Sunday, September 15, 2019

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1938 (starts 9/16/19)

    This week marks the autumnal equinox, and just to be contrary I made sure no two songs on this week's show were exactly the same length (although a couple came pretty close). Included among our 13 songs are long versions of two tunes (one each from Grand Funk Railroad and Jethro Tull) that have made appearances on the show in their shorter single form, and possibly the shortest song (from Crosby, Stills and Nash) to get regularly airplay on FM rock radio in the early 1970s.

Artist:    Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show
Title:    The Cover Of  "Rolling Stone"
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Shel Silverstein
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1972
    Much of the success of Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show can be attributed to one man: Shel Silverstein. In addition to writing nearly every well-known Dr. Hook song, including The Cover Of "Rolling Stone", Silverstein was an accomplished cartoonist, having been published regularly in Playboy since the late 1950s, and prose writer whose works included the children's book The Giving Tree. He also wrote songs for such varied artists as Johnny Cash (A Boy Named Sue), Tompall Glazer (Put Another Log On The Fire) and the Irish Rovers (The Unicorn).

Artist:    Crosby, Stills And Nash
Title:    Marrakesh Express
Source:    CD: Crosby, Stills And Nash
Writer(s):    Graham Nash
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    The first time I ever heard of Crosby, Stills And Nash was on Europe's powerhouse AM station Radio Luxembourg, which broadcast in an American-style top 40 format during the evening and into the early morning hours. As was common on top 40 stations, Radio Luxembourg had a "pick hit of the week", a newly-released song that the station's DJs felt was bound to be a big hit. One night in July of 1969 I tuned in and heard the premier of the station's latest pick hit: Marrakesh Express, by Crosby, Stills And Nash. Sure enough, the song climbed the British charts rather quickly, peaking at #17 (20 positions higher than in the US). The song itself was based on real events that Graham Nash experienced on a train ride in Morocco while still a member of the Hollies. Nash had been riding first class when he got bored and decided to check out what was happening in the other cars. He was so impressed by the sheer variety of what he saw (including ducks and chickens on the train itself) that he decided to write a song about it. The other members of the Hollies were not particularly impressed with the song, however, and its rejection was one of the factors that led to Nash leaving the band and moving to the US, where he hooked up with David Crosby and Stephen Stills. Crosby and Stills liked the song, and it became the trio's first single.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Sugar Magnolia
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Hunter/Weir
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:     1972
            One of the most popular songs in the Grateful Dead catalog, Sugar Magnolia also has the distinction of being the second-most performed song in the band's history, with 596 documented performances. The song, written by Robert Hunter and Bob Weir, first appeared on the 1970 album American Beauty, but was not released as a single. A live version two years later, however, did see a single release, charting in the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Hear Me Calling
Source:    CD: Stonedhenge
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Deram
Year:    1969
    Ten Years After's third album, Stonedhenge, was the band's first real attempt to take advantage of modern studio techniques to create something other than a facsimile of their live performances. Included on the album are short solo pieces, as well as half a dozen longer tracks featuring the entire band. One of the most popular of these full-band tracks is Hear Me Calling, which finishes out side one of the original LP. The song itself follows a simple blues structure, but is augmented by dynamic changes in volume as well as dizzying stereo effects. TYA would continue to develop their studio technique on their next LP, the classic Cricklewood Green.

Artist:    Allman Brothers Band
Title:    Hot 'Lanta
Source:    LP: At Fillmore East
Writer(s):    Allman/Allman/Betts/Trucks/Oakley/Johanson
Label:    Mercury (original label: Capricorn)
Year:    1971
    The only song on the Allman Brothers' landmark album At Fillmore East is Hot 'Lanta, a piece that evolved out of a jam session and was only performed live. The melody line comes from guitarist Dickey Betts, who also contributes a solo, as do fellow guitarist Duane Allman and keyboardist Gregg Allman.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    The Wizard
Source:    CD: Black Sabbath
Writer:    Osborne/Iommi/Butler/Ward
Label:    Warner Brothers/Rhino
Year:    1970
    Often cited as the first true heavy metal album, Black Sabbath's debut LP features one of my all-time favorite album covers (check out the Stuck in the Psychedelic Era Facebook page's Classic Album Covers section) as well as several outstanding tracks. One of the best of these is The Wizard, which was reportedly inspired by the Gandalf character from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    End Of The Night
Source:    LP: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    The Doors first big break came when they opened for Love at L.A.'s most famous club, the Whisky-A-Go-Go, and became friends with the members of the more established popular local band. Love was already recording for Elektra Records, and enthusiastically recommended that the label sign the Doors as well. Elektra did, and the Doors went on to become one of the most successful and influential bands in rock history. Although not as well-known as Light My Fire or The End, the dark and moody End Of The Night is a classic early Doors tune, from the opening bent chords from guitarist Robby Krieger to the spooky keyboard work of Ray Manzarek and of course Jim Morrison's distinctive vocals, all backed up by John Densmore's tastefully understated drumming.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Minstrel In The Gallery
Source:    LP: Minstrel In The Gallery
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1975
    Following the back-to-back album-length works Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play, Jethro Tull returned to recording shorter tunes for the next couple of years' worth of albums. In late 1975, however, they recorded the eight minute long Mistrel In The Gallery for the album of the same name. The song (and album) was a return to the mix of electric and acoustic music that had characterized the band in its earlier years, particularly on the Aqualung and Benefit albums. A shorter version of Minstrel In The Gallery was released as a single and did reasonably well on the charts.

Artist:    Electric Flag
Title:    Earthquake Country
Source:    LP: The Band Kept Playing
Writer(s):    Nick Gravenites
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1974
    The original Electric Flag fell apart fairly quickly, despite universally positive critical reviews from the rock press. It was only natural, then, that they would get together a few years later for a reunion album. This time, though, the critics were not impressed with the results, and the album The Band Kept Playing ended up being a one-off affair. There were some decent tunes on the LP, however, including Nick Gravenites' Earthquake Country.

Artist:    Flo & Eddie
Title:    If We Only Had The Time
Source:    LP: Flo & Eddie (promo copy)
Writer(s):    Kaylan/Volman/Sieter
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1973
    When the Turtles split up, guitarist Mark Volman and lead vocalist Howard Kaylan found themselves in the awkward position of being unable to use their own names professionally, thanks to contractual restrictions imposed on them years before by White Whale Records. So, to keep on performing Volman became The Phlorescent Leech, while Kaylan took the name Eddie. Their first official appearances as The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie were with Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention, including the infamous Live At Fillmore East album.  An onstage accident, however, forced Zappa to temporarily disband the Mothers in 1971. The following year an album called The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie was released, featuring most of the members of the Mothers. This was followed in 1973 by the album Flo & Eddie (The Phlorescent Leech having been deemed to unwieldy a name to continue with), which was released to support the duo's tour as Alice Cooper's opening act. The opening track of that album, If We Only Had The Time, features, in addition to Kaylan and Volman, Gary Rowles on lead guitar and John Herron on keyboards, as well as two former Mothers, bassist Jim Pons (who had also been a member of the Turtles) and drummer Aynsley Dunbar, whose list of credits is about a mile long and still growing.

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    Dirty Work
Source:    CD: Can't Buy A Thrill
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagen
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1972
    When Walter Becker and Donald Fagen first formed Steely Dan their hope was that they could be a successful studio band in the mold of the post-1966 Beatles, without having to actually go on tour. Their record label, however, saw things differently, and insisted that the band begin making plans for touring before even finishing their first LP, Can't Buy A Thrill. This brought to the fore an issue that Fagen in particular had hoped would not become an issue: his own stage fright. Such was his fear of public performance as a vocalist that a second lead singer, David Palmer, was brought in to be the band's front man for live appearances. He ended up singing lead on three of the album's ten tracks as well. Of these, Dirty Work is probably the best known. Fagen, of course, soon got over his stage fright, and Palmer and the band parted company.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Gimme Shelter
Source:    CD: Survival
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1971
    It takes cojones to record a cover version of one of the  Rolling Stones' most popular (and critically acclaimed) songs. It takes even more to do it just two years after the Stones version came out. But then, we are talking about Grand Funk Railroad, who have to be considered one of the most ballsy bands in rock history. Gimme Shelter was actually one of two cover tunes on the band's fourth studio LP, Survival (the other being Feelin' Alright).

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Come On (part one)
Source:    LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s):    Earl King
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    Despite being rated by many as the greatest rock guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix's roots were in the blues. One of his most performed songs was Red House (a track that was left off the US release of Are You Experienced), and the Experience's debut US performance at Monterey featured an amped-up version of the B.B. King classic Rock Me Baby. For the Electric Ladyland album Hendrix chose a relatively obscure tune from Earl King, originally recorded in 1962. Come On (Pt. 1) was one of only two cover songs on Electric Ladyland (the other being Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower).

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