Monday, March 11, 2019

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1911 (starts 3/11/19)

    This week's show is all about spontaneity. As such it might actually be more fun to not look at this playlist until the show is over.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Time/The Great Gig In The Sky
Source:    The Dark Side Of The Moon
Writer(s):    Mason/Waters/Gilmour/Wright/Torry
Label:    Capitol (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1973
    There are very few albums in rock history that have achieved the iconic status of Pink Floyd's Dark side Of The Moon. Listening to the last two tracks on side one, it's easy to see why this album makes the grade. In case you're wondering, the "Torry" in the songwriting credits is Clare Torry, who does all that wordless vocalizing throughout The Great Gig In The Sky. Her name did not originally appear in the credits, but then lawyers got involved...
Artist:    Crack The Sky
Title:    Ice
Source:    LP: Crack The Sky
Writer(s):    John Palumbo
Label:    Lifesong
Year:    1975
    Once in a while you buy an album based on hearing only one song from said album. Such was the case in the late 1970s, when I was doing shows for Albuquerque's KUNM-FM at the University of New Mexico. The song Ice, from the first Crack The Sky album, grabbed me that much. Apparently it grabbed someone at Rolling Stone magazine as well, as they declared Crack The Sky to be the "debut album of the year" for 1975.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Misty Mountain Hop
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin IV
Writer(s):    Page/Plant/Jones
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    Led Zeppelin's Misty Mountain Hop, which opens side two of their fourth LP (and was also issued as the B side of Rock 'N' Roll) is either about a mountain range in J.R.R. Tolkein's Middle Earth or a pro-marijuana demonstration in London's Hyde Park in 1968, at which several people were arrested for possession. Your choice.

Artist:    Velvet Underground
Title:    Train Round The Bend
Source:    LP: Loaded
Writer(s):    Lou Reed
Label:    Cotillion
Year:    1970
    After three LPs that were, at best, cult hits, the shirts at Atlantic Records requested that the Velvet Underground come up with an album that was "loaded with hits". The result was Loaded, an LP that was released on Atlantic's Cotillion label in 1970. Lou Reed, who wrote  the songs on Loaded, left the band three months before the album was released, and in the interrim the entire LP was remixed and resequenced, much to Reed's displeasure. Of the ten tracks on the final LP, only six actually have Reed's lead vocals, and several of those had been heavily edited. One of the relatively untouched songs on the album was Train Round The Bend, which does feature Reed's vocals.

Artist:    Janis Joplin
Title:    Move Over
Source:    Move Over (45 RPM single box set)
Writer(s):    Janis Joplin
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1970
    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:    Blue Oyster Cult
Title:    Then Came The Last Days Of May
Source:    LP: Blue Oyster Cult
Writer(s):    Donald Roeser
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1972
    Guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser takes center stage on Then Came The Last Days Of May, a song about a drug deal gone bad. It is the only track on Blue Oyster Cult's debut LP written and sung by Roeser, and was often performed live as his "showcase" song.

Artist:    Barclay James Harvest
Title:    The Great 1974 Mining Disaster
Source:    British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Everyone Is Everybody Else)
Writer(s):    John Lees
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1974
    Although they were never as big as other prog-rock bands such as Yes or Emerson, Lake And Palmer, England's Barclay James Harvest nonetheless had a long and productive career. Their 1974 album Everyone Is Everybody Else is generally considered to be their artistic and commercial peak, and was especially successful in continental Europe, as were the band's subsequent LPs. One of the more notable tracks on Everyone Is Everybody Else is The Great 1974 Mining Disaster, a tribute to the Bee Gees first international hit single, New York Mining Disaster 1941.

Artist:    King Crimson
Title:    I Talk To The Wind/Epitaph
Source:    CD: In The Court Of The Crimson King
Writer(s):    Fripp/McDonald/Lake/Giles/Sinfield
Label:    Discipline Mobile Global (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1969
    During my years in Albuquerque, New Mexico I had a friend named Dave Meaden. It was Dave who first introduced me to King Crimson's first album, In The Court Of The Crimson King, featuring lyrics by poet Peter Sinfield. Dave was such a big fan of Sinfield's work that he had actually handwritten the entire lyrics to Epitaph on a flag that he had hanging in his living room. I usually don't pay all that much attention to lyrics, being more of an instrumentalist, but for this particular piece I have to make an exception. In fact, I'm posting the entire text of Epitaph right here:

The wall on which the prophets wrote is cracking at the seams.
 Upon the instruments of death the sunlight brightly gleams.
 When every man is torn apart with nightmares and with dreams,
 Will no one lay the laurel wreath as silence drowns the screams?
 Between the iron gates of fate, the seeds of time were sown,
 And watered by the deeds of those who know and who are known;
 Knowledge is a deadly friend when no-one sets the rules.
 The fate of all mankind, I see, is in the hands of fools.
 Confusion will be my epitaph,
 As I crawl a cracked and broken path.
 If we make it we can all sit back and laugh.
 But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying,
 Yes I fear tomorrow I'll be crying.

Artist:    Emerson, Lake And Palmer
Title:    Take A Pebble
Source:    CD: Emerson, Lake And Palmer
Writer(s):    Greg Lake
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1970   
    From the flamboyant piano of Jerry Lee Lewis to the cheesy Farfisa sound of ? and the Mysterians, keyboards were an integral part of rock music right from the start. Nonetheless, the electric guitar was still the instrument of choice for most rock musicians. A new development in the late 1960s, however, would forever change the balance between guitar and keyboards: the invention of the Moog synthesizer (and subsequent electronic keyboard instruments). One of the first rock musicians to experiment with the new technology was Keith Emerson, keyboardist for the Nice. In 1970 Emerson teamed up with bassist Greg Lake and drummer Carl Palmer to form a new band that, shockingly, had no electric guitars at all (although Lake did occassionally play an acoustic guitar). The new band's self-titled debut album was a surprise hit, thanks in large part to the tune Lucky Man, which managed to get airplay on both AM and FM radio. The Lake composition Take A Pebble, at twelve and a half minutes, was way too long for AM airplay, but did get considerable exposure on the album-oriented rock stations that were starting to show up on the FM band. Emerson, Lake and Palmer would continue to have success throughout the 70s, particularly in Italy, where they were the number one band in the country for several years.

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