Sunday, August 27, 2023

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2335 (starts 8/28/23)

    This time around we work our way down from 1973 to 1968, one year at a time, and then back up again until we run out of time in 1971.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Black Sabbath
Source:    CD: Black Sabbath
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osbourne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1970
    This track has to hold some kind of record for "firsts". Black Sabbath, by Black Sabbath, from the album Black Sabbath is, after all, the first song from the first album by the first true heavy metal band. The track starts off by immediately setting the mood with the sound of church bells in a rainstorm leading into the song's famous tri-tone (often referred to as the "devil's chord") intro, deliberately constructed to evoke the mood of classic Hollywood horror movies. Ozzy Osborne's vocals only add to the effect. Even the faster-paced final portion of the song has a certain dissonance that had never been heard in rock music before, in part thanks to Black Sabbath's deliberate use of a lower pitch in their basic tuning. The result is something that has sometimes been compared to a bad acid trip, but is unquestionably the foundation of what came to be called heavy metal.

Artist:    Golden Earring
Title:    Radar Love
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Kooymans/Hay
Label:    Track/MCA
Year:    1973
    Formed in The Hague in 1961, the Golden Earrings (they dropped the plural in 1969) released 25 studio albums and took nearly 30 songs into the top 10 over a period of nearly 30 their native Holland. They were completely unknown in the US, however, until 1973, when Radar Love became an international hit. They returned to the US charts in 1982 with Twilight Zone, and had a final international hit in 1984 with When The Lady Smiles, although that song did not do as well in the US. Radar Love itself is now considered one of the all-time greatest "road" songs.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Smoke On The Water (live version)
Source:    LP: Heavy Metal (originally released on LP: Made In Japan)
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Special Products (original label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1972
    Based on what is quite possibly the most recognizable riff in the history of hard rock, Smoke On The Water was released in December of 1972 on Deep Purple's Machine Head album. The song became a huge hit the following year when a live version of the tune appeared on the album Made In Japan, released in December of 1972.  

Artist:    Lily Tomlin
Title:    The Bordello
Source:    LP: This Is A Recording
Writer(s):    Rod Warner
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1971
    The first thing that struck me about Lily Tomlin's debut album, This Is A Recording, even before I put it on the turntable, was the fact that each of the LP's 17 tracks had its own writing credit. As it is usually left to the listener to assume that the artist also wrote all the material, I found this to be a particularly generous act on the part of Tomlin. The LP itself documents Tomlin's one-woman show recorded live at the Ice House in Pasadena, California, and features one-sided telephone conversations from Ernestine, Tomlin's most famous character from her days as a regular on the television show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. The album went to the #15 spot on the Billboard Hot 200 albums chart, the highest chart position ever achieved by a solo comedy album from a woman.

Artist:    Derek And The Dominos
Title:    Have You Ever Loved A Woman
Source:    CD: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs
Writer(s):    Billy Myles
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    Once in a while you hear a song that makes you stop what you are doing and just listen. The Derek and the Dominos version of the 1961 Billy Myles tune Have You Ever Loved A Woman is just such a song. The recording features heartfelt vocals from Eric Clapton (who, perhaps not coincidentally found himself in exactly the situation described in the song's lyrics) punctuated by outstanding guitar solos from Clapton and Duane Allman, who appears on the album as a guest soloist.

Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    No Title
Source:    CD: Stonedhenge
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Deram/Polygram
Year:    1969
    After achieving what guitarist/vocalist Alvin Lee called the "ultimate" live Ten Years After album, Undead, in 1968, the group was left wondering what to do next. Their solution was to go experimental with the band's third LP, Stonedhenge. The longest track on the album, No Title, starts off as a slow, moody, blues-oriented piece that, without missing a beat becomes a loud showcase for Alvin Lee's guitar pyrotechnics. This is followed by a thumping hard rock section featuring Chick Churchill's organ work, leading to a short jazz-oriented section that uses a rather psychedelic studio effect to return to the song's slow beginnings and a  musique concrète finale.

Artist:    Jaime Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Levon Helm (The Band)
Title:    The Weight
Source:    CD: 10 Great Songs (originally released on LP: Music From Big Pink)
Writer(s):    Robbie Robertson
Label:    Capitol/UMe
Year:    1968
    The group of Canadians who would come to be known as The Band spent ten years establishing themselves as one of rock's finest backup bands, first as the Hawks, backing up rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins, and then as Bob Dylan's stage band for his 1965-1966 tours. They spent the next year in West Saugerties, New York, working on material that would eventually come to be known as the Basement Tapes. In 1968, they made their official debut as The Band on the album Music From Big Pink. The single from that album, The Weight, was issued under the individual band members' names. Although it was not a major chart hit, The Weight got a considerable amount of airplay on FM rock radio, especially in the early 1970s.

Artist:    Jethro Tull
Title:    Love Story
Source:    CD: This Was (bonus track originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Ian Anderson
Label:    Chrysalis/Capitol (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968 (UK), 1969 (US)
    Love Story was the last studio recording by the original Jethro Tull lineup of Ian Anderson, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker and Glenn Cornish. The song was released as a single (Jethro Tull's first in the US) following the band's debut LP, This Was. Shortly after its release Abrahams left the group, citing differences with Anderson over the band's musical direction. Love Story spent eight weeks on the UK singles chart, reaching the #29 spot. In the U.S., Love Story was released in March 1969, with A Song for Jeffrey (an album track from This Was) on the B-side, but did not chart. Like most songs released as singles in the UK, Love Story did not appear on an album until several years later; in this case on the 1973 anthology album Living In The Past. It has most recently been included as a bonus track on the expanded CD version of This Was.

Artist:    Fat Mattress
Title:    Mr. Moonshine
Source:    Mono LP: Fat Mattress
Writer(s):    Landon/Redding
Label:    Atco
Year:    1969
     After the Jimi Hendrix Experience split up, Noel Redding hooked up with a band called Fat Mattress, playing bass, co-writing songs and occassionally singing on songs like Mr. Moonshine. The band's name may have come from a quote by Hendrix at the Experience's Monterey Pop Festival appearance, when he responded to negative comments by critics by saying "...or they say we have fat mattresses or that we wear golden underwear". It could even be that Hendrix got the phrase from Redding himself. Since all three members of the Experience are dead now, I guess we'll never know. Regardless, Fat Mattress failed to make much of an impression on either critics or audiences and Redding's career was effectively over with the band's demise.
Artist:    Guess Who
Title:    Hang On To Your Life
Source:    LP: The Best Of The Guess Who
Writer(s):    Cummings/Winter
Label:    BMG/RCA
Year:    1970
    Written by vocalist/keyboardist Burton Cummings (after getting a bad case of sunburn, or possibly coming down from a bad acid trip) and guitarist Kurt Winter, Hang On To Your Life is an anti-drug song punctuated at the end by a recitation of Psalm 22:13–15 over a continuing echo of the words "your life" (thought to be one of the first uses of a digital delay device). The recitation was left off the single version of the song but included on the band's greatest hits album the following year.

Artist:    David Bowie
Title:    Changes
Source:    45 RPM single (reissue originally released on LP: Hunky Dory)
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    RCA
Year:    1971
    Sometimes a seemingly innocous little song will turn out to be something far more than it started out to be. Such is the case with Changes, one of the most recognizable songs of the 20th century. Originally appearing on the 1971 album Hunky Dory and released as a single in 1972, Changes, according to Bowie, started off as a parody of a nightclub song, "a kind of throwaway", that featured Bowie himself on saxophone, with strings provided by Mick Ronson. Rick Wakeman's keyboards also feature prominently in the recording. The song was Bowie's first North American release on the RCA Victor label (although Mercury had released The Man Who Sold The World two years previously, the record had gone nowhere at the time). Changes is often taken as a statement of artistic intent, as Bowie was constantly reinventing himself throughout his career. Surprisingly, Changes did not make the British charts until its re-release following Bowie's death in 2016.


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