Well, it’s time again for our irregular truth-in-advertising disclaimer. Here in the Way Back Studios, most of our sets are all vinyl; some of our sets are mostly vinyl, and none of our sets are vinyl free. And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is no exception to one of those clauses. Don’t get me wrong, if I had three or four turntables tied into the system I could do it all vinyl, but I don’t. So if you’ll concede my point that if things were different they wouldn’t be the way they are, we can get back to where we once belonged.
The set revolves around a prog rock classic from The Yes Album. “Perpetual Change.” Eight-minutes and fifty seconds of shifting time signatures, instrumental interludes, and false endings – in other words, an ideal environment for hand mixing. In the course of the set we carefully carve “Perpetual Change” into six parts, two of which are fake by the way because there are really only four parts in the song. See if you can tell which ones are replicants. The reason I can’t do this with just two turntables is that there’s a moment in the set where I’d have to get a record off the turntable, put another one, needle in the right place, and cued — in eleven seconds. And that happens three times. It’s a regular high-wire act. Somebody could get hurt, maybe put an eye out, so it’s not the sort of thing you want to try at home. A third turntable and a second copy of The Yes Album would make it easier, but instead, we’ll be playing some of the Yes and the Peter Gabriel off CD. I’m sure you understand.
The rest is pure vinyl. And mostly songs you know. The deepest track in the set comes from Captain Beyond’s Sufficiently Breathless album, a great song called “Drifting in Space.” We also snatch a bit from Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s adaptation of Alberto Ginastera’s first piano concerto from Brain Salad Surgery. Otherwise it’s Leon Russell, Led Zeppelin, and post-Genesis Peter Gabriel. Big time.
|Yes||Perpetual Change (part 1)|
|Leon Russell||Will o’ the Wisp / Little Hideaway|
|Emerson, Lake and Palmer||Tocata (excerpt)|
|Yes||Perpetual Change (part 2)|
|Captain Beyond||Drifting in Space|
|Yes||Perpetual Change (part 3)|
|Led Zeppelin||Dancin’ Days|
|Yes||Perpetual Change (part 4)|
|Peter Gabriel||Big Time|
|Yes||Perpetual Change (part 5)|
|Elton John||Theme From a Non-existent TV Series|
|Yes||Perpetual Change (part 6)|
There you go again, saying we’ve got the moon and the stars, when all you really see is near disaster gazing down on you and me. Yes that was released in February 1971, The Yes Album, the first one with Steve Howe on guitar instead of Peter Banks. We took “Perpetual Change” and broke it into six parts even though there are really only four. In fact we could have done it all day long just by repeating that drum part near the end and inserting a different song every time you expect Bill Bruford’s drums to kick back in. But to keep it under thirty minutes, this time we inserted Peter Gabriel’s ode to conspicuous consumption “Big Time” from his 1986 album of mass appeal, So? Before that, Elton John’s brief “Theme From an Non-existent TV Series,” which was preceded by a lion standing alone with a tadpole in a jar, in other words, “Dancin’ Days” are here again. And in the middle of the set, a nice bit of progressive jazz rock from Captain Beyond, a song called “Drifting in Space.”
In the first half of the set, about four minutes into “Perpetual Change” Steve Howe slips into a decidedly jazz guitar moment that segues nicely into Leon Russell’s instrumental “Will o’ the Wisp” which then segues on it’s own into “Little Hideaway.” At the end of that, when someone starts knocking on the door, we answered with a small serving of Brain Salad Surgery, specifically an excerpt from “Tocatta” – Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s adaptation of the fourth movement of Alberto Ginastera’s first piano concerto. The story goes that Ginastera’s manager hated their rendition and wasn’t going to give permission to use it, but the Argentinean composer himself said he thought Keith Emerson had captured the essence of his composition and that sealed the deal. Well we love a happy ending here in The Way Back Studios and we’ve reached one. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for tuning in. I’ll be back next time with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl right here in the Deep Tracks.
In the wake of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, when the notion of the concept album was taking hold, the Small Faces decided to weigh in with one of their own. Following an Australian tour where they opened for the Who, Steve Marriott and the boys returned to England to work on their third, and what would become their most famous, album, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, which stayed at number one for six weeks in the UK while going largely unnoticed in the US, like everything else they did except the single “Itchycoo Park.”
The story goes that while working on songs for the album they rented some old boats and went cruising the Thames, drinking, playing guitars, and occasionally ramming other boats on account of the drinking and the fact that none of them had ever piloted a boat before. One night, deep into their cups, Ronnie Lane looked up in a daze at a half moon and said, “Where’s the other half?” Thus was born The Story of Happiness Stan, a semi-psychedelic fairy tale that makes up the second half of the album. It’s about a boy who falls in love with the moon only to be distraught when it slowly begins to disappear.
Now they weren’t sure if the songs alone would convey the story, so they brought in the British comedian Stanley Unwin to add narration in this silly, corrupted version of English he had created and which he employed to great effect to connect the songs. But as you’ll notice, I substituted different songs here and there wherever I found a good segue. One example of that is the opening of the track “Rolling Over,” where Steve Marriott stole from Jimi Hendrix the lick to “Foxy Lady” and used it as the basis for his own tune, well you can just imagine how we take advantage there. All that and The Story of Happiness Stan makes today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl a fine value which is to say it’s thriftymost on your banky balancer. Just listen to this.
|Small Faces (Stanley Unwin)||Intro to Happiness Stan|
|James Taylor||Taking It In|
|Small Faces (Stanley Unwin)||Intro to Rolling Over|
|Jimi Hendrix||Foxy Lady|
|Small Faces (Stanley Unwin)||Intro to The Journey|
|Chicago||To Be Free/Now More Than Ever/Make Me Smile|
|Small Faces (Stanley Unwin)||Intro to & Mad John|
|Small Faces (Stanley Unwin)||Intro to Happy Days Toy Town|
|Elton John||Your Starter For…|
|Small Faces||Lazy Sunday Afternoon|
|Shawn Phillips||Do You Wonder?|
|Small Faces (Stanley Unwin)||Intro to Happiness Stan (repeated)|
I suspect that’s an album Lewis Carroll would have enjoyed. We’ve been listening to bits and pieces of The Small Faces classic, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake with the British comedian Stanley Unwin, narrating The Story of Happiness Stan which I corrupted completely to suit my own needs. Unwin made a career out of his corruption of the English language which came to be known as Unwinese. He died at the ripe old age of 91 but you can hear more of his ‘basic Engly twentyfido’ at Stanley-unwin.com. At the end of the set we heard “Lazy Sunday” which was actually from side one of Nut Brown Flake and not part of the concept side of the album. It was written by Steve Marriott as a joke because he was always getting thrown out of apartments after neighbors complained about all the noise he made. The record label released it as a single despite Marriott’s objections that it was a novelty song. The fact that it went straight to number two on the British charts didn’t matter to him either. He felt it would keep people from taking his music seriously.
The brief instrumental before that was from Elton John’s album Blue Moves. And in the middle of the set we took Chicago’s “Make Me Smile” and turned it inside out, starting with the end of the song, and ending with the beginning which you can do only if you have two copies of the album. We also heard “Foxy Lady” just to show how much of the song Steve Marriott nicked for his tune, “Rolling Over.” And at the top we heard “Taking It In” from James Taylor’s second album, taking advantage of the harp it had in common with the one on Nut Gone Flake.
So goodly byeload loyal peeplisteners, now all gatherymost in the Way Back Studios, to amuse it and have a tilty elbow or a nice cuffle. And feel free to drop by billfitzhugh.com if you’re looking for the set lists, show commentaries, or the other half of the moon. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, back next time with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Joy of the Deep Tracks.
Unless you’re driving or doing surgery, close your eyes and picture your favorite rock and roll band, any group you want. Got it? Okay, now, if you’re from one generation, you probably pictured Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard wailing on a piano. If you’re from a later generation, you’re more likely to have imagined a band fronted by a guitarist standing in the spotlight: Hendrix in front of The Experience, Townsend with his sweeping windmill, or Clapton bending another blue note. Sure, it might have started on the piano, but it didn’t take long for the guitar to become the iconic instrument of rock and roll. And don’t just take my word for it. Think of all those guitar sculptures outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the massive guitar signage outside so many Hard Rock Cafes, or the old video game, Guitar Hero. You’ll notice it’s not piano hero or drum or bass hero. And no matter what generation you’re from, it’s a safe bet that when you think of rock and roll bands, you don’t picture the front man playing a woodwind.
So you may find yourself wondering why today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is about just that. An instrument more likely to be featured in classical, jazz, or, dare I say it, New Age music. We’re talking about the flute. The first person who comes to mind when you talk about the flute in a rock ‘n’ roll context, is probably Ian Anderson, standing flamingo-like as he fronts Jethro Tull. And if there’s any question about whether the flute can rock, I believe they’ve already provided the answer. And if that’s not enough, how about Duane Allman playing with a flautist? We’ve got that too with Herbie Mann’s great cover of the Ray Charles classic “What’d I say?” We’ll also hear from Chicago, Jim Horn, The Marshall Tucker Band, and others. In fact, even in my spotty little record collection, I found so many flutey-tunes I couldn’t fit ‘em all in one set. So maybe this is just the first of many. There’s an old joke that goes: What’s worse than a flute? Two flutes. Well, from the Way Back Studios, here are seven flutes to undermine that punch line.
|Marshall Tucker Band||Heard It in a Love Song|
|Jim Horn||Going Up the Country|
|Tim Weisberg||Tibetan Silver|
|Herbie Mann||What’d I Say?|
|Chicago||It Better End Soon (2nd Movement)|
From Chicago II, that’s the 2nd Movement of “It Better End Soon” with Walter Parazaider on the flute. Before that, we heard jazz flautist Herbie Mann from his album Push Push, featuring Duane Allman on guitar as they covered the Ray Charles composition “What’d I say?” Another cover in that set was Jethro Tull’s “Bouree” based on Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Bouree in E Minor.” In the middle of the set, six years before teaming up with Dan Fogelberg for the Twin Sons album, we heard Tim Weisberg from his 1972 album Hurtwood Edge, a track called “Tibetan Silver.” Following that we heard an excerpt from the composition “Carnival” from Ballinjack.
And at the top of the set, the only country rock band I can think of whose sound was really defined by the use of a flute, the Marshall Tucker Band featuring Jerry Eubanks on the woodwind. We “Heard it in a Love Song.” After that, one of the most prolific session players in Los Angeles, Mr. Jim Horn from his solo LP, Through the Eyes of a Horn. We heard his version of “Going up the Country” and I think, though I can’t prove it, that he’s the one who played the flute on the original Canned Heat version. The flute, by the way, has been around since roughly 36,000 BC. Archeologists have found them made from swan bones, mammoth tusks, and the femurs of bears, which just goes to show how important music was even to cavemen; you really have to love it if you’re going to go so far as to get the femur out of a bear just to have some tunes.
But here in the Way Back Studios, we’re willing to do whatever it takes. And, just so you know, if you’re looking for the set lists or the show commentaries they’re posted at billfitzhugh.com along with all the naughty photos and the truth behind all the rumors. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll be back sooner or later with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.
Back in 1980, Joe Walsh ran for president on a platform of ‘free gas for everybody.’ And that’s when gas was selling for just a buck-thirteen. Unfortunately, he lost to some other guy. But now that gas is pushing four bucks a gallon, maybe Joe should consider another run at the White House. I think “Life’s Been Good” would be a great campaign song. “They say I’m crazy but I have a good time. I’m just looking for clues at the scene of the crime.” And where better than Washington? Actually, it may be too late for him to get the nomination, so we’ll just have to pack that dream away for another time. But don’t worry about Joe, he’s still got a career to fall back on. Somewhere between putting The James Gang on the map and giving the Eagles a stylistic shot in the arm, Joe found the time to record a few solo albums and, in the process, made his mark in rock history with standards like “Turn to Stone,” “Welcome to the Club,” and “Rocky Mountain Way.”
And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl revolves around another one of Joe’s classic compositions: “County Fair” from the album So What. Like a lot of his songs, “County Fair” isn’t just a straightforward verse, chorus, bridge and out affair. It consists of several parts of differing tempos and moods and one false ending, the perfect environment for hand mixing. There are essentially four parts to the song but here in the Way Back Studios, we’re not bound by the rules of terrestrial radio, so we’ll be playing one of the parts twice, making the six and a half minute track about two minutes longer. In the first half of the set, listen for the transitions between “County Fair” and Steppenwolf’s “The Pusher” which revolve around a virtually identical guitar riff. The big surprise in the middle of the set is from Tomita’s debut album, the Debussy composition “Snowflakes Are Dancing” which is played over a two minute bed of the Joe Walsh. And in the second half of the set, we’ll smoke a little “Cuban Bluegrass” and get a bad case of the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Crazies.” Then it’s one from Steve Earle before we return to the end of the Joe Walsh. So grab your corn dog and some cotton candy, we’re going to the “County Fair.”
|Joe Walsh||County Fair (part 1)|
|Steppenwolf||The Pusher (part 1)|
|Joe Walsh||County Fair (part 2)|
|Steppenwolf||The Pusher (part 2)|
|Joe Walsh||County Fair (part 3)|
|Tomita||Snowflakes Are Dancing (Mixed over Joe Walsh)|
|Joe Walsh||County Fair (part 1 repeated)|
|Manassas||Rock ‘n’ Roll Crazies/Cuban Bluegrass/Jet Set (sigh)|
|Joe Walsh||County Fair (part 4)|
Playing songs you know and love in ways you’ve never heard before, in this case, “County Fair” from Joe Walsh and his 1975 album, So What. We broke the track into five parts despite there being only four to begin with — and we did that the best way we could think of — by using the opening two minutes twice. In the first half of the set, from the soundtrack of Easy Rider, we mixed in and out of Steppenwolf’s “The Pusher,” twice, using the song’s false ending and similar guitar riff to flummox your expectations and facilitate the musical transformation.
At the other end of the set, we segued out of “County Fair” into a medley from Steven Stills and Manassas. We heard “Rock ‘n’ Roll Crazies,” “Cuban Blue Grass,” “Jet Set (Sigh).” Right about now you’re probably saying, yeah we know all that, but what was all that synthesizer business in the middle of the set? Well, it was (indirectly) the result of Wendy Carlos’s wildly successful album “Switched On Bach” that came out in 1968. A record that introduced the Moog Synthesizer to a wide public audience. Six years later, the Japanese composer, Tomita, released a collection of synthesized Debussy compositions called “Snowflakes are Dancing” which was nominated for four Grammys. We overlapped the title track on top of that two minute stretch of “County Fair” with all the symbols and guitar that we’d heard earlier.
And just before the last bit of the Joe Walsh, we got into that ‘67 Chevy with Steve Earle, drove out to the lake and then we turned back around in a song called “Someday” I hope come back for another visit to the Way Back Studios. If you’ve got any comments, questions, or suggestions drop by my website and send me an email, there’s a link at billfitzhugh.com. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll be back next time with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.
Looking back over the past few shows, it seems to me we’ve been having a little too much fun putting together those complicated segue sets. So today, I thought we’d get back to basics, return to the simple life. Nine songs, nothing fancy about the mix, they just sound good together. Nine songs about love, life, death, and politics. Plus one about sex from the band that drove the rats out of Munford, that would be Larry Raspberry with his Highsteppers.
Now, by coincidence, two of the tracks in today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl were produced by Glyn Johns, famous for his work with the Eagles, the Stones, Steve Miller and too many others to name. In this set we’ll hear his production on Joan Armatrading’s third album. And we’ll hear one he produced for Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane, from the album Rough Mix which is anything but. Elsewhere we’ll hear an acoustic cautionary tale from Cat Stevens’ fourth album, Tea for the Tillerman. Then Joan starts in singing about that brand new dandy, that first class scene stealer who walks through the crowd and takes your man, sends you running to the mirror, steeped in doubt. Well, if that doesn’t break your heart, just wait until the middle of the set when we get to the “Election Year Rag.” If you feel like you need a score card, well, you really don’t have to fuss. You know the winner’s always somebody else, and the loser is always us.
It’s enough to make you sing the blues, which is exactly what we end up doing. Eric Clapton gives us one From The Cradle, doing a version of a Barbecue Bob standard. Maria Muldaur covers one by the great Skip James. And Bonnie Raitt brings us a classic written by one of her favorite artists, Sippie Wallace. But first up, a song Toy Caldwell wrote for his wife Abbie, not long after they were married. As short and sweet as love songs get, here’s “Ab’s Song.”
|Marshall Tucker Band||Ab’s Song|
|Cat Stevens||But I Might Die Tonight|
|Joan Armatrading||Down to zero|
|Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane||April Fool|
|Eric Clapton||Motherless Child|
|Steve Goodman||Election Year Rag|
|Larry Raspberry and the Highsteppers||Tonight|
|Maria Muldour||If You Haven’t Any Hay|
|Bonnie Raitt||You Got To Know How|
If you had to choose an album based solely on its guest musicians, you could do worse than Maria Muldour’s Waitress in a Donut Shop. Before Bonnie Raitt covered Sippie Wallace with “You Got to Know How” we heard Maria covering another blues classic, the Skip James tune, “If You Haven’t Any Hay.” The other blues covered in that set was old Slowhand with “Motherless Child” which is not to be confused with “Motherless Children”; they’re different songs. But back to that Waitress in the Donut Shop for a second. I don’t have time to name everybody who plays on the record but here are some highlights: Elvin Bishop, Paul Butterfield, Dr. John, Lowell George, David Lindley, Spooner Oldham, Linda Rondstadt, and Doc Watson. And then there are jazz greats like Ray Brown, Benny Carter, “Sweets” Edison, Bud Shank, and Milt Holland. And while it’s true that having all-stars on the team doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to win every game; in this case it does. Waitress in a Donut Shop is simply a great album.
Now, the guy in the middle of the set singing about the problems with our political process was the late great Steve Goodman doing the “Election Year Rag.” After that, Larry Raspberry doing a song called “Tonight.” The set opened with a minute and nineteen seconds of love, from the Marshall Tucker Band, a sweet little ditty called “Ab’s Song.” Then we heard Cat Stevens and Joan Armatrading followed by Pete Townshend with Ronnie Laine, from one of the lost gems in the library, an album called Rough Mix, produced by Glyn Johns who also produced the Joan Armatrading. That’s all the time we’ve got but remember what Larry Raspberry said, when the sun gets low and the moon gets yellow, we’ll start out high and end up in the Way Back Studios. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. You can find the set lists and show commentaries at billfitzhugh.com along with all sorts of shocking revelations. I’ll be back sooner or later with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.
I remember it like it was just thirty-five years ago. A song like I’d never heard hit the airwaves. It was a perfect radio song but unlike any I’d heard before. Over the next three years, several other songs along the same lines followed, songs that I mentally filed into the same category. They all opened with an infectious guitar riff – sometimes electric, sometimes acoustic – but it was a riff you couldn’t resist, like this one: [“Listen To the Music” riff]. The riff played for a bar or two before the rhythm section kicked in and grabbed you like a meat hook. After 1973, a lot of groups did songs in this vein, Edgar Winter’s White Trash, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Skynyrd and others. But it was The Doobie Brothers who not only created the template for this kind of song, they also perfected it. You know the songs I’m talking about. Half of them hit the top twenty on the charts. They were early seventies summertime monsters, AM, FM, jukebox smashes.
They were the songs for sunny Saturday afternoons at the park, throwing the Frisbee with friends. Or when you finally got you license, a car, a full tank of gas, and a clean windshield. You had the eight track cued to the start of the song and you’d wait until you got to the top of the ramp before you popped it into the deck and gave it some gas. Then you shot onto the highway, elbow out the window, sun on your arm, and the rhythm section coming in as you hit seventy. These were songs that made you feel like you were finally free, on the road, rockin’ and rollin’ down the highway, just lettin’ it ride. But the songs alone aren’t what make today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl so darn much fun. See, most of them had false endings that were followed by a return to that opening riff. Well, as you know, we have rules about that sort of thing here in the Way Back Studios. And, as we like to say, it’s not just what we play, it’s how we play it. Eight songs broken into eleven parts and rearranged just to flummox your musical expectations. So here we go, playing songs you know in ways you’ve never heard before.
|Doobie Brothers||China Grove (part 1)|
|Edgar Winter’s White Trash||Free Ride (excerpt)|
|Doobie Brothers||Long Train Runnin’ (part 1)|
|Doobie Brothers||China Grove (part 2)|
|Bachman Turner Overdrive||Let It Ride (part 1)|
|Lynyrd Skynyrd||You Got That Right (part 1)|
|Bachman Turner Overdrive||Roll On Down the Highway|
|Doobie Brothers||Rockin’ Down the Highway|
|Lynyrd Skynyrd||You Got That Right (part 2)|
|Charlie Daniels Band||Feelin’ Free|
|Bachman Turner Overdrive||Let It Ride (part 2)|
Proving once again that it’s not just what we play, it’s how we play it. That’s Bachman Turner in Overdrive wrapping up a set from the heyday of the eight track tape. An ode to the summer of ’75. We took eight songs and diced ‘em into eleven parts and did a little rearranging just to mess with your expectations. Five of those songs charted in or near the top twenty, but none of them reached the top five, let alone #1. And to my great surprise, neither “Rockin’ Down the Highway” nor “You Got That Right” even reached the top 40, though they got a lot of airplay. The only truly deep track in that set was Charlie Daniels from Fire on the Mountain, a song called “Feelin’ Free.” Near the top we had the first part of Edgar Winter’s “Free Ride” and a little later, Bachman Turner’s “Let it Ride.” Elsewhere BTO did “Roll on Down the Highway” followed by the Doobies “Rockin’ Down the Highway.” Skynyrd checked in with “You Got That Right” from their album Street Survivors and elsewhere we fired up a couple of other Doobies: we did the first part of “Long Train Runnin’” followed by the second part of “China Grove” just because we can.
Well, my time’s up, and like Mr. Skynyrd said, ‘when my time’s up, I’ll hold my own. You won’t find me in an old folks home.’ Instead, I’ll be here in the Way Back Studios, working on a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl. By the way, if you want to see the set lists, show commentaries, and what else we’re up to, you’ll find all the answers at billfitzhugh.com or drop by your nearest book store and ask them to explain. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. I’ll be back sooner or later with another batch and I hope you’ll join me, right here in the Deep Tracks.
What do you get when you take a track from an English prog rock band and give it to a partially deaf guitar player from Athens, Georgia who describes his own singing voice as being comparable to geese farts on a muggy day? Well, you get the second track in today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl. In 1975, Leo Kottke covered Procol Harum’s “Power Failure” on his album Chewing Pine. And if you think that Leo Kottke means more acoustic guitars are going to follow, this probably isn’t your first visit to the Way Back Studios. Tossed and crossed, and screwed in transit, Jorma Kaukonen flies the Jefferson Airplane into the “Third Week at Chelsea” while Bonnie Raitt, broken, splintered, bruised and thrown, opts for the “Big Road.” Despite being badly shattered and gale forced frighty, Taj Mahal manages to feel the sea beneath his soul while Ry Cooder, rushed across and shown alone shows up “Smack Dab in the Middle” toward the end of the set. Trust me, that’ll make sense in a minute.
But the song that got me started on this alt folk acoustic blues extravaganza comes from B.B. King’s 1971 album, In London. It featured a dozen big names from rock and roll, including Ringo Starr, Gary Wright, Peter Green, and Dr. John. It also featured a guy whose name is less well known. A guy who was vital to the development of the British blues scene in the late fifties and early sixties. Alexis Korner had a band called Blues Incorporated that ultimately influenced the Stones, Zeppelin, and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. We’ll hear B.B. and his friends doing one with Alexis Korner on the heels of Ms. Bonnie Raitt. But first, climbing out of open windows, and crashing down from broken stairs, here’s a guy out of Colorado who I heard one night at a bar in Jackson, Mississippi. A fine guitar player by the name of John McKay doing an instrumental called “Uh Oh.”
|John McKay||Uh Oh|
|Leo Kottke||Power Failure|
|Jefferson Airplane||Third Week in Chelsea|
|Taj Mahal||When I Feel the Sea Beneath My Soul|
|Bonnie Raitt||Big Road|
|B.B. King||Alexis’s Boogie|
|Ry Cooder||Smack Dab in the Middle|
|Van Morrison||I’ve Been Working|
From the same album where he says, Hey Mr. DJ, I just wanna hear some rhythm and blues music on the radio, that’s Van Morrison, His Band, and The Street Choir doing the decidedly R and B “I’ve Been Working.” Before that, acoustic instrument fetishist, Ry Cooder giving us a little Chicken Skin Music. “Smack Dab in the Middle” of that set, we heard one from the album In London. B.B. King and Alexis Korner doing an acoustic duet called “Alexis’s Boogie.” Blowing the harp on that was the late Steve Marriott of Small Faces and Humble Pie fame. At the top of the set we heard an instrumental called “Uh Oh” written and performed by John McKay, a guy I happened to hear one night while I was out on a book tour, wandered into a bar, got knocked out by his playing, and bought his disk. And I’m pretty sure you can too, at his website. After that, Leo Kottke covering Procol Harum’s “Power Failure” followed by Jefferson Airplane from the Bark album, an acoustic gem called “Third Week in Chelsea.”
Taj Mahal gave us a pretty one called “When I Feel The Sea Beneath My Soul.” That’s from his album Music Keeps Me Together. After that, recorded live on four tracks somewhere on Enchanted Island, Bonnie Raitt from her debut album, a song called “Big Road” wherein she asks what good is a bulldog, if he won’t fuss or fight? And what good is a man can’t make his wolf stay all night in the Way Back Studios, where we like to read and answer your emails. If you want to drop me a note, I’d love to hear from you. You’ll find an email link at billfitzhugh.com or you can track me down on one of those popular social media sites. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. I’ll be back sooner or later with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.
The other day somebody asked me what I do here in the Deep Tracks. I said I see my job as being like a curator at a museum. The music library here is so vast that we can’t possibly hang all the art on the limited wall space. So my job is to pick and choose among the pieces and arrange them, essentially creating musical exhibits. And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is a fine example. It consists of seven songs, six of which have similar structures. By weird coincidence those six songs have the pronoun I or You in their title. They all open quietly with acoustic guitars or gentle vocals. Then the drums kick in, changing the tempo through the middle of the song, then they slow back down at the end and close just as quietly as they started. However, like so many of our plans here in the Way Back Studios, that wasn’t what I’d planned to do. No, the original idea was to create a set revolving around choirs. I was listening to Donovan’s Cosmic Wheels one night, an album featuring a couple of my favorite Donovan tracks, including the very funny “Intergalactic Laxative.”
But the track that got me started on this is called “I Like You.” It features a classical string arrangement and a children’s choir. That immediately brought to mind the Stones use of the London Bach Choir in “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and the Islington Green School Choir in Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall (part two).” But the Floyd didn’t work out and I couldn’t find any other choir parts that would. So, keeping the two choirs that I had, I wandered off in a different direction where I ended up stuck in Traffic with the Beatles and the Moody Blues. But before we get to those choral voices, we’ll see how two different songwriters tackled the subject of being alone and isolated. One takes the defensive and defiant approach while the other simply longs to make a connection with another human being. So, just trying to find someone to confide in, here’s Steve Forbert.
|Steve Forbert||Tonight I Feel So Far Away From Home|
|Simon & Garfunkle||I Am a Rock|
|Donovan||I Like You (part 1)|
|Moody Blues||Don’t You Feel Small?|
|Beatles||Love You To|
|Donovan||I Like You (part 2)|
|Rolling Stones||You Can’t Always Get What You Want|
Lifting a good song to greatness, those are the soaring voices of the London Bach Choir. And, just so you know, that lonely little French horn part at the top of the track was played by none other than Al Kooper. Before the London Bach Choir, we heard an unnamed children’s choir singing with Donovan on the song, “I Like You.” That’s from his album Cosmic Wheels which he recorded at Morgan Studios in London at the same time Alice Cooper was there recording his next album. Now I can’t think of two less similar artists. The father of heavy metal death shock rock and the quintessential hippie folkster. So it might surprise you to know that during these sessions, Cooper invited Donovan to sing on his album. It might surprise you even further that he accepted. So next time you hear Billion Dollar Babies, listen for Donovan trading lyrics with Alice Cooper. In between the two parts of the Donovan track, we had a little psychedelic pop jelly donut with Traffic, half the Beatles, and The Moody Blues asking the question from A Question of Balance, “Don’t You Feel Small?” From Revolver we heard “Love You To” featuring Ringo on tambourine and George Harrison on sitar; neither John nor Paul play on the track.
From there we segued over to Dave Mason playing sitar on Traffic’s “Paper Sun” before returning to the second part of “I Like You.” At the top of the set, exploring the consequences of loneliness, we heard Steve Forbert’s “Tonight I Feel So Far Away From Home” followed by Simon and Garfunkle’s ode to isolationism: “I Am A Rock.” Gazing from my window to the streets below where it’s true that you can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes you’ll find your way to the Way Back Studios. By the way, if you’re looking for the set lists or the show commentaries, you can find them at billfitzhugh.com along with the answers to many of life’s simpler questions. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for tuning in. I’ll be back another time with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you can join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.
I gotta tell you, this is the best job I’ve ever had and I’ve had a lot of jobs. I’ve tended bar and shucked oysters in Mississippi. I’ve worked as a deck hand on a squalid freight charter boat in the Virgin Islands. I’ve worked at law firms in Los Angeles and nightclubs in Seattle. Then there were the years lost to radio, publishing, and being a rodeo clown. I liked some of those jobs better than others but none better than this one. First of all I make my own hours, second, my commute’s a short walk across my back yard, and best of all when I asked the boss what I could and couldn’t do, he said, you can do whatever you want. How’re you gonna beat that? Well, given all that freedom and all these great albums, I try to mix things up, keep things interesting for everybody. Sometimes I’ll do a set of elaborate mixes and mash-ups, sometimes the set revolves around a theme, and other times I’ll just roll out a big wheelbarrow of nostalgia and spill it out your speakers.
And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is one of those. Eight songs stacked straight on the spindle, slipped slyly into your stereo via satellite. This one started out revolving around a Randy Newman track that could have been called “My Mother Strongly Urged Me Not To Attend” but instead, wisely, he went with a different title and Three Dog Night ended up having a big hit with it. Before we get there, we’ll hear one from Peter Frampton’s album Somethin’s Happening, during which it sounds to me like the background singers are singing the words “mama roux” which becomes interesting a couple of songs later when we hear one from Dr. John, a track full of that second line beat that reached all the way from New Orleans to Jamaica and influenced all the reggae artists which explains how we get to the Slickers, Toots and the Maytals, and Robert Palmer at the end of the set. But we’ll start with what strikes me as an unlikely pairing. I was listening to the Barnstorm album by Joe Walsh recently and the guitar line of one of the tracks immediately reminded of what I think is the only Beatles song that’s actually a solo performance by John Lennon. Here’s “Julia.”
|Joe Walsh||Midnight Visitor|
|Peter Frampton||Sail Away|
|3 Dog Night||Mama Told Me Not to Come|
|Dr. John||Mama Roux|
|The Slickers||Johnny Too Bad|
|Toots and the Maytalls||Pressure Drop|
|Robert Palmer||Pressure Drop (excerpt)|
That’s a little bit of the late, great, Robert Palmer, tagging his version of “Pressure Drop” onto the original version from Toots and the Maytals which I played off the Funky Kingston LP. Before that, from what is still my favorite reggae album, the soundtrack for The Harder They Come, that was “Johnny Too Bad” by The Slickers. Before that, showing the bond between reggae and New Orleans R and B. That was Dr. John with the funky beats from the Gris-Gris album back in 1968 when he was still wearing those feathered headdresses, we heard “Mama Roux.” The other mama song in that set was written by Randy Newman and performed most famously by Three Dog Night on their album It Ain’t Easy which was their fourth album in eighteen months. I’ve heard that Donna Summer sang backup on the song but I can’t prove it. In the middle of the set, we had Peter Frampton “Sailing Away” from 1974 and his album Somethin’s Happening.
At the top, John Lennon played solo on The Beatles album in 1968. “Julia” was written both for his mother, who died when John was young and for Yoko who didn’t. The opening line of the song is a variation on a line from the poem “Sand and Foam” by Kahlil Gibran. With a similar sounding guitar line, Joe Walsh followed “Julia” with “Midnight Visitor” from his album Barnstorm, his first solo album after leaving The James Gang. Well, to paraphrase Randy Newman, the satellite radio is blasting, someone’s knocking at the door. I’m looking at my girlfriend, she’s passed out on the floor of the Way Back Studios, or maybe she’s just taking a nap. Either way, thanks for listening. If you’re looking for the set lists or if you want to send me an email, you can do both from the old website, billfitzhugh.com. And while you’re there, feel free to poke around, see what else we’re up to. I’m Bill Fitzhugh and I’ll be back eventually with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.
If this is your first visit to the Way Back Studios, you’ve picked a fine time to start because this is the one-hundredth batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl. I know, they said it couldn’t be done but, thanks to you, we proved ‘em wrong. And to celebrate we invited some white punks on dope to come in and get all mixed up, you know, the way we do things around here. We’ll Mott some Hoople before Fee Waybill and his loony pals, The Thin White Duke and the Spiders from Mars drop by for some cake and ice cream. But that’s not all, so don’t answer yet. We’re also gonna to pop the cork on some bubbly and with the champagne we’ll be serving up some savory Ducks Deluxe, just the way you like ‘em, cooked in a roaring “Fireball.” Then we’ll open a box of Crunge that was sent in by Page, Plant, Bonham, and Jones which kind of sounds like the name of a law firm, but you know better than that. And by the time the party’s over we’ll be “Doin’ it to Death” with the hardest working man who used to be in show business, soul brother number one. The late, great, Mr. James Brown. (“WE GOT A DISC JOCKEY OUT THERE?”)
Yes we do, that would be me, and that’s just part of the fun. Because remember, it’s not just what we play, it’s how we play it. That’s the secret of our longevity. So, anyway, I was going through my files and I found a note that said there was this one Ducks Deluxe track that sounded like something by Lou Reed or maybe David Bowie. And I was almost right. It turned out the song I was looking for was by Mott the Hoople. The two songs essentially rely on the same guitar riff, so be listening for that transition about a minute into the set. After that it’s a free-for-all mix of pub rock, glam rock, satirical theater rock, some heavy metal, and some serious funk. But to get us started, let’s head on down to the “Dirty Boulevard” and see what kind of fun they’re having watching that landlord wet his pants. You heard me. So go on, get the wax out of your hearing holes and enjoy the 100th batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl.
|Lou Reed||Dirty Boulevard|
|Mott the Hoople||Born Late ’58 (excerpt)|
|David Bowie||Suffragette City (part 1)|
|Tubes||White Punks on Dope (part 1)|
|David Bowie||Suffragette City (part 2)|
|Tubes||White Punks on Dope (part 2)|
|Led Zeppelin||The Crunge|
|James Brown||Doin’ it to Death|
Have you ever wondered why Robert Plant starts looking for that confounded bridge at the end of “The Crunge”? Well, it’s because he and the band are doing a little send-up on James Brown who frequently recorded songs live in the studio without much rehearsal. The JBs would find a funky little groove and start vamping on it while James called out directions to the band as they played, like saying, “take it to the bridge.” (“WHERE’S THAT CONFOUNDED BRIDGE?”) Coming hot on the heels of the Zeppelin, we heard “Doing It to Death,” a single originally credited to Fred Wesley and the JBs, even though that’s James out front singing. Fred was an accomplished jazz trombonist and a frequent member of Brown’s backing band along with Maceo Parker and Bobby Byrd. At the top of the set we went to New York with Lou Reed to get a closer look at what goes on out on the “Dirty Boulevard.”
Then we heard about a minute of “Born Late ‘58” from Mott the Hoople, a band that took their name from the title of a comic novel . “Born Late ‘58” has virtually the same guitar riff as the one used in the Ducks Deluxe track “Fireball” which segued out of Mott the Hoople at one end and led us into the first part of “Suffragette City” at the other. After that we engaged in our usual transitional shenanigans mixing the Bowie with The Tubes’ satirical rocker, “White Punks On Dope.” That’s from their debut album in 1975. String all those together and you’ve got the one hundredth edition of our little show, produced here in my rickety little building on the dusty outskirts of Los Angeles. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. All the set lists and show commentaries are posted at billfitzhugh.com for your convenience and reading pleasure. I’ll be back with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl right after that mellow thighed chick puts my spine out of place here in the Way Back Studios and when that happens, I hope you’ll be here with me, in the Deep Tracks.