With summer being a time for reunions, Rockin' in the Days of Confusion this week revisits a bunch of tunes that haven't been played on the show in awhile. Most of them are from familiar artists, although you can expect a surprise or two along the way.
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: You Can't Always Get What You Want
Source: LP: Let It Bleed
When the Rolling Stones called for singers to back them up on their recording of You Can't Always Get What You Want, they expected maybe 30 to show up. Instead they got twice that many, and ended up using them all on the recording, which closes out the Let It Bleed album. An edited version of the song, which also features Al Kooper on organ, was orginally released as the B side of Honky Tonk Women in 1969. In the mid-1970s, after the Stones had established their own record label, Allen Klein, who had bought the rights to the band's pre-1970 recordings, reissued the single, this time promoting You Can't Always Get What You Want as the A side. Klein's strategy worked and the song ended up making the top 40.
Artist: Blind Faith
Title: Sea Of Joy
Source: LP: Blind Faith
Writer(s): Steve Winwood
Label: Polydor (original label: Atco)
At the time Blind Faith was formed there is no question that the biggest names in the band were guitarist Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, having just come off a successful three-year run with Cream. Yet the true architect of the Blind Faith sound was actually Steve Winwood, formerly of the Spencer Davis Group and, more recently, Traffic. Not only did Winwood handle most of the lead vocals for the group, he also wrote more songs on the band's only album than any other member. Among the Winwood tunes on that album is Sea Of Joy, which opens side two of the LP.
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You
Source: CD: Led Zeppelin
It is the nature of folk music that a song often gets credited to one writer when in fact it is the work of another. This is due to the fact that folk singers tend to share their material liberally with other folk singers, who often make significant changes to the work before passing it along to others. Such is the case with Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You, which was originally conceived by UC-Berkeley student Anne Johannsen in the late 1950s and performed live on KPFA radio in 1960. Another performer on the same show, Janet Smith, developed the song further and performed it at Oberlin College, where it was heard by audience member Joan Baez. Baez asked Smith for a tape of her songs and began performing the song herself. Baez used it as the opening track on her album, Joan Baez In Concert, Part One, but it was credited as "traditional", presumably because Baez herself had no knowledge of who had actually written the song. Baez eventually discovered the true origins of the tune, and later pressings gave credit to Anne Bredon, who had divorced her first husband, Lee Johannsen and married Glen Bredon since writing the song. Jimmy Page had an early pressing of the Baez album, so when he reworked the song for inclusion on the first Led Zeppelin album, he went with "traditional, arranged Page" as the writer. Robert Plant, who worked with Page on the arrangement, was not originally given credit for contractual reasons, although later editions of the album credit Page, Plant and Bredon as the songwriters.
Artist: Shy Limbs
Source: Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s): John Dickenson
Label: Grapefruit (original label: CBS)
The volatile nature of the late 60s British rock scene is clearly illustrated by a band called Shy Limbs. Formed by songwriter John Dickenson and vocalist Greg Lake, both former members of a band called Shame, the band also included guitarist/bassist Alan Bowery (from a band called the Actress) and drummer Andy McCulloch. The B side of the band's first single, a song called Love, featured guest guitarist Robert Fripp, who was in the process of forming his own band, King Crimson, at the time. Before the single was even released, Lake had left to join Fripp's band, and Shy Limbs released a second single without him before disbanding, at which time McCulloch replaced Michael Giles in King Crimson. By then, however, Lake had left King Crimson to co-found Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
Title: Who Scared You
Source: CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
The Doors only released two non-album tracks while Jim Morrison was alive. The first of these was Who Scared You, which appeared as the B side of Wishful Sinful, a minor hit from the 1969 album The Soft Parade. Unlike the songs on that album, Who Scared You is credited to the entire band, rather than one or more of its individual members. The song made its album debut in 1972, when it was included in the double-LP compilation Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine.
Artist: Crosby, Stills & Nash
Title: Long Time Gone
Source: CD: Crosby, Stills & Nash
Writer(s): David Crosby
There is no doubt that the group that benefited the most from performing at Woodstock was Crosby, Stills & Nash. The trio had just released their first LP, and, as they themselves admitted onstage, it was only their second time playing in front of people. Their performance was a huge success, turning them into superstars virtually overnight. The group played both acoustic and electric sets, an approach that has been adopted by many other performers over the years as well. Following their appearance at the festival, sales of their first LP rocketed, eventually topping four million copies sold. Among the many memorable tunes on the album is Long Time Gone, David Crosby's response to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. The song got favorable reviews from the rock press, as well as considerable airplay on progressive rock radio stations, and was used for the opening credits of the Woodstock movie.
Artist: James Gang
Title: Funk #49/Asshtonpark
Source: CD: James Gang Rides Again
Label: MCA (original label: ABC)
Following the release of their first LP, Yer' Album, the James Gang toured extensively, giving them little time to work up material for their followup album. Nonetheless, they managed to turn out a classic with the 1970 release James Gang Rides Again. The album starts with the song that all three band members agree was already worked out by the time they hit the studio, Funk #49. The song (which is probably the band's best known tune) is followed immediately by Ashtonpark, a short instrumental that picks up where Funk #49 fades out (and back in). The track is essentially Joe Walsh, Dale Peters and Jim Fox jamming over an echo effect created by cycling the playback of Walsh's guitar back through the record head of the studio tape recorder.
Artist: Uriah Heep
Title: Simon The Bullet Freak
Source: British import CD: Salisbury (bonus track originally released only on US version of LP)
Writer(s): Ken Hensley
Label: Sanctuary (original US label: Mercury)
Uriah Heep combined elements of progressive rock and heavy metal to create a sound that was uniquely their own. The band had two main songwriting sources: the team of vocalist David Byron and guitarist Mick Box, who wrote most of the band's early material, and keyboardist Ken Hensley, whose writing dominated the band's most popular period. The group' second LP, Salisbury, was in many senses a transition album, with the songwriting split about evenly between the two. One of Hensley's compositions, Simon The Bullet Freak, was released in Germany as a B side and included on the US version of the Salisbury album in early 1971. The song made its first UK appearance as the B side of the single version of the title track of the band's third LP, Look At Yourself.
Artist: David Bowie
Title: It Ain't Easy
Source: CD: The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
Writer(s): Ron Davies
Label: Ryko (original label: RCA Victor)
David Bowie had little need to record cover songs. He was, after all, one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century. But when he did record the occasional cover tune, you can bet it was a good one. Take It Ain't Easy, for instance. The song was already well known as the title track of two different albums, one by Three Dog Night and one by Long John Baldry, when Bowie recorded it, yet he still managed to make the song his own. The song itself was written by Nashville songwriter Ron Davies, whose younger sister Gail is notable as the first female producer in country music.
Title: The Cinema Show/Aisle Of Plenty
Source: CD: Selling England By The Pound
Label: Rhino/Atlantic (original label: Charisma)
As early as 1973 there were concerns in the UK about the Americanization of British culture, and Genesis took inspiration from a recent Labour Party slogan, Selling England By The Pound, for their next album title. The album itself is considered one of the group's best, thanks to songs like The Cinema Show (about Juliet and Romeo each preparing for their movie date) and Aisle Of Plenty, which takes place in an American-style supermarket. Selling England By The Pound was the fifth Genesis album, and the second to feature the group's "classic" lineup of Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford.