Sunday, November 17, 2019
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1947 (starts 11/18/19)
This week's playlist is really short. That's because most of the songs this week are really long. In one case we are talking really really long, as in over 25 minutes long. And all but one of this week's tunes were originally released in 1969, so in a way it's kind of a sneak preview of our year-end special (which is only five weeks away, incidentally).
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: You Can't Always Get What You Want
Source: LP: Let It Bleed
When the Rolling Stones called for singers to back them up on their recording of You Can't Always Get What You Want, they expected maybe 30 to show up. Instead they got twice that many, and ended up using them all on the recording, which closes out the Let It Bleed album. An edited version of the song, which also features Al Kooper on organ, was orginally released as the B side of Honky Tonk Women in 1969. In the mid-1970s, after the Stones had established their own record label, Allen Klein, who had bought the rights to the band's pre-1970 recordings, reissued the single, this time promoting You Can't Always Get What You Want as the A side. Klein's strategy worked and the song ended up making the top 40.
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Oh Well
Source: Mono LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: Then Play On)
Writer(s): Peter Green
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Fleetwood Mac had already established themselves as one of Britain's top up-and-coming blues bands by the time Then Play On was released in 1969. The band had just landed a deal in the US with Reprise, and Then Play On was their American debut LP. At the same time the album was released in the UK, a new non-LP single, Oh Well, appeared as well. The song was a top pick on Radio Luxembourg, the only non-BBC English language top 40 station still operating in Europe in 1969 (not counting the American Forces Network, which was only a top 40 station for an hour or two a day), and Oh Well soon shot all the way to the # 2 spot on the British charts. Meanwhile the US version of Then Play On (which had originally been issued with pretty much the same song lineup as the British version) was recalled, and a new version with Oh Well added to it was issued in its place. The song itself has two distinct parts: a fast blues-rocker sung by lead guitarist Peter Green lasting about two minutes, and a slow moody instrumental that runs about seven minutes. The original UK single featured about a minute's worth of part two tacked on to the end of the A side (with a fadeout ending), while the B side had the entire part two on it. Both sides of the single were added to the US version of the LP, which resulted in the first minute of part two repeating itself on the album.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Got This Thing On The Move
Source: CD: Heavy Hitters! (originally released on LP: Grand Funk)
Writer(s): Mark Farner
From summer of 1967 to summer of 1970 I lived in Germany. This gave me a bit of a different perspective on the state of rock music during those years. For example, the Who, a band I had only barely heard of in the US, was huge overseas. On the other hand, bands like the Grateful Dead were little more than a distant legend in Europe at that time. On my return to the States in summer of 1970, I learned of the existence of a power trio from Flint, Michigan called Grand Funk Railroad. In the US they were universally hated by rock music critics, yet managed to set all kinds of attendance records throughout 1969 and 1970, pretty much single-handedly inventing arena rock in the process. They also managed to get no less than three albums certified gold in 1970 alone. Despite this, GFR was totally unknown in Europe, leading me to believe that the people who ordered albums for the BX were paying too much attention to the Village Voice and Rolling Stone magazine and not enough attention to actual record sales and concert attendance figures. Anyway, I soon got my hands on the album Grand Funk (aka the Red Album) and was totally blown away by the opening track, Got This Thing On The Move. There's a valuable lesson in there somewhere.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: Who Do You Love
Source: LP: Happy Trails
Writer(s): Elian McDaniel
Quick, what was the last rock album released by Capitol using its iconic "rainbow" label before switching over to that horrid light green one that all the early Grand Funk Railroad albums used? If you answered Quicksilver Messenger Service's Happy Trails album, you'd be wrong...but just barely (actually the answer is Gandalf, which was the very next album released after Happy Trails). Happy Trails is dominated by a 25 minute long rendition of Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love recorded live at either the Fillmore East or Fillmore West, or maybe even a combination of both. The performance is divided into continuous sections, each of which is a variation on the song's basic riff as interpreted by (in order), guitarist Gary Duncan, drummer Greg Elmore, guitarist John Cipollina and bassist David Freibereg, although Elmore's segment is more of an audience participation piece. Quicksilver was one of the most popular live acts during the heyday of the late 1960s San Francisco music scene, and this recording demonstrates why.
Title: Gimme Some Lovin'
Source: LP: Welcome To The Canteen
Label: United Artists
By 1971 Traffic had undergone a sort of reversal in fortunes. Whereas in their first year of existence they had been extremely popular in the UK, with three top 10 singles and an album in the top 20, they went largely unnoticed in the US, where none of their singles charted and their first LP topped out at #88. The live album Welcome To The Canteen, however, released in 1971, did not even make the British album charts, while it went to #26 in the US. The nearly nine minute version of Gimme Some Lovin', which had previously been a hit for the Spencer Davis Group, was released as a single (split into two parts) in both countries, but only charted in the US. This trend would continue for several more years, as Traffic would not return to the British charts until 1974, when their final album, When The Eagle Flies made it to #31 (it hit #9 in the US).