Sunday, September 26, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2140 (starts 9/27/21)

    This week it's free-form rock all the way from Procol Harum to Genesis, with a mixture of live recording, B sides, and even an EP track joining the album tracks this time around.

Artist:    Procol Harum
Title:    Bringing Home The Bacon
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM promo single
Writer:    Brooker/Reid
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1973
    After the departure of original lead guitarist Robin Trower, the remaining members of Procol Harum continued to record quality albums such as Grand Hotel, although their airplay was limited to sporadic plays on progressive FM stations. One song that probably should have gotten more attention than it did was Bringing Home The Bacon, from the aforementioned Grand Hotel album. The group would experience a brief return to top 40 radio the following year with the release of their live version of Conquistador, a track that originally appeared on the band's 1967 debut LP.

Artist:    Mahogany Rush
Title:    Funky Woman
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. Indeed, Marino's music in many ways represented possible directions that Hendrix himself may have taken had he lived past the age of 27. Funky Woman is an example of one such direction.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix/Band Of Gypsys
Title:    Who Knows
Source:    LP: Band Of Gypsys
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    The first song you hear on an album may not always be the best song on the album, but it is usually the first one that comes to mind whenever that album is mentioned. Such is the case with Who Knows, which opens the Hendrix/Band Of Gypsys album. The thing is, it really isn't much of a song at all, just a sequence of ten notes repeated over and over with occasional vocals and guitar solos on top. It was, however, a fun song to jam on, as it only took a few seconds to learn the basic riff. And, as can be heard on the album itself, talented musicians can keep that simple sequence of ten notes intersting for over nine minutes.

Artist:     The Band
Title:     The Genetic Method/Chest Fever
Source:     CD: Rock Of Ages
Writer:     Hudson/Robertson
Label:     Capitol
Year:     1972
     I guess this is as good a place as any to mention that, given a choice between a live recording and a studio track I'll take the studio track almost every time. My reasoning is this: a live recording, no matter how well recorded, is still nothing more than a documentation of a performance that has already taken place. I believe that there is no possible way to duplicate the actual experience of hearing the song performed live. There are too many aspects of the concert experience that simply can't be captured on an audio (or even visual) medium, such as the emotional and/or mental state of the performers (or the audience members for that matter) at the time of the performance. A studio recording, on the other hand, is a work of, if not art, at least craftmanship. The ability of the artist to go back and make changes to the work until that artist is satisfied with the final product is what makes the studio recording more than just a snapshot of a performance. Just like a sculpture or painting, a studio recording is a set piece, meant to be repeatedly experienced in its final form. That said, here we have a live track from The Band's most popular album, Rock of Ages. Why did I choose this over the studio performance of Chest Fever from Music From Big Pink? Well, the main reason is the first part of the recording, The Genetic Method, which is an improvisational piece from Garth Hudson on the organ. As the two tracks run continuously there was really no choice but to include Chest Fever as well. One small aside: the performances used for Rock of Ages all came from a set of concerts held over the New Year's holidays. The presence of Auld Lang Syne in the middle of The Genetic Method suggests that Hudson started his performance at just a few minutes before midnight and played the familiar strains as the clock struck twelve.
Artist:    Leslie West
Title:    Blood Of The Sun
Source:    45 RPM single B side (also released on LP: Mountain)
Writer:    West/Pappaliardi/Collins
Label:    Windfall
Year:    1969
    After the Long Island band The Vagrants disbanded guitarist Leslie Weinstein changed his last name to West and recorded a solo album called Mountain. Helping him with the project was producer Felix Pappaliardi, who had previously worked with Cream on their Disraeli Gears and Wheels Of Fire albums. Among the better tracks on the album was a tune called Blood Of The Sun, which the two of them wrote (along with Pappaliardi's wife Janet Collins). The pair of them meshed so well that they decided to form a band with drummer Corky Laing, using the name Mountain. One of the first gigs by the new band was the Woodstock festival, where they played Blood Of The Sun to an enthusiastic crowd.

Artist:      Black Sabbath
Title:     Electric Funeral
Source:      CD: Paranoid
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osborne/Butler/Ward
Label:     Warner Brothers
Year:     1970
     When Black Sabbath first appeared on vinyl they were perceived as the next step in the evolution of rock, building on the acid rock of the late sixties and laying the groundwork for what would become heavy metal. Electric Funeral, from the band's second album, Paranoid, shows that evolution in progress.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict
Source:    CD: Works (originally released on LP: Ummagumma)
Writer(s):    Roger Waters
Label:    Capitol (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1969
    In 1971 I was in a band called Sunn that played mostly in theaters in western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle . To get the crowd in the right mood for our performance we would play a tape loop of Pink Floyd's Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict through the band's PA system while people were getting seated. We figured most everyone in the audience had not yet heard of Pink Floyd, since there were no progressive rock FM stations in that part of the country (and damned few AM stations playing anything but country for that matter). Composer Roger Waters later said of the piece: "It's not actually anything, it's a bit of concrete poetry. Those were sounds that I made, the voice and the hand slapping were all human generated - no musical instruments."
Artist:    Kinks
Title:    God's Children
Source:    French import 7" 33 1/3 RPM EP: From the soundtrack of the film "Percy"
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Sanctuary (original label: Pye)
Year:    1971
    The final Kinks album released on the Pye label in the UK was the soundtrack album for a film called Percy. In addition to the LP, Pye issued a four-song EP from the album as well, promoted as a "maxi-single", perhaps the first ever use of the term. The opening track from both the album and the EP was God's Children; the song was also released as a single in the UK but did not chart. None of these records, by the way, were ever given a North American release, resulting in the Percy soundtrack being the best selling Kinks import album in the US for several years.

Artist:     Argent
Title:     Closer To Heaven
Source:     45 RPM single B side
Writer:     Russ Ballard
Label:     Epic
Year:     1972
     After the Zombies split up in 1968 keyboardist Rod Argent set out to form a new band to be known simply as Argent. The new group scored its biggest hit in 1972 with the song Hold Your Head Up. The original single was released on April 11, 1972 and ran 2 minutes and 52 seconds. It was backed with a song called Keep On Rollin', written by Argent and fellow former Zombie Chris White. On May 1st the single was reissued with a longer version of Hold Your Head Up (3:15). For the reissue the B side was replaced with Closer To Heaven, a tune written by guitarist/keyboardist Russ Ballard.

Artist:    Blood, Sweat And Tears
Title:    Spinning Wheel
Source:    CD: Blood, Sweat And Tears
Writer(s):    David Clayton-Thomas
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1969
    After the departure of Blood, Sweat & Tears founder Al Kooper following the group's first LP, the remaining members decided to make a go of it with a new vocalist. They recruited Canada's David Clayton-Thomas, who not only brought a unique vocal sound to the group, but also penned one of their most popular songs, Spinning Wheel. The tune was the band's second consecutive top 5 single and cemented the group's reputation as a force to be reckoned with in the music world.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    Harlequin
Source:    CD: Nursery Cryme
Writer(s):    Mike Rutherford
Label:    Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
Year:    1971
    Although you would expect a song that is basically a vocal duet between Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, Harlequin, from the Genesis album Nursery Cryme, was actually written by bassist Mike Rutherford. Go figure.

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