Monday, July 9, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1728 (starts 7/11/18)

    This week we get back to what passes for normal around here, as we start with a 1976 ZZ Top LP track and end with something from The Dark Side Of The Moon. In between we take a trip from 1968 to 1974, one year at a time.

Artist:    ZZ Top
Title:    El Diablo
Source:    LP: Tejas
Writer(s):    Gibbons/Hill/Beard
Label:    London
Year:    1976
    Although often overlooked due to its lack of a major hit single, ZZ Top's fifth album, Tejas, actually has some fine tunes on it, such as El Diablo. Since the 1980s, the original vinyl mix of the LP remained unavailable for several years, and fans of the band were not happy with the "updated" mixes used on the CD version of the album, which attempted to apply 80s studio effects to the original recordings, particularly the drum tracks. The version heard on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion is taken from an original 1976 vinyl copy of the LP.
Yeah, there are a couple pops and ticks here and there, but at least it sounds the way it did when it was released.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Spider In My Web
Source:    CD: Undead
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Deram
Year:    1968
    Ten Years After was always known more for their live performances than for their studio work. In fact, their biggest break was playing live at Woodstock. It should come as no surprise, then, that they chose to release a live album as their second LP in 1968. The album is basically a showcase for Alvin Lee's guitar pyrotechnics on cover songs, although there are a couple tunes, such as Spider In My Web, that he wrote himself.
Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Oh Well
Source:    Mono LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: Then Play On)
Writer(s):    Peter Green
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Year:     1969
    Fleetwood Mac had already established themselves as one of Britain's top up-and-coming blues bands by the time Then Play On was released in 1969. The band had just landed a deal in the US with Reprise, and Then Play On was their American debut LP. At the same time the album was released in the UK, a new non-LP single, Oh Well, appeared as well. The song was a top pick on Radio Luxembourg, the only non-BBC English language top 40 station still operating in Europe in 1969, and Oh Well soon shot all the way to the # 2 spot on the British charts. Meanwhile the US version of Then Play On (which had originally been issued with pretty much the same song lineup as the British version) was recalled, and a new version with Oh Well added to it was issued in its place. The song itself has two distinct parts: a fast blues-rocker sung by lead guitarist Peter Green lasting about two minutes, and a slow moody instrumental that runs about seven minutes. The original UK single featured about a minute's worth of part two tacked on to the end of the A side (with a fadeout ending), while the B side had the entire part two on it. Both sides of the single were added to the US version of the LP, which resulted in the first minute of part two repeating itself on the album.

Artist:    Eric Clapton
Title:    Blues Power
Source:    LP: Eric Clapton
Writer(s):    Clapton/Russell
Label:    Atco
Year:    1970
    Blues Power was the second single released from Eric Clapton's first solo LP. Although the song did not chart, it did get some airplay on FM rock radio in the early 1970s. These days it has pretty much disappeared from the air, however, which, it seems to me, is a good enough reason to play it.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Love Her Madly
Source:    CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: L.A. Woman)
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1971   
    The first single released from L.A. Woman, the final Doors album to feature vocalist Jim Morrison, Love Her Madly was a major success, peaking just outside the top 10 in the US, and going all the way to the #3 spot in Canada. The album itself was a return to a more blues-based sound by the Doors, a change that did not sit well with producer Paul Rothchild, who left the project early on, leaving engineer Bruce Botnik to assume production duties. Rothchild's opinion aside, it was exactly what the Doors needed to end their run (in their original four man incarnation) on a positive note.

Artist:    Blue Oyster Cult
Title:    Before The Kiss, A Redcap
Source:    LP: Blue Oyster Cult
Writer(s):    Pearlman/Krugman/Lanier/Roesser
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1972
    Before The Kiss, A Redcap, from the first Blue Oyster Cult album, was reportedly inspired by a scene in a singles bar related to the band by their manager/lyricist, Sandy Pearlman, who witnessed a man passing a Redcap (Dalmane) to a woman during a kiss (I'm not exactly sure how you could actually see something like that without prying someone's mouth open, but that's what he said happened). Then again, if you are into British folklore you could consider it a reference to a malevolent goblin known for soaking his cap in the blood of his victims.

Artist:    Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Title:    Toccata
Source:    CD: Brain Salad Surgery
Writer(s):    Alberto Ginastera (arr. keith Emerson)
Label:    Rhino (original label: Manticore)
Year:    1973
    One of the first pieces to be worked up for the album Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake And Palmer was an adaptation of the 4th movement of Alberto Ginastera's 1962 work Piano Concerto #1. Entitled on the album Toccata, the piece incorporates a new middle section consisting of electronically synthesized drums, the first such work ever recorded. As the album was taking shape, the band realized that they had not secured the rights to the piece; in fact, when they contacted Ginastera's publishers they were at first denied permission to use it, but were told to contact the composer himself. They did, and when Ginastera heard the first few bars of the recording he stopped the tape, exclaiming "diabolic!". It turned out to be a compliment, however, as Ginastera told the band "you have captured the essence of my music like no one else has before."

Artist:    Robin Trower
Title:    Bridge Of Sighs/In This Place
Source:    CD: Bridge Of Sighs
Writer(s):    Robin Trower
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1974
    One of the most celebrated guitar albums of all time, Bridge Of Sighs was Robin Trower's second solo LP following his departure from Procol Harum. Released in 1974, the LP spent 31 weeks on the Billboard album charts, peaking at #7. Bridge of Sighs has served as a template for later guitar-oriented albums, especially those of Warren Haines and Gov't Mule. The title track of the album, which continues into the next song, In This Place, was the most played track on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion for the year 2017, incidentally.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Breathe/Speak To Me/On The Run
Source:    The Dark Side Of The Moon
Writer(s):    Mason/Waters/Gilmour/Wright
Label:    Capitol (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1973
    Is there really anything I can say about Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon that hasn't been said a hundred times already? Probably not, so let's just kick back and enjoy the album's opening tracks, Breathe/Speak To Me and On The Run.

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