Sunday, November 25, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1848 (starts 11/26/18)

    This time around we go long for the first half (except for the first cut) and then shorten things up for the second. Most of these tracks have not been heard on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion before, including our opening tune, which was last heard on the special edition of Stuck in the Psychedelic Era that ran on Independence Day weekend of 2016 and served as a kind of pilot for this show.

Artist:    Black Oak Arkansas
Title:    Jim Dandy
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Lincoln Chase
Label:    Atco
Year:    1973
    My first exposure to Black Oak Arkansas was at a Grand Funk Railroad concert in August of 1971. I had literally arrived on the campus of Southwestern University in Weatherford Oklahoma the night before the concert, having hitchhiked there from New Mexico. On arrival I soon learned that my bandmates DeWayne and Mike, whose dorm room I was crashing in, already had tickets for the concert in Norman, Oklahoma. They invited me to come along, assuring me that I could easily score tickets at the gate. As it turns out they were right, but by the time we got there the only tickets left were bleacher seats. Of course, the rest of the group that made the drive to Norman all had floor tickets, so I ended up sitting by myself up in the nosebleed section for the opening act, a group I had never heard of called Black Oak Arkansas. I decided that, for the next 45 minutes or so, I would be a reviewer, and started analyzing this new band one song at a time. To be honest, I wasn't all that impressed at first, but found each successive song to be a little bit better than the one before it. By the time the band had finished their set, I was electrified (literally, since the last song was called The Day Electricity Came To Arkansas). I eventually bought a copy of the album Black Oak Arkansas, and was pleased to discover that the songs were in the exact same order on the LP as I had first heard them in concert. Over the years I continued to follow the band's progress, and was happy to hear, in 1973, their remake of an old LaVerne Baker song, Jim Dandy, on the local AM radio station. In fact, I went out and bought a copy of the 45 RPM single, which is what you'e hearing on this week's show, scratches and all.

Artist:    ZZ Top
Title:    Waitin' For The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago
Source:    LP: The Best Of ZZ Top (originally released on LP: Tres Hombres)
Writer(s):    Gibbons/Hill/Beard
Label:    London
Year:    1973
    There have been a handful of instances in rock history where two consecutive tracks on an album have fit so well together that it's almost impossible to hear one without expecting the other to follow it. The Beatles (Back In The USSR/Dear Prudence) may have been the first, but others, including Led Zeppelin (Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman) and Queen (We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions) are also instantly recognizable. Add to that list ZZ Top, whose one-two punch of Waitin' For The Bus and Jesus Just Left Chicago opened their third album, Tres Hombres, in 1973. It was the group's first collaboration with engineer Terry Manning, who (despite persistent rumors to the contrary) deliberately spliced the two songs together without a break between them when mastering the album. Not coincidentally, Tres Hombres was ZZ Top's commercial breakthrough, proving that a good recording engineer can make a significant contribution to a band's success.

Artist:    Humble Pie
Title:    C'Mon Everybody
Source:    CD: Smokin'
Writer(s):    Capehart/Cochran
Label:    A&M
Year:    1972
    Following the departure of Peter Frampton in 1971, Steve Marriott became the de facto leader of Humble Pie, producing the band's first post-Frampton album, Smokin', in 1972. One of the highlights of the album was a slowed down version of Eddie Cochran's C'mon Everybody, featuring Marriott on both lead vocals and lead guitar.

Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Warrior
Source:    British import CD: The Collection (originally released on LP: Argus)
Writer(s):    Upton/Turner/Turner/Powell
Label:    MCA/Decca
Year:    1972
    One of the first bands ever to feature two lead guitarists was Wishbone Ash. The story goes that following the departure of their original guitar player, bassist Martin Turner and drummer Steve Upton auditioned several lead guitarists and got it down to two finalists, Andy Powell and Ted Turner (no relation to either Martin Turner or Jane Fonda), but could not decide between the two. At that point they decided just to keep both of them, and a heavy metal tradition was born. Whether the story is true or not, the two definitely traded off leads for the next three years and five albums, including their third and most successful LP, Argus. One of the album's best-known songs, Warrior, is built around classical Greek literary themes and features shared lead vocals from Andy Powell and Martin Turner, as well as simultaneous lead guitar tracks from Powell and the other Turner.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    The Cinema Show/Aisle Of Plenty
Source:    CD: Selling England By The Pound
Writer(s):    Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford
Label:    Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
Year:    1973
    As early as 1973 there were concerns in the UK about the Americanization of British culture, and Genesis took inspiration from a recent Labour Party slogan, Selling England By The Pound, for their next album title. The album itself is considered one of the group's best, thanks to songs like The Cinema Show (about Juliet and Romeo each preparing for their movie date) and Aisle Of Plenty, which takes place in an American-style supermarket. Selling England By The Pound was the fifth Genesis album, and the second to feature the group's "classic" lineup of Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Summer Day Sand aka Summerday Sands
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1975
    There seems to be confusion over the title of the B side of Jethro Tull's single version of Minstrel In The Gallery. In the US and at least one other country the label reads Summer Day Sand, while in the UK and most everywhere else it is listed as Summerday Sands. Although I suspect that Summerday Sands is the correct title I went with Summer Day Sand only because the copy of the record I have is the US version. The song, incidentally, was not released on any of Jethro Tull's original LPs, although it was included in the band's first CD box set.

Artist:    It's A Beautiful Day
Title:    Girl With No Eyes
Source:    CD: It's A Beautiful Day
Writer(s):    Linda and David LaFlamme
Label:    San Francisco Sound (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    The truth of the adage that adversity fuels creativity is nowhere more evident than on the 1969 debut album of San Francisco's It's A Beautiful Day. The band had spent much of the previous year in Seattle, Washington in a tiny room above the San Francisco Sound, a less-than-popular club owned by their manager, Matthew Katz. As the house band at the club, It's A Beautiful Day ostensibly got a percentage of the door, but as the place always had poor attendance the band was pretty much broke the entire time they spent there, making them virtual prisoners. During this time the husband and wife team of David and Linda LaFlamme concentrated on their songwriting, coming up with the material that eventually became the group's first album. The best of these tracks were collaborations between the two, including the band's signature song, White Bird, and the gentle Girl With No Eyes, which closes out side one of the original LP. Ironically, once the group was successful the LaFlammes split up, with Linda leaving the band altogether. Although It's A Beautiful Day continued on with a new keyboardist, David LaFlamme's solo material was not as strong as his collaborations with Linda and the group eventually disbanded.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    All Along The Watchtower (early Chas Chandler mix)
Source:    CD: South Saturn Delta
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Experience Hendrix/MCA
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 1997
    With Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding having left the studio following an argument with his bandleader, Hendrix and drummer Mitch Mitchell, along with guest guitarist Dave Mason, laid down the basic tracks for their cover of Bob Dylan's All Along The Watchtower in January of 1968. With another guest, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, providing added percussion, Hendrix overdubbed the bass line himself, along with his lead guitar track. A few days later Hendrix and producer Chas Chandler made their initial mix of the song, heard here. In late May, Hendrix, having assumed producer's duties when Chandler left the project, transferred the original four-track recording over to new 12-track equipment, eventually adding several refinements, including a second lead guitar track, to create the final mix heard on the Electric Ladyland album.

Artist:    Savoy Brown
Title:    Flood In Houston
Source:    LP: Getting To The Point
Writer(s):    Youlden/Simmonds
Label:    Parrot
Year:    1968
    Savoy Brown's second LP, Getting To The Point, was the first to feature lead vocalist Chris Youlden. It was also the first Savoy Brown album to have more original material than cover songs on it. These new originals included the album's opening track, Flood In Houston, written by Youlden, along with bandleader/guitarist Kim Simmonds. Youlden would be gone by 1970, one of many to leave Savoy Brown over the years. In fact, Simmonds is the only member to appear on every Savoy Brown album.

Artist:    Blood, Sweat And Tears
Title:    I Can't Quit Her
Source:    LP: Child Is Father To The Man
Writer(s):    Kooper/Levine
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    Following his departure from the Blues Project in early 1967, Al Kooper, after a brief appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival with a pickup band, found himself a job as a staff producer at Columbia's New York studios. Like many Columbia producers, Kooper found time to come up with a studio project of his own. One of the reasons he had left the Blues Project was a disagreement with band leader Danny Kalb over whether to supplement the band's sound with a horn section. Kooper used his position to put together a new group that did indeed have a horn section: Blood, Sweat And Tears. In the band's original incarnation, Kooper handled both keyboards and lead vocals (although Steve Katz reprised his Blues Project role as the George Harrison of the band, singing on his own compositions). Kooper's material on Child Is Father To The Man resembles his later solo work on tracks like I Can't Quit Her, which opens side two of the original LP.

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    Cotton Mouth
Source:    CD: Toulouse Street
Writer(s):    Seals/Crofts
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1972
    After their debut LP went largely unnoticed, the Doobie Brothers made a couple of changes to their lineup for the followup album, Toulouse Street. The more significant of these changes was the addition of second drummer Michael Hossack to the band, giving the group a more distinctive sound. The album also featured a more diverse selection of material, including Cotton Mouth, written by labelmates Seals And Crofts, who were riding high with a hit of their own, Summer Breeze, at the time.

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