Sunday, February 14, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2108 (starts 2/15/21)

    This week, after a leadup that starts with the Moody Blues and ends with John Lennon (and includes, among other things, the seldom-heard Rod Stewart version of Man Of Constant Sorrow), we present the entire second side of Pink Floyd's 1975 classic Wish You Were Here, including Have A Cigar (featuring guest vocalist Roy Harper) and the concluding segments of Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

Artist:    Moody Blues
Title:    Legend Of A Mind
Source:    CD: In Search Of The Lost Chord
Writer(s):    Ray Thomas
Label:    Deram
Year:    1968
    The Moody Blues started off as a fairly typical British beat band, scoring one major inteernational hit, Go Now, in 1965, as well as several minor British hit singles. By 1967 lead vocalist Denny Laine was no longer with the group (he would later surface as a member of Paul McCartney's Wings), and the remaining members were not entirely sure of where to go next. At around that time their record label, Deram, was looking to make a rock version of a well-known classical piece (The Nine Planets), and the Moody Blues were tapped for the project. Somewhere along the way, however, the group decided to instead write their own music for rock band and symphony orchestra, and Days Of Future Passed was the result. The album, describing a somewhat typical day in the life of a somewhat typical Britisher, was successful enough to revitalize the band's career, and a follow-up LP, In Search Of The Lost Chord, was released in 1968. Instead of a full orchestra, however, the band members themselves provided all the instrumentation on the new album, using a relatively new keyboard instrument called the mellotron (a complicated contraption that utilized tape loops) to simulate orchestral sounds. Like its predecessor, In Search Of The Lost Chord was a concept album, this time dealing with the universal search for the meaning of life through music. One of the standout tracks on the album is Legend Of A Mind, with its signature lines: "Timothy Leary's dead. No, no, he's outside looking in." Although never released as a single, the track got a fair amount of airplay on college and progressive FM radio stations, and has long been considered a cult hit.

Artist:      Doors
Title:     Shaman's Blues
Source:      CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: The Soft Parade)
Writer:    Jim Morrison
Label:    Elektra
Year:     1969
     Often dismissed as the weakest entry in the Doors catalogue, The Soft Parade nonetheless is significant in that for the first time songwriting credits were given to individual band members. Shaman's Blues, in my opinion one of the four redeeming tracks on the album, is Jim Morrison's.
Artist:    Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Title:    déjà vu
Source:    LP: So Far (originally released on LP: déjà vu)
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    One of the biggest selling albums in the history of rock music, Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young's déjà vu was also one of the most difficult and time-consuming albums ever made. It is estimated that the album, which to date has sold over 8 million copies, took around 800 hours of studio time to create. Most of the tracks were recorded as solo tracks by their respective songwriters, with the other members making whatever contributions were called for. The album also features several guest musicians (including John Sebastian, who plays harmonica on the title track), as well as drummer Dallas Taylor and bassist Greg Reeves, whose names appear in slightly smaller font on the front cover of the album.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Cross-Eyed Mary
Source:    CD: Aqualung
Writer:    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1971
    The fortunes of Jethro Tull improved drastically with the release of the Aqualung album in 1971. The group had done well in their native UK but were still considered a second-tier band in the US. Aqualung, however, propelled the group to star status, with several tracks, such as Cross-Eyed Mary, getting heavy airplay on FM rock radio.

Artist:    Rod Stewart
Title:    Man Of Constant Sorrow
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Rod Stewart
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1969
    Rod Stewart's debut solo album was not a major seller when it was first released in 1969, despite generally favorable reviews from the rock press. One of the stronger tracks on the album was his arrangement of the old folk song Man Of Constant Sorrow. The track was also issued as the B side of the album's second single three years after the LP itself had been released.

Artist:    John Lennon
Title:    Mind Games
Source:    CD: Lennon (box set) (originally released as 45PM single and included on LP: Mind Games)
Writer(s):    John Lennon
Label:    Apple
Year:    1973
    John Lennon's 1973 single Mind Games traces its origins back to the 1969 Let It Be sessions, where Lennon can be heard singing "Make love, not war" (a popular phrase at the time). Another unfinished song from around the same time, I Promise, provided the melody for Mind Games. The song's title, along with many of the lyrics, were inspired by a book called Mind Games: The Guide to Inner Space by Robert Masters and Jean Houston, which was published in 1972. Yet another repeated line in the song, "Yes is the answer", refers to Yoko Ono's art piece that got Lennon interested in Yoko in the first place. Ironically, the song was recorded just as John and Yoko were splitting up, a period that Lennon later referred to as his "lost weekend."

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Have A Cigar/Wish You Were Here/Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)
Source:    CD: Wish You Were Here
Writer(s):    Waters/Gilmour/Wright
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1975
    One of the most recognizable songs in the entire Pink Floyd catalog, Have A Cigar is an indictment of the hypocrisy, greed and general sleaziness that drives the modern music industry. Recorded in Abby Road's studio 3, the song featured guest vocalist Roy Harper, who was working on an album of his own in studio 2 at the time. Both David Gilmour and Roger Waters attempted to sing the song (which was written by Waters), but were unhappy with the results. Gilmour had already contributed some guitar parts to Harper's album, and decided to ask Harper to return the favor. During the song's fadeout, the sound quality suddenly changes to resemble that of a cheap car radio speaker, and is followed by the sound of a radio dial being retuned to a new station playing the song Wish You Were Here. The song itself is often thought to be a tribute to Syd Barrett, but Waters, who wrote the lyrics, has since said that they were more self-directed. The final track on the album, however, is most definitely a tribute to Pink Floyd's original leader, who had been asked to leave the band in 1968 because of his mental health issues. In fact, Barrett himself showed up in the studio on July 5, 1975 when the band was putting the finishing touches on Shine On You Crazy Diamond. David Gilmour, who had known Barrett since childhood, was getting married later that day, and Barrett had come for the reception, showing up early to visit with his former bandmates. At first nobody knew who the overweight guy with shaved head and eyebrows was, and when Rick Wright, who was the first to recognize Barrett, identified him to the rest of the band, they were reportedly "shocked and horrified" to see the state he was in. Witnesses described Barrett as "not entirely sensible" and "not really there", adding that he didn't seem to realize that he himself was the subject of the song the band was working on. After the wedding reception Barrett left without saying goodbye; it was the last time most of the band members would see him alive.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Woman From Tokyo
Source:    LP: The Very Best Of Deep Purple (originally released on LP: Who Do We Think We Are)
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    Deep Purple's most successful period came to an end with the band's seventh LP, Who Do We Think We Are. The album, released in 1973, was the last for vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover, both of whom had joined the band three years earlier. Those three years saw the group go from semi-obscurity (especially in their home country) to one of the world's most popular rock bands. Songs like Smoke On The Water and Highway Star had become mainstays of FM rock radio worldwide, but tensions within the band itself were starting to tear it apart. Nonetheless, the final album by the classic lineup of Richie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice featured some of the band's best material, including the LP's opening track, My Woman From Tokyo, which is still heard with alarming regularity on classic rock radio stations.

No comments:

Post a Comment