Monday, May 21, 2018
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1821 (starts 5/23/18)
This week's show has all kinds of twists and turns as we journey through years 1968 to 1975...and then start back down again.
Artist: David Bowie
Title: Space Oddity
Source: 45 RPM single (originally released on LP: Space Oddity)
Writer: David Bowie
Label: RCA Victor
When David Jones first started his recording career he was a fairly conventional folk singer. With Space Oddity he became David Bowie (or maybe Ziggy Stardust) and the rock world was never quite the same.
Source: LP: The Pentangle
Once in a while an album comes along that is so consistently good that it's impossible to single out one specific track for airplay. Such is the case with the debut Pentangle album from 1968. The group, consisting of guitarists John Renbourne and Bert Jansch, vocalist Jacqui McShea, bassist Terry Cox, and drummer Danny Thompson, had more talent than nearly any band in history from any genre, yet never succumbed to the clash of egos that characterize most supergroups. About half of the tracks on their first album were Pentangle originals, including Waltz, which closes out the second side of the LP.
Title: Sitting On Top Of The World (live version)
Source: CD: Goodbye Cream
Writer: Vinson/Chatmon (original) Chester Burnett (modern version)
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
Cream broke up in early 1969, leaving their final album unfinished. The band's previous album, Wheels Of Fire, had been a major success as a double LP set, with one disc containing studio tracks and the other live material, but the group had only completed three new studio recordings before calling it quits, leaving the record company to come up with filler material to make a final Cream LP. The solution was to include live versions of songs from the band's earlier albums, including this version of Howlin' Wolf's Sitting On Top Of The World.
Title: Ritual Fire Dance
Source: Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution
Writer(s): de Falla/arr. Hodges
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: Doobie Brothers
Title: Slippery St. Paul
Source: LP: The Doobie Brothers
Label: Warner Brothers
The first Doobie Brothers album failed to make the Billboard album charts when it was originally released in 1971, despite having a number of decent tunes, including Slippery St. Paul. The song itself is a rare collaboration between the band's two main songwriters, Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons, who generally worked separately.
Artist: Emerson, Lake And Palmer
Title: From The Beginning
Source: CD: Trilogy
Writer(s): Greg Lake
Label: Atlantic (original label: Cotillion)
Although his primary function in Emerson, Lake And Palmer was to provide lead vocals and play bass lines supporting Keith Emerson's keyboard work, Greg Lake generally got to include one of his own ballads on each ELP album. Usually Lake played acoustic guitar on these tracks, with synthesizer backup from Emerson and little or no drumwork from Carl Palmer. For the band's third LP, Trilogy, Lake provided From The Beginning, one of most melodic tunes in the group's catalog. The song ended up being the band's highest charting single, peaking at # 39.
Artist: Little Feat
Source: CD: Dixie Chicken
Writer(s): Lowell George
Label: Warner Brothers
Little Feat hit their stride with the 1973 album Dixie Chicken. The majority of songs on the LP, including the melodic Juliette, were written by Lowell George, who would continue to be the band's dominant force until his death in 1979.
Title: Journey From Mariabronn
Source: LP: Kansas
The band known as Kansas had its origins in Topeka in 1969, when a cover band called the Reasons Why changed its name to Saratoga and began performing original material written by guitarist/keyboardist Kerry Livgren. The following year Saratoga merged with another local band, White Clover, taking the name Kansas for the first time. In 1971 several of the members of the group split off from Kansas to form a new version of White Clover. Both bands went through several personnel changes over the next couple of years. In 1973 Livren left Kansas to join White Clover, which by then included drummer Phil Ehart, along with Robby Steinhardt (vocals, violin, viola, cello), Steve Walsh (vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion) and Rich Williams (guitars). When the band signed to Kirshner Records they decided to use the name Kansas rather than White Clover, releasing their first LP in 1974. Livgren and Walsh wrote most of the material on the album, including Journey From Mariabronn, a complicated progressive rock piece with lyrics inspired by Hermann Hesse's Narcissus and Goldmund.
Title: Seaside Rendezvous
Source: LP: A Night At The Opera
Writer(s): Freddie Mercury
Label: Virgin (original label: Asylum)
Freddie Mercury's whimsical side is in full display on the song Seaside Rendezvous, from the fourth Queen album A Night At The Opera. The song is done in a vaudevillian style reminiscent of such Paul McCartney Beatles tracks as Honey Pie and When I'm 64. Seaside Rendezvous, however, benefits from mid-70s technology, particularly the availability of many more tracks to record on than the Beatles had in the late 60s, and Queen uses them to full advantage, with Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor performing a musical bridge entirely with their voices. The track uses several instruments not often found in rock music, including tubas, trumpets, clarinets and even a kazoo (Taylor handles the brass instruments, while Mercury provides the winds). The tap dance segment of the song is actually Mercury and Taylor wearing thimbles on their fingers and tapping on the mixing desk.
Artist: Paul Simon
Title: You're Kind
Source: LP: Still Crazy After All These Years
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Paul Simon thanked Stevie Wonder for "not putting an album out" in 1975 in his acceptance speech at the 1976 Grammy Awards ceremony for receiving the award for best album that year (Wonder had won the two previous years and would win another Grammy the following year as well). The Simon album in question, Still Crazy After All These Years, was recorded as Simon was in the process of getting a divorce, which probably explains the wealth of break up songs on the album, including the hit single 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and the somewhat snarky You're Kind.
Title: The Lamia
Source: CD: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
Label: Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Atco)
I'm not going to even try to describe how The Lamia fits into the narrative of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, because the plot would be considered bizarre even by European art films of the 1960s standards. Instead I'll mention that The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was Peter Gabriel's final album as a member of Genesis and that he was the one responsible for the lyrics of The Lamia. In Greek mythology, Lamia was one of Zeus's many mistresses. As was often the case, Zeus's wife Hera found out about Lamia and devised a rather nasty punishment: she kills all of Lamia's children and transforms Lamia herself into a monster that hunts and devours the children of others. Apparently Hera didn't give much thought to collateral damage.
Title: Gimme Your Head
Source: CD: Bloodrock
Label: One Way (original label: Capitol)
Bloodrock was a hard rock band out of the Dallas-Ft. Worth area that is best known for recording the song D.O.A., a minor (but memorable) hit in 1971. The group was discovered by Grand Funk Railroad producer Terry Knight, who got the band a contract with Capitol Records and produced their eponymous first album, released in 1970. Additionally, Knight booked Bloodrock as Grand Funk's opening act for their 1970 national tour, assuring the album plenty of promotion. Lead vocalist Jim Rutledge played drums on the album, which featured tunes like Gimme Your Head, but did not yield a hit single.