Sunday, August 26, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1835 (starts 8/29/18)

    Got another week of freeform madness here, starting with a great Little Feat tune and ending with a hot J.Geils Band instrumental track, featuring Magic Dick on blues harp.

Artist:    Little Feat
Title:    Fat Man In The Bathtub
Source:    CD: Dixie Chicken
Writer(s):    Lowell George
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    Lowell George, founder of Little Feat, came into his own as a songwriter with the 1973 album Dixie Chicken. Among the classic tunes on the LP was Fat Man In The Bathtub. There are many theories as to what the song is actually about, but most agree that somebody wasn't getting something he wanted.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Funk #49/Ashtonpark
Source:    CD:  James Gang Rides Again
Writer(s):    Fox/Peters/Walsh
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1970
                Following the release of their first LP, Yer' Album, the James Gang toured extensively, giving them little time to work up material for their followup album. Nonetheless, they managed to turn out a classic with the 1970 release James Gang Rides Again. The album starts with the song that all three band members agree was already worked out by the time they hit the studio, Funk #49. The song (which is probably the band's best known tune) is followed immediately by Ashtonpark, a short instrumental that picks up where Funk #49 fades out. The track is essentially Joe Walsh, Dale Peters and Jim Fox jamming over an echo effect created by cycling the playback of Walsh's guitar back through the record head of the studio tape recorder.
Artist:    Savoy Brown
Title:    Time Does Tell
Source:    LP: Street Corner Talking
Writer(s):    Kim Simmonds
Label:    Parrott
Year:    1971
    Sounds Of Blue was a British R&B band formed in 1964 by David 'Rowdy' Yeats and Andy Silvester. After a series of lineup changes the group renamed itself Chicken Shack in 1965. The group continued to undergo lineup changes over the next few years, even as they had a residency at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany. The group signed to the Blue Horizon label in 1968, releasing three albums that year alone. So what does all this have to do with Savoy Brown, you ask? Well, in 1971, after being cut from the Blue Horizon roster, three of the band members, including founding member Silvester, left Chicken Shack to replace the three departing members of Savoy Brown, who in turn formed a new band, Foghat. The first Savoy Brown album with the new lineup was Street Corner Talking, featuring a mix of tracks from various band members, including the remaining original member of Savoy Brown, Kim Simmonds, who wrote Time Does Tell.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Fluff
Source:    LP: Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osborne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    Tony Iommi might have called it Fluff, but in reality it is a nice bit of solo guitar work from the Black Sabbath guitarist. Officially the song is credited to the entire band (but we know better).

Artist:    Three Man Army
Title:    Let's Go Get Laid
Source:    German import CD: 3
Writer(s):    Adrian Gurvitz
Label:    Revisited
Year:    Recorded 1974, released 2004 (dates approximate)
    The Gurvitz brothers, Adrian and Paul, got their first taste of international fame as two thirds of the band Gun, whose Race With The Devil was a monster hit in Germany and the UK, among other places. Following the breakup of Gun, the brothers went their separate ways for a year or so, reuniting in 1971 to form Three Man Army. The first album featured three different drummers, but the next two featured the talents of Tony Newman, formerly of the Jeff Beck Group. Plans for a fourth album were shelved when Newman left the group, to be replaced by Ginger Baker (prompting a name change to Baker-Gurvitz Army), but not until several tracks had already been recorded. Those tracks remained unreleased until 2004, when a German label released 3 (so named because it was the third album to feature Newman). Probably the best track on the album is Let's Go Get Laid. I'll leave it to you to figure out what the song is about.

Artist:    Crosby, Stills And Nash
Title:    Wooden Ships
Source:    CD: Crosby, Stills And Nash
Writer(s):    Crosby/Stills/Kantner
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    Among the various legendary characters on the late 60s San Francisco music scene, none is more reviled than Matthew Katz. His mistreatment of It's A Beautiful Day is legendary. Just about every band he managed was desperate to get out of their contract with him, including Moby Grape and Jefferson Airplane. In fact, it was because of the Airplane's fight to get out from under Katz's thumb that Paul Kantner did not get a writing credit for Wooden Ships on the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album. David Crosby had this to say on the matter: "Paul called me up and said that he was having this major duke-out with this horrible guy who was managing the band, and he was freezing everything their names were on. 'He might injunct the release of your record,' he told me. So we didn’t put Paul’s name on it for a while. In later versions, we made it very certain that he wrote it with us. Of course, we evened things up with him with a whole mess of cash when the record went huge." Although Jefferson Airplane eventually won their battle with Katz, others weren't so fortunate. Katz's San Francisco Sound still owns the rights to recordings by Moby Grape and It's A Beautiful Day, which explains why it's so hard to find quality copies of those recordings these days. Anyone want to take a guess how much the surviving members of those bands receive in royalties from the CD reissues of their albums? (Hint: at least one member of Moby Grape was known to have been living under a bridge at one point).

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    Home At Last
Source:    CD: Aja
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagen
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1977
    Walter Becker gets a chance to shine as solo lead guitarist on Home At Last, Steely Dan's take on the Odyssey from the 1977 album Aja. I think that pretty much covers it.

Artist:    Moby Grape
Title:    Never
Source:    LP: Grape Jam
Writer(s):    Bob Mosley
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    For their second album, Moby Grape decided to do something different. In addition to the LP Wow, there was a second disc called Grape Jam included for a minimal extra charge. For the most part Grape Jam is exactly what you'd expect: a collection of after-hours jam sessions with guest guitarist/keyboardist Michael Bloomfield. The opening track of Grape Jam, however, is actually a composition by Bob Mosley. The song features Mosley on bass and vocals, Jerry Miller and Skip Spence and guitars and Don Stevenson on drums, all of whom were actual members of Moby Grape.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    When The Music's Over
Source:    CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: Strange Days)
Writer:    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    I remember the first time I heard When The Music's Over. My girlfriend's older brother had the new Doors album on the stereo in his room and told us to get real close to the speakers so we could hear the sound of a butterfly while he turned the volume way up. What we got, of course, was a blast of "...we want the world and we want it now." Good times.

Artist:    J. Geils Band
Title:    Whammer Jammer
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Juke Box Jimmie
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    First they were a Boston bar band called Snoopy and the Sopwith Camel. Then they became the J. Geils Blues Band. Finally they dropped the "blues" from the name and became famous. Whammer Jammer, an early B side showcasing "Magic Dick" Salwitz on lead harmonica, shows why the "blues" part was there in the first place.

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