Segment 139

Okay, I know we’ve had this discussion before but I think it bears repeating whenever we have a set featuring two songs that reached number one on the pop charts. I mean, this is the Deep Tracks, right? Songs so obscure that the artists don’t even recall recording them. And it doesn’t matter that the two songs in question topped the charts over forty years ago; a hit’s a hit. What’s it doing in the Deep Tracks? It’s a fair question. And I wouldn’t play either one of these songs if they didn’t work in the set, but they do, and of course I get special dispensation from whatever rules and regulations exist so that I can make today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl an exercise in recreating the mood of summertime spent in the park throwing Frisbees, an audio time-capsule designed to catapult us back to a year that never actually existed. It’s a soundtrack for tie-dye t-shirts, bell bottoms, and those head bands that seemed like such a good fashion idea at the time. This is the sort of set that demonstrates how the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts, how a series of songs can recreate the sound and feeling of a time that might look better in the rear view than it ever was at the actual moment it happened, and what’s the point of nostalgia if you can’t look back on stuff with rose colored granny glasses? And of course it’s not all hits, we have some seriously deep tracks in here as well, and not just as a question of balance; they’re here because they work, and here in the Way Back Studios, that’s all that matters. The set leans heavily towards the West Coast with two bands out of San Francsco and one each from Long Beach and Seattle. There’s one group out of New York and a solo artist who ended up there after starting out in South Africa. And we’ll hear from one of the more famous outfits that called Memphis home. Given all that you shouldn’t find it surprising that the set’s rich with rhythem and blues and blue-eyed soul, it’s also got some Latin grooves, a little light funk, and a dash of world music to round it out. So, from the fine folks who brought you “Coke, Suede, and Waterbeds” and The Miraculous Hump Returning From the Moon, here’s Sopwith Camel.

Sopwith Camel Orange Peel
Malo Suavecito
War All Day Music
Booker T & the MGs Groovin’
Young Rascals Groovin’
Hugh Masekela Grazin’ in the Grass
Ballinjack This Song

Wrapping up a set that takes me back to a summer in the early 70s, that’s Ballinjack from their album Special Pride with one called “This Song.” Ballinjack was founded in Seattle by Ronnie Hammon and Luther Rabb both of whom, as it turns out, later joined War who we also heard in the set. Luther Rabb also played with Santana for a while. Someone else in that set who played with Santana for a few years was Carlos Santana’s younger brother, Jorge. But before he did that, Jorge was fronting his own band, called Malo. Near the top of the set we heard their best known track, “Suavecito” which was an FM rock standard in the early 70’s while a severely edited version of the song cracked the pop Top 40 over on the AM side. Following Malo with War from 1971, we heard the title track to their album All Day Music. Then we heard two versions of “Groovin’,” first from Booker T & The MGs, then the original from The Young Rascals, a track that reached #1 on the charts. The instrumental version from Booker T came out about four months later and topped out at #21. By the way, once they became successful, The Rascals dropped the ‘Young’ from their name because they never liked it. Turns out their manager had forced it on them to begin with. We came out of “Groovin’” into the other song in the set that hit #1 on the charts, a song that nowdays brings to mind that SNL sketch with Christopher Walken calling for “More cowbell!” We heard Hugh Masekela’s hit, “Grazin’ in the Grass.” And at the top of the set we were deep enough in the tracks to hear “Orange Peel” from Sopwith Camel’s album The Miraculous Hump Returns From the Moon. Well, it’s like those Young Rascals were saying, “I can’t imagine anything that’s better, the world is ours whenever we’re together,” here in the Way Back Studios. Listen, if you’re curious about any of the rumors you’ve heard about what else goes on back here, drop by my website or the Way Back Studio Facebook page and poke around till you find what you’re looking for. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll be back with more Hand Mixed Vinyl next time and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.

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