Sunday, March 26, 2023

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2313 (starts 3/27/23)

    After last week's inclusion of the entire Thick As A Brick album, it seemed best to go with a whole lot of shorter tracks this time around, including several from artists that are not often heard on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion; artists like Gypsy, Humble Pie, Aphrodite's Child, Journey, and to start off the show, Leon Russell.

Artist:    Leon Russell
Title:    Stranger In A Strange Land
Source:    LP: Leon Russell And The Shelter People
Writer(s):    Russell/Preston
Label:    Shelter
Year:    1971
    After gaining popularity as the creative force behind Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs And Englishmen, Leon Russell released his second solo LP, Leon Russell And The Shelter People, in May of 1971, just a little over a month after the release of the film version of Mad Dogs And Englishmen. The album, which features many of the same musicians from the film, starts with Stranger In A Strange Land. Unlike the David Crosby tune of the same name, Russell's Stranger In A Strange Land, a song about cultural alienation bears no relationship to Robert Heinlein's novel.

Artist:    Journey
Title:    In My Lonely Feeling/Conversations
Source:    LP: Journey
Writer(s):    Rolie/Valory
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1975
    Formed as a backup band by former members of Frumious Bandersnatch and Santana, Journey went on to become one of the defining acts of 80s rock. In their early days, however, they were far more experimental in their approach, as can be heard on tracks like In My Lonely Feeling and Conversations from their 1975 debut LP. At that time the band consisted of lead vocalist/keyboardist Gregg Rolie and lead guitarist Neal Schon from Santana, and rhythm guitarist George Tickner and bassist/pianist Ross Valory from Frumious Bandersnatch, along with British drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who had already established a reputation for his work with David Bowie and Frank Zappa, as well as fronting his own band in the late 60s (and had been a coin flip away from being the original drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience).

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    Another Park, Another Sunday
Source:    CD: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits
Writer(s):    Ton Johnston
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    One of the most underrated songs in the Doobie Brothers catalog, Another Park Another Sunday was the first single released from the band's fourth LP, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, in late 1973. Although the tune made the top 40 charts, it was eventually eclipsed by its B side, Black Water, which went all the way to the top when it was re-released as a single the following year.

Artist:    Foghat
Title:    What A Shame
Source:    LP: Heavy Metal (originally released on LP: Foghat (aka Rock and Roll)
Writer(s):    Rod Price
Label:    Warner Special Products (original label: Bearsville)
Year:    1973
    Apparently the members of Foghat couldn't come up with a good title for their second LP, so they just called it Foghat. Since their first album was also called Foghat, this would have made things a bit confusing if not for the fact that the album cover itself was a picture of a rock and a bread roll against an all-white background. For obvious reasons this has led most people to refer to the album as Rock and Roll. What A Shame was written by guitarist Rod Price, the only Foghat member not to have come from Savoy Brown, which probably explains why it doesn't sound much like Savoy Brown at all.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Polly
Source:    CD: The Kink Kronikles (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    There are several theories floating around about who the song Polly is supposed to be about. Apparently Ray Davies for a time planned to write an entire suite of songs based on Dylan Thomas's radio drama Under Milk Wood, but instead ended up going with what became The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. Polly was originally inspired by the character Polly Garter from the play, but by the time the song was recorded had turned into an entirely different kind of character. One possibility is that the real inspiration was the woman who had run the Kinks fan club before dying from a heroin overdose, while another is that it was somehow related to the Pretty Polly line of women's stockings (and in some early pressings was titled Pretty Polly). Regardless of its origins, the song was relegated to being a B side of a failed single (Wonderboy, which stalled at #36 on the British charts and did not chart at all in the US) until being included on the US-only double LP The Kink Kronikles in 1972.

Artist:    Aphrodite's Child
Title:    Magic Mirror
Source:    CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released in Europe as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Papathanassiou/Fiddy
Label:    Polydor (original European label: Mercury) (released in UK on Polydor)
Year:    1969
    Aphrodite's Child was formed in Greece in 1967, but left following a right-wing military coup that severely curtailed both political and artistic freedoms in that country. The band had been invited by Mercury Records to come to London and record, but were refused entry to the UK due to problems with their work permits and found themselves in Paris instead. Mercury's parent label, Philips, soon signed the band to a contract to record in France. Their first single for the label, Rain And Tears, was a top 10 single in several European countries and led to an equally popular album, End Of The World, that established Aphrodite's Child as one of the continent's most popular acts. That popularity did not extend to the UK, however, and subsequent records failed to make a dent on the British charts. One 1969 single was recorded in London, but was not even released in the UK by the band's regular label, Mercury, and was instead issued independently by the Polydor label. The B side of that single, Magic Mirror, shows a band just beginning to transition from their early psychedelic sound to the more experimental one that would characterize their best known work, a two-disc concept album based on the biblical book of Revelation called 666. After Aphrodite's Child disbanded in 1972 the band's leader, Evangahlos Papathanassiou (generally known as Vangelis), would go on to become one of the world's top electronic music pioneers (can anyone say Chariots Of Fire?).

Artist:     Guess Who
Title:     Share The Land
Source:     LP: Best of the Guess Who (originally released on LP: Share The Land)
Writer:     Burton Cummings
Label:     RCA Victor
Year:     1970
     The first album released by the Guess Who after the departure of guitarist Randy Bachman was Share The Land. The album produced several hit singles for the band; enough, in fact, to fill up an entire album side, which is precisely what RCA did when they released the first Guess Who greatest hits album in 1971.

Artist:    Humble Pie
Title:    Shine On
Source:    CD: Rock On
Writer(s):    Peter Frampton
Label:    A&M
Year:    1971
    Humble Pie's fourth album, Rock On, was the last to feature guitarist/vocalist Peter Frampton, who wrote the album's lead single, Shine On. The song later became a staple of Frampton's live performances and was included on his most popular solo album, Frampton Comes Alive.

Artist:     Stephen Stills
Title:     Love the One You're With
Source:     45 RPM single (stereo promo pressing)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
     Depending on your point of view Crosby, Stills and Nash (and sometimes Young) have either split up several times over the years or have never actually split up at all. It was during one of these maybe split-ups that Stills recorded Love the One You're With, one of his most popular tunes. Presumably he and singer Judy Collins were no longer an item at that point.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Embryo/Children Of The Grave
Source:    CD: 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:    Allman Brothers Band
Title:    Stormy Monday
Source:    LP: At Fillmore East
Writer(s):    T-Bone Walker
Label:    Mercury (original label: Capricorn)
Year:    1971
    After two decent but mostly under the radar studio albums, the Allman Brothers Band hit it big with their double live album At Fillmore East. Much of the album was made up of the band's take on blues standards such as T-Bone Walker's Stormy Monday, which features dueling guitar solos from Dicky Betts and Duane Allman as well as strong keyboard work and vocals from Duane's brother Gregg. This was my first exposure to the song itself, and is still my favorite version of the tune.

Artist:    Gypsy
Title:    Time Will Make It Better
Source:    LP: In The Garden
Writer(s):    James Walsh
Label:    Metromedia
Year:    1971
    Minneapolis at first seems like an unlikely place for a thriving music scene. Nonetheless, the city has been home to a number of successful artists from the Castaways (Liar Liar) to Prince. One of the lesser-known bands to come out of the twin cities was Gypsy, led by Enrico Rosenbaum and James Walsh. After being moderately successful with a self-titled double LP (priced as if it were a single LP), the group decided to go with a standard-length album as a follow-up. In The Garden had no hit singles and was soon relegated to the budget bin, despite having some listenable tunes, most of which were written by Rosenbaum. The final track on the album, Time Will Make It Better, is the only song on In The Garden credited to Walsh.

Artist:    Graham Nash/David Crosby
Title:    Games
Source:    British import LP: Graham Nash David Crosby
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1972
    Following the release of the 1970 LP deja vu, the members of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, whose backstage fights had already become legendary, decided to go their separate ways, with each member releasing their own albums over the next year. In the fall of 1971 David Crosby and Graham Nash decided to do a series of concerts as a duo. Those concerts were so succesful that the two decided to do a new album together, called simply Graham Nash David Crosby. As expected, Nash's songs were more pop-oriented, while Crosby's tended to be more philosophical and introspective. One of Crosby's more incisive pieces on the album was Games, a song about a relationship gone bad. Besides sharing vocals with Nash, Crosby plays acoustic guitar on the tune, accompanied by Danny Kortchmar on electric guitar, Craig Doerge on electric piano, Leland Sklar on bass and Russ Kunkel on drums.

No comments:

Post a Comment