Sunday, May 8, 2022

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2220 (starts 5/9/22)

    This week, after staring off on an eerily appropriate note from David Bowie's 1970 LP The Man Who Sold The World, we present a series of tracks that take us from 1968 to 1977, one year at a time. Since that still only makes eleven, we tack on two more tunes to bring the total up to 13 for the second consecutive show. Will the triskaidekaphelia continue for another week after this? Stay tuned...

Artist:    David Bowie
Title:    Saviour Machine
Source:    CD: The Man Who Sold The World
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    Parlophone (original label: Mercury)
Year:    1970
    David Bowie's third album, The Man Who Sold The World, was the first one in which his band played a major role in the development of the songs themselves. Indeed, producer/bassist Tony Visconti later said  "the songs were written by all four of us. We'd jam in a basement, and Bowie would just say whether he liked them or not." According to Bowie's biographer, Peter Doggett, "The band (sometimes with Bowie contributing guitar, sometimes not) would record an instrumental track, which might or might not be based upon an original Bowie idea. Then, at the last possible moment, Bowie would reluctantly uncurl himself from the sofa on which he was lounging with his wife, and dash off a set of lyrics." Bowie himself, however, later said that he was indeed the sole songwriter on the album, as evidenced by the chord changes in the songs themselves. As Bowie put it, "No one writes chord changes like that". Regardless of who actually wrote what, there is no question that The Man Who Sold The World rocked out harder than anything else Bowie had done up to that point (and perhaps never would again), and songs like Saviour Machine, about the pitfalls of turning to a higher power (in this case a omnipotent computer) for solutions to problems, are on a par with what Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin were doing around the same time.
Artist:    Traffic
Title:    Shanghai Noodle Factory
Source:    LP: Last Exit (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Capaldi/Wood/Miller/Fallon
Label:    Island (original US LP label: United Artists)
Year:    1968
    After Traffic split up (for the first time), Island Records decided to milk one more album out of one their most popular groups. To do so they took studio outtakes, singles that had not been included on previous albums, and even an entire side of live performances, issuing the entire package in 1969 under the title Last Exit. Shanghai Noodle Factory, a song that was recorded without the participation of guitarist Dave Mason, was originally released in late 1968 as the B side of the Medicated Goo single.

Artist:      Mountain
Title:     Blood of the Sun
Source:      CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On-Back To Yasgur's Farm
Writer(s):    West/Pappalardi/Collins
Label:    Rhino
Year:     1969
     Reportedly Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi and Corky Laing of the band Mountain didn't like the way their performance of Blood Of The Sun at the Woodstock festival sounded, so they recorded a substitute live take for the album Woodstock 2. In 2009 Rhino issued the actual Woodstock performance heard here. Although there have been claims that the Woodstock 2 recording is the actual Woodstock performance, anyone with half an ear can hear the difference between the two versions.

Artist:    Bloodrock
Title:    Children's Heritage
Source:    CD: Bloodrock 2
Writer(s):    John Nitzinger
Label:    One Way (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1970
    Formed in 1963 in Ft. Worth, Texas as the Naturals, the band that would eventually become known as Bloodrock changed its name to Crowd+1 in 1966, releasing a pair of non-charting singles from Capitol Records. Continuing to build a fanbase, the band was often booked as a local opening act for nationally known bands on tour. It was at one of these gigs that Terry Knight, manager/producer of Grand Funk Railroad, saw them for the first time. About two weeks later Knight got the band signed to Capitol for a second time, this time under the name Bloodrock with Knight himself producing the band. He also sent them on tour with Grand Funk Railroad, which at the time was the hottest band in the country. Bloodrock's greatest success came with their second LP, which included one of the most notorious tracks ever to hit the airwaves, D.O.A. In addition to writing most of their own material, Bloodrock recorded several songs by fellow Ft. Worth native John Nitzinger. Children's Heritage, a straightforward rocker that opens side two of the LP Bloodrock 2, is one of Nitzinger's tunes.
Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Jail Bait
Source:    British import CD: The Collection (originally released on LP: Pilgrimage)
Writer(s):    Powell/Turner/Upton/Turner
Label:    Spectrum (original US label: Decca)
Year:    1971
    One of the most popular songs in their live repertoire, Jail Bait first appeared on the second Wishbone Ash album, Pilgrimage, released in 1971.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    Watcher Of The Skies
Source:    CD: Foxtrot
Writer(s):    Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford
Label:    Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
Year:    1972
    The opening song for most of Genesis's live performances throughout the mid-1970s was also the opening track of their 1972 album Foxtrot. Watcher Of The Skies was inspired by the works of science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke (Childhood's End) and legendary comic book writer Stan Lee (the Tales Of The Watcher series), although the title itself reportedly was taken from an 1817 poem by John Keats. The two alternating chords at the beginning of the piece were actually the result of the limitations of a Mellotron MKII (a keyboard instrument that utilized tape loops of string orchestras) that keyboardist Tony Banks had just bought from King Crimson. According to Banks "There were these two chords that sounded really good on that instrument. There are some chords you can't play on that instrument because they'd be so out of tune. These chords created an incredible atmosphere. That's why it's just an incredible intro number. It never sounded so good on the later Mellotron."

Artist:    Cheech & Chong
Title:    The Strawberry Revival Festival/Don't Bug Me
Source:    CD: Los Cochinos
Writer(s):    Marin/Chong
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Ode)
Year:    1973
    Much of Cheech & Chong's humor was derived from the interaction between characters created by Cheech Marin and Thomas Chong. Not all of these characters had names, however. The Strawberry Revival Festival, for instance, is simply a conversation between two roommates in a house occupied by several other people that can be heard in the background throughout the piece. The only named person is Strawberry, who is not even part of the conversation (and is apparently passed out on the floor). The piece segues directly into the short Don't Bug Me, which is more of a punchline-oriented bit (hey, I'm trying not to give anything away, OK?).

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:    Steppenwolf
Title:    Caroline (Are You Ready For The Outlaw World)
Source:    CD: Born To Be Wild-A Retrospective (originally released on LP: Hour Of The Wolf
Writer(s):    Mars Bonfire
Label:    MCA (original label: Mums)
Year:    1975
    After splitting up in 1972, three of the original members of Steppenwolf, vocalist/guitarist John Kay, drummer Jerry Edmonton and keyboardist Goldy McJohn, formed a new version of Steppenwolf with bassist George Biondo and lead guitarist Bobby (nephew of Eddie) Cochrane. McJohn was fired less than a year later, however, and was replaced by Andy Chapin for the 1975 album Hour Of The Wolf. By this time, Steppenwolf was nearly forgotten by the general public, although they still had a core following among various motorcycle club members. Looking to build on this core audience, the band enlisted Edmonton's brother Dennis, who under the name Mars Bonfire had written their biggest hit, Born To Be Wild, to come up with an appropriate single for Hour Of The Wolf. The result was Caroline (Are You Ready For The Outlaw World). After recording a contractual obligation album called Skullduggery, Steppenwolf disbanded for a second time in 1976.

Artist:    Robin Trower
Title:    Messin' With The Blues
Source:    CD: Essential Robin Trower (originally released on LP: Long Misty Days)
Writer(s):    Trower/Dewar/Lordan
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1976
    The 1974 LP Bridge Of Sighs, featuring the power trio of Robin Trower on guitar, James Dewar and bass and vocals and Reg Isadore was a critical and commercial success that elevated Trower to the upper echelon of rock guitarists. Following the release of Bridge Of Sighs, Isadore left the group and was replaced by former Gypsy drummer Bill Lordan, who played on the next five Trower LPs, including 1976's Long Misty Days. A highlight of that album was Messin' The Blues, which was credited to all three band members.

Artist:    Heart
Title:    Dreamboat Annie
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Ann and Nancy Wilson
Label:    Mushroom
Year:    Original recordings 1975, single edit created 1976, charted 1977
    If you look at the label of Heart's Dreamboat Annie album you will notice that there are actually three tracks bearing the name Dreamboat
Annie. This single, however, is not the same as any of them. It is, in fact, a patchwork piece made by splicing the intro from Crazy On You (which was edited out of the single version of that song) onto the two-minute long Dreamboat Annie track that closes out side one of the LP. This new version of Dreamboat Annie (technically the fourth) was then issued as the band's third single. Although it barely missed the top 40 (peaking at #42) it was the first Heart single to hit the Adult Contemporary charts, making it to the #17 spot.

Artist:    Three Dog Night
Title:    Can't Get Enough Of It
Source:    45 RPM single B side (originally released on LP: Naturally)
Writer(s):    Winwood/Miller
Label:    Dunhill
Year:    1970
    What do Elvis Presley and Three Dog Night have in common? Neither was known for writing their own material. Three Dog Night's Naturally album, released in 1970, contained ten songs, nine of which were covers of songs such as Can't Get Enough Of It, which had originally appeared as the B side of Steve Winwood's final single as a member of the Spencer Davis Group, I'm A Man. For my money, Winwood's version can't possibly be improved upon, so I have to take Three Dog Night's version as a tribute to Winwood.

Artist:    Johnny Winter
Title:    On The Limb
Source:    European import CD: Johnny Winter And
Writer(s):    Rick Derringer
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    After three albums' worth of what Johnny Winter called "progressive blues", the Texas guitarist used an entirely different lineup for his 1970 album Johnny Winter And. The new band included guitarist Rick Derringer, bassist Randy Hobbs and drummer Randy Z, all of who had all been members of the McCoys, known for the 1965 hit single Hang On Sloopy (even though only Derringer had actually played and sung on the record). The music of Johnny Winter And reflected a subtle shift in emphasis from rock-flavored blues to blues-favored rock. This shift was particularly noticable on the handful of songs written by Derringer, such as On The Limb.

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