Sunday, May 1, 2022

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2219 (starts 5/2/22)

    This week we slowly make our way from 1969 to 1975, take a quick break, and then work our way back down to 1970, managing to fit in a total of 13 tunes, including five that have never appeared on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion before. We start with a bit of whimsy from 1972...

Artist:    Doors
Title:    The Mosquito
Source:    Mono 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Krieger/Densmore/Manzarek
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1972
    Following the death of Jim Morrison, the remaining members of the Doors attempted to carry on as a three-piece group, but met with relatively little success. One of their best known songs is The Mosquito, but not as a Doors recording. Not long after the song's initial release as a single (and LP track on the album Full Circle), the song was translated into French by Pierre Delanoe, whose Le Moustique went into the top 10 in at least two European countries, and was also released in Canada. Sadly, the line "Just let me eat my burrito" was lost in translation. At least Robby Krieger, John Densmore and Ray Manzarek got some royalties out of it.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    We Used To Know
Source:    CD: Stand Up
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol (original US label: Reprise)
Year:    1969
    The first of many personnel changes for Jethro Tull came with the departure of guitarist Mick Abrahams in late 1968. His replacement was Tony Iommi from the band Earth, who joined just in time to make an appearance miming the guitar parts to A Song For Jeffrey on the Rolling Stones' Rock And Roll Circus, a TV special slated for a December airing on British TV, but pulled from the schedule at the last minute by the Stones themselves, who were not satisfied with their own performances on the show. The following month Iommi went back to Earth (who eventually changed their name to Black Sabbath) and Jethro Tull found a new guitarist, Martin Barre, in time to begin work on their second LP, Stand Up. Barre's guitar work is featured prominently on several tracks on Stand Up, including We Used To Know, a song that starts quietly and slowly builds to a wah-wah pedal dominated instrumental finale.

Artist:    Crosby, Stills and Nash
Title:    Guinnevere
Source:    CD: Crosby, Stills and Nash
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    By 1969 David Crosby had developed into a first-class songwriter. Nowhere is that more evident than on Guinnevere, from the first Crosby, Still and Nash album. Instrumentally the song is essentially a solo guitar piece. It is the layered harmonies from Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash that make the song truly stand out as one of the best releases of 1969.

Artist:    Steve Miller Band
Title:    I Love You
Source:    LP: Anthology (originally released on LP: Number 5)
Writer(s):    Steve Miller
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    The first five Steve Miller Band albums were an eclectic mix of blues, psychedelia, jazz, country, folk, rock and even gospel. I Love You, from the fifth Miller LP (recorded in Nashville and appropriately titled Number 5), incorporates many of these elements, helped by guest harmonica player Charlie McCoy, with strong vocal harmonies from Miller, drummer Tim Davis and bassist Bobby Winkleman.

Artist:    Paul And Linda McCartney
Title:    Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
Source:    CD: Wings Greatest (originally released on LP: Ram)
Writer(s):    Paul And Linda McCartney
Label:    Capitol (original label: Apple)
Year:    1971
    Paul McCartney pretty much established who would ultimately be the most commercially successful ex-Beatle with Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, his first #1 single as a solo artist. The song appeared on the album Ram, and was credited officially to Paul And Linda McCartney. Indeed, Linda's vocals are heard quite prominently on the "Hands across the water" segment of the song and elsewhere. The track is not without its share of controversy, however, as it has been criticized for being cute, self-indulgent and annoying by some critics.

Artist:    Todd Rundgren
Title:    Is It My Name
Source:    LP: Appetizers (originally released on LP: A Wizard, A True Star)
Writer(s):    Todd Rundgren
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Bearsville)
Year:    1973
    Following the success of his 1972 double-LP Something/Anything, Todd Rundgren decided that it was time to do some experimenting. While other artists had been using psychedelic substances since the mid-1960s, Rundgren had chosen not to at the time. Instead, he waiting until such substances were no longer in fashion. As a result of this experimentation, he began to think of the music on Something/Anything as formulaic and born from laziness, and he resolved to create a "more eclectic and more experimental" album for his next release, which would reflect his realization of "what music and sound were like in my internal environment, and how different that was from the music I had been making." The resulting album was A Wizard, A True Star, one of the longest single LP albums (56 minutes) ever committed to vinyl. This resulted in a loss of both volume and sound quality on the original vinyl pressing of the album (presumably, the CD version does not have these defects). One track that did get reproduced with higher fidelity was Is It My Name when the song was chosen for inclusion on an album called Appetizers, one of a series of "Loss Leaders" sampler LPs issued by Warner Brothers in the early 1970s and only available by mail order.

Artist:    Faces
Title:    Cindy Incidentally
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s):    McLagen/Steward/Wood
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    By 1973, vocalist Rod Stewart had achieved superstar status, creating a rift between himself and the rest of his band, Faces. In practical terms this meant that Stewart's participation in the making of the band's fourth and final album, Ohh La La, was minimal at best. As a result, in the words of Ian McLagen, Ooh La La was "Ronnie Lane's album". To make matters worse, Stewart publicly expressed his disdain for the album to the rock press, calling Ooh La La a "stinking rotten album". Lane took the comments personally, and soon left the band that he himself had co-founded in 1965 (as the Outcasts). The group found a replacement bass player and cut a couple more singles, but by 1975 Stewart was showing no interest at all in the band, while guitarist Ronnie Wood was already well on his way to becoming a member of the Rolling Stones, thus ending the saga of one of England's most popular bands. Ironically, Cindy Incidentally, from Ooh La La, ended up being the Faces' biggest British hit single.

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    Down In The Track
Source:    CD: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits
Writer(s):    Tom Johnston
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1974
    Down In The Track is one of the more straightforward rock 'n' roll tunes on the fourth Doobie Brothers album, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits. In addition to band members Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, Tiran Porter, John Hartman and Michael Hossack, the recording features New Orleans pianist James Booker, known as the "Black Liberace" on piano.

Artist:    Black Sheep
Title:    Far Side Of The Sun
Source:    LP: Black Sheep
Writer(s):    Grammatico/Mancuso/Rocco
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1975
    It's possible that, if not for a traffic accident on an icy road in early 1976, a band called Black Sheep would have enjoyed the fame that came to a band named Foreigner. Led by vocalist Lou Grammatico and guitarist Don Mancuso, the band also featured Larry Crozier on keyboards, Bruce Turgon on bass and Ron Rocco on drums. Their first LP for Capitol, released in 1975, included such prog rock tunes as Far Side Of The Sun. Unfortunately, the aforementioned traffic accident destroyed all the band's equipment, forcing them to cancel a tour opening for Kiss, and Grammatico soon accepted an offer to become Foreigner's lead vocalist, shortening his name to Lou Graham. Both Turgon and Mancuso have made appearances on Graham's later solo albums, and Turgon joined Foreigner in 1992.

Artist:    Black Oak Arkansas
Title:    Happy Hooker
Source:    CD: Hot & Nasty: The Best Of Black Oak Arkansas (originally released on LP: High On The Hog)
Writer(s):    Black Oak Arkansas
Label:    Rhino (original label: Atco)
Year:    1973
    I seriously doubt any mainstream rock band besides Black Oak Arkansas could have gotten away with recording a song called Happy Hooker, let alone getting the song onto a greatest hits album, but such was the appeal of the former juvenile delinquents from the hills of northeastern Arkansas. The vocal style of Jim "Dandy" Mangrum is perfect for the song itself.

Artist:    Curtis Mayfield
Title:    Superfly
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Curtis Mayfield
Label:    Curtom
Year:    1972
    Although his original group, The Impressions, made some inroads on the top 40 charts (in addition to being a strong presence on the R&B charts) throughout the 1960s, it was as a solo artist in the early 1970s that Curtis Mayfield had his greatest commercial success. His soundtrack for the film Superfly is considered some of the finest music to come out of the funk era. The album produced two top 10 singles, Freddie's Dead and the film's title track, which peaked at #8.

Artist:    Sly And The Family Stone
Title:    Family Affair
Source:    CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1970 (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: There's A Riot Goin' On)
Writer(s):    Sylvester Stewart
Label:    Rhino (original label: Epic)
Year:    1971
    Although credited to Sly And The Family Stone, Family Affair was actually almost a solo effort by the the group's leader, Sly Stone, who played keyboards, guitar and bass on the track, with his friend Billy Preston providing additional keyboards. The song is one of the first uses of a drum machine (then known as a rhythm box), which was programmed by Stone himself. Sly provided lead vocals on the track, backed up by his sister Rose. He initially did not consider the song strong enough to be released as a single, but as it turned out, Family Affair was the biggest hit of his career, becoming his final #1 hit on both the pop and soul charts.

Artist:    Frijid Pink
Title:    I Want To Be Your Lover
Source:    German import CD: Frijid Pink
Writer(s):    Thomas/Beaudry/Valvano
Label:    Repertoire (original US label: Parrot)
Year:    1970
    It seems that by 1970 every band wanting to establish serious rock credentials had to include a drum solo in its repertoire. Sometimes, as was the case with Cream's Toad, the entire song was built around that solo. In other instances, the solo was part of a longer piece featuring solos by more than one band member. Frijid Pink's I Want To Be Your Lover is a case of the latter, with the drum solo coming fairly late in the recording itself. Lyrically, the song is based on an old blues theme that essentially says "I'm not interested in the things you do, I just want to have sex with you", albeit translated into a late 60s setting that includes drug use and political activism, among other things.

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