One of the Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus is a song called “Space Child.” It’s an instrumental, about three minutes long that breaks into three distinct parts. The first and the third parts are nearly identical and revolve around a riff that’s remarkably similar to the riff Steely Dan used eight years later for their song “FM.” We took the open and the close of the Spirit and sandwiched Becker and Fagen in between, and we followed that with one of my favorites by the Doors without Jim Morrison, a song called “Ships with Sails.” Then, because we don’t like to waste anything here in the Way Back Studios, we tagged the middle part of “Space Child” onto the end of the set. So that’s the mix at the center of today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl. And if we lived in the best of all possible worlds, these various parts would have acted as the organizing principal behind the whole but, as you may have noticed we live elsewhere. So, the remainder of the set sounds like an iPod on shuffle, with songs loaded by the ghost of Big Daddy Tom Donahue. And that’s a good thing.
One of the artists who pops up on random is Shawn Phillips, a singer-songwriter with nearly 20 albums to his credit who somehow remains largely unknown. Phillips ‘problem’ – if that’s the right thing to call it – is that he was ‘different,’ employing unusual instrumentation along with classical and jazz influences in his work. His eleventh album, Do You Wonder, came out in 1975. From that we’ll hear a typically, atypical song of his called “Blunt and Frank.” Five years before that, Phillips made an album called Contribution, featuring most of Traffic, speaking of whom, we’ll hear one from Jim Capaldi’s solo album, Short Cut Draw Blood. But we’re going to start with another singer-songwriter. Jackson Browne’s younger brother, whose debut album, oddly enough, was on Motown. “It’s Just a Matter of Time.” Here’s Severin Browne.
|Just a Matter of Time
|Blunt and Frank
|Living On a Marble
|Space Child (part 1)
|Space Child (part 3)
|Ships With Sails
|Space Child (part 2)
When Jim Morrison died on July 3, 1971, a lot of people figured The Doors had died as well. And that was their mistake because the genius of the band didn’t reside solely in their lead singer. Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger, and John Densmore brought plenty to the table as evidenced by the songs on “Other Voices” the album they were working on during the fateful summer of ‘71. Before that jazzy little bit of Spirit at the end of the set, we heard “Ships with Sails” a song that sounds like it could have escaped from L.A. Woman. At the top, we heard “Just a Matter of Time” from Jackson Browne’s younger brother Severin. The story goes that he was at Motown pitching songs when Barry Gordy walked in and asked if he’d like to make an album. Naturally, Severin looked up and said, “No.” But evidently he changed his mind.
We followed Mr. Browne with Mr. Blunt and Mr. Frank a song by the inexplicably overlooked Shawn Phillips, from his 1975 album, Do You Wonder. Five years before that, Phillips recorded an album called Contribution, featuring Chris Wood, Steve Winwood, and the late great Jim Capaldi. So we followed the Shawn Phillips with “Living On a Marble” from Capaldi’s album, Short Cut Draw Blood, featuring Steve Winwood on bass and the late great Barry Beckett on piano. In the middle, a little experiment to test the similarities between Spirit’s “Space Child” and Steely Dan’s ode to frequency modulation, “FM.” We zeroed in on the similar piano figure in both songs just to prove a point. Well, it’s like the guy said, “Bury the bottle mama, it’s grapefruit wine, kick off your high heeled sneakers, it’s party time” here in the Way Back Studios, so I need to get going.
By the way, if you want to see the set lists for the shows or what goes on behind the scenes, drop by my website and poke around. I’m Bill Fitzhugh and I’ll be back sooner or later with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl, scratchy perhaps, but no static at all here in the Deep Tracks.