Monday, July 24, 2017

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1730 (starts 7/26/17)

This week it's all about the early 1970s, specifically the years 1970-72. Granted, the last track is actually from 1974, but even that is a live version of a song from 1970.

Artist:    Who   
Title:    Baba O'Reilly
Source:    LP: Who's Next
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    Decca
Year:    1971
    Following the success of the Who's rock opera Tommy, composer Pete Townshend immediate got to work on a project to be called Lifehouse. Like Tommy, Lifehouse was to be a rock opera taking up four album sides. The project, however, was ultimately scrapped, and several of the songs were instead used on the 1971 album Who's Next. Although originally meant to be sung from the point of view of a Scottish farmer gathering up his wife and children for a move to London, Baba O'Reilly, according to Townshend, is about the "absolute desolation" of teenagers at Woodstock, many of whom were "wasted". Baba O'Reilly has proved to be one of the most popular Who songs ever recorded, despite not being released as a single in most markets, including the US and Britain, and has been used in several movie and TV soundtracks over the years, as well as being heard frequently at sporting events.

Artist:    Yes
Title:    Heart Of The Sunrise
Source:    CD: Fragile
Writer(s):    Anderson/Squire/Bruford
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    Although it is the fourth most played song in the Yes catalogue, Heart Of The Sunrise, from the 1971 album Fragile, was never issued as a single. This is due mostly to the fact that the track runs over ten minutes in length, far exceeding even such lengthy tunes as Paradise By The Dashboard Light, American Pie or MacArthur Park. The song was written by Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Bill Bruford and Rick Wakeman, but due to contractual reasons, Wakeman's name had to be left off the credits.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    All My Life
Source:    LP: Demons And Wizards
Writer(s):    Byron/Box/Kerslake
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1972
    Uriah Heep is a hard band to define. Their roots were firmly in the psychedelic era, yet they are often identified with both progressive rock bands like Yes and early heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath. The band's best-known tune was Easy Livin', a single taken from their 1972 Demons And Wizards LP. Perhaps even more typical of the group's sound at that time was the song chosen for the single's B side, All My Life (also from Demons And Wizards).

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Maybe I'm A Leo
Source:    LP: Machine Head
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1972
    Deep Purple hit their commercial peak in 1972 with the release of their sixth studio album, Machine Head. The album was recorded in late 1971 in Montreaux, Switzerland, and contains their most famous song, Smoke On The Water, which tells the story of how the album came to be recorded. But there are plenty of other outstanding tracks on the album as well, including some, such as Maybe I'm A Leo, that have received far less airplay than they deserve. I suppose that's the mark of a great album, though. Incidentally, only one of the five members of that particular incarnation of Deep Purple, vocalist Ian Gillan, was actually a Leo.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Demon's Eye
Source:    CD: The Very Best Of Deep Purple
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    Although by 1971 the practice of record companies compiling entirely different track lineups for the US versions of British rock albums was pretty much a thing of the past, there were still a few exceptions, usually involving songs being released as singles in the UK, but not in the US. Such was the case of the fifth Deep Purple album, Fireball. The original British version included a song called Demon's Eye that was replaced on the US version with the British single Strange Kind Of Woman. This made Demon's Eye somewhat of an obscurity for American (and Japanese) audiences, who would have to find an imported copy of the original British LP to hear the song until the 1980s, when The Very Best Of Deep Purple CD included the track. The song itself is a high energy piece that is fairly typical of the band at this point in their existence.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Never Before
Source:    LP: Machine Head
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1972
    Deep Purple's Machine Head is rightly considered one of the most influential albums in the history of rock. How influential is it? Well, take a listen to the main riff of Never Before, then check out Peter Frampton's signature song Do You Feel Like We Do. 'Nuff said.

Artist:    Velvet Underground
Title:    Oh! Sweet Nuthin'
Source:    LP: Loaded
Writer(s):    Lou Reed
Label:    Cotillion
Year:    1970
    The final Velvet Underground album to feature Lou Reed, Loaded was deliberately constructed to be a commercial success, or as Reed himself put it, was meant to be Loaded with hits. One obvious exception, however, is the album's last track, the dronelike Oh! Sweet Nuthin', which runs in excess of seven minutes, making it an unlikely choice for inclusion on top 40 radio playlists. The fact that the song itself has a distinct underground feel to it only reinforces that unlikelihood. Like all the songs on Loaded, Oh! Sweet Nuthin' was written by Reed, but was credited to the entire band upon the album's release. By that point Reed had already left the group, which may or may not explain why this was done.

Artist:    Little Feat
Title:    Sailin' Shoes
Source:    CD: Sailin' Shoes
Writer(s):    Lowell George
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1972
    Guitarist/vocalist Lowell George came into his own as a songwriter on the second Little Feat album, Sailin' Shoes. The title track itself is now  considered to be one of George's earliest classics. In addition to George himself, the Little Feat lineup at the time included organist Bill Payne, bassist Roy Estrada (like George, a veteran of Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention), and drummer Richie Hayward. Good stuff.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Sugar Magnolia
Source:    LP: American Beauty
Writer(s):    Hunter/Weir
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:     1970
            One of the most popular songs in the Grateful Dead catalog, Sugar Magnolia also has the distinction of being the second-most performed song in the band's history, with 596 documented performances. The song, written by Robert Hunter and Bob Weir, first appeared on the 1970 album American Beauty, but was not released as a single. A live version two years later, however, did see a single release, charting in the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Tend My Garden/Garden Gate
Source:    CD: James Gang Rides Again
Writer:    Joe Walsh
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1970
    Cleveland, Ohio's James Gang spent so much time on the road promoting their first album, Takes Off, that they didn't have much material ready when it came time to record a follow-up LP. The group found itself actually writing songs in the studio and recording them practically as they were being written. Guitarist/lead vocalist Joe Walsh, meanwhile, had some acoustic songs he had been working on, and it was decided that the new album would have one side of electric hard rock songs while the other would be an acoustic side. The opening tracks for the second side of the album were Tend My Garden, which features Walsh on both organ and guitar, followed by Garden Gate, a Walsh solo piece.

Artist:    Joni Mitchell
Title:    Rainy Night House
Source:    LP: Miles Of Aisles
Writer(s):    Joni Mitchell
Label:    Asylum
Year:    1974
    Joni Mitchell's first live album, Miles Of Aisles, was one of her most commercially successful LPs, going all the way to the #2 spot on the Billboard album charts in 1974. The album, which features Tom Scott and the L.A. Express as her stage band, includes some of her best-known tunes, such as Rainy Night House, which originally appeared on the Ladies Of The Canyon album in 1970.

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