Sunday, June 13, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2125 (B22) (starts 6/14/21)

    A few years back I started recording a series of backup, or contingency shows, for those times when it becomes impossible to produce a new show for a given week. Due to a major equipment failure at the studios where Rockin' in the Days of Confusion is recorded, this turns out to be one of those weeks. This particular show was recorded on 5/25/18, so there may be a couple of minor format differences between this and the way the show usually sounds, but the music is as solid as ever, and even includes four tracks (from Chicago, Illinois Speed Press, Joe Walsh and Rush) that have never been played on the show before. Not bad for a backup, eh?

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Have A Cigar
Source:    CD: Wish You Were Here
Writer(s):    Roger Waters
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1975
    One of the most recognizable songs in the entire Pink Floyd catalog, Have A Cigar is an indictment of the hypocrisy, greed and general sleaziness that drives the modern music industry. Recorded in Abbey Road's studio 3, the song featured guest vocalist Roy Harper, who was working on an album of his own in studio 2 at the time. Both David Gilmour and Roger Waters attempted to sing the song (which was written by Waters), but were unhappy with the results. Gilmour had already contributed some guitar parts to Harper's album, and decided to ask Harper to return the favor. The song appears on the album Wish You Were Here, which both Waters and Gilmour have said is their favorite Pink Floyd album.

Artist:    Allman Brothers Band
Title:    Dreams
Source:    CD: Beginnings (originally released on LP: The Allman Brothers Band)
Writer(s):    Gregg Allman
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    Although it had originally been one of the first tracks recorded by the Allman Brothers Band at Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia, the final take of Gregg Allman's Dreams was the last song on the band's debut LP to be committed to tape. The problem with the previous takes was that bandleader Duane Allman was unhappy with his own guitar solo on the song. Finally, after the band finished its regular session on August 12, 1969, he asked everyone to turn off all the lights in the studio. He then tried something he hadn't done on previous takes. Using his recently adopted slide guitar technique, Duane recorded a new overdubbed solo that literally brought the entire band to tears. "It was unbelievable," recalled drummer Butch Trucks. "It was just magic. It’s always been that the greatest music we played was from out of nowhere, that it wasn’t practiced, planned, or discussed."

Artist:    Illinois Speed Press
Title:    The Visit
Source:    LP: Duet
Writer(s):    Kal David
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1969
    In 1969, Columbia Records simultaneously released albums from four bands from the Chicago area, marketing them as the "Chicago Sound". The strategy was only slightly more successful than M-G-M's "Boss-Town Sound" campaign the year before, with only one of the albums, the double-LP set Chicago Transit Authority, becoming a bonifide hit record. The Illinois Speed Press, on the other hand, was only around long enough to make two albums, and the second one saw the group, led by Paul Cotton and Kal David, move away from Chicago, both physically and musically, toward a more California-oriented country-rock sound. Not long after the second LP, Duet (which was basically just Cotton and David accompanied by studio musicians), Kal David left to co-found the Fabulous Rhinestones. Not long after that Paul Cotton accepted an invitation to join Poco.

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    Now That You've Gone
Source:    Chicago V
Writer(s):    James Pankow
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1972
    Of the four Chicago area bands signed by Columbia's Clive Davis in 1969 (and marketed as the "Chicago Sound"), only one was a lasting success. In fact, after their first LP they shortened their name from the Chicago Transit Authority to Chicago, which they have used ever since. During their early years Chicago was one of the most prolific bands around, releasing three double-LP studio albums and a four-LP live album in the period from April 1969 to October 1971. That's ten LPs worth of material in two and a half years. In addition, a single-LP studio album, Chicago V, was recorded in September of 1971, but held back until the following summer in order to get maximum traction for the massive Chicago At Carnegie Hall live album. Although nearly every track on Chicago V was written by keyboardist Robert Lamm, the album does contain one new song from James Pankow, who had written the band's breakout hit single Make Me Smile and the wedding favorite Colour My World. Although not released as a single, Now That You've Gone, with vocals by guitarist Terry Kath, is one of the strongest tracks on the album.

Artist:    War
Title:    Why Can't We Be Friends
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    War/Goldstein
Label:    United Artists
Year:    1975
    One of the most popular songs of 1975, War's Why Can't We Be Friends, from the album of the same title, repeats the title line over forty times in under less than four minutes. The song even made it into outer space that summer, when NASA beamed it up to the world's first international space mission, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, in July.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Treetrunk
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Robby Krieger
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1972
    One of the most obscure Doors tracks in existence, Treetrunk was the non-LP B side of Get Up And Dance, a single released in 1972 that did not chart. The song was recorded during sessions for the album Full Circle, but left off the LP because the song's writer, Robby Krieger, felt it was "too commercial". Treetrunk is one of only three songs that were not included on Doors albums, and the only one released after the death of the band's original vocalist, Jim Morrison. Keyboardist Ray Manzarek provided the lead vocals for the track.

Artist:    Joe Walsh
Title:    Time Out
Source:    LP: The Best Of Joe Walsh (originally released on LP: So What)
Writer(s):    Joe Walsh
Label:    ABC
Year:    1974
    If there is any one song that could be called a typical example of a Joe Walsh tune, it could very well be Time Out, a song originally released on the 1974 album So What and then as a single the following year. It has all the hallmarks: a smooth guitar riff played against a background of power chords, a vocal line that starts on a high pitched note and stays there long enough to create tension before dropping down a bit, and lyrics that are suitably cryptic, yet down to earth. Although not a top 40 hit, the song got plenty of play on mid-70s FM rock radio stations.

Artist:    Who
Title:    The Song Is Over
Source:    LP: Who's Next
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    Decca
Year:    1971
    While on their 1969-70 Tommy tour, the Who's primary songwriter, Pete Townshend, began working on something called the Lifehouse project. Conceived as a multi-media experience that would take the idea of immersion to its ultimate conclusion, Townshend eventually abandoned the project as unworkable; he did, however, manage to salvage several of the Lifehouse songs, including them on the 1971 album Who's Next. Among those tunes was The Song Is Over. The piece was designed to be the finale to Lifehouse, and serves quite nicely as the closing track for Who's Next.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Sentimental Lady
Source:    CD: Bare Trees
Writer(s):    Bob Welch
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1972
    One of the great rock love songs of the 1970s, Bob Welch's Sentimental Lady spent several weeks in the top 20 in late 1977. Welch's solo version of the song, from his French Kiss album, was not the original recorded version of the song, however. That title goes to the 1972 Fleetwood Mac version of the song from the Bare Trees album, featuring Welch on lead vocals backed by Christine McVie. Unlike the Welch version, Fleetwood Mac's Sentimental Lady has a second verse and runs about four and a half minutes in length (Welch's solo version is about three minutes long).

Artist:    Rush
Title:    Lessons
Source:    LP: 2112
Writer(s):    Alex Lifeson
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1976
    Born in 1953, Alex Lifeson has been a painter, a licensed aircraft pilot, an actor, and the part-owner of a Toronto bar and restaurant called The Orbit Room. He was also a co-founder of the Canadian band Rush, playing guitar and providing backup vocals, as well as co-writing most of the band's music. He did not, however, write lyrics very often. One exception to this is Lessons, from the band's breakthrough album 2112., Lifeson considered Lessons to be  "just a little lighter and a little more fun" than the album's science fiction themed title track.

Artist:    Captain Beyond
Title:    Raging River Of Fear
Source:    LP: Captain Beyond
Writer(s):    Caldwell/Evans
Label:    Capricorn
Year:    1972
    No band has ever impressed me during a live performance more than Captain Beyond did in 1972. Some friends and I had made the trip from Alamogordo to El Paso to catch a concert. Back in those days a typical rock concert featured three bands: one headliner, a middle band that had an album or two under their belt but had not yet achieved headliner status, and an opening act that was generally either a new band promoting their debut LP or a popular local band. I honestly don't remember who the headliner was on this particular night, but they were obviously enough of a draw to get the bunch of us to drive the 85 miles of two-lane blacktop across the Texas-New Mexico line to come see them. As it turns out, it didn't matter, because the opening act Captain Beyond (whom none of us had ever heard of) totally blew both the other bands off the stage. The thing I was most impressed by was how big of a sound they had on songs like Raging River Of Fear, considering they had only one guitar, along with bass, drums and vocals. Later that week I discovered the second most impressive thing about Captain Beyond: their concert performance sounded exactly like their album, which I bought as soon as I found a copy on the racks. Once I had a copy of the album I realized that I was already familiar with the work of some of the band members, including Lee Dorman and Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt (both from Iron Butterfly) and Rod Evans (the original Deep Purple vocalist). Drummer Bobby Caldwell's name was unfamiliar, but he certainly left an impression with his power and precision, a combination that fit the band quite well.

Artist:    Crow
Title:    Cottage Cheese
Source:    Mono 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Weigand/Waggoner
Label:    Amaret
Year:    1970
    In late 1970 I found myself living in Alamogordo, NM, which was at the time one of those places that still didn't have an FM station (in fact, the only FM station we could receive was a classical station in Las Cruces, 70 miles away). To make it worse, there were only two AM stations in town, and the only one that played current songs went off the air at sunset. As a result the only way to hear current music at night (besides buying albums without hearing them first) was to "DX" distant AM radio stations. Of these, the one that came in most clearly and consistently was KOMA in Oklahoma City. My friends and I spent many a night driving around with KOMA cranked up, fading in and out as long-distance AM stations always do. One of those nights we were all blown away by a song named Cottage Cheese from a Minnesota band called Crow, which, due to the conservative nature of the local daytime-only station, was not getting any local airplay. Years later I was lucky enough to find a copy in a thrift store in Albuquerque. Here it is.

Artist:     Arlo Guthrie
Title:     Coming Into Los Angeles
Source:     LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: Running Down The Road)
Writer:     Arlo Guthrie
Label:     Warner Brothers (original label: Rising Son)
Year:     1969
    Coming Into Los Angeles is one of Arlo Guthrie's most popular songs. It is also the song with the most confusing recording history. The song first came to prominence when Guthrie's live performance of the tune was included in the movie Woodstock. When the soundtrack of the film was released, however, a different recording was used. At first I figured they had simply used the studio version of the song, from the 1969 album Running Down The Road, but it turns out there are significant differences between that version (heard here) and the one included on Woodstock album. Complicating matters is the fact that the version included on The Best Of Arlo Guthrie later in the decade seems to be an altogether different recording than any of the previous releases. If anyone out there (Arlo, are you reading this?) can shed some light on this for me, it would be greatly appreciated.

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