Sunday, February 20, 2022

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2209 (starts 2/21/22) 

    This is another one of those up and down shows, as we start and end in 1969, but work our way up to 1975 before reversing direction in the middle of the show. We also have quite a few tunes that have never been played on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion before, most of which occur in the second half of the show.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Here Comes The Sun
Source:    LP: Abbey Road
Writer(s):    George Harrison
Label:    Apple
Year:    1969
    In a way, George Harrison's career as a songwriter parallels the Beatles' development as a studio band. His first song to get any attention was If I Needed Someone on the Rubber Soul album, the LP that marked the beginning of the group's transition from performers to studio artists. As the Beatles' skills in the studio increased, so did Harrison's writing skills, reaching a peak with the Abbey Road album. As usual, Harrison wrote two songs for the LP, but this time one of them (Something) became the first single released from the album and the first Harrison song to hit the top five on the charts. The other Harrison composition on Abbey Road was Here Comes The Sun. Although never released as a single, the song, written while Harrison, tired of dealing with the business aspects of Apple Corp., was hiding out at his friend Eric Clapton's place, has gone on to become Harrison's most enduring masterpiece.

Artist:    Cream
Title:    Crossroads
Source:    CD: Wheels Of Fire
Writer:    Robert Johnson
Label:    Polydor (original US label: Atco)
Year:    1968
    Robert Johnson's Crossroads has come to be regarded as a signature song for Eric Clapton, who's live version (recorded at the Fillmore East) was first released on the Cream album Wheels Of Fire, and later became one of the group's highest charting singles.  

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Red House
Source:    LP: Smash Hits
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    Recorded 1966, released 1969
    There were actually two different versions of Red House released by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, both of which came from the same December, 1966, sessions. The original version was included on the European pressing of the Are You Experienced album, which was issued in early 1967. The album was not originally available in stereo, and a true stereo mix of this version of Red House was never made, as the track was left off the remixed American version of the LP. In spring of 1967 the band attempted to get a better version of the song, but neither Hendrix or bassist Noel Redding (who had played the original bass part on a regular guitar with its tone controls set to mimic a bass guitar) were satisfied with the later versions. Only one portion of these new recordings was kept, and was combined with the original take to create a new stereo mix for the US version of the 1969 Smash Hits album. This newer mix was also used by MCA for both the 1993 CD reissue of Are You Experienced and the Ultimate Experience compilation album. 

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    The Band With No Name
Source:    CD: Watt
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Chrysalis (original label: Deram)
Year:    1970
    A deliberate play on words by guitarist Alvin Lee, The Band With No Name opens side two of the 1970 Ten Years After LP Watt. The term "band" was used in the early days of LP records to refer to the individual songs on an album, which, looked at from above, looked like a series of circular bands separated by the spaces between the songs. The term had largely fallen out of usage by 1970 (giving way to the more popular "track" or sometimes "cut"), which makes sense, given that self-contained groups (like Ten Years After) were generally referred to as bands by that point in time. This particular band is a short instrumental piece done in the style of Ennio Morricone's themes for the "Dollars Trilogy"  of Spaghetti Westerns starring Clint Eastwood as the Man With No Name.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Sister Morphine
Source:    LP: Sticky Fingers
Writer(s):    Faithfull/Jagger/Richards
Label:    Rolling Stones
Year:    1971
     Sister Morphine was first recorded by Marianne Faithfull and released as a B side in 1969, but the single was quickly banned by the BBC for its drug references and was subsequently withdrawn in the UK. The record stayed in print in other countries, however, although in many places, including the US, an alternate take of the song was used. Two years later the Rolling Stones recorded their own version of the song for their Sticky Fingers album, but Faithfull's name was left off the songwriting credits. It has since been restored. Both versions feature Ry Cooder on slide guitar and strings arranged by Jack Nitchze.

Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Sometime World
Source:    CD: Argus
Writer(s):    Turner/Turner/Upton/Powell
Label:    MCA/Decca
Year:    1972
    Guitarist Andy Powell shines on Sometime World from the third Wishbone Ash album, Argus. The song, about missed opportunities and second chances, starts quietly, building slowly to become a powerful rocker over the course of nearly seven minutes. Although the song was seldom performed live, Powell has since stated that Sometime World is his favorite track on Argus.

Artist:    Stories
Title:    Brother Louie
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Brown/Wilson
Label:    Kama Sutra
Year:    1973
    There are many examples in rock history of bands actually hating their biggest hit. Sometimes it's because they just get tired of playing it the same way over and over to please audiences. In a few cases, however, the band actually hated the song even before it became a hit. The Strawberry Alarm Clock, for instance, were so disgusted by the lyrics of Incense And Peppermints provided by professional songwriters that they refused to record their own lead vocals for the tune (a member of another band entirely sang on the record). Even worse is the case of one-hit wonders who become forever associated with the song they hated (like Steam with Na-Na-Hey-Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye). Generally, it gives the artist a choice of selling out or quitting the music business altogether. There really is no middle ground. Take the case of a band called Stories. After a few failed singles they hit it big with a cover of Hot Chocolate's Brother Louie, taking it all the way to the top of the US charts. The success of the single actually led to the departure of the band's two founding members, Michael Brown (formerly of the Left Banke) and Ian Lloyd. Although the band did continue on with new members, and even had a minor hit with a song called Mammy Blue later the same year, Stories will be forever known as the band that had a hit with Brother Louie and not much else.

Artist:    Neil Young
Title:    Revolution Blues
Source:    CD: On The Beach
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1974
    The phenomenal commercial success of the 1972 LP Harvest was actually more of a curse than a blessing as far as Neil Young was concerned, saying that the album "put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore, so I headed for the ditch." Following a hectic 1973 tour that resulted in the live album Time Fades Away, Young got to work on three albums that have come to be known as the Ditch Trilogy. The first of these to be released (although in reality the second to be recorded) was On The Beach, which hit the racks in 1974. One of the highlights of On The Beach was Revolution Blues, inspired by Charles Manson, whom Young had met while living in California's Topanga Canyon. Besides Young, the song features contributions from keyboardist Ben Keith, rhythm guitarist David Crosby, bassist Rick Danko and drummer Levon Helm.

Artist:    Black Sheep
Title:    Chain On Me
Source:    LP: Encouraging Words
Writer(s):    Mancuso/Grammatico
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1975
    The last track on the second (and last) album by the Rochester NY band Black Sheep was Chain On Me. Like several other tracks on the album, the song was written by guitarist Dan Mancuso and vocalist Louis Grammatico. The band also included keyboardist Larry Crozier, bassist Bruce Turgon andd drummer Mike Bonafede. The album was released in late 1975, but by mid-1976 the band was no longer performing, due to a traffic accident that totally all the band's equipment. Not long after that Grammatico accepted an offer to become the lead vocalist for another band, Foreigner, at the same time shortening his stage name to Lou Gramm. In more recent years both Turgon and Mancuso have played on Gramm's solo albums and occasionally perform with him.

Artist:    Patti Smith
Title:    Hey Joe
Source:    Mono 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Billy Roberts (spoken intro written by Patti Smith)
Label:    Mer
Year:    1974
    Before signing with Arista Records in 1975, the Patti Smith group recorded a 1974 single for the independent Mer label. Financed by art collector/curator Sam Wagstaff, the record featured Smith's version of Hey Joe, with a spoken introduction concerning Patty Hearst, who had been kidnapped by, and subsequently became a member of, a radical group calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army that year.

Artist:    Alice Cooper
Title:    Muscle Of Love
Source:    CD: Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Muscle Of Love)
Writer(s):    Cooper/Bruce
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    The seventh and final album by the band Alice Cooper was Muscle Of Love, released in 1973. Although it was intended to be a "back to basics" album, done in the hopes of recapturing the band's early energy, several factors, including a change of producer and the absence of lead guitarist Glen Buxton, caused it to instead be, in the words of Lenny Kaye, a "hit or miss" affair. On the "hit" side we have the title track, which has been described by lead vocalist Alice Cooper as being "about the kid who just learned how to masturbate, and what all those dirty books his father used to hide are all about."

Artist:    Bob Mosley
Title:    Hand In Hand
Source:    LP: Bob Mosley
Writer(s):    Bob Mosley
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1972
    Bob Mosley is best known as the bass player for Moby Grape, writing and singing on several of the band's best-known tracks. Originally from the San Diego area, where he graduated high school, Mosley relocated to the San Francisco Bay area in the mid-1960s, becoming a member of a local band called the Vejtables for a short time. In 1967 he became a founding member of Moby Grape, staying with the band until 1971 (with the exception of a brief stint in the US Marines in 1969). The following year he recorded his self-titled solo LP for the Reprise label. Although not a major commercial success, the album did have some strong tracks, such as Mosley's own Hand In Hand. Mosley's career has been sidetracked from time to time by bouts of schizophrenia. He was first diagnosed with the illness in Marine basic training, which led to his early discharge from the Corps nine months later. Mosley's most recent album, True Blue, was released on the Taxim label in 2005.

Artist:    Cheech And Chong
Title:    Dave
Source:    LP: Cheech & Chong
Writer(s):    Marin/Chong
Label:    Ode
Year:    1971
    OK, is there ANYONE out there who has not heard (or at least heard of) Dave, from the first Cheech And Chong LP? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Artist:    Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Title:    Woodstock
Source:    LP: So Far (originally released on LP: déjà vu)
Writer(s):    Joni Mitchell
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    It's somewhat ironic that the most famous song about the Woodstock Music and Art Festival was written by someone who was not even at the event. Joni Mitchell had been advised by her manager that she would be better off appearing on the Dick Cavett show that weekend, so she stayed in her New York City hotel room and watched televised reports of what was going on up at Max Yasgur's farm. Further insight came from her then-boyfried Graham Nash, who shared his firsthand experiences of the festival with Mitchell upon his return. The song was first released on the 1970 album Ladies Of The Canyon, and was made famous the same year when it was chosen to be the first single released from the Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young album déjà vu. The CSNY version peaked just outside of the Billboard top 10.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    High On A Horse
Source:    CD: On Time
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    When lead vocalist Terry Knight decided to leave his band, the Pack, for a solo career, two of the members, guitarist Mark Farner and drummer Don Brewer, decided to carry on without him, first by continuing as the pack, and later as a trio with new bassist Mel Schacher. In early 1969 they called Knight, who by then had relocated to New York and was recording for Capitol as a solo artist, and asked him to come out to Flint, Michigan to hear their new band and possibly become their manager. Knight accepted the job, and gave them their name, Grand Funk Railroad. In April Knight took the band into Cleveland Recording to cut a pair of tunes that Knight would submit to Capitol as an audition record. One of those songs, High On A Horse, would become the B side of the band's first single, released in July of 1969. The following month the song was included on the band's first LP, On Time. Although not an immediate hit, the album would be one of four Grand Funk Railroad albums to achieve gold record status in 1970.

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