Sunday, April 25, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2118 (starts 4/26/21) 

    This week we feature the entire second side of the Moody Blues' Threshold Of A Dream, along with classics from Sugarloaf, Black Sabbath and David Bowie. Plus, Jimi Hendrix jamming with some friends on an old Elmore James tune and a classic Firesign Theatre bit.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Paranoid
Source:    LP: Paranoid
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osborne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Rhino/Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    Although it was the last track recorded for Black Sabbath's second album, Paranoid was actually the first song released from the sessions, appearing as a single about six months after the band's first LP hit the racks. The song, according to bassist Geezer Butler, was recorded as an afterthought, when the band realized they needed a three minute filler piece for the LP. Tony Iommi came up with the basic riff, which Butler quickly wrote lyrics for. Singer Ozzie Osbourne reportedly sang the lyrics directly from the handwritten lyric sheet. Paranoid turned out to be one of Black Sabbath's most popular tunes, and has shown up on several "best of" lists, including VH1's "40 Greatest Metal Songs", where it holds the # 1 spot. In Finland, the song has attained near-legendary status, and the phase "Soittakaa Paranoid!" can often be heard being yelled out from a member of the audience at a rock concert there, regardless of what band is actually on stage (much as "Free Bird" was heard at various concerts in the US throughout the 70s and 80s).

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    My Sunday Feeling
Source:    CD: This Was
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    For years my only copy of Jethro Tull's first LP, This Was, was a cassette copy I had made myself. In fact, the two sides of the album were actually on two different tapes (don't ask why). When I labelled the tapes I neglected to specify which tape had which side of the album; as a result I was under the impression that My Sunday Feeling was the opening track on the album. It turns out it was actually the first track on side two, but I still tend to think of it as the "first" Jethro Tull song, despite the fact that the band had actually released a single, Sunshine Day, the previous year for a different label.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix
Title:    Bleeding Heart
Source:    CD: Valleys Of Neptune
Writer(s):    Elmore James
Label:    Experience Hendrix/Legacy
Year:    1969
    There's no question that Jimi Hendrix was a huge fan of bluesman Elmore James, and of the song Bleeding Heart in particular. In fact, Hendrix recorded several versions of the song using various arrangements, tempos and even musician configurations. The first of these to be officially released (on the 1972 LP War Heroes) was actually one of the last to be recorded, in spring of 1970, with Billy Cox on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums, a group that billed itself as the Jimi Hendrix Experience. One of the longest, and fastest, versions of Bleeding Heart was recorded on April 24, 1969, featuring Billly Cox on bass, Rocky Isaac on drums, Chris Grimes on tambourine and Al Marks on maracas. This version was finally released in March of 2010, on the Valleys Of Neptune album and as a 7" 45 RPM single.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Immigrant Song
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    Although the third Led Zeppelin album is known mostly for its surprising turn toward a more acoustic sound than its predecessors, the first single from that album actually rocked out as hard, if not harder, than any previous Zeppelin track. In fact, it could be argued that Immigrant Song rocks out harder than anything on top 40 radio before or since. Starting with a tape echo deliberately feeding on itself the song breaks into a basic riff built on two notes an octave apart, with Robert Plant's wailing vocals sounding almost like a siren call. Guitarist Jimmy Page soon breaks into a series of power chords that continue to build in intensity for the next two minutes, until the song abruptly stops cold. The lyrics of Immigrant Song were inspired by the band's trip to Iceland in 1970.

Artist:    Mother Earth
Title:    Temptation Took Control Of Me And I Fell
Source:    LP: Bring Me Home
Writer(s):    Eric Kaz
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1971
    Although originally formed in San Francisco as a blues-based rock band, by 1971 Mother Earth had relocated to a farm outside Nashville and expanded its musical horizons to include elements of R&B, jazz, country and, on the LP Bring Me Home, gospel. The opening track on the album, Temptation Took Control Of Me And I Fell, was written by Eric Kaz, a then-unknown songwriter who would go on to write hit songs for such diverse artists as Bonnie Raitt, George Strait and Michael Bolton.

Artist:    Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina
Title:    Nobody But You
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Jim Messina
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1972
    Nobody But You was the second single from the 1972 album Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina Sittin' In. Written by Messina, it was soon eclipsed by its B side, Danny's Song, which became a top 40 hit for Anne Murray the following year. Nobody But You was also the opening track on the album itself.

Artist:    Moody Blues
Title:    On The Threshold Of A Dream (side two)
Source:    CD: On The Threshold Of A Dream
Writer(s):    Hayward/Thomas/Edge/Pinder
Label:    Deram
Year:    1969
    Ever since their 1967 album Days Of Future Passed, the Moody Blues have had this annoying habit of letting all the songs on their albums run into each other, making it difficult to impossible to play an individual track on the radio. As a result, I play the Moody Blues sparingly, essentially playing an entire album side about one sixth as often as I might play just one song. This time around it's side two of their third concept album, On The Threshold Of A Dream. The side begins with Justin Hayward's Never Comes The Day, which leads into Ray Thomas's Lazy Day followed by Hayward's Are You Sitting Comfortably. The rest of the side, known collectively as the Voyage Suite, starts with Graeme Edge's The Dream (recited by Mike Pinder), followed by Pinder's Have You Heard (part 1), The Voyage and Have You Heard (part 2). The side wraps up with a sound effect that continues on into the inner groove of the original LP and fades out after a few seconds on CD and tape versions of the album.

Artist:    Firesign Theatre
Title:    Hawaiian Sellout
Source:    LP: Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers
Writer(s):    Proctor/Bergman/Austin/Ossman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    Among the many short sections of TV shows that George Tirebiter tunes in on the album Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers is Hawaiian Sellout, a bit that parodies 1960s game shows, with the humor coming from the absurdity of the prizes that the contestant has won so far. This sort of sketch humor would become the staple of actual TV shows like Saturday Night Live and Second City TV in the 1970s, as well as movies like Tunnel Vision and the Groove Tube.

Artist:    Sugarloaf
Title:    Green-Eyed Lady
Source:    LP: Sugarloaf
Writer(s):    Corbetta/Phillips/Riordan
Label:    Liberty
Year:    1970
    The unwritten rules of radio, particularly those concerning song length, were in transition in 1970. Take Sugarloaf's Green-Eyed Lady, for example. When first released as a single the 45 was virtually identical to the album version except that it faded out just short of the six-minute mark. This was about twice the allowed length under the old rules and it was soon replaced with an edited version that left out all the instrumental solos, coming in at just under three minutes. The label soon realized, however, that part of the original song's appeal (as heard on FM rock radio) was its organ solo, and a third single edit with that solo restored became the final, and most popular, version of Green-Eyed Lady. Meanwhile, though all of this, FM rock jocks continued to play the original album version heard here. Smart move on their part.

Artist:    David Bowie
Title:    Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed
Source:    CD: David Bowie (originally US title: Man Of Words/Man Of Music)
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Mercury)
Year:    1969
    Written in response to the death of his father, David Bowie's Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed, from his self-titled 1969 LP, may have gone overlooked indefinitely if it were not for the fact that someone noticed that the song was Bowie's first collaboration with producer Tony Visconti, who would continue to work with Bowie for the remainder of his career. The song itself is classic early Bowie and, to my ears, is one of the best tracks on the album.

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