Sunday, July 9, 2023

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2328 (starts 7/10/23) 

    Well, we did it again. You might think we forgot to take a break sometime during this week's show, but the reality is that everything was going along so smoothly that we couldn't bring ourselves to interrupt the flow. So kick back and enjoy an uninterrupted 59 minutes of solid rock, with a touch of soul, blues, jazz, folk and even bluegrass thrown in.

Artist:     Grand Funk
Title:     We're An American Band
Source:     45 RPM single
Writer:     Don Brewer
Label:     Capitol
Year:     1973
     In 1972 I was the bass player/vocalist in a power trio that played a lot of Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath and the like. Shortly after that band split up I started taking broadcasting classes from Tim Daniels, an Air Force Sergeant who had previously worked for the Armed Forces Vietnam Network (the same station that Adrian Cronauer worked at, although at that time nobody outside the military had ever heard of him). That led to my first regular airshift on the "Voice of Holloman", a closed-circuit station that was piped into the gym and bowling alley and some of the barracks at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico for about four hours a day. One of the hot new records that the station got promo copies of was We're An American Band, pressed on bright yellow translucent vinyl with the stereo version on one side and the mono mix on the other. I snagged one of the extra copies Capitol sent and have somehow managed to hang onto it over the years.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Speed King (Dutch single "piano version")
Source:    45 RPM single B side (originally released in the Netherlands as an A side)
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    The live version of Speed King, a song that originally appeared on the album Deep Purple In Rock, was taken from a 1970 performance on the BBC series In Concert. The album Deep Purple In Concert itself was not released until 1980, but an edited version of Speed King was issued as the B side of the Black Night single in the US in 1970. The song's lyrics, the first written for Deep Purple by vocalist Ian Gillan, reference several Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis Presley songs. The Dutch version of the single heard here differs from other versions in that it has piano overdubs in strategic places.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Uncle Jack
Source:    CD: Spirit
Writer(s):    Jay Ferguson
Label:    Ode/Epic/Legacy
Year:    1968
    Despite nearly universal positive reviews by the rock press, the first Spirit album never really caught the imagination of the record buying public. Why this is the case is still a bit of a mystery, as the album is full of outstanding tracks such as Uncle Jack. Perhaps the album, and indeed the band itself, was just a bit ahead of its time.

Artist:    Climax Blues Band
Title:    Shake Your Love
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM promo single
Writer(s):    Climax/Gottehrer
Label:    Sire
Year:    1972
    Although never a first-tier group, the Climax Blues Band (formed in 1967 as the Climax Chicago Blues Band) nonetheless had a decent career, releasing a total of 19 albums during their existence. Among those was the 1972 LP Rich Man, which included Shake Your Love, a song that was also released to radio stations in single form. The tune was co-written by the band and their producer, Richard Gottehrer. Gottehrer is probably best known for writing or co-writing several hit songs in the 1960s, including My Boyfriend's Back, Hang On Sloopy, and I Want Candy, the latter being credited to Gottehrer's own band, the Strangeloves.

Artist:    Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title:    Graveyard Train
Source:    LP: Bayou Country
Writer(s):    John Fogerty
Label:    Fantasy
Year:    1969
    The influence of Chess-era bluemen like Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters is evident on Graveyard Train, from Creedence Clearwater Revival's second LP, Bayou Country. The lyrics are reminiscent of an even earlier time, when such subjects as death (with supernatural overtones) were often dealt with by members of chain gangs in song.

Artist:    Stevie Wonder
Title:    Superstition
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Stevie Wonder
Label:    Tamla
Year:    1972
    Superstition was not originally meant to be a Stevie Wonder hit record. The song was actually written with the intention of giving it to guitarist Jeff Beck, in return for his participation of Wonder's Talking Book album. In fact, it was Beck that came up with the song's opening drum riff, creating, with Wonder, the first demo of the song. The plan was for Beck to release the song first as the lead single from the album Beck, Bogert & Appice. However, that album's release got delayed, and Motown CEO Barry Gordy Jr. insisted that Wonder go ahead and release his own version of the song first, as Barry saw the song as a potential #1 hit. It turned out Gordy was right, and Superstition ended up topping both the pop and soul charts in 1973, doing well in other countries as well. A 1986 live version of the song by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble continues to get a lot of airplay on classic rock radio.

Artist:    Earth Disciples
Title:    Bitter End-Part 1
Source:    LP: Getaway Train
Writer(s):    Rudy Reid
Label:    Solid State
Year:    1970
    There is no question that 1970 was a year of experimentation in music. The surface implication of such a statement might lead you to think of bands like Tangerine Dream, who were trying out all kinds of new electronic effects, or Renaissance, who were taking a classical approach to rock. But there were other types of experiments going on as well. New radio formats were developing. Artists were looking at new hybrid genres to explore, such as jazz-rock and soul-funk. One band that went that route was Earth Disciples from the Chicago area. Co-led by guitarist Jimmy Holloway (who also did some keyboard work), Earth Disciples were fond of jazz experimentation, which can be heard on instrumental tracks like Bitter End-Part 1. As to what happened to the band, your guess is as good as mine.

Artist:    Savoy Brown
Title:    Life's One Act Play
Source:    British import CD: A Step Further
Writer(s):    Chris Youlden
Label:    Deram (original US label: Parrot)
Year:    1969
    Like many British blues bands, Savoy Brown had almost as many lineup changes as they did albums. In fact, it wasn't until their fourth LP, A Step Further, released in 1969, that the same group of musicians appeared on two consecutive albums. This would, however, be the last Savoy Brown album to include lead vocalist and frontman Chris Youlden, who wrote several songs on the album, including Life's One Act Play. The band is supplemented on the track by a rather large string and horn section that would be absent from the group's next LP, Looking In.

Artist:    Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Title:    Cortez The Killer
Source:    CD: Decade (originally released on LP: Zuma)
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1975
    Neil Young reunited with a slightly changed Crazy Horse (guitarist Frank Sampedro being the new member) for his 1975 album. Zuma, coming on the heels of his "Ditch Trilogy", it was a return to the raw sound heard on the 1969 album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The most popular track on the album, Cortez The Killer, was banned in Spain under the Franco regime and only released there after the dictator's death. As originally performed in the studio the track ran nearly ten minutes in length, but a blown circuit on the mixing board cut off the original recording somewhere around the seven and a half minute mark. Rather than attempting to re-record the tune, the band elected to fade the song out just before the cutoff point.

Artist:    James Taylor
Title:    Fire And Rain
Source:    LP: Superecord Contemporary (originally released on LP: Sweet Baby James and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    James Taylor
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    Although only 22 years old at the time, singer/songwriter James Taylor had already experienced more than his share of hard times, including the failure of his first band, the Flying Machine, to make any headway in the music business, the suicide of his childhood friend, Suzanne Schnerr, while he was in London recording his first album, and stays in both mental health and drug treatment facilities. All of those issues were addressed in his breakthrough 1970 hit single Fire And Rain, which was taken from his second LP, Sweet Baby James.

Artist:    Pink Fairies
Title:    War Girl
Source:    CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Neverneverland)
Writer(s):    Twink aka John Charles Edward Alder
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1971
    The Pink Fairies were formed when three members of the Deviants (Paul Rudolph, Duncan Sanderson, and Russell Hunter), who had fired their own band leader during a disastrous North American tour, decided to hook up with Twink (John Charles Edward Alder), the former drummer of Tomorrow and the Pretty Things. Twink had done a one-shot gig with an ad hoc group of musicians under the name Pink Fairies in 1969, and the new group decided that they liked the name and appropriated it for themselves. The band gained immediate notoriety for putting on free concerts, often just outside the gates of places that were charging premium prices for tickets to see more well-known bands. By the end of 1970 the Fairies had secured a contract with Polydor and releasing their first single late in the year. This was followed by a 1971 album called Neverneverland that featured several tracks originally credited to the entire band, such as War Girl, that on later releases are credited to Twink. Although the Pink Fairies split up in 1976, they still get together from time to time to put on a show.

Artist:    Seatrain
Title:    Orange Blossom Special
Source:    LP: Seatrain
Writer(s):    Ervin T Rouse, arranged by Richard Greene
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1970
    Originally recorded by Ervin T Rouse and his brother Gordon in 1939, Orange Blossom Special has come to be known as "the fiddle player's national anthem" and has been recorded dozens of times by as many artists over the years. Seatrain's version, recorded for their self-titled second album in 1970, features Richard Greene on fiddle and Peter Rowan on vocals. Greene's former bandmate, Bill Monroe, was heard to say "nobody plays Orange Blossom Special like Richard.

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