One of the very first shows we did here in the Way Back Studios revolved around an identical piano riff that I found in two different songs. I was listening to side three of Quadrophenia one night, and when “Drowned” came on, I knew I’d heard that piano riff somewhere else. Turned out to be Joe Cocker’s “Hitchcock Railway.” By the way if you listen closely you’ll hear the two riffs in the introduction to our show. If you’re not paying attention you might not even notice they’re from different songs, but they are. Now what are the odds that two piano players recording three years apart would use the exact same riff? Well, that’s a trick question because it turns out they’re both played by Chris Stainton, one of the original members of Joe Cocker’s Grease Band who did some session work with The Who. In other words, he nicked the riff from himself.
Well, this week’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl came about in the same way, though this time, it’s a guitar riff and two different guitar players. What happened was this: while listening to the David Bowie hits collection, ChangesOneBowie and the track “John, I’m Only Dancing,” I was struck by the opening guitar riff. I’d heard it somewhere else. The question was where. And the answer was Elton John’s Honky Chateau, specifically the song “Hercules” featuring Davey Johnstone on guitar. I’m not sure if it’s Bowie or Mick Ronson playing guitar on “John, I’m Only Dancing,” but it’s a perfect match for Johnston’s riff in “Hercules.” What’s even better is that “Hercules” has a false ending in the middle allowing a great segue into the Bowie which has a cool ending which allows a nice mix back to the Elton John. After that little beauty, I just went looking for more songs with acoustic guitars to fit with the rest of the set. We’ll end up with Mrs. Robinson, but we’ll start with a great Van Morrison track from Veedon Fleece, a song you just don’t hear often enough. It’s called “Bulbs” and it goes a little something like this.
|Cat Stevens||Tuesday’s Dead|
|Elton John||Hurcules (part 1)|
|David Bowie||John, I’m Only Dancing|
|Elton John||Hurcules (part 2)|
|Simon & Garfunkle||Mrs. Robinson|
Put that in your pantry with your cupcakes. That’s Simon and Garfunkle with Mr. Robinson’s less than faithful wife. The story goes that Paul Simon had agreed to write three songs for The Graduate soundtrack but when it came time to deliver, he had only one written and parts of another song that was all about the past, with references to Mrs. Roosevelt, as in the wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mike Nichols, who was directing the film suggested to Paul that the song was now about Mrs. Robinson, thank you very much. You can find one version of the song on the soundtrack for The Graduate, though it’s not the actual version that’s in the movie. You can find the number one hit single version that we just heard on the Bookends album.
Before that, we did some fancy hand mixing in and out of Elton John and David Bowie, all based on a similar guitar riff. From the Honky Chateau album we mixed a cat named “Hercules” with “John, I’m Only Dancing” which was a single never released on a proper album. The song’s heritage is so complicated I’m not sure I’ve got it figured out, but the way I understand it, the original version was recorded in 1972 during the sessions for Alladin Sane. It was released as a single in the UK, with “Hang On To Yourself” as the B-side, but not released in the US. The version we just heard was a 1973 re-recording that was accidentally included on the early versions of ChangesoneBowie, an error that was corrected on later releases of that collection – but don’t quote me on that. Coming out of the second part of “Hercules” we made the transformation as a rock and roll “Star,” from Ziggy Stardust.
The set opened with Van Morrison from Veedon Fleece, a song called “Bulbs” that was released as a single but for reasons I’ll never understand, didn’t chart in the top 40. We followed that with “Tuesday’s Dead” from the Cat Stevens album Teaser and the Firecat. And now, we’re all out of time. Thanks for listening, I’m Bill Fitzhugh back sooner or later with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl satellite delivered from The Way Back Studios to the Deep Tracks.