Sunday, November 19, 2023

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2347 (starts 11/20/23)

    Following last week's unavoidable use of a contingency show we are back in free-form mode before setting down to a short progression through the early 1970s this week. Of particular note is a rare Genesis B side that was not released in the western hemisphere at all. This week's closer comes from Chevy Chase doing his best impression of an early 70s singer/songwriter. It all starts off with some Good Old Rock 'n Roll, courtesy Cat Mother And The All Night Newsboys.

Artist:     Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys
Title:     Good Old Rock and Roll
Source:     LP: The Street Giveth...And The Street Taketh Away
Writer(s):    Michaels/Smith/Equine/Chin/Packer
Label:    Polydor
Year:     1969
     By 1969, folk-rock had morphed into what would come to be called country-rock. One of the early country-rock bands that is usually overlooked is Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys. This is probably because their only hit, the '50s tribute song Good Old Rock and Roll, was not at all typical of the band's sound. The song was featured as the opening track of their LP The Street Giveth...And The Street Taketh Away, which was co-produced by Jimi Hendrix.

Artist:    Cozy Powell
Title:    Dance With The Devil
Source:    45 RPM promo single (released in UK commercially)
Writer(s):    Dennys/Haye
Label:    Chrysalis (UK label: RAK)
Year:    1973
    British drummer Cozy Powell (born Colin Flooks in Cirencester, Gloucestershire in 1947) was already well-known among British rock royalty when he was invited to join the Jeff Beck Group in 1970. After that particular iteration of the group fell apart after two albums, Powell formed a band called Bedlam while also doing session work for RAK Records. This led to solo work, including Dance With The Devil, an instrumental that made it into the British top 5 in 1973 while becoming his only single to chart in the US at #49. Basically a drum solo, the track features backup vocalists singing the melody to Jimi Hendrix's 3rd Stone From The Sun. Playing bass on the track (albeit somewhat obscured in the mix) is Suzy Quatro.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    Friends/Celebration Day
Source:    German import LP: Led Zeppelin III
Writer(s):    Page/Plant/Jones
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    Following a year of almost constant touring to promote the first two Led Zeppelin albums, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page decided to take a break in early 1970, moving to a Welsh cottage with no electricity and concentrating on their songwriting skills. The result was an album, Led Zeppelin III, that differed markedly from its predecessors. Many of the songs on the album, such as Friends, were almost entirely acoustical, while others, like Celebration Day, were, if possible, more intense than anything on the band's first two albums. Once much of the material for the new album had been written, Page and Plant were joined by John Bonham and John Paul Jones at a place called Headley Grange, where the band rehearsed the new material, adding a few more songs in the process. The album itself caught the band's fans by surprise, and suffered commercially as a result, but has since come to be regarded as a milestone for the band.

Artist:    Curtis Mayfield
Title:    Freddie's Dead
Source:    CD: Super Fly
Writer(s):    Curtis Mayfield
Label:    Curtom/Rhino
Year:    1972
    The 1971 movie Shaft launched an entire genre of films sometimes known as "blacksploitation" movies. One of the most successful of these was the 1972 film Super Fly. The soundtrack music for Super Fly was provided by former Impressions frontman Curtis Mayfield, and released on his own Curtom label. The single Freddie's Dead, adding vocals to the film's instrumental theme, was released ahead of the film and went into the top 5 on both the Hot 100 and Billboard R&B charts. It was also nominated for a Grammy award, but lost out to the Norman Whitfield/Barrett Strong piece Papa Was A Rolling Stone, sung by the Temptations.

Artist:     David Bowie
Title:     Five Years
Source:     CD: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
Writer(s):    David Bowie
Label:    Ryko (original label: RCA Victor)
Year:     1972
     It took about Five Years for David Bowie's recording career to really take off, but when it did it was in a big way. In fact his 1972 breakthrough album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, is generally credited with kicking off the entire glitter rock movement of the early 1970s.

Artist:    Genesis
Title:    It's Yourself
Source:    British import 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s):    Collins/Rutherford/Banks/Hackett
Label:    Charisma
Year:    1977
    One of the rarest Genesis tracks, Its Yourself was originally slated to be included on the 1976 album A Trick Of The Tail, but time limitations forced the band to instead hold the song back and release it as the B side of Your Own Special Way the following year. That single was never released in the US, however, and the song has not been included on CD versions of any regular Genesis albums, even as a bonus track. Why that should be is a bit of a mystery to me, since It's Yourself is an outstanding track worthy of much greater exposure.
Artist:    Crosby, Stills and Nash
Title:    Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
Source:    CD: Crosby, Stills and Nash
Writer:    Stephen Stills
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1969
    After the demise of Buffalo Springfield, Stephen Stills headed for New York, where he worked with Al Kooper on the Super Session album and recorded several demo tapes of his own, including a new song called Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (reportedly written for his then-girlfriend Judy Collins). After his stint in New York he returned to California, where he started hanging out in the Laurel Canyon home of David Crosby, who had been fired from the Byrds in 1967. Crosby's house at that time was generally filled with a variety of people coming and going, and Crosby and Stills soon found themselves doing improvised harmonies on each other's material in front of a friendly, if somewhat stoned, audience. It was not long before they invited Graham Nash, whom they heard had been having problems of his own with his bandmates in the Hollies, to come join them in Laurel Canyon. The three soon began recording together, and in 1969 released the album Crosby, Stills and Nash. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes was chosen as the opening track for the new album and was later released (in severely edited form) as a single.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    Tell Me All The Things You Do
Source:    LP: Kiln House
Writer(s):    Danny Kirwan
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1970
    Kiln House, as the first Fleetwood Mac album to not include the band's founder, Peter Green, marks the beginning of the group's transition to the soft-rock sound that would make them one of the most popular bands of the 1980s. Nowhere is that more evident than on Danny Kirwan's Tell Me All The Things You Do, which got considerable airplay on FM rock stations in the US in the early 1970s. Unfortunately, bandmate Jeremy Spencer's 50-style rockers were jarringly different from Kirwan's smoother compositions, making it difficult for the band to establish a coherent identity. Eventually both Spencer and Kirwan would be gone, with first Bob Welch and then the duo of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks helping create the sound Fleetwood Mac is best known for.

Artist:    Elton John
Title:    Razor Face
Source:    CD: Madman Across The Water
Writer(s):    John/Taupin
Label:    MCA (original label: Uni)
Year:    1971
    Although neither Elton John or lyricist Bernie Taupin has seen fit to explain what Razor Face is about, my own interpretation is that it refers to an old friend, possibly an elderly jazz or blues musician with a substance abuse problem, returning after a long absence and needing someone familiar with the territory to help him get reacquainted with his surroundings.

Artist:    Hot Tuna
Title:    Ode For Billy Dean
Source:    LP: Burgers
Writer(s):    Jorma Kaukonen
Label:    Grunt
Year:    1972
    Most bands start with a studio album or three before releasing a live album, but Hot Tuna (Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady) took a different route. Originally an offshoot of Jefferson Airplane, they recorded their self-titled debut LP as an acoustic duo at Berkeley's legendary New Orleans House in September of 1969, releasing it in May of the following year. This was followed by a second live LP. First Pull Up, Then Pull Down, featuring electric instruments and two new members, violinist Papa John Creach and drummer Sammy Piazza, was recorded at Chateau Liberte in Los Gatos, California in April of 1971 and released two months later. For their third release the four musicians went into a recording studio for the first time as a band. The result was Burgers, released in 1972. About a third of the album was made up of covers of classic blues and gospel tunes, with the rest, including Ode For Billy Dean, composed by Kaukonen. The tune features extensive fills from Creach on an instrument not usually associated with electric blues.

Artist:    National Lampoon, featuring Chevy Chase
Title:    Colorado
Source:    CD: Greatest Hits Of The National Lampoon (originally released on LP: Lemmings)
Writer(s):    Guest/Kelly/Hendra
Label:    Uproar (original label: Blue Thumb)
Year:    1973
    In January of 1973 National Lampoon began running a stage show called Lemmings that ended its run after 350 performances. The second half of each show was subtitled Woodshuck: Three Days of Peace, Love and Death, and was made up of parodies of many of the musical acts that had appeared at Woodstock. One popular performer who wasn't at Woodstock (although he apparently wished he had been) was John Denver. Nonetheless, writers Christopher Guest, Sean Kelly and Tony Hendra decided to include a Denver parody in Lemmings. The song Colorado, about being stranded in winter in the Colorado Rockie Mountains, was sung by a then-unknown Chevy Chase, with instruments and backup vocals provided by the Lemmings cast.


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