Monday, October 2, 2017
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1740 (starts 10/4/17)
Got a dozen good ones this time around, starting with Jimi Hendrix and ending with Mountain.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Long Hot Summer Night
Source: CD: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Legacy (original label: Reprise)
When Chas Chandler first discovered Jimi Hendrix playing at a club in New York's Greenwich Village in 1966, he knew that he had found one seriously talented guitarist. Within two years Hendrix would prove to be an outstanding songwriter, vocalist and producer as well. This was fortunate for Hendrix, as Chandler would part company with Hendrix during the making of the Electric Ladyland album, leaving Hendrix as sole producer. Chandler's main issue was the slow pace Hendrix maintained in the studio, often reworking songs while the tape was rolling, recording multiple takes until he got exactly what he wanted. Adding to the general level of chaos was Hendrix's propensity for inviting just about anyone he felt like to join him in the studio. Among all these extra people, however, were some of the best musicians around, including keyboardist Al Kooper, whose work can be heard on Long Hot Summer Night.
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Little Girl
Source: LP: Anthology (originally released on LP: Your Saving Grace)
Writer(s): Steve Miller
The fourth Steve Miller Band album, Your Saving Grace, was the lowest charting of the band's first five albums (generally considered their "psychedelic" period). Despite this lack of chart success, Your Saving Grace managed to provide four solid tracks for the band's 1972 Anthology album, released while Miller was recovering from a broken neck suffered in a 1971 car accident. Miller would reboot the band with the 1973 album The Joker, which touched off a string of chart toppers for the group.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Mark Says Alright
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Grand Funk Railroad's Live Album, released in 1970, continued the group's pattern of getting universally negative reviews from the rock press while selling millions of copies to the band's fans. Unlike most live albums, the double LP contained no overdubs or remixes, reflecting the band's desire to present an accurate, if flawed, representation of how the band actually sounded in concert. Although most of the songs on the Live Album are also available as studio tracks on their first three albums, one track, the five-minute long instrumental piece called Mark Says Alright, was nearly exclusive to the Live Album. I say "nearly" because the track was also issued as the B side of the album's first single, Heartbreaker.
Artist: Savoy Brown
Title: I Can't Get Next To You
Source: LP: Street Corner Talking
Following the release of the album Looking In, Savoy Brown founder, Kim Simmonds, decided to take the band in an entirely new direction. His enthusiasm for the change was not shared by his bandmates, however, and Simmonds ended up firing the lot of them and hiring a whole new crew for the 7th Savoy Brown LP, Street Corner Talking. This new lineup consisted of members of the band Chicken Shack, which had fallen apart when their front person, Christine Perfect (later to be Christine McVie) left to join Fleetwood Mac. One indication of the band's new direction was a bluesy arrangement of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong's I Can't Get Next To You, which had been a hit single for the Temptations a few years earlier. The Savoy Brown arrangement of the song was inspired by Al Green's version of the song.
Artist: Pink Fairies
Title: Right On, Fight On
Source: British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: What A Bunch Of Sweeties)
Writer(s): Pink Fairies
Label: Polydor (UK import)
While most rock musicians in the early 1970s were dreaming of becoming rich and famous, there were a few notable exceptions on both sides of the Atlantic. Among those were Detroit's MC5, whose radical politics were at the forefront of everything they did, and the New York City street band David Peel and the Lower East Side, who were more a musical guerrilla theater group than an actual rock band. In the UK, it was the Pink Fairies bucking the establishment, performing such anarchic acts as giving free concerts outside the gates of places where other bands were playing for pay, such as the 1970 Isle Of Wight music festival. Formed from the ashes of another anarchic band, the Social Deviants, the Pink Fairies recorded three albums from 1971-73, finally cutting a single for Stiff Records in 1976 before splitting up. The group has reformed several times since.
Title: Make It
Source: CD: Aerosmith
Writer(s): Steven Tyler
As an up and coming new band, Aerosmith worked hard to get a record contract, playing as many as three shows in the same day. This hard work paid off when Clive Davis signed them to the Columbia label in 1972. The first track on the band's debut LP, Make It, reflects Steven Tyler's desire to make an opening statement to the record buying public. As Tyler put it: "I wrote 'Make It' in a car driving from New Hampshire to Boston. There's that hill you come to and see the skyline of Boston, and I was sitting in the backseat thinking, What would be the greatest thing to sing for an audience if we were opening up for the...Stones? What would the lyrics say?" The song was released as a promotional single, but got virtually no airplay in 1973, when the Aerosmith album was originally released. After another track from the album, Dream On, became a hit in 1976, Make It got some airplay on FM rock radio, but was never a top 40 hit.
Title: Evil Ways
Source: LP: Santana
Writer(s): Clarence Henry
Evil Ways was originally released in 1968 by jazz percussionist Willie Bobo on an album of the same name. When Carlos Santana took his new band into the studio to record their first LP, they made the song their own, taking it into the top 10 in 1969.
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Fighting For Madge
Source: CD: Then Play On
Writer(s): Mick Fleetwood
A jam session is defined (by me) as what happens when two or more musicians get together and play whatever they feel like playing. Jazz, rock and blues artists in particular are prone to jamming, sometimes with recording devices running. Sometimes these jams serve as the basis for future compositions, and in some cases (the Jimi Hendrix track Voodoo Chile from side one of Electric Ladyland comes to mind) the jam session itself ends up being released in its original form. Fleetwood Mac, in 1969, included two such jams on their Then Play On LP, although one of the two (Searching For Madge) was shortened from its original 17 minutes to just under seven minutes. The other jam, heard in its entirety on the album, is called Fighting For Madge. Both tracks were named for a female acquaintance of the band, with Mick Fleetwood getting the official writing credit for Fighting and John McVie the credit for Searching, even though everyone contributed equally to both jams.
Artist: Open Mind
Title: Magic Potion
Source: British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Grapefruit (original label: Philips)
Originally known as the Drag Set, the Open Mind adopted their new name in late 1967. Not long after the change they signed a deal with Philips Records and recorded an album with producer Johnny Franz in 1968. Their greatest achievement, however, came the following year, when they released Magic Potion as a single. By that time, unfortunately, British psychedelia had run its course, and Open Mind soon closed up shop.
Artist: Deep Purple
Source: LP: Deep Purple In Rock
Label: Warner Brothers
Deep Purple In Rock was the first studio album to feature the band's most popular lineup: Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Ian Gillan on vocals, Roger Glover on bass, Jon Lord on keyboards and Ian Paice on drums. It was also the band's first album to crack the top 5 in the own country, earlier efforts being more well-received in the US than in Europe. Typical of the band's new sound was Bloodsucker. As was the case with all the original material on the LP, the song was credited to the entire group.
Artist: Wishbone Ash
Title: Errors Of My Way
Source: CD: Wishbone Ash
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
Wishbone Ash was one of the first bands to feature dual lead guitars. This came about almost by accident, as the group had been looking for a lead guitarist but couldn't choose between the two finalists, Andy Powell and Ted Turner. They decided to go with both, and, after Powell sat in with Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore during a soundcheck, the group was signed to MCA Records. Their debut LP (which was issued on MCA's Decca label in 1970) was an immediate success, and Wishbone Ash became one of the most popular hard rock bands of the early 1970s. Unlike many bands with two lead guitarists, Wishbone Ash emphasized harmony leads over individual solos, as can be heard on tracks like Errors Of My Way.
Title: Theme From An Imaginary Western
Source: European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Mountain Climbing)
Label: Sony Music (original label: Windfall)
Keyboardist Felix Pappaliardi worked closely with the band Cream in the studio, starting with the album Disraeli Gears, so it was only natural that his new band Mountain would perform (and record) at least one song by Cream's primary songwriting team, Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. If Mississippi Queen was guitarist Leslie West's signature song, then Theme From An Imaginary Western (which had previously been included on a Jack Bruce solo album) was Felix's, at least until Nantucket Sleighride came along.