Sunday, September 13, 2020

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2038 (starts 9/14/20)

    Although this week's show begins and ends with fairly short hit singles (the Grateful Dead's Truckin' and Badfinger's Baby Blue), the real stars are the three extended pieces in the middle, from the original Renaissance (featuring Keith Relf on vocals), Captain Beyond and, with an entire album side, Pink Floyd.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Truckin'
Source:    Mono 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s):    Hunter/Garcia/Lesh/Weir
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    The nearest thing the Grateful Dead had to a hit single before 1986 was Truckin', a feelgood tune sung by Bob Weir from the Workingman's Dead album. I actually have a video clip on DVD of the band doing the song live on some TV show.

Artist:    Randy California
Title:    Day Tripper
Source:    European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Kapt. Kopter And The (Fabulous) Twirly Birds)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Sony Music (original US label: Epic)
Year:    1972
    In 1972, with his band Spirit having fallen apart (temporarily as it turned out), guitarist Randy California released his first solo LP, Kapt. Kopter And The (Fabulous) Twirly Birds, on which he also sang lead vocals. The album contained a mix of original tunes and covers, of which Day Tripper was the most recognizable. Indeed, one of the primary criticisms of the album was the fact that most of the cover songs sounded like jams on the songs' main riffs rather than actual arrangements.

Artist:     Renaissance
Title:     Bullet
Source:     LP: Renaissance
Writer:     Relf/McCarty/Hawken/Cennamo
Label:     Elektra
Year:     1969
     One of the many bands of the mid-70s that incorporated classical and jazz influences, Renaissance is best known for songs such as Northern Lights and Mother Russia. What most people are not aware of, however, is that Renaissance was originally formed by former Yardbirds members  Keith Relf and Jim McCarty. Although Relf never played guitar onstage with the Yardbirds (understandable given the presence of the like of Clapton, Beck and Page), with Renaissance he showed that he had learned a thing or two from his talented former bandmates. Renaissance in its original incarnation also boasted the presence of an outstanding keyboardist, John Hawken (formerly of the Nashville Teens) and a virtuoso bassist (Louis Cennamo), whose skill on the instrument was on a par with Jefferson Airplane's Jack Casady.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Shine On You Crazy Diamond (parts 1-5)/Welcome To The Machine
Source:    CD: Wish You Were Here
Writer(s):    Gilmour/Wright/Waters
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1975
    You're Pink Floyd. You've spent the last year touring in support of one of the greatest albums ever recorded (Dark Side Of The Moon). So what do you do for an encore? This was the situation Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Rick Wright and Nicky Mason found themselves in as 1974 came to a close. They had already begun to toss around ideas for a new album, but nothing seemed to be jelling. And then Gilmour, quite by accident, came up with a four-note guitar sequence that made Waters think of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's original driving force who has succumbed to mental health problems seven years earlier and had been replaced by Gilmour midway through recording sessions for the band's second LP. This led to the composition of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, a nine-part piece that bookends the entire album. The first five parts, including Waters's heartfelt lyrics written directly to Barrett, appear on the album's first side, followed by Welcome To The Machine, a song that expresses Waters's own feelings about the music business and his place in it. Although the band itself had a difficult time getting the album started, Wish You Were Here ultimately became one of their finest creations, and has been cited by both Gilmour and Wright as being their favorite Pink Floyd LP.

Artist:    Captain Beyond
Title:    Thousand Days Of Yesterday (intro)/Frozen Over/Thousand Days Of Yesterday (Time Since Come And Gone)
Source:    LP: Captain Beyond
Writer(s):    Evans/Caldwell
Label:    Capricorn
Year:    1972
    The first thing you notice when you look at the credits for the first Captain Beyond album is that all the songs were composed by vocalist Rod Evans (formerly of Deep Purple) and drummer Bobby Caldwell. This may seem odd, considering how the entire album, including songs like Thousand Days Of Yesterday and Frozen Over, which open side two of the LP, are so completely dominated by the guitar work of Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt and bassist Lee Dorman. It turns out that, in spite of the official credits, all the songs on the album were actually written by the entire band. So how did the blatant misrepresentation come about? Actually, it's pretty simple. At the time Captain Beyond was formed in 1972, both Reinhardt and Dorman were still officially members of Iron Butterfly, even though that band had actually disbanded following the departure of keyboardist/vocalist Doug Ingle in 1971. Blame the lawyers.

Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Leaf And Stream
Source:    CD: Argus
Writer:    Wishbone Ash
Label:    MCA/Decca
Year:    1972
    One of the first bands ever to feature two lead guitarists was Wishbone Ash. The story goes that following the departure of their original guitarist bassist Martin Turner and drummer Steve Upton auditioned several lead guitarists and got it down to two finalists, Andy Powell and Ted Turner (no relation to Martin), but could not decide between the two. At that point they decided just to keep both of them, and a heavy metal tradition was born. Whether the story is true or not, the two definitely traded off leads for the next three years and five albums, even on relatively quiet songs such as Leaf And Stream from their third LP, Argus. Like the majority of Wishbone Ash tunes from that time period, Leaf And Stream is sung by Martin Turner.

Artist:    Eric Clapton
Title:    Easy Now
Source:    Mono 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Eric Clapton
Label:    Atco
Year:    1970
    When it comes to Eric Clapton's Easy Now (from his first solo album), the word most often used by critics is "underrated". The song was never intended to be a hit single. In fact, it was released as a B side, not once but twice, in 1970 (paired with After Midnight) and 1972 (paired with Let It Rain). Nonetheless, Easy Now holds up better than most of the tracks on the album itself, and has been singled out as one of the best songs Clapton has ever written. The song was also included on the 1972 LP Eric Clapton At His Best.

Artist:    Badfinger
Title:    Baby Blue
Source:    45 RPM single    
Writer(s):    Pete Ham
Label:    Apple
Year:    1972
    The most successful band on the Apple label not to include former members of the Beatles, Badfinger had a string of hit singles in the early 1970s. One of the best of these was Baby Blue, released in 1972. The song, like most Badfinger singles, was written by band member Pete Ham.

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