In the late 1960s, the FCC started to require license holders to offer original programming on their FM bands, instead of simply simulcasting their AM signal. As a result, one of the formats that emerged to compete with Top 40 AM, was so-called Underground Radio. The formats differed in several ways. First, while the Boss Deejays on AM Top 40 screamed at you between every song, the jocks on FM talked to you in a soothing, human voice. Second, a lot of the songs on the FM side were too political for A.M programmers. A third difference was the length of the tracks. Pop artists made singles for Top 40 Radio and, with some exceptions, most of the songs came in around three minutes. But when bands started making albums, they weren’t so constrained. And FM radio was free to play songs that seemed to get longer and longer with each year. Consider this: The Spencer Davis Group’s A.M. Top 10 hit, “I’m a Man” came in just under 3 minutes. The Chicago Transit Authority’s version, an FM standard, is nearly eight minutes long. Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand” is a full ten minutes. Well, once the genie was out of the bottle, it was inevitable that someone would do a song that took up an entire side of an album. And eventually, we got “Thick as a Brick” which takes up two sides. And I’m still trying to figure out how to use that one in a set. In the meanwhile, today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl revolves around the longest track ever recorded by Cat Stevens. It takes up the entire first side of the album he released in 1973. The track, featuring Cat mostly on piano, is just over 18 minutes long and we’ve taken about half of it, in three excerpts, to mix with excerpts from a couple of other piano songs, one from an eleven minute track by Elton John. We’ll also hear Billy Joel, Joe Jackson and Paul McCartney playing their pianos. But we’re gonna open with a political message from Johnny Rivers who reminds listeners that you gotta Dick Nixon before he dicks you.
|Johnny Rivers||Use the Power|
|Billy Joel||Somewhere Along the Line|
|Cat Stevens||Foreigner Suite (excerpt #1)|
|Elton John||Funeral/Love Lies Bleeding (excerpt)|
|Joe Jackson||Be My Number Two|
|Cat Stevens||Forgigner Suite (excerpt #2)|
|Paul McCartney||Maybe I’m Amazed (excerpt)|
|Cat Stevens||Foreigner Suite (excerpt #3)|
That’s the last three or four minutes of Cat Stevens’ “Foreigner Suite,” the third of 3 excerpts we took from the eighteen minute composition, which takes up all of Side One of his album Foreigner from 1973. A few years ago, Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, thought about suing the band Coldplay for copyright infringement, saying that the melody for their hit “Viva la Vida” derived from the melody of this last portion of “Foreigner Suite” that we’ve just heard. A few years before that, Joe Satriani filed suit against Coldplay claiming they had copped the melody for “Viva la Vida” from his instrumental, “If I Could Fly.” Coldplay denied all the accusations, and I believe a court dismissed the case, leading to talks of a good, old-fashioned out-of-court-settlement. As for Yusuf, he said he didn’t think they had done anything intentionally, said he’d love to sit down with the boys from Coldplay and have a cup of tea. Bet his lawyer hated that. Earlier in the set we took a four minute bite out of Elton John’s “Funeral For a Friend / Loves Lies Bleeding” which led us to Joe Jackson and a song called “Be My Number Two.” That’s from his 1984 release, Body and Soul, the cover of which is a near perfect immitaiton of the Sonny Rollins album, Volume Two. We followed that with the second excerpt from “Foreigner Suite” and then the main portion of Sir Paul’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” At the top of the set, Johnny Rivers from 1972, reminding voters that you gotta Dick Nixon before he does you. That’s from the album L.A. Reggae. That was followed by Billy Joel’s “Somewhere Along the Line” and the first excerpt from “Foreigner Suite.” And maybe I’m amazed at how quickly the time goes by, but we’re all out of it. The set lists and show commentaries are posted on my website, billfitzhugh.com and if that’s not enough be sure to check us out on Facebook and Amazon too. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back before you can sue me and I’ll have another of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you can join us, right here, in the Deep Tracks.