Let’s say this is your first trip to the Way Back Studios. You might be wondering what’s it’s all about, Alfie? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s a reminder of the possibilities long ago forsaken by terrestrial rock radio. It’s about playing with the music and with your musical expectations. Sometimes it’s a complicated mash-up of the familiar and the exotic. Other times it’s just about finding the right sequence, Kenneth, or the frequency which is superior to amplitude modulation, sound-wise speaking. In other words it’s like FM versus AM from back in the day when you had to get a third class license from the FCC just to spin records. And after Big Daddy Tom Donahue showed us the way, there was no turning back. And now that the satellites are in geosynchronous orbit and the consultants have been locked away, we just do it on principal. We simply refuse to leave well enough alone.
Today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is a perfect example and a great place to start if this is your first time. The first half of the set rides in on some spicy south-of-the-border horns augmented by the sequencing and the momentum you can gain from doing it right. And best of all it answers the question: Is it possible to build a coherent set featuring Los Lobos, Doug Sahm, Johnny Cash, and The Steve Miller Band? (Here’s a hint: yes.) The tricky part was getting to the second half of the set, which revolves around a classic from the Moody Blues. So you’re probably asking yourself how do you get from mariachi horns to progressive art rock without pulling an ear muscle? It’s a good question of balance, as it were. And we found the answer on Catch Bull at Four. After that, we break the Moody’s track into three parts, inserting Simon and Garfunkle in one and another track from Cat Stevens in the other to come up with something new. So take your protein pills and put your sombreros on because “I got to let you know.”
|Los Lobos||I Got To Let You Know|
|Doug Sahm||La Cacahuata|
|Johnny Cash||Ring of Fire|
|Steve Miller||Hot Chili|
|Moody Blues||Question (part 1)|
|Simon and Garfunkle||America|
|Moody Blues||Question (part 2)|
|Moody Blues||Question (part 3)|
The story goes that Justin Hayward had parts for two different songs but he couldn’t finish either one. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem but the Moody Blues were scheduled to record the songs the next day. So Mr. Hayward did what anybody might, he took the parts from the two songs and assembled them into one, which explains why it sounds like two songs stitched together with guitar strings. We broke the song back into the original parts and inserted Simon and Garfunkle’s “ America” in the first break, and Cat Stevens’ “Bitterblue” into the second. The first half of the set was all mariachi horns and Tex-Mex melodies. Starting with Los Lobos, from their must-have album How Will the Wolf Survive, a song called “I Got to Let You Know.”
After that, the late, great Doug Sahm, with half of Creedence Clearwater Revival. We heard “La Cacahuata” from one of the lost gems in the Deep Tracks, an album called Groover’s Paradise. Doug Clifford produced and played drums while Stu Cook handled the bass. The horns were courtesy of Link Davis, Jr. and they led us naturally into that “Ring of Fire” with Mr. Johnny Cash. A song co-written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore, and first recorded by June’s sister, Anita. After hearing it, Johnny said he had a dream where he heard the song with these Mexican horns, so he did his version. After that, keeping with that flavor, The Steve Miller Band served up a bowl of “Hot Chili” from the Number Five album. Then it was Cat Stevens’ “Angelsea” whose upbeat acoustic guitars with the Spanish overtones helped bridge the two halves of the set. Now, if you’ve ever wondered why we never get an answer when we’re knocking at the door to the Way Back Studios, it’s probably because I’ve got my headphones on. Or I’m busy posting the set lists and show commentaries on the website, bill Fitzhugh.com. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll be back next time with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us. Right here in the Deep Tracks.