Heard this on the radio the other day:
We will light a giant burning fire tonight
We will build it and dance in the smoke
Every branch we tie somebody’s worry to it
We will burn it and dance in the smoke
That’s precisely the sort of thing we should learn to do: let our worries go and be happy as they depart. (Easy to say. Harder to do.)
“Dance in the Smoke” is a track from Argent’s first album, released in 1969 not long after the breakup of the Zombies. Rod Argent and Jim Rodford brought Russ Ballard and Bob Henrit aboard, and the results were very Zombie-like, with the heavy, liquid keyboards and prog-rock tendencies Argent contributed to that band. Argent also includes Ballard’s song “Liar,” later to become a hit for Three Dog Night.
One Internet source mentions that “Dance in the Smoke” became popular thanks to its inclusion on a compilation called Fill Your Head With Rock. This album, it turns out, is part of the first series of budget-priced rock samplers. In 1968, with the intent of promoting its growing roster of rock acts, Columbia released The Rock Machine Turns You On in the UK. The album included big stars and hits (Bob Dylan on “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” Simon and Garfunkel doing “Scarborough Fair,” and the Zombies performing “Time of the Season”) as well as more obscure acts the label hoped to boost (the Electric Flag, the Peanut Butter Conspiracy, and Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera).
The two-disc Fill Your Head With Rock came out in 1970. It was not heavy on hits (“Try” by Janis Joplin is the closest), but it’s rich with Columbia’s top acts at the time, including Blood Sweat and Tears, Spirit, and the Byrds. At the same time, it includes a number of acts who would remain obscure (Steamhammer, Skin Alley, and Moondog), but it also features early work by some performers who would be highly significant for a long time to come, including Chicago and Santana. And it helped expose a wider audience to Laura Nyro and Leonard Cohen. It looks as though the album was sequenced so that each side would cohere stylistically: jazz rock on Side 1, a sort of earthy/hippie vibe on Side 2, eclectic singer/songwriters on Side 3, and blues rock on side 4. Another two-disc compilation came out later in 1970, Rockbuster, featuring a lot of the same acts as Fill Your Head With Rock but bringing back Dylan and adding Miles Davis, Poco, Redbone, and the New York Rock Ensemble—plus a cover photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It’s unclear to me whether these discs were ever released in the States, or only in the UK and Europe. I seem to recall seeing Fill Your Head With Rock in the used bins back in the day, but my usual slipshod research has been unable to verify whether the series got an official American release.
One thing’s clear, however: such samplers were intended to be disposable. If you bought it to get one or two songs you liked and didn’t care about the rest, maybe you’d go out and buy the Flock album, or the one by Tom Rush (or Chicago or Dylan or the Byrds), and sell the sampler at your mom’s next garage sale. So if you’re able to find a copy of one of them today, it’s likely to be either in questionable condition or savagely expensive.