I’ve said this before but I think it bears repeating: adding a horn section to your Ajax Acme Do Good B-flat rock and roll band doesn’t make you a jazz ensemble any more than adding strings makes you a symphony orchestra. That’s right, it’s time for More Horn Bands. Frequent visitors know that we have an unnatural fondness for sax, trumpets, and trombones here in the Way Back Studios. And when we lean that way, they’ve come to expect tracks from Chicago and Ballinjack. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat playing a saxophone as today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl goes to show. Now while adding horns to your rock outfit doesn’t mean you’re going to be playing jazz, some of the bands just can’t help themselves. Along those lines, we’ll hear Blood, Sweat & Tears covering a Billie Holiday classic. We’ll also get the Latin side of jazz-rock courtesy of Malo. We’ll hear some serious rock and roll that happens to be horn heavy from Cold Blood and we’ll get to the Soul and Funk side of things with The Average White Band and Tower of Power.
Some time back we did a set featuring the jazzier side of Spirit where we also heard from The Crusaders, the L.A. Express, and Ronnie Laws. Well, much to my surprise, I heard from Mark Ruffin, the program director up at Real Jazz on channel 67. Mark does a great show on Sunday afternoons called ‘Beyond Jazz’ where he gets down to the roots of jazz-rock fusion. Well, it turns out Mark caught my Spirit set and wrote to say how much he liked it. Higher praise you’re not going to get. So when I was putting today’s set together, I figured we’d dedicate this one to Mark at Real Jazz. With that in mind, here’s Chase.
|Chase||Two Minds Meet|
|Blood, Sweat & Tears||God Bless the Child|
|Cold Blood||No Way Home|
|Average White Band||Soul Searching|
|Tower of Power||Walkin’ Up Hip Street|
Wrapping up a horny little batch of tracks, that’s Tower of Power takin’ a walk up Hip Street, from their album Urban Renewal. Before that, the funkiest band outta Scottland until proven otherwise, The Average White Band, we heard the title track from their album “Soul Searching.” We opened the set with a blazing trumpet piece called “Two Minds Meet” from Chase, a horn band with a difference in that they consisted of four trumpets and no other brass instruments. Bill Chase was the leader and namesake of the group which was probably the jazziest of the so called fusion bands of the era. After that we heard the Billie Holiday standard, “God Bless the Child” as performed by Blood, Sweat, and Tears in 1968. Then we got our First Taste of Sin from Cold Blood, an album produced by the late Donny Hathaway, featuring the vocals of Lycia Pense on a track called “No Way Home.” And the Latin track in the middle of the set was a song called “Nena” courtesy of Malo featuring the guitar work of Carlos Santana’s brother, Jorge. That’s all the time we’ve got but keep in mind that ‘mama may have and papa may have but God bless the child that’s got his own Way Back Studio. And remember, if you’re looking for the set lists, the show commentaries, or the truth behind the rumors you can find it all at my website or the Way Back Studio Facebook page. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll be working on a new batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl for next time and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.
Don’t you just love it when your elected officials lie to you? And ain’t it grand when the CEO bankrupts the company but walks away with a hundred million dollar golden parachute? And what about having your rights abridged? Isn’t that one of your favorite things? No? Well, I’ll be damned. It turns out that regular folks tend to get a little pissed off at being lied to and cheated. In fact, I got so mad this one time that I wrote a novel. Some people write plays. Others make movies. But today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is about the songwriters who didn’t like what they saw and said what was on their minds. That’s right, it’s time for some protest songs.
Now one of the facets of the cultural diamond that was the Nineteen Sixties was the rise of the protest song. Emerging from the Eisenhower years and all that whitebread music of the don’t-rock-the-boat variety, the country was suddenly shaken by the fight for civil rights, the war in Vietnam, and the rise of what Eisenhower himself called the military-industrial complex. Of course protest songs had been around long before the Sixties. In fact they’ve probably been around as long as we’ve had songs. And the reason for that is simple: there have always been things worth protesting. So we’ll hear a couple of protest classics from 1963 and 1968, first what’s been called ‘the bluntest condemnation in Dylan’s songbook’ and later, Chicago Transit Authority taking their cue from the demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. And just to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same, we’ll get outraged about some more recent shenanigans from the likes of John Fogarty, Graham Parker, Ian Hunter, and Steve Earle. But first, let’s hear what the troubadour had to say about the fine folks in the military industrial complex.
|Bob Dylan||Masters of War|
|John Fogarty||Deja Vu (All Over Again)|
|Ian Hunter||Fuss About Nothin’|
|Graham Parker||Stick to the Plan|
|Steve Earle||Amerika v. 6.0|
Yeah, it sucks that your HMO ain’t doin’ what you thought it would do, but everybody’s gotta die sometime. That’s “Amerika version 6.0,” Steve Earle’s indictment of the current state of affairs up to and including the insurance companies, also known as the original death panels. Before that, Graham Parker taking a closer look at everything from the flooding of New Orleans to extraordinary rendition. He could have called it Stay the Course or Don’t Cut and Run but instead he called it “Stick to the Plan.” At the top of the set Bob Dylan’s classic “Masters of War” a song that surprised the writer himself as he’d never written a song where he hoped out loud that someone would die. After that, John Fogarty making the point that what’s past is prelude. The old ghosts keep rising and day by day we count the dead and the dying. It’s like “Déjà vu All Over Again.” We followed that with a recording from the 1968 Democratic National Convention when the whole world was watching the Chicago Police do their thing. That led into Chicago Transit Authority’s “Someday.” You better run you know, the end is getting near. Feel the wind of something hard come whistling past your ear. After that, Ian Hunter singing one from the point of view of the folks who run the whole show. Ah, you’re making a “Fuss About Nothin’.” Trust me, I’m protecting your interests, these credit default swaps are fabulous…In other words, I got a bridge I can sell ya, here in the Way Back Studios. That’s all the time we have for protesting today but we’ll be back another time with some more. In the meanwhile, if you’re looking for the set lists or the show commentaries or if you’re just wondering, who is this guy, you can find all the answers at my website, billfitzhugh dot com. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. I hope you’ll join us again next time for a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl, right here, in the Deep Tracks.
If memory serves and my record keeping is at all accurate (neither of which is guaranteed), today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl features two bands that have never been in one of our sets. It’s not that the bands are what you’d consider wildly obscure, I mean, Nazareth and Humble Pie are pretty mainstream rock ‘n’ roll outfits. And it’s not that I don’t like them, I do. But as I’ve said before, the segues determine the songs we play, not the other way around. In other words, it’s outta my hands. So there I was listening to Deep Tracks one day when Nazareth came on doing a little something that put me in mind of “Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings.” But I wasn’t familiar with the track, so I had to wait and see if it was something I could work with. Well, sure enough, it’s got two false endings and a cold end, so off we went. Actually, it’s more accurate to say the song has two near false endings, but they’re close enough for what we’re up to. So, anyway, given that we’re dealing with Nazareth and that little old band from Texas, you know we’re going in search of some more crunchy guitar riffs. And we found some too. From 1971, Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton provide the riffs on a track from the Humble Pie album Rock On. Later in the set, but also from 1971, we’ll go deep with a group that didn’t have a single guy in it, a band called Fanny. They were formed by guitarist June Millington and her bass-playing sister, Jean and they put out a fine collection of albums on the Reprise label. And speaking of girls, it’s been said that all the young girls love Alice, which is another way of saying we’ll be taking a trip down Yellowbrick Road. And at the end we’ll get some Dixie Rock from Mobile, Alabama’s Wet Willie. But to get us started on this riff-rocking extravaganza, we’re going to call on a band that released three albums on the Shelter label before Shelter lost their distribution deal with MCA. Their album Belle of the Ball is a lost classic, if you ask me. We’ve played a couple of tracks from this album in the past, including their cover of Lindsey Buckingham’s track “Don’t Let Me Down Again.” So without further ado, here’s Richard Torrance and Eureka.
|Richard Torrance & Eureka||Hard Heavy Road|
|Humble Pie||Stone Cold Fever|
|Nazareth||Gimme What’s Mine (Pt. 1)|
|ZZ Top||Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings|
|Nazareth||Gimme What’s Mine (Pt. 2)|
|Elton John||All the Girls Love Alice|
|Nazareth||Gimme What’s Mine (Pt. 3)|
Wrapping up a surprisingly international set, that’s “Leona” from Wet Willie all the way from Mobile, Alabama and recorded in Macon, Georgia. Before that, a little Fanny for you. As I mentioned earlier, they are one of the first female hard rock outfits signed to a major label. Fanny was formed in California by sisters June and Jean Millington who were actually born in the Phillipines. We heard the title track to their second album, “Charity Ball,” a single which hit #40 on the Billboard charts in 1971. Now Fanny was more popular in the UK where they toured as the opening act for a lot of bancs, including Humble Pie. Speaking of whom, we heard the Pie’s “Stone Cold Fever” from the album Rock On. Now the track that got me started on that set was “Gimme What’s Mine” by the Scottish rockers, Nazareth. That’s from their 1977 album Expect No Mercy. The song has a couple of false endings and in into the first one, we slipped that little old band from Texas doing one of my favorite ZZ Top songs, “Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings” from the studio side of their Fandango album. Then it was back to Nazareth for a minute before we heard the tale of that poor little darling with a chip out of her heart, the girl acting in a movie when she’s got the wrong part. “All the Girls Love Alice” from Elton John’s two-record set Goodbye Yellowbrick Road. I read somewhere that Bernie Taupin wrote all the songs on the album in two and a half weeks while Elton cranked out the tunes in three or four days. The record went on to sell 15 million or so copies, so that works out to a pretty decent hourly wage. At the very top of the set, we heard Richard Torrance and Eureka’s “Hard Heavy Road” from their great album Belle of the Ball which you can find on CD, at Richard Torrance dot com. And as long as you’re poking around on the web, be sure to stop by our Facebook page or my website, Bill Fitzhugh dot com where we keep all the set lists and show commentaries along with all the shocking photos. From the Way Back Studios, I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll be back next time with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here, in the Deep Tracks.
There’s an old bit floating around the internet talking about the requirements for singing the blues. It makes the point that you can’t sing the blues if you live in a beach house in Hawaii. And blues can’t be about flying around in your private jet or driving your Ferarri through the Alps. No, you wanna sing the blues, you need to have a broke down truck and you better be living in a shotgun shack. Well, today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is more rhythm and blues than straight blues, but the songs come from the same emotional place. In fact, these songs are all about place. See, you couldn’t have written these songs if you grew up in a penthouse on Central Park West, or a gated community in the greater Dallas area. These songs were written by and about people living on the edge, check to check and frequently it was a check of the welfare variety. Songs about living below the poverty line fall roughly into two categories: rural and urban. If you lived out in the country, you might have been struggling to make ends meet “Down in the Boondocks” as Billy Joe Royal called it. In some places you’d be living in what Johnny Rivers called “The Poor Side of Town” which was usually on the other side of the tracks.
But if you were poor and living in the big city, you were probably hanging your hat in the projects. Back in the day this is what was called the slums or ‘the ghetto.’ The term ‘ghetto’ goes back a ways and originally meant a part of a city where a specific ethnic group was essentially confined or separated from the majority. In the U.S., in the Sixties and Seventies, the word came to mean a poverty-stricken, overcrowded, crime-ridden, part of town. In other words, you weren’t separated because of your race so much as your bank balance, though the overlap of the two things was noticeable. And there were plenty of songwriters who took that as the subject for their songs. So today we’re going to leave the relative affluence and comfort of the Way Back Studios and head for the sort of neighborhood where hope is hard to come by. We’re going to the ghetto.
|War||The World is a Ghetto (Pt. 1)|
|Marvin Gaye||Inner City Blues|
|War||The World is a Ghetto (Pt. 2)|
|Donny Hathaway||The Ghetto|
|War||The World is a Ghetto (Pt. 3)|
|Elvis Presley||In the Ghetto|
That’s Bill Withers singing about the struggles of living up in “Harlem.” Not that he lived there. Bill was actually born and raised in West Virginia coal country where times were hard for most people most of the time, which just goes to show that you don’t have to live above 110th Street to understand what it is to struggle. That’s from one of the great debut albums in the Deep Tracks library, from 1971, it’s called Just as I Am, produced by none other than Booker T. Jones. Before that, a little bit of a curve ball in the middle of all that rhythm, blues, and laid back jazzy California funk. “In The Getto” is a tragic tale about the unbroken cycle of generational poverty, a subject that seems unlikely to appeal to a wide radio audience, but Elvis Presley took the song written by Mac Davis and nearly got to the top of the charts with it in 1969. The starting point for that set was the title track for War’s number one album, “The World is a Ghetto.” Now, they hit the charts with a four minute single version of the song but here we took the original ten minute version of socio-political commentary and chopped it into three parts. In the first break we got a bad case of the “Inner City Blues” from Marvin Gaye’s seminal long player, What’s Going On, an album Rolling Stone ranked #6 of the 500 greatest albums of all time. After that it was back to the War for the sax solo before we heard Donny Hathaway’s “The Ghetto,” from his album Everything is Everything. Well, it makes me wanna holler and throw up both my hands that we’re all out of time but instead, I’ll just remind you that we’ve got the set lists and the show commentaries on my website, bill Fitzhugh dot com, and we’ve got a nice little place on Facebook where we can do the whole social media thing. I’m Bill Fitzhugh from the Way Back Studios, thanks for listening. I’m gonna start on a new batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl for next time and I hope you can join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.
A while back I told the tale of a Dave Mason and Poco concert I tried to attend one night in the summer of 1975 before fate (in the form of a Mississippi Highway patrolman) intervened and allowed the concert to proceed without me. The story was my way of introducing one of our periodic All Hand Mixed Vinyl Concert sets. Figuring I wasn’t the only one who had missed a show back in day, I solicited similar stories from listeners and, sure enough, the confessions poured in, including some that happened more recently than the 1970s. For example, there’s Richard Shinnick. He wrote to say that he had four front-row tickets to Kansas performing at the Westbury Music Fair. Richard went to an early version of Google Maps and put in the following address: 960 Brush Hollow Road, Westbury, Connecticut. As he tells the story, Richard was in a rush and failed to notice that Google Maps didn’t find the exact address. And what’s funny is that when this early version of the program couldn’t find the address you asked for, it simply sent you to the dead center of whatever state you had plugged in. Some time later, Richard was in the middle of Connecticut, unable to find Brush Hollow Road so he did what any reasonable person might do and finally looked at his tickets. Of course that’s when he discovered the Westbury Music Fair takes place on Long Island. Richard says he made valliant attempt to get there but time and distance being what are, he didn’t make it. He never says if he had three geographically impaired friends along for the ride of if three folks were waiting for him at the gate or if he was going to scalp the remaining tickets. But it’s a moot point. He did say that he managed to catch Kansas at that venue about ten years later. And in keeping with Richard’s original story, we’re not going to hear Kansas in this set. Maybe next time. Meanwhile, this one’s not for the faint of heart. Buckle up. From the Way Back Studios, here’s another All Hand Mixed Vinyl concert…
|Edgar Winter’s White Trash||Still Alive and Well|
|ZZ Top||Jailhouse Rock|
|Lou Reed||White Light/White Heat|
|Neil Young||Yonder Stands the Sinner|
|Blues Magoos||(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet|
|Thin Lizzy||The Rocker|
|Mott the Hoople||Violence|
|Frank Zapppa||Happy Together|
Recorded in June of 1971 at the famed Fillmore East, that’s the perfect song to end a live set, with Frank Zappa mourning the end of Bill Graham’s celebrated venue for rock ‘n’ roll. Sooner or later we’ll get around to playing “Mud Shark” off that album, so we can hear the story featuring John Bonham and someone from Vanilla Fudge, all set in Seattle’s Edgewater Inn (where guests can fish from their windows). While most people are familiar with Frank Zappa by name, they’re much less familiar with most of his music and the members his band. This particular line up included (among others) Howard Kaylan, Mark Volman, and Jim Pons, all former members of The Turtles, hence the cover of the classic “Happy Together.” Before that, Mott the Hoople from 1974, doing a track called “Violence.” Thin Lizzy before that with “The Rocker.” We opened the set with Edgar Winter’s White Trash which included his brother Johnny along with Rick Derringer and Jerry LaCroix. Every now and then I know, it’s kinda hard to tell, but they’re “Still Alive and Well.” After that ZZ Top went all Leiber and Stoller on us with their take on “Jailhouse Rock” from the live side of Fandango, followed by Lou Reed’s “White Heat/White Light.” Then it was on to the Seattle Coliseum in 1973, with Neil Young doing a song called “Yonder Stands the Sinner.” And in the middle of the set, the only track we pulled off a CD, we heard The Blues Magoos and a song that hit #5 on the charts in 1967. Here, we heard a version recorded at Cavestomp in November of 2000. “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet.” And we ain’t got no more time either. The lights are coming up and we’re getting the bum’s rush but thanks for joining us. If you’re looking for he set lists, show commentaries, or the newly opened FBI files, you can find it all at my website, Bill Fitzhugh dot com, or track us down on Facebook. I’m Bill Fitzhugh in the Way Back Studios, thanks for listening. I’ll be back sooner or later with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you can join us, right here, in the Deep Tracks.