Sunday, January 29, 2023

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2305 (starts 1/30/23) 

    Another week of free-form rock, this time with the emphasis on rock, including a track from the first acknowledged Japanese heavy metal album.

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    Reeling In The Years
Source:    45 RPM single (stereo reissue)
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagen
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1972
    My first radio gig (sort of), was volunteering at the Voice Of Holloman, a closed-circuit station that served a handful of locations on Holloman AFB, about 10 miles from Alamogordo, NM. I had been taking broadcasting courses through a community college program that was taught by Sgt. Tim Daniels, who was the NCO in charge of the base Information Office. As such he ran the station, as well as a free weekly newspaper that was distributed on base. After completing the classes, Tim gave me the opportunity to do a daily two-hour show on the VOH, using records that had been sent to the station by various record labels. We got excellent singles service from some labels (Warner Brothers and Capitol in particular), but virtually nothing from others, such as ABC. This was unfortunate, as one of the best songs out at the time was Steely Dan's Reeling In The Years, from their 1972 Can't Buy A Thrill album. Tim, whose previous gig was with the Armed Forces Vietnam Network, was a big rock fan, however, and went out and bought his own copy of the album, making a copy of Reeling In The Years on reel to reel tape, which we then played extensively until the song had run its course on the charts. Thus the Voice Of Holloman, with its audience consisting mostly of guys working out at the base gym, was playing the longer album version of a song that was also getting airplay on Alamogordo's daytime-only top 40 AM station, KINN, in its edited single form. It was just about the nearest the Voice Of Holloman ever got to being an underground rock station (although I did manage to sneak in some Procol Harum, Little Feat and once even Deep Purple from the aformentioned Warner Brothers singles).

Artist:    Allman Brothers Band
Title:    Hot 'Lanta
Source:    LP: At Fillmore East
Writer(s):    Allman/Allman/Betts/Trucks/Oakley/Johanson
Label:    Mercury (original label: Capricorn)
Year:    1971
    The only "new" song on the Allman Brothers' landmark album At Fillmore East was Hot 'Lanta, a piece that evolved out of a jam session and was only performed live. The melody line comes from guitarist Dickey Betts, who also contributes a solo, as do fellow guitarist Duane Allman and keyboardist Gregg Allman.

Artist:    Todd Rundgren's Utopia
Title:    Do Ya
Source:    LP: Another Live
Writer(s):    Jeff Lynne
Label:    Bearsville
Year:    1975
    Todd Rundgren has never been one to wear labels well, so when he began to get a reputation as a singer/songwriter in the early to mid 1970s he went out and formed a band. That band, originally known as Todd Rundgren's Utopia, released their first live album in 1975. Among the non-Rundgren penned pieces the band performed was Do Ya, a song that had originally been released as a B side by the Move. Meanwhile the Electric Light Orchestra, a band led by Jeff Lynne that had evolved from the Move, had also been performing the song live. After a rock journalist asked ELO members what they thought of Rundgren's "original version" of the song they decided to record a new studio version of the song to let everyone know that it was a Jeff Lynne song in the first place, releasing it on their 1976 LP A New World Record.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    Spider Woman
Source:    European import CD: The Magician's Birthday
Writer(s):    Box/Byron/Kerslake/Thain
Label:    Sanctuary (original US label: Mercury)
Year:    1972
    Although Uriah Heep was known as an album-oriented band in the US and their native UK, they did have some top 40 success in Scandanavia and Northern Europe, especially in Germany, where they scored three top 20 hits from 1970-72. The last of these was Spider Woman, from the Magician's Birthday album, which went to the #14 spot on the German charts.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Children Of The Grave
Source:    CD: Greatest Hits 1970-1978 (originally released on LP: Master Of Reality)
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osbourne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    One of the spookiest experiences in my life was crashing at a stranger's house after having my mind blown at a Grand Funk Railroad/Black Oak Arkansas concert in the fall of 1971. A bunch of us had ridden back to Weatherford, Oklahoma, from Norman (about an hour's drive) and somehow I ended up separated from my friends Mike and DeWayne, in whose college dorm room I had been crashing for a couple of days. So here I am in some total strangers house, lying on the couch in this room with black walls, a black light, a few posters and a cheap stereo playing a brand new album I had never heard before: Black Sabbath's Master Of Reality. Suddenly I notice this weird little tapping sound going back and forth from speaker to speaker. Such was my state of mind at the time that I really couldn't tell if it was a hallucination or not. The stereo was one of those late 60s models that you could stack albums on, and whoever had put the album on had left the stereo in repeat mode before heading off to bed, with no more albums stacked after the Sabbath LP. This meant that every twenty minutes or so I would hear Children Of The Grave, with that weird little tapping sound going back and forth from speaker to speaker. Trust me, it was creepy, as was the whispering at the end of track. No wonder Ozzy Ozbourne called Children Of The Grave "the most kick-ass song we'd ever recorded."

Artist:    Robin Trower
Title:    Bridge Of Sighs
Source:    CD: Bridge Of Sighs
Writer(s):    Robin Trower
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1974
    One of the most celebrated guitar albums of all time, Bridge Of Sighs was Robin Trower's second solo LP following his departure from Procol Harum. Released in 1974, the LP spent 31 weeks on the Billboard album charts, peaking at #7. Bridge of Sighs has served as a template for later guitar-oriented albums, especially those of Warren Haines and Gov't Mule.

Artist:    Bob Seger System
Title:    Black Eyed Girl
Source:    LP: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Writer(s):    Bob Seger
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1969
    The Bob Seger System was one of the top local bands on the Detroit rock scene in the late 60s. As was typical of that scene, the System played a hard-edged brand of rock that played well with the sons and daughters of the city's mostly blue-collar workforce. Following a series of regional hit singles, the System hit the big time after signing with Capitol Records in 1968. After releasing one of the most intense antiwar songs ever recorded (2+2=?), the band began work on their debut LP, tentatively entitled Tales Of Lucy Blue. Before the album was finished Capitol released a second single by the band, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, which was such a huge hit they decided to rename the album after the song (although the original Lucy Blue cover art remained). The LP itself had some fine rockers, such as Black Eyed Girl, which at six and a half minutes was the longest cut on the album. The LP was not a major success, however, and for years it looked like Bob Seger would be remembered only as a one-hit wonder. Seger resurfaced in the late 1970s with a new group, the Silver Bullet Band, and went on to become a major rock star.

Artist:    Flower Travellin' Band
Title:    Satori-Part IV
Source:    CD: Satori
Writer(s):    Satori
Label:    Phoenix (original US label: GRT)
Year:    1971
    Possibly the first Japanese heavy metal band and almost certainly the first Japanese psychedelic group, the Flower Travelin' Band was created as a side project of Yuyu Yuchida, a friend of John Lennon's who, having heard Jimi Hendrix and Cream on a trip to England, wanted to introduce Japanese audiences to this new kind of music. After returning to Japan he gathered a group of musicians together and recorded the first Flowerin' Travellin' Band LP in 1969. The album was made up entirely of covers of bands like Cream and Led Zeppelin. It wasn't until 1971 (and several personnel changes) that the FTB recorded their first LP made up entirely of original material. The album was called Satori, as were all five tracks on the album. Satori is often cited as the first original Japanese heavy metal album. After listening to it I'd say it was one of the first heavy metal albums period.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Why Didn't Rosemary
Source:    LP: Deep Purple
Writer(s):    Lord/Blackmore/Evans/Paice/Simper
Label:    Tetragrammaton
Year:    1969
    Deep Purple's self-titled third LP was plagued with problems not of the band's own making. Most of these can be traced to the fact that their American label, Tetragrammaton, was in deep (no pun intended) financial trouble. This meant virtually no promotion budget for the album, and problems with distribution as well. Actually, the company went bankrupt not long after the album was released, making Deep Purple (the album) almost impossible to find on the record racks. There were internal problems brewing as well; this would be the last Deep Purple album to feature original lead vocalist Rod Evans and bassist Nicky Simper, who were dismissed to make room for Ian Gillan and and Roger Glover. The shame of it all is that Deep Purple was actually a pretty good album, covering a lot of musical ground. One of the tracks, Why Didn't Rosemary, is about as good as British blues-rock gets. Apparently the band's new label thought so as well, as Why Didn't Rosemary, as well as most of the rest of the tracks from Deep Purple, was included on a double-LP anthology album called Purple Passages that collected the best of the band's Tetragrammaton material.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Oh Well
Source:    Mono LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: Then Play On)
Writer(s):    Peter Green
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Year:     1969
    Fleetwood Mac had already established themselves as one of Britain's top up-and-coming blues bands by the time Then Play On was released in 1969. The band had just landed a deal in the US with Reprise, and Then Play On was their American debut LP. At the same time the album was released in the UK, a new non-LP single, Oh Well, appeared as well. The song was a top pick on Radio Luxembourg, the only non-BBC English language top 40 station still operating in Europe in 1969 (not counting the American Forces Network, which was only a top 40 station for an hour or two a day), and Oh Well soon shot all the way to the # 2 spot on the British charts. Meanwhile the US version of Then Play On (which had originally been issued with pretty much the same song lineup as the British version) was recalled, and a new version with Oh Well added to it was issued in its place. The song itself has two distinct parts: a fast blues-rocker sung by lead guitarist Peter Green lasting about two minutes, and a slow moody instrumental that runs about seven minutes. The original UK single featured about a minute's worth of part two tacked on to the end of the A side (with a fadeout ending), while the B side had the entire part two on it. Both sides of the single were added to the US version of the LP, which resulted in the first minute of part two repeating itself on the album.

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