Sunday, March 3, 2024

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2410 (starts 3/4/24) 

    This week Rockin' in the Days of Confusion gets lucky with a baker's dozen of tunes ranging from 1968 to 1974...and then back down a bit.

Artist:    Santana
Title:    Hope You're Feeling Better
Source:    CD: Abraxas
Writer(s):    Gregg Rolie
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1970
    Gregg Rolie's Hope You're Feeling Better was the third single to be taken from Santana's Abraxas album. Although not as successful as either Black Magic Woman or Oye Como Va, the song nonetheless received considerable airplay on progressive FM rock stations and has appeared on several compilation anthems since its initial release.

Artist:    Neil Young
Title:    The Loner
Source:    LP: The Big Ball (originally released on LP: Neil Young)
Writer(s):    Neil Young
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1968
    The Loner could easily have been passed off as a Buffalo Springfield song. In addition to singer/songwriter/guitarist Neil Young, the tune features Springfield members Jim Messina on bass and George Grantham on drums. Since Buffalo Springfield was functionally defunct by the time the song was ready for release, however, it instead became Young's first single as a solo artist. The song first appeared, in a longer form, on Young's first solo album in late 1968, with the single appearing three months later. The subject of The Loner has long been rumored to be Young's bandmate Stephen Stills, or possibly Young himself. As usual, Neil Young ain't sayin'.

Artist:    Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title:    Fortunate Son
Source:    CD: Chronicle (originally released on LP: Willy And The Poor Boys and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    John Fogerty
Label:    Fantasy
Year:    1969
    John Fogerty says it only took him 20 minutes to write what has become one of the iconic antiwar songs of the late 1960s. But Fortunate Son is not so much a condemnation of war as it is an indictment of the political elite who send the less fortunate off to die in wars without any risk to themselves. In addition to being a major hit upon its release in late 1969 (peaking at #3 as half of a double-A sided single), Fortunate Son has made several "best of" lists over the years, including Rolling Stone magazine's all-time top 100. Additionally, in 2014 the song was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Not bad for a song that was initially neglected by many radio stations in favor of its flip side, Down On The Corner.

Artist:    Traffic
Title:    John Barleycorn
Source:    LP: John Barleycorn Must Die
Writer(s):    Traditional
Label:    Island (original label: United Artists)
Year:    1970
    Following the breakup of Blind Faith in late 1969, Steve Winwood began work on what was to be his first solo LP. After completing one track on which he played all the instruments himself, Winwood decided to ask former Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi to help him out with the project. After the second track was completed, Winwood invited yet another former Traffic member, Chris Wood, to add woodwinds. It soon became obvious that what they were working on was, in fact, a new Traffic album, which came to be called John Barleycorn must die. In addition to the blues/R&B tinged rock that the group was already well known for, the new album incorporated elements from traditional British folk music, which was enjoying a renaissance thanks to groups such as the Pentangle and Fairport Convention. The best example of this new direction was the title track of the album itself, which traces its origins back to the days when England was more agrarian in nature.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    Love Her Madly
Source:    CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra
Year:    1971   
    Released as a single in advance of the 1971 Doors album L.A. Woman, Love Her Madly was a major success, peaking just outside the top 10 in the US, and going all the way to the #3 spot in Canada. The album itself was a return to a more blues-based sound by the Doors, a change that did not sit well with producer Paul Rothchild, who left the project early on, leaving engineer Bruce Botnik to assume production duties. Rothchild's opinion aside, it was exactly what the Doors needed to end their run (in their original four man incarnation) on a positive note.

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    Only A Fool Would Say That
Source:    CD: Can't Buy A Thrill
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagan
Label:    MCA (original label: ABC)
Year:    1972
    Steely Dan's first album, Can't Buy A Thrill, is best known for its two hit singles, Do It Again and Reeling In The Years. The LP, however, has plenty more good tracks, including Only A Fool Would Say That, which also appeared as a B side.

Artist:    Alice Cooper
Title:    Billion Dollar Babies
Source:    CD: Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Billion Dollar Babies and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Cooper/Bruce/Reggie
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    People tend to forget that Alice Cooper was originally the name of a band rather than an individual. As a band, their best work came from collaboration between the various group members. This was still true in 1973, when the song Billion Dollar Babies became a top 40 hit single. Taken from the album of the same name, the song features guest vocalist Donovan trading off licks with Vince Furnier, who by then had taken Alice Cooper as a stage name. The group would only release one more LP before Furnier left for a solo career, taking the name
Alice Cooper with him.

Artist:    Gentle Giant
Title:    Aspirations
Source:    CD: The Power And The Glory
Writer(s):    Shulman/Minnear/Shulman
Label:    Alucard (original label: Capitol)
Year:    1974
    The Power And The Glory is a 1974 album by Gentle Giant that focuses on an individual that chooses politics as a means to make the world a better place. Like his predecessors, however, he becomes corrupted by power and ultimately becomes that which he originally fought against. The piece called Aspirations is a prayer to a higher power for guidance, reflecting the initial idealism of the protagonist. As of 2014, The Power And The Glory is available on Blu-Ray, with each song fully animated with various abstract patterns and all the lyrics displayed prominently on the screen. The latter makes a huge difference in the ability to enjoy the album, as Gentle Giant's vocals are often hard to decipher.

Artist:    Premiati Forneria Marconi
Title:    The Mountain
Source:    Italian import CD: The World Became The World
Writer(s):    Mussida/Sinfield/Mogol/Pagani
Label:    Sony Music/RCA (original label: Manticore)
Year:    1974
    Although the genre known as progressive rock (sometimes called art-rock) enjoyed a measure of popularity in the early 1970s, it was never THE most popular genre in rock....except in one country. Maybe because of a classical music tradition that generally acknowledges it as the birthplace of opera, Italy took to prog rock in a big way. In fact, for a time the most popular band in the country was Emerson, Lake & Palmer, followed closely by Premiati Forneria Marconi, an Italian band whose name translates as the Award Winning Marconi Bakery. PFM (as they were usually known) were the first Italian rock band to have success outside of Italy, releasing five albums with English lyrics from 1973-77. Most of these lyrics were provided by Peter Sinfield, who was also providing lyrics for Emerson, Lake & Palmer on their Brain Salad Surgery album. One of the most popular of these was The World Became The World, released in 1974. The album opens with The Mountain, a piece that includes a synthesized choir.

Artist:    Robin Trower
Title:    Lady Love
Source:    CD: Essential Robin Trower (originally released on LP: Bridge Of Sighs)
Writer(s):    Trower/Dewar
Label:    Chrysalis
Year:    1974
    It says a lot about the quality of an album like Robin Trower's Bridge Of Sighs that even one of the weaker tracks like Lady Love, ended up being included on the compilation album Essential Robin Trower. Like many hot guitarists, Trower did not do his own singing on the album. Vocals were provided by bassist James Dewar, who also co-wrote Lady Love.

Artist:    Badfinger
Title:    Baby Blue
Source:    45 RPM single   
Writer(s):    Pete Ham
Label:    Apple
Year:    1972
    The most successful band on the Apple label not to include former members of the Beatles, Badfinger had a string of hit singles in the early 1970s that helped define the genre that would come to be known as power pop. One of the best of these was Baby Blue, released in 1972. The song, like most Badfinger singles, was written by lead vocalist/guitarist Pete Ham.

Artist:    Janis Joplin
Title:    Cry Baby
Source:    LP: Pearl
Writer(s):    Ragovoy/Berns
Label:    Columbia
Year:    1971
    Janis Joplin's only hit single with Big Brother and the Holding Company was Piece Of My Heart, a song written by legendary songwriters Jerry Ragavoy and Bert Berns. For her 1971 album Pearl, Joplin went with an earlier collaboration between the two that had originally been a hit in the early 60s for Garnet Mimms. Within a few months Cry Baby had become so thoroughly identified with Joplin that few even remembered Mimms's version of the song.

Artist:    Wishbone Ash
Title:    Queen Of Torture
Source:    CD: Wishbone Ash
Writer:    Upton/Turner/Turner/Powell
Label:    MCA (original label: Decca)
Year:    1970
    One of the first bands to use dual lead guitars was Wishbone Ash. When Glen Turner, the band's original guitarist, had to leave, auditions were held, but the remaining members and their manager couldn't decide between the two finalists, Andy Powell and Ted Turner, so they hired both of them. Queen Of Torture, from their 1969 debut album, shows just how well the two guitars meshed.

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