Sunday, January 26, 2020

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2005 (starts 1/27/20)

    One hallmark of early to mid 1970s FM rock radio was its free-form nature. As often as not, the DJ would not know for sure what the next song would be until the current song was already in progress. This week's show is an example of that kind of seat-of-the-pants programming that has been for the most part replaced by computer-generated playlists on most stations.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Five To One
Source:    CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: Waiting For The Sun)
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1968
    Despite the fact that it was the Doors' only album to hit the top of the charts, Waiting For The Sun was actually a disappointment for many of the band's fans, who felt that the material lacked the edginess of the first two Doors LPs. One notable exception was the album's closing track, Five To One, which features one of Jim Morrison's most famous lines: "No one here gets out alive".

Artist:    Iron Butterfly
Title:    Iron Butterfly Theme
Source:    LP: Evolution-The Best Of Iron Butterfly (originally released on LP: Heavy)
Writer(s):    Doug Ingle
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    Although much of the material on the first Iron Butterfly album, Heavy, has a somewhat generic L.A. club sound to it, the final track, the Iron Butterfly Theme, sounds more in line with the style the band would become known for on their In-A-Gadda-Vida album a few months later.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Have A Cigar
Source:    CD: Wish You Were Here
Writer(s):    Roger Waters
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1975
    Yeah, I know I played this just last week. You see, for a variety of reasons I decided to take a week off and use a backup show that I recorded a few months ago that just happened to include this track. Hey, it's a good song, right? See last week's listing for additional information.

Artist:    Blue Cheer
Title:    Peace Of Mind
Source:    LP: New Improved Blue Cheer
Writer(s):    Randy Holden
Label:    Philips
Year:    1969
    Following the release of the second Blue Cheer album, guitarist Leigh Stephens left the group with several unfullfilled stage commitments. To meet these obligations, the remaining band members brought in Randy Holden, formerly with a group called the Other Half, who, like Blue Cheer, had a reputation for being one of the loudest bands on the San Francisco music scene. At first, it seemed like a good fit, and in some ways a step forward for the band, as Holden was also a pretty decent songwriter, as can be heard on Peace Of Mind, from the band's third LP, New Improved Blue Cheer. Holden, however, abruptly left Blue Cheer midway though production of the album and only appears on side two of the original LP.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    I Don't Have To Sing The Blues
Source:    CD: Closer To Home
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    Capitol Records may not have had the most artists on their roster in the 60s and early 70s, but they did have some of the biggest names. In the early 60s the Beach Boys were undisputably the most successful surf group in the world. Then came the Beatles. In the early 1970s it was Flint, Michigan's Grand Funk Railroad, who, despite being universally panned by the rock press, consistently sold out the largest venues in the history of rock music, pretty much single-handedly creating arena rock in the process (they were too loud to play anyplace smaller than sports arenas). The power trio of Mark Farner (guitar), Mel Schacher (bass) and Don Brewer (drums) hit their commercial stride in 1970, when all three of their studio albums (the first two of which were released the previous year), as well as their first live album, went gold in the same year. The last of these was Closer To Home, which included their first bonafide radio hit, I'm Your Captain. Among the other notable tracks on Closer To Home is I Don't Want To Sing The Blues, a song whose lyrics incurred the ire of feminists everywhere. The band, of course, took the criticism in stride, having learned early on that bad press is better than no press at all.

Artist:     Jo Jo Gunne
Title:     Run Run Run
Source:     45 RPM single (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:    Butterfield Blues Band
Title:    Everything's Gonna Be Alright
Source:    CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On-Back To Yasgur's Farm (originally released on LP: Woodstock 2)
Writer(s):    Walter Jacobs
Label:    Rhino (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1969
    The Butterfield Blues Band had already gone through several personnel changes by the time they played the Woodstock festival in August of 1969. They had also evolved stylistically, adding a horn section and, for the most part, moving away from the long improvisational jams that had characterized their landmark 1966 LP East-West. Those elements were not entirely gone, however, as their nine minute long performance of Walter Jacobs' Everything's Gonna Be Alright amply demontrates. In addition to a Butterfield harmonica solo to start things off, the piece showcases the talents of new guitarist Buzzy Feiten.

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    Deacon Blues
Source:    CD: Aja
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagen
Label:    MCA  (original label: ABC)
Year:    1977
    Described as "among the most melodic and existential...midlife crisis songs" by no less an authority than the Wall Street Journal, Steely Dan's Deacon Blues still stands as one of the best-produced songs in the history of recorded music. In fact, the album it was from, Aja, won the 1977 Grammy Award for best engineered non-classical recording, and is often cited as one of the best records for audiophiles to test their equipment on. According to Walter Becker, the song's lyrics are meant to convey "a broken dream of a broken man living a broken life".

Artist:    Eric Clapton
Title:    Let It Rain
Source:    CD: The Best Of Eric Clapton (originally released on LP: Eric Clapton)
Writer(s):    Bramlett/Clapton
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    Following the breakup of Blind Faith in 1969, Eric Clapton attempted to lower his profile by touring as a member of Delaney And Bonnie (Bramlett) And Friends. Still, he was Eric Clapton, and there was no way his fans or his record company were going to treat him like an anonymous sideman. As a result, the live album released by Delaney And Bonnie And Friends in early 1970 was titled On Tour With Eric Clapton. Nonetheless, the influence the Bramletts had on Clapton was evident on his self-titled solo LP, released later the same year. Many of the same musicians participated in the making of the album and in fact would continue to work with Clapton in his next band, Derek And The Dominos. More than half of the songs on the album were co-written by one or both of the Bramletts, including Let It Rain, which originally was called She Rides and had entirely different lyrics by Bonnie Bramlett. Let It Rain, released in 1972 as a five-minute long single, features a guest appearance on guitar by Stephen Stills, as well as an extended solo by Clapton himself.

Artist:    Stevie Wonder
Title:    Superstition
Source:    LP: Talking Book
Writer(s):    Stevie Wonder
Label:    Tamla
Year:    1972
    Superstition was not originally meant to be a Stevie Wonder hit record. The song was actually written with the intention of giving it to guitarist Jeff Beck, in return for his participation of Wonder's Talking Book album. In fact, it was Beck that came up with the song's opening drum riff, creating, with Wonder, the first demo of the song. The plan was for Beck to release the song first as the lead single from the album Beck, Bogert & Appice. However, that album's release got delayed, and Motown CEO Barry Gordy Jr. insisted that Wonder go ahead and release his own version of the song first, as Barry saw the song as a potential #1 hit. It turned out Gordy was right, and Superstition ended up topping both the pop and soul charts in 1973, doing well in other countries as well. A 1986 live version of the song by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble continues to get a lot of airplay on classic rock radio.

1 comment: