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.