Monday, February 12, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1807 (starts 2/14/18)

    For those of you that follow this sort of thing, this week's show follows a 4-4-2 pattern. The first four tracks are from 1972, the second four from 1971 and a final pair from 1969. For the rest of you, this show has 10 songs. Enjoy them.
Artist:    Jimi Hendrix
Title:    Night Bird Flying
Source:    CD: First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (originally released on LP: The Cry Of Love)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1971
    Night Bird Flying was one of a handful of fully completed tracks that were slated for the next Jimi Hendrix album when the guitarist unexpectedly passed away in late1970. Naturally, the song was selected for inclusion of the first posthumous Hendrix LP, The Cry Of Love, as well as various CDs over the years, including Voodoo Soup and First Rays Of The New Rising Sun, both of which were attempts to assemble what would have been the fourth Jimi Hendrix studio album. In all cases, however, I think the compilers missed the obvious: Night Bird Flying should have been the second track on the album, following Freedom (which indeed does start off all three of the above cited collections). Don't ask me how I know this. I just do. Call it a gut feeling if you will, but Night Bird Flying belongs in that #2 slot. Period.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    No One To Depend On
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Carabella/Escobida/Rolie
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    Santana's third LP (which like their debut LP was called simply Santana), was the last by the band's original lineup. Among the better-known tracks on the LP was No One To Depend On, featuring a guitar solo by teen phenom Neal Schon (who would go on to co-found Journey). The version here is a rare mono promo pressing issued as a single in 1972.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Country Road (unedited original version)
Source:    CD: Survival (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1971
    The opening track of the fourth Grand Funk Railroad studio album, Survival, was a Mark Farner composition called Country Road. The song was probably chosen to open Survival because of its stylistic consistency with earlier Grand Funk Railroad albums. The version of Country Road heard on the album, however, differs significantly from the original seven and a half minute version of the song heard here. This original version includes a second verse and an entire new section not included on the album itself. Is it better? That's for you to decide.

Artist:    Yes
Title:    Perpetual Change
Source:    The Yes Album
Writer(s):    Anderson/Squire
Label:    Elektra/Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1971
    Although Yes had already recorded two albums by 1971, The Yes Album marks the beginning of the band's most successful period. Probably the biggest reason for this newfound success was the addition of Steve Howe on guitar to a lineup that already included vocalist Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Bill Bruford, as well as keyboardist Tony Kaye (who would soon be replaced by Rick Wakeman). Another factor in the album's success was the fact that all the tracks were written by members of the band, including Perpetual Change, which closes out side two of the LP.

Artist:    Neil Young
Title:    The Needle And The Damage Done/Words (Between The Lines Of Age)
Source:    CD: Harvest
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1972
    One of Neil Young's best-known songs, The Needle And The Damage Done was written as Young watched his friend and bandmate Danny Whitten (of Crazy Horse) sink deeper and deeper into heroin addiction. It was not too long after the song appeared on Young's 1972 album Harvest that Whitten died of an overdose. The song was recorded live at UCLA in January of 1971. The recording includes the sound of audience applause which segues directly into the next track on the album, Words (Between The Lines Of Age). The song, featuring an extended guitar break in the tradition of Cowgirl In The Sand, was recorded in a barn on Young's ranch in California, with PA speakers set up for the band rather than the usual headphones. This resulted in some bleed through between microphones, which Young felt actually enhanced the "live" feel of the recording. Besides Young, the track features drummer Kenny Buttrey, bassist Tim Drummond, and steel-guitarist Ben Keith, who would collectively come to be known as Stray Gators. Jack Nitzsche also appears on the track playing piano and lap steel guitar.

Artist:    John Lennon
Title:    New York City
Source:    CD: Lennon (box set) (originally released on LP: Sometime In New York City)
Writer(s):    John Lennon
Label:    Capitol (original label: Apple)
Year:    1972
    John Lennon hit the peak of his radical activism with his (and Yoko's) 1972 album Sometime In New York City. Lennon and Ono had recently moved to New York and had made a series of appearances performing with anti-establishment bands such as David Peel and the Lower East Side, Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention and Elephant's Memory, a local band that provided the backing tracks for the album. Many of the songs on Sometime In New York City had originally been performed at rallies and benefit concerts for various left-wing causes in the New York area. The song New York City was basically an autobiographical look at the recent events in Lennon's life set to basic rock and roll.

Artist:    Jo Jo Gunne
Title:    Shake That Fat
Source:    LP: Jo Jo Gunne
Writer(s):    Ferguson/Andes
Label:    Asylum
Year:    1972
    Despite recording a total of four albums in the early 1970s, Jo Jo Gunne is basically remembered as a one-hit wonder band for the song Run Run Run, which got a lot of play on album rock FM stations and even made the top 40, peaking at # 27.  Several other tracks on their debut LP got FM airplay as well, including Shake That Fat, which follows Run Run Run on the original LP. The band was formed by two former members of Spirit, vocalist Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes, who recruited Mark's brother Matt for lead guitar duties and drummer William "Curley" Smith. Mark Andes left the band following their debut LP, which (if you are one of those people who think bass players actually matter) might explain why the band suffered diminishing returns for all their subsequent efforts. Andes, incidentally, ended up with a band called Firefall in the late 1970s and joined Heart in the 1980s.
Artist:    Captain Beyond
Title:    Raging River Of Fear
Source:    LP: Captain Beyond
Writer(s):    Caldwell/Evans
Label:    Capricorn
Year:    1972
    No band has ever impressed me during a live performance more than Captain Beyond did in 1972. Some friends and I had made the trip from Alamogordo to El Paso to catch a concert. Back in those days a typical rock concert featured three bands: one headliner, a middle band that had an album or two under their belt but had not yet achieved headliner status, and an opening act that was generally either a new band promoting their debut LP or a popular local band. I honestly don't remember who the headliner was on this particular night, but they were obviously enough of a draw to get the bunch of us to drive the 85 miles of two-lane blacktop across the Texas-New Mexico line to come see them. As it turns out, it didn't matter, because the opening act (whom none of us had ever heard of) totally blew both the other bands off the stage. The thing I was most impressed by was how big of a sound they had on songs like Raging River Of Fear, considering they had only one guitar, along with bass, drums and vocals. Later that week I discovered the second most impressive thing about Captain Beyond: their concert performance sounded exactly like their album, which I bought as soon as I found a copy on the racks. Once I had a copy of the album I realized that I was already familiar with the work of some of the band members, including Lee Dorman and Rhino (both from Iron Butterfly) and Rod Evans (the original Deep Purple vocalist). Drummer Bobby Caldwell's name was unfamiliar, but he certainly left an impression with his power and precision, a combination that fit the band quite well.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Concerto For Group And Orchestra, Second Movement: Andante (part one)
Source:    German import LP: Deep Purpple In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall "Concerto For Group And Orchestra"
Writer(s):    Jon Lord
Label:    Harvest
Year:    1969
    Deep Purple released their first album in 1968. By the following year organist Jon Lord was obviously yearning to scratch a "classical" itch, as can be heard on the song April from the band's self-title third LP. He took that itch to its natural conclusion later that year with an album called Deep Purpple In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall "Concerto For Group And Orchestra". Utilizing a full orchestra, the album was basically one long work in three movements. Unfortunately, due to the inherent limitations of LP vinyl, the second movement had to be split across both sides of the album. The album was, in all honesty, both a critical and commercial failure, but did feature the debut of Deep Purple's new lead vocalist, Ian Gillan. Whether or not the album succeeds artistically, I leave up to you to determine, based on the first part of the second movement.

Artist:     James Gang
Title:     Funk # 48
Source:     CD: Yer Album
Writer:     Walsh/Fox/Kriss
Label:     MCA (original label: Bluesway)
Year:     1969
    Cleveland's James Gang was one of the original power trios of the seventies. Although generally known as the starting place of Joe Walsh, the band was actually led by Jim Fox, one of the most underrated drummers in the history of rock. Fox, who was the only member to stay with the group through its many personnel changes over the years, sings lead on Funk # 48 from the band's debut album on ABC's Bluesway label (they moved over to the parent label for subsequent releases). Yer Album, incidentally, was the only rock LP ever issued on Bluesway .

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