Monday, May 14, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1820 (starts 5/16/18)

    This week we feature then entire first side of the third Jimi Hendrix Experience album Electric Ladyland, including the live-in-the-studio original version of Voodoo Chile with Steve Winwood on organ and Jack Casidy on bass. This kicks off a long set that starts on the bluesy side and ends up rockin' out.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    …And The Gods Made Love/Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)
Source:    LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    Like its predecessor, the third Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Electric Ladyland, starts off with a track that is pure special effects. Unlike EXP (from Axis: Bold As Love), which was essentially made up of controlled guitar feedback, …And The Gods Made Love is a more subtle piece employing tape and echo effects to simulate, well, the title says it all. This leads directly in to what was for many Experience fans was new territory, but for Hendrix himself a hearkening back to his days as a backup musician for various soul artists. Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) is, in fact, a tribute to guitarist/vocalist Curtis Mayfield, leader of the Impressions, whom Hendrix had cited as an influence on his own guitar style.
    By 1968 it didn't matter one bit whether the Jimi Hendrix Experience had any hit singles; their albums were guaranteed to be successful. Nonetheless the Electric Ladyland album had no less that three singles on it (although one was a new stereo mix of a 1967 single). The first single to be released concurrently with Electric Ladyland was Crosstown Traffic, a song that has been included on several anthologies over the years.
    Midway through the making of the Electric Ladyland album, producer Chas Chandler parted ways with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. At first this may seem to be a mystery, but consider the situation: Hendrix, by this time, had considerable clout in the studio. This allowed him to invite pretty much anyone he damn well pleased to hang out while he was making records, including several fellow musicians. It also allowed him the luxury of using the studio itself as a kind of incubator for new ideas, often developing those ideas while the tape machine was in "record" mode. Chandler, on the other hand, had learned virtually everything he knew about producing records from Mickie Most, one of Britain's most successful producers. As such, Chandler tended to take a more professional approach to recording, finding Hendrix's endless jamming to be a waste of valuable studio time. Whether you side with Chandler or Hendrix over the issue, there is one thing that can't be disputed: the Hendrix approach resulted in some of the most memorable rock recordings ever made. Case in point: Voodoo Chile, a fourteen and a half minute studio jam featuring Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane) on bass and Steve Winwood (Traffic) on keyboards, as well as regular Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Born Under A Bad Sign
Source:    LP: Wheels Of Fire
Writer:    Jones/Bell
Label:    RSO (original label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were pretty much considered the cream of the crop of the British blues scene in the mid 1960s, so it came as no surprise when they decided to call their new band Cream. Although the trio would go on to record several memorable non-blues tunes such as I Feel Free and White Room, they never completely abandoned the blues. Born Under A Bad Sign, originally recorded by Albert King  for the Stax label and written by labelmates William Bell and Booker T. Jones, is one of the better known tracks from Cream's double-LP Wheels Of Fire, the last album released while the band was still together.

Artist:    Love Sculpture
Title:    Wang Dang Doodle
Source:    British import CD: Blues Helping
Writer(s):    Willie Dixon
Label:    EMI (original label: Parlophone)
Year:    1968
    During my first year of college I moved into a house shared by five other people (not all of whom were students) near the University of New Mexico. Shortly after moving in I bought an old Philips reel-to-reel machine and began taping various albums from my roommates' collections. Not long after that I discovered a gold mine in the basement. A former resident of the house had left a box of reel-to-reel tapes, some of which were only vaguely labeled, if at all. One of the tapes was labeled simply "Love Sculpture". It turned out that some of the songs on that tape were actually from the Blues Project's Projections album, but others, such as this rather tasty version of Koko Taylor's Wang Dang Doodle, were indeed by a band called Love Sculpture. I was not aware at the time, however, that the song was from an album called Blues Helping, or that Love Sculpture's lead guitarist and vocalist was none other than Dave Edmunds, who I had only known as the guy who did the remake of I Hear You Knockin' in the early 1970s.

Artist:    Johnny Winter
Title:    I'll Drown In My Own Tears
Source:    British import CD: Johnny Winter
Writer(s):    Henry Glover
Label:    Repertoire (original US label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Originally recorded by Lula Reed in 1951 under the title I'll Drown In My Tears, Drown In My Own Tears was one of Ray Charles's legendary hits for the Atlantic label. Released in 1956, it was Charles's fourth song to top the R&B charts, and inspired him to hire a permanent group of backup singers that would come to be known as the Raelettes. In 1969 Johnny Winter combined the two titles for the version included on his first album for the Columbia label. Although most of the tracks on that album showcase Winter's prowess on guitar, I'll Drown In My Own Tears shifts the emphasis to his vocals, with an arrangement that closely parallels of the Ray Charles version. Keyboards on the track are provided by Johnny's brother Edgar, who would become a full-fledged member of Johnny's band for the album Second Winter.

Artist:    Lynyrd Skynyrd
Title:    I Know A Little
Source:    LP: Gold And Platinum (originally released on LP: Street Survivors)
Writer(s):    Steve Gaines
Label:    MCA
Year:    1977
    Guitarist Steve Gaines was only on one studio album, Street Survivors, as a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, having joined the band as Ed King's replacement just before the recording of the live album One More For The Road, but he certainly made his mark with the band. Street Survivors was a major success, going into the top 5 on the Billboard album chart in 1977, the highest-charting album for the band at that point. Gaines's own contributions to the album were considerable, and included I Know A Little, which he wrote and played outstanding lead guitar on. Three days after the album was released, Gaines and two other members of the band were killed in a plane crash: Gaines's sister Cassie, who had gotten him invited to play with the band in the first place, and lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant. 

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Seamus
Source:    CD: Meddle
Writer:    Waters/Wright/Mason/Gilmour
Label:    Pink Floyd Records (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1971
    After spending several months on the concept album Atom Heart Mother, the members of Pink Floyd decided to lighten things up a bit for their next album, Meddle. Stylistically, Meddle probably has the most variety of any Pink Floyd album, ranging from the driving rocker One Of These Days, to the acoustic blues tune Seamus. The latter song is best played loud, preferably with at least one dog in the room with you.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Over The Hills And Far Away
Source:    CD: Houses Of The Holy
Writer(s):    Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1973
    Although it was released in 1973 on the album Houses Of The Holy, Over The Hills And Far Away actually dates back to the 1970 songwriting sessions at Bron-Y-Aur that produced most of the music for the Led Zeppelin III album. The band started playing the song in concert in 1972 and released it as a single in advance of the Houses Of The Holy album in early 1973. Although it only got a lukewarm reception from the rock press when it was first released, Over The Hills And Far Away has since come to be regarded as one of Led Zeppelin's top songs, making several "best of" lists over the years.

Artist:    Aerosmith
Title:    Dream Om
Source:    CD: Aerosmith
Writer(s):    Steven Tyler
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1973
    My former bandmate and roomate, the late Jeff "Quincy" Adams, was an Air Force brat like me, although my dad was an enlisted man and his father was a full bird colonel. One of the many places Quincy lived was the Boston area, near Andover AFB, in the early 1970s. Quincy once told me about this band that had a practice room down the street from where he lived. As an aspiring guitarist himself he would try to check out this band whenever possible, but as a young teenager he was of course too shy to actually approach any of the band members. Quincy, looking back on those times fifteen years later, swore that one of the songs that band was playing was Dream On, a song that was not recorded until 1973, when it came out on the first Aerosmith album. So was that jam band down the street indeed Aerosmith? Could be.

Artist:    Deep Purple   
Title:    Living Wreck
Source:    LP: Deep Purple In Rock
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    Deep Purple In Rock was the first studio album to feature what is now considered the "classic" Deep Purple lineup: Richie Blackmore on guitar, Ian Gillan on vocals, Roger Glover on bass, Jon Lord on organ and Ian Paice on drums. It was also the first Deep Purple to hit the top 10 on the British album charts, although the band had done much better in the US with the original lineup. The album is pretty much straight forward hard rock, especially on tunes like Living Wreck, which features Blackmore using a phasing effect and Lord playing through a Leslie rotating horn speaker cabinet.

Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Queen Of Torture
Source:    CD: The Collection (originally released on LP: Wishbone Ash)
Writer:    Upton/Turner/Turner/Powell
Label:    Spectrum/Universal (original label: Decca)
Year:    1970
    One of the first bands to use dual lead guitars was Wishbone Ash. When Glen Turner, the band's original guitarist, had to leave, auditions were held, but the remaining members and their manager couldn't decide between the two finalists, Andy Powell and Ted Turner, so they kept both of them. Queen Of Torture, from their 1969 debut album, shows just how well the two guitars meshed.

Artist:    Moody Blues
Title:    I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    John Lodge
Label:    Threshold
Year:    1972
    Following the release of the eighth LP, Seventh Sojourn (don't ask), the Moody Blues decided to take a sojourn of a different kind: a five-year hiatus, allowing the individual members to pursue various solo projects. Before calling it quits, however, they released one last single. As the last track on Seventh Sojourn, I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band) was an appropriate choice for a final effort, and did reasonably well on the US charts, peaking at #12, although it barely made the top 40 in their native England. Since reforming in 1978, the Moody Blues have established themselves as a consistent concert draw, especially around PBS pledge drive time.

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