Foto-Mack

Today, the Seventies have been on my mind. For those of us who lived through that post-groovy decade, I have a few random memories and things I miss about it. (Obviously, some of Paul McCartney’s solo music makes the list.) I mean you had your bean bag chairs and bell bottom jeans, but those aren’t at the top of my list.

First, I miss Fotomat. (It was a little drive-thru booth where you could drop off your non-digital photos to be developed.) As a kid, I was fascinated by how small the place was and thought would be super cool to work in one. Ironically, I think the first camera I ever owned was called “The Button” by Polaroid — it was so “advanced” that it spewed out and developed its own photos in a matter of seconds. No need for Fotomat. In honor of how “hi tech” that was, I’m including this link to the Paul McCartney song “Hi Hi Hi.”

I can remember a crush-worthy girl in my junior high class said she “thought it was cute how Paul and Linda always got busted for drugs together.” I guess that tune is appropriate then. I also associate a scene from a TV sitcom called “Hello, Larry” with post-Beatles Paul McCartney. Larry was a disc jockey (played by McLean Stevenson). In an episode, one of Larry’s daughters said something like, “Hey, Dad…did you know Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?”. All I can say is, “Smile Away.”

I really enjoy the electric guitar and backing vocals in both of these songs as well as “Helen Wheels.”

Why “Helen Wheels”, you might ask? Well, another random thing I miss about the 70s is one I’m having a hard time finding. I think they were called Snow Cone-mobiles or something like that. If memory serves me correctly, they were little three wheeled trucks that carried the sweet, sugary remedy for a hot day in the back. They were sort of like a tricycle on steroids. So, basically, I’d like to drive one of those through the Fotomat drive thru while blasting all three of these songs. Grape Snow Cones are my favorite!

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Sugaree Revisited

Have you ever heard of “Desert Island Discs”? Basically, it’s a game or radio program where you, hypothetically, get stranded on an island, but get to choose a handful songs to take with you. In other words, which songs will you never get sick of hearing day in and day out. If you’re a music fan, it is a TOUGH question to ponder. Today, I’m officially choosing the Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter composition called “Sugaree.

How do I love thee, Sugaree? Let me count the ways. This song has a mellow, matter-of-fact vibe to it, but it isn’t boring to my ears. You can hear Jerry Garcia’s guitar from the beginning of the song, but it’s very subtle. The feel of the song changes around the 40 second mark, but it’s not overpowering. It’s just enough to keep it interesting. According to Wikipedia, Garcia played all of the instruments on this track except for drums. Credit there goes to Bill Kreutzmann.

If the original version is too mellow for you, check out this one by Phosphorescent along with Jenny Lewis & Friends.

Their take on “Sugaree” is a little more upbeat and organ intensive, but I really enjoy it. I also found a wailing guitar version by Jorma Kaukonen (Hot Tuna, Jefferson Airplane).

There are other versions out there including John, Mayer, The Persuasions, Nick Barker, Chris Robinson, and Tedeschi Trucks Band. As you might expect, there are zillions of live versions by The Grateful Dead. For me, I will stick with Jerry Garcia’s original studio version as one of my Desert Island Discs.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

The B Side of Beatle George

If you mention the song title “Old Brown Shoe” by The Beatles, I think many people would say, “Huh? What?” I mean it’s not exactly as well known as “She Loves You”, but it is a fantastic song from the pen of the often overshadowed songwriter George Harrison. (To put things into perspective it was the B side of “The Ballad of John and Yoko.”) I found this early demo version on YouTube featuring more prominent vocals and piano.

Lyrically, the song is pretty interesting. The Wikipedia entry compares it to McCartney’s “Hello, Goodbye” in the sense there are themes of opposites and conflicts in both. In “Old Brown Shoe” Harrison sings about wanting “a short haired girl who sometimes wears it twice as long.” To me, the middle eight section is great both lyrically and musically. “When I grown up I’ll be a singer, wearing rings on every finger.” Give Paul McCartney credit for some interesting bass lines here.

Harrison later recorded this song on his 1992 album “Live in Japan.” If you don’t think this song is bluesy enough for you, check out the version by Leslie West (Mountain) on “Song from the Material World – A Tribute to George Harrison.” It’s also been played by Conan O’Brien and Gary Brooker (Procul Harum) at tribute concerts.

The first time I heard this song was on the cassette version of “The Beatles Greatest Hits 1967-1970.” I thoroughly enjoyed the song’s different texture then and still do now.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Rod Rosse, The One Man Posse

Like most Americans, I watch way too much TV. It’s not all I do, but the pandemic has provided a convenient excuse. I could tell you about the number of push ups I did this week to make myself feel better, but that’s not what this blog entry is about. The question is….do we watch TV as a time filler or to be truly entertained? Maybe after we’ve watched X number of shows, movies, etc. your entertainment threshold gets higher…or is really great entertainment hard to find?

I’ve been trying to think of a way to gauge this, but I will just say the animated film “Reveangance” is probably the funniest thing I’ve seen in years. (Just to clarify, it is not a Disney production aimed at kids. ) I have to credit the free streaming network Tubi for carrying this one. As the title of this blog entry implies, the story’s protagonist is a bounty hunter named Rod Rosse, The One Man Posse. Rosse looks more like an accountant than Dog the Bounty Hunter, but the dude who hires him actually looks a little like Dog now that I think about it. Without getting too much into the plot, I will just say it involves a biker gang, a rock concert, several other colorful bounty hunters, a young lady with a bow and arrow, a senator, professional wrestling, and a weird cult in the desert. Directions, storyboards, animation are credited to Bill Plympton while Jim Lujan is credited with story, design, voices, and music.

You’ll know in the first five minutes if you’ll get into this film. What’s interesting to me about animated satire is the ability to exaggerate characters’ looks, voices, mannerisms while letting viewers say, “I’ve seen that guy or girl.” Not only that, but there is definitely a clever, dry humor about the film. Rod, for example, runs his bounty hunter business with the help of his mother and her cat, Mr. Butterkisses. Here’s another paraphrased example of dialogue from the film:

Rod Rosse: What do you want?

Lana: Reveangance.

Rod Rosse: I’m pretty sure that’s not a word.

By the way, “Reveangance” has won a couple of awards if you care about those types of things. Personally, I don’t, but I will give it my inaugural Pandemic Couch Potato Award for being the funniest film I’ve seen in a long time.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon.

Charlie Daniels & Discount Stores

For whatever reason, when I think about Charlie Daniels, I think about the discount retail chain called GrandPa Pidgeon’s in St.Louis, Missouri. My memory may be foggy, but I assume he made an appearance &/or played a show at one of their locations in the 1990s. I know I saw a newspaper ad promoting his appearance in their stores. (Call it my own personal Pavlov’s Dog.) I was never a rabid fan of The Charlie Daniels Band or “The C.D.B.”, but I was aware of both the man and the band. I can remember conversing with a friend of mine in grade school about the tune “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The short version is the kid who lived across the street from him used to max out the volume when the lyrics said, “S.O.B.”

It’s not the first attempt to feature man vs. Satan in an epic showdown, but it is a damn good song. Give the man some credit. I remember the whole “Devil vs. Daniel Webster” thing among other tales, but maybe that’s just me. I can only speak for me, but I have met many musicians in Missouri who would cite Charlie Daniels as an influence today.

As for Charlie Daniels being a conservative or right-winger, I say, “Whatever!” He was a real person and a damn fine musician and storyteller — that may be what drew people to him. In addition, I also think about a tune called “Caballo Diablo” (Devil Horse) I heard on the radio as well.

For whatever reason….coincidence, geography, etc. … I can remember the classic rock jock “Radio Rich Dalton” taking about this song as I drove along 170 (a.k.a. “The Innerbelt”) in the St. Louis Metro one day. Country recording artist Chris LeDoux also recorded that tune. There’s “Long Haired Country Boy”” as well as “The South’s Gonna Do It Again.”

In my opinion, the song is nothing more than a celebration of Southern Rock. I could go on and on about the C.D.B.’s influence in the Show-Me State. What I WILL say is his influence is felt to this day. If “The South’s Gonna Do It Again” offends you, then it offends you. In my opinion, it’s a song about being proud of where you’re from. If that’s politically incorrect, then so be it !! Viva, Charlie Daniels!

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Paperback Writer

When I think of this Beatles’ classic from 1966, the harmony is the first thing to pop into my mind. However, there are other interesting elements including a bit of “Frère Jacques” towards the end.. I found a vocal-less version on YouTube and enjoyed listening to the instrumental track as a rocker in and of itself. (No one can mistake this for Karaoke!)

This track moves quickly so it’s easy to miss all of the elements. I’ve always liked the guitar riff in this song as well.

Then there’s the bass of Paul McCartney. There’s a really cool bass lick around 1:50.

It wouldn’t be complete without the, you know, full-on complete version.

You can also find the “isolated vocals” version out there as well. I would have to pick 1966 as my personal favorite year of “Beatledom.” They wrapped up their last tour and were starting to focus their efforts on studio work. This single was released a few months before the “Revolver” album, which is my personal favorite. It’s almost like this effort hinted at what was still to come. The flip side of this single (“Rain”) is an overlooked track which has some of the same elements as “Paperback Writer”: great harmony, and great rhythm section. A bit of backwards guitar on it as well. “Revolver” features more of the same.

Since The Beatles broke up in 1970, I think we should refer to 1966 as “the Year 4 Pre-Beatles Breakup.” Or should it be the Year 4 Pre-B.B. — the year 4 Pre-B.B.U? 1974, on the other hand, would be “the Year 4 Post Beatles Breakup. or the Year 4 Post B.B.U.” I think it may catch on, but I could be wrong.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Arpeggios and Animals

I was fooling around with the guitar riff to John Lee Hooker’s classic tune “Boom Boom”, which led me to the version by The Animals. Their take on it is a bit more pop, but Mickie Most produced their self-titled debut album so I should thank my lucky stars it didn’t come out sounding like “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.” Yikes! It got me to thinking about The Animals as a band. Like a lot of people, “House of the Rising Sun” is the song that turned me onto them. I think the appeal of that song in particular is the vocals of Eric Burdon, the spooky minor key thing, and the simple-but-memorable arpeggio guitar part played by Hilton Valentine.

I enjoyed reading Hilton’s bio on his website ( http://www.hiltonvalentine.com/bio.html), especially the part about him learning from a book called “Teach Yourself A Thousand Chords”. I had one called “How to Play Guitar” by Roger Evans among others. It’s actually a great reference on the guitar in general. (Ironically, “House of the Rising Sun” was in there.)

If you look at the track listing on The Animals’ first album it’s probably typical of a lot of stuff being played around the same time by the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Pretty Things, and other British bands. It includes covers of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino.

The Animals had a unique sound. It was bluesy, maybe even “gritty,” but also featured the keyboards of Alan Price. Of course you can’t talk about The Animals without mentioning bass player Chas Chandler — he went onto manage Jimi Hendrix. John Steel rounded out the band on drums.

“House of the Rising Sun” had a big impact on me. I can remember trying to figure out ALL of the lyrics. I finally found a guitar method book which cleared them up for me, but pre-internet it wasn’t easy. It’s funny to think about the influence of guitar books now, but it got Hilton Valentine and many others like him playing.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Black Jack Davey

Folk songs pique my interest because of the mystery surrounding them. They spread mainly by word of mouth over the years and reach into different regions with lyrical variations. Some of those songs have a lasting or “classic” quality which allows them to endure. One of those songs is known by several different titles including “Black Jack Davey.” While researching this blog entry, I found this great Americana version by a band called Hurray for the Riff Raff.

The first time I was exposed to the tune was in a documentary about The White Stripes called “Under Great White Northern Lights.” I never owned any of their recordings prior to this, but I had to track this one down and buy it.

Say what you want about Jack White’s voice or singing ability, but I love this version. I also love the guitar riff in the studio version. If you think of musicians worthy of the title “The Über Folkie,” they have also recorded this one — Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger. Dave Alvin also has a great version out there, too.

The list of musicians and bands who have recorded Black Jack Davey goes on and on…just a few of those include The Incredible String Band, Steeleye Span, The Carter Family, Waylon Jennings, and many more. Here’s where it gets confusing and/or more interesting. The title of the tune ranges from things like “The Gypsy Davy” to “Raggle Taggle Gypsy.” Hopefully there’s a version you enjoy. It tells a great story.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon.

E.L.O., Ace, & Matthew Sweet?

I’ve never been an enormous fan of Jeff Lynne, but his talent really can’t be denied as a songwriter and arranger. Prior to the formation of Electric Light Orchestra (E.L.O.), he was in a band called The Move and wrote this three chord song called “Do Ya”. The song has popped up on some movie soundtracks if I’m not mistaken.

It’s interesting how this song has its different parts: the crunchy guitar intro, random lyrics about things he’s seen, and then there’s a slower bridge part, too. Not to mention there’s that extremely high harmony on the chorus. Take away some of the…you know…”orchestral” parts and you still have some great, catchy rock and roll.

I enjoyed listening to the drums on The Move’s original version. There’s also a guitar that sounds like George Harrison to my ears. While researching this song, I stumbled across this audio clip of Matthew Sweet from an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Last but not least, there’s the version by Seventies Icon/Guitar Hero/Spaceman Ace Frehley.

I read Frehley’s autobiography “No Regrets” and really enjoyed it. If I remember correctly, producer Eddie Kramer encouraged him to record this one. Frehley also recorded “Fox on the Run” by Sweet if you’re into the whole Seventies Rock/Glam thing. The songs have some similarities, but that’s for another time.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

THE ÜBER REDNECK?

There is something about redneck humor that just absolutely kills me. While there are many choices and examples, I want to mention two of them you might not have encountered. The first is an early 2000s film called “Run Ronnie Run.” I’ll never forget the first time I watched it. I came home from work on a Friday afternoon, dozed off on the couch, woke up around midnight, and this film was on TV. It stars David Cross as Super-Redneck Ronnie Dobbs. He’s a mullet wearing troublemaker from Doraville, Georgia. In one of the first scenes, he walks down the sidewalk — as he strolls past another Doraville resident, he says, “I’m sorry about doing that to your sister. I forgot.” This pretty much sets the tone for the film.

Ronnie Dobbs hangs out with his buddies and drinks beer at the local gas station, deals with his on-again-off-again wife Tammy, and his kids who are all named “Little Ronnie.” In addition, he spends a good deal of his time running from the police for his various mischievous activities around town. One thing leads to another and a leaked videotape of Ronnie’s exploits fall into the hands of the nearly washed up infomercial producer Terry Twillstein, played by Bob Odenkirk (Saul from “Breaking Bad”/”Better Call Saul”). Twillstein decides to hop on the reality-TV-bandwagon and give Ronnie his own show where he runs from the cops to entertain viewers. When Redneck Ronnie lands in Hollywood, hilarity ensues. There is some great satire in this film including a ludicrous meeting of network TV executives and a party scene with numerous celebrities.

There’s also a “Survivor” TV show parody, a music video by an R & B duo called “3 times 1, minus 1”, and a scene with “freaky new age hippies.” According to imdb.com, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross have disowned the final cut of this movie, but I still enjoy it. There’s also some great Southern Rock to go along with the whole thing.

Another one of my favorite redneck characters was introduced to me via The Bob & Tom Radio Show. This dude sports not only a mullet, but a “Kentuckiana” accent. His name is Donnie Baker.

His voice reminds me of one of my college buddy’s. Donnie Baker is the creation of comedian Ron Sexton. You’ll often hear his catchphrases “I swear to God” and “It’s state law.”

There are other redneck-themed comedies I enjoy like “Trailer Park Boys: The Movie” and the NBC series “My Name is Earl.” I’m proud to say I’ve watched every episode of Earl, and the soundtrack is awesome. “I swear to God it is!”

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!