Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1748 (starts 11/29/17)

The show is broken into four sets this week: a 1971 set, a 1969 set, a freeform blues-rock set and a pair of nice tunes to wrap it all up..................................................

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Seamus
Source:    CD: Meddle
Writer:    Waters/Wright/Mason/Gilmour
Label:    Pink Floyd Records (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1971
    After spending several months on the concept album Atom Heart Mother, the members of Pink Floyd decided to lighten things up a bit for their next album, Meddle. Stylistically, Meddle probably has the most variety of any Pink Floyd album, ranging from the driving rocker One Of These Days, to the acoustic blues tune Seamus. The latter song is best played loud, preferably with at least one dog in the room with you.

Artist:    Mountain
Title:    The Animal Trainer And The Toad
Source:    LP: Nantucket Sleighride
Writer(s):    West/Palmer
Label:    Windfall/Bell
Year:    1971
    Mountain hit their commercial and creative peak with the 1971 album Nantucket Sleighride. The album is full of outstanding tracks, including the side two opener, The Animal Trainer And The Toad.

Artist:    Full Tilt Boogie Band
Title:    Buried Alive In The Blues
Source:    LP: Pearl (Janis Joplin album)
Writer(s):    Nick Gravenites
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    The Full Tillt Boogie Band was formed in the late 60s as a side project by New York studio guitarist John Till. All the members, including Till, pianist Richard Bell, bassist Brad Campbell, drummer Clark Pierson, and organist Ken Pearson were Canadian citizens, mostly hailing from the province of Ontario. In 1969, Till, along with several other studio musicians, were tapped to become Janis Joplin's Kozmic Blues Band, backing up the vocalist on her solo debut album. Joplin, however, was not entirely comfortable with all the members of this new band, and after the album itself got mostly negative reviews from critics and fans alike, Joplin decided to disband the group, keeping only Till. Till then convinced her to use the Full Tilt Boogie Band (dropped the second "L" in Tillt) for her next album, Pearl. The new combo started touring in the spring of 1970, beginning work on the album itself that September. At the time of Joplin's sudden death on October 4, 1970, the band had completed all the basic tracks for the album; only one song, Buried Alive In The Blues, lacked a usable vocal track. Although Nick Gravenites, the Electric Flag veteran who had written the tune, offered to provide vocals for the track, the band decided to keep it an instrumental instead.

Artist:    Beau
Title:    Creation
Source:    British import CD: Love, Poetry & Revolution (originally released on LP: Creation)
Writer(s):    Trevor Midgley
Label:    Grapefruit (original label: Dandelion)
Year:    1971
    "When I wrote the songs for Creation, my mind was in a strange place." These are the words of John Trevor, better known as Trevor Midgley, the first person to release a record (a single called 1917 Revolution) on John Peel's Dandelion label (in 1969). Trevor went on to record a pair of LPs for Dandelion, the second of which was Creation, credited to Beau (which was basically Trevor plus labelmates The Way We Live, a band that would eventually come to be known as Tractor). The piece sounds to me like the intro to something heavier, but it never quite seems to get there.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Nothing Is Easy
Source:    LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: Stand Up)
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1969
    Not long after the release of the first Jethro Tull album, guitarist Mick Abrahams, who was a blues enthusiast, left the group due to musical differences with lead vocalist/flautist Ian Anderson, who favored a more eclectic approach to songwriting. Abrahams's replacement was Martin Barre, who remains a member of the group to this day. One of the first songs recorded with Barre is Nothing Is Easy, a blues rocker that opens side two of the band's second LP, Stand Up. More than any other track on Stand Up, Nothing Is Easy sounds like it could have been an outtake from This Was, the band's debut LP.

Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    Just A Passin' Fancy In A Midnight Dream
Source:    LP: Your Saving Grace
Writer(s):    Miller/Sidran
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    1969 was a bit of a transition year for the Steve Miller Band. Guitarist/vocalist Boz Scaggs and keyboardist Jim Peterman had both left the band, to be replaced by keyboardist Ben Sidran, along with British session whiz Nicky Hopkins on piano. Sidran, in addition to his keyboard work, was a prolific songwriter, and he and Miller wrote several songs together for the album Your Saving Grace, including the somehow creepy sounding Just A Passin' Fancy In A Midnight Dream.

Artist:     Beatles
Title:     Abbey Road Medley #2
Source:     CD: Abbey Road
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple/Parlophone
Year:     1969
     The Beatles had been experimenting with songs leading into other songs since the Sgt. Pepper's album. With Abbey Road they took it a step further, with side two of the album containing two such medleys. The second one consists of Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and The End, with Her Majesty (not included on this week's show) tossed in as a kind of "hidden" track at the end of the album. The End is somewhat unique in that it features solos by all three guitar-playing members of the band, as well as the only Ringo Starr drum solo to appear on a Beatles album.

Artist:    Love Sculpture
Title:    The Stumble
Source:    British import CD: Blues Helping
Writer(s):    King/Thompson
Label:    EMI (original US label: Rare Earth)
Year:    1968
    Most people associate the name Dave Edmunds with his hit version of I Hear You Knockin' from the early 1970s. What many don't know, however, is that Edmunds was first and foremost a smokin' hot blues guitarist, as can be heard on the opening track of the first of two albums he recorded with bassist John Williams and drummer Congo Jones as Love Sculpture. Like most of the songs on Blues Helping, The Stumble is a cover of a blues classic, in this case written and originally recorded by Freddie King in 1961 and released as a single the following year.

Artist:    Johnny Winter
Title:    Be Careful With A Fool
Source:    British import CD: Johnny Winter
Writer(s):    King/Josea
Label:    Repertoire (original US label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Johnny Winter's first album for Columbia (his second overall) is nothing less than a blues masterpiece. Accompanied by bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Uncle John Turner, Winter pours his soul into classics like B.B. King's Be Careful With A Fool, possibly even improving on the original (if such a thing is even possible at all).

Artist:      Grand Funk Railroad
Title:     Mr. Limousine Driver
Source:      CD: Heavy Hitters! (originally released on LP: Grand Funk)
Writer:    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:     1969
     When Grand Funk Railroad first appeared on the scene they were universally panned by the rock press (much as Kiss would be a few years later). Despite this, they managed to set attendance records across the nation and were instrumental to establishing sports arenas as the venue of choice for 70s rock bands. One of their earliest favorites was Mr. Limousine Driver, a possibly true story from their second LP, Grand Funk (also known as the Red Album). Like most of the band's early material, Mr. Limousine Driver was written by vocalist/guitarist Mark Farner.

Artist:     Jo Jo Gunne
Title:     99 Days
Source:     LP: Jo Jo Gunne
Writer:     Jay Ferguson
Label:     Asylum
Year:     1972
     After the commercial disappointment of The Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus in 1971, vocalist Jay Ferguson and bass player Mark Andes left Spirit to form a new band, Jo Jo Gunne. Lead guitarist Matt Andes provided a much heavier rock sound than Spirit's Randy California, who had strong jazz roots. The result was a band that sometimes sounded like a heavier version of Spirit, which was natural, since Ferguson had served as Spirit's primary songwriter throughout his tenure with the band. 99 Days, which opens side two of Jo Jo Gunne's first album, was selected as a follow up single to Run Run Run. Both songs got a decent amount of airplay on FM rock radio, which at the time had a more or less free-form format and did not report their playlists (which varied from station to station and even from DJ to DJ) to the national charts.

Artist:    Joe Walsh
Title:    Rocky Mountain Way
Source:    LP: The Best Of Joe Walsh (originally released on LP: The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get)
Writer(s):    Joe Walsh
Label:    ABC
Year:    1973
    Those who wondered just who Joe Walsh was when he joined the Eagles in 1977 (yes, there were one or two), needed only to listen to a few bars of Rocky Mountain Way to recognize one of the most distinctive vocalist/guitarists in the world of rock. The song appeared on Walsh's second LP, The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get, getting extensive airplay on both AM and FM stations, propelling the album into the top 10. Walsh was already familiar to many radio listeners for his work with the James Gang, appearing on their first three albums. Walsh has floated several stories over the years as to the inspiration for Rocky Mountain Way, the most picturesque being that he was mowing his lawn in Colorado when he looked up and saw snow on the mountains in the middle of summer and realized that living that close to the Rockies beat the hell out of living in Cleveland.

Artist:    Crosby, Stills And Nash
Title:    Wooden Ships
Source:    CD: Crosby, Stills And Nash
Writer(s):    Crosby/Stills/Kantner
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    Among the various legendary characters on the late 60s San Francisco music scene, none is more reviled than Matthew Katz. His mistreatment of It's A Beautiful Day is legendary. Just about every band he managed was desperate to get out of their contract with him, including Moby Grape and Jefferson Airplane. In fact, it was because of the Airplane's fight to get out from under Katz's thumb that Paul Kantner did not get a writing credit for Wooden Ships on the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album. David Crosby had this to say on the matter: "Paul called me up and said that he was having this major duke-out with this horrible guy who was managing the band, and he was freezing everything their names were on. 'He might injunct the release of your record,' he told me. So we didn’t put Paul’s name on it for a while. In later versions, we made it very certain that he wrote it with us. Of course, we evened things up with him with a whole mess of cash when the record went huge." Although Jefferson Airplane eventually won their battle with Katz, others weren't so fortunate. Katz's San Francisco Sound still owns the rights to recordings by Moby Grape and It's A Beautiful Day, which explains why it's so hard to find quality copies of those recordings these days. Anyone want to take a guess how much the surviving members of those bands receive in royalties from the CD reissues of their albums?

Artist:    Al DiMeola
Title:    Love Theme From "Pictures At The Sea"
Source:    LP: Land Of The Midnight Sun
Writer(s):    Al DiMeola
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1976
    One of the finest guitarists to emerge from the jazz-rock fusion movement of the early 1970s was Al DiMeola, who came to prominence as a member of Chick Corea's band, Return To Forever. For his first album released under his own name, DiMeola called upon fellow jazzmen Barry Miles (electric piano, Mini-Moog synthesizer) Anthony Jackson (bass),  Lenny White (drums) and  Mingo Lewis (percussion) to record Land Of The Midnight Sun. The album, released in 1976, shows DiMeola's talents as both a composer and instrumentalist. What it doesn't explain, however, is the title of the last track on side one, Love Theme From "Pictures At The Sea". This composition, one of the few on the album with vocals, was written entirely by DiMeola, which makes me wonder if there is even such a thing as "Pictures At The Sea".

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