Sunday, April 21, 2019
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion #1917 (starts 4/22/19)
This week we downshift a bit to shorter tracks...13 of 'em, to be exact, only four of which exceed the five minute mark. Read on.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Still Raining, Still Dreaming
Source: LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Still Raining, Still Dreaming, from the third Jimi Hendrix Experience album Electric Ladyland, is the second half of a live studio recording featuring guest drummer Buddy Miles, who would later join Hendrix and bassist Billy Cox to form Band Of Gypsys. The recording also features Mike Finnegan on organ, Freddie Smith on tenor sax and Larry Faucett on congas, as well as Experience member Noel Redding on bass.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: We Used To Know
Source: CD: Stand Up
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis/Capitol (original US label: Reprise)
The first of many personnel changes for Jethro Tull came with the departure of guitarist Mick Abrahams in late 1968. His replacement was Tony Iommi from the band Earth, who joined just in time to make an appearance miming the guitar parts to A Song For Jeffrey on the Rolling Stones' Rock And Roll Circus, a TV special slated for a December airing on British TV, but pulled from the schedule at the last minute by the Stones themselves, who were not satisfied with their own performances on the show. The following month Iommi went back to Earth (who eventually changed their name to Black Sabbath) and Jethro Tull found a new guitarist, Martin Barre, in time to begin work on their second LP, Stand Up. Barre's guitar work is featured prominently on several tracks on Stand Up, including We Used To Know, a song that starts quietly and slowly builds to a wah-wah pedal dominated instrumental finale.
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Into The Void
Source: LP: Master Of Reality
Label: Warner Brothers
In addition to being James Hetfield's favorite Black Sabbath track, Into The Void was, according to guitarist Tony Iommi, the most difficult song to record for the group's third LP, Master Of Reality. Both vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and drummer Bill Ward had problems with the song's sudden stops and starts and tempo changes. Iommi went on to say that they even tried to record Into The Void in two different studios in an effort to get Ward on track. Eventually everything came together, and Into The Void is now considered a classic example of Black Sabbath in their prime.
Title: I'm The Slime
Source: CD: Over-Nite Sensation
Writer(s): Frank Zappa
In 1973, Frank Zappa, along with an array of talented musicians, recorded two albums' worth of material. The first, released as a Mothers album, was Over-Nite Sensation. Strangely enough, a single was released from the album, although it really didn't make much of a dent in the top 40 charts. That single was I'm The Slime, a song that only gets more relevant as time goes on. The song is basically a description of America's top drug of choice, as the opening lyrics make clear: "I am gross and perverted. I'm obsessed 'n deranged. I have existed for years, but very little has changed. I'm the tool of the government and industry too, for I am destined to rule and regulate you. I may be vile and pernicious, but you can't look away. I make you think I'm delicious, with the stuff that I say. I'm the best you can get. Have you guessed me yet? I'm the slime ooozing out of your TV set." Truer words have never been spoken.
Artist: Rare Bird
Title: Birdman-Part One (Title #1 Again)
Source: 45 RPM promo (stereo side)
The appropriately named Rare Bird was never very popular in their native England. None of their albums charted there, and they only had one charted single that went to the #27 spot in 1969. They were much more successful in continental Europe, however. That same single, Sympathy, was an international hit, selling a million copies worldwide and hitting the #1 spot in both France and Italy. By the time the Rare Bird's third LP, Epic Forest, was released, the band had gone through several personnel changes, including the loss of the group's founder, keyboardist Graham Field. In the US the band got some airplay on college radio stations, but was virtually ignored by mainstream US listeners. I did manage to find a copy of Birdman-Part One (Title #1 Again), the single from the Epic Forest album in a thrift store many years ago. It's really quite listenable.
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: I Put A Spell On You
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer: Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Before getting major attention for its string of top five singles (including three consecutive # 2 songs), Creedence Clearwater Revival released a pair of cover tunes in 1968: Dale Hawkins' Suzy Q and this one from an entirely different Hawkins, Screamin' Jay. Although the Creedence version of I Put A Spell On You only made it to the # 58 spot on the national charts, it was still part of their repertoire when they played at Woodstock the following year. It cooks.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin
Writer(s): Trad. Arr. Page
It is the nature of folk music that a song often gets credited to one writer when in fact it is the work of another. This is due to the fact that folk singers tend to share their material liberally with other folk singers, who often make significant changes to the work before passing it along to others. Such is the case with Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You, which was originally conceived by EC-Berkeley student Anne Johannsen in the late 1950s and performed live on KPFA radio in 1960. Another performer on the same show, Janet Smith, developed the song further and performed it at Oberlin College, where it was heard by audience member Joan Baez. Baez asked Smith for a tape of her songs and began performing the song herself. Baez used it as the opening track on her album, Joan Baez In Concert, Part One, but it was credited as "traditional", presumably because Baez herself had no knowledge of who had actually written the song. Baez eventually discovered the true origins of the tune, and later pressings gave credit to Anne Bredon, who had divorced her first husband, Lee Johannsen and married Glen Bredon since writing the song. Jimmy Page had an early pressing of the Baez album, so when he reworked the song for inclusion on the first Led Zeppelin album, he went with "traditional, arranged Page" as the writer. Robert Plant, who worked with Page on the arrangement, was not originally given credits for contractual reasons, although later editions of the album give credit to Page, Plant and Bredon.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Flight Of The Phoenix
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Mark Farner
After five successful albums produced by Terry Knight, the members of Grand Funk Railroad decided to go it alone for their 1972 album Phoenix. The album was the first to include Craig Frost, who would eventually become a full member of the band, on keyboards, as can be heard on the LP's opening track, the instrumental Flight Of The Phoenix. Famed fiddler Doug Kershaw can also be heard on the track.
Artist: Johnny Winter
Title: Mean Mistreater
Source: British import CD: Johnny Winter
Writer(s): James Gordon
Label: Repertoire (original US label: Columbia)
Most of Johnny Winter's first album for Columbia featured the same musicians, Tommy Shannon and Uncle John Turner, that had appeared on Winter's debut LP, The Progressive Blues Experiment. One track, though, featured guest Willie Dixon on upright bass. That tune, Mean Mistreater, was written by James Gordon and also features Walter "Shakey" Horton on harmonica.
Artist: Roy Buchanon
Title: Hey Joe
Source: CD: The Best Of Roy Buchanon (originally released on LP: That's What I'm Here For)
Writer(s): Billy Roberts
Roy Buchanon laid down a guitar track on his 1953 Fender Telecaster that can only be described as "blistering" for his rendition of the Billy Roberts classic Hey Joe on his 1973 album That's What I'm Here For. Like Tim Rose and Jimi Hendrix, Buchanon chose to go with the slower arrangement of the tune rather than the fast-paced version made famous by bands like Love, the Byrds and the Leaves in the mid 1960s. One of these days I'm going to do an entire show of nothing but various versions of Hey Joe (even Cher's).
Artist: Humble Pie
Title: Stone Cold Fever
Source: CD: Performance-Rockin' The Fillmore
Some artists make great records, but can't seem to connect with a live audience. Others, like Peter Frampton, are the exact opposite. His studio albums all went nowhere, yet Frampton Comes Alive stands as one of the top-selling live albums of all time. The same can be said of his earlier work with Humble Pie. Their studio albums actually did reasonably well, but their best selling album was 1971's Performance-Rockin' The Fillmore. Among the more memorable tunes on the album was Stone Cold Fever, which went on to become a staple of FM Rock radio throughout the 1970s.
Artist: Uriah Heep
Title: Seven Stars
Source: LP: Sweet Freedom
Writer(s): Ken Hensley
Label: Warner Brothers
I'm not exactly sure what Uriah Heep's David Byron had in mind when he started singing the alphabet at the end of Seven Stars. It could have even been the way Ken Hensley wrote the song in the first place, although Hensley never did anything else quite as silly before or after the Sweet Freedom album. Musically, Seven Stars sounds like an attempt to recreate the excitement generated by Heep's biggest hit, Easy Livin', but it falls far short of the earlier tune.
Artist: Al DiMeola
Title: Love Theme From "Pictures At The Sea"
Source: LP: Land Of The Midnight Sun
Writer(s): Al DiMeola
One of the finest guitarists to emerge from the jazz-rock fusion movement of the early 1970s was Al DiMeola, who came to prominence as a member of Chick Corea's band, Return To Forever. For his first album released under his own name, DiMeola called upon fellow jazzmen Barry Miles (electric piano, Mini-Moog synthesizer) Anthony Jackson (bass), Lenny White (drums) and Mingo Lewis (percussion) to record Land Of The Midnight Sun. The album, released in 1976, shows DiMeola's talents as both a composer and instrumentalist. What it doesn't explain, however, is the title of the last track on side one, Love Theme From "Pictures At The Sea". This composition, one of the few on the album with vocals, was written entirely by DiMeola, which makes me wonder if there is even such a thing as "Pictures At The Sea".