Back around 1978, after working in radio for several years, I decided to sell everything I owned and move to the Virgin Islands. Figured with my years of experience behind the mic at a 100,000 watt FM rock station in a decent sized market, I’d have no problem landing a gig in the Lesser Antilles. The idea was to get an afternoon shift, maybe evenings, buy a small boat, and live some variation of Jimmy Buffett’s life. So I moved into a small place on St. John, a few miles up East End Road, above Cruz Bay. And I sent out my tapes and resumes to all the stations, then I sat back and waited for the job offers to pour in. Well, before you knew it, I was working on a squalid freight charter boat running between St. Thomas and St. John, ferrying the gas truck back and forth between Cruz Bay and Red Hook. I never did get on the radio down there, but I listened to it a lot and heard some great stuff. Local steel bands, reggae, some calypso, a little dancehall, the odd bit of rocksteady, you name it, they played it. And it’s these various island styles that inspired today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl.
But instead of the usual suspects, Bob Marley, Toots and the Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, and all those guys, we’re going to hear how they influenced the likes of Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, and Manassas. We’ll hear one from Loudon Wainwright III that sounds like one from Paul Simon that we’ll also hear. Elsewhere in the set, Bonnie Raitt covering Calypso Rose, the Tabagonian Calypsonian on “Wah She Go Do.” From the album Full Sail, we’ve got Loggins and Mesinna who took the rhythms of the West Indies and applied them to Hawaii. But we’ll start with a song from the Bahamas, an old sea chanty, rearranged by Brian Wilson and performed by the Beach Boys. From the Way Back Studios, here’s “Sloop John B.”
|Sloop John B.
|Loggins and Messina
|Song of Love
|Wah She Go Do?
|Jamaica Jerk Off
|Loudon Wainwright III
|Mother and Child Reunion
Well there’s an eight-song example of how Afro-Caribbean folk music styles like calypso and reggae influenced some of our favorite pop and rock artists. We ended up with Paul Simon, famous for wondering into foreign musical fields and folding their influences into his compositions. Back in the eighties and nineties, he hooked up with South African and Brazilian artists for his albums Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints, but back in ‘72 he called on reggae to help craft one of his biggest hits. Before that we heard Loudon Wainwright III’s “Lowly Tourist” which almost sounds like it’s based on “Mother and Child Reunion.” That’s from Loudon’s 1975 album Unrequited. At the top of the set, the dazzling harmonies of the Beach Boys on an old sea chanty that originated in the Bahamas. We heard “Sloop John B” from Pet Sounds. Among those who know about these things, it’s generally agreed that Brian Wilson didn’t intend the song to be on Pet Sounds but that’s where it ended up.
After that, we sailed out to the Pacific with Loggins and Messina for “Lahaina.” We followed that with Stephen Stills and Manassas doing “Song of Love” which doesn’t have the same island groove as the other tracks, but managed to fit into the set and give us the dandy mixes us coming out of the Loggins and Messina, and going into Bonnie Raitt’s “Wah She Go Do.” Then we heard the only Fleetwood Mac song I can think of with a reggae feel, from Mystery To Me, we heard “Forever” leading into “Jamaica Jerk Off” from Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Well, I don’t want to give you false hope on this strange and mournful day, so I’ll just come right out and say it: we’re all out of time. To find out more about the show, including the set lists, and what goes on behind the scenes, drop by Facebook or my website and take a look around. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll be back next time with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl from the Way Back Studios and I hope you can join us, right here, in the Deep Tracks.