Saturday, February 17, 2024

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2408 (starts 2/19/24)

    This week, Rockin' in the Days of Confusion presents, in its entirety, the 45 minute long Mountain Jam performed by the Allman Brothers Band at Cincinnatti's Ludlow Garage on April 11, 1970. That doesn't leave room for a whole lot of other tracks, but we do manage to fit in tunes from Badfinger, Ten Years After and The Beatles, along with a short Firesign Theatre excerpt from their very first album before getting into the main event.

Artist:    Badfinger
Title:    No Matter What
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Pete Ham
Label:    Apple
Year:    1970
    Aside from the Beatles, the band most closely associated with Apple Records was Badfinger. Originally known as the Iveys, Badfinger was the first band signed to Apple and remained with the label throughout its existence. Led by Pete Ham, Badfinger had a string of successful singles for the label, including No Matter What, a Ham composition from the band's second LP, No Dice. The song, released in 1970, is considered by many to be the earliest example of what would come to be known as power pop later in the decade.
Artist:    Ten Years After
Title:    Me And My Baby
Source:    CD: Cricklewood Green
Writer(s):    Alvin Lee
Label:    Chrysalis (original label: Deram)
Year:    1970
    Cricklewood Green, the fourth studio LP from Ten Years After, is generally considered to be the British blues rockers' best. All the tracks were written by guitarist/vocalist Alvin Lee, including Me And My Baby, which showcases the band's ability to emulate a Wes Montgomery-like 1950s jazz style. The track opens side two of the original LP.

Artist:    Beatles
Title:    I've Got A Feeling
Source:    LP: Let It Be
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Apple
Year:    1970
    One of the three songs on the Let It Be album recorded live from the band's famous "rooftop performance" on January 30, 1970, I've Got A Feeling is actually a combination of two unfinished tunes, one written by Paul McCartney and one by John Lennon (it's pretty easy to figure out which parts were written by which band member). The four Beatles were joined by Billy Preston for the performance, playing Fender Rhodes piano.

Artist:    Firesign Theatre
Title:    Learning Turkish
Source:    LP: Waiting For The Electrician or Someone Like Him
Writer(s):    Proctor/Bergman/Austin/Ossman
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1968
    The Firesign Theatre was formed in Los Angeles in 1966 by late-night radio talk show host Peter Bergman, along with his producers, Phil Austin and David Ossman, and his old college friend Philip Proctor. Bergman was the host of a show called Radio Free Oz on KPFK FM that, according to Austin, "featured everybody who was anybody in the artistic world who passed through LA." Bergman's show guests included such luminaries as Andy Warhol and the members of Buffalo Springfield, among others. On slow nights, Bergman and his cohorts, whom he christened the Oz Firesign Theatre (soon dropping the "Oz" after Disney and M-G-M threatened lawsuits), would pretend to be various characters without letting the audience know it was all a put-on. The members would create their characters individually without clueing in the other members, creating an atmosphere of improvisation as they played those characters off each other. By 1967 the Firesign Theatre was a regular feature on Radio Free Oz, performing half-hour skits that they had written themselves. The shows included weekly live appearances at a club called the Magic Mushroom on Sunday nights, as well as an appearance at L.A.'s first love-in at Elysian Park, that was broadcast on Bergman's show. This led to Radio Free Oz moving from KPFK to AM powerhouse KRLA, one of the city's most popular stations, which in turn led to their discovery by Gary Usher, who was a staff producer at Columbia Records. Usher signed the Firesign Theatre to a five-year contract with Columbia, and co-produced their first LP, Waiting For The Electrician or Someone Like Him. The short Learning Turkish, from that first LP, is typical of the Firesign brand of humor. The Firesign Theatre would go on to become one of the most popular acts in the history of comedy on vinyl, creating such memorable characters as noir detective Nick Danger and film star Porgy Tirebiter.

Artist:    Allman Brother Band
Title:    Mountain Jam
Source:    CD: Idlewild South (bonus track originally released on CD: Live At Ludlow Garage 1970)
Writer(s):    Lietch/Allman/Allman/Betts/Oakley/Johanson/Trucks
Label:    Mercury (original label: Polydor)
Year:    Recorded 1970, released 1990
    The Allman Brothers band spent 1970 touring relentlessly, mainly in the southern US. One of their favorite places to play was Ludlow's Garage in Cincinnatti, Ohio. It was literally an old garage that for some reason had a downward sloping floor, giving audience members a good view of the band regardless of where they were sitting. On April 11, their performance was recorded directly to 2-track tape without any overdubs added, by Dan Britt and Rick Lemker. That performance, including a 45-minute long rendition of Mountain Jam, was released 20 years later on a two-CD set called Live At Ludlow Garage-1970. 25 years after that, the entire performace was included as bonus tracks on the 2015 remastered edition of the band's second album, Idlewild South.

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