Sunday, July 11, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2129 (starts 7/12/21)

    This week we have one of those shows that just plain rocks out, 70s style, for almost the entire hour, before finishing out with a couple of quieter ballads from bands usually known for rocking out themselves.

Artist:    Frank Zappa
Title:    Cosmik Debris
Source:    CD: Apostrophe (')
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:    Zappa
Year:    1974
    One of Frank Zappa's most memorable tunes, Cosmik Debris first appeared on his Apostrophe(') album in 1974. The album itself was recorded at the same time as the Mothers' Over-Nite Sensation, and features some of the same musicians, including George Duke and Napoleon Brock. The song, like many Zappa compositions, tells a story, in this case one of a mystical con artist and Zappa's refusal to be conned. The song uses the repeated line "Look here brother. Who you jivin' with that Cosmik Debris?", and contains references to other Zappa compositions, including Camarillo Brillo (from Over-Nite Sensation). The song was originally scheduled for release as a single, but instead appeared as the B side of an edited version of Don't Eat Yellow Snow when that track began gaining popularity due to excessive airplay on FM rock radio.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Fire
Source:    CD: The Ultimate Experience (originally released on LP: Are You Experienced)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1967
    Sometime in late 1966 Jimi Hendrix was visiting his girlfriend's mother's house in London for the first time. It was a cold rainy night and Jimi immediately noticed that there was a dog curled up in front of the fireplace. Jimi's first action was to scoot the dog out of the way so he himself could benefit from the fire's warmth, using the phrase "Move over Rover and let Jimi take over." The phrase got stuck in his head and eventually became the basis for one of his most popular songs. Although never released as a single, Fire was a highlight of the Jimi Hendrix Experience's live performances, often serving as a set opener.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Inside Looking Out
Source:    CD: Grand Funk
Writer(s):    Lomax/Lomax/Burdon/Chandler
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    Grand Funk Railroad never had a whole lot of success in the UK. In fact, their only charted single was a cover of the Animals' 1966 hit Inside Looking Out. The single was considerably shorter than the version heard on the 1969 album Grand Funk, which has a running time of nine and a half minutes, and is considered to be among the heaviest recordings ever made by the band.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Strange Kind Of Woman (live version)
Source:    British import LP: 24 Carat Purple (originally released on LP: Made In Japan)
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Purple/EMI (original US label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1971
    Vocalist Ian Gillan and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore hit a high note...or rather several high notes, whenever Deep Purple performed Strange Kind Of Woman live. Although the band had been reluctant to release a live album, they finally relented and recorded a series of performances on their Japanese tour in August of 1972. The best of those performances were released on a double album called Made In Japan in December of 1972, including a nine and a half minute long version of Strange Kind Of Woman that has come to be considered one of the best live tracks ever recorded.

Artist:     Savoy Brown
Title:     Made Up My Mind
Source:     British import CD: A Step Further
Writer:     Chris Youlden
Label:     Polygram/Deram (original US label: Parrot)
Year:     1969
     To coincide with a US tour, the fourth Savoy Brown album, A Step Further, was actually released in North America several months before it was in the UK, with Made Up My Mind being simultaneously released as a single. Luckily for the band, 1969 was a year that continued the industry-wide trend away from hit singles and toward successful albums instead, at least among the more progressive groups, as the single itself tanked. Aided by a decent amount of airplay on progressive FM radio, however, the album (the last to feature lead vocalist Chris Youlden) peaked comfortably within the top 100.
Artist:    ZZ Top
Title:    Waitin' For The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago
Source:    LP: The Best Of ZZ Top (originally released on LP: Tres Hombres)
Writer(s):    Gibbons/Hill/Beard
Label:    London
Year:    1973
    There have been a handful of instances in rock history where two consecutive tracks on an album have fit so well together that it's almost impossible to hear one without expecting the other to follow it. The Beatles (Back In The USSR/Dear Prudence) may have been the first, but others, including Led Zeppelin (Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman) and Queen (We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions) are also instantly recognizable. Add to that list ZZ Top, whose one-two punch of Waitin' For The Bus and Jesus Just Left Chicago opened their third album, Tres Hombres, in 1973. It was the group's first collaboration with engineer Terry Manning, who (despite persistent rumors to the contrary) deliberately spliced the two songs together without a break between them when mastering the album. Not coincidentally, Tres Hombres was ZZ Top's commercial breakthrough, proving that a good recording engineer can make a significant contribution to a band's success.

Artist:    Mahogany Rush
Title:    Buddy
Source:    LP: Maxoom
Writer(s):    Frank Marino
Label:    20th Century
Year:    1972
    Canadian Frank Marino wrote, played guitar, sang lead vocals on and produced the first Mahogany Rush album, age 17. The LP, released in 1972, was dedicated to the memory of Jimi Hendrix. Buddy, the second song on the LP, was even more specific, being an expression of kinship with the guitarist, who had died less than two years before.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    Watcher Of The Skies
Source:    CD: Foxtrot
Writer(s):    Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford
Label:    Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
Year:    1972
    The opening song for most of Genesis's live performances throughout the mid-1970s was also the opening track of their 1972 album Foxtrot. Watcher Of The Skies was inspired by the works of science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke (Childhood's End) and legendary comic book writer Stan Lee (the Watcher series), although the title itself reportedly was taken from an 1817 poem by John Keats. The two alternating chords at the beginning of the piece were actually the result of the limitations of a Mellotron MKII that keyboardist Tony Banks had just bought from King Crimson. According to Banks "There were these two chords that sounded really good on that instrument. There are some chords you can't play on that instrument because they'd be so out of tune. These chords created an incredible atmosphere. That's why it's just an incredible intro number. It never sounded so good on the later Mellotron."

Artist:    Monty Python
Title:    Nudge Nudge
Source:    LP: Instant Record Collection (originally released on LP: Live At City Center)
Writer(s):    Eric Idle
Label:    Arista
Year:    1976
    Nudge Nudge (officially titled Candid Photography) is a short Monty Python sketch that dates back to the first season of the TV show Monty Python's Flying Circus, broadcast in 1969. Written by Eric Idle, it features Idle as an obnoxious guy in a bar who crowds a fellow patron in a pub, annoying him with cryptic, inappropriate questions about his sex life, punctuating almost every one with the words "nudge nudge wink wink". Unlike most Monty Python bits, Nudge Nudge actually has a punch line (no, I'm not going to give it away here).

Artist:    Rush
Title:    Tears
Source:    LP: 2112
Writer(s):    Geddy Lee
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1976
    The first Rush song to use a Mellotron (a keyboard instrument that used sampled tapes rather than synthesized sounds) was Tears, from the album 2112. It was written by Geddy Lee, who called it a romantic ballad meant to give the album more variety and depth. 40 years after its original release by Rush, Tears was covered by Alice In Chains, who released it as a single in 2016.

Artist:      Uriah Heep
Title:     Tales
Source:      European import CD: The Magician's Birthday
Writer:    Ken Hensley
Label:    Sanctuary (original US label: Mercury)
Year:     1972
     Uriah Heep is generally remembered for two albums that appeared in 1972: Demons and Wizards and The Magicians's Birthday. Although Demons and Wizards had a great title track, and included the hit single Easy Livin', The Magician's Birthday had a stronger overall lineup of songs, including Tales, written by keyboardist Ken Hensley.

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