Sunday, December 27, 2020

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2101 (starts 12/28/20)

    Rockin' in the Days of Confusion starts off 2021 with an hour of free-form rock, including an extended prog-rock piece from Carpe Diem's 1969 debut LP, sent in by a listener. Thanks, Paul!

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    You Just Can't Stop It
Source:    CD: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits
Writer(s):    Patrick Simmons
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1974
    For their fourth album, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, the Doobie Brothers brought in several guest musicians to enhance some of the tracks on the 1974 LP. You Just Can't Stop It, a Patrick Simmons funk-rock hybrid that opens the LP's second side, features, in addition to the actual band members, Bill Payne from Little Feat on Clavinet and Eddie Guzman from Rare Earth on congas as well as the Memphis Horns.

Artist:    Joni Mitchell
Title:    Help Me
Source:    LP: Court And Spark
Writer(s):    Joni Mitchell
Label:    Asylum
Year:    1974
    Following the release of For The Roses in November of1972, Joni Mitchell decided to take an entire year developing her next LP, Court And Spark. The result was an album that successfully combined folk, rock and jazz into a completely original hybrid that was an instant hit with both fans and critics. Court And Spark was voted "Best Album of the Year" in the Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll for 1974 and has gone on to be certified double platinum. The song Help Me, released as a single in March of 1974, became Mitchell's only top 10 hit, going to the #7 spot, and has been covered by several artists since its original release.

Artist:    Mahogany Rush
Title:    Land Of 1000 Nights
Source:    Canadian import CD: Strange Universe
Writer(s):    Frank Marino
Label:    Just A Minute (original label: 20th Century)
Year:    1975
    Formed in Montreal in 1970, Mahogany Rush was, in its early days, a power trio led by guitarist Frank Marino, along with bassist Paul Harwood and drummer Jimmy Ayoub. Marino's style has often been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix, whom Marino cites as a major influence. Perhaps their most successful album was Strange Universe, recorded in Montreal and released on the 20th Century label in 1975. Later in the decade the trio was joined by Marino's brother Vince on rhythm guitar and began touring as Frank Marino And Mahogany Rush.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Our Lady
Source:    Japanese import CD: Who Do We Think We Are
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    Deep Purple was the top selling artist of 1973, thanks in large part to the release of their seventh studio album, Who Do We Think We Are. It was also the final year for the band's classic MK2 lineup, with both Ian Gillan and Roger Glover leaving the band that summer. According to Gillan, the band had just finished 18 months of touring and every member had had some sort of major illness over that same period, yet their managers insisted that they immediately get to work on the new album, even though the band members desperately needed a break. Nonetheless the album itself is one of their strongest, in spite of the fact that, for the most part the band members weren't even on speaking terms and much of the album was recorded piecemeal, with each member adding his part at a different time. The final track on the album, Our Lady, was a return to the band's psychedelic roots, with a definite Hendrix vibe to the entire piece.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    The Battle Of Epping Forest
Source:    CD: Selling England By The Pound
Writer(s):    Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford
Label:    Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
Year:    1973
    Although sometimes criticized for making their music overly complicated at times (such as on The Battle Of Epping Forest), there is no doubting the thought and effort (not to mention outstanding musicianship) put forth by Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Phil Collins on the album Selling England By The Pound. Released in 1973, the LP focuses on the loss of traditional English culture and the increasing "Americanization" of the United Kingdom in the last half of the 20th century. The Battle Of Epping Forest was actually inspired by a newspaper article about gang violence in London's East end that Gabriel had read several years earlier. When Gabriel was unable to locate a copy of the article he created new characters to populate the song (and of course the band's legendary stage show).

Artist:    Carpe Diem
Title:    Réincarnation
Source:    French import LP: En Regardant Passer Le Temps (also released in Canada as Way Out-As Time Goes By)
Writer(s):    Yeu/Truchy
Label:    Crypto (original label: Arcane)
Year:    1976
    The mid-1970s saw the rise of several bands that combined elements of rock, jazz and classical music with the latest electronic technology to create something entirely new. In Germany it came to be called Kraut-rock, while in other countries it went by names like art-rock, prog-rock or space-rock. The French Riviera was home to Carpe Diem (originally called Deis Corpus), who released two LPs. The first, En Regardant Passer Le Temps, was also released in Canada under the title Way Out-As Time Goes By. The longest track on the album is Réincarnation, which runs nearly thirteen minutes. Although the album went largely unnoticed when originally released in 1976, it has since come to be regarded as one of the lost classics of progressive rock.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Heartbreaker
Source:    CD: On Time
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    The second single released from the first Grand Funk Railroad album, Heartbreaker was a concert staple for the band. Unlike most of Grand Funk's early material, Heartbreaker is a slow ballad that speeds up toward the end, building to a typical Spinal Tap, er, Grand Funk, finish.

Artist:    Graham Nash
Title:    Prison Song
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Graham Nash
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1973
    Graham Nash's Prison Song is one of those songs that by all rights should have been a huge hit. It was by a name artist. It had a catchy opening harmonica riff and a haunting melody. I can only surmise that once again Bill Gavin (whose Gavin Report was considered by many in the industry to be the top 40 "bible") decided that the lyrics were too controversial for AM radio and had the song blacklisted, much as he had done with the Byrds Eight Miles High a few years earlier. Those lyrics center on a subject that is unfortunately still relevant today: the utter absurdity of drug laws and the disproportionate sentences for violation of those laws in various part of the United States.

Artist:        Spirit
Title:        Topanga Windows
Source:    CD: Spirit
Writer:        Jay Ferguson
Label:        Ode/Epic/Legacy
Year:        1968
        Ed Cassidy had already made a name for himself on the L.A. jazz scene when he married the mother of guitarist Randy California. He soon started jamming with his teenage stepson's friends, leading to the formation of a band initially known as Spirits Rebellious (but soon shortened to Spirit), one of the first rock bands to heavily incorporate jazz elements in their music. The majority of the songs on the group's self-titled first album were written by lead vocalist Jay Ferguson, who would eventually leave the group to co-found Jo Jo Gunne and in recent years has been a soundtrack composer for movies and TV shows, including the theme song of the US TV show The Office.

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