Sunday, February 21, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2109 (start 2/22/21)

    Sometimes things aren't quite what you thought they were. Ian Gillan was lead vocalist for Deep Purple, right? Then how do you explain Stormbringer, the track that starts this week's show? Or how about that guy Lou Graham, from Foreigner? Isn't that him on the Black Sheep track? And that certainly is not Jim Morrison singing on In The Eye Of The Sun, the Doors B side that finishes out the show. And what's the deal with July Morning?? As far as I know it's still February (and there's lots of snow on the ground to back me up on that). Regular listeners may also notice that there are no Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath songs on this week's show, further proof that sometimes Everything You Know About Rockin' in the Days of Confusion Is Wrong.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Stormbringer
Source:    CD: The Very Best Of Deep Purple (originally released on LP: Stormbringer)
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Coverdale
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1974
    Deep Purple hit its commercial peak in the early 1970s, after vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover were brought in to replace Rod Evans and Nicky Simper. Glover had strong songwriting skills that were sorely missed when he and Gillan left the group following the release of the 1973 LP Who Do We Think We Are. Their replacements were bassist Glenn Hughes and vocalist David Coverdale, who would remain with the group until its breakup in 1976. The second album to feature this "Mark III" Deep Purple lineup was Stormbringer, which was released in November of 1974. It was also the last album to feature original lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who did not like the "soulful" direction the band had been taking. The title track of Stormbringer was, in fact, a throwback to the group's earlier sound.

Artist:    Black Sheep
Title:    Payin' Yer Dues
Source:    LP: Black Sheep
Writer(s):    Grammatico/Mancuso/Crozier/Rocco
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1975
    Black Sheep was a Rochester, NY band that released a pair of albums on the Capitol label in the mid-1970s. The group was fronted by Louis Grammitico, who went on to greater fame after shortening his name to Lou Graham and joining Foreigner. Payin' Yer Dues, from the first Black Sheep album, is a good example of the band's sound. Guitarist Don Mancuso has more recently been performing as a member of the Lou Gramm Band.

Artist:    Coloured Balls
Title:    Metal Feathers
Source:    Australian import CD: Metal Feathers
Writer(s):    Millar/Loyde
Label:    Aztec (original label: EMI)
Year:    1974
    Lobby Loyde, although a guitar legend in Australia, is virtually unknown in the US. This is a shame, since he, in the words of former bandmate Angry Anderson, "helped create the Australian guitar sound, long before Angus [Young]. Lobby inspired Australian bands to step forward and play as loud and aggressively as they could." Born in 1941, Loyde had hit singles in Australia as a member of Purple Hearts and later Wild Cherries, and was a major force on the Australian pub rock scene in the 1970s. Loyde released two albums as a member of Coloured Balls, which also featured Andrew Fordham on guitar and vocals, Janis Miglans on bass guitar and Trevor Young on drums. Metal Feathers, from the band's second LP, Heavy Metal Kid, shows Loyde's quieter side.

Artist:    Elton John
Title:    Roy Rogers/Social Disease
Source:    LP: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Writer(s):    John/Taupin
Label:    MCA
Year:    1973
    Since this is the first time I've ever played anything from Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, I figured I'd pull out the most obscure tracks I could find. Roy Rogers and Social Disease, to my knowledge, never get played on the radio, so here they are.

Artist:    Graham Nash/David Crosby
Title:    Where Will I Be?
Source:    British import LP: Graham Nash David Crosby
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1972
    Following the release of the 1970 LP deja vu, the members of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, whose backstage fights had already become legendary, decided to go their separate ways, with each member releasing their own albums over the next year. In the fall of 1971 David Crosby and Graham Nash decided to do a series of concerts as a duo. Those concerts were so succesful that the two decided to do a new album together, called simply Graham Nash David Crosby. As expected, Nash's songs were more pop-oriented, while Crosby's tended to be more philosophical and introspective. One of the most introspective pieces on the album was Where Will I Be? Besides sharing vocals with Nash, Crosby plays acoustic guitar on the piece, accompanied by Craig Doerge on electric piano, Leland Sklar on bass and Dana Africa on flute.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    July Morning
Source:    LP: Look At Yourself
Writer:    Hensley/Byron
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1971
    Fans of the British rock group Uriah Heep have an ongoing argument over which is the best Heep album; Demons And Wizards, featuring the band's biggest hit single, Easy Livin', or its immediate predecessor, Look At Yourself, which includes the 10 and a half minute long classic July Morning. Both albums feature strong vocals by David Byron and songwriting by keyboardist Ken Hensley, as well as tasty guitar licks from Mick Box. Rather than take sides on this one, I'm just going to keep on playing tracks from all six early Uriah Heep albums.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Nature's Way/Animal Zoo/Love Has Found A Way/Why Can't I Be Free
Source:    CD: Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus
Writer(s):    California/Ferguson/Locke
Label:    Epic/Legacy
Year:    1970
    Spirit was one of those bands that consistently scored well with the critics, yet was never truly able to connect with a large segment of the record buying audience at any given time. Perhaps their best album was Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus, released in 1970 to glowing reviews. Despite this, the album actually charted lower than any of their three previous efforts, and would be the last to feature the band's original lineup. In the long haul, however, Twelve Dreams has become the group's top selling album, thanks to steady catalog sales over a period of years. Unlike many more popular records of the time, Twelve Dreams sounds as fresh and original today as when it first appeared, as can be easily heard on the four-song medley that makes up the bulk of the LP's first side. Indeed, despite never having charted as a single, Nature's Way, a Randy California tune which starts the sequence, is one of the best-known songs in the entire Spirit catalog. Additionally, its ecological theme segues naturally into Animal Zoo, a Jay Ferguson tune with a more satirical point of view. Love Has Found A Way, written by vocalist Ferguson and keyboardist John Locke, can best described as psychedelic space jazz, while Why Can't I Be Free is a simple, yet lovely, short coda from guitarist California. Although Spirit, in various incarnations, would continue to record for many years, they would never put out another album as listenable as Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Amazing Journey
Source:    British Import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Tommy)
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    Polydor UK (original US label: Decca)
Year:    1969
    After achieving major success in their native England with a series of hit singles in 1965-67, the Who began to concentrate more on their albums from 1968 on. The first of these concept albums was The Who Sell Out, released in December of 1967. The Who Sell Out was a collection of songs connected by faux radio spots and actual jingles from England's last remaining pirate radio station, Radio London. After releasing a few more singles in 1968, the Who began work on their most ambitious project yet: the world's first rock opera. Tommy, released in 1969, was a double LP telling the story of a boy who, after being tramautized into becoming a blind deaf-mute, eventually emerges as a kind of messiah, only to have his followers ultimately abandon him. One of the early tracks on the album is Amazing Journey, describing Tommy's voyage into the recesses of his own mind in response to the traumatic event that results in his "deaf, dumb and blind" condition.

Artist:    David Bowie
Title:    Changes
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue originally released on LP: Hunky Dory)
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1971
    Sometimes a seemingly innocous little song will turn out to be something far more than it started out to be. Such is the case with Changes, one of the most recognizable songs of the 20th century. Originally appearing on the 1971 album Hunky Dory and released as a single in 1972, Changes, according to Bowie, started off as a parody of a nightclub song, "a kind of throwaway", that featured Bowie himself on saxophone, with strings provided by Mick Ronson. Rick Wakeman's keyboards also feature prominently in the recording. The song was Bowie's first North American release on the RCA Victor label (although Mercury had released The Man Who Sold The World two years previously, the record had gone nowhere at the time). Changes is often taken as a statement of artistic intent, as Bowie was constantly reinventing himself throughout his career. Oddly enough, the song did not make the British charts until its re-release following Bowie's death in 2016.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    In The Eye Of The Sun
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Ray Manzarek
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1972
    When Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore began recording the instrumental tracks for what would become the 7th Doors studio album, Other Voices, they were expecting Jim Morrison to return from Paris to add vocals to the songs. Morrison's sudden death in July of 1971 forced a change of plans, and it fell to Manzarek and Krieger to provide the vocals themselves. The opening track of Other Voices was In The Eye Of The Sun, written and sung by Manzarek. The song was also chosen to be the B side of the second single released from the album.


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