Sunday, June 16, 2024

Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 2425 (starts 6/17/24) 

    It's an uninterrupted hour of free-form Rockin' in the Days of Confusion this week, with a dozen tracks from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, King Crimson, Malo and even Ike and Tina Turner (covering the Beatles).

Artist:    Cozy Powell
Title:    Dance With The Devil
Source:    45 RPM promo single (released in UK commercially)
Writer(s):    Dennys/Haye
Label:    Chrysalis (UK label: RAK)
Year:    1973
    British drummer Cozy Powell (born Colin Flooks in Cirencester, Gloucestershire in 1947) was already well-known among British rock royalty when he was invited to join the Jeff Beck Group in 1970. After that particular iteration of the group fell apart after two albums, Powell formed a band called Bedlam while also doing session work for RAK Records. This led to solo work, including Dance With The Devil, an instrumental that made it into the British top 5 in 1973 while becoming his only single to chart in the US at #49. Basically a drum solo, the track features backup vocalists singing the melody to Jimi Hendrix's 3rd Stone From The Sun. Playing bass on the track (albeit somewhat obscured in the mix) is Suzy Quatro.

Artist:    Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title:    Here He Comes (Lover Man)
Source:    CD: South Saturn Delta
Writer(s):    Jimi Hendrix
Label:    Experience Hendrix/MCA
Year:    Recorded 1968, released 1997
    When the Jimi Hendrix Experience made its US debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of 1967, the band's set list included a revved up version of B.B. King's Rock Me Baby, played at about twice the speed of King's original. As Hendrix's songwriting output increased over the next few months, the song was dropped from the band's repertoire, but not entirely forgotten. In October of 1968, two months after the third Experience album, Electric Ladyland, was released, the band was back in the studio to record a new song based on Hendrix's arrangement of Rock Me Baby, but with entirely new lyrics. At the beginning of the recording you can hear engineer Eddie Kramer ask Hendrix what the name of the piece he was about to play was, along with Hendrix replying "Here He Comes". Not long after making this particular recording the band moved on to other things, and would not make another attempt at recording the song until early 1969, at which time Hendrix had come up with the title Lover Man.
Artist:    King Crimson
Title:    In The Wake Of Poseidon
Source:    LP: In The Wake Of Poseidon
Writer(s):    Fripp/Sinfield
Label:    Atlantic
Year:    1970
    Following King Crimson's tour to support their first LP, In The Court Of The Crimson King, most of the band members left to pursue other projects, leaving only bandleader Robert Fripp and lyricist Peter Sinfield to come up with enough material for a followup album. The first album's bassist, Greg Lake, who was in the process of forming Emerson, Lake & Palmer, agreed to record vocals for the new album in return for possession of King Crimson's PA system, and ended up singing on all but one of the tracks on In The Wake Of Poseidon, including the eight-minute long title track itself. Michael Giles also returned long enough to provide drum tracks, while Fripp's longtime friend Gordon Haskell played bass. Fripp himself ended up playing the mellotron as well as all the guitar parts on the LP. King Crimson would continue to have a fluid lineup throughout its existence, with many of its members going on to become stars in their own right.

Artist:    Jeff Beck
Title:    Morning Dew
Source:    CD: Truth
Writer(s):    Bonnie Dobson
Label:    Epic/Legacy
Year:    1968
    With a stellar lineup that included vocalist Rod Stewart, bassist Ronnie Wood and drummer Micky Waller, Jeff Beck's debut solo album, Truth, is considered one of the earliest examples of what would come to be called heavy metal rock. This can be heard on tracks like Bonnie Dobson's Morning Dew, which by 1968 was already becoming well-known as a staple of the Grateful Dead's setlist as well as being a minor hit single for Tim Rose (particularly in the UK) in early 1967.

Artist:    Grateful Dead
Title:    St. Stephen (1971 remix)
Source:    LP: Aoxomoxoa
Writer(s):    Hunter/Garcia/Lesh
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1969
    One of the Grateful Dead's most recognizable tunes is St. Stephen. The song first appeared on the 1969 album Aoxomoxoa, and was a regular part of the band's live performances (usually combined with The Eleven) for the next few years. From the mid-1970s on the song was only occasionally played in concert, and was considered a special treat by Deadheads.

Artist:    Ike & Tina Turner
Title:    Come Together
Source:    LP: Come Together (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s):    Lennon/McCartney
Label:    Liberty (original label: Minit)
Year:    1969
    Ike & Tina Turner were already well established by 1966, when they signed a deal with Phil Spector to record the song River Deep-Mountain High for Spector's Philles label. Although the song stalled out in the #88 spot in the US, it was a top 5 single in the UK, leading to Ike & Tina becoming the opening act for the Rolling Stones on their 1966 tour. This in turn led to a series of increasingly successful gigs, both in Europe and the US. In 1969 the album River Deep-Mountain High, which had been available in the UK since 1966, was finally released in the US, going into the top 30 on the American R&B charts. Around this same time Ike & Tina Turner began appearing on the bill at rock festivals, and once again tourned with the Rolling Stones on the 1969 US tour. They began incorporating rock songs into their repertoire, and late in the year recorded a studio version of the Beatles' Come Together for the Minit label. After an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in January of 1970 they signed with Minit's parent label, to do a series of albums, the first of which was entitled Come Together. Their next album, Workin' Together, included their version of the song Proud Mary, which they had been performing since 1969. That song, released as a single in 1971, became the duo's biggest hit, going into the top 5 on both the R&B singles chart and the Billboard Hot 100. Problems between the two eventually led to their breakup in 1976, with Tina Turner going on to become a cultural icon in the 1980s.

Artist:    John Lennon
Title:    Mind Games
Source:    45PM single
Writer(s):    John Lennon
Label:    Apple
Year:    1973
    John Lennon's 1973 single Mind Games traces its origins back to the 1969 Let It Be sessions, where Lennon can be heard singing "Make love, not war" (a popular phrase at the time). Another unfinished song from around the same time, I Promise, provided the melody for Mind Games. The song's title, along with many of the lyrics, were inspired by a book called Mind Games: The Guide to Inner Space by Robert Masters and Jean Houston, which was published in 1972. Yet another repeated line in the song, "Yes is the answer", refers to Yoko Ono's art piece that got Lennon interested in Yoko in the first place. Ironically, the song was recorded just as John and Yoko were splitting up, a period that Lennon later referred to as his "lost weekend."

Artist:    Peter Gabriel
Title:    Solsbury Hill
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Peter Gabriel
Label:    Atco
Year:    1977
    Vocalist Peter Gabriel's first single after leaving Genesis was Solsbury Hill, a song inspired by a spiritual experience Gabriel had atop Little Solsbury Hill in Somerset, England. Gabriel said of the song:  "It's about being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get ... It's about letting go." The song hit the top 20 in the UK and shows up from time to time in various TV and movie soundtracks.
Artist:    Crack The Sky
Title:    Ice
Source:    LP: Crack The Sky
Writer(s):    John Palumbo
Label:    Lifesong
Year:    1975
    Once in a while you buy an album based on hearing only one song from said album. Such was the case in the late 1970s, when I was doing shows for Albuquerque's KUNM at the University of New Mexico. The song Ice, from the first Crack The Sky album, grabbed me that much. Apparently it grabbed someone at Rolling Stone magazine as well, as they declared Crack The Sky to be the "debut album of the year" for 1975.

Artist:    Steely Dan
Title:    Rikki Don't Lose That Number
Source:    45 RPM single
Writer(s):    Becker/Fagen
Label:    ABC
Year:    1974
    Contrary to what you may have heard, Rikki Don't Lose That Number, from the album Pretzel Logic, is not about using the US Postal Service to mail yourself weed. This is according to both Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, who are generally known for being deliberately obscure. The fact that they both, on separate occasions, have addressed the issue leads me to take their version of the story, that the subject of the song was a young woman Fagen knew in college, as the correct one. What's not in dispute is this: Rikki Don't Lose That Number was Steely Dan's biggest hit single, deservedly so.

Artist:    Malo
Title:    Suavecito
Source:    LP: Malo
Writer(s):    Bean/Tellez/Zorate
Label:    Warner Brothers
Year:    1972
    Malo (Spanish for Bad) was formed in San Francisco by former members of the Malibus, Arcelio Garcia, Pablo Tellez, and Jorge Santana, along with three members of Naked Lunch, Abel Zarate, Roy Murray, and Richard Spremich. Their style was a synthesis of rock, latino, jazz and blues. Their best known tune, Suavacito, was taken from their self-titled debut LP, and peaked at #18 on the Hot 100 in early 1972. The original album version of the tune did even better, with the LP peaking at #14. That album features an absolutely gorgeous cover sourced from a painting by Jesús Helguera.

Artist:    Eric Clapton
Title:    Easy Now
Source:    45 RPM single B side (originally released on LP: Eric Clapton)
Writer(s):    Eric Clapton
Label:    Polydor (original label: Atco)
Year:    1970
    When it comes to Eric Clapton's Easy Now (from his first solo album), the word most often used by critics is "underrated". The song was never intended to be a hit single. In fact, it was released as a B side, not once but twice, in 1970 (paired with After Midnight) and 1972 (paired with Let It Rain). Nonetheless, the tune holds up better than most of the tracks on the album itself, and has been singled out as one of the best songs Clapton ever wrote. Easy Now was also included on the 1972 LP Eric Clapton At His Best.


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