Sunday, December 8, 2019
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1950 (starts 12/9/19)
This time around we have three sets: one each from 1970 and 1972 framing a longer set that goes from 1969 to 1974, one year at a time. There are a few surprises in all of this, though. Keep reading...
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Mark Says Alright
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Grand Funk Railroad's Live Album, released in 1970, continued the group's pattern of getting universally negative reviews from the rock press while selling millions of copies to the band's fans. Unlike most live albums, the double LP contained no overdubs or remixes, reflecting the band's desire to present an accurate, if flawed, representation of how the band actually sounded in concert. Although most of the songs on the Live Album are also available as studio tracks on their first three albums, one track, the five-minute long instrumental piece called Mark Says Alright, was nearly exclusive to the Live Album. I say "nearly" because the track was also issued as the B side of the album's first single, Mean Mistreater.
Title: In The Country
Source: CD: Chicago (II)
Writer(s): Terry Kath
Label: Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Although guitarist Terry Kath was by no means the most prolific songwriter in Chicago, he did pen some of the band's most memorable early works, such as In The Country, from the group's second double-LP. The song was considered so strong, in fact, that it was used as the band's set opener when they played Carnegie Hall, recording the performance for their first live album.
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Fairies Wear Boots
Source: LP: Paranoid
Label: Warner Brothers
Fairies Wear Boots is the final track on Black Sabbath's second LP, Paranoid. The title either comes from the ban's encounter with boot-wearing skinheads or a stoned vision of fairies running around a park with boots on, depending on which band member you ask. On the US version of the album, the instrumental intro to the track is listed as Jack The Stripper. As far as anyone knows, Ozzie Osbourne wrote the lyrics himself, although he claims to have no idea what the song is about.
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Source: CD: Then Play On (original promo copy)
Writer(s): Peter Green
Fleetwood Mac's third album, Then Play On, included three tracks that were compiled by guitarist Peter Green from several hours of studio jam sessions made by the band. Underway, which originally closed out side one of the US version of the album (before Oh Well was inserted into the lineup in a revised edition of the LP), is the mellowest of the three tracks.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Title: Night Bird Flying
Source: CD: Voodoo Soup (originally released on LP: The Cry Of Love)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA (original label: Reprise)
Night Bird Flying was one of a handful of fully completed tracks that were slated for the next Jimi Hendrix album when the guitarist unexpectedly passed away in late1970. Naturally, the song was selected for inclusion of the first posthumous Hendrix LP, The Cry Of Love, as well as various CDs over the years, including Voodoo Soup and First Rays Of The New Rising Sun, both of which were attempts to assemble what would have been the fourth Jimi Hendrix studio album. In all cases, however, I think the compilers missed the obvious: Night Bird Flying should have been the second track on the album, following Freedom (which indeed does start off all three of the above cited collections). Don't ask me how I know this. I just do. Call it a gut feeling if you will, but Night Bird Flying belongs in that #2 slot. Period.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Cross-Eyed Mary
Source: LP: Aqualung
Writer: Ian Anderson
The fortunes of Jethro Tull improved drastically with the release of the Aqualung album in 1971. The group had done well in their native UK but were still considered a second-tier band in the US. Aqualung, however, propelled the group to star status, with several tracks, such as Cross-Eyed Mary, getting heavy airplay on progressive rock radio.
Artist: Todd Rundgren
Title: Some Folks Is Even Whiter Than Me
Source: LP: Something/Anything?
Writer(s): Todd Rundgren
The first three sides of Todd Rundgren's third solo LP, Something/Anything?, were recorded in Los Angeles, with Rundgren using multi-track technology to play all of the instruments himself. After an earthquake rocked the area, Rundgren decided to finish the album in New York using studio musicians. Most of the New York sessions were at the Record Plant, but the final two songs, including Some Folks Is Even Whiter Than Me, were recorded at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, NY. Personnel on the song included his longtime associate Moogy Klingman on piano, former Mothers Of Invention drummer Billy Mundi, and three members of the Butterfield Blues Band: Ralph Walsh (guitar), Bugsy Maugh (bass) and Gene Dinwiddie (tenor sax), along with Serge Katzen on conga.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Title: Time/The Great Gig In The Sky
Source: The Dark Side Of The Moon
Label: Capitol (original label: Harvest)
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: Three Man Army
Title: Dog's Life
Source: German import CD: 3
Writer(s): Adrian Gurvitz
Year: Recorded 1974, released 2004 (dates approximate)
The Gurvitz brothers, Adrian and Paul, got their first taste of international fame as two thirds of the band Gun, whose Race With The Devil was a monster hit in Germany and the UK, among other places. Following the breakup of Gun, the brothers went their separate ways for a year or so, reuniting in 1971 to form Three Man Army. The first album featured three different drummers, but the next two featured the talents of Tony Newman, formerly of the Jeff Beck Group. Plans for a fourth album were shelved when Newman left the group, to be replaced by Ginger Baker (prompting a name change to Baker-Gurvitz Army), but not until several tracks had already been recorded. Those tracks remained unreleased until 2004, when a German label released 3 (so named because it was the third album to feature Newman). One of the lighter, and more memorable, tracks on the album is Dog's Life. I'll leave it to you to figure out why.
Artist: Wishbone Ash
Source: CD: Argus
One of the first bands ever to feature two lead guitarists was Wishbone Ash. The story goes that following the departure of their original guitar player, bassist Martin Turner and drummer Steve Upton auditioned several lead guitarists and got it down to two finalists, Andy Powell and Ted Turner (no relation to either Martin Turner or Jane Fonda), but could not decide between the two. At that point they decided just to keep both of them, and a heavy metal tradition was born. Whether the story is true or not, the two definitely traded off leads for the next three years and five albums, including their third and most successful LP, Argus. One of the album's best-known songs, Warrior, is built around classical Greek literary themes and features shared lead vocals from Andy Powell and Martin Turner, as well as simultaneous lead guitar tracks from Powell and the other Turner.
Artist: Little Feat
Title: Texas Rose Cafe
Source: CD: Sailin' Shoes
Writer(s): Lowell George
Label: Warner Brothers
After a concert in Houston in 1971, the members of Little Feat visited a local restaurant (hippie hangout, club, beer garden, whatever) called the Texas Rose Cafe. Bandleader Lowell George said at the time that he liked the place so much he was going to write a song about it. He did, and that song appeared as the final track on the band's second LP, Sailin' Shoes.