Sunday, July 19, 2020

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2030 (starts 7/20/20)

    This week we have three sets: one from 1971, one from 1974 and one from a very dark place. And in the midst of it all we have the third chapter of the Firesign Theatre's Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra. It all gets underway with a Welcome from the Who.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Welcome
Source:    CD: Tommy
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1969
    The Who's landmark Tommy album has plenty of well known tunes on it, including the top 40 single Pinball Wizard and the closing piece We're Not Gonna Take It, with it's famous "See me, feel me" refrain. The album, generally acknowledged as the first rock-opera, tells the story of the rise and fall of Tommy, a savior figure who emerges from a near-catatonic state to become a modern messiah. Welcome, a tune near the end of the album, is a mostly pastoral tune that immediately follow's Tommy's awakening and documents his desire to share what he's learned with anyone who is willing to listen. Of course the entire movement ends up spiraling out of control very quickly, leading to Tommy's downfall.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    Time To Live (alternate version)
Source:    British import CD: Salisbury
Writer(s):    Box/Byron/Hensley
Label:    Sanctuary
Year:    Recorded 1971, released 2003
    For their second LP, Salisbury, Uriah Heep attempted to explore new ground while maintaining their "heavy" image established on their first effort. For the most part they succeeded. One of the heavier tunes on the album, Time To Live, was actually put together in the recording studio itself, and tells the story of a man being released from prison after serving a 20-year sentence. Obviously, the song was not written from personal experience, since the band members were all in their early 20s at the time. The alternate version of Time To Live heard here was mixed and edited for a possible single release, but never issued. Oddly enough, it is actually about 15 seconds longer than the LP version.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Fireball
Source:    LP: The Very Best Of Deep Purple (originally released on LP: Fireball)
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    Fireball was the first Deep Purple album to top the British charts, hitting the #1 spot in several European countries as well. In North America the album was not quite as popular, peaking at #32 in the US and #24 in Canada. The album's title track is somewhat unusual for a Deep Purple song, as it does not feature a Ritchie Blackmore guitar solo. It does, however, feature a solo from bassist Roger Glover. The song is somewhat notorious for its use of a "special" synthesizer at the beginning and end of the track, that turned out to be a recording of the studio's air conditioning unit being turned on. The song was also released as a single on both sides of the Atlantic, albeit with different B sides, going into the top 20 in the UK.

Artist:    Atomic Rooster
Title:    A Spoonful Of Bromide Helps The Pulse Go Down
Source:    Russian import CD: In Hearing Of
Writer(s):    Vincent Crane
Label:    Castle (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1971
    Atomic Rooster began as a fairly typical British progressive rock band, but by their third LP, In Hearing Of, were starting to move into new territority as a progressive jazz/rock/funk fusion band. Guitarist John Du Cann had been asked to leave the band following the release of their second album, leaving keyboardist Vincent Crane as the architect of the band's sound. A good example of that sound is the instrumental track A Spoonful Of Bromide Helps The Pulse Go Down.

Artist:    Eric Clapton
Title:    Mainline Florida
Source:    CD: 461 Ocean Boulevard
Writer(s):    George Terry
Label:    Polydor (original label: RSO)
Year:    1974
    In early 1974, following a three-year bout with heroin addiction, Eric Clapton decided to get his career back on track and began working on 461 Ocean Boulevard, his first studio LP since the 1970 album Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek And The Dominos. One of the first things he did was hire guitarist George Terry to be in his new band. Terry had been the featured guitarist with a South Florida band called Game, releasing two albums in the early 1970s, as well as playing with several other local groups. He was also a pretty decent songwriter, as can be heard on Mainline Florida, the final track on 461 Ocean Boulevard. Terry would also write one of Clapton's biggest hits, Lay Down Sally, later in the decade, as well as becoming an in-demand studio guitarist, working with such diverse artists as Kenny Rogers, the Bee Gees and Stephen Stills.

Artist:    Firesign Theatre
Title:    Part One: London; Chapter 3: Where There's Smoke, There's Work
Source:    LP: The Tale Of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra
Writer(s):    Procter/Bergman/Austin/Ossman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1974
    Chapter three of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra introduces us to Jonas Acme, the "Pharaoh of American Industry", and some of his associates, including Senator Charles Foster Dudley and Boyle M. Owl, president of the Bowel Oil Company. As Acme is revealing his grand plan to corner the market on pig oil, he is interrupted by The Electrician, the mysterious villain introduced in the previous chapter.

Artist:    Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Title:    Givin' It All Away
Source:    LP: Not Fragile
Writer(s):    Blair Thornton
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1974
    The third Bachman-Turner Overdrive album, Not Fragile, featured the debut of "second lead guitarist" Blair Thornton to the band. It was also the group's most successful LP, eventually achieving triple platinum status. Thornton's guitar work is featured prominently on the album, particularly on tracks that Thornton himself wrote, including Givin' It All Away, which closes out side two of the LP.

Artist:    Fairport Convention
Title:    Matty Groves
Source:    LP: Liege And Lief
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Fairport Convention
Label:    A&M
Year:    1969
    Britain's Fairport Convention was quite prolific in 1969, releasing no less than three LPs that year. The last of these was Liege And Lief, considered by some to be the greatest British folk-rock album ever made. The album is notable for several reasons, including the fact that it was the group's first album to consist entirely of rocked out adaptations of traditional British folk tunes such as Matty Grove, along with a handful of original compositions done in a similar style. It was also the first Fairport Convention album to feature guitarist Martin Carthy (who had made a guest appearance on the band's previous album, Unhalfbricking) and drummer Dave Mattacks as full-time members. Finally, Liege And Lief was the last Fairport album to feature vocalist Sandy Denny and bassist Ashley Hutchings, both of whom lef to form their own British folk-rock bands (Fotheringay and Steeleye Span, respectively). Like many British folk songs, Matty Grove tells the somewhat morally ambiguous tale of a low-born rascal who beds the wife of his Duke, only to have said Duke catch them in the act, killing them both. Trust me, it sounds better coming from Fairport Convention that it does me.
Artist:    Roy Buchanon
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    CD: The Best Of Roy Buchanon (originally released on LP: That's What I'm Here For)
Writer(s):    Billy Roberts
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1973
    Roy Buchanon laid down a guitar track on his 1953 Fender Telecaster that can only be described as "blistering" for his rendition of the Billy Roberts classic Hey Joe on his 1973 album That's What I'm Here For. Like Tim Rose and Jimi Hendrix, Buchanon chose to go with the slower arrangement of the tune rather than the fast-paced version made famous by bands like Love, the Byrds and the Leaves in the mid 1960s.

Title:    Down By The River
Source:    CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    Down By The River is one of four songs on the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere that Neil Young wrote while running a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (that's 39.5 degrees for people in civilized nations that use the Celsius, aka centrigrade, scale). By some strange coincidence, they are the four best songs on the album. I wish I could have been that sick in my days as a wannabe rock star.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Hey, Hey, What Can I Do
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Page/Plant/Bonham/Jones
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    In their entire existence Led Zeppelin only issued one non-album track. Hey, Hey, What Can I Do was originally released as the B side of Immigrant Song in 1970, and was included on a British anthology album called the New Age Of Atlantic the following year. The song was not available in any other form in the US until 1990, when it was included in the first Led Zeppelin box set. It has since been made available as a bonus track on the Led Zeppelin III CD.

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