Sunday, July 24, 2022

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2231 (starts 7/25/22)

    This week we move backwards through the years 1974-1967, unearthing several album tracks that have never been featured on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion before. Among the treasures we dig up is an alternate composite take of Voodoo Chile, with bassist Jack Casady and organist Steve Winwood joining Jimi Hendrix and drummer Mitch Mitchell during the 1968 sessions that resulted in the legendary Electric Ladyland album. The show itself, however, starts from Small Beginnings...

Artist:     Flash
Title:     Small Beginnings
Source:     45 RPM single
Writer:     Peter Banks
Label:     Capitol
Year:     1972
     Before Steve Howe joined Yes, the group featured Peter Banks on lead guitar. After the first Yes album, Banks left the group to form a new band, Flash. Despite having a similar sound to Yes at a time when such bands were in vogue, Flash failed to achieve more than a small fraction of the original band's success, despite moderate airplay for songs like Small Beginnings, released as a single from their second LP. 

Artist:    Frank Zappa
Title:    Uncle Remus
Source:    CD: Apostrophe (')
Writer(s):    Zappa/Duke
Label:    Zappa (original label: Discreet)
Year:    1974
    One of the shortest free-standing songs in the entire Frank Zappa catalogue, Uncle Remus is a bit of a rarity in that it was co-written by another musician, George Duke, who also performs on the track. The song itself has a more serious message than the rest of the tunes on the Apostrophe (') album, dealing as it does with the subject of continuing racism in America, albeit tempered with Zappa's typical sardonic wit.

Artist:    Stevie Wonder
Title:    Jesus Children Of The World/All In Love Is Fair
Source:    LP: Innervisions
Writer(s):    Stevie Wonder
Label:    Tamla
Year:    1973
    Sandwiched between two hit singles on the second side of the 1973 LP Innervisions are a pair of tunes that showcase Stevie Wonder's versatility as both songwriter and instrumentalist. Jesus Children of America is a truly solo work, with Wonder providing lead and background vocals, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hohner clavinet, drums, Moog bass, handclaps and tambourine on the track, which leads directly into All In Love Is Fair, which again features Wonder on lead vocals, piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano and drums, aided by Scott Edwards on electric bass.

Artist:    Donovan
Title:    The Music Makers
Source:    LP: Cosmic Wheels
Writer(s):    Donovan Leitch
Label:    Epic
Year:    1972
    From mid-1966 through 1969, Scottish born Donovan Leitch was the most successful singer/songwriter in the world. Working with producer Mickie Most, Donovan cranked out monster hits such as Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow and Atlantis. But in 1969, after the completion of the album Barabajagal, the two parted company, with Donovan moving off in less commercial directions, first with the band Open Road and then recording an album targeted to children and their parents called HMS Donovan that was not even released in the US. In 1972, Donovan and Most reunited for an album called Cosmic Wheels. Glam rock was in vogue at the time, with many of that genre's artists citing Donovan as an influence on their own music. Donovan, in turn, incorporated elements of glam on songs like The Music Makers, which opens the LP's second side. The album, however, was not the commercial success Donovan had hoped for, and as the 70s progressed, his music tended to take a more introspective, spiritual turn.

Artist:    Firesign Theatre
Title:    The TV Glide
Source:    LP: Dear Friends
Writer(s):    Proctor/Bergman/Asutin/Ossman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    Recorded 1971, released 1972
    In the early 1970s, most US cities large enough to have their own television stations had three or four commercial stations and one member of the Public Broadcasting System. Los Angeles, on the other hand, had a boatload, including three owned by the major networks and four full-service independents, supplemented by a variety of UHF stations carrying more specialized programming. This gave the members of the Firesign Theatre plenty of inspiration for The TB Glide, basically a skit about a bunch of guys trying to decide what to watch, using local listings as a reference point. As the skit goes on, the show descriptions get more and more bizarre, until the guys finally just decide to watch a movie. The bit, which aired as part of the Firesign Theatre's Dear Friends radio program from late 1970 to early 1971, was popular enough to inspire a sequel, the TV Glide, both of which were included on the 1972 album Dear Friends, which compiled the best bit from the radio show.

Artist:    Chicago
Title:    Memories Of Love
Source:    LP: Chicago
Writer(s):    Kath/Matz
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    Co-written by Chicago guitarist Terry Kath and composer/arranger/conductor/pianist Peter Matz, Memories Of Love is a quiet, introspective piece divided into four sections: Prelude, AM Mourning, PM Mourning and Memories Of Love, with Kath providing vocals for the final section. Not what you would expect from the guy who Jimi Hendrix once called "a better guitarist than me".

Artist:    Moby Grape
Title:    Looper
Source:    German import LP: Underground '70 (originally released on LP: Truly Fine Citizen)
Writer(s):    Peter Lewis
Label:    CBS (original US label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Moby Grape's fourth LP, Truly Fine Citizen, is a classic example of a "contractual obligation" album. Released in 1969, the album was neither commercially or critically successful, and the group soon disbanded. The album was not without its highlights, however, such as Peter Lewis's Looper, which was considered good enough to be included on a CBS sampler album called Underground '70 that appeared in Germany on purple vinyl that glowed under a black light (don't ask how I know this).

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix
Title:    Voodoo Chile Blues
Source:    CD: Blues
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA/Experience Hendrix
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 1994
    Jimi Hendrix's original Voodoo Chile is basically a long jam that took up most of the first side of the double-LP Electric Ladyland, released in 1968. At this time Hendrix had left instructions to keep the tapes rolling whenever anything was going on in the studio, resulting in several hours worth of outtakes. In 1994 producer Alan Douglas compiled this alternate version of Voodoo Chile Blues from those outtakes, featuring Hendrix on guitar and vocals, Jefferson Airplane's Jack Casady on bass, Mitch Mitchell on drums and Traffic's Steve Winwood on organ. The track appeared on the CD compilation album Blues.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    When The Music's Over
Source:    CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: Strange Days)
Writer:    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1967
    I remember the first time I heard When The Music's Over. My girlfriend's older brother had the new Doors album on the stereo in his room and told us to get real close to the speakers so we could hear the sound of a butterfly while he turned the volume way up. What we got, of course, was a blast of "...we want the world and we want it now." Good times.

Artist:    Leon Russell
Title:    Prince Of Peace
Source:    LP: Leon Russell
Writer(s):    Russell/Dempsey
Label:    Shelter
Year:    1970
    Although it was his first solo album, the multitalented Leon Russell already sounds a bit world-weary on Prince Of Peace, a song best described by its own lyrics on the chorus:
Never treat a brother like a passing stranger
Honey, won't you always try to keep the love light burning
Sing a song of love and open up your heart
For you might be the prince of peace returning
Yeah, you might be the prince of peace returning
'nuff said.

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