Saturday, August 6, 2016

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion: Special Edition (aired 8/5/16)

Last night (Friday, Aug. 5) KZRJ-LP, aka aired a special two-hour preview edition of a brand new show called Rockin' in the Days of Confusion, which will begin its official life as a one-hour weekly show next week. As is the case with Stuck in the Psychedelic Era, weekly playlists will be posted on The Hermit Rambles, along with an embedded audio player from the Public Radio Exchange (PRX). For a list of stations airing Rockin' in the Days of Confusion check out over the next few days and look for a new button dedicated to the new show. I'm not sure exactly when ithe button will appear, but it will be soon, so keep looking for it. Meanwhile, for those of you who were able to tune in last night's edition of Rockin' in the Days of Confusion (#001), here is a complete playlist of what you heard:

Artist:    John Lennon
Title:    #9 Dream
Source:    CD: Lennon (box set) (originally released on LP: Walls And Bridges)
Writer(s):    John Lennon
Label:    Capitol (original label: Apple)
Year:    1974
    #9 Dream has the distinction of being John Lennon's last original composition to be released as a single before his five year hiatus from recording (from 1975-80), as well as his last song to hit the top 10 during his lifetime. The tune, from the Walls And Bridges album, is one of the most lavishly produced recordings in the Lennon catalog, featuring string arrangements written by Lennon himself. The song peaked at (coincidentally) the #9 spot on the Billboard charts in the US.

Artist:    John Lennon
Title:    John Sinclair
Source:    CD: Lennon (box set) (originally released on LP: Some Time In New York City)
Writer(s):    John Lennon
Label:    Capitol (original label: Apple)
Year:    1972
    Generally considered the weakest of John Lennon's solo albums, 1972's Some Time In New York City nonetheless had at least one standout track: John Sinclair, a song inspired by the arrest of the leftist writer for possession of two joints.

Artist:    John Lennon
Title:    Bless You
Source:    CD: Lennon (box set) (originally released on LP: Walls And Bridges)
Writer(s):    John Lennon
Label:    Capitol (original label: Apple)
Year:    1974
    In June of 1973, as John Lennon was getting started on his third LP, Mind Games, his wife Yoko Ono decided that the two of them should separate. This led to Lennon relocating from New York to California and getting into a relationship with Ono's personal assistant May Pang. This relationship (reportedly instigated by Yoko herself) lasted eighteen months, a period that Lennon would later refer to as his "lost weekend". During this time Lennon began hanging out (i.e. getting drunk) with fellow songwriter Harry Nilsson and making his first attempt at recording an album of cover songs with producer Phil Spector. For obvious reasons (see above) those sessions didn't work out, and Lennon returned to New York the following year. In July of 1974 Lennon began working on what would be his last album of original material for nearly five years: Walls And Bridges. The album yielded two top 10 singles (including his only #1 solo hit during his lifetime, Whatever Gets You Through The Night), as well as several noteworthy album tracks. One of the most overlooked tracks on the LP is Bless You, a tune that Lennon himself described as "best piece of work on the album". 

Artist:    Bo Hansson
Title:    Awakening
Source:    LP: Magician's Hat
Writer(s):    Bo Hansson
Label:    Charisma
Year:    1972
    Swedish multi-instrumentalist/composer Bo Hansson released his first solo instrumental progressive rock album, Music Inspired By Lord Of The Rings, in 1970, after having read a copy of the Tolkien trilogy given to him by his girlfriend. The album, originally released in Sweden, was successful enough to be picked up for international distribution on the Charisma label in 1972. At around the same time, Hansson began work on his follow-up LP, Magician's Hat. This second effort was released in Sweden in late 1972 and once again picked up by Charisma for international release. Although not as successful as its predecessor, Magician's Hat is still quite listenable, especially on shorter tracks such as Awakening.

Artist:    Gentle Giant
Title:    Dog's Life
Source:    CD: Octopus
Writer(s):    Minnear/Shulman/Shulman/Shulman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1972
    Although not a major commercial success, Gentle Giant's fourth album, Octopus, is generally considered to be the beginning of the band's peak period, and according to band member Ray Shulman, their best album overall. One of my favorite tracks on the album is Dog's Life, which is a somewhat whimsical look at a day in the life of man's best friend.

Artist:    Curtis Mayfield
Title:    Underground
Source:    45 RPM single B side (originally released on LP: Roots)
Writer(s):    Curtis Mayfield
Label:    Curtom
Year:    1971
    One of the most influential and respected artists of the 20th century, Curtis Mayfield first came to fame as a member of the Impressions, taking over as group leader with the departure of Jerry Butler in the early 1960s. The vocalist/guitarist was responsible for writing most of the group's best known tunes, such as Keep On Pushin' and the classic People Get Ready. In the 1970s Mayfield left the Impressions to embark on a successful solo career. His second LP, Roots, was a major success, hitting the #6 spot on the R&B album charts. One of the tracks from that album, a somewhat surreal piece called Underground, was chosen to be the B side of one of his biggest hits, Freddy's Dead, from the soundtrack of the film Superfly.

Artist:    Marvin Gaye
Title:    Trouble Man
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Marvin Gaye
Label:    Tamla
Year:    1972
    Marvin Gaye played drums and piano, as well as providing all of the vocals, for the song Trouble Man. Released in November of 1972, the song was featured in a film of the same name. Gaye himself called it one of the most honest recordings he ever made. Gaye continued to perform the song for the rest of his life. Trouble Man was also the title of Marvin Gaye's biography.

Artist:    Frank Zappa/Mothers Of Invention
Title:    Inca Roads
Source:    LP: One Size Fits All
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:    Discreet
Year:    1975
    Frank Zappa was known for his musically challenging and difficult to play pieces, which transcended labels such as rock, jazz or even classical, combining elements of all three in ways that were innovative and unexpected. A good example of all of this is the track Inca Roads from the 1975 album One Size Fits All, which is catalogued as Zappa's 20th official release. The piece, which runs over eight and a half minutes, uses nearly a dozen (maybe more) time signatures, as well as advanced studio techniques such as Xenochrony (the practice of grafting one performance onto an entirely different recording). Personnel on the recording include:
Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals
George Duke – keyboards, synthesizer, lead vocals
Napoleon Murphy Brock – flute, tenor saxophone, vocals
Chester Thompson – drums
Tom Fowler – bass
Ruth Underwood – vibes, marimba, percussion

Artist:    Robin Trower
Title:    Little Bit Of Sympathy
Source:    CD: Bridge Of Sighs
Writer(s):    Robin Trower
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol
Year:    1974
    Released in 1974, Bridge Of Sighs was the second solo LP by former Procol Harum guitarist Robin Trower. The album was Trower's commercial breakthrough, staying on the Billboard album charts for 31 weeks, peaking at #7. In addition to Trower, the album features James Dewar on lead vocals and bass, along with Reg Isidore on drums. The album was a staple of mid-1970s progressive rock radio, with several tunes, including album closer Little Bit Of Sympathy, becoming concert favorites.

Artist:    Aerosmith
Title:    Mama Kin
Source:    CD: Aerosmith
Writer(s):    Steven Tyler
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1973
    Trivia question: What was the first Aerosmith single? If you answered Dream On, you were close, but missed it by one. Mama Kin was actually Aerosmith's debut release, and was a staple of the band's concerts for decades. The song itself is fairly simple, with a basic guitar riff supported by a strong rhythm backbeat and, of course, Steven Tyler's vocals. Mama Kin appeared as the opening track of side two of Aerosmith's self-titled debut LP.

Artist:        J. Geils Band
Title:        Whammer Jammer
Source:    45 RPM single B side (from the LP: The Morning After)
Writer(s):    Juke Joint Jimmie
Label:     Atlantic
Year:        1971
       First they were a Boston bar band called Snoopy and the Sopwith Camel. Then they became the J. Geils Blues Band. Finally they dropped the blues from the name and became famous. Whammer Jammer, a track from their second LP, The Morning After, shows why the "blues" part was there in the first place. Whammer Jammer showcases Magic Dick Salwitz on lead harmonica on a piece that flat out kicks.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    L.A. Woman
Source:    LP: L.A. Woman
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1971
    Ray Manzarek became justifiably famous as the keyboard player for the Doors. Before joining up with Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger and John Densmore, however, Manzarek was already making a name for himself as an up-and-coming student filmmaker at UCLA. Although he didn't have much of a need to pursue a career in films once the Doors hit it big, he did end up producing and directing an outstanding video for the title track of the 1971 album L.A. Woman years after the band had split up. I only mention this because, really, what else can I say about a song that you've probably heard a million times or so?

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Politician
Source:    LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Atco
Year:    1968
    Although the songwriting team of Jack Bruce and Pete Brown are best known for providing Cream with its more psychedelic songs such as White Room and Swlabr, they did occasionally come up with bluesier numbers such as Politician from the Wheels Of Fire album. The song quickly became a staple of Cream's live performances.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Dancing With Mr. D.
Source:    LP: Goat's Head Soup
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Rolling Stones
Year:    1973
    Depending on whose point of view you choose to agree with, Goat's Head Soup marked either the end of the Rolling Stones' golden age or the beginning of their mid-70s decline into rock star decadence. With a track like Dancing With Mr. D. starting off the album, I'd have to go with the former view.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    The Devil Is Singing Our Song
Source:    LP: Bang
Writer(s):    Bolin/Tesar
Label:    Atco
Year:    1973
    The James Gang, following the departure of guitarist/vocalist Joe Walsh, could have just called it quits right then and there. Instead, however, bassist Dale Peters and drummer Jim Fox chose to instead add two new members, Canadians Roy Kenner (vocals) and Dominic Troiano (guitar), and carry on in the same vein as they had been. After a pair of albums that failed to catch on, however, Troiano accepted an offer to replace Randy Bachman in the Guess Who. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the James Gang, however, as the addition of former Zephyr guitarist Tommy Bolin revitalized the band for a time. Bolin had a hand in writing much of the material on the band's next LP, James Gang Bang, including The Devil Is Singing Our Song. With a strong signature riff and a gritty guitar solo, the song has a feel to it that presages Bolin's later solo work on his albums Private Eyes and Teaser.

Artist:    Styx   
Title:    You Need Love
Source:    LP: Styx II
Writer(s):    Dennis DeYoung
Label:    Wooden Nickel
Year:    1973
    The Chicago-based Styx can trace its roots all the way back to the early 1960s, but their classic 1970s lineup didn't come together until guitarist James Young joined the band, then known as TW4, in 1970. In 1972 the band signed with the local Wooden Nickel label, changing their name to Styx in the process. The group recorded four albums for the label from 1972 to 1974, but were unable to break nationally until a power balled called Lady, from their second album, began to get airplay, first on Chicago's WLS, and then nationally. The song eventually peaked in the top 10, prompting the group to leave Wooden Nickel for the much larger A&M label, in late 1974. Meanwhile, Wooden Nickel released the opening track of Styx II, You Need Love, as a followup single to Lady in early 1975.

Artist:    Stealer's Wheel
Title:    Stuck In The Middle With You
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo promo copy)
Writer(s):    Egan/Rafferty
Label:    A&M
Year:    1973
    Stealer's Wheel was formed in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland by former schoolmates Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty in 1972. By the time their first album was released, however, Rafferty had already left the group for a solo career. The single Stuck In The Middle With You was such as success, however, that Rafferty was persuaded to rejoin the group. They were never able to duplicate the success of that first single, however, and by 1975 Stealer's Wheel had ceased to exist. Rafferty would have a huge hit in 1978 with the song Baker Street.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    Sail On, Sailor
Source:    CD: Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys (originally released on LP: Holland)
Writer(s):    Wilson/Kennedy/Almer/Rieley/Parks
Label:    Capitol (original label: Brother/Reprise)
Year:    1973
    By late 1972 the Beach Boys had all but abandoned their surf roots, with their name itself being the main link with the past. At the same time they were starting to regain favor with the rock press, which had been highly critical of the band's early 1970s material. For their 19th studio album they sent an entire recording studio to the Netherlands from Californian and reconstructed it there in the village of Baambrugge. The album was submitted to Reprise Records in October of 1972, but was rejected by the label for lacking a potential hit single. Lyricist Van Dyke Parks, who had been working with Brian Wilson since the aborted Smile project of 1966-67, hastily conferred with executives at Warner Brothers Records (owners of Reprise), and came up with a plan. He and Wilson had recently completed a demo of a song called Sail On, Sailor, which he then played for the label. The shirts liked the tune, and convinced the band to record the song in the studio as a replacement for what the label saw as the weakest track on the original version of Holland, a song called We Got Love. By the time the track was completed, several other people, including the band's manager, had claimed co-writing credits on the song, and Sail On, Sailor was added to Holland. The album was released and Sail On, Sailor became the most successful Beach Boys single of the decade. Surprisingly, the song did even better on progressive rock radio, becoming a staple of the format.

Artist:     Led Zeppelin
Title:     Your Time Is Gonna Come/Black Mountain Side/Communication Breakdown
Source:     LP: Led Zeppelin
Writer(s):    Page/Jones/Bonham
Year:     1969
    One of the great ironies of Led Zeppelin is that half the members of a band that was revered for its live performances were in fact in-demand studio musicians long before they started performing live. Your Time Is Gonna Come and Black Mountain Side, from the debut Zeppelin album was written by those two members, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. The two songs run together on the album, and are immediately followed by the B side of the band's first single, Communication Breakdown. I'm pretty sure that back when the album first came out, some unknown DJ was unable to stop the turntable fast enough to cut off Communication Breakdown and ended up just letting the two and a half minute track play on through. Somebody liked the way it sounded and the three have been played as a continuous set ever since. Who am I to argue with tradition?

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Four Sticks
Source:    Led Zeppelin IV
Writer(s):    Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    One of the most difficult songs to record in the Led Zeppelin catalog, Four Sticks, from the fourth Zeppelin album, did not have a name until John Bonham's final drum track was recorded. He reportedly was having such a hard time with the song that he ended up using four drumsticks, rather than the usual two (don't ask me how he held the extra pair) and beat on his drums as hard as he could, recording what he considered the perfect take in the process.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin
Writer(s):    Trad. Arr. Page
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1968
    It is the nature of folk music that a song often gets credited to one writer when in fact it is the work of another. This is due to the fact that folk singers tend to share their material liberally with other folk singers, who often make significant changes to the work before passing it along to others. Such is the case with Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You, which was originally conceived by EC-Berkeley student Anne Johannsen in the late 1950s and performed live on KPFA radio in 1960. Another performer on the same show, Janet Smith, developed the song further and performed it at Oberlin College, where it was heard by audience member Joan Baez. Baez asked Smith for a tape of her songs and began performing the song herself.  Baez used it as the opening track on her album, Joan Baez In Concert, Part One, but it was credited as "traditional", presumably because Baez herself had no knowledge of who had actually written the song. Baez eventually discovered the true origins of the tune, and later pressings gave credit to Anne Bredon, who had divorced her first husband, Lee Johannsen and married Glen Bredon since writing the song. Jimmy Page had an early pressing of the Baez album, so when he reworked the song for inclusion on the first Led Zeppelin album, he went with "traditional, arranged Page" as the writer. Robert Plant, who worked with Page on the arrangement, was not originally given credits for contractual reasons, although later editions of the album give credit to Page, Plant and Bredon.

Artist:    T2
Title:    Careful Sam
Source:    Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution
Writer(s):    Peter Dunton
Label:    Grapefruit
Year:    Recorded 1970, released 2013
    T2, consisting of drummer Peter Dunton, bassist Bernie Jinks and guitarist Keith Cross, released only one album, It'll All Work Out In Boomland, in 1970. The album did not get much support from their label (British Decca) and plans for a second LP were scrapped before any new material got beyond the demo stage. One of those demo tapes, however, finally surfaced on a CD set called Love, Poetry And Revolution on the Grapefruit label in 2013. Written by Dunton, the track has some outstanding guitar work from Cross.

Artist:    Mountain
Title:    Don't Look Around
Source:    CD: The Best Of Mountain (originally released on LP: Nantucket Sleighride)
Writer(s):    West/Palmer/Pappalardi/Collins
Label:    Windfall/Columbia
Year:    1971
    One of Mountain's most popular tracks was Nantucket Sleighride, released on an album of the same name in 1971. The opening track of that album, Don't Look Around, is a power rocker that was considered good enough in its own right to make the band's greatest hits collection.

As always, I'd appreciate any feedback and/or questions you might have, so feel free to contact me.

the hermit

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