All right, girls and boys, sharpen you number two pencils. It’s time for another Way Back Studios Pop Quiz. First, a few fill-in-the-blanks. Ready? #1 Larry Raspberry and ___? The correct answer is The Highsteppers. All right, number two: Root Boy Slim and _____? That’s right, The Sex Change Band. And finally, Brian Auger and _____? Ahh, that’s a trick question. If you answered The Oblivion Express, you’d be right . . . most of the time. But he also recorded with another group under the name Brian Auger and the Trinity. And no name could be more appropriate, given the first three songs in today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl.
Here’s the back-story: One Sunday a couple of years ago, around Christmas, I was sitting at home watching an NFL game. Anchoring the network’s prime time schedule that night was a made-for-TV movie about the life of Jesus, aptly titled “Jesus Christ.” Now the game’s play-by-play announcer was obligated to promote the movie throughout the three-and-a-half-hour broadcast and he started out with great enthusiasm: ‘Tonight, after the game, the network premier of “Jesus Christ.”’ Every now and then, for a change of pace, he’d give the promos a more reverent reading: ‘Following the game, stay tuned for the season’s most anticipated motion picture event, “Jesus Christ.”’ Well, the poor guy had to do these promos about six times an hour and the longer the game went on, the more irritated he sounded. By the end of the game he’d lost the ability to sound either enthusiastic or reverent about the movie. Somewhere around the two minute warning, after having read the promo card about 20 times, the guy sounded like he’d lost all faith when he said, ‘Tonight, after the game, “Jesus Christ.”’
Well, I’m sure the Lord will forgive him just as he’ll forgive me for deconstructing one of rock’s most famous songs with His son’s name in the title, if for no other reason than the quality of the segues, some of which are downright miraculous. So get on your knees and give thanks because not only is Jesus on the main line, He’s just all right with me.
|Ry Cooder||Jesus on the Mainline|
|Stevie Wonder||Jesus Children of America|
|Doobie Brothers||Jesus is Just Allright With Me (part 1)|
|Brian Auger and Trinity||Listen Here (part 1)|
|Santana||Treat (part 1)|
|Doobie Brothers||Jesus is Just Allright With Me (part 2)|
|Santana||Treat (part 1)|
|Doobie Brothers||Jesus is Just Allright With Me (part 3)|
|Brian Auger and Trinity||Listen Here (part 2)|
Recorded in London in 1969, that’s Brian Auger and The Trinity doing the Eddie Harris composition, “Listen Here.” According the album’s liner notes, it was an experiment with four drummers. The idea was to split the beat and give each part (cymbal rhythms, snare rhythm, bass drum rhythm, and fill-ins) to each drummer to play with his whole kit. Somewhere in the middle, each of the drummers plays a four bar break in this order: Mickey Waller, Barry Reeves, Clive Thacker, Mickey Waller and Barry Reeves again, then Colin Allen, and finally an ensemble fill to kick them into the extended organ solo. It was done in one rehearsal and one take because Auger wanted the thing as fresh as possible. In the liner notes he says, “The groove…gets a bit ‘elastic’ here and there but we had a ball doing it and as an experiment it doesn’t come off too badly at all!” Can’t argue with that, but of course I couldn’t leave well enough alone either, so we broke the song into two parts and inserted Santana’s “Treat” also broken into two parts and mixed them with the three parts of The Doobies. If you’re not paying close attention, you can’t even tell where “Listen Here” ends and “Treat” begins.
The set opened with a trinity of songs of the less-than-secular variety. We heard Ry Cooder’s take on the traditional “Jesus on the Mainline” followed by Stevie Wonder with “Jesus Children of America,” and hanging on Toulouse Street in 1972 covering a song first recorded in 1969 by the Byrds. The Doobie Brothers did ‘Jesus is Just Alright.’ I don’t care what they may know. I don’t care where they may go as long as we end up in the Way Back Studios, it’s alright with me. If you’re looking for the set lists or show commentaries, you can find them on billfitzhugh.com. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back sooner or later with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you can join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.