Closing Out January 1971 in Music

1/11/71: Chicago – Chicago III

In this digital age it hadn’t occurred to me that this was Chicago’s third consecutive double album in two years. Their first three albums! While it contained none of the mega hits they became known for, III reached number two on the Billboard 200. These early Chicago albums – let’s call them the Terry Kath Years – evoke very good childhood memories for me. It wasn’t until college when I was acquainted with some band students who were big fans that I learned just how complex some of these arrangements are. Not your typical rock band.

ChicagoIII.jpg

1/13/71: Poco – Deliverin’

This was Poco’s first live album and third release overall. It’s considered a highlight of their catalog, and was the final Poco album to include Jim Messina, who would soon join forces with Kenny Loggins.

POCO DELIVERIN'.JPEG

1/14/71: The Temptations – Single: Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)

Another Motown gem written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. Just My Imagination reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, the Billboard Pop Singles chart, and the Billboard R&B Singles chart. It was also the final Temptations single to feature Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams.

Just-my-imagination-tempts-45.jpg

1/16/71: ZZ Top – ZZ Top’s First Album

Texans ZZ Top released their debut album – their bar room stage show with a bit of overdubbing – on the 16th. It was onward and upward from there.

ZZ Top - ZZ Top's First Album.jpg

1/20/71Questlove turned 50 on the 20th.

Questlove to make directorial debut with 'Black Woodstock' documentary -  REVOLT

1/30/71: Ike & Tina – Single: Proud Mary

CCR’s original version is what I grew up with, but once I heard Ike & Tina’s take the original sounded quite pedestrian. Tina made it her own.

Proud Mary - Ike & Tina Turner.jpg

January 1971: B.B. King – Live in Cook County Jail

B.B. King released his legendary Chicago prison performance 50 years ago this month. The set list mostly consisted of warhorses from his career up to then, plus a relatively new song, The Thrill is Gone, which became one of his most popular songs of all. Perhaps most significantly, his performance at the jail put a spotlight on the horrible conditions there, leading to reform. King would go on to perform at over fifty prisons.

Liveincookcountyjail.jpg

January 1971: Mountain – Nantucket Sleighride

Mountain is one of those bands that got lost in the shuffle in my music education growing up. Bands like Cream, Zeppelin, Sabbath, and Deep Purple ruled the heavy rock kingdom as far as I knew. I had no idea how renowned lead guitarist Leslie West was (West passed just shy of Christmas last month). I assumed Mountain was about Mississippi Queen and little else. I was wrong. They released their second album 50 years ago this month, and while some critics felt it sounded a bit too much like their debut, that could be taken as a compliment as well.

Nantucketsleighride.jpg

-Stephen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_III

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deliverin%27

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_My_Imagination_(Running_Away_with_Me)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZZ_Top%27s_First_Album

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Questlove

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proud_Mary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_in_Cook_County_Jail

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nantucket_Sleighride_(album)

January 1971 – Little Feat Debuts

January 1971: Little Feat – Little Feat

“Sooner or later, every committed rock ‘n’ roller finds his or her way to Little Feat, which has been described as everything from ‘bluesadelic’ to ‘funky Americana,’ and all of which really means an eclectic bunch of styles that long ago melded together in a bluesy, boogieing, baked-smile stew. Their influence is wide — not least on Phish, moe. and many other stalwarts of the jam scene.” – contributing writer Chad Berndtson of JamBase

Today we’re celebrating the debut of arguably one of the greatest, yet possibly one of the most underappreciated, American bands of all time. Their eponymous Little Feat is not a typical debut. Recorded late in the summer of 1970 and released 50 years ago this month, it sounds closer to a group that had been around a while, honing their songwriting and production.

One of the remarkable aspects of this album is that it’s not one or maybe two of the band members who stand out; it’s a full team effort, beginning with the first track, Snakes on Everything. That’s Bill Payne on keyboards and lead vocals, though you might be forgiven for mistaking his singing for Leon Russell – and that’s no slight. The songwriting is fantastic throughout, as is the musicianship. The sorely missed Lowell George’s slide and lead guitar work, as well as his vocals, shine throughout. The original version of Truck Stop Girl is here. I’m equally familiar with latter day Byrds’ version, but this one can’t be beat. Richie Hayward’s drums pop.

Faces in the Crowd: Lowell George

My favorite Little Feat song is on this album, yet it’s not my favorite track on it. Huh? It’s true. Lowell George wrote and demoed Willin’ when he was with the Mothers of Invention, which prompted Frank Zappa to suggest George start a band of his own. He did just that, and the song found its way onto Little Feat’s debut. Though guest Ry Cooder’s bottleneck guitar on this original, more up-tempo version makes it an enjoyable listen, I’m glad it was re-recorded for their follow up a year later. It became the definitive version I’ve always known and loved with its more soulful vocals.

Willin': The Story of Little Feat by Ben Fong-Torres

Forty-Four Blues/How Many More Years is an honest tribute to its writers Roosevelt Sykes and Howlin’ Wolf and the era in which they thrived, right down to the distorted vocals. Ry Cooder makes his second appearance on the album on bottleneck here. George’s I’ve Been the One features the sweet pedal steel playing of Sneaky Pete Kleinow. That man played on some mighty fine albums in those years. The weakest link in my opinion is the goofy Crazy Captain Gunboat Willie, thought I don’t consider it a throwaway on this otherwise wonderful, polished album.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Snakes on Everything
  2. Strawberry Flats
  3. Truck Stop Girl
  4. Brides of Jesus
  5. Willin’
  6. Hamburger Midnight

Side Two:

  1. Forty-Four Blues/How Many More Years
  2. Crack in Your Door
  3. I’ve Been the One
  4. Takin’ My Time
  5. Crazy Captain Gunboat Willie

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/little-feat-mw0000653350

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Feat_(album)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willin%27_(Little_Feat_song)