Mack: Synonymous with Diesel

Can you believe it’s been 4 months and 20 days since I last featured a truck driving song?  And how perfect is it that Lonnie Mack once wrote and sang a truck driving song for 1971 Elektra album, The Hills of Indiana?

“Asphalt Outlaw Hero”     Lonnie Mack     1971

Don Nix – who also wrote “Oh What a Mighty Time” for The New Riders of the Purple Sage, with Sly Stone & Jerry Garcia (previously celebrated here) – co-wrote “Asphalt Outlaw Hero” with Lonnie Mack.

Acoustic & Electric Guitar – Lonnie Mack
Rhythm Guitar – Wayne Perkins*
Steel Guitar – Lloyd Green
Bass – Norbert Putnam, Tim Drummond, Troy Seals & David Hood*
Drums – Kenneth Buttrey & Roger Hawkins*
Fiddle – Buddy Spicher
Baritone Saxophone – Don Nix*
Keyboards – David Briggs & Barry Beckett*
Lead Vocals – Lonnie Mack & Don Nix
Choir – Mt. Zion Singers
Producer – Lonnie Mack & Russ Miller
Arranger – Norbert Putnam
Engineer – Brian Ross-Myring, Gene Eichelberger & Marlin Greene*

* designates personnel on “Asphalt Outlaw Hero”

“Asphalt Outlaw Hero” & “All Good Things Will Come to Pass” recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio — all others at Quadrafonic Sound Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.  Elektra would issue a promo 7-inch of “Lay It Down” in 1971 but no actual singles.

Billboard’s review of The Hills of Indiana in its September 25, 1971 edition:

“Memphis, now Nashville.  Lonnie Mack bids for a chart comeback with still another fine LP country-soul and pop-gospel.  Mack is dedicated, often moving and brilliant , yet “undiscovered” by a pop public that would tune in fast if they could hear Mack soul away on ‘Rings,’ Dylan’s ‘The Man in Me’ and ‘All Good Things Will Come to Pass.’  Buttrey, Briggs and Putnam back Mack for an honest shot at popular exposure.”

Mojo would include The Hills of Indiana in its list of 60 Greatest Elektra Albums in the magazine’s November, 2010 issue — along with Don Nix’s Living by the Days, also from 1971.

The many moods of Lonnie Mack’s ‘The Hills of Indiana’

Lonnie Mack - Hills-1xElektra Records album sleevesLonnie Mack - Hills-2

Seven months ago, someone paid $20 for a sealed copy of The Hills of Indiana on Ebay.

Meet Lonnie Mack

Hard to believe that Lonnie Mack‘s obvious winner of an instrumental – “Soul Express” – is not yet available for preview on YouTube and, thus, in danger of being lost in our cultural memory. The title of this piece is gallows humor expressing sadness over the fact this song is not more widely known:

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Soul Express” by Lonnie Mack (1968)]

You can find this recording (and “Snow on the Mountain“) on Ace’s Lonnie Mack collection, Lonnie on the Move, a compact disc retrospective that I am happy to report has since been expanded to a 26-track stocking stuffer entitled, Lonnie Mack:  Still on the Move – The Fraternity Years 1963-1968.  Er, wait a second – it turns out that Ace gave “Soul Express” the ol’ heave ho!  Check it out:

“This collection does not repeat the mistakes of its predecessor by including both ‘Soul Express’ and ‘Jam And Butter’ – per the original Trip album – as it becomes fairly obvious in an A/B test that these are, in fact, one and the same master (albeit the ‘Jam & Butter’ tape runs marginally faster than the tape for ‘Soul Express’). In fact, we haven’t included it at all, as we have a splendid stereo mix of that mono ‘Soul Express’/’Jam & Butter’ master on Memphis Wham, where it appears under its “proper” title, ‘The Freeze’!”

Photo courtesy of Ace Records

Lonnie Mack-hippy mod

As Trey Faull notes in the original liner notes, Lonnie Mack (it is fun to point out) contributed guitar work on recording sessions for Freddie King, James Brown, Mike Nesmith, and even The Doors.  Greil Marcus, in The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, writes about the conspicuous impact of the very presence of “recently signed” artist, Lonnie Mack – who played bass on “Roadhouse Blues” for fellow Elektra artists, The Doors – thereby validating Wikipedia’s assertion that “the sessions only took off on the second day [of recording], when resident Elektra guitarist Lonnie Mack joined in on bass.”

Faull would also describe “Soul Express” & “Jam and Butter” as “one funky onion with stabbing horns and plenty of flair.”

Lonnie Mack - Soul Express 45

Lonnie Mack - Fraternity 45“Snow on the Mountain” Update:  Tambourine Part Now Fully Restored!

In the historical notes that accompany Lonnie Mack:  Still on the Move, Ace Records makes the following announcement on its website:

“Our previously reissued version of ‘(There’s) Snow On The Mountain’ lacked the tambourine overdub heard on the single (as, to be fair, did the version on the Trip album that was taken from the same tapes!), so we’ve put that right here.”
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Mountain Snow = Icy Heart

Cincinnati’s other prominent label – besides King – was Fraternity Records, who (in a tidy quirk of math) enjoyed three successive #2 hits between the years 1956 and 1958.

However, by 1963 things were looking grim — until Lonnie Mack entered the picture.  Tip of the hat to David Edwards & Mike Calahan of Both Sides Now Publications for the back story:

“By 1963, it had been a long time since [#2 hit] ‘All American Boy,’ [by Bill Parsons, a.k.a., Bobby Bare] and most people had forgotten about the label altogether.  But in the summer of 1963, a young guitar player from Indiana by the name of Lonnie McIntosh had his band in King Records’ Cincinnati studio backing another artist.  When some studio time was left, the band recorded an instrumental version of what at the time was a fairly obscure song, Chuck Berry’s ‘Memphis.’   The recording was inspired; unlike the slow tempo of Berry’s version, McIntosh rolled out a snappy, danceable, and in retrospect, memorable, version of the song that Fraternity issued under the name Lonnie Mack.  It made #5 on the national charts. ‘Memphis’ was obscure no more, as other artists such as Johnny Rivers did the song in Mack’s faster tempo and it became a Chuck Berry classic.”

Lonnie Mack - 1960s

I could not agree more with Richie Unterberger (in the All Music Guide to Blues) and his assessment of Lonnie Mack’s under-appreciated B-side “Snow on the Mountain,” a recording that he deems “a first-class overlooked blue-eyed soul cooker from 1967”:

“Snow on the Mountain” = 41 ‘views’ on YouTube as of 9/23/15

Soulful Kinda Music & other credible sources document the fact that this song was used as a flip side in the latter part of 1966 – and then again the next year!  Moreover, 45Cat shows the song – initially titled “There’s Snow on the Mountain” – as an A-side the first time around:  could this be true?

1966 release                                                        1967 release

Lonnie Mack 45-1bLonnie Mack 45-1a

All Roads Lead to Shad O’Shea

Rubber City Review has a nice tribute to Lonnie Mack that also ropes Shad O’Shea into the story – by virtue of the fact that $25,000 in 1975 made him Fraternity Records’ new owner.

Photo courtesy of Rubber City Review

Shad O'Shea behind the board

“Soul Serenade”: Beau Dollar + Coins

Seems like everyone’s covered “Soul Serenade” – so why does no one play it on the radio?  Don’t you think it’s about time for this tune to be rediscovered?

“Soul Serenade”     Beau Dollar & the Coins     1966

This irresistible instrumental was produced by Lonnie Mack, one-time musical compatriot of Roger TroyBeau Dollar – last celebrated in this offbeat & oddball historical highlight reel – once served as a session drummer for Syd Nathan’s King Records in Cincinnati.  Three of the Coins – Ed Setser, Tim Hedding & Les Asch – in fact, would join Roger Troy’s Jellyroll.

                      DJ copy                                        45 on Cincinnati’s Fraternity label

Beau Dollar - Prime 45Beau Dollar - Fraternity 45

Originally recorded by legendary session musician and bandleader, King Curtis, in 1964, this song would be covered by the likes of Quincy Jones, Gloria Lynne, Aretha Franklin,  Lou RawlsWillie Mitchell, The Allman Brothers, Jimmy Castor Bunch, Bill Black’s Combo & The Derek Trucks Band.

The song would also spawn a slew of ska, rocksteady & reggae covers by such notable names as Prince Buster, The Soul Brothers, The Paragons, The Gaylads, Tommy McCook, Boris Gardiner, St. George & the Dragon Killers, Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, and don’t forget The Federalmen.

Beau Dollar’s Last King 45 as Artist – written by henry glover

Beau Dollar - King 45