All right everybody, it’s time to take your protein pills and put your helmets on or, if you prefer, your conductor cap. Because this week we’re taking the train to the Way Back Studios. Here I was listening to Quadrophenia, Daltry singing about how he remembered distant memories, recalled other names, rippled over canyons, and boiled in the train. Oddly, it wasn’t the train that caught my ear, though that would come into play later. It was Chris Stainton. Now don’t shoot him, he’s just the piano player. Played all the piano parts on Quadrophenia, including the barrelhouse riff that got this batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl started.
Funny thing is, he’d used the same riff before on a different record. And that’s what caught my ear. Four years earlier Chris had played it on Joe Cocker’s “Hitchcock Railway.” Which brings us back to that train Daltry was singing about. Two train tickets into LA, one round trip the other way. Well, once we got on board, we ran into the Thin White Duke throwing darts in lovers eyes. Now, he swore it wasn’t the side effects of the cocaine, but the story of “Casey Jones” suggests otherwise. Better watch your speed. And by the way, don’t that brakeman look good, flaggin’ down the Double E? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you when your train gets lost. Get your tickets ready, the European cannon is here. All aboard.
|Drowned (part 1)
|Hitchcock Railway (part 1)
|Drowned (part 2)
|Hitchcock Railway (part 2)
|Station to Station
|It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
Like the man said, it takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry, but it took a piano player to get that set started. The Grateful Dead played the caboose there with their ode to the infamous toot-fueled train conductor. Before that, longtime Dead friend, Blind Boy Grunt from the Rolling Thunder Review Tour, 1975. Howie Wyeth on piano. In the middle, Roy Bittan who most people associate with Springsteen, played piano on Bowie’s “Station to Station.” And Chris Stainton who was a member of the famous Grease Band and also shared piano duties with Leon Russell on the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, played the keyboards on the first two tracks of that set, taking the riff he used first on Joe Cocker’s “Hitchcock Railway” then recycling it four years later on Quadrophenia. .
Now, after all that you may find yourself wondering why a train engineer can’t be electrocuted, it’s because he’s not a conductor. From the Way Back Studios, I’m the little engine that couldn’t resist that bad joke. Back next time with another batch of Fitzhugh’s All Hand Mixed Vinyl, right here in the Deep Train Tracks.