Monday, December 12, 2016

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1650 (starts 12/14/16)

Here's one for fans of British rock, as all but two of this week's tracks were recorded in the UK. Of particular note is the Genesis track from Selling England By The Pound, featuring the group's "classic" lineup of Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford. This will be our last "regular" show of 2016, as the next two weeks will be holiday specials that tie in with Stuck in the Psychedelic Era.

Artist:    Steeleye Span
Title:    The Lark In The Morning
Source:    LP: Please To See The King
Writer(s):    Trad. arr. Steeleye Span
Label:    Chrysalis (original label: Big Tree)
Year:    1971
    Steeleye Span's second album was somewhat unique in that it had plenty of electric guitar and bass, but no drums at all. It was also the first album to include Martin and Peter Knight in the band's lineup, replacing founding members Terry and Gay Woods. The songs all are traditional in origin, including The Lark In The Morning, one of the more popular songs on the album. The LP was not a major commercial success in the US, where it appeared on the poorly distributed Big Tree label, but was eventually reissued on the Chrysalis label, and is considered a landmark in British folk-rock history.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave
Source:    LP: Welcome To The Canteen
Writer(s):    Dave Mason
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1971
    The 1971 album Welcome To The Canteen is a bit of an oddity in the Traffic catalog. For one thing, nowhere on the album cover or label does the word "Traffic" actually appear, although their trademark Traffic logo does show up on the back cover. For another, half the songs on side one of the original LP are by Dave Mason, who had only made six appearances in his third and final stint with the band. Both of those songs, including Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave, had previously appeared as studio tracks on Mason's first solo LP, Alone Together.

Artist:     James Gang
Title:     Walk Away
Source:     LP: Thirds
Writer:     Joe Walsh
Label:     ABC
Year:     1971
     The third James Gang album was the last for Joe Walsh, who left the band to pursue a solo career for a few years before hooking up with the Eagles. One of his best known songs, Walk Away, leads off the album. The recording uses multi-tracking extensively toward the end of the song, with multiple guitar parts cascading into what Walsh himself called a "train wreck".

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    May This Be Love
Source:    LP: Are You Experienced?
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1967
    The original UK version of Are You Experienced featured May This Be Love as the opening track of side two of the album. In the US, the UK single The Wind Cries Mary was substituted for it, with May This Be Love buried deep on side one.
Artist:    Moody Blues
Title:    In Search Of The Lost Chord (opening sequence)
Source:    CD: In Search Of The Lost Chord
Writer(s):    Edge/Lodge/Thomas
Label:    Deram
Year:    1968
    The Moody Blues followed up their groundbreaking album Days Of Future Past with another concept album, this time tackling the subjects of search and discovery from various perspectives. In Search Of The Lost Chord opens with, Departure, a poem by percussionist Graeme Edge. Normally Edge's poems were recited by Mike Pinder on the band's albums, but here Edge recites his own work, ending in maniacal laughter as the next track, Ride My See-Saw, fades in. Ride My See-Saw, written by bassist John Lodge, is one of the Moody Blues' most popular songs, and is often used as an encore when the band performs in concert. Dr. Livingstone I Presume is a bit of a change in pace from flautist Ray Thomas, about the famous African explorer. Oddly enough, there is no flute on the track. From there the album proceeds to Lodge's House Of Four Doors, one of the most complex pieces ever recorded by the group. Each verse of the song ends with the opening of a door (played on the cello), followed by an interlude from a different era of Western music, including Minstrel, Baroque and Classical. The fourth door opens into an entirely different song altogether (and on this week's show that's even more true, as we seque into a track from the Who's Tommy album.)

Artist:    Who
Title:    Amazing Journey/Sparks
Source:    LP: Tommy
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    Decca
Year:    1969
    After achieving major success in their native England with a series of hit singles in 1965-67, the Who began to concentrate more on their albums from 1968 on. The first of these concept albums was The Who Sell Out, released in December of 1967. The Who Sell Out was a collection of songs connected by faux radio spots and actual jingles from England's last remaining pirate radio station, Radio London. After releasing a few more singles in 1968, the Who began work on their most ambitious project yet: the world's first rock opera. Tommy, released in 1969, was a double LP telling the story of a boy who, after being tramautized into becoming a blind deaf-mute, eventually emerges as a kind of messiah, only to have his followers ultimately abandon him. One of the early tracks on the album is Amazing Journey, describing Tommy's voyage into the recesses of his own mind in response to the traumatic event that results in his blind, deaf and dumb condition. This leads into the instrumental Sparks, featuring a bass solo by John Entwhistle and some intricate guitar work from Pete Townshend.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    The Cinema Show/Aisle Of Plenty
Source:    CD: Selling England By The Pound
Writer(s):    Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford
Label:    Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
Year:    1973
    As early as 1973 there were concerns in the UK about the Americanization of British culture, and Genesis took inspiration from a recent Labour Party slogan, Selling England By The Pound, for their next album title. The album itself is considered one of the group's best, thanks to songs like The Cinema Show (about Juliet and Romeo each preparing for their movie date) and Aisle Of Plenty, which takes place in an American-style supermarket. Selling England By The Pound was the fifth Genesis album, and the second to feature the group's "classic" lineup of Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford.

Artist:    Styx
Title:    Little Fugue in G/ Father O.S.A
Source:    LP: Styx II
Writer(s):    Bach/DeYoung
Label:    Wooden Nickel
Year:    1973
    Chicago's Styx released four albums on the local Wooden Nickel label before gaining national success after switching to the A&M label in 1974. The second of these, appropriately titled Styx II, was the most successful of these early albums, mostly due to the song Lady becoming a hit in 1975. The rest of the album has some pretty decent tracks, however, such as Dennis DeYoung's adaptation of Johann Sebastian Bach's Little Fugue In G, which segues into a DeYoung original, Father O.S.A. Even though I've had this copy of Styx II in my collection since 1975 I still have no clue what O.S.A. stands for.

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