Anyone who has read the Village Voice more than a few times since around 1970 is probably familiar with the music critic Robert Christgau. If you haven’t read his work there, perhaps you’ve seen it in Esquire or Rolling Stone or Blender or any number of places. He’s referred to, not least by himself, as the ‘dean of American rock critics.’ Like a lot of good writers with strong opinions he’s someone you either love or hate. Lou Reed, for example. If the tirade on his live album Take No Prisoners is any indication, Lou’s not a big fan. Me? I like him. Don’t always agree with him, but his writing’s a lot of fun. It’s been variously described as maddening, thought-provoking, or catty, like he when he described Willy DeVille as “The song-poet of greaser nostalgia.” Or Jackson Browne’s writing as ‘sentimental sexism and kitschy doomsaying.”
The reason I bring him up is that knowledgeable though he is, like a lot of us, sometimes he just gets it as wrong as is humanly possible. Exhibit A to that claim is somewhere in the middle of this week’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl. It’s a track off David Crosby’s album If I Could Only Remember My Name, an album Cristgau graded a D minus and called a ‘disgraceful performance.’ Well, everybody has one. And my opinion differs. You get to make up your own mind. We’ll hear a song called “Laughing” featuring Crosby with Graham Nash, Joni Mitchell, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, and Bill Kreutzmann. As long as I was at it, I looked up Christgau’s reviews of the other albums represented in the set. I couldn’t find his thoughts on Captain Beyond but he liked Fleetwood Mac’s Mystery to Me alright, gave it a B+. He seems to have a grudging respect for the country blues interpretations of Hot Tuna, and he gets pretty close to heaping praise on Randy Newman’s Good Old Boys. But I couldn’t find his review of Steve Forbert’s debut album, Alive on Arrival. So, you be the judge. Let’s return now to “Grand Central Station, March 18, 1977.”
|Steve Forbert||Grand Central Station, March 18, 1977|
|Hot Tuna||Water Song|
|Captain Beyond||Sufficiently Breathless|
|Randy Newman||Louisiana 1927|
What has happened down here is the wind have changed. Nobody does character and setting in three minutes any better than Randy Newman. That’s from his classic album Good Old Boys. A song called, “Louisiana 1927.” Before that, it’s a Mystery to Me why that Fleetwood Mac album didn’t go platinum, but it didn’t. We heard a beautiful Christine McVie track called “Why?” ending with those strings that segued so nicely into the Randy Newman. Why? I dunno, just did. We opened the set with a guy out of Meridian, Mississippi. Steve Forbert, who wasn’t the first guy to be dubbed the New Dylan, is my favorite example of someone who should have been huge but who ended up with more a cult following. From his fabulous 1978 debut album, Alive on Arrival, we heard “Grand Central Station, March 18, 1977.” If you’re a fan of that record, you’ll want to check out his 2001 release, Young Guitar Days which features previously unreleased tracks from around the same era. Steve’s still out there performing and recording so stop by his website and check his schedule. If he’s in the neighborhood go check him out.
The rest of the set was a healthy serving of spaced out acoustic cowboy hippie pop rock melodies all tenderly hand mixed and all vinyl, except for the Hot Tuna, because my copy of Burgers sounds like someone took it from the sleeve and danced on it in a parking lot. We heard the classic “Water Song” followed by “Sufficiently Breathless” from Captain Beyond a band formed in the wakes of Deep Purple and Iron Butterfly. And in the middle, David Crosby with Graham Nash, Joni Mitchell and half the Grateful Dead. From Crosby’s solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name. Oh, that’s right. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, in the Way Back Studios. Thanks for joining us. If you want to see the set lists, drop by the old web site at billfitzhugh.com. In the meanwhile, I’ll be working on another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl, right here in the Deep Tracks.
Way, way back in the mists of time, somewhere in the mid-1980’s, there was a radio station in Seattle: K.J.E.T. K-Jet, 15-90 on the AM dial. They were one of the first stations to play the likes of Camper Van Beethoven and Wall of Voodoo. K-JET’s program director was a guy named Steve Larson who moved to the Emerald City after doing album rock radio at KBPI-FM in Denver. And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is anchored by a brilliant segue created by my pal Steve. It happened like this: One night, KBPI was hosting a Supertramp concert. Prior to the show, as was the norm, they were playing the station’s feed over the venue’s sound system. Steve says that just before the lights dimmed they were playing Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” As the song winds down with its bluesy acoustic guitar and Robert Plant singing the closing lines, Supertramp took the stage and began playing “School” which opens with an extended harmonica part. Well, Steve knows a good segue when he hears one, but at that moment he didn’t know exactly how good it was. So after the concert he returned to the station and pulled Zeppelin’s debut album and Supertramp’s Crime of the Century and discovered it was a doozy. Smack in the middle of today’s set is perhaps the single best song-to-song segue in the history of mankind. And as you listen, keep in mind there is no harmonica on the Zeppelin record.
But of course two songs does not a full set make, so we’ll go from “School” to “School’s Out” a song that ends with what sounds like someone stopping the record on the turntable, which is the same sound effect David Bowie used to transition from “Momma’s Little Jewel” into “All The Young Dudes” on that Mott the Hoople album he produced, resulting in yet another fun segue. But before those Classic Vinyl war horses, we’ll go a little deeper. From Jethro Tull’s Benefit: “Sossity, You’re a Woman.”
|Jethro Tull||Sossity, You’re a Woman|
|Led Zeppelin||Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You|
|Alice Cooper||School’s Out|
|Mott the Hoople||All the Young Dudes|
You gotta like an album that wears panties. Back in 1972 when you brought home your copy of Alice Cooper’s School’s Out and you slid the album from the sleeve with your trembling little fingers, you found it wearing a pair of cheap blue panties. A pair of which I currently have in my possession. They didn’t do that sort of thing with cds. And you can’t do it with MP3 files. But they did it with vinyl. Rumor has it the original release of the album was recalled because the panties weren’t flame retardant, which raises the questions: who figured that out and under what circumstances? In any event, if you joined us in the middle of that set you may have thought you’d tuned into Classic Vinyl, what with all the rock standards being trotted out. But as I’ve explained before, here in the Way Back Studios, the segues determine the songs we play, not the other way around. So when we noticed “School’s Out” ends with the same sound effect you hear at the start of “All the Young Dudes,” well, we just couldn’t help ourselves.
But the real beauty in that set was a mix created by my friend Steve Larson when he was at KBPI-FM in Denver back in the mid Seventies. Going from Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” into Supertramp’s “School,” we overlapped thirty-some-odd seconds of Rick Davies harmonica part over the end of the Zeppelin. What’s most amazing is how they both break at the same time, several times during that thirty seconds. In fact, it sounds like Davies is playing harmonica with Led Zeppelin. Steve Larson, by the way, was the program director for K.J.E.T., Seattle when we met in the early Eighties. KJET was one of the country’s first new wave stations, and also the first station in the nation to carry a show called Radio Free Comedy, a little something you can read about in the archives section of my website, Billfitzhugh dot com. At the top of the set, we went deep with Jethro Tull’s “Sossity, You’re a Woman.” Maybe those panties belong to her. From the Way Back Studios, I’m Bill Fitzhugh not wearing the cheap blue panties. I’ll be back eventually with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl, right here in the Deep Tracks
Are you a people person? Or do you find yourself identifying more with Somerset Maugham who said, “I’ve always been interested in people, but I’ve never liked them.” People. Everywhere you go, there’s more of ‘em. Something like six billion of them on the planet now. And of course they say it takes all kinds of people; it really doesn’t, but they’re all there just the same, if you don’t mind my paraphrasing Steve Forbert. You got powerful people, lonely people, and everyday people. In fact you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some kind of people. People who can’t drive. People who can’t shoot straight. People who just drive you nuts.
What was it Bobby Slayton said? “If you can’t laugh at yourself, make fun of other people.” And of course there are the immortal words of Charles Schultz who said, “I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand.” Well, today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is of the people, by the people, and for the people. People like Joan Armatrading and Eleanor Rigby, Jonathan Edwards and Sly Stone. You know, a wise man once said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot redeem your frequent flier miles to get from L.A. to New York on short notice. And speaking of Frank Zappa, I really wanted to play Po-jama People, but we just don’t have the time.
But we do have time for two versions of a song by one of my favorite people, Curtis Mayfield. We’ll hear two interpretations of his classic, “People Get Ready.” You know, according to Woody Allen, “There are two types of people, the good and the bad. The good sleep better but the bad seem to enjoy their waking hours much more.” Actually I don’t think that’s true. I think the two kinds of people are those who think there are only two kinds of people and those who disagree. As for me? I’d have to agree with Jim Morrison who said it best and in only three words: People are Strange.
|Gino Vannelli||Powerful People|
|Sly & Family Stone||Everyday People|
|The Beatles||Eleanor Rigby|
|Chambers Brothers||People Get Ready|
|Jonathan Edwards||People Get Ready (part 1)|
|The Doors||People Are Strange|
|Jonathan Edwards||People Get Ready (part 2)|
The people have spoken. That’s the end of the Jonathan Edwards version of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” a song that was huge hit for The Impressions in 1965. The other version in the set was by a group out of Lee County, Mississippi: the Chambers Brothers. “People Get Ready” was actually the title of the first record, which, oddly enough, was a live album. We heard a studio version recorded a few years later for their album The Time Has Come. It turns out that three songs in this set made it onto the Rolling Stone list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. “People Get Ready” is # 24 on the list, which explains why you can find so many cover versions. During that little break near the end of the Jonathan Edwards version, we opened The Doors to find Jim Morrison explaining that, “People Are Strange.” We started the set with the title track of Gino Vannelli’s album, “Powerful People” – the same album that contains one of Gino’s better known tracks, “People Gotta Move.”
After that we did a two song segue I used to do back in my FM radio daze, going from Joan Armatrading’s “People” to Sly and The Family Stone’s “Everyday People” which was the first song by Sly and the Family to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot One Hundred. It’s also the second song in the set to make that Rolling Stone list, coming in at #145. After that, we did two back-to-back that were produced by George Martin. First, the only song in the set without the world ‘people’ in the title: “Eleanor Rigby” from Revolver, followed by America’s “Lonely People” for reasons that should be obvious to most people. By the way, on that Rolling Stone list, “Eleanor Rigby” comes in at #137. Well, sometimes I’m right, and I can be wrong. My own beliefs are in the songs I play here in the Way Back Studios. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. If you want to find the set lists for any of the shows, drop by my website, billfitzhugh dot com. I’ll be back before you know it with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl, right here in the Deep Tracks.
Kids if you want some fun, the Way Back Studios is the place you wanna be. We’re always laughing and playing the record machine here on dusty outskirts of Los Angeles. And today is no different except maybe a little bit. Because this batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl consists of seven tracks that revolve around something that’s not exactly what you’d call Ajax Acme Do Good B-flat rock and roll. In fact some of the songs in today’s set have what you might call a funny beat. Some of it stems from Afro-Caribbean carnival music: call it calypso, chutney, or steelpan. Others stem more from the rhythms originating in Jamaica: ska and rock-steady, verging on reggae where the accent’s on the off beat, sometimes known as the skank or the blue beat. A rhythm that eventually takes us down to New Orleans for that second line back beat Mardi Gras music as played by The Meters. The funky sort of groove that inspired Lowell George and his Little Feat to cook up that “Dixie Chicken” the way they did.
Now, as much as we all might enjoy it, we’re not going down to the dock to hear Harry Belafonte do the “Banana Boat Song” but we do end up in “Montego Bay,” a big hit for Bobby Bloom back in 1970. Unfortunately, that turned out to be his only hit. At the age of 28, he was shot and killed while scuffling with a man who was never identified. And, as usual, the fight was over a girl, a girl whose name, like the killer’s, was lost in the gunsmoke, but we’ll call her “Cecelia” for reasons that become apparent about three songs in. Of course since none of the songs have exactly the same beatn they pretty much defy being segued. But that’s never stopped me before, so consider yourself forewarned. In any event, all this music comes from fun-in-the-sun places which is why we call this the resort music set. So put on your Bermuda shorts and plenty of sun screen, stick an umbrella in your drink and turn up the volume because “Everyone’s Gone To The Movies.”
|Steely Dan||Everyone’s Gone to the Movies|
|Art Garfunkle||I Shall Sing|
|Simon and Garfunkle||Cecelia|
|Bobby Bloom||Montego Bay|
|Robert Palmer||Man Smart, Woman Smarter|
|The Meters||Hey Pockey Away|
|Little Feat||Dixie Chicken|
For a guy born in L.A., and I don’t mean lower Alabama, Lowell George sure could sound like he grew up down in New Orleans or at least near the bright lights of Memphis and the Commodore Hotel. Sort of like Randy Newman in that respect except where Randy conjured that Southern image with his lyrics, Lowell did it with that funky southern syncopation. Before “Dixie Chicken” we heard from some guys who ARE New Orleans. The Meters gave us a lot of great music over the years but none greater than “Hey Pockey Away.” That’s from their Rejuvination album in 1974. Robert Palmer was big fan of The Meters and used them as a back up group on some of his recordings but on “Man Smart, Woman Smarter,” he’s got most of Little Feat sitting in with him. That’s from an album called Some People Can Do What They Like. Like having Little Feat sit in with you.
Before the Robert Palmer, we heard Bobby Bloom’s one hit, “Montego Bay.” Earlier I told you about the unfortunate circumstances of Bobby’s death at the age of 28. Here’s the rest of the story, or at least some of it: Bobby’s producer Jeff Barry, who co-wrote “Montego Bay” with Bloom, was surprised one day to found out he was the sole beneficiary of Bloom’s life insurance policy. Now that’s a friend. At the top of the set, Steely Dan shared the smutty little story of Mr. LaPage with his 8 millimeter projecter showing the kids things they’d never seen before in “Everyone’s Gone To The Movies.” Then it was Art Garfunkle from Angel Clare covering Van Morrison’s “I Shall Sing” which was reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkle’s “Cecelia.” It’s been many years since she ran away, and yes, that guitar player sure could play in the Way Back Studios. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. If you want to find out more about the show, just give me a Google and drop by the website. It’s all there. I’ll be back next time with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl right here in the Deep Tracks.
Every now and then we put a set together that, upon further examination, we discover has unforeseen connections, songs we didn’t realize had the same guitarist or songwriter or producer, something like that. And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is one of those. It’s actually two short sets attached loosely by guitar strings. The surprising connection goes like this: Way back in the day, I used to do a segue from an obscure Michael Franks song called “When Blackbirds Fly” into “Deep Down Inside” by an obscure artist named Cheryl Dilcher. The segue was based on a similar guitar line in the two songs. Flash forward a few decades and we’re out here trying to expand that into a longer set with our friend and frequent Way Back Studio contributor, D. Victor Hawkins. When he heard the guitar line, he immediately grabbed The Monkees’ album Headquarters, told me to play a song called “You Told Me.” And sure enough, I can hear that guitar line in there.
Now here’s the surprising connection: Headquarters was produced by a guy named Jeff Barry. His name struck me because a couple of weeks ago we did a set with Bobby Bloom’s “Montego Bay,” which it turns out Jeff Barry co-wrote and produced. So I’m sitting here looking at the Cheryl Dilcher album, released on A&M records in 1973, and who do you think produced it? Sure enough, Jeff Barry. What’re the odds? Anyway, we took the Michael Franks, Cheryl Dilcher, and The Monkees and inserted them in the middle of the Buckingham Nicks track “Frozen Love.”
But before we get there, we’ll do something completely different. Two David Crosby compositions that are all about the vocal arrangements. But first, a group that formed in Toronto in 1984. I’ve taken two parts from their song “Tell Me Your Dream” and of course I’ve played them out of order for maximum effect. We start with a beautiful piano part before going into some stunning harmonies, with guest vocalist Sarah McLachlan. One of the prettiest things you’ll ever hear. Here’s Blue Rodeo.
|Blue Rodeo||Tell Me Your Dream (part 2)|
|Blue Rodeo||Tell Me Your Dream (part 1)|
|Crosby & Nash||Critical Mass|
|Buckingham Nicks||Frozen Love (part 1)|
|Michael Franks||When Blackbirds Fly|
|Cheryl Dilcher||Deep Down Inside|
|The Monkees||You Told Me|
|Buckingham Nicks||Frozen Love (part 2)|
I dare say that without the display on your radio, you’d have been hard pressed to name all four of the artists in the second half of that set. We ended with Buckingham Nicks, the easiest of the bunch, from their one and only album. Before that, The Monkees from their album Headquarters, the first record that really featured performances by the group members instead of session players. That was Peter Tork picking the banjo on Mike Nesmith’s “You Told Me.” Before that, singer-songwriter-guitarist Cheryl Dilcher who recorded a couple of albums for A&M in the early 70’s but somehow never caught on. We heard “Deep Down Inside” from her album Butterfly. And we heard Michael Franks from his first album, a folky, singer-songwriter thing called “When Blackbirds Fly” featuring Wendy Waldman on dulcimer. Franks went on to have a successful career with a series of pop jazz vocal records for Warner Brothers, but that first one came out on the Brut label, distributed by Buddah Records. Deep labels for Deep Tracks.
It was only after putting the set together that I discovered the Cheryl Dilcher and the Monkees were both produced by Hall of Fame songwriter Jeff Barry, whose co-writing credits include a bunch of girl group hits like “Da Do Run Run” and “Be My Baby” among others. At the top of the set we wandered a little outside the Deep Tracks library to find a vocal harmony to lead us into the Crosby-Nash vocalizations of “Critical Mass” and “Orleans.” The group Blue Rodeo started us off with two excerpts from a track called “Tell Me Your Dream.” That comes from a great album called Five Days in July, came out in 1994. Well, that’s all the time we’ve got today, thanks for joining us in the Way Back Studios. I’m Bill Fitzhugh and I’ll be back eventually with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl, right here in the Deep Tracks.
There are only two ways to serve rock and roll. Carefully cooked up and crafted in the comfort and convenience of a studio, with multiple takes, overdubs and edits, and all the other tricks and gimmicks that guarantee perfection and deliver a recording unblemished by error, untouched by improvisation, and uncorrupted by the vagaries of real life. The other way is unrestrained and uninhibited, uncorked and undeniable. Working without a net, all the jambs kicked out, live on stage in front of a teeming mass of screaming fanatics.
Now it’s true that a lot of great rock and roll has been created in the studio, but it doesn’t come to life until it hits the stage. And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is nothing if not live. We’ve got Bruce and Southside Johnny, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, all the Mad Dogs and Englishmen plus Elvin, Edgar, and the Allmans. And while we usually save segues for the studio sets, we located some live ones for your listening pleasure. The lights are going down so get ready for another live Hand Mixed Concert from the stages of the Way Back Studios…
|Southside Johnny||Trapped Again|
|Elvin Bishop||Rock My Soul|
|Edgar Winter||Turn on Your Lovelight (part 1)|
|Joe Cocker||Intro/Honkey Tonk Women|
|Edgar Winter||Turn on Your Lovelight (part 2)|
|Allman Bros.||Done Somebody Wrong|
|Edgar Winter||Turn on Your Lovelight (part 3)|
That’s Edgar Winter covering a song covered by a LOT of artists, from James Cotton to The Grateful Dead, but most famously by Bobby Blue Bland. “Turn on Your Love Light.” As it turned out, quite by accident, that set was mostly covers. We had The Allman Brothers covering the Elmore James classic “Done Somebody Wrong”; The Mad Dogs and Englishmen covered the Glimmer Twins song about that gin soaked barroom queen in Memphis, Southside Johnny covered Springsteen’s “Trapped Again” and, at the very top of the set, Bruce gave us a cover of “Trapped” by Jimmy Cliff, which we took from the album, We Are the World.
In fact the only guy in that entire set with the modesty to cover himself was Elvin Bishop who gave us a lively take on “Rock My Soul.” Well the concert ran a little long so we’re running a little short on time. Thanks for listening. By the way, if you’re looking for the set lists to any of the shows, drop by my website and poke around until you find them. All you need to do is give me Google and I’ll think you’ll find what you need. I’m Bill Fitzhugh and I’ll be back with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl before you know it, satellite delivered from the Way Back Studios to the Deep Tracks.
All right boys and girls, sharpen those number two pencils. It’s time for another Way Back Studios Pop Quiz. Here’s your first question: What is the best selling album of all time? Answer? Michael Jackson’s Thriller with estimated sales of over 100 million albums. Here’s your second question: what album was at the top of the list prior to Thriller? Was it Dark Side of the Moon; Bridge Over Troubled Water; Abbey Road; or Tapestry? The answer? Well that depends on whose numbers you believe… but for the purposes of today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl, let’s say it was Carole King’s breakthrough singer-songwriter-confessional tour de force, released in 1971. With worldwide sales estimated at 22 million units, Tapestry eventually landed at #36 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Albums of all time, and today’s featured track, “It’s Too Late” not only hit #1 on the charts, it also won a Grammy for Record of the Year and made the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of all time. So what did we do? We broke the song in half and stuck something in the middle, proving once again that we just can’t leave well enough alone.
What happened was this: I was listening to Tapestry one night and, in the middle of “It’s Too Late,” I heard something that reminded me of Traffic. So I grabbed John Barleycorn and dropped the needle here and there until we came to “Freedom Rider” and the mix was in. After that, it’s a lot of big horn sections and cold endings. We’ll hear from the late great Buddy Miles, a song called “Heart’s Delight” featuring the Memphis Horns who lead us to Chicago and their second album. And as long as the horns are blowing, we’ll leave the countryside and get out to Oakland for some Urban Renewal with Tower of Power. And we’ll wrap it up with big hit from 1971 by the current owner of the Killer Shrimp restaurant chain, Lee Michaels, which leads us to the final question in today’s pop quiz: “Do You Know What I Mean?”
|Carol King||It’s Too Late (part 1)|
|Carol King||It’s Too Late (part 2)|
|Buddy Miles||Heart’s Delight|
|Chicago||In the Country|
|Tower of Power||Only So Much Oil|
|Lee Michaels||Do You Know What I Mean?|
The story goes that Lee Michaels wrote that song at five in the morning and didn’t think much of it at the time, considered it filler material at best. Of course it turned out to be his biggest hit, reaching #6 on the Billboard chart, which just goes to show ya, “Do You Know What I Mean?” Before that, Tower of Power putting the funk into the politics of sweet light crude as they testify about the limits of the world’s petroleum reserve. There’s “Only so Much Oil in the Ground.” That’s from their album Urban Renewal, from 1974. Funny how that sounds like it might have been written this year instead of thirty-five years ago. But soon enough the world will watch the wells run dry. At the top of the set we did a little hand mixing. We took “Freedom Rider” from Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die and slipped it into the middle of Carole King’s smash hit, “It’s Too Late” from the Tapestry album. By the way, have you ever watched a Lakers game and wondered who that guy is sitting next to Jack Nicholson? That’s Lou Adler, the guy who produced Tapestry among a great many other things, like the Monterey International Pop Festival, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
In the middle of the set we heard the Memphis Horns blowing alongside Buddy Miles on a song called “Hearts Delight.” That’s from Them Changes, an album the All Music Guide says is “quite simply one of the great lost treasures of soul inspired rock music.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s one of my all time favorites. After that, a Terry Kath composition called “In The Country” from Chicago’s second album. Well, there’s only so much oil in the ground, and there are only so many ticks on the clock, which means our time’s up. If you’re looking for the set lists for any of these shows, drop by my website and click around till you find what you’re looking for. I’m Bill Fitzhugh and I’ll be back before you know it with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl, right here in the Deep Tracks.
Blood, Sweat, and Tears had an enviable winning streak in 1969. During a six month period, three of their songs reached #2 on the charts: “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” “Spinning Wheel,” and the Laura Nyro classic, “And When I Die.” By spring of the following year, if you’d been listening to Top 40 Radio, you’d have heard these three horn-driven hits a thousand times. And if you turned on your radio in April of 1970 and heard the brand new horn-driven single “Vehicle” you could be forgiven for thinking it was Blood, Sweat, and Tears when in fact it was The Ides of March. “Vehicle” was written by Jim Peterik, a guy whose heart had been broken by a girl named Karen. Some months after she unceremoniously dumped him, Karen had the nerve to call and ask him for a ride somewhere. Of course, he obliged. Well this happened several more times before Jim tired of being nothing more than her chauffer. And one day he looked at her and said, “You know, all I am to you is your vehicle.” That’s when the light bulb came on over his head and the heartbreak finally paid off.
But that’s not the song that got me started on today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl. That honor goes to the Blood, Sweat, and Tears hit, “And When I Die.” A song with lots of horns, two false endings, and a cold end. Well, as you know, we have a rule here in the Way Back Studios that says if you find a song with a hole, stick something in it. As you might expect, we’ll put the Ides of March and their horns into one of those holes. But what you might NOT expect in the other is “Thirteen Questions,” a song with a violin riff that echoes the horn riff from “Vehicle” and also has a false ending. And that’s just the first half of the set. After that, it’s a left turn into Van Morrison and Fleetwood Mac, then some more hand mixing between two versions of Pete Townshend’s “Pure and Easy” before ending up with one from Chicago Transit Authority. And when I die, I just hope they have satellite radio where ever I end up.
|Blood, Sweat & Tears||And When I Die (part 1)|
|Seatrain||13 Questions (part 1)|
|Ides of March||Vehicle|
|Blood, Sweat & Tears||And When I Die (part 2)|
|Seatrain||13 Questions (part 2)|
|Blood, Sweat & Tears||And When I Die (part 3)|
|Van Morrison||Jackie Wilson Said|
|Fleetwood Mac||Keep On Going|
|Pete Townsend||Pure and Easy (part 1)|
|The Who||Pure and Easy (part 2)|
|Pete Townsend||Pure and Easy (Part 3)|
|Chicago Transit Authority||Listen|
I said, all you got to do is “Listen.” Chicago Transit Authority. Before that, there once was a note, listen. We did a little mixing between the two versions of “Pure and Easy” one from The Who and the other from Pete Townshend’s first solo album. At the top of the set, we heard why a lot of people, back in April of 1970, thought the Ides of March hit “Vehicle” was actually Blood, Sweat and Tears. We also heard how similar it’s main horn riff was to the violin riff in Seatrain’s “Thirteen Questions.” As I mentioned earlier, “Vehicle” was written by Jim Peterik after being dumped by a girlfriend who then kept calling him, asking for rides in his ‘64 Valiant. As Jim tells the story on his website, the original opening line of the song was, “I got a set of wheels pretty baby, won’t you hop inside my car?” He did a rewrite after a friend showed him a government-issued anti-drug pamphlet illustrated with a drawing of a dope dealing degenerate cruising in his car looking for easy targets. The caption read, “I’m the friendly stranger in the black sedan, won’t you hop inside my car?” Peterik, by the way, went on to form Survivor, and he co-wrote their hit “Eye of the Tiger.” He also wrote songs recorded by .38 Special, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Outlaws, among many others. In the middle of the set, Fleetwood Mac’s “Keep On Going.”
And a Van Morrison track with an interesting heritage that goes back to a 1943 Louis Jordan song called “Reet, Petite, and Gone.” Fifteen years later, Berry Gordy and Billy Davis took part of that title and wrote “Reet Petite (The Sweetest Girl in Town)” a song that became a big hit for Jackie Wilson. And about fifteen years after that, Van Morrison wrote “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile).” Even if we’re all out of time, which we are. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, saying Reet Petite from the Way Back Studios and I’ll be back with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl next time, right here in the Deep Tracks.
Someone once referred to the South as a circumstance as much as a place, which is sort of how I think of the Way Back Studios. Being from Mississippi I understand the observation but I couldn’t explain it to you, even if you threatened to chunk me into a catfish pond. Based on what I found even in my spotty little record collection, it appears the states of the South have inspired more music than other parts of the country – so we’re going to explore that theory with this set of All Southern Hand Mixed Vinyl. But there are several issues to confront when doing a southern set. Like, first: define The South. If you define it as the original states that seceded from the Union, you’d have to exclude Kentucky, and that’s just wrong. If you add the states that seceded after the attack on Fort Sumter, you’ve got eleven, and that gets us to the issue of time.
We don’t have enough of it for eleven songs. So we had to cut a few states. Texas, Florida, and Arkansas got the axe and I’ll tell you why. First of all, Texas has always struck me as more Western than Southern, with all those cowboys and entanglements with Mexico. And Florida’s really more of a home for snowbirds, a pan-Caribbean retirement community for folks from the east coast. As for the so-called Natural State, it turns out it’s tough to find a good song about Arkansas in my record collection. In fact the only one I found was Springsteen’s “Mary, Queen of Arkansas” which is just too long for the set. Also, since we are in the Deep Tracks, we wanted to avoid the clichés like “Sweet Home Alabama,” “MS Queen,” and “Louisiana 1927” among others. So it ain’t perfect, but it’s what we got. So grab yourself a big plate of bar-b-cue and cornbread, turn down the NASCAR, and turn up the volume.
|Loggins & Messina||Back to Georgia|
|Jim Croce||Mississippi Lady|
|Neil Diamond||Kentucky Woman|
|Joan Baez||Brand New Tennessee Waltz|
|The Rolling Stones||Sweet Virginia|
|J.J. Cale||Louisiana Women|
|James Taylor||Carolina in My Mind|
In the middle of things, Joan Baez covered Jesse Winchester’s “Brand New Tennessee Waltz” followed by one from Exile on Main Street. Sure, “Sweet Virginia” could be a reference to a woman instead of the state, but it was my best option, so we went with it. After that, “Alabama” and not from Neil Young’s Harvest. Instead, from Monticello, Mississippi: J.B. Lenoir, a guy whose name you might not recognize but whose songs you do. Among the many he wrote that you know, is “You Shook Me” which Lenoir co-wrote with Willie Dixon. It was covered by dozens of artists, most famously of course, by Led Zeppelin. Some of his other songs were covered by John Mayall, Ry Cooder, Jeff Beck, Elvis Costello, Sting, Elvin Bishop, Johnny Winter, Bonnie Raitt, and too many more to mention.
As for a song with Arkansas in the title, I can’t help you but maybe you can help me. The only one in my collection is Springsteen’s “Mary Queen of Arkansas” and it was just too long for the set. If you know of some others, I’d be interested to hear about ‘em. Drop by my website, send me an email. I’d appreciate it. I’m Bill Fitzhugh in the Way Back Studios, saying thanks for listening and I’ll be back with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl sooner or later, right here in the Deep Tracks.
It’s been said that “Heroes Are Hard to Find.” And that may be so, but they’re still worth looking for. Ernest Hemmingway said, “As you get older, it’s harder to have heroes. But it is sort of necessary.” But where do you look? Some people find their heroes in the world of sports, others find them in their everyday lives. Still others find that regular heroes just don’t cut it; they need superheroes. Spiderman, Batman, and all the others. To the ancient Greeks, heroes were demi-gods, the offspring of a mortal and a god; the sort of partnership that probably wouldn’t be considered legal in some states today. Eventually, the term hero came to mean a character that displayed courage in the face of danger and perseverance in the face of adversity. In modern fiction, the term hero is used synonymously for the protagonist of the story.
The movies have provided heroes for generations. From cowboys and cops, to space adventurers and spies. But heroes don’t exist in a vacuum. They require opposition. Something against which they must struggle. It could be an institution or an alien. Doesn’t matter. Great movies are all about the good guys and the bad guys. The celluloid villains and heroes. According to the American Film Institute, the top three heroes in American film are Atticus Finch, Indiana Jones, and James Bond. Their top three villains are Dr. Lecter, Norman Bates, and Darth Vader. My own personal favorite bad guys include Nurse Ratchet, and Noah Cross. As for heroes, I’ll take Rick from Casa Blanca, Chili Palmer in Get Shorty and Margie Gunderson in Fargo. So, from the Way Back Studios, here’s a heroic batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl.
|Beach Boys||Heros and Villains (part 1)|
|Little Feat||Time Loves a Hero|
|Beach Boys||Heros and Villains (part 2)|
|Leonard Cohen||A Bunch of Lonesome Heros|
|Fleetwood Mac||Heros Are Hard to Find|
|KISS||A World Without Heroes|
|Beach Boys||Heros and Villains (part 3)|
That’s the third part of “Heroes and Villains,” a song we broke up and sprinkled throughout our heroic little set. There are several different versions of the song, and I think that was the official single edit but don’t quote me. Before that, what is almost certainly the first time in radio history that Kiss led into the Beach Boys, we heard “A World Without Heroes” from the album Music From The Elder, one of only two Kiss albums that truly stiffed, as did that single which didn’t even crack the top 40.
Before the Kiss, Christine McVie’s “Heroes Are Hard To Find,” from the last Fleetwood Mac album with Bob Welch in the line up. In the middle of the set, a couple of artists whose songs you might not expect to work next to each other, which just goes to show you. We heard Leonard Cohen’s “A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes” which led us neatly into David Bowie’s classic: “Heroes.” The Kinks were in there as well, with their bittersweet ode to Hollywood, “Celluloid Heroes.” And near the top, Little Feat and the title track to the album “Time Loves a Hero.” So, you might ask, why do we love heroes? Well, to paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, “We love heroes for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men’s reality. Heroes and champions exist as living proof that the tyranny of “the rat race” is not yet final.”
So there you have it. It’s like the novelist Barnard Malamud said, “Without heroes we are all plain people and don’t know how far we can go.” Until we get to the Way Back Studios. By the way, if you’re looking for the set lists or anything else I might help you with, drop by my website and poke around. I’m Bill Fitzhugh and I’ll be back next time with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl right here, in the Deep Tracks.