Sunday, May 14, 2023

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2320 (starts 5/15/23)

    This week's show is dedicated to the memory of Jim Walsh, owner and operator of WITT in Zionsville, Indiana. WITT, using the catchphrase "Unpredictable Radio" was one of the original stations to carry Rockin' in the Days of Confusion when it first signed on in 2016 and has been with us ever since. Hopefully this hour lives up to those two words.

Artist:    White Lightnin'
Title:    William Tell Overture
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    arr. Jimmie Haskell
Label:    ABC
Year:    1971
    In the summer of '71 a few of us went to a drive-in movie to see what was billed as the "First Electric Western". The movie was called "Zachariah" and it featured Country Joe and the Fish as a gang of outlaw musicians. Instead of gun battles we saw dueling drum solos, one of which featured jazz great Elvin Jones. The film's opening sequence was a shot of the James Gang rocking out in the middle of the desert (which caused us to start arguing over where they were plugging their amps in), literally bigger than life on the huge drive-in movie screen. What I didn't know at the time was that the screenplay was written by Philip Proctor and Peter Bergman, themselves half of the Firesign Theater, else I probably would have paid closer attention to the film. According to my sources, this track (apparently used in the movie sometime after I had consumed my first six-pack and thus not remembered) is performed by a band called White Lightnin'. The record label, however, gives credit to arranger/conducter Jimmy Haskell, who also composed the bulk of the movie's soundtrack.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Introduction/Take A Look Around
Source:    CD: Yer' Album
Writer(s):    Joe Walsh
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC/Bluesway)
Year:    1969
    Like the Big Bands of the 1930s and '40s, the James Gang went through several lineup changes over the years. The one common element of the band was drummer/founder Dale Peters, who teamed with bassist Tom Kriss and vocalist/guitarist Joe Walsh for the group's recording debut in 1969. Unlike most band leaders, Peters was content to let other members such as Walsh take center stage, both as performers and songwriters. The result was a band that was able to rock as hard as any of their contemporaries with tracks like The Bomber and Funk #49, but that could also showcase Walsh's more melodic side with songs such as Take A Look Around. For some unknown reason, ABC Records decided to issue Yer Album on it's Bluesway subsidiary; it was the only rock album ever released on that label (subsequent James Gang albums were on the parent ABC label).

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    Jesus Is Just Alright
Source:    CD: Toulouse Streeet
Writer(s):    Arthur Reynolds
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1972
    In the early 1970s a number of young Americans became enthused with the Christian faith. This enthusiasm was reflected on the top 40 charts, where no less than half a dozen religiously oriented pop tunes entered the charts between 1969-1973. Perhaps the most lasting of these was Jesus Is Just Alright, which was originally released by the Art Reynolds Singers on their 1966 LP, Tellin' It Like It Is. The Byrds included their own version of the song on their 1969 album Ballad Of Easy Rider. The Doobie Brothers, having heard the Byrds' version of the song, decided to include their own harder rocking rendition of Jesus Is Just Alright on their Toulouse Street album, releasing it as a single in 1972.

Artist:      Blue Cheer
Title:     Summertime Blues
Source:      Dutch import LP: Vincebus Eruptum
Writer(s):    Cochrane/Capehart
Label:    Philips
Year:     1968
     European electronics giant Philips had its own record label in the 1960s. In the US, the label was distributed by Mercury Records, and was known primarily for a long string of hits by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. In 1968 the label surprised everyone by signing the loudest band in San Francisco, Blue Cheer. Their cover of the 50s Eddie Cochrane hit Summertime Blues was all over both the AM and FM airwaves that summer.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Danny's Chant
Source:    CD: Bare Trees
Writer(s):    Danny Kirwan
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1972
    Unlike founder Peter Green, guitarist Danny Kirwan, who joined Fleetwood Mac in 1968, was more of a structured songwriter than an improvisor. As his career with the band progressed this became more evident, and by his final album with the band, Bare Trees, he was supplying the band with half of its recorded output, including Danny's Chant, a mostly instrumental track that features the heavy use of a wah-wah on guitar. Unfortunately, due to the sudden departure of fellow guitarist Jeremy Spencer in 1971, the band was mostly doing improvisational pieces onstage, which Kirwan was uncomfortable with. Kirwan, still only 22, became increasingly withdrawn and hostile to his band mates, and became a heavy drinker, often going days without eating. In August of 1972 it all came to a head in the dressing room before a gig, when he got into an argument with fellow guitarist Bob Welch, smashed his own guitar, and refused to go on stage. After the gig he was kicked out of the band permanently.

Artist:    Deep Purple    
Title:    Living Wreck
Source:    LP: Deep Purple In Rock
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    Deep Purple In Rock was the first studio album to feature what is now considered the "classic" Deep Purple lineup: Richie Blackmore on guitar, Ian Gillan on vocals, Roger Glover on bass, Jon Lord on organ and Ian Paice on drums. It was also the first Deep Purple to hit the top 10 on the British album charts, although the band had done much better in the US with the original lineup. The album is pretty much straightforward hard rock, especially on tunes like Living Wreck, which features Blackmore using a phasing effect and Lord playing through a Leslie rotating horn speaker cabinet.

Artist:    Mothers Of Invention
Title:    My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama
Source:    CD: Strictly Commercial-The Best Of Frank Zappa (originally released on LP: Weasels Ripped My Flesh)
Writer(s):    Frank Zappa
Label:    Ryko (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1969
    Originally released as My Guitar in 1969, My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama is probably the best-known track from the 1970 LP Weasels Ripped My Flesh. In reality, though, the two are entirely different recordings, with the re-recorded single version of the song being released over a year before its album counterpart. The original version of My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama included guitarist Lowell George, who along with bassist Roy Estrada, would leave the Mothers soon after the release of Weasels Ripped My Flesh to form Little Feat.

Artist:    Styx
Title:    Little Fugue in G/ Father O.S.A
Source:    LP: Styx II
Writer(s):    Bach/DeYoung
Label:    Wooden Nickel
Year:    1973
    Chicago's Styx released four albums on the local Wooden Nickel label before gaining national success after switching to the A&M label in 1974. The second of these, appropriately titled Styx II, was the most successful of these early albums, mostly due to the song Lady belatedly becoming a hit in 1975. The rest of the album has some pretty decent tracks, however, such as Dennis DeYoung's adaptation of Johann Sebastian Bach's Little Fugue In G, which segues into a DeYoung original, Father O.S.A. Even though I've had this copy of Styx II in my collection since 1975 I still have no clue what O.S.A. stands for.

Artist:    Five Man Electrical Band
Title:    Absolutely Right
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Les Emmerson
Label:    Lionel
Year:    1971
    Formed in Ottawa in 1963, the Staccatos had a string of Canadian hits from 1963 throught 1968. After their producer, Nick Venet, told the band that the name Staccatos sounded dated, the band rechristened themselves The Five Man Electric Band, releasing their first album under that name (including several tracks originally released as Staccatos singles) in 1969. The band switched labels and released the album Good-byes and Butterflies in 1970. The following year, the opening track from Good-byes and Butterflies became an international hit. Originally issued as a B side in October of 1970, Signs was re-released in February of 1971, and by summer was in the top 5 in both the US and Canada, as well as spending two weeks at #1 in Australia. The band followed it up with a song called Absolutely Right. Although the song made the top 10 in several US and Canadian cities, it only peaked at a disappointing #26 on the Billboard charts. After two more albums and several more singles, the Five Man Electrical Band finally disbanded in 1975.

Artist:    Cheech And Chong
Title:    Dave
Source:    LP: Cheech & Chong's Greatest Hit (originally released on LP: Cheech & Chong)
Writer(s):    Marin/Chong
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Ode)
Year:    1971
    OK, is there ANYONE out there who has not heard (or at least heard of) Dave, from the first Cheech And Chong LP? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Artist:    Cheech And Chong (featuring Alice Bowie)
Title:    Earache My Eye (song)
Source:    LP: Cheech & Chong's Greatest Hit (originally released on LP: The Wedding Album)
Writer(s):    Marin/Chong
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Ode)
Year:    1974
    Originally from Cheech And Chong's Wedding Album, Earache My Eye was released as a single in July of 1974 and made it into the top 10 before being yanked from many top 40 stations' playlists due to numerous complaints from parents, teachers, psychologists, clergy, principals, school administrators and counselors. Although much of the original track is a dialogue between a teenager (Tommy Chong) and his father (Cheech Marin), it also contains original music written and played by Canadian guitarist Gaye Delorme, along with various studio musicians, including Airto Moreira on drums. Only the song itself, without the dialogue, was included on the 1981 compilation album Cheech & Chong's Greatest Hit.

Artist:    Black Oak Arkansas
Title:    Jim Dandy
Source:    CD: High On The Hog
Writer(s):    Lincoln Chase
Label:    Rhini (original label: Atco)
Year:    1973
    My first exposure to Black Oak Arkansas was at a Grand Funk Railroad concert in August of 1971. I had literally arrived on the campus of Southwestern University in Weatherford Oklahoma the night before the concert, having hitchhiked there from New Mexico. On arrival I soon learned that my bandmates DeWayne and Mike, whose dorm room I was crashing in, already had tickets for the concert in Norman, Oklahoma. They invited me to come along, assuring me that I could easily score tickets at the gate. As it turns out they were right, but by the time we got there the only tickets left were bleacher seats. Of course, the rest of the group that made the drive to Norman all had floor tickets, so I ended up sitting by myself up in the nosebleed section for the opening act, a group I had never heard of called Black Oak Arkansas. I decided that, for the next 45 minutes or so, I would be a reviewer, and started analyzing this new band one song at a time. To be honest, I wasn't all that impressed at first, but found each successive song to be a little bit better than the one before it. By the time the band had finished their set, I was electrified (literally, since the last song was called The Day Electricity Came To Arkansas). I eventually bought a copy of the album Black Oak Arkansas, and was pleased to discover that the songs were in the exact same order on the LP as I had first heard them in concert. Over the years I continued to follow the band's progress, and was happy to hear, in 1973, their remake of an old LaVerne Baker song, Jim Dandy, on the local AM radio station. In fact, I went out and bought a copy of the 45 RPM single (which has since been replaced with a less scratchy copy and even more recently by a CD copy of the album it was taken from, High On The Hog).

Artist:    Chambers Brothers
Title:    Wake Up
Source:    German import LP: Underground '70 (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Hamlisch/Hirschman
Label:    CBS (original US label: Columbia)
Year:    1969
    Although they had been releasing records (as a gospel group) since 1962, the Chambers Brothers didn't become a national success until 1967, when underground FM stations across the nation began playing the ten-minute long Time Has Come Today. The following year and edited version of the song began receiving airplay on some top 40 stations. A couple of follow-up singles (including Wake Up) from the band's next LP, Love, Peace And Happiness, were released in 1969, but did not have the impact of Time Has Come Today. After getting screwed over by a series of managers and promoters the Chambers Brothers decided to call it quits in 1972, but reformed a couple of years later and have been recording and performing sporadically since then.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    The Wind Cries Mary
Source:    The Ultimate Experience (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: Are You Experienced?)
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    MCA (original labels: Track (UK), Reprise (US))
Year:    1967
     The US version of the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, was significantly different than its UK counterpart. For one thing, the original UK album was originally only available in mono. For the US version, engineers at Reprise Records, working from the original multi-track masters, created all new stereo mixes of about two-thirds of the album, along with all three of the singles that the Jimi Hendrix Experience had released in the UK. The third of these singles was The Wind Cries Mary, which had hit the British charts in February of 1967.

Artist:    Sailcat
Title:    Baby Ruth
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    John Wyker
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1972
    Sailcat was a studio band formed by John D. Wyker and Court Pickett that included several prominent members of the Muscle Shoals music scene. Wyker had been a guitarist and vocalist in the Rubber Band (with John Townsend), while Pickett was the bassist/vocalist for Sundown, a band based in Macon, Georgia. The duo cut a demo of Motorcyle Mama that was originally discarded by the band, but eventually led to a contract with Elektra Records. The resulting album, also called Motorcycle Mama, was a concept album with a biker theme that included songs like Baby Ruth (sung by Wyker), which was also released as band's second and final single.


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