Sunday, June 9, 2024

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2424 (starts 6/10/24)

    It's time once again for a chronological road trip, traveling from 1968 to 1974 and then back down again to 1969, making several new stops along the way. In fact, over half the tracks played on this week's show are making their Rockin' in the Days of Confusion debut, including a tune written by Uriah Heep's original bassist Paul Newton and the first appearance ever of John Parker Compton's Boston-based Appaloosa.

Artist:    Doobie Brothers
Title:    Long Train Runnin'
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Tom Johnston
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    With their second LP, Toulouse Street, riding high on the charts, the pressure was on for the Doobie Brothers to come up with a followup LP. In an effort to expedite the process the band decided to rework some of their existing material that for various reasons had not yet been recorded. Probably the best example of this was a jam piece called Osborn that had long been part of the group's stage repertoire. It needed lyrics, however, and it was producer Ted Templeman who suggested to songwriter Tom Johnston that he come up with something with a train theme. The result was Long Train Runnin', the first single from the new album The Captain And Me.

Artist:    Spirit
Title:    Girl In Your Eye
Source:    LP: Spirit (reissue)
Writer(s):    Jay Ferguson
Label:    Epic (original label: Ode)
Year:    1968
    Spirit was born in 1965 when drummer Ed Cassidy left the Rising Sons after breaking his arm and settled down with his new wife, who had a teenaged son named Randy. It wasn't long before Ed and Randy (who played guitar) formed a new band called the Red Roosters. The group lasted until the spring of 1966, when the family moved to New York for a few months, and Randy met an up and coming guitarist named James Marshall Hendrix. Hendrix was impressed with the teenaged Cassidy (whom he nicknamed Randy California) and invited him to become a member of his band, Jimmy James And The Blue Flames, that was performing regularly in Greenwich Village that summer.  After being denied permission to accompany Hendrix to London that fall, Randy returned with his family to California, where he soon ran into two of his Red Roosters bandmates, singer Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes. The three of them decided to form a new band with Ed Cassidy and keyboardist John Locke. Both Cassidy and Locke had played in jazz bands, and the new band, Spirit, incorporated both rock and jazz elements into their sound. Most of the songs of the band's 1968 debut album were written by Ferguson, who tended to favor a softer sound on tracks like Girl In Your Eye. On later albums Randy California would take a greater share in the songwriting, eventually becoming the de facto leader of Spirit following the departure of Ferguson and Andes to form Jo Jo Gunne.

Artist:    Elton John
Title:    Hymn 2000
Source:    British import LP: Empty Sky
Writer(s):    John/Taupin
Label:    DJM
Year:    1969
    Elton John was not an overnight success. In fact, the word most often used in conjunction with Empty Sky, his 1969 debut LP, was "potential". The album itself, featuring tunes like Hymn 2000, was not released in the US until 1975, after the singer/songwriter's career was well-established.

Artist:    Badfinger
Title:    Come And Get It
Source:    LP: The Magic Christian (soundtrack)
Writer(s):    Paul McCartney
Label:    Commonwealth United
Year:    1969
    The Iveys, formed in 1961, became the first band besides the Beatles signed to the new Apple label in July of 1968, but their first singles were not successful in the US or UK, although they did do better in Europe and Japan. After Allen Klein was brought in to "sort out this mess" (meaning Apple Corp itself) the band was put on a back burner. Meanwhile, Paul McCartney had written a new song called Come And Get It for the soundtrack of a film called The Magic Christian that co-starred fellow Beatle Ringo Starr, and decided to offer it to the Iveys to record under the condition that they follow McCartney's demo of the song note for note without any deviation. The Iveys, after some initial resistance, agreed to this condition, and McCartney offered to produce two of the band's original compositions for the film as well. Before releasing any of the songs, however, it was agreed that the band needed a name change, and after some discussion the name Badfinger was chosen. Come And Get It was released as a single in December of 1969 in the UK and January of 1970 in the US, going into the top 10 in both countries.

Artist:    T. Rex
Title:    Bang A Gong (Get It On)
Source:    LP: Heavy Metal (originally released on LP: Electric Warrior)
Writer(s):    Marc Bolan
Label:    Warner Special Products (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1971
    My memories of my senior year of high school are somewhat spotty. Some things I remember quite vividly, yet have forgotten the context that those memories reside in. For instance, I clearly remember being at my friend Dave's cheap apartment in early 1971 in Alamogordo, NM, listening to the Tyrannosaurus Rex album Unicorn on an even cheaper stereo. What I don't remember is how I got to Dave's cheap apartment that particular night or whether I crashed there or went back to my parent's house. For that matter, I don't even remember if anyone else was there or not that night, not even Dave's kind-of girlfriend, who came and went as she pleased anyway. I do remember, however, discussing with Dave how strange this psychedelic folk music with fantasy-based lyrics sounded compared to rock bands like the Allman Brothers, Ten Years After and Santana, and in particular how weird the singer's voice sounded to us. To us, it was truly underground stuff along the lines of the Incredible String Band, with no commercial potential. Imagine my surprise when, a few months later, I heard that same weird voice on top 40 radio singing Bang A Gong (Get It On). It turns out that Marc Bolan had originally been a lead guitarist with a psychedelic band called John's Children, but had hooked up with drummer Steve Peregrine Took to form Tyrannosaurus Rex in 1967, eschewing electric instruments entirely for three albums' worth of material, the third of which was the aforementioned Unicorn. The two of them had a falling out, however, with Took moving on to other things while a newly re-electrified Bolan added new members and shortened the name of the group to T. Rex. From 1970 to 1973 T. Rex scored 11 consecutive top 10 singles on the British charts, four of them (including Get It On) going to the #1 spot. The actual title of the song, incidentally is Get It On, but, due to a band called Chase having a US hit with a song called Get It On in 1971, it was decided to retitle the tune Bang A Gong (Get It On) for its US release.

Artist:    Edgar Winter Group
Title:    Frankenstein (edited version)
Source:    European import CD: Pure...Psychedelic Rock (originally released on LP: They Only Come Out At Night. Edited version released as 45 RPM single)
Writer:    Edgar Winter
Label:    Sony Music (original label: Epic)
Year:    1973
    A real monster hit (sorry, couldn't resist).

Artist:    Deep Purple
Title:    Woman From Tokyo
Source:    Japanese import CD: Who Do We Think We Are
Writer(s):    Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1973
    Deep Purple's most successful period came to an end with the band's seventh LP, Who Do We Think We Are. The album, released in 1973, was the last for vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover, both of whom had joined the band three years earlier. Those three years saw the group go from semi-obscurity (especially in their home country) to one of the world's most popular rock bands. Songs like Smoke On The Water and Highway Star had become mainstays of FM rock radio worldwide, but tensions within the band itself were starting to tear it apart. Nonetheless, the final album by the classic lineup of Richie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice featured some of the band's best material, including the LP's opening track, My Woman From Tokyo, which is still heard with alarming regularity on classic rock radio stations.

Artist:    George Carlin
Title:    Wasted Time/Sharing A Swallow
Source:    LP: Class Clown
Writer(s):    George Carlin
Label:    Little David
Year:    1972
    Although his standup act was nowhere near as political as it would eventually become, George Carlin was already getting a reputation for his anecdotal humor when he released his album Class Clown in 1972. Like much of the material on the album, Wasted Time talks about things he did in his youth, while Sharing A Swallow seems to be a bit of improvisation inspired by his need for a drink of water in the middle of his routine.

Artist:    Kinks
Title:    Preservation
Source:    Stereo 45 RPM single (promo)
Writer(s):    Ray Davies
Label:    Reprise
Year:    1974
    The Kinks' Preservation was a song that served as a summation of the band's 1974 concept album, Preservation-Act 1. Oddly enough, the song itself was not included on either that album or its followup, Preservation-Act 2, instead being released as a non-album single in 1974. There were two versions of the song, the longer of which is heard here. My copy is a bit on the scratchy side, but given the fact that the single failed to chart, I consider myself lucky to have a copy of it at all.

Artist:    Arlo Guthrie
Title:    City Of New Orleans
Source:    CD: The Best Of Arlo Guthrie (originally released on LP: Hobo's Lullaby and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Steve Goodman
Label:    Warner Brothers (original label: Reprise)
Year:    1972
    Although not the first version of City Of New Orleans to recorded (Steve Goodman's original has that distinction) Arlo Guthrie's version is by far the most well-known, and in fact still stands as the highest charting single of his long career. Not long after Goodman released the song on his self-titled debut album in 1971 he ran into Guthrie in a Chicago bar and asked him if he could play him a song. Guthrie agreed, with the condition that Goodman first had to buy him a beer and then finish the song before Guthrie finished the beer. Goodman did, and Guthrie liked the song so much he asked for permission to record it himself. Arlo Guthrie's version of City Of New Orleans appeared on the 1972 album Hobo's Lullaby and in 2017 was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame.

Artist:    Doors
Title:    L.A. Woman
Source:    European import CD: Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (originally released on LP: L.A. Woman)
Writer(s):    The Doors
Label:    Elektra/Rhino
Year:    1971
    Ray Manzarek became justifiably famous as the keyboard player for the Doors. Before joining up with Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger and John Densmore, however, Manzarek was already making a name for himself as an up-and-coming student filmmaker at UCLA. Although he didn't have much of a need to pursue a career in films once the Doors hit it big, he did end up producing and directing an outstanding video for the title track of the 1971 album L.A. Woman years after the band had split up. I only mention this because, really, what else can I say about a song that you've probably heard a million times or so?

Artist:    Uriah Heep
Title:    Dreammare
Source:    LP: Uriah Heep
Writer(s):    Paul Newton
Label:    Mercury
Year:    1970
    Although bassist Paul Newton played on the first three Uriah Heep albums, his writing credits are few and far between. In fact, his only solo credit was for Dreammare, which opens side two of Uriah Heep's debut LP, ...Very 'Eavy ...Very 'Umble, which in the US was simply titled Uriah Heep. After leaving Heep, Newton spent several years with a band called Festival as well as doing work as a studio musician. More recently he has made guest concert appearances with various ex-Uriah Heep bandmates.

Artist:    Appaloosa
Title:    Rosalie
Source:    German import LP: Underground '70 (originally released on LP: Apaloosa)
Writer(s):    John Parker Compton
Label:    CBS
Year:    1969
    According to the liner notes for folk singer/songwriter/guitarist John Parker Compton's 1971 solo debut album To Luna, the then 18-year-old Boston native had showed up at Al Kooper's Columbia Records office in late 1968 hoping to show Kooper, who was a staff producer for the label at the time, some of his songs. Kooper's response was a variation on "Go away kid, ya bother me", but Compton was a persistent sort, and it wasn't long before he and his musical partner, violinist Robin Batteau, were staging an impromptu performance for the office secretaries. The positive response from the office pool convinced Kooper to sign the duo, who then added bassist David Reiser and Cellist Eugene Rosov to form the band Appaloosa. By the end of the decade Appaloosa was opening at the Fillmore East for bands like the Allman Brothers and Blood, Sweat & Tears, but Compton and Batteau soon went back to being a duo before Compton decided to go it alone. Compton's next album didn't come until 1995, when he released a CD called Mother Of Mercy.

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