Monday, May 15, 2017
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1720 (starts 5/17/17)
From Jimi Hendrix to Captain Beyond, this one has lots of guitar. And keyboards. And drums. And vocals. Bottom line is, this one rocks!
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: All Along The Watchtower
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Although there have been countless covers of Bob Dylan songs recorded by a variety of artists, very few of them are considered improvements over Dylan's original versions. Probably the most notable exception is the Jimi Hendrix Experience version of All Along The Watchtower on the Electric Ladyland album. Hendrix's arrangement of the song has been adopted by several other musicians over the years, including Neil Young (at the massive Bob Dylan tribute concert) and even Dylan himself.
Artist: James Gang
Title: Stone Rap/Collage
Source: CD: Yer' Album
Label: MCA (original label: Bluesway)
Sometime in early 1969 (more or less) three students from Kent State University (yes, that one!) travelled to New York to record an album at the Hit Factory. Apparently they had been continually confronted by fans who kept asking them "when is yer' album coming out?", so when it came time to come up with a name for the LP, the natural choice was Yer' Album. That LP launched the careers of two legends: first, the band itself, the James Gang, who would (with an ever-changing lineup) release a total on nine studio albums (and one live LP) before finally disbanding in 1976. The second legend was lead guitarist/vocalist Joe Walsh, who would go on to have a highly successful solo career before becoming an even bigger star as a member of the Eagles. Walsh wrote about half the songs on that first album, including Collage, a collaboration with his friend Patrick Cullie. Although Yer Album was released in 1969, the James Gang had actually been in existence since 1966. Led by drummer Jim Fox, the band's original lineup also included bassist Tom Kriss, who would leave the group after the release of their first LP.
Artist: Buddy Miles
Title: Down By The River
Source: CD: Them Changes
Writer(s): Neil Young
Buddy Miles is one of those guys who worked his way up to stardom the hard way, paying his dues along the way. Born in 1947, he was playing drums in backup bands for vocal groups like Ruby and the Romantics while still in his teens. In 1966 he joined Wilson Pickett's band. The following year he was invited by guitarist Mike Bloomfield to become a founding member of what was tentatively called the American Music Band, but eventually came to be known as the Electric Flag. When the Flag broke up following the release of their second LP in 1968, Miles formed his own band, the Buddy Miles Express. It was around this time that he began working with Jimi Hendrix, who produced Miles' first two albums, Expressway To Your Skull and Electric Church. Miles also appeared as a guest musician on the third Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Electric Ladyland, in 1968. The following year Miles spent a lot of time in the studio working with Hendrix on tracks that would not be released until after Hendrix's death in 1970. Hendrix, Miles and bassist Billy Cox also performed live at Madison Square Garden for a series of New Years' concerts that would appear in early 1970 as the album Band Of Gypsys. Later that year Miles began work on what is generally considered his best work as a solo artist, the album Them Changes. Most of the tracks on Them Changes were actually cover songs done in Miles's own unique style, such as Neil Young's Down By The River, which features Miles on lead guitar, as well as drums and lead vocals.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: What Is And What Should Never Be
Source: German import LP: Led Zeppelin II
Due to contractual obligations, singer Robert Plant did not received any writing credits for songs on the first Led Zeppelin album. By the time the band's second LP was released, Plant had been able to get out of his previous contract, and his name began appearing as co-writer of songs such as What Is And What Should Never Be. The song itself was based on a true story concerning Plant's attraction to his girlfriend's sister.
Artist: Wishbone Ash
Title: Sometime World
Source: CD: Argus
Guitarist Andy Powell shines on Sometime World from the third Wishbone Ash album, Argus. The song, about missed opportunities and second chances, starts quietly, building slowly to become a powerful rocker over the course of nearly seven minutes. Although the song was seldom performed live, Powell has since stated that Sometime World is his favorite track on Argus.
Artist: Steely Dan
Title: Razor Boy
Source: LP: Countdown To Ecstasy
Countdown To Ecstasy is the second Steely Dan album and the first to feature Donald Fagen as the group's sole lead vocalist. It is also the first of a trilogy of albums by the band that expose the seamy underside of Southern California culture in the 1970s. Razor Boy, for instance, targets the twin vices of materialism and complacency, asking the question: "Will you still have a song to sing when the razor boy comes and takes your fancy things away?" The album was not initially a major commercial success, but proved durable enough to attain gold status over a period of years.
Title: The Battle Of Epping Forest
Source: CD: Selling England By The Pound
Label: Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
Although sometimes criticized for making their music overly complicated at times (such as on The Battle Of Epping Forest), there is no doubting the thought and effort (not to mention outstanding musicianship) put forth by Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Phil Collins on the album Selling England By The Pound. Released in 1973, the LP focuses on the loss of traditional English culture and the increasing "Americanization" of the United Kingdom in the last half of the 20th century. The Battle Of Epping Forest was actually inspired by a newspaper article about gang violence in London's East end that Gabriel had read several years earlier. When Gabriel was unable to locate a copy of the article he created new characters to populate the song (and of course the band's legendary stage show).
Artist: Stephen Stills/Manassis
Title: Isn't It About Time
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single (promo) (taken from the LP: Down The Road)
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
The critics were not kind to the second (and last) Stephen Stills-Manassis album, Down The Road. The consensus seems to be that the album sounds like it was made for making money, as opposed to for artistic reasons. Personally, I don't know, since I've never had a copy of Down The Road (or known anyone with a copy, for that matter). I do, however, remember hearing the album' single, Isn't It About Time, on the radio and thinking it was a decent enough tune (although apparently not decent enough to inspire me to go out and buy the album). Somehow, though, I've managed to acquire a promo copy of the single, although, to be honest, I have no idea where it came from. Anyway, here it is. Enjoy.
Artist: Captain Beyond
Title: I Can't Feel Nothin'/As The Moon Speaks/Astral Lady
Source: LP: Captain Beyond
Occasionally someone will ask me a question along the lines of "Who was the best band you ever saw in concert?". My standard answer is Captain Beyond, which usually gets a blank stare in response. I then explain that Captain Beyond was the opening act (of three) at a concert I went to in El Paso in 1972. They so totally blew away the other bands that I can't even remember for sure who the headliner was. Essentially a power trio plus vocalist, Captain Beyond was made up of two former members of Iron Butterfly, guitarist Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt and bassist Lee Dorman, Deep Purple's original lead vocalist, Rod Evans, and drummer Bobby Caldwell, who was known for his work with Johnny Winter and Rick Derringer, among others. The band was so tight that I went out the very next day and bought a copy of their album, something I had never done before. Sure enough, the album was every bit as good as the band's live performance, which followed the exact same setlist as the album itself. I should mention here that, mostly to save space, I shortened the song titles a bit on the title line above. The actual full titles of the tracks heard on this week's show are as follows:
I Can't Feel Nothin' (Part 1)
As the Moon Speaks (to the Waves of the Sea)
As the Moon Speaks (Return)
I Can't Feel Nothin' (Part 2)
Due to contractual issues, neither Dorman or Reinhardt (who were technically still members of Iron Butterfly) were able to receive songwriting credits on the original album label, although Caldwell has since said that Reinhardt actually co-wrote the songs with Caldwell and Evans, with some input from Dorman.