Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1736 (starts 9/6/17)


Imagine that it's late in the year 1971, and you're enjoying some of your favorite music on your local underground radio station, from bands like the Beatles, Neil Young and Crazy Horse and Ten Years After. Imagine further that you then hear a whole set of current tunes, along with a sneak preview of a new Doobie Brothers cut. Then imagine yourself being transported a few years ahead for a visit with Robin Trower. That's pretty much what this week's show is about.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Rocky Raccoon
Source:    LP: The Beatles
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1968
            I had a friend in high school named Steve Head who was probably a better guitarist/vocalist than any of us realized. Part of the reason for the mystery was because he would only play one song in public: The Beatles' Rocky Raccoon, from the White Album (although if you got him drunk enough you could coax a chorus of Froggy Went A Courtin' out of him as well).

Title:    Down By The River
Source:    CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    Down By The River is one of four songs on the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere that Neil Young wrote while running a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (that's 39.5 degrees for people in civilized nations that use the Celsius, aka centrigrade, scale). By some strange coincidence, they are the four best songs on the album. I wish I could have been that sick in my days as a wannabe rock star.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Think About The Times
Source:    CD: Watt
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Chrysalis (original label: Deram)
Year:    1970
    The first Ten Years After I ever bought was Stonedhenge, which I picked up because a) I liked the cover, and b) it was the featured album of the month at the BX, costing a buck and a half instead of the usual $2.50. Not long after that my dad got transferred back to the States, and I somehow missed the release of the next TYA album, Cricklewood Green. A friend of mine had a copy, though, that we spent a lot of time listening to, so when I saw their next album, Watt, on the racks I immediately picked it up. I wore that copy out, and only later learned that the album had gotten mostly negative reviews from the rock press. I think that's when I started to suspect that most rock critics were self-righteous individuals with no talent of their own, because I thought Watt was a good album then and I still think it's a good album. Take a listen to Think About The Times and tell me I'm wrong.

Artist:    Allman Brothers Band
Title:    In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
Source:    LP: At Fillmore East
Writer(s):    Dicky Betts
Label:    Mercury (original label: Capricorn)
Year:    1971
    One of the greatest instrumentals in rock history, In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed was written by Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dicky Betts. The song got it's name from a headstone that Betts saw at the Rose Hill Cemetary in Macon, Georgia. That same cemetary is where band members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley were eventually buried. The version of the song heard on the 1971 album At Fillmore East was recorded live on March 13, 1971 and contains no edits or overdubs. Yes, they were that good.

Artist:    Pink Fairies
Title:    War Girl
Source:    CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Neverneverland)
Writer(s):    Twink aka John Charles Edward Alder
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1971
    The Pink Fairies were formed when three members of the Deviants (Paul Rudolph, Duncan Sanderson, and Russell Hunter), who had fired their own band leader during a disastrous North American tour, decided to hook up with Twink (John Charles Edward Alder), the former drummer of Tomorrow and the Pretty Things. Twink had done a one-shot gig with an ad hoc group of musicians under the name Pink Fairies in 1969, and the new group decided that they liked the name and appropriated it for themselves. The band gained immediate notoriety for putting on free concerts, often just outside the gates of places that were charging premium prices for tickets to see more well-known bands. By the end of 1970 the Fairies had secured a contract with Polydor and releasing their first single late in the year. This was followed by a 1971 album called Neverneverland that featured several tracks originally credited to the entire band, such as War Girl, that on later releases are credited to Twink. Although the Pink Fairies split up in 1976, they still get together from time to time to put on a show.

Artist:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Ride With Me
Source:    45 RPM stereo promo
Writer(s):    Mars Bonfire
Label:    Dunhill
Year:    1971
    By 1971 Steppenwolf's best years were already behind them. Looking to rekindle the old magic, the band turned to songwriter (and former band member) Dennis Edmonton, who, under the pseudonym Mars Bonfire, had penned their biggest hit, Born To Be Wild. Although Ride With Me was a solid song, it stalled out in the lower reaches of the top 40 charts while being virtually ignored by more progressive album rock stations.

Artist:    Five Man Electrical Band
Title:    Signs
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Les Emerson
Label:    Lionel
Year:    1971
    Everybody has at least one song they have fond memories of hearing on the radio while riding around in a friend's car on a hot summer evening. Signs, from Canada's Five Man Electrical Band, is one of mine.

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    White Sun
Source:    CD: Toulouse Street
Writer(s):    Tom Johnston
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1972
    Toulouse Street was the second Doobie Brothers album, and is generally considered their commercial breakthrough. In addition to a pair of hit singles (Rockin' Down The Highway and Jesus Is Just Alright) the album contains many fine tunes, such as the seldom heard White Sun.

Artist:    Robin Trower
Title:    Bridge Of Sighs/In This Place
Source:    CD: Bridge Of Sighs
Writer(s):    Robin Trower
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1974
    One of the most celebrated guitar albums of all time, Bridge Of Sighs was Robin Trower's second solo LP following his departure from Procol Harum. Released in 1974, the LP spent 31 weeks on the Billboard album charts, peaking at #7. Bridge of Sighs has served as a template for later guitar-oriented albums, especially those of Warren Haines and Gov't Mule.

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