Monday, October 9, 2017

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1741 (starts 1011/17)

Wow. We've got some good stuff this time around (well, we always have good stuff around here, right?). It starts off with the first all-female band to release an album on a major label and ends with the first band to be labelled a supergroup.

Artist:    Fanny
Title:    Blind Alley
Source:    LP: Fanny Hill
Writer(s):    Barclay/DeBuhr
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1972
    The first all-female rock band to release an album on a major label, Fanny consisted of sisters June and Jean Millington, along with Alice de Buhr and Nickey Barclay. Originally known as Wild Honey, the band took the name Fanny after signing with Reprise Records in 1969. Richard Perry, who had gotten the band their contract with Reprise, produced the group's first three albums, the third of which was the 1972 release Fanny Hill, which includes the song Blind Alley, featuring some nice guitar work from June Millington. Although not a major commercial success, Fanny is considered by many to be one of the most underrated and overlooked bands in rock history. One of their greatest fans, David Bowie, had this to say about Fanny: "They were extraordinary... they're as important as anybody else who's ever been, ever; it just wasn't their time."

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Rainmaker
Source:    LP: The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi
Label:    Island
Year:    1971
    Rainmaker, the final tune from Traffic's fifth studio album, The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys, is often overlooked by the critics when they compile "best of" lists. It is, however, a decent track that deserves to be heard much more often than it actually is. So....

Artist:    David Bowie
Title:    The Supermen
Source:    CD: The Man Who Sold The World
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Mercury)
Year:    1970
    David Bowie takes a look at ancient gods on The Supermen, from his 1970 album The Man Who Sold The World, and comes to the conclusion that to be immortal and insanely powerful can be as much a curse as it is a blessing. Having never been neither insanely powerful or immortal myself, I'll just have to take his word for it.

Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    Quicksilver Girl
Source:    CD: Sailor
Writer(s):    Steve Miller
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1968
    Steve Miller moved to San Francisco from Chicago and was reportedly struck by what he saw as a much lower standard of musicianship in the bay area than in the windy city. Miller's response was to form a band that would conform to Chicago standards. The result was the Steve Miller Band, one of the most successful of the San Francisco bands, although much of that success would not come until the mid-1970s, after several personnel changes. One feature of the Miller band is that it featured multiple lead vocalists, depending on who wrote the song. Miller himself wrote and sings on Quicksilver Girl, from the band's second LP, Sailor.

Artist:    Pentangle
Title:    Pentangling
Source:    LP: The Pentangle
Writer(s):    Cos/Jansch/McShea/Renbourne/Thompson
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    Once in a while an album comes along that is so consistently good that it's impossible to single out one specific track for airplay. Such is the case with the debut Pentangle album from 1968. The group, consisting of guitarists John Renbourne and Bert Jansch, vocalist Jacqui McShea, bassist Terry Cox, and drummer Danny Thompson, had more talent than nearly any band in history from any genre, yet never succumbed to the clash of egos that characterize most supergroups. Enjoy all seven minutes of Pentangling.

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:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    I Need A Man To Love
Source:    LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s):    Joplin/Andrew
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    Big Brother and the Holding Company recorded their first album at the Chicago studios of Mainstream records in 1967. Mainstream, however, was a jazz label and their engineers had no idea how to make a band like Big Brother sound good. When the band signed to Columbia the following year it was decided that the best way to record the band was onstage at the Fillmore West. As a result, when Cheap Thrills was released, four of the seven tracks were live recordings, including the Janis Joplin/Peter Albin collaboration I Need A Man To Love.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Who Scared You
Source:    CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1969
    The Doors only released two non-album tracks while Jim Morrison was alive. The first of these was Who Scared You, which appeared as the B side of Wishful Sinful, a minor hit from the 1969 album The Soft Parade. Unlike the songs on that album, Who Scared You is credited to the entire band, rather than one or more of its individual members. The song made its album debut in 1972, when it was included in the double-LP compilation Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine.

Artist:    Savoy Brown
Title:    The Incredible Gnome Meets Jaxman
Source:    LP: Getting To The Point
Writer(s):    Kim Simmonds
Label:    Parrot
Year:    1968
    Savoy Brown, perhaps more than any other band in rock history (except Fleetwood Mac), was famous for its constantly changing lineup. Besides founder and bandleader Kim Simmonds on lead guitar, only one musician (pianist Bob Hall) that played on the first Savoy Brown LP, Shake Down, was around for the group's sophomore effort, 1968's Getting To The Point. New members included Chris Youlden (vocals), Dave Peverett (guitar), Rivers Jobe (bass) and Roger Earl (drums). With the change in lineup came a change in focus as well. While Shake Down was made up almost entirely of blues covers, Getting To The Point had seven originals, including the instrumental The Incredible Gnome Meets Jaxman.

Artist:    Climax Blues Band
Title:    Reap What I've Sowed
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM promo
Writer(s):    Climax Blues Band
Label:    Sire
Year:    1970
    The Climax Chicago Blues Band was a band steeped in confusion pretty much from the start. Formed in Stafford, England in 1967, the group originally consisted of  vocalist/harmonica player Colin Cooper, guitarist/vocalist Pete Haycock , guitarist Derek Holt, bassist/keyboardist Richard Jones, drummer George Newsome, and keyboardist Arthur Wood. Originally part of the British blues-rock scene of the late 1960s, the band found itself continually adapting to a changing musical landscape throughout its existence, racking up a total of 17 albums over the years. After releasing two LPs on EMI's Parlophone label, the band switched over to EMI's progressive rock oriented label, Harvest, releasing their third album, A Lot Of Bottle, in 1970. By this time there was more than a little confusion over the band's name, which, on the British release of A Lot Of Bottle, was still the Climax Chicago Blues Band. In the US, however, the name of the album itself was The Climax Blues Band. To make things even more confusing, the band's next two studio albums were credited to the Climax Blues Band in North America, but appeared under the name Climax Chicago in the rest of the world. This confusion over the band's name may be part of the reason they were never a major success, although they did manage a couple hit singles over the years (Couldn't Get It Right in 1977 and I Love You in 1981). The band's first US single, 1971's Reap What I've Sowed, was only issued to radio stations, with the notation that it was from the "forthcoming" album, The Climax Blues Band, which had actually been released the previous year in the UK. As I said, steeped in confusion.

Artist:    Blind Faith
Title:    Had To Cry Today
Source:    CD: Blind Faith
Writer(s):    Steve Winwood
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    One of the most eagerly-awaited albums of 1969 was Blind Faith, the self-titled debut album of a group consisting of Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker from Cream, Steve Winwood from Traffic and Rich Grech, who had played bass and violin with the band called Family. The buzz about this new band was such that the rock press had to coin a brand-new term to describe it: supergroup. On release, the album shot up to the number one spot on the charts in record time. Of course, as subsequent supergroups have shown, such bands seldom stick around very long, and Blind Faith set the pattern early on by splitting up after just one LP and a short tour to promote it. The opening track of the album was a pure Winwood piece that showcases both Winwood and Clapton on separate simultaneous guitar tracks.

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