Sunday, September 18, 2022

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2239 (starts 9/19/22)

    This week the emphasis is on longer tracks, with running times ranging from just under five minutes to just over 11. Following an opening track from King Crimson, we move up to 1977 and work our way back, one year at a time, ending up with a 1971 Marvin Gaye classic.

Artist:    King Crimson
Title:    Red
Source:    CD: Red
Writer(s):    Robert Fripp
Label:    Discipline Global Mobile (original label: Atlantic)
Year:    1974
    Red is the seventh and final album of the original run of King Crimson, released in 1974. By then, only guitarist Robert Fripp remained of the original King Crimson lineup; he would form a new King Crimson seven years later. The title track of Red, which opens the album, is the only piece on the LP written entirely by Fripp. It is an instrumental written for multi-tracked guitar, bass and drums, and redefines the term "power trio" in a scary way. Fripp himself was somewhat ambiguous about including the track on the album, but bassist John Wetton insisted on it (drummer Bill Bruford reportedly told Fripp "I don't get it, but if you tell me it's good, I trust you").
Artist:    Rush
Title:    Xanadu
Source:    LP: A Farewell To Kings
Writer(s):    Lee/Lifeson/Peart
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1977
    Perhaps more than any other rock band, Rush incorporated science fiction into much of their music, especially longer pieces such as Xanadu, which runs a full eleven minutes. The story is based on the legendary city of Xanadu, as described in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem Kubla Khan: or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment. In Rush's version, finding Xanadu will grant one immortality, and the song's protagonist does indeed find it, only to find himself gone mad after a thousand years, "waiting for the world to end". Apparently the moral of the story is "be careful what you wish for, because you might actually get it".

Artist:    Queen
Title:    The Millionaire Waltz
Source:    CD: A Day At The Races
Writer(s):    Freddie Mercury
Label:    Hollywood (original label: Elektra)
Year:    1976
    Like Paul McCartney, Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury had a penchant for writing songs that harkened back to the music of the early 20th century. The Millionaire Waltz, from the 1976 album A Day At The Races, combines that style with a short section of hard rock (provided by guitarist Brian May). The song was reportedly written about the band's manager, John Reid, who had previously been involved with Elton John.

Artist:    Mahogany Rush
Title:    Strange Universe
Source:    Canadian import CD: Strange Universe
Writer(s):    Frank Marino
Label:    Just A Minute (original label: 20th Century)
Year:    1975
    Although there are countless guitarists that have been influenced by Jimi Hendrix in various ways, only one has been able to capture his entire sound from a production as well as performance standpoint. That one is Frank Marino, whose band, Mahogany Rush, has been recording since 1972. A listen to the title track of the 1975 album Strange Universe pretty much proves my point.

Artist:    Jeff Beck
Title:    Cause We've Ended As Lovers
Source:    CD: Blow By Blow
Writer(s):    Stevie Wonder
Label:    Epic
Year:    1975
    Jeff Beck's second official solo album, Blow By Blow, featured two tracks written by his friend Stevie Wonder. The first of these, Cause We've Ended As Lovers, first appeared on the 1974 album Stevie Wonder Presents: Syreeta. Beck's version, an instrumental includes a dedication to fellow guitarist Roy Buchanan.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    Stealin'
Source:    LP: Heavy Metal (originally released on LP: Sweet Freedom)
Writer(s):    Ken Hensley
Label:    Warner Special Products (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1974
    Stealin' was the lead single from the sixth Uriah Heep album, Sweet Freedom. It was written by keyboardist Ken Hensley, who had at the point in time become the band's main songwriter, having either written or co-written six of the LP's eight songs.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Strange Kind Of Woman (live version)
Source:    CD: Made In Japan
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Rhino/Purple (original US label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1972
    Vocalist Ian Gillan and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore hit a high note...or rather several high notes, whenever Deep Purple performed Strange Kind Of Woman live. Although the band had been reluctant to release a live album, they finally relented and recorded a series of performances on their Japanese tour in August of 1972. The best of those performances were released on a double album called Made In Japan in December of 1972, including a nine and a half minute long version of Strange Kind Of Woman that has come to be considered one of the best live tracks ever recorded by a rock band.

Artist:    Marvin Gaye
Title:    Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
Source:    LP: What's Going On
Writer(s):    Gaye/Nyx
Label:    Tamla
Year:    1971
    The final track (and third single) from Marvin Gaye's landmark album What's Going On, Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) was co-written by James Nyx Jr., a staff songwriter for Motown Records who also served as the facility's janitor. According to Nyx,  "Marvin had a good tune, sort of blues-like, but didn't have any words for it. We started putting some stuff in there about how rough things were around town. We laughed about putting lyrics in about high taxes, 'cause both of us owed a lot. And we talked about how the government would send guys to the moon, but not help folks in the ghetto. But we still didn't have a name, or really a good idea of the song. Then, I was home reading the paper one morning, and saw a headline that said something about the 'inner city' of Detroit. And I said, 'Damn, that's it. 'Inner City Blues'." The original LP version of the song heard here includes a reprise of the album's title track.

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