Sunday, January 2, 2022

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2202 (starts 1/3/22)

    Last week we ran out of time with lots of tunes from 1971 left over, so this week we are starting (after a brief welcome to the new year) with another half hour's worth of '71 before moving on to other years, with a brief return to 1971 to finish out the show.

Artist:    Premiati Forneria Marconi
Title:    Celebration
Source:    Italian import CD: Photos Of Ghosts
Writer(s):    Mussida/Pagani/Sinfield
Label:    RCA
Year:    1973
    The most popular song in the PFM catalogue, Celebration is a re-recording of a song called E Festa from the band's 1971 debut album, Storia di un minuto. The 1973 Photos Of Ghosts recording of Celebration features all new lyrics by Peter Sinfield, who was also working with Emerson, Lake And Palmer, who had signed PFM to their Manticore label for their US releases. Photos Of Ghosts was the first of those releases, and became the first album by an Italian band to crack the Billboard 200 album chart.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    Shadows Of Grief
Source:    British import CD: Look At Yourself
Writer(s):    Hensley/Byron
Label:    Sanctuary/BMG (original US label: Mercury)
Year:    1971
    Uriah Heep's third album, Look At Yourself, contained some of their most complex arrangements to date. Shadows Of Grief, with its multi-part harmony vocals, is a good example of the direction the band was taking. Ken Hensley either wrote or co-wrote every song on Look At Yourself, with vocalist David Byron getting co-credit on Shadows Of Grief.

Artist:    Audience
Title:    The House On The Hill
Source:    CD: The House On The Hill
Writer(s):    Werth/Williams/Connor
Label:    Caroline Blue Plate (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1971
    Audience was formed in 1969 from the remains of a semi-professional British soul band called Lloyd Alexander Real Estate that had issued one single in 1967 for the tiny President label. The band's original lineup, consisting of Howard Werth (nylon-strung electric acoustic guitar and vocals), Keith Gemmell (alto and tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet), Trevor Williams (bass guitar and vocals) and Tony Connor (drums and vocals) released three albums before exhaustion forced Gemmell to leave the group in 1972. The first two of these were not released in the US, making The House On The Hill their American debut album. Audience did have a successful US tour in support of the 1971 LP, appearing on the same bill as Rod Stewart And Faces and the original Cactus. The album itself is an eclectic mix of acoustic and hard rock, with the title track being a good example of the latter.

Artist:    Yes
Title:    We Are Heaven/South Side Of The Sky
Source:    CD: Fragile
Writer(s):    Anderson/Squire
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    The fourth Yes album, Fragile, introduced the "classic" Yes lineup of John Anderson (vocals), Bill Bruford (drums), Steve Howe (guitar), Chris Squire (bass) and Rick Wakeman (keyboards), and features some of the band's best known songs. Four of the album's songs, including South Side Of The Sky, feature the entire band, while the remaining five tracks were contributed by the individual members. We Have Heaven, a multi-tracked Anderson solo piece, leads directly into South Side Of The Sky, and has a lyrical connection to the longer piece, as both songs address matters of mortality. South Side, according to new liner notes, is about a polar expedition that ends with the death of the entire party, with somewhat metaphorical references to mountain climbing as well. Anderson says the inspiration for the song's lyrics came from an article he read in which sleep was referred to as Death's little sister (of course Neil Gaiman fans know that Sleep is actually Death's little brother, not sister). Although the song is credited to Anderson and Squire, the basic guitar riff actually came from a composition played by Howe's previous band, Bodast, while the repeating piano arpeggio in the middle of the piece was provided by Wakeman.

Artist:    John Prine
Title:    Sam Stone
Source:    British import LP: The New Age Of Atlantic (originally released on LP: John Prine)
Writer(s):    John Prine
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    John Prine was a storyteller who used music as his medium of communication. Every one of his songs is about something. Perhaps his most famous composition was Sam Stone, from his 1971 self-titled debut LP. Originally titled Great Society Conflict Veteran's Blues, Sam Stone tells the story of a Vietnam veteran who returned from the "conflict overseas" with a heroin habit, and has been called one of the ten saddest songs of all time. The song's most famous line, "There's a hole in Daddy's arm where all the money goes", was heard often on TV ads during the Reagan years and beyond. Prine himself was exceedingly modest about his talent and seldom gave interviews. He died in April of 2020 at age 73 from complications caused by the COVID-19 virus.

Artist:    Derek And The Dominos
Title:    Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
Source:    CD: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs
Writer(s):    Jimmie Cox
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    After seeing the Allman Brothers Band in concert, Eric Clapton invited Duane Allman to an after-hours jam session at which the two guitarists hit it off immediately. Clapton then asked Allman to join him in the studio, where his new band Derek And The Dominos had just begun recording what would become the double-length album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The first song for the album that Allman played on was Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out, a tune written in 1923 by Jimmie Cox and popularized by Bessie Smith during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The song was recorded in a single take with no overdubs, and contains outstanding guitar solos from both Allman and Clapton.

Artist:    Who
Title:    Sally Simpson
Source:    CD: Tommy
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1968
    The Who's rock opera Tommy deals with a phenomena that wouldn't actually be named until over a decade later: the cult of personality. In fact, these days the character Tommy might even be referred to as a "rock star" (as the term has come to be used in recent years). This is somewhat ironic, as the members of the Who were themselves literally rock stars throughout the 70s and 80s.

Artist:    Blood, Sweat And Tears
Title:    The Modern Adventures Of Plato, Diogenes And Freud
Source:    LP: Child Is Father To The Man
Writer(s):    Al Kooper
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    In the liner notes for the debut Blood, Sweat And Tears album, Child Is Father To The Man, bandleader Al Kooper describes The Modern Adventures Of Plato, Diogenes And Freud as being about "the professions of psychiatry and messiahtry." The song is somewhat unusual in that it features none of the standard rock instruments, or even the horn section that Blood, Sweat And Tears is known for. The recording instead consists entirely of Kooper's vocals and strings arranged by producer John Simon.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Wicked World
Source:    LP: Black Sabbath
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osborne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1969
    The Secret Origin of Heavy Metal-Part One: After a short (one month) stint as Mick Abrahams's replacement in Jethro Tull, guitarist Tony Iommi rejoined his former bandmates Ozzy Osborne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward in the blues-rock band Earth in January of 1969. Later that year they realized that there was already another English band called Earth and decided to change their name. Taking inspiration from a playbill of a movie theater showing classic Boris Karloff horror films across the street from where they were rehearsing, they started calling themselves Black Sabbath in August of 1969 and began to forge a new sound for the band in keeping with their new name. Three months later Black Sabbath got their first record contract, releasing a cover of Crow's Evil Woman in November. They followed the (UK only) single up with their self-titled debut LP, recorded in just two days, on Friday, February 13th, 1970. The album was released three months later in the US, and spent over a year on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart. Although Evil Woman was included on the UK version of the LP, Warner Brothers chose to instead include the B side of the band's British single, a song called Wicked World that was not on the UK version of the album. Most Black Sabbath fans, it turns out, consider Wicked World a stronger track, as it shows a trace of the band's original blues-rock sound, especially on its fast paced intro and closing sections.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    I'm Alone
Source:    LP: Appetizers (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    Perhaps the most obscure track in the entire Deep Purple catalog, I'm Alone is a non-album track appearing as the B side of two singles in 1971: Strange Kind Of Woman (in May) and Fireball (in September). The song has appeared on vinyl and CD on various Deep Purple compilation albums starting in 1978, however none of those compilations have been released in the US. This lack of attention paid to Deep Purple by Americans in general is probably what kept them out of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame until 2016.


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