This week we go in search of a little help from friends and end up spending a whole lot of time in 1969.
Artist: Deep Purple
Title: The Mule
Source: LP: Fireball
Label: Warner Brothers
Although best known for its drum solo when performed live, The Mule, as originally recorded by Deep Purple for the album Fireball, is more of a showcase for guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and keyboardist Jon Lord. In fact, Ian Paice's original drum tracks for the song, recorded in January of 1971, were partially erased and had to be re-recorded on a rented drum kit, since his own drum set was already on its way to Europe (for the band's next tour) when the mistake happened. Vocalist Ian Gillan once introduced the song as being about Lucifer, but later confirmed that it was actually based on Isaac Asimov's character from his Foundation series.
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience (II)
Title: Astro Man
Source: CD: First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (originally released on LP: The Cry Of Love)
Writer: Jimi Hendrix
Label: MCA/Experience Hendrix
A little known fact about Jimi Hendrix is that he was a comic book fan. Astro Man, from the 1971 LP The Cry Of Love, reflects that aspect of the man. The track, recorded in 1970, features Billy Cox on bass, Mitch Mitchell on drums and Juma Sultan on additional percussion.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Fat Man
Source: LP: "M.U." The Best Of Jethro Tull (originally released on LP: Stand Up)
Writer(s): Ian Anderson
Label: Chrysalis (original label: Reprise)
After the departure of original guitarist Mick Abrahams from Jethro Tull following their debut LP, vocalist/flautist Ian Anderson wrote and recorded a song called Fat Man. The tune, which appears on the second Jethro Tull album, Stand Up, is mostly a solo piece by Anderson, who later claimed that the song, which made fun of Abrahams' size, was not meant to be an insult. Then again, Anderson has never been known for his tact, and included Fat Man on the 1975 compilation album "M.U." The Best Of Jethro Tull.
Artist: Moody Blues
Title: In Search Of The Lost Chord (side one)
Source: CD: In Search Of The Lost Chord
The Moody Blues followed up their groundbreaking album Days Of Future Past with another concept album, this time tackling the subjects of search and discovery from various perspectives. In Search Of The Lost Chord opens with Departure, a poem by percussionist Graeme Edge. Normally Edge's poems were recited by Mike Pinder on the band's albums, but here Edge recites his own work, ending in maniacal laughter as the next track, Ride My See-Saw, fades in. Ride My See-Saw, written by bassist John Lodge, is one of the Moody Blues' most popular songs, and is often used as an encore when the band performs in concert. Dr. Livingstone I Presume is a bit of a change in pace from flautist Ray Thomas, about the famous African explorer. Oddly enough, there is no flute on the track. From there the album proceeds to Lodge's House Of Four Doors, one of the most complex pieces ever recorded by the group. Each verse of the song ends with the opening of a door (the sound effect having been created on a cello), followed by an interlude from a different era of Western music, including Minstrel, Baroque and Classical. The fourth door opens into an entirely different song altogether, Ray Thomas's Legend Of A Mind, with its signature lines: "Timothy Leary's dead. No, no, he's outside looking in." Although never released as a single, the track got a fair amount of airplay on college and progressive FM radio stations, and has long been considered a cult hit. The album's first side concludes with the final section of House Of Four Doors.
Artist: Joe Cocker
Title: With A Little Help From My Friends
Source: CD: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm (originally released on Woodstock soundtrack album)
Label: Rhino (original label: Cotillion)
One of the most famous performances at Woodstock was instrumental in converting Joe Cocker from second tier British singer/bandleader to international superstar. This 2009 release of the live recording of With A Little Help From My Friends is virtually identical to what was originally included on the movie soundtrack album in the early 70s.
Artist: B.B. King
Title: Don't Answer The Door
Source: LP: Live & Well
Writer(s): James F. Johnson
When recording engineer Bill Szymczyk left his job with Jerry Ragavoy's Hit Factory to become a producer for ABC Records (taking a large pay cut in the process) he did so with a specific goal in mind: to work with his idol, B.B. King. Their first album together was called Live & Well, with one side of the LP recorded live at the Village Gate in New York City and the other a collection of studio tracks recorded at the Hit Factory. The opening track of the album is a tune called Don't Answer The Door, originally recorded by California-based bluesman James F. "Jimmy" Johnson (not to be confused with blues guitarist Jimmy Johnson or bassist Jimmy Johnson; you'd think at least one of those guys would have changed their name).
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Searching For Madge
Source: CD: Then Play On
Writer(s): John McVie
Fleetwood Mac was founded by Peter Green in 1967. Green had been a member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and as a Christmas gift, Mayall bought Green some studio time to use as he saw fit. Green used the time to record a set of tunes with drummer Mick Fleetwood and guitarist Jeremy Spencer in the hope that the three of them might form a new band. Green chose the name Fleetwood Mac as a way of enticing Bluesbreakers bassist John McVie into joining the band as well. It wasn't until after the album was released and the new band started getting gigs that McVie did indeed come on board, eventually bringing his future wife Christine Perfect into the band as well. In 1969 another guitarist, Danny Kirwan, joined the lineup for Then Play On, the first Fleetwood Mac LP to be released in the US. It was also Green's last album with the band. Two of the tracks on Then Play On are actually sections of a long jam session, both containing the word Madge in their official title. The longer of these is Searching For Madge, which runs nearly seven minutes.
Artist: Savoy Brown
Title: Poor Girl
Source: CD: Looking In
Writer(s): Kim Simmonds
Label: Deram (original label: Parrot)
Poor Girl, from the 1970 album Looking In, is probably Savoy Brown's best known recording. Shortly after Looking In was released, the entire band except for leader Kim Simmonds left Savoy Brown to form a new band: Foghat.
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