Monday, March 4, 2019

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1910 (starts 3/4/19)

    This week's show is made up of three sets. The first features tunes from 1969 (with a bonus Eric Clapton classic thrown in). The second features tracks with a horn section (but starts with a "hornless" version of a track that originally had horns). The third set? That's for you to figure out.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Nothing Is Easy
Source:    European import LP: Stand Up
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1969
    Not long after the release of the first Jethro Tull album, guitarist Mick Abrahams, who was a blues enthusiast, left the group due to musical differences with lead vocalist/flautist Ian Anderson, who favored a more eclectic approach to songwriting. Abrahams's replacement was Martin Barre, who remains a member of the group to this day. One of the first songs recorded with Barre is Nothing Is Easy, a blues rocker that opens side two of the band's second LP, Stand Up. More than any other track on Stand Up, Nothing Is Easy sounds like it could have been an outtake from This Was, the band's debut LP.

Artist:     Bob Seger System
Title:     Tales Of Lucy Blue (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Source:     LP: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Writer:     Bob Seger
Label:     Capitol
Year:     1969
     For many years the only Bob Seger record I owned was the single Ramblin' Gamblin' Man that I bought new in 1969 at the Base Exchange at Ramstein Air Force Base Germany for about 65 cents. The B side was the song Tales of Lucy Blue. After that single disappeared from my collection I never bought another Bob Seger record (although I did score a promo copy of Turn The Page from a radio station I was working at in the mid 90s). More recently I was allowed to pillage the WEOS vinyl archives (found on the Hobart and William Smith campus in a storage area in one of the dorms) and found this copy of the Ramblin' Gamblin' Man album. The cover features a young blond woman dressed in blue satin against a blue background. It turns out that the album (Seger's first) was originally going to be titled Tales of Lucy Blue but was changed at the last minute by the shirts at Capitol in order to capitalize on the popularity of the single that I had bought a copy of. Luckily they didn't change the cover art as well, as a picture of Seger in blue satin probably wouldn't have worked.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Soul Sacrifice
Source:    CD:Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer(s):    Brown/Malone/Rolie/Santana
Label:    Rhino (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1969
    Although this is the original recording of Santana performing Soul Sacrifice at Woodstock, it does not sound quite the same as what you may have heard on the Woodstock original movie soundtrack album. That's because they doctored the recording a bit for the original soundtrack album, adding in audience sounds, including the crowd rain chant that seques into the piece on the original LP. More recent copies of the movie itself sound even more different because the people doing the remastering of the film decided to record new versions of some of the percussion tracks.

Artist:    Eric Clapton
Title:    Lay Down Sally
Source:    CD: The Best Of Eric Clapton (originally released on LP: Slow Hand and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Clapton/Levy/Terry
Label:    Polydor/Chronicles (original label: RSO)
Year:    1977
    By the end of the 1970s Eric Clapton had fully embraced the "Tulsa Sound" pioneered by singer/songwriter J.J. Cale, as can be heard on his 1977 single Lay Down Sally. Clapton gave much of the credit for the song's sound to his backup band, including backup vocalist Marcy Levy and guitarist George Terry, who share writing credit on the song with Clapton.

Artist:    Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield/Barry Goldberg/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title:    Albert's Shuffle
Source:    LP: Super Session
Writer(s):    Bloomfield/Kooper
Label:    Sundazed/Columbia
Year:    1968
    There is no doubt that one of the most important and influential albums of the late 1960s was the Super Session album. Released in 1968, the album was conceived in part because keyboardist/producer Al Kooper felt that Michael Bloomfield had never been recorded in the right context to truly showcase his prowess as a guitarist. Taking advantage of his position as staff producer for Columbia Records, Kooper enlisted  keyboardist Barry Goldberg and bassist Harvey Brooks (both of which had been Bloomfield's bandmates in the Electric Flag), as well as ace studio drummer Eddie Hoh for a series of taped jam sessions. Although Bloomfield himself went AWOL midway through the sessions, the quintet managed to get several outstanding tracks recorded, including Albert's Shuffle, which opens the LP. Over the years Kooper was often asked about his decision to add overdubbed horns to several of the tracks on Super Session, including Albert's Shuffle. By way of reply he prepared a 2002 remix that restored the recordings to their original state and included them as bonus tracks on the remastered CD version of the album, allowing listeners to compare the different versions.

Artist:    Crow   
Title:    Time To Make A Turn
Source:    CD: The Best Of Crow (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Larry Wiegand
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Amaret)
Year:    1969
    Crow is a classic example of a band that came up the honest way, through hard work and steady gigging, but still got screwed in the long run. It started in late 1966, when seven local Minneapolis musicians (many of whom were already veterans on the local music scene) formed a band called South Forty. The band proved popular enough to release an album and a pair of singles on the local Metrobeat label before winning first place in a battle of the bands in September of 1968. The prize was a recording session with Columbia Records in Chicago the following January. South Forty recorded five songs that day, including Time To Make A Turn. Although Columbia decided not to sign the band, the recordings caught the ear of Bob Monaco of Dunwich Productions, which by then had shut down their own record label in favor of shopping bands to major labels such as Atlantic Records (which had distributed Dunwich) and Capitol (which had always had a strong presence in the industrial cities of the Great Lakes region). It was the people from Dunwich that added horns to some of the tunes (including Time To Make A Turn) before taking the tapes to reps from the major labels. At the same time, the band members themselves decided that South Forty sounded too much like the name of a country band, and came up with the name Crow. Eventually the band had to choose between signing with Atlantic (their preference) or Amaret, a new label distributed by Capitol. The Dunwich people felt that the band might by overlooked as just one of many rock bands in the Atlantic stable and talked the band into signing with  Amaret instead, where Crow was indisputably the biggest name on the label. The band released their first LP, Crow Music, in 1969, with Time To Make A Turn as their first single. It was their second single, however, that made the band internationally famous. Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me) was a major success, spawning cover versions by Black Sabbath (their first UK single) and Ike and Tina Turner. The success of the song, however, showed the drawbacks of Dunwich's decision to sign Crow to Amaret, as the label's distribution deal with Capitol was found to be inadequate; the band often played places that did not have any of their records available for sale. Ultimately, Crow joined the ranks of one-hit wonders, despite putting out a series of fine records that deserved a better fate.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Morning Will Come
Source:    CD: The Best Of Spirit (originally released on LP: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus)
Writer(s):    Randy California
Label:    Epic
Year:    1970
    When Lou Adler switched distribution of Ode Records from Columbia to A&M, part of the deal was to sell Spirit's recordings to Columbia's parent company, CBS. CBS then assigned the band to its Epic label, while strongly hinting that if the next album didn't show an improvement in sales over their previous efforts their contract would be terminated. Spirit responded with the 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, widely regarded as their best album. One of the better known songs from Sardonicus is Morning Will Come, a Randy California tune with a strong R&B flavor (including a horn section). Initial sales of the album, however, were not that good, resulting in lead vocalist Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes leaving Spirit to form Jo Jo Gunne the following year.
Artist:    Atomic Rooster
Title:    Devil's Answer (US single version)
Source:    British import CD: In Hearing Of (originally released in US as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    John Du Cann
Label:    Castle (original US label: Elektra)
Year:    1971
    Guitarist/vocalist John Du Cann's tenure with Atomic Rooster was a relatively short one, lasting only from his departure from hsi former band Andromeda in 1970 to shortly before the release of In Hearing Of in 1971. Du Cann's final single with the band, Devil's Answer, was released in advance of the album, and made the UK top 10. For the song's US release, however, bandleader Vincent Crane (formerly of the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown) chose to replace Du Cann's vocals with an overdubbed vocal track from the band's newest member, Pete French, who had been invited by Crane to join the band on the same day that Du Cann had been sacked.

Artist:    America
Title:    Ventura Highway
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Dewey Bunnell
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1972
    The first thing you need to understand about the song Ventura Highway is that there is no such road as "Ventura Highway". There is a Ventura Freeway and a Ventura Boulevard, but no Ventura Highway. So where did Dewey Bunnell of the band America get the title? According to Bunnell himself, it goes back to his childhood, when the family car had a flat tire while traveling down the Pacific Coast Highway near Lompoc, California. As Dewey and his brother waited for their dad to finish changing the tire, Dewey noticed a road sign indicating how far it was to Ventura. The rest of the song's lyrics are mostly based on Bunnell's childhood memories as well.

Artist:    Renaissance
Title:    Ocean Gypsy
Source:    LP: Scheherazade And Other Stories
Writer(s):    Dunford/Thatcher
Label:    Sire
Year:    1975
    Although they are generally perceived as the art-rock band of the 70s with the closest ties to traditional classic music, Renaissance's two most popular albums, including the 1975 release Scheherazade And Other Stories, do not, like their previous LPs, contain any direct quotes from classical pieces. They do, however, contain some excellent tunes like Ocean Gypsy from the Dunford/Thatcher writing team. The song features outstanding vocals from Annie Haslam.

Artist:    Elton John
Title:    Rotten Peaches
Source:    CD: Madman Across The Water
Writer(s):    John/Taupin
Label:    MCA (original label: Uni)
Year:    1971
    Rotten Peaches, from the 1971 album Madman Across The Water, is Elton John's take on life as an inmate in a US state prison. To my knowledge, neither Elton John or his lyricist, Bernie Taupin, had ever been near a US state prison, so I have no idea where this song is coming from.

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