I gotta tell you, this is the best job I’ve ever had and I’ve had a lot of jobs. I’ve tended bar and shucked oysters in Mississippi. I’ve worked as a deck hand on a squalid freight charter boat in the Virgin Islands. I’ve worked at law firms in Los Angeles and nightclubs in Seattle. Then there were the years lost to radio, publishing, and being a rodeo clown. I liked some of those jobs better than others but none better than this one. First of all I make my own hours, second, my commute’s a short walk across my back yard, and best of all when I asked the boss what I could and couldn’t do, he said, you can do whatever you want. How’re you gonna beat that? Well, given all that freedom and all these great albums, I try to mix things up, keep things interesting for everybody. Sometimes I’ll do a set of elaborate mixes and mash-ups, sometimes the set revolves around a theme, and other times I’ll just roll out a big wheelbarrow of nostalgia and spill it out your speakers.
And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is one of those. Eight songs stacked straight on the spindle, slipped slyly into your stereo via satellite. This one started out revolving around a Randy Newman track that could have been called “My Mother Strongly Urged Me Not To Attend” but instead, wisely, he went with a different title and Three Dog Night ended up having a big hit with it. Before we get there, we’ll hear one from Peter Frampton’s album Somethin’s Happening, during which it sounds to me like the background singers are singing the words “mama roux” which becomes interesting a couple of songs later when we hear one from Dr. John, a track full of that second line beat that reached all the way from New Orleans to Jamaica and influenced all the reggae artists which explains how we get to the Slickers, Toots and the Maytals, and Robert Palmer at the end of the set. But we’ll start with what strikes me as an unlikely pairing. I was listening to the Barnstorm album by Joe Walsh recently and the guitar line of one of the tracks immediately reminded of what I think is the only Beatles song that’s actually a solo performance by John Lennon. Here’s “Julia.”
|3 Dog Night
|Mama Told Me Not to Come
|Johnny Too Bad
|Toots and the Maytalls
|Pressure Drop (excerpt)
That’s a little bit of the late, great, Robert Palmer, tagging his version of “Pressure Drop” onto the original version from Toots and the Maytals which I played off the Funky Kingston LP. Before that, from what is still my favorite reggae album, the soundtrack for The Harder They Come, that was “Johnny Too Bad” by The Slickers. Before that, showing the bond between reggae and New Orleans R and B. That was Dr. John with the funky beats from the Gris-Gris album back in 1968 when he was still wearing those feathered headdresses, we heard “Mama Roux.” The other mama song in that set was written by Randy Newman and performed most famously by Three Dog Night on their album It Ain’t Easy which was their fourth album in eighteen months. I’ve heard that Donna Summer sang backup on the song but I can’t prove it. In the middle of the set, we had Peter Frampton “Sailing Away” from 1974 and his album Somethin’s Happening.
At the top, John Lennon played solo on The Beatles album in 1968. “Julia” was written both for his mother, who died when John was young and for Yoko who didn’t. The opening line of the song is a variation on a line from the poem “Sand and Foam” by Kahlil Gibran. With a similar sounding guitar line, Joe Walsh followed “Julia” with “Midnight Visitor” from his album Barnstorm, his first solo album after leaving The James Gang. Well, to paraphrase Randy Newman, the satellite radio is blasting, someone’s knocking at the door. I’m looking at my girlfriend, she’s passed out on the floor of the Way Back Studios, or maybe she’s just taking a nap. Either way, thanks for listening. If you’re looking for the set lists or if you want to send me an email, you can do both from the old website, billfitzhugh.com. And while you’re there, feel free to poke around, see what else we’re up to. I’m Bill Fitzhugh and I’ll be back eventually with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.