Sunday, November 4, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1845 (starts 11/5/18)

This time around we have a bunch of songs that you would have thought had been played on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion a time or two by now, seeing as the show has been around for over two years. But the truth is, only three of this week's ten tracks have been played on the show before, and all three are making only their second appearance, including our opening track.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Funk #49
Source:    LP: The Best Of Joe Walsh (orginally released on LP: James Gang Rides Again)
Writer(s):    Fox/Peters/Walsh
Label:    ABC
Year:    1970
                Following the release of their first LP, Yer' Album, the James Gang toured extensively, giving them little time to work up material for their followup album. Nonetheless, they managed to turn out a classic with the 1970 release James Gang Rides Again. The album starts with a song that all three band members agree was already worked out by the time they hit the studio, Funk #49. The tune is now considered the band's signature song, and was included in the Eagles' repertoire when guitarist Joe Walsh hooked up with that group in 1977.
Artist:    Chicago
Title:    I'm A Man
Source:    CD: The Chicago Transit Authority
Writer(s):    Winwood/Miller
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    With prolific songwriters like Robert Lamm and James Pankow in the band, it should come as no surprise that Chicago recorded very few cover songs; in fact there was only one on their first ten albums. That one was I'm A Man, originally released as the last single by the Spencer Davis Group to feature Steve Winwood on lead vocals. The Chicago version, from their debut LP, The Chicago Transit Authority, features a drum solo from Danny Seraphine and is the second longest track on the album. I'm A Man was a concert favorite, often used as the band's encore tune. It also got plenty of airplay on FM rock radio stations in the early 1970s, but has generally been absent from classic rock playlists in recent years.

Artist:    Renaissance
Title:    Kings And Queens
Source:    LP: Renaissance
Writer(s):    Relf/McCarty/Hawken/Cennamo
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1969
    The original Yardbirds effectively ended their existence in 1968, although guitarist Jimmy Page, who had joined the group in 1966, continued to use the name through early 1969. Meanwhile, founding members Keith Relf and Jim McCarty formed a new, more progressive band called Renaissance, with new members Louis Cennamo, John Hawken and Relf's sister Jane. The group recorded one album for Elektra, which was produced by another ex-Yardbird, Paul Samwell-Smith, and had begun work on a follow-up LP when all but Hawken decided to call it quits. Hawken was able to eventually complete the second album, Illusion, with a new lineup, which in turn was the foundation for the later, more famous version of Renaissance.

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    The Fez
Source:    CD: The Royal Scam
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagen/Griffin
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1976
    By 1976 Steely Dan was no longer making live appearances. In fact, the group itself at this point was essentially the duo of Donald Fagen on keyboards and vocals and Walter Becker on guitar, supplemented by an array of studio musicians. Although the band had usually done their recording in Los Angeles, they relocated to New York to lay down the basic tracks for their fifth LP, The Royal Scam, returning with the raw tapes to L.A. for final mixing. The Fez, a popular single from the album, features Becker on lead guitar (he had played bass back when Steely Dan was still a performing unit). The Fez, as well as several other tracks from The Royal Scam, got heavy airplay on FM rock radio, which was still trailing AM top 40 in the ratings. Within five years top 40 radio itself would shift to the FM band, and FM rock radio would give way to the Album Oriented Rock format, while bands like Steely Dan would give way to more formulaic groups like Journey and Foreigner. Steely Dan would officially disband in 1981, not to return until 1993.

Artist:    The Band
Title:    The Shape I'm In
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Robbie Robertson
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    The Band's third LP, stage fright, is probably their best-known studio effort (Rock Of Ages and The Last Waltz being live albums). The only single from the album was The Shape I'm In. The tune, written by Robbie Robertson, was a not-entirely-flattering portrayel of fellow band member Richard Manuel, whose voice is ironically the most prominent on the recording.

Artist:    J.J. Cale
Title:    After Midnight
Source:    CD: Naturally
Writer(s):    J.J. Cale
Label:    Mercury/Polygram (original label: Shelter)
Year:    1972
    J.J. Cale is one of the most highly-respected, yet unknown to the general public, names in the history of rock music. He is credited as the creator of the Tulsa Sound adopted by Eric Clapton in the mid-1970s. In fact, several of Clapton's best known songs were written by Cale, including After Midnight, originally released on the 1972 album Naturally. Cale's version is more laid back than Clapton's, and is itself an early example of the Tulsa Sound.

Artist:    Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title:    I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Source:    LP: Cosmo's Factory
Writer(s):    Whitfield/Stong
Label:    Fantasy
Year:    1970
    Creedence Clearwater Revival were known for their tight arrangements of relatively short songs at a time when album tracks, as a general rule, were getting longer and longer. Still, there are exceptions; the most obvious of these was their cover of Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through The Grapevine on their 1970 LP Cosmo's Factory. At slightly over eleven minutes, Grapevine is CCR's longest studio recording. Despite this, according to bassist Stu Cook, the song was performed in the studio exactly as planned, with "no room for noodling". Although not a major top 40 hit, I Heard It Through The Grapevine has proved to be one of CCR's most enduring tracks, still getting occasional airplay on classic rock radio.

Artist:    Mountain
Title:    Taunta (Sammy's Tune)/Nantucket Sleighride (For Owen Coffin)
Source:    CD: The Best Of Mountain (originally released on LP: Nantucket Sleighride)
Writer(s):    Pappalardi/Collins
Label:    Windfall/Columbia
Year:    1971
    Mountain, formed in 1970, took its name from Leslie West's 1969 solo album, recorded after the guitarist shortened his name from Weinstein following the breakup of the Vagrants. Just as important to the band's sound, however, was Felix Pappalardi, sometimes known as the "fourth member" of Cream. Pappalardi had produced all but the first Cream album, and, along with his wife Janet Collins, helped write some of their best material, including Strange Brew, which opened the second Cream album, Disraeli Gears. As a member of Mountain, Pappalardi played keyboards and bass, as well as singing lead vocals on several of the band's most popular tunes, including Nantucket Sleighride (For Owen Coffin), the title track of Mountain's second LP. The song is based on the true story of the Essex, a whaling ship that was rammed and sunk by a sperm whale in 1820. Owen Coffin, a young seaman on the ship, was killed and eaten by his shipmates following the sinking. The term "Nantucket Sleighride" refers to the experience of being towed along in a boat by a harpooned whale. The song is preceded by a short instrumental piece called Taunta (Sammy's Tune), which was named after Pappalardi's pet poodle.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    The Mosquito
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Krieger/Densmore/Manzarek
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1972
    Following the death of Jim Morrison, the remaining member of the Doors attempted to carry on as a three-piece group, but met with relatively little success. One of their best known songs is The Mosquito, but not as a Doors recording. Not long after the song's initial release as a single (and LP track on the album Full Circle), the song was translated into French by Pierre Delanoe, whose Le Moustique went into the top 10 in at least two European countries, and was also released in Canada. 

Artist:    Canned Heat
Title:    Poor Moon
Source:    CD: The Very Best Of Canned Heat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Al Wilson
Label:    Capitol (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1969
            Poor Moon is a Canned Heat tune written by guitarist Al "Blind Owl" Wilson. The song was released as a single in 1969, but only made it to the # 113 spot on the charts. As the song was not included on any albums at the time, it qualifies as perhaps the most obscure song in the entire Canned Heat catalog.

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