Sunday, May 22, 2022

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2222 (starts 5/23/22)

    After three weeks of squeezing in a dozen or more tunes per show, we shift gears a bit and, after a short piece from the Doors to get warmed up, go with some longer tracks, including an entire album side from a band (Poco) we've never heard on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion before.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Break On Through (To The Other Side)
Source:    CD: The Doors
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    The first Doors song to be released as a single was not, as usually assumed, Light My Fire. Rather, it was Break On Through (To The Other Side), the opening track from the band's debut LP, that was chosen to do introduce the band to top 40 radio. Although the single was not an immediate hit, it did eventually catch on with progressive FM radio listeners and still is heard on classic rock stations from time to time.

Artist:    Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Title:    Almost Cut My Hair
Source:    CD: déjà vu
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    Almost Cut My Hair could have been the longest track on the Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young album déjà vu. As originally recorded it ran about 10 minutes in length. However, it was decided to fade the cut out starting at around the four-minute mark, leaving Neil Young's Country Girl (which was actually a suite of song fragments) as the longest track on the LP. Nonetheless, even at its shorter-than-recorded released length, David Crosby's counter-cultural anthem stands out as one of the band's most memorable recordings, and is arguably the single track that best incorporates Neil Young's unique lead guitar style into a group that is known mostly for its vocal harmonies.

Artist:    Poco
Title:    Don't Let It Pass By/Nobody's Fool/El Tonto De Nadie, Regressa
Source:    LP: Poco
Writer(s):    Furay/Messina/Young/Schmidt/Grantham
Label:    Epic
Year:    1970
    Buffalo Springfield is perhaps best remembered for being the launching pad for the careers of Stephen Stills and Neil Young, but when the group fell apart (they never really disbanded) in 1968, it was Richie Furay and new member Jim Messina that decided to carry the band's musical legacy forward under the name Poco. Rusty Young, a former member of the Denver, Colorado band Boenzee Cryque, had played pedal steel guitar on the Springfield track Kind Woman, and stayed on to become a founding member of the new band. Another Boenzee Cryque alumnus, George Grantham, became the group's drummer. The final original member of Poco was bassist Randy Meisner, who left the group before their first album was released. His replacement was Timothy B. Schmidt, who had been a member of the Sacramento, California band New Breed (later known as Glad). Schmidt joined the group in time to record their self-titled second LP in 1970. Although the album, like Poco itself, is best known for its pioneering of what came to be known as country-rock, the LP's second side, which consists of two songs (Furay's Don't Let It Pass By and the group composition Nobody's Fool/El Tonto De Nadie, Regressa) that play as one continuous piece, shows off the band's improvisational skills. This particular lineup of Poco would make one more LP before Messina left to work with Kenny Loggins. A few years later, Schmidt would again replace Randy Meisner, this time as a member of the Eagles.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Love Like A Man
Source:    CD: Cricklewood Green
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1970
    Cricklewood Green was Ten Years After's fourth studio effort and fifth album overall. Released in 1970, the album is considered by critics to be the apex of Ten Years After's studio work. The best known track from the album is Love Like A Man, which became the group's only single to chart in the UK (in an edited version), peaking at the #10 spot. The band was still considered an "underground" act in the US, despite a successful appearance at Woodstock the year before. However, Love Like A Man was a favorite among disc jockeys on FM rock radio stations, who almost universally preferred the longer album version of the song heard here.

Artist:    Emerson, Lake And Palmer
Title:    The Barbarian
Source:    CD: Emerson, Lake And Palmer
Writer(s):    Bartok, arr. Emerson/Lake/Palmer
Label:    Rhino (original label: Cotillion)
Year:    1970
    Originally credited to the three band members, The Barbarian, from the first Emerson, Lake And Palmer album, is actually a rock arrangement of composer Bela Bartok's 1911 piano piece Allegro Barbaro. The band did not include Bartok's name, assuming that the record label people were handling it. Bartok's family then sued the band for copyright infringement, leading to the band adding the composer's name to the credits on reissues of the album. The recording itself in a way defines the band, as it was used as the opening track on their first LP.

Artist:    Pentangle
Title:    Pentangling
Source:    LP: Superecord Contemporary (originally released on LP: The Pentangle)
Writer(s):    Cox/Jansch/McShea/Renbourne/Thompson
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    Once in a while an album comes along that is so consistently good that it's impossible to single out one specific track for airplay. Such is the case with the debut Pentangle album from 1968. The group, consisting of guitarists John Renbourne and Bert Jansch, vocalist Jacqui McShea, bassist Terry Cox, and drummer Danny Thompson, had more talent than nearly any band in history from any genre, yet never succumbed to the clash of egos that characterize most supergroups. A slightly edited version of Pentangling appeared on a special promotional album for JBL speakers (priced at less than a dollar!) called Superecord Contemporary in 1971.

Artist:    Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title:    Running Dry (Requiem For The Rockets)
Source:    LP: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    For his second post-Buffalo Springfield LP, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Neil Young found a local Los Angeles band called the Rockets and convinced guitarist Danny Whitten, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina to join him, renaming them Crazy Horse for the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. One member of the Rockets that was not part of Crazy Horse was violinist Bobby Notkoff, whose eerie style gave the band a distinctive sound. Notkoff can be heard on Running Dry, which is subtitled Requiem For The Rockets as a tribute to the original band. The Rockets themselves had previously recorded one self-titled LP, but only 5000 copies were ever pressed.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Black Sabbath
Source:    LP: Black Sabbath
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osbourne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    This track has to hold some kind of record for "firsts". Black Sabbath, by Black Sabbath, from the album Black Sabbath is, after all, the first song from the first album by the first true heavy metal band. The track starts off by immediately setting the mood with the sound of church bells in a rainstorm leading into the song's famous tri-tone (often referred to as the "devil's chord") intro, deliberately constructed to evoke the mood of classic Hollywood horror movies. Ozzy Osborne's vocals only add to the effect. Even the faster-paced final portion of the song has a certain dissonance that had never been heard in rock music before, in part thanks to Black Sabbath's deliberate use of a lower pitch in their basic tuning. The result is something that has sometimes been compared to a bad acid trip, but is unquestionably the foundation of what came to be called heavy metal.

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