From the Vault – Vol 7

(Pictured – ME’s Music Vault)

Wherein I periodically send our team into the vault to find tunes that ME has featured over the years and which he (and his minions) would not like the world to completely forget ….

Fleetwood Mac is a band I wrote about way back when. First installment was Peter Green’s original band. second was Mark II with Bob Welch. (I will eventually get around to the Buckingham/Nicks version).

But for right now, let’s go back to basics with a great tune – one of my Mac favorites – called “Like it This Way,” written by Danny Kirwan. I love the “call and response” on the guitars and great shuffle beat that Mick lays down. Here’s a live version from the Boston Tea Party, one of the great early rock venues before it all went commercial:

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I saw the mighty J. Geils band a few times in my concert-going career. There were few bands in their league when it came to putting on a live show. Duane Allman called them one of his favorite bands ‘coz they played blues and they came to PLAY. (If you weren’t serious about playing, Duane had no time for you.) Boston was the first town the Allmans played outside the South and I seem to recall the bands getting to know each other and hanging out at Wolf’s place.

“First I Look at the Purse” is a tune co-written by Smokey Robinson. It did moderately well on the charts. Geils does it pretty faithfully and kicks the energy up a notch;

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Back in 1961, there was a Kirk Douglas movie called Town Without Pity. The (largely) forgotten flick is about American soldiers accused of a gang rape. But the song – by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington – was a big hit for Gene Pitney. (The songwriting duo also wrote the theme from High Noon, a movie which – per film buff, CB – David Crosby’s father won a cinematography Oscar.)

Years later, ace guitarist Ronnie Montrose took a shot at recording an instrumental version of “Pity,” strings and all. The melody is a great one and he did a terrific job with it:

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You can’t not know Big Brother and the Holding Company. I read an interesting quote by guitarist Sam Andrew about auditioning Janis Joplin: “We are doing this woman a favor to even let her come and sing with us. She didn’t look like a hippie, she looked like my mother, who is also from Texas.

She sang real well but it wasn’t like, “Oh we’re bowled over.” It was probably more like, our sound was really loud. It was probably bowling her over. I am sure we didn’t turn down enough for her. …, we weren’t flattened by her and she wasn’t flattened by us.

It wasn’t like this moment of revelation like you would like it to be. Like in a movie or something. It wasn’t like, “Oh my God, now we have gone to heaven. We have got Janis Joplin.” I mean she was good but she had to learn how to do that. It took her about a year to really learn how to sing with an electric band.”

Here they are doing “I Need a Man to Love” (Joplin/Andrew composition) from an album originally titled Sex, Dope, and Cheap Thrills. (The label killed the title. And the song is NOT live but crowd sounds were added in later.)

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Steve Miller was born in Milwaukee and raised in Dallas. His mother was a jazz singer, his pathologist father an amateur recording engineer. Les Paul (“The Wizard of Waukesha” Wisconsin) was a frequent visitor and was Steve’s godfather.

According to Wikipedia: “Many distinguished musicians came to the (Dallas) house to record, and Steve absorbed much from greats such as T-Bone Walker, Charles Mingus, and Tal Farlow. Walker taught Steve how to play his guitar behind his back and also with his teeth He … instructed his classmate, future musical star Boz Scaggs, guitar chords so that he could join the band.”

From the post-Scaggs 1969 album Your Saving Grace, here’s the title tune whose chorus I especially love. The song was written by the band’s drummer Tim Davis:

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Last but not least, before we close the vault again for a little while, let’s dip into The Band’s catalog for “Rag Mama Rag’ which is always good for a toe top and would probably sound even better with a washboard. If you want to know more about The Band, I did a series a while back which you can find by searching my site:

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6 thoughts on “From the Vault – Vol 7

  1. Nice picks, Jim, dig all of them. Sometimes I find it hard to believe the band that Fleetwood Mac used to be a hard-charging blues rock band.

    That first J. Geils Band live album from ’72 is fantastic – I would definitely call it one of my all-time favorite live albums. Their cover of “First I Look At the Purse” transitioning over to “Homework” is just killer.

    I also recall reading that Sam Andrew quote before – fascinating, it sounds like he’s talking about a different person, not the mighty blues vocalist Janis Joplin!


    1. I think Mick Fleetwood was savvy enough to bring in people who would roll with the times. By the time of Mark II blues-rock was almost a spent force. And when Buckingham/Nicks arrived, their pop/rock sound was ideal for the 70’s.

      As to Janis, I recall that documentary about her from a few years back. She definitely looked very “housewifey” at one point. I think she let her freak flag fly in San Francisco.

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    1. Back in the good old days when radio was good in Boston, the Montrose cover got a fair amount of play. Always liked the melody. Another Tiomkin winner.

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