Sunday, March 15, 2020

Rockin' in the Days Of Confusion # 2012 (starts 3/16/20)

    This week, Rockin' in the Days of Confusion is back in (free)-form, as we abandon all semblance of structure in favor of letting the songs flow into each other. How well that works is a matter of perception: Yours.

Artist:    Free
Title:    Wishing Well
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM promo single (from LP: Heartbreaker)
Writer(s):    Rodgers/Kirke/Yamauchi/Bundrick/Kossoff
Label:    Island
Year:    1972
    The final album from Free featured a somewhat altered lineup from their previous albums. Bassist (and one of the band's primary songwriters) Andy Fraser had already left the band, while guitarist/keyboardist Paul Kossoff was often incapacitated due to his Quaalude addiction. As a result, several guest musicians, as well as a couple of more permanent replacement members, make an appearance on Heartbreaker. With Fraser gone, lead vocalist Paul Rodgers took on the bulk of the band's songwriting duties, although the official writing credit on several tracks, including the single Wishing Well, went to the entire band membership. Following a US tour (without Kossoff), the band finally called it quits, with Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke remaining together to form a new band, Bad Company.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Winter And My Soul
Source:    CD: Grand Funk
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
     It was 1969, and there were only three bands in the entire world recording the kind of music that would come to be called heavy metal. Two of those groups, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, were British. The third was Grand Funk Railroad. Hailing from Flint, Michigan, GFR had evolved out of popular local band Terry Knight And The Pack. Unlike the Pack, Grand Funk Railroad was built around the song ideas of guitarist/vocalist Mark Farner and, to a lesser degree in the early days, drummer Don Brewer. The power trio was completed by bassist Mel Shacher, the only member of the group that had not been a member of the Pack (although he, being younger than Farner and Brewer, had been an enthusiastic fan of the earlier band). Terry Knight himself was the band's producer, and together they made rock history, almost single-handedly creating the arena-rock phenomenon. Grand Funk (aka the Red Album) the group's second LP in six months, was recorded in a week, with all of the songs well rehearsed before the band even entered the studio. Winter In My Soul, which opens the LP's second side, is an excellent example of this. The song starts with a strong guitar riff which is quickly taken up by bass and drums before giving way to the tune's first vocal section, in which Mark Farner sings a somewhat bluesy riff in harmony with his guitar (no mean feat, considering it was done "live in the studio"). From there the song goes through several tempo and time signature changes before ending up rocking out hard and fast.
Artist:    Humble Pie
Title:    Shine On
Source:    CD: Rock On
Writer(s):    Peter Frampton
Label:    A&M
Year:    1971
    Humble Pie's fourth album, Rock On, was the last to feature guitarist/vocalist Peter Frampton, who wrote the album's lead single, Shine On. The song later became a staple of Frampton's live performances and was included on his most popular solo album, Frampton Comes Alive.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Dear Mr. Fantasy
Source:    CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: Heaven Is In Your Mind, aka Mr. Fantasy)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi/Wood
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1967
            Steve Winwood is one of those artists that has multiple signature songs, having a career that has spanned decades (so far). Still, if there is any one song that is most  closely associated with the guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist, it's Dear Mr. Fantasy from Traffic's 1967 debut LP Mr. Fantasy. The album was originally released in a modified version in the US in early 1968 under the title Heaven Is In Your Mind, but later editions of the LP, while retaining the US track order and running time, were renamed to match the original British title.

Artist:    Canned Heat
Title:    Human Condition
Source:    CD: The Very Best Of Canned Heat (originally released on CD: Uncanned)
Writer(s):    Canned Heat
Label:    Capitol (original label: EMI)
Year:    Recorded 1970, released 1994
    Human Condition was the name of Canned Heat's 1978 LP for the Takoma label. By that point only Robert Hite and Fito De La Parra were left from the band's classic lineup, and the album itself went largely unnoticed. This was not the first time that the band had recorded the title track itself, however. In 1994, a 1970 recording of Human Condition surfaced on the band's greatest hits collection Uncanned! The Best Of Canned Heat. Although it's not clear whether Henry Vestine or Harvey Mandel plays guitar on the recording, most of the members of the original band, including Robert Hite and Al Wilson, were present.

Artist:    Frank Zappa
Title:    Stink-Foot
Source:    CD: Apostrophe (')
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:    Zappa (original label: Discreet)
Year:    1974
    Recorded at the same time as the Mothers' Over-Nite Sensation, Apostrophe (') is one of the most popular albums in the Frank Zappa catalog. Much of this popularity is attributable to a combination of Zappa's prodigious guitar work, along with his unique sense of humor, both of which are in abundance on the final track of the album, Stink-Foot.

Artist:    Miles Davis
Title:    John McLaughlin
Source:    European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Bitches Brew)
Writer(s):    Miles Davis
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    Miles Davis broke just about every rule in the jazz world with his 1970 album Bitches Brew. One of the stranger examples of this is the fact that he doesn't actually play on John McLaughlin, the final track on side three of the double-LP. The track, written by Davis, includes several musicians who would become some of the biggest stars of the jazz fusion movement, including Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Billy Cobham and, of course, John McLaughlin himself.
Artist:    Rare Earth
Title:    No. 1 Man
Source:    LP: Ecology
Writer(s):    Tom Baird
Label:    Motown (original label: Rare Earth)
Year:    1971
    Although not as well known as Norman Whitfield, Barret Strong or the Holland brothers, Tom Baird was one of the most prolific staff songwriter/producers at Motown from about 1969 on, which coincided with the rise in popularity of the band Rare Earth. In fact, Baird wrote much of the band's material, including No. 1 Son, from the 1970 LP Ecology. Baird would continue with the label throughout the 1970s, writing hit songs for many of Motown's most popular artists.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    No One To Depend On
Source:    LP: Santana (III)
Writer(s):    Carabella/Escobida/Rolie
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    Santana's third LP (which like their debut LP was called simply Santana), was the last by the band's original lineup. Among the better-known tracks on the LP was No One To Depend On, featuring a guitar solo by teen phenom Neal Schon (who would go on to co-found Journey).

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Funk #48
Source:    LP: The Best Of The James Gang (originally released on LP: Yer' Album)
Writer(s):    Walsh/Fox/Kriss
Label:    ABC (original label: Bluesway)
Year:    1969
    Cleveland's James Gang was one of the original power trios of the seventies. Although generally known as the starting place of Joe Walsh, the band was actually led by Jim Fox, one of the most underrated drummers in the history of rock. Fox, who was the only member to stay with the group through its many personnel changes over the years, sings lead on Funk # 48 from the band's debut album on ABC's Bluesway label. Yer Album, incidentally, was the only rock LP ever issued on Bluesway, a label better known for recordings by B.B. King such as Lucille and The Thrill Is Gone.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    The Return Of The Giant Hogweed
Source:    CD: Nursery Crymes
Writer(s):    Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford
Label:    Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
Year:    1971
    The Return Of The Giant Hogweed, from the 1971 Genesis album Nursery Cryme, is actually based on a true story about an invasive organism brought to England from Russia in the 1800s. Genesis, thanks in large part to the sense of whimsy brought to the band by their new drummer, Phil Collins, deliberately exaggerated the story, making the Giant Hogweed a threat to civilization as we know it. Nursery Crymes itself, although officially the third Genesis album, was in fact the debut of the band's classic lineup of Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford and new guitarist Steve Hackett, who joined a few months after founding member Anthony Phillips left the group following the release of the Trespass album. This lineup would remain intact until the departure of Gabriel in 1975.


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