Sunday, April 11, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2116 (starts 4/12/21)

    This week we have not one, but two progressions through the golden age of classic rock. The first starts in 1969 with the Who and ends up in 1974 with a classic King Crimson track, while the second runs from 1968 to 1971. As a bonus we have the unique Alan Douglas mix of Jimi Hendrix's Angel from the long out-of-print Voodoo Soup album to finish out the hour.

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 most popular 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:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Nothing To Say
Source:    CD: Benefit
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol
Year:    1970
    Nothing To Say, from Jethro Tull's third album, Benefit, is one of those songs that takes a while to get into your head, but once there, is nearly impossible to get out. The tune, like other songs from around the same time, is built around guitar riffs. Martin Barre, who had joined the band on their previous LP, Stand Up, was by this time more comfortable in his role as the band's lead guitarist, and his playing is confident and precise. Ian Anderson's lyrics show just a touch of the cyrnicism that would characterize much of the band's later work; the song's message is summed up by the lines: " I say I have the answer proven to be true, but if I were to share it with you, you would stand to gain and I to lose. Oh I couldn't bear it so I've got nothing to say."

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Para Los Rumberos
Source:    LP: Santana (III)
Writer(s):    Tito Puente
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    One of the highlights of Santana's second album, Abraxis, was a song called Oye Como Va. The song, sung entirely in Spanish, was a surprise hit and has been a part of Santana's stage repertoire ever since. The song was originally recorded in the 1950s by its songwriter, Tito Puente, and his band, which he described as jazz with latin rhythms. Appropriately, Santana's music has often been described as rock with latin rhythms, so it was perhaps inevitable that Santana would record more of Puente's tunes. Indeed, the final track on the next Santana album was a Puente composition. Santana's version of Para Los Rumberos closely follows the original Puente arrangement, even to the presence of a horn section on the piece. I strongly recommend you use your search engine to find one of Puente's performances of the song, for comparison's sake. I did, and watching what turned out to be his final performance literally brought tears to my eyes.

Artist:    Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina
Title:    Peace Of Mind
Source:    45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s):    Jim Messina
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1972
    The first Loggins And Messina LP started off as a Kenny Loggins solo project, but it soon became apparent that Jim Messina's role was much bigger than just producer. In fact, Messina ended up writing over half the songs on the album. Most of those featured lead vocals by Messina himself, but one, a tune called Peace Of Mind that was part of a longer track called Trilogy, was sung by Loggins and was even released as the album's fourth single in August of 1972. The B side of that single, incidentally, was House At Pooh Corner, which has come to be one of Loggins' signature songs.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    No Quarter
Source:    CD: Houses Of The Holy
Writer(s):    Jones/Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1973
    Recorded in 1972, No Quarter was first released on the fifth Led Zeppelin album, Houses Of The Holy, and remained a part of the band's concert repertoire throughout their existence. The song is a masterpiece of recording technology, showing just how well-versed the band had become in the studio by that time. The title of the song comes from the military phrase "No quarter asked, none given" (don't ask a foe for mercy, nor grant mercy to a fallen enemy), with several references to the concept made in the lyrics throughout the song.

Artist:    King Crimson
Title:    Starless
Source:    CD: Red
Writer(s):    Cross/Fripp/Wetton/Bruford/Palmer-James
Label:    Discipline Global Mobile
Year:    1974
    Starless, as written by bassist/vocalist John Wetton, was intended to be the title track of King Crimson's sixth LP, Starless And Bible Black. Guitarist Robert Fripp and drummer Bill Bruford, however, disliked the song and chose not to record it. This might have been the end of the story except that Bruford later came up with a riff in 13/4 time that became the basis for a long instrumental jam that was added to Starless, making the entire piece over twelve minutes long. Starting off sounding quite a bit like Epitaph (from the band's 1969 debut LP In The Court Of The Crimson KIng) and containing a frenetic double-time section reminiscent of 21st Century Schizoid Man (also from Court), Starless was included as the final track on the seventh (and, for several years final) King Crimson album, Red.

Artist:    Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title:    Ball And Chain
Source:    European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Cheap Thrills)
Writer:    Willie Mae Thornton
Label:    Sony Music (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1968
    In June of 1967 Big Brother And The Holding Company, fronted by Janis Joplin, electrified the crowd at the Monterey International Pop Festival with their rendition of Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton's Ball And Chain. Over the years Joplin, both with and without Big Brother, continued to perform the song. One of the finest performances of Ball And Chain was recorded live at the Fillmore in 1968 and included on the band's major label debut, Cheap Thrills. In retrospect the recording marks the peak of both Big Brother and of Joplin, who went their separate ways after the album was released.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Coming Your Way
Source:    CD: Then Play On
Writer(s):    Danny Kirwan
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    Boilerhouse was a South London band that practiced in (what else?) a basement boiler room. Peter Green, founder of Fleetwood Mac, saw them rehearsing and asked them to be his opening band. The only member of Boilerhouse that was prepared to turn professional, however, was 18-year-old guitarist Danny Kirwan. When efforts to find a new rhythm section to back up Kirwan failed, Green asked Kirwan to join Fleetwood Mac as the band's third guitarist. Kirwan's first appearance with the band was on a single called Albatross, which featured both guitarists in a lead role (second guitarist Jeremy Spencer generally did not contribute to Green's compositions). In January of 1969 four of Kirwan's songs appeared on a US- only compilation LP called English Rose, that also included several tracks from the previous Fleetwood Mac album, Mr. Wonderful, that had not been released in the US. Later that same year Kirwan was prominently featured on the album Then Play On, which was also the final Fleetwood Mac LP to include Green. Although the original British version of Then Play On contained seven Kirwan songs, the US version ended up including only three of them, including Coming Your Way, the album's opening track. Kirwan remained with Fleetwood Mac until 1972, when his dependency on alcohol led to his being fired after refusing to go onstage during their US tour.

Artist:    Three Dog Night
Title:    Liar
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Russ Ballard
Label:    Dunhill
Year:    1971
    Before the Beatles came along a typical pop group consisted of three or more vocalists backed by studio musicians and performing material provided by professional songwriters. In a sense Three Dog Night was a throwback to that earlier model, as the group was formed around a nucleus of three vocalists: Chuck Negron, Cory Wells and Danny Hutton. Unlike the early 60s groups, however, Three Dog Night chose to hire a fixed set of instrumentalists to both play on their records and perform live material (most of which did indeed come from professional songwriters). One of their many hit singles was Liar, a song written by Argent's lead vocalist Russ Ballard and originally released on that group's 1970 debut LP. The Three Dog Night version went into the US top 10 in 1971.

Artist:    J. Geils Band
Title:    I Don't Need You No More
Source:    British import LP: The New Age Of Atlantic (originally released on LP: The Morning After)
Writer(s):    Wolf/Justman
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    I Don't Need You No More is the opening track of the second J. Geils Band album, The Morning After. It was also chosen for inclusion of the 1972 British sampler album The New Age Of Atlantic that came out in early 1972. The song was never released as a single, however.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience (II)
Title:    Angel
Source:    CD: The Ultimate Experience (originally released on LP: The Cry Of Love)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1971
    In the early 1990s Alan Douglas, who had control of the Jimi Hendrix catalog, compiled his own CD version of what might have been the next Hendrix album after Band Of Gypsys, had Hendrix lived to complete it. Douglas's version was called Voodoo Soup, and, like other Douglas releases, was no stranger to controversy. A few of the tracks on Voodoo Soup had Mitch Mitchell's original drum tracks replaced by new recordings featuring Bruce Gary of the Knack, while others were actually older recordings featuring Noel Redding on bass rather than Billy Cox, who had been performing with Hendrix in a group billed as the Jimi Hendrix Experience as well as being a member of Band Of Gypsys. Overlooked in all this is the fact that Douglas also did new mixes of several songs, including Angel, which had originally been mixed by Mitchell and Eddie Kramer for the 1971 LP The Cry Of Love. Douglas's mix is sparser than the original, with only one drum track and virtually no enhancement of the vocals.

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