Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1626s (starts 6/29/16)
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Star-Spangled Banner
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer(s): John Stafford Smith
Label: Rhino (original label: Cotillion)
When the Woodstock film and soundtrack album was released, right-wingers across the nation decried the disrespect inherent in the Jimi Hendrix interpretation of the Star-Spangled Banner. Looking at it another way, however, it was a US Army veteran playing his country's national anthem on guitar in the style he was famous for. Is that any less patriotic than Whitney Houston singing that same anthem in her own style years later?
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Source: CD: First Rays of the New Rising Sun (originally released on LP: Rainbow Bridge)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix was working on a new double album when he died, but nobody else seemed to be sure where he was going with it. As there were several tracks that were unfinished at the time, Reprise Records gathered what they could and put them together on an album called The Cry Of Love. Freedom, a nearly finished piece (the unfinished part being a short "placesetter" guitar solo that Hendrix never got around to replacing with a final take), is the opening track from the album. Soon after that, a new Hendrix concert film called Rainbow Bridge was released along with a soundtrack album containing most of the remaining tracks from the intended double album. Finally, in 1997 MCA (with the help of original engineer Eddie Kramer and drummer Mitch Mitchell) pieced together what was essentially an educated guess about what would have been that album and released it under the name First Rays of the New Rising Sun.
Source: LP: Elegy
Before Emerson, Lake And Palmer became one of the hottest acts on the progressive rock scene, there was a band called the Nice that featured Keith Emerson on keyboards. The group released several singles and albums, including a hard rocking instrumental version of Leonard Bernstein's America (from West Side Story) in 1968. By 1970 Emerson had left the group to join up with Greg Lake and Carl Palmer. This did not stop Mercury Records from issuing, in 1971, an album called Elegy (credited to Keith Emerson and the Nice) that included a live version of America.
Source: CD: Yesterdays (originally released in UK on LP: The New Age of Atlantic)
Writer: Paul Simon
Following the success of the Fragile album and the hit single Roundabout, Yes went into the studio to cut a ten and a half minute cover of Paul Simon's America for a UK-only sampler album called The New Age Of Atlantic. The track was then edited down for single release in the US as a followup to Roundabout. The original unedited track was finally released in the US on the 1974 album Yesterdays, which also included several tracks from two earlier Yes albums that featured an earlier lineup of the band that included guitarist Peter Banks and keyboardist Tony Kaye. Paul Simon's America was, in fact, the only track on Yesterdays that featured the classic Yes lineup of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squires, Bill Bruford and Rick Wakeman.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Aimless Lady
Source: CD: Closer To Home
Writer(s): Mark Farner
Despite being universally panned by the rock press, Grand Funk Railroad managed to achieve gold record status three times in the year 1970. The first two of these were actually released the previous year, but it was the massive success of their third LP, Closer To Home, that spurred sales of the band's albums overall. All of the songs on Closer To Home were written and sung by guitarist Mark Farner, including Aimless Lady, probably the best example on the album of a "typical" Grand Funk Railroad song.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Source: LP: Sticky Fingers
Label: Rolling Stones
The teen club I hung out at during my senior year at Alamogordo Senior High School had a jukebox. The record that got the most play on that jukebox during the second semester of that school year was the latest single from the Rolling Stones. Brown Sugar got a lot of radio airplay that spring, but on the jukebox it was the B side of the record, Bitch, that was heard most often. Both tunes were from the album Sticky Fingers, generally considered to be one of the best Rolling Stones albums ever made.
Title: Hold Your Head Up
Source: European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: All Together Now)
Label: Sony Music (original label: Epic)
Following the dissolution of the Zombies, keyboardist Rod Argent went about forming a new band called, appropriately enough, Argent. The new group had its greatest success in 1972 with the song Hold Your Head Up, which went to the #5 spot on the charts in both the US and UK. The song originally appeared on the album All Together Now, with a running time of over six minutes. The first single version of the tune ran less than three minutes, but was quickly replaced with a longer edit that made the song three minutes and fifteen seconds long. In the years since, the longer LP version has come to be the most familiar with most radio listeners.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: The Rain Song
Source: LP: Houses Of The Holy
One of the most popular songs in the Led Zeppelin catalog, The Rain Song was reportedly written in response to a comment made by George Harrison of the Beatles to drummer John Bonham, that Led Zeppelin never did any ballads. When guitarist Jimmy Page heard about it he went to work on the piece, which he initially called Slush for its simulated orchestral arrangements on guitar. He presented the finished melody to Robert Plant, who then wrote lyrics and came up with the final title for the tune. John-Paul Jones added mellotron tracks, adding to the orchestral feel of the seven and a half minute long piece.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Working On The Road
Source: CD: Cricklewood Green
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Label: Chrysalis (original label: Deram)
Following their successful appearance at Woodstock, Ten Years After returned to the studio to record their fifth LP, Cricklewood Green. The album itself is considered by many critics to be their finest effort, with songs like Working On The Road showing how far Alvin Lee's songwriting had come in the three years since the band's 1967 debut LP.
Artist: Black Oak Arkansas
Title: Jim Dandy
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Lincoln Chase
My first exposure to Black Oak Arkansas was at a Grand Funk Railroad concert in August of 1971. I had literally arrived on the campus of Southwestern University in Weatherford Oklahoma the night before the concert, having hitchhiked there from New Mexico. On arrival I soon learned that my bandmates DeWayne and Mike, whose dorm room I was crashing in, already had tickets for the concert in Norman, Oklahoma. They invited me to come along, assuring me that I could easily score tickets at the gate. As it turns out they were right, but by the time we got there the only tickets left were bleacher seats. Of course, the rest of the group that made the drive to Norman all had floor tickets, so I ended up sitting by myself up in the nosebleed section for the opening act, a group I had never heard of called Black Oak Arkansas. I decided that, for the next 45 minutes or so, I would be a reviewer, and started analyzing this new band one song at a time. To be honest, I wasn't all that impressed at first, but found each successive song to be a little bit better than the one before it. By the time the band had finished their set, I was electrified (literally, since the last song was called The Day Electricity Came To Arkansas). I eventually bought a copy of the album Black Oak Arkansas, and was pleased to discover that the songs were in the exact same order on the LP as I had first heard them in concert. Over the years I continued to follow the band's progress, and was happy to hear, in 1973, their remake of an old LaVerne Baker song, Jim Dandy, on the local AM radio station. In fact, I went out and bought a copy of the 45 RPM single, which is what you'e hearing on this week's show.
Artist: Wishbone Ash
Title: Blind Eye
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Wishbone Ash
One of the first bands to feature two lead guitarists working in tandem, Wishbone Ash rose to fame as the opening act for Deep Purple in early 1970. After guitarist Andy Powell sat in with Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore during a sound check, Blackmore referred Wishbone Ash to MCA, the parent company of the US Decca label. The band's first LP came out in December of 1970, with Blind Eye becoming the band's first single. Although Wishbone Ash went on to become one of Britain's top rock bands of the 1970s, they were never as successful in the US, despite relocating to the states in 1973.
Artist: Allman Brothers Band
Title: Statesboro Blues
Source: LP: At Fillmore East
Writer(s): Willie McTell
Label: Mercury (original label: Capricorn)
The Allman Brothers Band is generally accepted as the original Southern Rock band. Much of this reputation, however, is based on the group's second phase, following the death of founder Duane Allman. In the beginning, however, the Allman Brothers Band was first and foremost a blues-rock band, perhaps even the best American blues-rock band of the time. This is evidenced by the fact that their breakthrough album, At Fillmore East, starts with their electrifying arrangement of a Blind Willie McTell blues classic, Statesboro Blues. McTell originally recorded the tune in 1928. Forty years later Taj Mahal recorded a blues-rock version that inspired Duane Allman to take up the slide guitar. The Allman Brothers Band At Fillmore East version of Statesboro Blues is ranked #9 on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of all-time greatest guitar songs.
Artist: Captain Beyond
Title: Mesmerization Eclipse
Source: LP: Captain Beyond
In the early 1970s it was normal for three bands to be on the playbill at a rock concert. Generally the headliner was someone with a hit record currently on the charts, while the middle act was someone on the way up. The opening act was either a popular local band or, in some cases, a brand new group that had just released their first album. It was not entirely uncommon for the second act to actually get a better audience response than the headliner, especially if the headliner turned out to be a one-hit wonder with no staying power. It was extremely rare, however, for the opening act to blow both of the other two bands out of the water. In fact, I can think of only one time that happened when I was in the audience. It was 1972, and I don't even remember who the headliner was. The middle band was Jo Jo Gunne, featuring front man Jay Ferguson, formerly of Spirit. They weren't bad, although the only songs I remember them performing were Run Run Run and 99 Days. The opening act, however, totally blew me away with their outstanding musicianship and strong material. That band was Captain Beyond, formed by former members of Iron Butterfly (bassist Lee Dorman and guitarist Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt), Deep Purple (vocalist Rod Evans) and drummer Bobby Caldwell, who would eventually go on to have a moderately successful solo career. I was so impressed with their set that I went to the record store the very next day and bought their album (which has this really cool 3D cover, by the way). Mesmerization Eclipse, from that debut LP, was written by the entire band, although only Evans and Caldwell got official writing credits on the album, due to Rhino and Dorman still being under contract to Iron Butterfly at the time.
Artist: Rick Wakeman
Title: Catherine Parr
Source: LP: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII
Writer(s): Rick Wakeman
One of the most famous art-rock albums, The Six Wives Of Henry VIII was conceived by keyboardist Rick Wakeman in 1972, while touring the US with the band Yes. Wakeman had already worked out some of the music the previous year, but was inspired to tie the various fragments together thematically after reading a book on the subject of the former British king. The album was released in January of 1973, and got generally favorable reviews by the rock press. The backing musicians on the LP included members of Yes and Wakeman's previous band, Strawbs. Each track on the album was meant to reflect, as near as possible, the personalities of each of Henry's wives (as imagined by Wakeman), including Catherine Parr, which (who?) closes out the LP.
Artist: Neil Young
Title: Walk On
Source: CD: Decade (originally released on LP: On The Beach)
Writer(s): Neil Young
In 1972 Neil Young released his most successful album, Harvest. The following year he released no albums at all. Finally, in January of 1974, On The Beach was released. It was so different than Young's previous work that his fans did not know what to make of it. As a result, by the early 1980s the album was no longer available in any form, and did not appear on a CD until 2003. A few of the songs from the album were included on Young's 1977 triple-LP retrospective Decade however, including Walk On, probably the strongest track on the original album.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Welcome To The Machine
Source: CD: Wish You Were Here
Writer(s): Roger Waters
Label: Parlophone (original label: Columbia)
If anyone were to ask (no one has, yet) why I decided not to play anything made after the mid-1970s on this show, the answer lies in the lyrics of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here album. In particular, the song Welcome To The Machine reveals the state of the music industry in the middle of the decade, a time that saw artistic vision increasingly shunted aside in favor of commercial considerations. Unfortunately, the situation continued to get worse as the 1970s wore on, leading to the dominance of disco in the last few years of the decade, followed by the schlock-rock of the early 1980s.
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Hand Of Doom
Source: CD: Paranoid
Label: Warner Brothers
Given the reputation and history of Black Sabbath, it may come as a surprise that Hand Of Doom, from the band's second LP, Paranoid, is actually an anti-drug song. It's also seven minutes of some of the heaviest rock recorded up to that point.
Title: The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys
Source: CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys)
Traffic was formed in 1967 by guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Steve Winwood, drummer/vocalist Jim Capaldi, flautist/saxophonist Chris Wood and bassist/multi-instrumentalist Dave Mason. Winwood, at 18 the youngest member of the band, was already an established star as lead vocalist of the Spencer Davis Group, and it was in part his desire for more creative freedom that led to Traffic's formation. From the beginning there was creative tension within the band, and less than two years later the group broke up when Winwood left to join Blind Faith. In early 1970, following the demise of Blind Faith, Winwood began working on a solo album that ended up being a new Traffic album, John Barleycorn Must Die, instead. This was followed in 1971 by the band's most successful album, The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys. The long title track (eleven and a half minutes' worth) shows a more relaxed sounding band, with Wood, Capaldi, new bassist Rich Grech and percussionist Reebop Kwaku Baah creating a moody backdrop for Winwood's interpretation of Capaldi's somewhat cynical lyrics. Despite its length, The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys became a staple of FM rock stations for many years.
Artist: Emerson, Lake And Palmer
Title: From The Beginning
Source: CD: Trilogy
Writer(s): Greg Lake
Label: Atlantic (original label: Cotillion)
Although his primary function in Emerson, Lake And Palmer was to provide lead vocals and play bass lines supporting Keith Emerson's keyboard work, Greg Lake generally got to include one of his own ballads on each ELP album. Usually Lake played acoustic guitar on these tracks, with synthesizer backup from Emerson and little or no drumwork from Carl Palmer. For the band's third LP, Trilogy, Lake provided From The Beginning, one of most melodic tunes in the group's catalog. The song ended up being the band's highest charting single, peaking at # 39.