This week we allow Quicksilver Messenger Service to answer a music question that dates back to the 1950s, and then progress forward through the year 1974. As a bonus we have the original Hot Chocolate version of the song that made the members of a band called Stories one-hit wonders.
Title: The WASP (Texas Radio And The Big Beat)
Source: CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: L.A. Woman)
Writer(s): The Doors
Following a downward slide starting in 1968, the Doors ended their original run on a high note in 1971 with the L.A. Woman album. Among the strong blues-based tracks on the album is The WASP (Texas Radio And The Big Beat), an anthemic number that ranks up with other Doors album classics such as Five To One, When The Music's Over and The End. Big Beat indeed.
Artist: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Title: Who Do You Love Suite
Source: LP: Happy Trails
Quick, what was the last rock album released by Capitol using its iconic "rainbow" label before switching over to that horrid light green one that all the early Grand Funk Railroad albums used? If you answered Quicksilver Messenger Service's Happy Trails album, you'd be wrong...but just barely (actually the answer is Gandalf, which was the very next album released after Happy Trails). Happy Trails is dominated by a 25 minute long rendition of Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love recorded live at either the Fillmore East or Fillmore West, or maybe even a combination of both. The performance is divided into continuous sections, each of which is a variation on the song's basic riff as interpreted by (in order), guitarist Gary Duncan, drummer Greg Elmore, guitarist John Cipollina and bassist David Freibereg, although Elmore's segment is more of an audience participation piece. Quicksilver was one of the most popular live acts during the heyday of the late 1960s San Francisco music scene, and this recording demonstrates why.
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: Speed King (Dutch single "piano version")
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single B side
Label: Warner Brothers
The live version of Speed King, a song that originally appeared on the album Deep Purple In Rock, was taken from a 1970 performance on the BBC series In Concert. The album Deep Purple In Concert itself was not released until 1980, but an edited version of Speed King was issued as the B side of the Black Night single in the US in 1970. The song's lyrics, the first written for Deep Purple by vocalist Ian Gillan, reference several Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis Presley songs. The Dutch version of the single heard here differs from other versions in that it has piano overdubs in strategic places.
Artist: Rory Gallagher
Title: Can't Believe It's True
Source: British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Rory Gallagher)
Writer(s): Rory Gallagher
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
In addition to his obvious prowess on guitar, Rory Gallagher was an accomplished saxophonist (although he largely abandoned the instrument in the mid-1970s). Excellent examples of both his guitar and saxophone work can be found on Can't Believe It's True, the final and longest track on Gallagher's first solo album, recorded in 1971. Accompanying Gallagher on the album were drummer Wilgar Campbell and bass guitarist Gerry McAvoy. Gallagher had set up practice sessions with Campbell and McAvoy, as well as former Jimi Hendrix Experience members Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding following the breakup of his original band, Taste, but ultimately decided to form a power trio with the two Belfast natives for his solo debut.
Artist: Little Feat
Title: Cold, Cold, Cold
Source: CD: Sailin' Shoes
Writer(s): Lowell George
Label: Warner Brothers
Little Feat's second album, Sailin' Shoes, continued the band's move toward the unique sound that would blossom with their next LP, Dixie Chicken. Already, original compositions such as Cold, Cold, Cold were an indication of Lowell George's songwriting inclinations.
Title: Outlaw Man
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): David Blue
Although all the members of the Eagles are known for the songwriting abilities, some of the earliest singles were actually cover songs, including Peaceful Easy Feeling (by Jack Tempchin) and Outlaw Man (by David Blue). Blue was a recent addition to the Asylum roster, making him labelmates with the Eagles, and Outlaw Man was an obvious choice for inclusion on an album meant to have a modernized wild west theme. The song itself is a first person account of the life of an outlaw, with ambiguous enough lyrics to make it applicable to current times as well as the obvious 19th century.
Artist: Steely Dan
Title: Monkey In Your Soul
Source: LP: Pretzel Logic
Label: MCA (original label: ABC)
By the mid-1980s, it was fairly common for a band to consist of a couple of core members supplemented by various support musicians on their albums, often with an entirely different set up backup musicians joining them for live performances. In the early 1970s, however, such a thing was looked at as fakery of tht worst sort, thanks in large part to the Monkees, whose credibity as a band was virtually destroyed when it became known that the instrumental tracks on their first two chart-topping albums had been played entirely by studio musicians. Because of this, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, a pair of songwriters contracted to ABC records whose music was generally considered too complex for their labelmates, decided to form their own band, calling it Steely Dan. Even their earliest albums featured contributions from studio musicians, however, and by the end of 1974 Steely Dan had ceased to be an active touring band altogether. The 1974 LP Pretzel Logic was the last to feature former drummer Jim Hodder (who only provided background vocals on one song) and guitarists Jeff Baxter and Denny Dias, as official members of the band. Songs like Monkey In Your Soul, the final track on Pretzel Logic, featured contributions from over a dozen studio musicians, including drummer Jim Gordon, who had been a member of Derek And The Dominos and had played with Joe Cocker on the Mad Dogs And Englismen tour.
Artist: Hot Chocolate
Title: Brother Louie
Source: 45 RPM single
The British soul band Hot Chocolate recorded the original version of the song Brother Louie in early 1973. Co-written and sung by band members Errol Brown and Tony Wilson, the song peaked at #7 on the UK charts. A few months later the song was covered by an American band called Stories, who took Brother Louie to the top of the US charts in the summer of 1973. Personally I prefer the British original.