Sunday, November 5, 2023

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2345 (starts 11/6/23) 

    The emphasis is on variety this time around, with some unexpected segues (like going from Cat Stevens to Black Sabbath) spicing things up. About half of these tunes have never been played on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion before, while most of the rest (including the aforementioned Black Sabbath track) haven't been played on the show in years. That said, we start with something a little more familiar...

Artist:    Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Title:    Almost Cut My Hair
Source:    CD: déjà vu
Writer(s):    David Crosby
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    Almost Cut My Hair could have been the longest track on the Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young album déjà vu. As originally recorded it ran about 10 minutes in length. However, it was decided to fade the cut out starting at around the four-minute mark, leaving Neil Young's Country Girl (which was actually a suite of song fragments) as the longest track on the LP. Nonetheless, even at its shorter-than-recorded released length, David Crosby's counter-cultural anthem stands out as one of the band's most memorable recordings, and is arguably the single track that best incorporates Neil Young's unique lead guitar style into a group that is known mostly for its vocal harmonies.

Artist:    Blue Cheer
Title:    Fruit & Icebergs/Honey Butter Lover
Source:    LP: New! Improved! Blue Cheer
Writer(s):    Randy Holden
Label:    Philips
Year:    1969
    Following the release of the second Blue Cheer album, Outsideinside, guitarist Leigh Stephens left the band. His replacement was Randy Holden, who had been a member of the Los Angeles underground band The Other Half. Holden did not stay with the band very long, however. In fact, he left halfway through the recording of the band's third album, New! Improved! Blue Cheer, after recording only the three tracks that make up side two of the original LP. Those three tracks, however, are among the best recordings ever made by Blue Cheer. Two of the songs, Fruit & Icebergs and Honey Butter Lover, actually overlap each other to close out the album.

Artist:    Cat Stevens
Title:    Wild World
Source:    CD: The Very Best Of Cat Stevens (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Cat Stevens
Label:    A&M
Year:    1970
    For most Americans, Cat Stevens appeared suddenly on the scene in late 1970 with the song Wild World. Like Donovan before him, however, Stevens had already enjoyed several years of success on the British charts before making it big in the US, including no less than three top 10 singles. Ironically, Wild World itself was not released as a single in the UK.

Artist:    Black Sabbath
Title:    Orchid/Lord Of This World
Source:    LP: Master Of Reality
Writer(s):    Iommi/Osbourne/Butler/Ward
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1971
    Black Sabbath continued their winning streak with their third LP, Master Of Reality, in 1971. The album marked the first time that guitarist Tony Iommi deliberately detuned his guitar a step and a half on songs like Lord Of This World in order to ease the pressure on the fingertips of his left hand, which had been damaged in a factory accident years earlier. Bassist Geezer Butler followed step. The result was what Iommi called a "bigger, heavier sound" that helped establish Black Sabbath as the kings of heavy metal in the early 1970s.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Good Rockin'
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Roy Brown
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1972
    Good Rockin' Tonight was a hit single for Wynonie Harris in 1948, going all the way to the top of the R&B charts and remaining on those charts for six months, far surpassing Roy Brown's original 1947 version of the song, which peaked at #13. The next notable version of the song was released in 1954, as Elvis Presley's second single for the Sun label. It stiffed. Although the song has been recorded literally dozens of times since in a variety of styles, the Doors' version, from their 1972 LP Full Circle, parallels Elvis's version the most closely, even to the point of adding heavy reverb to the recording. The song, whose title was shortened to Good Rockin' for the album, is the only cover song on the LP, and was also released as a B side.

Artist:    Bodacious DF
Title:    The Witcher
Source:    CD: Jefferson Starship-The Box Set Series (originally released on LP: Bodacious DF)
Writer(s):    Balin/Smith
Label:    RCA/Legacy (original label: RCA Victor
Year:    1973
    After leaving Jefferson Airplane in 1971, vocalist Marty Balin attempted to put some distance between himself and his former bandmates. His first project was to produce an album by a band called Grootna in 1972. The following year he recruited two Grootna members, guitarist Vic Smith and drummer Greg Dewey, to form a new band, Bodacious DF. They were soon joined by bassist Mark Ryan and keyboardist Charlie Hickox, releasing a self-titled album in 1973. Not long after the album was released the group disbanded, with Balin becoming a member of the newly-christened Jefferson Starship in 1975.

Artist:    Neil Young
Title:    Walk On
Source:    CD: Decade (originally released on LP: On The Beach)
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1974
    In 1972 Neil Young released his most successful album, Harvest. The following year he released no albums at all. Finally, in January of 1974, On The Beach was released. It was so different than Young's previous work that his fans did not know what to make of it. As a result, by the early 1980s the album was no longer available in any form, and did not appear on a CD until 2003. A few of the songs from the album were included on Young's 1977 triple-LP retrospective Decade however, including Walk On, probably the strongest track on the original album.    

Artist:    Bob Dylan
Title:    Tangled Up In Blue
Source:    CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits-vol. 3 (originally released on LP: Blood On The Tracks)
Writer(s):    Bob Dylan
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1975
    Following a string of increasingly irrelevant albums in the early 1970s, Bob Dylan returned to his native Minnesota, living on a farm with his brother David and writing the songs that would appear on his 1975 LP Blood On The Tracks. Among those songs was Tangled Up In Blue, which was also released as a single. Dylan had recently been taking art classes at Carnegie Hall with tutor Norman Raeben, who had a unique view of time itself. As Dylan put it, Tangled Up In Blue has "no sense of time. There's no respect for it. You've got yesterday, today, and tomorrow all in the same room, and there's very little you can't imagine not happening"

Artist:    Stuff
Title:    Do You Want Some Of This
Source:    LP: Stuff
Writer(s):    Richard Tee
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1976
    The first time I heard Stuff was on an episode of Saturday Night Live, where they appeared first backing up Joe Cocker, and then later in the show performing as an instrumental act. I was immediately impressed by the jazz-funk band's tight musicianship, so much so that I went out and bought a copy of their album. All the tracks on their first LP were instrumentals, including Do You Want Some Of This. The band was originally formed as The Encyclopedia Of Soul, and was made up of a highly respected group of studio musicians, including Gordon Edwards (bass), Richard Tee (keyboards), Eric Gale (guitar), Cornell Dupree (guitar), and Chris Parker (drums). Stuff recorded three albums in the late 1970s, each of which went gold.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Killing Floor
Source:    CD: Live At Monterey
Writer(s):    Chester Burnett
Label:    Experience Hendrix/ume
Year:    1967
    The first song played by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in the US was not written by Hendrix. Rather, it came from the fertile imagination of one Chester Burnett, better known as Howlin' Wolf. Hendrix, however, put his own stamp on the blues classic, giving it a manic energy that even Wolf would have found impressive.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Brainwashed
Source:    45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1970
    Starting in 1966, Ray Davies started taking satirical potshots at a variety of targets, with songs like A Well Respected Man, Dedicated Follower of Fashion and the classic tax-protest song Sunny Afternoon. This trend continued over the next few years, although few new Kinks songs were heard on US radio stations until the band released the international hit Lola in 1970. One single that got some minor airplay in the US was the song Victoria, from the album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). The B side of that track was Brainwashed, one of the hardest rocking Kinks tunes since their early 1964 hits like You Really Got Me.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Going To California
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin IV
Writer(s):    Page/Plant
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    The fourth Led Zeppelin album is known for the band's return to a harder rock sound after the acoustic leanings of Led Zeppelin III. There were, however, a couple of acoustic songs on LZ IV, including Going To California, a song that vocalist Robert Plant has since said was about Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. The tune features Plant on vocals, Jimmy Page on acoustic guitar and John Paul Jones on Mandolin.

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