Sunday, October 3, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2141 (starts 10/04/21)

    This week we rock out pretty hard, starting with Jimi Hendrix and ending up with the Doobie Brothers. In between we have classics from Mountain, Cream, Canned Heat, the Doors and plenty more for a total of 11 tracks.

Artist:     Jimi Hendrix Experience (MkII)
Title:     Freedom
Source:     CD: First Rays of the New Rising Sun (originally released on LP: Rainbow Bridge)
Writer:     Jimi Hendrix
Label:     MCA/Experience Hendrix (original label: Reprise)
Year:     1970
     Jimi Hendrix was working on a new double album when he died, but nobody else seemed to be sure where he was going with it. As there were several tracks that were unfinished at the time, Reprise Records gathered what they could and put them together on an album called The Cry Of Love. Freedom, a nearly finished piece (the unfinished part being a short "placesetter" guitar solo that Hendrix never got around to replacing with a final take), is the opening track from the album. Soon after that, a new Hendrix concert film called Rainbow Bridge was released along with a soundtrack album containing most of the remaining tracks from the intended double album. Finally, under the auspices of the Hendrix family in 1997, MCA (with the help of original engineer Eddie Kramer and drummer Mitch Mitchell) pieced together what was essentially an educated guess about what would have been that album and released it under the name First Rays of the New Rising Sun.
Artist:    Cactus
Title:    Long Tall Sally
Source:    British import LP: The New Age Of Atlantic (originally released on LP: One Way...Or Another)
Writer(s):    Penniman/Johnson/Blackwell
Label:    Atlantic (original label: Atco)
Year:    1971
    The second Cactus album, One Way...Or Another, followed the same pattern as the first one: a bunch of original tunes supplemented by a pair of old rock 'n' roll tunes redone in a style reminiscent of some of Vanilla Fudge's harder rocking tracks. This makes sense, since half of Cactus (bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice) were members of Vanilla Fudge before forming Cactus in the first place. In this instance the first of the two covers was a slowed-down and louded-up version of Little Richard's Long Tall Sally. Heavy stuff.

Artist:    Mountain
Title:    Mississippi Queen
Source:    CD: The Best Of Mountain (originally released on LP: Mountain Climbing)
Writer(s):    West/Laing/Pappalardi/Rea
Label:    Columbia/Windfall
Year:    1970
    One of the most overlooked bands of the mid-1960s was the Vagrants. Based on Long Island, the group made a specialty of covering popular R&B and rock songs, often slowing them down and featuring extended solos by guitarist Leslie Weinstein, inspiring fellow Long Islanders Vanilla Fudge to do the same. Although the Vagrants never were able to gain much national attention, Weinstein himself had established quite a reputation by the time the group disbanded. Meanwhile, keyboardist/producer/songwriter Felix Pappalardi had been working with the members of Cream as a producer, but with the demise of that band was looking for a new project to sink his teeth into. That new project turned out to be a solo album by Weinstein, who by then had shortened his last name to West. The album was called Mountain, and soon after its release West and Pappalardi decided to form a band of the same name. The group first got national attention performing at Woodstock, and in 1970 released the album Mountain Climbing, featuring the hit single Mississippi Queen.

Artist:    Focus
Title:    House Of The King
Source:    45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s):    Jan Akkerman
Label:    Sire
Year:    1970
    Dutch band Focus released House of the King as a single in 1970, between their first and second albums. After getting considerable airplay in Europe and the UK, the song was added to later pressings of their debut LP, Focus Plays Focus (also known as In And Out Of Focus). The song finally appeared on a US LP when Focus 3 was released three years later. Contrary to popular belief, the song was not re-recorded for the 1973 album.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Deserted Cities Of The Heart
Source:    British Import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Wheels Of Fire)
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Polydor (original US label: Atco)
Year:    1968
     The most psychedelic of Cream's songs were penned by Jack Bruce and his songwriting partner Pete Brown. One of the best of these was chosen to close out the last studio side of the last Cream album released while the band was still in existence. Deserted Cities Of The Heart is a fitting epitaph to an unforgettable band. It's also a pretty good way to end this week's show.

Artist:    Zephyr
Title:    Hard Chargin' Woman
Source:    CD: Zephyr
Writer(s):    Givens/Givens/Bolin/Faris/Chamberlin
Label:    One Way (original label: ABC/Probe)
Year:    1969
    By the early 1970s it had become almost mandatory for a band to include one extra long track on their debut LP intended to showcase the individual talents of the various band members. Zephyr, a blues-based jam band from Boulder, Colorado, was among the first to record such a track, in this case the nine-minute Hard Chargin' Woman. The track starts off as a slow menacing blues number built around a pair of power chords, with Candy Given's unique vocals front and center. Before long Tommy Bolin starts adding guitar fills. After a couple of verses and chorus, Bolin introduces an entirely new repeating riff, giving keyboardist John Faris a chance to strut his stuff. Although bassist David Givens and drummer Robbie Chamberlin do not have any solos, both have a chance to show what they can do throughout the piece, which eventually returns to it's original slow tempo for the grand finale. Bolin, after a second album, left Zephyr to join the James Gang, and was well on his way to establishing himself as a star, both as a solo artist and as Ritchie Blackmore's replacement in Deep Purple when he suddenly became a member of the "27 club" due to a drug overdose.

Artist:    Canned Heat
Title:    My Mistake
Source:    British import CD: Living The Blues
Writer(s):    Alan Wilson
Label:    BGO (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1968
    Although Robert "The Bear" Hite was the main lead vocalist for Canned Heat, guitarist Alan "Sunflower" Wilson had his share of the spotlight as well, particularly on songs that he wrote himself, such as My Mistake, from the 1968 album Living The Blues. Similar in sound and structure to his most famous song, Going Up The Country, My Mistake is a worthy companion to that classic.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Roadhouse Blues
Source:    CD: Morrison Hotel
Writer(s):    Morrison/The Doors
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1970
    After getting less than favorable reviews for their fourth LP, The Soft Parade, the Doors decided to go back to their roots for 1970s Morrison Hotel. One of the many bluesier tunes on the album was Roadhouse Blues, a song that soon became a staple of the group's live performances.

Artist:     Led Zeppelin
Title:     Your Time Is Gonna Come/Black Mountain Side/Communication Breakdown
Source:     CD: Led Zeppelin
Writer(s):    Page/Jones/Bonham
Year:     1969
    One of the great ironies of Led Zeppelin is that half the members of a band that was revered for its live performances were in fact in-demand studio musicians long before they started performing onstage. Your Time Is Gonna Come and Black Mountain Side, from the debut Zeppelin album was written by those two members, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. The two songs run together on the album, and are immediately followed by the B side of the band's first single, Communication Breakdown. I'm pretty sure that back when the album first came out, some unknown DJ was unable to stop the turntable fast enough to cut off Communication Breakdown and ended up just letting the two and a half minute track play on through. Somebody liked the way it sounded and the three have been played as a continuous set ever since. Who am I to argue with a tradition like that?

Artist:    Yes
Title:    Starship Trooper
Source:    CD: The Yes Album
Writer(s):    Anderson/Squire/Howe
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1971
    Although technically it was the third LP released by the band, The Yes Album was, in many ways, the true beginning of the Yes story. The Yes Album was the first to feature guitarist Steve Howe, whose contributions significantly altered the band's sound. This influence is particularly strong on the third section of Starship Trooper (subtitled Wurm), which Howe had brought with him from his previous band, Bodast. The opening section of the song, Life Seeker, as well as the title of Starship Trooper itself, was inspired in part by the Robert Heinlein novel, with Jon Anderson's lyrics centering on a search for God. The middle section, Disillusion, was provided by bassist Chris Squire, and was actually based on a section of an earlier piece called For Everyone. Starship Trooper, although never released as a single, quickly became a popular (and permanent) part of Yes's stage repertoire.

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    Rockin' Down The Highway
Source:    CD: Toulouse Street
Writer(s):    Tom Johnston
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1972
    In the early 1970s, one sure sign that an artist had "arrived" was when both sides of a single got extensive airplay. This happened to the Doobie Brothers in November of 1972 when both Jesus Is Just Alright and its B side, Rockin' Down The Highway, did the trick for them. From then on it was smooth sailing for one of the most popular bands of the decade.

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