Sunday, January 21, 2024

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2404 (starts 1/22/24) 

    We're digging pretty deep this time around, with only one certified hit single in the entire hour...and that's the very last song of the week. Everything else is an album track, ranging from the familiar (Neil Young's Cowgirl In The Sand) to the truly obscure (a demo by a group called T2 that remained unreleased until 2013), with lots of good stuff in between, including four tunes making their Rockin' in the Days of Confusion debut.

Artist:     Ten Years After
Title:     I Woke Up This Morning
Source:     LP: Ssssh
Writer:     Alvin Lee
Label:     Deram
Year:     1969
     Latecomers to the British blues scene, Ten Years After were in fact the original retro-rockers, taking their cues from the classic rock and roll artists of the 50s as much as from the rhythm and blues artists of the era. Alvin Lee's songwriting, especially in the band's early days, reflected both these influences, with slow bluesy numbers like I Woke Up This Morning co-existing with high-energy rockers like I'm Going Home.

Artist:    Atomic Rooster
Title:    The Rock
Source:    Russian import CD: In Hearing Of (originally released as 45 RPM single B side)
Writer(s):    Vincent Crane
Label:    Castle (original US label: Elektra)
Year:    1971
    Atomic Rooster began as a fairly typical British progressive rock band, but by their third LP, In Hearing Of, were starting to move into new territority as a progressive jazz/rock/funk fusion band. Between the second and third albums the group released a single called Devil's Answer that made it into the top 5 in the UK (but did not chart in the US) that was not included on In Hearing Of. Its B side, however, The Rock, is a good example of the band's future sound, and would be included on the album as well.

Artist:    Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Title:    Cowgirl In The Sand
Source:    CD: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Writer:    Neil Young
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1969
    It has been said that adverse conditions are conducive to good art. Certainly that truism applies to Neil Young's Cowgirl In The Sand, written while Young was running a 102 degree fever. Almost makes me wish I could be that sick sometime.

Artist:    James Gang
Title:    Mystery
Source:    CD: Bang
Writer(s):    Bolin/Cook
Label:    Atco
Year:    1973
    It seems like every James Gang album (excepting the first one) ends with a long, grandiose track, complete with strings. For the 1973 album Bang, guitarist Tommy Bolin came up with Mystery, a song very much in the same vein as Joe Walsh's Ashes The Rain And I. Roy Kenner, who had joined the band in 1972, provides lead vocals on the track.

Artist:    Fleetwood Mac
Title:    The Green Manolishi (With The Two Prong Crown)
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Peter Green
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1970
    Peter Green's final recording with Fleetwood Mac was an LSD-inspired non-LP single called The Green Manolishi (With The Two Prong Crown). Released in 1970, it was the last single by the band to make the UK top 10 until Tusk was released nearly 10 years later. According the Green, the song was written following a dream in which he was visited by a green dog that barked at him from the afterlife. "It scared me because I knew the dog had been dead a long time. It was a stray and I was looking after it. But I was dead and had to fight to get back into my body, which I eventually did. When I woke up, the room was really black and I found myself writing the song." Although it took an entire all-night session to get the sound Green wanted, he later called making the record one of his favorite times with the band.

Artist:    T2
Title:    Careful Sam
Source:    Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution
Writer(s):    Peter Dunton
Label:    Grapefruit
Year:    Recorded 1970, released 2013
    T2, consisting of drummer Peter Dunton, bassist Bernie Jinks and guitarist Keith Cross, released only one album, It'll All Work Out In Boomland, in 1970. The album did not get much support from their label (British Decca) and plans for a second LP were scrapped before any new material got beyond the demo stage. One of those demo tapes, however, finally surfaced on a CD set called Love, Poetry And Revolution on the Grapefruit label in 2013. Written by Dunton, the track has some outstanding guitar work from Cross.

Artist:    Cheech & Chong
Title:    The Strawberry Revival Festival/Don't Bug Me
Source:    CD: Los Cochinos
Writer(s):    Marin/Chong
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Ode)
Year:    1973
    Much of Cheech & Chong's humor was derived from the interaction between characters created by Cheech Marin and Thomas Chong. Not all of these characters had names, however. The Strawberry Revival Festival, for instance, is simply a conversation between two roommates in a house occupied by several other people that can be heard in the background throughout the piece. The only named person is Strawberry, who is not even part of the conversation (and is apparently passed out on the floor). The piece segues directly into the short Don't Bug Me, which is more of a punchline-oriented bit (hey, I'm trying not to give anything away, OK?).

Artist:    ZZ Top
Title:    Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers
Source:    LP: Tres Hombres
Writer(s):    Gibbons/Hill/Beard
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: London)
Year:    1973
    The second single released from ZZ Top's 1973 breakthough album, Tres Hombres, could well qualify as a Texas state anthem, although a majority of the state's politicians no doubt would never allow that to happen. The title says it all: Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers.

Artist:    Blues Image
Title:    Love Is The Answer
Source:    CD: Open
Writer(s):    Blues Image
Label:    Sundazed (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    Blues Image started off in Tampa, Florida, but soon relocated to Miami, where they soon became the house band for the legendary club Thee Image. They moved out to Los Angeles in 1969, where they developed a following that included several prominent musicians, including guitarist Jimi Hendrix. It was Hendrix that pointed out to the band that they did great arrangements on other people's material but that their own tunes were lacking a certain flair. The solution, it turned out, was to set their own compositions aside for a time, then revist them, treating them the same way they would someone else's songs. Apparently it worked, as can be heard on songs like Love Is The Answer, the powerful opening track for their second LP, Open.

Artist:    Graham Nash
Title:    Better Days
Source:    LP: Songs For Beginners
Writer(s):    Graham Nash
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1971
    After the worldwide success of the 1970 LP  Déjà Vu, the members of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young all got the opportunity to record solo albums. Graham Nash's was called Songs For Beginners, and it was filled with highly personal songs like Better Days, which was reportedly written for Stephen Stills after Rita Coolidge left him (for Nash himself, as it turns out). Coolidge provides backup vocals on the song, which features Neil Young on piano (Nash plays organ).

Artist:    Rolling Stones
Title:    Wild Horses
Source:    CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Jagger/Richards
Label:    Abkco (original label: Rolling Stones)
Year:    1971
    Although it was recorded in 1969, the release of Wild Horses was held up for over a year because of ongoing litigation between the Rolling Stones, who were in the process of forming their own record label, and Allen Klein, who had managed to legally steal the rights to all of the band's recordings for the British Decca label (most of which had appeared in the US on the London label). Eventually both Wild Horses and Brown Sugar (recorded at the same sessions) became the joint property of the Rolling Stones and Klein and were released as singles on the new Rolling Stones label in 1971.

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