It was released in the U.S. on October 1st, 1969. Between the US and the UK charts, it was number one for a total of seventeen weeks. It’s been certified as twelve times platinum and Rolling Stone Magazine ultimately declared it the 14th greatest album of all time. In other words, it’s one of the most well known records of a generation, maybe two. The album? Abbey Road. On side two you’ll find the famous medley, one of those things FM rock radio used to play in its entirety almost without exception. If you turned on the radio back in the day and you heard “You Never Give Me Your Money” you could name the six songs that would follow over the next sixteen minutes. And since this beloved medley is at the heart of today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl, you might ask: Bill, why don’t you just leave well enough alone? Well, the answer is because you can get well enough alone the rest of the week. Besides, something this well known provides the perfect opportunity for me to play with your expectations, one of the things we live for here in the Way Back Studios.
I’d been working on an idea involving “Sun King” (the second track in the medley) and “Gnik Nus,” from the Beatles’ Love cd, where they took the vocal track from “Sun King” and played it in reverse, renaming it, “Gnik Nus” which is “Sun King” spelled backwards. Then, one day, I got an email from Jay Snider in Bayville, New Jersey. He suggested a segue involving “Sun King” and an instrumental from Fleetwood Mac in the Peter Green era. Well, a little research uncovered a George Harrison quote saying that “Sun King” was, in fact, inspired by this very instrumental. So that’s how we’ll work our way into the medley. And once we’re in, the fun begins. We’ll hear “Gnik Nus/Sun King” mash-up and we’ll reinsert “Her Majesty” to her original position so you can hear how the medly was first assembled. Then we’ll have some fun with Joe Cocker, coming through the water closet window before before we exit the medley in favor of Leonard Cohen, the Young-Holt Trio, and The Capitals, for reasons I can’t possibly explain. But before we get to that Fleetwood Mac instrumental, here’s a quick one from Savoy Brown.
|Beatles||(Medley)Sun King / Gnik Nus / Mearn Mr. Mustard / Her Majesty / Polythene Pam|
|Joe Cocker||She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (part 1)|
|Beatles||She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (excerpt)|
|Joe Cocker||She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (part 2)|
|Leonard Cohen||The Future|
|The Young-Holt Trio||Wack Wack|
|The Capitols||Cool Jerk|
“Cool Jerk” and “Wack Wack.” Two songs that seem to roll off the same track. “Wack Wack” was released in 1967 by the Young-Holt Trio. Bassist Eldee Young and drummer Redd Holt had been the rhythm section for the Ramsey Lewis Trio before setting out on their own for a while. “Cool Jerk” was released by The Capitols in 1966. It was a huge hit which explains why you can find it at least a hundred r&b and rock compilation albums. Todd Rundgren includes a few bars of the song in the medley on side two of his album, A Wizard, A True Star. And speaking of medley’s on the second side of albums… We took a chunk of the famous Abbey Road medley and had our way with it. We took “Gnik Nus” the backwards vocal track from the Beatles Love album and mixed it with “Sun King” going forward. Then, following “Mean Mr. Mustard,” we reinserted “Her Majesty” where it was original positioned. The story goes that Paul didn’t like how it sounded in that sequence, so he told the engineer to cut it out and toss it. But the engineer had been told never to toss anything the Beatles recorded. So he cut it out as instructed but then, at the end of the record, he spliced in fourteen seconds of leader tape followed by the twenty-three second track, “Her Majesty.” And there it stayed, until now.
After that, we returned to “Polythene Pam” before we shoved Joe Cocker through the bathroom window and did a little hand mixing back and forth between his version and the original. The set opened with two instrumentals. The dreamy “Gypsy” by Savoy Brown which led us into the Fleetwood Mac instrumental, “Albatross,” a song that inspired the Beatles to write what was originally called “Here Comes The Sun King.” Later shortened to “Sun King” to avoid confusion with you know what. After the remixed medley we time traveled to “The Future,” the title track to Leonard Cohen’s 1992 album. As Mr. Cohen said, “Give me back my broken night, my mirrored room, my secret life, it’s lonely here, there’s no one left to torture…” in the Way Back Studios. That’s all I’m saying. Still, if you’re looking for more, you can track it down on billfitzhugh.com or Amazon or drop by your favorite independent book store. They’ll explain the whole thing. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back sooner or later with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.