Sunday, September 5, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2137 (starts 9/6/21)

    This week's show starts off, as it often does, with some fairly popular and definitely solid rock songs from the early 1970s, including tracks from Uriah Heep and Humble Pie. About a third of the way through, however, the blues show up at the door (a bad pun, as you'll hear when you get there) and stick around until the last 15 minutes or so, when things get a bit more countrified, thanks to folks like J.J. Cale and New Riders of the Purple Sage.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix/Band Of Gypsys
Title:    Power Of Soul
Source:    CD: South Saturn Delta
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA
Year:    Recorded 1970, released 1997
    1969 was a strange year for Jimi Hendrix. For one thing, he did not release any new recordings that year, yet he remained the top money maker in rock music. One reason for the lack of new material was an ongoing dispute with Capitol Records over a contract he had signed in 1965. By the end of the year an agreement was reached for Hendrix to provide Capitol with one album's worth of new material. At this point Hendrix had not released any live albums, so it was decided to tape his New Year's performances at the Fillmore East with his new Band Of Gypsys (with drummer Buddy Miles and bassist Billy Cox), playing songs that had never been released in studio form. As it turns out, however, studio versions of many of the songs on that album did indeed exist, but were not issued until after Hendrix's death, when producer Alan Douglas put out a pair of LPs (Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning), that had some of the original drum and bass tracks (and even some guitar tracks) re-recorded by musicians that had never actually worked with Hendrix. One of those songs is Power Of Soul, which has finally been released in its original Band Of Gypsys studio version, with background vocals provided by Cox and Miles.

Artist:    Jeff Beck
Title:    Shapes Of Things
Source:    LP: Truth
Writer(s):    Relf/Mccarty/Samwell-Smith
Label:    Epic
Year:    1968
    Jeff Beck has never been the kind of guitarist to find something that works and then stick with it until it doesn't work any longer. In fact, he has, throughout his career, done the exact opposite, making it nearly impossible to predict what he will do next. After leaving the Yardbirds he recorded a pair of forgettable singles for producer Mickey Most (imagine Beck trying to sound like Herman's Hermits) before emerging later in 1967 with the first incarnation of the Jeff Beck Group, which included which included Rod Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. After Dunbar left to form the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, the band recruited Mickey Waller, and old bandmate of Stewart's, and recorded the album Truth, releasing it in July of 1968 in the US and November in the UK. Although Most produced the album, Beck chose to eschew Most's preference for commercial pop in favor of a sound that would come to define hard rock in the early 1970s. The album's opening track, Shapes Of Things, a remake of a Yardbirds classic, showed just how hard Beck and his new band were willing to push the boundaries of rock, and is now considered a classic in its own right.

Artist:    Humble Pie
Title:    Stone Cold Fever
Source:    CD: Rock On
Writer(s):    Ridley/Marriott/Shirley/Frampton
Label:    A&M/Rebound
Year:    1971
    Although not released as a single, the most popular song on Humble Pie's fourth LP, Rock On, was Stone Cold Fever, which got extensive airplay on FM rock radio. The tune was written by the entire band, including guitarist Peter Frampton, who would leave Humble Pie soon after the album was released to form his own group, Peter Frampton's Camel.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    Tears In My Eyes (extended version)
Source:    European Import CD: Look At Yourself
Writer(s):    Ken Hensley
Label:    Sanctuary
Year:    Recorded 1971, released 2003
    Most people who heard Uriah Heep's first album agreed that the band had potential. That potential was realized with the 1971 album Look At Yourself. One of the more popular songs on the album was Tears In My Eyes, which opened side two of the original LP. The version on the album was actually edited down from the original tapes. This version is a slightly longer edit, with an extended acoustic section in the middle of the piece.

Artist:    Mothers
Title:    Dirty Love
Source:    CD: Over-Nite Sensation
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:    Zappa (original label: Discreet)
Year:    1973
    After a series of experimental and jazz-oriented albums, Frank Zappa returned to rock with a pair of albums that defined the direction his music would take in the 1970s and beyond. The first, Over-Nite Sensation, was credited to the Mothers of Invention, and was released in 1973. The second was Apostrophe('), which, although recorded at the same time as Over-Nite Sensation, was released as a Frank Zappa solo album the following year. Both albums combine superb musicianship from the likes of George Clinton and Jean-Luc Ponty with Zappa's unique brand of satiric humor, and are among Zappa's most popular releases. One of the highlights of Over-Nite Sensation, Dirty Love, contains the repeated phrase "The poodle bites, the poodle chews it", which also shows up in a track from the Apostrophe(') album, albeit in a different form. In both cases the refrain is sung by the Ikettes, who were, at Ike Turner's insistence, excluded from the album's musician credits, although they did get paid for their work (but, again at Turner's insistence, at the minimum allowable wage rate).

Artist:    Cheech & Chong
Title:    The Bust
Source:    LP: Big Bambu
Writer(s):    Marin/Chong
Label:    Ode
Year:    1971
    A whole lot of people who could relate to situations like the one presented on The Bust bought copies of Cheech & Chong's second album Big Bambu, which features the two-minute comedy bit as the opening track on side two of the original LP. Some of them probably bought it for the giant rolling paper that was included with the LP itself. Most of them ended up using that rolling paper (or at least trying to). I still have mine.

Artist:    Love Sculpture
Title:    Don't Answer The Door
Source:    British import CD: Blues Helping
Writer(s):    Jimmy Johnson
Label:    EMI (original US label: Rare Earth)
Year:    1968
    Although many people are familiar with Dave Edmunds' early 1970s version of Fats Domino's I Hear You Knockin', not all are aware of his earlier work fronting the band Love Sculpture. The group cut two LPs for the Parlophone label, both of which were dominated by blues covers such as Don't Answer The Door, which was originally recorded by Jimmy Johnson and his Band featuring Hank Alexander in 1964. Although the song was released on the independent Magnum label in the US, it was picked up for release in the UK on Sue Records, which is probably where Edmunds heard it. The Love Sculpture version features outstanding guitar work by Edmunds, surely one of the most underrated players in rock history.

Artist:    Canned Heat
Title:    Let's Work Together
Source:    CD: The Very Best Of Canned Heat (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Wilbert Harrison
Label:    Capitol (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1970
    By a rather odd twist of fate Wilbert Harrison, known primarily for his 50s hit Kansas City, decided to reissue one of his lesser-known tunes, Let's Work Together, just a few weeks before a new Canned Heat version of the song was released in 1970. As it turns out, neither version became a major hit, although the Canned Heat version did get some airplay and managed to crack the Billboard Hot 100 that year.

Artist:     Rolling Stones
Title:     No Expectations
Source:     CD: Beggar's Banquet
Writer:     Jagger/Richards
Label:     Abkco (original label: London)
Year:     1968
     After the heavy dose of studio effects on Their Satanic Majesties Request, the Rolling Stones took a back-to-basics approach for their next album, Beggar's Banquet, the first to be produced by Jimmy Miller (who had previously worked with Steve Winwood in Traffic and the Spencer Davis Group). No Expectations, the second track on the album, uses minimal instrumentation and places a greater emphasis on Mick Jagger's vocals and Brian Jones's slide guitar work. Sadly, it was to be Jones's last album as a member of the Rolling Stones, as heavy drug use was already taking its toll (and would soon take his life as well).

Artist:    Eric Burdon And War
Title:    Sun/Moon
Source:    CD: The Black Man's Burdon
Writer(s):    War
Label:    UMe
Year:    1970
    When LPs were first introduced in 1948, their primary selling point was that they had longer playing times than the standard 78 RPM records of the time. By 1952 Columbia Records had introduced "extended play" LPs that could hold up to 26 minutes per side. This was ideal for classical music and for some of the more experimental jazz artists such as Miles Davis, who favored long extended pieces. Popular music, on the other hand, was more suited to singles, and by the mid-1950s RCA's 45 RPM records dominated the pop market. In its early years, rock 'n' roll was entirely singles oriented. Only the most popular artists, such as Elvis Presley, even released LPs, and those tended to only have about 15 minutes's worth of music per side. By the 1960s the fifteen-minute album side was the standard for popular music, with some labels, such as Tower, releasing albums with even shorter running times. As rock music became more album-oriented in the late 1960s, it maintained the shorter side length. In 1970, however, Eric Burdon And War decided to release an album with a total of over 90 minutes' worth of music on it. To do this they made The Black Man's Burdon a double-LP set. Even then, the side lengths far exceeded the standard. The longest of these was side three, which started off with the ten-minute slow blues jam Sun/Moon and ended up with a total running time of over 27 minutes. That's nearly a minute longer that the two sides of Meet The Beatles combined! Although Eric Burdon And War were the first to put out long album sides, they were by no means the last. Many Genesis albums, for instance, had running times of over 25 minutes per side, and Def Leppard's Hysteria LP actually runs for more than an hour total. Of course there are some sound quality issues with the longer album sides (for technical reasons), which makes finding a listenable copy of The Black Man's Burdon on vinyl a virtual impossibility. Luckily, it's now available on CD.

Artist:    J.J. Cale
Title:    Hold On
Source:    LP: Troubador
Writer(s):    J.J. Cale
Label:    Shelter
Year:    1976
    J.J. Cale was a nearly-destitute artist in 1970 when Eric Clapton released a cover of his 1966 B side, After Midnight. This led to him getting a contract with Leon Russell's Shelter Records in 1971, renewing his career. Perhap's Cale's best album for Shelter was Troubador, released in 1976. In addition to providing another B side for Clapton to cover (Cocaine), the album includes the laid back Hold On, an excellent example of what has come to be called the "Tulsa Sound".

Artist:    New Riders Of The Purple Sage
Title:    Garden Of Eden
Source:    European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: New Riders Of The Purple Sage)
Writer(s):    John Dawson
Label:    Sony Music (original label: Columbia)
Year:    1971
    The first New Riders Of The Purple Sage album is, arguably, their best; it's also one of the best country-rock albums ever released. The band itself, closely associated with the Grateful Dead, consisted of guitarist John Dawson, who also wrote every song on the album (including Garden Of Eden), guitarist David Nelson, bassist Dave Torbert, pedal steel guitarist Jerry Garcia and drummer Spencer Dryden, although Garcia only appeared on the first NRPS LP. Stylistically, the album fits well with such Dead classics as Workingman's Dead and American Beauty and LPs such as the Byrds' Sweetheart Of The Rodeo and Poco's early work.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Jack Straw
Source:    LP: Europe '72
Writer(s):    Weir/Hunter
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1972
    As a general rule, when poet Robert Hunter's name comes up, it's in the context of his collaborations with the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia. Hunter did work with other people, however, including the Dead's own Bob Weir. One of the songs they wrote together is Jack Straw, recorded at L'Olympia in Paris on May 3, 1972 and included on the Europe '72 triple-LP.

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