Sunday, June 4, 2023

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2323 (starts 6/5/23)

    So how about a show that climbs up through the years, starting around 1968? Better yet, how about some acoustic prog rock? No? Fine. We'll just go free-form (and you were wondering how shows like this one come about).

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Immigrant Song
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin III
Writer(s):    Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    Although the third Led Zeppelin album is known mostly for its surprising turn toward a more acoustic sound than its predecessors, the first single from that album actually rocked out as hard, if not harder, than any previous Zeppelin track. In fact, it could be argued that Immigrant Song rocks out harder than anything on top 40 radio before or since. Starting with a tape echo deliberately feeding on itself the song breaks into a basic riff built on two notes an octave apart, with Robert Plant's wailing vocals sounding almost like a siren call. Guitarist Jimmy Page soon breaks into a series of power chords that continue to build in intensity for the next two minutes, until the song abruptly stops cold. The lyrics of Immigrant Song were inspired by the band's trip to Iceland in 1970.

Artist:    Canned Heat
Title:    Walking By Myself
Source:    British import CD: Living The Blues
Writer(s):    Jimmy Rogers
Label:    BGO (original label: Liberty)
Year:    1968
    When the name Jimmy Rogers comes up, almost invariably confusion comes immediately after. This is because, in addition to the legendary bluesman Jimmy Rogers, there were also not one, but two other singers named Jimmie Rodgers. The Jimmy Rogers we're concerned with here was born Jay Arthur Lane in Ruleville, Mississippi on June 3, 1924, about three years before country legend Jimmie Rodgers began his recording career, and about nine years before 50s pop star Jimmie Rodgers was born. Rogers first started recording in the late 1940s as a sideman for Muddy Waters and Little Walter, staying with that band, sometimes known as the Headhunters, until 1954. In the mid-1950s Rogers had several successful singles released under his own name, the most notable being Walking By Myself. He left the music business altogether for nearly the entire 1960s, resurfacing after his Chicago clothing store burned down in the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the reasons for his successful comeback was Canned Heat recording's of Walking By Myself on their 1968 LP Living The Blues, which generated interest in Rogers the songwriter. By the early 1980s Rogers had reestablished himself as a solo act, and was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in 1995, two years before his death.

Artist:    Sly And The Family Stone
Title:    I Want To Take You Higher
Source:    CD: The Essential Sly And The Family Stone (originally released on LP: Stand and as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Sly Stone
Label:    Epic/Legacy
Year:    1969
    Sylvester Stewart was a major presence on the San Francisco music scene for several years, both as a producer for Autumn Records and as a popular local disc jockey. In 1967 he decided to take it to the next level, using his studio connections to put together Sly And The Family Stone. The band featured a solid lineup of musicians, including Larry Graham, whose growling bass line figures prominently in their 1969 recording of I Want To Take You Higher. The song was originally released as a B side, but after the group blew away the crowd at Woodstock the recording was re-released as a single the following year.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    You Make Me Real
Source:    CD: Morrison Hotel
Writer(s):    Jim Morrison
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1970
    Although generally considered at the time to be the beginning of a return to form for the Doors, the album Morrison Hotel only provided one single for the band, and that one stalled out halfway up the top 100. You Make Me Real was a Jim Morrison composition that has the feel of early rock 'n' roll hits, thanks in large part to Ray Manzarek's use of Jerry Lee Lewis style tack piano. For reasons that are not really clear, Elektra Records, which had been releasing all their singles in stereo since 1968, decided to return to mono pressings for a short period in 1970. According to people who have better ears for this sort of thing than I do, You Make Me Real was even given a separate mono mix for its single release, although the record's B side, the original studio version of Roadhouse Blues, used what is known as a "fold down" mix, which simply combined the left and right channels of the stereo mix rather than create a new one. Morrison Hotel was the last Doors album to credit the individual members as songwriters. The 1971 followup, L.A. Woman, would mark a return to the band's earlier practice of crediting all songs to "the Doors".

Artist:    Steve Howe
Title:    Nature Of The Sea
Source:    LP: Beginnings
Writer(s):    Steve Howe
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1975
    Some people are at their best working within a group. Steve Howe, best known as the guitarist for Yes, is one of those. In 1975, after releasing seven albums, the members of Yes decided to take a break and each record a solo album. Howe's album is pleasant enough, as heard on tracks like Nature Of The Sea, but is ultimately about as satisfying as eating tofu.

Artist:    Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Title:    Piano Improvisations
Source:    LP: Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies And Gentlemen
Writer(s):    Keith Emerson (with passages borrowed from Friedrich Gulda and Joe Sullivan
Label:    Manticore
Year:    1974
    One of the most successful live albums ever released, Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies And Gentlemen was Emerson, Lake & Palmer's last major success before taking an extended break in 1974. The triple LP included several "showcase" tracks for individual members, including Keith Emerson's Piano Improvisations, which appeared, oddly, in the middle of the song Take A Pebble. Most of the track is Emerson playing solo, and incorporates passage from Friedrich Gulda's Fugue and Joe Sullivan's Little Rock Getaway. Emerson is joined by Greg Lake on bass and Carl Palmer on drums for the latter.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    Horizons
Source:    CD: Foxtrot
Writer(s):    Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford
Label:    Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
Year:    1972
    Although credited to the entire band, Horizons is a short acoustic guitar instrumental written by Steve Hackett, who is the only member of Genesis to actually play on the track. The tune, based on a piece by J.S. Bach, opens side two of the 1972 LP Foxtrot.

Artist:    National Lampoon, featuring Chevy Chase
Title:    Colorado
Source:    CD: Greatest Hits Of The National Lampoon (originally released on LP: Lemmings)
Writer(s):    Guest/Kelly/Hendra
Label:    Uproar (original label: Blue Thumb)
Year:    1973
    In January of 1973 National Lampoon began running a stage show called Lemmings that ended its run after 350 performances. The second half of each show was subtitled Woodshuck: Three Days of Peace, Love and Death, and was made up of parodies of many of the musical acts that had appeared at Woodstock. One popular performer who wasn't at Woodstock (although he apparently wished he had been) was John Denver. Nonetheless, writers Christopher Guest, Sean Kelly and Tony Hendra decided to include a Denver parody in Lemmings. The song Colorado, about being stranded in winter in the Colorado Rockie Mountains, was sung by a then-unknown Chevy Chase, with instruments and backup vocals provided by the Lemmings cast.

Artist:     David Bowie
Title:    All The Madmen
Source:    CD: Sound+Vision Catalogue Sampler #1 (originally released on LP: The Man Who Sold The World)
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    Ryko (original label: Mercury)
Year:    1970
    Although most critics agree that the so-called "glitter era" of rock music originated with David Bowie's 1972 LP The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, a significant minority argue that it really began with Bowie's third album, The Man Who Sold The World, released in 1970 in the US and in 1971 in the UK. They point out that World was the first Bowie real rock album (the previous two being much more folk oriented), and cite songs such as All The Madmen, as well as the album's title cut, as the prototype for Spiders From Mars. All The Madmen itself is one of several songs on the album that deal with the subject of insanity, taking the view that an insane asylum may in fact be the sanest place to be in modern times. Whenever I hear the song I think of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, which makes a similar statement.

Artist:    Neil Young/Graham Nash
Title:    War Song
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer:    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1972
    Around the same time that Neil Young was working on his Harvest LP he recorded War Song with Graham Nash and the Stray Gators. It was never released on an LP, although it did appear on CD many years later on one of the various anthologies that have been issued over the decades since the song was originally released.

Artist:    Free
Title:    Heartbreaker
Source:    European import CD: All Right Now-The Collection (originally released on LP: Heartbreaker)
Writer(s):    Paul Rodgers
Label:    Spectrum/UMC (original US label: A&M)
Year:    1973
    By the time Free recorded their sixth and final studio album, Heartbreaker, the band was already falling apart. Bassist Andy Fraser, who, with Paul Rodgers, had written all the band's best-known material, had already left the group before sessions for Heartbreaker began, leaving Rodgers to pick up the slack. He did, particularly on the album's six minute long title track. Guitarist Paul Kossoff, despite dealing with drug addiction issues, turned in a decent performace on most of the album, although he had to replaced on the band's final tour to promote Heartbreaker.

Artist:    Rick Derringer
Title:    Rock And Roll, Hoochie Coo
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Rick Derringer
Label:    Blue Sky
Year:    1974
    In the summer of 1965, 17-year-old Rick Derringer and his band the McCoys were hired to open for the Strangeloves, a group of New York songwriting record producers who were passing themselves off as the sons of Australian sheepherders and had a hit single out called I Want Candy. Not wanting to be the Strangeloves forever, they were already looking for an actual band to perform a new song they had written called My Girl Sloopy. After the show they asked Derringer if he might be interested in providing vocals and guitar parts for My Girl Sloopy. After convincing them to change the title to Hang On Sloopy, Derringer agreed, and the record was credited to the McCoys, despite the fact that the backing tracks had already been recorded by studio musicians. Although the song was a #1 hit worldwide (and is still a standard on oldies stations) it became a bit of an albatross for the band later in the decade, when the McCoys were trying to establish themselves as a serious rock band. In 1970, minus their keyboardist, they teamed up with blues guitarist Johnny Winter to become Johnny Winter And (originally intended to be Johnny Winter And The McCoys). The album, released in September, included four songs written by Derringer. According to Derringer, "The first song I wrote for Johnny was 'Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo'. 'Rock and Roll' to satisfy the rock 'n' roll that I was supposed to be bringing into the picture, and 'Hoochie Koo' to satisfy the king of blues sensibility that Johnny was supposed to maintain." The song was later re-recorded for Derringer's 1973 debut solo LP All American Boy and became Derringer's only top 40 hit in early 1974, peaking at #23.

Artist:    Taste
Title:    Same Old Story
Source:    British import CD: Taste
Writer(s):    Rory Gallagher
Label:    Polydor (original US label: Atco)
Year:    1969
    Sometimes a band's frontman so dominates the band's sound that the band itself becomes little more than a footnote in the history of the frontman himself. Such was the case with Taste, a band formed in Cork, Ireland in 1966 by Rory Gallagher. By the time Taste cut its 1969 debut LP, Gallagher was the only original member of the trio, and the band's sole songwriter as well as vocalist and lead guitarist. The song Same Old Story is fairly typical of the group's sound. Taste disbanded in 1970, with Gallagher going on to have a successful solo career.

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