Sunday, May 9, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2120 (starts 5/10/21)

    Out of a total of twelve tracks on this week's show, only one can be considered a hit single...and even the artist himself admitted that the successs of the song led to him being in a rut. Not that every other song on the show is completely obscure; some of the album tracks are actually quite recognizable, and we even have a rather interesting Mott The Hoople cover of a Velvet Underground song that was released as a follow up to the classic All The Young Dudes. Which reminds me: we also have one of David Bowie's least-known singles (it was only released in four countries, none of which were in North America).

Artist:    Sugarloaf
Title:    Hot Water
Source:    LP: Spaceship Earth
Writer(s):    Corbetta/Yeazel
Label:    Liberty
Year:    1970
    Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Robert Yeazel joined Sugarloaf right after their first album was released, strengthening an already solid lineup. He contributed to many of the tracks on the band's second LP, Spaceship Earth, among them Hot Water, which he co-wrote with keyboardist (and band leader) Jerry Corbetta.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    Bird Of Prey
Source:    British import CD: Salisbury
Writer(s):    David Byron
Label:    Sanctuary/BMG
Year:    1971
    Although for the most part the practice of drastically altering the track lineup of British albums for US release had been abandoned by 1970, there were still a few exceptions, albeit relatively minor ones. One of these was the first Uriah Heep album, which replaced the song Lucy Blue with Bird Of Prey on the US version. The band re-recorded Bird Of Prey for their second LP, Salisbury, which was in turn replaced by Simon The Bullet Freak, a song that would not be released in the UK for another eight months, when it finally appeared as a B side in September of 1971.

Artist:    Flock
Title:    Clown
Source:    British import CD: The Flock/Dinosaur Swamps (originally released on LP: The Flock)
Writer:    The Flock
Label:    BGO (original US label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    The Flock's 1969 debut album featured liner notes by British blues guru John Mayall, who called them the best band in America. Despite this stellar recommendation, the Flock (one of two bands with horn sections from the city of Chicago making their recording debut on Columbia Records in 1969) was unable to attract a large audience and disbanded after only two LPs. Violinist Jerry Goodman would go on to be a founding member of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra in the early 1970s. The band's unique take on what would come to be called jazz-rock fusion is in full evidence on the seven-and-a-half-minute long Clown, from their debut LP.

Artist:    Buddy Miles
Title:    Memphis Train
Source:    CD: Them Changes
Writer(s):    Thomas/Sparks/Rice
Label:    Miracle/Mercury
Year:    1970
    Although Rufus Thomas's recording career dates back to 1950, it didn't really take off until he signed with Stax Records in 1962, scoring his first top 10 single, Walking The Dog, in 1963. Thomas continued to release singles for Stax throughout the decade, although many of them did not chart. One of those singles was Memphis Train, released in 1968. Two years later Buddy Miles revived the song on his album Them Changes.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Peace Frog/Blue Sunday
Source:    Morrison Hotel
Writer(s):    Morrison/Kreiger
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1970
    The Doors' Peace Frog, in a very basic sense, is actually two separate works of art. The track started off as an instrumental piece by guitarist Robbie Kreiger, recorded while the rest of the band was waiting for Jim Morrison to come up with lyrics for another piece. Not long after the track was recorded, producer Paul Rothchild ran across a poem of Morrison's called Abortion Stories and encouraged him to adapt it to the new instrumental tracks. Peace Frog, which appears on the album Morrison Hotel, leads directly into Blue Sunday, one of many poems/songs written by Morrison for Pamela Courson, his significant other since 1965.

Artist:     Neil Young
Title:     Heart Of Gold
Source:     CD: Decade (originally released on LP: Harvest)
Writer:     Neil Young
Label:     Reprise
Year:     1972
     In the liner notes of his 1977 compilation album Decade, Neil Young had this to say about his hit single Heart Of Gold from the 1972 LP Harvest: "This song put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there." As a longtime resident of the ditch myself, I say thankya, Neil.

Artist:    Mott The Hoople
Title:    Sweet Jane
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Lou Reed
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1972
    After four only moderately successful albums, England's Mott The Hoople was on the verge of disbanding when David Bowie stepped in to help the struggling band, first by giving them All The Young Dudes to record, then by producing the album of the same name. The LP itself only contained one other cover song besides the title track: Lou Reed's Sweet Jane, which had come out on the Velvet Underground's Loaded album in 1970. Sweet Jane ended up being the third single from All The Young Dudes, but, oddly enough, the single was not released in the band's home country.

Artist:    Cheech & Chong
Title:    Emergency Room
Source:    LP: Cheech And Chong
Writer(s):    Marin/Chong
Label:    Ode
Year:    1971
    Unlike later albums that emphasized the personna's of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, the debut Cheech & Chong LP was made up of individual skits featuring a variety of characters. Emergency Room, for instance, has Cheech in the role of an ER triage doctor/nurse/receptionist (it's never really made clear), while Chong plays first a fellow medical professional on his way home from working a shift at the morgue, an elderly patient suffering some sort of debilitating condition, and finally, a drug-seeker.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Careful With That Axe, Eugene
Source:    CD: Relics (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Waters/Wright/Mason/Gilmour
Label:    Capitol (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1968
    Despite being originally released only as a B side of a non-charting single (and not being released in the US at all) Be Careful With That Axe, Eugene is one of the most popular Pink Floyd tracks from the 1960s. This is due in part to the inclusion of a live version of the song on the 1969 LP Ummagumma. The original studio version was also included on the 1971 compilation album Relics. It is one of the first songs credited to all four band members following the departure of founder Syd Barrett.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    The Return Of The Giant Hogweed
Source:    CD: Nursery Crymes
Writer(s):    Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford
Label:    Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
Year:    1971
    The Return Of The Giant Hogweed, from the 1971 Genesis album Nursery Cryme, is actually based on a true story about an invasive organism brought to England from Russia in the 1800s. Genesis, thanks in large part to the sense of whimsy brought to the band by their new drummer, Phil Collins, deliberately exaggerated the story, making the Giant Hogweed a threat to civilization as we know it. Nursery Crymes itself, although officially the third Genesis album, was in fact the debut of the band's classic lineup of Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford and new guitarist Steve Hackett, who joined a few months after founding member Anthony Phillips left the group following the release of the Trespass album. This lineup would remain intact until the departure of Gabriel in 1975.

Artist:    Gentle Giant
Title:    The Face
Source:    CD: The Power And The Glory
Writer(s):    Shulman/Minnear/Shulman
Label:    Alucard (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1974
    The Power And The Glory is a 1974 album by Gentle Giant that focuses on an individual that chooses politics as a means to make the world a better place. Like his predecessors, however, he becomes corrupted by power and ultimately becomes that which he originally fought against. The piece called The Face is the climax of the album itself, in which the protagonist declares himself to be the ultimate authority and demands total loyalty and obedience from his subjects (kind of like certain current political leaders). As of 2014, The Power And The Glory is available on Blu-Ray, with each song fully animated with various abstract patterns and all the lyrics displayed prominently on the screen. The latter makes a huge difference in the ability to enjoy the album, as Gentle Giant's vocals are often hard to decipher.

Artist:    David Bowie
Title:    Holy Holy
Source:    CD: Sound+Vision Catalogue Sampler #1 (originally released in the UK as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    Ryko (original label: Mercury)
Year:    1970
    One of the most obscure David Bowie tracks ever recorded, Holy Holy was originally released as the A side of a 1970 single, but only in a handful of countries, none of which were in the Western Hemisphere. The song stayed out of print until 1990, when it was included as a bonus track on the CD version of The Man Who Sold The World.

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