This week we have one fairly long set bookended by two shorter sets, each with its own characteristics. The first set is all live performances that have never been featured on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion before this week. The second, longer set is on the quieter side...but definitely does not qualify as "soft rock" (which is an oxymoron in my book). The final set is a mixed bag of rock, jazz, and soul, with a couple of genuine hit singles thrown in.
Artist: Humble Pie
Title: Four Day Creep
Source: CD: Performance Rockin' The Fillmore
Writer(s): Ida Cox
The opening track on Humble Pie's 1971 live album Performance Rockin' The Fillmore is NOT an Ida Cox song called Four Day Creep, regardless of what it says on the label. I've heard the Ida Cox performance of Four Day Creep, and it is an entirely different song. Different melody. Different chord structure. Different lyrics. The only thing I can figure is that someone in the band really liked Ida Cox and wanted to see her get some royalty money, so they tacked her name and song title onto this track. I hope it worked.
Artist: John Mayall
Title: Wish You Were Mine
Source: European import CD: Blues From Laurel Canyon (bonus track originally released on LP: Primal Solos)
Writer(s): John Mayall
Label: Decca (original US label: London)
Year: Recorded 1968, released 1977
Following the release of the LP Blues From Laurel Canyon in November 1968, John Mayall took his new band, consisting of himself, guitarist Mick Taylor, bassist Stephen Thompson and drummer Colin Allen on a European tour to promote the album. He took along a reel to reel recorder and taped this performance of Wish You Were Mine in Sweden in December of 1968. This bonus track was a bit of a surprise to me, as I bought the CD to replace a poorly remastered European import LP and was not expecting anything but the original album itself to be on the disc.
Title: Kick Out The Jams
Source: LP: Heavy Metal (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Warner Special Products (original label: Elektra)
The MC5's association with Elektra Records was cut short when the band took out a full-page ad in a Detroit newspaper saying: "Stick Alive with the MC5, and F*** Hudson's!", prominently displaying the Elektra logo in the ad itself. Hudson's, the city's largest department store chain, had refused to stock the band's debut LP Kick Out The Jams because of the use of profanity throughout the album, including on the intro to the title track. In response to the ad, Hudson's then pulled ALL of Elektra's records from the shelves. Elektra responded by terminating their contract with the MC5. Before all this happened, however, the band had, at Elektra's insistence, recorded a modified version of the song's intro, with "Kick out the jams, brothers and sisters!" replacing the original wording. This version was released as a single in March of 1969 and appears on some album copies as well.
Artist: Neil Young
Title: Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Source: CD: After The Gold Rush
Writer(s): Neil Young
In the wake of the massive success of the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album deja vu, each of the band members were given the opportunity to record solo albums. Neil Young, being the only member to have already released two solo LPs, chose to base his work on a screenplay by Dean Stockwell and Herb Bermann for a proposed film to be called After The Gold Rush. Although the film was never made, Young liked the title, and used it for his 1970 solo album. Two singles were released from the album, the first being Only Love Can Break Your Heart, which was a minor hit, reaching the #33 spot. Stephen Stills contributed backup vocals to the track.
Artist: David Crosby
Title: Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves)
Source: CD: If Only I Could Remember My Name
Writer(s): David Crosby
In 1971, following the success of the deja vu album, all four members of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released solo albums. The most successful of these at the time was Neil Young's After The Gold Rush, followed by the album Stephen Stills. David Crosby's album, while somewhat overshadowed by Stills and Young's efforts, was nonetheless a commercial success, selling more than half a million copies and peaking at #12 on the album charts. Having listened to all four albums recently, I would actually rank If Only I Could Remember My Name as the best of the four, as the songs have aged amazingly well. Among the truly timeless tracks on the album is a piece called Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves), which is basically an instrumental with wordless vocals. Thanks to Crosby's gift for writing compelling melody and harmony lines, it works.
Artist: Mark Fry
Title: The Witch
Source: British Import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released in Italy on LP: Dreaming With Alice)
Writer(s): Mark Fry
Label: Grapefruit (original label: IT)
One of the most obscure albums ever released, Dreaming With Alice is sometimes considered the ultimate example of acid folk. Recorded in 1971 by teenaged British art student Mark Fry and released only in Italy on RCA's IT subsidiary, the album includes a track called The Witch, which is described in the book Galactic Ramble as "one of the creepiest songs you'll ever hear". Personally I don't really find anything creepy about it at all, although the track itself is quite hypnotic and highly listenable.
Title: After The Ordeal
Source: CD: Selling England By The Pound
Label: Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
As was the case with all the early Genesis albums, all the songs on the 1973 LP Selling England By The Pound are credited to the entire band. More recently, however, the individual members of the band have been given credit for their specific contributions. For example, After The Ordeal, the four-minute long instrumental piece that precedes The Cinema Show, was actually written by guitarist Steve Hackett, with help from bassist Mike Rutherford. The piece almost got left off the album, but Hackett insisted that it be included. The original vinyl release of Selling England By The Pound, which runs in excess of 53 minutes, suffered from the limitations of LP vinyl records, which normally can only contain about 20 minutes per album side before sacrificing overall sound quality.
Artist: Joni Mitchell
Title: Shades Of Scarlett Conquering
Source: LP: The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
Writer(s): Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell was always known for sophisticated lyrics, but after making her switch from Reprise to Asylum, her music began to take on a sophistication of its own. While still based in folk-rock, it increasingly incorporated jazz idioms to create a sound that was uniquely Mitchell's. This trend reached its fulfillment with the 1975 album The Hissing Of Summer Lawns, featuring complex songs such as Shades Of Scarlett Conquering. The song is a poetic observation of women who actually look to fictional character Scarlett O'Hara as a role model. If at first that seems a bit absurd, rest assured that I have met such women as recently as the 1990s.
Artist: Robin Trower
Title: Little Bit Of Sympathy
Source: LP: Bridge Of Sighs
Writer(s): Robin Trower
Released in 1974, Bridge Of Sighs was the second solo LP by former Procol Harum guitarist Robin Trower. The album was Trower's commercial breakthrough, staying on the Billboard album charts for 31 weeks, peaking at #7. In addition to Trower, the album features James Dewar on lead vocals and bass, along with Reg Isidore on drums. The album was a staple of mid-1970s progressive rock radio, with several tunes, including album closer Little Bit Of Sympathy, becoming concert favorites.
Artist: Mahavishnu Orchestra
Title: Open Country Joy
Source: 45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s): John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin. Billy Cobham. Rick Laird. Jan Hammer. Jerry Goodman. All were destined to become jazz-rock fusion stars by the end of the decade, but in 1971 the term fusion, as applied to music, was not yet in use. Yet fusion was indeed the most appropriate word for the Mahavishnu Orchestra, whose five members came from five different countries: England, Ireland, Panama, Czechoslovakia (as it was then known) and the US, respectively. The members came from a variety of musical backgrounds as well. McLaughlin (who wrote all the group's material) and Cobham had met while working on Miles Davis' Bitches Brew album, while Goodman had recorded two albums with the Chicago-based Flock. The Mahavishnu Orchestra was known for its ability to quickly shift between music styles on such tracks as Open Country Joy, which appeared on the group's second LP, Birds of Fire, as well as being released as a single.The original band disbanded after only two albums, but McLaughlin would later revive the group with a different lineup in the 1980s.
Artist: Stevie Wonder
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Stevie Wonder
Superstition was not originally meant to be a Stevie Wonder hit record. The song was actually written with the intention of giving it to guitarist Jeff Beck, in return for his participation of Wonder's Talking Book album. In fact, it was Beck that came up with the song's opening drum riff, creating, with Wonder, the first demo of the song. The plan was for Beck to release the song first as the lead single from the album Beck, Bogert & Appice. However, that album's release got delayed, and Motown CEO Barry Gordy Jr. insisted that Wonder go ahead and release his own version of the song first, as Barry saw the song as a potential #1 hit. It turned out Gordy was right, and Superstition ended up topping both the pop and soul charts in 1973, doing well in other countries as well. A 1986 live version of the song by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble continues to get a lot of airplay on classic rock radio.
Artist: Ringo Starr
Title: It Don't Come Easy
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Richard Starkey
Ringo Starr's most famous song started off as You Gotta Pay Your Dues, and was recorded in 30 takes in February of 1970. Ringo, however, was not satisfied with the still unfinished recording and decided to scrap the whole thing and start over on March 8th. By this time the song had been retitled It Don't Come Easy, and the song was not finished until October of that year. When the press first got wind of the recording sessions in March Apple Records issued a statement that there were no plans for the record to be released as a single. 13 months later, It Don't Come Easy hit the charts and managed to outperform John Lennon's Power To The People, Paul McCartney's Another Day and George Harrison's Bangla Desh, all of which were released at around the same time. Ringo still performs the song pretty much every time he makes a live appearance.