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First time here? Please check out the FAQ as well as the General Discussion threads. Feel free to chime in or get in touch with comments, questions, corrections... Cheers! :)

Friday, April 23, 2021

Shameless plug for the Psych Trail Mix blog...

 If you haven't yet, check out @PsychTrailMix's blog! There was a new post this evening,
"THESE TRAILS RUN THE COASTLINE AND ELEVATE MY HEAD": link.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Tripsichord Music Box - Fly Baby / She Has Passed Away (1970)

Tripsichord Music Box - "Fly Baby" b/w "We Have Passed Away"

Original 1970 45 RPM single versions
San Francisco Sound T-5-12700-Y // 1-6-12 700-Z  (Discogs)
~ThePoodleBites rip in 96kHz / 24bit FLAC + high-res scans~

When I first heard "Fly Baby," all the hype about this band finally started to make sense. After repeated listening I realized that song is simply one the best San Francisco psychedelic-sounding masterworks ever recorded. Everything about it oozes eerie midnight trips, the heightened fluid lead of Frank Straight jazzing out before the band suddenly bursts into harmonic overdrive, 3-part vocals pleading to "flyyy... fly with me baaeee-beeee..." -- wow! 

This Tripsichord 45 was probably released contemporaneously with their demo album on the red San Francisco Sound label, which has been dated to circa November or December 1970. Unlike the band's first single, both of these tracks appeared on their full-length album, but "Fly Baby" was truncated to less than half of its original length, omitting the long guitar solo and final verse. The B-side sounds identical to the red-label demo LP to me, but I guess there will be people who argue this is superior sonically, having been cut at 45 RPM rather than 33⅓. This 45 has never been reissued or ripped elsewhere, so both sides make their digital debut here. 

Major thanks again to C.F. for lending out this treasure from his never-ending archives!

Although the lyrics are pretty easy to hear, and even though they unambiguously define the B-side title as "We Have Passed Away," somehow that song was mistitled on the labels as "She Has Passed Away." This was corrected in 1971 for the Janus release and for all future reissues, but it surely makes one wonder what Katz was listening to these recordings on back in those days...

Unlike the first single, this was a New York affair, and it was pressed on vinyl, which bodes very well for the sound quality. Those who have never heard the red-label SF Sound pressing of the Tripsichord album (which is probably pretty much everyone reading this post) will note that the sound quality here is far better than on the Janus LP or any of the subsequent reissues: vinyl, CD, or otherwise. More on that later... 

Frank Straight absolutely burning up the lead on his ES-330; Randy Gordon on drums, Burke Wallace on the SG

Lineup:
Bill Carr: acoustic guitar, vocals
Frank Straight: lead guitar
Dave Zandonatti: bass, vocals
Randy Gordon: drums, vocals

Track listing:
1) "Fly Baby" -- 3:07
2) "We Have Passed Away" -- 2:46

Dynamic Range: DR12
Vinyl condition: M-
Equipment Lineage:
– Audio-Technica VMN40ML stylus on AT150MLx dual moving-magnet cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB direct drive professional turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– Pro-Ject Phono Box S2 Ultra preamp with dedicated Zero Zone linear power supply
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2020 (recording)
– iZotope RX 7 audio editor (manual declicking, EQ subtraction, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 2.3.3 (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.5.1 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)

The unedited B-side is on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAK5Wx7PKDI

Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and check out my blog. I'd greatly appreciate it if you leave a small comment below. Notes from my readers are what inspire me to keep going. Thanks!

8
The band performing "Omaha" as the fake Moby Grape in Phoenix, circa April 1968
(L-R): Frank Straight, Burke Wallace, Dave Zandonatti, Oliver McKinney, Randy Gordon

Tripsichord Music Box - Times And Seasons / Sunday The Third (1970)

Tripsichord Music Box - "Times And Seasons" b/w "Sunday The Third"

Original white-label promo 45 RPM mono single
San Francisco Sound / Janus Records J-115  (Discogs)
~ThePoodleBites rip in 96 kHz / 24 bit FLAC + full high-res scans~

This is one of several releases by a San Francisco, California band known as Tripsichord Music Box, or Tripsichord, and the first of several records that I plan to post on this blog by that group. These guys were one of a handful of bands to secure major label distribution after working under producer Matthew Katz, the others including Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane, and It's A Beautiful Day. They also previously had three tracks on the Fifth Pipe Dream compilation, released 1968, which are some of the best songs on that entire LP. For some reason Tripsichord never reached the same popular highs as their peers, though for me their music is some of the best from the aforementioned acts: and for those of us who deeply love the '60s SF music scene, that's no minor statement. 

Major thanks to C.F. for loaning out a stunningly pristine promo copy of this rare 45; for his dedicated
research; and for his (perhaps endless) altruistic contributions in even the most obscure ways!


The recordings on this 45 were completed in late 1969, after their album had already been tracked. However, these songs were actually released first, and not until around February or March of 1970. Both the promo and stock copies (labels of both pictured above) were manufactured by Monarch in L.A. and pressed with styrene instead of vinyl, which makes finding a flawless player copy quite challenging. I had somewhat resigned to the idea that every copy around may have suffered from the typical groove damage until I received this seemingly unplayed WLP from CF. 

These tracks have been released on the Akarma reissue of the Tripsichord album, with the usual Akarma "remastering." For those who don't know, Akarma is an Italian bootleg label who likes to masquerade as being legit, so their releases are usually either done from needledrops or from someone else's digital transfer. In this case, the 45 dubs on their set suffer from channel issues and noise reduction. The restorations I present here are a major improvement in sound quality upon all other digital versions. 

Record World review, 13 March 1970
Lineup:
- Ron McNeely: vocals
- Frank Straight: lead guitar 
- Bill Carr: rhythm guitar
Dave Zandonatti: vocals, bass
- Randy Gordon: vocals, drums

Track listing:
1) "Times And Seasons" -- 3:28
2) "Sunday The Third" -- 3:22

Dynamic Range: DR12
Vinyl condition: M-
Equipment Lineage:
– Audio-Technica VMN40ML stylus on AT150MLx dual moving-magnet cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB direct drive professional turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– Pro-Ject Phono Box S2 Ultra preamp with dedicated Zero Zone linear power supply
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2020 (recording)
– iZotope RX 7 audio editor (manual declicking, EQ subtraction, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 2.3.3 (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.5.1 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)


Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and check out my blog. I'd greatly appreciate it if you leave a small comment below. Notes from my readers are what inspire me to keep going. Thanks!

Enjoy!  :)

The "Fifth Pipe Dream" lineup (plus Burke Wallace) performing as the "new" Moby Grape
(L-R): Frank Straight, Dave Zandonatti, Randy Gordon with groupie, Burke Wallace from Easy Chair, Oliver McKinney
Photo from Phoenix music pamphlet A Closer Look, 20 April 1968

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Spike-Drivers - High Time / Often I Wonder (1966)

The Spike-Drivers - "High Time" b/w "Often I Wonder"

Original 1966 mono 45 single mixes
OM ‎– 1000  (Discogs)
~ThePoodleBites rip in 96 kHz / 24 bit FLAC + high-res scans~

The Spike-Drivers, a group originally from Detroit, Michigan, have deservedly acquired somewhat of a following around their few mysterious singles. RD Records writes that "[t]hey came as close to making it as possible and still failed," which after reading their story seems to be a fitting summation. The band boasted several members ("not rock stars, just minor asteroids") which would go on to be in acts such as The Perth County Conspiracy, Modality Stew, and the Peace, Bread, & Land Band. The Spike-Drivers, however, have a much more raw, dosed-garagey tinge which itches that itch for lovers of vintage '60s sweat & fuzz. This 45 on the private OM label was reportedly the band's (err, at least Sid Brown's) favorite of their commercial releases, since it wasn't plagued by the over-production which the band was pressured into by their major-label cohort. The restoration presented here is a drastic improvement over any existing digital version of this original mono mix. 

Many thanks to my friends C.F. and STS for loaning out their M- copies of this 45! 


This was the band's debut 45, which helped secure them a manager and a move to New York City. This would later be followed by, after turning down a "dream contract" with Atlantic Records, a deal with Reprise Records. The CD release has wonderful liner notes written by Sid Brown; I'll share one relevant paragraph from those liner notes here:

"Two big fans of ours, Jackie and More Fagenson (owners of Faygo soda pop) donated money for The Spike-Drivers to record. I can't remember how we ended up picking Chess Studios in Chicago to do our session. I believe it was the fact that Chess was an eight-track studio and no such advanced facility existed in Detroit. In any event, we did our middle of the night recordings right after Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley had done a session. The "vibes" felt very powerful there. We recorded High Time – ostensibly our hit single and Ted's raga-rocking Often I Wonder – at the time the longest (5:49) single ever recorded. A representative of a big-time manager, Leonard Stogel, attended the Chess session. On the basis of his rep's glowing recommendation, Stogel flew into Detroit to negotiate a personal management contract with us. Mort and Jackie persuasively suggested we get a really good lawyer to look out for our interests and referred us to Gill Frimet. As a result of Gill's expertise and genuine interest in us as certifiably na├»ve navigators in the shark-infested seas of show biz, we signed perhaps the fairest musician/manager contract ever. His inclusion of a fiduciary clause in the contract save the band from owing a fortune to the record company and the manager when the deal went sour." 

The Spike-Drivers (L to R): Richard Keelan, Ted Lucas, Larry Cruse, Marycarol Brown, Sid Brown

C.F. was the first person to turn me on to this band, and this post was by his request; but this private release – like many others – has variable vinyl quality. Luckily STS reached out and offered to loan his copy of this 45 (along with others; stay tuned!), which is a very clean player. The RD Records reissue includes both of these tracks from tape, but they appear to be remixes with lots of added reverb and digital processing (adaptive NR?). While not a bad remix, I still think the sound of the original 45 will remain preferable for many. 

Track listing:
1) "High Time" -- 2:35
2) "Often I Wonder" -- 5:48

Dynamic Range: DR11
Vinyl condition: M-
Equipment Lineage:
– Audio-Technica VMN40ML stylus on AT150MLx dual moving-magnet cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB direct drive professional turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– Pro-Ject Phono Box S2 Ultra preamp with dedicated Zero Zone linear power supply
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2020 (recording)
– iZotope RX 7 audio editor (manual declicking, EQ subtraction, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 2.3.3 (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.5.1 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)

Flip side also on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwFHeR20huY

Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and check out my blog. I'd greatly appreciate it if you leave a small comment below. Notes from my readers are what inspire me to keep going. Thanks!

Enjoy, and happy high times  :)


Sunday, April 18, 2021

Country Joe & The Fish - I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die (1967) [Original Mono Mix]

Country Joe & The Fish - I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die

Original 1967 Dedicated Mono Mix
USA White-Label Promo – Vanguard VRS 9266
~ThePoodleBites rip in 96 kHz / 24 bit FLAC + full high-res scans!~

Back in 2018, I ripped the stereo version of this classic psych album, but I've also wanted to add the mono version to this blog, as it is certainly a dedicated alternate mix which some people are going to prefer. I guess mono heads will rave about its superior instrument balance, smoother song transitions, and "punchy" mono sound; for me, I find it hard to choose between this and the stereo. In the past whenever I've wanted to listen to this album I've always reached for the stereo LP, but now after forcing myself to listen to this mono version for awhile, the stereo does sound a bit wonky. Who knows; probably my mind will change again tomorrow. 

I've purchased four clean original mono copies of this album over the last few years, all pressed with different stampers and having slightly different sound. I postponed working on this album until I could find a copy which was to be definitive, and I think I've found one in this white label promotional copy. This was pressed with the earliest stampers and was probably the only variant approved by the band, if in fact it was band-approved at all. At any rate the sound is phenomenal and will undoubtedly stand as the definitive mono version for many years to come.

Original mono front cover showing the full band's unusual getup 

David Cohen shared verbally some years ago how the photo used on this cover came about. As I recall, the band was taken to a studio where there were various costumes laying around, which the band selected to wear individually. David was a wizard; Joe was a (Vietnamese?) soldier; Barry Melton chose a Nazi uniform, which Vanguard carefully edited so that the swastika was replaced by an American flag. 


By July of 1967, with the San Francisco "Summer of Love" in full-swing, the band had relocated from their chilled-out hippie Berkeley roots into the hustle and bustle of busy New York City. While living in the (now-famous) Chelsea Hotel, they began work on their second album at Vanguard Studios next door, only 4 months after the release of Electric Music. Through the summer and into the fall the band played gigs on the east coast, which went with high reviews, but inevitable infighting had begun behind the scenes; it could've been the pressure from the record company, the hot summer city heat, or just diverging artistic interests, but the internal tension steadily grew more palpable.

A preliminary tape recorded at Sierra Sound Lab with engineer Bob de Souza (who worked on the first album) was already extant, but all the songs were reworked in the New York studio, some quite vastly so. Record producer / A&R man Samuel Charters shares much interesting information about the recording during this period:

"Some of the songs were new, Joe's beautiful ballad for Janis Joplin, JANIS, and PAT'S SONG, written for Pat Sullivan; MAGOO, named for a local Hell's Angels leader, and the instrumental piece COLORS FOR SUSAN, named for Susan Grabart [sic: Susan Graubard], the flutist with Pat Kilroy's group, The New Age. COLORS FOR SUSAN had grown out of a long talk with Joe, and describing to him the emotions I'd felt hearing Erik Satie's "Les Sonneries de la Rose-Croix" in a still New York garden at sunset. It was one of the most original of the Fish pieces, even if audiences—and sometimes the band themselves—had a little trouble understanding it. When they performed it in Berkeley they sat in a line across the stage, while Chicken stood at the drums, and they ended the set with its slow modal chordings."


No time was spared in perfecting the band's artistic studio masterpiece. Songs went through several different arrangements and styles before their final versions were solidified. Overdubs were added where the band felt it was necessary, including harpsichord and calliope to touch off the scathingly sarcastic title track. Joe was the primary songwriter and artistic visionary, but he had trouble getting the band as close to the expression as he imagined. Throughout the sessions he became so exhausted that at one point the band proceeded to record "Janis" without him, letting him catch up on sleep then come in later for overdubs. Even as the album reached completion, a last all-night session featured Joe playing through old songs, trying to find another piece to stick in the cracks. 

In September 1967, the album was declared finished, but the heat had finally caused tensions to boil over. Whether it was from the stress of recording, the exhaustion from performing, the constant pressure of the press, or the ever-growing internal disagreements: the band just, broke up. 

Original album release ad in the Los Angeles Free Press, 24 November 1967 (art by Tom Weller)

Nonetheless, the album's release proceeded with due haste. It was issued sometime between 11 November (when a Billboard article says it was "soon-to-be-released"; Cash Box similar) and 24 November (when a full-page ad appeared in the Los Angeles Free Press, pictured above), and approximately simultaneously with The Serpent Power and Erik's Look Where I Am. A single with "Janis" (backed with a lame "instrumental" / orchestral version) was rushed out to precede the album release by at least a week or two, with a Billboard reviewer calling the song an "unusual folk oriented easy beat ballad... Exceptional material, well performed." 

Cash Box review, 2 Dec 1967
Billboard review, 2 Dec 1967
The record appeared in Billboard's New Album Releases that December, simultaneously with a harsh review. This was probably much to the dismay of Vanguard, who had invested no small expense in producing the band's latest LP. Luckily, the Cash Box review was much more positive. The album emerged on the Billboard charts at #134 on 23 December, and steadily began to climb. A second single, "Who Am I" b/w "Thursday," was released in January 1968, which probably helped with the album's promotion. The band's heightened politicism influenced several pointed articles around this time, primarily denouncing Joe's "slew of insults hurled at President Johnson" during live performances. While the album hit #41 in Cash Box Top 100 Albums on 3 February, the album only peaked at #69 in Billboard two weeks later, then steadily began to fall in both lists. This was much below the highs that Electric Music had produced, though from no clear lack of trying on behalf of the record company, or the band. 

Yes, "The Electric Fish" (as the Joe-less band was called) did not stay devoid of its Country leader for long. Much promotion was put into the band headlining shows on both coasts in the months following the album release. The band would reunite again for their next album, appropriately titled Together, but things had changed. Other members of the group started to take on more artistic control, and the sound of the group swayed further and further away from the folk/blues-worn psychedelia on which they had laid their foundation and more towards pop/soul-oriented music: surely a welcome change for some, but equally alienation for others.

Concert advertisement in Los Angeles Free Press, 22 Dec 1967
TV advertisement in the Berkeley Barb, 15 Dec 1967

This mono mix has only been issued twice. The first time was on vinyl, upon original issue back in 1967. These days the mono variant of this album is somewhat more rare than the stereo, but both are fairly common; the trick is in finding a clean pressing with the earliest stampers. The only reissue was done on CD back in 2013 concurrently with the stereo mix, similar to the "deluxe" treatment given Electric Music. While it was nice hearing the mono mix from tapes, the mastering unfortunately suffered a similar fate as the former; lots of gain, dynamic range compression, and seemingly a treble boost to top it all off. So for those that prefer a natural, "unremastered" sound, the original pressings remain superior. I've applied the usual amount of manual restoration work here resulting in a sound which I think is, for now at least, quite definitive. 

Scans of all the ads pictured here are included in high-res lossless files. By the way, I've also scanned a bunch of old ads / photos and added them to my last two County Joe & The Fish posts. Now is a great time to go back and grab them! And I look forward to reading your thoughts about the stereo vs. mono mix -- please feel free to leave a comment about which one you prefer on the respective post!




Lineup:
"Country" Joe McDonald – vocals, acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar
Barry "The Fish" Melton – lead & rhythm guitar, 12-string guitar, backing vocals, kazoo
David Bennett Cohen – calliope, harpsichord, bells, organ, lead & rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Bruce Barthol – bass guitar, barking (tr. 1)
Gary "Chicken" Hirsh – drums, conga, bells, wine bottle

Track listing:
1) "The Fish Cheer & I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag" -- 3:45
2) "Who Am I" -- 4:04
3) "Pat's Song" -- 5:25
4) "Rock Coast Blues" -- 3:55
5) "Magoo" -- 4:47
6) "Janis" -- 2:35
7) "The Bomb Song" -- 1:06
8) "Thought Dream" -- 4:53
9) "The Bomb Song (Reprise)" -- 0:26
10) "The Acid Commercial" -- 0:38
11) "Thursday" -- 2:41
12) "Eastern Jam" -- 4:39
13) "Colors For Susan" -- 5:58

Equipment Lineage:
– Audio-Technica VMN40ML stylus on AT150MLx dual moving-magnet cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB direct drive professional turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– Pro-Ject Phono Box S2 Ultra preamp with dedicated Zero Zone linear power supply
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2020 (recording)
– iZotope RX 7 audio editor (manual declicking, EQ subtraction, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 2.3.3 (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.5.1 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)


Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and check out my blog. I'd greatly appreciate it if you leave a small comment below. Notes from my readers are what inspire me to keep going. Thanks!

Thank you for reading, enjoy!  :)

"Nothing else has been able to stop the war... Maybe the Fish can!"
Album advertisement in New York newspaper The Village Voice, 30 November 1967

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Shadrack - I Wonder Why / It Was Me (1973) [Original US Single] {RE-RIP}

Shadrack - "I Wonder Why" b/w "It Was Me"

Original 1973 Private Press 45 RPM Single
~ThePoodleBites rip in 96kHz / 24bit FLAC + full high-resolution artwork~

The night as I lay so sound asleep
The spirit he touched my eyes
He opened them for me to see
What lies beyond the skies

Shadrack, a psych-rock act out of Iowa, is widely known among collectors of private press records for the album Chameleon. Steve Fox was the main creative force behind the Shadrack LP, but this single apparently had a bit more group involvement than the later recordings. This was supposedly recorded about 18 months before Chameleon, but was discovered by collectors some time after its long-playing brother was known to exist. 

I originally posted this single in April 2019 from a rather rough copy lent to me by C.F. I've since found a very nice copy with no warp, so here is a well-deserved digital upgrade. 


Shadrack's album Chameleon is often misidentified as a self-titled release from Shadrack Chameleon (which the existence of this 45 disproves). Their album demands insane prices, but I actually like both the songs here more than anything on the LP. Unlike the Shadrack Chameleon album, this single sounds like it was recorded in a professional studio, and apart from the shrill vocals on side 2 (it's in the mix) and somewhat noisy pressing, it actually sounds really good. This has only ever been reissued on Gear Fab with their usual noise reduction and bad EQ, which this blows away. I've done my best to clean up the inherent groove noise without doing any damage to the audio, but you may hear a bit of noise in the intro/outro of the tracks, and a wee bit of distortion from the cutting on side 2.

Hangin' out with the Shadrack guys
Shadrack:
- Steve Fox (bass, guitar, vocals)
- Randy Berka (guitar, vocals)
- Jon Porter (keyboards)
- Dan Dodgen (drums)

Track Listing:
1) "I Wonder Why" (Steve Fox & Randy Berka) -- 2:40
2) "It Was Me" (Randy Berka) -- 2:30

Vinyl Condition: M-
Dynamic Range: DR 11

Equipment Lineage:
– Audio-Technica VMN40ML stylus on AT150MLx dual moving-magnet cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB direct drive professional turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– Pro-Ject Phono Box S2 Ultra preamp with dedicated Zero Zone linear power supply
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2020 (recording)
– iZotope RX 7 audio editor (manual declicking, EQ subtraction, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 2.3.3 (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.5.1 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)

A-side also on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rL9tdRqjYU

MEGA: https://mega.nz/folder/ik4T2QKT#t1VwB6vlPwF9fwtdrhbUFA
Enjoy! :)

All links have been updated!

All the pointers on this site have been refreshed using new MEGA links. Also, all old posts (published prior to May 2019) should be redownloaded, as I have now systematically fixed the EQ from the high-end-heavy AT150MLx for all the old rips.** I also get the impression that many have not heard several of the things posted here, so to get you started on a downloading extravaganza, here are some of the Poodle's favorites:

My favorite post for a major-label album: here!

My favorite post for a bootleg album (also by far the most popular post!): here!

My favorite post for an obscure private pressing: here!

My favorite post for a 45: here!

The pop-iest entry on this site: here!

The hardest rocking entry on this site: here!

The most psychedelic entry on this site: here!

**The EQ on some of the old posts had already been fixed before. To check if you already have the corrected version, just look at the Comments tag on a file and see if "EQ Subtraction" is mentioned. If it is, you're good to go.

Enjoy, and I hope you're able to find something new that you love. Please let me know if you find any issues or inconsistencies. Feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel for regular '60s/'70s music-related videos. Stay tuned; more soon... ~"tpb"