Looking back over the past few shows, it seems to me we’ve been having a little too much fun putting together those complicated segue sets. So today, I thought we’d get back to basics, return to the simple life. Nine songs, nothing fancy about the mix, they just sound good together. Nine songs about love, life, death, and politics. Plus one about sex from the band that drove the rats out of Munford, that would be Larry Raspberry with his Highsteppers.
Now, by coincidence, two of the tracks in today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl were produced by Glyn Johns, famous for his work with the Eagles, the Stones, Steve Miller and too many others to name. In this set we’ll hear his production on Joan Armatrading’s third album. And we’ll hear one he produced for Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane, from the album Rough Mix which is anything but. Elsewhere we’ll hear an acoustic cautionary tale from Cat Stevens’ fourth album, Tea for the Tillerman. Then Joan starts in singing about that brand new dandy, that first class scene stealer who walks through the crowd and takes your man, sends you running to the mirror, steeped in doubt. Well, if that doesn’t break your heart, just wait until the middle of the set when we get to the “Election Year Rag.” If you feel like you need a score card, well, you really don’t have to fuss. You know the winner’s always somebody else, and the loser is always us.
It’s enough to make you sing the blues, which is exactly what we end up doing. Eric Clapton gives us one From The Cradle, doing a version of a Barbecue Bob standard. Maria Muldaur covers one by the great Skip James. And Bonnie Raitt brings us a classic written by one of her favorite artists, Sippie Wallace. But first up, a song Toy Caldwell wrote for his wife Abbie, not long after they were married. As short and sweet as love songs get, here’s “Ab’s Song.”
|Marshall Tucker Band
|But I Might Die Tonight
|Down to zero
|Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane
|Election Year Rag
|Larry Raspberry and the Highsteppers
|If You Haven’t Any Hay
|You Got To Know How
If you had to choose an album based solely on its guest musicians, you could do worse than Maria Muldour’s Waitress in a Donut Shop. Before Bonnie Raitt covered Sippie Wallace with “You Got to Know How” we heard Maria covering another blues classic, the Skip James tune, “If You Haven’t Any Hay.” The other blues covered in that set was old Slowhand with “Motherless Child” which is not to be confused with “Motherless Children”; they’re different songs. But back to that Waitress in the Donut Shop for a second. I don’t have time to name everybody who plays on the record but here are some highlights: Elvin Bishop, Paul Butterfield, Dr. John, Lowell George, David Lindley, Spooner Oldham, Linda Rondstadt, and Doc Watson. And then there are jazz greats like Ray Brown, Benny Carter, “Sweets” Edison, Bud Shank, and Milt Holland. And while it’s true that having all-stars on the team doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to win every game; in this case it does. Waitress in a Donut Shop is simply a great album.
Now, the guy in the middle of the set singing about the problems with our political process was the late great Steve Goodman doing the “Election Year Rag.” After that, Larry Raspberry doing a song called “Tonight.” The set opened with a minute and nineteen seconds of love, from the Marshall Tucker Band, a sweet little ditty called “Ab’s Song.” Then we heard Cat Stevens and Joan Armatrading followed by Pete Townshend with Ronnie Laine, from one of the lost gems in the library, an album called Rough Mix, produced by Glyn Johns who also produced the Joan Armatrading. That’s all the time we’ve got but remember what Larry Raspberry said, when the sun gets low and the moon gets yellow, we’ll start out high and end up in the Way Back Studios. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. You can find the set lists and show commentaries at billfitzhugh.com along with all sorts of shocking revelations. I’ll be back sooner or later with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.