Sunday, March 27, 2022

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2214 (starts 3/28/22)

    It's once again free-form time at Rockin' in the Days of Confusion, as we managed to fit 14 songs from 14 artists into one 59-minute show. It begins with Black Sabbath and ends with Paul McCartney and Wings, and includes, among other things, a personal favorite from Mahogany Rush that has never been played on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion before this week.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    After Forever
Source:    LP: Black Sabbath
Writer(s):    Butler/Iommi
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    Anyone attempting to portray Black Sabbath as a bunch of Satanists had only to listen once to After Forever, from the Master Of Reality album, to be abused of the notion. The lyrics, written by bassist Geezer Butler (an avowed Catholic) are actually about as un-subtle as can be imagined. The song was released as the first single from the album, but failed to chart.

Artist:    Free
Title:    Wishing Well
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM promo single (from LP: Heartbreaker)
Writer(s):    Rodgers/Kirke/Yamauchi/Bundrick/Kossoff
Label:    Island
Year:    1972
    The final album from Free featured a somewhat altered lineup from their previous albums. Bassist (and one of the band's primary songwriters) Andy Fraser had already left the band, while guitarist/keyboardist Paul Kossoff was often incapacitated due to his Quaalude addiction. As a result, several guest musicians, as well as a couple of more permanent replacement members, make an appearance on Heartbreaker. With Fraser gone, lead vocalist Paul Rodgers took on the bulk of the band's songwriting duties, although the official writing credit on several tracks, including the single Wishing Well, went to the entire band membership. Following a US tour (without Kossoff), the band finally called it quits, with Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke remaining together to form a new band, Bad Company.

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    Do It Again
Source:    CD: Can't Buy A Thrill
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagen
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1972
    Although they at first appeared to be a real band, Steely Dan was, in fact, two people: keyboardist/vocalist Donald Fagen and bassist (and later guitarist) Walter Becker. For their first album they recruited, from various places, guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, drummer Jim Hodder, guitarist Denny Dias, and finally (when they realized they would have to actually perform live, which terrified Fagen) vocalist David Palmer. The first single from the album, Do It Again, was a major hit, going to the #6 spot on the Billboard charts and, more importantly, introducing the world at large to the Steely Dan sound, combining jazz-influenced rock music with slyly cynical lyrics (often sung in the second person). Steely Dan would continue to be an influential force in popular music, and especially FM rock radio, throughout the 1970s.

Artist:    Foghat
Title:    What A Shame
Source:    LP: Heavy Metal (originally released on LP: Foghat (aka Rock and Roll)
Writer(s):    Rod Price
Label:    Warner Special Products (original label: Bearsville)
Year:    1973
    Apparently the members of Foghat couldn't come up with a good title for their second LP, so they just called it Foghat. Since their first album was also called Foghat, this would have made things a bit confusing if not for the fact that the album cover itself was a picture of a rock and a bread roll against an all-white background. For obvious reasons this has led most people to refer to the album as Rock and Roll. What A Shame was written by guitarist Rod Price, the only Foghat member not to have come from Savoy Brown, which probably explains why it doesn't sound much like Savoy Brown at all.

Artist:    Black Oak Arkansas
Title:    Jim Dandy
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Lincoln Chase
Label:    Atco
Year:    1973
    My first exposure to Black Oak Arkansas was at a Grand Funk Railroad concert in August of 1971. I had literally arrived on the campus of Southwestern University in Weatherford Oklahoma the night before the concert, having hitchhiked there from New Mexico. On arrival I soon learned that my bandmates DeWayne and Mike, whose dorm room I was crashing in, already had tickets for the concert in Norman, Oklahoma. They invited me to come along, assuring me that I could easily score tickets at the gate. As it turns out they were right, but by the time we got there the only tickets left were bleacher seats. Of course, the rest of the group that made the drive to Norman all had floor tickets, so I ended up sitting by myself up in the nosebleed section for the opening act, a group I had never heard of called Black Oak Arkansas. I decided that, for the next 45 minutes or so, I would be a reviewer, and started analyzing this new band one song at a time. To be honest, I wasn't all that impressed at first, but found each successive song to be a little bit better than the one before it. By the time the band had finished their set, I was electrified (literally, since the last song was called The Day Electricity Came To Arkansas). I eventually bought a copy of the album Black Oak Arkansas, and was pleased to discover that the songs were in the exact same order on the LP as I had first heard them in concert. Over the years I continued to follow the band's progress, and was happy to hear, in 1973, their remake of an old LaVerne Baker song, Jim Dandy, on the local AM radio station. In fact, I went out and bought a copy of the 45 RPM single (which has since been replaced with a less scratchy copy).

Artist:    Mahogany Rush
Title:    Once Again
Source:    Canadian import CD: Strange Universe
Writer(s):    Frank Marino
Label:    Just A Minute! (original US label: 20th Century)
Year:    1975
    Jimi Hendrix didn't often play in a jazz style, but when he did, he did it well. Case in point: Up From The Skies, from the album Axis: Bold As Love. In the mid-1970s Canadian guitarist Frank Marino and his band Mahogany Rush channeled that energy with the song Once Again on their Strange Universe album. The song reflects the same sort of ironic humor that Hendrix showed in songs like 51st Anniversary, yet stands out as an example of Marino's talent as a singer, songwriter and guitarist.

Artist:    Love Sculpture
Title:    Blues Helping
Source:    British import CD: Blues Helping
Writer(s):    Williams/Edmunds/Jones
Label:    EMI (original label: Parlophone)
Year:    1968
    When the name Dave Edmunds comes up, it is usually in association with an early 70s remake of the classic Fats Domino tune I Hear You Knockin'. What many people are not aware of, however, is that Edmunds was a major force on the late 60s British blues scene with his band Love Sculpture. The title track of that band's debut LP, Blues Helping, showcases Edmunds's prowess as a guitarist (as does the rest of the album).

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    Seamus
Source:    CD: Meddle
Writer:    Waters/Wright/Mason/Gilmour
Label:    Pink Floyd Records (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1971
    After spending several months on the concept album Atom Heart Mother, the members of Pink Floyd decided to lighten things up a bit for their next album, Meddle. Stylistically, Meddle probably has the most variety of any Pink Floyd album, ranging from the driving rocker One Of These Days, to the acoustic blues tune Seamus. The latter song is best played loud, preferably with at least one dog in the room with you.

And speaking of dogs....

Artist:    Gentle Giant
Title:    Dog's Life
Source:    CD: Octopus
Writer(s):    Minnear/Shulman/Shulman/Shulman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1972
    Although not a major commercial success, Gentle Giant's fourth album, Octopus, is generally considered to be the beginning of the band's peak period, and according to band member Ray Shulman, their best album overall. One of my favorite tracks on the album is Dog's Life, which is a somewhat whimsical look at a day in the life of man's best friend, the song's musical arrangement is unique in that it combines acoustic guitar, string quartet and vocals in a way seldom heard in rock music.

Artist:     Mountain
Title:     Theme From An Imaginary Western
Source:     European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: Mountain Climbing)
Writer(s):    Bruce/Brown
Label:    Sony Music (original label: Windfall)
Year:     1970
     Keyboardist Felix Pappaliardi worked closely with the band Cream in the studio, starting with the album Disraeli Gears, so it was only natural that his new band Mountain would perform (and record) at least one song by Cream's primary songwriting team, Jack Bruce and Pete Brown. If Mississippi Queen was guitarist Leslie West's signature song, then Theme From An Imaginary Western was Felix's, at least until Nantucket Sleighride came along.

Artist:    Eric Clapton
Title:    Easy Now
Source:    45 RPM single B side (originally released on LP: Eric Clapton)
Writer(s):    Eric Clapton
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    When it comes to Eric Clapton's Easy Now (from his first solo album), the word most often used by critics is "underrated". The song was never intended to be a hit single. In fact, it was released as a B side, not once but twice, in 1970 (paired with After Midnight) and 1972 (paired with Let It Rain). Nonetheless, the tune holds up better than most of the tracks on the album itself, and has been singled out as one of the best songs Clapton ever wrote. Easy Now was also included on the 1972 LP Eric Clapton At His Best.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Tangerine
Source:    German import LP: Led Zeppelin III
Writer(s):    Jimmy Page
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    The third Led Zeppelin album, released in 1970, saw the band expanding beyond its blues-rock roots into more acoustic territory. This was in large part because the band had, after an exhausting North American concert tour, decided to take a break, with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page renting an 18th century cottage in Wales that had no electricity. While there, the two composed most of the music that would become Led Zeppelin III. Once the music was written, the band reunited in a run-down mansion at Headley Grange to rehearse the new material, giving the entire project a more relaxed feel. Only one song on the album, Tangerine, is credited solely to Jimmy Page; as it turns out Tangerine would be the last original Led Zeppelin song that Plant did not write lyrics for (excepting instrumentals of course).

Title:    Down By The River
Source:    LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    Down By The River is one of four songs on the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere that Neil Young wrote while running a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (that's 39.5 degrees for people in civilized nations that use the Celsius, aka centrigrade, scale). By some strange coincidence, they are the four best songs on the album. I wish I could have been that sick in my days as a wannabe rock star.

Artist:    Paul McCartney And Wings
Title:    No Words
Source:    European import LP: Band On The Run
Writer(s):    McCartney/Laine
Label:    MPL (original label: Apple)
Year:    1973
    You would think that, after years of sharing writing credit with John Lennon on virtually everything musical either of them created, Paul McCartney might be inclined to take sole writing credit for his later material. Not so. Most of his 70s work co-credits his wife Linda and one track, No Words, from the 1973 LP Band On The Run, credits Denny Laine, the former Moody Blues member who was the third person making up the nucleus of the band Wings. No Words also has the distinction of being the shortest track (at 2:35) on Band On The Run.

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