Monday, April 30, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1818 [B18] (starts 5/2/18)

    Once again the emphasis is on artists (and songs) that were commonly heard on FM rock radio in the early to mid 1970s, but are seldom (if ever) played on classic rock stations today. Most notable is Pentangle's arrangement of the traditional English folk ballad Jack Orion, which took up an entire LP side when it was released in 1970.

Artist:    Mahogany Rush
Title:    Tales Of The Spanish Warrior
Source:    Canadian import CD: Strange Universe
Writer(s):    Frank Marino
Label:    Just A Minute (original label: 20th Century)
Year:    1975
    Since the tragic death of Jimi Hendrix in 1970, there have been plenty of guitarists that have come along using a similar style to the Experienced One. Only one or two have been able to truly recreate the total Hendrix sound, however, and the most notable of these is Canadian Frank Marino, whose band, Mahogany Rush, was patterned after the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In essence, Mahogany Rush represents one of the many possible directions that Hendrix himself might have gone in had he lived past the age of 27. The album Strange Universe, released in 1975, begins with Tales Of The Spanish Warrior, which manages to capture the Hendrix sound without sounding like any particular Hendrix track.

Artist:    Crow
Title:    Busy Day
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Larry Weigand
Label:    Amaret
Year:    1969
    Crow started off as a Minneapolis band called South 40, a name they used until they began releasing records nationally in 1969. Their first LP, Crow Music, was released in 1969 and did fairly well on the charts, thanks in large part to the success of the song Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me), which made the top 20. The follow-up single, Cottage Cheese, was released in advance of their second album, Crow By Crow, in 1970. As no other tracks from that LP were available for the B side, a tune from Crow Music, Busy Day, was included instead. The song was written by bassist Larry Weigand, who had been listed as co-writer on both A sides.

Artist:     Grand Funk Railroad
Title:     I Can Feel Him In The Morning
Source:     LP: Survival
Writer:     Farner/Brewer
Label:     Capitol
Year:     1971
     In the late 1980s I met a woman from L.A who had been in high school the year Grand Funk Railroad's fourth studio LP came out. When she discovered that I still had my original copy of Survival she told me how an 8-track copy of that album got her through the summer of '71 when she was living with her mother in an apartment overlooking one of the hookers' corners on Hollywood Blvd. She said that whenever she was feeling overwhelmed by life she would draw inspiration from the song I Can Feel Him In The Morning. The tune, with its flowing beat and spiritual lyrics, was a departure from the loud, raw sound the band from Flint was known for.

Artist:    Taste
Title:    Born On The Wrong Side Of Time
Source:    British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: Taste)
Writer(s):    Rory Gallagher
Label:    Polydor (original US label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    Formed in Cork, Northern Ireland, in 1966, Taste, led by guitarist/vocalist Rory Gallagher, quickly established themselves as the area's premier power trio. By 1967 the group, which by then consisted of Gallagher, drummer John Wilson, and bassist Richard McCracken, was one of the hottest bands in the UK, opening for such bands as Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Cream (including Cream's farewell appearances at Royal Albert Hall in 1968). The group released their debut LP in 1969, supporting the album by opening for Blind Faith on their US tour. The band released one more LP before Gallagher decided to pursue a solo career in the 1970s.

Artist:    Patti Smith Group
Title:    Poppies
Source:    LP: Radio Ethiopia
Writer(s):    Smith/Sohl
Label:    Arista
Year:    1976
    The second Patti Smith LP, Radio Ethiopia, was not as well-received as her debut album, Horses. One of the reasons, oddly enough, was that critics felt that the band was more competent on Radio Ethiopia than on the earlier LP. This, they felt, detracted from the band's lack of self-consciousness that characterized Horses. Still, it's hard not to get into a groove with tracks like Poppies, which has a Steely Dan kind of sound, but with Smith's vocals giving it an identity of its own. In fact, part of keeps the seven minute long track from getting boring is Smith's use of multitrack technology to layer multiple vocal tracks. This is particularly effective when listened to with headphones, as Smith's singing is dead center in the mix, while her prose and poetry tracks are playing simultaneously in the right and left channels.

Artist:     Pentangle
Title:     Jack Orion
Source:     European import CD: Cruel Sister
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Pentangle
Label:     Castle (original label: Reprise)
Year:     1970
     The showpiece of the 1970 Pentangle album Cruel Sister was this 18 1/2 minute version of the old English folk song Jack Orion. Done in a theme and variations type of format favored by classical composers, the tune was first recorded by Pentangle member Bert Jansch on a solo LP.

Artist:    Sugarloaf
Title:    I Don't Need You Baby
Source:    LP: Spaceship Earth
Writer(s):    Corbetta/Webber/Yeazel
Label:    Liberty
Year:    1971
    The second Sugarloaf album saw the addition of Robert Yeazel on 2nd lead guitar to the band's lineup, adding considerably to the band's depth. Spaceship Earth, however, despite being a better album overall than their debut LP, did not have the benefit of a # 1 hit single (Green-Eyed Lady) and only made it to the # 111 spot on the Billboard albums chart. Nonetheless, the album contains many fine tracks, such as I Don't Need You Baby, which was written by the band's two guitarists (Yeazel and Bob Webber) and keyboardist/vocalist Jerry Corbetta.
Artist:    Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Title:    Country Girl
Source:    LP: déjà vu
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    The second Crosby, Stills and Nash album, déjà vu, was enhanced by the addition of singer/songwriter/guitarist Neil Young, along with bassist Dallas Taylor and drummer Greg Reeves. The LP itself was printed on textured cardboard with gold offset lettering, giving the package a unique look. But it was the music itself that made the album one of the top sellers of 1970, with three singles going into the top 40. One of the non-single tracks was Country Girl, a medley of three uncompleted Neil Young songs that would not have been out of place on a Young solo album.

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