Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1808 (starts 2/21/18)

    This week is, for lack of a better term, replay week. Let me explain. Most of this week's tracks have been played on our sister show, Stuck in the Psychedelic Era at some point in the past. The rest have been played on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion once or twice before. Not to worry. Next week there'll be plenty of "new" tracks.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Helter Skelter
Source:    LP: The Beatles
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1968
    Possibly the most controversial song in the entire Beatles catalog, Helter Skelter was Paul McCartney's response to an article in a British trade paper about the Who's latest single, I Can See For Miles. The author of the article referred to the Who song as the heaviest song ever recorded, and McCartney, without benefit of having actually heard I Can See For Miles, decided to go the Who one better. The lyrics of song are innocent enough, as they describe the sensation of repeatedly riding a slide in a playground, yet were vague enough to be open to interpretation by one Charles Manson. It was Manson's use of the words "Helter Skelter" (painted in blood) in his campaign to incite a race war in the US that gave the song its initial notoriety; a notoriety that was cemented when it was used as a title of a book by L.A. District Attorney Vincent Buglioso, who brought Manson's group to justice.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Fighting For Madge
Source:    CD: Then Play On
Writer(s):    Mick Fleetwood
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    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:    Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Title:    Woodstock
Source:    LP: déjà vu
Writer(s):    Joni Mitchell
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    It's somewhat ironic that the most famous song about the Woodstock Music and Art Festival was written by someone who was not even at the event. Joni Mitchell had been advised by her manager that she would be better off appearing on the Dick Cavett show that weekend, so she stayed in her New York City hotel room and watched televised reports of what was going on up at Max Yasgur's farm. Further inspiration came from her then-boyfried Graham Nash, who shared his firsthand experiences of the festival with Mitchell. The song was first released on the 1970 album Ladies Of The Canyon, and was made famous the same year when it was chosen to be the first single released from the Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young album déjà vu. The CSNY version peaked just outside of the Billboard top 10.

Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Handy
Source:    CD: Wishbone Ash
Writer(s):    Turner/Turner/Upton/Powell
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1970
    One of the first bands to feature two lead guitarists working in tandem, Wishbone Ash rose to fame as the opening act for Deep Purple in early 1970. After guitarist Andy Powell sat in with Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore during a sound check, Blackmore referred Wishbone Ash to MCA, the parent company of the US Decca label. The band's first LP came out in December of 1970, with several extended-length tracks like Handy showcasing the band's strengths. Although Wishbone Ash went on to become one of Britain's top rock bands of the 1970s, they were never as successful in the US, despite relocating to the states in 1973.

Artist:    Savoy Brown
Title:    Money Can't Save Your Soul
Source:    CD: Looking In
Writer(s):    Simmonds/ Peverett
Label:    Deram (original label: Parrott)
Year:    1970
    Looking In was the sixth album by British blues-rockers Savoy Brown, and the first without original lead vocalist Chris Youlden. It was also the final outing for guitarist Dave Peverett, bassist Tone Stevens and drummer Roger Earl, who would go on to form Foghat after being dismissed by bandleader Kim Simmonds. The album was made up entirely of original compositions such as the low-key Money Can't Save Your Soul, which was written by Simmonds and Peverett, had had taken over lead vocals upon Youlden's departure. Both Foghat and a new Savoy Brown lineup would continue to have success, especially in the US, where both bands toured extensively throughout the 1970s.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Box Of Rain
Source:    LP: American Beauty
Writer(s):    Hunter/Lesh
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    The Grateful Dead released their second album of 1970, American Beauty, only four months after the similarly-styled Workingman's Dead. Unlike the earlier album, which was written entirely by the songwriting team of Jerry Garcia and poet Robert Hunter, American Beauty included songs from other band members, including bassist Phil Lesh, who, along with Hunter, wrote the LP's opening track, Box Of Rain.

Artist:    Czar
Title:    Ritual Fire Dance
Source:    Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution
Writer(s):    de Falla/arr. Hodges
Label:    Grapefruit
Year:    1970
    After a series of unsuccessful singles for various labels from 1965-1969, Tuesday's Children decided to abandon light pop for a more progressive sound, changing their name to Czar in the process. Czar's debut LP came out in May of 1970, but it was missing one track due to difficulties over publishing rights: an adaptation of Spanish composer Manuel de Falla's Ritual Fire Dance that the group had recorded in February of that year, about a month after their first gig using their new name.

Artist:    Faces
Title:    Flying
Source:    LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: First Step)
Writer(s):    Stewart/Wood/Lane
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    Although credited to the Small Faces in North America, First Step was actually the debut album of Faces, a group combining the talents of Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood (from the Jeff Beck group) with what was left of the Small Faces (Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones and Ian McLagan) following the departure of bandleader Steve Marriott, who left to form Humble Pie. Unlike later Faces albums, First Step featured songwriting contributions from all five band members, including Stewart, Wood and Lane collaborating on the album's centerpiece, Flying.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    Inside And Out
Source:    Canadian import 12" 45 RPM blue vinyl EP: Spot The Pigeon
Writer(s):    Rutherford/Collins/Hackett/Banks
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1977
    After Genesis finished recording sessions for the Wind And Wuthering album the band members realized that they had more music than they could fit on a standard LP, and three tracks were left off the album. Those three tracks, including the five and a half minute long Inside And Out, were issued in May of 1977 on an EP called Spot The Pigeon. In North America the EP was only issued in Canada, on blue 12" vinyl that played at 45 RPM. Hey, whatever it takes to get it to sell, I guess.

Artist:      Uriah Heep
Title:     Tales
Source:      European import CD: The Magician's Birthday
Writer:    Ken Hensley
Label:    Sanctuary (original US label: Mercury)
Year:     1972
     Uriah Heep is generally remembered for two albums that appeared in 1972: Demons and Wizards and The Magicians's Birthday. Although Demons and Wizards had a great title track, and included the hit single Easy Livin', The Magician's Birthday overall had a stronger lineup of songs, including Tales, written by keyboardist Ken Hensley.

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