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.

Arif Mardin @ Muscle Shoals

Arif Mardin is a renowned producer, arranger, and music executive who also – surprisingly enough – recorded a couple solo albums for Atlantic.  This hard-hitting instrumental arrangement of Lennon’s “Glass Onion” (from the Beatles’ “White Album“) would be used as the (1) kick-off tune, (2) title track, and (3) debut single for Arif Mardin as a solo artist:

“Glass Onion”     Arif Mardin     1969

Wait a minute, it’s 1969:  wasn’t Arif Mardin legally obligated to record this album in Muscle Shoals using local musicians?  Billboard confirmed this to be true in its August 9, 1969 edition:

“Five musicians — Jimmy Johnson, guitarist; Eddie Hinton, guitarist; David Hood, bassist; Roger Hawkins, drummer; Barry Beckett, keyboards — have grouped to open the new Muscle Shoals Sound Studios at 3614 Jackson Highway.  They have already backed up Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, King Curtis, and Sam & Dave, as well as Arif Mardin’s Glass Onion album for Atlantic.”

Arif Mardin solo LPThe Guardian ‘s Garth Cartwright points out the album’s ageless appeal in his 2006 obituary for Mardin:

In 1969 he released the first of two solo albums, Glass Onion, whose relaxed jazz flavours found British popularity in 1996 when the song ‘How Can I Be Sure?’ became a UK lounge hit in clubs.

In 1974 Mardin was paired with a struggling Scottish soul group, the Average White Band.  His production emphasised their bright brass and dynamic rhythms, taking them to the top of the US album and singles charts.”

Beatles 1967 Trivia Funfest!

It only occurred to me recently that legendary 1967 Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper’s, did not yield a single 45 – the only (legitimate) Beatles album to do so.  The greater truth, however, is that (1) “Strawberry Fields” b/w “Penny Lane” would have been included on the album had the band not have felt pressured to release these two tracks as a single to maintain their standing in the marketplace and (2) Italy, of all places, just might be the one and only country to issue a single in 1967 using Sgt. Pepper material:  the title track as the A-side with “A Day in the Life” (naturally) as the flip side [45Cat contributor informs us:  “juke box promo with unique edit of title track”].

The only 7-inch Sgt. Pepper single release from 1967?

Beatles Italian 45Other fun and interesting Beatle-related moments from 1967 would likely include:

= This whimsical German 45 picture sleeve, whose design gets high marks for creativity:Beatles 45-e= This Italian 45, whose picture sleeve is likewise imaginative and befitting of the music:

Beatles 45-l= This South African 45 picture sleeve, conversely, whose depicted moptop is easily (and hysterically) two years behind the beat:

Beatles 45-h= These two other German singles, whose photos are strangely and humorously out of sync with the song titles listed on the picture sleeves:

Beatles 45-a1Beatles 45-a1a

= This Norwegian single, whose playful design features Beatle Sgt. Pepper heads cut by hand using pre-digital technology:

Beatles 45-c = This Argentinian single, whose “Penny Lane” would require no translation, while its flip side – “Strawberry Fields Forever” – would find itself re-titled, amusingly, as “Frutillas!

Beatles 45-bbBeatles 45-b

= This picture sleeve for the “Hello Goodbye” / “I Am the Walrus” single that was issued, fascinatingly, in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

Beatles 45-f= This Yugoslavian 45 picture sleeve, whose design accurately conveys the historic importance of “Our World” – the first live international satellite television production, for which The Beatles performed “All You Need Is Love” – albeit in an oddly quaint Soviet style:

Beatles 45-dThis Bolivian EP for “Penny Lane” and “Frutillas”, whose sleeve wins (by a whisker) the award for least accurately depicting the artists themselves at the time of release:

Beatles 45-iSadly, no one told Austria that “go go” was out, and “hippie” was now officially in:

Beatles 45-j

“Sugar Sugar”: Solid Gold from Muscle Shoals

“Sugar Sugar” was inescapable in the summer of 1969, with Wilson Pickett and even The Wailers (with Bob Marley singing lead) recording their own versions.  Muscling in on the action also were the studio musicians behind the hits being recorded in the late 60s at Rick Hall’s Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama – The Fame Gang – who put together a (near) instrumental version for their lone LP, Solid Gold from Muscle Shoals:

Sugar Sugar – The Fame Gang

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Sugar Sugar” by The Fame Gang.]

Solid Gold - Fame Gang LP

That’s right, as the sticker indicates, there is an “expanded” version of this 1969 album that includes four additional tracks:  “Soul Feud”; “Grits and Gravy“; “Twangin’ My Thang”; and “Turn the Chicken Loose.”   Two of these non-LP tracks — “Soul Feud” backed with  “Grits and Gravy” — were issued as a 45 in August 1969 on the Fame label.

Grits & Gravy 45

Meet the Band

Freeman Brown – drums

Jesse Boyce – bass

Junior Lowe – guitar

Clayton Ivey – piano & organ

Harrison Calloway – trumpet

Harvey Thompson – Tenor Sax

Ronnie Eades – baritone sax

Aaron Varnell – tenor & alto sax

Mickey Buckins – producer/arranger

                   .                                         .                                           .

                         The Fame Studio Sidemen – Waves of Musicians

The Fame Gang, as it turns out, were the third “rhythm section” in Fame Studio’s long and illustrious history.  It was Arthur Alexander’s big 1961 hit, “You Better Move On,” that earned enough money to finance the building of Fame’s bricks-and-mortar studio, where Rick Hall assembled his first full-time session players, a group that included Norbert Putnam, Spooner Oldham, Terry Thompson, and David Briggs, among others.  The next rhythm section, easily the most renowned of the four, comprised Jimmy Johnson, David Hood, Roger Hawkins, Barry Beckett, and Junior Lowe (and sometimes Duane Allman) and was the backing group for Aretha Franklin on her groundbreaking “I Never Loved a Man” session in 1967.  However, on March 20, 1969, Johnson, Hood, Beckett, and Hawkins formally announced to Rick Hall their intention to open the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in nearby Sheffield.  Hall immediately assembled another top-flight team of talent and then – coincidentally or not – allowed them to put out this full-length release.  More history on the Fame Studio rhythm section musicians can be found at this link.

“Goin’ Up the Country”: The Duck & The Bear – and Duane

Interesting to learn that Canned Heat’s big 1968 hit, “Goin’ Up the Country,” is basically a re-write of 1929’s “Bull Doze Blues” by Henry Thomas, down to the flute part (listen here). The next year, 1969, saw the single release of a spirited cover version by The Duck (Johnny Sandlin) and The Bear (Eddie Hinton) of the Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section, with help from Duane Allman and the Memphis Horns.  I like how the intro fools you into thinking that the song is heading in one direction before it shift gears and heads somewhere else altogether:

“Goin’ Up the Country”     The Duck & the Bear      1969

Did Atlantic really intend the title of the track to be “Goin’ Up to Country”?

Goin' Up to Country - The Duck & the Bear 45

Johnny Sandlin:  Drums & percussion
Eddie Hinton:  Lead guitar
Duane Allman:  Slide guitar
Barry Beckett:  Keyboards
David Hood:  Bass Guitar
Wayne Jackson:  Trumpet
Andrew Love:  Tenor Saxophone
Joe Arnold:  Tenor Saxophone

“This Old Town”: Where Love is the Prevailing Order

In Wilson Pickett’s town, universal respect for the humanity common to us all allows for an enlightened self-governance to rule the day.

This track from Pickett’s 1970 Atlantic album, Right On, was never to appear on a 45, which is a shame, since I think it’s a classic.

Wilson Pickett LP

The people in this town ain’t got no faces – they just got love between the races.

The people in this town don’t do no cryin’ – don’t have to rob and steal for survivin’.

The heart that should be speaking out just won’t stay silent – and everybody knows that no man is an island.

I saw a father and his son walking down the street – they walked hand in hand, what a beautiful sight to see (that makes me know)

The people in this town don’t need no soldiers – they don’t go around looking over their shoulders.

Everyone’s going around shaking hands, loving everybody and their fellow man – ain’t got no room for aggravation, what they love is communication.

Now open up your heart to harmony – give a little love, it will set you free.

You don’t have to go round searching for this town – right in your heart is where it’s found.

Song written by William Stevenson, Don Covay & Wilson Pickett.                Produced by Jerry Wexler & Tom Dowd.

Musicianship provided by The Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section=

Roger Hawkins:   drums

David Hood:          bass

Eddie Hinton:       lead guitar

Jimmy Johnson:    rhythm guitar

Barry Beckett:    keyboards

Backing vocals:   Cissy Houston, Judy Clay, Jackie Vercell & Jerome Gasper

 

“Congratulations Baby”: Marriage as Payback

Doris Duke (the singer, not the tobacco heiress) is getting married out of spite, and frankly, I think she’s making a big mistake:

Doris Duke - I'm a Loser

This classic track is from 1969’s I’m a Loser – Doris’ first solo album after singing backup for the likes of Dusty Springfield, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Carolyn Franklin, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra & Sammy Davis, Jr. among many others.

Album recorded & mixed at Capricorn Studios, Macon GA – with string overdub done in Philly.  Arranged & produced by Jerry Williams, Jr. (a.k.a., Swamp Dogg) with help from –

Piano:   Paul Hornsby & Jerry Williams, Jr.
Organ:   Paul Hornsby
Guitar:  Jesse Carr
Bass:    Robert Popwell
Drums:   Johnny Sandlin

Note:  Duane Allman did play on these sessions, as well, but not this particular tune.