Monday, February 5, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1806 (starts 2/7/18)

    This week's show is a bit different than your usual Rockin' in the Days of Confusion. For one thing, the songs are, on average, shorter than usual (although there are still a couple of lengthy tracks thrown in). Also, we have four distinct sets (as opposed to the usual two). Finally, we alternate between groups of tunes that have been played on the show before and groups of brand new additions to the show (for those who really want to know, the pattern is 3-3-3-2-2).

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    Beehive State
Source:    LP: The Doobie Brothers
Writer(s):    Randy Newman
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    Some bands start off with a bang. The Doobie Brothers, however, began the recording career with a whimper. Their first album did not sell well, despite the band having built up a following among the free-spirited crowd in the San Francisco Bay area. Part of the problem is that the album itself bore little resemblance to the band's live shows. Most of the songs were a subdued mix of folk, rock and country, handicapped by muddy production, and the LP died a quick death. The Doobies themselves, however, we not finished. In fact, the Doobie Brothers eventually became one of the iconic rock bands of the 70s, thanks in no small part to the songwriting skills of Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons. In fact, even on that first album there was only one cover song: Beehive State, Randy Newman's ode to Kansas. Why the Doobies chose this particular song to record is a mystery. Still, it's there, and if I ever do an all Randy Newman-penned set, I'll probably include this version of Beehive State.

Artist:    ZZ Top
Title:    Arrested For Driving While Blind
Source:    LP: Tejas
Writer(s):    Gibbons/Hill/Beard
Label:    London
Year:    1976
    Only a band from Texas could get away with recording a song called Arrested For Driving While Blind. ZZ Top even released the song, from their 1976 LP Tejas, as a single. The song apparently confused people, however, prompting bassist Dusty Hill to say this in an interview: "That's not it at all. Billy introduces it: 'Don't get arrested for driving while blind.' We’re not saying, 'Don’t drink.' We're just doing a tune." I'm still confused.

Artist:    Robin Trower
Title:    Lady Love
Source:    LP: Bridge Of Sighs
Writer(s):    Trower/Dewar
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1974
    It says a lot about the quality of an album like Robin Trower's Bridge Of Sighs that even one of the weaker tracks like Lady Love, is worth listening to. Like many hot guitarists, Trower did not do his own singing on the album. Vocals were provided by bassist James Dewar, who also co-wrote Lady Love.

Artist:      Mountain
Title:     Blood of the Sun
Source:      CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On-Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer(s):    West/Pappalardi/Collins
Label:    Rhino
Year:     1969
     Reportedly Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi and Corky Laing of the band Mountain didn't like the way their performance of Blood Of The Sun at the Woodstock festival sounded, so they recorded a substitute live take for the album Woodstock 2. In 2009 Rhino issued the actual Woodstock performance heard here. Although there have been claims that the Woodstock 2 recording is the actual Woodstock performance, anyone with half an ear can hear the difference between the two versions.

Artist:    Blue Cheer
Title:    Fruit & Icebergs/Honey Butter Lover
Source:    LP: New! Improved Blue Cheer
Writer(s):    Randy Holden
Label:    Philips
Year:    1969
    Following the release of the second Blue Cheer album, Outsideinside, guitarist Leigh Stephens left the band. His replacement was Randy Holden, who had been a member of the Los Angeles underground band The Other Half. Holden did not stay with the band very long, however. In fact, he left halfway through the recording of the band's third album, New! Improved Blue Cheer, after recording only the three tracks that make up side two of the original LP. Those three tracks, however, are among the best recordings ever made by Blue Cheer. Two of the songs, Fruit & Icebergs and Honey Butter Lover, actually overlap each other to close out the album.

Artist:    Kak
Title:    Disbelievin'
Source:    British import CD: Kak-Ola (originally released on LP: Kak)
Writer(s):    Gary Lee Yoder
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Epic)
Year:    1969
    Every band has its own unique story. Nonetheless, the story of Kak is more unique than most. The genesis of the group came in the summer of 1967 when guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Gary Lee Yoder, former member of the Oxford Circle, was approached by a guy named Gary Grelecki, who, after expressing regret that the Circle had broken up, asked Yoder if he would interested in recording for CBS. Two months later Grelecki, whose father was a CIA agent fronting as a Far East distributor for CBS Records, called back with the news that he had used his dad's contacts to secure Yoder a deal with Epic, a CBS label. In early 1968 Yoder began recruiting local musicians, including fellow Oxford Circle lead guitarist Dehner Patton, bassist Joe-Dave Damrell (Group 'B'), and drummer Chris Lockheed (the Majestics). What started off as a solo project soon turned into a group effort, and by June the band had worked up enough material to start recording. After only one session, however, the project was delayed and work on the album itself did not begin until September. During this time the band continued to work up new material written by Yoder, such as the upbeat Disbelievin', as well as a few songs co-written by Grelecki. The band had very little equipment of their own, however; as a result they did not do any live performances that summer. Once they were able to commence recording in earnest the entire album took about a week to record. In October, with the recording finished, the band was given $10,000 worth of new equipment to go on the road and promote the album, but soon discovered that they did not have the right kind of onstage chemistry. Without strong touring support, the album got lost among the many outstanding records released in 1969, and Kak disbanded soon after.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Minstrel In The Gallery
Source:    LP: Minstrel In The Gallery
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1975
    Following the back-to-back album-length works Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play, Jethro Tull returned to recording shorter tunes for the next couple of years' worth of albums. In late 1975, however, they recorded the eight minute long Mistrel In The Gallery for the album of the same name. The song (and album) was a return to the mix of electric and acoustic music that had characterized the band in its earlier years, particularly on the Aqualung and Benefit albums. A shorter version of Minstrel In The Gallery was released as a single and did reasonably well on the charts.

Artist:    Stealer's Wheel
Title:    Star
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s):    Joe Egan
Label:    A&M
Year:    1973
    Formed in 1972 in Paisley, Scotland by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan, Stealer's Wheel scored a huge international hit with Stuck in the Middle With You that same year. Their followup album, 1973's Ferguslie Park, did not have any hits to match Stuck's success, although two of the songs from the album made the top 40 charts on both sides of the Atlantic. The second of these was Star, a Joe Egan composition that hit the top 30 in 1974. After the duo split Rafferty went on to international fame for his 1978 hit Baker Street.

Artist:    Van Morrison
Title:    These Dreams Of You
Source:    LP: Moondance
Writer(s):    Van Morrison
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    Van Morrison called These Dreams Of You, from his 1970 album Moondance, "the result of a dream I had about Ray Charles being shot down. That started off the whole song. The line 'you paid your dues in Canada', I don't really know where that comes from, I just have a romantic image of going to Canada and that's about it. The song is basically about dreams." Why is it some of these artists' quotes leave me even more confused than when I started?

Artist:    Heart
Title:    Dreamboat Annie
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Ann and Nancy Wilson
Label:    Mushroom
Year:    1975
    If you look at the label of Heart's Dreamboat Annie album you will notice that there are actually three tracks bearing the name Dreamboat
Annie. This single, however, is not the same as any of them. It is, in fact, a patchwork piece made by splicing the intro from Crazy On You (which was edited out of the single version of that song) onto the two-minute long Dreamboat Annie track that closes out side one of the LP. This new version of Dreamboat Annie (technically the fourth) was then issued as the band's third single. Although it barely missed the top 40 (peaking at #42) it was the first Heart single to hit the Adult Contemporary charts, making it to the #17 spot.

Artist:     Guess Who
Title:     American Woman
Source:     CD: American Woman
Writer:     Bachman/Cummings/Peterson/Kale
Label:     Buddha/BMG (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:     1970
     From 1968-1970 I was living on Ramstein AFB, which was and is a huge base in Germany with enough Canadian personnel stationed there to justify their own on-base school. For much of the time I lived there I found myself hanging out with a bunch of Canadian kids and I gotta tell you, they absolutely loved everything by the Guess Who, who were, after all, the most successful Canadian rock band in history. In particular, they all loved the band's most political (and controversial) hit, the 1970 tune American Woman. I rather liked it myself, and immediately went out and bought a copy of the album, one of the first to be pressed on RCA's Dynaflex "vinyl".

Artist:    War
Title:    Get Down
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    War
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1971
    Although officially formed in 1969, the band War actually can trace its roots to a band called the Creators. Formed in Long Beach, California in 1962 by Howard E. Scott and Harold Brown, the group expanded over the years to include Charles Miller, Morris "B. B." Dickerson and Lonnie Jordan, Lee Oskar and Papa Dee Allen. In 1968 the Creators changed their name to Nightshift and began backing up singer (and former NFL star) Deacon Jones. Producer Jerry Goldstein saw Jones and the band perform at a North Hollywood club called the Rag Doll and was captivated by the band's positive energy. Goldstein convinced the band to change their name to War and begin working with formers Animals frontman Eric Burdon. After recording two albums with War, Burdon left the group, who decided to continue on without him, releasing their first album as a standalone group in 1971. The LP was a modest success, but was eclipsed by their next effort, All Day Music, which was released in November of that same year. Among the many standout tracks on the album was Get Down, which was also released as the B side of the All Day Music single.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    You Just Don't Care
Source:    LP: Santana
Writer(s):    Santana (band)
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1969
    Santana started off as a jam band, with little formal song structure. When it came time to record their first album, however, the group realized that they would have to have actual songs, and began coming up with the various pieces that would make up the 1969 LP Santana. Among those more structured pieces is You Just Don't Care.

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