Ever taken one of those aptitude tests that involves looking at a group of pictures or a list of things and deciding which thing doesn’t belong with the others? Take this list for example: a snake, a skunk, a scallop, and a senator. Obviously the scallop doesn’t belong, right? And not just because the others aren’t bivalves. Well, you could use the artists in today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl the same way. I’ll read the list. You decide which one doesn’t belong. The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Robin Trower, Jimi Hendrix, Donovan. It’s safe to say the acoustic folk hippie guy doesn’t belong with those heavy rocking electric guitar guys, right? Well, actually, no. And I’m as surprised as you are. Here’s how we got there. I started putting this set together with two Zeppelin tracks, both of which are powered by John Bonham’s huge drum licks and both of which have false endings and other elements that are perfect for what we do here in the Way Back Studios. So there I was, chopping the two songs into five parts and trying to figure out what to stick in the holes when an idea came out of left field. It was during a quiet passage in one of the Zepplin tracks that Donovan came to mind. What I didn’t realize at the time was how perfect that was. Not just for the transition but because of the history of The Hurdy Gurdy Man.
There are contradictory stories out there but here’s the one I like: According to Richie Unterberger writing for All Music dot com, the electric guitar, drums, and arrangement for Hurdy Gurdy Man are done by Jimmy Page, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones. Three quarters of Led Zeppelin. In fact Jones and Page have said that Zeppelin itself was formed during the sessions for the Hurdy Gurdy Man album. Another story has it that Donovan wanted Jimi Hendrix to record the song or at least the guitar part but he was unavailable. Still, it’s a nice coincidence that we have Jimi in the second half of the set along with Jimi’s aural doppelganger, Robin Trower. As you might expect, this one’s not for the faint of heart, so get the wax out of your hearing holes and cinch up your seat belts. Here are the Allman Brothers.
|The Allman Brothers
|Trouble No More
|The Ocean (part 1)
|Hurdy Gurdy Man
|The Ocean (part 2)
|Hots on for Nowhere (part 1)
|The Ocean (part 3)
|Hots on for Nowhere (part 2)
|Day of the Eagle (part 1)
|Born Under a Bad Sign (excerpt)
|Day of the Eagle (part 2)
That’s Robin Trower from Bridge of Sighs. I had the eight track tape for that one, had the album too but somewhere along the line it disappeared from my collection. Now all I’ve got is the CD, so I’m just telling you that set wasn’t ALL vinyl. Couldn’t have been because the Hendrix we played came from a posthumous release called Blues that came out in 1994, long after they stopped pressing albums. And since I’m in a confessional mood, I have to admit I played about twenty-four seconds of Zeppelin’s “The Ocean” from a CD simply because I’d need three turntables in my system to do that set and I’ve only got two. But I promise, the rest was all vinyl. And, except for the Allman Brothers at the top, the first half of the set was all Led Zeppelin, even when we were playing Donovan. The story goes that all the members of Zeppelin, except Robert Plant, played on “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” But there are other sources who say a guy named Alan Parker (not the film director) played the electric guitar part. In any event, we dropped the “Hurdy Gurdy Man” into a break between parts of Zeppelin’s “The Ocean” which we broke up into three parts. We also broke “Hots on For Nowhere” into two parts and mixed that in for your listening pleasure.
The second half of the set started off with Trower’s “Day of the Eagle,” a song that starts off like a house on fire, then, about halfway through, it slows to a nice little blues where the bass player, James Dewar, slips into an indirect quote of the bass line for “Born Under a Bad Sign,” a song made famous for some by Albert King and for others by Cream. But here we played an excerpt from the Jimi Hendrix version. Wine and women is all I crave, a big legged woman gonna carry me to … the Way Back Studios. By the way, if you’ve got any questions, you can probably find the answers at billfitzhugh.com. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back whenever they let me with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the DeepTracks.