Segment 51

Most of Paul Simon’s album Rhymin’ Simon was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. I think one track was done in London but the remaining track, a song called “Learn How to Fall” was recorded at Malaco Studios in my hometown, Jackson, MS. The drummer on the track was James Stroud who went on to produce a couple of hundred country hits in Nashville (and who generously consulted on my book, Fender Benders), and the organ player was a guy named Carson Whitsett who grew up right across the street from me. Carson played in his brother’s band, Tim Whitsett and the Imperials. I remember whenever they’d start rehearsing we’d all run across the street and press our little faces to the screened windoss of their living room like they were the Beatles or maybe the Dave Clark Five. But I swear, I don’t remember them ever rehearsing anything but Smokey Robinson’s “I’ll Be Doggone.” In any event, while today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl features a song from Rhymin’ Simon, it’s not the one recorded at Malaco, we’ll do that another time. I just wanted to tell that story.

Instead, we’ll hear “Loves Me Like a Rock” featuring those great background vocals by the Dixie Hummingbirds. Before and after that spiritual groove we have a set that sort of rambles from rhumba to gospel to boogie. And near the end, we’ll get to the two songs that got us started on this set in the first place. Van Morrison’s “Give Me a Kiss” and Steve Miller’s “Lovin’ Cup.” There’s something about the two songs played side by side that brings out the best in both of them. By coincidence we’ll hear from two former members of the Rising Sons, Ry Cooder, doing the traditional “Tamp ‘em Up Solid” and Taj Mahal doing Bilind Willie Johnson’s “You’re Going to Need Somebody on Your Bond.” And we’ll wrap the whole thing up with one from Elvin Bishop. But for starters, I needed something with a funny little funky beat. So first, from the Way Back Studios, “There is a Mountain.” Here’s Donovan.

Donovan There is a Mountain
Jesse Winchester Rhumba Man
Ry Cooder Tamp ’em Up Solid
Paul Simon Loves Me Like a Rock
Taj Mahal You’re Going To Need Somebody On Your Bond
Van Morrison Give Me a Kiss
Steve Miller Lovin’ Cup
Elvin Bishop Let It Flow

You know, if mama ever actually catches us doing the rhumba. Mama is just gonna pitch a fit. Up near the top of the set, we heard from the “Rhumba Man” himself, Jesse Winchester. From his album Nothing But a Breeze. That came on the heels of Donovan’s “There is a Mountain” which means we can blame him for the Allman Brothers “Mountain Jam.” And speaking of the brothers Allman, Dickie Betts is just one of the guest musicians on Elvin Bishop’s album Let it Flow, from which we just heard the title track. Some of the other folks on that album include the late great Toy Caldwell of Marshall Tucker Band fame, Charlie Daniels, Vassar Clements, and Sly Stone. Before the Bishop, we had a couple of deep tracks, one from the Joker and one from His Band and the Street Choir. In fact it was the two from Van Morrison and Steve Miller that got this whole set started. “Give Me a Kiss” and “Lovin’ Cup” just rang a bell when I heard ‘em next to each other so I put ‘em together and built the rest of the set around ‘em.

Just before the Belfast Cowboy, we heard Taj Mahal doing Blind Willie Johnsons, “You’re Going to Need Somebody on Your Bond.” Ry Cooder, who was once in a band with Taj Mahal was in there somewhere doing the traditional “Tamp ‘em Up Solid” from one of his best albums, Paradise and Lunch. And right in the middle, the consecrated boy, the singer in the Sunday choir, Paul Simon with the Dixie Hummingbirds. She “Loves Me Like A Rock.” Well, it’s like Donovan said, first there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then we’re all out of time. By the way, if you’re looking for the show schedule, the set lists, the show commentaries, or a behind the scenes look at the Way Back Studios, drop by my Facebook page or my website and take a look around. I’m Bill Fitzhugh and I’ll be back with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl sooner or later and I hope you’ll join us, right here, in the Deep Tracks.

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