Sunday, December 15, 2019

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2001 (starts either 12/16/19 or 12/30/19, depending on local station schedule)

    The awkward thing about doing special holiday programming on a syndicated show like Rockin' in the Days of Confusion is that, with different stations running the show on different days of the week, the timing can get a bit inappropriate. Thus, we end up with shows like this one, which, depending on which station you are listening to, you might be hearing anytime from mid-December, 2019 to early January, 2020. Regardless of all that, though, it's a great mix of tunes ranging from 1968 to 1975.

Artist:    Golden Earring
Title:    Radar Love
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Kooymans/Hay
Label:    Track/MCA
Year:    1973
    Formed in The Hague in 1961, the Golden Earrings (they dropped the plural in 1969) released 25 studio albums and took nearly 30 songs into the top 10 over a period of nearly 30 their native Holland. They were completely unknown in the US, however, until 1973, when Radar Love became an international hit. They returned to the US charts in 1982 with Twilight Zone, and had a final international hit in 1984 with When The Lady Smiles, although that song did not do as well in the US as it did elsewhere.

Artist:    Gun
Title:    Sunshine
Source:    German import CD: Gun
Writer(s):    Adrian Gurvitz
Label:    Repertoire (original label: CBS)
Year:    1968
    When I was a junior in high school I switched from guitar to bass to form a three-piece band called Sunn. Mostly what we did was jam onstage, although we did learn a handfull of cover songs as well. One of those songs we actually learned by playing it on the jukebox at the local youth center over and over. A British band called Gun had released a tune called Race With The Devil that caught on quickly with the dependent kids at Ramstein AFB in Germany. None of us, however, actually had a copy of the record. A rival band had already started playing Race With The Devil, so we decided to instead go for the B side, Sunshine. Luckily, the song has few lyrics, and tends to repeat them a lot, so we didn't have to spend a whole lot of nickels to get them all down. Ditto for the musical part, as the song is basically just three chords over and over. Still, it turned out to be one of our most popular numbers, since it was about the only song in our repertoire you could slow dance to. Also, the simple structure allowed Dave, our guitarist, to extend the song as long as he felt like jamming, which was generally all night.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    A Salty Dog
Source:    LP: The Best Of Procol Harum (originally released on LP: Procol Harum
Writer(s):    Brooker/Reid
Label:    A&M
Year:    1969
    Have you ever wondered why FM rock radio came to exist in the first place? After all, up until the late 1960s, top 40 radio seemed to be good enough for anyone wanting to hear the most current music, right? Well, consider the 1969 Procol Harum single A Salty Dog, a nearly five minute long tune taken from the album of the same name. Melody Maker, at the time Britain's most influential music magazine, called the song "one of the greatest pop singles to emerge in recent years", yet the song peaked at only the #44 spot in the UK, and did not make the US charts at all. As to why this might be, the legendary British DJ John Peel had this to say: "A Salty Dog should have done a lot better in fact as a single than it did; unfortunately, seeing as it was longer than two-and-a-half minutes and isn't exactly a bright tempo, a lot of my colleagues won't play it because they feel that more than two-and-a-half minutes without some feeble quip from them is going to make the world a sadder place." I couldn't have put it better myself.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Samba Pa Ti
Source:    LP: Abraxas
Writer(s):    Carlos Santana
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    One of the most enduring tracks from Santana's second LP, Abraxas, Samba Pa Ti starts off as a slow instrumental, slowly picking up the pace and adding percussion to give it a decidedly latin flavor. As far as I know, Carlos Santana still includes Samba Pa Ti in his concert repertoire.

Artist:    Mahogany Rush
Title:    Strange Universe
Source:    Canadian import CD: Strange Universe
Writer(s):    Frank Marino
Label:    Just A Minute (original label: 20th Century)
Year:    1975
    Although there are countless guitarists that have been influenced by Jimi Hendrix in various ways, only one has been able to capture his entire sound from a production as well as performance standpoint. That one is Frank Marino, whose band, Mahogany Rush, has been recording since 1972. A listen to the title track of the 1975 album Strange Universe pretty much proves my point.

Artist:    Lou Reed
Title:    I Love You
Source:    LP: Lou Reed
Writer(s):    Lou Reed
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1972
    I Love You is one of several then-unreleased Velvet Underground songs that were re-recorded for Lou Reed's 1972 solo debut LP. The song, which opens side two of the original LP, features an unlikely array of backup musicians, including guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, both members of Yes at the time.

Artist:    Joni Mitchell
Title:    The Boho Dance/Harry's House/Centerpiece
Source:    LP: The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
Writer(s):    Mitchell/Mandell/Hendricks
Label:    Asylum
Year:    1975
    Although it initially got bad reviews from the rock press (particularly Rolling Stone magazine) Joni Mitchell's seventh LP, The Hissing Of Summer Lawns, has since come to be regarded as a masterpiece. The "centerpiece" (pun intended) of the album is the montage on side two that starts with The Boho Dance (a wry commentary on critics who accuse artists of "selling out") followed by Harry's House, a look at a failing marraige that is highlighted by the use of the jazz standard Centerpiece before returning to Harry's House for the inevitable conclusion of the story.

Artist:    Van Morrison
Title:    Domino
Source:    45 RPM single   
Writer(s):    Van Morrison
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    Van Morrison's solo career got off to a rocky start. After leaving his band Them he signed a contract with the newly formed Bang label without fully understanding what he was getting into. In March of 1967 he recorded eight songs, including Brown Eyed Girl, that he intended to be issued as a series of singles. Instead, the songs were released as an album called Blowin' Your Mind without Morrison's knowledge or consent. Bang Records had been headed by Them's former manager, songwriter Bert Berns, who died suddenly that same year. A dispute with Berns's widow over Morrison's hastily signed contract prevented the singer/songwriter from either performing or recording in the New York area, leading to a move to Boston, where he had trouble getting gigs. Nonetheless, he persevered and ended up signing a contract with Warner Brothers Records, who bought out the remainder of his contract with Bang Records for $20,000 (1967 money). He did, however, still owe Web IV, Berns's publishing company, 31 songs, which he recorded in a single session. None of the recordings were deemed worthy of release, however, and eventually came to be known as the "revenge" songs. Web IV wasn't quite done with Morrison, however. As part of Morrison's release agreement with the publishing company, Web IV would own one half of the copyright to any Morrison song released between September 1968 and September 1969. This prompted  Morrison to hold back the release of what would be his highest charting single, Domino, until 1970, well after the period covered by the agreement. The song also appeared as the opening track on the LP His Band And Street Choir.

Artist:    Crosby, Still, Nash & Young
Title:    Ohio
Source:    CD: Decade (Neil Young anthology)
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1970
    One of the most powerful records to come out of the Nixon years, Ohio was written by Neil Young in response to shooting deaths of four college students by National Guard troops at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Young wrote the lyrics after seeing photos of the incident in Life Magazine. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young recorded the song with their new rhythm section of Calvin Samuels and Johnny Barbata on May 21st. The recording was rush released within a few weeks, becoming a counter-culture anthem and cementing the group's reputation as spokesmen for their generation. Young later referred to the Kent State shootings as "probably the biggest lesson ever learned at an American place of learning," adding that "David Crosby cried when we finished this take." Crosby can be heard ad-libbing "Four, why? Why did they die?" and "How many more?" during the song's fadeout. 

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    Sing A Mean Tune Kid
Source:    LP: Chicago III
Writer(s):    Robert Lamm
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    Before making their first visit to a recording studio, the members of the Chicago Transit Authority had amassed a huge amount of original material. However, with both of their first two albums being double LP sets, they were pretty much tapped out by the time they started working on the album Chicago III. As a result, the album has a broader, more experimental feel (as well as a darker one), right from the opening track, Sing A Mean Tune Kid, which is built around a staggered rhythm pattern similar to the funky music of James Brown. The song was written by keyboardist Robert Lamm, with vocals by bassist Peter Cetera.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Smoke On The Water
Source:    Mono 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1972
    Based on what is quite possibly the most recognizable riff in the history of rock, Smoke On The Water was released in December of 1972 on Deep Purple's Machine Head album. The song became a huge hit the following year when a live version of the tune appeared on the album Made In Japan. For the single release, Warner Brothers chose to pair up edited versions of both the live and studio renditions of the tune on either side of a 45 RPM record. 

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