Sunday, February 9, 2020
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2007 (starts 2/10/20)
Once again we have a whole bunch of classic rock songs that are seldom, if ever, heard on Classic Rock radio stations. Enjoy!
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: After Forever
Source: CD: Black Sabbath
Label: Warner Brothers
Anyone attempting to portray Black Sabbath as a bunch of Satanists had only to listen once to After Forever, from the Master Of Reality album, to be abused of the notion. The lyrics, written by bassist Geezer Butler (an avowed Catholic) are actually about as un-subtle as can be imagined. The song was released as the first single from the album, but failed to chart.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Live With Me
Source: LP: Let It Bleed
Mick Taylor made his recording debut at age 18 as a member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers on the 1967 LP Crusade. He remained with Mayall even after the Bluesbreakers disbanded, appearing on the 1968 LP Blues From Laurel Canyon. In 1969 he accepted an invitation to replace Brian Jones in the Rolling Stones. The first song he recorded with the band was Live With Me, which features Taylor and Keith Richard trading guitar licks. The song appears on the 1969 LP Let It Bleed. Live With Me also features prominent saxophone work from Bobby Keys, and is the only Rolling Stones track to feature contributions from pianist Leon Russell, who also arranged horns on the recording.
Artist: Procol Harum
Title: Memorial Drive
Source: LP: Broken Barricades
By 1971 it was becoming obvious that guitarist Robin Trower was outgrowing Procol Harum. This is not to say he was a better musician than the rest of the band members; rather, it was his role as a supplemental player behind keyboardist Gary Brooker that he was finding more restrictive as his own songwriting skills developed. His final album with the band was Broken Barricades. Three of the LP's eight songs were co-written (with lyricist Keith Reid) by Trower, the most on any Procol Harum album. Among those three was Memorial Drive, a tune that features guitar licks very much in the style of Keith Richards. Brooker, of course, handled the lead vocals on the track, supplemented by Chris Copping on bass and B.J. Wilson on drums.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: The Lemon Song
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin II
If I had to choose just one Led Zeppelin song as representative of the band's early work it would have to be The Lemon Song, from their second album. The track has all the elements that made the Zep's reputation: Jimmy Page's distinctive guitar work, John Bonham's stuttered (but always timely) drum fills, John Paul Jones's funky bass line and Robert Plant's gutsy vocals (with lyrics famously derived from classic blues tunes). Squeeze my lemon, baby indeed!
Artist: J. Geils Band
Title: Magic's Mood
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Juke Joint Jimmy
My two favorite J. Geils Band tracks are both B sides featuring the harmonica playing of Magic Dick. Both Magic's Mood, from 1976, and 1971's Whammer Jammer are credited to Juke Joint Jimmy. Of course, this writing credit got me curious, so I did a little research and found out that Juke Joint Jimmy (sometimes spelled Jimmie) is actually a pseudonym created specifically for songs written by the entire band. So now I guess I can put Juke Joint Jimmy in the same class as Nanker Phelge and McGannahan Skjellyfetti.
Artist: Frank Zappa/Mothers Of Invention
Title: Inca Roads/Can't Afford No Shoes
Source: LP: One Size Fits All
Writer(s): Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa was known for his musically challenging and difficult to play pieces, which transcended labels such as rock, jazz or even classical, combining elements of all three in ways that were innovative and unexpected. A good example of all of this is the track Inca Roads from the 1975 album One Size Fits All, which is catalogued as Zappa's 20th official release. The piece, which runs over eight and a half minutes, uses nearly a dozen (maybe more) time signatures, as well as advanced studio techniques such as Xenochrony (the practice of grafting one performance onto an entirely different recording). Inca Roads is quickly followed by a shorter, more straightforward rock piece called Can't Afford No Shoes. Personnel on the recordings include:
Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals
George Duke – keyboards, synthesizer, lead vocals (on Inca Roads)
Napoleon Murphy Brock – flute, tenor saxophone, vocals
Chester Thompson – drums
Tom Fowler – bass (James "Bird Legs" Youman on Can't Afford No Shoes)
Ruth Underwood – vibes, marimba, percussion
Title: Naked Eye
Source: British import CD (Spirit Of Joy) (originally released on LP: Odds And Sods)
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: Polydor (original label: Track)
While touring to promote the Tommy album, the Who began developing several new songs as part of their live act. Many of these appeared, at least in part, on the Live At Leeds album in 1970. One of those songs, Naked Eye, was partially recorded in the studio around the same time, but remained unfinished when the 1971 album Who's Next was released. Over the next couple of years several bootlegs of the Who's live performances were in circulation, prompting bassist John Entwhistle to compile a new album of outtakes and unreleased tracks in 1974. That album, Odds And Sods, included the completed version of Naked Eye.
Title: Son And Daughter
Source: LP: Queen
Writer(s): Brian May
Son And Daughter was one of Queen's earliest songs. In fact, it was on the setlist the very first time they played in public in July of 1970, and remained in the band's live repertoire until 1976, when it was crowded out by Queen's growing catalog of hit singles. Live performances of Son And Daughter originally included a Brian May guitar solo, but when it came time to record the song for their debut LP in 1973, the solo was omitted. Son And Daughter remains a prime example of Queen's early mix of British blues-rock and heavy metal.
Artist: Uriah Heep
Title: Time To Live (alternate version)
Source: British import CD: Salisbury
Year: Recorded 1971, released 2003
For their second LP, Salisbury, Uriah Heep attempted to explore new ground while maintaining their "heavy" image established on their first effort. For the most part they succeeded. One of the heavier tunes on the album, Time To Live, was actually put together in the recording studio itself, and tells the story of a man being released from prison after serving a 20-year sentence. Obviously, the song was not written from personal experience, since the band members were all in their early 20s at the time. The alternate version of Time To Live heard here was mixed and edited for a possible single release, but never issued. Oddly enough, it is actually about 15 seconds longer than the LP version.
Title: The Approaching Storm/Man Vs. Man: The End
Source: LP: Chicago III
Writer(s): James Pankow
Chicago's self-titled second album was a huge success. This put pressure on the band to make their third LP an even bigger hit; in terms of chart action they actually succeeded, with Chicago III hitting a higher position than either of its predecessors. However, the fatigue of constant touring was taking its toll, and the album itself has a more world-weary feel than any of their other LPs. The fact that Chicago III was the third consecutive double-LP released by the band only contributed to this weariness. Still, in some ways Chicago III was also the heaviest album ever released by the group. Even the instrumentals, such as trombonist James Pankow's album side length suite Elegy had a darkness to them. The suite itself has a long enough silence between the third and fourth parts that I have chosen to treat them as separate tracks. This week we have the final two parts of Elegy, The Approaching Storm and Man Vs. Man: The End. The titles say it all.
Artist: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
Title: Power To The People
Source: CD: Lennon (box set) (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): John Lennon
Label: Capitol (original label: Apple)
One of John Lennon's most successful singles, Power To The People was released in March of 1971, and made the top 10 in both the US and the UK. Lennon later explained that " I wrote 'Power to the People' the same way I wrote 'Give Peace a Chance,' as something for the people to sing." He must have had some sort of precognitive ability going, as the song is currently being used as a theme song by Bernie Sanders in his run for the US Presidency.