Sunday, November 7, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2146

    This week we head out to deep waters and haul in several tunes that haven't been heard on this show over the past couple of years. In fact, half of the tracks have never been played on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion at all. Among those is a Little Feat song introduced by keyboardist Bill Payne, the last remaining member of the legendary band.

Artist:    Crosby, Stills And Nash
Title:    Dark Star
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1977
    It may come as a surprise that the second Crosby, Stills And Nash LP, CSN, came out eight years after the first one, even if you consider that the deja vu and Four-Way Street albums, released in 1970-71, were only one band member (Neil Young) away from being by the same group. Then again, if you were around at the time, and had heard about the horrendous backstage fights in dressing rooms around the country, it might not all that much surprising. Whatever the reason, the album CSN did not appear until 1977. CSN did include a few songs that got airplay on several radio formats, however. Stephen Stills's Dark Star, which also appeared as the B side of the album's first single, got heard quite a bit on FM rock radio (which by 1977 was already morphing into the more commercial album-oriented rock format), while the A side of the single, Just A Song Before I Go, became a soft-rock staple.

Artist:    Elton John
Title:    Tell Me When The Whistle Blows/Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Source:    LP: Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy
Writer(s):    John/Taupin
Label:    MCA
Year:    1975
    I always considered Someone Saved My Life Tonight to be sort of a typical Elton John song, but gained a new appreciation for the tune when it was referenced in Stephen King's Wolves Of The Calla, the fifth book of his Dark Tower series. Still, it took several more years before I finally scored a copy of Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy, the 1975 album that the song originally appeared on. The song itself is a very personal one, about a time in the singer's life when he was contemplating giving up his music career and getting married. Luckily his friend Long John Baldry ("Sugar Bear") talked him out of it, thus saving his musical life. On the album, Someone Saved My Life Tonight is preceded by Tell Me When The Whistle Blows, with a cross-fade serving to connect the two songs so that they play as one continuous piece.

Artist:    Barclay James Harvest
Title:    The Great 1974 Mining Disaster
Source:    British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Everyone Is Everybody Else)
Writer(s):    John Lees
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1974
    Although they were never as big as other prog-rock bands such as Yes or Emerson, Lake And Palmer, England's Barclay James Harvest nonetheless had a long and productive career. Their 1974 album Everyone Is Everybody Else is generally considered to be their artistic and commercial peak, and was especially successful in continental Europe, as were the band's subsequent LPs. One of the more notable tracks on Everyone Is Everybody Else is The Great 1974 Mining Disaster, a tribute to the Bee Gees first international hit single, New York Mining Disaster 1941, with a healthy amount of David Bowie references thrown in.

Artist:      David Bowie
Title:     Space Oddity
Source:      45 RPM single (originally released on LP: David Bowie)
Writer:    David Bowie
Label:     RCA Victor (original label: Mercury)
Year:     1969
     When David Jones first started his recording career he was a fairly conventional folk singer. With his second self-titled album (later retitled Space Oddity) he truly became the David Bowie we all know, and the rock world was never quite the same. Although originally released in 1969, the song didn't become popular in the US until 1973, when it was released as a single with the title track of the 1970 album The Man Who Sold The World as a B side.
Artist:    Mahogany Rush
Title:    Madness
Source:    LP: Maxoom
Writer(s):    Frank Marino
Label:    20th Century
Year:    1972
    17-year-old Frank Marino wrote, sang, produced and played guitar on every song on the debut Mahogany Rush album Maxoom, which was released on Halloween of 1972 in Canada and the following year in the US. One of the strongest tracks on the album is Madness, which closes out the first side of the original LP. Besides Marino, the power trio featured Paul Harwood on bass and James Ayoub on drums.

Artist:    Beach Boys
Title:    Feel Flows
Source:    LP: Surf's Up
Writer(s):    Wilson/Riely
Label:    Brother/Reprise
Year:    1971
    The 1970 album Sunflower was the worst-selling album in Beach Boys history. To rectify their falling popularity the group brought in a new manager, Jack Riely, aka KPFK DJ John Frank. Riely immediately set about making changes, including the appointment of Carl Wilson as the band's official leader and the abandonment of the group's long-standing practice of dressing alike on stage. He also worked with the band creatively, encouraging them to write more relevant songs and even doing some songwriting of his own on tracks like Feel Flows, which was co-written by Carl Wilson. Although Surf's Up has gotten mixed reviews over the years, Feel Flows is often singled out as a highlight of the album.
Artist:    Little Feat
Title:    On Your Way Down
Source:    CD: Dixie Chicken
Writer(s):    Alan Toussaint
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    The talents of Little Feat co-founders Lowell George (guitar and vocals) and Bill Payne (piano and organ) are on display on the band's version of Alan Toussaint's On Your Way Down, one of the highlights of the 1973 album Dixie Chicken. This is some good stuff, folks.

Artist:    Black Sheep
Title:    A Little Or A Lot
Source:    LP: Black Sheep
Writer(s):    Grammatico/Mancuso/Turgon
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1975
    Rochester, NY, has produced its share of stars over the years, including Steve Alaimo (the original host of Dick Clark's weekday series Where The Action Is), alternative garage rockers The Chesterfield Kings and flugelhornist Chuck Mangione, one of the principal architects of the smooth jazz movement of the 1980s. Possibly the biggest name to emerge from the Rochester scene, however, is Louis Grammatico, known better as Lou Gramm, vocalist for 80s supergroup Foreigner. Before Foreigner, Grammatico fronted a band called Black Sheep, with guitarist Don Mancuso, keyboardist Larry Crozier, bassist Bruce Turgon, and drummer Ron Rocco. After recording a one-off single for the Chrysalis label, Black Sheep signed with Capitol in 1975, releasing two LPs on the label. Fairly typical of the band's sound is A Little Or A Lot, a track from Black Sheep's debut LP. Gramm still occasionally performs with the former Black Sheep members.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Out On The Tiles
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin III
Writer(s):    Bonham/Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    The third Led Zeppelin is known for being a departure from the formula established on the band's first two albums. As a general rule, it is more acoustic in nature than other Zeppelin albums, thanks in large part to having been composed when Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were living in a cottage with no electricity called Bron-Yr-Aur. One exception to this acoustic direction, however, was Out On The Tiles, which was brought to the band by drummer John Bonham, and then fleshed out by Page and Plant. As it turns out, Out On The Tiles, more than any other track on Led Zeppelin III, presages the direction the band's music would take by the end of the 1970s.

Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Queen Of Torture
Source:    CD: The Collection (originally released on LP: Wishbone Ash)
Writer:    Upton/Turner/Turner/Powell
Label:    Spectrum/Universal (original label: Decca)
Year:    1970
    One of the first bands to use dual lead guitars was Wishbone Ash. When Glen Turner, the band's original guitarist, had to leave, auditions were held, but the remaining members and their manager couldn't decide between the two finalists, Andy Powell and Ted Turner, so they kept both of them. Queen Of Torture, from their 1969 debut album, shows just how well the two guitars meshed.


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