This week's edition of Rockin' in the Days of Confusion starts out in free-form mode, with cuts from Traffic, Jethro Tull, the Pentangle and others, but, once again, ends up with a whole bunch of tracks from 1969. It must be a March thing.
Title: Dear Mr. Fantasy
Source: CD: Smiling Phases (originally released on LP: Heaven Is In Your Mind, aka Mr. Fantasy)
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
Steve Winwood is one of those artists that has multiple signature songs, having a career that has spanned decades (so far). Still, if there is any one song that is most closely associated with the guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist, it's Dear Mr. Fantasy from Traffic's 1967 debut LP Mr. Fantasy. The album was originally released in a modified version in the US in early 1968 under the title Heaven Is In Your Mind, but later editions of the LP, while retaining the US track order and running time, were renamed to match the original British title.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Love Story
Source: CD: This Was (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Year: 1968 (UK), 1969 (US)
Love Story was the last studio recording by the original Jethro Tull lineup of Ian Anderson, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker and Glenn Cornish. The song was released as a single (Jethro Tull's first in the US) following the band's debut LP, This Was. Shortly after its release Abrahams left the group, citing differences with Anderson over the band's musical direction. Love Story spent eight weeks on the UK singles chart, reaching the #29 spot. In the U.S., Love Story was released in March 1969, with A Song for Jeffrey (an album track from This Was) on the B-side, but did not chart. Like most songs released as singles in the UK, Love Story did not appear on an album until several years later; in this case on the 1973 anthology album Living In The Past. It has most recently been included as a bonus track on the expanded CD version of This Was.
Title: Hear My Call
Source: LP: The Pentangle
Writer(s): Staple Singers
The Pentangle could be called the first supergroup of British folk music, yet in their early days they had a sound that owed as much to modern jazz as it did to traditional folk tunes. A good example is Hear My Call from their 1968 debut LP. The song was originally recorded by the Staple Singers, but the Pentangle definitely put their own spin on the tune, with all the members getting a chance to shine, either instrumentally or, in the case of Jacqui McShee, vocally.
Artist: Davic Bowie
Title: The Bewlay Brothers
Source: CD: Hunky Dory
Writer(s): David Bowie
Label: Parlophone (original label: RCA Victor)
Called by one critic "probably the most cryptic, mysterious, unfathomable and downright frightening Bowie recording in existence", The Bewlay Brothers is the final track on the 1971 album Hunky Dory, and the one with the longest lyrics. Bowie himself, in a 1977 interview, called it "another vaguely anecdotal piece about my feelings about myself and my brother, or my other doppelgänger. I was never quite sure what real position Terry had in my life, whether Terry was a real person or whether I was actually referring to another part of me, and I think 'Bewlay Brothers' was really about that."
Title: The Fountain Of Salmacis
Source: Canadian import CD: Nursery Cryme
Label: Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
Genesis' original guitarist, Anthony Phillips, left the group following their second LP, Trespass, in 1970. This almost caused the band to break up, but ultimately resulted in a revised lineup consisting of Peter Gabriel (vocals), Tony Banks (keyboards), and Mike Rutherford (bass), along with new members Steve Hackett (guitar) and Phil Collins (drums). Early in 1971 the five got to work on a new album, which eventually came to be called Nursery Cryme. Although the album was not a huge seller in their native England, it found enough of a following in European nations such as Belgium to allow the band to continue on. The Fountain Of Salmacis, the album's closing track, was inspired by the story of a water nymph who becomes a hermaphodite after bathing in cursed water (hey, blame the ancient Greeks for that story).
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: I Can't Quit You/How Many More Times
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin has come under fire for occassionally "borrowing" lyrics and even guitar riffs from old blues songs (never mind the fact that such "borrowing" was a common practice among the old bluesmen themselves) but, at least in the case of the first Zeppelin album, full songwriting credit was given to Willie Dixon for a pair of songs, one of which was I Can't Quit You. Still, it can't be denied that messrs. Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones completely revamped the blues classic into something uniquely their own. Like many early Led Zeppelin songs, How Many More Times was originally credited to the band members (except, for contractual reasons, singer Robert Plant). More recent releases of the song, however, list Chester Burnett (Howlin' Wolf) as a co-writer, despite the fact that he and the members of Led Zeppelin had never met. This is because of the similarity, especially in the lyrics, to a 1951 Howlin' Wolf record called How Many More Years. The band tried to trick radio programmers into playing the eight and a half minute song by listing it on the album cover as being three minutes and thirty seconds long. I doubt anyone was fooled.
Artist: Larry Coryell
Title: The Jam With Albert
Source: LP: Coryell
Writer(s): Larry Coryell
Label: Vanguard Apostolic
Larry Coryell is best known as a pioneer of jazz-rock fusion. His early work, however, is more of an eclectic mix of styles, including jazz, funk and even hard rock. The Jam With Albert, named for stand up bassist Albert Stinson, belongs in the latter category. As the title implies, it is basically a long jam with a lot of intense guitar work from Coryell. The Jam With Albert is, in fact, the longest track on the album, clocking in at over nine minutes.
Title: Roadhouse Blues (live)
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Jim Morrison
Year: Recorded 1970, released 1978
Roadhouse Blues is one of the most instantly recognizable songs in the entire Doors catalog. Indeed, most people can identify it from the first guitar riff, long before Jim Morrison's vocals come in. The original studio version of the song was released on the album Morrison Hotel in 1970, and was also issued as the B side of one of the band's lesser-known singles. That same year the Doors undertook what became known as their Roadhouse Blues tour; many of the performances from that tour were recorded, but not released at the time. In 1978 the three remaining members of the band, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore, decided to put music to some recordings of Morrison reciting his own poetry made before his death in 1971. The resulting album, An American Prayer, also included a live version of Roadhouse Blues made from two separate concert tapes from their 1970 tour. An edited version of the album track was released as a 1978 single as well.
Title: Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)
Source: CD: Kick Out The Jams
Although left-wing politics were a large part of the America folk music scene in the 1960s, it wasn't until later in the decade that rock bands followed suit. One of the most radical was Detroit's MC5. Originally formed as the Bounty Hunters by guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred Smith, the group took on the name MC5 after being joined by vocalist Rob Tyner in 1964. It was Tyner that got the band involved in politics, being a few years older than Kramer and Smith. The addition of bassist Michael Davis and drummer Dennis Thompson in 1965 completed the band's classic lineup. With their unique synthesis of garage rock and free jazz, the MC5 soon became one of the most popular bands on the Detroit music scene, releasing a couple of singles in 1967 and 1968 before coming to the attention of Elektra Records president Jac Holzman, who sent DJ/Publicist Danny Fields out to the motor city to check them out. Fields liked what he heard and immediately signed the band. It was decided early on that the only way to truly showcase the MC5's talents was to release an album of live performances. Their first LP, Kick Out The Jams, was recorded on October 30th and 31st, 1968 at Detroit's Grande Ballroom. One of the most popular songs on the album was Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa), now recognized as one of the most energetic performances ever caught on tape. After Detroit's largest department store, Hudson's, refused to stock the album because of the band's use of profanity, Tyner took out a full-page ad in a local underground newspaper that consisted of a picture of Tyner, the Elektra logo and the words "Fuck Hudsons". This led to Hudson's refusing to stock any records on the Elektra label, which in turn led Elektra to drop the MC5 from their artists roster.