Monday, August 28, 2017
Rockin' in the Days Of Confusion # 1735 (starts 8/30/17)
What we have here is basically a typical hour on your local FM rock station in the early 70s, with a mix of the familiar and what was then the cutting edge of modern music. Take a listen...
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Into The Void
Source: LP: Master Of Reality
Label: Warner Brothers
In addition to being James Hetfield's favorite Black Sabbath track, Into The Void was, according to guitarist Tony Iommi, the most difficult song to record for the group's third LP, Master Of Reality. Both vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and drummer Bill Ward had problems with the song's sudden stops and starts and tempo changes. Iommi went on to say that they even tried to record Into The Void in two different studio in an effort to get Ward on track. Eventually everything came together, and Into The Void is now considered a classic example of Black Sabbath in their prime.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: Whole Lotta Love
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin II
If any one song can be considered the bridge between psychedelic rock and heavy metal, it would have to be Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love. Released in 1969 as the lead track to their second LP, the song became their biggest hit single. Whole Lotta Love was originally credited to the four band members. In recent years, however, co-credit has been given to Willie Dixon, whose lyrics to the 50s song You Need Love are almost identical to Robert Plant's.
Artist: J. Geils Band
Title: Whammer Jammer
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Juke Box Jimmie
First they were a Boston bar band called Snoopy and the Sopwith Camel. Then they became the J. Geils Blues Band. Finally they dropped the "blues" from the name and became famous. Whammer Jammer, an early B side showcasing "Magic Dick" Salwitz on lead harmonica, shows why the "blues" part was there in the first place.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: I Woke Up This Morning
Source: LP: Ssssh
Writer: Alvin Lee
Latecomers to the British blues scene, Ten Years After were in fact the original retro-rockers, taking their cues from the classic rock and roll artists of the 50s as much as from the rhythm and blues artists of the era. Alvin Lee's songwriting, especially in the band's early days, reflected both these influences, with slow bluesy numbers like I Woke Up This Morning co-existing with high-energy rockers like I'm Going Home.
Artist: Uriah Heep
Title: Real Turned On
Source: LP: Uriah Heep
Spice was a band formed by guitarist Mick Box and vocalist David Byron, who had been in a local pub band in Brentwood, England called Hogwash. Unlike Hogwash, Spice was formed specifically to perform (and eventually record) songs written by Box and Byron. The band was filled out by bassist Paul Newton (of the Gods) and drummer Alex Napier. While playing at a place called the Blues Loft club in High Wycombe, the band came to the attention of Gerry Bron, who became the group's manager and got them a contract with Vertigo Records. Although they decided in December of 1969 to change their name to Uriah Heep, they continued to perform as Spice while working on their debut LP. By the time the album was finished, the band had replaced Napier with Nigel Olsson (recommended by Elton John) and added keyboardist Ken Hensley. The LP, which was released in the UK under the name Very 'eavy, Very 'umble and as Uriah Heep in the US, was savaged by the critics at the time of its release (1970), but has since come to be regarded as one of the foundations of heavy metal rock, thanks in part to tracks like Real Turned On.
Artist: West, Bruce And Laing
Title: Pollution Woman
Source: CD: Why Dontcha
Following the departure of bassist/vocalist/producer Felix Pappalardi in early 1972, the remaining member of Mountain, guitarist Leslie West and drummer Corky Laing, decided to form a new band with bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce. Bruce and Pappalardi had worked closely together when Bruce was a member of Cream and Pappalardi was the band's producer and unofficial "fourth member". The new trio was immediately successful as a live act, but their label, Columbia, did not think too highly of their debut LP, Why Dontcha, and did not promote it heavily. Nonetheless, the album sold a respectable number of copies, peaking at #26 on the Billboard album chart. The final track on the LP, Parachute, features Bruce playing an ARP synthesizer as well as playing bass and singing the lead vocals. The group recorded a second album, Whatever Turns You On, but by the time the album was finished they had effectively disbanded due to conflicts within the band brought on by rampant use of heroin.
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: Curtis Mayfield
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Curtis Mayfield
Although his original group, The Impressions, made some inroads on the top 40 charts (in addition to being a strong presence on the R&B charts) throughout the 1960s, it was as a solo artist in the early 1970s that Curtis Mayfield had his greatest commercial success. His soundtrack for the film Superfly is considered some of the finest music to come out of the funk era. The album produced two top 10 singles, Freddie's Dead and the film's title track, which peaked at #8.
Artist: Steely Dan
Title: Your Gold Teeth
Source: LP: Countdown To Ecstacy
Steely Dan continued their look at the seamier side of Southern California culture with their second LP, Countdown To Ecstacy. Although the album did not include any major hit singles, it was universally praised by the rock press and did receive a fair amount of airplay on FM rock radio. The final track of the LP's first side, Your Gold Teeth, tells the story of a world-weary female con artist who gets by on a combination of wits and looks.
Artist: Al Kooper/Stephen Stills/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title: Harvey's Tune
Source: LP: Super Session
Writer(s): Harvey Brooks
Probably the most overlooked track on the classic Super Session LP is the album's closer, a two-minute instrumental called Harvey's Tune. The piece was written by bassist Harvey Brooks, who, along with Mike Bloomfield, had been a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and later, the Electric Flag.