Throughout the 1960’s the three bands with the most Top 40 hits in the U.K were The Shadows, The Beatles, and The Hollies. Other bands had more number one hits, but The Hollies were a force to be reckoned with. They were a great pop band whose songs centered around their bright vocal harmonies. Songs like “Bus Stop” and “Carrie-Anne.” While The Hollies were cranking out that host of radio-friendly singles, another band from the UK was busy working the other side of the street. Fleetwood Mac started as a serious blues rock outfit more focused on albums than singles. In fact their first album didn’t have any singles and it still reached #4 in England. You’d be hard pressed to find two bands that sounded less alike, there being very little common ground between, say, “Rattlesnake Shake,” on the one hand, and “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” on the other. But then a funny thing happened. Fleetwood Mac released Kiln House featuring a song called “Tell Me All the Things You Do.” And not long after that, The Hollies released the single “Long Cool Woman In a Black Dress.” And those are the two tracks that get us started on today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl.
“Long Cool Woman” actually starts with two different riffs. The opening bars sound a little bit like Roger McGuinn but it’s the riff after that that connects it sonically to “Tell Me All the Things You Do.” And speaking of the blues, we’ll hear a great little mix of Grand Funk Railroad’s “I Don’t Have to Sing the Blues” and the Beatles track, “Rain.” We’ll break both songs into two parts and do the segue using the big drum beats the songs have in common. That’s followed by another guitar mix that goes to show how similar George Harrison and Roger McGuinn could sound, something we’ve explored before. Elsewhere in the set, one each from Steven Stills and Janis Joplin. So, take your harpoon out of your dirty red bandana and tell me all the things you do…
|The Hollies||Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress|
|Fleetwood Mac||Tell Me All the Things You Do|
|Grand Funk Railroad||I Don’t Have to Sing the Blues (part 1)|
|Beatles||Rain (part 1)|
|Grand Funk Railroad||I Don’t Have to Sing the Blues (part 2)|
|Beatles||Rain (part 2)|
|The Byrds||Chimes of Freedom|
|Janis Joplin||Me and Bobby McGee|
He’s a Rhodes scholar and Phi Beta Kappa to boot. And I read somewhere that he knows how to fly helicopters. Kris Kristofferson has written a lot of songs in his day, but that’s still my favorite and my favorite version, courtesy of the girl from Port Arthur, Texas. Before that the Byrds covering Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom” from the Mr. Tambourine Man album. In the middle of the set we mashed the Beatles up with Grand Funk Railroad of all people. We took “Rain” which was the B-side to “Paperback Writer” and “I Don’t Have to Sing the Blues” from Grand Funk’s third album, Closer to Home. We broke ‘em both in half and had our way with them for your listening pleasure. Before all that we heard Stephen Stills playing with his wah-wah on “Maryanne.”
And at the top, The Hollies with the least Hollies-like song they ever recorded. In fact most reviews talk about how much it sounded like something from Creedence Clearwater Revival. “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” is like a noir short story with a rock soundtrack. There’s a guy working undercover for the FBI, a femme fatale who’s five foot nine and has a pair of 45s that made him open his eyes and kept him from turning her over to the D.A. Tony Hicks’ guitar part in “Long Cool Woman” has always reminded me of Danny Kirwin’s riff on Fleetwood Mac’s “Tell Me All the Things You Do” which explains why played ‘em back-to-back.
Now if ever there was a group that had more crazy people run through it than Fleetwood Mac, I’d like to know who it was. After reading the bios on Peter Green, Danny Kirwin, and Jeremy Spencer, I was reminded of a line Jack Nicholson’s character says in the movie “As Good As It Gets.” ‘If you’re selling crazy, you’ve come to the wrong place, we’re all full up here’ in the Way Back Studios. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back next time with another Batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you can join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.