Sunday, August 19, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1834 (starts 8/22/18)

    This week's show boldly goes where Rockin' in the Days of Confusion has never gone before, with 11 out of 13 tracks making their debut. That was not the original plan, but, as is often the case, the show just seemed to take on a life of its own from about the third song on. Enjoy!

Artist:    Seatrain
Title:    13 Questions
Source:    British import CD: Seatrain/Marblehead Messenger (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Seatrain)
Writer(s):    Kulberg/Roberts
Label:    BGO (original US label: Capitol)
Year:    1970
    Despite being formed by the remaining members of the Blues Project, Seatrain spent most of its four years under the radar, getting little attention from the rock press and even less from the record buying public. Some of this lack of popularity can be attributed to the band's basic instability. None of their four albums (for three different labels!) have the same lineup, making it hard to establish a fan base. The fact that they didn't fit neatly into any particular genre, having elements of folk, country and jazz as well as rock, didn't help either. Their most successful record was the 1970 single, 13 Questions. Anyone who bought the album Seatrain soon realized, however, that the punchy horn-based single was nothing like the rest of the record.

Artist:    Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title:    Ramble Tamble
Source:    LP: cosmo's Factory
Writer(s):    John Fogerty
Label:    Fantasy
Year:    1970
    Creedence Clearwater Revival is rightly known for its series of catchy, compact singles, all of which scored high on the Billboard charts. As a result, their longer, more instrumentally-oriented material such as Ramble Tamble often gets overlooked. The track, which opens the 1970 LP Cosmo's Factory, showcases John Fogerty's guitar work, along with the solidity of the band's rhythm section of Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford.

Artist:    Derek And The Dominos
Title:    Little Wing
Source:    CD: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    The Jimi Hendrix Experience often performed an instrumental jam based on Cream's Sunshine Of Your Love, so it seems only fair that Eric Clapton would someday return the favor. When he did, it was memorable. Little Wing is one of the standout tracks on an album full of standout tracks. As such, it is often overlooked in favor of other tunes from Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs. Still, it is a unique arrangement of the Hendrix classic, enhanced by the presence of Duane Allman on slide guitar.

Artist:    Van Morrison
Title:    Brand New Day
Source:    LP: Moondance
Writer(s):    Van Morrison
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    As leader of the first major Irish rock band (Them), Van Morrison helped set the standard for rebellious young musicians looking to make their mark on the world. His Gloria was the single most defining song of the entire garage-rock movement of the mid-1960s, while his disrespectful relationship with the British music press was legendary. By 1970, however, Morrison had taken on a new role, that of the sensitive singer-songwriter, blazing a path that would soon be followed by James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, John Fogelberg and many many others over the next few years. This version of Van Morrison was manifested on the album Moondance, and on songs like Brand New Day in particular. Moondance was also the first album produced by Morrison himself. He has not worked with any other producers since.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Spare Me A Little Of Your Love
Source:    CD: Bare Trees
Writer(s):    Christine McVie
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1972
    Fleetwood Mac was known as much for its various changes in personnel as for its music during its first several years of existence. In fact, only drummer Mick Fleetwood appeared on every Fleetwood Mac recording (bassist John McVie was not on the band's first recordings). The third-longest serving member of the band was keyboardist/vocalist Christine Perfect, who contributed to the band's second, third and fouth albums before becoming an official member as of the Future Games LP, following her marraige (and corresponding name change) to McVie. The next Fleetwood Mac album, Bare Trees, included a McVie composition called Spare Me A Little Of Your Love. The song proved popular enough to become part of the band's stage repertoire for the next five years.

Artist:     Bill Withers
Title:     Harlem
Source:     45 RPM single B side
Writer:     Bill Withers
Label:     Sussex
Year:     1971
     Bill Withers's first single, Three Nights And A Morning, pretty much defines the word obscure. It was the only record ever released on the Lotus label, and after its appearance in 1967 Withers went back to his day job and did not resurface until 1970, when the album Just As I Am was released on Buddah's Sussex label. The first single from that album was a tune called Harlem, which was backed with a song called Moanin' And Groanin'. The record was soon re-issued with a different B side, however; a tune called Ain't No Sunshine that soon became a hit single and finally allowed Withers to become a full-time musician. Harlem, the original A side of the single, has been overlooked ever since, despite the fact that it's a great tune. Check it out.

Artist:    Queen
Title:    Doing All Right
Source:    LP: Queen
Writer(s):    May/Staffell
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1973
    Before there was a band called Queen, there was Smile. Formed by guitarist Brian May and bassist Tim Staffell, the group soon recruited drummer Roger Taylor and, eventually, keyboardist/vocalist Farrokh Basada, who suggested the band change its name to Queen. Staffell left the band before the group's first album (replaced by John Deacon), but not before co-writing a song called Doing All Right, which Staffell originally sang lead vocals on. When Queen finally got a record contract in 1973, they included Doing All Right on the debut LP, with Basada, who by then had taken the stage name Freddie Mercury, doing the vocals in a style deliberately similar to that of Staffell.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Sexy Sadie
Source:    LP: The Beatles
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1968
    I can't hear the song Sexie Sadie without being reminded of Charles Manson and his misinterpretation of the White Album (Sadie Mae Glutz was the nickname Manson gave Susan Atkins, one of his female followers). The song was actually inspired by the Mararishi Mahesh Yogi, or more specifically, John Lennon's disillusionment with the man. Lennon said that Sexie Sadie was the last song he wrote before leaving India, and that bandmate George Harrison would only agree to recording the tune if its original title of Maharishi was changed.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Cars Hiss By My Window
Source:    LP: L.A. Woman
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1971
    In their early days as a club band the Doors included several blues covers in their sets. Once they were signed to Elektra, however, the band chose to instead concentrate on their original material, with only Back Door Man being recorded for their debut LP. After their fourth LP, The Soft Parade, was savaged by the rock press for being over-produced the band decided to return to a more stripped-down sound, and began to write their own blues songs. This trend came to a peak with the 1971 album L.A. Woman, the last Doors LP to feature vocalist Jim Morrison. One of those blues originals was Cars Hiss By My Window. Like all the tracks on L.A. Woman, the song was credited to the entire band, a practice that the group had abandoned as of The Soft Parade.

Artist:    Alice Playton
Title:    Pizza Man
Source:    CD: Greatest Hits Of The National Lampoon (originally released on LP: Lemmings)
Writer(s):    Kelly/Jacobs/Guest
Label:    Uproar (original label: Blue Thumb)
Year:    1973
    National Lampoon is probably best known these days for their various movies, including Animal House and a series of "vacation" films starring Chevy Chase. They were a whole lot more than just a movie company, however. Initially a monthly magazine, National Lampoon grew to encompass books, records, a weekly radio show and even an off-Broadway play called Lemmings. As a parody of the Woodstock festival, Lemmings featured several different acts that paralleled those at the actual festival. Filling the role of "50s novelty act" (Sha-Na-Na), Lemmings had Goldy Oldie, played by Alice Playton, whose Pizza Man was considered a highlight of the show. To my knowledge Playton never did anything else associated with National Lampoon in her long career in Broadway musicals.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Sister Morphine
Source:    LP: Sticky Fingers
Writer(s):    Faithfull/Jagger/Richards
Label:    Rolling Stones
Year:    1971
     Sister Morphine was first recorded by Marianne Faithfull and released as a B side in 1969, but the single was quickly banned by the BBC for its drug references and was subsequently withdrawn in the UK. The record stayed in print in other countries, however, although in many places, including the US, an alternate take of the song was used. Two years later the Rolling Stones recorded their own version of the song for their Sticky Fingers album, but Faithfull's name was left off the songwriting credits. It has since been restored. Both versions feature Ry Cooder on slide guitar and strings arranged by Jack Nitchze.

Artist:    Graham Nash
Title:    Prison Song
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Graham Nash
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1973
    Graham Nash's Prison Song is one of those songs that by all rights should have been a huge hit. It was by a name artist. It had a catchy opening harmonica riff and a haunting melody. I can only surmise that once again Bill Drake (the man who controlled top 40 radio in the 60s and early 70s) decided that the lyrics were too controversial for AM radio and had the song blacklisted, much as he had done with the Byrds Eight Miles High a few years earlier. Those lyrics center on a subject that is unfortunately still relevant today: the utter absurdity of drug laws and the unequal sentences for violation of those laws in the US and its various states.

Artist:    Peter Gabriel
Title:    Solsbury Hill
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single (promo copy)
Writer(s):    Peter Gabriel
Label:    Atco
Year:    1977
    Vocalist Peter Gabriel's first single after leaving Genesis was Solsbury Hill, a song inspired by a spiritual experience Gabriel had atop Little Solsbury Hill in Somerset, England. Gabriel said of the song:  "It's about being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get ... It's about letting go." The song hit the top 20 in the UK and shows up from time to time in various TV and movie soundtracks.

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