Spurred by British bands like Savoy Brown and the original Fleetwood Mac, rock 'n' roll had come full circle by the end of the 1960s and fully embraced its blues roots (losing the word "roll" in the process). Even former Beatle John Lennon was getting into the act. This week we feature a whole lot of blues-based rock from both sides of the Atlantic. With a couple of exceptions (including our opening tune) all the tracks on the show were recorded and released in 1969 and 1970, the peak years for blues-rock. Enjoy!
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: My Friend
Source: CD: Sailor
Drummer Tim Davis takes center stage as lead vocalist on My Friend, from the second Steve Miller Band album, Sailor. The tune, co-written by fellow band member Boz Scaggs, was the first writing credit for Davis, who would remain with the band through their first five LPs before moving on to other things.
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Worried Dream
Source: Australian import CD: The Essential Fleetwood Mac (originally released on LP: The Original Fleetwood Mac)
Writer(s): Riley "B.B." King
Label: Columbia/Sony (original label Blue Horizon; original US label: Sire)
Year: Recorded 1968, released 1971; released in US 1977
Two years after the departure of founding member Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac's British label, Blue Horizon, released an album of previously unreleased outtakes from the band's earliest sessions called The Original Fleetwood Mac. Among the tracks on that album was Green's 1968 cover version of B.B. King's Worried Dream, a tune that had only been released by King himself that same year (on his Blues On Top Of Blues LP). The Original Fleetwood Mac was only available in the US as an import, however, until 1977, when it was released on the Sire label.
Artist: Illinois Speed Press
Title: Hard Luck Story
Source: German import LP: Underground '70 (originally released on LP: Illinois Speed Press)
Writer(s): Kal David
Label: CBS (original US label: Columbia)
In 1967 someone coined the phrase "San Francisco sound" to describe the wave of bands coming out of the Bay Area that year, despite the fact that there really was no specific San Francisco sound. The following year, someone at M-G-M Records (which had missed out entirely on the whole San Francisco thing, with the exception of the Eric Burdon And The Animals single San Franciscan Nights) decided to sign a bunch of Boston bands and market them as the "Boss-Town Sound." This campaign went over like a lead balloon, actually hurting the chances of the bands to make a name for themselves. Undeterred, Columbia Records tried the same thing in Chicago in 1969, signing the Chicago Transit Authority, the Flock, Aorta and Illinois Speed Press and marketing them as the "Chicago Sound". Producer James William Guercio, who had previously worked with the Buckinghams and Blood, Sweat & Tears, was brought in to produce the first Illinois Speed Press album, which included the song Hard Luck Story, a somewhat atypical piece of blues-rock written by Kal David, who along with Paul Cotton formed the core of the band. David and Cotton soon wearied of being lumped in with other Chicago bands, and relocated to California, essentially becoming a duo in the process and helping pioneer the country-rock sound that would emerge from Southern California in the mid-1970s.
Artist: Blues Image
Title: Clean Love
Source: CD: Open
Writer(s): Blues Image
Label: Sundazed (original label: Atco)
The story of Blues Image is tied closely with the legendary south Florida nightclub Thee Image. Blues Image was the house band there (and had helped set up the club itself) and were already well known and respected in musicians' circles by the time they released their first LP in 1969. Although the LP sold moderately, it failed to generate any airplay on either top 40 or progressive FM radio. The group came up with a genuine hit single, Ride Captain Ride, in 1970, but their second LP, Open, charted even lower than their first one, despite having some outstanding tracks, including Ride Captain Ride and one of the best blues-rock tracks ever recorded, the eight-minute long Clean Love. Frustrated by the lack of success, guitarist Mike Pinera left the band to replace Eric Brann in Iron Butterfly, and after an even less successful third LP Blues Image called it quits. Drummer Joe Lala, who had co-founded the band with Pinera, went on to become a successful studio percussionist and later, film and TV actor.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Red House
Source: LP: The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook (originally released on LP: Smash Hits)
Writer(s): Jimi Hendrix
Label: Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Year: Recorded 1966, released 1969
There were actually two different versions of Red House released by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, both of which came from the same December, 1966, sessions. The original version was included on the European pressing of the Are You Experienced album, which was issued in early 1967. The album was not originally available in stereo, and a true stereo mix of this version of Red House was never made, as the track was left off the remixed American version of the LP. In spring of 1967 the band attempted to get a better version of the song, but neither Hendrix or bassist Noel Redding (who had played the original bass part on a regular guitar with its tone controls set to mimic a bass guitar) were satisfied with the later versions. Only one portion of these new recordings was kept, and was combined with the original take to create a new stereo mix for the US version of the 1969 Smash Hits album. This newer mix was also used by MCA for both the 1993 CD reissue of Are You Experienced and the Ultimate Experience compilation album.
Artist: Allman Brothers Band
Title: I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town
Source: CD: Idlewild South (deluxe edition) (originally released on CD: Live At Ludlow Garage 1970)
Label: Mercury/UMe (original label: Polydor)
Year: Recorded 1970, released 1990
When Polydor released a new deluxe edition of the 1970 Allman Brothers album Idlewild South, they gave buyers a real treat: the entire Live At Ludlow Garage album, recorded in 1970 and originally officially released in 1990 (although bootleg versions had by then been in circulation for several years). One of the tracks from that performance at the legendary Cincinnatti club that had never appeared on any Allman Brothers studio album was I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town, a song originally recorded in 1936 by Casey Bill Weldon and made famous by Louis Jordan as his first charted single in 1942.
Artist: Savoy Brown
Title: Love Me Please
Source: LP: Lion's Share
Writer(s): Kim Simmonds
Despite being released on the heels of their highest charting LP Hellbound Train, Savoy Brown's 1972 LP Lion's Share did surprisingly poorly on the charts, never climbing above the # 151 spot. Perhaps the band's frequent lineup changes were finally taking their toll, as Savoy Brown is a contender for the all-time record for having the most former members of any band in rock history. Regardless, Lion's Share, in addition to having pretty cool cover art, contains some tasty tunes, such as the low-key Love Me Please, written and sung by the band's founder (and only permanent member) Kim Simmonds.
Artist: Humble Pie
Title: Silver Tongue
Source: LP: Lost And Found (originally released in UK on LP: Town And Country)
Writer(s): Steve Marriott
Label: A&M (original label: Immediate)
Released only three months after the band's debut LP, Humble Pie's Town And Country was a mostly acoustic departure from the group's hard rock sound. The one exception was Steve Marriott's Silver Tongue, a hard blues-rocker that appears toward the end of the album. The album itself came out just as Immediate Records was going out of business; as a result the album got no promotion, or even a US release from the label. The two Immediate albums were eventually released in the US in 1973 as a double-LP called Lost And Found on A&M Records.
Artist: John Lennon
Title: Well Well Well
Source: CD: Lennon (box set) (originally released on LP: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band)
Writer(s): John Lennon
Label: Capitol (original label: Apple)
Written while undergoing primal therapy, Well Well Well is the longest, and heaviest track on the 1970 LP John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. The song features Lennon singing in unison with his guitar, a technique that dates back to early blues recordings by the like of Walter Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson. In addition to Lennon, Well Well Well includes Klaus Voorman on bass and Ringo Starr on drums.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Sugar The Road
Source: CD: Cricklewood Green
Writer(s): Alvin Lee
Label: Chrysalis (original label: Deram)
Ten Years After's fourth LP, Cricklewood Green, was the band's first release following their appearance at Woodstock, and by all accounts they made the best of the situation with what is generally considered to be their best studio album. In addition to progressive FM radio favorites Love Like A Man and 50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain, the album contains several tunes that show the group's diversity, such as Sugar The Road, which opens side one of the LP.
Artist: Wishbone Ash
Title: Blind Eye
Source: CD: The Collection (originally released on LP: Wishbone Ash and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Wishbone Ash
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
One of the first bands to feature two lead guitarists working in tandem, Wishbone Ash rose to fame as the opening act for Deep Purple in early 1970. After guitarist Andy Powell sat in with Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore during a sound check, Blackmore referred Wishbone Ash to MCA, the parent company of the US Decca label. The band's first LP came out in December of 1970, with Blind Eye becoming the band's first single. Although Wishbone Ash went on to become one of Britain's top rock bands of the 1970s, they were never as successful in the US, despite relocating to the states in 1973.