All right everybody, sharpen up your number two pencils. It’s time for another Way Back Studios pop quiz. Here’s question number one: Who was the first white artist to perform on Soul Train? The answer is unclear. Might’ve been Elton John, could’ve been David Bowie, or possibly Gino Vannelli. Okay, question number two: Where am I going? Well, that’s actually a trick question. It’s also the title to a song from Gino Vanelli’s album Storm At Sunup. And not surprisingly, it’s the song at the heart of today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl. Here’s what happened: I got an email a while back from my friend Karen Gilder. She told me she’d gone down to New Orleans to hear Gino at one of the casinos. She had third row center seats in a room with maybe 300 other people. “I felt like I was in high school all over again,” she said. “Giggling the entire time.” Karen said the show was terrific. In fact, her review was so enthusiastic, I came out to the Way Back Studios and dropped a needle on Storm at Sunup.
The record’s made up almost entirely of keyboards, synthesizers, percussion, and Gino’s vocals. “Where Am I Going?” is seven minutes, forty-seven seconds of melo-dramatic pop and tight jazz rock, with a couple of tempo changes that allow for some tasty transitions. And there was something about the keyboards and synthesizers that reminded me of Stevie Wonder, so I found a couple of Stevie tracks to mix with Gino. But it wasn’t quite enough. So. I had to find another song. So. I thought of Peter Gabriel. So I grabbed his 1986 release, “So.” Co-produced by the always atmospheric Daniel Lanois, we found a moody little track to lead us into the whole Gino and Stevie thing. But that still wasn’t enough. So, we dug deeper until we came to Brian Eno. And speaking of atmospheric, we’ve got an excerpt from his album Ambient 1, Music for Airports. And taking us quietly to the airport, is everybody’s favorite lower middle class hillbilly hipster, here’s Ricki Lee Jones.
|Ricki Lee Jones
|On Saturday Afternoons in 1963
|Voyages of Past Travelers
|Where Am I Going (part 1)
|All in Love is Fair
|Where Am I Going (part 2)
|Heaven is Ten Zillion Light Years Away
|Where Am I Going (part 3)
I do love the sound of those synthesizers. That’s Gino Vannelli’s brother Joe playing but I have no idea what because they didn’t bother to list the specific instruments on the album sleeve. It just says synthesizers. We just deconstructed Gino’s synthesizer driven “Where Am I Going” and intermixed the three parts with a couple of tracks from Stevie Wonder. Now I’m guessing Stevie was playing some sort of synthesizer on “Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away” but since they didn’t bother to put the information on that album sleeve either, I can’t say for sure. About the only thing I can say for sure is that one of the background singers on the record is Paul Anka. Earlier in the set we heard “All in Love is Fair” with Stevie playing both acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes and we know this because they do list the instruments on the sleeve for his album “Innervisions.” By the way and coincidentally, it turns out Gino was the opening act for Stevie during a tour in the late 70’s.
We opened the set “On Saturday Afternoons in 1963.” That’s the title of the track from Ricki Lee Jones debut album, followed by former Roxy Music keyboardist, Brian Eno with an excerpt from his album Ambient 1, Music for Airports. That led us to synthesizer afficiando Peter Gabriel playing a CMI, a Prophet, and a CS80, whatever that is. From his album, “So,” we heard a song dedicated to the poet Anne Sexton who wrote a play in 1969 called “Mercy Street.” Confessing all the secret things in the warm velvet box, to the priest, he’s the deejay, he can handle the shocks from 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 the shocking photos and the truth behind the rumors. I’ll be back with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl next time, and I hope you can join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.