Sunday, April 7, 2019

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1915 (starts 4/8/19)

    This week's show is a bit like a box of, I won't go there. I refuse. Nonetheless, enjoy sampling the tunes.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Aqualung
Source:    CD: Aqualung
Writer(s):    Ian & Jennie Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1971
    Arguably Jethro's Tull most popular song, Aqualung was the title track from the band's fourth LP and lifted the group into the ranks of rock royalty. Like nearly all of Tull's catalog, Aqualung was written by vocalist/flautist Ian Anderson, who also played acoustic guitar on the track. The lyrics of the song were inspired by photographs of homeless men taken by Anderson's then-wife Jennie, who received co-writing credits on the piece.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Back Door Man
Source:    LP: The Doors
Writer(s):    Willie Dixon
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    In their early days as an L.A. club band, the Doors supplemented their growing body of original material with covers of classic blues tunes (rather than covers of top 40 hits like many of their contemporaries). Perhaps the best of these was Willie Dixon's Back Door Man, which had been a mid-50s R&B hit for Howlin' Wolf. The Doors themselves certainly thought so, as it was one of only two cover songs on their debut LP (the other being a cabaret tune from the 1930s).

Artist:    Bubble Puppy
Title:    Lonely
Source:    British import CD: A Gathering Of Promises
Writer(s):    Prince/Cox
Label:    Charly (original label: International Artists)
Year:    1968
    The Bubble Puppy came into existence in 1967, when two former members of the legendary Corpus Christie,Texas garage band the Bad Seeds, guitarist Rod Prince and keyboardist/bassist Roy Cox, relocated to San Antonio, recruiting guitarist Todd Potter and drummer Craig Root to form the new band. Success came quickly in the form of the band's very first gig, opening for the Who at the San Antonio Colosseum. After David Fore replaced Root in the band, the group relocated to Austin, where they got a steady gig at the Vulcan Gas Company. By 1968 the Bubble Puppy was traveling all over Texas for gigs, and late in the year got a contract with Houston-based International Artists, a label that had already gained notoriety by signing the 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola. Their first single, Lonely, was released late in 1968, but it was the record's B side, Hot Smoke And Sassafras, that ended up being a surprise top 40 hit. In December of 1968, the band got to work on a full album, A Gathering Of Promises. International Artists failed to get the album out quickly enough to capitilize of the popularity of Hot Smoke And Sassafras, and then further hurt the band's chance of success by refusing to grant licensing rights on the single to Apple Records for European release. By 1970 the band and the label had parted company, with the Bubble Puppy relocating to Los Angeles and changing their name to Demian.

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    Liberation
Source:    CD: The Chicago Transit Authority
Writer(s):    James Pankow
Label:    Rhino (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Liberation, the last track on the Chicago Transit Authority album, was recorded live in the studio in a single take. Stop and think about that for a minute. It was the first time they had ever, as a band, set foot in a recording studio.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Paranoid
Source:    CD: Greatest Hits 1970-1978 (originally released on LP: Paranoid)
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osborne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Rhino/Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    Although it was the last track recorded for Black Sabbath's second album, Paranoid was actually the first song released from the sessions, appearing as a single about six months after the first LP hit the racks. The song, according to bassist Geezer Butler, was recorded as an afterthought, when the band realized they needed a three minute filler piece for the LP. Tony Iommi came up with the basic riff, which Butler quickly wrote lyrics for. Singer Ozzie Osbourne reportedly sang the lyrics directly from the handwritten lyric sheet. Paranoid turned out to be one of Black Sabbath's most popular tunes, and has shown up on several "best of" lists, including VH1's "40 Greatest Metal Songs", where it holds the # 1 spot. In Finland, the song has attained near-legendary status, and the phase "Soittakaa Paranoid!" can often be heard being yelled out from a member of the audience at a rock concert there, regardless of what band is actually on stage (much as "Free Bird" was heard at various concerts in the US throughout the 70s and 80s).

Artist:    Mountain
Title:    Taunta (Sammy's Tune)/Nantucket Sleighride (To Owen Coffin)
Source:    CD: The Best Of Mountain (originally released on LP: Nantucket Sleighride)
Writer(s):    Pappalardi/Collins
Label:    Windfall/Columbia
Year:    1971
    Mountain, formed in 1970, took its name from Leslie West's 1969 solo album, recorded after the guitarist shortened his name from Weinstein following the breakup of the Vagrants. Just as important to the band's sound, however, was Felix Pappalardi, sometimes known as the "fourth member" of Cream. Pappalardi had produced all but the first Cream album, and, along with his wife Janet Collins, helped write some of their best material, including Strange Brew, which opened the second Cream album, Disraeli Gears. As a member of Mountain, Pappalardi played keyboards and bass, as well as singing lead vocals on several of the band's most popular tunes, including Nantucket Sleighride (To Owen Coffin), the title track of Mountain's second LP. The song is based on the true story of the Essex, a whaling ship that was rammed and sunk by a sperm whale in 1820. Owen Coffin, a young seaman on the ship, was killed and eaten by his shipmates following the sinking. The term "Nantucket Sleighride" refers to the experience of being towed along in a boat by a harpooned whale. The song is preceded by a short instrumental piece called Taunta (Sammy's Tune), which was named after Pappalardi's pet poodle.

Artist:    Who
Title:    1921 (aka You Didn't Hear It)
Source:    CD: Tommy
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1969
    Following the release of the 1967 album The Who Sell Out, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltry, John Entwistle and Keith Moon spent a few months touring, returning to the studio in September of 1968 to work on what would become one of the most important albums ever released. Tommy started off as an attempt by guitarist Townshend to translate the teachings of Meher Baba into music, particularly the idea of sound being vibrations that can be felt as well as heard. Townshend, in an interview with Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner, spoke of his new rock opera, tentatively titled Deaf, Dumb and Blind Boy, describing the plot in great detail. The rest of the band was excited about the idea, and work began on the piece in September of 1968. The songs making up Tommy came mostly from Townshend, although John Entwistle and Keith Moon made contributions as well. Some of the songs had already been written, while others, such as 1921 (shown on some liner notes as You Didn't Hear It) were written especially to advance the narrative of the work itself. 1921 is particularly important in that it establishes the defining characteristics of the title character himself, and gives a clue as to how he became that way. The final recordings were made on March 7, 1969, with stereo mixing sessions running through the end of April. The album was finally released on May 17, 1969; three months later the album had sold half a million copies. Tommy has since come to be regarded as a landmark album in the history of rock music.
Artist:    David Bowie
Title:    The Man Who Sold The World
Source:    CD: The Man Who Sold The World
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Mercury)
Year:    1970
    The Man Who Sold The World is the title track of David Bowie's third LP. At the time, Bowie was a relatively obscure artist still looking for an audience and, in his own words, an identity as well. Unlike other Bowie albums, The Man Who Sold The World was released in the US several months earlier than in the UK. The song itself was not considered single material at the time, although it ended up being a surprise hit in the UK for Lulu in 1974, and became popular with a whole new generation when Nirvana released an unplugged version of the tune in 1993. After Bowie signed with RCA, The Man Who Sold The World was re-issued as the B side of Space Oddity in 1972.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    Time To Live
Source:    British import CD: Salisbury
Writer(s):    Box/Byron/Hensley
Label:    Sanctuary (original US label: Mercury)
Year:    1971
    For their second LP, Salisbury, Uriah Heep attempted to explore new ground while maintaining their "heavy" image established on their first effort. For the most part they succeeded. One of the heavier tunes on the album, Time To Live, was actually put together in the recording studio itself, and tells the story of a man being released from prison after serving a 20-year sentence. Obviously, the song was not written from personal experience, since the band members were all in their early 20s at the time.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    Bringing Home The Bacon
Source:    LP: Grand Hotel
Writer:    Brooker/Reid
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1973
    After the departure of lead guitarist Robin Trower, the remaining members of Procol Harum continued to record quality albums such as Grand Hotel, although their airplay was limited to sporadic appearances on the more progressive FM stations. One song that probably should have gotten more attention than it did was Bringing Home The Bacon, from the aforementioned Grand Hotel album. The group would experience a brief return to top 40 radio the following year with the release of their live version of Conquistador, a track that originally appeared on the band's 1967 debut LP.

Artist:    Alice Cooper
Title:    Billion Dollar Babies
Source:    CD: Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Billion Dollar Babies and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Cooper/Bruce/Reggie
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    People tend to forget that Alice Cooper was originally the name of a band rather than an individual. As a band, their best work came from collaboration between the various group members. This was still true in 1973, when the song Billion Dollar Babies became a top 40 hit single. Taken from the album of the same name, the song features guest vocalist Donovan trading off licks with Vince Furnier, who by then had taken Alice Cooper as a stage name. The group would only release one more LP before Furnier left for a solo career, taking the name Alice Cooper with him.

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