Sunday, May 16, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2121 (starts 5/17/21) 

    Sometimes you just gotta go ahead and play favorites. This week's show is just that.

Artist:    Blind Faith
Title:    Had To Cry Today
Source:    LP: Blind Faith
Writer(s):    Steve Winwood
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    One of the most eagerly-awaited albums of 1969 was Blind Faith, the self-titled debut album of a group consisting of Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker from Cream, Steve Winwood from Traffic and Rich Grech, who had played bass (and violin) with a group called Family. The buzz about this new band was such that the rock press had to coin a brand-new term to describe it: supergroup. On release, the album shot up to the number one spot on the charts in record time. Of course, as subsequent supergroups have shown, such bands seldom stick around very long, and Blind Faith set the pattern early on by splitting up after just one LP and a short tour to promote it. The opening track of the album was a pure Winwood piece that showcases both Winwood and Clapton on separate simultaneous guitar tracks.

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)
Year:    1967
    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:    Canned Heat
Title:    One Kind Favor
Source:    British import CD: Living The Blues
Writer(s):    Lemon Jefferson
Label:    BGO (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1968
    The first Canned Heat record I ever bought was the single version of Going Up The Country, which I picked up at the Base Exchange at Ramstein AFB (where my dad was stationed) at the age of fifteen. As was my usual habit I immediately turned the record over and checked out the B side, a tune called One Kind Favor and thought it was an even cooler song than Going Up The Country. I wore that 45 out eventually, but by then had borrowed and taped a copy of Living The Blues, the double LP that One Kind Favor had originally appeared on. The song was officially arranged and adapted by L.T. Tatman III. Only in more recent times did I learn that L.T. Tatman III was one of the names like Nanker Phelge used for songs composed by an entire band rather than any of its individual members. The actual writer of One Kind Favor, as it turns out, is none other than the legendary Blind Lemon Jefferson, who first released the song under its original title, See That My Grave Is Kept Clean, in 1927.

Artist:    Butterfield Blues Band
Title:    Everything's Gonna Be Alright
Source:    CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On-Back To Yasgur's Farm (originally released on LP: Woodstock Two)
Writer(s):    Walter Jacobs
Label:    Rhino (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1969
    The Butterfield Blues Band had already gone through several personnel changes by the time they played the Woodstock festival in August of 1969. They had also evolved stylistically, adding a horn section and, for the most part, moving away from the long improvisational jams that had characterized their landmark 1966 LP East-West. Those elements were not entirely gone, however, as their nearly nine minute long performance of Walter Jacobs' Everything's Gonna Be Alright amply demontrates. In addition to a Butterfield harmonica solo to start things off, the piece showcases the talents of new guitarist Buzzy Feiten.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    A Bit Of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning
Source:    CD: Black Sabbath
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osbourne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    According to Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, the band's debut LP was recorded in one day, in a marathon 12-hour session, and mixed the following day. Most of the tracks, including the 14-minute long Warning, were done in one take with no overdubs. The tune itself is listed on the US album cover as three separate tracks, even though it is the same continuous piece that appeared on the original UK version of the album. The reason for this is probably so the band could get more in royalties for three compositions than they could for just one. The Grateful Dead did essentially the same thing on their 1968 album Anthem Of The Sun with the 18-minute long track That's It For The Other One. Both albums appeared in the US on the Warner Brothers label.

Artist:    Yes
Title:    Yours Is No Disgrace
Source:    CD: The Yes Album
Writer(s):    Anderson/Squire/Howe/Kaye/Bruford
Label:    Elektra/Rhino (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1971
    1970 was a transition year for the progressive rock band known as Yes. Their first two albums, Yes and Time And A Word, had not sold well, and their label, Atlantic, was considering dropping them from their roster. Internally, creative differences between guitarist Peter Banks and the rest of the band led to Banks leaving the group, eventually forming his own band, Flash. The remaining members quickly recruited Steve Howe, who was making a name for himself as a studio musician following the breakup of Tomorrow a couple of years earlier. Howe proved to be a more than suitable replacement, as his versatility served the band's experimental style well. With Howe firmly in place, the group got to work on their third LP, The Yes Album. Unlike Yes's previous albums, which had each included a pair of highly rearranged cover songs (following a pattern set by such bands as Vanilla Fudge and Deep Purple), The Yes Album was made up entirely of original material, mostly written by vocalist Jon Anderson and bassist Chris Squire. Yours Is No Disgrace, however, which opens the album, is credited to the entire band, and gives each member a chance to shine without detracting from the band as a whole. The membership of Yes would continue to fluctuate, however, with keyboardist Tony Kaye, who did not share the rest of the band's enthusiam for the new synthesizers hitting the market, leaving shortly after the album was released, and drummer Bill Bruford following suit following the release of the band's fifth album, Close To The Edge. Eventually even Anderson and Squire would depart the group, leaving Steve Howe currently at the helm of a band containing none of its original members.    

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Sexy Sadie
Source:    LP: The Beatles
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1968
    I can't hear the song Sexie Sadie without being reminded of Charles Manson and his misinterpretation of the White Album (Sadie Mae Glutz was the nickname Manson gave Susan Atkins, one of his female followers). The song was actually inspired by the Mararishi Mahesh Yogi, or more specifically, John Lennon's disillusionment with the man. Lennon said that Sexie Sadie was the last song he wrote before leaving India, and that bandmate George Harrison would only agree to recording the tune if its original title of Maharishi was changed.

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