Sunday, June 6, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2124 (starts 6/7/21)

    Free-Form Radio. When you strip away all the pretentions, it all comes down to one thing: finding something to play that sounds good following what's currently playing. Note that I said "good", not perfect. If it was perfect, you would be locked into playing the exact same follow up track every time the first track came up. How boring. Note also that I said "sounds" good. Looking good on paper isn't good enough. It has to sound right. That makes it something purely subjective, since what sounds good to one person may have a completely different effect on someone else. And no using similarity of song titles, either. That would just be data mining. This week's show is pure free-form rock. It's starts with an album track from Grand Funk Railroad and ends with a hit single from the Rolling Stones. In between there is a mixture of singles, B sides and album tracks from both well-known and relatively obscure artists. There's even a little comedy thrown in. I hope you enjoy hearing it as much as I did.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Nothing Is The Same
Source:    CD: Closer To Home
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    Grand Funk Railroad's fans continued to defy the rock press by buying copies of the band's albums throughout 1970, despite universally negative reviews. In fact, the band was awarded no less than three gold records that year, including their third studio LP, Closer To Home. The album includes some of their best recordings, including Nothing Is The Same, a hard rocker that includes both tempo and key changes, as well as some of Mark Farner's best lead vocals.

Artist:    Stray Dog
Title:    Speak Of The Devil
Source:    LP: Stray Dog
Writer(s):    Walden/Roberts/Sampson
Label:    Manticore
Year:    1973
    When the power trio formed as Aprodite (guitarist/vocalist Snuffy Walden, bassist Alan Roberts, and drummer Randy Reeder) decided to change their name to Stray Dog and relocate to Denver, the last thing they expected was to get a recording contract with the label set up by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. But after being introduced to ELP's former road manager Neville Chesters, that's exactly what happened. In fact, Greg Lake himself produced three tracks on the band's debut LP, including Speak Of The Devil, which was written by all three band members, including L.T. Sampson, who had replaced Reeder shortly before sessions for the album got underway. The song itself, a raucous rocker. is about as far away as you can get from the progressive art-rock sound of ELP.

Artist:    Taste
Title:    Catfish
Source:    British import CD: Taste
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Gallagher
Label:    Polydor (original US label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    Formed by guitarist Rory Gallagher in Cork, Ireland, in 1966, Taste disbanded and reformed in 1968 after a move to London. After making a strong impression opening for Cream in late 1968, they signed with the Polydor label, releasing their first LP in April of 1969. Gallagher's guitar work dominates the band's cover of Catfish (sometimes known as Catfish Blues).

Artist:    J. Geils Band
Title:    Whammer Jammer
Source:    Mono 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Juke Box Jimmie
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    First they were a Boston bar band called Snoopy and the Sopwith Camel. Then they became the J. Geils Blues Band. Finally they dropped the "blues" from the name and became famous. Whammer Jammer, an early B side showcasing "Magic Dick" Salwitz on lead harmonica, shows why the "blues" part was there in the first place.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    After Forever
Source:    LP: Black Sabbath
Writer(s):    Butler/Iommi
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    Anyone attempting to portray Black Sabbath as a bunch of Satanists had only to listen once to After Forever, from the Master Of Reality album, to be abused of the notion. The lyrics, written by bassist Geezer Butler (an avowed Catholic) are actually about as un-subtle as can be imagined. The song was released as the first single from the album, but failed to chart.

Artist:    Cheech & Chong
Title:    Evelyn Woodhead Speed Reading Course
Source:    LP: Los Cochinos
Writer(s):    Marin/Chong
Label:    Ode
Year:    1973
    If you never saw one of those Evelyn Wood commercials on late night television in the early 1970s, this thirty-five second comedy bit probably won't make a whole lot of sense to you. Then again it might.
Artist:    J.J. Cale
Title:    Cocaine
Source:    LP: Troubadour
Writer(s):    J.J. Cale
Label:    Shelter
Year:    1976
    Cocaine is one of Eric Clapton's best-known hits. This is the original J.J. Cale version of the song, from his 1976 album Troubadour.

Artist:    Steeleye Span
Title:    Cam Ye O'er Free France
Source:    LP: Parcel Of Rogues
Writer(s):    Trad., arr. Steeleye Span
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1973
    Steeleye Span hit a new commercial high in the summer of 1973, following the spring release of their fifth album, Parcel Of Rogues. As usual, the album was made up entirely of traditional British folk songs updated for a rock audience, yet retaining their original character. Although none of the tunes on Parcel Of Rogues was released as a single, a few, such as Cam Ye O'er Free France, managed to get a decent amount of airplay on both sides of the Atlantic. The song itself dates back to the 17th and 18th century Jacobite movement in Scotland, and the song's lyrics are sung with a Scottish Brogue.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    When I Turn Out The Living Room Light
Source:    Mono LP: The Big Ball
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1973
    Between 1966 and 1970 the Kinks recorded several songs that were written for television and/or motion picture soundtracks. When the band signed with RCA Records in 1970, some of these tracks were turned over to Reprise, the Kinks' previous US label, as collateral (I'm not exactly sure what that means in this context, but that's the term bandleader Ray Davies used). Around this same time, Warner Brothers Records (Reprise's parent label) was in the process of issuing a series of budget LPs collectively known as the "loss leaders" that were only available through mail order forms printed on the innersleeves of Warner/Reprise releases. One of these LPs, The Big Ball, included When I Turn Out The Living Room Light, a tune written for a British TV show. For a couple of years this was the only place the song was available, until it was included on The Great Lost Kinks Album, issued in 1973. The Kinks themselves were unaware of the album's existence until it was already on the charts, and were not happy about it at all. As a result, the album was soon discontinued, and When I Turn Out The Living Room Light remained somewhat of a rarity until the 21st century, when it was finally "officially" released on a CD called BBC Sessions 1964–1977 in 2001.

Artist:    Mothers
Title:    I'm The Slime
Source:    CD: Strictly Commercial (originally released on LP: Over-Nite Sensation)
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:    Ryko (original label: Discreet)
Year:    1973
    In 1973, Frank Zappa, along with an array of talented musicians, recorded two albums' worth of material. The first, released as a Mothers album, was Over-Nite Sensation. Strangely enough, a single was released from the album, although it really didn't make much of a dent in the top 40 charts. That single was I'm The Slime, a song that only gets more relevant as time goes on. The song is basically a description of America's top drug of choice, as the opening lyrics make clear: "I am gross and perverted. I'm obsessed 'n deranged. I have existed for years, but very little has changed. I'm the tool of the government and industry too, for I am destined to rule and regulate you. I may be vile and pernicious, but you can't look away. I make you think I'm delicious, with the stuff that I say. I'm the best you can get. Have you guessed me yet? I'm the slime ooozing out of your TV set." Ironically, Zappa and his band performed the song on his first appearance on NBC's Saturday Night Live.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Smooth Dancer
Source:    Japanese import CD: Who Do We Think We Are
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    Deep Purple's most iconic lineup (the so-called Mark II group consisting of Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice) only recorded four studio albums together before internal tensions and conflict with their own management led to the departure of Gillan and Glover. The last of these was Who Do We Think We Are, released in 1973. By this point some of the band members were not on speaking terms, and their individual parts had to be recorded at separate times. Nonetheless, the album is full of strong tracks such as Smooth Dancer, which closes out side one of the original LP. Despite all the problems getting Who Do We Think We Are recorded and the band's subsequent disintegration, Deep Purple sold more albums in the US than any other recording artist in the year 1973 (including continued strong sales of the 1972 album Machine Head and their live album Made In Japan).

Artist:    Cactus
Title:    Feel So Good
Source:    CD: Cactus
Writer(s):    Appice/Bogert/Day/McCarty
Label:    Wounded Bird (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    In September of 1969 guitarist Jeff Beck approached former Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice and bassist Tim Bogert about forming a new band. Those plans fell through, however, when Beck fractured his skull in a car accident that December. Bogert and Appice quickly recruited vocalist Rusty Day, formerly of the Amboy Dukes, and guitarist Jim McCarty from the Detroit Wheels to form Cactus, releasing their first LP in July of 1970. The album, which can best be described as blues-based hard rock, closes with Feel So Good, which includes an Appice drum solo.

Artist:    Mahogany Rush
Title:    Tales Of The Spanish Warrior
Source:    Canadian import CD: Strange Universe
Writer(s):    Frank Marino
Label:    Just A Minute (original label: 20th Century)
Year:    1975
    Since the tragic death of Jimi Hendrix in 1970, there have been plenty of guitarists that have come along using a similar style to the Experienced One. Only one or two have been able to truly recreate the total Hendrix sound, however, and the most notable of these is Canadian Frank Marino, whose band, Mahogany Rush, was patterned after the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In essence, Mahogany Rush represents one of the many possible directions that Hendrix himself might have gone in had he lived past the age of 27. The album Strange Universe, released in 1975, begins with Tales Of The Spanish Warrior, which manages to capture the Hendrix sound without sounding like any particular Hendrix track.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Tumbling Dice
Source:    Mono 45 RPM promo single
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Rolling Stones
Year:    1972
    The lead single from what is sometimes cited as the Rolling Stones' greatest album, Exile On Main Street, Tumbling Dice was a top 10 single on both sides of the Atlantic, hitting #5 in the UK and #7 in the US. The song started off as a piece called Good Time Woman, but was reworked on August 4, 1971, with a new intro riff and a bass track played by Mick Taylor (Bill Wyman being away from the studio at the time the track was recorded).

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