Before professional consultants took over rock radio, stations could (and often would) play long album tracks with multiple instrumental solos. The best of these was Whipping Post, from the Allman Brothers At Fillmore East double-LP set. The performance, which takes up the entire fourth side of the album, runs in excess of 23 minutes, all of which you will hear on this week's edition of Rockin' in the Days of Confusion. Of course there's more to this week's show than just one track. In fact, our entire first set consists of much shorter songs than you generally hear on this show. We finish out the week with several tunes from 1971 (including Whipping Post), including the song that transformed Carole King from successful Brill Building songwriter to "A" list singer/songwriter overnight.
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Source: CD: Chronicles (originally released as 45 RPM B side and included on LP: Green River)
Writer(s): John Fogerty
Yes, I know Creedence Clearwater Revival is not what you would call a psychedelic band. Nonetheless, they made some of the best rock records of 1969, including Commotion, which was released as the B side of Green River. Personally I think it sounds pretty psychedelic. So there.
Title: Morning Will Come
Source: CD: Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
Writer: Randy California
When Lou Adler switched distribution of Ode Records from Columbia to A&M, part of the deal was to sell Spirit's recordings to Columbia's parent company, CBS. CBS then assigned the band to its Epic label, while strongly hinting that if the next album didn't show an improvement in sales over their previous efforts their contract would be terminated. Spirit responded with the 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, widely regarded as their best album. Unfortunately, it still didn't sell well, and two of the band's founding members, Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes, soon left to form Jo Jo Gunne. Spirit continued on for nearly three decades with various lineups, finally disbanding following the accidental drowning death of guitarist/bandleader Randy California whgile surfing in Hawaii on January 2, 1997.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Locomotive Breath (single version)
Source: 45 RPM single (original version from LP: Aqualung)
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis (original label: Reprise)
I occasionally get asked why I don't do commercial radio anymore. Here's a clue. In 1989 I was working for a station serving the Elmira, NY market. The station had recently undergone a change of ownership, and was slowly transitioning from a kind of hybrid adult contemporary format developed by Johnny, the original owner, to an album rock format favored by Dom, the music and program director. Dom, in addition to his management duties, hosted the midday shift and one day, while on the air, got a call from Guy, the new owner, telling him "get that song off the air right now and don't ever play it on my station again!" So Dom had to cut the song off midway, because Guy objected to the line "got him by the balls". The song in question, of course, was Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath, from the Aqualung album, which was, at that point in time, eighteen years old, and had been getting played on rock radio pretty steadily for most of those eighteen years, even being released in edited form as a single in 1976. Seriously, who needs that kind of grief?
Title: Back Stabbers
Source: 45 RPM single
Label: Philadelphia International
The two hotspots of soul music in the late 60s were Detroit, Michigan (Motown Records) and Memphis, Tennessee (Stax Records). By the early 70s, however, Memphis was eclipsed by Philadelphia, thanks to Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, founders of and in-house producers for Philadelphia International Records. One of the first major hits for the label was Back Stabbers by the O'Jays, a Cleveland, Ohio vocal group that had been recording with only moderate success since the early 60s. Back Stabbers hit the top spot on the R&B charts in 1972 and crossed over to the top 40 as well, peaking at #3.
Artist: Black Oak Arkansas
Title: Hot And Nasty (live version)
Source: CD: Raunch 'N' Roll-Live
Writer(s): Black Oak Arkansas
Label: Wounded Bird (original label: Atco)
I first saw Black Oak Arkansas play in a huge arena in Norman, Oklahoma in late summer of 1971. I had only arrived back in Oklahoma the previous day after spending a few weeks in New Mexico with my parents before attempting to revive our band, Sunn, as a potential bar band in Weatherford, a college town sitting on the old Route 66. DeWayne and Mike, our rhythm guitarist and drummer, were newly enrolled at Southwestern College, and I spent that first night crashed out in a sleeping bag on their dorm room floor. The next day they planned to go down to Norman to see Grand Funk Railroad in concert, and they (and a couple other guys) took me along, figuring I could get a ticket at the door. When we got there the only tickets left were up in the high bleacher seats, while the rest of the group had floor seats. I dutifully trudged my way up to those high bleacher seats to watch the concert. That was about the time I started coming onto the acid, so I soon found myself imagining what it would be like to be a rock critic hearing a new group for the first time. This was actually pretty appropriate, since the opening act was a band I had never heard of called Black Oak Arkansas. They had just released their first album, and, as I later found out, their setlist pretty much followed the album itself. This meant that one of the first songs I heard was Hot And Nasty, sort of an early signature song for vocalist Jim "Dandy" Mangrum. Being a new band, they hadn't yet established their official "raunch 'n' roll" reputation, but the potential was there. The 1973 recording of the song on the band's first live album follows the original arrangement of the song fairly closely, but with the vocals far less subdued than they were in 1971.
Artist: Alice Cooper
Source: LP: Killer
Label: Warner Brothers
Alice Cooper (the singer, not the band) has made conflicting statements concerning the inspiration/subject matter of Desperado, from the Killer album. In the liner notes of Fistful Of Alice (and elsewhere) the flamboyant vocalist said the song was written about his friend Jim Morrison, who died in 1971, the same year Killer was released. However, he has also said (in a radio interview) that the song was inspired by Robert Vaughn's character in the film The Magnificent Seven. Whatever the song's origins, Desperado has proved to be one of the band's most popular numbers, appearing on various greatest hits compilations over the years.
Artist: Brian Auger's Oblivion Express
Title: A Better Land
Source: British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: A Better Land)
Label: Polydor (original US label: RCA Victor)
Brian Auger first started getting attention as a member of the legendary British R&B band Steampacket, which featured vocalists Julie Driscoll, Rod Stewart and Long John Baldry. Auger had already been known in jazz circles for his piano work, but in 1964 he decided to form his own rock band, Trinity, with guitarist John McLaughlin. The reuniting of Auger and Driscoll following the demise of Steampacket in 1966 led to the Brian Auger Trinity being one of the first band's signed to the Marmalade label in 1967. Driscoll stayed with the Trinity until 1969; the Trinity itself lasted another year before Auger decided to return to his jazz roots with his new band, Oblivion Express, in 1971. Brian Auger's Oblivion Express was one of the first bands to combine jazz and rock, as can be heard on the title track of their first album, A Better Land. The growing popularity of jazz-rock fusion in the mid-1970s prompted Auger to relocate to the US, where he continues to record and perform.
Artist: Allman Brothers Band
Title: Whipping Post
Source: LP: At Fillmore East
Writer(s): Gregg Allman
Label: Mercury (original label: Capricorn)
Rolling Stone magazine once called the Allman Brothers Band's live recording of Whipping Post on the album At Fillmore East "The finest live rock performance ever committed to vinyl." So of course I had to go out and buy a vinyl copy of that classic album. For once, Rolling Stone got it right.
Artist: Carole King
Title: It's Too Late
Source: LP: Tapestry
One of the most successful songwriting teams in pop music history was the husband-and-wife combination of Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Starting with the 1960 Shirelles hit Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, the pair turned out a string of best-sellers, including The Loco-Motion, Up On The Roof, Pleasant Valley Sunday and many other hit singles. King also had a recording career in the early 1960s, with her biggest hit being It Might as Well Rain Until September, a Goffin/King composition she recorded in 1962. By the middle of the decade, however, King had left her singing career, instead concentrating on motherhood and songwriting. In 1968, after she and Goffin divorced, King once again began performing. Her big breakthrough came in 1971 with the album Tapestry and it's lead single, It's Too Late, which went to the top of the charts in the US and Canada and made the top 10 in the UK and Australia. Since then Carole King has gone on to become one of the most successful singer/songwriters in history, both in the US and abroad.
Artist: Joy Of Cooking
Title: Beginning Tomorrow
Source: CD: Castles
Writer(s): Toni Brown
Label: Acadia/Evangeline (original label: Capitol)
Joy of Cooking was unique among folk-rock groups in that it was co-led by two female artists, both of whom had come from Berkeley's folk music scene: Multi-instrumentalist Toni Brown and guitarist Terry Garthwaite, who sang lead vocals as well. Between the two of them, they wrote all the band's original tunes. The rest of the lineup was Fritz Kasten on drums, Jeff Neighbor on bass and Ron Wilson on harp, tambourine and congas. After recording their second album in Los Angeles, the group opted to return to Berkeley for their third and final LP, Castles. Most of the songs on Castles, including Beginning Tomorrow, were written and sung by Brown.