Sunday, December 30, 2018

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1901 (starts 12/31/18)

    This week's show is kind of half and half. Most of the first half is made up of tunes that have been played on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion before, while the second half is mostly stuff that has taken a little longer to get around to. Not that that's a bad thing; those "new" tracks include tunes from Badfinger, Queen, Jethro Tull, and Derek and the Dominos among others. We start with a New Year's Revolution, so to speak...

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Revolution 1
Source:    LP: The Beatles
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1968
    The Beatles' Revolution has a somewhat convoluted history. The song, as originally recorded, was over eight minutes long and included what eventually became Revolution 1 and part of Revolution 9. The song's writer, John Lennon, at some point decided to separate the sections into two distinct tracks, both of which (with modifications) ended up on the Beatles self-titled double LP (aka the White Album). Lennon wanted to release Revolution 1 as a single, but was voted down by both George Harrison and Paul McCartney on the grounds that the song's tempo was too slow. Lennon then came up with a faster version of the song, which ended up being released a few weeks before the album came out as the B side to the band's 1968 single Hey Jude. As a result, many of the band's fans erroneously assumed that Revolution 1 was the newer version of the song.

Artist:    Premiati Forneria Marconi
Title:    Celebration
Source:    Italian import CD: Photos Of Ghosts
Writer(s):    Mussida/Pagani/Sinfield
Label:    RCA
Year:    1973
    The most popular song in the PFM catalogue, Celebration is a re-recording of a song called E Festa from the band's 1971 debut album, Storia di un minuto. The 1973 Photos Of Ghosts recording of Celebration features all new lyrics by Peter Sinfield, who was also working with Emerson, Lake And Palmer, who had signed PFM to their Manticore label for their US releases. Photos Of Ghosts was the first of those releases, and became the first album by an Italian band to crack the Billboard 200 album chart.

Artist:     Jo Jo Gunne
Title:     Run Run Run
Source:     45 RPM single (stereo promo)
Writer:     Ferguson/Andes
Label:     Asylum
Year:     1972
     After Spirit called it quits following the disappointing sales of the Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, lead vocalist Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes hooked up with Andes's brother Matt and William "Curly" Smith to form Jo Jo Gunne. Their best known song was Run Run Run, which hit the British top 10 and the US top 30 in 1972, receiving considerable amount of airplay on progressive rock stations as well.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Space Child/When I Touch You
Source:    CD: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus
Writer(s):    Locke/Ferguson
Label:    Epic/Legacy
Year:    1970
    Spirit keyboardist John Locke used a combination of piano, organ and synthesizers (then a still-new technology) to set the mood for the entire Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus recording sessions with his instrumental piece Space Child. The tune starts with a rolling piano riff that gives bassist Mark Andes a rare opportunity to carry the melody line before switching to a jazzier tempo that manages to seamlessly transition from a waltz tempo to straight time without anyone noticing. After a short reprise of the tune's opening riff the track segues into Jay Ferguson's When I Touch You, a song that manages to be light and heavy at the same time.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    L.A. Woman
Source:    CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: L.A. Woman)
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1971
    Ray Manzarek became justifiably famous as the keyboard player for the Doors. Before joining up with Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger and John Densmore, however, Manzarek was already making a name for himself as an up-and-coming student filmmaker at UCLA. Although he didn't have much of a need to pursue a career in films once the Doors hit it big, he did end up producing and directing an outstanding video for the title track of the 1971 album L.A. Woman years after the band had split up. I only mention this because, really, what else can I say about a song that you've probably heard a million times or so?

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Killing Floor
Source:    CD: Live At Monterey
Writer(s):    Chester Burnett
Label:    Experience Hendrix/ume
Year:    1967
    The first song played by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in the US was not written by Hendrix. Rather, it came from the fertile imagination of one Chester Burnett, better known as Howlin' Wolf. Hendrix, however, put his own stamp on the blues classic, giving it a manic energy that even Wolf would have found impressive.

Artist:    Janis Joplin
Title:    Cry Baby
Source:    LP: Pearl
Writer(s):    Ragovoy/Berns
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1971
    Janis Joplin's only hit single with Big Brother and the Holding Company was Piece Of My Heart, a song written by legendary songwriters Jerry Ragavoy and Bert Berns. For her 1971 album Pearl, Joplin went with an earlier collaboration between the two that had originally been a hit in the early 60s for Garnet Mimms. Within a few months Cry Baby had become so thoroughly identified with Joplin that few even remembered Mimms's version of the song.

Artist:    Derek And The Dominos
Title:    Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
Source:    CD: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs
Writer(s):    Jimmie Cox
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    After seeing the Allman Brothers Band in concert, Eric Clapton invited Duane Allman to an after-hours jam session at which the two guitarists hit it off immediately. Clapton then asked Allman to join him in the studio, where his new band Derek And The Dominos had just begun recording what would become the double-length album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The first song for the album that Allman played on was Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out, a tune written in 1923 by Jimmie Cox and popularized by Bessie Smith during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The song was recorded in a single take with no overdubs, and contains outstanding guitar solos from both Allman and Clapton.

Artist:    Badfinger
Title:    Baby Blue
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single   
Writer(s):    Pete Ham
Label:    Apple
Year:    1972
    The most successful band on the Apple label not to include former members of the Beatles, Badfinger had a string of hit singles in the early 1970s. One of the best of these was Baby Blue, released in 1972. The song, like most Badfinger singles, was written by band member Pete Ham.

Artist:    Rod Stewart
Title:    Man Of Constant Sorrow
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Rod Stewart
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1969
    Rod Stewart's debut solo album was not a major seller when it was first released in 1969, despite generally favorable reviews from the rock press. One of the stronger tracks on the album was his arrangement of the old folk song Man Of Constant Sorrow. The track was also issued as the B side of the album's second single.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Taxi Grab
Source:    LP: Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young To Die
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1975
    Let's be honest here: much of Jethro Tull's post-Thick As A Brick material is pretty forgettable. That is especially true for their 1975 LP Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young To Die. Apparently the band thought so as well, as only the title track was included on their "M.U." greatest hits collection. Still, there is one other track that stands out from the rest: Taxi Grab.

Artist:    Queen
Title:    Somebody To Love
Source:    LP: A Day At The Races
Writer(s):    Freddie Mercury
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1976
    Queen followed up its massively popular album A Night At The Opera with another LP named for a Marx Brothers film: A Day At The Races. Although the new LP did not have any songs of the caliber of Bohemian Rhapsody (is such a thing even possible?), it did have a solid hit single in Freddie Mercury's Somebody To Love. The song features the same type of multi-tracked harmonies (by Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor) as Bohemian Rhapsody, but done in a gospel choir rather than operatic style. Somebody To Love hit the #2 spot on the British charts, peaking at #13 in the US.

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