Monday, June 5, 2017

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1723 (starts 6-7-17)

This week's show pretty much stays on the mellow side, with tunes from Mountain, Blind Faith, Cream, Wishbone Ash and the Allman Brothers Band, among others. Check it out.

Artist:    Alice Cooper
Title:    Desperado
Source:    LP: Killer
Writer(s):    Cooper/Bruce
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    Alice Cooper (the singer, not the band) has made conflicting statements concerning the inspiration/subject matter of Desperado, from the Killer album. In the liner notes of Fistful Of Alice (and elsewhere) the flamboyant vocalist said the song was written about his friend Jim Morrison, who died in 1971, the same year Killer was released. However, he has also said (in a radio interview) that the song was inspired by Robert Vaughn's character in the film The Magnificent Seven. Whatever the song's origins, Desperado has proved to be one of the band's most popular numbers, appearing on various greatest hits compilations over the years.

Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Warrior/Throw Down The Sword
Source:    CD: Argus
Writer(s):    Wishbone Ash
Label:    MCA/Decca
Year:    1972
    One of the first bands ever to feature two lead guitarists was Wishbone Ash. The story goes that following the departure of their original guitar player, bassist Martin Turner and drummer Steve Upton auditioned several lead guitarists and got it down to two finalists, Andy Powell and Ted Turner (no relation to Martin), but could not decide between the two. At that point they decided just to keep both of them, and a heavy metal tradition was born. Whether the story is true or not, the two definitely traded off leads for the next three years and five albums, including their third and most successful LP, Argus. The final two tracks from Argus are thematically linked, as Warrior segues directly into Throw Down The Sword. Both songs are built around classical Greek literary themes and feature shared lead vocals from Andy Powell and Martin Turner.

Artist:     Mountain
Title:     Theme From An Imaginary Western
Source:     European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Mountain Climbing)
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Sony Music (original label: Windfall)
Year:     1970
     Keyboardist Felix Pappaliardi worked closely with the band Cream in the studio, starting with the album Disraeli Gears, so it was only natural that his new band Mountain would perform (and record) at least one song by Cream's primary songwriting team, Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. If Mississippi Queen was guitarist Leslie West's signature song, then Theme From An Imaginary Western was Felix's, at least until Nantucket Sleighride came along.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    We're Going Wrong
Source:    LP: Disraeli Gears
Writer:    Jack Bruce
Label:    RSO (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    On Fresh Cream the slowest-paced tracks were bluesy numbers like Sleepy Time Time. For the group's second LP, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce came up with We're Going Wrong, a song with a haunting melody supplemented by some of Eric Clapton's best guitar fills. Ginger Baker put away his drumsticks in favor of mallets, giving the song an otherworldly feel.

Artist:     Blind Faith
Title:     Presence of the Lord
Source:     LP: Blind Faith
Writer:     Eric Clapton
Label:     Polydor
Year:     1969
     When the album Blind Faith first came out, several critics questioned why Steve Winwood sang lead on this track instead of songwriter Eric Clapton. Many went so far as to say Clapton should have sung the tune, but after countless subsequent recordings of Clapton singing Presence of the Lord over the years, it's kind of refreshing to go back and hear Winwood's original interpretation.

Artist:    Manfred Mann Chapter Three
Title:    Time
Source:    LP: Manfred Mann Chapter Three
Writer(s):    Mike Hugg
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1969
    After a decent run as a successful pop group, Manfred Mann (the band) disbanded in 1969. That same year, Manfred Mann (the person) formed a new group with his longtime collaborator and bandmate Mike Hugg. This group was called Manfred Mann Chapter Three, and was much more experimental in nature than the previous group. Boasting a five-piece horn section, the group was probably inspired by Al Kooper's Blood, Sweat & Tears, which had released the album Child Is Father To The Man the previous year, as well as Miles Davis' recent forays into jazz-rock fusion and bands like the Flock, which was probably the closest to Chapter Three in actual style. Hugg was the primary songwriter for the group, as well as lead vocalists on the seven and a half minute long Time, which opens side two of the original LP.

Artist:     Allman Brothers Band
Title:     Please Call Home
Source:     CD: Beginnings (originally released on LP: Idlewilde South)
Writer:     Gregg Allman
Label:     Polydor (original label: Capricorn)
Year:     1970
     Gregg Allman, formerly of a band called Hourglass, had already cut a few demo tapes before hooking up with brother Duane to form the Allman Brothers band in 1969. For the most part, Duane insisted that the band concentrate on newer material, with only a couple of Gregg's earlier songs being recorded by the new band. Please Call Home, I believe, is one of them.

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    The Caves Of Altamira
Source:    CD: The Royal Scam
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagan
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1976
    Steely Dan had a reputation for bringing in some of the finest guest musicians available to help them on their albums. The Caves Of Altamire, for their fifth LP, The Royal Scam, is a good example. The piece, based on a book by Hans Baumann, features a tenor saxophone solo from John Klemmer.

Artist:    Jean-Luc Ponty
Title:    Tarantula
Source:    LP: Imaginary Voyage
Writer(s):    Jean-Luc Ponty
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1976
    Touted by jazz critics as being "the first jazz violinist to be as exciting as a saxophonist', Jean-Luc Ponty released his first solo album in 1964 at the age of 22. He remained virtually unknown outside of his native France, however, until the early 1970s, when he emigrated to the United States to become a member of Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention. This in turn led to Ponty gaining a crossover audience just as the jazz-rock fusion movement was gaining ground in the US. His 1976 LP, Imaginary Voyage, is considered one of the defining works of the genre, thanks to tracks like Tarantula, which closes out the first side of the original LP.

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    In The Country
Source:    CD: Chicago (II)
Writer(s):    Terry Kath
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1970
    Although guitarist Terry Kath was by no means the most prolific songwriter in Chicago, he did pen some of the band's most memorable early works, such as In The Country, from the group's second double-LP. The song was considered so strong, in fact, that it was used as the band's set opener when they played Carnegie Hall, recording the performance for their first live album.

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