Sunday, September 29, 2019

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1940 (starts 9/30/19)

    This week's show starts and ends in 1973. In between we have a 1970 set and a set of songs that alternate between the two years adjacent to 1970. That's got to count as some sort of balance, right?

Artist:    Steeleye Span
Title:    The Wee Wee Man
Source:    LP: Parcel Of Rogues
Writer(s):    Traditional, arr. Steeleye Span
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1973
    Steeleye Span's most popular album, 1973's Parcel Of Rogues, grew out of a theatrical adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped, staged in Edinburgh in late 1972. While doing research for the play, the band unearthed several works of 18th century Scottish poetry that they adapted for the album. Among the more notable works is The Wee Wee Man, which tells the story of a small, yet immensely strong man who takes the narrator to a faerie castle, only to have it disappear at the end of the song.

Artist:    Yes
Title:    Dear Father
Source:    CD: Yesterdays (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Anderson/Squire
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    Yes's original lineup of Jon Anderson (vocals), Peter Banks (guitar), Bill Bruford (drums), Tony Kaye (keyboards) and Chris Squire (bass) released two albums and several singles before Banks left the band in 1970, subsequently forming his own band, Flash. Most of the single tracks were taken from the two LPs, with the B side of the fourth single, Dear Father, being the lone exception. None of these records, which were released only in the UK, sold well, making Dear Father extremely rare and difficult to find outside of the Netherlands, where the song was reissued as the B side of a different single in 1972. Once Yes became a more successful band after the addition of guitarist Steve Howe, they released an LP made up of earlier material called Yesterdays that included Dear Father as the album's final track.

Artist:      Bloodrock
Title:    Lucky In the Morning
Source:      CD: Bloodrock 2
Writer(s):    John Nitzinger
Label:    One Way/Cema Special Products (original label: Capitol)
Year:     1970
     In the early 1970s the Dallas-Fort Worth area was known mostly as the home of guys with names like Landry and Staubach. For a short time in 1971, however, even their fame was rivalled by a band called Bloodrock, whose D.O.A., a first-person account of the aftermath of a plane crash as seen by one of the victims, is considered one of the goriest songs in rock history. Bloodrock rise to fame began when they signed on as the second band to be produced and managed by Terry Knight, touring as Grand Funk Railroad's opening act in 1970. Their first two LPs both came out in 1970, with D.O.A. being released in edited form as a single in early 1971. The opening track of Bloodrock 2 was a tune called Lucky In The Morning, written for the band by a local guitarist named John Nitzinger. Nitzenger wrote several songs for Bloodrock over the course of four LPs and eventually released a couple albums of his own as well. As an aside, Lucky In The Morning is actually a bit of an oxymoron, due to a phenomena known as "morning breath".

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Tell Me All The Things You Do
Source:    LP: Kiln House
Writer(s):    Danny Kirwan
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1970
    Kiln House, as the first Fleetwood Mac album to not include the band's founder, Peter Green, marks the beginning of the group's transition to the soft-rock sound that would make them one of the most popular bands of the 1980s. Nowhere is that more evident than on Danny Kirwan's Tell Me All The Things You Do, which got considerable airplay on FM rock stations in the US in the early 1970s.

Artist:     Procol Harum
Title:     Whisky Train
Source:     LP: The Best Of Procol Harum (originally released on LP: Home and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Trower/Reid
Label:     A&M
Year:     1970
     By 1970, Procol Harum was being pulled in two very different musical directions at once: the semi-classical progressive musings of Gary Brooker and Keith Reid that had always defined the band's style, and the more hard rock sound favored by guitarist Robin Trower, as heard on Whisky Train, from the 1970 LP Home. Ultimately this clash of musical ideas would lead to Trower's leaving the group for a successful solo career.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    April
Source:    LP: Purple Passages (originally released on LP: Deep Purple)
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Lord
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Tetragrammaton)
Year:    1969
    The most ambitious track on the third Deep Purple album was a piece called April. The track, which runs over twelve minutes in length, is divided into three sections. The first is an instrumental featuring keyboardist Jon Lord and guitarist Richie Blackmore, the writers of the piece. This leads into an orchestral section featuring strings and woodwinds. The final section of April features the entire band, including vocalist Rod Evans, who would be leaving Deep Purple shortly after the album was released.

Artist:    Mountain
Title:    Taunta (Sammy's Tune)/Nantucket Sleighride (To 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 (To 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:    James Gang
Title:    Introduction/Take A Look Around
Source:    CD: Yer' Album
Writer(s):    Joe Walsh
Label:    MCA (original label: Bluesway)
Year:    1969
    Like the Big Bands of the 30s and 40s, the James Gang went through several lineup changes over the years. The one common element of the band was drummer/founder Dale Peters, who teamed with bassist Tom Kriss and vocalist/guitarist Joe Walsh for the group's recording debut in 1969. Unlike most band leaders, Peters was content to let other members such as Walsh take center stage, both as performers and songwriters. The result was a band that was able to rock as hard as any of their contemporaries with tracks like The Bomber and Funk #49, but that could also showcase Walsh's more melodic side with songs such as Take A Look Around. For some unknown reason, ABC Records decided to issue Yer Album on it's Bluesway subsidiary; it was the only rock album ever released on that label (subsequent James Gang albums were on the parent ABC label).

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Everybody's Everything
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s):    Santana/Moss/Brown
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    Santana's third album, released in 1971, was called simply Santana. What's confusing is the fact that their first album was also called Santana. The guitar solo on Everybody's Everything, by the way, is not by Carlos Santana. Rather it was performed by the then 17-year-old Neal Schon, who, along with keyboardist Greg Rolie would leave the band the following year to form Journey.

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    Evil Woman
Source:    CD: The Captain And Me
Writer(s):    Patrick Simmons
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    The  Doobie Brothers, in their original incarnation, had two primary songwriters: Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons. As a general rule, Simmons's tunes tended to be a bit quieter than Johnston's, but there were exceptions. One of the most notable of these was Evil Woman, one of the hardest-rocking tunes in the entire Doobie Brothers catalog. The song was featured on the band's third LP, The Captain And Me, released in 1973.

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