Friday, January 5, 2001

McQ's Best Of 1967 Vol 6 - 1967's Super "Sensational" Summer Of Love

1. Fall On You - Moby Grape
2. White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane
3. Let's Live For Today - The Grass Roots
4. Mr. Soul - Buffalo Springfield
5. May This Be Love - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
6. The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion) - The Grateful Dead
7. Time Between - The Byrds
8. Changes - Moby Grape
9. If 6 Was 9 - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
10. Love - Country Joe & The Fish
11. Today - Jefferson Airplane
12. San Franciscan Nights - Eric Burdon & The Animals
13. Coo Coo - Big Brother & The Holding Company
14. Come In The Morning - Moby Grape
15. The Wind Cries Mary - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
16. You Keep Me Hanging On  - Vanilla Fudge
17. Good Time Boy - Buffalo Springfield
18. Buy For Me The Rain - The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
19. Super Bird - Country Joe & The Fish
20. Watch Her Ride - Jefferson Airplane
21. Lazy Me - Moby Grape
22. Get Together - The Youngbloods
23. I Don't Live For Today - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
24. Rock & Rocll Woman - Buffalo Springfield
25. San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair) - Scott McKenzie
26. Plastic Fantastic Lover - Jefferson Airplane
27. My Back Pages - The Byrds
28. Naked, If I Want To - Moby Grape

Track List / Mix Write-up / Spotify /
McQ's Favorite Albums Of 1967
McQ's Favorite Songs Of 1967

About The Albums/Songs On This Mix:

This was a tough mix to put together.

As iconic culturally as San Fransico's Summer Of Love was, much of the music associated with the period really didn't come out of the Bay Area, and the truth is outside of Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane, and Country Joe McDonald & The Fish, most of the other big name San Francisco acts, regardless of their status as live performers, were still a year or two away from reaching their potential as recording artists.

Take, for instance, two of the biggest San Francisco names ever: Big Brother & The Holding Company and The Grateful Dead.

Both acts released their eponymous debuts in 1967.

Both releases were highly flawed works.

Big Brother & The Holding Company, even for the era, was a shoddily recorded work, and provides clear evidence that the band still hadn't fully accepted or figured out how to integrate Janis Joplin into their sound (she had been paired with them by San Francisco concert promoter Chet Helms less than a year earlier).

Worse, similar to British practices at the time, their label left the band's two biggest early 45s, Coo Coo and Down On Me, off the debut (a flaw corrected years later when Columbia bought the rights to and reissued the album).

The Grateful Dead was a better-recorded effort - and a better listen, with a number of lively covers - but includes only two originals in its entire track listing.

Still, as unremarkable as those early releases were, it felt plain wrong to leave either band off this Summer of Love mix, so for Big Brother, I went with one of those two original 45s, Coo Coo (which also highlights the band's initial reluctance to put Joplin front and center, as she's pretty much kept in the background until a late verse), and for the Dead, I went with that album's opening track, my favorite of the two originals, The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)

The surprising thing about New York folk-rockers The Youngblood's cover of Get Together is that while it was released on their self-titled debut in 1967 and is today tacitly associated with the Summer Of Love, it actually didn't become a major hit until 1969 after it was used in a public service ad.

The act would go on to produce a couple of critically well-received albums as the sixties drew to a close, particularly 1969's Elephant Mountain, but further commercial success would, for the most part, elude them.

Unlike Get Together, The Grass Root's Let's Live For Today needed no such grace period in finding its audience.  It was an immediate hit for the act in the states, (the first of many), and went on to become one of the most popular songs of the decade, almost an anthem of sorts, for U.S. servicemen fighting overseas in Vietnam.

But as direct and uncomplicated as the song's impact was, the band's history is anything but.

Initially, just a prepackaged act built as a live performance vehicle for the songs of the Lou Adler mentored songwriting duo of P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri, the performing version of The Grass Roots was already deep into its third revamped line-up when Let's Live For Today hit the air in May 1967.

But though, other than vocals, most of the band's early recorded music was performed by LA's famed collection of ace studio musicians, The Wrecking Crew, the performing version of the band, though it would pass through over fifty different members in its lifetime, would go on to have an astonishingly long career well after Sloan and Barri lost all interest.

Led by third-lineup bassist Rob Grill, who sang lead vocals on Let's Live For Today and who would become the one constant in the band until his death in 2011, The Grass Roots became mainstays on the state fair/festival circuit in the 70s and 80s and the nostalgia circuits of more recent years. In fact, even though Grill has now passed, a collection of replacements handpicked by him continues to perform under The Grass Roots moniker to this day.

San Franciscan Nights, the humorous (the opening is a riff on a play on Dragnet's theme song) but ultimately sincere appreciation of the San Francisco scene, was written by Eric Burdon right on the heels of the Animal's Monterey Pop Festival appearance, and was the first and biggest (though far from only) hit for the fully revamped second major line-up of the group (now technically renamed Eric Burdon And The Animals).

It would usher in a new, less blues-oriented, more psychedelic sound for the band; a sound that would allow them to sustain a steady presence on the charts for the duration of the 60s.

Buy For Me The Rain, from their self-title debut, was the first modest single success for Long Beach, California's Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Still college-aged at the time, and able to boast of having included both Jackson Browne and Steve Martin in their formative line-ups prior to the release of Buy Me For The Rain, the band was at first perceived as a bit of a folky/jugband novelty act and struggled mightily in the back end of the 60s after the buzz from Buy For Me The Rain wore off. But they would regroup in 1970, gain full artisitic control of their work, shed the more vaudevillian aspects of their music, and go on to become one of the longest lasting acts in all of recorded music (they are still active today) and one of the most important acts, if not the most important act, in the early development of the country rock sound and a huge influence on later day country-rockers such as John Hiatt, Rosanne Cash and The Eagles.

An artist who went on to have a much less distinguished career, though not for lack of trying, was east coast folk rocker Scott McKenzie.  A childhood and lifelong friend of John Philips, he and Philips spent most of the early years of their musical career figuratively teethered at the hip...starting two significant east coast market bands in the doo-wap oriented Smoochies, and later the folk-rock act The Journeymen, who recorded three albums and several singles in the early sixties.

But with the rapid stylistic changes that came with the British Invasion, The Journeymen disbanded, with McKenzie choosing to finally pursue a solo career rather than head out west and accept Philips' invitation to join the lineup of the fledgling west coast act The Mamas And The Papas.

But despite his sudden success, Philips never forgot his friend, and in 1967 wrote and co-produced McKenzie's one monster hit - the Summer Of Love's iconic anthem San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair).

McKenzie would go on to have the occaissional follow up success as a perform or songwriter for others, and spent a good chunk of time in the eighties and nineties touring with a reformed version of The Mamas And The Papas, but never came close to achieveing the rampant success of San Francisco again.

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