Sunday, April 19, 2020
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2017 (starts 4/20/20)
Well, it's still 4/20, and we've got a smokin' hot mix of tunes. Sorry, couldn't resist. Seriously, though, we've got some good stuff here, like a requested Moody Blues tune, a couple of popular favorites and Jimi Hendrix covering Bo Hansson before anyone outside of Sweden had even heard of Bo Hanssen. Read on...
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Sweet Leaf
Source: LP: Master Of Reality
Label: Warner Brothers
Composed pretty much entirely in the recording studio, Sweet Leaf is Black Sabbath's unapologetic ode to marijuana. The title was inspired by writing on the inside lid of a pack of Irish cigarettes that contained the words "it's the sweetest leaf that gives you the taste". The coughing at the beginning of the track was provided by Tony Iommi, who was caught by surprise at the potency of a joint handed to him by Ozzy Osbourne. And yes, the entire band was stoned when they recorded Sweet Leaf.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Tax Free
Source: CD: South Saturn Delta (originally released on LP: War Heroes)
Label: Experience Hendrix/MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year: Recorded 1968, released 1972
Very few people outside of Sweden have ever heard of Hansson and Karlsson, a pioneering progressive jazz/rock duo consisting of keyboardist Bo Hansson and drummer Janne Carlsson, whose misspelled name appeared on all three of their albums. One person who did hear of them, and even jammed with them after hours in Stockholm, was Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was so impressed with their music that he and his band recorded their own version of Tax Free, a song from the first Hansson and Karlsson LP, Monument. Although the song, recorded during sessions for the Electric Ladyland album, was not used on the album itself, Hendrix completed a master tape with overdubs on May 1, 1968, which was remixed by Eddie Kramer and John Jansen in 1972 for the War Heroes LP.
Artist: Blue Cheer
Title: Fruit & Icebergs/Honey Butter Lover
Source: LP: New! Improved! Blue Cheer
Writer(s): Randy Holden
Following the release of the second Blue Cheer album, Outsideinside, guitarist Leigh Stephens left the band. His replacement was Randy Holden, who had been a member of the Los Angeles underground band The Other Half. Holden did not stay with the band very long, however. In fact, he left halfway through the recording of the band's third album, New! Improved! Blue Cheer, after recording only the three tracks that make up side two of the original LP. Those three tracks, however, are among the best recordings ever made by Blue Cheer. Two of the songs, Fruit & Icebergs and Honey Butter Lover, actually overlap each other to close out the album.
Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Title: Carry On
Source: CD: Déjà Vu
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
Carry On, the opening track from the Crosby, Still, Nash & Young album Déjà Vu, is a Stephen Stills song that incorporates lyrics from an earlier piece, Questions, which appeared on the third Buffalo Springfield album, Last Time Around. The song was the fourth single released from Déjà Vu, but failed to make the top 40 (which only reinforces my belief that top 40 radio had outlived its usefulness by 1970).
Artist: Uriah Heep
Title: Love Machine
Source: British import CD: Look At Yourself
Label: Sanctuary/BMG (original US label: Mercury)
Often used as Uriah Heep's show closer in 1971, Love Machine, a song written by Keyboardist Ken Hensley, guitarist Mick Box and vocalist David Byron, was also used to close out the band's third LP, Look At Yourself. According to the liner notes written by the band itself, the tune "just rocks".
Artist: Deep Purple
Source: Japanese import CD: Made In Japan (bonus track)
Year: Recorded 1972, released 1998
Toward the end of 1971 the members of Deep Purple started thinking about making a live album. At the time such things were still a rarity, and it wasn't until the following summer that they finally made the recordings that would become the double LP Made In Japan. One song that was not on the original album was a hard-rocking cover of Little Richard's Lucille, recorded in Osaka on August 16, 1972. The song was finally included on an expanded CD version of the album in 1998.
Title: Dream Om
Source: CD: Aerosmith
Writer(s): Steven Tyler
My former bandmate and roomate, the late Jeff "Quincy" Adams, was an Air Force brat like me, although my dad was an enlisted man and his father was a full bird colonel. One of the many places Quincy lived was the Boston area. Quincy once told me about this band that had a practice room down the street from where he lived. As an aspiring guitarist himself he would try to check out this band whenever possible, but as a young teenager he was of course too shy to actually approach any of the band members. Quincy, looking back on those times fifteen years later, swore that one of the songs that band was playing was Dream On, a song that was not recorded until 1973, when it came out on the first Aerosmith album. So was that jam band down the street indeed Aerosmith? Could be.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Sea Lion
Source: LP: War Child
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Jethro Tull's 1974 album War Child was a return to shorter songs, following back-to-back albums (Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play) made up of one continous piece each . The album was not, however, a critical success (although it did well enough on the charts to make the reviews somewhat irrelevant). I usually don't give much credence to the rock press, but I had to chuckle at a quote from the Rolling Stone review, which reminded us that "Tull rhymes with dull". In the case of side one of the War Child LP, I have to agree. In fact, the only track on that side of the album that even comes close to the quality of material on 1971's Aqualung album is the final track on the side, Sea Lion, which actually sounds like it could have been a Passion Play outtake. Side two of the original LP, by the way, is much better, with several strong tracks. Why Ian Anderson and the gang chose to put their weakest material up front is anyone's guess, but the band never did regain its earlier popularity, despite an occasional strong tune here and there over the next several years.
Artist: Moody Blues
Title: Lunch Break: Peak Hour
Source: LP: Days Of Future Passed
Label: Deram/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab
Although Rockin' in the Days of Confusion is recorded live in the studio (as opposed to assembled on a computer, as most shows are these days), there is still a problem with getting to requests in a timely manner. Case in point: A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail (through the hermitradio.com website) from a listener who wanted to hear some Moody Blues, including the song Peak Hour from the 1967 album Days Of Future Passed. I had already decided at that point that show # 2016 would be a repeat of last year's Earth Day special, so it was not until April 13 that I was able to include the track on the show. Because of various post-production tasks (including writing this blog), that show won't actually air until the week beginning April 20th. Still, I welcome your requests. Just look for that envelope looking thing in the upper right hand corner of the main hermitradio.com website.
Artist: Al Kooper/Stephen Stills/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title: You Don't Love Me
Source: CD: Super Session
Writer(s): Willie Cobbs
You Don't Love Me was originally recorded and released as a single by Willie Cobbs in 1960. Although the song is credited solely to Cobbs, it strongly resembles a 1955 Bo Diddley B side, She's Fine She's Mine, in its melody, lyrics and repeated guitar riff. The Cobbs single was a regional hit on the Mojo label in Memphis, but stalled out nationally after being reissued on Vee-Jay Records, due to the label pulling promotional support from the song due to copyright issues. A 1965 version by Junior Wells with Buddy Guy saw some minor changes in the lyrics to the song; it was this version that was covered by Al Kooper and Stephen Stills for the 1968 Super Session album. The recording extensively uses an effect called flanging, a type of phase-shifting that was first used on the Jimi Hendrix track Bold As Love.
Artist: Rare Bird
Title: Birdman-Part One (Title #1 Again)
Source: 45 RPM promo (stereo side)
The appropriately named Rare Bird was never very popular in their native England. None of their albums charted there, and they only had one charted single that went to the #27 spot in 1969. They were much more successful in continental Europe, however. That same single, Sympathy, was an international hit, selling a million copies worldwide and hitting the #1 spot in both France and Italy. By the time the Rare Bird's third LP, Epic Forest, was released, the band had gone through several personnel changes, including the loss of the group's founder, keyboardist Graham Field. In the US the band got some airplay on college radio stations, but was virtually ignored by mainstream US listeners. I did manage to find a copy of Birdman-Part One (Title #1 Again), the single from the Epic Forest album in a thrift store many years ago. It's really quite listenable.