Sunday, February 12, 2023

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2307 (starts 2/13/23)

    This week we have a long strange trip from 1968 (Super Session) to 1975 (Black Sheep), one year at a time. As an added bonus we conclude the show with a Uriah Heep favorite from 1971.

Artist:    Al Kooper/Michael Bloomfield/Harvey Brooks/Eddie Hoh
Title:    Blues For Nothing
Source:    CD: Super Session (bonus track)
Writer(s):    Al Kooper
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 1995
    Blues For Nothing was left off the original Super Session LP, presumably due to lack of space, or possibly a desire by Producer Al Kooper to maintain a balance between the guitar work of Michael Bloomfield on side one of the LP and Stephen Stills on side two.  Basically it's a blues instrumental played by four outstanding musicians that's available as a bonus track on the CD version of Super Session. That's good enough for me.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    Abbey Road Medley #1
Source:    LP: Abbey Road
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1969
    Much of the second side of the last album to be recorded by the Beatles, Abbey Road, is taken up by (depending on whose view you take) either one long medley or two not-quite-so-long medleys of songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Personally I take the former view, as there is just a bit too much quiet space at the end of She Came In Through The Bathroom Window for me to consider it linked to the next song, Golden Slumbers. Regardless, the whole thing starts with You Never Give Me Your Money, a Paul McCartney composition reputed to be a jab at the band's second (and last) manager, Allen Klein. This leads into three John Lennon pieces, Sun King, Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam, ending finally with another McCartney piece, She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, that was inspired by a real life break-in by an overzealous Beatle fan.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    Uncle John's Band
Source:    LP: Workingman's Dead
Writer(s):    Hunter/Garcia
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    For many people who only got their music from commercial radio, Uncle John's Band was the first Grateful Dead song they ever heard. The tune, from the 1970 LP Workingman's Dead, was the first Dead song to crack the top 100, peaking at #69, and got significant airplay on FM rock radio stations as well. The close harmonies on the track were reportedly inspired by Crosby, Stills and Nash, whose debut album had come out the previous year.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Stairway To Heaven
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin IV
Writer(s):    Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    I can't think of a single thing that hasn't already been said about Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven, probably the single most played track on early '70s FM rock radio, so instead I'll just mention that Neil Sedaka had a hit single with the same title in 1960.

Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Leaf And Stream
Source:    CD: Argus
Writer:    Wishbone Ash
Label:    MCA/Decca
Year:    1972
    One of the first bands ever to feature two lead guitarists was Wishbone Ash. The story goes that following the departure of their original guitarist bassist Martin Turner and drummer Steve Upton auditioned several lead guitarists and got it down to two finalists, Andy Powell and Ted Turner (no relation to Martin), but could not decide between the two. At that point they decided just to keep both of them, and a heavy metal tradition was born. Whether the story is true or not, the two definitely traded off leads for the next three years and five albums, even on relatively quiet songs such as Leaf And Stream from their third LP, Argus. Like the majority of Wishbone Ash tunes from that time period, Leaf And Stream is sung by Martin Turner.

Artist:    Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Title:    Still...You Turn Me On
Source:    CD: Brain Salad Surgery
Writer(s):    Greg Lake
Label:    Rhino (original label: Manticore)
Year:    1973
    By 1973, Emerson, Lake & Palmer had established somewhat of a pattern with their albums. Most of each LP was dominated by the bombastic stylings of Keith Emerson's keyboards, supplemented by Greg Lake's bass and vocals (and occasional guitar) and Carl Palmer's percussion work. There was almost always one ballad on the LP, however, that was penned by Lake, and often became the only single released from the album. On the album Brain Salad Surgery that ballad was Still...You Turn Me On. By this time, however, ELP was not even bothering to release singles from their albums, although Still...You Turn Me On did show up as a promo B side in 1974 that was never released commercially.
Artist:    Leslie West
Title:    If I Still Had You
Source:    LP: The Great Fatsby
Writer(s):    West/Stone/Stone
Label:    Phantom
Year:    1974
    Ira and Maxine Stone were old friends of Leslie West, going back to the days when Ira and Leslie were in rival bands playing clubs on Long Island in the late 1960s. They were all at Woodstock; West as the leader of Mountain and Stone as the guitarist for singer/songwriter Bert Sommer. They stayed in touch over the years, and when West recorded his second solo LP, The Great Gatsby, he and the Stones collaborated on two songs for the album. For reasons that are now obscure, Ira and Max only received a songwriting credit on If I Still Had You, although Ira says the song High Roller was their original idea as well.

Artist:    Black Sheep
Title:    Piano Interlude/Let Me Stay
Source:    LP: Black Sheep
Writer(s):    Crozier/Grammitico/Turgon
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1975
    The longest track on the first Black Sheep album was Let Me Stay, written by bassist Bruce Turgon and vocalist Louis Grammatico. It is preceeded on the LP by Larry Crozier's Piano Interlude. The band's career was cut short by a traffic accident that destroyed all of their equipment in early 1976. Not long after that, Grammatico accepted an offer from Mick Jones to front his new band Foreigner, shortening his name to Lou Gramm. Turgon, along with guitarist Don Mancuso, would end up playing on Gramm's solo albums in the late 1980s. with Turgon eventually becoming a member of Foreigner himself in 1992.

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    July Morning
Source:    LP: Look At Yourself
Writer:    Hensley/Byron
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1971
    Fans of the British rock group Uriah Heep have an ongoing argument over which is the best Heep album; Demons And Wizards, featuring the band's biggest hit single, Easy Livin', or its immediate predecessor, Look At Yourself, which includes the 10 and a half minute long classic July Morning. Both albums feature strong vocals by David Byron and songwriting by keyboardist Ken Hensley, as well as tasty guitar licks from Mick Box. Rather than take sides on this one, I'm just going to keep on playing tracks from all six early Uriah Heep albums.

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