Monday, March 13, 2017

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1711 (starts 3/15/17)

Santana fans should enjoy this one, as we have a set of tunes from the Abraxas album buried in this week's show. Lots of other tasty treats as well.

Artist:    Queen
Title:    Keep Yourself Alive
Source:    LP: Queen
Writer(s):    Brian May
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1973
    The first Queen record ever released was the single version of Keep Yourself Alive, a Brian May composition that hit the racks a week before Queen's self-titled 1973 debut LP. The song was also the opening track of the LP itself, and is considered by some critics to be the best track on the album. The album track was not the original recorded version of the tune, however. The song was first recorded in 1971 as part of a five-song demo tape made at De Lane Lea Studios' new facilities. The band unsuccessfully shopped the tape around to various British record labels for several months. Finally, the owners of Trident Studios let Queen come in during the studio's off hour (3-7AM) to record tracks for their first album. Among the first songs recorded for the album was Keep Yourself Alive, but the band was not satisfied with the result, preferring the demo version of the song. Eventually a new engineer was brought in and the version of the song used on the album itself was recorded. To this day, however, May says he prefers the demo version of the tune.

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    25 Or 6 To 4
Source:    CD: Chicago
Writer(s):    Robert Lamm
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1970
    For their second LP, Chicago (which had just dropped the words "Transit Authority" from their name in response to a threatened lawsuit) tried out all three of their vocalists on each new song to hear who sounded the best for that particular song. In the case of Robert Lamm's 25 Or 6 To 4, bassist Peter Cetera did the honors. The song became a top 10 single both in the US and UK. Despite rumors to the contrary, Lamm says 25 Or 6 To 4 is not a drug song. Instead, he says, the title refers to the time of the morning that he was awake and writing the tune.

Artist:      Jethro Tull
Title:     Hymn 43
Source:      LP: Aqualung
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:     Reprise
Year:     1971
     Just for something completely different we have Ian Anderson taking on the religious establishment on Jethro Tull's Aqualung album. He had already fired the first shot a couple years before with Christmas Song, but this time he had an entire album side to work with, and he did not pull any punches with his scathing criticism of what he perceived as rampant hypocrisy within the Anglican church.

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    Do It Again
Source:    CD: Can't Buy A Thrill
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagen
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1972
    Although they first appeared to be a real band, Steely Dan was, in fact, two people: keyboardist/vocalist Donald Fagen and bassist (and later guitarist) Walter Becker. For their first album they recruited, from various places, guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, drummer Jim Hodder, guitarist Denny Dias, and finally (when they realized they would have to actually perform live, which terrified Fagen) vocalist David Palmer. The first single from the album, Do It Again, was a major hit, going to the #6 spot on the Billboard charts and, more importantly, introducing the world at large to the Steely Dan sound, combining jazz-influenced rock music with slyly cynical lyrics (often sung in the second person). Steely Dan would continue to be an influential force in popular music throughout the 1970s.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix
Title:    EZY Rider
Source:    LP: The Cry Of Love
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1971
    Ezy Rider was one of the many songs that Jimi Hendrix had recently completed when he died suddenly in September of 1970. Although no one will ever know for sure what his plans for the song were, Ezy Rider was one of the tracks chosen for inclusion on The Cry Of Love, the first post-humous Jimi Hendrix LP. The song, inspired by the film Easy Rider, has since appeared on both Voodoo Soup and First Rays Of The New Rising Sun, CD albums that attempt to piece together what would have been the next Hendrix album had the guitarist lived.

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:    Santana
Title:    Se A Cabo
Source:    CD: Santana
Writer(s):    Chepito Areas
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    Following their successful appearance at Woodstock in August of 1969, Santana returned to the studio to begin work on their second LP. Unlike their self-titled debut, Abraxas took several months to record, finally hitting the racks in September of 1970. Like the group's first album, Abraxas includes several instrumental tracks such as Se A Cabo, which opens side two of the original LP. The tune was written by percussionist José Octavio "Chepito" Areas, who played timbales for the band from 1969-1977, returning for a three-year stint in the late 1980s.

Artist:     Santana
Title:     Mother's Daughter
Source:     LP: Abraxas
Writer:     Gregg Rolie
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1970
     Carlos Santana once said that his original lineup was the best of the many bands named Santana. With talented songwriters such as keyboardist Gregg Rolie in the band, it's hard to argue with that assessment. Rolie, of course, would go on to co-found Journey.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Hope You're Feeling Better
Source:    CD: Abraxas
Writer(s):    Gregg Rolie
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    Hope You're Feeling Better was the third single to be taken from Santana's Abraxas album. Although not as successful as either Black Magic Woman or Oye Como Va, the song nonetheless received considerable airplay on progressive FM rock stations and has appeared on several anthology anthems since its initial release.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    I'm Your Captain
Source:    CD: Closer To Home
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    I first switched from guitar to bass during my junior year in high school, when I joined a band that already had a much better guitarist than I was, but no bass player. Like Noel Redding, I started by using an old acoustic guitar with a pickup, turning the tone control to its lowest setting. It wasn't until spring that I finally got an actual bass to play (a Hofner Beatle that I paid the German equivalent of $90.00 for at a small local music shop). The band itself was modeled on early power trios like Cream and Blue Cheer, which basically meant that I was playing pseudo leads in the lower register, hopefully in some sort of counterpoint to what the lead guitarist was playing. It wasn't until I returned to the States and hooked up with a band that had two guitarists and played actual songs that I learned what playing the bass was really about. One of those songs was I'm Your Captain by Grand Funk Railroad. Borrowing a copy of the Closer To Home album I listened closely to Mel Schacher's bass lines, especially the riffs on the intro to I'm Your Captain and during the transition to the song's second movement. To this day I credit Schascher as being the most important influence on my own bass playing (even though I haven't actually picked up a bass guitar since 1989).

Artist:    Bob Mosley
Title:    Hand In Hand
Source:    LP: Bob Mosley
Writer(s):    Bob Mosley
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1972
    Bob Mosley is best known as the bass player for Moby Grape, writing and singing on several of the band's best-known tracks. Originally from the San Diego area, where he graduated high school, Mosley relocated to the San Francisco Bay area in the mid-1960s, becoming a member of a local band called the Vejtables for a short time. In 1967 he became a founding member of Moby Grape, staying with the band until 1971 (with the exception of a brief stint in the US Marines in 1969). The following year he recorded his self-titled solo LP for the Reprise label. Although not a major commercial success, the album did have some strong tracks, such as Mosley's own Hand In Hand. Mosley's career has been sidetracked from time to time by bouts of schizophrenia. He was first diagnosed with the illness in Marine basic training, which led to his early discharge from the Corps nine months later. Mosley's most recent album, True Blue, was released on the Taxim label in 2005.

Artist:    Allman Brothers Band
Title:    Statesboro Blues
Source:    LP: At Fillmore East
Writer(s):    Willie McTell
Label:    Mercury (original label: Capricorn)
Year:    1971
    The Allman Brothers Band is generally accepted as the original Southern Rock band. Much of this reputation, however, is based on the group's second phase, following the death of founder Duane Allman. In the beginning, however, the Allman Brothers Band was first and foremost a blues-rock band, perhaps even the best American blues-rock band of its time. This is evidenced by the fact that their breakthrough album, At Fillmore East, starts with their electrifying arrangement of a Blind Willie McTell blues classic, Statesboro Blues. McTell originally recorded the tune in 1928. Forty years later Taj Mahal recorded a blues-rock version that inspired Duane Allman to take up the slide guitar. The Allman Brothers Band At Fillmore East version of Statesboro Blues is ranked #9 on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of all-time greatest guitar songs.    

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