Sunday, July 15, 2018
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1829 (starts 7-18-18)
It's the hottest month of the year for most of us, and what better way to open this week's show than with the Uriah Heep classic July Morning? From there we keep on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion until we finnaly end up going off to A Better Land with Brian Augur's Oblivion Express.
Artist: Uriah Heep
Title: July Morning
Source: LP: Look At Yourself
Fans of the British rock group Uriah Heep have an ongoing argument over which is the best Heep album; Demons And Wizards, featuring the band's biggest hit single, Easy Livin', or its immediate predecessor, Look At Yourself, which includes the 10 and a half minute long classic July Morning. Both albums feature strong vocals by David Byron and songwriting by keyboardist Ken Hensley, as well as tasty guitar licks from Mick Box. Rather than takes sides on this one, I'm just going to keep on playing tracks from all six early Uriah Heep albums.
Artist: Stray Dog
Title: I Would
Source: LP: While You're Down There
Originally called Aphrodite, Stray Dog started off in Texas, but soon migrated to Denver, Colorado, where they became one of the area's most popular bands. A move to London in 1973 led to the band signing with Emerson, Lake And Palmer's Manticore label. A change in personnel following their first album brought guitarist/vocalist Timmy Dulane and keyboardist Luis Cabaza into the band in time for the band's second LP, While You're Down There. The new members brought a more commercial sound to the band, although I Would, written by bassist Alan Roberts and drummer Leslie Sampson, is more consistent with the band's original style.
Artist: Wishbone Ash
Source: CD: Wishbone Ash
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
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 actually relocating to the States in 1973.
Artist: Humble Pie
Title: Strange Days
Source: CD: Rock On
Writer(s): Humble Pie (lyrics by Steve Marriott)
People who only know Humble Pie for the song 30 Days In The Hole might be surprised to learn that Peter Frampton was the band's original lead guitarist, who had left the band following the release of their fourth LP, Rock On. Frampton's work is on display on Rock On's longest track, a blues-rock piece called Strange Days that pointed the direction the band was moving in. Writing credits for Strange Days (no relation to the Doors song of the same name) are a bit unusual, in that the music is credited to the entire band as a single unit, but that the lyrics are credited solely to Steve Marriott, who, in addition to lead vocals would take on lead guitar duties with their next album, Smokin'.
Title: A Tab In The Ocean
Source: LP: A Tab In The Ocean
Label: Passport (original German label: Bellaphon)
Year: 1972 (US release: 1976)
On the surface it seems like a story you've heard before: a group of young British musicians go to Hamburg, Germany to hone their craft, building up a cult following in the process. But this story is not about the Beatles. It is about Nektar, formed in 1969 by Roye Albrighton on guitars and vocals, Allan "Taff" Freeman on keyboards, Derek "Mo" Moore on bass, Ron Howden on drums, and Mick Brockett and Keith Walters on lights and special effects. Nektar's early style is well represented on the title track of their second LP, A Tab In The Ocean, which takes up the entire first side of the album. The LP was originally released in Germany in 1972 on the Bellaphon label. Nektar would eventually become closely associated with the progressive rock movement of the early to mid 1970s, thanks in large part to A Tab In The Ocean finally being released in the US in 1976. Like fellow prog-rockers Genesis and Gentle Giant, Nektar began to commercialize their sound with shorter songs containing fewer time and key changes as the decade wore on; unlike those other bands, however, Nektar did not become more popular because of the changes. Indeed, by 1978, the band had decided to call it quits, although two of the members reformed the band briefly the following year, releasing one album in 1980 before disbanding again in 1982.
Title: Spaceship Earth
Source: LP: Spaceship Earth
Writer(s): Robert Yeazel
Although Denver's Sugarloaf (named for a nearby mountain and ski resort) was more of a blues-rock band than a psychedelic one, they did move into pretty interesting territory with the title track of their second album, Spaceship Earth. The tune, written by the band's newest member, guitarist Robert Yeazel, moves from a decidedly spacey opening through a slow buildup to a smooth jazz-rock instrumental showcasing the band's dual lead guitars from Yeazel and Bob Webber, as well as Jerry Corbetta's strong keyboards.
Artist: Brian Auger's Oblivion Express
Title: A Better Land
Source: British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: A Better Land)
Label: Polydor (original US label: RCA Victor)
Brian Auger first started getting attention as a member of the legendary British R&B band Steampacket, which featured vocalists Julie Driscoll, Rod Stewart and Long John Baldry. Auger had already been known in jazz circles for his piano work, but in 1964 he decided to form his own rock band, Trinity, with guitarist John McLaughlin. The reuniting of Auger and Driscoll following the demise of Steampacket in 1966 led to the Brian Auger Trinity being one of the first band's signed to the Marmalade label in 1967. Driscoll stayed with the Trinity until 1969; the Trinity itself lasted another year before Auger decided to return to his jazz roots with his new band, Oblivion Express, in 1971. Brian Auger's Oblivion Express was one of the first bands to combine jazz and rock, as can be heard on the title track of their first album, A Better Land. The growing popularity of jazz-rock fusion in the mid-1970s prompted Auger to relocate to the US, where he continues to record and perform.