they were telling the truth. By the time he moved back, he had stopped answering to "Syd" altogether, and according to his sister "He came to hate the name latterly, and what it meant." He did, in 2001, go round to his sister's house to watch a documentary about himself on the TV -- he didn't own a TV himself -- but he didn't enjoy it and his only comment was that the music was too noisy. By this point he never listened to rock music, just to jazz and classical music, usually on the radio. He was financially secure -- Dave Gilmour made sure that when compilations came out they always included some music from Barrett's period in the group so he would receive royalties, even though Gilmour had no contact with him after 1975 -- and he spent most of his time painting -- he would take photos of the paintings when they were completed, and then burn the originals. There are many stories about those last few decades, but given how much he valued his privacy, it wouldn't be right to share them. This is a history of rock music, and 1975 was the last time Roger Keith Barrett ever had anything to do with rock music voluntarily. He died of cancer in 2006, and at his funeral there was a reading from The Little Grey Men, which was also quoted in the Order of Service -- "The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours lights and shades; these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.” There was no rock music played at Barrett's funeral -- instead there were a selection of pieces by Handel, Haydn, and Bach, ending with Bach's Allemande from the Partita No. IV in D major, one of his favourite pieces: [Excerpt: Glenn Gould, "Allemande from the Partita No. IV in D major"]  As they stared blankly in dumb misery deepening as they slowly realised all they had seen and all they had lost, a capricious little breeze, dancing up from the surface of the water, tossed the aspens, shook the dewy roses and blew lightly and caressingly in their faces; and with its soft touch came instant oblivion. For this is the last best gift that the kindly demi-god is careful to bestow on those to whom he has revealed himself in their helping: the gift of forgetfulness. Lest the awful remembrance should remain and grow, and overshadow mirth and pleasure, and the great haunting memory should spoil all the after-lives of little animals helped out of difficulties, in order that they should be happy and lighthearted as before. Mole rubbed his eyes and stared at Rat, who was looking about him in a puzzled sort of way. “I beg your pardon; what did you say, Rat?” he asked. “I think I was only remarking,” said Rat slowly, “that this was the right sort of place, and that here, if anywhere, we should find him. And look! Why, there he is, the little fellow!” And with a cry of delight he ran towards the slumbering Portly. But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, and can re-capture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty of it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties; so Mole, after struggling with his memory for a brief space, shook his head sadly and followed the Rat.

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Retro Rock Roundup with Mike and Jeremy Wiles

In this Episode, Mike and Jeremy are joined by Electric Talon Records recording artist, Wax Mekanix to do a deep dive into The Beatles' iconic "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" album  We go thru the album track by track and discuss the legacy and generational impact of this great album

Conversations
The Beatles, Brian Epstein and me

Conversations

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2022 52:34


Joanne Petersen recalls working as a personal assistant to The Beatles' manager, the freedom of the Swinging Sixties in London and eloping to the Bahamas with a Bee Gee

Conservative Talk – The Weekly Worldview

America’s most attractive audio engineer and her host open without apology, perform without excuse and then exit stage right. A gun buy back illustrates the line separating bureaucrats from entrepreneurs, a Tulsa Public Schools teacher illustrates reason # 1,999 to … Continue reading → The post Sgt. Pepper's first appeared on Conservative Talk - The Weekly Worldview.

Life's But A Song
Ep. 168 - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (w/ Doug Wortel)

Life's But A Song

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 6, 2022 69:18


Oh boy, buckle up kiddos - this one gets weird. Jon is joined by instant bestie of the pod Doug to talk about a movie that people want to bury: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was created so we know what not to do when it comes to a jukebox musical. But Jon loves it because his taste in movies is questionable. But seriously, this movie is bonkers.Pop Rocks and Soda Podcast Link: https://linktr.ee/poproksandsodaPodcast Socials -Email: butasongpod@gmail.comInstagram: @butasongpodTwitter: @butasongpodFacebook: @butasongpodNext episode: The Lord of the Rings (1978)!

I've Been Meaning to Listen To That
The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (w/ Grace Spelman)

I've Been Meaning to Listen To That

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2022 87:09


This week on "I've Been Meaning To Listen To That", we listen to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with very special guest Grace Spelman (The Ringer, Buzzfeed)! Plus, Andrew, Sean, Michael, & Grace do a deep dive into what led the Beatles to donning the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band" persona, how revolutionary this band was to the art rock genre and concept albums in general, and we pontificate on Ringo's weird MS paint art and his feet pic tweets! Follow Grace Spelman on Twitter (@GraceSpelman) & Instagram (@GraceSpelman) Follow Andrew Ambrose Lee on Twitter (@AundrewALee) & Instagram (@aundrewalee) Follow Michael Limentato on Twitter (@limentaco) & Instagram (@limentaco) Follow Sean Wilkinson on Instagram (@diabetictwink) Follow Stefanie Senior on Instagram (@stefmsenior) & Twitter (@stefmsenior) Cover Art by Olivia Jensen (Twitter: @oliviaaj22, Instagram: @oliviajensen_art) Listen to our I've Been Meaning To Listen to That (And I Did!) Playlist Follow us at (@ibmtltt) on Facebook, Tiktok & Instagram, and email us at ivebeenmeaningtolistentothat@gmail.com Have a good daaay! --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/ibmtltt/message

Polar Report
Sgt. Pepper's Podcast NFL WEEK 4

Polar Report

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2022 59:52


We're back!! Video coming soon! Make sure you like and subscribe! Follow @732_studios on YouTube --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/732studiospodcast/support

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 154: “Happy Together” by the Turtles

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs