Sunday, September 17, 2023

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2338 (start 9/18/23)

    A whole lot of shorter tracks this time around. In fact, only two exceed the five-minute mark, a new record for Rockin' in the Days of Confusion. Among this week's fifteen tunes are eight that have never been played on the show before, plus two more that are different versions of songs than those previously featured.

Artist:    Grand Funk Railroad
Title:    Footstompin' Music
Source:    CD: Heavy Hitters (originally released on LP: E Pluribus Funk)
Writer(s):    Mark Farner
Label:    Capitol
Year:    1971
    By late 1971 tensions between the members of Grand Funk Railroad and their manager/producer Terry Knight were coming to a head. Somehow, though, they managed to put together one last album before the band fired Knight, leading to a protracted legal battle that ultimately saw Knight getting exclusive rights to all Grand Funk Railroad recordings made before 1972. The album itself, E Pluribus Funk, only took a week to record, and is best known for the fact that the album cover itself was round rather than square, and was designed to look like a huge silver coin, with the faces of the three band members on the front cover and Shea Stadium, where the band had recently broken the Beatles' record by selling out all the seats in just 72 hours, on the flip side.
Even though Grand Funk Railroad was known primarily as a live act first and album-oriented rock band second, all but one of the songs on E Plurubus Funk were released on 45 RPM vinyl as well, although only the album's opening track, Footstompin' Music, was able to crack the top 40.

Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Blind Eye
Source:    CD: Wishbone Ash
Writer(s):    Turner/Turner/Powell/Upton
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1970
    One of the first bands to feature two lead guitarists working in tandem, Wishbone Ash rose to fame as the opening act for Deep Purple in early 1970. After guitarist Andy Powell sat in with Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore during a sound check, Blackmore referred Wishbone Ash to MCA, the parent company of the US Decca label. The band's first LP came out in December of 1970, with Blind Eye becoming the band's first single. Although Wishbone Ash went on to become one of Britain's top rock bands of the 1970s, they were never as successful in the US, despite relocating to the states in 1973.

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Strange Kind Of Woman
Source:    CD: The Very Best Of Deep Purple (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single and in US on LP: Fireball)
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Archives/Rhino (original US label: Warner Brothers)
Year:    1971
    Strange Kind Of Woman was a top 10 hit when it was released as a single in the UK in 1971. Although it was also released in the US, the single got virtually no top 40 airplay and failed to chart. It was, however, included on the US version of the album Fireball, which in turn led to plenty of airplay on FM rock radio, making it one of Deep Purple's most recognizable tunes.

Artist:    Firesign Theatre
Title:    Live From The Senate Bar (If You Call That Living)
Source:    LP: Dear Friends
Writer(s):    Proctor/Bergman/Austin/Ossman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    Recorded 1970, released 1972
    From September of 1970 to February 1971 the Firesign Theatre produced a weekly syndicated radio series called Dear Friends. In 1972 the foursome collected what they considered the best bits from the shows and released them as the double-LP Dear Friends. The political parody Live From The Senate Bar (If You Call That Living) came from the show dated October 4, 1970.

Artist:    Kak
Title:    Bryte 'N' Clear Day
Source:    British import CD: Kak-Ola (originally released on LP: Kak)
Writer(s):    Yoder/Grelecki
Label:    Big Beat (original label: Epic)
Year:    1969
    The origins of the band called Kak are a bit on the strange side. Gary Lee Yoder's popular Oxford Circle had just broken up when a guy named Gary Grelecki walked up to the singer/songwriter/guitarist and introduced himself, telling him how much he liked the Oxford Circle and adding that he could get him a record deal with CBS. Yoder, somewhat naively, gave Grelecki his phone number, and a couple months later received a call from Grelecki saying he had landed him a contract with the Epic label. Yoder, not quite knowing whether the offer was for real or not, nonetheless recruited his former bandmate Dehner Patton to play lead guitar. Patton, in turn, brought in percussionist Chris Lockheed, who already knew Yoder from doing some TV production work. In early 1968 they recruited drummer Joe-Dave Damrell, and Kak was born (the name coming from college professor Dan Phillips, who had come up with the concept of Kak as being something like a joker in a deck of cards that could mean anything you want it to. Around this time Yoder learned that Grelecki's father was in the CIA, and actually did have contacts at Columbia Records, using record distribution outlets in the Far East as fronts for various covert activities. The new band got to work on their debut LP, releasing it in 1969. Yoder wrote all the band's material, mostly by himself, but sometimes in collaboration with Grelecki on songs such as Bryte 'N' Clear Day, a tune that sounds like it could have come from a 70s Texas boogie band like ZZ Top.

Artist:    Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers
Title:    Astral Plane
Source:    CD: The Best Of Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers (The Beserkley Years) (originally released on LP: Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers)
Writer(s):    Jonathan Richman
Label:    Rhino (original label: Beserkley)
Year:    Recorded 1972, released 1976
    In April of 1972 20-year-old Jonathan Richman and his band, the Modern Lovers, made a trip to Los Angeles to record a demo tape with producer John Cale (formerly of Velvet Underground). The tape sat on a shelf for several years as the band went through both artistic and personnel changes, finally surfacing (along with a few tracks recorded with different producers) in 1976 as an album called The Modern Lovers on Matthew "King" Kaufman's new Beserkley label. By then Richman had changed his style considerably and did not acknowledge The Modern Lovers as his first LP. Nonetheless, the album, featuring tracks like Astral Plane, was a critical success and has been cited as an influence by punk rock bands such as the Sex Pistols.

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Live With Me
Source:    LP: Let It Bleed
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    London
Year:    1969
    Quick quiz time: What was the first song Mick Taylor recorded as a member of the Rolling Stones? If you answered Honky Tonk Women you would be close, but not quite right. The actual answer is Live With Me, a track that appeared on the LP Let It Bleed seven months after it was recorded. The song's lyrics were cited as the reason that the London Bach Choir asked not to be credited for their vocals on You Can't Always Get What You Want from the same album. 

Artist:    Buffalo Springfield
Title:    Bluebird
Source:    British import LP: The New Age Of Atlantic (originally released on LP: Buffalo Springfield Again)
Writer(s):    Stephen Stills
Label:    Atlantic (original label: Atco)
Year:    1967
    When it comes right down to it Buffalo Springfield has one of the highest ratios of songs recorded to songs played on the radio of any band in history, especially if you only count the two albums worth of material that was released while the band was still active. This is probably because Buffalo Springfield had more raw songwriting talent than just about any two other bands. Although Neil Young was just starting to hit his stride as a songwriter, bandmate Stephen Stills was already at an early peak, as songs like Bluebird clearly demonstrate.

Artist:    Jeff Beck
Title:    You Shook Me
Source:    CD: Truth
Writer(s):    Willie Dixon
Label:    Epic/Legacy
Year:    1968
    Led Zeppelin has often been accused of stealing riffs, lyrics and sometimes entire songs from other artists. After hearing Jeff Beck's 1968 recording of Willie Dixon's You Shook Me, from the album Truth with Rod Stewart on vocals, you can add arrangements to the list.

Artist:     Janis Joplin
Title:     Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)
Source:     LP: Super Rock (originally released on LP: I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama)
Writer:     Ragavoy/Taylor
Label:     Columbia
Year:     1969
     A glance through the various playlists on this blog makes one thing abundantly clear: the psychedelic era was a time for bands, as opposed to individual stars. The music industry itself, however, tends to favor the single artist. Perhaps this is because it is easier to market (cynics would say exploit) an individual artist than a collective of musicians. In the case of Janis Joplin, people in the industry managed to convince her that her fellow members of Big Brother and the Holding Company were holding her back due to their lack of musicianship. A listen to her first album without her old bandmates puts the lie to that argument. Although the Kozmic Blues Band may indeed have had greater expertise as individual musicians than Big Brother, the energy that had electrified audiences at the Monterey Pop Festival and at various San Francisco ballrooms was just not there, and the album is generally considered somewhat limp in comparison to Cheap Thrills. The opening (and some would say best) track on the album is Try (Just A Little Bit Harder). While not a bad song, the recording just doesn't have the magic of a Piece of My Heart or Ball and Chain, despite a strong vocal performance by Joplin herself.
Artist:    Allman Brothers Band
Title:    Trouble No More (live)
Source:    CD: Idlewild South (originally released on LP: Live At Ludlow Garage: 1970)
Writer(s):    McKinley Morganfield
Label:    Mercury (original label: Polydor)
Year:    1969
    The Allman Brothers band grew out of massive jam sessions organized by Duane Allman and drummer Jai Johnny Johanson in early 1969. The two had recently relocated from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where Allman had been doing session work for artists such as Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett (it's Duane's guitar that can be heard on Pickett's version of Hey Jude). One of the musicians Allman invited to the sessions was bassist Berry Oakley, who in turn recruited Dickey Betts as the as-yet unnamed band's second guitarist. Duane Allman's concept of the new band was to have two guitarists and two drummers, and it wasn't long before Butch Trucks, whom Allman and his brother Gregg had cut a demo with the previous year, was added to the mix. The final piece came into play on March 26, 1969, when Gregg Allman accepted his brother's invitation to sit in with the group as lead vocalist. The band was rehearsing an old Muddy Waters tune, Trouble No More, which became the first song Gregg Allman ever performed with the group. The addition of Gregg as vocalist and keyboardist gave the band its name as well. After releasing their debut LP in November of 1969 the band spent most of the next year doing live gigs all over the south, playing clubs like Cincinnatti's Ludlow Garage. They taped their April 20, 1970 show there, releasing it 20 years later on an album called Live At Ludlow Garage: 1970. The entire album, including this live version of Muddy Waters' Trouble No More, is now available as a bonus disc on the 2015 version of their second album, Idlewild South.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    No One To Depend On
Source:    Mono 45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Carabella/Escobida/Rolie
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    Santana's third LP (which like their debut LP was called simply Santana), was the last by the band's original lineup. Among the better-known tracks on the LP was No One To Depend On, featuring a guitar solo by teen phenom Neal Schon (who would go on to co-found Journey). The version here is a rare mono promo pressing issued as a single in 1972. It is obviously not a true mono mix, but what is known as a "fold-down" mix, made by combining the two stereo channels into one. It sounds to me, though, like one channel (the one with Neil Schon's guitar) got shortchanged in the mix.

Artist:    Graham Nash/David Crosby
Title:    Immigration Man
Source:    45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s):    Graham Nash
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1972
    Graham Nash and David Crosby decided to make an album without Stephen Stills or Neil Young in 1972. The two songwriters' compositions alternated on the album, with the final track, Nash's Immigration Man (based on his own real life experience at customs), being released as a single.

Artist:    Robin Trower
Title:    Hannah
Source:    CD: Essential Robin Trower (originally released on LP: Twice Removed From Yesterday)
Writer(s):    Dewar/Isidore/Trower
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1973
    After years of being kept in the background as guitarist Procol Harum, Robin Trower finally left that band in 1971. His first attempt at starting a new band went nowhere, but did net him bassist/vocalist James Dewar for his own Robin Trower Band, a power trio that also included drummer Reg Isadore. Their first album together was Twice Removed From Yesterday, released in 1973. Most of the tunes on the album were written by Dewar and Trower, with Isadore sharing songwriting credits on one track, Hannah.

Artist:    B.B. King
Title:    Ask Me No Questions
Source:    LP: Indianola Mississippi Seeds
Writer(s):    B.B. King
Label:    ABC
Year:    1970
    Listening to the lyrics of this classic B.B. King tune from 1970 I couldn't help but imagine some errant disc jockey (or maybe the front man of a cover band) dedicating it to his wife. Ouch!

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