Sunday, July 12, 2020

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2029 (starts 7/13/20)

    This week we feature, in its entirety, Rush's landmark science-fiction rock classic 2112, from the album of the same name. Also, the second part of Firesign Theatre's Tale Of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra, as well as a rather eclectic mix of free-form rock.

Artist:    Focus
Title:    House Of The King
Source:    45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s):    Jan Akkerman
Label:    Sire
Year:    1970
    Dutch band Focus released House of the King as a single in 1970, between their first and second albums. After getting considerable airplay in Europe and the UK, the song was added to later pressings of their debut LP, Focus Plays Focus (also known as In And Out Of Focus). The song finally appeared on a US LP when Focus 3 was released three years later. Contrary to popular belief, the song was not re-recorded for the 1973 album.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Come Together
Source:    LP: Abbey Road
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1969
    After the Beatles released their 1968 double LP (the so-called White Album), they went to work on their final film project, a documentary about the band making an album. Unfortunately, what the cameras captured was a group on the verge of disintegration, and both the album and the film itself were shelved indefinitely. Instead, the band decided to record an entirely new group of compositions. Somehow, despite the internal difficulties the band was going through, they managed to turn out a masterpiece: Abbey Road. Before the album itself came out, a single was released. The official A side was George Harrison's Something, the first Harrison song ever to be released as a Beatle A side. The other side was the song that opened the album itself, John Lennon's Come Together. In later years Come Together came to be one of Lennon's signature songs and was a staple of his live performances.

Artist:    Bloodrock
Title:    Wicked Truth
Source:    CD: Bloodrock
Writer(s):    John Nitzinger
Label:    One Way (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1970
    I first heard of Bloodrock when our lead vocalist showed up at practice one day with their first album in hand and said "we gotta learn a couple of these songs". One of those songs was Wicked Truth, written by Fort Worth's John Nitzenger, who would go on to pen several more Bloodrock tunes over the next couple of years before releasing his first solo LP in 1972.

Artist:    Mahogany Rush
Title:    Tales Of The Spanish Warrior
Source:    Canadian import CD: Strange Universe
Writer(s):    Frank Marino
Label:    Just A Minute (original label: 20th Century)
Year:    1975
    Since the tragic death of Jimi Hendrix in 1970, there have been plenty of guitarists that have come along using a similar style to the Experienced One. Only one or two have been able to truly recreate the total Hendrix sound, however, and the most notable of these is Canadian Frank Marino, whose band, Mahogany Rush, was patterned after the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In essence, Mahogany Rush represents one of the many possible directions that Hendrix himself might have gone in had he lived past the age of 27. The album Strange Universe, released in 1975, begins with Tales Of The Spanish Warrior, which manages to capture the Hendrix sound without sounding like any particular Hendrix track.

Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    Mercury Blues
Source:    LP: Fly Like An Eagle
Writer(s):    Douglas/Geddins
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1976
    Although the Steve Miller Band performed K.C. Douglas's Mercury Blues as part of their 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival set, Miller did not record a studio version of the song until 1976, when it was included on his Fly Like An Eagle LP. By then, only Miller himself and bassist Lonnie Turner (who had left the band in 1970 and returned in 1973) remained from the lineup that performed in Monterey; then again this studio version of the tune is a completely different arrangement from that performance as well.

Artist:     Jerry Garcia
Title:     Sugaree
Source:     45 RPM single (promo)
Writer:     Garcia/Hunter/Kreutzmann
Label:     Warner Brothers
Year:     1972
     In 1972 Warner Brothers gave the individual members of the Grateful Dead the opportunity to record solo albums. Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and drummer Micket Hart took them up on the offer. Garcia's effort was unique in that he played virtually all the instruments on the album himself (except for the drum parts, which were played by Bill Kreutzmann). One of the best known songs from that album is Sugaree, which was soon added pretty much permanently to the Dead's concert repertoire.

Artist:    Rush
Title:    2112
Source:    LP: 2112
Writer(s):    Lee/Lifeson/Peart
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1976
    It was early 1976, and the Canadian power trio Rush was at a low point in their career. Their previous album, Caress Of Steel, had pretty much tanked and their international label, Mercury, was on the verge of cutting the band from its roster. Worse, attendance at Rush's concerts had dropped off, and the group was having to take a serious look at their options. A lesser group might have tried going the commercial route, writing shorter, less complicated songs with less challenging lyrics, but Rush was no lesser band. After securing a promise from Mercury to released one more album, Rush set about create their most ambitious work yet: 2112. Taking up an entire album side, 2112 is a science fiction telling the story of a "perfect" future in which all art and entertainment is determined by the governing body, with no tolerance for individual expression. The unnamed protagonist of the story finds an antique guitar and teaches himself to play it, but is slapped down by the Priests, who use giant computers to determine the parameters society lives by. It turns out that the makers of the ancient guitar had long since left Earth, but return at the end of the piece to depose the Priests and bring about a new age. 2112 (also the title of the album), was Rush's commercial breakthrough, hitting # 61 on the US album charts and the top 5 in Canada.

Artist:    Premiati Forneria Marconi
Title:    From Under
Source:    LP: Chocolate Kings
Writer(s):    Mussida/Premoli/Pagani/Graziani/Marrow
Label:    Asylum
Year:    1975
    Following the release of the 1975 LP The World Became The World, Italy's Premiati Forneria Marconi decided to dispense with the services of poet Peter Sinfield, who had provided English lyrics for two album's worth of material that had previously been released in Italy with Italian lyrics. The 1976 album Chocolate Kings was the first to have its original lyrics in English (sung by new lead vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti), as well as their first to be released on the Asylum label in the US. From Under, the opening track on the album, features virtuoso keyboard work from Flavio Premoli.

Artist:    Firesign Theatre
Title:    Part One: London; Chapter 2: An Outrageously Disgusting Disguise
Source:    LP: The Tale Of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra
Writer(s):    Procter/Bergman/Austin/Ossman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1974
    The second part of Firesign Theatre's Sherlock Holmes parody, The Tale Of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra, is subtitled An Outrageously Disgusting Disguise, with good reason. The chapter opens in a seedy bar down by the docks, where the drunken crowd is singing a chorus of "Frigate Matilda". Dr. Flotsam, played by David Ossman, disguised as a woman, approaches someone he thinks is Hemlock Stones in disguise, but turns out to be a one-eyed pirate looking for a little action. Eventually Flotsam discovers that Stones was actually outside disguised as a tree, which is where we pick up this week's episode. Next week perhaps we will find out more about the mysterious Electrician, who makes his entrance toward the end of the episode.

Artist:    Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Title:    Brain Salad Surgery
Source:    Stereo European import 7" 33 1/3 RPM one-sided EP (on clear vinyl yet!) (originally released in UK as flexi-disc magazine insert)
Writer(s):    Emerson/Lake/Sinfield
Label:    BMG (original label NME)
Year:    1973
    Sometimes things don't go quite as planned. In 1973 Emerson, Lake & Palmer set out to make their fourth studio LP. They decided to call it Brain Salad Surgery, and recorded a song of the same name to use as a title track. Then came Karn Evil 9, a massive three-part piece running nearly 30 minutes in length that became the album's showpiece. That left very little room for other tunes, and the title track itself was cut from the song lineup. That wasn't the end of the story, however. Around the same time the album was released, the song appeared as a one-sided flexi-disc insert in the latest issue of New Music Express, a British trade magazine. The following year it was released as a promotional single (with Still...You Turn Me On as a B side) to US radio stations on the Atlantic label. The song did not get an official release, however, until 1977, when it appeared on the album Works, volume 2, and as the B side of Fanfare Of The Common Man. 

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