Tag Archives: Mixtape

Old No 1

I’ve been keeping my eye out for this one for a long time, but it has become increasingly more difficult to see this one in the wild. I searched for it on eBay, found a few people selling the 4 Men with Beards reissue on 180 gram vinyl, and immediately put it in my watch list. After a few months of looking at my watch list, and just seeing it sit there and DARE me to buy it, I finally did.

The BEST country record ever made
Guy Clark Old No. 1 Reissue – Still in the shrink wrap

It’s difficult to covey how much this record means to me. Very few artists I can think of can convey a very clear sense of place in their songwriting and/or recording, but this record SOUNDS like Texas (although it was recorded in Nashville). I can picture the kind of light grey asphalt on Highway 287 with the black squiggles of tar on the cracks in the road, with the telephone poles hugging next to the railroad tracks disappearing toward the horizon. This is Guy writing at the apex of his powers, and every single song is a masterpiece.

Not only is the songwriting masterful, the feel the session players bring to the record is spectacular. Steve Gibson on Guitar, Larry Londin on Drums, Mike Leech on Bass, Hal Rugg on Pedal Steel. Interestingly, Dick Feller, the guy that wrote “Some Days Are Diamonds” for John Denver and “Eastbound And Down” for Jerry Reed, plays guitar on this album too.

That being said, two songs in particular stand out to me. One is “She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” on Side A, a song about “Five minutes in a woman’s life,” as Guy likes to say in his live shows. The other standout is “Instant Coffee Blues” on Side B, a song about a one night stand with some amazing and haunting steel guitar by Mr. Rugg.

This reissue is actually better than the original in one key respect: it’s on 180 gram vinyl. I could feel the substance and stability as removed it from the sleeve the first time. The original was on a flimsy RCA pressing  that you could make thunder sounds with if you shook it as you held it between your palms.

This record and Guy’s second record, “Texas Cookin'” are forever in the kick ass songwriting pantheon. Listen to them, and you will see why both albums, in their entirety, made it into Papa B’s Guy Clark mixtape.

Aerie

The Humane Society Thrift Store has become a huge problem for me recently. Last time I went in there, it was like they had a direct link to my taste banks, or at the very least, to music I was exposed to when I was very young.

Every record I flipped through was one I had to take home. Amazing Rhythm Aces, Willie Nelson, Gordon Lightfoot, Leo Kottke…each record was either a songwriter I admired or a guitarist I admired. This week’s record was in the middle of all this greatness.

I had been thinking about this particular album for a few weeks, and I wanted to get it for a particular song that is on it that is entirely too funky and cool to be on a John Denver record. That song is called “She Won’t Let Me Fly Away,” and was written by Bill Danoff, who also wrote “Afternoon Delight,” of all things.

John Denver Aerie Album cover
John Denver: Falconer

I remember this record because it has a really weird rendition of Buddy Holly’s “Everyday,” a version of John Prine’s “Spanish Pipedream,” a version of Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans” (which is kind of terrible, because he deigns to mess with Goodman’s perfection by adding a completely unneeded bridge, therefore, adding himself as a co-writer on it), and a pretty good version of Kris Kristofferson’s “Casey’s Last Ride.”

Not much, if any of this record made it onto Papa B’s John Denver Mixtape, maybe only “Spanish Pipedream” (referred to on this record as “Blow Up Your TV (Spanish Pipe Dream)” and I think “The Eagle and the Hawk.” There’s also a song called “Tools” that I loved when I was about 4, about a baby rabbit. I can’t remember whether or not it made the mixtape, but I do remember requesting it whenever I heard a live musician playing John Denver songs.

So, I implore you, find Aerie and listen to the cool funkiness of “She Won’t Let Me Fly Away,” and swim in it.

Don Quixote

We’ve been going to the neighborhood Goodwill store almost every weekend for months. As soon as I walk through the door, I leave Sherry somewhere near the jewelry counter, and I make a bee-line for the records. For the last 6 weeks, there has been nothing new really, and I have flipped through the same stack of Larry Gatlin and Ernest Tubb and Judy Collins records each time, hoping that there is some new huge influx of recently stocked records laying just behind the Richard Strauss II box set waiting for the diamonds to somehow shine through the mildewed sleeves.

Unfortunately, for at least 5 weeks that I can remember, I have struck out. So much so, that I have actually seriously considered NOT digging. In fact, this weekend, as I rounded the bookshelf on my way to the vinyl, my heart sank. The records were all of a familiar arrangement on the shelf, indicating that they were basically as I had left them last weekend. It was probably a futile exercise to bother flipping through this tired stack of horribleness again. But still I looked, rolling my eyes as my fingers grazed past those familiar Larry Gatlin and Ernest Tubb records, on past the Box set of Strauss on the next shelf, down through the Judy Collins on the shelf closest to the floor. Here I encountered a little hope: some Mel Torme that I didn’t remember form my previous visits. Then, in a sleeve that looked as if it had been buried in a land fill for a few years before being donated, I found one record to take home. Luckily, the record was in very good condition. I hold in my hands Gordon Lightfoot’s 1972 Album Don Quixote.

Gordon Lightfoot Don Quixote Album Sleeve
Gordon Cannot Remember His Lyrics

My dad had a Gordon Lightfoot mixtape for those long drives to Texas, and I always remember the song “Don Quixote,” because it inspired me to read Cervantes when I was in 6th grade…now by “read” I mean I actually did look at each word in that book when I was 11, and say it internally…but did I retain any plot or story elements? No. Of course not. I could, however, claim to have read Don Quixote de la Mancha when I was far too young to understand it.

There are a few standouts on this record that made Papa B’s “Gordon Lightfoot Mixtape.” Obviously, there is “Don Quixote,” but also on this record are “Alberta Bound,” -which has Ry Cooder playing mandolin, interestingly; “Looking at the Rain,” “Second Cup of Coffee,” and “Beautiful.”  I was surprised to find, when investigating some of the tracks that didn’t make the Papa B cut, “On Susan’s Floor,” a song co-written by Shel Silverstein and Vince Matthews. I have cataloged my love for Shel’s songwriting in previous blog posts, so I won’t go into it here. This song, while not all that funny, has a really interesting rhyme scheme, kind of doing a “Tangled Up in Blue” thing.

What strikes me about this record is the instrumentation. Basically, Gordon plays guitar and 12 string guitar and sings both lead and harmony vocals, while Red Shea and Terry Clements play other guitar shaped instruments of various types, and Rick Haynes plays electric bass. No Drums. At times, it seems like there are rhythmic figures played by thigh slapping or some kind of muted clapping. Hambone?!  Over the top of all this, are the string arrangements, which are a bit more non-intrusive than other records from this period.

I think this record should be bought for the cover alone, even if it looks like it was chewed on by rodents. In fact, ESPECIALLY if it looks like it has been chewed on by rodents. Four Tracks made the Papa Burrows mixtape, so it has his seal of excellence. Ry Cooder. Shel. C’mon! It’s great!

 

Toucan Do It Too

You know it’s going to be an interesting thrift store experience when they price things by the pound. While sifting through the Stephen King books, polyester pants, random mismatched golf clubs and orphaned carafes from long dead coffee makers, I stumbled upon a stack of records. I sat down on the ground and began the arduous task of flipping through sleeve after sleeve of Jim Nabors and alas, Englebert Humperdink (how is it that he sold so many records?), I saw the sky-blue corner of this record peeking out from the mildewed and abandoned classical box sets:

Toucan Do It Too Album Art
Toucan Do It Too Cover

The sleeve has a little water damage, the inner sleeve that I bought with it was actually from a Joan Armatrading album, and the record has a few surface scratches that don’t affect the playability.

If you’ve never heard of this band, you’re really missing out. They are a kind of soul-country-bluegrass hybrid. Russell Smith sings, plays rhythm guitar, and writes the majority of the songs, Butch McDade sings and writes two songs, and plays drums, Jeff Davis plays bass, Billy Earheart plays organ, James Hooker plays all other keys and Barry Burton plays lead guitars and engineers.

Lots of soul here, and  5 songs, “Never Been to the Islands,” “Living in a World Unknown,” “Everybody’s Talked Too Much,” “Who’s Crying Now,” and “Two Can Do It Too” made it into the Papa Burrows Amazing Rhythm Aces Mixtape.

“Two Can Do It Too” bis my favorite thing on this record. It’s funky and cool, with lots of tasty electric piano.

Find it. Love it.

Fearless

This week, I decided to visit my local record store and actually buy something this time. Last time I was in there, it was about a week and a half ago, and I found some things that I wanted, but I decided to think about them for a week, instead of impulse buy about 20 records.

I have a rolling wantlist that I keep that mainly consists of songwriters I admire, so I’m always looking for Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Lee Clayton, and people of that caliber. I went back in this week for two specific records by Hoyt Axton, and ended up getting only one of those. That record is the one I want to talk about here.

The record I bought that I really wanted is from 1976 and Is called “Fearless,” named after Hoyt’s St, Bernard, This record had an amazing cast of L.A. session musicians on it, including Jim Keltner, Larry Carlton, Jeff Porcaro, Dean Parks, Tom Scott, Hank DeVito, Michael Omartian, James Burton, Joe Sample, and George Clinton.

Hoyt Axton Fearless
Hoyt Axton- Fearless Cover

There are several songs on this record that made the venerable Papa Burrows “Hoyt Axton Drive To Texas Mixtape,” including “Idol of the Band,” “Evangelina,” “Flash of Fire,” “An Old Greyhound,” “Gypsy Moth,” and “Beyond These Walls.”

It seems like it was recorded in probably 3 sessions, each with a different rhythm section, and it just kicks ass. Hoyt has an amazing voice and range, and it’s put to good use here and showcased in a lot of the strange vocal gymnastics he does for effect. Larry Carlton and James Burton are both completely on their game here, lots of interesting guitar parts and solos.

The thing I love about Hoyt is the quirkiness of his songwriting. In “An Old Greyhound,” or example, he sings the line: “don’t give a damn who you think we am, we’re bein’ who we are.” It’s like he’s stealing a page from the Roger Miller playbook. Good stuff, it makes me want to get even more Hoyt. Which I will. Soon.

Vinyl Collecting

I started buying vinyl before I even owned a turntable. I would go to record stores and browse through the stacks and find the odd Amazing Rhythm Aces or Rodney Crowell record and buy it, because it was cool and old, and at a price of one dollar, it beat having to spend ten dollars on an MP3 that didn’t even sound good.

I bought things at thrift stores that I thought were cool, flipping through sleeve after sleeve of Englebert Humperdink and Mitch Mitchell and Andy Williams and Tennessee Ernie Ford and Guy Lombardo. It can be a little hard to take most of the time. Every once in a while, though, a sleeve that you recognize pierces through the dark, mildew scented shelves, and you find something that you remember and relate to.

I found a decent modern turntable about a month ago, replaced its broken needle with one I ordered from an eBay supplier, got a cheap mixer from another eBay auction, and after rummaging through my garbage bag full of cables and finding the right connectors, I was able to hear my vinyl for the first time. I was in business.

Last week, I found this one, among a few others sitting on the bottom shelf of a thrift store shelf, just waiting for me to find it:

John Prine - Sweet Revenge Album Art
John Prine – Sweet Revenge

I have a theory that all music worth listening to was created in 1972 and 1973. This is one of those records. It was produced by Arif Mardin, it has Reggie Young, Steve Goodman and Kenny Malone playing on most of it, and it has 4 songs on it that made my father’s “John Prine” mixtape that he would play as we made the long, hot and mostly uncomfortable drive from Breckenridge, CO to Wichita Falls, TX every summer to visit my Grandparents. This record has the Papa Burrows seal of approval.