Sunday, November 14, 2021

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2147 (starts 11/15/21)

    Sometimes ya just gotta rock out. This is one of those times.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Long Hot Summer Night
Source:    LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    With such classics as Voodoo Chile, Crosstown Traffic and Still Raining Still Dreaming on the third Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Electric Ladyland, it's easy to overlook a song like Long Hot Summer Night. Once you hear it, however, you realize just how strong Jimi Hendrix's songwriting had become by 1968. Keyboardist Al Kooper, himself in the process of making rock history with his Super Session album, makes a guest appearance on piano.

Artist:    Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title:    Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Source:    CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    After releasing a fairly well produced debut solo album utilizing the talents of several well-known studio musicians in late 1968, Neil Young surprised everyone by recruiting an unknown L.A. bar band called the Rockets and rechristening them Crazy Horse for his second effort, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The album was raw and unpolished, with Young's lead vocals recorded using a talkback microphone normally used by engineers to communicate with people in the studio from the control room. In spite of (or more likely because of) these limitations, the resulting album has come to be regarded as one of the greatest in the history of rock, with Young sounding far more comfortable, both as a vocalist and guitarist, than on the previous effort. Although the album is best known for three songs he wrote while running a fever (Cinnamon Girl, Cowgirl In The Sand, and Down By The River), there are plenty of good other songs on the LP, including the title track heard here.

Artist:    David Bowie
Title:    Black Country Rock
Source:    CD: The Man Who Sold The World
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Mercury)
Year:    1970
    David Bowie was not an overnight success. His first single, credited to David Jones With The King Bees, was released in 1964. He started using the name David Bowie in early 1966, possibly to avoid being confused with Manchester native David Jones, who was getting attention for his portrayal of Artful Dodger in the musical Oliver and had released his first solo album in 1965. Bowie released several singles as a solo artist in 1966 and 1967 on first the Pye, then Deram labels, but none of them were commercially successful. Following an equally unsuccessful self-titled solo LP for Deram in 1967, it looked like Bowie's career might be over. Rather than concede defeat however, Bowie decided to reinvent himself, studying drama and mime while continuing to write new songs for other artists to record. Following a short stint working as a mime as the opening act for Marc Bolan's Tyrannosaurus Rex, Bowie returned to recording with the song Space Oddity, released on the Philips label in 1969. The song made the British top 5, but was virtually ignored outside of the UK. A second album, also self-titled, was released by Philips that same year, but was a commercial disappointment. Bowie's next move was to form a band called Hype with John Cambridge, a drummer Bowie met at the Arts Lab, Tony Visconti on bass and Mick Ronson on electric guitar. The four of them appeared on stage dressed like superheroes, but their first gig was such a disaster that they abandoned the idea and settled into a more traditional role as David Bowie's stage band. It was this group that began work on Bowie's next album, The Man Who Sold The World. A falling out with Cambridge led to the recruitment of Mick Woodmansey, who ended up playing drums on all the tracks, including Black Country Rock. The Man Who Sold The World, possibly the closest thing to a hard rock album Bowie would ever record, was also a commercial failure, selling less than 1500 copies in the US when it was initially released. Despite a change of labels from Philips to RCA Victor, Bowie's next LP, Hunky Dory, didn't do much better at first. It wasn't until Bowie once again reinvented himself, taking on the persona of Ziggy Stardust in 1972, that Bowie permanently established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the popular music scene. The Man Who Sold The World was soon reissued on RCA Victor and became a major seller, along with its predecessor, renamed Space Oddity, and Hunky Dory. The rest is legend.

Artist:    America
Title:    Sandman
Source:    LP: America's Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: America)
Writer(s):    Dewey Bunnell
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    I have to admit I was never a huge America fan, although I liked A Horse With No Name well enough when it came out (it got old pretty quick, though), and appreciated the L. Frank Baum references in Tin Man as much as anyone. The one America song that really did grab me, though, was Sandman, an album track that I only heard on one FM station out of El Paso (I was living in Alamogordo, NM at the time). Apparently there was a rumor going around at the time to the effect that the song was  about the United States Navy VQ-2 air squadron formerly based in Rota, Spain, but I didn't know about that until many years later. Still, I thought it was a cool song then (and still do), and was happily surprised to hear it performed live at the New York State Fair in the early 2000s.

Artist:    Humble Pie
Title:    C'Mon Everybody
Source:    CD: Smokin'
Writer(s):    Capehart/Cochran
Label:    A&M
Year:    1972
    Following the departure of Peter Frampton in 1971, Steve Marriott became the de facto leader of Humble Pie, producing the band's first post-Frampton album, Smokin', in 1972. One of the highlights of the album was a slowed down version of Eddie Cochran's C'mon Everybody, featuring Marriott on both lead vocals and lead guitar.

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    You Just Can't Stop It
Source:    CD: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits
Writer(s):    Patrick Simmons
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1974
    For their fourth album, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, the Doobie Brothers brought in several guest musicians to enhance some of the tracks on the 1974 LP. You Just Can't Stop It, a Patrick Simmons funk-rock hybrid that opens the LP's second side, features, in addition to the actual band members, Bill Payne from Little Feat on Clavinet and Eddie Guzman from Rare Earth on congas as well as the Memphis Horns.

Artist:    Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Title:    Sledgehammer
Source:    LP: Not Fragile
Writer(s):    Randy Bachman
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1974
    After ten years as lead guitarist for the Guess Who, Randy Bachman returned to his native Winnipeg and recruited his brother Robbie (on drums) to form a new band called Brave Belt with former Guess Who vocalist Chad Allan. On their first LP Randy Bachman played both lead guitar and bass parts, but soon added C.F. "Fred" Turner as bassist for live appearances. Their second LP saw Allan taking on keyboard duties as well as lead vocals, with Turner providing lead vocals on two of the tracks. Allan left the group shortly after the album was released and another Bachman brother, Tim, was added to the group for their next tour. Neither album sold well, and Brave Belt was dropped from the Reprise Records roster while recording a third LP. By the time the band found a label willing to release the album (Mercury) they had changed their name to Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Their second album for Mercury gave the group their first two top 40 hits, Let It Ride and Takin' Care Of Business. For their third Mercury LP, Not Fragile, Tim Bachman was replaced by Blair Thornton as second lead guitarist, and the interplay between the two is in display on songs like Sledgehammer, which opens the second side of the LP. This lineup of the band remained intact until 1977, when Randy Bachman left to work on a solo project. They have since reunited multiple times in various configurations.

Artist:    Tommy Bolin
Title:    The Grind
Source:    Japanes import CD: Teaser
Writer(s):    Bolin/Cook/Sheldon/Tesar
Label:    Sony (original US label: Nemperor)
Year:    1975
    So I have this scratchy copy of Tommy Bolin's single, Savannah Woman from his Teaser album (which I don't have). To rectify the situation I decided to order a copy of Teaser on CD. It comes, and I am delighted to notice that it includes a thick book of liner notes...all in Japanese, which of course I don't read or speak. So, even though I'm sure there's some interesting stuff in there, I can't share it with you. What I do know is that The Grind is the opening track on the album, and that Van Halen used to cover it before they became famous. Motley Crue also recorded a cover of The Grind on the 1989 compilation album Stairway To Heaven/Highway To Hell, which featured various bands that played at the Moscow Music Peace Festival doing songs by musicians that had died due to drug and/or alchohol abuse (Bolin being a prime example of "and").

Artist:    Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Title:    Our House
Source:    CD: déjà vu
Writer(s):    Graham Nash
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    Sometimes even the most mundane events can inspire art. Graham Nash's Our House, from the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album, déjà vu, is a perfect example. The song was written by Nash at the Laurel Canyon home of Joni Mitchell following a trip into Los Angeles for breakfast. They had stopped at an antique shop on the way back, where Mitchell had bought a vase, and while Mitchell was gathering up some flowers to put in it Nash sat down at Mitchell's piano. About an hour later, Nash had put the finishing touches on Our House. Nash later said he was already bored with the song the day after he had recorded it, but that he still plays the song from time to time "because it does mean so much to so many people". The song was released as a single in 1970, peaking at #30.

Artist:    Byrds
Title:    Nashville West
Source:    LP: (Untitled)
Writer(s):    Parsons/White
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    By 1970 the only original member of the Byrds still performing as a member of the band was guitarist/vocalist Roger McGuinn. The group's newest lineup, however, was considered to be far superior in live performances than previous incarnations of the band. To capitalize on this, the Byrds released a double LP called (Untitled) late in the year. Following a trend started by Cream a couple years earlier, the album contained both new studio tracks and live recordings from earlier in the year. Among those live tracks was Nashville West. Written by guitarist Clarence White and Gene Parsons, Nashville West showcases the band's move into what would come to be called country-rock. Filling out the lineup on (Untitled) was bassist Skip Battin, who had joined the band in late 1969.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Working On The Road
Source:    CD: Cricklewood Green
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Chrysalis (original label: Deram)
Year:    1970
    Following their successful appearance at Woodstock, Ten Years After returned to the studio to record their fifth LP, Cricklewood Green. The album itself is considered by many critics to be their finest effort, with songs like Working On The Road showing how far Alvin Lee's songwriting had come in the three years since the band's 1967 debut LP.

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