Some song titles are self-explanatory. For example, “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” You don’t need a PhD to figure that one out. Other titles are somewhat more cryptic, like Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.” Nowhere in the lyrics is there is any mention of, nor explanation for, these women. Who are they? Why are they numbered? We may never know. Even with all the resources of the Internet, I can’t find a good explanation for that one. And then there’s the song that got me started on today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl. It’s called “Paul B. Allen, Omaha, Nebraska.” Being an instrumental, there are no clues to be found in the lyrics. It’s on the album Them Changes by the late great Buddy Miles. I’ve had this record since it came out in 1970 and I always wondered who “Paul B. Allen” was. Well this time, the Internet delivered. I found the Facebook page for Paul B. Allen III. So I sent him an email and he wrote write back. He said Paul B Allen, Senior was his grandfather. He and Paul B. Allen, Junior owned and operated Allen’s Showcase lounge, the hottest nightclub in Omaha in the 1950’s and 60’s. Greats like Fats Domino, Red Foxx, and James Brown all performed there. And it wasn’t just big acts. They like to nurture new artists as well, and among those was a young local guy by the name of Buddy Miles. Paul B. Allen III, by the way, is the lead vocalist of the current incarnation of The Platters.
As for the rest of the set, we cover a lot of ground. No fancy segues or mash-ups, it’s more like a relay team with each song handing the baton in perfect stride to the next. Now, on the one hand, you might get disgusted and start thinking that I’m strange. On the other hand, you must know you have a certain charm and feel the time is right. Either way, let’s take a cue from George Ivan Morrison who said: ‘Hey, Mr. DJ, I just want to hear some rhythm and blues music on the radio.’ So, on the radio, here’s Buddy Miles with “Paul B. Allen, Omaha, Nebraska.”
|Paul B. Allen, Omaha, Nebraska
|Spare Me a Little of Your Love
|With a Gun
|Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
|Chicago Transit Authority
|Questions 67 and 68
You gotta admire a guy with the courage to rhyme swallow, hollow, follow, and wallow. That’s Graham Parker, title track from his album, Heat Treatment. Before that, Chicago Transit Authority. Now despite extensive and rigorous research, I still have no idea what “Questions 67 and 68” are. The lyrics themselves consist of only five or six questions. And while the title is a lyric, it’s sung only once at the very end of the song but without any explanation of what those questions are or what the preceding 66 might have been. Before that, from 1967, “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” from The Buckinghams, produced by the same guy who produced the Chicago, James Guercio. The song was written by Joe Zawinul of Weather Report fame and was originally a hit instrumental for the Cannonball Adderly Quintet in 1966. In the middle of that most precious wellspring of contemporary music, a song and a band which historians in the far future might catalogue under 20th Century pre-light-emitting-diode euphoric. Jake and Elwood. The Blues Brothers covering the Bar-Kay’s classic “Soul Finger.” Before that, Van Morrison’s “Domino,” Fleetwood Mac with Christine McVie’s “Spare Me a Little of Your Love,” and Steely Dan with a story about a man with a gun in his hand. The kind of guy who pays his bill by leaving another man lying in the rain. That’s from Pretzel Logic.
At the top, the late great Buddy Miles from Them Changes, an album the All Music Guide calls, “quite simply, one of the great lost treasures of soul inspired rock music.” We heard the instrumental “Paul B. Allen, Omaha, Nebraska,” for reasons explained earlier. And mercy, mercy, mercy, we’re all out of time. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll back sooner or later with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you can join us, right here, in the Deep Tracks.