Monday, May 8, 2017

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1719 (starts 5/10/17)

For some reason this week's show seems just a touch on the devilish side. Not sure why, exactly, but it's there nonetheless. Probably Zappa's fault :)

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    I Don't Want Your Money
Source:    LP: Chicago III
Writer(s):    Kath/Lamm
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    Chicago released their third consecutive double-length album in 1971, following months of extensive touring. You would think that, at this point, the band would be getting stretched kind of thin as far as new material goes. Surprisingly, though, the album has plenty of strong tracks like I Don't Want Your Money, probably the closest thing to an old-fashioned Chicago-style blues tune that Chicago ever recorded. Although most Chicago songs are credited to a single songwriter, I Don't Want Your Money is actually a collaboration between keyboardist Robert Lamm and guitarist Terry Kath, who also sings on the track.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Rather Be Alone With You (aka Song For Dale)/From Another Time
Source:    LP: Bang
Writer(s):    Kenner/Bolin/Tesar
Label:    Atco
Year:    1973
    After Joe Walsh parted company with the James Gang, the remaining two members invited Canadians Roy Kenner and Dominic Troiano to Cleveland to take Walsh's place in the band. After a pair of commercially disappointing albums, Troiano returned to Canada to replace Randy Bachman in the Guess Who. The James Gang then recruited Tommy Bolin (formerly of Zephyr and the fusion band Energy) as their latest guitarist, keeping Kenner as lead vocalist. The first album from this lineup was Bang, released in 1973. While most of the material on the album, including From Another Time, came from Bolin, there were exceptions, such as Rather Be Alone With You (aka Song For Dale), an a cappela piece by Kenner. The two songs overlap each other on the album, which is why they are being presented on this week's show as one continuous cut.

Artist:    Mothers
Title:    Dirty Love
Source:    CD: Over-Nite Sensation
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:    Zappa (original label: Discreet)
Year:    1973
    After a series of experimental and jazz-oriented albums, Frank Zappa returned to rock with a pair of albums that defined the direction his music would take in the 1970s and beyond. The first, Over-Nite Sensation, was credited to the Mothers of Invention, and was released in 1973. The second was Apostrophe('), which, although recorded at the same time as Over-Nite Sensation, was released as a Frank Zappa solo album the following year. Both albums combine superb musicianship from the likes of George Clinton and Jean-Luc Ponty with Zappa's unique brand of satiric humor, and are among Zappa's most popular releases. One of the highlights of Over-Nite Sensation, Dirty Love, contains the repeated phrase "The poodle bites, the poodle chews it", which also shows up in a track from the Apostrophe(') album, albeit in a different form. In both cases the refrain is sung by the Ikettes, who were, at Ike Turner's insistence, excluded from the album's musician credits, although they did get paid for their work (but, again at Turner's insistence, at the minimum allowable wage rate).

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (But I Like It)
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Rolling Stones
Year:    1974
    You'd think that after writing such legendary classics as (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, Jumpin' Jack Flash and Honky Tonk Women, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards would be pretty much tapped out for the rest of their lives. But, nope. They had to come up yet another iconic song in 1974, It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (But I Like It). Hell, the title alone probably should be inscribed over the entrance of the Rock 'N' Roll Hall Of Fame.

Artist:    Patti Smith Group
Title:    Ask The Angels
Source:    LP: Radio Ethiopia
Writer(s):    Smith/Kral
Label:    Arista
Year:    1976
    Patti Smith's second LP, Radio Ethiopia, was, in some ways, a deliberate attempt at commercial success. As such, it received mixed reviews from the rock press for songs such as Ask The Angels, the LP's opening track. The song, which was released as the album's third single, was co-written by bassist Ivan Kral, who was the band member pushing the hardest for commercial success.

Artist:    King Crimson
Title:    One More Red Nightmare
Source:    CD: Red
Writer(s):    Fripp/Wetton
Label:    Discipline Global Mobile
Year:    1974
    King Crimson's seventh album, Red, was also its least successful commercially, spending only one week on the British album charts. One reason for this is that the band, which at this point was a trio consisting of Robert Fripp (guitar), John Wetton (bass and vocals) and drums (Bill Bruford), split up a month before the album was released. With no band to go on tour, the record label chose not to promote the album. In retrospect, the album has done better, and continues to be a favorite among King Crimson fans, thanks to hard-driving tracks like One More Red Nightmare, which features multiple electric guitar overdubs on top of what Fripp refered to as "a flying brick wall" of sound provided by Bruford and Wetton.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Peace In Mississippi
Source:    CD: Voodoo Soup (altered version first released on LP: Crash Landing)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA
Year:    1968
    Jimi Hendrix fans will probably never forgive Alan Douglas for tampering with recordings that were left in various of completion upon the guitarist's untimely death in late 1970. One example of this was a 1968 track called Peace In Mississippi. Originally recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience (Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell) shortly after the release of the Electric Ladyland album, the song was included on the 1975 LP Crash Landing with Redding's and Mitchell's tracks replaced by new recordings made by studio musicians under Douglas's direction. The track also included new overdubbed guitar (!) and percussion parts. The result was a very different recording that is heard on the now out of print Voodoo Soup CD, which came out in the early 1990s.

Artist:    Flock
Title:    Truth
Source:    British import CD: The Flock
Writer(s):    The Flock
Label:    Big Beat (original US label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    The city of Chicago is known for spawning rock bands that include a horn section, but the Flock took it a step further by adding electric violin. Jerry Goodman had originally been a roadie for the group, but soon became the focus of the band's performances, combining virtuosity with a willingness to experiment with various electronic effects. Check out the use of a wah-wah pedal, for instance, on Truth, the closing track from the Flock's self-titled 1969 debut LP. After an interesting, but commercially unsuccesful second LP, Dinosaur Swamps, the band started work on a third album, but got derailed when Columbia Records honcho Clive Davis yanked Goodman from the lineup to join John McLaughlin's new project, the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Artist:    Premiata Forneria Marconi
Title:    Meridiani
Source:    LP: Jet Lag
Writer(s):    PFM
Label:    Asylum
Year:    1977
    By the late 1970s it was becoming obvious that the art-rock movement from earlier in the decade had pretty much run its course. The popularity of bands like Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer was on the decline, with fans of punk rock in particular singling them out as "dinosaurs" on the verge of extinction. Some groups managed to survive by moving in an entirely different direction. One of these was Italy's most popular "local" band, Premiata Forneria Marconi (The Award Winning Marconi Bakery), who found a niche among the jazz-rock fusion bands that were on the rise across the world. Luckily for them, their level of musicianship was such that they could easily handle to intricacies of their new style, although their later albums, such as Jet Lag, did not sell as well as their earlier art-rock material. Much of the music on Jet Lag is instrumental, such as Meridiani, arguably the most interesting track on the album.

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