Sunday, June 21, 2020
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2026 (starts 6/22/20)
This week we present an undefinable something that everyone wants, but nobody has to the time to get: a round tuit. In this case it is a collection of singles, B sides and album tracks ranging from 1970 to 1977 that have been waiting, in some cases, for quite some time to get heard, but always managed to get pushed aside in favor of some other song, often at the last possible moment. It all starts with a tongue-in-cheek comment on certain things you may have heard on the news lately...
Artist: Steely Dan
Title: Only A Fool Would Say That
Source: CD: Can't Buy A Thrill
Label: MCA (original label: ABC)
Steely Dan's first album, Can't Buy A Thrill, is best known for its two hit singles, Do It Again and Reeling In The Years. The album, however, has plenty more good tracks, including Only A Fool Would Say That, which also appeared as a B side.
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Bare Trees
Source: CD: Bare Trees
Writer(s): Danny Kirwan
Bare Trees, the last Fleetwood Mac to feature Danny Kirwan saw the guitarist/vocalist at his most prolific, writing half of the album's ten songs, including the title track. Bare Trees is also one of the catchiest tunes on the album, and got a decent amount of airplay on FM rock radio when it was released in 1972. Since Linday Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac, the band's earlier songs, including Bare Trees, have been noticably neglected by so-called classic rock stations. Shows what they know.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: A Passion Play [Edit #9]
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
After the success of Thick As A Brick, meant to be the concept album to end all concept albums, Jethro Tull naturally went out and recorded another concept album. A Passion Play, released in 1973, presented a problem for radio programmers, however, who tended to avoid playing pieces that ran close to 45 minutes in length. This was especially a problem for top 40 radio, which depended on getting in as many commercial breaks per hour as they could get away with. Chrysalis, Jethro Tull's label, attempted to solve the problem by pressing a special edition of the LP just for radio stations that broke A Passion Play into several segments, referred to on the label itself as "edits". In addition, four of these edits were released as a pair of 45 RPM singles in the US. The first of these was A Passion Play [Edit #8], which featured A Passion Play [Edit #9] on the B side.
Artist: Premiati Forneria Marconi (PFM)
Title: Four Holes In The Ground
Source: Italian import CD: The World Became The World
Label: Sony Music/RCA
Premiati Forneria Marconi (PFM), was, for a time, the most popular homegrown band in Italy, second in popularity only to Emerson, Lake and Palmer, who signed them to their own Manticore label for a series of English language albums. The second of these, The World Became The World, featured lyrics by Peter Sinfield, who had also provided lyrics for King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer themselves, among others. A highlight of that album was Four Holes In The Ground, which became the band's live set opener for several years.
Artist: Marshall Tucker Band
Title: Fire On The Mountain
Source: LP: Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Searchin' For A Rainbow)
Writer(s): George McCorkel
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Capricorn)
Guitarist George McCorkel originally wrote Fire On The Mountain in the hopes that his friend Charlie Daniels, who was recording an album called Fire On The Mountain, might use the song as a title track. When Daniels declined, McCorkel instead got his own group, the Marshall Tucker Band, to record the song instead. It became their first top 40 hit when it was released on the album Searchin' For A Rainbow in 1975, and is considered a southern rock classic.
Artist: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Title: Mr. Bojangles
Source: LP: Uncle Charlie And His Dog Teddy
Writer(s): Jerry Jeff Walker
The hit single version of Jerry Jeff Walker's most famous song, Mr. Bojangles, basically made the career of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, who had been a decent, yet somewhat unremarkable Los Angeles band prior to recording the tune in 1970. The success of the Dirt Band version of Mr. Bojangles put the group at the forefront of the country-rock movement of the early 70s and eventually led them to become one of the most successful country acts of the 1980s.
Artist: King Crimson
Title: Indoor Games
Source: British import LP: Lizard
Label: Polydor (original US label: Atlantic)
King Crimson continued to break new ground with their third LP, Lizard, released in 1970. By this point, the only original members of the group were founder Robert Fripp, who provided both guitar and synthesizer tracks, and lyricist Peter Sinfield. The most notable new addition to the band was Fripp's grade school friend Gordon Haskell on bass guitar and lead vocals, who can be heard on tracks like Indoor Games. Haskell left the group after Lizard was released, citing his inability to relate to Fripp's increasingly experimental songwriting (Haskell himself being a big Motown fan).
Artist: Curtis Mayfield
Title: Eddie You Should Know Better
Source: CD: Superfly
Writer(s): Curtis Mayfield
Label: Rhino (original label: Curtom)
Although the film Superfly has not aged well, the same can not be said of its soundtrack album by former Impressions front man Curtis Mayfield. Indeed, the Superfly LP ended up outgrossing the film itself in sales, something seldom achieved by a soundtrack album. Mayfield's songs, such as Eddie You Should Know Better, take a critical and unmerciful look at the street drug culture from the inside, and explore the consequences of that kind of lifestyle like few other works have ever attempted, let alone successfully pulled off.
Title: It's Yourself
Source: British import 45 RPM single B side
One of the rarest Genesis tracks, Its Yourself was originally slated to be included on the 1976 album A Trick Of The Tail, but time limitations forced the band to instead hold the song back and release it as the B side of Your Own Special Way the following year. That single was never released in the US, however, and the song has not been included on CD versions of any regular Genesis albums, even as a bonus track. Why that should be is a bit of a mystery to me, since It's Yourself is an outstanding track worthy of much greater exposure.
Artist: Tommy Bolin
Title: Gypsy Soul
Source: CD: Private Eyes
Following the breakup of Deep Purple, guitarist Tommy Bolin began work on his second solo LP, Private Eyes. Many of the tunes on the album, including Gypsy Soul, were co-written by Jeff Cook, who had been a bandmate of Bolin's in a group called American Standard when Bolin was still a teenager in Boulder, Colorado. Bolin's career had taken him from American Standard to another Boulder band, Ethereal Zephyr, which had shortened its name to Zephyr after signing a contract with ABC's Probe label. After two albums, Bolin left Zephyr at the age of 20 to form his own jazz-rock-blues fusion band called Energy. That band was unable to secure a recording contract, and Bolin briefly reunited with two of his Zephyr bandmates in a group called the 4-Nikators before taking a year off from playing professionally. During this time Bolin was far from inactive; in fact he wrote nearly a hundred songs during his hiatus from public performing. In 1973 he accepted an offer to become the third James Gang lead guitarist, replacing Dominic Troiano, who had in turn replaced Joe Walsh. While with the James Gang, Bolin was already showing signs of wanting to move on, contributing to Billy Cobham's Spectrum album in between the James Gang LPs Bang and Miami. After Miami he concentrated on session work for a while before beginning work on his first solo album, Teaser. Just before Teaser was released Bolin accepted an offer to replace Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple, which had the negative side effect of giving him virtually no time to promote his own album, which came out just one month after the last Deep Purple LP, Come Taste The Band. Although the album did moderately well, audiences expected Bolin's guitar work to sound like Blackmore's, which of course wasn't going to happen, and ultimately led to Deep Purple disbanding following their 1975-1976 tour. Bolin's second solo album, Private Eyes, was released in September of 1976. Bolin went on tour to promote the album, opening for Peter Frampton and Jeff Beck. On December 3rd he played his final show, opening for Beck. A few hours later he was found dead in his hotel room of a drug overdose. He was 25 years old.
Artist: Loudin Wainwright III
Title: Motel Blues
Source: British import LP: The New Age Of Atlantic (originally released on LP: Album II)
Writer(s): Loudin Wainwright III
Most people who have heard the name Loudin Wainwright III associate it with the 1972 hit novelty song Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road), which is fine, considering Wainwright wrote and sang the song himself, and is probably still getting royalties from it. Others a little more knowledgeable may remember his appearances as Captain Calvin Spaulding, the "singing surgeon" on the third season of the hit TV show M*A*S*H. What most people don't know, however, is that Loudin Wainwright III has released, to date, 26 albums on almost a dozen different record labels. Motel Blues is from his second LP, released in 1971. It's some tasty stuff.
Artist: Pink Floyd
Source: CD: Meddle
Label: Pink Floyd Records (original label: Harvest)
After spending several months on the concept album Atom Heart Mother, the members of Pink Floyd decided to lighten things up a bit for their next album, Meddle. Stylistically, Meddle probably has the most variety of any Pink Floyd album, ranging from the driving rocker One Of These Days, to the acoustic blues tune Seamus. The latter song is best played loud, preferably with at least one dog in the room with you.
Title: Good Rockin'
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Roy Brown
Good Rockin' Tonight was a hit single for Wynonie Harris in 1948, going all the way to the top of the R&B charts and remaining on those charts for six months, far surpassing Roy Brown's original 1947 version of the song, which peaked at #13. The next notable version of the song was released in 1954, as Elvis Presley's second single for the Sun label. It stiffed. Although the song has been recorded literally dozens of times since in a variety of styles, the Doors' version, from their 1972 LP Full Circle, parallels Elvis's version the most closely, even to the point of adding heavy reverb to the recording. The song, whose title was shortened to Good Rockin' for the album, is the only cover song on the LP, and was also released as a B side.
Artist: Three Dog Night
Title: Can't Get Enough Of It
Source: 45 RPM single B side (originally released on LP: Naturally)
What do Elvis Presley and Three Dog Night have in common? Neither was known for writing their own material. Three Dog Night's Naturally album, released in 1970, contained ten songs, nine of which were covers of songs such as Can't Get Enough Of It, which had originally appeared as the B side of Steve Winwood's final single as a member of the Spencer Davis Group, I'm A Man. For my money, Winwood's version can't possibly be improved upon, so I have to take Three Dog Night's version as a tribute to Winwood.