Sunday, November 15, 2020

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2047 (starts 11/16/20) 

    This week, following a set of tunes from around 1969, we feature a pair of LP sides. The first of these showcases the virtuosity of the five members of the Pentangle, while the second is one of the first rock adaptations of a classical work: Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition, as interpreted by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. For a grand finale we have Pink Floyd, accompanied by a friend, on a little 12-bar blues number.

Artist:    Canned Heat
Title:    Going Up The Country
Source:    British import CD:  Living The Blues
Writer(s):    Alan Wilson
Label:    BGO (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1968
    Canned Heat built up a solid reputation as one of the best blues-rock bands in history, recording several critically-acclaimed albums over a period of years. What they did not have, however, was a top 10 single. The nearest they got was Going Up The Country from their late 1968 LP Living The Blues, which peaked in the #11 spot in early 1969.

Artist:    Janis Joplin/Kozmic Blues Band
Title:    Piece Of My Heart (live)
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single from box set: Move Over
Writer(s):    Ragovoy/Shuman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    Recorded 1969, released 2011
    Janis Joplin's biggest misstep in her short career was leaving Big Brother and the Holding Company and forming the Kozmic Blues Band. The new group was even more chaotic than Big Brother, as can be heard on this 1969 live recording of Piece Of My Heart, but was never able to make a connection with its audience the way Big Brother did.

Artist:    Bubble Puppy
Title:    Thinkin' About Thinkin'
Source:    Mono British import CD: A Gathering Of Promises
Writer(s):    Cox/Corbin
Label:    Charly (original US label: International Artists
Year:    1969
    Following the surprise success of the Bubble Puppy's Hot Smoke And Sasafrass, the band rushed out an album in early 1969, but it hit the racks after the single had already hit its peak. For most of the rest of the year the band toured extensively, only recording three new songs during that time. One of these, released as a single in October, was Thinkin' About Thinkin', a song that was deliberately commercial yet also managed to rock out pretty hard, thanks to a blistering Rod Prince guitar solo. Problems between the band and their label, the Houston-based International Artists, led to the group moving to California and changing their name to Demian after acquiring Steppenwolf's Nick St. Nicholas as a manager. They finally disbanded in 1972.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    1984
Source:    Mono CD: The Best Of Spirit (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Randy California
Label:    Epic
Year:    1969
    One of Spirit's best known songs is 1984, a non-album single released in 1969 in between the band's second and third LPs. Unlike the Rolling Stones' 2000 Man, 1984 was not so much a predictive piece as an interpretation of concepts first expressed in George Orwell's book of the same name. Of course, by the time the actual year 1984 arrived it had become obvious that politics had moved in an entirely different direction than predicted, although some of the mind control techniques described in both the book and song were already being used, while others had to wait until the 21st century to come to pass.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Black Night
Source:    CD: The Very Best Of Deep Purple (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    Prior to 1970, Deep Purple had achieved a moderate amount of success, but were pretty much ignored in their native England. That all changed, however, with the addition of two new members, lead vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover. Following the experimental Concerto For Group and Orchestra, the band's new lineup released its first studio album, Deep Purple In Rock, on June 3, 1970. Two days later the released a non-album single called Black Night. The song was an instant hit, going all the way to the #2 spot on the British charts and quickly becoming part of the band's concert repertoire, usually as the first encore.

Artist:     Pentangle
Title:     Jack Orion
Source:     European import CD: Cruel Sister
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Pentangle
Label:     Castle (original label: Reprise)
Year:     1970
     The showpiece of the 1970 Pentangle album Cruel Sister was this 18 1/2 minute version of the old English folk song Jack Orion. Done in a theme and variations type of format favored by classical composers and incorporating elements of jazz and rock, as well as folk music, Jack Orion was first recorded by Pentangle member Bert Jansch on his solo album of the same name in 1966.

Artist:    Emerson, Lake And Palmer
Title:    Pictures At An Exhibition-part one
Source:    LP: Pictures At An Exhibition
Writer(s):    Mussorgsky/Emerson/Lake/Palmer
Label:    Atlantic (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1971
    After releasing a popular debut LP, you might expect a band to follow it up with a similar sounding album. If were a band led by someone other than Keith Emerson, that might indeed have been the case. But Emerson, Lake And Palmer instead took a more daring route, much to the displeasure of their UK label, Island Records. They insisted that their second album be a live performance of the band's adaptation of Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition, a piece originally written for piano and then adapted for full orchestra. ELP's version of the suite differs radically from the original, especially the Baba Yaga sections, which are laden with feedback and electronic effects. Island, however, was frankly scared of the album, so much so that they insisted on releasing it on their classical subsidiary rather than the parent label. The band, however, felt that having the album appear on a classical label would be detrimental to the LP's sales, and withdrew the album entirely, instead releasing a second studio LP, Tarkus. After the success of Tarkus, Island agreed to release Pictures At An Exhibition on the parent label, but priced as if it were a single, thus exempting it from the UK album charts. The album, of course, sold well at that price and, surprisingly, did all right in the US as well, where it carried a standard sticker price.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Seamus
Source:    CD: Meddle
Writer:    Waters/Wright/Mason/Gilmour
Label:    Pink Floyd Records (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1971
    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.

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