Saturday, June 27, 2015

Great Rock Sounds

There are great sounds in rock and roll.  They could be the unique sounds of a certain bands. Some guitarists have a unique sound that when you hear the first few notes that are played, you know immediately who it is.  Theres the cliché that some singers would sound great if they sing the phonebook.  There are the collection of sounds that we call songs that define the bands that play them.  Last night I did a stream-of-consciousness thing.  I looked at my CD collection and just wondered out of all this, what really sounds cool’”?  Heres what I came up with, in no particular order.

1.  Jon Lord's Hammond organ through a Marshall stack
2.  The twin guitars of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts
3.  Jack Bruce's distorted bass
4.  John Entwistle's trebly bass
5.  Beatles harmonies
6.  Tony Iommi's riffs
7.  Keith Richards' 5-string Telecaster tuned to Open G
8.  Gregg Allman singing...anything
9.  David Gilmour's guitar tones from The Wall (esp. Hey You and Comfortably Numb)
10.  Pete Townshend's power chords, esp. Who's Next and Quadrpohenia
11.  Eric Clapton's "Woman Tone"
12.  Johnny Winter's slide [Dust My Broom]
13.  Jimi Hendrix's wah-wah [Voodoo Child (Slight Return)]
14.  Malcolm Young's rhythm guitar
15.  John Lennon singing, esp. "Twist and Shout" and "Yer Blues"
16.  The Mellotron
17.  SRV's massive guitar tone
18.  Creedence
19.  Paul Rodgers singing...anything
20.  Michael Schenker guitar solos
21.  Lemmy Kilmister's Rickenbacker bass and "Murder One"
22.  George Harrison's guitar and a Leslie rotating speaker
23.  Joe Walsh's talk box guitar on "Rocky Mountain Way"
24.  Jimmy Page's acoustic guitars all over Led Zeppelin III
25.  Billy Gibbons - tone, taste & tenacity
26.  John Bonham's drums, esp. "When the Levee Breaks"
27.  Ray Manzarek
28.  Ronnie James Dio...anytime
29.  Ian Gillan 1969-73
30.  Whipping Post
31.  Frank Zappa - Dumb All Over [live]
32.  Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord trading solos
33.  The opening chord of "A Hard Day's Night"
34.  Byrds harmonies
35.  Tomorrow Never Knows
36.  Santana 1969-72
37.  Neil Young's Old Black
38.  Garth Hudson's intro to "Chest Fever"
39.  Levon Helm
40.  Gregg Allmans Hammond B-3
41.  Los Lobos

What are your great rock sounds?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Waylon Jennings - Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got out of Hand

This song [which appears on the album I’ve Always Been Crazy] was completely written and inspired by Waylon Jennings.  It’s also a true story…

After Waylon Jennings hit the big time he traded amphetamines for cocaine.  It was a serious habit - a $1500/day habit.  More than once he pulled a Keith Richards and stayed awake for seven days straight.  His habit was well-known, and it attracted the attention of the DEA.  They got wind of a package that was sent to him from New York.  He was in Nashville recording some music for a Hank Williams, Jr. album.  Evidently an individual working in Neil Reshen’s office [Waylon’s manager at the time] was trying to curry favor with Waylon and sent him an unsolicited package of cocaine.  Within minutes of the package’s arrival, the DEA paid a visit to Waylon in the recording studio.  They knew about the package and followed it to the recording studio.

To hear Waylon tell the story [go to YouTube to hear him or read his autobiography Waylon], Richie Albright [his drummer and the producer of this particular session] was in the control room while Waylon was in the studio.  Waylon had received the package but didn’t open it, and when he saw the DEA in the control room, he threw the package over his shoulder and it got stuck under one of the baseboards on the other side of the studio.  All the while this was going on, Richie had the talk-back button pushed and Waylon could hear everything that was said [but the agents couldn’t see Waylon].  Waylon then came into the control room and read the warrant for his arrest and the search warrants.  The search warrant was screwed up – it allowed the DEA to search Waylon’s Nashville office, but not the recording studio.  The DEA couldn’t go in there.

While Waylon was engaged with the DEA agents, Richie went into the studio under the pretext of moving around some baffles.  But what he really did was find the cocaine and take it to the bathroom.  Before everyone knew it, the toilet flushed for all to hear.  One of the DEA agents got really pissed and asked where the cocaine was.  Waylon responded “if it ever was here it ain’t here no more.” 

Waylon was charged with possession of cocaine, but the charges were dropped because of “lack of evidence.”  But he got a song out of it, one that he used to open many shows.  It has his trademark thumping bass, four-on-the-floor driving rhythm that works very well as a show opener.  He often followed with with JJ Cale’s Clyde, a song about a bass-playing dog – it was a good one-two punch [see video].  Until Waylon Jennings came along, country music didn’t sound like this.  His lawyer freaked out because he heard the song and thought it was a “confession.”  Waylon didn’t care…

I'm for the law and order the way that it should be
This song's about the night they spent protecting you from me
Someone called us outlaws in some old magazine
New York sent a posse down like I ain't ever seen

Don't you think this outlaw bit's done got out of hand?
What started out to be a joke the law don't understand
Was it singing through my nose that got me busted by the man?
Maybe this here outlaw bit's done got out of hand, out of hand

We were wrapped up in our music that's why we never saw
Cars pull up, the boys get out and the room fills up with law
They came boundin' through the backdoor in the middle of a song
They got me for possession of something that was gone, long gone

Don't you think this outlaw bit's done got out of hand?
What started out to be a joke the law don't understand
Was it singing through my nose that got me busted by the man? Oh Lord
Maybe this here outlaw bit's done got out of hand
Don't you think this outlaw bit's done got out of hand, out of hand?