Sunday, September 6, 2020
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2037 (starts 9/7/20)
This week we have a classic rock radio smorgasbord made up mostly of tracks that, with a couple of exceptions, never get played on modern "classic" rock stations. These includes tunes from Fleetwood Mac, the James Gang, Traffic and Genesis, among others, bookended by the aforementioned exceptions, courtesy of the Doors and Argent.
Title: Touch Me
Source: CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: The Soft Parade and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Robby Kreiger
The fourth Doors album, The Soft Parade, was a departure from their previous work. No longer would the entire band be credited for all the tracks the band recorded. In addition, the group experimented with adding horns and other studio embellishments. Nowhere is this more evident than on Touch Me, the only hit single from the album.
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Need Your Love Tonight
Source: LP: Vintage Years (originally released in UK on LP: Mr. Wonderful)
Writer(s): Jeremy Spencer
Label: Sire (original label: Blue Horizon)
Fleetwood Mac's second album, Mr. Wonderful (released only in the UK), got a lukewarm reception from the same critics who heaped praise on the band's debut LP earlier in 1968. Some called it "uninspired", while other pointed out that at least a third of the songs seemed to actually be inspired...by the same Elmore Leonard song. One of those "inspired" songs is Jeremy Spencer's Need Your Love Tonight. I'll leave it to the blues enthusiasts among you to figure out exactly which Elmore Leonard song did the inspiring.
Title: Bryte 'N' Clear Day
Source: British import CD: Kak-Ola (originally released on LP: Kak)
Label: Big Beat (original label: Epic)
The origins of the band called Kak are a bit on the strange side. Gary Lee Yoder's popular Oxford Circle had just broken up when a guy named Gary Grelecki walked up to the singer/songwriter/guitarist and introduced himself, telling him how much he liked the Oxford Circle and adding that he could get him a record deal with CBS. Yoder, somewhat naively, gave Grelecki his phone number, and a couple months later received a call from Grelecki saying he had landed him a contract with the Epic label. Yoder, not quite knowing whether the offer was for real or not, nonetheless recruited his former bandmate Dehner Patton to play lead guitar. Patton, in turn, brought in percussionist Chris Lockheed, who already knew Yoder from doing some TV production work. In early 1968 they recruited drummer Joe-Dave Damrell, and Kak was born (the name coming from college professor Dan Phillips, who had come up with the concept of Kak as being something like a joker in a deck of cards that could mean anything you want it to. Around this time Yoder learned that Grelecki's father was in the CIA, and actually did have contacts at Columbia Records, using record distribution outlets in the Far East as fronts for various covert activities. The new band got to work on their debut LP, releasing it in 1969. Yoder wrote all the band's material, mostly by himself, but sometimes in collaboration with Grelecki on songs such as Bryte 'N' Clear Day, a tune that sounds like it could have come from a 70s Texas boogie band like ZZ Top.
Artist: James Gang
Source: CD: James Gang Rides Again
Writer(s): Joe Walsh
Label: MCA (original label: ABC)
Following up on an album that had relied heavily on cover tunes, the James Gang went almost totally original for their second LP, James Gang Rides Again. The 1970 album features several acoustic numbers written by guitarist/vocalist Joe Walsh, including Thanks, which features backing from the entire band, including electric slide guitar fills from Walsh himself. Lyrically, the song has a bit of a cynical edge, as evidenced by the rhyme "that's the way the world is, get just what you can; wake up again tomorrow a little lesser man."
Title: (Roamin' Thro' The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen
Source: LP: Welcome To The Canteen
Label: United Artists
The live version of (Roamin' Thro' The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen, from the 1971 album Welcome To The Canteen, is considerably longer than the original studio version of the tune heard on Traffic's self-titled second LP, giving Chris Wood, in particular, more time to show his stuff on flute. Unfortunately, the recording is marred somewhat by Winwood's vocal mike not being fed directly into the mix on the song's first verse, giving his vocals a somewhat strained, faraway sound until it gets resolved.
Title: Supper's Ready
Source: CD: Foxtrot
Label: Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
The longest track Genesis ever recorded is also one of their most celebrated. Supper's Ready, from the Foxtrot album, is almost 23 minutes long and takes up most of the second side of the original LP. At least one critic has proclaimed Supper's Ready to be the band's masterpiece. The song (or more accurately, song cycle) was originally released in October of 1972. The piece, with its supernatural imagery and overall theme of good vs. evil, was inspired by an incident at a British castle in which vocalist Peter Gabriel's wife Jill went into a trance state just as the windows of the room they were in suddenly blew open. Supper's Ready is divided into seven sections: Lover's Leap, The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man, Ikhnaton and Itsacon and Their Band of Merry Men, How Dare I Be So Beautiful, Willow Farm, Apocalypse in 9/8 (Co-Starring the Delicious Talents of Gabble Ratchet), and the final section, As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men's Feet), which combines elements of some of the earlier parts. From 1972 on Supper's Ready was the centerpiece of the band's stage show throughout Gabriel's tenure as frontman for Genesis.
Source: CD: Over-Nite Sensation
Writer(s): Frank Zappa
Label: Zappa (original label: Discreet)
Montana is quite possibly the most recognizable song Frank Zappa ever wrote. The track first appeared on the Mothers album Over-Nite Sensation and quickly became a concert staple. On the original album version Zappa's guitar solo is followed by a series of vocal gymnastics performed by none other than Tina Turner and the Ikettes, who were recording with Turner's husband Ike in an adjacent studio. According to Zappa it took the singers two days to master the complex melody and timing of the section. Reportedly Turner was so pleased with the result that she invited her husband into the control room to hear the finished section, only to have Ike say "What is this shit?" and walk back out.
Title: Hold Your Head Up
Source: European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: All Together Now)
Label: Sony Music (original US label: Epic)
Following the dissolution of the Zombies, keyboardist Rod Argent went about forming a new band called, appropriately enough, Argent. The new group had its greatest success in 1972 with the song Hold Your Head Up, which went to the #5 spot on the charts in both the US and UK. The song originally appeared on the album All Together Now, with a running time of over six minutes. The first single version of the tune ran less than three minutes, but was quickly replaced with a longer edit that made the song three minutes and fifteen seconds long. In the years since, the longer LP version has come to be the most familiar one to most radio listeners.