Sunday, July 29, 2018
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1831 (starts 8/1/18)
This week's show starts with a 1970 set and ends with a 1971 set. In between, we manage to squeeze in some tracks from 71-74.
Artist: Janis Joplin
Title: Move Over
Source: Move Over (45 RPM single box set)
Writer(s): Janis Joplin
1970 had been a good year for Janis Joplin. She had disbanded the disappointing Kozmik Blues Band and was nearing completion of a new album (Pearl) with a new group (the Full Tilt Boogie Band) and a new producer (Paul Rothchild), who was entirely supportive of her musical abilities. Unlike previous bands, Joplin's new group spent considerable time in the studio working on material for the album, often developing the arrangements with the tape machines running, much like Jimi Hendrix was known to do. The resulting album was musically far tighter than her previous efforts, with a mixture of cover songs and original material such as the opening track, Move Over, written by Joplin herself. A single version of Move Over, using a different take than the one on the LP, was prepared for a 1970 release but shelved following Joplin's sudden death in October of 1970.
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Speed King
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Label: Warner Brothers
The live version of Speed King, a song that originally appeared on the album Deep Purple In Rock, was taken from a 1970 performance on the BBC series In Concert. The album Deep Purple In Concert itself was not released until 1980, but an edited version of Speed King was issued as the B side of the Black Night single in the US in 1970. The song's lyrics, the first written for Deep Purple by vocalist Ian Gillan, reference several Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis Presley songs. The Dutch version of the single heard here differs from other versions in that it has piano overdubs in strategic places.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Play In Time
Source: CD: Benefit
Writer: Ian Anderson
Label: Capitol/Chrysalis (original label: Reprise)
In the first few years of Jethro Tull's existence, there was one personnel change per album. The third album, Benefit, however, is almost an exception, as keyboardist John Locke, who plays on most of the tracks, would not become an official member of the band until after the album's release. Play In Time is one of those songs that was a staple of early album rock playlists, but didn't make the transition to the current Classic Rock format.
Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Title: Everybody I Love You
Source: CD: déjà vu
The last track on the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album déjà vu is a Stephen Stills/Neil Young collaboration that sets the stage for the Stills/Young band a couple of years later. Stylistically it's pretty easy to figure out which part of Everybody I Love You was written by Stephen Stills and which part was written by Neil Young. What's interesting is how well the two parts actually fit together. As far as I know this is actually the first songwriting collaboration between the two, despite being bandmates in Buffalo Springfield since 1966 (and knowing each other even longer).
Artist: David Bowie
Title: The Man Who Sold The World
Source: CD: The Man Who Sold The World
Writer(s): David Bowie
Label: Parlophone (original label: Mercury)
The Man Who Sold The World is the title track of David Bowie's third LP. At the time, Bowie was a relatively obscure artist still looking for an audience and, in his own words, an identity as well. Unlike other Bowie albums, The Man Who Sold The World was released in the US several months earlier than in the UK. The song itself was not considered single material at the time, although it ended up being a surprise hit in the UK for Lulu in 1974, and became popular with a whole new generation when Nirvana released an unplugged version of the tune in 1993. After Bowie signed with RCA, The Man Who Sold The World was re-issued as the B side of Space Oddity in 1972.
Artist: Lee Michaels
Title: Do You Know What I Mean
Source: LP: 5th
Writer(s): Lee Michaels
From the very beginning of the rock and roll era there have been, from time to time, artists who, for one reason or another, only managed to score one big hit on the charts before fading off into obscurity. These "one-hit wonders" were generally heard on top 40 radio, which tended to be more song oriented than most other radio formats. There were exceptions, however, even on artist-oriented FM rock stations. One of the most famous examples was Lee Michaels, who got plenty of FM airplay with Do You Know What I Mean in 1971, with virtually none of his other songs getting any exposure. As it turns out, Michaels was a harbinger of things to come, as FM became more like top 40 as the 70s wore on, and ended up being, in essence, a harder rocking version of top 40 radio in the 1980s.
Artist: Steely Dan
Title: Do It Again
Source: CD: Can't Buy A Thrill
Label: MCA (original label: ABC)
Although they at first appeared to be a real band, Steely Dan was, in fact, two people: keyboardist/vocalist Donald Fagen and bassist (and later guitarist) Walter Becker. For their first album they recruited, from various places, guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, drummer Jim Hodder, guitarist Denny Dias, and finally (when they realized they would have to actually perform live, which terrified Fagen) vocalist David Palmer. The first single from the album, Do It Again, was a major hit, going to the #6 spot on the Billboard charts and, more importantly, introducing the world at large to the Steely Dan sound, combining jazz-influenced rock music with slyly cynical lyrics (often sung in the second person). Steely Dan would continue to be an influential force in popular music, and especially FM rock radio, throughout the 1970s.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: The Ocean
Source: CD: Houses Of The Holy
There is little doubt that the most anticipated album of 1973 was Led Zeppelin's fifth effort, Houses Of The Holy. After all, Stairway To Heaven, from their previous album, was the most requested (and probably most played) song on FM rock radio at the time, and the band's legion of fans were eagerly anticipating the group's next effort. They were not disappointed. Houses Of The Holy contains some of Led Zeppelin's most popular songs, including The Ocean, which was about and dedicated to those fans. Like many popular Zeppelin tunes, The Ocean was never released as a single. This really didn't matter, however, as Houses Of The Holy was a huge commercial success, going to the top of the Billboard LP charts and selling 11 million copies in the US alone.
Artist: Joni Mitchell
Title: Court And Spark
Source: LP: Court And Spark
Writer(s): Joni Mitchell
Canadian Joni Mitchell had already established a reputation as one of the top singer/songwriters of the early 1970s when she decided to spend the entirety of 1973 working on a new album that would incorporate elements of jazz into the folk-rock she was famous for. The resulting album, Court And Spark, ended up being the high point of her career, going to the #2 spot on the Billboard album charts and spawning her only top 10 single (Help Me). The album features some of the best musicians working in Los Angeles at the time, including members of the Jazz Crusaders and Tom Scott's L.A. Express, as well as guest appearances by Robbie Robertson, David Crosby and Graham Nash (and even Cheech And Chong on one track). The title track itself includes several jazz elements, including half tones, bent notes, time changes and unusual chord progressions, setting the tone for the entire LP.
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Embryo/Children Of The Grave
Source: CD: Master Of Reality
Label: Warner Brothers
One of the spookiest experiences in my life was crashing at a stranger's house after having my mind blown at a Grand Funk Railroad concert in the fall of 1971. A bunch of us had ridden back to Weatherford, Oklahoma, from Norman (about an hour's drive) and somehow I ended up separated from my friends Mike and DeWayne, in whose college dorm room I had been crashing for a couple of days. So here I am, lying on the couch in this room with black walls, a black light, a few posters and a cheap stereo playing a brand new album I had never heard before: Black Sabbath's Master Of Reality. Suddenly I notice this weird little tapping sound going back and forth from speaker to speaker. Such was my state of mind at the time that I really couldn't tell if it was a hallucination or not. The stereo was one of those late 60s models that you could stack albums on, and whoever had put the album on had left the stereo in repeat mode before heading off to bed, with no more albums stacked after the Sabbath LP. This meant that every twenty minutes or so I would hear Children Of The Grave, with that weird little tapping sound going back and forth from speaker to speaker. Trust me, it was creepy, as was the whispering at the end of track. No wonder Ozzy Ozbourne called Children Of The Grave "the most kick-ass song we'd ever recorded."
Artist: David Crosby
Title: Cowboy Movie
Source: CD: If I Could Only Remember My Name
Writer(s): David Crosby
Although the plot is probably more suited to an episode of a TV Western than a feature-length film, David Crosby's Cowboy Movie is nonetheless an entertaining story. The song, a first person accounting of a disastrous encounter between a gang of train robbers and a "young Indian girl", appeared on Crosby's first solo LP, If Only I Could Remember My Name, which was one of four solo albums released by the members of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young following the success of the deja vu album.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Jam (Footstompin' Music)
Source: CD: Survival (bonus track)
Writer(s): Mark Farner
Recorded during sessions for the Survival album, Jam (Footstompin' Music) was an early version of a song that would not appear on vinyl until the following year, when it showed up as the lead single from the album E Pluribus Funk. The recording heard here served as the blueprint for live performances of the song and differs slightly from the later studio version of Footstompin' Music.