Sunday, October 7, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1841 (starts 10/8/18)

    This time around we have a lot of familiar, yet seldom heard, tracks that prove that classic rock can be more than just the same old songs played over and over.

Artist:    Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Title:    déjà vu
Source:    LP: déjà vu
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    One of the biggest selling albums in the history of rock music, Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young's déjà vu was also one of the most difficult and time-consuming albums ever made. It is estimated that the album, which to date has sold over 8 million copies, took around 800 hours of studio time to record. Most of the tracks were recorded as solo tracks by their respective songwriters, with the other members making whatever contributions were called for. The album also features several guest musicians (including John Sebastian, who plays harmonica on the title track), as well as drummer Dallas Taylor and bassist Greg Reeves, whose names appear in slightly smaller font on the front cover of the album.

Artist:     Nice
Title:     America
Source:     LP: Keith Emerson With The Nice (originally released on LP: Elegy)
Writer:     Bernstein/Sondheim
Label:     Charisma
Year:     1971
     Before Emerson, Lake And Palmer became one of the hottest acts on the progressive rock scene, there was a band called the Nice that featured Keith Emerson on keyboards. The group released several singles and albums, including a hard rocking instrumental version of Leonard Bernstein's America (from West Side Story) in 1968. Emerson famously burned a US flag during the performance of the piece at a charity performance at the Royal Albert Hall in July of that year. As a result, the Nice was permanently banned from that venue. By 1970 Emerson had left the Nice to join up with Greg Lake and Carl Palmer. This did not stop Mercury Records from issuing, in 1971, an album called Elegy (credited to Keith Emerson and the Nice) that included a live version of America. The following year Elegy was reissued, along with the 1970 LP Five Bridges, as part of a two-LP set called Keith Emerson With The Nice.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Everybody's Everything
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s):    Santana/Moss/Brown
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    Santana's third album, released in 1971, was called simply Santana. What's confusing is the fact that their first album was also called Santana. The guitar solo on Everybody's Everything, by the way, is not by Carlos Santana. Rather it was performed by the then 17-year-old Neal Schon, who, along with keyboardist Greg Rolie would leave the band the following year to form Journey.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Going To California
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin IV
Writer(s):    Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    The fourth Led Zeppelin album is known for the band's return to a harder rock sound after the acoustic leanings of Led Zeppelin III. There were, however, a couple of acoustic songs on LZ IV, including Going To California, a song that vocalist Robert Plant has since said was about Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. The tune features Plant on vocals, Jimmy Page on acoustic guitar and John Paul Jones on Mandolin.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Love Like A Man
Source:    CD: Cricklewood Green
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1970
    Cricklewood Green was Ten Years After's fourth studio effort and fifth album overall. Released in 1970, the album is considered by critics to be the apex of Ten Years After's studio work. The best known track from the album is Love Like A Man, which became the group's only single to chart in the UK (in an edited version), peaking at the #10 spot. The band was still considered an "underground" act in the US, despite a successful appearance at Woodstock the year before. However, Love Like A Man was a favorite among disc jockeys on FM rock radio stations, who almost universally preferred the longer album version of the song heard here.

Artist:    Randy California
Title:    Day Tripper
Source:    European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Kapt. Kopter And The (Fabulous) Twirly Birds)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Sony Music (original US label: Epic)
Year:    1972
    In 1972, with his band Spirit having fallen apart (temporarily as it turned out), guitarist Randy California released his first solo LP, Kapt. Kopter And The (Fabulous) Twirly Birds, on which he also sang lead vocals. The album contained a mix of original tunes and covers, of which Day Tripper was the most recognizable. Indeed, one of the primary criticisms of the album was the fact that most of the cover songs sounded like jams on the songs' main riffs rather than actual arrangements.

Artist:    John Lennon
Title:    I Found Out
Source:    CD: Lennon (box set) (originally released on LP: John Lennon/Plastic One Band)
Writer(s):    John Lennon
Label:    Capitol (original label: Apple)
Year:    1970
    John Lennon was not pulling any punches on his 1970 solo debut album. I Found Out, for instance, takes a cynical look at religion and hero worship, with sparse production techniques drawing attention to the lyrics rather than the music (which harkens back to early blues recordings).

Artist:    Who
Title:    The Magic Bus
Source:    LP: Live At Leeds
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    Decca
Year:    1970
    At first, when I saw the label for the 1970 Who album Live At Leeds, I thought they made a mistake with the title of the last track on the album. Magic Bus had been a hit single for the band in 1968, but the label here called it THE Magic Bus. It turns out, though, that the change is justified, as the live version of The Magic Bus is nearly different enough from the studio version to be considered a different song entirely. It starts off similarly enough, but by the end of the performance (which runs for seven and a half minutes) the band has taken it into entirely new territory.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Lost Woman
Source:    CD: Yer' Album
Writer(s):    Dreja/McCarty/Beck/Relf/Samwell-Smith
Label:    MCA (original label: Bluesway)
Year:    1969
    The first James Gang album was primarily designed to show off the performing talents of guitarist Joe Walsh, bassist Tom Kriss and drummer Jim Fox. As such, most of the album was made up of cover songs such as the Yardbirds' Lost Woman. Like other covers on Yer' Album, Lost Woman turns into a long extended jam, running a total of nine minutes before all is played and done. Subsequent albums would focus more on the songwriting talents of the band members, particularly Walsh.

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    Reeling In The Years
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagen
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1972
    My first radio gig (sort of), was volunteering at the Voice Of Holloman, a closed-circuit station that served a handful of locations on Holloman AFB, about 10 miles from Alamogordo, NM. I had been taking broadcasting courses through a community college program that was taught by Sgt. Tim Daniels, who was the NCO in charge of the base Information Office. As such he ran the station, as well as a free weekly newspaper that was distributed on base. After completing the classes, Tim gave me the opportunity to do a daily two-hour show on the VOH, using records that had been sent to the station by various record labels. We got excellent singles service from some labels (Warner Brothers and Capitol in particular), but virtually nothing from others, such as ABC. This was unfortunate, as one of the best songs out at the time was Steely Dan's Reeling In The Years, from their 1972 Can't Buy A Thrill album. Tim, whose previous gig was with the Armed Forces Vietnam Network, was a big rock fan, however, and went out and bought his own copy of the album, making a copy of Reeling In The Years on reel to reel tape, which we then played extensively until the song had run its course on the charts. Thus the Voice Of Holloman, with its audience consisting mostly of guys working out at the base gym, was playing the longer album version of a song that was also getting airplay on Alamogordo's daytime-only top 40 AM station, KINN, in its edited single form. It was just about the nearest the Voice Of Holloman ever got to being an underground rock station (although I did manage to sneak in some Procol Harum, Little Feat and Deep Purple from time to time from the aformentioned Warner Brothers singles).

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