This time around we start with an obscure B side from Lighthouse, and then take a musical journey backwards from Joni Mitchell's 1974 live album Miles Of Aisles to the Jimi Hendrix Experience's Axis: Bold As Love. As a bonus we have tracks from Led Zeppelin and Frank Zappa to finish the hour.
Title: Lonely Places
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer: P. Hoffert/B. Hoffert
Label: Evolution (original label: GRT)
The Canadian band Lighthouse was an attempt by drummer Skip Prokop (formerly of The Paupers) and others to incorporate both horns and strings into a rock band. Lonely Places, which was released as the B side of the band's 1972 single, Sunny Days, shows that the idea had potential but never really got off the ground.
Artist: Joni Mitchell
Title: Big Yellow Taxi (live version)
Source: LP: Miles Of Aisles
Writer(s): Joni Mitchell
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
One of Joni Mitchell's best-known tunes, Big Yellow Taxi was originally released on the 1970 album Ladies Of The Canyon. The original studio version of the song hit the top 10 in Australia and the top 20 in the UK and Mitchell's native Canada, but only reached the #67 spot in the US. Four years later Mitchell, backed up by Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, released a live version of the song on an album called Miles Of Aisles. This version easily cracked the top 40 in the US in 1974, peaking at #24. Mitchell says she was inspired to write the song on a visit to Hawaii, where she looked out her hotel window to view a mountain vista in the distance, only to be shocked back to reality when she looked down to see a parking lot "as far as the eye could see".
Artist: Doobie Brothers
Title: Dark Eyed Cajun Woman
Source: CD: The Captain And Me
Writer(s): Tom Johnston
Label: Warner Brothers
Dark Eyed Cajun Woman is a Tom Johnston penned tribute to the blues, and to B.B. King in particular. It appears on the third Doobie Brothers album, The Captain And Me, and is often overlooked due to its placement immediately following two of the band's biggest hits, Long Train Runnin' and China Grove. Released in March of 1973, The Captain And Me spent over a year on the US Pop albums chart, peaking at #7.
Artist: Wishbone Ash
Title: Blowin' Free
Source: CD: Argus
Known to the band's fans as the "Ash Anthem", Blowin' Free is probably the single most popular song Wishbone Ash ever recorded. The song, with lyrics written by bassist Martin Turner before Wishbone Ash even formed, is about Turner's Swedish ex-girlfriend.
Artist: Rory Gallagher
Title: Can't Believe It's True
Source: British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Rory Gallagher)
Writer(s): Rory Gallagher
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
In addition to his obvious prowess on guitar, Rory Gallagher was an accomplished saxophonist (although he largely abandoned the instrument in the mid-1970s). Excellent examples of both his guitar and saxophone work can be found on Can't Believe It's True, the final and longest track on Gallagher's first solo album, recorded in 1971. Accompanying Gallagher on the album were drummer Wilgar Campbell and bass guitarist Gerry McAvoy. Gallagher had set up practice sessions with Campbell and McAvoy, as well as former Jimi Hendrix Experience members Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding following the breakup of his original band, Taste, but ultimately decided to form a power trio with the two Belfast natives for his solo debut.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: My Baby Left Me
Source: CD: Watt
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Label: Chrysalis (original US label: Deram)
Although panned by the rock press, Ten Years After's sixth LP, Watt is, for my money, the last of their truly great albums, containing many tasty tunes, such as My Baby Left Me. Following the release of Watt on the Deram label, Ten Years After would switch to Columbia Records and enjoy greater commercial success. Personally, with the exception of a couple of songs, I find their Columbia material uninspired.
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Why Didn't Rosemary
Source: LP: Deep Purple
Deep Purple's self-titled third LP was plagued with problems not of the band's own making. Most of these can be traced to the fact that their American label, Tetragrammaton, was in deep (no pun intended) financial trouble. This meant virtually no promotion budget for the album, and problems with distribution as well. Actually, the company went bankrupt not long after the album was released, making Deep Purple (the album) almost impossible to find on the record racks. There were internal problems brewing as well; this would be the last Deep Purple album to feature original lead vocalist Rod Evans and bassist Nicky Simper, who were dismissed to make room for Ian Gillan and and Roger Glover. The shame of it all is that Deep Purple was actually a pretty good album, covering a lot of musical ground. One of the tracks, Why Didn't Rosemary, is about as good as British blues-rock gets. Apparently the band's new label thought so as well, as Why Didn't Rosemary, as well as most of the rest of the tracks from Deep Purple, was included on a double-LP anthology album called Purple Passages that collected the best of the band's Tetragrammaton material.
Title: Don't Step On The Grass, Sam
Source: CD: Steppenwolf the Second
Writer: John Kay
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Never afraid to make his social and political views known, Steppenwolf's John Kay wrote Don't Step On The Grass, Sam for the band's second LP, released in 1968. It's taken over 50 years, but it looks like Kay's finally starting to get his wish.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: If 6 Was 9
Source: LP: Axis: Bold As Love
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA/Experience Hendrix (original label: Reprise)
Before 1967 stereo was little more than an excuse for the record companies to charge a dollar more for an LP. That all changed in a hurry, as artists such as Jimi Hendrix began to explore the possibilities of the technology, in essence treating stereophonic sound as a multi-dimensional sonic palette. The result can be heard on songs such as If 6 Were 9 from the Axis: Bold As Love album, which is best listened to at high volume, preferably with headphones on. Especially the spoken part in the middle, when Jimi says the words "I'm the one who's got to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want." It sounds like he's inside your head with you.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: When The Levee Breaks
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin IV
Although it sounds like it could have been written about Hurricane Katrina, When The Levee Breaks, the last song on the fourth Led Zeppelin LP, was actually inspired by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, that saw levees along the river break in over 145 places, leaving over 700,000 people homeless. 29-year-old Lizzie Douglas, was living with her family near Walls, Mississippi, when the levee there broke, and two years later, using her stage name of Memphis Minnie recorded the original version of When The Levee Breaks with her then-partner Kansas Joe McCoy. In 1971 Led Zeppelin used Douglas's lyrics as the basis for their own, musically different version of When The Levee Breaks. The track is instantly identifiable by John Bonham's distinctive opening drum beat, which has been heavily sampled by various hip-hop artists over the years.
Title: I'm The Slime
Source: CD: Over-Nite Sensation
Writer(s): Frank Zappa
Label: Zappa (original label: Discreet)
In 1973, Frank Zappa, along with an array of talented musicians, recorded two albums' worth of material. The first, released as a Mothers album, was Over-Nite Sensation. Strangely enough, a single was released from the album, although it really didn't make much of a dent in the top 40 charts. That single was I'm The Slime, a song that only gets more relevant as time goes on. The song is basically a description of America's top drug of choice, as the opening lyrics make clear: "I am gross and perverted. I'm obsessed 'n deranged. I have existed for years, but very little has changed. I'm the tool of the government and industry too, for I am destined to rule and regulate you. I may be vile and pernicious, but you can't look away. I make you think I'm delicious, with the stuff that I say. I'm the best you can get. Have you guessed me yet? I'm the slime ooozing out of your TV set." Ironically, Zappa and his band performed the song on his first appearance on NBC's Saturday Night Live.