Category Archives: Music- Rock

Seafaring Treasure in Classic Rock: the backstories of Blues Image’s no.4 hit, RIDE CAPTAIN RIDE (1970) and the Beach Boys’ twice-charting SAIL ON, SAILOR (1973/1975).

FEATURE image: “Sailing to Cape Cod” by ShaneTaremi is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Released in April 1970, Ride Captain Ride reached no.4 on Billboard charts in the U.S. and Canada. The song was no. 32 on the year-end Billboard chart for 1970. At 3:43 minutes, there was a shorter radio version.

Ride Captain Ride was a no. 4 hit in the U.S. and Canada in the spring and summer of 1970. It was written and performed by the Tampa, Florida-based rock band, Blues Image. The song is a fantasy about a captain and crew who, seeking laughter and freedom, take a trip on a mystery ship into an uncharted world.

Co-written by the band’s lead singer and guitarist Mike Pinera (b. 1948) and keyboardist “Skip” Konte (b. 1947), Ride Captain Ride sold over one million copies and was certified Gold in August 1970. Although best known for this song, Blues Image is much more than a one-hit wonder band.

Miami, Florida’s late 1960’s psych-rock music scene

Formed in Tampa in 1966, Blues Image relocated to Miami in 1968. They were key in helping promoters establish a popular new music club in Sunny Isles Beach (in a former bowling alley) called “Thee Image.” It became South Florida’s go-to venue for newly emerging psychedelic rock and it drew huge crowds.

The club featured three stages along with a meditation room and a black-light room. It booked local bands as well as name acts such as Blood, Sweat, & Tears, Cream, The Doors, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, the Lovin’ Spoonful, and Frank Zappa.

The club was brain-child, construction project, and congregant spot for most of the area’s hippies. The hippies brought love, peace, and sister- and brotherhood to beachfront Miami.

Jam sessions and love ins in the nearby public parks included one incident which involved the Grateful Dead, Blues Image, and about 3,000 impromptu fans. Blues Image also became one of the first rock groups to experiment with Latin-infused rock which exploded onto the wider rock music scene in the 1970s.

Ride Captain Ride is the 6th track on Blues Image’s second album, Open, released in April 1970. Written by bandmates Mike Pinera and “Skip” Konte, the song is about joining a cruise into an uncharted world. “Mystery ship” by Guru Sno Studios is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

The beginning of the end for Miami’s late 1960’s psych-rock music scene was The Doors’ concert appearance there in March 1969. Following the August 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami that nominated and elected Richard Nixon as U.S. president, local public opinion soured on the hippie subculture and Thee Image was shuttered.

That same year, in 1969, Blues Image moved to L.A., signed with Atco Records and released their debut album. Other bands relocated out of Miami – some to New York City. The cultural embers of Thee Image were transplanted to L.A. for a short time in another club – but South Florida’s psych-rock scene that featured rock’s greats had clearly ended.

In the summer of 1969, Blues Image drummer Manny Bertematti and Jimi Hendrix were seen jamming together at L.A.’s “Thee Experience,” the music club on the Sunset Strip evocative of Thee Image. In Melody Maker shortly before his death, Jimi Hendrix observed that Blues Image was “one of the best up and coming bands around.” 

Then came April 1970 and Ride Captain Ride, Blues Image’s impromptu hit. Released as the 6th track on the band’s second album, Open, the main guitar solo and fills were provided by Kent Henry with the song’s final guitar solo played by Mike Pinera. Ride Captain Ride became the no.32 ranked single on 1970’s year-end Billboard chart. Since that era, the song has been covered many times, notably by Blood, Sweat, & Tears in 1975 and by Phish from 1987 to 2013.

When Pinera left Blues Image, the group quickly broke up in 1971. Skip Konte joined Three Dog Night. Others, including Pinera, played for memorable rock bands such as Iron Butterfly, Steppenwolf, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Manassas, Jackson Browne, Joe Walsh, Alice Cooper and more.

RIDE CAPTAIN RIDE LYRICS:
Seventy three men sailed up from the San Francisco Bay
Rolled off of their ship, and here’s what they had to say
We’re callin’ everyone to ride along to another shore
We can laugh our lives away and be free once more

But no one heard them callin’, no one came at all
‘Cause they were too busy watchin’ those old raindrops fall
As a storm was blowin’ out on the peaceful sea
Seventy-three men sailin’ off to history

Ride Captain Ride upon your mystery ship
Be amazed at the friends you have here on your trip
Ride Captain Ride upon your mystery ship
On your way to a world that others might have missed

Seventy-three men sailed up from the San Francisco Bay
Got off the ship, and here’s what they had to say
We’re callin’ everyone to ride along to another shore
We can laugh our lives away and be free once more

Ride Captain Ride upon your mystery ship
Be amazed at the friends you have here on your trip
Ride Captain Ride upon your mystery ship
On your way to a world that others might have missed

Ride Captain Ride upon your mystery ship
Be amazed at the friends you have here on your trip

Beach Boys” by mag3737 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
“Sail on, Sailor” was released in February 1973 as the album Holland’s lead single. It peaked at no. 79 on the Billboard Hot 100. When it was re-released two years later, in 1975, it jumped to no.49.

Following Blues Image’s demise, in the summer of 1972, the Beach Boys—Al Jardine, Dennis Wilson, Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, and Mike Love—decided to relocate themselves and their families to the Netherlands to record.

Once there they couldn’t find an adequate recording studio for their plans. Artistic integrity demanding it and money being no object, they imported a studio that was constructed to their specifications in a converted Dutch barn. Throughout the rest of that summer 1972, the Beach Boys, formed in 1961, recorded their 19th album entitled aptly Holland.

Producer Warner Bros. assessing that the new album lacked what they believed could be a hit single started fishing around for a possible hit song to replace another song on the album. Without a definable hit, Holland, the Beach Boys were told, was not releasable.

Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks, a collaborator on Good Vibrations and head of Warner Bros.’ new music video department in 1972, came up with Sail On, Sailor.

“I sailed an ocean, unsettled ocean Through restful waters and deep commotion Often frightened, unenlightened Sail on, sail on sailor, “ is the opening line. A sailing song for sure with deeper connotations of a searching journey with ups and downs which could be personal or professional.

The first-person narrator expounds on the individual and universal nature of the sail: “I wrest the waters, fight Neptune’s waters Sail through the sorrows of life’s marauders Unrepenting, often empty Sail on, sail on sailor.”

The music was remembered to have been drafted by Wilson in 1970 and, with Van Dyck Parks, into a fuller form in 1971. The song was then headed to Three Dog Night and had lyrics written by Ray Kennedy and Tandyn Almer.

Hearing the upbeat tune with its rich harmonies and delving backbeat as finally released, it can be easy to miss the tangle of the sailor’s story: “Seldom stumble, never crumble Try to tumble, life’s a rumble Feel the stinging I’ve been given Never ending, unrelenting Heartbreak searing, always fearing Never caring, persevering Sail on, sail on, sailor.”

In 1972, the Beach Boys’ manager Jack Rieley returned to L.A. and gave the song’s lyrics a going over. He was particularly fond of the line: ”lost like a sewer rat alone but I sail…” Officially, Sail on, Sailor listed Wilson, Almer, and Parks as its composers and Rieley and Kennedy as the lyricists. South African singer Blondie Chaplin, who had been working with the Beach Boys since 1971, became its lead vocal.

Composer Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys at the piano. At one point in the recording process, Wilson was barred from the studio for tinkering too much with “Sail On, Sailor,” the group’s intended hit song, “Rock Dreams: Brian Wilson” by Jim the Chin is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

By year’s end – it was November 28, 1972 – Brian Wilson was effectively banned from Village Recorders in L.A. Some thought he had been tinkering too much with Sail On, Sailor. Younger brother Carl Wilson was put in charge. During the hit song’s extended and close collaboration, a strong dose of these artists’ struggles is readily displayed in its words: “Always needing, even bleeding Never feeding all my feelings Damn the thunder, must I blunder There’s no wonder all I’m under Stop the crying and the lying And the sighing and my dying.”

Without an apparent hit single on the new album “Holland,” Warner Bros. wasn’t going to release it. Already in a draft form by Wilson, “Sail on, Sailor” was finished to replace another song and released in February 1973 as the album’s first single. “beach boys- holland” by cdrummbks is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Sail On, Sailor was released in February 1973 as the album Holland’s lead single. It peaked at no.79 on the Billboard Hot 100. When it was re-released as a single two years later, in 1975, it jumped to no.49. The album, also a critical success, peaked at no.36 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and in the top 20 albums in the UK.

Sail On, Sailor has been covered many times, including recently by Los Lobos on their 2022 Grammy-Award winning Native Sons album.

SAIL ON, SAILOR LYRICS:
I sailed an ocean, unsettled ocean Through restful waters and deep commotion Often frightened, unenlightened Sail on, sail on sailor

I wrest the waters, fight Neptune’s waters Sail through the sorrows of life’s marauders Unrepenting, often empty Sail on, sail on sailor

Caught like a sewer rat alone but I sail Bought like a crust of bread, but oh do I wail

Seldom stumble, never crumble Try to tumble, life’s a rumble Feel the stinging I’ve been given Never ending, unrelenting Heartbreak searing, always fearing Never caring, persevering Sail on, sail on, sailor

I work the seaways, the gale-swept seaways Past shipwrecked daughters of wicked waters Uninspired, drenched and tired Wail on, wail on, sailor

Always needing, even bleeding Never feeding all my feelings Damn the thunder, must I blunder There’s no wonder all I’m under Stop the crying and the lying And the sighing and my dying

Sail on, sail on sailor Sail on, sail on sailor Sail on, sail on sailor Sail on, sail on sailor Sail on, sail on sailor Sail on, sail on sailor Sail on, sail on sailor

Rock ‘n roll has long shared a tuneful affinity with the seagoing life. Top rock artists followed Blues Image and the Beach Boys in their songs exploring sailing, sailors, and ships and, by turn, venturing into fantastic or rough waters.

There’s the Grateful Dead’s Lost Sailor (1980), Rod Stewart’s and Christopher Cross’s like-titled Sailing (1975 and 1980, respectively), and Crosby Stills & Nash’s Southern Cross (1981). In 1970 Van Morrison put out Into the Mystic and before that there’s Sloop John B, another Beach Boys’ performance from 1966.

Brian Wilson had adapted an actual Bahamian sea chanty for their rock version. Lyrics include “hoist[ing] up the [main] sail” and setting it. In the 21st century these classic songs still resonate on the lists of the “greatest songs of all time.”

SUPERTRAMP, First 6 Albums of the English Prog-Rock Band, 1970-1979.

FEATURE image: “Supertramp – Crime of the Century” by vinylmeister is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Crime of the Century was Supertramp’s third album released in September 1974. The album went Gold in the U.S., Diamond in Canada, and Platinum in France.

Roger Hodgson in 1979. Roger Hodgson in 1979. “File:Supertramp – Roger Hodgson (1979).png” by Ueli Frey is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Rick Davies in 1979. Rick Davies in 1979. “File:Supertramp – Rick Davies (1979).png” by Ueli Frey is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Supertramp’s debut album, Supertramp in 1970

Supertramp’s 1970 debut album wasn’t released in the U.S. until 1977. “Supertramp Self-titled aka Surely” by vinylmeister is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

For an enterprising American traveler in the 1970’s, the acquisition of an album released only in Europe or the UK could add special purpose to an overseas trip. This proved true for me during various trips to England in the mid-to-late 1970’s. In addition to seeing plays, touring art museums, and visiting historic pubs, there was the hunt for releases and formats not yet available in the United States by the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Kinks, the Ramones, and many more. There were several such vinyl records I bought in London and elsewhere which I carefully packed into the carry-on bag for the flight home.

This was also true for the debut album of Supertramp. Though released in the UK in 1970, it did not appear in the U.S. until 1977 following the English progressive rock band’s ascent on the charts here.

Music for the album Supertramp was composed by Supertramp co-founders Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson. The lyrics were written by guitarist Richard Palmer-James. This was because no one else in the band wanted to write lyrics.

Indelibly Stamped, Supertramp’s second album in 1971

Album cover of Indelibly Stamped by Supertramp, the Prog-rock’s second release. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to A&M Records. Fair use.

The debut album received positive reviews. Supertramp’s musical innovations were moving ahead so quickly that the first album’s ten songs were dropped from their promotional live mega-tours almost as soon as they were recorded and released.

Indelibly Stamped, Supertramp’s second album in 1971, was a major change for the band to the rock sound. This was followed by the group’s multi-platinum albums, Crime of the Century in 1974 and Breakfast in America in 1979.

6th track from Indelibly Stamped.

Supertramp never returned to its first days’ output as musician-poets. Yet hit songs such as Dreamer in 1974 and Give A Little Bit in 1977 were written in this early period around 1970. Their high level of creativity adds to the debut album’s appeal. Supertramp’s other first songs also make for worthwhile listening.

Supertramp, 1971. Roger Hodgson, Frank Farrell, Rick Davies, Kevin Currie, Dave Winthrop. Supertramp 1971–This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. 21stCenturyGreenstuff at English Wikipedia

Music critics react to Supertramp’s first songs – in 1970 and in 2020

Even after Supertramp was world famous, critics still had somewhat harsh words for Supertramp, their debut album.

Critics, both in 1970 and today, acknowledge that the 1970 album Supertramp offers almost 50 minutes of enjoyable melodies. They especially cite Surely, its lead track, and Words Unspoken, Nothing to Show and Try Again, a 12-minute track. Yet original and later critics continue to dismiss the album’s first songs overall.

Their main criticism is that Supertramp‘s musical and lyrical effort was too loosely conceived and, according to a review in AllMusic, wanders “pretentiously.” Critics generally agree that Supertramp’s progressive pop music on their 1970 debut album is melodious and poetic yet, lacking this compositional rigor, rambles.

Instrumentally meandering among pretty patches of subtle melody is not all bad. Appreciating the music from the viewpoint of a new group who seem to savor the pleasure of making music together for its own sake rather than attempting to make a powerfully cohesive statement, makes Supertramp’s first songs more enjoyable on its own terms.

Mellow and lyrical Aubade/I Am Not Like Other Birds of Prey is the third track on their 1970 debut album, Supertramp. It is one of the best/worst examples of what critics see as the musical airiness and pretension that characterize the songs on Supertramp, their debut album. This song and the rest of the first album, the band quickly put in its rearview mirror. In 1971 they progressed completely to a solid rock sound for album number two.

Rare film soundtrack in 1971

Along with Arc, Crucible, and other bands, Aubade/I Am Not Like Other Birds of Prey was featured as part of a rare soundtrack for a 1971 UK docufilm called Extremes. The film was directed by 19-year-old Tony Klinger and 21-year-old Mike Lytton and displayed the adventures and pursuits of young people of that era (it can be rediscovered in a 2017 DVD release).

Supertramp’s first two albums are commercial flops

Despite this creativity and critical success, the album Supertramp was a commercial flop. Its follow-up album Indelibly Stamped in 1971 and new rock sound was also a commercial flop.

Crisis? What Crisis?

Turning point for rock stardom: Crime of the Century in September 1974. Supertramp’s third album is no.1 in the UK

Following these commercial disasters—and before fame—Supertramp broke up. Co-founders Davies and Hodgson recruited new band-mates. Bassist Frank Farrell and drummer Kevin Currie were replaced with pub rockers John Helliwell on saxophone, Dougie Thompson on bass, and drummer Bob “C.” Benberg. The third album, Crime of The Century, preceded by a massive millionaire-bankrolled promotional campaign, soared to no.1 in the UK —and sowed seeds of a following in the U.S.

Crime of the Century was the third studio album by Supertramp and recorded between February and June 1974. Released on September 16, 1974, it was Supertramp’s first Gold record in the U.S.
The album, which soared to no.1 in the UK, produced Supertramp’s breakthrough Top 40 hit single in the U.S., Bloody Well Right written by Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson.
Band members believed that with this album Supertramp had entered into one of its most creatively original periods. “Supertramp – Crime of the Century” by vinylmeister is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Breakthrough U.S. single in 1975: Bloody Well Right

Supertramp’s breakthrough hit single in the U.S. was Bloody Well Right in 1975. Written by Supertramp co-founders Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson and sung by Davies (who performs its opening keyboard bars), the song appeared on the newly reconstituted English prog-rock band’s third album, Crime of the Century, released in mid-September 1974. The song features impressive guitar work by Hodgson and by saxman and new recruit John Helliwell.

Bloody Well Right appeared as the B-side of the single “Dreamer.” Listeners in the U.S. flipped the 45 r.p.m. and Bloody Well Right became Supertramp’s breakthrough hit in America. The song reached no. 35 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Bloody Well Right was not Supertramp’s odds-on, or even favored, hit song from the album. That would have been Hodgson’s Dreamer, written when he was 19 years old, on side A. But Dreamer charted only in Canada.


Crime of the Century went Gold in the U.S., Diamond in Canada and Platinum in France, and Bloody Well Right on side-B of Dreamer climbed to no. 35 on the U.S. charts in 1975. A Supertramp classic, Bloody Well Right remains a staple in the band’s live shows and over the airwaves and internet. During 1975, with singles from Crime of The Century charting, the bank-rolled group toured the U.S. and filled arenas by giving away most of the tickets.

Supertramp with Chris de Burgh – July 9, 1977 – Kitchener” by Ken Schafer is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Supertramp’s fourth album, Crisis? What Crisis? flops.

Crisis? What Crisis? is the fourth album by the English progressive-rock band. “SUPERTRAMP : Crisis? What Crisis?” by vinylmeister is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Crisis? What Crisis? is the fourth album by the English progressive-rock band.
Recorded in the summer of 1975 in London and Los Angeles, it was released on November 29, 1975.

Hastily assembled from second-hand discards of Crime of the Century so to capitalize quickly on the third album’s success, Rolling Stone magazine panned the album and though the album contains some pleasant melodies, Supertramp was also underwhelmed by the project and came to see it as a low point of their career.

“Easy Does It” is the lead track from Supertramp’s 1975 album, “Crisis? What Crisis?” The song is written by the band’s co-founders Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson.

Major Comeback: Even in the Quietest Moments… is the fifth studio album released by Supertramp in April 1977.

Recorded between November 1976 and January 1977, it was released on April 10, 1977 and featured another song that Hodgson wrote at 19 years old.


Even in the Quietest Moments… repeated Crime of the Century‘s certification achievements and became their second Gold record in the U.S. During this period, Supertramp relocated permanently to Los Angeles. The single Give A Little Bit became a Top 20 hit in the U.S. and Canada and reached no. 29 in the UK.

Even in the Quietest Moments… was the fifth studio album by Supertramp. Even in the Quietest Moments album cover (backside)—“Backside Supertramp – Even In The Quietest Moments…” by Piano Piano! is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Give A Little Bit from Supertramp’s Even in The Quietest Moments…

Rock-star success for Supertramp is achieved in 1979 with their sixth album, Breakfast in America.


Album cover of Supertramp’s sixth album Breakfast in America. Breakfast in America album cover–“Vintage Vinyl LP Record Album – Breakfast In America Vinyl LP By Supertramp, Catalog Number SP-3708, Rock, A&M Records, 1979” by France1978 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Recorded from May to December 1978, Supertramp’s sixth album was released on March 29, 1979.

Breakfast in America became the no.1 LP around the world and went 4x Platinum in the U.S., selling over 4 million copies.

Supertramp’s Breakfast in America produced the Top 10 hit, The Logical Song. Written by Roger Hodgson, it became Supertramp’s biggest hit.

SOURCES:
The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Third Edition, edited by Holly George Warren and Patricia Romanowski, New York: A Rolling Stone Press Book, 2001.

https://www.glotime.tv/extremes-classic-1971-supertramp-film-released-dvd/

https://www.allmusic.com/album/supertramp-mw0000191983

Back cover of Breakfast in America. “SUPERTRAMP BREAKFAST IN AMERICA w/LYRICS” by vinylmeister is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.