Sunday, November 26, 2023

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2348 (starts 11/27/23) 

    It's a wild one this time on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion, with a dozen tracks from the early 70s, half of which have never been played on the show before. Following an opening track from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, we get into a piece with no guitar at all (but with all kinds of other instruments to make up for it). From their we stick with the keyboard-oriented stuff for a couple tunes before getting back into more guitar-oriented pieces. The show also includes a pair of tracks from Canadian bands, one of which defies conventional categorization, and eventually ends with a hot piece from Arthur Brown (no, not the one you're thinking of).

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Long Hot Summer Night
Source:    LP: Electric Ladyland
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1968
    With such classics as Voodoo Chile, Crosstown Traffic and Still Raining Still Dreaming on the third Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Electric Ladyland, it's easy to overlook a song like Long Hot Summer Night. Once you hear it, however, you realize just how strong Jimi Hendrix's songwriting had become by 1968. Keyboardist Al Kooper, himself in the process of making rock history with his Super Session album, makes a guest appearance on piano.

Artist:    Nice
Title:    Pathetique (Symphony No. 6, 3rd Movement)
Source:    LP: Keith Emerson With The Nice (originally released on LP: Five Bridges)
Writer(s):    Peter Tchaikovsky (arr. Emerson/Eger)
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1970
    With the release of their Days of Future Passed album in 1968, the Moody Blues paved the way for collaborations between rock bands and classical orchestras. Not all subsequent attempts at combining the two worked quite as well, however. One of the more awkward attempts was a live LP called Five Bridges, by the Nice. Keyboardist Keith Emerson, working with Sinfonia Of London conductor Joseph Eger, arranged pieces such as the third movement of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 for a concert recorded at Croydon's Fairfield Halls in South London, but the result was, in the words of one critic "like listening to two transistor radios simultaneously playing." Still, you gotta give them credit for trying, and the piece does include a nice, albeit short, drum solo from Brian Davison.

Artist:    Apollo 100
Title:    Joy
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    J.S. Bach
Label:    Mega
Year:    1971
    In 1971 British multi-instrumentalist Tom Parker (no relation to the colonel) recruited drummer Clem Cattini, guitarist Vic Flick, guitarist Zed Jenkins, percussionist Jim Lawless, and bassist Brian Odgers to form and instrumental group called Apollo 100. Their first, and most successful release was a keyboard-oriented adaptation of Bach's Jesus, Joy Of Man's Desiring, arranged by Clive Scott of the band Jigsaw. Once it became clear that Apollo 100 was destined to be a one-hit wonder, the group disbanded in 1973.

Artist:    Premiati Forneria Marconi
Title:    Celebration
Source:    Italian import CD: Photos Of Ghosts
Writer(s):    Mussida/Pagani/Sinfield
Label:    RCA
Year:    1973
    The most popular song in the PFM catalogue, Celebration is a re-recording of a song called E Festa from the band's 1971 debut album, Storia di un minuto. The 1973 Photos Of Ghosts recording of Celebration features all new lyrics by Peter Sinfield, who was also working with Emerson, Lake And Palmer, who had signed PFM to their Manticore label for their US releases. Photos Of Ghosts was the first of those releases, and became the first album by an Italian band to crack the Billboard Top 200 album chart.

Artist:    ZZ Top
Title:    El Diablo
Source:    LP: Tejas
Writer(s):    Gibbons/Hill/Beard
Label:    London
Year:    1976
    Although often overlooked due to its lack of a major hit single, ZZ Top's fifth album, Tejas, actually has some fine tunes on it, such as El Diablo. Since the 1980s, the original vinyl mix of the LP remained unavailable for several years, and fans of the band were not happy with the "updated" mixes used on the CD version of the album, which attempted to apply 80s studio effects to the original recordings, particularly the drum tracks. The version heard on Rockin' in the Days of Confusion is taken from an original 1976 vinyl copy of the LP. Yeah, there are a couple pops and ticks here and there, but at least it sounds the way it did when it was released.

Artist:    Led Zeppelin
Title:    When The Levee Breaks
Source:    CD: Led Zeppelin IV
Writer(s):    Page/Plant/Bonham/Jones/Douglas
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    Although it sounds like it could have been written about Hurricane Katrina, When The Levee Breaks, the last song on the fourth Led Zeppelin LP, was actually inspired by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, that saw levees along the river break in over 145 places, leaving over 700,000 people homeless. 29-year-old Lizzie Douglas, was living with her family near Walls, Mississippi, when the levee there broke, and two years later, using her stage name of Memphis Minnie recorded the original version of When The Levee Breaks with her then-partner Kansas Joe McCoy. In 1971 Led Zeppelin used Douglas's lyrics as the basis for their own, musically different version of When The Levee Breaks. The track is instantly identifiable by John Bonham's distinctive opening drum beat, which has been heavily sampled by various hip-hop artists over the years.

Artist:    Foghat
Title:    Highway (Killing Me)
Source:    LP: Foghat
Writer(s):    Price/Peverett
Label:    Bearsville
Year:    1972
    When bandleader Kim Simmonds decided to take Savoy Brown in a new direction following the Looking In album, he encountered resistance from the other band members, guitarist/vocalist Dave Peverett, bassist Tone Stevens and drummer Roger Earl, who were happy with the band's sound and didn't want to mess with success. Undaunted, Simmonds fired the lot of them and put together a new lineup for the next Savoy Brown album. Meanwhile, the three former members found a new lead guitarist, Rod Price, whose own band, Black Cat Bones, had recently disbanded. Calling their new band Foghat, they released their debut LP in 1972. Most of the material on the album was written by band members, including Highway (Killing Me), a tune that helped establish the new band's sound. Foghat would go on to become one of the top concert draws of the 1970s.

Artist:    Poco
Title:    You Better Think Twice
Source:    LP: Poco
Writer(s):    Jim Messina
Label:    Epic
Year:    1970
    Pull out a copy of the last Buffalo Springfield album and skip all the songs by Neil Young and Stephen Stills and you'll get a pretty good idea of what Poco was all about. Three of the musicians that played on that album (guitarists Richie Furay, Jim Messina, and Rusty Young) were founding members of Poco, joined by bassist Randy Meisner and drummer George Grantham. By 1970 Meisner had left the group to join Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band and had been replaced by Timothy B. Schmit, who had originally auditioned for the band but had been turned down in Meisner's favor (ironically, Schmit would eventually replace Meisner in the Eagles as well). Although Furay's songwriting dominated the self-titled second Poco album, it was Messina's You Better Think Twice that was released as a single in 1970. Although not a hit at the time (one critic called it "too rock for country, too country for rock") the album is now considered one of Poco's best efforts.

Artist:    Guess Who
Title:    Bus Rider
Source:    LP: The Best Of The Guess Who (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Kurt Winter
Label:    RCA Victor
Year:    1970
    When Randy Bachman suddenly quit the band he had co-founded ten years before, the Guess Who frantically searched for a replacement guitarist. They ended up with two, Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw. Both had been members of the Winnipeg-based Gettysburg Address, and Winter had recently formed a power trio named Brother that was considered to be Winnipeg's first supergroup. Winter brought a couple of Brother's songs along with him when he joined the Guess Who, one of which, Bus Rider, was issued as a B side in September of 1970 and included as the opening track on the band's Share The Land album the following month. The song also appeared on The Best Of The Guess Who, released in 1971.

Artist:    Crowbar
Title:    Baby Let's Play House
Source:    LP: Bad Manors (Crowbar's Golden Hits, Volume 1)
Writer(s):    Arthur Gunter
Label:    Paramount
Year:    1971
    Ya gotta love a band that doesn't take themselves too seriously. Crowbar was formed in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada by former members of Ronnie Hawkins backup band (known at the time as "And Many Others") after he had fired them all in early 1970, later telling a friend "Those boys could f**k up a crowbar in fifteen seconds." Their first official release was an album called Official Music, credited to King Biscuit Boy with Crowbar. Although KBB would not end up being a permanent member of the band, he did perform with them on many occasions, including a concert at Toronto's Massey Hall that became the first ever live album released by a Canadian band, Larger than Life (and Live'r than You've Ever Been). In between the two the released a studio album called Bad Manors (Crowbar's Golden Hits, Volume 1), that included several cover versions of early 1950s R&B tunes such as Arthur Gunter's Baby Let's Play House. Partway through the recording, in typical Crowbar fashion, the band suddenly breaks into an uncredited version of Foggy Mountain Breakdown before returning for one last chorus of Baby Let's Play House.

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    Eyes Of Silver
Source:    CD: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits
Writer(s):    Tom Johnston
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1974
    The second single from the Doobie Brothers 1974 album What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits was a Tom Johnston tune called Eyes Of Silver. Industry magazines Cashbox and Record World praised the song for its similarity to Johnston's earlier Doobie Brothers hit Listen To The Music. Record buyers themselves, however, apparently decided that since they had already bought a copy of Listen To The Music they didn't need to buy one of Eyes Of Silver and the song stalled out in the #52 spot. Luckily for the Doobie Brothers there were stronger songs on the album such as Black Water, which became the band's first #1 hit when released as a single later that year.

Artist:    Who
Title:    I've Had Enough
Source:    CD: Quadrophenia
Writer(s):    Pete Townshend
Label:    MCA (original label: Track)
Year:    1973
    I'll be honest. When I first heard the Who's Quadrophenia I had the same opinion of it as I did Jethro Tull's Passion Play. I thought it was overblown and too far removed from what made the Who a great band in the first place. Part of the problem was that Pete Townshend's musical score for the rock opera that the band had to use backing tapes when performing it live. The complexity of the music makes it hard for the casual listener to relate to, although the critics by and large loved the album. Another drawback was that vocalist Roger Daltry felt that he had to keep disrupting the flow of the music to explain plot points to the audience, and the band ended up cutting three songs from the piece after just performance. One of the songs that was dropped  was I've Had Enough, which runs over six minutes in length.

Artist:    Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come
Title:    Spirit Of Joy
Source:    British import CD: Spirit Of Joy (originally released on LP: Journey)
Writer(s):    Kingdom Come
Label:    Polydor
Year:    1973
    One of the great innovators in British rock history, Arthur Brown is best known for his 1968 hit Fire, which topped the charts in several countries. After his original band, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown disbanded in 1969, Brown formed a new group, Kingdom Come, which released three albums in the early 1970s. The third of these, Journey, is notable for being the first rock album to use a drum machine exclusively for its percussion parts. In fact, the entire album is now considered to be an early classic of the electronic rock genre, as can be plainly heard on the track Spirit Of Joy.

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