Sunday, May 7, 2023

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2319 (starts 5/8/23)

    This week we continue our 50/50 mix between tracks we've played on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion before and those we haven't. Among those making their debut this week are Arlo Guthrie covering Woody Guthrie, a Jethro Tull spoken piece and our first-ever Boz Scaggs solo track.

Artist:     King Crimson
Title:     21st Century Schizoid Man
Source:     CD: In The Court Of The Crimson King
Writer:     Fripp/McDonald/Lake/Giles/Sinfield
Label:     Discipline Global Mobile (original US label: Atlantic)
Year:     1969
     There are several bands with a legitimate claim to starting the prog-rock movement of the mid-70s. The one most musicians cite as the one that started it all, however, is King Crimson. Led by Robert Fripp, the band went through several personnel changes over the years. Many of the members went on to greater commercial success as members of other bands, including guitarist/keyboardist Ian McDonald (Foreigner), and lead vocalist/bassist Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) from the original lineup heard on In The Court Of The Crimson King. Additionally, poet Peter Sinfield, who wrote all King Crimson's early lyrics, would go on to perform a similar function for Emerson, Lake and Palmer, including their magnum opus Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends. Other original members included Michael Giles on drums and Fripp himself on guitar. 21st Century Schizoid Man, as the first song on the first album by King Crimson, can quite accurately be cited as the song that got the whole thing started.

Artist:    Jo Jo Gunne
Title:    Shake That Fat
Source:    LP: Jo Jo Gunne
Writer(s):    Ferguson/Andes
Label:    Asylum
Year:    1972
    Despite recording a total of four albums in the early 1970s, Jo Jo Gunne is basically remembered as a one-hit wonder band for the song Run Run Run, which got a lot of play on album rock FM stations and even made the top 40, peaking at # 27.  Several other tracks on their debut LP got FM airplay as well, including Shake That Fat, which follows Run Run Run on the original LP. The band was formed by two former members of Spirit, vocalist Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes, who recruited Mark's brother Matt for lead guitar duties and drummer William "Curley" Smith. Mark Andes left the band following their debut LP, which (if you are one of those people who think bass players actually matter) might explain why the band suffered diminishing returns for all their subsequent efforts. Andes, incidentally, ended up with a band called Firefall in the late 1970s and joined Heart in the 1980s.
Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Out On The Tiles
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin III
Writer(s):    Bonham/Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    The third Led Zeppelin is known for being a departure from the formula established on the band's first two albums. As a general rule, it is more acoustic in nature than other Zeppelin albums, thanks in large part to having been composed when Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were living in a cottage with no electricity called Bron-Yr-Aur. One exception to this acoustic direction, however, was Out On The Tiles, which was brought to the band by drummer John Bonham, and then fleshed out by Page and Plant. As it turns out, Out On The Tiles, more than any other track on Led Zeppelin III, presages the direction the band's music would take by the end of the 1970s.

Artist:    Johnny Winter
Title:    Leland Mississippi Blues
Source:    German import CD: Johnny Winter
Writer(s):    Johnny Winter
Label:    Repertoire (original US label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Leland, Mississippi native John Dawson Winter Jr. was a guitarist/saxophonist who played and sang at churches, weddings and various other gatherings before moving to Beaumont, Texas, where he sired two albino sons, Johnny and Edgar. The two made their first professional appearance on a local children's TV show, with Johnny playing ukelele. At age 15, Johnny Winter entered a recording studio for the first time with his band Johnny And The Jammers, recording a pair of self-penned tunes for Houston's Dart label in 1960. He recorded several more singles over the next few years for a variety of labels, including MGM and Atlantic, but did not record his first LP until 1968 when he and his band, which included future Double Trouble member Tommy Shannon on bass and Uncle John Turner on drums, recorded The Progressive Blues Experiment for the Austin-based Sonobeat label in 1968. The album caught on so quickly that is was reissued nationally on the Imperial label the same year. That December he accepted an invitation from Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper to join them for an onstage jam as the Fillmore East. Reps from Columbia Records were present at the performance, and less than a week later Winter had signed with the label for a record $600,000. His first album for Columbia was made up mostly of cover songs. One of the three original tunes on the album was Leland Mississippi Blues, an obvious reference to his father's birthplace.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    A Passion Play (Edit #6) (The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles)
Source:    LP: A Passion Play (edited version)
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1973
    Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson played a dirty trick on record buyers by splitting the spoken word piece The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles in half on the 1973 LP A Passion Play, thus forcing the listener to flip the record over to hear how the story comes out. The piece itself, narrated by Jethro Tull bassist Jeffrey Hammond, is modeled after the 1936 classical work Peter And The Wolf, which composer  Sergei Prokofiev described as a "symphonic fairy tale for children". Rather than use individual instruments to represent the various characters in the story, however, Anderson chose to use specific musical riffs for Owl, Kangaroo, Newt and the rest. Since A Passion Play, in its original form, runs a total of 45 continuous minutes, their US label released a special DJ version of the album broken into ten separate edits, with the entire Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles contained in Edit #6, which starts the album's second side. Edit #6 was also released as the B side of the album's second single.

Artist:    Mighty Baby
Title:    I'm From The Country
Source:    British import CD: Mighty Baby
Writer(s):    Powell/Whiteman/Stone/Evans/King
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Head, original US label: Chess)
Year:    1969
    Originally a British R&B cover band called the Boys, by mid-1967 the Action was beginning to develop a sound of their own when they were dropped by their label, Parlophone. The band continued on, however, and after a series of personnel changes re-emerged in 1969 with a new name: Mighty Baby. Their first album was far more progressive than any of their previous work (with the exception of some 1968 demos that had not been released). The LP got generally good reviews, but distribution problems with Head records kept the album from becoming a major commercial success. The Philips label even released a single from the album, with I'm From The Country as the B side, but after a second, even less successful album Mighty Baby split up in 1971.

Artist:    Pink Floyd
Title:    The Narrow Way (parts 1-3)
Source:    CD: Ummagumma
Writer(s):    David Gilmour
Label:    EMI (original label: Harvest)
Year:    1969
    Pink Floyd's first double LP was Ummagumma, released in 1969. Following the example of Cream, one disc was made up entirely of live tracks, while the second disc consisted of solo recordings by each of the band members. Not all of Pink Floyd's members were entirely comfortable with the format, however. Guitarist David Gilmour later admitted that he was unprepared at that point in his career to embark on a solo project, and that he mostly "bullshitted" his way through his portion of the album. Nonetheless, the resulting three-part piece, The Narrow Way, is actually one of the most listenable tracks on Ummagumma.

Artist:    Jade Warrior
Title:    Waves (excerpt)
Source:    LP: Waves
Writer(s):    Field/Duhig
Label:    Island
Year:    1975
    Jade Warrior was a British progressive/experimental rock band that released several albums throughout the 1970s. The fifth Jade Warrior album, Waves, is actually one long piece that covers both sides of the original LP. Much of Waves is quite relaxing to listen to, as this excerpt taken from side one of the album shows. Jade Warrior is often cited as an influence on the "New Age" music of the 1980s and beyond.

Artist:    Arlo Guthrie
Title:    Gypsy Davy
Source:    45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s):    Traditional, Woody Guthrie
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1973
    Although copyrighted in 1944 by Woody Guthrie, Gypsy Davy is actually a variation on a traditional Scottish folk tune called The Raggle Taggle Gypsy. The earliest known version of the tune dates back to around 1720 under the title The Gypsy Loddy. Regardless of its origins, Arlo Guthrie gave his father full writing credit on his 1973 version of the tune, from the album Last Of The Brooklyn Cowboys.

Artist:    Boz Scaggs
Title:    Hercules
Source:    CD: My Time: A Boz Scaggs Anthology (1969-1997) (originally released on LP: Slow Dancer)
Writer(s):    Alan Toussaint
Label:    Columbia/Legacy
Year:    1974
    Boz Scaggs has always been a restless soul. The son of a traveling salesman, Scaggs had already moved from Ohio to Oklahoma to Texas by the age of 12, at which time he attended a private school in Dallas where he met guitarist Steve Miller. The two played in bands together for a number of years, even attending college together at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1963 Scaggs dropped out of college to join the army reserves, where he formed his own band, the Wigs. By 1965 the Wigs were in London, but were unable to find success as part of the beat scene there. Undaunted, Scaggs busked his way across Europe, recording his debut LP, Boz, in Stockholm. In 1967 he received a postcard from Miller inviting him to come to San Francisco and join Miller's new band there. He did, and stuck around long enough to appear on the first two Steve Miller Band albums before leaving for a solo career. After one LP for Atlantic with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and session guitarist Duane Allman, he briefly returned to San Francisco to play on Mother Earth's second album, Make A Joyful Noise. He signed with Columbia Records in 1971, releasing seven albums for the label before taking an eight year long break from recording following the release of his 1980 album Middle Man. His third Columbia album, Slow Dancer, featuring tunes like Alan Toussaint's Hercules, eventually went gold despite only hitting an initial peak of #81 on the album charts.

Artist:    Hot Tuna
Title:    Sunrise Dance With The Devil
Source:    CD: Yellow Fever
Writer(s):    Jorma Kaukonen
Label:    BMG/RCA (original label: Grunt)
Year:    1975
    In 1974 Hot Tuna, which had always been primarily into blues and country rock, decided to take a stab at being a power trio, with guitarist/vocalist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady being joined by drummer Bob Steeler. As Kaukonen, who wrote Sunrise Dance With The Devil for the 1975 LP Yellow Fever put it: "it was just fun to be loud."

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