Sometimes a song just hands you a segue. For example, in the middle of the “South California Purples,” Chicago quotes the Beatles, “I Am The Walrus” which allows you to do this: [Insert segue] Well, as you might guess, today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl features just such a segue. In fact, it contains two such segues. The starting point is 1969 and the second album from Blood, Sweat, and Tears. The third track on side two is called “Blues (Part 2).” Don’t bother looking for Part 1 because there isn’t one, at least not on that album. Anyway, “Blues (Part 2)” proves that BS&T was fairly characterized as a jazz rock band. The track is nearly twelve minutes long and, as frequently happens with jazz guys, in the course of playing the song at hand, they’ll quote other songs. In this case, about halfway through the track, Jim Fielder starts quoting the bass riff from “Sunshine of Your Love,” Cream’s top 5 single from 1968. So that’s where we go. After that, we return to “Blues (Part 2)” where the horn section is quoting the Sunshine riff. Then about 40 seconds later, Fielder starts quoting from Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” a song that Cream covered on their debut album in 1966. So we segue over to Cream for that before returning to part three of “Blues (Part 2).”
Given all those blues, you might think that opening the set with a menacing prog rock track from Emerson, Lake, and Palmer would be a disaster, but you’d be wrong. And not only does it work, but it also helps prove my point about musicians quoting from other musicians. ELP’s first LP was released in the US in 1971. The track “Knife Edge” is based on the first movement of a work called Sinfonietta by a Czechoslovakian composer whose name I’m not even going to try to pronounce. In the middle of the track, there’s an instrumental section that includes an extended quotation from Bach’s first French Suite in D minor, or so I’m led to believe. The song ends with that dramatic turntable-coming-to-a-halt effect that makes for a good transition into the BS&T. So, tread the road cross the abyss and take a look down at the madness from the Way Back Studios, here’s “Knife Edge.”
|Emerson, Lake, and Palmer||Knife Edge|
|Blood, Sweat, and Tears||Blues (Part 2) (part 1)|
|Cream||Sunshine of Your Love|
|Blood, Sweat, and Tears||Blues (Part 2) (part 2)|
|Cream||Spoonful (part 1)|
|Blood, Sweat, and Tears||Blues (Part 2) (part 3)|
|Cream||Spoonful (part 2)|
Like so many other things in the Deep Tracks, “Spoonful,” traces its ancestry back to the Mississippi Delta. It might go back as far as the legendary Charlie Patton who was doing a song called “A Spoonful Blues” in the early nineteen hundreds. Fifty or sixty years later, Willie Dixon, wrote “Spoonful” a song that Howlin’ Wolf recorded in 1962 on the record that’s come to be known as The Rocking Chair album. The actual name is just Howlin’ Wolf, but the cover art featuring a guitar leaning against a rocking chair led to the popular renaming, sort of like the White Album. Anyway, it’s been pointed out that a lot of Americans never heard the blues until it had been absorbed by young white musicians in the UK and then returned to the US as blues rock. And there’s no better example of this than Cream. We took their version of “Spoonful” from their debut album Fresh Cream in 1966, an album that also featured songs by blues legends Robert Johnson, Skip James, and Muddy Waters, all of whom came out of the Mississippi Delta.
Earlier in the set we heard Cream’s big hit, “Sunshine of Your Love” from Disraeli Gears. And the reason we played all that Cream in the first place is because Jim Fielder, the bass player for Blood, Sweat, and Tears kept interrupting their song, “Blues (Part 2)” with quotes of the Cream tracks. We broke “Blues (Part 2)” into three parts and mixed in the Cream for a high cholesterol set of blues and jazz rock. At the top of the set, we caught Emerson, Lake, and Palmer quoting, not from the blues masters, but from the classical. We heard “Knife Edge” most of which derives from the first movement of Leos Janacek’s “Sinfonietta.” The song also features an organ solo directly quoting the first French Suite in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, a guy who probably would have loved it here in the Way Back Studios. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll be back with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl before you know it, and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.