Sunday, March 28, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2114 (starts 3/29/21)

    This week we have a scratchy vinyl free-form show. Not that every track is actually on scratchy fact, some of them aren't on vinyl at all. Still, there are quite a few old records in there this time around, starting with a classic from the James Gang.

Artist:     James Gang
Title:     Walk Away
Source:     LP: The Best Of The James Gang (originally released on LP: Thirds)
Writer:     Joe Walsh
Label:     ABC
Year:     1971
     The third James Gang album was the last for Joe Walsh, who left the band to pursue a solo career for a few years before hooking up with the Eagles. One of his best known songs, Walk Away, leads off the album. The recording uses multi-tracking extensively toward the end of the song, with multiple guitar parts cascading into what Walsh himself called a "train wreck".

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    New Dope In Town
Source:    German import LP: Underground '70 (originally released on LP: Clear)
Writer(s):    Andes/California/Cassidy/Ferguson/Locke
Label:    CBS (original US label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    The third Spirit album, Clear, is generally considered the weakest of the four albums released by the band's original lineup. The main reason for this is fatigue. The group had released two albums in 1968, along with providing the soundtrack for the film Model Shop in early 1969 and constantly touring throughout the entire period. This left them little time to develop the material that would be included on Clear. There are a few strong tracks on the LP, however, among them New Dope In Town, which closes out the original LP. Like Elijah, from their debut album, New Dope In Town is credited to the entire band, and was included on a CBS Records sampler album called Underground '70 that was released in Germany (on purple vinyl, even) around Christmastime.

Artist:    Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Title:    Still...You Turn Me On
Source:    CD: Brain Salad Surgery
Writer(s):    Greg Lake
Label:    Rhino (original label: Manticore)
Year:    1973
    By 1973, Emerson, Lake & Palmer had established somewhat of a pattern with the albums. Most of each LP was dominated by the bombastic stylings of Keith Emerson's keyboards, supplemented by Greg Lake's bass and vocals (and occasional guitar) and Carl Palmer's percussion work. There was almost always one ballad on the LP, however, that was penned by Lake, and often became the only single released from the album. On the album Brain Salad Surgery that ballad was Still...You Turn Me On. By this time, however, ELP was not even bothering to release singles from their albums, although Still...You Turn Me On did show up as a promo B side in 1974 that was never released commercially.

Artist:    Pearls Before Swine
Title:    Wedding
Source:    CD: Constructive Melancholy-30 Years Of Pearls Before Swine (originally released on LP: City Of Gold)
Writer(s):    Tom Rapp
Label:    Birdland (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1971
    For much of their existence, Pearls Before Swine was not an actual band. Rather, it was singer/songwriter Tom Rapp and his wife Elisabeth working with various studio musicians, particularly during their stint with Reprise Records in the early 1970s. An example of this was the fifth Pearls album, City Of Gold. Released in 1971, about half of the album had been recorded in Nashville during sessions for the 1970 LP The Use Of Ashes, while the rest was recorded in New York, using and entirely different group of session musicians. One of the more unusual tracks on City Of Gold is Wedding, a disturbing tune that describes a back-alley rape as if it were a wedding ceremony.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    That's The Way
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin III
Writer(s):    Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    I read somewhere that Jimmy Page came up with The Rain Song (from the album Houses Of The Holy) in response to someone asking him why Led Zeppelin hadn't recorded any ballads. Apparently that person had never heard That's The Way, from the album Led Zeppelin III. If that ain't a ballad, I don't know what is.

Artist:    Rory Gallagher
Title:    For The Last Time
Source:    LP: Rory Gallagher (promo copy)
Writer(s):    Rory Gallagher
Label:    Atco
Year:    1971
    Rory Gallagher rose to fame as lead guitarist/vocalist and songwriter for the Irish band Taste, which he left after the band's fist two LPs. All of those talents are fully on display on For The Last Time, a tune from his first solo LP, released in 1971. The slow, moody, piece starts off quietly, with just Gallagher on guitar and vocals, but eventually builds up to a climax featuring a long, but never boring, guitar solo. Joining Gallagher on the piece are Richard "Charlie" McCracken on bass guitar and John Wilson on drums.

Artist:    Eagles
Title:    Outlaw Man
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    David Blue
Label:    Asylum
Year:    1973
    Although all the members of the Eagles are known for the songwriting abilities, some of the earliest singles were actually cover songs, including Peaceful Easy Feeling (by Jack Tempchin) and Outlaw Man (by David Blue). Blue was a recent addition to the Asylum roster, making him labelmates with the Eagles, and Outlaw Man was an obvious choice for inclusion on an album meant to have a modernized wild west theme. The song itself is a first person account of the life of an outlaw, with ambiguous enough lyrics to make it applicable to current times as well as the obvious 19th century.

Artist:    Seals And Crofts
Title:    It's Gonna Come Down On You
Source:    LP: Diamond Girl
Writer(s):    Seals/Crofts
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    It seems inevitable that an album from a duo known for their strong spiritual beliefs would include a song about Karma, and It's Gonna Come Down On You, from the Seals And Crofts LP Diamond Girl, does not disappoint. The track features some nice electric guitar work from producer Louie Shelton as well as strong vocals from Jim Seals and Dash Crofts (who also plays mandolin on the tune).

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    You Can't Always Get What You Want
Source:    LP: Let It Bleed
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1969
    When the Rolling Stones called for singers to back them up on their recording of You Can't Always Get What You Want, they expected maybe 30 to show up. Instead they got twice that many, and ended up using them all on the recording, which closes out the Let It Bleed album. An edited version of the song, which also features Al Kooper on organ, was orginally released as the B side of Honky Tonk Women in 1969. In the mid-1970s, after the Stones had established their own record label, Allen Klein, who had bought the rights to the band's pre-1970 recordings, reissued the single, this time promoting You Can't Always Get What You Want as the A side. Klein's strategy worked and the song ended up making the top 40.

Artist:    National Lampoon
Title:    Mr. Roberts
Source:    CD: Greatest Hits Of The National Lampoon (originally released on LP: That's Not Funny, That's Sick)
Writer(s):    Murray/Guest
Label:    Uproar (original label: Label 21)
Year:    1977
    There are actually two Mr. Roberts tracks on the 1977 National Lampoon LP That's Not Funny, That's Sick. The more famous one depicts the children's show host (a parody of Mister Rogers) being accosted by the father of one of the neighborhood kids for spending too much time alone with his son. For my money, though, the far funnier one involves Mr. Roberts (voiced by Christopher Guest) interviewing a jazz bassist (voiced by Billy Murray), culminating in a trip to the "magic kingdom". Murray and Guest wrote the piece, which is included on the Greatest Hits Of The National Lampoon CD.

Artist:    Sly And The Family Stone
Title:    I Want To Take You Higher
Source:    European import CD: Pure... Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Stand and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Sly Stone
Label:    Sony Music (original label: Epic)
Year:    1969
    Sylvester Stewart was a major presence on the San Francisco music scene for several years, both as a producer for Autumn Records and as a popular local disc jockey. In 1967 he decided to take it to the next level, using his studio connections to put together Sly And The Family Stone. The band featured a solid lineup of musicians, including Larry Graham, whose growling bass line figures prominently in their 1969 recording of I Want To Take You Higher. The song was originally released as a B side, but after the group blew away the crowd at Woodstock the recording was re-released as a single the following year.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    I'll Keep On Trying
Source:    LP:Uriah Heep
Writer(s):    Box/Byron
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1970
    The term "heavy metal" had not come into common usage in 1970. If it had, Uriah Heep's debut LP would have been hailed as an early example. Although their later albums, particularly Demons And Wizards and the Magician's Birthday, would take a more progressive turn and deal with fantasy themes, Uriah Heep's first LP was much more straight ahead hard rock. The album was originally released in the UK with the title Very 'eavy...Very 'umble and featured a picture of lead vocalist David Byron partially obscured by cobwebs. The US release of the LP was entitled simply Uriah Heep and had a wraparound cover featuring a silver dragon on a black background. With one exception the song lineup was the same for both albums. I'll Keep On Trying, a song written by Byron and guitarist Mick Box, was included on both versions. You can check out both album covers at the Stuck in the Psychedelic Era Facebook page.

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