Sunday, February 24, 2019

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1909 (starts 2/25/19)

    Over half of this week's show consists of recordings from 1969, including David Gilmour's first solo composition to appear on a Pink Floyd album. The rest of the tracks range from 1970 to 1973, but in no particular order.

Artist:    Zephyr
Title:    Cross The River
Source:    CD: Zephyr
Writer:    Candie and David Givens
Label:    One Way (original label: ABC Probe)
Year:    1969
    The Boulder, Colorado band Zephyr featured the vocal talents of Candie Givens, who had a multi-octave range that would not be equalled until Mariah Carey hit the scene years later. Also in the band was lead guitarist Tommy Bolin, who would go on to take over lead guitar duties with first the James Gang and then Deep Purple before embarking on a solo career. Unfortunately that career (and Bolin's life) was permanently derailed by a heroin overdose at age 28. The rest of this talented band consisted of Robbie Chamerlin on drums, John Faris on keyboards and David Givens (who co-wrote Cross The River with his wife Candie) on bass.

Artist:    Janis Joplin
Title:    Cry Baby
Source:    CD: Pearl
Writer(s):    Ragovoy/Berns
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1971
    Janis Joplin's only hit single with Big Brother and the Holding Company was Piece Of My Heart, a song written by legendary songwriters Jerry Ragavoy and Bert Berns. For her 1971 album Pearl, Joplin went with an earlier collaboration between the two that had originally been a hit in the early 60s for Garnet Mimms. Within a few months Cry Baby had become so thoroughly identified with Joplin that few even remembered Mimms's version of the song.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Hooked On Love
Source:    CD: Closer To Home
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    Mark Farner once said that the difference between Grand Funk Railroad and other power trios like Cream was that the other bands were blues-based, while GFR took more of an R&B approach. This is evident on Hooked On Love, a track from their third album, Closer To Home. The album itself is characterized by its higher production values than the band's two previous efforts, yet retains the raw energy that simultaneously turned critics off an audiences on. Closer To Home was the third Grand Funk Railroad album to attain gold record status in a single year (1970), a record that still stands.

Artist:    Moby Grape
Title:    Looper
Source:    German import LP: Underground '70 (originally released on LP: Truly Fine Citizen)
Writer(s):    Peter Lewis
Label:    CBS (original US label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Moby Grape's fourth LP, Truly Fine Citizen, is a classic example of a "contractual obligation" album. Released in 1969, the album was neither commercially or critically successful, and the group soon disbanded. The album was not without its highlights, however, such as Peter Lewis's Looper, which was considered good enough to be included on a CBS sampler album called Underground '70 that appeared in Germany on purple vinyl that glowed under a black light (don't ask how I know this).

Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    Your Saving Grace
Source:    LP: Anthology (originally released on LP: Your Saving Grace)
Writer:    Tim Davis
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    One of the most highly regarded of the Steve Miller Band's early albums was 1969's Your Saving Grace. A listen to the title track of the album shows why. As often as not, spoken sections in the middle of a song come off as silly or pretentious, but here Miller manages to make it work, enhancing what is already a fine recording.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    The Narrow Way (parts 1-3)
Source:    CD: Ummagumma
Writer(s):    David Gilmour
Label:    EMI (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1969
    Pink Floyd's first double LP was Ummagumma, released in 1969. Following the example of Cream, one disc was made up entirely of live tracks, while the second disc consisted of solo recordings by each of the band members. Not all of Pink Floyd's members were entirely comfortable with the format, however. Guitarist David Gilmour later admitted that he was unprepared at that point in his career to embark on a solo project, and that he mostly "bullshitted" his way through his portion of the album. Nonetheless, the resulting three-part piece, The Narrow Way, is actually one of the most listenable tracks on Ummagumma.

Artist:    Rory Gallagher
Title:    Laundromat
Source:    LP: Rory Gallagher
Writer(s):    Rory Gallagher
Label:    Atco
Year:    1971
    After disbanding his band Taste following their appearance at the Isle Of Wight Festival in August of 1970, guitarist/vocalist/saxophonist Rory Gallagher launched a long solo career that lasted until his death from liver failure in 1995. Gallagher spent the next few months working up new material, first with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, then with fellow Belfast musicians Gerry McEvoy and Wilger Campbell, who appeared with him on his 1971 solo debut LP. The opening track on the album is Laudromat, inspired by the shared laundromat in the basement of his flat (what Americans would call an apartment) in Earls Court.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Smooth Dancer
Source:    Japanese import CD: Who Do We Think We Are
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    Deep Purple's most iconic lineup (the so-called Mark II group consisting of Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice) only recorded four studio albums together before internal tensions and conflict with their own management led to the departure of Gillan and Glover. The last of these was Who Do We Think We Are, released in 1973. By this point some of the band members were not on speaking terms, and their individual parts had to be recorded at separate times. Nonetheless, the album is full of strong tracks such as Smooth Dancer, which closes out side one of the original LP. Despite all the problems getting Who Do We Think We Are recorded and the band's subsequent disintegration, Deep Purple sold more albums in the US than any other recording artist in the year 1973 (including continued strong sales of the 1972 album Machine Head and their live album Made In Japan).

Artist:    Blind Faith
Title:    Sea Of Joy
Source:    British import LP: Blind Faith
Writer(s):    Steve Winwood
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    At the time Blind Faith was formed there is no question that the biggest names in the band were guitarist Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, having just come off a successful three-year run with Cream. Yet the true architect of the Blind Faith sound was actually Steve Winwood, formerly of the Spencer Davis Group and, more recently, Traffic. Not only did Winwood handle most of the lead vocals for the group, he also wrote more songs on the band's only album than any other member. Among the Winwood tunes on that album is Sea Of Joy, which opens side two of the LP.

Artist:    Mott The Hoople
Title:    All The Young Dudes
Source:    CD: Electric 70s (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    Warner Special Products/JCI (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1972
    After three years and four albums for Island Records (released on Atlantic in the US), Mott The Hoople was on the verge of breaking up when David Bowie gave them the song All The Young Dudes to record. The single, released in 1972, turned Mott overnight from nearly extinct also-rans to leaders of the glam-rock movement. Oddly enough, Bowie later claimed that the song was not intended to be an anthem at all; rather it was a precursor to his next album, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust, and that the "news" that the young dudes were proclaiming was the apocalyptic fact that Earth had five years left, the same message that opens Ziggy Stardust.

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