Sunday, October 14, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1842 (starts 10/15/18)

    Once again the emphasis is on bringing you something different. In this case it means that all but three of this week's tracks have never been played on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion before, and the remaining three haven't been played in well over a year. We start with a tune from Motown's psychedelic wing...

Artist:    Undisputed Truth
Title:    Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today)
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Whitfield/Strong
Label:    Gordy
Year:    1971
    Just about everybody is at least somewhat familiar with the Temptations' 1970 hit Ball Of Confusion. What most people don't realize, though, is that the instrumental backing track, performed by Motown's Funk Brothers, originally ran over ten minutes in length, and was cut down to less than four minutes for the Temptations' single version of the song. Now normally, in a case like this the album track would be the full-length version of the song, but, to my knowledge, no such version exists. This is because the only time the Temptations version of the song was released on an LP was on a greatest hits compilation, which of course used the hit single version. The producers of the track, Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, did find a way to get the full-length version of the backing track on vinyl, however, albeit with a different vocal group entirely. The Undisputed Truth was a second-tier Motown group that recorded exclusively for Whitfield and Strong. They had a pretty big hit themselves in the spring of 1971 with a song called Smiling Faces Sometimes, but had been unable to come up with a strong followup single. Their self-titled debut LP, released in July, included the full version of Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today). A slightly edited version running over seven minutes in length was issued as the B side of the single You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell (Right Here On Earth). I don't have a copy of the album (yet), but here, for your enjoyment, is that B side featuring one of the best backing tracks ever recorded by the Funk Brothers. Enjoy!

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Look Into The Sun
Source:    CD: Stand Up
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1969
     The last song recorded for Stand Up, Jethro Tull's second album, Look Into The Sun is basically an acoustic piece with a few embellishments from the band's new electric guitarist, Martin Barre. The song appeared as the last track on side one of the original LP.

Artist:    Sugarloaf
Title:    Mother Nature's Wine
Source:    LP: Spaceship Earth
Writer:    Corbetta/Phillips/Reardon
Label:    Liberty
Year:    1971
    Despite being a better album overall than Sugarloaf's first LP, Spaceship Earth did not sell particularly well, only making it to the #111 spot on the Billboard albums chart. This is probably due to the lack of a hit single on a par with Green-Eyed Lady. Of the two singles that were released from Spaceship Earth, the one more similar in style to Green-Eyed Lady was Mother Nature's Wine. The song stalled out in the # 88 spot however, and Sugarloaf did not have another charted single until 1974, when Don't Call Us, We'll Call You made the top 10.

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    Dialogue (part 1&2)
Source:    45 RPM single edit reissue (original version on LP: Chicago V)
Writer(s):    Robert Lamm
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1972
    In their early days Chicago was one of the more politically-oriented rock bands around. One of the more notable tracks on their first album (Someday) was built around the crowds in Lincoln Park chanting outside the 1968 Democratic convention. The group continued to make political statements for the next few years, although by the time they released their landmark four-disc live album they were firmly in the camp of advocating working within the system as opposed to overthrowing everything and starting over (sort of an evolution over revolution approach). One of the more interesting songs of this type is Dialogue, a condemnation of socio-political apathy that originally appeared on the album Chicago V. The structure of the first half of the record is based on Plato's philosophical dialogues, with one vocalist, Robert Lamm, asking disturbing questions and the other, Peter Cetera, giving answers that are on the surface reassuring but in reality bespeak an attitude of burying one's head in the sand and hoping everything will turn out OK. This shifts into a call for everyone to work together to effect needed changes in the world, with the repeated line "We can make it happen" dominating the second half of the record.

Artist:    Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Title:    Blue Moanin'
Source:    LP: Not Fragile
Writer(s):    C.F. Turner
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1974
    After leaving the Guess Who following the release of their most successful album, American Woman, guitarist Randy Bachman returned to his native Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he hooked up with former Guess Who lead vocalist Chad Allen to form a band called Brave Belt. Bachman had a reputation at the time of being somewhat of a lunatic (in his own words), making it difficult to find musicians willing to work with him. He did manage to recruit his brother Robbie as drummer for the group, which was managed by yet another Bachman sibling, Gary. Randy Bachman played both guitar and bass on the Brave Belt LP, which was not exactly a commercial success. Nonetheless, the band's label, Reprise, wanted the group to tour, so they recruited Winnipegian C.F. "Fred" Turner to play bass on the road. Not long after work began on a second Brave Belt album, Allen left the group, and Turner took over as lead vocalist. Allen's material, which the band continued to play even after his departure, was strongly influenced by American country artists like Buck Owens and Chet Atkins. A strange set of circumstances, however, found them doing hard rock cover songs at a university gig in Thunder Bay, Ontario. It seems the promoter was not particularly impressed with the generally tepid response to Brave Belt's material and decided to replace them with a rock band from Toronto. When the other band cancelled out on him, however, the promoter rehired Brave Belt on the condition that they play covers of songs likje Brown Sugar, All Right Now and even Proud Mary. The band itself was energized by the audience reaction to the performance and decided to start writing their own rock-oriented material.  A new demo tape of what was to be called Brave Belt III found its way to the desk of Mercury Records head Charlie Fach, who liked the new material so much he offered the band a contract under the condition that they come up with a new name. After a bit of brainstorming, the group came up with Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and the band's official first album was released on the Mercury label in 1973. Their most successful album, Not Fragile, was released the following year, and featured the talents of "second lead guitarist" Blair Thornton, who had replaced rhythm guitarist Tim Bachman (yet another sibling). Although Randy Bachman was by far the most well-known member of the band (due to his long association with the Guess Who), Fred Turner's contributions were an important element of the band's success, as can be heard on tracks like Blue Moanin', from Not Fragile. This lineup of the band lasted until 1977, although there was a BTO in existence (in one form or another) until 2005.

Artist:    Jo Jo Gunne   
Title:    Academy Award
Source:    LP: Jo Jo Gunne
Writer(s):    Jay Ferguson
Label:    Asylum
Year:    1972
    Academy Award is the longest track on Jo Jo Gunne's 1972 debut LP. Like most of vocalists Jay Ferguson's compositions, the song is riff-driven, with a melody reminiscent of Ferguson's work with Spirit, which he and bassist Mark Andes had been members of before forming Jo Jo Gunne.

Artist:    Flower Travellin' Band
Title:    Satori-Part V
Source:    British import CD: Satori (originally released in Japan)
Writer(s):    Satori
Label:    Phoenix (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1971
    Possibly the first Japanese heavy metal band and almost certainly the first Japanese psychedelic group, the Flower Travelin' Band was created as a side project of Yuyu Yuchida, a friend of John Lennon's who, having heard Jimi Hendrix and Cream on a trip to England, wanted to introduce Japanese audiences to this new kind of music. After returning to Japan he gathered a group of musicians together and recorded the first Flowerin' Travellin' Band LP in 1969. The album was made up entirely of covers of bands like Cream and Led Zeppelin. It wasn't until 1971 (and several personnel changes) that the FTB recorded their first LP made up entirely of original material. The album was called Satori, as were all five tracks on the album. It was worth the wait.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Lord Of This World
Source:    LP: Master Of Reality
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osbourne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    Black Sabbath continued their winning streak with their third LP, Master Of Reality, in 1971. The album marked the first time that guitarist Tony Iommi deliberately detuned his guitar a step and a half on songs like Lord Of This World in order to ease the pressure on the fingertips of his left hand, which had been damaged in a factory accident years earlier. Bassist Geezer Butler followed step. The result was what Iommi called a "bigger, heavier sound" on songs like Lord Of This World that helped establish Black Sabbath as the kings of heavy metal in the early 1970s.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    In The Rapids/it
Source:    CD: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
Writer(s):    Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford
Label:    Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Atco)
Year:    1974
    The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is considered by many to be the pinnacle of artistic achievement for the band known as Genesis. It was the group's only double-LP studio album (their sixth studio effort overall) and, more importantly, it was Peter Gabriel's final album as a member of Genesis, the group he helped found. The final two tracks on that final effort were among the band's best. Incidentally "it" is deliberately left uncapitilized, as it was on the album itself. In fact, it should be in italics, but the text format I use doesn't have that capability, so you'll just have to use your imagination.

Artist:    Queen
Title:    My Fairy King
Source:    LP: Queen
Writer(s):    Freddie Mercury
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1973
    My Fairy King is the first of a series of songs wriiten by Freddie Mercury concerning the fantasy world of Rhye. Well, technically it was written by Freddie Bulsara, since he ended up taking his stage name from a line in the song itself. It was also the first Queen track to feature Mercury on piano. Brian May, who had played on the song Doing All Right, was reportedly so impressed with Mercury's piano playing on My Fairy King that he turned over all future piano parts to Mercury.

Artist:    Cat Stevens
Title:    Can't Keep It In
Source:    CD: The Very Best Of Cat Stevens (originally released on LP: Catch Bull At Four)
Writer(s):    Cat Stevens
Label:    A&M
Year:    1972
    Despite the lack of a top 10 single (Sitting peaked at #16), Cat Stevens's sixth album, Catch Bull At Four, was one of his most successful, spending three weeks at the top of the Billboard album chart. Can't Keep It In, the final track on side one of the LP, is an example of Stevens in his prime.

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