Sunday, May 3, 2020
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2019 (starts 5/4/20)
This week's highlight is a long 1970 set that starts with Randy Newman and ends with Santana. First, though, a musical journey from 1968 to 1972.
Title: Deserted Cities Of The Heart
Source: British Import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Wheels Of Fire)
Label: Polydor (original US label: Atco)
The most psychedelic of Cream's songs were penned by Jack Bruce and his songwriting partner Pete Brown. One of the best of these was chosen to close out the last studio side of the last Cream album released while the band was still in existence. Deserted Cities Of The Heart is a fitting epitaph to an unforgettable band. It's also a pretty good way to end this week's show.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: Street Fighting Man
Source: CD: Beggar's Banquet
Label: Abkco (original label: London)
The Rolling Stones were at a low point in their career following their most psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which came out in late 1967. As a response to charges in the rock press that they were no longer relevant the Stones, working with producer Jimmy Miller, released Jumpin' Jack Flash as a single in early 1968, following it up with the Beggar's Banquet album later in the year. The new album included the band's first recording with Miller producing, Street Fighting Man, which as a followup single to Jumpin' Jack Flash went a long ways toward insuring that the Rolling Stones would be making music on their own terms for as long as they chose to.
Artist: King Crimson
Title: The Court Of The Crimson King
Source: CD: In The Court Of The Crimson King
Label: Discipline Global Mobile (original label: Atlantic)
Perhaps the most influential progressive rock album of all time was King Crimson's debut LP, In The Court Of The Crimson King. The band, in its original incarnation, included Robert Fripp on guitar, Ian MacDonald on keyboards and woodwinds, Greg Lake on vocals and bass, David Giles on drums and Peter Sinfield as a dedicated lyricist. The title track, which takes up the second half of side two of the LP, features music composed by MacDonald, who would leave the group after their second album, later resurfacing as a founding member of Foreigner. The album's distinctive cover art came from a painting by computer programmer Barry Godber, who died of a heart attack less than a year after the album was released. According to Fripp, the artwork on the inside is a portrait of the Crimson King, whose manic smile is in direct contrast to his sad eyes. The album, song and artwork were the inspiration for Stephen King's own Crimson King, the insane antagonist of his Dark Tower saga who is out to destroy all of reality, including our own.
Title: Theme From An Imaginary Western
Source: European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Mountain Climbing)
Label: Sony Music (original label: Windfall)
Keyboardist Felix Pappaliardi worked closely with the band Cream in the studio, starting with the album Disraeli Gears, so it was only natural that his new band Mountain would perform (and record) at least one song by Cream's primary songwriting team, Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. If Mississippi Queen was guitarist Leslie West's signature song, then Theme From An Imaginary Western (which had previously been included on a Jack Bruce solo album) was Felix's, at least until Nantucket Sleighride came along.
Artist: Carole King
Title: So Far Away
Source: LP: Tapestry
Writer(s): Carole King
By the early 1970s the Brill Building songwriters had fallen onto relatively hard times, due to a preponderance of rock bands writing their own material. One of the building's top husband-and-wife teams, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, had split up in 1968, and King had decided to reestablish herself as a singer/songwriter, releasing her first solo album, Writer, in 1970. She followed that up with 1971's Tapestry, the album that firmly established her as a star in her own right. The LP spent a record 15 consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard albums chart and spawned several hit singles, including So Far Away, a song that features James Taylor on acoustic guitar. Other musicians on the track include Curtis Amy on flute, Russ Kunkel on drums and Charlie Larkey on bass.
Artist: Doobie Brothers
Title: White Sun
Source: CD: Toulouse Street
Writer(s): Tom Johnston
Label: Warner Brothers
Toulouse Street was the second Doobie Brothers album, and is generally considered their commercial breakthrough. In addition to a pair of hit singles (Rockin' Down The Highway and Jesus Is Just Alright) the album contains many fine tunes, such as the seldom heard White Sun, written by lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Johnston.
Artist: Randy Newman
Title: Mama Told Me (Not To Come)
Source: LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: 12 Songs)
Writer(s): Randy Newman
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Although it is best known as a Three Dog Night song, Randy Newman's Mama Told Me (Not To Come) was actually written for Eric Burdon, whose version appeared on the album Eric Is Here in early 1967. Newman's own version of the tune, written from the perspective of a strait-laced young man experiencing his first Los Angeles style party, was included on his 1970 LP 12 Songs, which came out at around the same time as Three Dog Night's cover of the tune. Newman's version features slide guitar work from Ry Cooder, supplementing Newman's own piano playing.
Artist: Johnny Winter
Title: Rock And Roll Hoochie Coo
Source: European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Johnny Winter And)
Writer(s): Rick Derringer
Label: Sony Music (original label: Columbia)
Athough best known as a solo Rick Derringer hit, Rock And Roll Hoochie Coo was originally recorded in 1970 by Johnny Winter for the album Johnny Winter And when Derringer was a member of Winter's band (also known as Johnny Winter And at that time). As can be heard here the arrangement on the earlier version is nearly identical to the hit version, the main differences being Winter's lead vocals and the presence of two lead guitarists in the band.
Title: House On The Corner
Source: LP: Fat
Label: RCA Victor
Many American cities are home to bands that, although never big on the national stage, have managed to become local legends over the years. In Springfield, Massachusetts, that band is Fat. Founded in 1968 by vocalist Peter Newland, guitarists Michael Benson and Jim (K) Kaminski at Holyoke (Mass.) Community College, the group soon added bassist Guy DeVito and drummer William (Benji) Benjamin and quickly became known for their original material in an area where most bands were doing cover songs. In 1969 they were signed to the RCA Victor label, releasing their self-titled debut album in 1970. This led to several live appearances opening for groups like the Allman Brothers and the Butterfield Blues Band at venues such as Madison Square Garden and the Fillmore East. The group eventually formed their own label, Dream Merchant, releasing the album Footloose in 1976. Last I heard they were still active and performing all over Western Massachusetts.
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Hard Lovin' Man
Source: LP: Deep Purple In Rock
Label: Warner Brothers
Inspired by hearing the first Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple members Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore decided that the band needed to start rocking out harder than they had on their previous three albums. Taking drummer Ian Paice into their confidence, the three of them, on June 6, 1969, went to see a local band called Episode Six, which was fronted by vocalist Ian Gillan. Taking advantage of his status as a recording artist, Blackmore convinced the band to let him sit in with them; after the gig he invited Gillan to join Deep Purple. As Episode Six bassist Roger Glover was an experienced songwriter (songwriting being one of Deep Purple's most glaring weaknesses), he was soon recruited as a new member as well. There was a problem, however. Deep Purple still had gigs lined up, and went about completing those gigs with their original vocalist, Rod Evans, and bass player, Nicky Simper, without telling them that they were about to be replaced. Meanwhile, Gillan and Glover continued to perform as members of Episode Six as well, with the new DP lineup practicing in secret. Deep Purple's original lineup made its final appearance on July 4, 1969; the new MkII lineup made its stage debut six days later, even though Gillan and Glover continued to perform with Episode Six through July 26th. The first record released by the new lineup was a single called Hallelujah. Studio time had been booked for the recording before the lineup change, and the B side was actually an excerpt from April, a track from the band's previous LP. This was followed by the band's September performance of Lord's Concerto For Group And Orchestra, an experimental piece that was recorded at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and released in December of 1969. The band had been touring extensively all through this time, and by October was ready to begin work on what would become their breakthrough LP, Deep Purple In Rock. The band's new hard-rock sound was on full display on the album's final track, Hard Lovin' Man.
Title: Moonlight Drive
Source: LP: 13 (originally released on LP: Strange Days)
Writer(s): The Doors
Much of the second Doors album consisted of songs that were already in the band's repertoire when they signed with Elektra Records but for various reasons did not record for their debut LP. One of the earliest was Jim Morrison's Moonlight Ride. As was the case with all the Doors songs on their first three albums, the tune was credited to the entire band.
Title: Moonlight Drive (live version)
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): The Doors
Year: Vocal tracks recorded 1970, new instrumental tracks added 1983.
In 1983 Elektra Records compiled a "new" live Doors album made up of performances recorded from 1967 to 1970 called Alive, She Cried. The final track on the album was a 1970 version of Moonlight Drive that incorporates Jim Morrison's poem Horse Latitudes, which had preceded Moonlight Drive on the 1967 studio LP Strange Days. The only source I could find for track information states that Morrison's vocal was from a 1970 live performance, with instrumental overdubs added later.
Artist: Eric Burdon And War
Title: Spill The Wine
Source: LP: Eric Burdon Declares War
After the second version of the Animals disbanded in late 1969, vocalist Eric Burdon, who was by then living in California, decided to pursue his interest in American soul music by hooking up with an L.A. band called War. He released his first album with the group, Eric Burdon Declares War, in 1970. The album included Spill The Wine, which would be the first of several hits for War in the 1970s. The song was inspired by keyboardist Lonnie Jordan's accidentally spilling wine on a mixing board, although the lyrics are far more fanciful, with Burdon referring to himself as an "overfed long-haired gnome" in the song's opening monologue. The song turned out to be a major hit, going into the top 5 in both the US and Canada.
Title: Samba Pa Ti
Source: LP: Abraxas
Writer(s): Carlos Santana
One of the most enduring tracks from Santana's second LP, Abraxas, Samba Pa Ti starts off as a slow instrumental, slowly picking up the pace and adding percussion to give it a decidedly latin flavor. As far as I know, Carlos Santana still includes Samba Pa Ti in his concert repertoire.